Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Saturday, September 26, 2020
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Linux Foundation Expands Fintech Reach 

The financial services sector continues to embrace the open source movement, often playing a leading role in establishing standards and best practices. A prime example is the pivotal role played by investment banker and financial services giant Goldman Sachs in forging an application container specification around Docker.

That momentum appears to be growing with the announcement that another fintech group is joining the Linux Foundation. The open source group announced last week it is acquiring the operating assets of the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS), formed in 2014 to promote adoption of open source software and standards in the financial services sector.

The move underscores the Linux Foundation’s steady tilt toward the fintech through projects such as the distributed ledger framework dubbed Hyperledger. Early members of the project included banks, stock exchanges and large infrastructure vendors such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and its Red Hat unit along with VMware (NYSE: VMW).

The Linux Foundation said it would position FINOS as the focal point of its efforts to promote open source software and standards within the financial services industry. “With this sector’s focus on technology-driven solutions, we feel the time is right to bring our two communities together to enable the next stage of innovation for our projects,” said Jim Zemlin, the Linux Foundation’s executive director.

The fintech group counts more than 30 members, including the largest investment and commercial bankers, financial services firms and infrastructure vendors and open source leaders such as Microsoft’s GitHub unit and Red Hat, the IBM unit. It currently oversees more than 100 open source projects and working groups.

Among them is a project initially developed by J.P. Morgan (NYSE: JPM) dubbed Perspective, described as an interactive visualization tool for real-time databases. It creates dashboards and applications using either stored or streaming data, the latter via Apache Arrow updates.

Other FINOS projects seek to leverage technologies ranging from cloud computing, decentralized networks and blockchain to AI and machine learning.

“Open source technology is essential to the future of the financial services industry,” said Alejandra Villagra, FINOS chairperson and head of Citigroup’s Velocity trading platform. “With FINOS becoming part of the Linux Foundation, we can leverage a wider network of resources and further accelerate collaboration that delivers technology solutions to common business issues and industry challenges.”

The fintech group said its existing projects will remain unchanged for now. “Over time we may introduce new and different services as we leverage the Linux Foundation's infrastructure,” it added. The group also expects to work closely with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, the driving force behind key enterprise efforts such as the Kubernetes cluster orchestrator. The transition of fintech projects into the Linux Foundation is expected to take several months, FINOS said.

“Becoming the financial services umbrella of the Linux Foundation enables us to consolidate existing and prospective LF initiatives focused on financial services,” Gabriele Columbro, executive director of FINOS, added in a blog post.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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