UBS's Blockchain Guru Bussmann Leaves Amid COO Reshuffle

UBS Group AG Chief Information Officer Oliver Bussmann, a driving force behind the bank’s effort to develop the bitcoin technology for the industry, has resigned.

Bussmann’s departure was one of several personnel changes announced by new Chief Operating Officer Axel Lehmann in an internal memo seen by Bloomberg Wednesday. A spokeswoman confirmed the contents of the memo, which said Bussmann has decided to “take advantage of new opportunities outside of UBS.”

Among other changes, Chris Gelvin will become Lehmann’s COO, a newly created role. Previously he was COO for technology and operations. Harry Egger, COO of corporate services, has been promoted to head of that department. Patricia Riquelme, who joined UBS in 2009 as technology chief of staff, will become Lehmann’s chief of staff.

Lehmann said the changes will foster integration of his team, allowing it to focus more on execution and building ties with business partners.

A German national, Bussmann joined UBS from SAP AG in 2013. In October 2014, he predicted that blockchain, the software that made the bitcoin digital currency possible, would reinvent the financial industry. His comments drew attention to blockchain’s potential and many banks are now exploring applications.

Bussmann “drove the modernization of our technology infrastructure, simplified our application landscape, and actively championed technology innovation as a key competitive advantage for UBS,” Lehmann said in the memo. Bussmann didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lehmann, 57, became UBS’s COO in January, taking over from Tom Naratil, who is now president for wealth management in the Americas. Previously he was a member of UBS’s board of directors and chief risk officer of Zurich Insurance Group AG.

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