Critical Chains

AI and blockchain for a novel Cyber-Physical Security as-a-Service framework in Fintech e-operations


There is a strong need for novel and standardised techniques offering effective, accessible, fast, secure, privacy-preserving and smart financial transactions. However, financial institutions, expected as Critical Infrastructures (CI) are prone to critical problems which are becoming more catastrophic day by day.  This is substantially due to the:

  • Cyber threats and frauds (increased by more than 40% over the past 3 years, from US$12.97M per firm in 2014 to US$18.28M in 2017)
  • Long and complex contracting processes including retail banking, insurance and investment banking causing increased costs of financial procedures (about 1500 €/contract)
  • The trade-off between face-to-face and mobile banking in terms of cost-effectiveness which is indispensable as mobile devices and IoT (smart phones, tablets, smart ledgers and even smart watches) have become a part of everyday life (usage of mobile banking and payments >52% and 28% for smartphone users by 2014).

In the meantime, the blockchain industry is booming as it offers great advantages on reducing costs. Through the rollout of blockchain, it is estimated that an average 24-hour processing time per transaction would be slashed to 0.1 seconds, and average costs of up to €40 cut to just €5 (save between €13-18 billion per year in banking infrastructure costs) by 2022.

However, such a disruptive technology is not perfect as it has not only security and technological problems but also political, legal, socio-cultural, ethical, and psychological and standardisation barriers that should seriously be considered holistically. The main reason behind such a diverse impact is that blockchain raises the question of illegal acts in money trafficking.

Critical-Chains has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 833326 to create a holistic and adaptable framework including end users (customers) and financial authorities in an innovative triangular accountability model that integrates the underlying technologies and presents a novel “as-a-service” (XaaS) platform aiming to protect financial infrastructures against illegal money trafficking and fraud on FinTech e-operations.


The targeted groups are financial authorities including banks, financial market infrastructures (i.e. Central CounterParty clearing -CCPs), stock markets, insurance companies and customers (individuals, enterprises), who have the need for secure, easily-accessible, privacy-preserving, fast, effective and low-cost contracting and transaction services.


In the framework of Critical-Chains, RINA is in charge of providing its expertise in engineering advisory and support services to certification to perform of the Dissemination, Communication, Standardisation, Exploitation and Innovation Management of the project. 

Moreover, we are involved also in the following engineering activities:

  • Technology acceptance model and assessment of XaaS services and overall front-end and back-end applications
  • Security Risk Assessment
  • IoT Security in Strategic Infrastructures
  • Audit & Compliance solution for NIS, GDPR, PSD2 and AML/4 compliance
  • Revisiting EU legal and ethical framework and identifying the compliance of project achievement with existing background


The underpinning concept of Critical-Chains is a holistic protection and augmentation of the value of the chain through accountable, blockchain-enabled, practical, secure, privacy preserving, scalable and effective "Secure & Smart Contracts" and "Secure Transactions" in banking, CCP and insurance sectors.

In conclusion, its framework and services will be deployed, tested and evaluated in banks, insurance companies and financial market infrastructures aiming to show the borderless realisation of financial transactions or contracts and delivering the concrete results and future perspectives and recommendations on new standards, legal and economic aspects and socio-psychological and ethical factors.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s H2020 research and innovation programme