Despite a hotly contested presidential race, a new consensus among US congress members shows that they need to learn more about bitcoin and blockchain technology before any action is taken.
It is well documented that many lawmakers around the world are unsure of both bitcoin and the blockchain technology that supports it. Even the legitimacy earned in Japan was done so after the Mt. Gox scandal. The result of legal guidelines has been an upsurge in trade for bitcoin in the Japanese market.
Blockchain is once again at the center of an initiative to improve operational efficiency and reduce costs, this time in the field of correspondent banking. A blog post by the team, comprising of a partnership between Wells Fargo, Swift and ANZ, has described the prototype system they have created using blockchain. Using a distributed ledger to create a real-time transaction log, the system will track payments made on the swift platform to enable banks to track such payments much quicker. The system should offer significant improvements over current methodology.
For the cryptocurrency industry, gaining the trust of the wider populous to grow the user base has always been a critical challenge to overcome. Progress has been steady, but it has, ironically, taken a series of incidents of turmoil within the fiat monetary systems of various countries that has helped the industry grow in that aspect. Now, with the prolonged restrictions placed on the movement of both fiat currency and assets into and out of Venezuela, we are seeing a further shift to Bitcoin. Peer to peer Bitcoin payments are on the increase and web based freelancers are now moving towards payment via Bitcoin, bypassing the fiat system entirely.
In the United States alone, Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) are on track to inherit around $12 trillion from their savings-conscious parents who were raised in the era of the Great Depression. Over the next thirty years, these boomers will pass on an estimated $30 trillion to their Generation X children. These two events are on track to make up the largest transfer of wealth in history.
There is however, another potential wealth transfer brewing that could end up being the greatest of them all…
One of the largest democratic processes regularly undertook, the elections for the European parliament span 28 countries and 400 million voters, choosing representatives for over 500 million people. Constantly looking to improve trust, transparency and convenience in those elections, the EU has released the latest white paper on the viability of digital voting systems. Here they look at blockchain as a potential solution and compare building a blockchain based platform compared to an entirely bespoke system. Noting the cost saving and security of blockchain as significant aspects that work in its favor.
Less than a month after the Sydney Stock exchange announced its intention to press forward with the development of its own open blockchain solution, they have just announced the successful test of their prototype blockchain platform. In partnership with blockchain open source startup Bit Trade Labs, Sydney Stock exchange formed APX Settlement Pty Limited to oversee the project, who announced the latest development. From here they are now looking to further collaboration with cybersecurity experts to ensure security integrity remains intact through the development process.
One of the key technical challenges for Bitcoin is the issue of congestion within the blockchain that drives the entire digital currency. Slowing transactions and confirmations as a result, it is an issue that much of the cryptocurrency industry is looking at, with several proposed solutions under development. One of those, from Blockstream, is the Lightening Network, that takes the approach of separating transactions away from the main blockchain. They recently announced the first successful micro transaction using the system, and this could be a significant moment in the ongoing development of the digital currency.
Recent comments made by Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and billionaire entrepreneur, suggest his belief that “blockchain could produce an economic revolution”. At an event in London, he stated this revolution could have a global impact, affecting numerous countries worldwide.
Several organizations showed off blockchain prototypes at a Sibos event in Geneva recently. There was plenty of discussion regarding the technology. Russia’s National Settlement Depository(NSD) and South Africa’s Central Securities Depositories (CSDs) came away from the event having signed a letter of intent to begin initiatives using distributed ledger protocols.
One of the biggest fears of the digital currency industry is legislation. The concern of strict controls and heavy handed bureaucracy being imposed not just on the businesses involved in the digital currency industry itself, but of use of digital currencies themselves, has long been a contentious issue around the world. With the introduction of new legislation that refines the registration requirements of digital currency exchanges, as well as defining digital currencies as ‘money’ when applied to money laundering laws, the British Crown dependency Jersey has taken a path that offers protection for users without the restrictions of some alternatives.
There are an ever growing army of people who are using the internet and its ability to allow us to make connections around the world to build a career. Freelancers, contractors and entrepreneurs in ever greater numbers are providing work to businesses and individuals all around the world, and Bitwage has been providing a secure, bitcoin based payment system for these people for a while. Now they are making this service even more attractive with the addition of a verification service to help build trust between customers and providers through their My Employment service.
Blockchain, the technology underpinning the digital currency revolution, has attracted much attention in its own right due to its astonishing adaptability. Across a wide range of industries and systems, blockchain is being researched and developed to add more efficiency, security and operational improvements. Now the largest mining company in the world is also adopting blockchain. Using the Ethereum blockchain, BHP Billiton are looking to improve efficiency and accuracy in their supply chain, along with adding an easier to use system for partners to track material movements throughout the system.
There is much talk about blockchain and its various applications and possibilities, so hearing about a vision for the future of blockchain applications from another perspective is always welcome. Thomas Jordan, president and chairman of the board of Switzerland’s central bank, recently gave his views on blockchain and how it was changing the banking industry. The decentralization behind blockchain is the exact opposite of the history of the banking industry, and he noted that the introduction of the technology was turning his industry on its head in many ways.
Innovation, new ideas, new approaches, all these are essential to the advancement of the digital currency industry and blockchain technology itself. The UK Government has a history of recognizing this and has demonstrated it once again with the launch of its latest initiative. A competition to encourage new ideas and new applications for blockchain and distributed ledger with a £15 million fund for rewarding companies involved is another boost to the UK digital currency industry.
When Bitcoin made its debut in 2009, few people thought that the technology behind it could change the world, but in ever increasing numbers, this is how researchers are seeing blockchain. The latest is automotive multinational Wanxiang, who have announced their new smart cities initiative will utilize blockchain at its core. With the current focus on their existing business, the ways in which blockchain can be used to streamline the management of electric vehicle servicing demonstrates the versatility and importance being placed on the technology.
Op. Ed.: Blockchain and the Battle for ‘Blood Antiquities’: Could Digital Currency Platforms Help to End the World’s Deadliest Trade?
Antiquities are not something many in the digital currency community consider; similarly, technology is not a priority for archaeologists and historians. But could Blockchain technology solve the most dangerous problem posed by the trade in antiquities? Terror groups in Iraq and Syria – the richest archaeological region in the world – have been profiting from an illicit trade in antiquities which destroys our shared cultural heritage and which funds the terrorist war-machine which has committed the worst atrocities experienced in the 21st Century so far. Economic historian Chris Cooper explains how Blockchain title deeds – a new type of smart contract – could help law enforcement agencies trace antiquities and stamp out the world’s deadliest trade.
Defining the legal status of digital currencies has become something of an issue, with contrary rulings coming one of after the other, no sooner has one judge ruled bitcoin is not money, another judge in New York, Judge Alison Nathan, rules that it is money and should be treated as such in the case she is presiding over. This illustrates a clear need for legal ruling, especially in the US, to enable the industry to move forward. A final decision is important to the broader digital currency industry and will be needed for new initiatives to succeed.
With many different businesses and initiatives all working on endless adaptations of blockchain technology to enhance and sometimes radically change existing systems and processes, there is a danger of ending up with a mess of incompatible, bespoke blockchain solutions rather than a cohesive, interoperable network of blockchain based infrastructure. The International Organization for Standardization has recently approved a proposal by Australian Standards, the national standards agency, for a framework for Blockchain standards. Australia will now take the lead as a committee of ISO members seek to define standards for various aspects of blockchain technology.
One of the largest industries in the world, global shipping covers every continent and involves trade in almost every country on the planet, with over $4 trillion in goods being moved around the world each year. However, the systems that enable all of this have not changed in 60 years, and in many cases still rely on matching physical paperwork with shipments and payment data. Blockfreight recently announced their new initiative to leverage the power of blockchain to streamline the administration and tracking of cargo and revolutionize the shipping industry itself.
Blockchain payment company Circle have just announced that with the release of the new iOS 10 software, Apple’s mobile operating system found in all their latest iPhones and iPads, their easy to use instant payment system that allows funds in several currencies, including Bitcoin, will be integrated into the iOS 10 message service, iMessage. Given the sheer popularity of not just Apple’s products, but iMessage as a communication tool, it is often cited as the worlds most used app, this represents an opportunity for the digital currency industry.