Blockchain Weekly Recap 10-24-2015
For Uphold’s Watson, It’s Elementary: Banks Taking Cynical Approach to Blockchain
As news emerged last month that roughly two dozen financial institutions were teaming up to study blockchain technology and adopt it for their own financial service needs, many observers were enthusiastic. For them, this move was seen as vindication for the technology, and a potential path to greater legitimacy for the digital currencies that rely on it. However, Anthony Watson, the former head of the technology division at Barclay’s, has a different take on it all. From his perspective, this move by the banks is nothing more than a “cynical” effort to band together and gain control over the nascent technology so that they can kill any potential competition before it has a chance to develop.
Watson is the head of FinTech firm Uphold now, where the company mission is to use blockchain technology to provide customers with free monetary transfer services throughout the world. As he recently told Business Insider, however, he sees no such customer-centric motivation behind these banks’ current actions. Instead, he believes that everything that they are doing - from exploring blockchain tech to mentoring and investing in new FinTech startups - is designed to give the banking industry the leverage it needs to protect its current business model from the most obvious current threat to its existence.
Selachii Turns to Blockchain For Smart Contracts
London-based boutique legal firm Selachii LLP recently declared its intent to begin using a blockchain solution for its legal agreements. The firm is partnering with Texas startup company Stash in an effort to digitize its standard paper documents, exchanging them for smart contracts that will run on the Open Transactions platform. The firm’s plans will focus on things such as shareholder contracts and wills in the beginning, with the goal of completing the testing phase and opening the product up to clients throughout the UK before the end of the year.
Selachii’s Richard Howlett has expressed confidence that these types of contracts could revolutionize the legal industry. Since the blockchain can provide the perfect platform for these self-executing documents, the new systems could potentially lower legal costs, simplify the legal process and eventually result in the automation of many types of legal services.
Holberton School First to Use Blockchain for Issuing Academic Certificates
This week, San Francisco’s project-based Holberton School announced that its academic certificates will be delivered using the blockchain. The school is partnering with blockchain document certification startup Bitproof for the endeavor, and will be the first educational institute in the world to issue its certification in this manner. This decision is in keeping with Holberton’s identity as a school devoted to introducing students to both high and low level technologies, and will also help potential employers with any future efforts to verify the certification of Holberton graduates.
Despite this exciting news, students who might worry about having a certificate to hang on the office wall can rest easy. Holberton is still planning to issue that paper certificate as well.
And the Meffy Award Goes to…
Attendees at the Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) Meffys 2015 event were privileged to watch as awards were presented for outstanding performance and innovation in everything from FinTech and M-health to social responsibility, mobile money, and apps. At this year’s event in London, the FinTech innovation award was presented for the first time to a blockchain startup: Everledger.
The company was recognized for its innovative approach to using the blockchain to prevent theft and fraud in the diamond market and insurance industry. Their system is designed to help these industries by providing more effective tracking of each diamond in the market today. When completed, Everledger will have created the first secure digital ledger for diamonds, an achievement that could enable insurance companies to avoid billions of dollars in fraudulent theft claims each year.
New Blockchain Alliance May Ease Law Enforcement Concerns Over Blockchain, Digital Currency
The recently announced Blockchain Alliance has been hailed as an innovative solution to aid law enforcement in its duty to prevent and foil blockchain-related crime. The Alliance provides the industry with an even more important opportunity, however, as it will give law enforcement and regulatory agencies a different kind of exposure to both the blockchain and the digital currencies it empowers. The working group is being driven by the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center, and will include the U.S. Justice Department, the Secret Service, Homeland Security, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission - along with other agencies, as well as companies like Blockchain, BitGo, and others.
While these government agencies almost certainly see the relationship as a way to more effectively fight the relatively small amount of digital currency crime that currently exists, industry participants are certain to focus just as much on extolling the positive nature of the technology. Many of the people involved understand that this may be a perfect opportunity to better educate government officials about the blockchain and cryptocurrency, and start to change their current negative perception of the industry.
Nasdaq Acquires SecondMarket, Bolsters Blockchain Efforts
Nasdaq, which has been working to meld blockchain technology into its existing infrastructure, announced this week that it has acquired SecondMarket - giving it access to the company’s pre-IPO liquidity services. The acquisition is perhaps most noteworthy for the way it demonstrates Nasdaq’s continuing commitment to the blockchain and services that rely on that technology. Under the terms of the deal, Nasdaq reportedly retains all of the acquired company’s employees as it continues its strategic effort to adapt to changing technologies and new capabilities.