Blockchain Weekly Recap 11-14-2015
Singapore Banks Urged to Keep Pace with Blockchain Developments.
Singapore’s Prime Minister this week addressed his nation’s banks and regulatory authorities directly, urging them to work even harder to keep pace with the dramatic technological innovations that are now sweeping the globe. Citing the blockchain as just one example of how technology is changing the way that people interact with one another, Prime Minister Lee noted that the challenge for banks and others in the financial industry is to adapt and learn to incorporate these new innovations.
Lee also emphasized that the blockchain’s potential disruptive capabilities extend far beyond currency. He highlighted the potential for improved transactions and trade verification as just two examples of how this technology is threatening to fundamentally alter the financial industry landscape. At the same time, he praised his nation’s banks and expressed optimism that with diligence and an appropriate level of regulatory action, the future of Singapore banking should continue to be bright.
Bitcoin Blockchain Now Hitting Full Blocks Consistently.
The debate over resolving the full block issue in the Bitcoin blockchain is now picking up as transactions are consistently running into full blocks now. As they hit those full 1Mb blocks, they naturally roll over and seek acceptance at the next block. The problem is that when that block is also full, users run the risk that the transaction simply won’t be accepted. Right now, analysts are reporting that the average block is somewhere around 80% full. If it gets much higher, the transaction issue will pose an even more serious problem.
That could lead to increased fees for transactions, as miners choose to process higher-paying transactions. That could easily upset one of digital currency’s most oft-advertised benefits: quick, low-cost transactions. The current debate about resolving the issue has been going on for at least two years, but will almost certainly receive increased attention as these block size concerns continue to mount.
RBC Considers Blockchain Loyalty Program.
According to Dave McKay, the president and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), there’s much to appreciate about the blockchain's potential for massive innovation. In his comments this week at the New York RBC Capital Markets event, he noted the bank’s current research into blockchain applications. He also noted that RBC was considering the launch of a blockchain-based loyalty program next year.
The loyalty program is intended by the bank as a less risky way to bring the technology to its current customers. Like others in the banking industry, McKay was less impressed with Bitcoin’s usefulness, and dismissive of its ability to resolve any of the most pressing issues confronting banks or their customers.
Blockchain to Benefit Central Banks?
News emerged this week that banking giant HSBC is apparently studying ways in which the country’s central bank policies could benefit from implementation of blockchain technology. As envisioned, the use of central bank-backed cryptocurrency systems would provide the type of transaction transparency needed to facilitate more targeted cash infusions where they can do the most good.
For example, with an increased level of insight into any nation’s financial picture, a central bank would know where it needs to inject money. That infusion could involve everything from a cash transfer to select bank accounts to tax rebates or refunds. Obviously, issues such as excessive cash infusions and the potential for bank-induced inflation still need to be evaluated.
Japan’s Ministry of Trade Studying Blockchain.
The Japanese Trade Ministry is among the latest entities to begin to research how blockchain innovation could affect the nation’s financial sector. In newly available documents detailing last month’s FinTech study meeting, the Ministry is recorded as being keenly aware of the United State’s growing interest in distributed ledger technology. In echoes of sentiments expressed on this site, the meeting minutes expressed a wide consensus among the gathered attendees that the “impact of blockchain is huge. Its importance is similar to the emergence of Internet and Google.”
MedVault Takes Prize at Hackathon.
In our feel-good story of the week, we congratulate MedVault for winning the top prize at this last weekend’s Blockchain Hackathon in Ireland. The contest was sponsored by Citi, Fidelity Investments, and Deloitte, and gathered around 150 entrants to compete for a top prize of €5,000. The event saw the contestants present their concepts and then spend a total of 50 hours working on those ideas. According to developer Graham Rhodes, the MedVault idea managed to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack by demonstrating how the blockchain could be used to provide anonymity for medical records.