Blockchain Weekly Recap 7-9-2016
UK Testing Blockchain Welfare Distribution
In January of this year, the UK Government Office for Science had issued a report that urged the country’s officials to experiment with blockchain technology. At the time, there were some tests being conducted by agencies like the Government Digital Service, but nothing that could really qualify as large-scale experimentation. The government recently announced what could turn out to be a broader test of distributed ledger technology that will involve the Department of Work and Pensions actually using a blockchain to distribute payments to the country’s welfare recipients.
The project will be made possible through a departmental partnership between Work and Pensions and a group that includes Barclays, RWE’s UK branch, University College London, and GovCoin. Together, they have devised a system that utilizes blockchain and mobile app technology to record the payments that welfare recipients both receive and send. The project’s success will reportedly be evaluated based on the benefits it can provide for those who rely on the welfare payments.
ONC Blockchain Innovation Challenge Launched
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has announced that it is conducting a blockchain innovation challenge, in partnership with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Together, ONC and NIST are calling upon participants to submit white papers that address ways in which blockchain technology could be used to benefit healthcare in the United States. The announcement in the Federal Register suggested several potential areas of interest that include smart contracts, better IoT management, new storage systems, digital signatures, and distributed trust.
Those who wish to participate are instructed to send White Papers consisting of no more than ten pages, and each participant is limited to three submissions. Participants who have their submission selected will be invited to present their paper at a workshop to be held late in September, 2016. Additional submission requirements can be found on the Federal Register page used to announce the challenge.
Dutch National Bank to Launch Blockchain Development Campus
Having revealed earlier this year that it has been conducting experiments with its own digital currency, the central bank of the Netherlands - De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) – is preparing to open and support a new blockchain campus. The new facility will be designed to facilitate information sharing and development efforts for banks that are experimenting with blockchain applications. The new campus is projected to open in September. DNB’s hope is that a campus setting might effectively encourage greater cooperation among the various parties currently exploring blockchain technology in the Netherlands.
North Carolina’s Governor Signs Blockchain-Friendly Money Transmitter Act
In an act that surprised virtually no one, North Carolina Governor Pat McRory recently signed the North Carolina Money Transmitter Act into law. The new law is being described as a major positive step toward smarter regulation of cryptocurrencies within the United States, and is widely considered to be blockchain-friendly in its approach. Unlike the New York licensing scheme that has drawn sharp criticism from much of the digital currency and blockchain community, the North Carolina Act was carefully crafted to ensure that it had as little impact as possible on blockchain innovation in the state.
The Act was designed to update North Carolina’s existing law on money transmission so that it included what the state refers to as “virtual currency.” It also provides specific descriptions of the type of business activities that would trigger its provisions. In so doing, it should enable software providers, smart contract firms, multi-sig software companies, miners, and many wallet providers to avoid the licensing provisions.
New McKinsey Report Assesses Blockchain Pros and Cons for Insurance Industry
In a recent report from McKinsey & Company, the management consultant firm shines a spotlight on distributed ledger technology, and tries to assess what its ultimate impact might be on the insurance industry. There are nearly two-dozen startups currently involved in exploring blockchain solutions for the insurance marketplace, so the report offers a timely and sobering examination of potential benefits and possible threats that the new technology could pose for those markets.
While acknowledging that there are some significant benefits that could be realized in the areas of growth facilitation, reduced costs, and improved efficiencies, the report saw potential disadvantages as well – particularly in the areas of scalability, lack of standards, and flawed security. Ultimately, the report’s authors conclude that the industry cannot effectively exploit the technology at this point in time, but that exploration should definitely continue.