The Chamber of Digital Commerce’s Smart Contracts Symposium this week included a panel that focused its attention on blockchain smart contracts and the difficulties regulators could face as they try to exercise their oversight power. The panel included two representatives from U.S. regulatory agencies: the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The representatives acknowledged that both agencies have been closely monitoring the rise of distributed ledger technology.
This week saw the launch of yet another blockchain consortium, as the Korea Financial Investment Association successfully completed the launch of a consortium that will include five blockchain firms and twenty-one financial investment firms. The group signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to seal the deal.
BTC Inc. announced this week that it will be holding its first-ever Distributed: Markets blockchain conference at the Ritz-Carlton in Atlanta, Georgia, on February 27. The one-day event is expected to include more than four dozen speakers from around the world, and will offer five keynote presentations and fifteen other sessions that will focus attention on distributed ledger technology’s role in various sectors of the economy like payments, insurance, capital markets, and digital assets. According BTC Inc., the goal of the event will be to facilitate interaction between stakeholders to help develop the framework necessary for greater adoption of this technology. Program Director Tyler Evans described BTC’s objective for the conference:
One of Japan’s largest banking interests, Mizuho, has successfully tested a cryptocurrency that it created in collaboration with IBM Japan as a means to achieve lower money transfer costs. According to a report published by the Nikkei Asian Review, the new digital currency was being tested from July to September, 2016, via an app designed to calculate dinner party participants’ share of the dinner tab.
A new report released this week by blockchain startup Digital Asset Holdings claims that the company has created a blockchain-based platform that will preserve trade confidentiality. If those claims are correct, the platform could help to remove one of the major obstacles to more widespread adoption of blockchain technology by the financial industry. The announcement comes on the heels of Digital Asset CEO Blythe Masters’ recent remarks about sensitive data:
Many people paint a mental picture in their heads of crony capitalism as a room full of old rich guys, smoking cigars, watching the ticker, and counting piles of money freshly squeezed from peasant folk. In reality, crony capitalism is more about the government wielding their monopoly of unquestionable force to choose which private businesses are winners, and which ones are losers. Some might compare crony capitalism to fascist style control over the private sector. Mega corporations and unions have very deep pockets and can buy favors such as subsidies or favorable regulation that can give them an almost monopolistic advantage over small businesses. Governments should instead be championing small businesses and all the real economic benefits they bring to the country, because without a fair and level playing field, many of these small enterprises will fail.
Cryptocurrency can play a role in ending this cycle, helping free markets thrive once again.
The United States Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) will be hosting a public meeting on December 9, 2016, to explore and promote options for improving the online marketplace. That meeting is scheduled to be held in the Madison Auditorium at the United States Patent and Trademark Office from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, and will focus on digital rights for copyrighted works, digital registry interoperability, and new technologies like the blockchain. Interested parties can view a live webcast online.
Indian English-language newspaper The Hindu recently reported that Bitcoin firm GBMiners has announced the launch of Satoshi Studios – the first blockchain incubator for the Southeast Asian region. The incubator, named for Bitcoin’s mysterious creator, is being supported by Amaze Mining & Blockchain Research Ltd and GBMiners co-founder Amit Bharadwaj, who said, “Our vision is to build New Delhi as the blockchain knowledge hub of Southeast Asia.”
On November 30, 2016, tech policy coalition Financial Innovation Now (FIN) publicly called for President-elect Donald J. Trump to commit to the promotion of new FinTech solutions for America’s financial services. The call for action was made in a letter sent to Trump’s transition team and published on the coalition’s website. In addition to congratulating Trump on his electoral victory, FIN noted that the incoming President’s promise of change and lifetime of business experience could place him in a unique position to “make America great at innovating in financial services and growing these jobs here at home.”
The Nikkei Asian Review reported earlier this week that three of the largest banks in Japan had been testing domestic money transfer speeds on the blockchain. Their tests demonstrated that the blockchain transfer speeds are comparable to those seen on existing bank transfer systems. Though the banks have not yet been identified, they reportedly spent much of this past year testing their proof of concept in a research forum that also included Tokyo’s bitFlyer Bitcoin exchange and Deloitte Tohmatsu. Those tests ended in September.
Within the industry, there is a divide in opinion as to whether or not it is a good idea to use web wallets. The lack of trust toward governments and financial institutions, as well as losses suffered due to some unscrupulous exchange operators and other scams, has left a bitter mark on a lot of people. This group believes that everyone should hold onto their own cryptocurrencies. What many of them fail to consider are the obstacles mass adoption faces if the only option people have is to store their funds on a downloaded desktop or mobile wallet.
Downloading a wallet, whether it is for bitcoin or another digital currency, has been a tough sell with the mainstream public. Whether it is because they erroneously feel you need a great deal of technology knowledge, distrust and fear downloading anything, or they simply suffer from sheer cryptocurrency bewilderment, it is clear there needs to be some sort of bridge that makes it both easier to get started and has a degree of familiarity people can relate to.
Chinese investment firm Huiyin Group this week launched a new subsidiary fund called Huiyin Blockchain Ventures (HBV). The funding vehicle will be used to provide investment in Bitcoin-related companies. The fund has been started with an initial $20 million in capital which HBV will invest during 2017. Huiyin also announced that James Wo will be responsible for managing the fund. Wo is the son of the founder of Huiyin Group. Wo will be advised by Andrew Lee, the CEO of Purse.
On Thursday, BitLendingClub confirmed that it will be terminating its P2P Bitcoin lending platform in 2017. The announcement was made in a blog post confirming the details of an earlier email that had sparked a flurry of rumors throughout the day. BitLendingClub cited regulatory pressure as the reason for the planned shutdown, but assured its users that the platform will continue to provide “minimal functionality” for existing users so that current loans can be repaid and funds can be withdrawn. Restrictions on functionality are expected to begin as early as next week.
In a press release this week, the UK’s Royal Mint announced that it will be launching a blockchain-based product called Royal Mint Gold (RMG) in 2017. RMG is the result of a joint effort with Chicago’s CME Group futures exchange, and is intended to provide an innovative way for exchange users to trade gold. The Royal Mint Gold units will each serve as a digital ownership record representing actual physical gold stored at a Royal Mint bullion vault near Cardiff. The trading platform will use blockchain technology to facilitate the digital transactions.
A federal judge in the Northern District of California issued a ruling today that granted the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) the authority to demand digital currency user information from the Coinbase exchange. The IRS request for court approval of the so-called “John Doe” summons was presented to the court earlier in November by the Department of Justice to meet statutory guidelines that require court approval for any summons that fails to identify that targeted person or persons by name. The summons seeks information about Coinbase’s US customers who executed digital currency transactions between 2013 and 2015.
R3 has released the source code for its Corda blockchain prototype, in a post on the Github code-sharing website. The company also launched a new website called Corda.net that provides developers and others access to Corda-related resources like the Corda forum, documentation, and links to the Corda download page on Github. Last month, R3 had committed to making Corda open source by November 30, 2016. Today’s release was right on schedule.
The island nation, Bermuda, receives interest from financial giants, boosting potential operations and investment. R3, a tech company, wanted to hit home how important distributed ledger technology could be to island operations and business.
Thinking about the Bitcoin industry and attracting new users, there are three aspects to the experience. Buying bitcoin, using Bitcoin, converting Bitcoin to local currency. For most people that are likely to use Bitcoin itself, these are the three main activities that need to work for them. Advances have been made, but Bitcoin is still struggling with providing a complete user friendly experience for that first point of contact with the industry, buying Bitcoin. However, a new payment structure offered by a partnership with Blockchain and payment startup Coinify hopes to change this by allowing direct funding of a Blockchain wallet using a credit or debit card.
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Uquid Facilitates Altcoin Use on Visa Network
House Ag Committee Calls on CFTC to Focus on Digital Currency Regulations Now
Hiroshi Nakaso, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan, reveals directed efforts to include Fintech and blockchain technology into the Japanese banking system. Nakaso also shot down rumors that Japan had plans to repeal current currency in exchange for a digital version.