Category Archives: Brexit

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Ireland Needs Blockchain Workers but Few are Listening

Despite some Irish universities’ push to promote blockchain technology through education, it appears the industry and general public aren’t getting the message if the results of a recent survey have any credibility. Tech PR firm Wachsman has released the results of a survey which indicates that, although the industry is crying out for manpower, three-quarters of Irish people wouldn’t consider a career in a blockchain-related industry.

Ireland currently has a forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology. Earlier this year, National University of Ireland (NUI) authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country.

One of the findings of that study showed that only 40% of companies in Ireland had embraced blockchain technology, which the researchers felt was relatively low, despite Ireland’s 13th position on Bloomberg’s 2018 Innovation Index, with high productivity scores and advanced IT infrastructure.

With the latest Waschman commissioned survey it appears that the situation isn’t changing. “People in Ireland don’t know yet how transformative a technology blockchain is and that it’s such a wide-ranging technology,” claims CEO David Wachsman, suggesting that many feel that the potential for risk is too great.

The problem of “education” has arisen previously in other survey’s illustrating that there is still a lack of industry and public knowledge about DLT and how it functions. This recent survey indicated this lack of understanding was still a prevalent factor in blockchain adoption, with over half of the 1,000 respondents citing the education gap as a barrier. 10% simply thought that they didn’t have the necessary educational backgrounds to work in the industry. Wachsman argued:

“I think there is a risk that Ireland could fall behind, even though it has so many advantages, if people aren’t even willing to consider a career in one of the fastest growing industries. The education gap is real. It’s a severe challenge considering Ireland is a tech hub and should be embracing novel technologies.”

Research leader at NUI Galway, Dr Trevor Clohessy, sees the need for a national initiative to promote the new technology, particularly in the light of, as yet undecided border rules, between Ireland and the north following Brexit:

“…Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”

 

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Crypto Helping Homeless Through Winter on Scotland’s Streets

Scotland may not have gained its independence and its ministers continue to fight Brexit in the UK parliament amid cabinet resignations but with winter coming, at least Scotland’s homeless are getting a helping hand courtesy of cryptocurrency.

These are not good times politically for Scotland but spare a thought for those facing a bitter northern winter living on the streets of Glasgow. Cryptocurrency startup, the Scotcoin Project, clearly have, linking up with non-profit venture Social Bite to fight homelessness.

The project’s aim is to fund charity ventures and fight poverty in Scotland by generating enough funds to place the country’s homeless in rented accommodation and get them off the streets and on their feet in the cold weather. By donating GBP 5 to the homeless fund for every GBP 20 earned from its Scotcoin token sales, the project is coming just before winter starts to bite.

The winter program will be temporary as the project will looking for permanent accommodation through Scotlands’s “Housing First” program in the long term. Glasgow Housing First provides:

“… mainstream social housing and 24-hour support to individuals who are homeless, aged 18 or over and involved in drug misuse. The service places homeless individuals directly into independent tenancies in Glasgow with no requirement to progress through transitional housing programs. By sustaining a permanent tenancy in Glasgow, service users are in a better position to access community support, health care, and social benefits.”

Scotcoin almost became a victim of the country’s independence referendum on 18 September 2014, which resulted in a no-vote; a decision which is still having repercussions today, given that the country voted against Brexit by a majority in 2016 but are still bound to Westminster’s legislation.

Before the independence vote went the wrong the way for Scottish Nationalists, Scotcoin was being held up by its creators as a pro-independence cryptocurrency of Scotland, allowing the country to replace the pound if the country had voted “yes”.

Scotcoin’s leading stakeholder Temple Melville calls the project “an inspiring initiative” and indicated that the match between his company and Social Bite was a natural one as they were already operating in the same field: “One of our stated objectives is to help eradicate homelessness, and Social Bite is already well established within this area.”

Temple claims that he has received funding of a staggering USD 2 billion pledge from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos; if this figure is accurate, with the 4-1 bonus system this would make a huge impact on the homeless project to the tune of USD 50 million. Temple commented:

“We have several thousand holders of Scotcoin and have holders in more than 50 countries worldwide… On migration to our new [Counterparty] blockchain, present holders of Scotcoin will be rewarded for their support by receiving a 4-for-1 bonus, an effective increase in the value of up to 5 times.”

 

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UK Crypto to Flourish Despite Brexit Fears, Say Experts

Experts in the UK have indicated that Brexit augurs well for cryptocurrency regardless of concerns about the direction of Britain’s economy after March 2019.

UK Chancellor Philip Hammond’s August forecast that the UK could see an 87.7 percent hit to GDP and a £80 billion black hole in public finances in a no-deal scenario holds no concern for many cryptocurrency experts.

Mike Romanov, chief executive of Digital Securities Exchange (DSX) sees Brexit as a further way of the UK establishing its own rules for cryptocurrency trading which will push the sector forward, arguing that, “Britain is already looking at how it can maintain its dominance in financial services post Brexit, even as some major players abandon ship ahead of March next year.”

This is not only a positive outcome for conventional financial markets according to Romanov, but the UK taking back rulemaking could have a significant impact on the trading of digital currency. He suggests:

“As such, crypto could present a big opportunity. While the EU looks to apply regulation at an EU level, taking it out of the control of member states, Britain could be free to apply its own rules and shape itself to become a well-regulated and crypto friendly market that looks to nurture the future of this financial movement rather than eye it with an air of suspicion and cynicism.”

Cryptology’s chief commercial officer Herbert Sim also feels that bureaucracy will take a dent when Britain pulls out and that this has to be a good thing for crypto movement in the financial environment. He suggests that “…leaving the EU will give the UK decision-making capabilities on areas that the EU’s bureaucratic processes can be desperately slow to decide on.” The opening of foreign crypto markets outside of Europe will positively impact the status quo, Sim suggests. Another CEO, Iqbal Gandham from eToro, claims that any volatility from Brexit will be short-lived:

“We are already seeing crypto assets used as an alternative in less stable economies, and Brexit could spark a new wave of investment from people looking to diversify their portfolios and hedge against geopolitical risk.”

However, all these positivity comes with a warning according to Romanov who comments that Britain needs to maintain its competitive edge, “What can’t happen is for Britain to become scared of its own financial shadow and water down the investment it’s made into new technologies, all in a bid to placate the traditional financial services world.”

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Coinbase Secures Ireland Office as Brexit Safety Net

On Monday, major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced the opening of a new office in Ireland’s capital of Dublin. The move is said to prevent any risks to the company associated with the UK leaving the European Union (EU).

With the UK scheduled to break off from the EU and possibly its entire regulatory framework, Coinbase has been forced to relocate its European hub from its London offices, although the London branches will remain in place to service the UK. According to Coinbase, the EU was its fasted growing market in 2017 and Ireland was most well equipped to provide the expertise needed to take this on.

Ireland’s Minister for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D’Arcy T.D, praised the cryptocurrency exchange’s decision, saying it is a reflection of the country’s growing competitiveness in the financial services industry.

Speaking to UK-based news outlet the Guardian, Coinbase’s UK CEO Zeeshan Feroz said that in the case of a so-called hard Brexit that sees the UK leaving the European Customs Union, the exchange cannot risk not being able to provide the same level of service to customers located in Europe.

Feroz added that in addition to providing a Brexit contingency plan, the Dublin office will be well-placed to benefit the burgeoning Irish cryptocurrency economy and provide a number of skilled tech jobs, alongside growing the national technology sector.

While the Dublin branch assuming the role as EU leader may come as a blow to the UK, Feroz believes that there is a way the government can make Brexit work in its favor for the cryptocurrency industry.

”I am of the view today that there is an opportunity for Britain post-Brexit to perhaps take the lead in offering “balanced regulation” for the sector,” he told the Guardian, adding “In general, and outside of Brexit, I think crypto should be regulated as a service. There are businesses out there like ours that handle billions of dollars or pounds every day.”

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UK Finance Minister Sees Blockchain Solution for Post-Brexit Irish Border

The UK’s finance minister Philip Hammond thinks he may have found an answer to the issue of trade across the Irish border after Brexit takes place: tracking cross-border trade with blockchain.

At the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Hammond said that despite his lack of expertise in the area, blockchain seemed to be the ”obvious” choice of technology to manage the Irish border once Great Britain leaves the European Union and, as Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal looks now, also the EU Customs Union.

The border is a particularly intricate issue in the Brexit dealings as it resembles many inter-state borders in the EU in being both inconspicuous, and having 200 public roads crossing into Northern Ireland. The free passage of people has been allowed since 1923 and of goods since 1993, but leaving the EU customs union means that some form of border controls would need to be established.

Blockchain could be seen as part of a solution to the issue, as it would enable the relevant government departments to track the movement of goods in a transparent, immutable, and non-invasive way. Similar logistics projects have sprung up over the globe in the last few years, including one such service from computer technology giant IBM and a sustainable sugarcane project looking to track sugar cane entering Australia.

Irish academics are on board with the idea, with the National University of Ireland (NUI) publishing a report earlier this year calling on the government to promote blockchain in Ireland. NUI offers several ways that awareness and adoption of blockchain can be encouraged in Ireland while arguing that this will enable economic growth.

As a leading nation in blockchain technology, the UK’s reputation in the field would also benefit from such a large, state-run project such as that proposed by Hammond.

 

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What Lies Ahead for Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies, Post-Brexit?

A Britain-based CEO has suggested that post-Brexit, cryptocurrencies will benefit the UK as they have key advantages over fiat currencies.

Danial Daychopan of Crypto company Plutus, suggests that due to the pound and euro’s interdependence and the fact that they are both based on other currencies,  allows decentralized cryptocurrencies to offer a “variable and stable alternative” for both consumers and businesses in the post-Brexit UK.

The current lack of direction in Brexit negotiations has led some people to believe that a period of instability is a possibility as both Europe and the UK race towards next year’s deadline. Daychopan sees instability and lack of trust in governments and the global financial system as key to the success of digital currencies. He claims:

“…in economies that aren’t stable, we’re already seeing digital economies developing and thriving. We’re approaching a period of instability and people need to understand that cryptocurrencies are going to be a force for good, not just tokens to be speculated upon.”

In terms of where cryptocurrencies sit once Britain’s departure from the EU becomes a reality, it is still unclear how Brexit will affect the future of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in both zones. The EU including the UK, with the exception of only 6 states, has signed up to the EU Blockchain Partnership which will promote the future exchange of expertise in order to launch EU wide blockchain-based applications across the single digital market.

The EU has called for cryptocurrency regulation at both European and G20 level and would clearly like to regulate the industry from Brussels, a further possible complication for the UK. As current members of the “EU Blockchain Observatory Forum” the UK has already benefited from membership with the EU’s fintech market, now valued at $6 billion.

Kay Swinburne, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), argues that bodies such as the EU Blockchain Observatory Forum are not essential to the UK advancing its fintech impact after Brexit. The UK, with its new crypto haven Gibraltar, having advanced significantly down the cryptocurrency and blockchain route, may be well placed to withstand significant damage to its fintech markets on withdrawal.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU it is also reportedly planning to create its own crypto regulations before 2019. The EU has already passed its own blockchain resolution for a post-Brexit Europe in order to remain a global fintech hub.

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