Category Archives: DLT

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Forbes “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies” List Released

Forbes “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies,” List Released

Forbes has released its high flyer list of blockchain users which indicates which of these companies has valuations or revenues of USD 1 billion.

The usual high flyers are as expected including Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, ING, Mastercard, Microsoft, and Nestle, with crypto-companies such as Coinbase, Ripple, and Bitfury putting in a show.

Interestingly Forbes goes a bit further on the blockchain front by flagging the use of blockchain in the non-crypto domain. The list points to where the action is and who the players are when it comes to blockchain protocols, with a nod to companies such as the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC) which records a mammoth 90 million transactions daily.

Firms using R3’s Corda protocol and the Ethereum network are also listed on Forbes’ breakdown, and blockchain based solutions utilized across many different sectors including food companies, supply chain management firms and others including banking. R3 itself leads a consortium of more than 200 financial institutions in research and development of DLT usage in the financial system and other commercial sectors.

Corda was designed for dealing with complex transactions and security and is expected to have many of the benefits of the blockchain. A new version of Corda was released earlier this year aimed specifically at businesses, called Corda Enterprise, it includes a blockchain applications firewall.

It was unsurprising to see Walmart on the list. The US retail giant has applied for numerous blockchain patents and has become a leader in applying new technology to the supply chain sector. Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT supply chains since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of the new technology in sectors including business and commerce.

 

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World Bank Says DLT Can Drive Cross-Border Payments

World Bank Says DLT Can Drive Cross-Border Payments

A senior financial specialist at the World Bank has released a paper which claims that distributed ledger technology could help bring down remittance costs and improve cross-border payments compliance.

The World bank blog also states the “industry is ripe for disruption“, citing DLT as being well positioned to make its mark. The post was written by World Bank senior financial sector specialist Marco Nicoli along with Rodrigo Mejia-Ricart, research and public policy analyst at the United Nations and Camilo Tellez, head of research and innovation at the Better than Cash Alliance. The post criticizes current traditional B2B cross-border payments as being too slow and points out the faults quite succinctly:

“Moving funds through the current corridors requires transferal through the relevant domestic payment systems, which often have different operating hours and are located in different time zones… For certain corridors, the funds must be routed through several banks and intermediaries before they reach their destination, leading to higher fees and slower payment settlement.”

There is a multitude of options operating within the payment space, making it hard for DLT to find a position which users trust, tied for years to traditional systems, and dependent on them despite their pitfalls. The paper suggests that cost, one major burden for users of current payment systems, could be reduced if existing companies followed models such as Ripple, Circle, Swift, Visa, and JPMorgan, who are all active within the space, and currently bringing new innovations to the cross-border payment sector.

One major area of concern which was seen as a hurdle to the take up of DLT in this sector was a general distrust of such solutions due to industry concerns and misunderstanding regarding the nature of cryptocurrency, borne from the same technology.

Other concerns were raised on the subject of bringing DLT into direct competition with established CBP systems such as security, governance rules for protocols, recourse mechanisms for users, privacy, and scalability.

 

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Swiss Federal Council Begins National Blockchain Framework Changes

Swiss Federal Council Begin National Blockchain Framework Changes

The Swiss Federal Council has initiated a consultation period on the adaptation of federal law for blockchain developments.

According to the state-issued press release, the consultation will be an opportunity to improve the framework for blockchain and other decentralized technologies in Switzerland. Specifically, it will look to increase legal certainty, restrict risks associated with misuse of the technologies and remove obstacles for blockchain-backed applications, most predominantly looking at use-cases in the financial sector.

The council first published a blockchain report in December last year addressing the current circumstances, then making it clear they would be prepared to make changes to the existing framework to provide a ”leading, innovative and sustainable location for fintech and DLT companies.”

There will be a revision of the current anti-money laundering policies, with an amendment to theAnti-Money Laundering Ordinance scheduled.

Several policy adjustments have already been proposed also, including the separation of cryptocurrency assets in the event of bankruptcy, as well as establishing a digital registration of rights in the Swiss Code of Obligations.

The Federal Council’s consultation period is scheduled to last until late June 2019.

 

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Crypto Community Happy with Switzerland’s New Industry Friendly President

Switzerland has a new rotating president as its former finance minister Ueli Maurer takes over the helm after overseeing the country’s financial sector for 3 years.

The move is seen as a positive one in the eyes of Switzerland’s burgeoning cryptocurrency community, as Maurer had been at the helm of numerous positive developments in the crypto arena during his role as a finance minister.

As finance minister, Maurer has helped his country’s financial sector adapt to the changing face of the finance, particularly in its adoption of regulations overseeing the cryptocurrency sector; industry-friendly regulations which are much admired by many nations around the world who are also in the process of regulating new financial technologies.

The government’s liberal blockchain regulations are one of the reasons that Switzerland has become a world-class playground for start-ups and successful blockchain enterprises. The Alpine nation’s latest announcement regarding DLT and its increasingly prevalent place in the country’s financial sector is a new strategy for amending current outmoded laws. The strategy also calls for the integration of cryptocurrencies into the heart of Switzerland’s economic plan.

A blockchain task force of blockchain industry stakeholders was formed last year when it became clear that emerging technologies were gaining traction within the Swiss financial economy.

Switzerland’s biggest hurdle, a factor which President Maurer has acknowledged in the past, remains the reluctance of Swiss banks to service cryptocurrency businesses and exchanges, an issue which is still causing concerns in the industry and one that has recently prompted companies to consider moving to more favorable jurisdictions for banking.

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Chile Looks to Incorruptible Tax Collection Using DLT

Chile Looks to Incorruptible Tax Collection Using DLT

Chile’s Treasury Department is looking to blockchain technology in order to streamline its tax collection programme.

The Chilean Government has taken this step due to losses incurred over time in the process of collecting taxes. The new programme under consideration would use DLT to create an incorruptible automatic quadrature system hosting multiple nodes.

The current system has resulted in losses in revenues at the end of each month as the Treasury Department shares information with three other organizations which adds further complexity. The new blockchain based measures will ensure that collected taxes will be redirected to the municipality through the banking system. Any interference in this process will be detected and rejected as all client information will be stored in incorruptible nodes.

Ximena Hernández, the Treasurer of General Treasury of the Republic stated that greater effectiveness and efficiency was the aim of the new updated DLT measures. He said:

“Nowadays the Digital Transformation will allow us to be much more efficient, more effective, to have greater proximity to our taxpayers and thus also to our own users. We will be able to give a better service.”

Both the Philippines and Thailand have integrated DLT solutions into their tax collection programmes over the past months. In the UK, member of parliament Eddie Hughes, an outspoken promoter of blockchain and cryptocurrency, has raised eyebrows among his more conservative peers and suggested that citizens should be given the option to pay their council taxes to local authorities in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ether.

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SWIFT Fights Fire with Fire, Lining Up Blockchain Payment Trials

SWIFT Fights Fire with Fire, Lining Up Blockchain Payment Trials

Last year, Ripple threw down the gauntlet, offering a major challenge to the well-used Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) payment system. And now, the highly respected payments system is turning to blockchain to keep it ahead of the game.

SWIFT is launching trials for its new Payment Validation System”, after bringing in its “integrated payment validation” into action last December in an attempt to compete with emerging blockchain companies.

Late last year SWIFT India and MonetaGo teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security, with the plan to be able to service all Indian banks in the future by using the shared network.

Ripple, itself no slouch, has just joined three other partners to form a regional alliance called Blockchain for Europe in order to bring together what it describes as “fragmented” voices in Europe into a “more unified whole” in matters of the blockchain. Such moves are sure to offer confidence to intuitional players such as American Express, in the fact that Ripple is becoming a far more representative voice for the blockchain industry as a whole, despite its Bitcoin purist detractors.

Ripple has done as its name suggests, making a worldwide case for its native token XRP as a banking and digital money transfer service worthy of competing with many older systems. Clearly, the pressure has had some impact on SWIFT, resulting in its continuing interest in utilizing DLT solutions for its banking services.

SWIFT clearly wants to demonstrate that it can hold off challenges for the number one spot by examining its services and establishing where improvements can be made. The new Payments Validation pilot now has 14 major banks involved in its current error-finding project. SWIFT stated in an official release that:

“The pilot is the first stage in the roll-out of the ambitious gpi validation program. The goal of the pilot is to build the foundation of a new integrated and interactive service that will significantly improve efficiencies in the payments process and which will ultimately be made available to all 10,000 banks across the SWIFT network.”

Ripple’s chief market strategist, Cory Johnson, was quick to release a video in response which highlighted the benefits of Ripple Blockchain solutions.

 

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IG of Police in India Wary About Crypto Investments

IG of Police in India Wary About Crypto Investments

The news outlet Business Standard reported yesterday that Jammu and Kashmir police in India have issued a public warning with regard to investing in cryptocurrencies, noting the associated heightened risks.

The Inspector General of the police crime branch issued the warning in a statement saying: “The general public is informed not to make any type of investment in cryptocurrencies, virtual currencies such as bitcoin because there is a real and heightened risk associated with them,” citing the instability of the market values of the digital asset class.

His concerns were especially directed towards retailers who were at risk of losing their “hard earned money” as a result of exposure to “sudden and prolonged crash.” He further cautioned the citizens of the state to be wary of such investments as they are not backed as a “legal tender” and not under the control of any “central financial institution.”

India has been careful on deciding a suitable regulatory oversight of digital assets and has in the recent months been more focused on the blockchain and AI technology aspects than yielding to the acceptance of cryptocurrency within its walls.

The final draft for a crypto-bill which was expected last month is yet to be released meanwhile a rather strange development ensued. Just a few days back, the Central Bank of India pulled back from its state-issued cryptocurrency project. This was rather puzzling as few days before the project was shelved, a local English news outlet reported on the possibility of legalizing digital currencies, according to an unnamed official.

However, recent stats from its population reveal that those currently involved with bitcoin stands at an amazing 2.5 million. One could say that an approximate 5% of the total population of India into cryptocurrency isn’t a fact to ignore.

On the bright side, it would seem that some within the government are optimistic about the distributed ledger technology and the fight is only against bitcoin, altcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general – since it has decided to stop its own “crypto-rupee” indefinitely.

 

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Binance CEO Displays Christmas Optimism

Binance CEO Displays Christmas Optimism

The CEO of Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, has continued with his optimistic slant for the company as the new year approaches.

Terming 2018 as the “year of correction”, Changpeng Zhao is maintaining that current prices are a real boon for investors and this fact along with the increasing volume of DLT applications being produced by developers will push the adoption of cryptocurrencies even further forward in 2019.

Zhao sees worldwide regulation of blockchain cryptocurrency space as a positive claiming that this has been long overdue. He maintains the correct legislation will have the effect of promoting and encouraging the industry rather than slowing down growth.

The company has led from the front ending the year with some major projects., particularly since the launch of its labs program. Binance Labs, the venture wing of the largest cryptocurrency exchange, supports new blockchain startups and cryptocurrency projects through technical assistance and direct investment. Binance describes the project as an initiative to incubate, invest, and empower blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, projects, and communities.

The initiative to support early-stage blockchain projects has already yielded results, with right projects emerging from the program.

Zhang has also revealed that Binance Labs will launch new incubator programs in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Singapore, and Hong Kong from March 2019, offering the same 10-week course. Regarding the inclusion of Buenos Aires and Lagos, Zhang commented:

“Those two emerging markets have native blockchain and crypto use cases. So we hope to find teams solving local problems like payments, the instability of local currencies, or remittance problems.”

Even today at this late stage of the year, Christmas has been put on hold although clearly represented with Zhang announcing that the Binance Charity Foundation, the exchange’s philanthropic arm, had launched a blockchain powered charity project to support youth in Malta. This project will support terminally ill patients and disadvantaged children in Malta and Gozo.

 

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Macron’s Got Problems but Blockchain Ain’t One

Macron's Got Problems but Blockchain Ain't One

French President Emmanuel Macron is seeing his popularity wane by the day due to his planned reforms for business and industry but new technologies appear to be flourishing under the current government, regardless of current discontentment.

Blockchain, in particular, has been earmarked and the latest news of IBM’s new initiatives and investments which should bring 1,800 jobs to France won’t hurt either. Nor will IBM’s new French project with P-TECH to support the disadvantages in finding work. In fact, France is on the crest of a blockchain wave currently, despite Macron’s reforms being soundly rejected. With overturned cars burning in Paris streets it seems hard to imagine that French politicians have got anything right under the current regime.

Perhaps a hint of this shifting focus towards new technologies by a Macron government was the dabbling with taxation this year, with the government finally settling on dropping the tax on cryptocurrency to 17%… for the time being. Clearly, the government doesn’t want to stifle an industry which it is now openly promoting, suggesting that it should now benefit from an EUR 500 million  state handout.

Member of the National Assembly, Laure de La Raudière, is one of those calling for the money, who sees efficiency as an end product arguing that government should follow private industry’s lead using DLT. She says: “I draw the alarm: it’s time to invest. There are not yet established positions in the world.”

She also cited the certification of diplomas or administrative documents as potential use cases. France’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe is another sold on blockchain although taking some criticism on the subject of allowing Bitcoin to be dispersed in tabacs around France via a ticketing system. In other areas, he’s on safer ground:

“Take the example of agribusiness. To have an interesting blockchain in terms of traceability and food security, it is necessary to bring together distributors, producers, logisticians, the industrialists… And do not let only one actor manage the network as Carrefour or Casino can do today.”

Carrefour was the first to set the blockchain clock ticking with its produce monitoring program being introduced into some of its supermarkets earlier this year, a move recently followed in Spain.

The multi-party suggestion that France should receive massive financial banking to promote blockchain has occurred according to De la Raudière because she believes that she is not alone in wanting to see France as a leader rather than a follower in Europe. She argues, “France must have a conquering philosophy on the subject with the State in the first place, both as a user and federator of projects.”

Other suggestions coming from the recent parliamentary report highlight a call for the opening of bank accounts for blockchain-centered businesses which must register with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French stock market regulator.

 

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South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

Data collection using available new technologies continues to benefit from the application of DLT, a fact that a Manhattan hospital is discovering for itself through a new collaboration with blockchain startup Medibloc.

The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), one of the United States’ top five hospitals, cites its project as being one of the first attempts by a major healthcare institution in the country to connect with a blockchain startup in order to create a system of decentralized patient data.

Using blockchain platforms means that only authorized medical professionals can use the patient data, itself secured by sophisticated cryptography and possibly smart contract technology. This also makes it easier for data sharing among health care specialists, assisting with the digitization of healthcare data across networks.

Currently, the MGH gathers its information independently through different bodies such as insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies with no guarantee this information can be transferred securely. This could change if MGH can utilize DLT in the way that it wants to. Synho Do, director of the Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation, a joint venture of MGH and Harvard Medical School, commented:

“In collaboration with Medibloc, we aim to explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange, integrate healthcare AI applications into the day-to-day clinical workflow, and support [a] data sharing and labeling platform for machine learning model development.”

Medibloc itself was born out of the healthcare industry with both of its founders previously working as industry professionals. As doctors, Kho and Eunsol Lee, brought notoriety to their company from industry players, and also from government officials in South Korea, giving Medibloc added credibility. The main asset the startup brings to MGH is the functionality of decentralized information, which hospitals of this size have not explored to date, still preferring to use multiple databases to store and develop data.

Medibloc had formed several Asian partnerships before its latest American project, with eight medical institutions and 14 tech giants now using their services. Plans to begin operating at MGH in the second quarter of 2019 are underway.

 

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