Category Archives: EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum

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Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

Multi Company Blockchain Initiative Launched In Brussels

A European Commission initiative called the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) has been launched in Brussels.

With over 100 firms represented in the new project which is designed to bring developers in tandem the newly formed INATBA sees itself as a “global multi-stakeholder forum” aimed at further promoting blockchain across different sectors in Europe.

With members such as SWIFT, IBM, Ripple, banks such as Barclays, and notables from the cryptocurrency space such as ConsenSys AG, crypto mining firm Bitfury, wallet leader Ledger, and IOTA, the new body packs a punch.

The project has been an initiative in waiting for some months up to yesterday’s launch in Brussels. The European Commission itself has been proactive launching its won initiatives with a similar aim to the INATBA, most notably forming the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) along with 22 member countries to support the delivery of cross-border digital public services. Also last year, the EU launched the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, also including ConsenSys amongst its membership.

INATBA has laid out its specific aims as protecting and ensuring both “legal predictability”, and “integrity and transparency” in blockchain by dialogue between regulators, policymakers and participants in the industry.

Also in Europe, the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAFM) has praised blockchain’s potential to “support Europe’s unity at a fundamental level” by improving the union’s asylum protocol.

BAFM published findings of its study on 26 March in a white paper, detailing how blockchain could be used in the case of identifying refugees using the immutable technology.

 

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Italy Hires 30 Experts to Man New Blockchain Task Force

After signing a declaration with six other EU states this month to integrate blockchain into European economies, the Italian Government has taken a bold step further by manning its new blockchain advisory board with 30 experts.

All the major board members come from the industry: Angiolini Giorgio, head of marketing portfolio at a telecom firm Italtel and also a member of UN INFO’s blockchain group; Monaco Marco, leader of the blockchain competence center at PwC Italy; Pimpinella Martino Maurizio, president of the Italian Association of Paying Services Providers; and Vitale Marco, president of blockchain firm Quadrans Foundation.

The board has been in the pipeline since September 2018 when The Ministry of Economic Development called for more government focus to “know, deepen and address the issue of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and blockchain, as well as increase public and private investments in this direction.

This view was highlighted by comments at the end of last year from Italy’s deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio, when he suggested that: “Emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain are destined to radically change our lives, the society in which we live and the economic and productive fabric of the country. We have to decide which way to go.”

Italy became the 27th nation to sign the agreement to join the European Blockchain Partnership since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

The main aims of the new Italian advisory group are to examine future use cases for blockchain in both public and private sectors and establish appropriate tools for governing its use.

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Italy Flexes Regulatory Muscle with Non-Compliant Crypto Exchanges

Italian regulators, the Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB), is tightening its grip on cryptocurrency firms who don’t comply with the commission’s regulations.

Three companies have been cited in a CONSOB statement as receiving suspensions from operating their services, two companies receiving three-month suspensions and one banned from operating for an indefinite period spanning months.

Richmond Investing was the first to come under the regulator’s microscope, principally for failing to meet Italian laws regarding the operation of cryptocurrency online trading platforms. Richmond failed to register to as a mediator offering finance-related services contravening the principal Consolidated Law on Finance (TUF).

Another company, Crypton Limited, was penalized for contravening another law applying to cryptocurrency trading, accused of making inappropriate promotions and advertisements. Crypton was hit with a 3-month operating suspension, as was Eagle Bit Trade for apparently offering wildcat trading packages to Italian investors.

Cease and desist actions are not uncommon as a global repositioning is underway regarding cryptocurrency regulation with most countries now re-examining how they plan to regulate the space for both the protection of the public. Also, there is a growing need to offer greater clarity to exchanges and fintech companies regarding operating protocols across jurisdictions.

Italy is also in this position as it continues to work towards establishing a formal framework for cryptocurrency exchanges to work within, including, like many other nations, addressing digital currency tax laws as they apply to the public.

Italy recently announced that it was about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, an organization formed to promote blockchain technology between member states.

In doing so, Italy became the 27th nation to sign the agreement since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

 

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Italy Consolidates Blockchain Position in EU Partnership

Italy has announced that it is about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, an organization formed to promote blockchain technology between member states.

On doing so, Italy has become the 27th nation to sign the agreement since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

The partnership has expressed a positive view in the past towards blockchain development and  adoption among EU nations:

“In the future, all public services will use blockchain technology. The blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and member states to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies.”

The awaited addition of Italy marks the final step in all EU nations becoming contributors. Italian member of Parliament (MP) Mirella Liuzzi was delighted with the Brussels signing on 28 September:

“Joining the partnership will allow Italy… to define its own line in the development of [blockchain] technology — a practice which the previous government had never implemented.”

Italy is seeing an increasing interest in cryptocurrencies as well. Naples is considering launching a municipal coin with the support of the local mayor, and areas of southern Italy have recently expressed a desire to launch their own cryptocurrency to extend autonomy.

Italy’s neighbor Germany has been making its mark in the crypto-space for some time, with Berlin becoming a well-known blockchain hub among industry players across the EU. Currently, the vibrant city is home to 120 startups.

With recent news from the Boerse Stuttgart Group, which is currently building its own infrastructure to accommodate cryptocurrencies, Germany is certainly in the game, the exchange being the second largest in the country and ninth largest in Europe.

A recent report from Handelsblatt Global has revealed that 13% of German companies are now involved with blockchain in the energy market. The WSW project in Wuppertal, which allows customers to create their own green energy selections online, uses blockchain to ensure that no wind or solar power units can be sold more than once.

 

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GDPR May Stifle Blockchain Innovation, Finds EU Report

The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum has released a report warning that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws instated by the European Union (EU) earlier this year may prevent effective blockchain innovation taking place.

The Blockchain Innovation in Europe report cites a lack of clarity in the legal framework regarding personal data and blockchain technology as a major issue for entrepreneurs and developers working in the EU. The report states that it “can put a brake on innovation”.

Friction between GDPR and blockchain

One of the crucial issues discussed is the incompatibility with a decentralized blockchain network to erase person data, with GDPR giving citizens the right to have their information erased upon their request. To enforce these right, GDPR requires a central authority to be held accountable, something lacking in the structural nature of a decentralized blockchain network.

Permissionless blockchains can also not be guaranteed to comply with GDPR restrictions that require data to only be transferred to third parties outside of the EU who offer equal data protection regulations.

Thus, applications built on a blockchain are being threatened by unclear laws regulating them.

A need to update GDPR?

The report claims that these conflicts are not addressed because during the time GDPR policies were being constructed, blockchain was not as popular with developers, nor nearly as well known and utilized as it is now. This means that the laws were written with an implicit assumption any database would operate with a centralized authority for processing data.

However, the investigatory review does claim that blockchain could in the future evolve to become key in promoting data sovereignty and the further goals of GDPR. With more research and development, blockchain could theoretically have compliance supported in the code of platforms and applications.

For now though, with hope, the report will influence EU lawmakers to clarify what is required from blockchain developers to prevent the industry from moving out of the union.

 

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