Category Archives: Germany

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Luxembourg Aims to Provide Legal Certainty for Blockchain

The government of Luxembourg is hoping to pass a bill through their legislature which will enable blockchain technology to be backed by an extra layer of legal security.

Tiny landlocked Luxembourg has an important role in the EU as the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the European Community. The bill which is being tabled by the government has been drafted in order to ensure that all blockchain-based transactions have the same level of security and legal stature as of those made without the technology behind them.

The country’s finance minister Pierre Gramegna has suggested that such measures are being introduced as a step to guarantee investor security and confidence in blockchain as a technological tool, suggesting that:

”This was in the best interests of the financial sector, as there have already been transactions done using blockchain, such as distributing parts of investment funds, for example.”

Luxembourg, is continuing to position itself as a blockchain hub in the region; surrounded by France, Germany, and Belgium. It is still in the throws of expanding its development in the sector. In comments made last year by Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister and minister of Telecommunication stated:

“The state is fulfilling its role as a kickstarter and a coordinator while leaving technological and commercial choices to the industry”, whilst facilitating projects which create “meaningful projects in cutting-edge technology.”

The new bill which is expected to pass into legislation is primarily aimed at blockchain and will make no reference to cryptocurrency or ICOs, but will focus on the new technology’s target of promoting new financial goods and services. Luxembourg’s financial regulator the CSSF has not particularly warmed to cryptocurrency in the same way as its neighbours, warning earlier this year that as yet the ICO model is as yet unproven.

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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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Taipei Hospital Goes Blockchain in Line With Its “Smart City” Promise

A hospital in the Taiwan capital of Taipei has developed a blockchain powered platform for record keeping, in-line with the government’s latest healthcare policy.

The new Taipei Medical University Hospital’s “Healthcare Blockchain Platform” will support the Taiwanese government’s drive to improve patient referral services and to enable healthcare networks to facilitate patients accessing their records through a mobile app.

Taiwan’s capital had already announced its desire to become a “smart city” earlier this year. It is planning to integrate blockchain to provide pollution sensors and health history tracking to its population. In February, the governor of Taiwan’s central bank, Yang Chin-long, stated that it was also exploring blockchain.

The new project at the Taipei Medical University Hospital involved over 100 clinics which have been using blockchain to improve the transfer of information to patients. The platform will further enhance current systems by enabling patients easy access to their complete medical history, including images. Likewise, hospitals and medical centers will be able to access these same records using smart contracts

Hospital superintendent Chen Ray-jade sees security as another aspect which can be much improved using the blockchain app, suggesting that:

“blockchain technology not only helps to combine electronic medical records with electronic health records from multiple hospitals and clinics, it also incorporates the additional security feature of notification and consent before any transfer takes place.”

The medical profession has taken to blockchain very quickly, recognizing that such data sharing and record keeping facilities offered by new technology are a huge improvement on many of the outmoded paper-driven and digital systems employed in hospitals today,

In Germany, for example, the use of blockchain in national healthcare has been much discussed over the past few years. Dr. Christina Czeschik, physician and specialist in medical informatics, suggests that the current system of electronic health records (EHR) has many disadvantages that blockchain could bypass, such as those centering around economy, risk, and trustworthiness.

She argues that argues that there are “few other industries in which so many different viewpoints and agendas need to be reconciled to achieve a common goal” – which, in this case, is good patient care.

In the US, Mount Sinai Hospital’s New York-based medical school has established a blockchain research center to explore its medical use case applications. The Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research is set to be part of the hospital’s Institute for Next Generation Healthcare. The institute currently hosts 50 specialist researchers studying progressive healthcare solutions, including the application of robotics, artificial intelligence, wearable medical devices, sensors, and genomic sequencing.

With the US reportedly spending near to 20% of its GDP on healthcare, blockchain technology might be called upon sooner than later to streamline and improve services in the industry.

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Germany’s Biggest Ethereum Meetup Goes 100% Dapps

Germany’s biggest Ethereum meetup in Berlin has announced that is to cover the whole event using decentralized applications (Dapps).

The event ETHBerlin will use Dapps for all services including ticketing, live streaming, hotel booking and raffles.  The event will be held at Factory Berlin, which will be held in two venues from 7 September. One is in the central district of Berlin, Mitte. The other brand new Factory venue is in the middle of the city’s startup scene, Gorlitzer Park.

Currently, there are 1,565 Dapps built on the Ethereum blockchain alone, unsurprising given Ethereum’s historical place in the development of blockchain solutions. Carl Bennet of Status.im suggests that 2019 will become a new dawn for Dapps, suggesting:

“We will see more developers and designers focusing on creating simpler and more familiar user onboarding experiences for mainstream use we’ve come to expect from the applications we use and an overall lower barrier to entry into the crypto ecosystem.”

The suggestion is that Dapps will be the key to widespread crypto adoption, beyond the payments system created by Bitcoin, offering users the ability to interact with cryptocurrencies, while navigating user-friendly mobile and desktop applications, thus bringing digital currencies to the “forefront of social consciousness”.

For this event, ETHBerlin has elected to use an Ethereum-based video streaming app along with a decentralized hotel and apartment booking platform accepting Ether. Raffles, ticketing and event management will also be covered by Ethereum based Dapps. The ETHBerlin team suggests that it is “raising the bar” with Dapps, stating:

“ETHBerlin stands strong, we think that Dapps are the future, so we’ll do whatever it takes to push adoption, and inspire you to build more of them. There is room for all… As a responsible, global community, in constant evolution, as is our ecosystem, we need to understand that it is not enough to absorb these teachings and foundations and just replicate.”

Dapps are clearly on the march this year, mainly because of the influx of funding through ICO token sales enabling further development and testing of new ideas and applications. Within the Ethereum community, there is a general feeling the Dapps are the future replacing intermediary-based centralized systems.

Critics suggest that there are scalability issues, with some suggesting that the Ethereum protocol will need a massive scaling boost to support larger platforms demanding huge transactions.

 

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Germany’s Second Largest Stock Exchange Takes yet Another Step down the Crypto Road

Germany’s second-largest stock exchange, Boerse Stuttgart has taken the step to host Crypto Trading and Coin Offerings.

This follows an earlier announcement that’s its new app, Bison, would be released by Fintech company Sowa Labs, a subsidiary of Boerse Stuggart Digital Ventures, later this year. Boerse Stuggart is Germany’s second-largest stock exchange after Boerse Frankfurt.

The aim now is to extend crypto activities to primary and secondary markets and create a platform from which tokens can be issued. The previously announced Bison trading app will be released in both German and English which will support multiple pairs including BTC, ETH, LTC, and XRP. The app is claimed to be the first that has the support of a major traditional stock exchange.

The intention for Boerse Stuttgart is to keep everything under one roof where hosted ICO coins can be traded alongside leading cryptocurrencies such as BTC and ETH. Chief Executive Officer of Boerse Stuttgart, Alexander Höptner, explained:

“At the trading venue tokens issued via our ICO platform can be traded on the secondary market. This is an important success factor for ICOs. At the same time, we are responding to demand from both retail and institutional investors for a regulated and reliable environment for trading cryptocurrencies.”

Höptner said that this will give the exchange the opportunity to offer “central services along the value chain for digital assets, all under one roof.”

Boerse Stuttgart’s Subsidiary Sowa Labs conducted a survey of 1,019 German crypto traders earlier this year asking for their opinion on virtual currencies. Of the respondents, 81% were male, 19% were female, and 54% were 35 years old or younger. Of these, 16.9% owned a single cryptocurrency, whilst 18.2% confessed to owning several. More than 80% of respondents opened their first trading account from 2017 onward.

Dr. Ulli Spankowski, Sowa Lab’s managing director, commented that in Germany up until now the fast trading of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether had been “anything but easy.”

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SolarisBank Offers Banking for German Crypto Companies

SolarisBank, which has a German banking license and is regulated by BaFin, is offering banking solutions to cryptocurrency and blockchain companies via its newly created Blockchain Factory. It is usually very difficult for crypto companies to obtain a steady bank account anywhere in the world, so SolarisBank’s Blockchain Factory has the potential to provide relief and stability for German crypto firms.

Chief technology officer at SolarisBank, Peter Grosskopf, says, “While we at SolarisBank are part of the traditional paradigm, since we have a German banking license and are regulated by BaFin, we are still a tech company at our core. That means we are actively exploring options to help shape and support the emerging decentralized paradigm by enabling the pioneers that are building it.”

CEO of SolarisBank, Roland Folz, recognizes the need for a bank that supports blockchain and crypto. He says, “There is high demand from the blockchain world for a licensed partner that forms the technological and regulatory bridge to traditional banking — as a technology company with a banking license, we are the natural partner.”

The Blockchain Factory webpage states that it is looking into launching a cryptocurrency custodial service, much like the services Coinbase and Xapo already offer. Cryptocurrency expert Kyle Samani thinks proper cryptocurrency custodianship is the final barrier holding back a massive wave of institutional investment into cryptocurrency. Indeed, when Coinbase launched its custodian service in July 2018, it coincided with a significant Bitcoin price rally.

SolarisBank will offer blockchain company accounts which will enable crypto companies to use fiat, in addition to automated trust accounts that exchanges and marketplaces can use to safely store customer funds. Also, SolarisBank will enable crypto companies to issue debit cards to customers. This will facilitate the easy conversion of cryptocurrency to fiat for customers, which has the potential to increase worldwide crypto adoption. SolarisBank is in a strategic partnership with MasterCard and has also received funding from Visa; these connections will be useful for issuing crypto debit cards.

 

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Germany Says Bitcoin No Threat to Financial Stability

The German Federal Government has stated that cryptocurrencies do not pose a threat to financial stability, reports Cointelegraph.

The government stated on 12 June that the volume of cryptocurrencies, when juxtaposed to the overall size of the German financial system, is comparatively low and, therefore, simply needs careful monitoring and regulatory measures put in place in order to control the space. This assessment is a view generally shared by the G20, of which Germany is a significant member state.

The statement was made in reaction to a parliamentary inquiry from the Euroskeptic right-wing Alternative for Germany Party who cited alleged problems including money laundering, illegal revenue, use of such currencies in online gambling and terrorist financing. It backs the government’s national risk analysis scheduled for next year. The government stated:

“In order to address the risks of Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies”, there are already important regulations in Germany: for example, German-based crypto traders must follow the same anti-money laundering regulations as other financial service providers – especially when it comes to identifying customers.”

Once again, the German government has expressed the necessity for careful international controls on cryptocurrency, noting that the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) will oversee any new legislation:

“… there is a need for coordinated action at European and international level. The Federal Government is, therefore, pressing for a harmonized handling of crypto-tokens at this both levels.”

The federal government’s current view reflects the recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) position on cryptocurrencies, which is that it also considers that cryptocurrency is no threat to global financial stability, providing that it is carefully monitored to protect users.

In March this year, IMF chief Christine Lagarde expressed positive outcomes for the crypto space, stating: “Just as a few technologies that emerged from the dot-com era have transformed our lives, the crypto assets that survive could have a significant impact on how we save, invest and pay our bills.”

Lagarde calls for an even-handed approach which will both exploit the benefits of the new technology and minimize the risks in using and trading cryptocurrency, clearly a view shared by German legislators.

 

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 1st to 7th June 2018

Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Poland

Government rules crypto exchanges still legal: According to latest reports from Poland, the top financial authority in the country Polish Financial Supervision ‎Authority (KNF) has announced that cryptocurrency exchanges are still legal. 

The move comes after massive media coverage which stated that cryptocurrency trading is going to be banned by the government. The government itself is looking towards adding cryptocurrency regulation in the near future but is yet undecided on the matter.

Russia

Putin rejects possibility of Crypto Ruble: Russian President Vladimir Putin has shot down the possibility of issuing a Russian crypto Ruble according to latest reports.

The President was asked about the matter at the 15th annual Direct Line Speech in which Russian public asks the president questions. While he was supportive of the crypto community and blockchain, he was clear on the fact that Russia won’t be launching a cryptocurrency soon.

Farmers village using local crypto: Russian innovation in blockchain and cryptocurrency is to be noted as farmers in a small village have started their own cryptocurrency according to latest reports.

Mikhail Shlyapnikov, self-proclaimed ‘agro-anarchist’ gave the idea to start his own cryptocurrency the Kolion but was stopped by a court order in 2015. His initial coin offering was started in April 2017 and raised over BTC 401, more than USD 510,000 only at that time.

Kolion has a fixed supply of 1 million tokens and thus is protected from inflation.

Estonia

Wind-powered crypto mining farm started in Estonia: An Estonian government-owned cryptocurrency mining operation drawing energy from a wind farm has started operations off the coast of Estonia in the cold Baltic sea, thus highlighting the massive potential of the area for cryptocurrency mining.

The Salme Wind Farm, as it was named, will provide power worth 6 MWh for mining rigs in Estonia form mining cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrency mining has been an issue worldwide, renewable sources are generally more acceptable for mining purposes.

Switzerland

Bank open for crypto companies: Swiss Bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg has become the world’s first bank to provide business accounts to cryptocurrency and blockchain companies in the country.

While other banks like Falcon Private Bank based in Zurich have also offered crypto management services, this is the first instance of a bank offering corporate accounts to crypto startups, thus giving a further boost to the country’s crypto space.

European Union

Crypto no greater threat than conventional sources according to EU study: According to latest reports from an EU funded study, cryptocurrencies don’t pose a bigger threat in case of terror financing than traditional fiat currency options do.

The parliamentary think tank gave these findings after months of research related to terror financing in the continent. The report was commissioned by the EU parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs.

Netherlands

Blockchain-based land registry in Netherlands: The Dutch government’s decision to test a blockchain-based land registry system in the country is gaining attention as a testbed for revolution in real estate data management.

The government, according to Coindesk reports, is going to test the system in the near future with complete integration possible within the next 2-3 years.

Belgium

Belgium state website warns against possible crypto scams: Top Belgian markets and finance authority the Belgian Federal Public Service Economy and Financial Services & Market Authority has created a website called ‘Too Good to be True’ to warn investors about possible cryptocurrency scams. 

The website gives sensible warnings on how hackers and scammers are using the popularity of cryptocurrencies to con people out of their life savings.

Germany

Banks offering ATMs capable of converting crypto to fiat: German financial watchdog German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) has given the green light for banks to facilitate cryptocurrency ATMs. Now banks can set up Bitcoin ATMs that will allow people to convert Ether and Bitcoin to Euros, according to Trustnodes.

While banks are interested in this endeavor, no bank is currently giving this option to its customers.

 

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Allianz, Deutsche Bank Create New Initiative as Auto Industry Goes Blockchain

German insurance group Allianz and Deutsche Bank have partnered with Berlin-based car exchange Auto1 to create ‘Auto 1 Fintech’ to offer auto financing using blockchain.

The new company plans to offer insurance products and loan refinancing for dealerships that buy their cars from Auto1, a company which claims to offers premium partners more than 40,000 inspected used cars with more than 3,000 additional cars coming online each day.

Backed by Softcorp group, the loan payment and refinancing confirmations will be recorded on a blockchain, allowing dealerships to immediately refinance their purchases, saving two weeks using their current paper methods.

Auto1 hopes that the new blockchain platform will help the company diversify its offerings and promote customer loyalty. CEO Hakan Koc suggests that the new process is “… freeing capital and our customers are more liquid as a result. It’s a win-win”.

Auto1 is hoping to become Germany’s major used car platform, and also expand in other EU countries such as France and Poland later this year. Earlier this year, SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested EUR 460 million (USD 540 million) in Auto1, valuing the company at about EUR 2.9 billion (USD 3.4 billion).

Blockchain is increasingly making an impression with an apparent myriad of applications within the automotive industry. US carmaker Ford earlier received a patent for its Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass System (CMMP) designed to evaluate driver behavior and to improve coordination by drivers on the road by communicating with each other aided by blockchain technology.

The company, carVertical, has developed a platform for used car history reports enabling users to verify details of a car’s past before making a purchase. The autonomous car industry, once thought of as futuristic, is now increasingly looking to blockchain solutions. Apps preventing congestion by updating routes and feeding data to third parties to increase response time to emergency services are just some of the applications created through blockchain the industry today.

Daimler AG, the auto giant behind Mercedes-Benz, launched a blockchain-based program to reward eco-friendly driving. Drivers who practice environmentally-friendly driving habits will receive MobiCoins, which they can then exchange for VIP tickets to events and other rewards, according to Cointelegraph.

 

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Startup Wins Prize to Partner Volkswagen on Car History App Project

German automobile giant Volkswagen has offered a Lithuania-based company a role in its Dresden center after a successful pitch in a manufacturers competition, writes Cointelegraph.

The company, carVertical, has developed a platform for used car history reports enabling users to verify details of a car’s past before making a purchase. The competition held in Riga, Latvia saw carVertical’s pitch as the most inventive.

The decision was announced after numerous teams of entrepreneurs presented their pitches at an event organized by German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce. As winners, carVertical will begin work in Die Gläserne Manufaktur, Volkswagen’s innovation hub in Dresden in September of this year, with EUR 15,000 in financial support.

The outcome of the project is the joint development of blockchain-based solutions, intended to place Volkswagen as the leader for future mobility applications, also providing carVertical with valuable resources and expertise.

“In connection with the program, Die Gläserne Manufaktur also offers the assistance of mentors and coaches, an attractive working environment at the facility, high-quality IT infrastructure, contacts with Volkswagen research and development employees and decision-makers, professional advice by Sächsische Aufbaubank (SAB), close proximity to the start-up scene and both financial and personnel support from the City of Dresden,” says the press release.

CarVertical’s history records app is designed to prevent used car frauds by using the app to locate a car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located in its technical passport or on a car’s body.

The car’s VIN is the identifying code for a specific automobile. It serves as the car’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same number. A VIN is composed of alphanumeric 17 characters that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. It displays the car’s unique features, specifications, and manufacturer. The number can also be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.

CarVertical claims to be most successful automotive-based initial coin offering. The team raised almost USD 20 million during its coin offering in January 2018.

“Our goal is to enable every car buyer around the globe to get authentic and non-faked information about the specific vehicle and to help consumers in the maintenance of their vehicles,” states the carVertical website.

 

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