Brazil’s top exchange announces international expansion after raising $38M

Brazil’s top exchange announces international expansion after raising $38M

Leading Brazilian exchange Mercado Bitcoin has announced a regional expansion, naming Chile, Mexico, and Argentina as likely destinations.

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Brazil’s largest Bitcoin exchange, Mercado Bitcoin, has announced plans to expand across Latin America.

Chief executive Reinaldo Rabelo named Chile, Mexico, and Argentina as among the jurisdictions it will expand into first, comparing the “regulatory culture” in those countries to Brazil’s.

According to Useful Tulips, Mexico is currently the fourth-largest Latin American country by peer-to-peer Bitcoin trade volume, with Chile ranking fifth, and Argentina ranking seventh.

The strong P2P trade volume suggest there may be significant demand from local traders that is not met by centralized platforms.

The announcement comes alongside news of an investment round that saw Mercado Bitcoin raise nearly $38 million from venture capital firms including Parallax Ventures, Evora Fund, and Banco Plural.

Mercado Bitcoin will use some of the funds to invest in regulated custodian Bitrust to cater to institutional investors. The exchange will also invest in digital wallet Meubank, allowing customers to store crypto assets, gaming collectibles, and other digital assets.

Once its ecosystem has been consolidated, Mercado Bitcoin is aiming to become one of the top exchanges worldwide, with Rabelo, stating:

“We want to develop the crypto ecosystem in Brazil and create a market as developed as that of the United States. To do this, we want to be one of the five largest digital exchanges in the world.”

“Our long-term purpose is to participate in the construction of a new infrastructure for the financial market based on blockchain, smart contracts, and crypto assets,” he added.

Despite being among Latin America’s top exchanges by volume — having hosted more than $3.7 billion in trade since launching in 2013 — the exchange has almost exclusively operated in Brazil. The platform’s user base has doubled in the last two years from roughly one million to 2.2 million.

The exchange aims to surpass a user base of 3 million and expand its team from 200 to 300 in 2021.


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Leading Brazilian exchange Mercado Bitcoin has announced a regional expansion, naming Chile, Mexico, and Argentina as likely destinations.

China’s National Blockchain Network Launches International Website

China’s National Blockchain Network Launches International Website

China’s first government-backed blockchain initiative has just launched an official international website.

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China’s blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), the country’s nationwide blockchain project, has just launched an official international website.

Appearing on Aug. 10, the new english-language BSN website aims to help bring global developers to the project.

Integration with six permissionless blockchains

He Yifan, CEO of Red Date Technology, a local private company and a founding member of the BSN, told Cointelegraph that the new website allows developers to use BSN services and public chain services via the portal.

As part of the new global effort, the BSN now features live integration of six public chains including Ethereum, EOS, Nervos, Tezos, NEO and IRISnet. This allows developers to build decentralized applications (DApps) and run nodes through the data storage and bandwidth at overseas BSN data centers.

Google and AWS are among major BSN partners

According to the website, the BSN project is planning to launch the so-called “Interchain Communication Hub” via IRITA interchain service hub and decentralized network Chainlink in October 2020.

Additionally, the new website features a number of major global tech and blockchain firms as BSN partners. Google and Amazon Web Services are listed as cloud service providers, while Hyperledger is noted as a permissioned blockchain supplier. “We have good support from several of the major cloud service providers because they really like the idea and vision of BSN,” He said.

First piloted in October 2019, China’s BSN network is a government-backed blockchain initiative that was initially positioned to help small to medium-sized businesses build and deploy blockchain apps on permissioned blockchains. The program was officially launched in April 2020 for global commercial use.


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China’s first government-backed blockchain initiative has just launched an official international website.

Ripple Teams Up With Santander on International Payments

Ripple Teams Up With Santander on International Payments

Massive retail bank Santander has teamed up with crypto and blockchain company Ripple.

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Mainstream banking giant Santander has teamed up with blockchain and crypto payments outfit Ripple after customer requests for improved speed. 

„Customers told us that the international payments process could be better so we partnered with Ripple to explore how blockchain could make transactions faster, cheaper and more transparent,“ Ed Metzger, CTO of One Pay FX said in a statement posted by Ripple on July 9. 

A forward-thinking entity, Santander constructed One Pay FX as a borderless blockchain-based payment channel, in the form of an app. The statement noted Santander built the app alongside Ripple. 

Customer feedback

Metzger described feedback from app customers noting difficulties with transaction exchange rate clarity and timing confusion.  

Metzger explained:

Ripple helps us directly address the issues raised by our customers […] Whether they are putting down a deposit on a holiday rental or paying a foreign supplier, they see exactly how much will arrive when they’re making the payment and have certainty about when it will get there.“


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Massive retail bank Santander has teamed up with crypto and blockchain company Ripple.

Austrian Bank Raiffeisen Works on National Digital Currency Pilot

Austrian Bank Raiffeisen Works on National Digital Currency Pilot

Raiffeisen Bank International is extending collaboration with Polish-British fintech Billon for a new form of blockchain-based national currency tokenization

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While global jurisdictions are progressing with central bank digital currencies, private institutions also work on digitizing national currencies. Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI), a major Austrian bank, is working on a new form of national currency tokenization using blockchain technology.

RBI is extending its collaboration with Polish-British fintech firm, Billon, following a successful test of end-to-end digitized national currency transfers.

RBI Coin is designed to speed up cross-border transactions

As announced on May 18, RBI and Billon are working on initial stages of an RBI tokenization platform, currently dubbed RBI Coin. The pilot is planned to be conducted until late 2020 and is designed to speed up cross-border interbank or intercompany transactions and improve liquidity management, the firms said.

According to the announcement, RBI Coin was developed by Billon as part of RBI-Billon’s previous collaboration, the Elevator Lab program. Reportedly completed on March 5, the Elevator Lab program implements Billon’s blockchain technology to enable e-money transactions with digitized euro.

RBI Coin will be pegged 1:1 to the euro or any other national currency in CEE

If successful, the pilot project is expected to launch in Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries of RBI’s operation, the bank said. Those countries include Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, among others.

An RBI spokesperson elaborated to Cointelegraph that the bank is still discussing with its subsidiary banks in CEE to determine what banks would participate in the pilot. “We believe the first tests would cover money transfers between Austria and an RBI subsidiary in another CEE country,” the representative said.

Depending on what country is joining the pilot, RBI Coin would be pegged 1:1 to the euro or any other national currency operating in a selected country. The RBI spokesperson person said:

“Currencies deployed would depend on the countries involved in the pilot, so the platform could include euro and other national currencies as well.”

Raiffeisen is actively experimenting with blockchain technology

The news comes after Billon was selected to participate in RBI’s Elevator Lab Partnership Program in November 2019. Within the collaboration, Billon used its blockchain technology to mint, transfer and redeem tokenized euro.

The Elevator Lab Partnership Program is just one example of Raiffeisen’s extensive blockchain and tokenization efforts. In October 2019, RBI participated in the Ivno Global Tokenized Collateral Trial, a token based on R3’s blockchain platform Corda. Previously, RBI’s Russian subsidiary bank developed a blockchain-based platform for settlement by holding firms.


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Raiffeisen Bank International is extending collaboration with Polish-British fintech Billon for a new form of blockchain-based national currency tokenization

International Regulatory Milestones for Crypto Exchanges in 2020

International Regulatory Milestones for Crypto Exchanges in 2020

2020 has already become the year of new regulations worldwide: What’s new for cryptocurrency exchanges?

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The lack of uniformity among different jurisdictions’ cryptocurrency laws makes it difficult for crypto exchanges seeking to expand to new markets. While some countries are embracing and fostering innovation, others are more hostile to Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies. Further exacerbating the difficulty is the lack of regulatory certainty in many jurisdictions, including the United States. Below are four of the most significant international regulatory milestones so far in 2020.

The European Union’s AML rules now apply to cryptocurrency exchanges

The European Union’s Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism rules now apply to crypto custodians, such as wallets and exchanges. On Jan. 10, the EU’s 5th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, referred to as 5AMLD, went into effect. 5AMLD defines cryptocurrency broadly as “a digital representation of value that is not issued or guaranteed by a central bank or a public authority, is not necessarily attached to a legally established currency and does not possess a legal status of currency or money, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of exchange and which can be transferred, stored and traded electronically.” Crypto custodians are included in 5AMLD as “obliged entities” and face the same regulatory requirements as other financial institutions.

Under 5AMLD, crypto exchanges must develop and implement Know Your Customer procedures, monitor transactions on an ongoing basis and file suspicious activity reports. Further, financial intelligence units in the EU, such as Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority or Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, are required to collect identifying information about crypto’s owners. This has caused concern in the industry that crypto’s core principles of privacy and anonymity will be undermined. The new regulatory structure has already made waves, forcing some companies like Bottle Pay to shut down and others like Deribit to move out of the EU over the cost of compliance and privacy concerns.

The Canadian Securities Administrators issues guidance to crypto exchanges

In January, the Canadian Securities Administrators issued guidance to crypto exchanges to help them determine whether transactions are subject to Canada’s securities laws. The guidance follows up on the CSA’s March 2019 consultation paper that stated that exchanges must comply with securities laws if the crypto assets they trade are securities or derivatives. That guidance mentions that some crypto exchanges took the position that they were not subject to Canada’s securities laws because the crypto assets they traded were not securities or derivatives.

The CSA’s January guidance states that regardless of whether a crypto asset traded on an exchange is a security or a derivative, the exchange would still be subject to Canada’s securities laws unless it makes “immediate delivery of the crypto asset” to the user. When an exchange is “merely providing their users with a contractual right or claim to an underlying crypto asset,” it is subject to Canada’s securities laws.

The CSA’s guidance places crypto exchanges in a difficult position, as many users buy and store crypto on the same exchange and never transfer their crypto to an off-site wallet. This common practice would potentially result in the exchange being subject to Canada’s securities laws, regardless of whether the underlying asset is a security or a derivative.

India’s Supreme Court overturns the Reserve Bank of India’s “crypto ban”

In April 2018, the Reserve Bank of India — the nation’s central bank — banned all regulated financial institutions in the country from transacting with cryptocurrency exchanges. The ban was notable because at that time studies showed that almost 10% of all Bitcoin transactions occurred in India. In early March, the RBI’s ban was overturned by the Supreme Court of India after it was challenged by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, which represented several cryptocurrency exchanges.

Related: India Crypto Renaissance: Industry Sees Rebirth as RBI Crypto Ban Lifts

The Supreme Court held that the RBI’s crypto ban violated Article 19(1)(g) of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to “practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.” Specifically, the court stated that a ban on a trade or business through “reasonable restrictions” is acceptable but a “total prohibition […] of an activity not declared by law to be unlawful” violates Article 19(1)(g). In coming to its decision, the court stated that “many of the developed and developing economies of the world […] have scanned crypto currencies, but found nothing pernicious about them and even the attempt of the Government of India to bring legislation banning crypto currencies, is yet to reach its logical end.”

The court’s decision partially rests on the fact that the RBI overstepped its power with an overbroad regulation of an activity that was not declared unlawful by the legislative branch.

While the decision is positive news for the crypto industry in India, there is still the danger that the government will enact hostile legislation.

South Korea passes cryptocurrency laws

In early March, South Korea enacted legislation amending the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information that allows its financial intelligence unit to apply AML and CFT rules to crypto exchanges. Pursuant to the act, crypto exchanges are required to partner with banks for customer deposits and withdrawals, which will allow exchanges to collect customers’ identifying information such as real names and social security numbers. Similar to the 5AMLD discussion above, regulators view collection of this information as crucial to tracking potentially illicit activity.

The dichotomy of different jurisdictions’ cryptocurrency laws is expected to continue with countries’ massively divergent views as to its efficacy, value and reliability.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Andrew Mount is an associate in the financial institutions practice at the law firm of Bressler, Amery & Ross.


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2020 has already become the year of new regulations worldwide: What’s new for cryptocurrency exchanges?

Philippine SEC Warns of International Ponzi Offering 300% Daily Returns

Philippine SEC Warns of International Ponzi Offering 300% Daily Returns

‘Bitcoin Revolution’ Ponzi scheme targets investors from AUS, EU, and the Philippines using fake news & celeb endorsements on social media

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The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned of a crypto Ponzi scheme targeting Filipino, Australian, and European investors on March 30.

The scheme, Bitcoin Revolution, comprises a classic Ponzi in which investors are offered exorbitant compounding daily returns on deposited funds.

Bitcoin Revolution claims to have software that produces trades with a success rate of between 88% and 95% — offering a path to seven-figure status over just 61 days. From an initial deposit of just $250, the scammer claims that investors can earn 300% per day or 9,000% per month.

Bitcoin Revolution brokers face 21 years in prison

The SEC warns that those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents of Bitcoin Revolution, including through online solicitation and recruitment, will face up to 21 years imprisonment and or up to $100,000 in fines alongside SEC sanctions.

The regulator asserts that Bitcoin Revolution is offering unregistered securities in the form of investment contracts to the public in blatant violation of Philippine securities laws. The scheme is not registered as a company with the SEC and does not have licensing from the Philippine central bank to operate with digital assets.

Ponzis use fake celebrity endorsements to advertise on social media

Like many ponzi schemes, Bitcoin Revolution is promoted on social media using fake celebrity endorsements and news stories.

At the start of March, a former employee blew the whistle on a Ukrainian Bitcoin investment scam with 200 employees. The scheme was operated by a firm called Milton Group, which occupied two floors of an office building in Kyiv. Once a victim had invested in the scheme, they would face an onslaught of phone calls pressuring them to make further deposits into the scam.

The whistleblower claimed that the scheme netted $70 million in 2019, scamming investors in Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The company promoted themselves through fraudulent news stories on Facebook, which detailed how local celebrities had earned a fortune through crypto trading.


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‘Bitcoin Revolution’ Ponzi scheme targets investors from AUS, EU, and the Philippines using fake news & celeb endorsements on social media

Honeywell: “Corporate America Needs to Change Its Mindset”

Honeywell: “Corporate America Needs to Change Its Mindset”

$80 Billion Giant Honeywell International Inc. Says Corporate America needs to change its mindset on data

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Honeywell International Inc., a publicly-traded company with an $80 billion market cap, previously announced a blockchain-based marketplace for airplane parts. According to a recent interview with Cointelegraph, they may soon begin recording your home’s carbon footprint on a blockchain ledger as well.

DIY blockchain project

In a Cointelegraph exclusive interview, Lisa Butters, general manager of Honeywell’s GoDirect Trade platform, noted that the company took an unorthodox approach to the adoption of this complex technology:

“About fourteen months ago, we knew nothing about blockchain. Then, I discovered that we have a small group in India, about six developers working on incubating new technology. That is how it started. All development was done in-house and we have been deeply involved with the Hyperledger community ever since.”

Paradoxically, although Honeywell’s GoDirect Trade platform is built on a permissioned Fabric blockchain, “anyone with a Gmail account can sign up and purchase airplane parts”, confirmed Butters.

Since their initial announcement in December 2019, Honeywell has also been working with iTRACE on the authentication of “aerospace products via blockchain”.

Your home’s carbon footprint on the blockchain

Butters believes that blockchain technology can be applied in many other areas as well. One of those areas is carbon emissions. Butters explains:

“Honeywell must report carbon emissions for all of our facilities, we must do those calculations manually. There is an opportunity here. But it doesn’t have to be just for corporations, it could be for your home, some basic calculations, whether it’s electric or diesel or gas. That is something we are looking into”.

‘Walled-garden’ approach to data needs to change

Butters believes many corporate blockchain projects fail because they don’t start with a clearly defined use-case:

“Start with a real problem you need to solve. For us, this was a lack of trust — this is a huge $4 billion industry where everything was being done offline because there was no trust between buyers and sellers. We saw this as a great opportunity, the idea was to build something like Carfax for our industry”.

Butters also observes that for Corporate America to embrace this technology, there needs to be a paradigm shift the way it thinks about data:

“The technology makes sense. The reason why it hasn’t become widely accepted is that Corporate America has a ‘walled garden’ approach to data — they need to start sharing data, a huge paradigm shift”.

Perhaps, the global crisis ushered by the coronavirus will serve as a catalyst for change.


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$80 Billion Giant Honeywell International Inc. Says Corporate America needs to change its mindset on data

Coinbase Launches International Cryptocurrency Custody Arm

Coinbase Launches International Cryptocurrency Custody Arm

Coinbase, a major American cryptocurrency exchange, launched its custody service internationally by creating a new firm based in Ireland

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Major United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has established an entity in Ireland to expand its crypto custody services to European institutions.

According to a Coinbase announcement published on Jan. 30, the new entity is called Coinbase Custody International and is based out of Dublin.

The firm’s services will be the same as those provided by Coinbase Custody in addition to taking over all the staking activities performed by the exchange. 

Coinbase Custody initially began offering staking for select cryptocurrencies in March 2019, and expanded that service to international the following November. 

The advantages of a local operation

While Coinbase Custody has been serving European clients in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands since 2018, a new dedicated entity allows for completely localized service.

Per the announcement, this will bring the advantages of local staff, localized service-level agreements and clearer compliance with EU law:

“Europe is our fastest growing geographic segment and our international launch is a direct result of client demand. By offering our services from the same region in which our clients are located, it’s our goal that they will benefit from greater legal and regulatory clarity.”

Coinbase also said that, over the coming months, it plans to add support for more cryptocurrencies and features to its international custody service. 

Furthermore, Ireland boasts some of the lowest corporate income tax levels in Europe which, despite the protestations of lawmakers to the contrary, has earned it a reputation as a tax haven. Indeed, the country has the third-lowest corporate income tax rate among OECD countries as of 2019. 

Growing demand for custody 

As cryptocurrencies solidify their position as a new financial asset class, demand for services such as crypto asset custody is increasing. 

Rohan Barde, a research and innovation manager at industry expert association Blockchain Zoo, explained that custody services are needed to attract institutional investors who wish to reduce risk and comply with regulatory standards.


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Coinbase, a major American cryptocurrency exchange, launched its custody service internationally by creating a new firm based in Ireland

UN to Prevent Hong Kong Migrant Workers Exploitation with Blockchain

UN to Prevent Hong Kong Migrant Workers Exploitation with Blockchain

UN-led International Organization for Migration and Diginex plan to use blockchain to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers

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Blockchain financial services firm Diginex and the United Nations-led International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly launched a blockchain tool aiming to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers in Hong Kong.

According to a Diginex press release published on Dec. 16, the tool was designed to be used by about 1,500 Hong Kong-based migrant domestic worker recruitment agencies and some associated agencies in worker-sending countries. The system’s name is called International Recruitment Integrity System Self-Assessment for Ethical Recruitment (IRIS-SAFER).

Blockchain for the good

Blockchain is being employed in the project to ensure that data records are safe and immutable, resulting in higher data integrity, transparency and visibility. Per the announcement, Hong Kong is home to nearly 390,000 migrant workers, 98% of which are women and 56% of which were reportedly charged illegal fees by recruitment agencies. IOM China chief of mission Giuseppe Crocetti commented:

“Through use of IRIS-SAFER, agencies will first learn what are global ethical recruitment standards, then be able to demonstrate their progress and, ultimately, prove their commitment. With this project, we are drawing from IOM’s global work, through the IRIS initiative, and tailoring it to the specific experience of recruiting migrant domestic workers to Hong Kong.”

After rolling out the system in Hong Kong and other unspecified countries, the organizations plan to deploy it globally.

Both Diginex and the IOM had yet to respond to Cointelegraph’s requests for comment as of press time. This article will be updated as we receive new information.

Diginex’s recent expansion

Diginex became a Nasdaq publicly traded company in July after a reverse merger with investment holding company 8i. In October, Diginex also joined Global Digital Finance, the industry body driving acceleration and adoption of digital finance, as a founding member.

This is not the first time the UN has taken place in a blockchain initiative. As Cointelegraph reported at the end of last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will reportedly partner with blockchain-based telemedicine and telepsychology firm doc.com to expand free basic healthcare services across Eastern Africa.


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UN-led International Organization for Migration and Diginex plan to use blockchain to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers

A Reality Check: Blockchain and DLT in International Trade

A Reality Check: Blockchain and DLT in International Trade

Would blockchain help to bring global trade to a digital era? An overview of a new TFG’, WTO’ and ICC’s study

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Distributed ledger technology, colloquially termed “blockchain,” is making a bold promise to help bring the trade industry into the digital age. To help shed light on the intricate workings of the technology and the role that it is playing in the international trade industry, Trade Finance Global partnered up with the World Trade Organization earlier this month to produce a 56-page report titled “Blockchain & DLT in Trade: A Reality Check,” endorsed by the International Chamber of Commerce.

David Bischof, deputy director at the ICC’s finance for development hub, shared in a private interview: “This ‘Blockchain & DLT in Trade’ report is not only an indispensable tool for the entire trade ecosystem, but foremost clearly shows that standardisation in trade and trade finance is a key challenge to ensure the numerous blockchain-based platforms are of use for businesses that trade.” He continued:

“To make technology work for all, ICC is working on a digital trade standards initiative together with its partners to fill this gap, by creating mechanisms that deliver better access to innovation for all.”

The report begins by introducing a periodic table of DLT Projects — a design chosen to simultaneously represent striking similarities and distinct differences. On the actual periodic table, hydrogen may be most similar to helium in terms of mass, but the two remain radically different when it comes to reactivity. On the trade finance periodic table, similar comparisons and differences can be observed between the projects.

The full report dives into each of the initiatives being pursued, providing some background as to what each is seeking to accomplish and the tools, participants and structures that will help them get there. Perhaps more interesting, however, are the results of the quantitative survey that the report outlines. Over 200 participants from the banking, fintech, industrial and corporate sectors were surveyed to shed insights into current perceptions of the industry’s opportunities, challenges, outlook and state of development.

Opportunities

The report observed that 44% of respondents using or developing DLT listed increased speed and efficiency as a top-three benefit from utilizing the technology in the trade finance sector, while 35% indicated cost reductions. These trail behind transparency, which 55% listed as a top benefit. These results seem to indicate a wealth of opportunities for the new technology, with cost savings through efficiency and transparency leading the way.

Key benefits of DLT

Future outlook

These opportunities may be playing a role in driving a positive forward-looking perspective for the industry. Based on the report, there seems to be a collectively positive perception of the state of the industry at the 5-, 10-, 30- and 50-year outlooks. The 10-year industry outlook holds the most positive sentiment, with a modest decline through the 30- and 50-year views. This seems to indicate that the state of the technology and its widespread adoption will grow substantially over the next 10 years before reaching a peak and slowly trailing off. While the sentiment of the outlook remains consistent between firms using and developing DLT and those that are not, the magnitude of this sentiment differs substantially.

Emmanuelle Ganne, senior analyst in the WTO’s economic research and statistics division, shared her thoughts in a private interview:

“Blockchain & DLT have the potential to truly transform international trade, but technology is only a tool. As more and more projects move into production, putting in place the right policy environment becomes increasingly important. Governments have a key role to play in this respect.”

Variation of the perception of widespread DLT adoption between firm types over time

Firms using or developing vs. firms not using or developing DLT

It is also interesting to note the difference in perceptions of the technology over time between firms using or developing DLT and firms not using or developing DLT. For each of the four time spans, firms not currently using or developing DLT have a significantly lower perception of the technology’s widespread adoption in the future. There are several variables that could account for the discrepancy. One possibility is that firms possessing a preconceived pessimistic outlook for the technology are less likely to have undertaken its development or use. This would have created a naturally positive bias when segmenting the firms that are using or developing. Another explanation could be related to insider knowledge — that firms using or developing the technology have a greater insight into the industry than those who are not actively involved.

Perception of challenges by firm type

 Magnitude of challenges

Another insight can be gained when looking at how the challenges facing DLT are perceived between the two two groups. Those using or developing DLT perceive regulatory, compliance, legal and technological challenges as having a significantly smaller magnitude.

Similarly, among firms using or developing DLT, there is a slight negative correlation between the current state of development for a firm and its perception of both regulatory and technological challenges. The further along that a firm is in implementation, the less prominent it views the challenges of the industry. This could be because firms actively involved in the space are constantly aware of when an advancement has been made to overcome a past challenge and are thus better attuned to the current state of the industry and its potential.

However, this data merely represents a gauge of perception, and could also mean that firms using or developing DLT hold a natural bias that causes them to view these challenges through rose-coloured glasses.

Challenges

These challenges, however, are not to be understated. A massive 91% of respondents reported that DLT facing an interoperability challenge was reported by 91% of respondents, roughly 50% of which indicated that this poses a significant challenge. Furthermore, 65% of survey respondents using or developing DLT admitted that choosing between various DLTs is a challenge their organization has been facing and 86% indicated integration into back office systems as a challenge. While these challenges are undoubtedly real, as my grandmother used to say: Challenges are merely opportunities in disguise. In this case, they are providing an opportunity for firms to break down the barriers to digitization and bring the industry into the future.

Legal and technical challenges around DLT

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Deepesh Patel is the director of partnerships and marketing at Trade Finance Global. Deepesh leads efforts in developing TFG’s brand, relationships and strategic direction in key markets, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Singapore, Dubai and Hong Kong. Deepesh regularly chairs and speaks at international industry events including at the World Trade Organization Public Forum, The Telegraph’s Future of Trade and Export, BCR Consortia, TXF Geneva, Excred Commodities, as well as FCI and ITFA’s Annual Conference.


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Would blockchain help to bring global trade to a digital era? An overview of a new TFG’, WTO’ and ICC’s study

Blockchain Startup SpaceChain Sends Wallet Tech to International Space Station

Blockchain Startup SpaceChain Sends Wallet Tech to International Space Station

Space-as-a-service startup SpaceChain is sending its hardware wallet technology to the International Space Station

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Space-as-a-service-focused blockchain startup SpaceChain has sent its hardware wallet technology to the International Space Station (ISS).

As part of the CRS-19 commercial resupply service mission, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is delivering SpaceChain’s hardware wallet technology to the ISS, according to a Dec. 6 press release. The move purportedly marks the first tech demonstration of blockchain hardware on the ISS and the third blockchain payload by SpaceChain over the past two years.

Acceleration of space-as-a-service adoption

The technology will then be installed on the commercial platform on Station provided by commercial utilization of space firm Nanoracks. The initiative is set to demonstrate the receipt, authorization and retransmission of blockchain-based transactions, creating multi-signature transactions. 

The company believes that “by adding space-based payloads to established networks, businesses will be able to enhance the security of the transmission of digital assets that can be vulnerable to cyberattacks and hacking when hosted exclusively in centralized terrestrial servers.”

In an email to Cointelegraph, SpaceChain confirmed that it is expecting the payload to reach the ISS by Sunday, Dec. 8. After that, the company will begin testing a number of applications including multi-sig authorization of cryptocurrency transactions through the payload. SpaceChain further explained:

“This will be specifically for Bitcoin, however we are planning for this to be extended to other blockchains in the near future as part of our expected roadmap that will see several new launches over the next 18 months. The technology tested on the ISS will be applicable to crypto exchanges, wallets and custodial services that benefit from additional security to their transaction validation process, and we are already working with some of these stakeholders to implement this type of use-case.”

Satellite-powered multi-sig wallet

For the commercial development of its multi-sig wallet, SpaceChain received a 60,000 ($66,400) grant from the European Space Agency, in mid-September. The company explained at the time, the solution is designed to bolster transaction security by requiring two of three private keys to sign and complete transactions.

One of the three signatures is provided by a satellite-based node — although, in the case of connectivity failure, two ground-based signatures can be used to complete the transaction.

In January, blockchain technology company Blockstream announced plans to launch the beta version of its Blockstream Satellite API, designed to help developers broadcast data via the company’s satellite network.

Blockstream’s Bitcoin (BTC) space initiative reportedly aims to free the cryptocurrency’s network from depending on land-based Internet connection and thus increase its robustness.


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Space-as-a-service startup SpaceChain is sending its hardware wallet technology to the International Space Station

Bank for International Settlements Exec Shows New Fondness for CBDCs

Bank for International Settlements Exec Shows New Fondness for CBDCs

A long-skeptical exec at the Bank for International Settlements now says that CBDCs could open up new possibilities

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General manager at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Agustin Carstens seems to have changed his negative stance towards central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), now stating that such currencies could open up new possibilities.

In his speech entitled “The future of money and the payment system: what role for central banks?” published on Dec. 5, Carstens dug into central banks’ approach to emerging technologies in regards to building more efficient and inclusive financial systems.

Wholesale and retail CBDCs

Carstens said that the introduction of retail CBDCs — which are available to the general public, including businesses and consumers — could bring serious changes to the financial sector by opening up new possibilities when it comes to the 24/7 availability of payments, different degrees of anonymity, and peer-to-peer transfers.

He continued noting that wholesale CBDCs — where the network participants are financial institutions — could be made compatible with the provision of central bank settlement liquidity. Wholesale CBDCs would not raise difficult financial footprint issues as they would be largely restricted to institutions that already use central bank deposits, according to Carstens.

Unlike wholesale CBDCs, retail versions would raise a range of concerns such as the designation of entities  responsible for the enforcement of know-your-customer and anti-money laundering regulations, Carstens outlined.

CBDCs’ negative impact on the financial system

In late March, Carstens was not so positive about CBDCs, when he advised against the issuance of such currencies. Carstens argued then that a CBDC could facilitate a bank run, enabling people to move their funds from commercial banks to central bank accounts faster, thus destabilizing the system.

At the time, he also noted that there are enormous operational consequences for the central bank in the implementation of monetary policy and the traditional market’s stability.Carstens stated: “Central banks do not put a brake on innovations just for the sake of it. But neither should they speed ahead disregarding all traffic conditions.”

Meanwhile, a number of countries are exploring the issue of the development of a digitized national currency, including China, France and Ghana, among others.


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A long-skeptical exec at the Bank for International Settlements now says that CBDCs could open up new possibilities

Cointelegraph Announces Chinese HQ, Bolstering Its International Expansion

Cointelegraph Announces Chinese HQ, Bolstering Its International Expansion

Cointelegraph is continuing to expand its global reach. Guess which new headquarters we’ve opened?

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To support our international expansion and global reach, Cointelegraph is delighted to announce the launch of the Chinese-language version of the publication. Today, Dec. 4, we celebrated the opening of the office of Cointelegraph China (Cointelegraph 中文).

The news — which marks another milestone moment in Cointelegraph’s growth — was announced at the Nova Global Blockchain Investment Institutions Summit hosted by the investment ecosystem alliance, Nova Club. Nova Club was formed by top blockchain organizations and aims to facilitate blockchain project development by consolidating resources and expertise.

The new expansion will be led by Vadim Krekotin from the heart of Guangzhou, with other offices in Beijing and Shanghai.

Meet the Cointelegraph China business team

Cointelegraph China has brought together leading names in the industry to highlight blockchain and crypto trends in the area. 

Kevin Shao is a co-founder of Cointelegraph China as well as a general manager at crypto mining equipment manufacturer Canaan-Blockchain. Shao’s professional background includes serving at Bank of China’s fintech and technology department.

Kevin Ren, a co-founder of Cointelegraph China and also a founding partner of venture capital firm Consensus Lab, has a double masters in computer science and business administration. Ren, who worked as a partner in a range of VC firms, currently holds managing positions at industry-wide associations and unions in the country.

Simon Li is another co-founder of Cointelegraph China and a founding partner of Chain Capital and Nova Club. Li focuses on mining, investment into blockchain projects, and initiating and managing blockchain investment funds.

Co-founder Vadim Krekotin will manage Cointelegraph China’s initial launch. He previously founded advisory blockchain firm the CBE Foundation. Vadim is fluent in Mandarin and has a long history of conducting business in China, which has brought him in contact with the country’s biggest industry players including Binance, Huobi, OkEX and many others. 

Stay tuned for editorial team

We will soon be announcing the Cointelegraph China editorial team. Our editorial team will produce the highest quality journalism for our readers in China, holding steadfast to the values of editorial independence and responsibility to our readers.

Cointelegraph China is now our third base in Asia, following the establishment of Cointelegraph Japan in Tokyo in December 2017 and Cointelegraph Korea in August of this year. China has proved itself a hub for blockchain development, with the support of President Xi Jinping and a slew of blockchain-related patents filed with local regulators.

The country is maintaining a hardline stance toward crypto, as cryptocurrency trading is wholly banned in China. Meanwhile, the country has declared plans to issue its own digital currency to compete with the United States dollar in the global market. Our China-based team will work consistently to raise awareness in the region and deliver readers a clear insight into significant industry developments.


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Cointelegraph is continuing to expand its global reach. Guess which new headquarters we’ve opened?

Miami International Airport Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM

Miami International Airport Gets Its First Bitcoin ATM

A Bitcoin ATM has appeared at Miami International Airport — the largest gateway between the U.S. and Latin America

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Bitcoin (BTC) ATM firm Bitstop installed one of its machines at the Miami International Airport, announcing the news in a press release published on Oct. 15. 

The Bitcoin ATM has been reportedly installed in concourse G next to gate 16 and allows customers to buy Bitcoin for cash.

A strategic position

The company claims that the location is strategic for the machine, given that Miami’s airport is the third-busiest in the United States in international passenger traffic. Miami International Airport is also “the largest gateway between the U.S. and Latin America and is one of the largest airline hubs in the United States,” the announcement notes. 

Bitcoin useful to travelers

Bitstop co-founder and chief strategy officer Doug Carrillo explains that Bitcoin is proving to be useful to travelers. He said:

“More and more people prefer to travel with Bitcoin instead of cash for convenience and security. Miami International Airport is a perfect place for our customers to conveniently exchange their dollars for Bitcoin and vice versa when traveling domestically or abroad.”

Lastly, Bitstop notes that this is its 130th machine in the U.S. and the aim is to reach 500 Bitcoin ATMs installed worldwide by the end of 2020. 

As Cointelegraph reported in June, at the time the total number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide reached 5,000 for the first time. As of press time, there are 5,756 such machines worldwide.


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A Bitcoin ATM has appeared at Miami International Airport — the largest gateway between the U.S. and Latin America

US FDA to Hold Meeting on Blockchain and AI in Food Traceability

US FDA to Hold Meeting on Blockchain and AI in Food Traceability

The FDA has set up a meeting with international stakeholders to discuss blockchain deployment in food tracking

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The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public meeting at which it will discuss its “New Era of Smarter Food Safety” initiative.

Per a Sept. 17 announcement, the FDA set up a meeting with a group of international stakeholders on October 21, 2019, to discuss public health challenges and the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Specifically, the FDA intends to establish “a more digital, traceable, and safer system” to protect consumers from contaminated food.

Efficient tracking of contaminated food

The initiative proposes to deploy technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and sensors to develop a digital food system, which will allow users to trace the sources of food products and assess associated risks.

The new approach was initially announced in late April by Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless and Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas. Per the announcement, emerging technologies could greatly reduce the time needed to trace the origin of contaminated food and respond to public health risks.

Food industry players are focusing on blockchain

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform and improve the food industry as many food retail and produce companies are making a pivot to its application. Just recently, Nestlé said it had to adopt a “start-up mindset” in order to push ahead with its challenging blockchain venture.

This summer, tech giant Oracle and the World Bee Project revealed the development of a blockchain-based sustainability assurance system for the honey supply chain. In addition to blockchain technology, BeeMark also plans to make use of data science to monitor environmental factors pertaining to the bees’ surroundings.

According to recent research conducted by the University College London center for blockchain and retail blockchain consortium, the grocery sector is currently responsible for nearly half of all distributed ledger technology-based supply chain projects.


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The FDA has set up a meeting with international stakeholders to discuss blockchain deployment in food tracking

BIS Economist Proposes DLT-Based Financial Market Monitoring

BIS Economist Proposes DLT-Based Financial Market Monitoring

Raphael Auer, an economist at the Bank for International Settlements, has suggested new ways of supervising financial risks with DLT

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An economist of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) has proposed new ways of supervising financial risks through distributed ledger technology (DLT).

In a recently released working paper, economist Raphael Auer made the case for so-called embedded supervision, which would automatically monitor tokenized markets. This would purportedly eliminate the need for the collection, verification and delivery of companies’ related data.

New forms of transparency and data credibility

Per the report, DLT and smart contracts can facilitate the development of financial markets through new forms of transparency and data credibility, and eventually exclude middleman-based data verification. To achieve these goals, embedded supervision aims to use machine learning or artificial intelligence, relying on the trust-creating mechanism of decentralized markets for regulatory purposes. The paper further explains:

“If DLT-based markets were to develop, this would change the way assets are traded and how they are packaged into complex financial products. Since the information contained in the blockchain is verified by decentralised economic consensus, it could replace current processes for data delivery and verification.”

Auer states that, for regulators and lawmakers, it is necessary to establish auxiliary frameworks that govern distributed markets and their infrastructure, wherein DLT will ensure higher-quality compliance at a lower cost.

“Embedded supervision could further help maintain the confidentiality of firms and their customers, since cryptographic tools can be used to report an institution’s aggregated financial exposures to the supervisor without disclosing the underlying individual transactions,” the paper concludes.

Global companies go for DLT-based ecosystems

Earlier this year, the BIS stated that at least 40 central banks across globally were conducting research projects and pilots with blockchain technology that aim to address such issues as financial inclusion, payments efficiency and cybersecurity.

In March, Deutsche Borse Group, Swisscom, and Swiss and Singapore-based fintech company Sygnum entered into a strategic partnership to build a DLT-based ecosystem to support the nascent tokenized economy, which, the partners contend, “has the potential to reshape global financial markets.”


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Raphael Auer, an economist at the Bank for International Settlements, has suggested new ways of supervising financial risks with DLT

Switzerland Open to International Cooperation on Libra, Says Watchdog

Switzerland Open to International Cooperation on Libra, Says Watchdog

FINMA director Mark Branson has rebuffed the notion that Facebook’s choice of Switzerland for the Libra Association HQ was a matter of regulatory arbitrage

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Switzerland’s financial watchdog says it is open to international cooperation and oversight of the way in which it regulates Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency network. 

In a Sept. 12 interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) director Mark Branson said it was illusory to believe that a single country could regulate a project of Libra’s scope on its own.

Libra ‘fits perfectly’ into Switzerland’s regulatory framework

Branson argued that Switzerland’s ambitions to evolve into a major financial center would necessarily entail reputational risks and thus draw international attention:

“Shy of these risks, you have less attention, but may end up in insignificance,” he said.

The country has a robust regulatory and supervisory framework that can address the needs of major legacy financial players — and equally, therefore, those of ambitious new fintech projects, he said. 

Branson noted that FINMA does not need foreign pressure to recognize the major challenges that a project of Libra’s scale poses for regulators: “It was crystal clear from the start that this project could have huge dimensions and implications,” he said.

Just as the supervision of large Swiss banks such as UBS or Credit Suisse does not take place in complete isolation, he added, so a project of Libra’s global significance can only be tackled through international coordination and consultation.

Branson also underscored that FINMA’s approach to market regulation is both principle-based and technology-neutral, meaning that Libra, “fits perfectly into our regulatory framework”:

“Switzerland […] does not regulate all forms of institutions and products down to the last detail […] We have just published a guide on how to classify stablecoins under Swiss law. And we show: it does not need new laws. The risks are well known, for example regarding money laundering, customer protection, system stability. There are already regulations for all of these.” 

Not a ‘beauty contest’-like case of regulatory arbitrage 

Branson also took pains to emphasize that the choice of Switzerland as its base was not a case of Facebook shopping around for the most pliant jurisdiction. He told NZZ reporters that:

“Such a ‘beauty contest’ did not exist. Our first contact with the initiators took place after the decision for Switzerland had already been made and communicated. That’s positive. The ‘jurisdiction shopping’ you alluded to would be very sensitive. It would put pressure to get as loose as possible standards.”

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, Facebook has sought an assessment from FINMA as it prepares for a prospective application for a Swiss payment system license.

As Branson today confirmed, the project as it is currently envisaged would expressly qualify as a payment system, but also potentially trigger additional regulatory requirements corresponding to any further risks that could be posed by the provision of a wider set of services.


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FINMA director Mark Branson has rebuffed the notion that Facebook’s choice of Switzerland for the Libra Association HQ was a matter of regulatory arbitrage

Bitcoin Is a Truth Machine, Says Gold Bullion International Co-Founder

Bitcoin Is a Truth Machine, Says Gold Bullion International Co-Founder

Gold Bullion International co-founder Dan Tapiero analyzed Bitcoin’s value as a truth machine

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Gold Bullion International co-founder Dan Tapiero analyzed Bitcoin’s (BTC) value as a truth machine.

Tapero made his regards during an interview with business news outlet AlphaWeek published on Sept. 10. He said:

“What it is is an invention, and I think it should be referred to as an invention rather than all the other things. It’s a, you know, what it really is […] It’s a truth machine. […] It’s a way to eradicate all fraud or lying by human beings.”

Bitcoin is a reward for network maintenance

He also noted that the system is now ten years old and has a good track record, all of which contributes to his will to ask “what is a security platform like that, with that track record,” worth. In the end, he concluded:

“Bitcoin, really, is just the reward that miners get for guaranteeing the security of the framework of the network, that’s what it is. ”

BTC is worth hundreds of billions of dollars

Tapero also asked what it would cost for a company to develop such a system. He said that he believes it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, touching on the number of work hours dedicated to the development and maintenance of Bitcoin and its ecosystem. 

He also added:

“Could a company even develop that? You know, maybe Satoshi realized it can only be developed slowly over time in a decentralized way.”

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, Blockstream CEO said that Bitcoin is reverting to its historical 90%+ market dominance at altcoins’ expense.


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Gold Bullion International co-founder Dan Tapiero analyzed Bitcoin’s value as a truth machine

SIS International Research Opens Blockchain Consulting Division

SIS International Research Opens Blockchain Consulting Division

After advising its clients on DLT applications for 2 years, SIS International Research sets up its blockchain consulting division

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SIS International Research, a global market research firm headquartered in New York City, has set up blockchain consulting division called SIS Blockchain.

Enterprise blockchain will be vital

After two years of consulting clients on blockchain applications in various industries including finance, supply chain and real estate, SIS Research established a separate blockchain consulting team, according to a press release on Sept. 4.

Michael Stanat, vice-president of global operations at SIS Research, noted that the company has worked with key education, healthcare and supply-chain firms on their specific needs for adopting blockchain. 

SIS Research believes that enterprise blockchain will become an important part of business strategy in the future, Stanat added.

SIS Blockchain’s area of work

According to the press release, SIS Research has also been providing its expertise for companies willing to deploy blockchain in government structures, shipping and logistics, B2B and Internet of Things.  

As a result, the company came up with its own approach to blockchain strategy consulting such as technology acquisition and partnership strategy as well as market research and competitive intelligence tools covering trends, sourcing, customer and Proof-of-Concept research among others.

Additionally, SIS Blockchain will operate alongside the company’s existing FinTech, EdTech and BeautyTech strategy consulting divisions, the release notes.

In late August, tech market advisory firm ABI Research estimated that global revenues for blockchain technology will git $10 billion by 2023.


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After advising its clients on DLT applications for 2 years, SIS International Research sets up its blockchain consulting division

Visa Set to Join the Expanding Field of Blockchain-Based International Payment Providers

Visa Set to Join the Expanding Field of Blockchain-Based International Payment Providers

Visa joins the ranks of mainstream payment giants creating blockchain-powered settlements infrastructure for cross-border transactions among institutional clients

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Visa has launched a payment system for business-to-business (B2B) transactions partially based on blockchain technology. The United States payment behemoth says its platform, called Visa B2B Connect, offers seamless cross-border payment processing for institutional clients without going through the complex web of third-party intermediaries.

In doing so, Visa becomes the latest entrant into the blockchain-based payment processing arena. This move brings the company into direct competition with cryptocurrency startups like Ripple and mainstream players, such as Barclays and BNY Mellon with their Utility Settlement Coin (USC) project under the aegis of the Fnality Consortium.

Visa B2B Connect — three years in the making

Visa first announced plans to build a blockchain-based network for business payments back in 2016. At the time, the credit/debit card payment giant said the service would be developed in partnership with blockchain startup Chain.

According to a statement issued by the former executive president for strategic partnerships and innovation, Jim McCarthy:

“The time has never been better for the global business community to take advantage of new payment technologies and improve some of the most fundamental processes needed to run their businesses. We are developing our new solution to give our financial institution partners an efficient, transparent way for payments to be made across the world.”

Visa’s initial timeline included a pilot launch in 2017, but the company had to navigate a more complicated route than initially envisaged. The company replaced Chain as its partner on the project, electing instead to go with fintech firm FIS, e-payment operator Bottomline Technologies and IBM.

Starting in 2017, the company began to announce job vacancies for crypto and blockchain experts to work on a new payment gateway. In March 2019, the company also published another job listing for specialists in crypto payment solutions.

Three years on, Visa has finally gone ahead with the launch of its payment service, which promises near-real-time settlement for B2B transactions. In a blog post published by Visa on June 11, the company described its platform as the answer to the issues plaguing cross-border transactions for businesses.

An excerpt from the company’s statement reads:

“Visa B2B Connect takes a different approach, turning weeks into one to two days. The non-card-based platform — the first of its kind — removes friction from the process by expediting transactions directly from the origin bank to the beneficiary bank — no intermediaries necessary.”

Simplifying interbank transactions for businesses

According to the company, the newly developed system aims to simplify the process of business payments around the world, eliminating the convoluted transaction flow process involved in interbank settlements for commercial payments.

Kevin Phalen, head of Visa’s Global Business Solutions, hailed the project as one capable of establishing a new paradigm for international business payments. “With Visa B2B Connect, we are making commercial payments quicker and simpler, while enhancing transparency and consistency of data,” Phalen declared.

Transaction Flow Process

In the June 11 launch announcement, the company revealed that the Visa B2B Connect platform is now available in 30 markets across the globe. Visa has plans to triple the reach of the service, making the platform operational in 90 markets around the world before the end of 2019.

From a technology standpoint, the platform isn’t a fully realized blockchain network. Rather, Visa B2B Connect takes certain elements of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to create an interbank network for business transaction settlement. The development team utilized the open-source Hyperledger blockchain base layer, created by the Linux Foundation.

Details released by Visa show that the platform is a non-card-based network made up of companies and participating banks. It allows businesses to transact directly with one another across the globe via their banks, with the Visa B2B Connect acting as the single connection between all transacting entities.

In a phone interview with Cointelegrah, Marta Piekarska, director of Hyperledger ecosystem at the Linux Foundation, explained the role of the company in the project, saying:

“We [Linux Foundation] provide the base layer on top of which developers can build their projects. Visa has integrated with the Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 to create the B2B Connect platform. They [Visa] partnered with IBM to implement the payment technology infrastructure.”

In legacy interbank transactions, there can be as many as three third-party intermediaries, each with their own fees and contribution to the throughput time of the process. Rather than a settlement occurring in 24 to 48 hours, interbank payments for business can take much longer.

A typical flow process for a payment transaction from Company A in Country Y to Company B in Country Z would look like the image below.

Legacy Banking Infrastructure Vs. Visa B2B

First, the funds move from Company A’s bank to a domestic correspondent bank (the first link in the intermediary chain). The next “handshake” involves a transfer to the main transaction authenticator (the second link in the intermediary chain) — which is most likely a regional clearing house — before arriving at the account held by the foreign correspondent bank in Country Z. Finally, the funds will move to the Company B’s bank account.

The Visa B2B Connect platform eliminates unnecessary handshake procedures and replaces them with a centralized service that connects companies and their banks across the world. Aside from reducing cost and throughput time for interbank payments, Visa says its platform solves the problem of inconsistencies in the flow of data.

By employing elements of DLT, the payments giant believes Visa B2B Connect creates an infrastructure with immutable record-keeping capabilities. If this proves true, participating businesses can utilize the predictable cost matrix inherent in the system to improve upon the accuracy of their cost and budgeting documentation. Furthermore, the system will have all the fee calculations indicated before the commencement of each transaction.

According to Visa, the new service even provides far greater payment flexibility for “one-to-many” business transactions. In such instances, Company A would wish to transfer funds to multiple businesses around the world at the same time. With so many participants involved, the usual flow process would become even more convoluted with a geometric increase in the number of intermediaries and handshakes involved.

However, with the Visa B2B Connect system, the company would need only interface with a centralized platform that handles the disbursement of payments to the receiving entities in the different banks across the globe. Participants will also be able to track the progress of the transactions in real-time, which could vastly improve the transparency of international business payments.

Blockchain technology in cross-border payments

Visa is the latest mainstream actor in the payment processing arena to announce a product that utilizes DLT in its settlement infrastructure. At the start of the year, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) unveiled the launch of its blockchain-based platform for institutional payment settlements.

As reported by Cointelegraph at the time, the U.S. banking giant also plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, dubbed “JPM Coin,” which will serve as a stablecoin facilitator of transactions between major corporations. Reports also indicate that the early iterations of the project will involve internal settlements between JPM clients.

The decision by the Wall Street behemoth struck a chord across the industry, given the sentiments previously espoused by its CEO, Jamie Dimon. Back in 2017, Dimon infamously characterized bitcoin as a fraud.

Apart from JPM, banking giants from Japan, Europe and the U.S. recently launched the Fnality Consortium with a $63 million Series A funding round. Fnality will utilize a system of USCs to facilitate cross-border payments involving many of the major fiat currencies in the world today.

Related: Bank to Basics: USC Project Seeks to Disrupt Traditional Wholesale Banking

The USC project extends even beyond payment settlement, as it aims to establish a network of blockchain-powered distributed Financial Market Infrastructures (dFMIs). These dFMIs will allow for full-spectrum value exchange transactions.

Much like Visa B2B Connect, the USC project has been four years in the making, and reports indicate that the system will be up and running by mid-2020. Some of the major banks involved in the project include some big companies, as seen below.

Fnality Stakeholders

However, not everyone believes that decentralized technology can disrupt the global payments arena. Tweeting on June 14, Henry Blodget, the CEO of Business Insider, maintained that the legacy digital payment systems worked fine and do not need to be replaced with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. For Blodget, decentralized technology could find some application in cross-border payments, but beyond that, the mainstream avenues were still the more superior technology.

Serious competition for Ripple?

Given the target markets of these newly emerging payment networks, there is a question of whether these projects might constitute serious competition for cryptocurrency startup Ripple. Since it began operations, Ripple has consistently reiterated its intention of becoming the de facto global standard for international payment processing.

Ripple continues to sign partnerships with banks across the globe, encouraging the use of not only its ledger and payment products, but also the XRP cryptocurrency — in so, boosting its utility. With Wall Street banks and major corporations entering the blockchain-based payments arena, Ripple could face increasing competition for relevance in the evolving digital payments arena. It is, however, too soon to say which company will establish dominance when the landscape becomes fully realized.

The question could ultimately be decided by the strength of the technology offered by these different projects. Settlement layers that offer faster, cheaper, more efficient and more secure payment environments should see increased patronage, irrespective of the pedigree of the companies offering the technology.

For example, the Visa B2B Connect platform promises transaction settlement in 24 to 48 hours. This throughput time is significantly slower than that being offered by SWIFT’s Global Payment Initiative (GPI), which settles payments within an average of 24 hours.

Still, even SWIFT, the international payment network, has its sights set on blockchain technology adoption to further improve the operational capabilities of its GPI. In January, SWIFT announced a partnership with R3 to develop a blockchain-powered upgrade to its GPI technology in the hopes of further reducing the throughput time for international payments.

On the Ripple ledger, the average settlement time is around four seconds, and it can handle close to 1,500 on-chain transactions per second. Ripple also charges significantly lower fees — even when compared to other blockchain networks — with a median transaction cost of about $0.0004.


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Visa joins the ranks of mainstream payment giants creating blockchain-powered settlements infrastructure for cross-border transactions among institutional clients