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Cryptocurrencies 'Are Not Going Away' Says CFTC Official

Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, a U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission official said this week.

Rostin Benham, one of the CFTC’s commissioners, spoke during the Blockchain for Impact Global Summit, held at the United Nations Plaza on Monday. During his speech, he emphasized the major potential for blockchain to address issues in healthcare, employment and crime, among other sectors.

Calling cryptocurrencies a “technological revolution,” Behnam said:

“But virtual currencies may – will – become part of the economic practices of any country, anywhere. Let me repeat that: these currencies are not going away and they will proliferate to every economy and every part of the planet … Virtual currencies could transform the economic and social landscape.”

Benham also warned against the flip-side of cryptocurrencies if they are not properly overseen, saying “if we are not thoughtful, if we do not remain ever diligent to the movements within the transformation, we may unleash corruption, criminality and division on a greater scale.”

“Blockchain could become a source for repression and totalitarianism,” he warned.

This is not the first time Benham has expressed caution about the potential use cases for blockchain. In an earlier address last month at the FIA Law and Compliance conference, he shared concerns over the possibility of cryptocurrencies threatening the stability of the financial industry.

Still, his sentiments over blockchain remain ever cognizant of the new technology’s ability to remake “our economic, social, and political relations.”

The BFI summit was aimed at uncovering the applications of blockchain technology to sustainable development and humanitarian challenges by engaging the United Nations (UN) departments, funds, programs and specialized agencies. It is part of a broader initiative by the Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development that was established last year by the UN General Assembly.

UN flag image via Shutterstock.

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Microsoft Unveils New Blockchain Tools for Azure

Microsoft announced the Azure Blockchain Workbench Monday, releasing a new set of tools for developers that work with distributed ledger tech.

The Workbench provides “the scaffolding for an end-to-end blockchain application,” and can be set up “with just a few simple clicks,” according to the announcement. Put more simply, Microsoft is trying to streamline the method by which companies and their development teams can build apps on top of Azure-based blockchains.

“Today, we’re excited to announce the public preview release of Azure Blockchain Workbench, a new offering that can reduce application development time from months to days,” Azure general manager Matthew Kerner wrote in a blog post published Monday.

Kerner added:

“Workbench gets customers started quickly by automating infrastructure setup, so developers can focus on application logic, and business owners can focus on defining and validating their use cases.”

Some of the firm’s existing partners have already taken advantage of the Workbench, Microsoft announced, including Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, food distributor Nestle and “quote-to-cash” software producer Apttus.

Stepping back, the move is just the latest for the technology giant, which has joined several blockchain-focused partnerships in the last few months.

The company is working with Hyperledger, the United Nations, research consortium R3 and Cornell University’s Blockchain Research Group to study different aspects of blockchain technology.

Outside of those group efforts, Microsoft has shown interest in the technology for digital identity purposes, as previously reported.

Microsoft image via Volodymyr Kyrylyuk / Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.