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The Bahamas Plans to Become a Leading Blockchain Hub

An NGO in collaboration with some institutions announced plans to establish blockchain developers in the Bahamas. The group also aims to place the Island at the forefront of distributed ledger technology (DLT) adoption.

A Leading Blockchain Hub in the Caribbean

According to The Nassau Guardian, an NGO known as the Caribbean Blockchain Alliance (CBA) is seeking to establish a group of decentralized technology developers in The Bahamas. In a press release, Stefen Deleveaux, founder of the CBA, talked about the inherent opportunities found in decentralized technology.

The founder further explained thus:

Blockchain technology is seen as the next step in Internet and financial technology, in what many describe as Web 3.0. There is a huge opportunity to use this technology to improve public and private services in this country. In addition, competent blockchain developers are in high demand, in an industry that almost guarantees access to a high-income job or potential project.

Deleveaux also said that part of the objectives was to build several cohorts of DLT developers. The CBA founder also recognized the importance of blockchain technology in software infrastructure as the reason for the groups.

Furthermore, Deleveaux announced a collaboration involving Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CBA, Blockgeeks, and the University of the Bahamas. These four institutions would host a hackathon. Also, twenty-five Bahamian citizens would partake in a course for decentralized technology developers, from November 30 – December 1, 2018.

The press release further stated that after the course, students would get a certificate recorded on the decentralized technology.

Michael Nelson, who serves as IDB’s Chief of Operations, added that the bank seeks to empower Bahamian citizens. With the collaboration and the incentives in place for DLT developers, Ameer Rosic, the CEO of Blockgeeks, believes that the Island could be “the blockchain hub of the Caribbean.”

Island Governments Adopting Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology

Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency adoption are recording high among Island governments. Some of these countries go further to aspire to become “blockchain Islands.”

Towards the end of the second quarter, the Bahamas announced plans to issue its digital currency. According to the Island, a state-owned virtual currency would help to improve its economic development and eliminate barriers.

Malta, another DLT-friendly country, is at the forefront of decentralized technology and cryptocurrency adoption. Popularly known as the “blockchain Island,” it was the first country to have a holistic legislative framework regulating DLT technology.

Furthermore, Malta introduced the Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA) and the Innovative Technology Arrangement and Services Act (ITAS). Both Acts would regulate virtual currency and decentralized technology.

However, Marshall Islands’ plan to adopt cryptocurrency isn’t receiving complete support. President Hilda Heine’s announced moves to create a virtual currency that would act as a legal tender but received a “no confidence motion” from some of the country’s senators. The IMF and the U.S. also disagreed with the president’s plan.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Blockchain Evidence is Legally Binding, says China’s Supreme Court

The Supreme People’s Court of China has issued a set of new rules on the trial of internet court cases, part of which is that blockchain can authenticate electronic data entered in as evidence.

Blockchain Authentication

The court’s ruling issued on Friday sets out new rules to guide the activities of internet courts, and protect the legal rights of disputing parties. A portion of the new regulations relates to the authentication of electronic data presented as evidence:

The electronic data submitted by the parties can prove their authenticity through electronic signature, trusted time stamp, hash value check, blockchain, and other evidence collection, fixed and tamper-proof technical means or through electronic forensic evidence platform certification. [a rough translation]

Data stored or retrieved with distributed technology are now admissible in Court. Also, in instances where electronic data entered in as evidence in a case is questioned by any of the parties involved, the data can be authenticated using blockchain technology.

This new ruling by the Supreme Court agrees with the precedence set by Hangzhou Internet Court earlier in the year.

In a case between a media company and a technology company, Hangzhou Internet Court ruled that decentralized technology can be used as a method to determine the authenticity of the digital information presented as evidence.

Internet Court was instituted due to the rising numbers of online trade disputes and copyright infringements in the country. The Hangzhou Internet Court is the first, and it was instituted in August 2017. The government plans to launch internet courts in two other cities – Beijing and Guangzhou.

China Picks Blockchain Over Cryptocurrencies

Despite the relentless crackdown on cryptocurrencies in the country, the Chinese Government is eagerly embracing blockchain technology.  On the one hand, the government banned ICOs and domestic cryptocurrency trading and exchanges and restricted crypto-related online content. On the other hand, it is also adopting distributed ledger technology in trade and other sectors.

In April, EWN reported that state-owned Sinochem Energy Technology Co Limited completed a shipment of gasoline to Singapore using blockchain technology.

Private Corporations in the country are also adopting the blockchain technology and driving decentralized technology-related innovation globally. Chinese company’s like Tencent and Alibaba are leading the global blockchain patent race.  56% percent of all issued distributed technology-related patents in the world belong to Chinese companies.  Even the country’s Central Bank is also not left out, issuing 68 filings for DLT (Decentralized Ledger Technology) patents.

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PBoC-Backed Blockchain Trade Finance Platform Enters Test Phase

A blockchain trade finance platform spearheaded by China’s central bank has entered the testing phase ahead of an official roll-out.

According to a report from 21st Century Business Herald on Tuesday, the first phase of the so-called Bay Area Trade Finance Blockchain Platform is already deployed across financial institutions in the southern city of Shenzhen and is currently undergoing final trials.

The Bay Area in Southern China is an economic development zone consisting of major cities along the Pearl River and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

The trade finance project was jointly pushed through and coordinated by the Digital Currency Research Lab of the People’s Bank of China and the central bank’s Shenzhen branch, the report indicates. Major commercial banks in the country, including the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, China Merchants Bank, Ping’An Bank and Standard Chartered, also participated and assisted with development.

The platform is aimed to boost the efficiency of interbank transactions and to help small- and medium-sized businesses access a wider range of financing tools, such as asset-backed securities, as data can be easily shared across participants via a distributed network

Further, greater levels of transparency of transactions and information shared on the blockchain is expected to give local regulators more granular oversight for improved risk control and fraud prevention, the report added.

The trade finance effort comes as Hong Kong’s de facto central bank is also deploying a blockchain-based trade finance platform, with participation from a group of financial institutions in the Chinese special administrative region.

As CoinDesk has previously reported, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority was set to roll out the project by September – one technologically developed Ping’An Insurance, the entity that owns Ping’An Bank.

Shenzhen skyscrapers image via Shutterstock

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South Korea to Double Blockchain Trials in Public Sector Next Year

The South Korean government is literally doubling down on its effort to trial blockchain in the public sector, adding more projects and increasing available funds for 2019.

The Korea Internet & Security Agency (KISA) – a sub-organization of the Ministry of ICT – has said it is aiming to increase the number of blockchain pilot projects in the public sector from six this year to 12 in 2019, as CoinDesk Korea reported on Tuesday.

“In the next year, we are considering expanding blockchain pilot projects in the public sector to 12, and plan to support more than three private-led blockchain national projects,” said Min Kyung-sik, head of KISA’s blockchain team.

Further, the government agency will also boost the blockchain pilot budget for 2019 to more than 10 billion Korean won, or $9 million, in addition to the previously reported $9 million fund for both 2018 and 2019.

In June, the Ministry of ICT revealed a development plan that would see it work with other relevant ministries to develop six blockchain projects in the public sector – all selected from a total of 72 project ideas submitted by 41 institutions.

The six projects were focused on livestock supply chain management, customs clearance, online voting, real estate transactions, cross-border e-document distribution and shipping logistics.

KISA indicated for this year, the government has allocated $3.76 million for the six projects, with $3 million coming from the government and the remainder from private contributions.

The results of the current pilot projects will be announced in November, after which KISA will host a blockchain hackthon competition in December in an effort to select new project ideas, the agency said in the report.

Seoul image via Shutterstock

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ASX Postpones Roll-Out of Blockchain Settlement System to Q2 2021

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has pushed back the expected launch time of a blockchain network to Q2 in 2021 that is set to replace the country’s decades-old CHESS clearing and settlement system.

The ASX published a new report on Tuesday in response to public feedback it had gathered that commented on a consultation paper it published in April for the replacement. The company expected at the time the new system would go live by the end of 2020.

The ASX said it received 41 written submissions from various stakeholders in the process, such as clearing and settlement participants, payment providers and market operators.

Based on the responses, the ASX decided to postpone the targeted go-live time to March or April in 2021. It will also extend a user development testing period and an industry-wide testing phase for another six months, respectively, prior to the official implementation.

The reason was due to concerns raised by respondents “whether the proposed implementation window of Q4 2020 to Q1 2021 was achievable given the significance of the technology change and the range of new scope being introduced.”

The ASX went on to explain that “there was a common view in responses that too much new functionality was being proposed to be implemented in too short a timeframe,” adding:

“It was argued that this would result in increased complexity and risk across project phases and in the implementation timeframe.”

As such, seven features of the blockchain system that the ASX initially planned to include at the launch will be released at a later stage, such as settlement in foreign currencies and a reporting feature for showing account balance information.

Further, the ASX cautioned that whether all new features can be made available to users at the launch will also depend on potential risk issues and regulatory clearances.

The ASX has been exploring how to adopt distributed ledger technology since 2015 and announced last year it will launch a blockchain-based settlement system in an effort to cut operational costs and to boost transaction efficiency.

The revised implementation timeline also follows recent remarks made by the exchange’s managing director and CEO Dominic Stevens that the new system is able to save as much as $23 billion once implemented.

ASX image via Shutterstock

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China Goes All Out On Blockchain Patents Amid Crypto Ban

China Greets Blockchain With A Smile

Since Bitcoin’s inception, the terms “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” have gone hand-in-hand, with many using the two words to complement each other in a similar context. Although it is widely understood that the acceptance of blockchain directly implies the acceptance of cryptocurrencies, China has taken a different approach, with innovators within the country seeking to propel the development of blockchain technologies, while hampering the adoption of cryptocurrencies at the same time.

As per a report from the Asia Nikkei Review, an Asia-based news outlet, Chinese firms have clearly led the blockchain-related patent race, with Alibaba alone accounting for more than 10% of the world’s blockchain patent applications. China’s infatuation towards blockchain innovation has reportedly taken the entire country by storm, with internet giants such as Tencent and Baidu issuing a staggering 56% of 406 worldwide patents.

To put this 56% statistic into perspective, the U.S., which is unarguably the world’s foremost technological superpower, is only responsible for 22% of blockchain-centric patent filings.

As per a chart from the report (seen right), the People’s Bank of China takes the cake when it comes to the most decentralized ledger technology (DLT) patents

chinaImage Courtesy of The Nikkei Asian Review

filed by an individual entity, with China’s central bank issuing 68 filings in recent years. Following the PBOC’s 68 patents is Alibaba, Bank of America, nChain Holdings, Beijing Rui Josie Technology Development, Mastercard, Jiangsu Tongfudun Information Technology, Cloud Minds (Shenzhen) Technologies, China United Network Communications and Hangzhou Qulian Technology.

John Eastwood, a Taiwan-based partner at Eiger Law, commented on China’s unrelenting drive for blockchain adoption and development, stating:

Blockchain is a new technological landscape where it could be very profitable for Chinese companies to grab significant territory in their patent claim language. Holding several patents helps to give an aura of legitimacy that helps many companies in the blockchain field to attract investors or acquirers.

Chinese blockchain trailblazers have found a good variety of industries to apply DLT to, including supply chain management, global financial transactions (remittance), postal services, healthcare, and more.

Alibaba’s Blockchain Drive

Alibaba, China’s 2nd most valuable company, has taken a rather open-minded approach when it comes to blockchain. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder and one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in the world, has openly endorsed DLT. Speaking at the launch of his firm’s blockchain-centric remittance service in Hong Kong, Ma stated:

Blockchain technology can help overcome the challenges of security, sustainability and inclusion. It could change our world more than people can imagine.

And it seems that the firm hasn’t taken an ‘all talk, no action’ approach,  with the $450 billion giant making a series of moves to accommodate blockchain technologies in recent months. Most recently, Alibaba has begun exploring the use of blockchain in healthcare, partnering with the city of Changzhou to verify and “secure” a patient’s medical data on a blockchain.

While China has undoubtedly taken a leading role in the so-called ‘blockchain revolution’, the heavy-handed government seems to be hesitant to say yes to cryptocurrencies, or at least for now.

Photo by Theodor Lundqvist on Unsplash
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Alibaba, IBM Top Global Blockchain Patent Rankings, Says New Research

Major financial and technological enterprises from China and the U.S. are leading the global drive to develop blockchain applications, according to a new report that ranks entities by patents filed.

The research, released Friday by iPR Daily, a media outlet specializing in intellectual property, shows that Chinese internet giant Alibaba tops the list with a total of 90 patent applications focused on blockchain-related technologies.

In second place is IBM, which falls just one short of that total with 89 filings, while Mastercard occupies third place with 80 filings. Bank of America made it to fourth place, with 53 blockchain patent applications.

For its ranking, iPR Daily said it consolidated information from patent databases as of Aug. 10 from China, the U.S., Europe, Japan and South Korea, as well as the International Patent System from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Notably, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), fifth on the list, marks one of the few central banks in the world to have moved into the blockchain industry with a total of 44 patent applications focused on its planned central bank digital currency.

As CoinDesk reported in June, the PBoC’s Digital Currency Lab, spearheaded by Yao Qian, filed over 40 patent applications within 12 months of its launch. Each patent constitutes part of a major effort by the central bank to create a digital currency combining core features of cryptocurrency and the country’s existing monetary system.

Other notable companies on the iPR Daily list that have filed at least 20 blockchain-related patent applications include Tencent, Accenture, Ping An Insurance, Bitmain, Intel, Visa, Sony, Google and China’s State Grid Corporation.

The report arrives at a time when technologies developed by some of the featured firms are starting to be moved into real-world production.

For instance, Alibaba recently launched a payments corridor based on a distributed network will settle financial transactions for residents living in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Tencent also piloted an application via its WeChat messaging service that used blockchain to speed up the process of reimbursing corporate employees’ expenses.

Patent image via Shutterstock

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Japanese City Trials Blockchain Voting for Social Development Programs

A Japanese city government has become one of the first in the country to have tested a blockchain-based system that lets residents cast votes to decide on local development programs.

The government of Tsukuba, a city known for its role in scientific development since the 1960s, completed the blockchain test on Aug. 28 with 119 votes gathered, according to a news report by the Japan Times on Sunday.

The technology was used to select what’s called social contribution projects from a pool of proposals focused on technology applications including the internet of things and artificial intelligence, based on the government’s website.

The report said the system integrates an identity verification machine with a decentralized network. After putting an ID card on the machine for verification, voters went on to select their preferred programs. The system further encrypted and stored the data of their ballots via the tamper-proof distributed network.

“I had thought it would involve more complicated procedures, but I found that it’s minimal and easy,” Tsukuba’s mayor Tatsuo Igarashi was quoted as saying after he also cast a vote via the system.

A report from the Jiji news agency on Saturday said, if the application proves successful after further review, the local government expects to expand the service to residents living in mountainous areas, remote islands and foreign countries.

The test is the latest instance where governments haved turn to distributed ledger technology for casting and securing ballots.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the U.S. state of West Virginia is also set to adopt a blockchain-based application statewide to help absentee voters from the military based overseas to vote remotely in the November elections.

In March, the municipal government of Russia’s national capital Moscow launched Digital Home, a service that allows residents of high-rise blocks to electronically vote on issues like whether to upgrade aspects of buildings or hire new management companies.

Voting image via 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.