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Messaging Giant WeChat Suspends Third-Party Blockchain App

China’s most popular messaging application, WeChat, has frozen a third-party blockchain application designed to introduce the nascent technology to a wide user base.

The mini-program, called Xiao Xieyi (or Mini Protocol in a literal translation), was launched on Wednesday and touted as a service that would allow users on WeChat to initiate contractual agreements, according to the Chinese business news outlet Caijing. However, the app, which is owned by Tencent, suspended the program within a day.

Upon reaching consensus, the tool – developed by a Beijing-based blockchain-as-a-service platform called Niuco Box – would encrypt and record agreements on a blockchain for a fee. The funds raised through the app would pay miners who write transactions onto the blockchain underpinning the application.

The effort may mark one of the first moves by Chinese blockchain developers to make the technology accessible to mainstream social media users. In March 2018, Tencent CEO Pony Ma claimed the messaging app now has more than 1 billion monthly active users across the world.

Yet, the program has already been suspended by WeChat. A search of its name now leads to a page which explains the program has violated rules on the platform, though the exact violation remains unknown.

“The Mini Protocol is now being suspended because the type of its service is not yet authorized by the platform,” the app said.

WeChat could not be reached for comment as of press time.

WeChat image via Shutterstock; Screen capture via Wolfie Zhao for CoinDesk

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250 Corporates Join ICICI Bank Blockchain Test

Banking giant ICICI is moving ahead with a previously revealed blockchain trade finance initiative.

Announced Tuesday, the India-based company has enlisted more than 250 corporates to undertake domestic and international trade finance transactions using ICICI’s blockchain platform.

Corporate firms have signed up on the bank’s blockchain application and are using the technology in cross-border remittance for the payment of employee salaries, raw materials to domestic partners and payments to domestic vendors, a company release said.

As such, Chanda Kochhar, managing director and CEO of ICICI foresees blockchain having “immense potential to simplify the document-intensive trade transactions.”

Commenting on further moves, Kochhar said:

“We are also collaborating with peer banks and other partners to create a comprehensive ecosystem in the industry using blockchain and evolve common working standards to contribute to even greater adoption of this initiative.”

ICICI added that its blockchain application will help participating banks view data for such transactions in real-time. Buyers, sellers and other parties can also track documentation and asset authentication with the help of a series of encrypted and secure digital contracts.

The inclusion of corporates comes in line with ICICI’s successful completion of blockchain-based cross-border transaction for trade finance with Emirates NBD in 2016.

ICICI website homepage image via Shutterstock

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UK Bank HSBC Might Soon Pilot Live Blockchain Payments

International banking giant HSBC is reportedly close to testing blockchain in live transactions.

Global Trade Review reports that the bank could launch several pilot programs based on existing proof-of-concept (PoC) projects in an effort to begin transitioning to live blockchain transactions. The move was announced during a private media call earlier this week.

HSBC senior innovation manager Joshua Kroeker said at the time that the launch would mark the fruition of trials conducted over the course of two years, including one announced in August 2016 that tests the use of a blockchain in replicating letters of credit.

At the time, the trial aimed to develop trust between two or more entities by creating a system to authenticate data, as previously reported.

The process was successful, Kroeker said, continuing on to say:

“Going from that PoC in 2016, we’re at the tipping point of getting our customers involved in live transactions in the coming weeks and months. The technology has come a long way, we’re much more comfortable with its security and scalability.”

Many of HSBC’s clients have begun the process of digitizing their operations, but letters of credit is one area where most have difficulty, he said.

“This product is one of the first we’re going to pilot, which is going to be exciting,” he said.

The bank is currently integrating customers into its pilot programs. Should they prove successful, the projects will be fully implemented into live production environments, though this step will require additional work on both the blockchain application and the network, Kroeker said.

Currently, the plan is to launch a live network in early 2019, according to GTR.

HSBC image via Steve Heap / Shutterstock

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SETL's Fund Record-Keeping Platform Trials Live Blockchain Transactions

OFI Asset Management has carried out live blockchain transactions on the IZNES fund record-keeping platform built on blockchain tech from startup SETL.

According to a press release, OFI AM conducted trials with clients during which transactions were “successfully” made over the IZNES system – a European platform developed by the two firms.

Other asset managers including Groupama AM, Arkéa Investment Services have also been involved in the project, the release adds.

SETL Development Ltd CEO Peter Randall said that the trials are an “important step” in bringing blockchain technology to the asset management sector, with benefits including lower costs and increased transparency and workflow.

Randall added:

When this project is fully operational it will be the largest single instance, by value, of a permissioned blockchain in the world.

The IZNES solution lets investors redeem fund units through the asset management firm itself, and doing away with the middleman – in this case the transfer agent. The platform aims to support the issue, transfer and redemption of new units that are specifically designed for blockchain use, the release adds.

Pierre Davoust, CEO of SETL France, noted that the flexibility of the IZNES platform will enable it to be used with “minimal impact” on other business processes. “This enables investors, distributors and asset managers to operate their usual internal tools to process their orders on the SETL blockchain,” he said.

SETL was founded in July 2015 to develop a blockchain-based institutional payment and settlements infrastructure that covers multiple assets and currencies.

Records image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at news@coindesk.com.