Adoption: World's First Blockchain-based Trade Deal
UK-based HSBC has in a deal with Cargill, successfully completed the world's first ever trade finance transaction on blockchain. HSBC is the world's largest trade finance institution, and Cargill is the largest private company in the US in terms of revenue.
The deal involved a letter of credit which saw a shipment of soya beans travel from Argentina to Malaysia. While this may not seem at much, the success of this trial transactions confirms that there is potential for blockchain and use cases in the global finance market; a market that is reportedly worth $9 trillion.
Head of Innovation and Growth for commercial banking at HSBC, Vivek Ramachandran remarked that: "We don't envisage the platform as anything other than a utility". And this could go on to mean top corporations turning to blockchain in a bid to streamline their processes and save costs.
Adoption: Blockchain Payment System Launched in Taiwan
The city of Taipei, Taiwan appears to be at the forefront of blockchain adoption and experiments. Early this year, in January, they partnered with IOTA with the intent of turning into a " smart city". The project was to employ blockchain tech in providing technological advances like health history tracking and pollutions sensors. Barely a month later, Yang Chin-long, the governor of the state's central bank announced that they were exploring ways to improve "the security and efficiency of payment systems."
This time, Taipei Fubon Commercial Bank has become the first bank in Taiwan to implement a blockchain-based payment system.
Local media Taipei Times reported that the bank deployed its blockchain-based payment system for restaurants and merchants around the National Chengchi University. The pilot project ran on the Ethereum network and utilized the Byzantine Fault Tolerant (BFT) consensus protocol. According to the bank, the protocol reduces transaction times to less than a second, and also cuts the cost of transactions.
The bank also reported that the volume of transactions of cooperative merchants who have tested the project have quadrupled in a two-week period following the launch.
Adoption: Cryptocurrencies Will Become Legal in Ukraine
Ukraine is in the process of legalizing cryptocurrencies. According to a Facebook post by Alexei Mushak, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, the country has drafted legislation to make this happen, and calls for inputs from members of the public with regards to regulations for the crypto space.
A part of his post introducing the draft legislation document reads:
"We go to the home stretch to create conditions for digital tokens and cryptocurrency in Ukraine. This is the outcome of many meetings and work of many people. There are many more nuances left to figure out. The final version will be ready in two weeks. I ask you to comment and edit. The thoughts of market practitioners are especially important."
In summary, the legislation targets a free and transparent crypto market in Ukraine, with measures to prevent the use of digital assets for terrorists financing, money laundering, and other criminal activities. The country is aiming at implementing blockchain tech in health care, education, and public relations areas, amongst others.
Coinbase Releases New Products Targeting Institutional Investors
Popular US crypto wallet provider and exchange service, Coinbase has announced the launch of new products aimed at meeting the needs of institutional investors. In an official blog post dated May 15, they revealed that they will be releasing four products – Coinbase Custody, Coinbase Markets, Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group, and Coinbase Prime.
Each of these products aim towards removing the barriers hindering institutional investors from testing the crypto waters, with particular focus on security and regulatory compliance.
Vice President of Coinbase, Adam White was excited telling CNBC that:
"We think this can unlock $10 billion of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline. We're seeing a rapid increase in attention awareness and adoption in the cryptocurrency market."
Coinbase have recorded some success managing over $20 billion worth of client's crypto assets. It is expected that the products will be welcomed, considering their present positive ratings.
Bitcoin Mining: 0.5% of the World's Energy to be Spent on Mining
One of the downsides of Proof of Work protocols is the need for mining. Mining which involves solving complex mathematical algorithms is power-intensive. In February for example, it was reported that bitcoin mining in Iceland would consume more electricity than households in 2018.
BTC network currently consumes about 2.55 GW of electricity. This value is expected to rise to 7.67 GW by the end of this year. However, with the implementation of Lighting Network and other novel ideas, the amount of energy consumed by mining activities may be reduced.
De Vries was quick to tell the Independent that: "It's an extreme difference compared to the regular financial system, and this increasing electricity demand is definitely not going to help us reach our climate goals."
Chinese Cryptocurrency Ratings: Ethereum Tops the List
In what may seem like an irony, considering the rather strict stance of China towards cryptocurrencies, the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has released an official cryptocurrency rating of 28 leading cryptocurrencies on the 17th of May.
Based on their rating, Ethereum was awarded the 1st position as the world's best blockchain network, following Ethereum is Steem, Lisk, NEO, and Komodo. Surprisingly, Bitcoin which is the most popular cryptocurrency ranked 13th out of 28.
The first tranche of ratings focused on only 28 cryptocurrencies. However, the ministry is looking towards expanding the review to more public blockchain assets and projects. Blockchain projects were ranked based on three indexes: technology, application, and innovation.
Responding to the ratings, commentators on Twitter found it difficult to understand the methodology employed by the ministry. Eric Zhao an engineer at the Chinese Academy of Science pointed out that "most old-school experts haven't followed the crypto space long enough to grasp some of the traits of [the] tech and community that can't be found elsewhere."
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