Weekly Spotlights: World’s first Blockchain bond created, Logistics giant Maersk joins the Blockchain field

Remitano gladly brings you some of the most highlighted news this week from 5/8 – 12/8.

1. World Bank Picks Australia’s CBA to Deliver ‘World’s First Blockchain Bond’ on Ethereum

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the country’s largest bank, has won a mandate from the World Bank to become the sole arranger of a bond exclusively created and managed on a blockchain.

Dubbed ‘bond-I’, the pioneering issue will be the ‘first bond globally to be created, allocated, transferred and managed using blockchain technology”, the World Bank said in a press release on Friday.

Following its launch, the bond will be issued and managed on a private Ethereum blockchain operated by the World Bank in Washington and CBA in Sydney, the Australian ‘big four’ bank added. Ethereum “offers the functionality” required for the blockchain bond issuance whilst having “the largest and most active development community globally”, the CBA added, insisting it would remain open to other blockchains in the future.

Specifically, the World Bank will use Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to run the bond in Washington. The tech giant has already validated the Ethereum platform’s operational “capabilities, security and scale”, the World Bank added.

CBA general manager for international markets James Wall heralded the partnership for using the decentralized technology to increase the efficiency of financing for countries with extreme poverty.

He added: “We believe that this transaction will be ground-breaking as a demonstration of how blockchain technology can act as a facilitating platform for different participants.”

World Bank Group chief information officer Denis Robitaille stated: “Helping countries transition to technology-led development is key to our goals of reducing poverty and promoting lasting development…[T]his pioneering bond is a milestone in our efforts to learn how we can advise our client countries on the opportunities and risk that disruptive technologies offer.”

2. China Issues First Tax Authority-Approved Invoice on Blockchain

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China’s first digital invoice on the blockchain has been issued in the southeastern city of Shenzhen. This is the first implementation of a pilot blockchain ecosystem for invoices that has been developed by Tencent — the developer of the 1 billion-user social media platform WeChat — together with the Shenzhen Municipal Taxation Bureau.

It is the only such pilot to have received the official approval of the State Administration of Taxation, and has been designed for comprehensive use by consumers, merchants and tax authorities, according to EEO

EEO reports that the debut invoice was issued August 10 by a local Shenzhen restaurant. Several other local merchants have already been given access to the system, including a parking lot, auto repair shop, and cafe.

The system allowed for a consumer payment via WeChat to generate an invoice that would be eligible for inspection and management by tax authorities. Using a blockchain-enabled electronic invoice means that the consumer can manage all these steps using one click on the WeChat app after checkout, and is then able to track their reimbursement status in real time.

As EEO notes, blockchain’s cornerstone innovation of providing an immutable and transparent record-keeping system is highly consistent with the invoice supervision process, as it effectively traces the source, authenticity, and accounting of invoices, thereby solving the problems of over-reporting, false-reporting, and other true-false inconsistencies in the process of invoice circulation.

The technology also has the advantage of improving data privacy through encryption methods and providing an overall cost-effective streamlining of processes.

3. US: Satellite Service DISH Adds BCH Payment Option, Moves to BitPay Payments Provider

U.S. satellite service provider DISH has announced it has added Bitcoin Cash (BCH) as a payment option and migrated to the BitPay payments provider. The DISH Network Corporation was among the first satellite service providers in the world to accept Bitcoin (BTC) payments back in 2014.

John Swieringa, the executive vice president and chief operating officer at DISH, said in the press release that the company has “a steady volume of customers paying with cryptocurrency each month”, adding:

“We’ve added Bitcoin Cash just as we chose to accept Bitcoin to serve customers who have adopted a new way of doing business.”

According to the press release, DISH customers will be able to pay with both BTC and BCH for monthly subscriptions and pay-per-view movies by sending the exact amount of cryptocurrency in a push transaction to the company.

Sonny Singh, the chief commercial officer with BitPay, noted in the press release that they aim to have a “seamless transition” from DISH’s old payment service to the new one. Singh added that cryptocurrency purchases are becoming more popular both because they reduce the chances for credit card fraud, as well as provide a cheaper payment service option for merchants.

4. CEVA Logistics: IBM-Maersk Blockchain Platform Is ‘Big Step Forward’

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Swiss-registered logistics giant CEVA Logistics has announced its participation in IBM and Maersk’s new joint blockchain platform TradeLens in a press release August 10.

The partners unveiled TradeLens, which is dedicated to enhancing shipping supply chains, earlier this week. CEVA said the platform constituted its “answer to the untapped potential of blockchain applications in the logistics industry.”

CEVA CEO Xavier Urbain noted in the press release that they see the “high potential” in TradeLense to be the “real-time access it provides to all partners in the supply chain,” adding

“It is a big step forward toward establishing a market standard for blockchain solutions.”

CEVA, which has annual revenues of $7 billion, is one of over 90 organizations to come on board with TradeLens, with the company hinting that this was by no means the full extent of its blockchain plans. CEVA’s press release stated that “other initiatives are in the pipeline and are currently being evaluated and expected to start delivering solutions in the coming months.”

Shipping supply chains have long formed a focus for simplification through innovation thanks to blockchain technology.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, TradeLens began as a pilot project in March 2017, while other schemes have since begun operating with the aim of using blockchain to reduce costs, paperwork, and timeframes, while enhancing security.

5. ‘Big Four’ South Korean Bank Enters Blockchain Pact with Telecom Giant KT

South Korea’s second-largest bank Shinhan Bank has entered into a partnership with the country’s second-largest telecoms provider KT Corp for the purpose of developing a new blockchain-based platform.

Shinhan on its part will bring its considerable commercial banking experience to the table, with its 2017 assets totaling $302.6 billion.

The aforementioned government program permits digital vouchers to be spent like cash within certain locations. The partnership between Shinhan and KT comes ahead of the planned rollout of an economic stimulus program that includes the digital voucher scheme.

Shinhan will assume responsibility for developing the new platform’s financial  services including payment fulfillment and account management, while KT will set up the underlying blockchain infrastructure that will underpin the system.

This is not Shinhan’s first foray into blockchain technology. Earlier in 2018, in accordance with its view of the blockchain as a core component of future banking  systems, the bank’s Digital Strategy department created a dedicated research center for blockchain technology in a first for the South Korean banking industry.

The bank is also working to develop a blockchain-based integrated certification system for many financial activities including wire transfers and foreign exchange transactions.

6. 5,000 Merchants Can Now Accept Cryptocurrency Payments in Chile

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Chilean cryptocurrency exchange Crypto MKT has recently announced that the country’s citizens can now buy products and services with cryptocurrency from over 5,000 merchants through a new integration with a crypto payment processor.

According to the announcement, a partnership between Crypto MKT and online payments platform Flow.cl allowed the merchants to add cryptocurrency payment options through a platform called CryptoCompra.com.

CryptoCompra’s platform is available in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Europe, and lets customers pay businesses using bitcoin, stellar, or ethereum, while letting merchants receive their payments in pesos, the country’s fiat currency.

It further states that accepting cryptocurrencies allows businesses to accept payments from all over the world, and gives them a chance to be recognized as a “vanguard company” that can enjoy fast, secure payments.

The development is notable, as Chile is a country in which the top cryptocurrency exchanges, Orionx, Buda, and Crypto MKT, endured what was considered a blanket ban on the crypto industry, as local banks shut down their accounts, prompting them to seek clear regulations.

The ordeal saw the exchanges take the banks, Itau Corpbanca, Bank of Nova Scotia, and state-owned Banco Estado, to an appeals court that agreed to hear them. Chile’s anti-monopoly court ordered two major banks, Banco Estado and Itau Corpbanca, to re-open the accounts of Buda, an exchange that was reportedly seeing a daily trading volume of over $1 million before its accounts were closed

The president of Chile’s central bank, Mario Marcel, has earlier this year revealed he is considering implementing cryptocurrency regulations that would give financial institutions information needed to “monitor associated risks.”

7. Yale: Every Portfolio Should Have Crypto, Method Used by Billionaire Investors

Yale economist Aleh Tsyvinski, who has taught economics at the prestigious Yale university for many years, has said that every investor who believes bitcoin can perform as well as it did in 2017 should invest at least six percent of their holdings in crypto.

In an interview with CNBC last month, Marc Lasry, the billionaire co-founder of Avenue Capital Group, whose net worth is estimated to be at around $1.68 billion, shocked the panels at CNBC Fast Money when he revealed that he has invested more than one percent of his holdings in crypto.

Given his family’s $1.68 billion net worth, one percent of Lasry’s holdings would be equivalent to $16.8 million, all invested in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.

Said Lasry: “I wouldn’t say [bitcoin is] completely speculative but it is speculative. It is around 1 percent, and [I invested in bitcoin] a few years ago. I bought a lot more in the last year, when probably the average price of bitcoin was $5,000 to $7,500.”

Some billionaire investors such as Galaxy Digital’s Mike Novogratz and PayPal founder Peter Thiel are said to have allocated a significant chunk of their net worth in crypto, and notably, Novogratz invested a substantial amount of his personal holdings in other major cryptocurrencies like EOS.

Tsyvinski emphasized that every investor who believes bitcoin or cryptocurrencies as an asset class will survive and have the potential to record similar gains in the long-term must have at least one percent of their holdings in crypto.

In consideration of all these factors, as well as the past performance of BTC in 2015 and 2017, economists believe that investors must hold a small portion of their holdings in crypto as a bet on its sustainability and the infant market.

8. Singapore: Venture Capital Firm to Launch $10 Million Crypto, Blockchain Investment Fund

Singapore-based venture capital firm Golden Gate Ventures will launch a $10 million fund for investments in blockchain and cryptocurrency companies, Reuters reported August 10.

Golden Gate Ventures (GGV), one of the leading venture capital firms in Southeast Asia, will invest in early-stage companies including cryptocurrency exchanges, security providers, and blockchain tech startups through the LuneX Ventures fund.

Drijkoningen praised blockchain, referring to it as “a foundational technology, on par with or possibly exceeding the Internet in disruptive potential,” adding:

“Right now valuations have come down to more reasonable levels and the industry is moving from pioneers to early adopters, which is a great time to start investing.”

In June, private equity and venture capital firm Union Square Ventures (USV) reported that it has plans to invest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies over the course of the next 10 years, but will not establish a separate fund.

Earlier this week, the giant commercial state-run Bank of China had announced its plans to increase its investments in the research and development of blockchain and fintech, using around one percent of the bank’s operating annual income.

9. Lightning Network Payment System “SparkSwap” Makes Its Official Debut

A new way to trade bitcoin and digital currencies is now in the books. SparkSwap is the first crypto exchange to be built on the Lightning Network. It allows users to trade both bitcoin and altcoins in seconds without depositing assets with a third party.

SparkSwap is made up of two primary components. The first is called the Broker and is the software run by users. It interprets user actions and converts them into network actions. It also executes payment channel network swaps and manages user wallets and private keys.

The second component is known as the Relayer, which is software run by staff members. It connects brokers who wish to execute monetary swaps; provides orderbook updates; and mitigates fraud and market manipulation. The Relayer also assists users with agreeing on swap prices and executes trades over payment channel networks like the Lightning Network, which eliminates the need for third parties.

Griffith explains, “With SparkSwap, you no longer need to choose between fast settlement, liquid trading pairs, and maintaining control of your assets. Your assets are no longer exposed to theft or loss by exchanges, either from bad actors or local governments.”

Even though the process worked, it was also a hassle. The Lightning Network improves on atomic swaps by connecting not two blockchains but two payment channels, which can allow multiple parties to trade back and forth without trusting one another.

The Lightning Network can also be used to send transactions across different blockchain platforms, thereby permitting currencies to change owners off-chain. The result is a trustless environment in which currencies can move about without recording the transactions on specific blockchains.

Collected and compiled by Remitano.