The blockchain landscape includes startups, accelerators and universities – as well as a large number of public institutions, initiatives, events and communities. We take this strong backing as a promising sign that the Austrian Blockchain landscape goes well beyond adopting new technology, but is also discussed in a wider societal context.
This updated version v2.1 of July 2019 includes 31 new organisations and projects with a total of 142. New companies & institutions are marked with “v2.1”
DiePresse Newspaper has been added to the blockchain as they provide regular detailed content on blockchain and cryptocurrency topics.
Some organisations and startups halted their activities and we removed them from the Blockchain Landscape. The really promising car sharing startup DriveDeal.io halted it´s activity. However, their whitepaper is still one of the best on token economics. Minebox has been sold to a New Zealand company. CBDoken.com has been removed as they halted their activities.
Key Findings of 2019, Outlook on 2020
We see several Security Token offerings being prepared behind the scenes which will be launched later in 2019 and 2020.
With Facebook introducing the Libra cryptocurrency we expect that blockchain technology will receive more attention by large companies especially from banking, insurance and related financial services industry
You’re welcome to reuse the infographic below as long as the content remains unmodified, in full and proper reference to the source is mentioned.
Would you like your company or institution to be included in future updates? Mail to robert(@)schwertner.com
Blockchain Companies & Startups
This section contains applications in the energy sector and companies developing closed blockchain systems with for a specific application like ticketing, security, e-commerce, taxation or invoicing.
This section contains applications startups which offer coins, and companies developing closed blockchain systems with for a specific application like ticketing, security, e-commerce, taxation or invoicing.
Austrian universities conduct blockchain both economical and technical research. At the end of 2017 Vienna’s University of Economics and Business launched the Institute of Cryptoeconomics, which will focus on new business models. In addition a number of private institutions offers education and trainings, covering blockchain basics up to investments, development and business case modelling.
A healthy blockchain eco-system not only requires developers, finance experts and researchers, but also mentoring and finance from seasoned entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there are accelerators and incubators across the country, often linked with co-working spaces and local organisations.
The Austrian Post has presented the world’s first blockchain stamp. With this release Austria´s largest mail delivery service links the analog and the digital era.
On June 11, 2019 the blockchain-based stamp has officially been presented to prominent guests in Vienna by the Head of Product Management at Austrian Post AG branches Stefan Nemeth.
It can as well be fully used for the carriage of a postal item, and also as a virtual collector’s item. The digital complement is securely stored on the Ethereum blockchain, which is an extraordinary type of decentralised and distributed data storage, and it falls in what is called digital purse known as a Wallet that is absolutely preserved by the real owner.
Brand Block Resembles a Bank Card
When you look at this brand block, it is in the form of a bank card. On the right side of the block, there is all crucial identifications concealed under scratch layers (scratched off in the pic already it shows a sample key). The Wallet holder has full access to the code and all other attached codes including the “Secret Word List,” thus possesses the digital stamp. When the crypto stamp is transferred from one particular wallet to another, then the transaction is effectively documented and accepted in the blockchain.
And the left-hand side is the real postage stamp which can be sent often by flouting the block apart at the encoded breaking point. Unicorn, a beast with one long horn protruding from its forehead, is pictured on the crypto stamp and is the heraldic ceremonial animal of the entire Ethereum community.
It is absolutely crazy and awesome at the same time. The Austrian Post Office released a crypto stamp 6 days ago and complete sets already sold for 999 USD each on ebay. In Austria there even were sales for over 1000 Euros just for the red stamp alone. The yellow and blue stamps also reached high prices. So what is this all about? Why is this physical collectible so highly sought after and what actually is a crypto stamp???
1. THE CRYPTO STAMP IN GENERAL
Well it is quite simple: the Austrian Post Office decided to give Cryptos some Kudos and brought the world a real-world-use-case. They simple created the VERY FIRST CRYPTO STAMP worldwide. The stamp is limited and just 150K are made. But there is more! The stamp exists in a physical-analog form AND in a digital form. In its physical form the stamps look all the same, but if we scan the QR code, we can see the actual color of the stamp. There are FIVE DIFFERENT COLORS and every color has a different limitation. Austrian Post has developed an affinity for cryptocurrencies and blockchain in recent years. After cooperation with cryptocurrency exchante Bitpanda (sale of cryptocurrencies in branches) and Coinfinity (Bitcoin machines), the post has now entered a third cooperation with a crypto firm. The world’s first cryptocurrency and blockchain postage stamp, developed together with blockchain experts of Capacity has just been introduced to the market.
The five different colours:
RED VERSION: limited to 1,500 pieces
YELLOW VERSION: limited to 10,000 pieces
BLUE VERSION: limited to 20,000 pieces
GREEN VERSION: limited to 40,000 pieces
BLACK VERSION: limited to 78,500 pieces
When purchased, the stamp set comes in two parts. As pictured in the first image, the left part, which shows a #unicorn associated with , functions as a standard stamp that can be used to send mail. The QR code shows the digital color and the limitation. The right section, on the other hand, contains a unique identifier and is concealed under scratch layers. The code is used to save the stamp on the Ethereum Blockchain, the digitised and unique stamp is then available in an Ether-Wallet and can be transferred to another one. The amount of ETH per stamp is around 0.001666666 ETH!
Almost sold out in 14 days!
When I checked the online shop, the stamps were almost SOLD OUT – and this after 14 days. What does this show us? CRYPTO has arrived in the heads of the people and a lot of collectors and crypto lovers want to have a PIECE OF CRYPTO HISTORY in their hands.
It is incredible! The crypto community and other stamp collectors really want a piece of this first limited stamp and it seems this is because of the fact that it is ONE OF A KIND. Never before an analog AND digital stamp was produced. On Ebay complete sets sold for 999 USD each. So far I could spot around 3-4 sales.
Crazy prices on ebay:
On ebay the new crypto stamp went viral. Several offers for a red stamp are above 1000,- EUR. There is even one for 9,989 EUR:
Also yellow and blue stamps have high prices and I thought, I have to dig deeper. At ebay Germany and Austria a lot of offers can be found.
It´s quite interesting how two world´s are combined with the crypto stamp. The classic conservative philately world of old fashioned stamp collectors with the new world of crypto enthusiasts and blockchain geeks. At least it is for sure, that this stamp is just amazing and I really like the idea. The fact, that a part of the stamps will be used is also cool, because many people will throw them away because they have no clue what it is. So the stamps will be even more limited and the best is: the cryptos on it are LOST, if nobody uses the keys.
Article by Forbes, Michael del Castillo – edited and supplemented by [CryptoRobby]
Although still #CryptoWinter, it’s early spring for new business applications using #blockchain technology.
Walmart is using blockchain technology to track shipments from its suppliers and reduce the risks of food spoilage and contamination. It has already filed 50 blockchain-related patents.
Seagate, a hard drive producer is using the tech to catch and prevent counterfeiters.
Metlife can now pay claims instantly to its expectant mothers who test positive for diabetes.
According to International Data Corp, total corporate and government spending on blockchain should hit €2.6 billion in 2019, an increase of 89% over the previous year, and reach € 10.6 billion by 2022. When PwC surveyed 600 execs last year, 84% (!!!) said their companies are involved with blockchain.
The insurance giant has been testing blockchain for a variety of products. For example, a joint venture that sells flight-delay insurance has used a smart contract that initiates a claim as soon as a flight is delayed by a set period of time. The customer gets a notification on his smartphone, enters his bank account details and payment is made.
Amazon Web Services offers blockchain tools to help companies that want to use distributed ledger technology but don’t want to develop it themselves. It’s a clever way to maintain its dominance in cloud computing, Amazon’s most profitable business line, with a 2018 operating profit of $7.3 billion. Cloud clients using its tools include Change Healthcare, which helps manage payments among hospitals, insurers and patients; Guardian Life Insurance; HR software provider Workday; and securities clearinghouse DTCC.
Key leader: Rahul Pathak, general manager of Amazon Managed Blockchain at AWS
The brewing giant is involved in a pilot program in the San Francisco Bay Area where consumers upload their driver’s license information to a blockchain and can then buy beer at a vending machine simply by scanning their phone. In Africa, the world’s fastest-growing beer market, AB InBev has a partnership with BanQu that uses blockchain to provide pricing info and payments to farmers lacking bank accounts. That could make it possible for the company to work faster, and with more farmers, to ramp up its African operations.
Key leader: Tassilo Festetics, VP of global solutions
Fintech power Ant Financial has developed a proprietary blockchain that is used, among other things, to keep tabs on the products sold on a marketplace run by Alibaba, a part owner of Ant. For example, customers can trace a diamond’s sourcing back to a trading center in Antwerp and see grading, cutting and polishing records. Separately, in June 2018, Ant’s payment app, Alipay (with a billion-plus users worldwide), launched a blockchain-based service offering money transfers directly between people in Hong Kong and the Philippines that can be completed in just seconds.
Last November, Spain’s second-largest bank announced its first blockchain-based syndicated loan, a $170 million deal for Red Eléctrica Corporación, Spain’s electrical grid operator. With nearly $5 trillion in loans being syndicated worldwide each year, the transparency, security and efficiency of blockchain could make a big difference.
Blockchain platforms: Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, public Ethereum
Key leader: Carlos Kuchkovsky, CTO, new digital business
While $500 million (revenues) Bitfury is still best known for selling hardware for bitcoin mining, it is now also building blockchain services for enterprise customers. In 2017, it launched the Exonum blockchain, designed specifically to make it easier for enterprises to use the bitcoin blockchain. One early customer, the Republic of Georgia, is using Exonum to record and transfer land ownership.
When Rio Tinto sells iron ore to Cargill, the food giant doesn’t pay right away; instead it presents a bank’s letter of credit. BNP Paribas is trying to move letters of credit from paper to a secure distributed ledger. In November 2018 Paribas worked with HSBC Singapore to complete the first fully digitized letter-of-credit transaction. Commodities finance dates back to 4,000 B.C. Sumer, and old-line banks like France’s BNP Paribas dominate. Maintaining a digital edge in this business is a matter of survival.
Like BNP Paribas, BP is investing in blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of commodities trade finance. It’s a founding member of Vakt, a blockchain platform that aims to digitize parts of energy trading that remain slow, such as contracts and invoicing. So far, BP has invested more than $20 million in blockchain projects.
Blockchain platforms: Ethereum, Cardano, Quorum
Key leader: Julian Gray, technology director, Digital Innovation Organization
This little-known ADP spinoff controls 80% of the U.S. proxy-voting and shareholder-communications business. Broadridge has a team working to move its core proxy-voting services to a distributed ledger, allowing stockholders to cast their own votes on corporate resolutions and directors in real time—without going through the custodial banks that hold the shares. Broadridge is an investor, alongside banks such as BNP and Citi, in Digital Asset Holdings, which played a key role in the development of private blockchain ledgers.
Blockchain platforms: Hyperledger Fabric, DAML, Quorum
Thanks to help from developers at SAP, Bumble Bee is using a blockchain to provide complete transparency to its tuna supply chain all the way from the pole-and-line-catch fishermen sailing the South Pacific to grocery stores in the United States. Given current concerns about food safety and sustainability, instilling confidence in its albacore product is paramount. Moreover, the entire tuna industry has been targeted by environmental activists for killing dolphins. The company that can demonstrate provenance of its catch could demand a premium price.
Blockchain platform: Multichain Key leader: Tony Costa, CIO
The agricultural giant that popularised high-fructose corn syrup began testing Intel’s Hyperledger Sawtooth before Thanksgiving 2017 to track turkeys through its supply chain as they made their way from farm to supermarket. Cargill has committed a team of engineers to work with Intel and enterprise blockchain startup Bitwise to help build Hyperledger Grid, which will track food back to its source—a crucial step in this day of food-contamination scares. By getting in on the ground floor with this Grid, Cargill could be in a position to sell its expertise to other suppliers.
As the biggest manager of medical records in the U.S. (its software is used to securely transfer records between healthcare providers), Ciox figures the blockchain could cut paperwork redundancies, reduce medical mistakes and provide it a new source of subscription income. It has established a team to evaluate which blockchain platform to build on.
The bank has invested in a half-dozen startups (Digital Asset Holdings, Axoni, SETL, Cobalt DL, R3 and Symbiont) developing blockchains and distributed ledgers for applications such as securities settlement, credit derivative swaps and insurance payments. Last year, Citi partnered with Barclays and software infrastructure provider CLS to launch LedgerConnect, an app store where companies can shop for blockchain tools.
With more than 20 million users and a valuation of $8 billion, Coinbase is the dominant U.S. cryptocurrency exchange. It offers custody, wallet services and both retail and institutional trading platforms. The blue chip among crypto-first financial firms is poised to become even more dominant when institutional usage of blockchain grows.
Comcast owns MState, a venture capital firm that has invested in at least seven enterprise blockchain startups, including Blockdaemon, which builds software to help enterprises build applications that use Bitcoin and Ethereum and comply with current regulations (for example, from the SEC or protecting healthcare privacy). Last December, Comcast partnered with competitors Viacom and Spectrum Reach to launch Blockgraph, which aims to allow advertisers to precisely target ads to viewers, without disclosing viewers’ personal information to those advertisers.
Blockchain platforms: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Quorum
Key leader: Gil Beyda, managing director, Comcast Ventures
New CVS subsidiary Aetna is a member of IBM’s Health Utility Network, a group (including Cigna and Anthem) working to create a distributed ledger of information available to patients, providers and insurers. As its first project, the network plans to publish tamperproof, unforgeable medical credentials so patients can check out their doctors. Other projects being considered would combine data from different insurers to make it easier to share information between doctors and insurers and prevent prescriptions that conflict, with the aim of improving care while cutting costs.
Blockchain platforms: IBM Blockchain, Hyperledger Indy, Hyperledger Sawtooth
Key leader: Claus Torp Jensen, CTO of both CVS and Aetna
The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation Jersey City
A warehouse of sorts that provides custody, clearing and settlement for $1.85 quadrillion in transactions per year, DTCC is planning to move its $10 trillion-a-year credits derivatives tracking operation to a customized blockchain. If the new system, scheduled to launch by the end of the year, is successful, it could eliminate massive record redundancies and prove that centralized middlemen have a place in a decentralized ledger world.
Blockchain platform: Axcore
Key leader: Rob Palatnick, chief technology architect
In January 2018, CEO Mark Zuckerberg disclosed in his annual statement that the social media giant was studying cryptocurrency’s potential. In May of that year he moved former PayPal president and Coinbase board member David Marcus from his position as vice president of messaging to head up a secretive team exploring blockchain and its applications. This past February, Zuckerberg told Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain he was interested in letting users log in to websites with blockchain-based identities instead of Facebook Connect—a change that could have big implications for the way Facebook monetizes its users’ info.
The 73-year-old fund giant began mining bitcoin in 2015 as a way to learn about digital assets. This year, it launched a custody service for institutional investors who want to store bitcoin securely. It’s also building a trading platform that allows a large block of crypto to be purchased by executing orders across multiple exchanges. About 100 Fidelity employees are now devoted to digital assets. Having originally missed the ETF explosion, Fidelity will be at the forefront if crypto-assets go mainstream.
Blockchain platforms: Bitcoin, Ethereum
Key leader: Tom Jessop, president, Fidelity Digital Assets
The giant Chinese manufacturer has pilot projects under way that use blockchain to streamline supply chain transactions and provide working capital to suppliers. Separately, it is developing a blockchain-enabled smartphone that would make it easier for consumers to spend digital coins.
Blockchain platform: Ethereum
Key leader: Jack Lee, founding managing partner of venture arm HCM Capital
This restaurant supplier is participating in IBM’s Food Trust, a consortium of companies aiming to track food along the entire supply chain. In one early application, Golden State is giving all the companies involved in its burger business—from meat processors to shippers to restaurants—access to streaming data about the temperature at which the beef is kept. In addition to improving food safety, such projects could reduce both paperwork and food spoilage, which is estimated to cost $7 billion annually in North America alone, before it reaches the consumer.
Blockchain platform: IBM Blockchain
Key Executives: Bob Wolpert, chief strategy and innovation officer
The search giant has made numerous investments in blockchain, including Veem, a payments startup that lets enterprises instantly send and receive payments in different currencies, using bitcoin as an intermediary holding. Meanwhile, it has created a suite of tools that make it easier to search (and analyze) cryptocurrency transactions—in other words, to Google public blockchains.
The $31 billion (revenue) enterprise tech spin-off from Hewlett-Packard hopes to make a splash with its blockchain services. It already counts more than a dozen customers, including car-part manufacturer Continental, which will use HPE’s tech to track a vehicle’s location and a driver’s license and insurance. That could be useful as more Americans move from owning a car to renting one by the hour or month.
The company recently released Exodus 1, a new smartphone that provides crypto-owners a safer way (built in to the phone’s hardware) to store and recover lost Bitcoin, Litecoin and ethereum, as well as the ability to easily trade cryptocurrencies. The phone also has a special Web browser designed for sites built on the blockchain. With its dismal smartphone market share, HTC’s new phone may be a Hail Mary pass.
Blockchain platforms: Bitcoin, Ethereum
Key leader: Phil Chen, decentralized chief officer
Blockchain’s early advocate is working to commercialize the technology through its enterprise-grade version of Hyperledger Fabric, called IBM Blockchain. Other IBM launches include World Wire, a foreign exchange platform seeking to replace interbank messaging platform Swift, and TradeLens, a shipping supply chain service codeveloped with shipping giant Maersk. IBM has already filed for more than 100 blockchain patents. With its proprietary blockchain connecting companies in at least 85 networks, IBM is a clear enterprise winner.
Blockchain platforms: IBM Blockchain, Stellar, Hyperledger Burrow, Sovrin
Key leader: Bridget van Kralingen, SVP, global industry platforms and blockchain
The Dutch banking giant has launched eight pilots since the creation of its dedicated blockchain team in 2016. In January 2018, ING and Credit Suisse executed the first legally enforceable euro securities swap using R3’s blockchain. The bank has also invested in several blockchain ventures, including Komgo, which plans to use the Ethereum blockchain to streamline a wide range of transactions.
Like IBM, Intel is one of the bigger corporate forces pushing blockchain into the enterprise market. Its open-source Hyperledger Sawtooth platform lets companies build their own blockchains. Users include Cargill, T-Mobile and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. Still, IBM is way ahead.
The nation’s largest bank is one of the creators of Quorum, a restricted version of the Ethereum blockchain built especially for enterprises looking to move tasks performed by back-office middlemen to the distributed ledger. It recently announced JPM Coin, an early-stage project to enable real-time institution-to-institution payments.
Transactions for shipping goods from one port to another still rely on reams of paperwork, as they did centuries ago. Last year, IBM and Maersk, one of the world’s largest shippers, announced plans to create TradeLens, a global blockchain for shippers. So far, 100 organizations, including ports, freight forwarders, sea and land carriers, and customs agencies, have signed up to use the platform.
The credit card behemoth has applied for 80 blockchain-related patents. Sixteen have been granted, including one for linking cryptocurrencies to traditional bank accounts and another for increasing the privacy of blockchains. Mastercard rarely comments on its blockchain ambitions, but it recently announced it’s working with Amazon and Accenture to build more transparent supply chains where, for example, someone buying a pair of jeans could see where they were made and tip the creator through Mastercard’s payment rails. More significantly, if Mastercard can tie its massive, high-speed payments network to blockchain-based payments, it can open a new revenue stream and solve a problem that plagues most blockchain technology: processing times are still slow.
Blockchain platform: Its own platform, built from scratch.
Key leader: Ken Moore, EVP and head of Mastercard Labs
Last year, Microsoft’s cloud unit Azure launched Azure Blockchain Workbench, a tool for developing blockchain apps. Many templates are available for free, but if an organization builds or runs an app or network on Azure, Microsoft charges for the underlying cloud services. Blockchain Workbench customers include Insurwave, Webjet, Xbox, Bühler, Interswitch, 3M and Nasdaq.
Distributed ledgers could theoretically eliminate the need for centralized exchanges, but Nasdaq has hedged its bets by immersing itself in the new industry. For example, it has sold its market-surveillance software to seven crypto exchanges and a blockchain eVoting product to the South African central securities depository. Nasdaq has also brought together eight Swedish companies to develop a blockchain to replace the current paper-driven trading process in the Swedish mutual fund market.
Over the last two years the $92 billion (sales) consumer goods giant has been testing blockchain technology in more than ten projects. Its most promising is with IBM Food Trust, where it is using blockchain to track the provenance of food ingredients in a handful of products, including Gerber baby food. That service is expected to be available in Europe later this year. Food-borne illnesses cost the U.S. $55 billion a year and can cripple a brand. Blockchain food tracking could reduce that cost and be a selling point for brands that participate.
Blockchain platform: IBM Blockchain
Key leader: Benjamin Dubois, manager of digital transformation
The big asset servicer ($10.1 trillion) is using Hyperledger Fabric to handle the administration of private equity fund events, including initial sales and liquidations of fund investments. Northern Trust is also helping hedge funds track their crypto investments and is working with the Australian Securities Exchange on a blockchain-based equities clearing, settlement and custody platform. Last year, it helped the World Bank execute a $79 million bond issue via the Ethereum blockchain.
The database and cloud company is offering “business-ready” blockchain software in an effort to keep customers of its non-blockchain products from defecting to upstarts and rivals like Google and Microsoft. One of Oracle’s customers, China Distance Education Holdings, is sharing student educational records and professional certifications across institutions to help employers and recruiters verify that credentials aren’t fraudulent.
Blockchain platform: Oracle Blockchain Platform
Key leader: Frank Xiong, group vice president, Blockchain Development Platform
The online discount store became the first major retailer to accept bitcoin in 2014. Founder and CEO Patrick Byrne, a libertarian with a Ph.D. in philosophy, is so convinced that blockchain will change the world that he is trying to get out of the retail business altogether and is already remaking Overstock into something of a crypto-obsessed company. Most notably, he has used $200 million in Overstock’s cash to fund Medici Ventures, a subsidiary which has invested in 19 blockchain companies.
The bank is using Ripple’s XRP blockchain-based software to process international payments. It is also the only bank involved with IBM’s Health Utility Network, which is attempting to speed insurance company payments to health providers.
This startup aims to disrupt Swift, the messaging system the worlds’ banks use to transfer an estimated $6 trillion a day, with RippleNet, with aims to be cheaper, faster and more transparent. While it already has 200 customers for its service, Ripple funds operations (including 300 employees) by selling about $100 million a quarter of its own cryptocurrency, XRP. (XRP’s total market cap now stands at $13 billion, down from its $146.5 billion all-time high in 2018.) RippleNet customers include big names such as Santander, American Express and PNC.
Samsung is using its Nexledger blockchain platform to overhaul how its battery-manufacturing subsidiary manages contracts and the execution of those contracts. For Korean consumers it has developed a smartphone app that uses the blockchain to verify the identity of the phone’s owner to 15 of the nation’s banks. That eliminates the inconvenience of Korea’s 20-year-old identity verification system, which can require a tedious signup process for each bank.
Blockchain platforms: Nexledger, Ethereum
Key leader: Jeanie Hong, SVP and head of Blockchain Center
The Spanish banking giant made headlines last year when it allowed its investors to vote at its annual meeting via the blockchain. A year ago, Santander launched mobile app One Pay FX, a foreign exchange service using RippleNet, that enables individuals to transfer money to other individuals in a foreign country in less than a day.
SAP has developed its own cloud-based blockchain toolkit, Leonardo, to keep clients from moving to Oracle or IBM as they transition to distributed ledger technology. It’s also selling project development as a service—most notably, it built Bumble Bee Foods’ new blockchain, designed to trace the origin of tuna from fisherman to processor to consumer.
Blockchain platform: Hyperledger Fabric, MultiChain, Quorum
Data-storage company Seagate Technology is working with IBM on a proof-of-concept blockchain aimed at tracking products through their distribution and life—in large part to ensure that fake hard drives aren’t returned to Seagate’s warehouses, where they could be resold by accident. Counterfeiting of electronics is a $100 billion problem, and Seagate hard drives are a frequent target for fraud.
Blockchain platform: Hyperledger Fabric
Key leader: Manuel Offenberg, managing technologist and data security research lead
In Park Slope, Brooklyn, some residents with Siemens solar panels had more energy than they could use on sunny days. The Brooklyn Microgrid project, run off a private blockchain, allows those with excess power to sell energy to their neighbors. The German giant has a lot of skin in this game, with $28 billion a year in revenues from things like energy turbines and applications managing smart grids. Grid technology has been decentralizing and democratizing power generation; blockchain can accelerate that process.
Signature was the first FDIC-insured bank to develop a blockchain-based digital payments platform. SignetTM allows the bank’s commercial clients to send free, secure payments to other commercial clients of the bank at any time of day with no transaction limits, in as little as five seconds. It uses a token, the signet, backed by U.S. dollars. American PowerNet, a Signature Bank client, recently chose SignetTM to make real-time payments to renewable energy providers.
Blockchain platform: A private, Ethereum-based blockchain
Key leader: Frank Santora, senior vice president and director of digital asset solutions
The insurer has devoted 11 members of its Research, Experiment & Deploy (RED) Labs in Bloomington to developing a blockchain that could speed up the now painfully slow process by which insurers pay claims to policyholders and then seek partial reimbursement from other insurers involved with the claim. State Farm is working with RiskBlock Alliance on an application that could speed up this claims dance.
Blockchain platforms: Hyperledger Fabric, Corda, Quorum
Key leader: Mike Fields, innovation executive at State Farm RED Labs
The Swiss bank’s most ambitious project so far is Utility Settlement Coin (USC), which would allow central banks to use digital cash instead of their own currencies to move money to each other. It’s a bold play—if central bankers start using crypto for big transfers with each other, it could make them more willing to move their own national currencies onto a blockchain. UBS’ partners in USC include BNY Mellon, Deutsche Bank and Santander.
The credit card network has filed for 50 blockchain patents, ranging from a real-time payments settlement system to technology related to crypto trading. This year, Visa is launching B2B Connect, which uses blockchain to help banks around the world process cross-border, business-to-business payments. With $18 trillion in such B2B payments being made a year, gaining even a small chunk of this business would be a nice addition to Visa’s consumer-payment dominance.
Blockchain platform: Hyperledger Fabric .
Key leader: Kevin Phalen, global head of business solutions
The cloud-infrastructure company will soon release a suite of blockchain software products called VMware Blockchain, developed in partnership with Deloitte and Dell. The first product will be one that allows data to be transferred securely. Next up is a service that verifies transactions on the blockchain.
Blockchain platforms: Project Concord, a new blockchain, which supports multiple frameworks such as Ethereum
Key leader: Mike DiPetrillo, senior director, Blockchain
The world’s largest retailer (by sales) has filed for about 50 blockchain patents (for everything from tracking shipments to operating drones) and wants to use the blockchain to quickly pinpoint the culprit in future food-safety scares. In 2016 it partnered with Big Blue to create IBM Food Trust, now being tested by more than 50 companies. Today Walmart can track 25 products, including strawberries, yogurt and chicken, from five suppliers (and counting). In September 2018, it said it would begin requiring all of its lettuce and spinach suppliers to log their shipments on the blockchain.
Blockchain platform: Hyperledger Fabric
Key leader: Karl Bedwell, senior director, Global Business Services & Technology
Not surprisingly the CAC guidelines “…contribute to the healthy development of the industry.” and will enter into force on February 15th, 2019.
Let´s have a closer look: The document describes the firms that are subject to regulations as websites or mobile apps that provide information and technical support to the public using blockchain technologies. As soon as the regulations come into power, they will be obliged to register their names, domains and server addresses at the CAC within 20 days.
Official announcement of Cyberspace Administration of China:
The guidelines require blockchain startups to allow authorities access to stored data, and to introduce registry procedures that would require ID card or mobile numbers from its users. Moreover, they will be obliged to oversee content and censor information that is prohibited under current Chinese law.
If a firm fails to comply with the regulations, it might face fines from 20,000 to 30,000 yuans (€2.600 and € 4.000). In case of serial offences, the company might face a criminal investigation.
China first released draft guidelines in October 2018 for blockchain companies, which also contained recommendations that sought to eliminate anonymity in blockchain.
At the time, Asian newspaper The South China Morning Post wrote about an anonymous open letter that alleged sexual harassment at a top Chinese university that was published on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain in April. The media outlet believes the publication of the letter could be a motivation behind the new regulations.
China is currently mainly piloting blockchain legislation in the three regions Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. According to a December report by local finance publication Securities Daily, there are 11 blockchain-related policy projects concentrated in these areas.
In the meantime, the country has upheld a de facto ban on domestic crypto trading since 2017, which was completed in February 2018 when the government added international crypto exchanges and initial coin offering websites (ICOs) to its Great Firewall.
Chinese government shall have complete control over the information published on any blockchain in China; that users cannot be anonymous; and that blockchain providers need to start showing their users formal terms and conditions and service agreements that highlight the responsibilities of each party.
Here are some rules roughly translated from the Chinese version:
All blockchain providers within China are required to operate according to these standards. The Internet Information Office of each relevant region will be responsible for enforcing the laws.
Self-policing will be encouraged. It is preferred that everyone working on or with blockchain in China will be urged to get acquainted with and apply the new rules.
Blockchain providers must be able to control the blockchain, including the ability to remove illegal content from the blockchain and control what kind of information is published on it.
Blockchain providers will be required to collect personal identification information from blockchain users, based on their company, ID card number or mobile phone numbers. Blockchain providers cannot serve anonymous users.
Blockchain providers will be required to codify the terms and conditions of their platform, and obligations of providers and users, under formal service agreements.
Anytime a blockchain provider develops new products, features, functions or starts offering new services, it should report to the local Internet Information Office to subject it to a “safety assessment”.
Blockchain providers and users should not use blockchains for illegal purposes (go figure), including those which “disrupt social order”. Prohibited content shall not be copied, published or disseminated on blockchains.
Blockchain providers must be registered, must clearly show the details of its registration so people know it’s a legitimate service, and will be periodically inspected.
Does is mean a ban for Cryptocurrencies?
Bitcoin and Ethereum might be right out, then. And does this mean EOS can only be legal in China if at least two thirds of its block producers are located in China so they can tamper with the blockchain as requested?
Other cryptocurrencies might fare better and it could actually bode well for the centralised ones which might accrue users from the exodus elsewhere. For example, China-based VeChain and its highly-malleable reputation-based DPOS system might do alright.
But what this means for China’s cryptocurrency miners is another big question that might be tough to answer? Plus, there seems to be some broadness around the definition of a blockchain service provider. The regulations describe blockchain providers as “…the entities or nodes that provide the blockchain information service to the public” and “…the organisation that provides technical support for the blockchain information service”.
China calls for the blockchain industry to “strengthen self-discipline” and “improve the professional quality of the staff of the blockchain information service”
At the same time, it also calls for the blockchain industry to “strengthen self-discipline” and “improve the professional quality of the staff of the blockchain information service”, although that part still seems to be a general guideline and doesn’t have any penalties attached to it.
On the whole it sounds like there might be enough wiggle room for unpleasant things to happen to developers, node operators, wallet providers, blockchain users of any kind, and anyone else in China who can be identified as having touched an illegal blockchain in an illegal way.
However, Bobby C Lee, early Bitcoiner and founder of China´s first Cryptocurrency Exchange recently explained who Chinese traders still manage to circumvent Chinese crypto bans (see my blog article of Bobby C Lee presenting at a Conference in Seoul)
How will this affect cryptocurrencies? “Heavily” seems like an obvious answer. And the markets wasted no time throwing themselves off a cliff.
It might be time to start dividing cryptocurrencies into two groups: the potentially legal and the soon to be illegal in China.
The strictest element of the new regulations, which will probably be the deal breaker for most, is that it’s only legal to provide or use a blockchain if the Chinese government is able to control the data on it, including removing it if needed. This means there has to be some kind of backdoor or way for a single entity to control transactions, remove blocks and so on.
Bitcoin and Ethereum might be right out, then. And does this mean EOS can only be legal in China if at least two thirds of its block producers are located in China so they can tamper with the blockchain as requested?
Other cryptocurrencies might fare better and it could actually bode well for the centralised ones which might accrue users from the exodus elsewhere. For example, China-based VeChain and its highly-malleable reputation-based DPOS system might do alright.
But what this means for China’s cryptocurrency miners is another big question that might be tough to answer.
Is it actually enforceable?
The regulations come into play on 15 February, so the world won’t have to wait too long to find out how this all plays out.
Wherever there is some kind of central authority behind a cryptocurrency, or where there’s a wallet provider serving residents of China or where there’s a mining manufacturer, they might have to start collecting user identities and showing terms and conditions if either they are based in China, or if the user is.
Of course, there’s still nothing preventing people from just keeping on anonymously using international wallets, public blockchains and similar, but it might still whittle down user numbers considerably.
And there may also be the possibility that it’s all just too difficult to effectively enforce so people kind of awkwardly ignore it, or that there’s a lack of clarity in the formal definition of “blockchain” being used in these regulations. Arguably blockchains are decentralised by definition, so any network which meets the requirements imposed by these regulations isn’t actually a blockchain.
Baidu’s XuperChain will become large part of its business The new legislation supports the Chinese search engine Baidu, a main competitor of Google . Baidu has released its first ever blockchain white paper, and revealed big plans. The tech giant, which reports quarterly revenues of over $3bn, and is the world’s eighth-largest company, is seeking to capitalise on DLT to solve computer storage problems and take advantage of micropayments on its platform.
The ‘Baidu Blockchain White Paper V1.0’, was issued by the company’s internal Blockchain Lab on Wednesday and announces the development of its SuperChain – or, rather, XuperChain – network. It’s technicians claim that the system could handle more than 10,000 transactions per second.
XuperChain will be open source, say Baidu, allowing developers to use the tech to build or upgrade their own versions. The 48-page white paper also reveals that Baidu will include blockchain technology in large parts of its core businesses, including in solving intellectual property disputes, speeding up supply chain financing and even in online trading.
Chinese court accepted evidence stored on Blockchain
However, there are some very interesting good news! The Chinese short-video app Douyin has used the newly-established Beijing Internet Court to file a copyright infringement law suit against Baidu’s Huopai Video platform
The court announced in September 2018 that it would hear the case and will recognise evidence stored on blockchain, a first in the country’s video streaming industry.
The court announced that it would hear the case and will recognise evidence stored on blockchain, a first in the country’s video streaming industry.
Douyin is seeking compensation of around 1 million yuan (€ $120.000) from Huopai for unauthorised operation and downloads of a short video in May.
Spokeswomen from Douyin and Baidu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Douyin requested a third-party company, Beijing Zhongjing Tianping, to store evidence on blockchain relating to the content Huopai had allegedly published illegally, according to Chinese-language law magazine People’s Rule of Law.
China’s internet courts now accept and process internet-related legal cases online, according to a ruling by the Supreme People’s Court. Beijing internet Court, launched on Sunday, said it had already received 207 legal complaints as of 6pm Monday. Hangzhou internet Court, China’s first internet court, was launched last August.
China is not the first to accept blockchain records as legal evidence. The US state of Vermont passed a law two years ago that allows courts to use data on blockchain as evidence.
However, the acceptance of evidence stored on the blockchain may have little impact on non-internet-related civil or criminal lawsuits. Blockchain data being legal evidence is relatively new and courts’ acceptance of it will depend on individual courts and situations.
Source: Cointelegraph, CBC, South China Morning Post
This article is based on a tweets of Tuur Demeester where he strongly criticised Ethereum founders and in particular Vitalik Buterin. I added my own views and experience from programmers. Recently lots of coders complain about the malfunction of the once famous and meant-to-be-wonderful Ethereum blockchain.
Several influencers published critical views which I summarise below and which also express my personal views.
Ethereum is considered a crypto blue chip, which it is definitely NOT. Vitalik Buterin´s startup is – like himself – VERY young. It is full of bugs, transaction are way too expensive and it is definitely too slow for real world applications. Let me share some own findings and major ones of Tuur:
First, contrary to its marketing, ETH is at best a scientific experiment. It’s now valued at $15,6 B, which is very high compared to an intrinsic value and given the weaknesses and unpromising outlook.
Second, I had to deal with applications for smart grids and energy network. It was very clear that Ethereum is not suitable for energy applications: too expensive, too slow. For a single house the price for transactions would be US$ 300.000 Ethereum.
Seventh, on the 2nd layer front, devs are now trying to scale Ethereum via scale via state channels (ETH’s version of Lightning), but it is unclear whether main-chain issued ERC20 type tokens will be portable to this environment.
Eighth, I consider the Bitcoin Lightning Network still a misconcept, which I criticised in previous articles. However, contrary to 2nd layer front of ETH Bitcoin managed to release the first public code in January 2016, Alpha in January 2017, Beta in March 2018. Which is far better than ETH ever managed. And Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is now live, and is growing rapidly, of course still full of bugs, but at least it´s running!
Ninth, in 2017, more Ethereum scaling buzz was created, this time it was called “Plasma”. Buterin & Poon published a new scaling proposal for Ethereum, “strongly complementary to base-layer PoS and sharding”: plasma.io
Tenth, the transition to proof-of-stake, an “environmentally friendly” way to secure the chain. If this was the plan all along, why create a proof-of-work chain first asks Tuur Demeester.
The consensus mechanism Proof of Stake (PoS) is not a new concept at all. Proof-of-Work actually was one of the big innovations that made Bitcoin possible, after PoS was deemed impractical because of censorship vulnerability.
Eleventh, over the years, it became a pattern in Ethereum’s culture to recycle old ideas while not properly referring to past research and having poor peer review standards. This is not how science progresses!
Vitalik Buterin has been repeatedly criticised for not crediting prior state-of-the-art. Once again with plasma: see the tweet
One of the concerns of Tuur Demeester –an important critical voice when it comes to Ethereum – is that “…sophistry and marketing hype is a serious part of Ethereum’s success so far, and that overly inflated expectations have lead to an inflated market cap.”. That´s a thing!
Twelfth, A few more inconvenient truths: In order to “guarantee” the transition to PoS’ utopia of perpetual income (staking coins earns interest), a “difficulty bomb” was embedded in the protocol, which supposedly would force miners to accept the transition. Of course, nothing came of this, because anything in the ETH protocol can be hard-forked away. Another broken promise.
After Tuur tweeted even true ETH-evangelists on Twitter started criticising Ethereum founders and said things like: “It is a rant. Still informative. Covers key points and provides great articles. Hard to find criticism of Ethereum written by its own community. That’s were competitors come in handy. Bitcoin is for many a religion. So is Ethereum. All extremists are as unpalatable as it gets.”
Tuur´s criticism is similar to what I have seen over the last year: broken promises, postponed implementations, lots of visions and dreams, and a blockchain full of bugs, slow, expensive transaction. With blockchains of the third generation like EOS, 0BSnetwork,Stellar,Cardano,IOTA the blockchain 2.0 Ethereum has to work hard to fulfil its promises.
Thank you for your time Robby Schwertner aka CryptoRobby. The crash of the cryptocurrencies at the end of 2017 has shocked many crypto fans first. Was that a cleansing storm or the hard landing on the ground of reality?
The price increase in autumn and winter 2017 was dramatic, it went vertically upwards. Therefore, it was clear to experienced traders that this would not end well. And so it came in January and February 2018 to the big crash. Many weak blockchain projects and scams have been swept away by the market. Suddenly Bitcoin and cryptocurrency were not so cool anymore, crypto trading was not that easy anymore.
I think it was very beneficial that it came to a market adjustment, it sifted chaff from the wheat. People working on long-term projects now have a chance to program their blockchains and develop their decentralised applications with much less hustle and bustle.
Currently, I see the market in a sideways movement, which will certainly last for another 2-3 years. Well-known, but not undisputed, influencer Julian Hosp saw the bitcoin price of $ 50,000 in July. He had to retract his forecast recently. Such announcements are simply dubious.
Already in March, I warned that 2-3 difficult years for cryptocurrencies are imminent. There is a pattern in the Bitcoin price that occurred in 2011 and 2013: a sharp rise followed by a crash and a longer phase of sideways movement. Of course the conditions are similar.
But in the near future, I see no highs for Bitcoin but the hard slog. The weakness of the Bitcoin Lightning network is evident. In my opinion, this is a total faulty design. This will certainly make Bitcoin not attractive. Why? The system of channels requires funds to be put in the system, only small amounts of up to 50,- US-Dollar can be transferred and it still has many bugs.
Is the blockchain’s technology actually “The Next Big Thing” or is it threatening to sink after a blaze?
Yes, Blockchain has the potential to disrupt entire sectors. The explosive force is that instead of sending information over the Internet, you can now transfer values. The internet is great, but it is weak when you transfer value, like money or stocks, or km performance. Then one still needs a so-called “unity of trust”.
When I transfer online, there is still a bank in the background, which guarantees that the transactions will be carried out. For Bitcoin and many other crypto-currency, banks are not needed. I will send the amount and it will be sent directly over the internet. I have no access afterwards and the counterpart can manage the funds.
By the way, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman predicted 20 years ago that there would be an internet-based currency. Because there is no reason why only a nation-backed currency may be used. When people gain confidence in other forms of currencies, there could be a breakthrough. For example, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency may then become a world-wide reserve currency that is not controlled by a single nation.
My dream is a United Nation Currency, not controlled by a single nation
I think this vision is just wonderful. The financial sector is ne of several areas being overhauled by Blockchain. There are also promising approaches in the energy sector, for transport, for the travel industry, for the management of personal data. Cryptocurrencies may be a hype in the short term that has now hit the ground of reality, the bubble of Blockchain will certainly not burst.
What is your mission as CryptoRobby, as an ICO Advisor, Social Media Influencer and Keynote Speaker?
My personal mission as CryptoRobby is to find and support blockchain-based applications that add value to people, benefit to society. For this I have created your own hashtag: #ReturnonSociety. It is derived from return on investment.
Investors always have the profit and want to make as much profit as possible with their capital, a return on the investment. I created the persona CryptoRobby to support projects with growth potential, which I consider very important. We have to reach people in daily life. And it should offer added value. We want to develop blockchain-based services that make our lives simpler and cheaper, which will make the economy easier for us with cash, various credit and debit cards, and so on. Where apps are developed that provide true mobility solutions.
How do you assess the further developments in the regulation of cryptocurrencies and ICOs? What would make sense and what hinders further development?
Regulation is necessary. The first step is first a definition of terms. Cryptocurrencies are currently differentiated into coins or tokens. Coins tend to emphasize the money character, while tokens are more likely to be vouchers. However, there is no clarification in any case law worldwide. It is also nowhere defined in a law.
In order to achieve legal certainty for start-ups and thus promote innovation, regulation is important. However, even countries with strict regulations, such as the US, China and Germany, are seeing many start-ups migrating and being forced to leave the country.
Countries such as Malta, Liechtenstein and Singapore offer a broader legal framework here. I participated last week in a large blockchain conference in Malta with over 8,500 participants. This is remarkable for this small island state.
What could bring the final big breakthrough of cryptocurrencies? Does it have to be a financial crash first, or is it enough for institutional investors to make big investments?
It will be a mixture of both. Well-known economists predict a substantial global economic crisis over the next 18-24 months, with countries such as the US or Brazil adding to their fears. At any rate, it can be seen that countries in crisis tried to use cryptocurrencies as a lifeboat as an alternative to the worthless state currency.
Venezuela put the PetroCoin on the way, the project failed, incidentally, because it was very poorly managed. In crisis-stricken Greece, people fled to Bitcoin early on because their own currency depreciated sharply. Russia considered circumventing sanctions with cryptocurrencies. Could be good that a financial crash uses cryptocurrencies.
The entry of institutional investors is imminent. They wait until the fog clears and you have a clearer view of the crypto currency landscape. I myself offer analyses for crypto currencies with a partner. We offer these analyses to banks and financial institutions and the interest is very high. Banks do not want to act yet. But they are ready to train their employees because they receive hundreds of requests every day and are not yet allowed to enter cryptocurrency trading because of their own strict guidelines. That will change very soon.
Here and there, states and start-ups experiment with digital Fiat currencies. At the end of the day, could cryptocurrencies cause cash to disappear and national banks use technology to fully digitise Fiat currencies?
Cash will disappear even without cryptocurrency. It is only a matter of a few generations. Then one wonders why one has used so impractical metal coins and paper notes. Just as we are surprised by early currencies such as shells, gems and gold lumps.
Cryptocurrencies could cause classic cash to disappear even faster. I was in Hungary, Switzerland and Austria last week. I needed three different currencies. And these countries are not big states, they are not even as big as Shanghai or Tokyo together.
My dream is that we get a new reserve currency that is not tied to a state. If national banks put on their own cryptocurrencies, I find that not spectacular. There are also research reports that for large countries, creating a separate cryptocurrency is not an advantage, for smaller currencies saw benefits due to the cost savings.
The well-known German stock market expert Dirk Müller is convinced in his new book “Machtbeben” that Bitcoin was an invention of the NSA in order to test the technology anonymously. What do you think of such theories?
I know the book by Mr. Dirk Müller. He claims something he can not prove. Such statements are a symptom of our time, it shows how sick the system is. Through social media, Mr. Müller serves an audience that like to hear such conspiracy theories, he serves this auditorium.
What makes me angry is the way people are taken for idiots. Skilled rhetoricians like Muller and Julian Hosp are the new preachers of wealth, they explain the world to us. And through their reach they collect funds. Mr Müller announced the day before yesterday that a fund in his sphere of influence has just exceeded the 100 million mark and that everything is going well. Clearly for him, things are going well. For the majority of traders with small income, things look quite different, they lost fortunes in this year!
The joy, however, was only of short duration. The blockchain startup www.Civil.co failed to reach the $8 million soft cap and canceled the ICO. Seems to be the end of the days when promoters simply had to hint at collaborations with established companies to impress investors.
Civil CEO Matthew Iles said it was probably too complicated to buy tokens. However, there were more problems as it was not clear why blockchain would be used. ICO projects fail all the time, of course.
But Civil’s stumble is particularly notable because the platform recently grabbed headlines due to its partnership with the two mainstream media organisations. Obviously ICO investors becoming more selective in general. First signs that we are back to a kind of normal.
Austria’s government is set to use the Ethereum (ETH) public blockchain to issue €1.15 billion ($1.35 billion) of government bonds in an auction next week, local news outlet Kleine Zeitung reports.
Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB) — one of Austria’s biggest banks with $26 billion in assets in 2017 — will reportedly operate the live blockchain notarization service. During the auction, scheduled for October 2, the bank will issue the bonds on behalf of the Austrian Treasury (OeBFA).
Austria’s Finance Minister, Hartwig Löger, noted that the ministry considers blockchain tech “forms a focus on economic policy,” adding:
“Through setting up the FinTech Advisory Council at the Ministry of Finance, we are developing strategies enabling Austria to benefit optimally from these developments.”
OeKB says this will be the the first time a blockchain-based notarization service will be used as part of a Federal Bond Auction in Austria. The procedure, which has reportedly been successfully tested, will draw on a system that has been developed internally by the bank to “notarize data from Austria’s established system — the Austrian Direct Auction System (ADAS) — “as hash values on the Ethereum public blockchain.”
As Kleine Zeitung notes, the use of blockchain in this instance does not go as far as issuing tokenized bonds that would function in parallel to existing paper or digital systems. However, as Markus Stix, managing director at the Austrian Treasury, told Kleine Zeitung, the use of the technology has key benefits for both security and cost reduction:
“This added security contributes to achieving a high level of confidence in the auction process for Austrian government bonds and strengthens Austria’s good standing in the market, which indirectly also has the capacity to contribute to favourable financing costs.”
Earlier this summer, Cointelegraph reported on a major joint initiative between the World Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to issue a public bond exclusively through blockchain. The A$100 million ($73.16 million) deal entailed two-year bonds that were priced to yield a 2.251 percent return.
This spring, Sberbank CIB — the corporate and investment banking arm of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank — conducted the first reported blockchain-based commercial bond transaction in Russia.
With hundreds of huge stores to sell TV, refrigerators, cameras, coffee machines, laptops and more the retailer is one of the largest worldwide. McDonalds coins for BigMac, Starbucks thinks about using coins, SingaporeAirlines uses cryptobased Krispay, Walmart uses blockchain for supply chains. Still in retail not much has been done yet.
=> Tell us how you think blockchain can be used in consumer electronic retail business (not: production)
=> Point out use cases for payments, vouchers in sales
=> Introduce ICOs/blockchain projects which could be of interest
=> Share crazy ideas and critical views
Opportunity for a cooperation, or at least visibility for your person and idea!