Crypto enthusiasts Winklevoss brothers told CNN’s Poppy Harlow that they would close their eyes to their rivalry with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for his cryptocurrency project Libra. Whether or not they reach a deal with the social media giant, the twins believe in Libra’s potential. They said that Facebook’s digital currency project was great for the market in a period when cryptos are everywhere. Cameron noted:
I think there is a day in the future where we can’t live without crypto, or imagine a world before crypto.
CNN Interview August 18, 2019
The potential collaboration between Gemini co-founders and Mark Zuckerberg might materialize despite their old legal fight over the origins of the social media behemoth and who should be called Facebook creators.
It should come as no surprise that Zuckerberg actually consulted the brothers when developing Libra.
Back in 2011, when the dispute began, CNN sarcastically predicted that the only thing that could stop “Winklevoss twins’ legal crusade against Facebook” was the end of the universe that is estimated to come in several billion years from now. In the end, Libra might become more powerful than the anticipated heat death. This is true at least in the context of Zuckerberg-Winklevoss brothers rivalry.
Besides, the twins took solace in their role in the rapidly growing crypto industry after creating Gemini.
Facebook was a dispute, but it didn’t really define who we were as people. Gemini’s much more of a representation of who we are, what we stand for, what we’re interested in.
Gemini might join Libra Association
The twins, once labeled Bitcoin billionaires, have been in talks with the social media giant about joining the Libra Association. The latter is a decentralized entity that should comprise 100 members by 2020. Facebook has already unveiled 28 founding members, including Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, and Coinbase.
Tyler and Cameron said they want to learn more about Libra before making the final decision. Besides becoming part of the association, Gemini might also list Libra when or if it gets launched. Indeed, there is a minor possibility that Libra might never launch because of the regulatory pressure.
However, the Winklevoss brothers are confident in Libra’s future. Moreover, Cameron expects that each of the FAANG giants, including Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix, will get into crypto at some point.
Still, it is very surprising that the Winklevosses, one of the most serious enemies of Marc Zuckerberg now show interest in his most important project!
Ethereum is emerging from a little child to the teenager phase. This blockchain of Vitalik Buterin has hosted thousands of decentralised applications. More than 180.000 tokens have been created, most of them for testing purposes but still 2000 of them still actively traded and found on coinmarketcap.com
The next stage of this blockchain is called SERENITY or Ethereum 2.0. It is the long awaited Proof-of-Stake version, together with some huge upgrades on the scalability side. When you have a more thorough look into Serenity (or Ethereum 2.0!), the first impression is the abundance of completely new terms. What is a crosslink? Is a slot a block? No, it isn’t. Is an “attestor“ the same thing as a “validator“?
Below you finde the most used terms in Vitalik´s new ETH sandbox two point zerooo. This list is focuses on the most prominent details you might have questions about.
one chain to rule them all proof-of-stake chain includes beacon blocks the consensus layer for everything manages validators applies rewards and penalties serves as an anchor point for the shards through cross-links
1024 of them semi independent chains include shard blocks periodically the state of the shard blocks is recorded on the beacon chain through crosslinks once a block on the beacon chain is finalised, the shard blocks referenced in the included crosslinks are considered finalised each shard has a committee of validators attesting blocks
a summary of the shard’s state only reference of the shards in the beacon chain
Slot period of time in which a block proposer propose a block for attestation slots might be empty slots are filled with attested blocks
a number of slots (currently 64) after which validators are reshuffled in committees
users that have deposited 32eth in the validator deposit contract and run a validator node they can be inactive (don’t run as an actual validator yet), active (validating), pending (opted into becoming a validator but stuck in the entry queue) and exiting (no longer want to validate and stuck in the exit queue)
random validators chosen by the beacon chain to propose blocks for validation/attestation there will be one block proposer per slot for the beacon chain and one proposer per slot for each of the shards
votes in regards to the validity of a shard block or beacon
random groups of validators chosen by the beacon chain to attest the validity of blocks (beacon & shard) target of minimum 128 validators per committee
base currency of the beacon chain will be obtained initially from rewards and by locking ETH1 in the validator deposit contract
Validator Deposit Contract
smart contract on the POW chain (in our case, the Ethereum Mainnet) once ETH1 funds are locked in this smart contract, and event log is emitted that should be read by the beacon chain and the same amount of ETH2 should be allocated to the account, now considered a validator this mechanism might change in the future until phase 2 ends the transfer of ETH1 to ETH2 is a one way street, can’t get ETH1 back, but there is an escape hatch to sell your stake
Ethereum 2.0 phases
Phase 0 — The beacon chain
managing validators and stakes organizing and electing committees and proposers applying consensus rules rewarding and penalizing/slashing
Phase 1 — Shards
constructing the shard chains and blocks anchoring (cross-linking) shard blocks to beacon chain
Phase 2 — Execution Environments
based virtual machines for execution.
one per shard. ability to make transactions
ability to run and interact with smart contracts
Authoritative info is hard to come by on this subject so many thanks to Ben Edgington for setting me straight on some of the things above. Would also like to thank Danny Ryan and Everett Muzzy for additional corrections.
In the USA, for example, the parliamentary committee for financial services has called on Facebook to temporarily stop Libra; more than 30 US lobby associations had previously formulated a similar demand. In other countries such as France, Germany, Russia and Singapore, Libra has so far also met with little approval.
The presentation of the whitepaper of Facebook’s crypto project Libra for a global digital crypto currency has caused a lot of unrest not only in the crypto scene. While the Binance crypto exchange, for example, has a positive attitude towards the planned crypto currency and is even planning to become a node for participation, criticism and warnings are hailing towards Facebook, especially from politicians and supervisory authorities.
To shed some light on the situation, Cointelegraph asked eight renowned crypto experts from German-speaking countries about their views on Facebook Libra. Robert Schwertner (CryptoRobby) explains why Facebook is looking for a “new story” with the Libra project and why the planned Stablecoin is a step backwards compared to Bitcoin and Co.
Libra is not innovative at all
One thing is for sure: Libra is not an ingenious invention of Mark Zuckerberg and his Facebook group, but a logical development of blockchain technology and also of crypto currencies like Bitcoin.
In principle, every crypto money is a specialized e-mail or messenger service. Whether you send information as text or as a money message makes hardly any difference. As the world’s largest messenger service group, it is therefore obvious for Facebook to offer a crypto currency and thus support its core business as a social media platform, advertising group and news agency. In general, Facebook seems to have reached its zenith, the younger generation hardly uses Facebook, and user numbers are declining. Facebook urgently needed a new “story”.
However, Libra is not innovative at all. On the contrary, if you read through the technical descriptions, it quickly becomes clear: the centrally controlled Libra Coin is a step backwards compared to Bitcoin, Ethereum and other truly decentralised crypto currencies.
Libra has many enemies
And even before Libra is even in circulation, it is already making many enemies. As a so-called stable coin, Libra is tied to a basket of currencies. Thus price increases and price rises are excluded from the outset. Sounds good, but in practice it can mean that some currencies, especially in emerging and developing countries, can come under pressure because an alternative currency is available that reacts less flexibly.
In Europe, we have learned that the euro can have a negative impact on weaker economies because a state can no longer control its monetary policy, which has led to social unrest like in Greece, for example.
It must therefore be said that the match is not between Libra and Bitcoin, but between central banks, financial supervisors and other financial institutions in the world and the new Libra coin.
Libra has many enemies: central banks feel uncomfortable because a corporation suddenly prints its own money, which means crossing borders radically and losing power and control. This could deprive the state of its monopoly on money printing and monetary policy. Banks are also very critical of Libra because suddenly remittances are made past them.
The fact that Facebook continues to collect enormous amounts of data with Libra alarming. Providing Facebook with our financial date makes us even more transparent. Surveillance Capitalism is being taken to extremes here. Although the Group asserts that the transaction data will not be combined with other social media data, Mark Zuckerberg is under heavy fire in the USA and Europe for the misuse of data.
Currently the heated discussions about Libra are helping the other crypto currencies. In the short term, Bitcoin’s share price has risen sharply, and the lagging Altcoins may also correct upwards in the near future.
Another exciting question is: If a private company can suddenly print money, what happens if the company goes bankrupt? To what extent is the currency secured? Since the financial crisis of 2008, we have known that there is a “too big to fail”. Libra’s concept, however, envisages its use by the broad masses, which inevitably makes the crypto currency systemically relevant. But if the service is suddenly discontinued due to the bankruptcy of the companies involved, many people can lose everything they own.
So you have to put Libra in a strong position and that is only possible if regulators find clear rules for the new crypto money.
It is pleasing that crypto currencies are moved by the discussion around Libra again more into the limelight and humans argue with it increased.
One thing is also clear: there will be digital currencies in the future. It remains to be seen whether they will be put into circulation by states or by private corporations or – as in the case of Bitcoin – by a computer program that cannot be controlled centrally.
After months and months of speculation, Facebook has finally revealed the details of its would-be cryptocurrency challenger. However, what looks very revolutionary, is rather to be seen critical !
LibraMyth No 1: A blockchain allows Libra to function
Libra is enabled by what is called in Zuckerberg´s White paper as the “Libra Blockchain” which is described as a “Decentralised Programmable Database”. However, Libra blockchain is a lot but NOT a blockchain. Some of the very important characteristics are missing. Normal blockchains add blocks to the chain. Libra neither uses blocks nor uses a chain! According to their technical paper it will be a “single data structure that records the history of transactions and states over time”.
Facebook wants to define the expression blockchain, because they use technologies associated with blockchains such as Merkle Trees, hashes, and a consensus mechanisms and therefore it should be called blockchain. However, I am very against the fact that Facebook should get to decide what a blockchain is and what not. And furthermore: What Facebook tries to achieve definitely does not need a blockchain at all.
LibraMyth No 2: Libra is decentralised
In the Libra Whitepaper provided, it is stated that Libra is a decentralised system. However, unlike Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Libra won´t use the Proof of Work consensus mechanism that incentivises miners to keep the network going. Instead Facebook and the other 27 founding partners of the Libra association will run their own nodes that validate Libra transactions. The partners include Uber, PayPal and MasterCard. Each one has paid $10 million for the privilege. Facebook says that Libra will move to a more permissonless system in the future. But we don´ t provide any details on how and when that will happen.
LibraMyth No 3: Libra can reduce payment fees
Fees for transferring moneyare high due to several reasons like political ones or technical which are associated with the complicated process of moving money from one jurisdiction to another. Although it is true that fees for cross-border payments are way toohigh, we already have many companies which try to work on that issue like TransferWise or Revolut. However, as long as the majority of people use US-Dollar or Euro or other FIAT currencies they will have to exchange their money into Libra which will come at a cost, which means: There are transactions costs twice: in and out of Libra.
LibraMyth No 4: Libra protects users from data-based conflicts of interest
LibraMyth No 5: Facebook wants to help the Unbanked people
Seriously??? Facebook wants you to think that Libra is about helping the unbanked and the reason for introducing the Libra cryptocurrency introduction shall increase financial inclusion and to bring in the in the 1.7 billion adults around the world who remain outside the banking system. But it´s not clear how the unbanked will be able to buy Libra when these people have no bank account particularly if Libra wants to keep regulators happy by doing proper checks on its users to avoid money laundering. Libra is also unlikely to help people in countries with rapidly depreciating currencies as those countries tend to put in capital controls to prevent a run on their banks. Facebook has never shown interest in the unbanked before, and I am not sure why it´s suddenly so interested.
LibraMyth: No 6 Libra legitimises Bitcoin
Libra calls itself a “low volatility cryptocurrency”, but just as the Libra blockchain isn´t a real blockchain, Libra isn´t a real cryptocurrency either! That´s because it´s issued by a centralised entity, doesn´t run on a real blockchain and rather than being subject to the whims of the cryptomarkets it is pegged to a basked of fiat currencies. So it´s much more akin to something like the Gemini dollar, a stable coin issued by the Winklevoss twins exchange. And it is probably not a coincidence that the twins´ longtime rival Mark Zuckerberg chose another star sign for the name of the coin.
LibraMyth No 7: Libra will comply with all regulations
Libra says its Founding Members are “committed to working with authorities to shape a regulatory environment that encourages technological innovation while maintaining the highest standards of consumer protection”.
Libra says its Founding Members are committed to working with authorities to shape a regulatory environment
Really? Openly stating the intent “to shape a regulatory environment” rather than comply with the existing regulatory environment is a veiled assertion that Facebook is more powerful than the state, and that regulators should have to buckle to its will. While Facebook probably does have some sway over national bodies, to assume it can also sway international regulatory bodies like the BIS — which happen to have a bee in their bonnet about the use and abuse of customer floats by non-banks — is truly ambitious.
Overall the use of words blockchain and cryptocurrency is more about PR value than substance!
And ever thought about the fact that if we have a currency issued by companies: What if these companies are going bankrupt? Are they already TOO BIG TO FAIL? Another interesting aspect is who is NOT part of the consortium: Amazon, Google, Apple. And there is not a single bank! Will talk about that soon!
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