Blockchain and Cryptocurrency news summary from December 2020
The year 2020 has been quite different. The COVID-19 pandemic took its toll, and geopolitical uncertainties left their impact. As the world tried to cope with turbulent times, it turned to the innovative spirit of many people. Technology played a key part in these innovative efforts. Among various technologies, blockchain made key impacts too. Here, we look at the key December 2020 news from the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
Hope at last: The start of vaccination against COVID-19 and the role of blockchain
Blockchain is making its mark vis-à-vis vaccination against COVID-19. The world now has vaccines against COVID-19 and the vaccination drives have started in several countries. That brings hope to people all over the world. However, the vaccination process has its share of complexities.
Government authorities managing the vaccination drives first need robust demand forecasting. A successful vaccination drive needs efficient supply chain management including supply chain assurance. Authorities need to monitor people receiving vaccines for adverse events.
Managing these complexities requires effective technology solutions. Experts say that blockchain has a key part to play here, thanks to its security, immutability, and distributed ledger. They believe that the utility of blockchain in supply chain assurance will be especially important here.
The adoption of blockchain in aiding the vaccination drive has started already. The Mediterranean Hospital in Cyprus is using a blockchain-based app to certify the fact of administering the vaccine. VeChain and I-Dante have worked together to develop this app, which is called “E-HCert”. It uses the blockchain platform of VeChain. As of 7th January 2021, the hospital has tracked the vaccination of 100 doctors and nurses using this app. The app presents an immutable source of truth, which improves tracking.
Bitcoin surges ahead as the year 2020 come to a close
Bitcoin ended 2020 on a high. Since it emerged a decade ago, Bitcoin has retained an important place in the Cryptocurrency/blockchain landscape. It’s the most popular cryptocurrency. Bitcoin consistently commands the large market capitalization among all cryptocurrencies. It retained its importance in 2020 too.
Furthermore, the price of Bitcoin experienced a historical high as 2020 came to a close. The cryptocurrency market saw the price of Bitcoin rise to $28k as of 30th December 2020. Experts are commenting that the COVID-19 pandemic might have had a role to play here. They believe that COVID-19 stimulus packages will have their impact. People are seeing Bitcoin as a resilient asset, which is causing a rise in price.
Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies news from North America in December 2020
In a significant development in December 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs. SEC has filed this lawsuit on 22nd December in a federal court in the Southern District of New York. This action pertains to the sale of Ripple (XRP) since 2013. SEC states that Ripple has raised $1.38 billion through this sale. According to SEC, Ripple sold securities. SEC states that Ripple never registered these securities transactions with SEC, and the company continued with this practice. The United States Securities Act of 1933 holds such transactions illegal. The price of Ripple went down by 25% within 24 hours of this lawsuit.
Will Canada soon see a “Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC)? The COVID-19 pandemic has had many impacts on society. One of them happens to be a reduction in cash transactions in many countries. These countries have seen an increasing thrust towards digital payment, and this will likely boost the prospects of digital currencies. This is prompting the Bank of Canada, the Canadian central bank to consider a pronounced policy shift. The central bank had earlier said that it didn’t see a compelling case for a CBDC. It wanted to adopt a wait-and-watch approach for such blockchain-based CBDCs. However, the Bank of Canada might expedite its work on CBDC. Timothy Lane, the deputy governor of the Bank of Canada indicated this in December 2020. Lane stated that the bank has noticed the pace at which cash transactions are losing their acceptance, and that’s prompting the rethink on the part of the central bank.
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related news in December 2020 from Europe
Standard Chartered, the famous UK-based bank is making big crypto moves. Cryptocurrencies are mathematical money. Based on blockchain, they promise decentralization, autonomy, and security to users. They offer a markedly different paradigm from what the central banks and governments offer with their currencies. Banks have had multiple apprehensions about cryptocurrencies. The relationship between banks and cryptocurrencies hasn’t been warm. Crypto users couldn’t transact on the Ethereum network with Bitcoin though, therefore, they needed intermediaries. Crypto exchanges stepped in to fill this void. These crypto exchanges acted like banks, however, they operated outside the stringent regulations that govern banks. You often hear about crypto exchange hacks, and users don’t enjoy much protection. That’s changing though. Banks are warming up to cryptocurrencies. Standard Chartered is entering the cryptocurrency landscape. In December 2020, it announced its plans to provide institutional custody for popular cryptocurrencies. The bank will launch its crypto-custody platform named “Zodia” in 2021. It will initially support prominent cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc.
Sygnum, a bank in Switzerland has tokenized its shares on a blockchain. Stock trading is highly popular, and it involves plenty of paperwork. Traders, agents, banks, and the concerned companies must follow detailed administrative processes. Stringent regulations govern these activities. Blockchain can simplify these activities with its security, immutability, and transparency. Sygnum, a prominent cryptocurrency bank in Switzerland is leveraging these capabilities. The bank created a blockchain platform named “Desygnate” using the Ethereum blockchain network. This platform provides digital representations of shares, which are fully legal shares. The platform will comply with the new Swiss regulations governing the “Distributed Ledger Technology” (DLT). Sygnum provides several cryptocurrency-related services including a stablecoin pegged to Franc. Headquartered in Zurich, Sygnum will use this platform to simplify the management of its shares.
Blockchain-cryptocurrency news from Oceania in December 2020
Crypto.com, which offers blockchain-based debit cards, a mobile wallet app, and cryptocurrency exchange has entered Australia. The company has acquired an “Australian Financial Service License” (AFSL). Towards this, Crypto.com has acquired a company called “The Card Group Pty Ltd”. This Australian company provides prepaid cards, mobile apps, and wearable apps. Australia has already witnessed impressive adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, furthermore, the country has a pragmatic regulatory environment. Crypto.com can now offer its proprietary card to the Australian public. The company can now directly serve consumers in Australia, which should further increase the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the country.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency news from Asia in December 2020
Bank Hapoalim, an Israel-based bank will process bank guarantees using blockchain in the future. A bank guarantee carries plenty of importance in the world of lending since it’s a financial safeguard offered by an established bank. Bank guarantees involve plenty of processes and administrative tasks. The lifecycle of a bank guarantee includes key steps like issuance, modification, termination, invocation, etc. Bank Hapoalim has joined a blockchain-based platform called the “Digital Bank Guarantee”. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), an India-based IT major has developed this platform. This platform enables issuers to create and transmit digital bank guarantees, and it makes the process more efficient. Bank Hapoalim is one of the largest banks in Israel.
The proposed clampdown on cryptocurrencies in Hong Kong is attracting criticism. Unlike mainland China, people in Hong Kong had dealt with cryptocurrencies freely earlier. The Hong Kong government announced a change to that in November 2020, when it decided to ban retail trading of cryptocurrencies. The Financial Services and Treasury Bureau of Hong Kong plans to extend its regulations to Bitcoin ATMs too. Certain groups are opposing these laws and regulations. In December 2020, the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong appealed to regulators in Hong Kong in this regard. Lee Weese, a co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong recently spoke with the South China Morning Post (SCMP) in this regard. Weese cautioned that such regulations will not only prevent retail access to Bitcoin, but they will also adversely impact innovation in Hong Kong.
Blockchain-based voting will soon be a reality in the Japanese city of Kaga. Electronic voting systems emerged to address the shortcomings the traditional voting systems. However, electronic voting systems presented their own crucial challenges. Preventing double-voting can be hard, which raises suspicions about the transparency of the system. Keeping ballots secret proves to be another challenge. Finally, the inefficiencies raise the cost. Layer X, a Japanese company is changing all of that. It’s building a blockchain-based voting system. For this project, Layer X has partnered with the creators of xID, a digital identity application. Layer X is creating a system that will promote transparency, confidentiality, and security. Kaga, a city of 68,000 residents will see the first use of this system. That’s fitting since the city government has declared Kaga as a “Blockchain city” as a part of promoting technology adoption.
In a year that will leave a profound impact on society at large, technologies like blockchain helped human beings to combat adversity. Surely, blockchain will make much more news in the coming days and months. Watch this space for crisp summaries of such news!