A summary of blockchain and cryptocurrency news from September 2020
The world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers in healthcare, essential services, law enforcement, etc. continue to put in a heroic effort. Businesses try to get back on track, however, the economic recovery will likely take a while. Society and businesses explore technology solutions for this recovery, in addition to the heroic human effort. Cutting-edge technologies including blockchain are under intense focus. Here, we summarize the key developments in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in September 2020.
Blockchain continues to show promise in combating the COVID-19 pandemic
Organizations and businesses continue to explore blockchain in their effort to combat the pandemic. You can find a recent example of this in research done by Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
A team of researchers in the Khalifa University has announced its progress on building a blockchain-based COVID-19 data tracking system. The team acknowledges the challenges of tracking authentic COVID-19 data. Government authorities and the public grapple with the problem of wrong data and misinformation. This reduces the ability of governments to act effectively, moreover, people are panicking.
The Khalifa University research team has built a blockchain system to store COVID-19-related authentic data securely. The system facilitates the sharing of this data between various stakeholders securely. It uses Ethereum smart contracts, furthermore, it utilizes Oracles to process external data feeds.
Blockchain/Cryptocurrencies news from North America
FinCEN, the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has asked the banks in the US to analyze money laundering-related risks involving cryptocurrencies. Kenneth Blanco, the director of FinCEN delivered this message during the 2020 ACAMS anti-money laundering conference. Blanco emphasized that banks have significant responsibilities to prevent money laundering. He asked the banks need to analyze the risks of money laundering using cryptocurrencies, moreover, he asked the banks to devise appropriate policies and procedures.
Organized criminals have used cryptocurrencies for executing their illicit transactions for a long time, and this worrying trend continues. Law enforcement agencies in the USA continue to monitor and act against illicit drug trade on the darknet. They are monitoring the use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in this illicit trade. Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI highlighted this in a report to the House Judiciary Committee in the USA. American law enforcement agencies are working with their European counterparts to combat this menace. They have a joint task force, which is called the Joint Criminal Opioid and Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE).
Winklevoss brothers, the well-known American Internet entrepreneurs have recently launched the first regulated crypto exchange in Canada. The exchange is called Wealthsimple Crypto. It was launched on September 22nd, and it allowed trading Bitcoin and Ether initially. The exchange offers a mobile app. Canadians from all provinces and union territories of the country can use it. Gemini, the American digital asset platform founded by the Winklevoss brothers provides the crypto custody service for the new exchange.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency news from Europe
Peer-to-peer (P2P) payments services involving cryptocurrencies received a boost in the UK in September 2020. Ziglu, a UK-based FinTech company launched its P2P payment services for cryptocurrencies on September 7th. The service will cater to fiat currencies too. Ziglu recently received the necessary license from the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), furthermore, it received the Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) license too. Users can buy cryptocurrencies on the Ziglu app transfer to other users.
Blockchain needs sustained research and development activities since it’s a relatively new technology. Individual researchers and developers need support. There’s encouraging news in this area from Switzerland. In September, the Ticino Blockchain Technologies Association was launched. This research group intends to promote research on blockchain and support blockchain start-ups. The University of Southern Switzerland and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) are key members of this group. Other key members include Bitcoin.com, Copernicus Holdings, Eligma, Euronovate, Poseidon group, and the Swiss Block Consortium. Its support for blockchain start-ups is expected to create new jobs in Switzerland.
Terror financial using cryptocurrencies is a concern, therefore, it’s encouraging to see law enforcement and security agencies are clamping down on it. In September, the French police have had key success in this area. A terrorist group was financing terrorism in Syria from France using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The group was using cryptocurrency coupons for this, and they were buying them in tobacco outlets in France. Sustained surveillance and timely action by French police have helped them to arrest this group.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency news from Oceania
“Central Bank Digital Currencies” (CBDCs) have seen plenty of debates around the world. While the central banks of some countries are encouraging it, others aren’t doing so.
The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), the central bank of the country doesn’t encourage CBDCs. In September, RBA has published a research paper on payment processing. It doesn’t find a strong justification for issuing its CBDC. RBA attributes its position to the success of the digital payment infrastructure in Australia. Australia has a “New Payments Platform”, a real-time digital payments platform. RBA states that the number of cash transactions in the country is declining. It doesn’t believe that there is a need for a CBDC or 3rd party stablecoins.
Blockchain/Crypto news from Asia
Blockchain can make it easier to manage investment instruments digitally. Examples abound, and the recent move by Singapore Exchange (SGX) is one of them. SGX is a prominent Singapore-based investment holding company. It has made a key announcement about its blockchain-based digital asset issuance platform on September 1st. The company issued a five-and-a-half-year public bond for a local food and agri-business company, and the amount of the bond is USD 294 million. For this project, SGX has used DAML, a smart contract language developed by Digital Asset, an American blockchain start-up.
Blockchain has key use cases in cross-border trading. Ant Group, the China-based parent company of Alipay has launched its blockchain-based global trade platform in September. The platform is called Trusple. Small and medium enterprises can use this platform, which is expected to streamline cross-border trading. Trusple uses AntChain, the blockchain solution from the Ant Group. This new platform is expected to expedite processes like shipping and payment.
The world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies continues to evolve rapidly. Technology-related challenges and regulatory uncertainties can delay the growth of blockchain. However, governments, businesses, and trade associations are working to address them. We can expect fast-paced developments in the future. Watch this space for more exciting news about blockchain and cryptocurrencies.