Blockchain and Cryptocurrency news summary from November 2020
As we enter the last part of 2020, we look back at an extraordinary year. A pandemic that troubled nearly every corner of the world and global geopolitical uncertainties made their mark. As the world looks to recover, businesses and society rely more on technology solutions. Many technology solutions showed their mettle, and they include blockchain. Important developments took place in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space throughout the year. Here, we summarize the key news from November 2020.
Some things don’t change! Bitcoin retains its importance in the blockchain-crypto space in 2020
Bitcoin comes to the mind of most people when they talk about blockchain. This popular cryptocurrency was the first application of blockchain. Bitcoin remains the most popular example of a blockchain network even after a decade of its emergence.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down in 2020, and many things changed. Governments and businesses found new important use cases of blockchain too. E.g., they joined hands to use blockchain for managing COVID-19 data in the USA and India. To take another example, businesses ramped up their investments in blockchain to tackle drawbacks in supply chain management. We talked about these in our earlier Bytesize articles.
All of these could have turned some of the focus away from Bitcoin in 2020. They didn’t though! Bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency, and the effects of the pandemic didn’t dampen the interest of investors.
In 2019, the price of Bitcoin saw many fluctuations throughout the year. The price fell below $7,000 by the end of the year. We saw similar trends in 2018 too. Bitcoin bucked this trend in 2020. Its price was $7,200 on 1st January 2020, however, the price surpassed $18,000 by the end of November 2020. Bitcoin retains its importance!
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency news from North America
The top national security officials in the USA want the country to remain competitive in the cryptocurrency space. A recent report states that John Ratcliffe, the National Intelligence Director in the US government is sensitizing the other US government agencies in this regard. The report cites a recent letter from Ratcliffe to Jay Clayton, the chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in this regard. It appears that Ratcliffe highlighted the possibility that China might soon launch a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), and the USA should help the American blockchain/crypto companies to remain competitive.
You probably look at electric vehicles (EVs) as just vehicles. However, most EV owners drive their EVs for a limited amount of time. Effectively, the charged battery is idle for the most part. It can supply excess electricity to a building. The challenge lies in delivering tangible benefits to the consumers of electricity as well as EV owners since managing these transactions can be hard. Blockchain is changing that in Canada.
A blockchain-based EV-charging platform will track charging transactions. It will also track the transactions that supply the excess electricity to the power grid. The blockchain-based platform will ensure transparency and trust. This should ultimately reduce the cost of the EV-charging transactions too. The platform is called “SWTCH”, and it will be run by SWTCH Energy. Opus One Solutions, a software development company has developed it. A pilot project will test this platform, and it will take place in downtown Toronto. Natural Resources Canada, a Canadian government department has provided $1 million in funding for this.
Blockchain & Cryptocurrency news from Europe
Governments and central banks around the world have varying perceptions of digital currencies. Some of them support digital currencies, whereas, a few have apprehensions. Some central banks are studying the implications of digital currencies, and the Bank of England (BoE) is an example. Andy Haldane, the chief economist of BoE recently indicated that BoE is actively assessing digital currencies. Haldane believes that digital currencies could help to bring a new monetary order. He indicates that digital currencies could impact financial stability. Since Haldane is a member of the Monetary Policy Committee in BoE, his statements carry weightage. Haldane believes that digital currencies could deal with the effects of negative interest rates.
Blockchain can significantly improve supply chain traceability with its transparency, efficiency, and security. Businesses and governments are increasingly using it for this purpose. A recent example of this emerged in Germany. BlockApps, a blockchain solution provider rolled out “TraceHarvest”, a blockchain platform to track the entire lifecycle of agricultural products. The efficiency of blockchain enables users to receive real-time information. Various stakeholders like farmers, dealers, distributors, etc. can benefit from this system. Bayer Crop Science, a subsidiary of Bayer, the German pharma giant has participated in this project. Bayer is already using this blockchain platform for two years to track its agricultural supply chain operations in the USA and Brazil.
Blockchain & Crypto news from Oceania
Governments are increasingly exploring blockchain for delivering services more efficiently to citizens. A recent example from Australia shows how blockchain is gaining importance in intergovernmental transactions between countries.
Australia had earlier rolled out a blockchain network for governmental use, which is called the APS (Australian Public Service) blockchain network. It caters to the federal, state, and local government requirements.
The country has now partnered with Singapore to launch a blockchain network for intergovernmental document exchange. Australia and Singapore are currently using this technology on a trial basis.
From the Australian side, the organizations involved in this project are the Australia Border Force, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Australian Industry Group. Singapore Customs and Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority are the organizations that are participating in this project too. ANZ and few other financial services institutions working in Australia and Singapore will take part in this project too. The trial project involves testing the digital verification systems.
Cryptocurrency & Blockchain news from Asia
The banking sector in China is facing multiple questions from international observers. Many observers are questioning the resilience and effectiveness of the banking system in the country. In an incident that could give rise to more questions, the China Construction Bank (CCB) has withdrawn a bond. CCB had planned to issue a blockchain-based bond. The bank was working with Fusang Exchange, a Malaysia-based cryptocurrency exchange for this. It had launched a special-purpose platform called Longbond Ltd for launching this band, and the total value of the bond was $3 billion. However, CCB delayed this plan on 13th November. This was the date on which the bond was to be traded. Fusang Exchange informed on that day that the bond is delayed. CCB is one of the largest banks in China, and this sudden change of plan will certainly raise eyebrows among internal observers.
Taxing people for the gains they make by investing in cryptocurrency is often a sensitive subject. Governments and lawmakers in several countries are trying to bring in appropriate laws and regulations in this regard. However, investors and industry associations often have diverging views. A recent example of this emerged in South Korea recently. Gains made from cryptocurrency transactions aren’t taxable in South Korea now. In November, the South Korean National Assembly deliberated on delaying the new income tax laws on cryptocurrency gains. The new laws were to come into force from October 2021, however, the transition might be postponed to 1st January 2022. Korean Blockchain Association (KBA), an industry association in the country foresees concerns. KBA believes that the government is giving too little time to transition to the new tax regime. The industry association thinks that the transition requires more time, and it had requested time till 1st January 2023. The government of South Korea doesn’t seem to agree with that timeline though. It’s willing to extend the transition by 3 more months.
As the world goes through a turbulent period, society, governments, academia, non-governmental organizations, and businesses need to work together to bring stability back. Technology plays a key part, therefore, blockchain will continue to make the news. Watch this space for more exciting news on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.