Blockchain & Crypto news round-up January and February 2020
Can you highlight one thing that has been the constant in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies over the past few years? We think you can. It’s the hectic pace of developments in this sector! The fast-paced events in the sector have managed to create headlines consistently, and the months of January and February 2020 were no different!
We aren’t exactly surprised though! After all, the promises of blockchain are eye-catching. You don’t come across a technology every day that promises decentralization, distributed ledger, security, and efficiency gain, all bundled together!
So, which developments in the blockchain-crypto world made headlines in January and February 2020? Let’s take a look.
USA: Are cryptocurrencies proving Warren Buffet right?
If you are closely following the news around cryptocurrencies, then you would know that Warren Buffet isn’t exactly a fan of them! The legendary American investor who commands profound respect in the world of investment has been rather forthright with his reservations about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. He states that he won’t invest in them and even likened them to a mirage.
A large section of blockchain and crypto enthusiasts didn’t agree with Buffet. A key thrust of their argument is that Bitcoin has proven to be a highly resilient asset at turbulent times. You can easily find comments from crypto enthusiasts comparing Bitcoin with gold, a highly resilient asset class worldwide.
The massive outbreak of Coronavirus was the ideal occasion for Bitcoin to prove its mettle since stocks fell significantly in nearly all major markets worldwide. Had Bitcoin held its own, then that could stand as a significant argument against what Buffet says. Bitcoin couldn’t hold its own though, as its price crashed by 4.6% on February 25th amidst the Coronavirus scare. Gold reached a seven-year high during that time. It’s ironic that Buffet maintained his views on cryptocurrencies in an interview around the same time!
In other news that emerged in early March 2020, the champions of enterprise blockchain platforms have much to cheer for. Blockchain is far more than just cryptocurrencies since its distributed ledger, security, and smart contracts can deliver significant business value to businesses. Enterprise adoption of blockchain faces multiple challenges though, with slow transaction speed of public blockchain platforms like Ethereum being one of them. Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) and the Ethereum Foundation have been working to make Ethereum suitable for enterprise use.
A new initiative by Ernst & Young (EY), Microsoft, and ConsenSys promises could boost their effort. The three companies have joined hands with EEA and the Ethereum Foundation on a project called the “Baseline Protocol”. The project aims to secure sensitive data on the blockchain and deliver a faster transaction speed, which should make Ethereum more suitable for enterprise use.
Europe: Taking blockchain to space
Thanks to the European Space Agency (ESA), blockchain is growing its footprint in space! ESA is contributing to the growth of blockchain in many ways, and its recent move of taking blockchain to space will benefit the mining industry.
The mining industry depends on fragmented sources of data, and multiple teams must cross-check paper-based data to ensure its accuracy. Even a small error could have serious impacts like fatal accidents.
ESA is funding a new project that will use a blockchain solution from Hypervine, a company that works to secure construction, mining, and space-related data using blockchain. The project will secure important mining-related data sourced from satellites, and it will use blockchain for this. Mining companies will be able to use this tamper-proof data, which will help them to improve their safety measures and operational efficiency.
In another news, Mercedes Benz, the giant automaker has joined hands with Circulor, a blockchain start-up to ensure ethical sourcing of cobalt using blockchain. Cobalt is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, however, sourcing cobalt is mired in controversies.
The majority of the cobalt supply in the world comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The country has a record of exploitation of child labor in its unethical cobalt mining operations. Mercedes wants to ensure that it only buys ethically-mined cobalt, and the company has turned to blockchain for this. Mercedes and Circulor will jointly roll out a blockchain system to track the life cycle of cobalt. The system will also track carbon emissions and the use of recycled material during the cobalt mining process and supply chain.
In yet another news from Europe, OverFuture SA, a Swiss company has launched the first tokenized IPO (Initial Public Offering) in Switzerland. OverFuture has offered 8,399,000 security tokens representing an equal number of equity shares in its IPO. The company has used the Ethereum blockchain network for this, and the smart contracts were provided by the European Digital Assets Exchange (EURO DAXX). OverFuture is regulated by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
Asia: China saw the first blockchain-based unsecured loan in the country
When it comes to blockchain and crypto, China is never far away from the news, is it? Early in January 2020, the country saw the formal launch of a blockchain-based financing platform for small & medium enterprises (SMEs). OneConnect, a leading Chinese FinTech company supports this platform. This new platform will reduce difficulties for SMEs in obtaining financing since it will expedite the financing process and reduce costs. During the January 2, 2020 launch ceremony, the first blockchain-based unsecured loan was granted, which amounted to 1.12 million Yuan.
Cheap electricity in provinces like Yunnan, Sichuan, and Xinjiang have made China an important country for Bitcoin miners. However, the outbreak of Coronavirus has affected Bitcoin mining operations in the country. BTC.top, a Bitcoin mining firm has been forced to shut down all operations. The quarantine control has also forced Bitcoin mining machine providers to delay their after-sale services.
Crypto exchanges in India finally heard good news as the Supreme Court of India, the highest court of the land gave them a respite. While welcoming blockchain, India has resolutely opposed cryptocurrencies. In early 2018, late Mr. Arun Jaitley, the Union Finance Minister of India had declared on the floor of the nations’ parliament that India will not allow cryptocurrencies in its payment systems. Reserve Bank of India (RBI), i.e., the central bank of the country is fully aligned with the government in this matter. RBI has banned all banking services to crypto exchanges. A March 2020 verdict by the Supreme Court lifts this ban. It remains to be seen whether the verdict makes a material difference to crypto exchanges though since cryptocurrencies aren’t valid for any payment in India.
Australia: The National Stock Exchange of Australia is embracing blockchain
Blockchain is entering the stock trading space in Australia. The National Stock Exchange of Australia has decided to use blockchain for settlement and clearing, and it has partnered with iSignthis, a FinTech company for this. Together, they will develop “ClearPay”, a blockchain-based system that will offer digital asset trading and settlements in real-time. The launch of ClearPay will likely be in early 2021.
What blockchain-crypto enthusiasts can expect in coming days
As the global business and geopolitical environment heads towards a period of uncertainty, businesses and governments have their hands full. Businesses need to scale new heights to serve their customers, and governments need to improve service delivery to citizens. Effectiveness and efficiency are the keys, and blockchain can help. Regulatory clarity and technology innovations are the needs of the hour as far as blockchain is concerned. Blockchain-crypto enthusiasts can expect key developments around these areas in the days to come.