Blockchain-cryptocurrency news round-up: June and July 2020
At the time of writing this, the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments, businesses, and non-governmental organizations were trying to respond to the economic downturn when the pandemic hit. The pandemic has made the economic situation even more challenging. Governments, businesses, and other organizations are looking for technology solutions to respond to these challenges effectively. Several cutting-edge technologies including blockchain are proving useful in this effort. Much has happened in the world of blockchain during June and July 2020, and we cover a few noteworthy events here.
How blockchain is helping to combat the COVID-19 pandemic
Combating the pandemic requires heroic efforts on the part of millions and millions of workers. Healthcare workers, sanitation workers, disaster management workers, policymakers, government officials, lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, security forces, volunteers, and many more people are working hard to turn the tide against the raging pandemic. They need many resources, and reliable information is one of them.
Frontline workers battling the pandemic need reliable hospitalization data, diagnostics data, information about COVID-19 hotspots, and much more information. More importantly, they need authentic information. A new Health and Human Services (HHS) platform in the US is helping them with authentic hospitalization data by using the immutability and distributed ledger offered by blockchain. This blockchain-powered platform is called the Coronavirus Data Hub. From the information available, it appears that this platform uses an enterprise blockchain network.
Blockchain is helping India to combat the COVID-19 pandemic too. BelfricsBT, a global blockchain start-up has joined hands with YoSync, a blockchain start-up based in Bangalore, India for this. Together, they are developing BelYo, a blockchain-powered platform. They have received funding from Mphasis F1 Foundation for this project. The platform will convert clinical data concerning COVID-19 patients in physical form to digital assets. This will help contact-tracing apps use this data via API, which should significantly help with the difficult task of contact-tracing.
Notable blockchain-crypto news from North America
Despite its wide-ranging promises of decentralization, transparency, and security, Bitcoin sometimes earns some bad press too. Criminals often use Bitcoin to fund their illegal activities on the “Dark Web”, moreover, hackers often demand ransoms in the form of Bitcoin. The relative anonymity offered by Bitcoin is a key reason for this. The recent Twitter hack has made headlines, and it’s directly related to a Bitcoin scam. Multiple law enforcement and investigative agencies have worked hard and arrested 3 individuals in Florida in relation to this sensational case. FBI, IRS, the US Secret Service, and the law enforcement agencies in Florida have collaborated in this investigation.
In Canada, regulators are clamping down on crypto exchanges with questionable trading practices. Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), the regulatory body in the Canadian state of Ontario has initiated actions against Coinsquare, a cryptocurrency exchange. OSC states that Coinsquare has manipulated the market and reported inflated trading volumes. According to OSC, Coinsquare is indulging in malpractices since March 2018. OSC states that Coinsquare has executed “wash trading”, an illegal trading practice that involves executing large market trades into their own orders. “Wash trading” gives an impression of large trading volume, whereas no assets actually change hands. The court proceedings are currently going on.
Important news from Europe regarding blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Bank of England is seriously considering embracing blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The central bank is considering the launch of its CBDC (“Central Bank Digital Currency”), i.e., its own cryptocurrency. Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England has recently announced this. The central bank is still evaluating its pros and cons. Observers believe that a CBDC will provide some advantages to the British pound in the international market.
Switzerland, a country that’s already friendly to blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs has further encouraged these businesses to make the country their home. The lawmakers in National Council, the legislative house in Switzerland have passed a legislative package for this. This new package leaves favorable tax laws in Switzerland intact. It further removes barriers for blockchain-crypto businesses to set up their operations in the country. While the city of Zug in Switzerland is already famous as the “Crypto Valley”, the new laws will likely attract more blockchain/crypto entrepreneurs to the country.
Key blockchain news from Australia
Observers and experts are repeatedly warning governments, businesses, and people to remain cautious about cyber-attacks especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not just the Twitter hack, but many governments and businesses have reported a growing number of cybercrimes. The focus on cybersecurity is very high, so is the focus on technology solutions in this domain.
In this context, it’s interesting to note that blockchain is emerging as a key component of cybersecurity solutions in Australia. The Australian government has recently reported large waves of cyber-attacks. Now, cybersecurity experts and government officials in Australia have confirmed that they consider blockchain as an important part of the solution. These experts believe that blockchain can boost cybersecurity solutions thanks to its ability to protect data integrity in application systems.
Important blockchain-cryptocurrency news from Asia
The government of China is pushing hard to increase the adoption of blockchain in the country. Towards this, it’s working closely with key blockchain-based products and services companies. The country had earlier launched its ambitious “Blockchain-based Service Network” (BSN). The key objective of BSN is to enable small, medium, and large companies to build and deploy blockchain applications. These companies will deploy these apps on permissioned blockchain networks. However, the Chinese government is also trying to remove various impediments like high entry barriers. The Chinese government is working with NEO, a major Chinese blockchain platform towards this. NEO is expected to make it easier for blockchain developers in China to develop apps on BSN. China Mobile, China UnionPay, and other Chinese enterprises will join this effort too.
Bank of Japan (BoJ), the central bank of the country is moving forward with its research and development into “Digital Yen”. Digital Yen will be the “Central Bank Digital Currency” (CBDC) of Japan. Launching a CBDC in a major country like Japan promises to be a complex project. BoJ is actively studying the implications of launching a CBDC. Recently, BoJ has assigned a key leadership role in this regard to Kazushige Kamiyama, who is the senior-most economist with the central bank. Kamiyama will lead the department that’s researching on launching a CBDC in the country. In addition to being an economist of considerable repute, Kamiyama has significant experience with relevant technologies like big data. The move by BoJ signifies that the central bank prioritizes CBDC.
Fast-paced developments will likely continue in the blockchain-crypto sector
As you can see, the blockchain-crypto sector witnessed fast-paced developments in June and July of 2020. Since the world is trying to get back on track while combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of technologies like blockchain will be even more prominent. Watch this space for more exciting news on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.