From Enterprise Blockchain Partnerships to Fintech Integrations to Government-based initiatives and Institutional Investment in Cryptocurrency, We’re Seeing Some Significant Signs of Life
Enterprise Blockchain Initiatives and Partnerships
Facebook is reportedly looking for allies to support its planned cryptocurrency payment service
The project would include a digital currency, underpinned by blockchain technology and pegged to the U.S. dollar, which users of Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service could use to send money to one another, according to the Journal and a December report by Bloomberg.
The company has been recruiting e-commerce companies and apps to accept the Facebook currency, the Journal said. One idea under consideration is rewarding Facebook users with fractions of the digital currency in exchange for looking at advertisements, the report said. Facebook may also seek to embed its payment system in third-party websites and apps, similar to how third parties use Facebook today.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Facebook is reportedly looking for allies to support its planned cryptocurrency payment service
J.P. Morgan and Microsoft announce strategic partnership to drive enterprise adoption of Quorum
Quorum, an enterprise-variant of the Ethereum blockchain, to be powered by Microsoft Azure
“J.P. Morgan and Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding to form a strategic partnership to accelerate the adoption of enterprise blockchain. Through this partnership, Quorum, developed by J.P. Morgan, will become the first distributed ledger platform available through Azure Blockchain Service, enabling J.P. Morgan and Microsoft customers to build and scale blockchain networks in the cloud.”
Source: J.P. Morgan and Microsoft announce strategic partnership to drive enterprise adoption of Quorum
Amazon Managed Blockchain Powered By Ethereum – AT&T And Nestlé Already On Board
“The service is aimed at enterprise customers and will allow them to build their blockchain networks for their organizations. The service is stated as being convenient, inexpensive, and efficient.”
“Aside from making blockchain deployment simpler and quicker, the service will also feature APIs that allow users to vote on memberships in the network.
Representatives from several established businesses, like Nestle, AT&T, and MOBI, spoke positively of the service and their use of it.
Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) is a popular niche in the industry and several projects, such as Stratis, are working to offer established entities a solution for the upcoming decentralized age, giving them the tools they need to deploy blockchain networks quickly.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Amazon Managed Blockchain Powered By Ethereum – AT&T And Nestlé Already On Board
Qtum Partners With Google Cloud to Launch Suite of Developer Tools
“Qtum has unveiled a full suite of blockchain developer tools in partnership with Google Cloud. These free-to-use tools, are designed to give developers and non-technical users alike, a simple and cost-effective way of launching nodes and building on the Qtum blockchain.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Qtum Partners With Google Cloud to Launch Suite of Developer Tools
Iota Partners With Jaguar Land Rover on Crypto Rewards Program, Price Jumps 20%
“United Kingdom car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover will use blockchain network Iota to reward drivers with cryptocurrency for data reporting, the companies confirmed in a press release on April 29.
Part of a plan to gather better information on road conditions and vehicle performance, Jaguar will distribute Iota’s Iota tokens to Smart Wallets tied to participating drivers.
The drivers will then be able to redeem them for various products including road tolls and even coffee, Jaguar says.
“In the future an autonomous car could drive itself to a charging station, recharge and pay, while its owner could choose to participate in the sharing economy — earning rewards from sharing useful data such as warning other cars of traffic jams,” Russell Vickers, a software architect at the company, commented in the press release.
The partnership with Iota forms part of Jaguar’s Destination Zero scheme, which aims to tackle accidents, congestion and emissions within the automotive industry.
Iota has jumped almost 20% in the 24 hours to press time on Monday.
“Our distributed ledger technology is perfectly suited to enable machine-to-machine payments for smart charging, parking and tolls, in addition to creating opportunities for drivers to earn their own digital currency,” Iota’s head of partnerships, Holger Köther, added.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Iota Partners With Jaguar Land Rover on Crypto Rewards Program, Price Jumps 20%
And what might the ramifications be for core blockchain technologies?
Ethereum Will Be Hard To Stop At This Point When 200+ Banks, More Than 50 Billion-Dollar Companies Including Microsoft Azure Involved
“Ethereum (ETH), the 2nd-largest cryptocurrency by market cap – known for its decentralized platform that runs smart contracts and supports decentralized applications – is seemingly unstoppable.
Not only does Ethereum have the largest ecosystem of cryptocurrency projects and solutions built on top of its blockchain, but it’s one of the few cryptocurrency projects achieving real-world adoption.
Ethereum Is Actually Achieving Real-World Adoption and It’s Serious
As previously reported by IIB, more than 50% of the billion-dollar firms included in Forbes, “Blockchain 50: Billion Dollar Babies” list are building applications on top of Ethereum or platforms derived from it.
As well, 24 of these listed companies claim to be using the Ethereum blockchain, one of which is Microsoft, who partnered with ConsenSys in 2015 to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure.
This integration has allowed enterprise clients and developers access to a cloud-based blockchain developer environment, along with the tools that enable them to develop smart contract-based applications.
As a result of this partnership and Ethereum’s flexibility and extensibility with developers, a multitude of Ethereum-based applications have been tested and created, making it the most developed-on blockchain to date.
Another notable example of Ethereum adoption, which is more recent than the Microsoft Azure collaboration, is the rollout of free software running on top of the public Ethereum Network for Ernst and Young’s corporate clients.
As previously reported by IIB, Ernst and Young is a professional services firm that released a new tool for its corporate clients with the purpose of helping them use the Ethereum blockchain. To get an extent of how big a deal this is, some of Ernst and Young’s biggest clients are Amazon, Apple, Google, and Snapchat.
Clearly, Ethereum is quickly establishing itself as a global leader in enterprise-level blockchain technology, and will be very hard to stop at this point.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Ethereum Will Be Hard To Stop At This Point When 200+ Banks, More Than 50 Billion-Dollar Companies Including Microsoft Azure Involved
2. Fintech and Governments are Waking Up to Blockchain
FCA Announces Cross Border Tests with GFIN, Most Participants are Blockchain Focused
“The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced the first cross border tests of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN) – a grouping of global regulators seeking to collaborate on Fintech innovation.
The FCA states they received 44 applications for the pilot. After this initial screening, GFIN members will continue working with 8 firms.
The participation is not indicative of regulatory approval nor a guarantee that each firm will undertake a test but a conditional qualification by regulators.
An announcement of the firms formally selected for the cross-border testing pilot will be made in late the second quarter.
The FCA noted that a high number of applications were from firms with Regtech and cryptoasset related business models. They expressed their hope that other areas of financial services will be represented going forward.
The following tests are under consideration for the cross-border trials:
|Alphapoint||Software company offering products built on public and private blockchains that support the requirements for issuance, custody and trading of digital assets with liquidity across multiple exchanges.||Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), Bank of Lithuania (LB)|
|Ascent RegTech||AI-driven RegTech solution that automatically maps a customer’s specific regulatory obligations and ongoing rule changes, while also enabling end-to-end compliance management. The product helps firms see similarities and differences in regulatory obligations across regulators and countries.||Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF Québec), Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), Ontario Securities Commission (OSC)|
|ATLANT||Digital securities platform offering primary issuance of digital shares & debentures, secondary trading and optimized post-trade, with automatic clearing, settlement and custody.||Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), LB|
|Coinvestion||Platform that uses blockchain to allow users to invest in real estate shares as securities and develops fractional ownership schemes.||British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), BMA, JFSC, LB, MAS|
|DACX||Platform that uses DLT and machine learning to facilitate cross-border transactions of multi-currency payments, assets and commodities via tokenisation, smart contracts and escrows.||Astana Financial Services Authority (AFSA), plus others to be confirmed|
|Onfido||A technology provider that has developed a proposition to allow consumers to securely control their verified identity Digital ID and share/transfer that verified identity across financial services organisations for the purposes of KYC checks.||HKMA, FCA, LB, OSC|
|Starling Trust||Applied behavioural sciences technology company that has developed a Predictive Behavioural Analytics platform using machine learning and electronic communications data to allow users to measure, manage and mitigate culture and conduct risks. They will be partnering with a select group of global banks, with an initial focus on the three lines of defense risk framework.||ASIC, DFSA, FCA, HKMA|
|Tradle||A blockchain-based KYC and onboarding platform that uses AI, IoT and cloud to help financial institutions meet regulatory obligations for SMEs, Corporates, Capital markets, Wealth Management, Retail and Unbanked customers and helps regulators provide guidance and supervision for their markets. They will work with GFIN on self-executing cross-border KYC policies.|
Singapore, Canada complete blockchain trial for cross-border payments
“Monetary Authority of Singapore and Bank of Canada complete tests on cross-border payments using digital currencies, tapping distributed ledger technology with the aim to achieve faster, cheaper, and more secured transactions.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Bank of Canada have completed “a successful experiment” on cross-border payments using central bank digital currencies, tapping distributed ledger technology or blockchain with the aim to achieve faster, cheaper, and more secured transactions. The two central banks also discuss their learnings in a report that suggests design options for cross-border settlement systems and details limitations of a technique used, called Hashed Time-Locked Contracts (HTLC).
Marking the first such pilot between both agencies, the blockchain-based implementation showed potential to improve efficiencies and reduce risks for cross-border payments, they said in a joint statement released Thursday.”
Bitcoin Hero and CFTC Chair Giancarlo Expects ‘Explosive’ Spike in Crypto Interest
“J. Christopher Giancarlo, the retiring chairman of the CFTC, expects a massive spike in interest in cryptocurrencies with the launch of bitcoin futures products.
Giancarlo made the remarks in a May 1 speech before a Congressional committee. During his testimony, he recounted the highlights of his tenure at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and its response to today’s increasingly digital and algorithmic financial markets.
Giancarlo says the CFTC expects to see a barrage of new applications for clearinghouse registrations resulting from what he believes will be an “explosion of interest in cryptocurrencies.”
Source for quoted text and image above : Bitcoin Hero and CFTC Chair Giancarlo Expects ‘Explosive’ Spike in Crypto Interest
Institutional Investment in Blockchain Projects and in Cryptocurrency Directly is Beginning to Accelerate Significantly
Crypto, Blockchain Startup Investments Will Reach New Heights in 2019, New Data Suggests
“Venture capital investment in cryptocurrency and blockchain startups will likely set a new all-time high in 2019, Reuters reported on April 17, quoting figures from market data provider PitchBook.
Following on from the $2.4 billion in funding the industry received from backers last year, the $850 million raised this year already looks set to beat all previous records.
At the same time, while continuing to avoid direct involvement with cryptocurrency handling, investors appear to be contributing larger sums per deal.
2018’s total came from 117 investments, whereas this year’s tally stems from just 13, Reuters reports.
While Reuters did not confirm which specific deals PitchBook counted in its listings, the cashflow pouring into crypto businesses is becoming ever more conspicuous.
As Cointelegraph reported, this week alone saw a giant $200 million deal between a Japanese investment fund and the operator of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb.
Others also revealed cash injections, such as compliance startup Chainalysis, which this week added $6 million to its Series B funding pot, bringing the total raised to $36 million.
At the same time, those firms that struggled through the crypto winter with cost-cutting measures are also showing newfound optimism.”
Harvard Bought Cryptocurrency – That’s a Ridiculously Big Deal
“According to Morgan Creek Digital’s Anthony Pompliano and the token sale filing submitted by Blockstack to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Harvard University’s endowment invested in Blockstack’s crypto token sale.”
“For many years, investors in the crypto market anticipated institutional investors to commit to the market and invest in major crypto assets like bitcoin.”
“Beginning in 2018, through investment firms like Grayscale and products such as the Bitcoin Investment Trust, institutions began to invest in bitcoin and the rest of the crypto market.
In its Q4 report, Grayscale reported that 66 percent of all investments into its investment vehicles came from institutional investors in 2018.
Some strategists and investors like Ari Paul, the co-founder of BlockTower, previously said that although he had been too optimistic on the inflow of institutional capital into the crypto market, 2019 may be the year more institutions develop an interest towards the market.
Dan Morehead, the CEO of the first billion-dollar cryptocurrency fund Pantera Capital, said on Unconfirmed that now, the cryptocurrency industry has the infrastructure to handle institutional money.”
Fidelity Investments Survey: 22% of Institutional Investors Own Digital Assets
“United States-based asset management firm Fidelity Investments released the results of a survey showing that 22% of institutional investors already own digital assets, in a press release published on May 2.
The release claims that the firm surveyed 411 U.S. institutional investors among which 40% of respondents said that they are open to future investments in digital assets in the next five years. Furthermore, almost half (47%) of respondents said that they see a place for digital assets in their investment portfolios.
Most investors (72%) prefer to buy crypto investment products, while 57% prefer to buy crypto assets directly and another 57% prefer to buy an investment product that holds digital asset companies. Tom Jessop, president of Fidelity Digital Assets, commented on the findings:
“We’ve seen a maturation of interest in digital assets from early adopters, like crypto hedge funds, to traditional institutional investors like family offices and endowments.”
When it comes to the reason behind their interest in digital assets, 46% of respondents find the low correlation to other assets to be crypto’s most appealing characteristic. Financial advisors (74%) and family offices (80%) reportedly view the features of digital assets most favorably.
On the other hand, unclear regulation, volatility, limited track record and lack of fundamentals were cited among the obstacles to investing in digital assets.
As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, a former executive of British investment bank Barclays, Chris Tyrer, has joined Fidelity Digital Assets, the crypto platform of Fidelity Investments.
On the same day, a different survey found that 11% of the American population owns the major cryptocurrency bitcoin (BTC).”
Andreessen Horowitz Garners $2.75 Billion in Capital To Start Two New Crypto-Minded Funds
“Andreessen Horowitz, a recognized venture capital firm, was able to raise $2.75 billion for two new funds. The information was released by the company on May 1st. They want to back bold entrepreneurs that are building our future through technology.”
“According to the managing partner Scott Kupor, cryptocurrencies were still in its nascency when the company launched in 2013. a16z has already backed a large number of ventures such as blockchain projects and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). One of the companies in which a16z invested in is MakerDAO (MKR) that has created the stablecoin Dai (DAI).
Other blockchain startups with a16z investments include DFINITY and Oasis Labs. The company has also invested in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), among other startups.”
Source for image and text above: Andreessen Horowitz Garners $2.75 Billion in Capital To Start Two New Crypto-Minded Funds
SeedInvest Wins FINRA Approval
“Circle-backed startup SeedInvest has received a FINRA approval. Its Alternative Trading System (ATS) will now be able to offer ICO tokens sold as securities.
Boston-based blockchain startup SeedInvest has received FINRA approval and can now offer and sell security tokens. Providing secondary market liquidity, its Alternative Trading System (ATS) will be able to legally host security tokens.
SeedInvest has received significant capital from Circle and Goldman Sachs, creating a crowdfunding platform through blockchain technology. The FINRA approval will place SeedInvest, and Circle as well, under the oversight of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The news will allow SeedInvest to conduct all its operations in a regulatory-compliant manner. This positions the startup on a firmer regulatory footing as it seeks to expand into blockchain-based securities going forward.
The news is significant given that such approval is difficult to come by in the United States for security tokens. Only a select few blockchain companies and security token issuers have successfully made themselves legally-complaint to host such tokens. Although the regulatory landscape remains difficult to navigate, there is some indication that regulators are coming around. Legislation is currently in Congress to separate tokenized securities from existing security law.
Circle purchased SeedInvest in late 2018 to gain a competitive edge in the tokenized securities market. The endeavor is funded partly by Goldman Sachs.”
Source: SeedInvest Wins FINRA Approval
Circle Reveals $24 Billion Cryptocurrency OTC Trading Volume In 2018
“Circle announced its 2018 achievements in a blog post published by the company on Thursday (January 3, 2019). Circle Trade, the OTC desk of the company, executed over 10,000 OTC trades worth $24 billion, it reveals.”
Source: Circle Reveals $24 Billion Cryptocurrency OTC Trading Volume In 2018
Bitcoin Hit A Fresh 2019 High. What Does That Mean?
“Bitcoin prices climbed today, building upon their recent gains and reaching their highest level this year.
The digital currency rose to $5,791.21 at roughly 6:00 a.m. EDT, according to CoinDesk price data.
At this point, the cryptocurrency had appreciated approximately 8% over the course of 24 hours and was trading at its highest point since November, additional CoinDesk figures show.”
The fact that some of the most major enterprises, governments and financial players on the planet are adopting, offering, testing and/or recommending blockchain and cryptocurrency-related technologies has significant ramifications from both a technology standpoint, and from an investment standpoint.
And we’re already seeing this reflected in cryptocurrency prices, over the last few weeks.
However, in many cases, maybe not quite as much as we might expect to, which is why I maintain that a long-term view is generally best, when considering cryptocurrency investments.
Disclaimer: Please note that any mention of investment or trading is solely my personal opinion, and is not to be taken as investment advice, in any way.
Doug Sandlin is a performance optimization consultant for startups, blockchain projects and digital asset projects and investors. For more information, please visit https://dougsandlin.com