Blockchain’s Inroads Through National Frameworks And Trade Finance

Blockchain is increasingly being separated from cryptocurrency, with an eye toward disparate use cases  some done at the national level. To that end, reports came this week that Germany has put a consultation and commentary period in place that will focus on blockchain, with a goal of having a strategy outlined by the summer, Reuters said.

The newswire said that Berlin exists as a “hub” for the industry, where roughly 10 startups focus on blockchain, and end markets span energy, pharma and transportation.

Recommendations on framework (including legal parameters) tied to blockchain are being accepted as early as this week, said Reuters. The move by Germany would follow at least some initial forays into exploring blockchain use from regions as far-flung as Britain and Singapore. Additionally, Gibraltar and Malta have worked to create laws that embrace blockchain development.

Bonds And Trade Finance Via Blockchain

In Japan, the second-largest bank in the country, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), said via press release that it had completed a “Proof of Concept” (PoC) conducted across R3’s Marco Polo trade finance offering. Marco Polo is a joint venture between R3 and TradeIX, based in Ireland and focused on trade finance.

“[The] PoC was conducted between SMBC and Mitsui & Co., which aims to improve productivity in its trade operations by testing modules, such as Receivable Finance and Payment Commitment (Payment Undertaking),” said the release.

SMBC said it will seek to commercialize Marco Polo through the first half of the financial year. The announcement comes in the wake of 15 banks’ participation in the Marco Polo consortium, with a roster that includes INGBNP Paribas and Thailand’s largest bank, Bangkok Bank.

In Spain, the country’s second-largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), said on Tuesday (Feb. 19) that it debuted the first blockchain-backed platform for structured green bonds, as reported by Cointelegraph. That deal came through a partnership with MAPFRE, a Spanish insurance firm, and $40 million has been invested to help finance sustainable offerings. Juan Garat, BBVA’s global head of sales, said in the press release that distributed ledger technology (DLT) used in the transaction “allowed us to simplify the processes and streamline the negotiation time frames.” As noted by the site, BBVA said at the end of last year that it had closed a €150 million (more than $170 million USD) loan over blockchain.

Perhaps among the more attention-grabbing headlines that gave a nod to blockchain came in recent days, as JPMorgan Chase announced the debut of its JPM Coin, the first cryptocurrency created by a major U.S. bank. Though the news seemed to focus on the fact that the digital coin will be used to settle payments between corporate clients, the firm also said it will use blockchain to send money across borders. Reports have noted that the use of blockchain to underpin trade finance can help supplant traditional methods, such as wire transfers.

However, anecdotally, not all is rosy in blockchain land.

As reported this past week in the Cleveland Scene, one of Cleveland’s largest blockchain firms, Votem, shuttered doors abruptly amid a lack of funding. The company had been focused on creating online voting platforms, and had processed roughly 1.9 million votes for the 2017 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. Votem, the news outlet reported, had also been the first in the state of Ohio to attempt an initial coin offering (ICO).


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