The Mt. Gox bitcoin drama got a little more dramatic this week.
As a quick refresher, Mt. Gox is the now-defunct bitcoin exchange that shuttered in February 2014 after a mysterious “glitch” caused $500 million worth of bitcoin to go missing. Those bitcoin – or at least most of them — have remained missing ever since. As for the exchange itself, it eventually went bankrupt, its owner is waiting in Japan for his criminal trial and a whole slew of legal issues has come cascading down around him – and it.
As you can imagine, those whose bitcoins have gone missing aren’t too happy. A trustee was appointed to track down the missing bitcoin and to try to recover what he could. But, sort of like the game of gossip when the story at the end often becomes a bit embellished along the way, so too has the value of the missing Mt. Gox bitcoin. The owners of that lost bitcoin say that what’s at stake is missing bitcoin that’s now worth $2.4 trillion.
A rather implausible amount, since, at the moment, experts believe that there are only $7 billion bitcoins in circulation.
But whatever the claim, $500 million or the more ludicrous $2.4 trillion, the trustee hired to find the missing loot has concluded two things: that the $500 million valuation of the missing bitcoin is accurate, and that he’s been able to find only $91 million of it.
And, while it is not possible to get the proverbial blood from a turnip, it’s even more unlikely that one will be able to get more than $91 million of the missing bitcoin either.
As for what else happened this week in bitcoin ...
Santander Takes Blockchain Cross-Border
Santander has become the first U.K. bank to use blockchain for international payments, according to a Reuters report — and it is said to possibly bring the service to its customer base within the year.
Santander is exploring ways to use blockchain to transfer money between countries faster, easier, and in a more transparent way.
"The main customer benefits are certainty of timing, so you know when the payment is going to arrive and certainty of value," Ed Metzger, head of innovation, technology and operations at Santander UK, told Reuters. He explained that this technology has the ability to make payments instantaneous.
NASDAQ Launches Blockchain-Focused Financial Framework
NASDAQ has released a new solution titled NASDAQ Financial Framework, aimed at integrating blockchain into any application that's created using the framework.
This framework is designed to address how the technology could be used across multiple business functions to increase efficiencies across markets, including how blockchain can transform the way information and services are shared.
“This is a watershed moment for how market operators integrate and operate their market technology,” said Adena Friedman, President and COO at NASDAQ. “The NASDAQ Financial Framework is the result of significant R&D efforts and transforms our offering into a modular portfolio that enables a more flexible, tailored approach to each client’s business and their ambitions. We are excited to bring this offering to our clients and prospects who run the infrastructure of the world’s capital markets.”
Japan Cracks Down On Bitcoin Exchanges
As the Mt. Gox case above shows, there's good reason for why Japan isn't so hot on bitcoin.
That attitude took an official stance this week when Japan passed a bill that will regulate how bitcoin and virtual currency exchanges operate across the country, What the law calls for is that the exchanges must register with the Japanese Financial Services Agency. Furthermore, the law calls for the agency to have the power to conduct their own inspections over the exchanges.
What the new legislation also lays out is new rules of how virtual currencies are defined and says they must have "asset-like values," in order to be considered a legitimate digital currency option.
‘Ground Zero’ For Banks And Blockchain
Banks may not always be up for overhauling their operations to replace it with a largely untested, disruptive technology, but new reports suggest the threat of fraud in one area of corporate finance could encourage financial institutions to adopt distributed ledger technology in growing volumes.
Reports by Bloomberg this week said banks are examining ways to protect themselves against fraud in the trade finance sector, worth $4 trillion in today’s market.
Standard Chartered and DBS Group Holdings have taken on the latest initiative in this area through the development of a digital eInvoicing ledger platform. Reports compare the solution to the blockchain, which underwrites bitcoin.
With more banks experimenting with blockchain technology, reports said invoice and trade financing may emerge as “ground zero,” the publication said, for adoption of real-world blockchain solutions.