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Microsoft, Comcast Remain In Blockchain Exploratory Mode

Spending on blockchain technologies will ramp up to $9.2 billion by 2021, according to International Data Corporation (IDC) figures. Its latest Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide also calculated a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of blockchain spend of 81.2 percent from 2016 to 2021.

“2017 was the year of experimentation as enterprises realized both the benefits and challenges of blockchain,” said IDC Customer Insights and Analysis Research Manager Stacey Soohoo in a statement, according to Cryptovest reports this week. “2018 will be a crucial stage for enterprises as they make a huge leap from proof-of-concept projects to full blockchain deployments. As a leader in blockchain innovation and integration, the U.S. will continue to invest in blockchain throughout the forecast, spending heavily in financial services, manufacturing and other industries.”

It could be a year of that leap, but this week, at least, experimentation remained in full swing from top conglomerates like Microsoft and Comcast and emerging FinTechs, as they introduced the market’s newest (potential) use cases for distributed ledger technology (DLT). PYMNTS takes a look at some of those use cases in the latest Blockchain Tracker.


Microsoft IDs Its Next Blockchain Use Case

Microsoft wants to explore how blockchain could impact the digital identity landscape and, according to the company’s blog, Microsoft Identity Division Director of Program Management Alex Simons and his team are taking a big step into this space.

According to the blog post, Microsoft wants to enable individuals to streamline and take ownership of their digital identities.

“Each of us needs a digital identity we own, one which securely and privately stores all elements of our digital identity,” the post reads. “This self-owned identity must be easy to use and give us complete control over how our identity data is accessed and used.”

Microsoft said it will integrate decentralized identifications using blockchain technology into its existing Microsoft Authenticator app, with plans to enhance that solution via blockchain moving forward.


T-Mobile Steps in

T-Mobile hasn’t grabbed the most headlines when it comes to its blockchain work, but in an interview with CoinDesk this week, Chris Spanton, the company’s senior architect of its Hyper Directory blockchain proof of concept, said the company is making headway in its own blockchain projects — though T-Mobile’s exact focus for that development remains a secret. Reports did say, however, that T-Mobile played a prominent role in the development of Hyperledger Sawtooth, a platform for enterprises to develop and deploy their own blockchain tools.


Comcast Steps up Blockchain Funding

Comcast’s venture capital unit Comcast Ventures is ramping up its investments in blockchain companies, according to CoinDesk reports. The publication noted that Comcast has key use cases for the technology in mind when choosing its funding targets after Managing Director Gil Beyda and his team formed to deploy an “aggressive” investment strategy for the company.

“We call ourselves the ‘blockchain crew,’” he told the publication. “I can write the $1 million checks through Genacast and the $2 million to $20 million checks for multi-stages through Comcast Ventures,” he added, referencing the seed investing company Genacast that he co-founded and that partners with Comcast.


Alastria Consortium Grows for Blockchain-Powered AML

One of the many blockchain consortia on the market today, Alastria, is expanding through the addition of RiskMS, a compliance and RegTech company based in Spain. The company is joining the group as it explores potential uses of blockchain in areas of compliance, like risk management and anti-money laundering (AML).

“From a compliance point of view, blockchain technology poses a real challenge of which we want to be a part,” said RiskMS General Director Roberto de la Cruz in a statement. “We face a new scenario based on the exploration of new ways of defining digital identity, verification and validation of operations.”


Blockchain Moves Beyond Testing Phase of Aid Funds Distribution

Dorcas has made a successful test using blockchain technology to transfer funds from its Netherlands-based office into its Albania office via the Disberse fund distribution platform. While cross-border payments is far from a novel use case for blockchain, Disberse focuses its solution on global aid distribution. The company is collaborating with Start Network, an international group of 42 aid agencies, to develop its distributed ledger platform to facilitate aid payouts across borders.

According to an announcement, Dorcas is the first Start Network member to complete a transaction using this tool and was able to do so without the need for a bank to get involved, the companies said. The firms will now move on to a larger pilot, with aims to move larger amounts of money across a broader geographic space.

“This exciting test shows that transformation in the way money flows through the humanitarian system is not only needed, but it is possible,” said Start Network Director Sean Lowrie in a statement.


New PYMNTS Report: Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook – July 2020 

Call it the great tug-of-war. Fraudsters are teaming up to form elaborate rings that work in sync to launch account takeovers. Chris Tremont, EVP at Radius Bank, tells PYMNTS that financial institutions (FIs) can beat such highly organized fraudsters at their own game. In the July 2020 Preventing Financial Crimes Playbook, Tremont lays out how.