Category Archive : Blockchain News

major-central-banks-to-discuss-digital-currencies-amid-imf-conference

Major Central Banks to Discuss Digital Currencies Amid IMF Conference

Six major central banks will meet in April to discuss the development of central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

The Japan Times reported on Feb. 6 that — according to a source familiar with the matter — the meeting will see the governors of several central banks discuss joint research on CBDCs. Furthermore, the group will share considerations on possible challenges such as cross-currency settlement and cybersecurity.

The central banks of the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Sweden and Switzerland will reportedly meet in Washington D.C., when the participants will be there for an International Monetary Fund conference. 

The meeting appears to be part of a recently announced broader collaboration between the involved central banks. In January, the Bank of England announced that it will research CBDCs with the other aforementioned central banks and the Bank for International Settlements.

According to The Japan Times, the institutions will likely release a report on the discussion later this year.

Global CBDC development efforts are increasing

After the announcement of Facebook’s Libra stablecoin last summer, many central banks started working or accelerated research on digital currencies. At the end of January, a draft of India’s strategy on blockchain suggested the development of a local CBDC.

Policy makers and financial institutions worldwide have been ramping up efforts in CBDC research. Last month, the World Economic Forum created a consortium dedicated to designing a framework for digital currency governance.

aircraft-maintenance,-repair-industry-is-latest-to-form-blockchain-alliance

Aircraft Maintenance, Repair Industry Is Latest to Form Blockchain Alliance

The aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry — which handles a dizzying 25 billion parts a year — is turning to blockchain to tackle its difficulties.

Verdict magazine reported on Feb. 4 on the formation of a new, so-dubbed MRO Blockchain Alliance, which includes leading industry members, among them HAECO Group, Bolloré Logistics, Cathay Pacific, FLYdocs and SITA.

Blockchain could bring up to $3.5 billion in cost savings

The idea of forming a dedicated blockchain alliance for the MRO industry was reportedly first aired in 2019, at an event hosted by major international aircraft maintenance and engineering firm Haeco Group.

Since then, international players such as Bolloré Logistics, Cathay Pacific, FLYdocs, and SITA — as well as software firm Ramco Systems, Willis Lease Finance Corporation, and law firm Clyde & Co — have all signed on to the initiative.

The report points to research by PwC  that suggests blockchain tech could save MRO businesses roughly 5% of their overall costs — equating to $3.5 billion globally — boosting revenue in the aerospace industry by up to $40 billion (4%).

Verdict reports that the alliance will look into issuing aircraft parts with digital passports: these serve to prove a part’s authenticity and provide a “digital thread” for its transport and custody history. 

The only partly digitized industry, where data remains fragmented, thus hopes that dramatic benefits will be offered with blockchain tech. Matthys Serfontein, president of air travel solutions for SITA, told reporters:

“In an industry as interconnected as ours, the ability to share and record common data in a secure way without giving up control of that data is fundamental to driving new efficiencies in air travel. This is particularly true for the MRO sector.”

Speaking to Cointelegraph, a representative for SITA said that the firm had identified MRO as being just one of five potential areas in aviation where blockchain could play a key role. The others included identity management, chain of custody (for luggage, cargo and aircraft), and flight operations.

As part of an Aviation Blockchain Sandbox founded in 2018, SITA has conducted two major trial projects involving Ethereum and Hyperledger. This included a “FlightChain” smart contract initiative with participation from British Airways, Heathrow, Geneva Airport and Miami International Airport. The initiative is focused on using blockchain to improve airlines’ and airports’ management of flight status data.

A blockchain alliance for each industry

Cointelegraph has reported on the proliferation of blockchain alliances across industries and sectors as diverse as gaming, finance (i.e. The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance), food safety and international trade.

In January, for example, the ICC TradeFlow Alliance — built on top of a project developed by Singapore’s government — spurred a new partnership between the city-state’s government, the International Chamber of Commerce and 16 other firms including Mastercard and Mitsubishi. 

Together, they will investigate the potential of blockchain and other new technologies to facilitate faster, more efficient, secure and transparent trade transactions globally.

india’s-first-ieo-gives-local-community-a-much-needed-breath-of-fresh-air

India’s First IEO Gives Local Community a Much-Needed Breath of Fresh Air

Despite regulatory uncertainty and banking restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India, WazirX — the Indian cryptocurrency exchange recently acquired by Binance — launched its WRX coin through an initial exchange offering on Binance Launchpad. On Feb. 5, 2020, WRX coin became available for live trading on Binance. The move was dubbed as a big achievement for the Indian crypto industry, as it will likely lead to global recognition. 

Earlier, Cointelegraph reported that the 9,033 winners of WazirX’s token sale on Binance Launchpad were announced. Over 20,000 users participated and more than 136,000 tickets were claimed.

In a conversation with Cointelegraph, Nischal Shetty, founder of WazirX, said that this has brought a much-needed positive energy into the entire Indian ecosystem:

“This is the much needed good news for the Indian community because from the last two years, with the bear market and the banking restrictions, Indian crypto ecosystem needed a huge morale booster.”

CoinDCX, one of the biggest competitors of WazirX in the country, also announced the listing of WazirX’s WRX token on its trading platforms. Sumit Gupta, co-founder and CEO of CoinDCX, expressed his feelings with Cointelegraph:

“We are happy about the achievement of WazirX team. Their efforts have paid off and this is definitely a positive sign for the Indian crypto ecosystem.”

Talking about the IEO and WRX token, Shetty said that this is very similar to Binance’s BNB token, adding that, “Binance grew as a result of the crypto-to-crypto trading and we want to grow WazirX as a result of unwavering focus on peer-to-peer fiat-crypto options.”

Shetty started WazirX in 2017 and launched an auto-matching peer-to-peer engine-based platform in June 2018, a few days before the banking ban from the Reserve Bank of India came into effect. Following the bank’s actions, many Indian exchanges such as Koinex, Coindelta, CryptoKart, Unocoin, BuyUCoin and Coinsecure shut down their operations. 

However, the peer-to-peer model became popular among Indian traders. With the successful implementation within the Indian community, Shetty is planning to launch this model in other countries as well. He said:

“In many countries, banking is an issue or banking APIs are slow and expensive. We have the plan to launch WazirX Peer-to-Peer platform in such countries to solve crypto trading-related problems.” 

Multiple steps to build a positive environment

The Indian crypto and blockchain community is working hard to build positive sentiments in India. After the banking ban imposed by the Reserve Bank of India, the community founded several initiatives at different levels, including multiple seminars, meetups and conferences for industry, government bodies and youth. 

Contributing to the space are programs like GenesisBlock and Unwind, which discuss possible implementation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the Indian ecosystem. Technical institutes have also launched multiple literacy programs for blockchain technology. 

Related: Verdict in India Imminent, RBI Cites Warren Buffet Skepticism as Reason to Ban

Additionally, in 2018, the local crypto community challenged the decision of the central bank in the Supreme Court of India, citing the right to do business under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.

On a positive track, Singaporean crypto exchange Zebpay announced the resumption of their services in India. Gupta told Cointelegraph that this indicates a change in the environment for blockchain in India:

“We’ll see more projects getting listed. More companies will come to India and we welcome every player who supports the growth of the Indian ecosystem.”

crypto-trading-pioneer-rana-yared-leaves-goldman-sachs

Crypto Trading Pioneer Rana Yared Leaves Goldman Sachs

Financial service powerhouse Goldman Sachs Group Inc. lost another one of its top brass on February 5 after two other executives expressed departure plans several days prior.

Goldman Sachs partner Rana Yared plans to exit her position at Goldman Sachs for a VC outfit, a source told Bloomberg for a Feb. 5 article. During her time at Goldman, Yared played a major role in the financial giant’s crypto endeavors. 

Goldman in crypto

Since 2017, the blockchain and crypto industry has seen an influx of traditional market entities in some capacity. In July 2019, a job post from Goldman Sachs hinted at the firm’s potentially growing interest in the industry. 

Additionally, since last fall, several Goldman Sachs’ alumni have moved into the industry, including Howard Surloff, who joined Blockchain.com’s general counsel last October. 

As part of a pool of traders, Yared headed up Goldman’s dive into crypto, allocating portions of the company’s funds into up-and-coming technology businesses, Bloomberg reported. Yared had a hand in approximately $2 billion in funds invested.  

Yared in business

Beginning in 2006, Yared had a notable career at Goldman Sachs, achieving partnership status by age 34 in 2018, Bloomberg detailed. During her time at the firm, Yared also managed an investing posse for the firm, supervising 30 individuals. 

Just a few days ago, Goldman Sachs lost two of its other top brass — Ezra Nahum and Adam Korn, a separate Bloomberg article detailed. 

In January, Goldman’s chief executive, David Solomon, announced that the company would refuse an initial public offering if the company lacks a director who is “female or diverse,” Cointelegraph reported.

coinbase-and-ripple-push-for-regulatory-framework,-us-congress-stalls

Coinbase and Ripple Push for Regulatory Framework, US Congress Stalls

A new working group, spearheaded by senior employees of Ripple and Coinbase, is going to advise United States regulators on crypto-friendly policies. But congresspeople are too busy preparing for the upcoming elections, which means that U.S. crypto firms will have to continue hula-hooping through state-by-state regulations in the near future. 

Earlier this month, a D.C.-based advocacy group called the Blockchain Association, representing a number of high-profile cryptocurrency firms, launched a working group tasked with pushing for a U.S.-wide regulatory framework. Called the Market Integrity Working Group, the new entity is co-chaired by Breanne Madigan, head of global institutional markets at Ripple; and Rachel Nelson, Coinbase’s senior director and associate general counsel. So what is it, exactly? 

Ex-Wall Street execs will advise lawmakers on crypto regulation

The Blockchain Association’s Market Integrity Working Group was launched on Jan. 23. Both of its co-chairs are Wall Street veterans — Madigan worked at Goldman Sachs for 15 years, while Nelson spent five years at J.P. Morgan. 

When asked about the structure of Market Integrity Working Group, Blockchain Association’s communications advisor Graham Newhall clarified to Cointelegraph, “It is just that, a working group, under the umbrella of the Blockchain Association.” He added: 

“It is one of several such groups we’ve commissioned to work on specific issues relevant to the crypto economy.”

The advocacy group has launched various working groups on proof-of-stake networks (also co-chaired by Rachel Nelson), stablecoins, security laws, custody, and other industry-related topics in the past. Working groups “are simply a vehicle to maximize the expertise of Association member companies,” Newhall said, adding:

“They do not represent a separate entity, lobbying on its own behalf, rather we task expert members to study particular problems facing the crypto industry and potential regulations. The findings of these groups inform our conversations with regulators and lawmakers.”

As Newhall further explained to Cointelegraph, the Market Integrity Working Group co-heads were “chosen in discussion with Association members, pertaining to those individuals and companies that have a particular interest or expertise on a chosen subject.” The Blockchain Association has 22 member organizations, including Circle, Kraken, Ripple, Coinbase and 0x, among other U.S. cryptocurrency firms.

U.S.-wide crypto regulation: A distant, but largely unavoidable scenario

As leaders of the newly assembled Market Integrity Working Group, Nelson and Madigan are planning to advise regulators on how public policies can stimulate the cryptocurrency industry, specifically improving market integrity and providing consumers “the confidence they deserve.”

Notably, the organization highlights the “labyrinthine patchwork of state-by-state” regulations in the U.S. as one of the main obstacles for crypto businesses that ultimately results in “significant barriers to entry for new exchanges” and “a complicated compliance burden for existing exchange.” Market Integrity Working Group concludes: 

“Consumers and cryptocurrency exchanges deserve a clear regulatory framework, the establishment of which would ultimately enhance market integrity and drive consumer adoption of cryptocurrencies.”

However, the working group is aware that U.S.-wide regulation is not likely to be adopted in the near future. “We don’t think something like that is likely in the near term, especially in an election year,” Newhall told Cointelegraph. 

Experts confirm that federal crypto regulation is not exactly a pressing issue for Congress. “In the short term, this is an unlikely scenario,” Carol Goforth, law professor at the University of Arkansas, argued in an email conversation with Cointelegraph. According to her, in the near term, the legislators were first of all focused on the impeachment hearing and will now switch their focus to the upcoming 2020 presidential elections: 

“One way or another, the looming 2020 election cycle is likely to take precedence.  However, in the long run, it may as a practical matter be necessary for legislative intervention.”

However, Goforth notes, appropriate legislation would stop “a colossal waste of resources” that is happening due to U.S. regulators dealing with crypto on a case-by-case basis:

“Currently, the SEC is spending significant sums of money litigating the question of whether cryptotokens with a functioning purpose other than serving as a currency-substitute are securities at all. This is playing out in both the Kik litigation and Telegram ICO dispute. Even if the courts agree with the agency’s analysis (a battle that may have to be fought in multiple circuits unless and until the Supreme Court is willing to weigh in), that still leaves a set of regulatory requirements that were never designed with interests like cryptoassets in mind.”

Andrew Mount, litigation associate at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C., suggests that “we are headed towards federal crypto regulation” as the number of major cases involving crypto keeps piling up, although he also stresses that “it is anyone’s guess when it will happen.” He went on to elaborate:

“High profile cases like Facebook’s Libra and Telegram’s Gram push crypto into the national spotlight. With the crypto space rapidly expanding (and more “name brand” companies getting involved), Congress will face increased public pressure to enact legislation.”

Furthermore, Market Integrity Working Group’s proposed legislation “could expand the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) authority to include the regulation and oversight of digital commodity exchange markets,” as per the blog post written by Madigan and Nelson. 

When asked why the working group would pick the CFTC over other major U.S. financial regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, Graham said that “the CFTC has a long history and expertise in monitoring the health and integrity of markets, so we think they are a good point of focus.” He added that for them, the SEC is also quite an important entity, but that the primary focus will be on the CFTC. As Goforth argues, expanding the SEC’s purview instead would make more sense:

“They have not had to develop standards for disclosure, or exemptions, and seem less well positioned to protect potential crypto entrepreneurs, markets, or purchasers. Amending the securities laws to specifically cover cryptoassets, and directing the SEC to adopt exemptions that protect persons engaged in the creation and distribution of such assets in the absence of fraud, would seem to me to be a more efficient approach.”

The establishment of a crypto-focused working group that aims to collaborate with congresspeople is still a healthy development for the industry, both experts agree. Goforth believes that lobbying is very effective in educating legislators, adding that the crypto market is still being stigmatized: “The real challenge will be to convince them that appropriate regulation of cryptoassets is in the best interests of their constituents.” Similarly, Mount told Cointelegraph that regulators are still cautious about the crypto markets:

“The primary issue holding back progress at the federal level is regulators’ lack of trust in the crypto markets. The SEC made this evident in their denial of Bitwise’s bitcoin ETF application in October 2019. The denial reflected the SEC’s uncertainty in the integrity of the bitcoin market.  Because the Market Integrity Working Group’s mission addresses this core concern, it should serve as an effective guide for future Congressional action.”

So, what’s the plan?

As for now, the Market Integrity Working Group has yet to produce a specific roadmap. “The group is new and will work on a detailed strategy in the weeks and months to come,” Newhall said. “We will be adding members to the group to respond to the sustained interest the launch has garnered thus far.”

According to Newhall, there are several lawmakers advocating positive crypto regulation, namely the co-sponsors of the Token Taxonomy Act, as well as representatives DelBene and Schweikert, who recently introduced a bill to exempt personal cryptocurrency transactions from taxation for capital gains — so, convincing the Congress might not be so difficult after all.

While the new working group headed by Ripple and Coinbase execs seems determined to convince U.S. lawmakers that a clear regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies is long due — and the legal wrangling of Telegram’s Gram clearly illustrates that point — the Congress won’t get to the case until the elections are over, experts predict. 

It means that the U.S. will most likely continue to fall behind in terms of federal crypto regulation throughout 2020. In the last month alone, the European Union and Singapore started overseeing crypto assets under new directives, joining the ranks of Japan, Switzerland, Malta and other countries that have made up their minds about cryptocurrencies and blockchain. On the positive side, the working group will have more time to research and prepare their arguments for the lawmakers, some of whom are already championing crypto-friendly regulatory measures.

us-navy-bets-$9.5m-on-blockchain-to-keep-messaging-secret

US Navy Bets $9.5M on Blockchain to Keep Messaging Secret

The Naval Air Warfare Center, a California-based research group of the U.S. Navy, has given blockchain software startup Simba Chain nearly $10 million to put a secure messaging platform in play. 

“The platform will be up this year, with on going updates over the next 4 years,” Simba Chain CEO Joel Neidig told Cointelegraph in a Feb. 6 email. 

The Naval research group recently called on Simba Chain to install a safe avenue for communication and transaction, built on the blockchain for the Department of Defense, or DoD, a Feb. 6 press release detailed. 

A sizable endeavor, the Naval Air Warfare Center has given Simba Chain $9.5 million as part of a Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, Phase III agreement lasting five years. 

“This is the first of many contracts,” Neidig said regarding upcoming phases after the current mentioned stage. “We will be announcing the next contracts later in the spring,” he added. 

Ongoing work

Simba Chain is no stranger to U.S. military work. The startup began building a blockchain-based supply chain solution for the U.S. Air Force in August 2019.  

As part of a former SBIR contract, Simba Chain worked on the current DoD platform, building and testing the blockchain-based communication system, the press release said. This third phase targets the solution’s complete deployment. 

Logistics

Built using Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, the communication platform applies to land and water operations, allowing for safe data exchange. 

“This is a win not just for SIMBA and our partners, but also for the DoD, which has pursued with single-minded focus, a solution to conduct sensitive, mission-critical operations in a manner that is immutable and non-refutable,” Neidig said in the release. “We plan to deliver a ‘bulletproof’ platform that meets all objectives.”

The U.S. military also has multiple other blockchain-based interests, as Cointelegraph detailed in an August 2019 report.

dlt-goes-viral-as-live-coronavirus-tracking-spreads-to-the-blockchain

DLT Goes Viral as Live Coronavirus Tracking Spreads to the Blockchain

Blockchain-enabled applications developer Acoer has created a data visualization tool to track the deadly coronavirus. The tool, known as the HashLog data visualization engine, interacts in real-time with Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology. This allows researchers, scientists and journalists to understand the spread of the coronavirus and its trends over time through visuals presented on Acoer’s HashLog dashboard

Acoer’s CEO, Jim Nasr, told Cointelegraph that the HashLog tool pulls data from the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization to capture useful information regarding the virus. He said:

“HashLog allows for the real-time visualization of coronavirus data and trends. This includes the overall number of cases globally, rates of deaths and recovery per infections (where we have reliable data), cases filtered by country, as well as Google trends by interest and region on coronavirus.”

While Nasr was unable to mention specific organizations and names, he said that HashLog has drawn interest from public health officials at federal and state levels in the United States, along with journalists from blockchain and health care outlets. He also noted that there have been a few international inquiries requesting to use the tool.

Although HashLog may sound similar to other coronavirus real-time tracking tools, like the map created by Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering, Nasr explained that its dashboard is more advanced than most solutions, saying that the data is not easy to visualize or extract:

“With HashLog, our objective is to make data collection automated. The tool provides researchers with dynamic dashboards that change as criteria is filtered in any one widget/dashboard component. It also lets users directly download filtered data from the visualizations.”

Interestingly, both the data tracking map created by Johns Hopkins University and HashLog show the specific regions where the coronavirus has been reported. The Center for Disease Control map only shows the virus reported per country. However, the CDC also offers more in-depth information regarding the virus, such as reports of cases in the U.S., along with information for travelers and health professionals. 

A single source of truth to track the coronavirus

HashLog works by interacting in real-time with Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology, which is a database that is consensually shared and synchronized across multiple sites, organizations or regions helping to track the virus more efficiently. 

It’s important to note that while blockchain is a type of distributed ledger, Hedera Hashgraph’s white paper explains that the company’s technology incorporates every transaction into its ledger. This should make Hedera’s technology more efficient than typical blockchain-based solutions, as it can, for example, serve as a master database that is capable of receiving multiple updates in near real-time.

Hedera Hashgraph’s CEO, Mance Harmon, told Cointelegraph that health care and public health information is a key area where distributed ledger technologies can provide computational trust, serving as a source of truth for multiple parties. He said:

“Hedera’s distributed ledger technology ensures that information cannot be manipulated or changed without the world seeing it. Acoer’s Hashlog takes advantage of Hedera as the trust layer of the internet to allow users to be confident in the real-time information they receive related to the coronavirus.”

Mance further explained that this use case utilizes Hedera’s mirror node functionality, letting any user who wants to view the ledger tracking the coronavirus to run a mirror node. He explained:

“The way to think about mirror nodes is to store the transaction history from the mainnet. The mainnet nodes are run by our council members. These nodes process transactions, putting them into a consensus order-stream. This information streams to all the mirror nodes in the world, letting anyone who wants to see and analyze the data from the mainnet.”

According to Mance, mirror nodes are capable of scaling infinitely, tracking anything from health care to financial information as a source of truth.

Blockchain’s role to support coronavirus victims

Blockchain technology is also being used to support the thousands of coronavirus victims. On Feb. 4, Hyperchain launched a blockchain-based platform that is being used to track medical supply donations sent to hospitals in central China. 

Hyperchain’s platform uses blockchain to ensure that donations are traceable and immutable, providing donors with transparency to see exactly where their donations are going to fight against the coronavirus.

french-food-company-looks-to-ibm’s-blockchain-network-for-better-sourcing

French Food Company Looks to IBM’s Blockchain Network for Better Sourcing

IBM Food Trust blockchain platform has onboarded one more French manufacturer seeking to enhance transparency of product provenance and supply chain.

The Avril Group, a vegetable oil, eggs and protein manufacturer, and the owner of brands Matines and Lesieur, has begun using IBM Food Trust network to ensure traceability of its products, according to a Feb. 4 press release.

Improving corporate social responsibility and customer experience

By applying blockchain, the Avril Group expects to make improvements in its corporate social responsibility, especially when it comes to sectors such as quality livestock and the consideration of animal welfare.

Matines is looking to advance customer experience, providing greater transparency through a QR code printed inside the egg box, which directs customers to an application containing a wide range of data related to the eggs they consume —  from the way the hens are fed to the date of dispatch to the warehouses of the distributors.

Food producers actively embrace blockchain

In January, CHO, one of the largest olive oil producers in the southern Mediterranean, announced that it is using IBM’s blockchain technology to provide traceability for its Terra Delyssa extra virgin olive oil. Speaking with Cointelegraph on the development, vice president of IBM Blockchain Supply Chain Solutions, Ramesh Gopinath, said:

“The best part of the IBM Food Trust network is its ability to connect members of the supply chain together, like the end consumer with the farmer. CHO has done just this, as every entity involved can share data, which not only provides traceability and food information, but also shows where food trust is heading in general.”

Food manufacturers have been actively pursuing blockchain adoption, in recent months. Retail giants Carrefour and Nestlé began using IBM’s Food Trust blockchain platform to track the supply chain of milk-based formula for infants, last November. The firms thus aim to advance consumer confidence in product quality.

That same month, Singapore-based blockchain application platform VeChain unveiled a new blockchain tracking system for the food and beverage industry. The company had worked with food certification group DNV GL and supply chain specialist ASI Group on the project, known as Foodgates.

sec’s-cryptomom-proposes-safe-harbor-framework-for-token-projects

SEC’s Cryptomom Proposes Safe Harbor Framework for Token Projects

United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Hester Peirce has formally proposed safe harbor for token projects.

After initially floating the idea in August 2019, Peirce has now formally presented a regulatory vision that would create a safe harbor for projects that raise funds to build decentralized networks.

Peirce proposes to provide decentralized network developers with a three-year grace period

Speaking at the International Blockchain Congress in Chicago on Feb. 6, Peirce, also known as SEC’s “Crypto Mom,” has outlined her token safe harbor proposal. The proposal would grant network developers a three-year grace period to build a decentralized network without fearing SEC legal action.

Within that period, developers would be “unrestrained by the registration provisions of the federal securities laws, so long as the conditions are met,” Peirce’s proposal suggests, according to a draft proposal shared with Cointelegraph by the SEC.

In other words, the three grace period grants compliant developers time to build a decentralized network as well as attract participants before they become a subject of strict regulatory proceedings by the SEC. However, developers will still have to prove that they are indeed building an open source network and provide relevant disclosures in order to qualify for this exemption.

Token projects would be still subject to a number of SEC’s requirements 

As such, the initial development team should ensure that at the end of three years period, token transactions would not be securities transactions as the network matures into a “decentralized or functioning network on which the token is in active use.” The proposal also suggests a multitude of important public disclosures such as data on source code, transactions, information on how tokens are generated or mined as well as the description of burning tokens, validating transactions and governance mechanisms.

At the same time, the proposed safe harbor would not be available to projects that have already been subject to disqualification as a bad actor under the securities laws, Peirce emphasized. Additionally, the commissioner noted that the safe harbor would still reserve the SEC’s antifraud authority with respect to token sales under the safe harbor. Peirce’s drafted remarks read:

“Although the safe harbor would preempt state securities laws, it would not stand in the way of state anti fraud actions. If anyone lied in connection with selling tokens pursuant to the safe harbor, the SEC or a state could bring an enforcement action […] We all know that there are plenty of those kinds of “projects” polluting the crypto space.”  

Community reactions

Commissioner Peirce’s proposal has been subsequently widely welcomed in the crypto community as the potential action would apparently bring provide the regulatory flexibility that would provide a healthy development ecosystem for innovation. Catherine Coley, CEO of U.S.-based digital asset marketplace Binance.US pointed out that Peirce’s proposal could become the “groundbreaking development” for crypto in the U.S. so far:

“If adopted, the proposed safe harbor could be the most groundbreaking development for the U.S. cryptocurrency market to date. […] By putting development first and giving projects runway to build robust networks, the proposed safe harbor puts an important stake in the ground towards supporting American access and acceptance of digital asset markets. In the long run, it will help bring more Americans into digital asset trading and foster greater network participation.”

Katie Biber, general counsel of institutional crypto custodian Anchorage, said that the safe harbor framework is an “important next step to help innovation thrive, and we welcome the clarity it could provide.” Biber urged that the SEC should move promptly to adopt the proposal in order to “consider other innovative ways to increase investor choice in the digital asset space.”

Steve Kokinos, CEO of blockchain protocol Algorand, noted that the Commissioner Peirce’s proposal brought blockchain and crypto community one step closer to finally achieving regulatory clarity. He said:

“The blockchain industry and regulators need to continue a healthy dialogue for the U.S. to truly become the global and responsible leader in blockchain innovation. Algorand is dedicated to supporting the U.S. government’s efforts to leverage these exciting new technologies, and to creating policy and regulations that protect the public while fostering innovation.”

However, some industry experts have subsequently expressed skepticism over Peirce’s proposal. Writing to Cointelegraph, Preston Byrne, a lawyer specializing in crypto, cautioned that the proposal is not official in its current form:

“It’s important to remember that, at least so far, these appear to be unofficial comments by Commissioner Pierce and not a statement of agency policy. That said, the proposal continues the rather broken and highly subjective “if it’s decentralized, it’s not a security” logic the SEC has followed since declining to take enforcement action against the Ethereum crowdsale.”

A member of Peirce’s staff told Cointelegraph that the proposal will be published on the SEC’s official website later today.

australia-to-release-national-blockchain-roadmap-after-year-of-preparation

Australia to Release National Blockchain Roadmap After Year of Preparation

The Australian government is going to launch its national blockchain strategy on Friday, Feb. 7, following a nearly year-long preparation.

It has been almost a year since the country’s Ministry for Industry, Science and Technology and Ministry for Trade, Tourism and Investment announced the national blockchain strategy and roadmap last March.

The new policy roadmap aims to make Australia’s nascent blockchain industry into a global leader, making the country’s wine industry, banking and finance the key priority sectors.

Special focus on domestic wine

Outlining the program’s development, Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, said that the five-year blockchain roadmap will underpin the work of regulators, startups and researchers on the matter, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Feb. 7. She also mentioned that the sector is set to be worth AU$259.4 billion ($175 billion).

Andrews pointed out blockchain’s purported capability to strengthen export opportunities, enabling domestic manufacturers to trace their goods, particularly when it comes to wine exports and wine labeling. Additionally, blockchain is expected to ensure wine’s provenance and cut part of expenditures.

Local wine is one of the most successful export products in Australia, with over 2,000 exporters shipping it to 123 destinations around the globe. In 2019, the country’s wine export volume reportedly grew by 3% to AU$2.91 billion ($1.9 billion), although volume declined by 12% to 744 million liters.

Australia’s spendings on blockchain

However, the government has ostensibly not yet allocated any funds to blockchain roadmap implementation.

As reported last March, previous blockchain investments from Australia’s liberal national government — under Prime Minister Scott Morrison — allocated AU$700,000 (~$500,000) to the country’s Digital Transformation Agency in 2018-19 explore the benefits of using blockchain for government payments, as well as AU$350,000 (~$250,000) to Standards Australia to promote the development of standardized international blockchain standards.

Other countries’ approach to blockchain spendings

The Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution UAE — a multi-stakeholder operation focused on science and technology — the Dubai Future Foundation and the World Economic Forum jointly released a paper in January, saying that the deployment of blockchain technology can save the UAE more than $3 billion.

Conversely, a major Russian firm recently decided to cut spendings on blockchain development in the country by at least 50%, as Cointelegraph reported in late January. Russian government-backed corporation Rostec is planning to spend 28.4 billion rubles ($453.2 million) on the development of blockchain technologies in Russia by 2024, instead of initial 55 billion ($877.8 million) to 85 billion rubles ($1.3 billion).