The prospect of transferring an entire national payment system to blockchain technology deserves attention and we are covering the story in today’s Bitcoin in Brief. Reports that Russia may transform its version of SWIFT as early as next year coincided with the news that the US banking giant JP Morgan has applied for a blockchain patent for inter-bank payments. Projects to secure documents, diplomas, and even tickets using blockchain technologies are also part of Tuesday’s round-up.
Russian Version of SWIFT to Be Transferred to Blockchain in 2019
Russia may put its money transferring system on a blockchain as early as next year, according to local media reports. Authorities in Moscow are planning to convert the Financial Communications Transfer System (SPFS), Russia’s equivalent to SWIFT, to a blockchain system, sources close to the Russian central bank told Izvestia.
SPFS was developed as a backup alternative following discussions in the West on proposals to withdraw SWIFT from Russia as part of the sanctions imposed after the annexation on Crimea. The system was implemented in 2014, when Centrobank also developed its own version of bank cards called Mir. At the time, several Russian banks were denied services by US-based Visa and Mastercard. Mir cards were first issued in 2015. Last year their number reached 19 million.
Almost 600 banks currently use the Russian national payments system, which now covers countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). Its transaction costs are lower than those of SWIFT, which makes it attractive to foreign financial services providers. The move of SPFS to blockchain technology would be a major development in both the banking sector and the blockchain industry.
American Giant Eyes Blockchain for Inter-Bank Transfers
As it turns out, blockchain tech is attractive not only to sanctioned Russian banks. American investment banking giant JP Morgan Chase has applied for a patent to facilitate inter-bank payments using the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The application was submitted in October last year but the news surfaced last week. The patent is essentially a variation on blockchain technology, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. It outlines a system that would use distributed ledger technology to keep track of payments between financial institutions.
Motivating its application, the New York-based financial company points out that the number of messages between banks and clearing houses involved in cross-border bank wires often results in delays and restricted availability of funds. According to JP Morgan, the blockchain would eliminate high costs and provide a system for accurate transaction logging. It would also allow them to process payments in real time and audit the transfers in a verifiable way. The patent application comes as a surprise, given that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has a record of downplaying the importance of crypto technologies, calling bitcoin a “fraud” and vowing to fire anyone from his team if they traded bitcoin.
Startup Recording Diplomas on Blockchain Raises $3 million
Learning Machine Technologies, a software company working with governments, businesses, and educational systems to develop official blockchain records, has raised $3 million dollars. The seed round was led by PTB Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in the emerging digital identity ecosystem, and included strategic investments from Omidyar Network and Learn Capital.
Learning Machine’s software facilitates the issuing of blockchain-based credentials called “Blockcerts”. The concept has been developed in partnership with the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to the partners, the Blockcerts standard can be used to record digital diplomas on blockchain. Blockcerts can be issued to any public or private blockchain, including those of bitcoin and ethereum, and do not require proprietary software to view or verify.
The Blockcerts standard is open source and allows for full security audits. It is a community extension hosted by international technical standards organization IMS Global. “Learning Machine counts governments, multinational corporations and leading educational institutions as customers of its enterprise issuing system,” said CEO Chris Jagers, quoted by PRnewswire. In his words, the platform makes issuing Blockcerts seamless for institutions and provides them “a bird’s-eye view of their credentialing operation”. The software also helps policymaking, workforce development and alumni relations with detailed analytics.
Blockchain Certificate to Replace Five Documents in “Digital Kazakhstan”
At least five documents issued by authorities in Kazakhstan are to be replaced with blockchain-based certificates. A newly developed application called Azamat is capable of issuing electronic versions of driver’s licenses, vehicle registrations and inspection certificates, insurance policies, and proof of identity documents. Azamat also allows access to the recorded information through a QR scan.
The project is part of the state-sponsored efforts to digitize many services offered by government institutions and also the economy of the Central Asian country. The “Digital Kazakhstan” program was announced by Astana towards the end of last year. Authorities are preparing amendments to the current legislation that would allow the “complete replacement of paper documents” with digital copies.
Adele Tickets on the Blockchain?
The secondary market for tickets in Great Britain costs billions of dollars each year. A last-minute decision to attend an Adele concert could mean spending up to $12,000 on the black market, according to The Guardian. Aventus is a company that hopes to solve the problem with the illegal resales using blockchain technologies. Its platform will be tested with the sale of 10,000 tickets for a variety of events in Europe and the US.
Aventus has teamed up with another blockchain platform, Blocside, to try its concept during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia this summer. It also hopes to offer its services to Premier League football clubs in the United Kingdom. Its team claims that the blockchain technology ensures the data on the tickets remains unaltered and protected from forgery. Ticket fraud is a profitable illicit business in the UK, with an annual turnover estimated at $1.3 billion.
Do you think the implementation of distributed ledger technologies and the use of the blockchains of leading cryptocurrencies in other sectors will increase? Tell is in the comments section below.