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IBM Launches Global Payment Network Based On Stella Public Network

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IBM launches its global payments network based on the stellar public network
photo credit: Bitcoin Exchange Guide

The tech giant IBM is on a mission to bring mainstream adoption to the blockchain. So far it is seeking to be the company that brings blockchain technology to the masses as IBM Blockchain –  the IBM arm in charge of developing solutions for the blockchain space on Monday 18th March announced its launch of the long-anticipated world wire network, a blockchain network based on the stellar public network.

In a statement, IBM describes it as the “first blockchain network of its kind to integrate payment messaging, clearing and settlement on a single unified platform and Participants are also allowed to dynamically choose from a variety of digital assets for settlement.”

IBM has already signed up six international banks that aim to create their version of stable coins backed 1:1 against their local fiat currencies as at the time of the launch. All the six banks have signed letters of intent with IBM. The stablecoins is to be built on top of the world wire network, the messaging and communication network (think SWIFT) which will facilitate seamless cross border payments.

Although, only the identity of one bank has been revealed IBM Blockchain should sooner or later announce the other partners. The known bank is Philippines-based RCBC, whose stablecoin will be pegged to the local peso while the other banks will be creating stablecoins pegged to the Euro, Korean won, Indonesian rupiah, and Brazilian reals according to respective regulatory provisions.

 “We’ve created a new type of payment network that is unique in the sense that it streamlines the ability of businesses and consumers to move money around the world in real time. This enables improved transparency without sacrificing the regulatory controls and policies we need in order to make sure that there aren’t bad actors in the system. We are convening a brand new network in 72 countries that will support pay-in and payout endpoints in 48 currencies.” –  Jesse Lund, head of IBM Blockchain told Forbes in a detailed podcast interview.

About IBM World Wire Network

The world wire network is basically a remittance network designed to contend against the ripple and SWIFT. IBM Blockchain general manager, Marie Wieck simply put it more precisely:

“We’ve created a new type of payment network designed to accelerate remittances and transform cross-border payments to facilitate the movement of money in countries that need it most.”

Furthermore, She added that “By creating a network where financial institutions support multiple digital assets, we expect to spur innovation and improve financial inclusion worldwide.” The World Wire currently offers settlements in two currencies, Stellar’s Lumens [XLM’] and the USD-pegged Stronghold stablecoin.

The IBM World Wire was initially announced back in October 2017 as the first pilot program was launched on the platform. It’s been under development for quite some time now but finally launched officially and available to be adopted by financial institutions to create their version of stablecoins and facilitates better cross border payments.

The network is supported in 72 countries so far with 48 currencies and 44 banking endpoints as revealed by IBM.

 

Do you think the world wire network stand the chance to compete against Ripple? Do share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

 

Picture Credit: Bitcoin Exchange Guide

 

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France To Push For EU Partners To Adopt Its Cryptocurrency Regulatory Framework

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It has been a formalised fact that the French parliament had cautiously approved a regulatory framework  that included rules aimed at attracting cryptocurrency issuers and traders to establish their companies and platforms in France by giving them some official recognition. In the other way, this law ensure that these issues and traders are appropriately taxed based on their profit generations. This financial regulatory framework was passed on last week.

This new cryptocurrency regulation passed in France is obviously the first of its kind adopted by a major nation. Unarguably, it will allow firms that want to issue new cryptocurrencies or trade existing ones to apply for a certification.

As has been stated before, the certification will be granted by the French market regulator for those who want it. And hence,  issuers, traders, custodians and investors will have to pay taxes on profits they make on those securities.

The major goal of this regulatory framework is to set up a market in mostly in the city of Paris for companies raising capital through cryptocurrency projects which would allow France to grab a slice of the expanding business while giving it some oversight of a niche which some fear could be a target for speculators.

Under this regulatory framework, France authorities would verify who is behind a new coin’s issuance or a trading platform, and check the companies’ business plans and anti-money laundering rules. The certification will give investors basic guarantees against outright fraud, but will not protect them against losses. However, the specific requirements companies need to abide by to get the regulatory stamp of approval are still to be defined by government decrees.

In the wave of this development, according to Reuters news report, France will ask for the European Union to adopt a cryptocurrency regulations similar to the one it brought in last week at a national level, becoming the first major country to do so.

This proposal was made known by Minister Le Marie in Paris at the event on blockchain technology. In his words: “I will propose to my European partners that we set up a single regulatory framework on crypto-assets inspired by the French experience. “Our model is the right one.”

Reuters equally reported that “the European Commission has recently launched a feasibility study on how to regulate the cryptocurrency markets, though no legislation is expected at least until late 2019 as the mandate of the current administration is ending.”

 

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Binance Labs Gifts $1500  Each To Its Three Open-source Fellowship Projects

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Binance Labs Gifts $1500  Each To Its Three Open-source Fellowship Projects

Binance Labs which is the investment arm of a major cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, it has granted $45,000 to three different blockchain development projects which it described as the “First Fellowship Round Supporting Open-Source Blockchain Development.” Each of these Open-Source Blockchain Development was gifted with $15000. The news about this development was made known in Binance blog post on Friday, the 12th of April.

Binance Lab is “an infrastructure impact fund and an initiative launched by Binance to incubate, invest in, and empower blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, projects, and communities.” It’s mission is to “solve the problems that matter most to the ecosystem and change the world for the better.” It is an” initiative to fund and support open-source development projects that contribute and have infrastructure value to the global blockchain ecosystem.” 

Binance Labs Funds for Blockchain project

The three open-source blockchain projects are: Ironbelly, HOPR and Kitsune Wallet. The first which Ironbelly is a first of its kind, a mobile wallet for Grin/Mimblewimble blockchain whose goal is to provide an easy and simple way to hold and transfer Grins between people. It is open-source and free to use and is currently in beta testing for iOS.

The second project, HOPR, is a privacy-preserving messaging protocol that incentivizes users to participate in the network and it provides privacy by relaying messages via several relay nodes to the recipient.

The third project, Kitsune Wallet is a smart contract based account that will hold your crypto assets in a single contract while being able to change appearance depending on your need. It is the new name of Universally Upgradable Identity Proxy, which was initiated during EthParis 2019.

Support for Developers

With regard to this development, Flora Sun, Director at Binance Labs said, “We have seen firsthand how innovation depends on an engaged community of developers and entrepreneurs who imagine ideas and create new projects to bring products to market. The more talent an industry attracts to the space, the higher chance that it will be successful and Binance Labs hopes to further enable the overwhelming talent and builders of our industry. Thus, our part is to support early-stage projects that are helping to create the building blocks and infrastructure for larger utility and enabling growth in the blockchain market.”

The Binance Labs Fellowship would support developers and researchers in creating free and open-source projects which would enable new innovations and businesses in the cryptocurrency economy, as said Teck Chia, Partner at Binance Labs had hinted. She made it known that through the Fellowship, Binance wants to support early-stage projects by passionate developers who want to create the key building blocks for the entire blockchain industry. In her words, “on behalf of the Binance community, we would like to thank these projects for their contribution to the blockchain ecosystem.”

It could be summarised that,  “Binance Labs aim is to actualise the full potential of blockchain technology by supporting: (1) early-stage blockchain projects through the Incubation Program; (2) top entrepreneurs through strategic direct investments; and (3) open-source developers through the Fellowship.”

 

             

 

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94% of Endowment Funds are Allocating to Crypto Investments

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94% of Surveyed Endowment Funds are Allocating to Crypto Investments

Endowment Funds– which go to non-profit organizations are of recent being redirected and allocated to crypto-related investments. This trend began in early 2018 and this fact-finding was conducted in the last quarter of that same year. According to The Trade Crypto, the continuous support and release of funding without minding the concerns for regulation, liquidity, and volatility.

The majority of these Endowments are based in the United States and Canada while the others are scattered across the United Kingdom.

The summary of the research showed that despite the current shortcomings in the industry, endowments remain firm in their resolution to provide funding for them. This is a show of belief in the industry and it will, in turn, spur regulatory bodies to rise up to the occasion of securing the people’s asset which is long overdue.

In contrast, only a minor 7% of respondents were skeptical and predicted a reduction in funding it the coming years.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Watkins who happens to be the managing editor at Global Custodian and The Trade had this to say about the survey:

“All the talk over the past 18 months has been around when institutional investors will begin participating in cryptocurrency investments, but it turns out they had already arrived, in the form of endowment funds”

More insights got from the survey clearly show that 54% of the respondents are directly investing in crypto assets, and 46% are investing in various kinds of funds. But most definitely, the important characteristics the endowments would be looking out of are that they comply with robust regulation, have sufficient capital flow and liquidity and finally account security.

The Trade suggests cautious optimism is an apt overall summary of endowment sentiment in regard to the nascent asset class, citing one respondent’s belief that crypto “is the future of investing,” and others’ characterizations of the process as “a very wild ride” and “hair-raising.”

In February, it was reported that part of the $12 billion endowments set aside was invested in a Cryptofund managed by the United States venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Later that same year 2018, information about crypto fund investments from the big wigs in the university endowment category showed that Havard and Yale- with Harvard making provision for over $39.2 billion endowments for the fiscal year. Among other universities with crypto investments are Stanford University, Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina.

As reported this month, Harvard’s endowment is set to become a direct investor in a planned $50 million token sale from decentralized computing network Blockstack. If approved, the sale would be the industry’s first Securities and Exchanges Commission-qualified offering.

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Blockchain News

Africa Must Regulate Cryptocurrencies To Attract Foreign Investment

Did you know that two-thirds of the adults in Africa are unbanked? Are you aware that this accounts for the second highest proportion in the world? Find our more and How blockchain can help!

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It is not out of place to say that cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology can be the long-awaited savior of Africa’s economy and in turn- bring in Investments from all around the world. Blockchain has the powers to eliminate corruption, ensuring swift transactions and conducting free fare and credible elections. Still wondering how? Click to find out.

Quite frankly, the above-listed challenges facing the African economy are not the only peculiar cases that can be sought out by this brilliant invention. It is however still surprising how the regulatory bodies in the continent unanimously stand against this tested innovation.

While Most of these regulators might claim to be acting in the best interest of the members of her economy, others might even be of the opinion that this developing continent is not capable of handling new technology. But you will agree with me that technology has been received just well and it has never been the challenge- right from the times of mobile phones- recording over 77% increase in usage from the initial 3% in just over a decade. if you didn’t believe this first example, then allow me us the internet as another case where we as a continent handled innovation just fine- recording over 1000% rise in the same period of 10 years. the list is endless.

While government officials like Trump and the White house are scheduling meetings upon meetings with blockchain experts; while the Securities and Exchange Commission of advanced countries are paying close attention to integrating the technology using adequate regulatory policies, the ill-informed opinions of those in power in my dear black continent continue to flood the news in forms of sponsored posts directed particularly at destroying every possible glimpse of hope of a finding lasting solutions to the setbacks in this area of the world.

Let me shock you yet again with research by Ashlin Perumall (a senior associate at leading global law firm, Baker McKenzie’s Johannesburg office) published on the Daily Maverick. He found out that two-thirds of the adults in Africa are unbanked and this accounts for the second highest proportion in the world.

Africa

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Furthermore, he stressed on the fact that remittances- being one of the major sources of revenue in the predominantly trade and e-commerce continent, the use of Blockchain technology cannot be played down on.

In what sounded like a lamentation, Ashlin noted how sad it was to actually see that not one of these regulators have made a move in the direction of advocating that regulatory policies be set for the Industry.
Sadly, Zambia one of the few countries currently leading the fight against cryptocurrencies and any technology of the sought is not hopeful of having a rethink in the nearest future.

Noticeably, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and a few other countries have not only welcomed the technology but are creating a breeding ground for start-ups within the tech sectors of their economies.

Also particularly in Nigeria, SiBAN– a local Blockchain Association has been doing a lot of work at building a self-regulatory framework for the highly underrated industry.

Nigeria leads the West African region, with the country’s central bank working on a white paper that could form the blueprint for crypto regulations in Africa. In South Africa, the central bank is working closely with blockchain and fintech startups to figure out the best way forward.

In his final words, Ashlin remarks:

There are many opportunities around the use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in Africa. However, it is clear that there are also substantial challenges. Considering the speed at which this technology is being embraced on the continent, there is great potential for African countries to develop regulations governing fintech use, with the intention of incentivizing foreign direct investment.

Wondering how the Blockchain technology can contribute to the betterment of our society? This is the Nigeria Use case:

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