Korean Banks Can Use Blockchain to Verify Customer IDs from July


A national banking group in South Korea is to roll out a blockchain-based ID verification system for domestic commercial banks in just weeks.

According to a notice revealed on Monday by the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB), the new system – dubbed BankSign – is scheduled to be launched in July following a testing phase that began in April of this year.

Built on top of Nexledger, a private blockchain platform developed by Samsung's enterprise solution division, BankSign will offer local banks an option to replace the existing ID verification system that has been in place for decades in South Korea, the KFB said.

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Thailand Trials Central Bank Digital Currency for Interbank Settlement


Bank of Thailand (BoT), the country's central banking authority, is eyeing the adoption of blockchain technology in its interbank clearance and settlement system.

In a speech made at an event in Singapore on Wednesday, central bank governor Veerathai Santiprabhob indicated that developing a wholesale central bank digital currency is currently in the pipeline as part of the country's wider efforts in trialing blockchain technology in various sectors.

The project, dubbed Inthanon, seeks to create the bank's own blockchain-based cryptocurrency to make interbank transactions both faster and cheaper.

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Dutch Central Bank: Blockchain 'Promising But Inefficient' in Payments


Blockchain technology isn't a beneficial addition to the payment system in the Netherlands – at least not yet, according to the country's central bank.

In a blog post published Thursday, De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) came to the conclusion that distributed ledger technology (DLT) is not suitable for its existing financial payment infrastructure due to its insufficient ability to scale for large volumes of transactions and other issues.

The DNB offered the opinion based on the results of a project called Dukaton, which conducted a series of experiments that has tested four DLT prototypes over the past three years.

Dukaton set out to conduct research in a bid to understand how much value the nascent technology can bring to the country's existing payment system. Basing its first prototype on the source code of the bitcoin blockchain, the team applied different consensus algorithms and validation mechanisms in later stages.

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IMF Official: Central Banks Need to Compete With Crypto


A deputy director for the International Monetary Fund's Monetary and Capital Markets Department believes that central banks need to offer «better» fiat currencies in order to fend off any potential competition from cryptocurrencies.

The suggestions came in an article published Thursday, penned by deputy director Dong He. In that article – which boasts the tagline «Crypto assets may one day reduce demand for central bank money» – He argues that central banks may want to consider adopting some of the concepts in order to «forestall the competitive pressure crypto assets may exert on fiat currencies.»

It's a notable statement and one that echoes past remarks from He as well as other IMF officials, including director Christine Lagarde. Indeed, Lagarde, back in March, said during an event that regulators should deploy some elements of the tech in order to «fight fire with fire.»

He's argument in the latest piece is based on the possibility that, should cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets see wider adoption, there is a chance that central banks will lose their ability to influence the economy through tactics such as interest rate changes.

The deputy director suggested that tightening regulation could provide a boost for central banks.

«Second, government authorities should regulate the use of crypto assets to prevent regulatory arbitrage and any unfair competitive advantage crypto assets may derive from lighter regulation,» He wrote. «That means rigorously applying measures to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism, strengthening consumer protection, and effectively taxing crypto transactions.»

He also pointed to the idea of central banks creating their own digitized assets that could be exchanged in a peer-to-peer fashion

«For example, they could make central bank money user-friendly in the digital world by issuing digital tokens of their own to supplement physical cash and bank reserves. Such central bank digital currency could be exchanged, peer to peer in a decentralized manner, much as crypto assets are,» the article went on to say.

It's an idea that a number of central banks are researching, though opinions differ on the effectiveness of such proposals. Just this week, for example, an official for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (the region's de facto central bank) said that it currently has no plans for a digital currency launch in spite of its research in the area.

Bank of America Envisions Blockchain As Internal Ledger


Bank of America may be looking into replacingsome of its existing data sharing systems with a blockchain, according to a patent application released Thursday.

The filing, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), outlines a permissioned blockchain which, if implemented, would securely record and authenticate personal and business data, ensuring only authorized parties can access it. Further, the system would keep a log of everyone who accesses the data, according to the application.

The document proposes using such a blockchain as a way to combine existing data storage platforms into a single secure network, increasing efficiency by reducing the number of storage locations for a user's data.

According to the document, which was first filed in 2016, service providers and private individuals are increasingly using the internet to share personal and business records, primarily through dedicated web portals and email attachments. However, «there are a number of disadvantages to using this type of electronic record sharing method,» including having to repeat the process for each company and the risk of data corruption.

Using a blockchain would create a more efficient system, wherein an individual can store all of their records in a single digital ledger. Businesses and service providers would be able to access these records as necessary.

Notably, this would be a permissioned blockchain, the filing notes. It continues:

«Embodiments of the invention utilize a private blockchain to store various types of records to be conveyed to the service providers. In this way, the individual or entity may securely store on the blockchain all records relevant to service providers, then provide the service providers with secured access to said records such that the providers may access only the specific records for which they are authorized, e.g. a healthcare provider may access only the healthcare records on the blockchain.»

Banking Giant SBI Subsidiary Joins R3 Blockchain Consortium



SBI Bank LLC, a Russia-based commercial bank owned by Japanese financial giant SBI Holdings, is joining the New York City-based banking consortium R3.

In an announcement Friday, the bank said it aims to join the financial group to advance R3's Corda distributed ledger (DLT) platform, and push cross-industry adoption of blockchain technology.

«We regard blockchains as the core of FinTech innovation and are working on various measures both in Japan and abroad. Through this effort, we believe that we can contribute to the progress of the global blockchain field,» the group stated.

The news marks yet another financial institution from Japan joining the global banking blockchain consortium. Previously, a group of Japanese financial firms conducted a test to streamline international transaction agreements using R3's Corda DLT platform.

Today's announcement is also part of a wider push by SBI Holdings into blockchain technology.

As detailed by CoinDesk, the Japanese banking group has previously registered with the country's financial watchdog to launch a cryptocurrency exchange platform, which is currently pending public release.

The bank also partnered with the San Fransisco-based blockchain startup Ripple to facilitate the experiment of cross-border blockchain payments among financial institutions.

Bank of England to Test DLT Use in New Settlement System


The Bank of England said Tuesday that it is undertaking a new proof-of-concept to explore the ways its planned real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system could connect with distributed ledger networks.

The U.K. central bank first announced its intentions to develop a DLT-compatible service in 2017, having previously said that it wouldn't move to base the system on the tech outright — a decision it referenced in this week's announcement.

«Although the Bank has concluded that distributed ledger technology (DLT) is not yet sufficiently mature to provide the core for the next generation of RTGS,» a statement said, «it places a high priority on ensuring that the new service is capable of interfacing with DLT as and when it is developed in the wider sterling markets.»

Specifically, the project's participants will examine whether «innovative settlement systems,» such as those based on DLT, are able to interact with its proposed 'renewed' cloud-based RTGS service. Project participants include payments technology providers Baton Systems and Token, R3 and Clearmatics.

It will also aim to pinpoint ways in which the service's «functionality could be expanded» through the use of new technologies.

The UK central bank said that it hopes the firms' involvement will «give broader insight into the range of functionality the Bank might need to offer to support this sector.»

The Bank of England plans to issue a report on the results of the proof-of-concept later this year.
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