July 22, 2016
The race has been on for a while actually, but the speed has been surging with every other week. Since the end of May when we last looked at the latest blockchain pilots and the latest open-source blockchain projects, a lot has happened. A range of new players has launched blockchain trials to find the best application case and bank on blockchain application.
ATB Financial, the largest Alberta-based financial institution, has collaborated with SAP, financial technology startup Ripple Labs and ReiseBank AG in Germany to send the first real international blockchain payment from Canada to Germany, as reported by SAP.
ATB successfully transferred CA$1,000 (EUR 667) to ReiseBank using a network built on SAP technology and Ripple’s network of enterprise blockchain solutions. The payment, which would typically have taken between two to six business days to process because of requirements such as settling with the counterparty bank and reconciling accounts, was completed in around 20 seconds.
The technology prototype connects SAP HANA Cloud Platform, the open platform as a service from SAP, and the SAP Payment Engine application, which centralizes payment processing in one solution, with Ripple’s network. For the demonstration, SAP provided a mobile user interface through which the payment was executed.
IBM and Crédit Mutuel Arkéa recently announced the completion of their first blockchain project to improve the bank’s ability to verify customer identity. The result of the pilot is an operational permissioned blockchain network that provides a view of customer identity to enable compliance with KYC requirements.
"Blockchain is a transformative agent in our operational application, as proven by this project – the first of its kind in France. This pilot offers a complete view of customers' documents across our distributed network," said Frédéric Laurent, COO Innovation & Operations, Crédit Mutuel Arkéa. "The project helped us to understand and master blockchain for other client uses. Now, we are ready to incorporate this technology in our ecosystem."
One of Brazil’s largest banks and the latest member of R3CEV consortium, Banco Bradesco, was reported to be working on a trial of blockchain digital wallet and mobile finance app that leverages distributed ledger technology for payments and money transfers.
Developed by domestic startup eWally, the trial will take place in the southern area of Sao Paulo. The solution developed by eWally lets users send and receive money conveniently using their smartphones, facilitating remittances, donations, loan settlement, disbursement of salaries or bill payments.
As Bradesco Executive Vice President Maurício Machado de Minas commented, "Innovation plays a crucial role at Bradesco and we are committed to better serve our customers and add value to our shareholders. Distributed ledger technologies can help us to achieve these objectives and we are excited about joining R3 so that we can work together and discover the full potential of this new technology."
In addition to eWally, Banco Bradesco will trial another blockchain solution designed by Bit.One for cross-border payments.
GovCoin Systems has been named as the London-headquartered financial technology company trialing new technology to support UK’s government aims in the distribution of benefits.
Minister for Welfare Reform at the Department for Work and Pensions Lord Freud highlighted the ongoing trial saying, We have been working with GovCoin Systems (and their partners, Barclays, RWE npower and University College London) for this trial.
Claimants are using an app on their phones through which they are receiving and spending their benefit payments. With their consent, their transactions are being recorded on a distributed ledger to support their financial management.
The key to the proof-of-concept trial, which commenced in June, is to develop a secure and effective technology that users adopt and use to handle payments.
As Jeremy Wilson, Vice Chairman, Corporate Banking at Barclays, commented in the press release, This initiative focuses on adding an additional layer of richer data and identity onto payments so that a deeper and more effective relationship can be established between the government and claimants. We are keen to see how the positive potential of this service develops and adds to our wider efforts to explore the uses of distributed ledger technology.
Santander Bank launched a new app to facilitate live international payments (foreign remittances). At present, the bank claims to be the first bank in the UK to leverage blockchain for international payments.
Santander introduced the new app as a pilot program, powered by blockchain technology which is backed by Ripple. The app uses core technology provided by Ripple (Santander InnoVentures owns a stake in Ripple). The app connects to Apple Pay, where users can confirm payments using Touch ID. It lets users transfer between £10 and £10,000, and payments can be made from British pounds to euros and US dollars. In October 2015, Santander InnoVentures raised $4 million in Ripple’s Series A funding round as an investor, bringing the round’s total to $32 million.
BNP Paribas Securities Services, Caisse des Dépôts, Euroclear, Euronext, S2iEM and Société Générale, in collaboration with Paris Europlace, recently announced that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore together the development of a post-trade blockchain infrastructure for SMEs in Europe.
Open to other international partners, this pilot agreement aims to improve SMEs' access to capital markets while facilitating secure and transparent post-trade operations. It is part of the development of a new regulatory environment in France that allows the issue and circulation of securities using blockchain technology.
The partnership's main objective is to combine its members' financing capacity and expertise to promote innovation through a new, independent company whose mission will be to harness blockchain technology in the design, development and deployment of innovative solutions for post-trade. By reducing transaction costs while maintaining a high level of security, the company would help SMEs raise funds more easily on capital markets.
Blockchain Engine and Petrodvorets Watch Factory have introduced blockchain technology into the manufacturing process of Raketa watches, making Raketa one of the first companies in the world to record the production of physical goods in the blockchain, as reported by the Bitcoin Magazine.
Petrodvorets Watch Factory, one of Russia’s oldest businesses, in collaboration with an international team of Blockchain Engine developers will use blockchain for the confirmation of the authenticity of each watch, which will drastically reduce the possibility of forgery. As each luxury watch will have a serial number associated with it at the production stage, they make the perfect items for a digital registry.
As Blockchain Engine spokesman Ivan Kuznetsov commented to Bitcoin Magazine, "Among the applicants were car manufacturers, jewelry manufacturers, unique luxury objects, and smartphones. We have carefully examined the information about products most often counterfeited, and it turned out there is a whole market of watch imitation, with the most falsified brand in Russia [being] the Rocket."
KBC together with IT specialist Cegeka and various companies were reported to successfully test Digital Trade Chain (DTC), a blockchain solution that facilitates secure international trade between SMEs.
KBC's new Digital Trade Chain application is a digital platform for managing, tracking and protecting domestic and international trade transactions between SMEs and simplifying trade finance. DTC links parties, i.e., buyer, seller, KBC and the counterparty's bank. The app registers the entire trade process from order to payment, displaying it in an at-a-glance flowchart and guaranteeing payment when all contractual agreements have been met.
The platform is fully automated and available 24/7, so the order-to-payment process is much quicker than the traditional exchange of documents. It also requires far less back-office administration.
Mizuho will use Ripple’s technology to address the most common pain points in cross-border payments: high costs and settlement delay. Ripple’s solutions lower the total cost of settlement by enabling banks to transact directly with real-time certainty and provide greater transparency and control through the process.
MHFG and SBI will use the consulting services of R3CEV to launch this joint project using Ripple’s tried and tested solutions to move toward cost-efficient, real-time settlement.