Banking Investment News

ICYMI – pre Christmas enterprise blockchain news roundup

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We thought it would be quiet in the run-up to Christmas, but far from it!

The biggest enterprise blockchain news relates to the stock exchanges in Switzerland and Germany, where there was a reshuffling of interests.

Swiss, German stock exchanges re-focus digital asset efforts

Previously, Switzerland had two significant digital asset initiatives. On the one hand, there was a three-way collaboration between the Deutsche Börse, Swisscom, and regulated digital asset bank Sygnum. Additionally, the project included two Swisscom funded startups CustodDigit and daura.

Switzerland’s primary stock exchange SIX separately has its SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) project which will launch in 2020. The pre-Christmas news is that SIX is to collaborate with Swisscom and Sygnum and will invest in SME share registry daura.

Meanwhile, the Deutsche Börse will switch its focus from Switzerland to digital assets opportunities in Germany, especially now the German laws are changing. But it has competition.

The number two German stock exchange Boerse Stuttgart has a digital asset subsidiary, the Boerse Stuttgart Digital Exchange (BSDEX) which is a joint venture between itself, Axel Springer and finance portal finanzen.net. BDSDEX is already live, currently trading cryptocurrencies.

Before Christmas Boerse Stuttgart announced a deal with SBI Group which involves the Japanese company investing in BSDEX and also Boerse Stuttgart Digital Ventures. Plus the two groups intend to work together. SBI is one of the most active enterprise blockchain investors, with stakes in both Ripple and R3 amongst others, and is a founding member of the Japan Security Token Offering Association.

Other institutional digital asset moves

Fidelity the firm that administers $8 trillion in assets launched the U.S.-based Fidelity Digital Asset Services over a year ago. On December 16 the company set up a UK digital asset subsidiary and plans to target Europe.

Asset manager and administration firm State Street wants to offer its clients a single dashboard that incorporates both traditional investments and digital assets or cryptocurrencies. The company announced a pilot in collaboration with the cryptocurrency exchange and custodian Gemini so that assets held by Gemini Custody will be included in State Street reports.

A busy week for Accenture and central bank digital currencies

Last week Accenture had three big pieces of news. First off, it announced it was investing in trade finance startup TradeIX which is the operator of the 30-member Marco Polo consortium. The consultant will be the preferred integration firm for onboarding corporates and banks to the network.

Accenture has a high profile when it comes to central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Sweden’s central bank Riksbank announced that the consultancy would run trials for the consumer-focused e-krona, though the bank has not committed to going live with a digital currency.

Separately, the results of an Accenture and R3 trial were shared by the European Central Bank (ECB). It involved a proof of concept to explore whether smaller retail CBDC payments could retain some privacy. The news came just days after new ECB President Christine Lagarde said digital currency research would be accelerated.

While not a CBDC, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a paper that includes a checklist of considerations for institutional digital currency developers such as the JP Morgan Coin, or the Utility Settlement Coin. It’s a good read.

Ripple’s big news

Payment technology firm Ripple has raised $200 million in a Series C led by Tetragon. SBI, the same company that invested in the Boerse Stuttgart venture, also participated. As did Route 66 which last year led the Series A for Clearmatics, the developer behind the Utility Settlement Coin (USC). The USC is an institutional digital currency backed by central bank money.

Nine months ago Ripple offshoot Xpring announced a $100 million investment fund for the gaming sector, to be managed by blockchain gaming company Forte. In its first big deal, Forte will be working with Kongregate, an eight million user gamer community, to provide blockchain-based gamer rewards using Ripple technology.

Commodities

Turning to commodities, the OOC Oil & Gas Blockchain consortium announced the completion of a trial to help decide the ownership share for joint venture exploration projects. It involves sharing expenditure budgets, and each company saying how much of the cost they are willing to bear in a ballot. The alliance includes several oil majors such as Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell.

And finally, for mining, Glencore has joined the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, an initiative involving IBM, Ford, Volkswagen, Volvo and others. The initial aim is to track the provenance of cobalt.

Happy holidays to all!