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The head of blockchain solutions for IBM, Jesse Lund, has hinted that bank-targeted stablecoins will be a major forthcoming development for the tech giant’s blockchain-powered cross-border payments solution. Lund made his remarks during an interview on financial news channel Cheddar on March 15.
While more details are set to be imminently announced next week, Lund told Cheddar that “market demand” is driving IBM to develop a stablecoin solution for financial institutions.
“More than a few banks around the world [...] see tremendous business benefit to issue stablecoins in their native fiat currency,” he said.
When asked how IBM’s solution compares to JPMorgan Chase’s forthcoming in-house, USD-backed “JPM Coin” stablecoin, Lund hinted that IBM’s solution would be “somewhere in between” JPM’s exclusive, closed network asset. He stated:
“It’s not a proprietary coin like JPMorgan’s solution, although I think what they’re doing makes a lot of sense for them. [...] What JPM’s doing also adds tremendous validation to what we’re doing. But our view for stablecoins is really that they should be more broadly accessible and what World Wire seeks to do is to provide fungibility of digital assets across financial institutions.”
“World Wire” refers to IBM’s collaboration with Stellar (XLM) and use of the network’s native asset in IBM’s cross-border payment network, Blockchain World Wire (BWW).
Alongside BWW, which aims to leverage cryptocurrencies to enable near real time international settlements between banks, IBM has also partnered with Stronghold, a Stellar-based asset, to create the Stellar network’s first stablecoin.
As Cointelegraph reported in February, Lund recently hinted at IBM’s interest in stablecoins as a vital aspect of innovating the cross-border payments landscape. Proposing that there should be an ecosystem of various digital assets that work as settlement instruments for cross-border payments, he suggested:
“It could be [...] XRP [...] it could be Bitcoin, but it would also probably include other instruments, like stablecoins, and even eventually soon — hopefully — central bank-issued digital currencies.”
United States federal law enforcement agency, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), is looking to set up an agent for managing confiscated cryptocurrency, according to public documents released on March 5.
The USMS has recently published two draft documents including a Request for Information (RFI) for legal procedures of the management and disposal of forfeited crypto assets.
As a key component of the department's Asset Forfeiture Program (AFP) operating within the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), the USMS intends to assign an agent or contractor that will manage and dispose of seized or forfeited virtual currency. By initiating the RFI, the USMS expects to improve its current custodial operations by maintaining a complete and accurate accounting of the USMS’ virtual currency inventory.
In the first document, the Performance Work Statement (PWS), the USMS describes the full range of forfeited virtual currency management and disposal services, including general procedures and responsibilities of the contractor.
According to the document, the contractor must ensure the accuracy and security of all virtual currency transactions, including the direct exchange of virtual currencies into U.S. dollars, the exchange into a more liquid form of virtual currency, a return to the owner and others.
The PWS contract includes major activities associated with the management of virtual currencies, including accounting, customer management, audit compliance, managing blockchain forks, wallet creation, transformation of token assets into coin assets and others.
In the second document, the Quality Assurance Surveillance Plan (QASP), the USMS establishes an evaluation system for the performance of the contractor. The QASP describes major authorities such as Contracting Officer and Contracting Officer’s Representative that are responsible for performance measurement and effective evaluation of the contractor’s compliance.
The USMS noted that the recently issued RFI is provided solely for information and planning purposes and does not represent either a Request for Proposal (RFP) or a promise to issue an RFP in the future.
Last year, the USMS announced a bid auction for approximately 660 confiscated Bitcoins (BTC), with the auction participants required to deposit $200,000 in order to take part.
VITE - The actual coin used on the Vite chain. It can be used to perform payments and staked to get transaction quotas. It has value and can be traded with other crypto assets on the exchanges (ERC20 version at this point). Like other projects, it started its life as an ERC20 token but will be fully converted when the mainnet is live. Currently, you can convert VITE ERC20 tokens to VITE coin on the testnet.
VCP - This is VITE Community Points. You can earn these by participating in various campaigns from time to time. These cannot be traded on exchanges. You can use VCPs to buy stuff on the Vite store (global.vite.store).
VTT - These are VITE Test Tokens. They have no value. These can be used by those who do not have VITE tokens on the testnet but still want to experience capabilities like send/receive. These tokens cannot be traded on exchanges.
Five Japanese banks have collaborated to launch blockchain-based financial services infrastructure, the finance platform confirmed in a press release on March 1.
Bank of Iwate, Bank of Yokohama, Aomori Bank, Akita Bank and Yamanashi Chuo Bank will work together on the platform, dubbed “Fitting Hub.” The first service available on the platform — electronic delivery service — should launch in April, the press release notes.
Previous information had given a timeline for testing to begin in July 2018 and full deployment within a year, as local news agency Nikkei reported in late January 2018, when the partnership first surfaced.
Targeting a range of financial operations for efficiency improvements, the banks will leverage IBM’s expertise during the development phase.
The IT giant has built a major standing in the enterprise blockchain arena through the use of its dedicated IBM Blockchain suite of services.
“With the electronic delivery service that will be launched this time, it is possible to receive and manage form data from multiple financial institutions and companies on one screen,” the press release explains, continuing:
“For financial institutions and business operators who provide services, such joint service provision can make the system inexpensive compared to separate systems, as well as greatly reduce postage and mailing costs.”
As Cointelegraph reported, the Japanese banking sector is taking major integrative steps in both blockchain and cryptocurrency this year. Last month, Mizuho announced it would launch its own cryptocurrency platform and even release its own stablecoin.
At the same time, Daiwa, the country’s second-largest securities brokerage, confirmed it had completed a trial of a blockchain post-trade processing solution.
According Fitting Hub’s website, the new interbank project will likewise incorporate financial authentication and settlement functionality.
New details about Starbucks’ partnership with United States cryptocurrency platform Bakkt suggest the coffee giant will accept Bitcoin (BTC)-based payments after an equity deal, cryptocurrency industry news outlet The Block reported on Mar. 4.
Starbucks, which became known as a founding partner in Bakkt upon its unveiling in August last year, will reportedly support its software to allow U.S. customers to pay for products.
As The Block reported, no actual cryptocurrency will end up processed by the chain, as the crypto will be instantly transferred into fiat.
Still in the final pre-release stages, Bakkt aims to become a major on-ramp for investors looking to gain exposure to cryptocurrencies. Among its plans are the issuance of physically-delivered Bitcoin futures contracts, scheduled for later this year depending on regulatory approval.
Starbucks had originally denied any idea that its input would result in “coffee for Bitcoin.” Now, it appears that the company has secured considerable equity in Bakkt, and in return will accept crypto payment indirectly.
“There’s high value from having a brand at this level,” the publication quoted an unnamed expert close to the deal as commenting. The Block notes that only U.S. customers will have access to Bakkt’s BTC-USD services at first.
As Cointelegraph previously noted, Bakkt has faced ongoing delays to its initial launch as executives stressed the need for full regulatory compliance. The Block, citing an unnamed source, notes that Starbucks will wait to activate the crypto-fiat coffee purchase abilities until after Bakkt’s platform has launched and shown a capacity for holding and storing crypto.
The Block’s source reportedly said:
“In many ways, there are limits to what Starbucks can do with partnerships because there are limits to what customers can expect,”
Grappling with the patchwork U.S. regulatory landscape, some commentators have been buoyant about the platform’s ability to increase the public profile of Bitcoin in particular, opening up cryptocurrency as a trustworthy mainstream asset.
Sam Palmisano — retired IBM chairman and current chairman of United States nonprofit The Center for Global Enterprise — says he doesn’t know of a solution that has been found to make public blockchain networks compatible with European data privacy laws.
Palmisano made his remarks during a joint interview for Bloomberg Markets with David Kappos, partner at U.S. law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which was broadcast on the Bloomberg Technology channel on March 4.
Palmisano and Kappos focused on the interaction between blockchain innovation and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — a landmark European Union-wide legal framework for personal data privacy, which took effect in May 2018.
Kappos recently co-authored a research paper — in conjunction with multinational law firm Slaughter and May and The Digital Supply Chain Institute — that outlines four guiding principles for establishing GDPR-compliant blockchains.
High-profile GDPR principles such as the right to be forgotten and the other far-reaching requirements the legislation places upon EU firms have sparked debate as to whether blockchain networks — which are notably immutable, and thus do not erase data — can be brought into line with the new framework.
Palmisano, who spent 10 years in his former role as chair of IBM, said that certain private, permissioned blockchains — with adequate governance frameworks in place — can work well under GDPR, and even in some cases help firms with compliance, but that this does not currently hold for public networks. He stated:
“With the public case, it is more complicated because of the nature of the information out there and how it’s being shared [...] I do know of research that’s going on to address the public market, however [...] I don’t know of a solution that’s been found.”
While Palmisano affirmed the importance of a global policy shift toward tackling data protection, Kappos noted that Europe is currently in the lead in terms of legislating for digital privacy and the U.S. has “nothing that is on par with the EU’s muscular GDPR [initiative].”
Flouting GDPR courts the risk of heavy fines, as Kappos emphasized. The use of a governance framework, he noted, can significantly help blockchain users to ensure compliance:
“A network of companies can [...] form a joint venture that describes how they’ll manage data, what they’ll put and won’t put on the blockchain, and how they’ll forget people when they want to be forgotten.”
In November 2018, research conducted by Queen Mary University of London and the University of Cambridge similarly pointed to the prospective compatibility of private blockchains with GDPR.