Microsoft, USAA Join DC Blockchain Policy Group 

Tech giant Microsoft and military-focused banking and insurance firm USAA are among the newest members of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a policy advocacy group focused on blockchain technology.

Founded in mid-2014, the non-profit lobbying group has spent the time since pushing for fair regulation and oversight in Washington, DC for companies working on bitcoin or blockchain applications. The group is led by Perianne Boring, a former Forbes columnist and Capitol Hill staffer. More recently, the Chamber was one of the founding organizations behind the Blockchain Alliance, a public-private forum aimed at promoting cooperation between industry stakeholders and government agencies.

Source: Microsoft, USAA Join DC Blockchain Policy Group – CoinDesk

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Barclays’ Smart Contract Templates heralds first ever public demo of R3’s Corda platform

The Smart Contract Templates application developed by Barclays has heralded the first ever public demonstration of the R3 Corda “fabric” for shared banking ledgers, which took place before an audience of over 800 people at The O2 in London.

The event was the public demo day of the Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars, where 11 teams presented, including 10 startups and a Barclays internal team. The team behind the prototype smart contracts application was the internal one headed up by Dr Lee Braine from Barclays Investment Bank’s CTO Office.

Source: IBT

PwC Report: Blockchain a ‘Once in a Generation’ Opportunity for Financial Services

Blockchain marks the next “jump” in business process/optimization technology, according to a newly-released PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on fintech.

The report, “Blurred lines: How FinTech is shaping Financial Services,” compares blockchain to Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that allowed entities and functions within a business to optimize processes by sharing logic and data within the enterprise.

Blockchain, according to the 36-page report, will enable entire industries to optimize business processes by sharing data among organizations that have separate or competing economic objectives. It notes that blockchain combines a number of cryptographic, mathematical and economic principles to maintain a database of market participants without requiring a third party reconciliator or validator.

Source: CCN

Ethereum, a Virtual Currency, Enables Transactions That Rival Bitcoin’s

A new virtual gold rush is underway. Even as Bitcoin, riven by internal divisions, has struggled, a rival virtual currency — known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the last three months.

Beyond the price spike, Ethereum is also attracting attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and IBM, which have described it as a sort of Bitcoin 2.0.

The rise of the relatively new virtual currency has been helped by a battle within the Bitcoin community over how the basic Bitcoin software should develop.

Source: The New York Times

Coinify and iPayDNA Plan to Bring Blockchain Merchant Payments to Asia Pacific

Leading Blockchain currency payment service provider, Coinify ApS and Hong Kong­ based payment service provider, iPayDNA International Ltd. are proud to announce a new partnership that will bring advanced Blockchain payments to a vast amount of merchants residing in the Asia Pacific region.

Partnering with iPayDNA is another step of Coinify’s recently announced push into the Asian market. The new PSP agreement will allow Coinify to extend their Blockchain merchant processing solution distribution channel throughout the Asia Pacific region where iPayDNA holds a dominant position.

Source: Blockchain News

Wall Street is Blockchain’s Weak Link

Blockchain — the “B”-word — is in vogue among bankers.The Blockchain BugUBS CEO Sergio Ermotti said this month the technology could disrupt the current financial system. JPMorgan and Citigroup were among several banks to pour over $50 million into Blythe Masters’ blockchain startup, Digital Asset Holdings, in January. A group of 40 banks is trialing the use of distributed ledger in the commercial paper market.

Source: Bloomberg Gadfly

Hype Springs Eternal for Blockchains

Normally, it is Simon Taylor’s job to persuade sceptical colleagues at Barclays that rapid technological change will disrupt the bank’s business. So it comes as something of a surprise to have to dampen the excitement about the blockchain. “It’s quite silly. I get ten invitations to speak at a conference every day,” he says. “The technology will have real impact, but it will take time.”

The blockchain is the technology underpinning bitcoin, a digital currency with a chequered history. It is an example of a “distributed ledger”: in essence, a database that is maintained not by a single actor, such as a bank, but collaboratively by a number of participants.

Their respective computers regularly agree on how to update the database using a “consensus mechanism”, after which the modifications they have settled on are rendered unchangeable with the help of complex cryptography. Once information has been immortalised in this way, it can be used as proof of ownership. The blockchain can also serve as the underpinning for “smart contracts”—programs that automatically execute the promises embedded in a bond, for instance.

Source: The Economist