Blockchain Catch-upThis is Charles Brett’s start-of-the-week Enterprise Times ‘blockchain catch-up’ Week 15. Necessarily it is idiosyncratic and selective.

It is not intended to be comprehensive but does seek to highlight ‘Quick Takes’ on specific developments as well interesting pieces to read, a listing of some (not all) announcements/press releases and pointers to upcoming events.

Quick Takes – Charles Brett’s Blockchain Catch-up Week 15

Eurosystem report on the public consultation on a digital euro 

The ECB launched a “Public consultation on a digital euro” on 12 October 2020 which closed on 12 January 2021 with some 8221 responses. The ECB’s purpose was to obtain input on the economic and societal implications of issuing a digital euro and, if a digital euro were to be issued, on its design. The “Eurosystem report on the public consultation on a digital euro” analyses the replies using both manual assessments and automated tools such as text mining and natural language processing.

Of all the findings one stands out. As the Executive Summary puts it: “Privacy is considered the most important feature of a digital euro by both citizens and professionals participating in the consultation, especially merchants and other companies (often self-employed professionals). When identifying the whole possible package of most preferable options, citizens participating in the consultation consistently opt for privacy, security, usability throughout the euro area, absence of additional costs and usability offline.

“When confronted with a specific choice between an offline digital euro focused on privacy, an online one with innovative features and additional services, and a combination of the two, citizen respondents generally opt for an offline solution focused on privacy, while professional respondents consider a hybrid approach more appealing. Among the main challenges associated with a digital euro, citizen respondents identify those related to privacy and, especially when considering accessibility, simplicity in its use as a means of payment. Professional respondents identify similar challenges, as well as additional ones related to poor internet connectivity in some areas.”

Quick Take: privacy, though the most important issue, was not the only one. Most agreed a digital euro should integrate into existing banking and payment solutions with the privacy of payment data a most important feature. Citizen respondents also valued speed of cross-border payments (instant payments should be possible), cost and transparency of exchange rates.

In addition, this report lists a variety of technological solutions and approaches. The Enterprise Times net take is that a Digital Euro is not imminent, for sound and understandable reasons. Fabio Panetta, an ECB executive board member, told MEPs such a currency would not be ready to launch in much less than five years.

How blockchain can simplify partnerships

This Harvard Business Review (HBR) analysis describes collaborations that require information sharing and trust between participants (companies, suppliers, buyers, government agencies etc) as being difficult, particularly in a global (or remote) business environment. It goes on to suggest that a blockchain’s distributed ledger — and use of smart contracts — can act as a mechanism to simplify the process, thereby:

  • creating a common, reliable record of transactions
  • avoiding costly disputes.

In doing so, the analysis argues that the implementation of blockchain changes how deals are made:

  • partner selection becomes simpler, as establishing trust is less important
  • agreement formation assumes greater importance (protocols are hard to alter once established)
  • execution becomes easier because outcomes are automatable automated.

Quick Take: while the analysis agrees that blockchain is no simple magic bullet, its argument is that it can work much better in selected situations than the alternative(s). In so doing, blockchain is capable of changing the basics of how collaborations work.

This is an interesting HBR piece. Not only does it examine “what blockchains make possible” but it explores how blockchain technology can alter each phase of a collaboration, including partner selection, agreement formation and execution. As significantly, it makes the point that “blockchains work much better in some situations than others, making it critical to understand the conditions under which they will be most useful. Generally speaking, blockchains are most effective whenever the agreement can be written in clear computer language and its outcomes are verifiable.” A short but worthwhile read, if only to take away that blockchain is not a panacea in all instances.

7 pieces to read – Charles Brett’s Blockchain Catch-up Week 15

Selected announcements/press releases/opinions – Charles Brett’s Blockchain Catch-up Week 15

  • How a ‘dual double-entry’ blockchain could unite digital and physical assets (opinion)
  • When the U.S. Dollar collapses, the majority will back the elite’s new currency, not crypto (opinion)
  • USPS certifies CaseMail as the first blockchain generated ePostage (announcement)
  • Blockchain in Telecom Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2021 – 2026) (report)
  • Applied Blockchain launches Ethereum and Altcoin mining business via a strategic partnership (announcement)
  • Making a profit on cryptocurrency – what can you do about the (UK)  tax liability? (blog)
  • OSOM Finance joins Blockchain for Europe (announcement)
  • 6 fintechs make the top 20 US valuation leaderboard; worth a combined US$145B – and two are blockchain companies (opinion)
  • Coinbase skyrockets, … landing US$105B valuation on first day of trading (news)
  • Binance launches six-part NFT education series for beginners (education)
  • Chainlink releases white paper about decentralised Oracle networks (white paper)
  • Technology roadmap for financial services – Capgemini (report)
  • Launch of METACO Harmonize – institutional digital asset orchestration system (announcement).

Selected upcoming events

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