Category Archives: blockchain

Santander implements Blockchain in international payments app

Santander Apple PaySantander has claimed it is now the first UK bank to use Blockchain technologies transfer live international payments between £10 and £10,000 24 hours a day.

The implementation is currently being rolled out as a staff pilot, though the team have not announced when it will be available for customers to use. Blockchain technologies are beginning to gain more traction in the cloud world, as it can enable faster and more accurate transfer of data and value.

“The need for finance has evolved from providing a physical Pound in your pocket or card in your purse, where you pay at a till, to being seamlessly integrated into a new, always on, connected lifestyle,” said Sigga Sigurdardottir, Head of Customer and Innovation at Santander.

“At Santander we work hard to ensure our banking is simple, personal and fair and believe new Blockchain technology will play a transformational role in the way we achieve our goals and better serve our customers, adding value by creating more choice and convenience.”

The new app connects to Apple Pay, where users can confirm payments using Touch ID. The Blockchain technology underpinning the app is provided by Ripple, which has been the recipient of investment through Santander Innoventures, the company’s global corporate venture capital fund, focused on early stage FinTech investments.

“As an early adopter and pioneer in the banking industry, Santander is the first bank in the world to transfer real funds externally. In doing so, they are creating a new, exemplary standard of service,” said Chris Larsen, CEO at Ripple.

IBM becomes latest tech giant to join blockchain euphoria

Cloud computingIBM has launched its updated blockchain offering for the financial, healthcare and government industries, on IBM’s cloud platform Bluemix as well as Docker.

While blockchain is another trend which has been empowered by the transition to cloud computing, the same security concerns persist as with cloud computing as the more senior technology family member. IBM claims the new blockchain offering answers these demands and concerns, while also meeting existing regulatory and security requirements.

“Clients tell us that one of the inhibitors of the adoption of blockchain is the concern about security,” said Jerry Cuomo, VP of Blockchain at IBM. “While there is a sense of urgency to pioneer blockchain for business, most organizations need help to define the ideal cloud environment that enables blockchain networks to run securely in the cloud.”

The blockchain adoption seemingly fits into IBM’s continued quest to transform its business, moving away from legacy technologies and build new fortunes in the cloud. Although IBM could be seen as being slightly slow to the cloud party, it has made positive strides in putting its name forward in the cognitive computing sub-sector (IBM’s Watson), and now blockchain. Industry insiders have told BCN tech giants such as Microsoft are interesting in the potential of blockchain, though IBM are one of the first to make such a solid commitment.

While the company has been demonstrating healthy growth in the cloud market segment, its recent quarterly earnings highlighted the decline of traditional IT technologies. The company’s quarterly earnings declined for the 16th straight quarter though its Strategic Imperatives projects, which include all cloud computing efforts, grew 14% to $7 billion.

From a feedback perspective, we asked BCN readers what they thought of IBM’s cognitive computing technology, Watson, which seems to be gaining healthy media attention. 40% of the industry believes Watson is the industry leader for cognitive computing and 20% say it’s in the pack. 40% believe the media attention is down to a powerful PR machine in IBM’s corporate team.

IBM and Microsoft race to develop Blockchain-As-A-Service

Money cloudIBM has made 44,000 lines of code available to the Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Project in a bid to speed the development of a Blockchain ledger for secure distributed online financial transactions.

IBM is now competing with a number of vendors, such as Microsoft Azure and Digital Asset, to bring Blockchain services to market either as a Bitcoin crypto currency enabler or for wider applications in financial services trading and even the IoT.

In a statement IBM said it wants to help create a new class of distributed ledger applications by letting developers use IBM’s new blockchain services available on Bluemix, where they can get DevOps tools to create and run blockchain apps on the IBM Cloud or z System mainframes. New application programming interfaces mean Blockchain apps will now be able to access existing transactions on these systems to support new payment, settlement, supply chain and business processes.

IBM also unveiled plans to put Blockchain technology to use on the Internet of Things (IoT) through its Watson IoT Platform. Information from RFID-based locations, barcode-scans or device-reported data could be managed through IBM’s version of Blockchain with devices communicating with the ledger to update or validate smart contracts. Under the scheme, the movement of an IoT-connected package through multiple distribution points could be managed and updated on a Blockchain system to give a more accurate and timely record of events in the supply chain.

The vendor intends to foster greater levels of Blockchain app design activity through its new IBM Garages that will open in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo.

In Tokyo IBM and the Japan Exchange Group have agreed to test the potential of blockchain technology for use in trading in low transaction markets. As the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project evolves, the joint IBM and JPX evaluation work will adapt to use of the code produced by that effort.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is to launch its own Blockchain as a service (BaaS) offering within in its Azure service portfolio with a certified version of the online ledger scheduled to be launched in April.

In January 2016, Microsoft announced that it is developing Blockchain related services in its Azure’s DevTest Labs. In November BCN reported that Microsoft has launched a cloud-based ledger system for would-be bitcoin traders.

Microsoft is also inviting potential service provider partners pioneer the use of Blockchain technology in the cloud.

Blockchain specialist Digital Asset gets $50 million to create a global digital ledger

Dollar SignsDistributed ledger maker Digital Asset has announced $50 million funding to further its expansion of blockchain technology for the financial sector.

The start up’s thirteen fintech investment specialist backers included ABN AMRO, Accenture, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Börse Group and JP Morgan. Launched in 2015, Digital Asset is aimed at banks, exchanges, settlement and clearing firms, central securities depositories and financial services provider who need faster, but more secure and accountable electronic financial settlement systems.

Digital Asset founder Blyth Masters, a former JP Morgan banker, told Bloomberg that the technology is a ‘form of database’ technology that could a single ‘common source of the truth’ for every single aspect of every transaction in synch. The single source authoritative record of every stage of a transaction could obviate the need for the ‘questionable trade’ investigations conducted by Wall Street, the city and all global financial institutes.

The inventor claims its Distributed Ledger Technology cuts costs through a combination of business logic apps, privately permissioned networks and a cryptographically secure shared infrastructure. Digital Assets’s software will improve post-trade processing and lower the latency, error rates, risk and capital requirements.

“Our investors are putting their capital to work to prove out and drive global adoption of this technology because they see it will be very significant for their businesses in cost avoidance, capital reduction, risk reduction, regulatory compliance – these are big strategic issues for financial firms today,” said Masters.

Included in the round of investment was a contract to speed up settlement in Australia’s stock market ASX, in return for $10.5 million. “We can now trade equities in 150 microseconds, then it takes two days to settle. That makes no sense,” said Elmer Funke Kupper, chief executive officer of ASX. “This is the first opportunity in 20 years to re-engineer the way the market operates end-to-end. We should not miss that opportunity.”

Digital Asset beat 400 applicants for the contract to remake ASX’s clearing and settlement system.

Earlier this week, R3, a blockchain startup backed by 42 banks, said it successfully simulated trades of digital assets on a private network made up of 11 of its members. Meanwhile Overstock.com is expected to unveil the first securities-trading system using blockchain. Nasdaq has reportedly used the technology to complete and record a private securities transaction for the first time.

Microsoft launches cloud based Blockchain tech for would be bitcoin traders

bitcoin logo2Microsoft has launched a cloud-based ledger system for would-be bitcoin traders. The Azure service provider aims to ease traditional bankers and financial service companies into a new increasingly legitimised market as it gains currency in the world’s finance centres.

The system uses blockchain technology provided by New York based financial technology start up ConsensYs. It will give financial institutions the means to create affordable testing and proof of concept models as they examine the feasibility of bitcoin trading.

Blockchain technology’s ability to secure and validate any exchange of data will help convince compliance constrained finance institutes that this form of trading is no more dangerous than any other high speed automated trading environment, according to Microsoft. In a bitcoin system the ConsenYs blockchain will be used as a large decentralized ledger which keeps track of every bitcoin transaction.

Cloud technology could aggregate sufficient processing power to cater for all fluctuations demand for capacity in online trading. In turn this means that the IT service provider, whether internal or external, can guarantee that every transaction is verified and shared across a global computer network. The omnipresence of the blockchain reporting system makes it impossible for outside interference to go unmonitored.

The Microsoft blockchain service, launched on November 10th, also uses Ethereum’s programmable blockchain technology which will be delivered to existing banks and insurance clients already using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service. According to Microsoft four global financial institutions have already subscribed to the service.

Until now blockchain has been the ‘major pain point’ in bitcoin trading, according to Marley Gray, Microsoft’s director of tech strategy for financial services. Gray told Reuters that the cloud technology had made the technology affordable and easy enough to adopt. According to Gray it now only takes 20 minutes and no previous experience to spin up a private blockchain. Microsoft said it has simplified the system with templates it created, used in combination with its cloud-based flexible computing model.

The new testing systems made possible by ConsensYs create a ‘fail fast, fail cheap’ model that allows finance companies to explore the full range of possibilities of this new type of trading, said Gray.