Banking on Blockchain Update: January 11, 2019

Canada in Focus

The price of bitcoin has fallen again, leaving it at an extreme low – especially when compared to the price in December 2017 when it was over $20,000 CAD. The drop has been seen across the wider cryptocurrency market, including Rillple’s XRP and Ethereum. Analysts attribute the drop to several causes, but say there is an overall fear in the market surrounding security and blockchain technology itself.

Elections Canada, the agency responsible for policing the federal political fundraising efforts, is now polling parties on how best to manage contributions made with bitcoin and other cryptocurrency platforms. The agency has released a draft interpretation note detailing how these types of transactions should be handled. Parties will have until January 21 to submit their views on the issue, and will determine whether or not changes should be made to the final version of the note. Elections Canada has currently taken the position that cryptocurrency donations are considered non-monetary.

Following a previous announcement, Deloitte announced a plan to help The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance expand into Canada. This move could signal a significant step towards the development and international grown for blockchain-based insurance applications. RiskBlock also announced that it would chair blockchain standards for ACORD, the global body responsible for setting insurance industry standards.

The Canada-based securities broker Finequia has partnered with Nivaura, a capital markets technology company building a new way for automated issuance and administration of financial products under the auspices of the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority’s “sandbox” regime. The partnership will deliver a fully tokenized bond-issuing in the UK. The news was announced in a press release this week, and mentioned how the type of tokenization in question is still relatively unexplored in the crypto space. The two companies will run a test on the Ethereum network, including registration and a token distribution before its official launch.

On the World Stage

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced federal funding of up to US$4.8 million for universities working on projects related to blockchain technology. Projects under the initiative are aimed at achieving more affordable domestic energy resources, improved electric grids, analytical results for coal plants, improved water reuse processes, or investigation on coal fly ash.

While the U.S. government is adopting blockchain technology in some departments, others are still skeptical. Meltem Demirors, the CSO of CoinShares says that a Bitcoin ETF is “absolutely not” going to be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Demirors says that there are still fundamental concerns with respect to market stability and oversight.

NECTEC, Thailand’s national electronics and computer technology centre, has started a system of e-voting which revolves around blockchain technology. They believe that by utilizing blockchain technology, they will be able to ensure a safer voting process, which will be less susceptible to fraudulent voting practices. NECTEC is an administrative organization, which works under the Ministry of Science in Thailand.

In other news, two notable European regulators have both called for cryptocurrency and ICO rules at the EU level. The European Banking Authority (EBA) has urged the European Commission to examine whether unified crypto rules are required across the region. As a result, the EBA has asked for a comprehensive analysis to determine what action may be needed.