Blockchain has captivated the interest of consumers across the globe. But blockchain has changed. Business owners struggle to first learn what it is and then determine how they can use it to their own benefit. Successful professionals realize the importance of staying informed on the latest tech news.
But when it comes to blockchain and bitcoin, things are constantly evolving. Staying abreast of these changes can be challenging, especially for a busy entrepreneur.
Here are 15 of the latest ways blockchain has changed. Each one of these will impact every business owner on the planet.
New Platform for SMBs
Global transactions are no longer limited to multinational corporations. Today’s small and medium-sized businesses frequently need to receive or send payments to vendors, independent contractors, and other business partners across borders.
A group of seven European banks called the Digital Trade Chain Consortium is currently working to build a trade platform geared specifically to the SMB. The goal is to create a user interface that banks can provide to SMBs. Making it easier to exchange funds with overseas business partners. Once implemented, this platform will increase transparency in overseas transactions. This will make it easier for business owners to track their fund exchanges.
It will also cut down on transaction fees for SMBs. According to IBM’s Keith Bear, there is currently a gap in credit offerings to SMBs, with 50 percent of small businesses lacking access to formal credit channels. This change will work to address that gap.
The value of Bitcoin, a type of blockchain currency, has increased exponentially recently, and the reason may surprise you. According to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, ransomware is driving the cryptocurrency’s price up, with the price possibly hitting $1 million.
The reason, explains Cramer, is that businesses are now stockpiling Bitcoin as protection with plans to pay off ransomware providers if someday they should strike one of their devices. Coinbase’s Adam White disagrees with Cramer’s assessment, however, instead choosing to believe that the increase in value is due to an increase in interest in cryptocurrency.
China Bank Advisor Labels Bitcoin Asset, Not Currency
Although some industry insiders want to see bitcoin eventually replace traditional forms of currency, one top China bank advisor has doubts. People’s Bank of China advisor Sheng Songcheng recently said in an interview that bitcoin lacks the fundamental attributes necessary to become a viable currency.
He does see cryptocurrency as a type of asset, but he believes that the supply would be capped in the year 2140.
Money should be able to scale to meet changing economic demands, he feels. He added that financial authorities in China should create a digital currency that can be sustained and regulated properly.
Financial Firms Buying In
For businesses closely following the growth of cryptocurrency, the news that more banks are trialing blockchain is notable. Swift, a global provider of secure financial messaging services, has added 22 firms to its global network of financial institutions testing the technology.
Newly-participating companies include well-known names like Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. With the project, Swift hopes to determine whether banks can use blockchain to reconcile their international nostro account in real time. A nostro account is an account financial institutions hold in another bank to exchange foreign currency.
In an interview, Registered Investment Advisor Hal Hammond of Sarasota, Florida, said, “Blockchain could prove itself to be part of the global financial community; modifying the way people bank all around the world.”
If the trial proves successful, blockchain could become a part of foreign funds exchange for banks across the globe, changing banking permanently.
Top Accounting Firms Experimenting
Businesses put their trust in accountants, so it’s notable that accounting firms are putting their trust in blockchain. The country’s top four accounting firms are now experimenting with the technology with an interest in determining how it will change the way businesses operate.
One of those firms is Deloitte, which created its first blockchain lab in Dublin, followed recently by a second hub in New York. Through these locations, a team is working hard to develop strategic blockchain capabilities and proofs of concept.
Deloitte also installed a blockchain ATM in its downtown Toronto office and accepts Bitcoin as payment in its internal restaurant.
International Monetary Fund Defines Cryptocurrency Role
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) works to ensure the security and financial stability of the international payment system, among other goals, so when it speaks out on blockchain, it makes news.
Recently, IMF released Fintech and Financial Services: Initial Considerations, a staff discussion note that addressed its view on cryptocurrencies. Among items mentioned in the document was the fact that virtual currencies are becoming an increasing part of the global financial landscape. It’s important to put regulations in place to protect consumers. IMF specifically wants rules governing ownership of digital currencies.
Distributed ledger technology (DLT) records bitcoin transactions. But the legal status of a digital token as it transfers from one party to another is not completely clear at this point. IMF hopes to put regulations in place that will clarify this for legal purposes as cryptocurrencies grow more popular.
Blockchain Used for Land Registration in Sweden
Although blockchain technology is gradually growing in America, its use is still limited. Overseas, however, some areas are embracing digital currency as a way to pay for everyday goods and services. One area is Sweden, where the land registry of Sweden recently decided to use blockchain to register land and properties.
The country says it has been investing in the technology since 2016, as well as testing the platform for use in its activities.
Blockchain will be used to track property records for residents of the country, making it easier to manage property disputes.
Sweden isn’t the first land authority to use blockchain to manage properties. In fact, Brazil and several other countries have been using the technology since earlier this year.
Delaware Passes Historic Blockchain Bill
Delaware Senate Bill 69 made national news as a landmark bill where governments are concerned. Provisions within the bill specifically recognize blockchain as a platform for trading stocks. This will open the door for future applications of the technology.
New York-based blockchain startup Symbiont worked with the State of Delaware to develop the bill. This then led to criticism that the bill might have been tailored to one company’s interests, rather than the entire industry. However, the unanimous passage of the bill has called attention to a national lack of regulation. This led to an even bigger consensus on the issue.
Experts hope this bill will prompt other states to take legislative action on the technology.
Indian Governments Eye Blockchain for Data Storage
Governments in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are considering blockchain as part of their e-governance environment, according to officials. The governments have asked for help from startups to test the technology. It seems like a more secure way to store and manage documents.
These aren’t the first government agencies to test the technology for document management.
Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra are among a small group of state governments trying out the technology. Andhra Pradesh officials plan to begin moving data to blockchain within the next year. They started discussions with technology services provider Broadridge Financial Solutions.
Infographic Shows Bitcoin’s Sizable Share of All Global Currency
Experts often argue over whether Bitcoin will take over the marketplace or die a slow, agonizing death. A new infographic shows just how much of an impact cryptocurrencies are making on the financial market.
Although Bitcoin’s $41 billion is a fraction of the $84 trillion global financial market, it’s still an impressive number. Currently physical notes and coins only total $31 trillion worldwide.
Perhaps most notable in the infographic are the facts that bitcoin was more stable than gold in 2016 and earlier this year, Cory Lagerstrom, Principal of Chagepath notes that, “bitcoin’s price surpassed the price of an ounce of gold for the first time ever.”
Blockchain Firm Warns Banks About Bitcoin
Banks have been eyeing bitcoin as a faster, more affordable way to conduct transactions. If they can speed up the process, they can better serve their customer bases without expending additional resources.
However, blockchain firm Ripple, which is working with the Bank of England on researching the technology, recently issued a warning about the technology. Ripple cautions that it won’t offer the improved speed and cost savings many banks are seeking.
Ripple believes the process of updating the ledger will become more laborious, slowing the process down for everyone.
Additionally, Ripple believes that the fact that everyone gets a copy of every transaction through the ledger will be a problem for banks. eBanks may not want that information available to competitors.
Experts Predict Future Healthcare Uses of Blockchain
The healthcare industry has paid close attention to the emergence of blockchain as a possible medical technology. According to a recent survey by The Pistoia Alliance, the primary use for blockchain will be in storing medical records.
The Pistoia Alliance is an organization of professionals in the fields of life science, technology, publishing, and academia. Of the responses, 60 percent stated that they think the storage of medical records will be blockchain’s biggest impact on the field.
More than two-thirds of respondents specifically stated that they think blockchain will be used to create an audit trail for pharmaceutical prescriptions and dispensation.
IRS Investigation Into Coinbase Narrows in Scope
Coinbase has faced criticism in recent months due to consumer complaints and a high-profile IRS investigation. The latter has led to even more criticism from those in the industry who feel that the IRS’s audit is too broad. According to a new report, the IRS has agreed to scale back its audit, eliminating its controversial plans to require password and security settings for Coinbase accounts.
However, the IRS was only demanding this information as a negotiating tactic.
Coinbase has been plagued by technical issues in recent months, as well as complaints about its infrastructure in light of the fees the company charges.
Multimillionaire Travels the World on Bitcoin Profits
When many people think of earning riches, they rarely consider doing it through the use of cryptocurrencies. But one former software engineer has done just that. Forbes contributor Jordan Bishop recently found himself seated next to a well-traveled man in Hong Kong who only flies first class and stays in the best accommodations.
The reporter actually verified the man’s claims. The traveler earned his wealth through blockchain technology. Took a look his wallet, where his balance read 1,000.00 BTC. This is worth $2.6+ million. Overall, the man claims to have made $25 million on Bitcoin.
More than 100 Bitcoin ATMs Now Available
One of the biggest deterrents to cryptocurrency is convenience. If consumers can’t easily access and spend their money, they’ll choose another option. Coinsource’s goal is to change that. Making it as easy to cash out Bitcoin as it is to get money from a traditional ATM.
The company recently crossed the 100 mark on its global machine installations, having added 14 machines in the state of New York since the beginning of this year. This was a jump from 70 machines to 103, with 30 of those machines located in New York. Using these machines, consumers can exchange bitcoins for cash and cash for bitcoins.
Blockchain technology is slowly becoming a part of everyday consumer life and that will only continue. By paying attention to the latest news, business owners can prepare themselves. You’ll have intelligent conversations with colleagues about blockchain in the near future. You might even consider incorporating the technology into you own long-term business plans.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.