26/04/2021 - 9/05/2021


What does the World Economic Forum have to say about distributed ledger technologies?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) plays host to perhaps the largest and most important annual gathering of business leaders, international politicians, lobbying groups, celebrities and economists at Davos.

What sort of topics do they discuss? Well this year it seems tokenization has been on the WEFs agenda, recently publishing a report discussing the potential impact of distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) on the global capital market. A market it values at $866.9 trillion

Luckily its good news, at least for the most part. Describing the nature of the problem DLTs can solve:

"legacy processes and technology systems have created complexity, opacity and fragmentation across markets, which likely has a meaningful impact on costs, market liquidity and firms’ balance sheet capacity."

In particular the report also highlighted the utility of DLTs for debt markets, valued globally at $106 trillion, enabling improved issuance, order books, retail bond distribution, market liquidity and more. Nevertheless, the report also warned of "substantial headwinds" which could limit the rate of adoption:

limited leadership buy-in, uncertain business cases, the need for significant restructuring of business operations, challenges relating to bridging legacy systems with new solutions, and perceptions about regulatory uncertainty.

All these factors may indeed slow down speed of industry-wide change, but most importantly, and as the report makes clear, it won't stop it either. Rather, the widespread adoption of DLT is just a matter of time, despite considerable challenges still ahead.

The report also noted competing visions for the future. One possible outcome is that DLTs will simply enhance the efficiencies of existing centralized institutions. Another is that "significant" or even "radical" levels of disintermediation and decentralization can be achieved, giving people the power to be their own banks.

The future is open. That's why we're building it.


Assessing Blockchain's potential value to the defense industry...

Many of the world’s technological leaps have been unsurprisingly intertwined with military applications. Nuclear energy started out as nuclear weapons, the internet began as a military communications network, and if movies are anything to go by, then I hardly need to say anything about artificial intelligence.

But what about blockchain? Perhaps the answer would seem obvious; a distributed ledger can’t exactly drive a battle tank into war after all (Ethereum smart contract anyone?). Nevertheless, military applications for blockchain are being developed, with NATO calling for more research on the matter.

Deloitte’s assessment of blockchain for cyber security noted, that whilst not “bullet proof”, blockchain offered several advantages including no single points of failure, immutable and traceable data, effective encryption, and operational resilience. Clearly highlighting blockchain’s potential applications for cyber-defense and network resilience at a time when cyber warfare is becoming increasingly prevalent.

PwC have emphasized the potential for blockchain to vastly improve military supply-chain management. A single F-35 fighter jet has around 300,000 components, manufactured by over 1,900 different suppliers, with supply-chain data often manually or centrally controlled. Blockchain could offer the military better control, data-integrity, and visibility over its entire supply-chain.

Indeed, this is where current efforts seems to be focused. Xage Security recently announced a partnership with the US Air Force to secure their flight maintenance data operations, with their underlying technology utilizing blockchain to “enforce data control” at a granular level between various different parties, systems and devices.

So, whilst blockchain might not win you the war, it seemingly can help you win the supply-chain battle.


Policy and Regulation

  • New German regulation will allow investment funds known as “Spezialfonds” (collectively worth $1.8 trillion) to allocate 20% of their portfolios into crypto, Decrypt reported. Previous regulations prevented them from investing into crypto.
  • China’s mining operations may face increased supervision and regulation in the near future, Cointelegraph reported. Beijing sent an “emergency notice” to data centres involved in mining to assess their energy usage. Future regulation is likely as China seeks to reduce its carbon footprint.
  • The UK is seemingly moving ahead with its plans for a central Bank digital currency, where the Bank of England posting 7 CBDC job openings, Cointelegraph reported.

Technology

Institutions

  • Cardano developer OIHK has agreed a deal with the Ethiopian government to provide a blockchain-based national identity database for education, reported Decrypt. The ledger will be used to create “tamper-proof records” of educational performance.
  • The CEO of Hasbro, Brian Goldner, has described NFTs as a “real opportunity” for the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering, Decrypt reported.

Markets