Hong Kong Monetary Authority to Launch Multi-Bank Blockchain Trade Finance Platform

Hong Kong’s de facto central bank will launch its own blockchain trade finance solution with 21 banks in August, Financial Times (FT) reported Sunday, July 15.

The joint venture between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Chinese company Ping An Group’s fintech subsidiary OneConnect aims to substantially reduce paperwork, costs security risks for participants, FT reports.

A major aim of the 21-party scheme is to reduce the amount of time and bureaucracy involved in signing up new fledgling businesses to banking services by smoothing over transactions.  

Using blockchain, “some” transactions will process in just one day against up to fourteen days using current methods, as FT reports.

Originally announced in November 2017, the move marks the first example of a regulator “bringing banks together” to improve trade finance, as Ping An deputy chief executive Jessica Tan described it. As Cointelegraph reported in May, a previous trade finance deal from HSBC was a smaller-scale affair, involving an individual bank.

“Instead of individual banks trying to do this you have the regulator trying to bring the banks together,” Tan told FT.

Ping An has already developed blockchain-powered solutions for the Chinese domestic market, and hopes the same technology will see success over the border, according to FT. The company, China’s second-biggest insurer with assets worth 4.7 tln yuan ($704 bln), joined the distributed ledger technology-focussed R3 Consortium in 2016.

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Kodak-Branded Crypto Miner-for-Rent Scheme Fizzles Out

A Kodak-branded Bitcoin (BTC) miner rental scheme will not go ahead as planned, the company’s licensee Spotlite told the BBC July 16.

Spotlite USA is one of many firms that licenses the Kodak brand to put on its own products, such as Kodak LED Lighting. Spotlite USA presented the Kodak-labelled KashMiner on Kodak’s official stand at the CES technology show in Las Vegas in January.

According to Spotlite’s plans, the mining equipment was originally intended to be rented out, with an up-front fee of about $3,400. Customers could then keep a share of mined cryptocurrency. According to Spotlite, the initial fee of $3,400 would result in $375 per month over two years through mining Bitcoin.

While Spotlite’s chief executive Halston Mikail had announced plans to install units at Kodak’s Rochester, New York headquarters, Kodak told BBC that the scheme was never officially licensed.

“While you saw units at CES from our licensee Spotlite, the KashMiner is not a Kodak brand licensed product. Units were not installed at our headquarters.”

The rental scheme was criticized by many as a scam that misled customers about promised profits. Economist Saifedean Ammous said, “There is no way your magical Kodak miner will make the same $375 every month.” Many critics also suggested that the scheme did not take into account the fact that Bitcoin mining is becoming more complicated.

Mikail told the BBC that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) prevented Spotlite from moving ahead with the miner rental plan. He added that the firm will now privately deploy its mining equipment in Iceland, instead of offering it for rent.

On Jan. 9, Kodak announced plans to launch its own cryptocurrency on the KodakOne platform. KodakOne will allow photographers to register their work, license photographs, and search the internet for unauthorized usage. On Jan. 30, just a day before the initial coin offering (ICO) was set to start, Kodak delayed the launch of the new cryptocurrency, citing the need to evaluate the status of potential investors.

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