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Forbes Releases List of Billion Dollar Companies Using Blockchain

Finance publication Forbes has released a list of 50 $1 billion firms that are implementing blockchain technology.

Financial news outlet Forbes has released a list of “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies,” or companies implementing blockchain technology that have minimum revenues or valuations of $1 billion, on April 16.

The list includes companies in the cryptocurrency and blockchain development spaces, in addition to traditional financial firms like banks and clearing houses, food companies, supply chain management firms and others.

Most of the companies listed are household names like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, ING, Mastercard, Microsoft and Nestle.

Cryptocurrency-related companies featured on the list include United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, European mining and hardware firm Bitfury, and blockchain-based financial services network and XRP token creator Ripple.

In addition to noting major firms that are dabbling or full-on adopting blockchain technology, the list also includes which blockchain protocols are being adopted and by whom. Various Hyperledger protocols, blockchain consortium R3’s Corda protocol and the Ethereum network are prominently featured at a number of firms across various industries.

Forbes notes the potential for blockchain technology to simplify various business process per the example of Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC), which keeps records of 90 million transactions a day, or most of the world’s $48 trillion dollars in securities.

Per Forbes, the firm will begin switching its 50,000 accounts to a blockchain-based system, which will help eliminate duplicate procedures and reconciliations that are still prone to happen on traditional electronic clearing networks.

In mid-March, DTCC published a white paper outlining guiding principles for the post-trade processing of tokenized securities. The paper notes the unique characteristics of the nascent market for tokenized securities and proposes that global policy standards for traditional markets are often applicable, and useful for stakeholders to identify the legal responsibilities pertaining to security token platforms.

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IBM Scores Deal With US Credit Union Group to Use Hyperledger Blockchain

CU Ledger, a consortium of U.S. credit unions that’s been experimenting with a range of private blockchains, has added one more to the list: IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric solution.

The consortium will use IBM’s tech to create “an immutable audit trail that can be used to create new business models and transform existing business processes for credit unions,” Big Blue said Monday.

In particular, the new solutions will be built for such services as identity authentication, compliance with know-your-customer (KYC) regulations, lending and payments, the tech giant said. The first blockchain-based services will be available to CULedger members “later in 2019,” IBM said.

However, the consortium told CoinDesk it will keep its relationships with previously announced partners R3, Hedera and Evernym.

“The use of a specific blockchain platform will be dependent on each particular application or use case that is being developed. Our partners, such as IBM, Evernym and Sovrin, each play a role within our overall strategy and solutions,” Julie Esser, CULedger’s chief experience officer, told CoinDesk.

“We are not replacing any of the relationships that we have previously announced,” she said. “CULedger is building a network of networks that will facilitate the peer-to-peer exchange of anything digital. As we continue to develop our solutions, there will be applications better suited for different networks, and CULedger will enable those networks to interact with each other.”

For example, CULedger is building an identity solution for its members leveraging the Hyperledger Indy platform (the code for which was developed by Evernym and contributed by the Sovrin Foundation). But the new KYC-related product will use Fabric (which IBM contributed to the open-source Hyperledger project), Esser said.

Past partnerships

Last May, the consortium announced it was going to use Hedera’s Hashgraph distributed ledger technology (DLT) to build a public system for cross-border payments. In December, CULedger also announced it was joining R3’s global network of companies building on the open-source Corda platform. The group also said earlier its identity solution MyCUID was developed with Evernym, an identity-focused blockchain company.

At the moment, CULedger isn’t building on Corda, Esser explained, but “there is an opportunity in the future” for the consortium to leverage R3’s tech. Evernym remains a key partner, providing the front-end solution for MyCUID. As for Hedera, CULedger “doesn’t have a specific use case at this time” in the works for Hashgraph, including the earlier mentioned cross-border payments, Esser said, but, “it is still on our roadmap.”

According to Esser, eight credit unions participating in CULedger now are piloting different use cases using MyCUID, including one for call center user authentication. The consortium has 38 member institutions overall, according to its website.

CULedger was first unveiled in 2016, led by the Credit Union National Association with 55 credit unions on board at the time. The consortium managed to hire away Mastercard’s executive vice president of North America markets, John Ainsworth, who became CULedger’s president and CEO in December 2017.

At the end of January, CULedger announced that it had successfully closed a $10 million A Series funding round.

Hyperledger image from Consensus 2018 hackathon, image via CoinDesk archives.

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Wall Street Blockchain Alliance Joins Enterprise Blockchain Consortium R3

The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance will partner with R3 to develop solutions on their Corda blockchain platform.

The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) has joined blockchain consortium R3 to develop applications and solutions on their Corda platform, a Feb. 5 press release reports.

According to a statement made by the CEO of R3, David E. Rutter, the WSBA and R3 will collaborate in order to “advocate a strategic approach to collaborating with regulatory bodies so that financial markets, and beyond can gain the full benefits of blockchain’s capabilities.”

The WSBA is a non-profit trade association that promotes the general adoption of blockchain technology and crypto assets across international markets.

R3, an enterprise blockchain software firm with over 300 partners, has developed Corda, an open-source blockchain platform for both the private and public sectors across multiple industries. Corda is a blockchain platform that allows for institutions to transact directly with the usage of smart contracts while ensuring their user’s privacy and security.

In mid-January, R3 announced the launch of its Corda Network, with non-for-profit organization the Corda Network Foundation responsible for its operations.

On Jan. 30, Cointelegraph reported that Japanese financial company SBI Holdings would also partner with R3 as they aim to help them develop the local use of Corda blockchain on their platform.

Also at the end of January, major global banking payments network SWIFT revealed its plans to develop a Proof-of-Concept gateway that would allow R3 to link to the SWIFT Global Payments Innovation payments from their platform.

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XRP Price Pumps As SWIFT Partners With Ripple Rival R3

The CEO of SWIFT revealed today that the institution is working on a proof-of-concept for integrating blockchain start-up’s R3 trade finance platform with SWIFT’s GPI framework. 

Proof-of-Concept Blockchain Integration

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a global banking payments network. It works with over 11,000 institutions and moves an estimated $200 billion every day.

Today, speaking at the Paris Fintech Forum, the company’s CEO, Gottfried Leibbrandt, revealed that they are working on a proof-of-concept for integrating R3’s blockchain-based trade finance platform with SWIFT’s Global Payments Innovation (GPI) framework. Leibbrandt said:

We are announcing later today a proof-of-concept with the R3 blockchain on trade where you can initiate a payment on the trade platform and then it goes into GPI. We’re exploring interconnectivity with a lot of things and banks have always been a part of that interconnectivity.

The GPI initiative was introduced by SWIFT back in 2017 and it’s intended to speed up payment-processing times, lower the costs and increase transparency. However, it relies predominantly on currently existing infrastructure and as such, it can be rather slow and expensive.

Shots Fired

Leibbrandt was speaking on stage right next to Ripple’s CEO Brad Garlinghouse. The latter has previously criticized SWIFT for its high published error rate, saying:

SWIFT’s published error rate is six percent. Imagine if six percent of your emails didn’t go through without additional human intervention.

Garlinghouse didn’t miss the chance to highlight the benefits of decentralization, while also outlining some of SWIFT’s weak points:

Swift today is a one-way messaging framework, it isn’t a liquidity provider. When we think about an internet of value, it’s a mixture of two-way messaging frameworks — moving to a real-time chatting protocol if you will — coupled with real-time liquidity.

On the other hand, Leibbrandt said that his company’s historic reluctance about blockchain has been fueled additionally by volatile swings and sharp declines in the price of cryptocurrency.

He also outlined that a large part of Ripple’s value proposition is XRP – the cryptocurrency and that banks are reluctant to convert because of the volatility.

While none of them hinted at a potential near-term partnership, Garlinghouse said that they are open to “ways we could work with SWIFT.”

It’s worth noting, however, that last year R3 launched an application aimed to enhance global cryptocurrency payments, Corda Settler, the first settlement mechanism that it decided to use was XRP.

And while R3 and Ripple are technically competitors, following SWIFT’s announcement the price of XRP 00 marks 8.8% increase at the time of this writing.

What do you think of SWIFT’s announcement? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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2 Executives Are Leaving Blockchain Startup R3 in Management Shake-Up

Distributed ledger technology provider R3 has carried out an extensive internal reorganization, resulting in the departure of two members of its management committee, CoinDesk has learned.

Brian McNulty, a managing director and head of global services, and Lauren Carroll, chief administrative officer, are leaving the company, R3 told employees at town hall meetings Friday, according to people familiar with the situation.

An R3 spokesperson confirmed the internal reorganization, which he said will include an expansive hiring program for 2019, but declined to comment on individual staff departures. Neither McNulty nor Carroll answered requests for comment by press time.

McNulty joined R3 in March 2016 when the start-up was busy onboarding consortium member banks. He had previously founded the PTDL (Post Trade Distributed Ledger) Group, a rival blockchain group which numbered around 40 members including CME Group, State Street Bank and the London Stock Exchange.

Carroll was formerly in-house counsel at ICAP before transitioning into business management roles at the electronic trading firm.

New team structure

As part of the reorganization, co-founder Todd McDonald will run a new “design” team that combines all of R3’s product and marketing efforts, according to a memo CEO David Rutter sent the company’s roughly 200 employees after Friday’s town hall meetings.

Product management was previously in the same division as engineering, which Richard Gendal Brown will continue to lead.

The memo also outlined several other changes:

  • Chief engineer James Carlyle will run a new “production” team dedicated to supporting the deployment of R3’s technology at client companies.
  • The general counsel’s office has been merged with external affairs and placed under Charley Cooper, who has long overseen regulatory affairs and public relations for R3.
  • Chief of staff Zack Kavanaugh assumed added responsibilities for recruiting, HR and business resources.
  • Chief financial officer (CFO) Paul Harris will oversee a combined finance and corporate development (M&A team.
  • A search is underway for a chief revenue officer (CRO) to lead the sales team. As CoinDesk reported earlier this month, Scott Grayson, R3’s former chief sales officer, left in September and recently joined the blockchain services firm AlphaPoint.

In June 2018 R3 had to field media speculation that the company was running short of funds. More recently, a legal dispute with Ripple concerning a contract to purchase five billion XRP tokens was resolved.

Image: R3 founder David Rutter at Consensus, from CoinDesk archives