JPMorgan Gives Crypto A Chance, Blockchain Startup Poaches Visa Exec

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Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard offered her input on the cryptocurrency debate this week, declaring “no compelling demonstrated need” for a central bank-created digital currency.

Speaking at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Brainard warned that a cryptocurrency created by the Fed could potentially be a target for cyberattacks or act as a money-laundering vehicle.

“It could become a substitute for retail banking deposits,” she said, according to Forbes. “This could restrict banks’ ability to make loans for productive economic activities and have broader macroeconomic consequences.”

It was yet another swipe against digital currencies, yet does not necessarily say anything about the potential for blockchain to have a role among central banks. While officials ponder that possibility, the latest data from Deloitte says businesses are certainly interested in blockchain technology.

“We are at an inflection point,” said Deloitte U.S. Head of Financial Services Blockchain Group and Deloitte Consulting LLP principal Linda Pawczuk in a statement, according to Enterprise Times reports. “Momentum is shifting from a focus on ‘blockchain tourism’ and exploring the technology’s potential to building practical business applications.”

Three-quarters of businesses surveyed by Deloitte in March and April said they see a “compelling business case” for blockchain technology within their enterprises — and about half of them said they have already begun developing a blockchain system.

But not everyone is convinced: Twenty-two percent of companies around the world — and 30 percent of those in the U.S. — said they don’t see a compelling application for blockchain to justify investment and development of an app.

Still, more than 40 percent of businesses said they will deploy a blockchain application within the next year. This week’s Blockchain Tracker takes a look at the believers, the doubters and some of the latest blockchain solutions that are already hitting the market.

JPMorgan

JPMorgan has reportedly shifted executive Oliver Harris into a role focused on exploring the potential for blockchain and cryptocurrencies in its corporate investment bank operations, according to Financial News London. Harris, who previously headed the financial institution’s (FI) unit focused on developing new FinTech solutions, represents JPMorgan’s changing attitude with regards to the technology: Last year, Chief Executive Jamie Dimon slammed bitcoin as a “fraud.” But according to reports, its latest initiative — revealed to the publication by unnamed sources — suggests JPMorgan is willing to at least consider bitcoin and blockchain.

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group

Japan’s largest bank, MUFJ, announced this week that it will launch a blockchain payments network in collaboration with cloud company Akamai, according to Internet of Business reports. The bank claims that its solution will be both the fastest and most scalable on the market (once it lands on the market, that is), with near real-time notifications and the ability to handle 1 million transactions per second.

Commerzbank

Germany-based Commerzbank declared it a “milestone” when it announced its proof of concept that integrates the SAP S/4HANA system and R3’s Corda blockchain platform. According to the FI’s divisional board member Nikolaus Giesbert, integrating the two technologies could potentially offer corporate customers a direct link into key insights from their own ERP systems via blockchain technology without manual data entry into separate user interfaces. Commerzbank’s Michael Spitz, head of the bank’s main incubator, said the integration is a “crucial requirement for implementing new trade finance and supply chain finance solutions in the blockchain environment,” according to Global Trade Review.

Crypterium

The name may not be familiar, but its latest hire is: Blockchain startup Crypterium announced its new CEO, Marc O’Brien, former CEO of Visa U.K. According to a press release, O’Brien recently advised the U.K. Royal Mint about a possible crypto token backed by gold. He will now spearhead Crypterium’s launch of the Crypterium App, enabling users to pay with cryptocurrency via the issuance of a virtual card linked to mobile payment platforms like Apple Pay.

Infosys Finacle

Infosys Finacle revealed the successful launch of India Trade Connect, its blockchain-powered trade network created with Axis Bank, ICICI Bank, IndusInd Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and other FIs in India. Its India-focused Trade Connect is a pilot to the company’s broader, global solution to manage trade finance processes for lenders aimed at heightening transparency and risk mitigation. According to Infosys Finacle Chief Business Officer Sanat Rao, “blockchain technology offers unprecedented opportunities to transform banking.”

Tradeshift

The launch of Tradeshift Pay from supply chain management company Tradeshift caught the attention of the blockchain world for its use of distributed ledger technology to facilitate invoice payments. The solution is the latest in a small-but-growing group of working blockchain solutions, enabling businesses to pay their suppliers via blockchain or other technology, including virtual cards. Tradeshift said it hopes to enable businesses to capture early payment discounts and address the cash flow struggles of suppliers waiting to get paid.

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