A bevy of bankers (central) were in the news this week. Bank of Russia announced their POC dubbed "Masterchain" (uh, that is a bit too Putin-esque for my tastes), the Dubai government is backing multiple streams of DLT innovation, and Thomas Jordan from the SNB extolled the promise of DLT at a recent speech at Sibos:
Instead of a financial industry that is replaced by distributed ledgers, Jordan described a "hybrid scenario" where security information is settled on a distributed ledger and even opened up to the possibility of central banks issuing currency on a blockchain.
U.S. Fed Governor Lael Brainard gave an on the record address to a recent IIF gathering (attended by R3's Charley Cooper) that outlines the deep interest and knowledge of DLT within the Federal Reserve. It is worth a read in full:
All of this activity demonstrates that we are in a very innovative period. The industry is eager to get on with adopting the various possibilities that distributed ledger technology may bring. However, established players and, increasingly, new entrants understand that there are important guardrails that have been carefully developed over many years in the arena of payments, clearing, and settlement. The safety and soundness of financial institutions, safety and efficiency of the payment system, and broader financial stability are critical to a healthy financial environment that fosters innovation with broad public benefits over the long run. We expect the private sector to bear important responsibility for developing and deploying new financial technologies in a safe and sound manner, even as we all seek an innovative and efficient payment system over the long run. The deployment of any new financial technology must be undertaken with a thorough understanding and management of risks.
Like many new financial technologies, distributed ledgers could ameliorate or exacerbate traditional financial risks. What matters to us as policymakers and regulators is not only whether the migration to a new technological platform increases or reduces risks, but also whether risks are rendered more or less opaque, and how they are distributed among and between financial intermediaries and end users.
There are so many Things Tim Swanson Says that he has earned his own R3 Slack emoji (the timoji of course, see pic). This article from IBT is an almost perfect distillation of the Swanny Experience. I like this quote: "Despite likening his presence at DevCon to 'an atheist at church', Swanson applauded the Ethereum community for its openness and amiability." In other R3 news, we are pleased to welcome Antony Lewis to our growing team in Asia. Check out his personal blog at bitsonblocks.net for some lucid musings on all things blockchain.
Blockchain Farther Afield
Healthcare has recently emerged as the new hot field for blockchain tech. This past week, the Distributed: Health conference delved into the promise and hype of applying the blockchain magic wand to medical records. In Amsterdam, the winner of the Hyperledger hackathon tried to harness that magic by putting doctors and patients in control of their own data.
Another oft-cited application is in voting (which is the main topic of conversation in my house this weekend, as the missus is joyously tap-dancing on the grave of Trump '16). The European Parliament released this two pager on "a new generation of ‘techno-democratic systems’." next up is OxChain, a research project on how DLT may have "a unique capacity to broker value between stakeholders in a decentralised manner." The concepts behind smart contract creating "circular economies" are fascinating, yet they must overcome the hidden frictions that these utopian thought experiments inevitably leave out of scope (see: all human history of micropayments).
...and finally, folks keep comparing the blockchain movement to the Internet of the mid-nineties...so perhaps now is the time for the adult film industry to embrace it? [multiple blockchain puns removed by the editor]