This week in tech: The CBDC race is on, as KT and Microsoft launch projects

This week in tech: CBDC race is on, KT launches blockchain project

Adoption was in high gear this week, with South Korean telecommunications giant KT Corporation leading the pack. KT has partnered with China Mobile on a blockchain system that will allow the two companies to compute roaming charges for their users easily and more conveniently. The system will self-analyze the roaming data from the two companies and process the charges on real-time basis, local media reported.

In Sri Lanka, the country’s central bank is turning to blockchain technology to improve its know-your-customer (KYC) processes. The bank announced that it’s seeking companies with experience in building blockchain applications for the project. Sri Lanka believes that the application of blockchain in KYC will increase efficiency in its financial sector and boost financial inclusion.

Still in Asia, India’s largest province is turning to blockchain in its energy industry. Uttar Pradesh province is seeking to launch a blockchain-powered solar energy platform that will facilitate pee-to-peer trading. Residents who have solar panels in their homes will be able to sell the power, setting the prices and tracking the trading using smart contracts.

In Russia, a mining giant will now offer digital tokens backed by metals which will be tradable for physical supplies. Nornickel partnered with other players in the metals industry to offer the tokens which will be available before the end of the year. The company believes that the digital tokens will account for 20% of their total sales in a few years.

Blockchain continued to infiltrate the soccer world, with one of the world’s largest clubs launching a fan token this week. Italian soccer club Juventus launched the token, which will enable its fans to participate in voting and influencing some of the club’s decisions. Juve follows in the footsteps of French soccer giant PSG which launched a similar token earlier this year.

This week also saw France announcing that it would launch a central bank digital currency in the first quarter of 2020. The governor of Banque de France revealed that the CBDC would be limited to institutional use initially. He also revealed just how crucial it is for France to launch its CBDC quickly, believing that this could make it the global digital currency hub. With China in advanced stages in its CBDC journey, France hopes to beat the Asian giant to the launch and become the global benchmark for other countries which intend to launch CBDCs.

The British Virgin Islands are walking the talk, launching the BVI-LIFE national digital currency this week. The currency will not be a CBDC and will be developed by a third party, with the BVI government being in charge of distribution. The currency will reduce the Islands’ reliance on the U.S. dollar which has been the national currency for 60 years.

On the regulatory front, Russia could be getting closer to banning crypto. The country’s central bank is ready to support the anti-crypto bill that is on the works, it emerged this week. This is a huge contrast to a few months ago when the bank revealed that a CBDC was a possibility. And while Russia is moving against cryptos, South Africa is working on becoming a crypto hub. Africa’s second-largest economy is working on crypto regulations and intends on introducing them in Q1 2020.

In the U.S., the SEC appointed a new head of cyber unit to police the crypto industry. The previous head, Robert Cohen, departed in August. Still in the U.S., the NYDFS issued the BitLicense to SoFi Digital Assets this week. The license allows the company to offer crypto trading and storage services in the state of New York.

Blockchain and crypto companies had a busy week as well. Circle conducted a reshuffle, with co-founder Sean Neville leaving his post as the CEO of the Boston-based firm. Earlier in the week, Circle sought to cut all ties with Poloniex, notifying U.S. customers that they would incur fees beginning mid-December. OneConnect, the blockchain arm of Chinese insurer Ping An, also reported lower valuation this week, with its IPO not getting off to the best start.

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.