This week in tech: China all in on blockchain, more nations explore CBDCs

Last week, it was all about cryptocurrency malware. This week is much more positive, with more adoption and positive policy implementation. China has approved 309 new blockchain firms, a big milestone given the country’s influence on the industry. Bahamas has revealed it intends on launching a digital currency, while Germany’s Deutsche Boerse has completed a trade settlement using DLT and digital tokens. Libra is also on the news, although it still isn’t in positive light.

This week saw China’s Internet regulator release a list of 309 blockchain service providers that are now licensed to offer their services in the Asian country. The list contains a wide array of firms, from giants such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China to smaller startups involved in crypto mining, wallet services and more. Altogether, the country has now authorized over 500 blockchain companies.

And in more positive news from China, the country’s president is pro-blockchain and wants the country to accelerate its blockchain adoption rate. In his comments during an event this week, Xi Jinping stated that implementing blockchain is key if the country wants to promote innovation and transform its industries. In line with Jinping’s ambition, China has implemented a law that seeks to set standards for the application of cryptography.

Also in China, one of the country’s largest payments processor, WeChat Pay, is using blockchain to track payments.

After Wales announced that it was exploring a state-backed digital currency last week, this week was the turn of the Bahamas to make a similar announcement. The Central Bank of Bahamas is developing the digital currency to ensure financial resilience, especially in the event of a natural disaster. The country’s banking sector took a hit after a recent hurricane, and the digital currency is the country’s defense against such an event in the future.

In more adoption news, the World Economic Forum revealed that it has partnered with seven major mining and metals firms in a blockchain project that seeks to promote responsible sourcing. The companies include Tata Steel, De Beers, Glencore International AG and Klockner & Co.

Blockchain technology also continued to make inroads in the finance industry, with Germany’s second largest bank, Commerzbank completing a joint pilot securities transaction that utilized DLT and digital tokens. The bank partnered with securities marketplace Deutsche Borse and ERGO Group, one of Europe’s leading insurers.

In Cambodia, the central bank is seeking to increase efficiency in remittance by turning to blockchain technology. The Assistant Governor revealed this week that the bank has already been experimenting with domestic blockchain payments, but its target is cross-border payments which remain quite costly for the citizens.

On the regulatory front, top U.S. regulators this week joined other global regulators in a regulatory sandbox that seeks to regulate emerging fintech including blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The U.S. Commodities Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were among the regulators which joined the Global Financial Innovation Network, an initiative which was founded by the U.K.’s FCA and other regulators.

Still in the U.S., CFTC’s blockchain research wing has been developed into an independent office this week to fully focus on its mandate. Known as LabCFTC, it’ll now report directly to the chairman, Heath Tarbert. FinCEN chief also sent a stern warning to crypto firms this week, reminding them that they aren’t exempt from AML laws governing other financial entities.

Thailand is set to have its first regulated ICO, with Seamico Securities revealing this week that the country’s regulator had approved its token sale.

And if you’re wondering when Twitter plans on joining the Libra movement, the answer is never. Pro-crypto Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey revealed this week that his company is never joining Libra, a project he has criticized for some time now.

And while Dorsey is anti-Libra, the Visa CEO revealed that his company was still interested in Libra, a rare instance of support for the embattled project. This comes after some members such as PayPal dropped out of the Libra Association, with others being reported to be on their way out. The week also saw Mark Zuckerberg grilled in Capitol Hill, and despite his best efforts to paint Libra in good light, the regulators remain as skeptic of the project as ever.

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