This week in tech: India, Turkey, UK make moves as China’s investment drops

The world’s first central backed digital currency is yet to see the light of day, but progress is being made. This week, the Bank of England announced that it plans to explore possible use cases for a digital currency. The BoE has joined hands with the Bank of International Settlements and five other central banks in the project, among them the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank. The move could be among the most significant steps in the push for the use of CBDCs across Europe and beyond.

The move by the BoE is one of many in the past year, as the world seeks to adopt blockchain-based digital currencies. According to the World Economic Forum, central banks are waking up to digital currencies. During the Davos 2020 conference this week, the WEF launched the CBDC Policy-Maker Toolkit that’s aimed at helping central banks find the best way to integrate digital currencies into their monetary systems. The organization gathered insight from central bank researchers, international organizations, global policy‑makers and experts from over 40 institutions.

Still on CBDCs, the MIT blockchain research group believes that most of them will use technology currently being applied by existing digital currencies. The Digital Currency Initiative published a report this week stating that most CBDCs will copy features such as “the usefulness of programmability in money and the importance of preserving user privacy.”

In India, the government is struggling to find some middle ground on crypto and blockchain. While the Reserve Bank has had its issues with crypto, the country’s securities regulator believes blockchain will play a key role. Ajay Tiagi, the chairman of the Security and Exchange Board of India is urging the exploration of blockchain applications in the securities market, such as in clearing, settlement and record-keeping.

Still in India, the country’s Telecoms and IT Minister has called for blockchain solutions for improving quality of government schools. Ravi Prasad called on the National Informatics Center to develop solutions for public schools, saying he is very keen on leveraging blockchain technology in primary education. He was speaking during the inauguration of a blockchain center of excellence in Bengaluru.

In Turkey, the city of Konya is working on integrating blockchain, including developing its own digital currency. The city has blockchain experts already looking into how the technology can be integrated in social programs. The proposed digital currency, City Coin, will be used in the social programs as well as other state payment systems.

The world’s largest brewing company is also using blockchain, leveraging the technology to help African farmers prove their income. Anheuser-Busch InBev, the maker of the popular Budweiser, has developed a blockchain-powered system that keeps track of all the farmers supplying it. This system replaces the tedious paper trails previously used. The farmers can use it to prove their income to banks and other financial institutions, a crucial factor in acquiring credit facilities.

Argo Blockchain had the best year yet in 2019, a report this week revealed. The report claimed that the crypto mining company saw a tenfold increase in its revenue last year. Argo, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange generated $11 million, up from $987,000 in 2018.

While blockchain technology is rising to the top, China has scaled down its investment in the technology. A report by state-run Xinhua revealed that the country saw 245 financing deals in blockchain in 2019. These deals accounted for $3.6 billion, a 40.8% drop from the previous year. Beijing, Shenzhen and Hangzhou had the most deals, the report stated.

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