This week in tech: More countries implement positive regulations

For the past few years, several companies globally have been getting into blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. For those that are yet to, it has mostly been out of regulatory uncertainty. As more regulators start to implement positive policies, these companies are showing their appetite for blockchain and crypto.

In Germany, a recent amendment of the securities laws has led to a flurry of interest from local banks to offer crypto custody services. According to reports this week, Germany’s financial markets regulator has received applications from over 40 banks, all seeking licenses to offer crypto custody. Some of the banks in the country have already been offering crypto products, and with the amendments, they are seeking to cement their position as leaders in the new asset class.

As the German banks seek to start offering crypto custody, one crypto custodian is already making inroads in the market. American custodian startup BitGo this week announced that it had established two new European subsidiaries. The two, in Switzerland and Germany, will give the startup a firmer grip on the European market. BitGo cited the positive regulations and thriving crypto ecosystems in the two countries as the reason for the move.

In Belgium, the financial markets regulator called on the country’s lawmakers to formulate policies for the crypto and blockchain industry. In a Senate hearing this week, the chairman of the FSMA urged the lawmakers to follow the example set by Thailand and China in fostering the uptake of cryptos and blockchain technology.

In Italy, the regulator is clearing the market of trading firms that have failed to abide by its policies. This week, the CONSOB shut down eight websites offering trading services to Italian investors. Two of these were dealing in cryptocurrencies. CONSOB has been cracking down on online trading firms, shutting down over 150 sites since last year.

Adoption continued this week, with the National Bank of Egypt joining the RippleNet network. The bank signed an agreement with Ripple to use its network for inward remittances. The agreement is especially significant as Egypt’s remittance industry is the fifth-largest in the world and the largest in Africa, registering $26.4 billion in 2019.

Blockchain’s use in food safety continues, with yet another mega food safety company this week turning to the technology. Michigan-based Neogen Corporation this week partnered with Ripe Technology, a blockchain startup, to use the technology in food safety diagnostics and animal genomics. Neogen believes that blockchain will enable it to easily verify the authenticity of premium products and enhance traceability.

As more enterprises adopt cryptos, traceability has become critical, especially in regards to legal compliance. This has seen blockchain analytics companies grow rapidly and this week, one of the leaders in this field raised $5 million from Wells Fargo’s investment arm. The bank now joins other prominent investors in the U.K.-based company including Japan’s SBI Group and Spain’s Santander Group.

American crypto miner Riot Blockchain is expanding its Oklahoma facility. The company, which has previously been embroiled in controversy, announced that it had received 1,067 new S17 Pro Antminers from Bitmain this week. The new machines will increase its hashrate by 240%, with the installation expected to take at least a week.

Yet another soccer club got into blockchain and crypto this week. Spanish giant Barcelona partnered with Chilliz to create a blockchain-based token this week. Chilliz has partnered with other clubs, including French club PSG and Italian giants Juventus. However, Barcelona is the biggest club yet to offer its fans the opportunity to own tokens on the platform, with the club being ranked the fourth-most valuable sports team in the world.

Japanese financial services giant SBI Group is partnering with Northern Data AG to develop blockchain-related products. SBI Crypto, a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based firm will work with Whinstone U.S. Inc., a subsidiary of Northern Data, on the latter’s data center in Texas.

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