Welcome to the weekly briefing presenting developments in blockchain and fintech industry from the Billon's point of view. This is a special double issue - we missed last week due to the Easter break, but we are now making up with more news on COVID-19 vaccination certificates, CBDCs, NFTs and others . Let's go!
Big news from the US, where the state of New York has introduced a blockchain-powered COVID-19 passport. It’s available for free of use by businesses, and the implementation will be voluntary. The Excelsior Pass is built on IBM's blockchain-based digital health pass platform, meaning that that IBM—or any party for that matter—keeps no database of health records.
Also South Korea will use a blockchain application to act as a COVID-19 health certificate for vaccinations. The technology is being donated by Blockchain Labs, which developed the InfraBlockchain, a Korean enterprise blockchain solution that launched late last year, targeted at enterprises and public sector applications. The smartphon app should be available later this month.
NFT price crash stirs debate on whether stimulus-led fad is over, Bloomberg reports. Average NFT prices are down almost 70% from their recent peak, but some commentators say innovative market is here to stay. While trading volumes and average prices are far lower than recent peaks, other data show many NFTs are still sitting on substantial gains for 2021.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said her institution could launch a digital currency around the middle of this decade if her fellow policy makers give the project the green light this summer. President promises physical notes and coins will still be available, Bloomberg notes.
A digital pound must be at the heart of Britain’s efforts to strengthen the City of London’s global attraction as a financial centre after Brexit, think-tank CityUnited Project said last Friday. “A central bank digital currency (CBDC) should be a fundamental foundation for a competitive City after Brexit, otherwise China will steal a long march on us,” the think-tank told Reuters.
Meanwhile China proposed a set of global rules for central bank digital currencies , from how they can be used around the world to highly sensitive issues such as monitoring and information sharing. Beijing announced separately it would quicken pilot programmes to develop its digital yuan, as it seeks to boost consumption to shore up economic growth.
Signal adds a payments feature with the privacy-focused cryptocurrency! The encrypted messaging app is integrating support for MobileCoin crypto in a bid to keep up with the features offered by its more mainstream rivals. Signal wants to provide a way to send money that no one other than the sender and recipient can observe or track. Initially the payment feature will be available only to users in the UK, and only on iOS and Android.
After rolling out the ability for US users to buy and sell cryptocurrency directly from their accounts last November, also PayPal’s new “Checkout with Crypto” allows users to instantly convert their Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or Bitcoin Cash to US dollars (with no additional transaction fees) that PayPal then uses to complete the transaction. The feature is available to users in the US initially.
Visa is piloting a program that will allow its partners to use the Ethereum blockchain to settle a transaction made in fiat. In a late March announcement, Visa said it will be partnering with cryptocurrency exchange platform and card issuer Crypto.com to offer a crypto settlement system for fiat transactions later this year. Visa’s partners will reportedly be able to exchange USD Coin (USDC) over the credit card’s payment network to clear transactions made in fiat currency.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez turned heads earlier this year when he said he wanted the Florida city to add bitcoin to its treasury. Now, Suarez is pushing a commitment for the city to explore crypto by turning his attention to Ethereum. Listen to the podcast with him and Ethereum's inventor Vitalik Buterin discussing how blockchain and smart contracts can make smart city even smarter.
From Miami to Moscow - Russia's foreign affairs ministry believes SWIFT can be replaced by more advanced systems, mentioning blockchain. The development of blockchain and digital currencies shows that in the future, global settlements might take place on a new technological platform rather than on the SWIFT payments network, said the deputy head of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Pankin, talking to the RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.
This piece of news don't help bitcoin's mainstream adoption... According to The Independent, Missouri man has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempting to purchase a chemical weapon capable of killing hundreds of people using bitcoin, in a plan to poison a woman who had ended a relationship with him. Scary! ☠
The employees of leading US-based crypto exchange Coinbase Rebecca Rose and Peter Kacherginsky used Ethereum blockchain to become lawfully wedded, Coinqoura reports. On April 2, a Twitter post by Rebecca Rose, announces the pair had tied the knot on March 14. In addition to the wedding ceremony, Kacherginsky composed an Ethereum smart contract named Tabaat (Hebrew word for the ring) that issued tokenized “ring" NFT in the form of TBT tokens to the couples’ wallets. All the best! 👰🤵
And that's all for now. See you next week!
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