The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has launched a cross-border remittance product based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology, according to an announcement published Dec. 27.

Established in 1952, the NBK is the largest financial institution in terms of assets in Kuwait. Per the bank’s 2017 annual report, the NBK has over $86.3 billion in total assets.

The NBK has reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — “NBK Direct Remit” — for international live payments based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology. The product will purportedly speed up cross-border money transfers.

Dimitrios Kokosioulis, the deputy CEO of group operations and technology, said that the blockchain-based solution allows the bank’s customers to “make money transfers within seconds” and “anytime of the day.” Kokosioulis added that the service will also be available in Jordan, and will subsequently expand to other countries.

In November, Malaysian lending giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd joined RippleNet. CIMB will integrate Ripple’s XCurrent product, a software solution for expediting cross-border payments, for its “SpeedSend” remittance product.

Also that month, Japanese bank and financial services firm Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. said it will use Ripple to create a new cross-border payments service to Brazil through partnership with Banco Bradesco. The product aims to “assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil.”

In October, Ripple launched its real-time settlement platform xRapid for commercial use. xRapid is a platform designed to speed up international payments, while eliminating the need for a pre-funded nostro account.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

Bank of America (BoA) wants to patent a system using blockchain technology to improve cash handling, a new application published Dec. 25 confirms.

Originally submitted in June 2017, the patent references “banking systems controlled by data bearing records.”

“Aspects of the disclosure relate to deploying, configuring, and utilizing cash handling devices to provide dynamic and adaptable operating functions,” its abstract reads.

BoA explains there remain communication difficulties in aspects of cash handling duties across banks’ huge operations, and suggests blockchain could help ease these.

“Cash handling devices may be used in operating centers and other locations to provide various functions, such as facilitating cash withdrawals and deposits,” the patent document continues.

“In many instances, however, it may be difficult to integrate such cash handling devices with technical infrastructure that supports banking operations and other operations while also optimizing the efficient and effective technical operations of the cash handling devices and various related computer systems.”

BoA has sought to step up its efforts to snag intellectual property in the blockchain sphere over the past two years.

In November, the bank was revealed to have the most such blockchain patents at more than 50, amid curiosity as to whether it would put all to use in the near term.

While keen on blockchain, BoA has adopted a highly risk-averse stance on cryptocurrency, becoming one of the few institutions to enact bans on associated fiat purchases by clients earlier this year.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

A team that includes representatives from the Bank of Israel has issued a formal request for information about Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), published on its website Dec. 18.

The request — the goal of which is, as per the title, the “Regulatory Coordination of Virtual Assets”— states that “the regulators of the Israeli financial system believe that there is room to renew and strengthen cooperation and coordination among all regulators and the public” regarding DLT.

Besides the country’s central bank, the team reportedly includes representatives from the country’s Securities Authority, the Ministries of Finance and Justice, the Tax Authority, the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority and various other local regulatory bodies.

The document asks for information pertaining to barriers to the development of the local DLT industry. The text inquires explicitly about problems encountered by local DLT companies, fundraisers, investors and consumers dealing with virtual assets as examples.

Moreover, the request inquires about the risks inherent in the use of virtual assets and the opportunities of DLT in the finance industry. Lastly, the statement also asks how DLT can help address issues regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and terrorism financing.

As per the statement, interested parties are invited to submit relevant information until Dec. 31, 2018.

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of November, an Israeli study group exploring digital currency options has recommended that the country’s central bank not issue its own cryptocurrency.

At the beginning of December, Ehud Barak, a former Israeli Prime Minister, compared digital currencies to Ponzi schemes. He reportedly stated that “he would never invest” in crypto as “Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies [are] a Ponzi scheme.”

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The Advisory Council of the United Arab Emirates Banks Federation (UBF) discussed applying blockchain in its member banks, according to the Dubai-based English language newspaper Gulf News on Dec. 17.

The Advisory Council of UBF, a non-profit organization representing 50 member banks in the country, considered using blockchain to improve Know Your Customer (KYC) processes at entrant banks. UBF’s chairman, Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, claimed that the discussed initiative represents an effort to create and maintain a “thriving banking ecosystem.”

Participants also discussed issues pertaining to the country’s national digital transformation program and Emiratization — a government employment initiative to place its citizens in roles in the public and private sectors.

Aref Al Ramli, chairperson of UBF’s Digital Banking Committee, presented a blockchain-based study that explores the benefits of digitizing various processes within member banks via distributed ledger technology (DLT). The study has outlined a number of blockchain applications by banking institutions, including cross-border payments, compliance reporting, customer onboarding, and others.

Al Ghurair said that emerging technologies are “continuing to shape customer needs and expectations,” putting banking industry participants “at the forefront of innovations.” He also claimed that new technologies like blockchain can assist banks in creating new revenue streams, “which will in turn drive sustained business growth.”

In late November, the governmental AI and Blockchain Joint Working Group hosted an annual meeting that concluded with the launch of two initiatives intending to boost blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) development. At the meeting, participants considered strategies to attract foreign investments and build a necessary infrastructure by using AI and blockchain.

Also in November, Abu Dhabi-based Al Hilal Bank announced it completed “the world’s first sukuk transaction” based on blockchain technology. Sukuk, a legal tool that is known as “sharia compliant” bonds, allows investors to generate returns in compliance with Islamic law.

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Egypt’s central bank revealed in a conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday, as reported by news outlet Amwal Al Ghad, that it is doing a study on cryptocurrency.

The Central Bank of Egypt‘s sub-governor for payment systems and information Ayman Hussein says the bank is conducting a research in collaboration with an undisclosed number of international financial institutions to develop a framework on how to issue digital currencies. Hussein calls it an ongoing “feasibility study”. This may likely lead to the issuing of an Egyptian pound-based cryptocurrency.

Hussein did not disclose the other parties involved in the studies, neither was any detail about the expectations revealed – whether it would be a bank-to-bank cryptocurrency based system as in the case of UAE or between banks and their clients.

According to the media outlet, Hussein refers to digital currency as having “several benefits” to include “lowering the cost of banknote issuance and use of cash”.

The Egyptian fintech market has been described as an emerging market as tendencies towards a cashless society are imminent alongside economic reforms in the country. A while back, IBM’s General Manager in Egypt Wael Abdoush said that “the entire world talks about this technology, so it is natural that it receives attention in Egypt”.

Egypt continues to expose itself to more fintech reform templates from around the globe and continues in this direction in the bid to achieve a cashless society. In recent times, it has taken significant moves towards achieving financial inclusion in a world so rapidly changing in the wake of a fintech revolution through blockchain.

Although, rather than throw caution to the wind, it took up a stance of anti-cryptocurrency when in January of this year, the Central Bank of Egypt warned against dealing in Bitcoin, following an official religious edict that considers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as haram (forbidden).

Perhaps the thoughts about cryptocurrency markets in Egypt were being reconsidered as a result of the sporadic increase in the development and a possibility of regulation of blockchain ventures in other Islamic countries. Such development includes UAE performing its first Sharia-compliant bond transaction on the blockchain, and a proposed deployment of a Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency exchange.

In Saudi Arabia, cross-border cryptocurrency framework is currently being considered in collaboration with UAE.

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The second largest bank in America has won a patent that will secure cryptocurrency storage through a ‘tamper responsive’ remote storage of private keys. The patent adds to the growing list of patents that have been secured by traditional financial institutions. It’s a move that shows the growing interest in cryptocurrencies from these organizations.

The Problem With Existing Storage Methods

The patent was initially filed two years ago but was finalized and entered into the record last week. According to the patent documents, the system will try to address the problem with existing storage methods for private cryptocurrency keys.

The document states:

“Such devices do not provide for a real-time response to such breaches, such that misappropriation of private cryptography keys is prevented.” The patent adds that most private keys are stored in regular consumer-grade devices, and they are “susceptible to being misappropriated by an entity that desires to usurp a user’s identity.”

Now with the patent, the bank hopes to serve as the bank for private keys. A digital safe deposit box that has the necessary insurance and backing of a significant banking corporation. If they go ahead and commercialize the ‘product now,’ they are likely to find a massive market for it.

The bank will offer its clients the ability to know in real-time when their private keys have been tampered with as well as providing a solution to the problem. It’s an invention that will serve all types of clients. However, the biggest beneficiaries will be crypto exchanges and large clientele who are usually the target of many hack attempts.

The documents describe a system of redundant keys. The system will automatically respond to tamper attempts by deleting the private key from the potentially compromised device.

“In specific embodiments of the system, the storage device further includes one or more sensors in communication with the first processor. In such embodiments of the system, the first processor is further configured to, in response to receiving the tamper-related signals from the one or more sensors, delete the one or more private cryptography keys from the first memory.”

The system will also perform the function in case there is physical tampering of the device, like when its stolen.

“In other specific related embodiments of the system, the one or more sensors further comprise at least one of a shock sensor, an acceleration sensor, and a temperature sensor, In such embodiments of the system, the first processor is further configured to, in response to receiving the tamper-related signals from at least one of the shock sensor, the acceleration sensor, and the temperature sensor, delete the one or more private cryptography keys from the first memory.”

The third instance where it will delete the private key from the client’s device is when a malicious code or a virus is detected.

“In other specific embodiments of the system, the first processor is further configured to receive the tamper-related signal, from the computing node. In such embodiments of the system, the tamper-related signal indicates that a user has exceeded a predetermined number of attempts of inputting user authentication credentials to the authentication routine.”

According to the document, users will have the ability to set the tamper signals and configure how they are processed.

This post is credited to usethebitcoin

China’s central bank the People’s Bank of China (PBC) encouraged the government to increase supervision of blockchain-related ventures in a working paper released on Tuesday, warning that “bubbles were apparent,” according to Reuters.

‘Cannot Disrupt the Market’

The abstract of the paper, entitled ‘What Blockchain Can Do, and What it Can’t Do’ states the approach the PBC’s Research Bureau took in dissecting blockchain technology and examining it from an economic perspective, stating:

“…by explaining blockchain technologies from an economic perspective, it introduces the Token Paradigm to summarize mainstream blockchain systems, discusses the true meaning of consensus and trust in the blockchain field, and analyzes the functions of smart contract [sic].”

Translated excerpts from the working paper via CCN China show a pessimistic view of blockchain technology, especially as the disruptor to the financial system crypto supporters claim it will be. The report warns readers not to “exaggerate the function of the blockchain,” adding, “So far, no technological innovation has had a disruptive impact on the financial system, and blockchain is no exception.” 

The PBC also issued a notice to investors in September warning of the risks involved with cryptocurrency, and the new working paper calls blockchain “superstitious” according to translations. The paper asserts that there is no flexibility in the supply of digital currencies and that a lack of intrinsic value support is also a problem.

Still Exploring Crypto

The paper does indicate that there are some places within China’s financial structure where blockchain technology could be helpful if applied, specifically noting the country’s digital bill trading platform. Still, the PBC says it’s “very difficult to replace institutions and trust with technology.”

Despite calling blockchain enthusiasm “superstitious” and saying that it would only be possible to completely replace the current financial system with a crypto-based on in a utopian scenario, the PBC does appear to have its hand in crypto projects of its own.

China: Central Bank May Launch State-issued Cryptocurrency, Seeking Cryptography Talent
Related: China: Central Bank May Launch State-issued Cryptocurrency, Seeking Cryptography Talent

CryptoSlate reported in October that the PBC is hiring several new employees with backgrounds in cryptography, computer science, and finance to develop its own “digital fiat currency.” The bank, in fact, sought out those with blockchain experience to fill these roles, as well as people with a background in big data.

Early last month, a researcher at the PBC published an op-ed in the bank-owned CN Finance magazine calling for more research into a government-backed stablecoin pegged to the Yuan, saying that U.S. stablecoins pegged to the dollar showed promise.

This post is credited to cryptoslate