Recapping the week’s biggest Bitcoins stories from around the web.
IBM, Wells Fargo and LSE are enticed by the blockchain. As Matthew Leising and Jing Cao of Bloomberg report, finance and technology leaders are backing the blockchain as a means to simplify the recorded transactions. The innovative group works closely with the Linux Foundation, aiming to create a public block-based network, known as the Open Ledger Project, where related apps would be allowed to instantly communicate with each other. The open-source software is expected to “transform the way business transactions are conducted”. IBM is offering existing code lines to the initiative as well as intellectual property and skilled developers, whereas other participants involved in the effort are Accenture, ANZ Bank, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu, Intel Corp., Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc., State Street Corp., and Wells Fargo, among others.
R3 Consortium now includes 42 banks. As Leon Pick of Finance Magnates reports, Banco Santander, BMO Financial Group, Danske Bank, Nomura, Scotiabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, U.S. Bancorp and Westpac are some of the new participants that have joined the fintech startup R3 consortium. R3 is “now the financial sector’s largest and most diverse commitment and investment to applying blockchain technology to financial markets.” According to David Rutter, R3 CEO, “distributed ledger technology has the potential to impact the financial services sector the way the Internet changed media and entertainment.”
The DHS is seeking to understand how the blockchain technology works. As Samburaj Das of CryptoCoins News reports, the Department of Homeland Security introduces the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program with the cooperation of the public and the private sector to investigate blockchain apps. Through the SBIR program, the DHS is accepting proposals from small businesses in at least 10 different topics that could provide enhanced awareness of the blockchain technology, if implemented in the SBIR’s directory. The goal of the SBIR program is “to foster the participation of innovative and creative small U.S. businesses among federal research programs and new innovations, in order to bring new solutions for the betterment of homeland security.”
New regulatory framework proposed for Japanese bitcoin exchanges. As Stan Higgins of Coin Desk writes, Japanese regulators are considering data collection for performing audits in the country’s bitcoin exchanges. The Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) has developed several recommendations for overseeing bitcoin exchanges in Japan. The framework is on the completion phase and will be submitted to the governing body for consideration in 2016. According to a comment by the FSA, the framework includes suggestions for the regulation of prepaid cards, ATMs and digital currency exchanges.
Airbitz joins forces with Fold to allow users buying gift cards in their bitcoin wallet. As Nick Abouzeid of Bitcoin Magazine writes, Airbitz, the mobile wallet and developer platform has entered a partnership with Fold, enabling users to purchase a Starbucks or a Target gift card at 20% discount directly inside the Airbitz wallet. Airbitz’s built-in directory of companies that accept bitcoin is pushing Fold to seek partnerships with Whole Foods, CVS, and Home Depot as well as the top 30 retailers in the U.S.
Overstock’s proposal to issue stock using the blockchain is approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As Cade Metz of Wired reports, the SEC has approved a revised Form S-3, which allows online retailer Overstock.com to issue public securities via the Internet. Under its subsidiary TØ.com, Overstock.com plans to offer its crypto-technology to assist other businesses issue stocks via the blockchain. Although it is not yet defined when the company will issue a public security on the blockchain, the approved plan indicates a major shift in the distribution and trading of financial securities in the coming years. CEO Patrick Byrne states “You can assume its high on our list of priorities for 2016.”