Blockchain in the European Union (EU)
The European Commission (EC) recently debuted an action plan that outlines how the EC could potentially harness the opportunities presented by evolving FinTech. More specifically, the Commission wants to facilitate the use of the rapid advances in new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, cloud services and blockchain.
“Digital technologies have an impact on our whole economy – citizens and businesses alike,” stated Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society. “Technologies like blockchain can be game changers for financial services and beyond. We need to build an enabling framework to let innovation flourish, while managing risks and protecting consumers.”
It should be noted that the EC has already created an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, which is slated to report on the challenges and opportunities of crypto assets later this year. The Commission is also working on a comprehensive strategy for distributed ledger technology and blockchain that addresses all sectors of the economy.
Blockchain in the United States
Earlier this year, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a draft report titled “Blockchain Technology Overview.” The report concluded that although the use of blockchain is still in its early stages, the technology is built on widely understood and sound cryptographic principles. Moving forward, say the authors, it is likely blockchain will be another tool that can be used to solve newer sets of problems.
Perhaps not surprisingly, blockchains are also digitizing assets other than money. As the report outlines, companies that need to maintain a public record – such as holding land titles, marriages, or birth records – should consider how their problem sets might be addressed by blockchain technologies.
According to the report, blockchains have a strong potential for storing and recording supply chain records. Indeed, a blockchain is capable of precisely recording each step in a product’s life, from when it was created in a factory, to when it was shipped and subsequently delivered to a store – and finally to when a consumer purchased it. In addition, the report envisions potential new industries that could be enabled by the technology, such as digital notaries who can prove an individual had access to a specific piece of information by recording the hash of it into the blockchain.
Blockchain in China
Meanwhile, the development of blockchain in China continues to accelerate, with CCID Consulting confirming 550 blockchain technology-related patents filed by companies in the country as of 2017.
According to eMarketer’s Man-Chung Cheung, some of the largest tech companies in China, including Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and JD.com, are leveraging the technology in some fashion.
“Alibaba, for example—which has launched a number of aggressive measures to fight counterfeits sold on its platforms in recent years—partnered with logistics company Cainiao to track cross-border goods, including information on the manufacturer, port of dispatch, delivery and arrival, all by using blockchain technology,” he explained. “Moreover, the Blockchain Food Safety Alliance, formed by JD.com, IBM, Walmart and Tsinghua University, hopes to bring tractability, transparency and safety to the food supply chain.”
In addition, says Cheung, the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the “China Blockchain Technology and Applications Development Whitepaper” in October 2016 and followed with the “Blockchain Structural Guide” in May 2017.
Interested in learning more about blockchain? You can check out our article archive on the subject here and the “Blockchain Technology Overview” by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) here.