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Blockchain technology first appeared in the public spotlight in 2009 with the birth of Bitcoin. Since then, it has gone through several stages of development and innovation, and its future of potential applicability is brighter than ever.
Numerous financial institutions and companies are testing the waters of blockchain technology. Some of them are knee-deep near the shores of predictability. Others are already backstroking in the distance. And on the waterfront, one can see the governments dipping in their toes and mulling over a casual dog-paddle and a belly flop.
Public institutions cannot stay away for too long from potentially successful technologies. Here are the countries experimenting with blockchain to improve their services and keep pace with the private sector!
The United States Government is eager to implement blockchain technology in as many sectors as possible. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) teamed up with IBM Watson Health to process health data and secure patient records in a high-security, anti-fraud system.
In 2018, Homeland Security and Austin-based startup Factom came together for a trial blockchain project. The aim is to create a reliable database of all the video footage and data that the border patrol cameras capture.
The United Kingdom
The UK is looking at blockchain technology to ease its post-Brexit life. In 2018, the country’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) announced that it used a distributed ledger system to track the distribution of meat products in a cattle slaughterhouse. The success of this project forced the government to seek ways of implementation in other departments as well.
China has a love-hate relationship with blockchain technology. After spending almost a decade bad-talking cryptocurrencies, the Chinese government took a controversial 180-degree turn on the prospect of blockchain implementation.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced in 2019 that the country should increase its efforts to use distributed ledger technology. The government quickly backed up the president’s demand by passing laws that would facilitate country-wide blockchain utilization.
Japan is working closely with the European Central Bank to implement a blockchain-based system called Stella. The resulting platform should improve financial market infrastructure and increase the security of settlement contracts in the industry.
Zug is a small Swiss town that does not deny its addiction to blockchain technology. The authorities have already used it for ID processing and storage and to implement a voting system. The Swiss government has noted the success that Zug enjoys from blockchain-based projects and now promotes them in other cantons to improve public services.
The Georgian Government initiated a blockchain project with Bitfury Group to help citizens register their properties as part of the National Agency of Public Registry. In the process, the state saved significant funds on paperwork and logistics. Also, the people get to have an unalterable blockchain record of their ownership.
Estonia is a front runner in the race for blockchain implementation. The small Baltic country is the creator of KSI, a high-security protocol for blockchain systems and networks. More than 180 countries in the world use it at the moment.
Estonia is also using blockchain technology to fight corruption and data theft. The government has a high-tech program called e-Estonia that connects the databases of several governmental agencies. Public data regarding health records, judiciary information, and commercial registries come together to create a virtual profile of every citizen.
Denmark is one of the first countries to embrace blockchain technology. In 2014, the Danish Social Democratic Party was the first political institution to use a blockchain-based voting system. Its success prompted the government to look into ways of implementing it for other national and presidential campaigns. The project is currently in the experimentation stage.
The first regulated digital token issued by a European nation was BitcoinETI in Gibraltar’s tiny British overseas territory in 2016. It was shortly followed by Rock Token (RKT), which became available on a subsidiary blockchain for its stock exchange (GBX).
The Government of Uganda has struck a collaboration with tech startup MediConnect to track medical drugs in the country. With the help of a blockchain-based data system, they hope to prevent medicine counterfeiting. The platform would act as a reliable supply chain between pharmaceutical companies and local retailers.
Brazil has a new ally in its heavy war with deep-rooted corruption in the form of blockchain technology. One of its states, Bahi, works to implement a blockchain-based system that would make public bids on contracts transparent and less prone to fraud and nepotism. The program receives funding from the World Bank, and it is a small but significant step in monitoring public funds in Brazil.
The desperate drowning of the Venezuelan economy is no longer a secret. The country’s soaring hyperinflation has led to a staggering increase in crime, hunger, and poverty. However, it has also led to Venezuela becoming the first state to issue a digital currency in the form of Petro.
Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro hopes to revive the abject state of his country through blockchain technology. He backs the success of Petro on the immense resources of oil, gold, and iron that are more or less at his disposal. Plans to force citizens to pay for passports only with cryptos are currently underway.
Unfortunately, not too many investors are buying into his idea. Accusations of intellectual theft and cloning of the open-source crypto Dash have hampered the first governmental-issued digital token development even further.
Singapore is currently working on a country-scale blockchain system called Project Ubin. It is a never-before-seen collaboration between banks and tech companies that aims to improve the country’s payment system. The result should lead to instant currency conversions that would be free of intermediary taxes.
The most ambitious and tech-oriented emirate in the UAE is looking to take blockchain use a step further. Dubai wants to be the first government in the world to run all of its transactions through blockchain by 2020. The officials estimate a significant cost reduction of more than $1 billion per year merely by processing visas, contracts, and other documents through this technology.