Africa’s Largest Bank Joins Blockchain-Based Marco Polo Network

Backed by the world’s biggest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Standard Bank is the first African bank to join the network, the press release notes.

To date, the Marco Polo Network includes over 20 global financial firms such as Commerzbank, Anglo-Gulf Trade Bank, Danske Bank, NatWest, Alfa Bank, Bayern LB, Helaba, S-Servicepartner, RBI and Bradesco.

Standard Bank, Africa’s largest bank by total assets, has joined blockchain-based trade finance network, the Marco Polo Network.
Standard Bank will now develop trade finance solutions alongside major global financial institutions such as French BNP Paribas and Dutch ING, according to a press release on Aug. 22.

Network’s objectives

The Marco Polo Network is a collaboration of blockchain-focused enterprise software company R3 and Irish tech firm TradeIX that launched in 2017.The network provides a multi-asset class platform for broker dealer services and multi-currency transactions, including equities, derivatives and other related services.

On Aug. 15, Commerzbank and Landesbank Baden-Württemberg executed a milestone transaction on the Marco Polo platform, enabling direct and instant integration of logistics provider Logwin AG into the digital process chain.

R3 has reportedly faced major internal disagreements over the core vision of its enterprise blockchain platform Corda, which caused frustration and delay. Unnamed sources stated that there were major differences of opinion between managers and developers regarding R3’s product design and development.

Bank of America Is Now Hiring in Blockchain, Not Just Filing Patents

The second-largest U.S. bank has begun hiring for blockchain positions.

The job openings, which appeared in recent months, are the first indicator that Bank of America plans to do much else with the technology apart from 78 blockchain-related patents the bank has filed or won to date.

The Charlotte, N.C.-based bank has six positions open that mention blockchain: one for a treasury product manager, three for enterprise payment technology senior architects and two for banking regulatory domain architects.  Each job description either calls for experience with blockchain tech or the ability to apply it in a banking context.

A recently closed ad on LinkedIn also suggests the bank has plans to use Ripple’s distributed ledger-based payments network in some form. The post for a treasury product manager indicates the role “leads the product management team for the Ripple Project.”

The new hire would be responsible for “driving product strategy and growth, overseeing daily product management routines, and overseeing the development of new initiatives that result in an innovative and highly-competitive product offering.”

Bank of America did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The lender is also a member of the Marco Polo trade finance blockchain consortium, founded by startups R3 and Trade IX.

In March, the bank’s chief technology officer, Cathy Bessant, told CNBC that she’s bearish on the technology and that the patents exist only so that the bank can pivot to blockchain quickly if the need arises.

That pivot may be coming sooner rather than later.  In an application filed in March 2018 and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this month, the bank requested a patent for a permissioned blockchain to record internet-of-things (IoT) node data.

Each of the enterprise payment technology senior architect positions requires experience in “crypto-technologies”, a category under which Bank of America includes IoT and blockchain.

5 Top Car Makers Enter Field Trials for Automatic Blockchain Payments

A group of major automakers are about to hit the road with the first field testing of a blockchain-based vehicle identification network next month in the U.S.

As reported by Nikkei Asian Review, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Ford and Renault are working with the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) on integrating the system to automatically make payments on typical commuting runs without the need for cash or credit and debit cards.

By assigning vehicles unique identities that store data such as ownership and histories on a blockchain, the industry initiative aims to remove the need for a human when settling tolls and parking fees.

Founded in May 2018 by multiple major car manufacturers, MOBI has been working to enable the sharing of road data between manufacturers, a step towards developing self-driving cars.

As Nikkei writes, participating vehicles would eventually be able to automatically pay expenses once plugged into other networks such as charging or refueling stations.

MOBI is also looking into incorporating cryptocurrencies. One such system involved compensating users in crypto for putting energy back into the power grid following an outage.

A number of automakers are looking at blockchain for facilitating processes such as payments and data sharing, especially for the not-so-distant future where automated vehicles have become the norm.

This summer, CoinDesk reported how Daimler – parent company of Mercedes-Benz – partnered with blockchain firm Riddle & Code to produce a hardware wallet for automobiles. Looking long term at solutions for self-driving vehicles and car-sharing platforms, the firms’ wallet would also create a cryptographic identity for vehicles.

Jaguar Land Rover too is looking at rewarding drivers in cryptocurrency in return for their data.

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