Blockchain This Week – Asia, USPS, Yam

In yet another eventful week in the realm of Blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin price spiked briefly to US $12,000, Ethereum gas price soared to US $99, South Korea exceedingly embraced Blockchain, USPS eyeing Blockchain. These and many more in this week’s newsletter.

South Korea goes big on Blockchain

When we talk about Blockchain and Asia, China is the first country that comes to everyone’s mind. However, South Korea is not far behind. The enthusiasm among South Koreans is emphasized by the fact that up to this week, one million South Koreans, representing more than 3 percent of the driving populace of the country, have foregone their physical drivers’ license in favor of a blockchain-based alternative. This digital license is the first authorized digital ID card issued in South Korea, and it works with the PASS smartphone app. The project, which was launched in May this year, has garnered a lot of interest among the country’s inhabitants. 

Meanwhile, banking institutions of South Korea are not behind in their adoption of Blockchain and crypto. This week, two of the country’s top five banks, Woori and Shinhan, announced their intention to offer crypto asset services to their customers. As a result, now, four of the top five banks in South Korea, managing a combined value of more than US $1.2 trillion in assets, are offering crypto services.

At the same time, KEB Hana Bank in South Korea has reached an agreement this week with the Korea Expressway Corporation, to add the Blockchain-based toll payments system across the nation’s highways. The project is expected to launch before the year-end.

And now, the South Korean beachgoers have an opportunity to pay for water sports, life jackets, and many other items using Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many more. A pilot project run by CIC Enterprise aims to enable crypto payment solutions at two of the busiest beaches of the country, including the beaches of Busan. According to the firm, this solution is different from the rest because the beachgoers can make payments in less than 10 seconds using QR codes for any wallet rather than having to download separate wallet apps.

US Postal Service exploring Blockchain Voting options

Anticipating the possibility of the pandemic disrupting the impending elections, the US is exploring vote-in-mail and absentee ballot options to save the elections. However, the US Postal Service (USPS) is roiled in its own problems due to the delays resulting from the measures taken to curb its soaring costs. These delays are significantly threatening to derail the already fragile election plans. Additionally, the US President plans to shut down the funding to USPS citing vote-in-mail frauds. Amidst these hostile situations, a new patent filed by USPS way back in February this year has come to light. On Aug 13, the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed this patent application from USPS titled – Secure Voting System – that contemplates leveraging Blockchain technology to secure voting by mail. 

China continues to spearhead Blockchain adoption

China’s state-based power supply company has issued its first blockchain-enabled insurance policy to a sprinkler manufacturing company, based out of Zhejiang province. According to these companies, using Blockchain technology to process insurance will expedite the loss-compensation efforts. 

In yet another instance of Blockchain making into the inner roads, Mayor Yang Yiwen, the mayor of Loudi, a city in Hunan province, has lauded Blockchain technology as a powerful weapon to tackle crime. In Loudi, Blockchain pilot is underway, conducted by the Municipal Public Security Bureau in collaboration with a local tech firm. This project combines the benefits of Blockchain and Big Data to provide trusted data exchange and heightened traceability across a network of telecommunication network operators, banks, and municipal departments.

In another significant development, China’s nationwide Blockchain project, BSN, has launched its official international website. This website allows developers to use the Blockchain services via the portal. Now, BSN also supports live integration with six public networks, including Ethereum and EOS, which would allow developers to build decentralized applications and run nodes from overseas data centers.

Finally, the People’s Bank of China has selected the Greater Bay Area, which includes Hong Kong and Macau, to pilot the use of the Digital Yuan when it is launched. According to the central bank, the Greater Bay Area is best suited to experiment due to the competing legal systems, which allows testing of how trade barriers can be addressed using the technology.

Other countries go big on Blockchain and Crypto

The National Rugby League in Australia, along with IP Australia, has announced a trail where Blockchain will be used to curb the sales of counterfeit products. This application will enable trademark owners to link their products to the government registry, thereby establishing the proof of their products’ authenticity and origin.

Meanwhile, in Ireland, cryptocurrency firms are expected to face stricter policy adherence requirements after the country’s late adoption of the latest EU anti money laundering laws. The adoption of this new framework was approved by the Irish cabinet on Aug 10. 

In Germany, the federal regulators have introduced a draft bill on Aug 11, which proposes Blockchain-powered digital securities. This bill is an effort towards modernizing the paper-based securities using Blockchain technology. 

And finally, mayors of 305 municipalities in Venezuela have signed a National Tax Harmonization Agreement, which enables the collection of taxes and sanctions in Petro cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin again embraces $12K pennant

For the second time this month, Bitcoin surged past US $12,000. Earlier this week, the price spiked to $12,068 before a steep $500 decline to $11,546. As per some seasoned traders, this uptick was expected, but they believe there is a need to provide higher trade volumes if the price has to break the barrier again.

Exorbitant Ethereum fees resulting from “Yam farming”

Aug 13 saw an unprecedented surge in the transaction fees of the Ethereum network, with the network processing fees at an all-time high of $6.87 million in total. Some users have reported paying fees up to US $100 to get their transactions confirmed on the network. In addition to the surging popularity of Decentralized Finance built on Ethereum, the spike is attributed to the Yam protocol debacle, which unfolded a day prior. 

A bug in the protocol’s code caused excessive YAM reserves to be minted, making it impossible for any governance measures. The project developers hastened to address the problem, by offering rewards to miners and token-holders pledging their tokens towards a pool of 160,000 coins to recapture governance within a short time. The rush to pledge the tokens resulted in network congestion, driving the gas prices way higher than the previous high of $3.27. 

A platform to launch CBDCs

On Aug 12, Apollo Fintech, a Blockchain firm, announced the completion of its payments platform that is aimed for the central banks to issue digital currencies with ease. The system will allow governments and central banks to onboard other banks and finance companies as participants. The platform also includes features such as messaging services and payment cards.

Shop at Walmart, get crypto cashback

Shopping loyalty platform StormX announced its partnership with Walmart this week. As per the announcement, StormX users can now earn up to cashback in crypto when they shop at Walmart. StormX CEO believes that this partnership will add new users to the loyalty platform.

And finally, wibbily wobbly timey wimey stuff on Blockchain

In some exciting news for the Doctor Who fans, BBC Studios are coming up with a game called Doctor Who – Worlds Apart, where the characters from the popular series will be tokenized into a non-fungible token stored securely on Blockchain. The players of this game will be able to collect and trade these digital tokens. The game will be available in 2021.

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