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The prospect of transferring an entire national payment system to blockchain technology deserves attention and we are covering the story in today’s Bitcoin in Brief. Reports that Russia may transform its version of SWIFT as early as next year coincided with the news that the US banking giant JP Morgan has applied for a blockchain patent for inter-bank payments. Projects to secure documents, diplomas, and even tickets using blockchain technologies are also part of Tuesday’s round-up.
Russian Version of SWIFT to Be Transferred to Blockchain in 2019
Russia may put its money transferring system on a blockchain as early as next year, according to local media reports. Authorities in Moscow are planning to convert the Financial Communications Transfer System (SPFS), Russia’s equivalent to SWIFT, to a blockchain system, sources close to the Russian central bank told Izvestia.
SPFS was developed as a backup alternative following discussions in the West on proposals to withdraw SWIFT from Russia as part of the sanctions imposed after the annexation on Crimea. The system was implemented in 2014, when Centrobank also developed its own version of bank cards called Mir. At the time, several Russian banks were denied services by US-based Visa and Mastercard. Mir cards were first issued in 2015. Last year their number reached 19 million.
Almost 600 banks currently use the Russian national payments system, which now covers countries in the European Economic Area (EEA). Its transaction costs are lower than those of SWIFT, which makes it attractive to foreign financial services providers. The move of SPFS to blockchain technology would be a major development in both the banking sector and the blockchain industry.
American Giant Eyes Blockchain for Inter-Bank Transfers
As it turns out, blockchain tech is attractive not only to sanctioned Russian banks. American investment banking giant JP Morgan Chase has applied for a patent to facilitate inter-bank payments using the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The application was submitted in October last year but the news surfaced last week. The patent is essentially a variation on blockchain technology, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. It outlines a system that would use distributed ledger technology to keep track of payments between financial institutions.
Motivating its application, the New York-based financial company points out that the number of messages between banks and clearing houses involved in cross-border bank wires often results in delays and restricted availability of funds. According to JP Morgan, the blockchain would eliminate high costs and provide a system for accurate transaction logging. It would also allow them to process payments in real time and audit the transfers in a verifiable way. The patent application comes as a surprise, given that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon has a record of downplaying the importance of crypto technologies, calling bitcoin a “fraud” and vowing to fire anyone from his team if they traded bitcoin.
Startup Recording Diplomas on Blockchain Raises $3 million
Learning Machine Technologies, a software company working with governments, businesses, and educational systems to develop official blockchain records, has raised $3 million dollars. The seed round was led by PTB Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in the emerging digital identity ecosystem, and included strategic investments from Omidyar Network and Learn Capital.
Learning Machine’s software facilitates the issuing of blockchain-based credentials called “Blockcerts”. The concept has been developed in partnership with the Media Lab of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. According to the partners, the Blockcerts standard can be used to record digital diplomas on blockchain. Blockcerts can be issued to any public or private blockchain, including