Blockchain and Bitcoin round-up: 16 November 2017
Coming straight after yesterday’s (15 November) action, here’s our latest blockchain and Bitcoin round-up. Features Mastercard in a patent place, ING Bank opening up, and another warning from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.
Let’s start with yet another patent. Mastercard has jumped on the blockchain payments bandwagon by filing “Method and System for Instantaneous Payment Using Recorded Guarantees” with the US Patent and Trademark Office. The description says: “There is a need for a technical solution where a payment transaction can be guaranteed in a manner that is readily verifiable by an acquiring financial institution and/or merchant, and where the guarantee can be used in conjunction with multiple types of payment instruments as well as multiple transaction types, including e-commerce transactions.”
Such a development is not that unusual. Recently, Bank of America (BofA) filed three new patents using blockchain. And there have been other patent actions for Bitcoin – such as the man who claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin, filing some; and PayPal’s plan for a modular payment module that accepts Bitcoin and other digital currencies.
Over in the Netherlands, ING Bank has announced the initial release of its open source zero-knowledge range proof (ZKRP) solution at the inaugural Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Event in Amsterdam. ING’s blockchain solution will be used for “improving confidentiality in a public ledger”.
ZKRP can allow a party to verify the accuracy of a statement without conveying the actual information in the statement. ING says it also adds the “range” factor to this by allowing users to prove they have a secret number that lies in a known range. For example, a mortgage applicant could prove that their salary sits within a certain range, without revealing the exact figure. Similarly, it could prove that a payment amount is within a limit, but it does not show the exact amount.
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is issuing another warning for the cryptocurrency community. You may recall back in September it highlighted the risks of initial coin offerings (ICOs). Now it’s expressed concern over contracts for differences (CFDs), including financial spread bets, with cryptocurrencies as the “underlying investment are increasingly being marketed to consumers”. The FCA says these products are “extremely high-risk, speculative products”.
The risks, according to the FCA, include price volatility; leverage (i.e. it multiplies your losses and potential profits, but “you could end up owing money to the firm”); charges and funding costs; and price transparency. Remember – be pure, be vigilant, behave!