In March, several major companies joined together and formed the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), with a plan to create software standards for Ethereum in business use cases. The 30 founding members included Microsoft, Intel, JP Morgan, Accenture and Thompson Reuters.
The goal was to establish a clear roadmap for enterprise Ethereum features and requirements; a robust governance model; clarity around intellectual property and licensing models for open-source technology; and resources for businesses to learn how to leverage Ethereum.
Recently, more big names have announced that they want to be part of the Ethereum revolution. In late May, the alliance announced that 86 new members would join its ranks, including Merck KGaA, Samsung SDS, Toyota, Deloitte, Infosys and National Bank of Canada.
What this means, in a nutshell, is that even more major corporations are embracing blockchain technology and that they are moving more rapidly toward Ethereum as a structured industry standard.
An intriguing prospect for blockchain technology is the power to ensure transparency in voting, though the mainstream political system is unlikely to embrace this potential in the near future.
It’s more likely that this application will have to be established first in traditional finance, as demonstrated by AST, a professional services firm, and its plans to bring the blockchain to corporate proxy voting. Earlier this month, AST announced that it is working with blockchain specialists to “accelerate the delivery of new technologies that enhance transparency.” It is a big move from a big player in the world of corporate governance.
A Powerful Use Case
AST manages proxy votes for nearly 20 percent of U.S. issuers every year. As the top agent in mutual fund proxy solicitation, the firm is taking a major step with distributed ledger technology. By the start of the 2018 proxy season, AST plans to introduce a blockchain-enabled system for proxy vote tabulation, to be followed by a greater suite of blockchain-based offerings. To establish this platform, AST has partnered with NuArca, a company that develops solutions for immutable record keeping, radical transparency and machine-driven insight.
Because of its scarcity, portability, divisibility and current valuation, many people are calling bitcoin the modern “digital gold.” And like gold, bitcoin seems to be establishing itself as a popular store of value.
But now CME Group, one of the world’s largest providers of gold futures contracts, wants to bring real, physical gold to a blockchain-based asset, and it has landed a big partnership with the U.K.’s Royal Mint.
By any standard, CME Group is a juggernaut in the world of high finance. Handling approximately $1 quadrillion worth of derivatives contracts annually, it is an influential player in the global gold market. And having roots in commodity trading since 1898, it is no stranger to the challenges of an evolving marketplace. Which is why the company has now set its sights on blockchain technology.
According to a blog post by Sandra Ro, CME Group’s head of digitization, the new asset will be a token known as RMG (Royal Mint Gold), and backed by physical gold in the Royal Mint vaults. Currently being tested for security and speed, RMG will allow instant transfers of gold to anyone anywhere in the world. And, Ro insists, it will bring a new era of accountability and gold-trading standards, saying, “There is no rehypothecation, there is no lending on that gold, and there will be enough physical gold to represent all the RMGs that are issued.” With an initial launch planned for summer of this year, The Royal Mint plans to back the token with up to $1 billion in physical gold bullion.
Word in China is out about blockchain technology, as the government made clear in an Informatization Strategy published in December of 2016. The strategy states, “The internet, cloud computing, large data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain … will drive the evolution of everything — digital, network and intelligent services will be everywhere.”
It was an official endorsement for the new digital age and a big boost for blockchain technology.
In a country with $5.5 trillion in digital payments last year (50 times the U.S.), blockchain is now a buzzword among the titans of industry. And in the race to participate, Chinese banks, builders, suppliers and retailers are pumping out blockchain solutions.