Big Names Starting Blockchain Projects
Oh, how the tables have turned! Cryptocurrencies, blockchain projects, and ICOs are no longer running around hoping to be acknowledged and recognized as worthwhile by big names in the tech industry. When or how it happened is still unclear. Maybe it was Ripple that first managed to break the ice, partnering with American Express, the Santander Group, UBS, UniCredit and dozens of other financial institutions from all over the world. On May 10, it was reported that companies participating in a recent xRapid pilot saved between 40 and 70 percent on transactions.
Also on May 10, Huawei revealed its new partnership with BTC.com, which will let all Huawei smartphone owners download BTC.com’s Bitcoin wallet from Huawei’s own AppGallery app store. Furthermore, all new Huawei devices will come with the crypto wallet preinstalled. Although crypto exchanges and ICOs are still banned in China, owning cryptocurrencies is still legal, which is why Alejandro de la Torre of BTC.com sees this as a chance to “tap into the Chinese market” and get a foot in the door for when China finally releases nationwide crypto standards, likely before 2019 is out.
On Saturday, May 12, CoinTelegraph wrote an in-depth article about this “latest wave of adoption” from corporations including Microsoft, Amazon, and Oracle. Microsoft is building practical blockchain applications and plans to build platforms for businesses. Amazon and Oracle (and apparently IBM, too) are building their own cloud blockchain services.
However, the two biggest announcements last week came from Kodak and Facebook. While Kodak is very close to releasing its own token in an ambitious ICO, the Facebook story is a big deal considering that the company got a very high-profile expert in charge of the project mere months after banning ICO ads on the platform and condemning the crypto market for weeks to come in the process.
Kodak’s project is basically an image protection blockchain platform developed by Wenn Digital and licensed by Eastman Kodak Co. On Thursday, May 10, Wenn Digital revealed its plans to raise as much as $50 million during the ICO.
The platform, called KODAKOne, has been co-developed by Kodak, which owns a minority stake in Wenn Digital. The main purpose of the platform is to protect the copyright of registered photographs and images.
When the platform was announced, Kodak’s stock prices shot up, indicating that a large number of consumers is interested in the development. Although KODAKCoin, KODAKOne’s native token, was initially scheduled for a public sale in January, the ICO was delayed amid regulatory issues.
In last week’s announcement, Cam Chell, KODAKOne’s co-founder and chairman, explained the company’s reasoning behind the delay and said that the public offering will take place on May 21. To make sure that the ICO is perfectly compliant with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, KODAKOne will be relying on an instrument dubbed the Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT).
Between may 9 and 11, news outlets were abuzz about Facebook launching a blockchain project of its own. All of them stressed how “serious” Facebook was about the initiative, pointing to the fact that the company started a dedicated blockchain team headed by David Marcus, who has been a member of the Coinbase Board of Directors since December 2017.
Marcus is also a former CEO of PayPal and the current VP of Messaging at Facebook. He left PayPal for Facebook and turned Facebook Messenger into the widespread app that we all know today.
Some believe that Facebook is exploring blockchain technology to deal with some of the negative press surrounding the Cambridge Analytica scandal and to cover for its losses. Another important factor is the recent Telegram expansion. Telegram, one of Messenger’s major competitors, recently raised $1.7 billion to fund its TON (Telegram Open Network).
In other words, a Facebook Messenger cryptocurrency is one of the open possibilities. Especially the financial aspect of blockchain technology could provide a great benefit to Facebook.
Still, many are sceptical about the likelihood that such a project will actually go live in the near future. First of all, this is the first time that Facebook is actively and openly exploring blockchain technology, so there’s no telling what (if anything) may come out of it.
Secondly, although Facebook’s own crypto is certainly one of the possibilities, it is more of a long-term goal. Cheddar, the outlet that broke the news, says that it will take years before Facebook’s research bears any fruit. Marcus expressed something similar back in February, saying that the “various communities running the different blockchains” need to fix their issues before Facebook decides to do anything.
Are the issues fixed now and is this the “anything” that they are doing in response? We’ll learn soon enough.