As 2019 throws off the cobwebs of early January, there are signs that the hype behind blockchain is transmuting into something valuable and important.
Last week Forbes reported that the Ford Motor Company had launched a blockchain pilot on IBM’s platform to verify that the sourcing of cobalt does not result in human rights abuses.
Cobalt is a mineral that every Forbes reader has in their possession right now. It is used in lithium-ion batteries to power cellphones and laptops… and is vital for the batteries of electric cars.
However, its production to date has been highly unethical, with children, as well as desperate adults, suffering terrible conditions in doing so.
It’s difficult to underestimate how important such a pilot could be and is one of an increasing number of blockchain projects that are becoming more innovative in their execution.
Naturally, not every project can be blockchain-for-good and not everybody has IBM and Ford’s resources, but there are other instances with this technology that show signs of distinct promise.
One such example is how blockchain projects, especially Fintech- and banking-based, could work with social media and combine both technologies to make online transactions more accessible.
Xov is a UK-based company that was founded in early 2018 and is trying to do exactly that by providing a digital payments system with the Rapids network to embed itself inside social media platforms using widgets.
They integrate their widget with the SWFT blockchain, which is essentially a network address translation on the blockchain.
They are currently working on Twitter integration and sports-related social platforms so users can send and receive digital money, without worrying about complicated wallet address formats.
These encrypted digital wallet formats are fiendishly difficult to work with and have recently been targeted by hackers as crypto exchanges crack down on security.
Xov provides a digital payments service to Rapids to support the processing of transactions including conversion to native currencies using Hypothekarbank AG, its Swiss bank partner,.
Founded in 1868 and and based in Lenzburg, Switzerland, Hypothekarbank Lenzburg AG provides banking services and products to private and corporate customers. It offers a range of services including accounts, mortgages, credit cards, securities, foreign exchange and mobile banking services.
Xov is developing a full decentralised finance and banking network to include a stable digital currency and digital payments division to solve the volatility issues of digital currency.
No small task, but the company has consulted with academics including Demelza Hayes, Forbes DACH Under 30 finalist, Professor Kirilenko of London’s Imperial College) and Dr Jon Daniellson of the London School of Economics.
They have researched a new definition of stable currency, based on a new secure blockchain and used as a benchmark for value, price and stability for all other digital currencies.
The company seems to have limitless ambition away from social media payments. It says its ‘wholesale side of the business’, a so-called decentralized Central Bank will sit above the Central Banks of the world.
The retail side of the project is an entry level trading platform, which sits on the BitShares network that includes financial products and services such as derivatives, loans, savings, bonds, insurance, mortgages and full decentralized debit and credit cards.
According to Xov, this decentralized bank will service high net worth individuals, central banks and institutional investors and the the currency will leach into public use via the retail banking side of the business.
“I believe that blockchain in 2019 is where the internet was in 1990 with the next Facebook and Amazon in the making today, but in a financial and banking context.
“It provides opportunity for individuals, corporations and states to transfer risk from the fiat monetary system to a digital monetary system that is hedged against transparent and tokenized assets of value”, said David Alexander-Knowles, Xov CEO.
Xov also plans to create its Bitcoin gateway in early 2019 that will provide customers with the ability to trade in Bitcoin at fast transaction speeds and at low fees, eventually leading to fiat conversions later in the year.
While an attempt to create a decentralized Central Bank that sits above the world’s existing Central Bank sounds like a Utopia that may be pie in the proverbial sky, there is nothing wrong with ambition.
For now, Ford’s blockchain tie-up with IBM to prevent human rights abuses production in Africa will have more immediate effects, but companies such as Xov are proving that blockchain is moving into the mainstream.
How far and high that current will flow is yet to be known, but the blockchain of 2019 is already proving to be a more interesting technology than the hype of earlier years, not least 2018.