In December 2017, it was recognized that in “the same way that the World Wide Web was never defined solely by Pets.com, the benefits of blockchain technology should never be defined solely by the latest price of Bitcoin.” Now that the mid-2018 crypto bloodbath is well in everyone’s rearview window, it is clear that blockchain and DLT technologies have firmly taken corporate root and may actually someday bear some real fruit.
No one can deny 2019 has seen great strides in the implementation and corporate adoption of enterprise DLT solutions as well as proactive growth in the regulatory oversight of blockchain technologies:
- In January, the European Securities and Markets Authority release its advisory paper regarding Initial Coin Offerings and Crypto-Assets.
- In February, J.P. Morgan became the first major U.S. financial institution to release its own digital coin – the JPM Coin, based on blockchain-based technology and Wyoming passed numerous laws recognizing digital assets as property thus paving the way for banks to act as crypto custodians.
- In March, Julius Baer, Switzerland’s third-largest listed bank, announced plans to store, trade and invest in digital assets.
- In April, the SEC issued its first No-Action Letter involving the issuance and sale of digital tokens – allowing the jet-leasing company, TurnKey Jet Inc., to issue and sell TKJ digital tokens used for the chartering of a private jet.
- In May, Montana passed a law recognizing utility tokens and exempting them from being considered securities.
- In June, Facebook released by way of its Libra Association a white paper for a “stable currency built on a secure and stable open-source blockchain, backed by a reserve of real assets, and governed by an independent association.”
- In July, the SEC and FINRA issued a joint statement providing their position on the application of federal securities laws and FINRA rules to the potential custody of digital asset securities.
- In August, the Seychelles’ stock exchange, MERJ, launched a token under the ticker symbol “MERJ-S” to represent its own equity.
- In September, Blockstack raised $23 million in an SEC-approved Reg A+ offering involving ERC20 tokens – the first of its kind.
- In October, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Innovation and Transformation announced a new blockchain project providing a proof of concept for “tokenizing (digitally representing) and transferring payment authorizations within a simulated letter of credit system.”
- In November, Juniper Research published a study suggesting that blockchain technology could be used to reduce food supply chain fraud totaling $31 billion over the next 5 years.
- In December, the Australian Securities Exchange began moving forward with a replacement to the currently used settlement system called CHESS (Clearing House Electronic Sub-register System) that is based on distributed ledger technology.
As exemplified by current projects emanating from the likes of J.P. Morgan and Fidelity Digital Assets, financial institutions will continue in 2020 taking calculated risks deploying blockchain and DLT technologies.
Even though it may still may be another year or two before any consumer products hatched from these new technologies ever reach mass markets, 2020 may eventually be known as the year blockchain and DLT went mainstream in corporate America.