As the world steps cautiously towards reopening, can a health passport increase safety and confidence? In light of COVID-19, using blockchain to verify identity and health status is taking center stage — with reservations. In this month’s briefing, we also look at why traditional banks and investment firms are turning bullish on blockchain as a business strategy.

But first: According to Deloitte’s Global Blockchain Survey 2020, 39% of companies surveyed have production blockchains — a 16% increase over last year — and 55% say blockchain is one of their top five strategic priorities. Where do you stand on blockchain adoption?

Blockchain in the news

Health passports dominate digital ID discussion

After months of COVID-19 lockdown, many areas in the U.S. continue to grapple with the pandemic response while other countries around the world are starting to lift restrictions (with mixed results). To reopen safely, businesses are envisioning digital health passports as a way to verify coronavirus testing or immunity status today and, in the future, vaccination.

Learn how innovative companies and individuals use blockchain for social good

Tech companies and governments, many of which were pursuing blockchain-based identity solutions pre-pandemic, are fast-tracking their apps to market, including Microsoft,GE AviationCivic Technologies in partnership with UCSF Health, and the Canary Islands Ministry of Tourism. The concept remains controversial until vaccines are available, with the World Health Organization urging caution until we know more about protection afforded by antibodies.

Blockchain digital identity solutions are based on giving control over identity and personal information — think health data — back to the individual. But business also has a stake. Digital ID can give the financially underserved a way to satisfy Know Your Customer requirements, for example, and join the economy. And IBM, R3, Mastercard and 26 other entities joining the open source Trust Over IP project see digital ID and blockchain as a key to verifying identity online.

The financial sector is bullish on blockchain

The pandemic continues to influence the blockchain space in other ways, with IDC adjusting its 2020 worldwide blockchain spending forecast downward in response to recent events. Still, the forecast is for a healthy 57.7% increase in overall spending and USD 1.6 billion in investment from the financial community. Particularly in the fintech segment, blockchain investment is projected to reach USD 6.7 billion by 2023 at a compound annual growth rate of 75.2%. In Hong Kong, 39% of fintech startups use blockchain.

Traditional banks are investing in enterprise blockchain to improve business processes. IBM, already a collaborator, joined 12 European banks as a shareholder in, a blockchain-enabled global trade finance network. New York-based Signature Bank announced a new client service, a blockchain-based digital payments platform that in private beta increased transaction volumes by about 15%. And the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority used blockchain to distribute cash to local banks.

Investment advisory firm Vanguard, in close collaboration with BNY Mellon, Citi and State Street banks and an unnamed securities issuer, successfully completed a blockchain pilot designed to digitalize end-to-end transaction flows for issuing asset backed securities. Anticipated benefits include increased speed and transparency with lowered cost and risk.

As more types of assets get digitalized — from money to tokens that stand for any kind of physical or digital-native asset — standards become essential. IBM, Accenture, Microsoft, Nasdaq, ING, UBS and 30 other organizations, including other blockchain companies, launched the InterWork Alliance to create those standards.

What else we’re reading

J.P. Morgan and crypto
Once “bitcoin’s biggest enemy,” J.P. Morgan extended banking services to crypto exchange Coinbase and its rival Gemini and is now processing transactions.

Greening energy
Vodaphone in partnership with startup Energy Web, startup Sun Exchange, and three EU energy grids partnering with IBM launch green energy initiatives using blockchain technology.

Big pharma and blockchain
IBM, Merck and KPMG unveil the results of their successful FDA-backed track-and-trace blockchain pilot as other pharma firms explore blockchain in the supply chain.

Supply chain moves
IBM blockchain networks gain traction as Norway’s Kvaroy Arctic joins IBM Food Trust, built on IBM Blockchain Transparent Supply, and port operator DP World joins the TradeLens shipping platform.

July’s features of “watch, read and listen”

Mark your calendar for a July 31 special event and contest kickoff

Find out what’s happening with IBM Blockchain Platform, the next generation of blockchain for business that is open and available anywhere. You can register now.

Webinar:  How do we make blockchain real?
A fireside chat featuring IDC’s James Wester, Research Director, Worldwide Blockchain Strategies, and Pramod Achanta, VP Blockchain Services, IBM.

Smart paper:  Opportunity is calling for telcos
Innovative use cases illuminate how blockchain can answer challenges facing the telecom industry.

Conference:  IBM Blockchain Supply Chain Virtual Summit
For supply chain executives and creative technologists. Register today for this two-day no-charge immersive event, July 21-22, 2020.

Podcast:  Implementing a new technology strategy
From blockchain pilot to production, hear how industries are revolutionizing business.

Getting started with IBM Blockchain

No matter where you are in your adoption journey or which industry you’re in, we’re here to help you use blockchain technology to reach your business goals. You can develop your own network using our platform or start that project you’ve been talking about with help from our blockchain services. You can also join our existing networks:

Still not sure where to start? Schedule time to talk with one of our experts specific to your industry, and they can help guide you in the right direction.

Thanks for reading our second edition of “Blockchain News You Can Use.” We’ll be back next month with more. In the meantime, if someone forwarded you this email and you’d like to subscribe, sign up here.

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