Much has been written about the bitcoin microverse over the last week. The technology that underpins bitcoin, its scalability, the roles of those tasked with development and the framework of responsibility that these roles require have dominated discussion, and a look at the bitcoin price illustrates the impact of these discussions on sentiment. At times like this it can be difficult to pull away from the debate and look at the bigger picture. Outside of the circle of individuals involved with bitcoin and its underlying technology on a daily basis, where are things headed? What is the status of the fundamental framework that underpins the current industry, and what developments are ensuring this underpinning holds firm? Let’s take this proverbial step back, and highlight a key fundamental development out of Australia that shines some much needed positive light on digital currency and the blockchain. Here goes.
So, earlier today, we got word that The Commonwealth Bank of Australia had opened a technology hub in Hong Kong. The hub comes on the back of last year’s launch of a similar (larger) hub in its commercial headquarter city Sydney, and precedes a third hub, which the bank will open later this year in London.
Why is this important to the bitcoin space? Well, the Sydney hub developed the company’s first blockchain at the end of last year. The blockchain consisted of five 1-gigabyte computer boxes and associated ledgers and keys, and set out to validate transactions in place of the bank as a demonstration of potential applications to CBA customers. In many instances, it’s ground level demonstration that’s needed to raise mainstream awareness, and this is exactly the sort of thing we need large companies (CBA is considered one of he “big four” banks in Australia) to be doing.
With the bank’s expansion of its technology hub in to Hong Kong, we expect many more of these sorts of real world blockchain applications. Indeed, so does the team behind the expansion. Professor Chan is the secretary for financial services and the treasury in the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (a long title, I know). He’s the guy who drew some criticism from the bitcoin space last year for saying there was no need for commercial regulation as bitcoin was not widely used and should not be used as a speculative instrument due to its volatility. There’s credence to what he is saying, but it now looks as though he’s changed his mind – at least with regards to the blockchain. When CBA announced the expansion he stated that he wants to drive increased public understanding of the blockchain, and he hoped that the tech hub could be used to address some of the misunderstandings associated with the bitcoin tech.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, executive of institutional banking at CBA, agrees. She said:
We are certainly investigating and seeking to drive a greater understanding in the community … I would be surprised if we didn’t end up with blockchain projects in each lab.
40,000 individuals passed through the hub in Sydney since its launch – many of which will likely be being introduced to the blockchain for the first time. If the Hong Kong hub can replicate, or improve upon, this success, it may be just the ticket to a better informed, and in turn more accepting, general public.
Good work CBA, and we look forward to the London launch!
Image Source: CBA Twitter