Saturday, 19 August 2017

The $14 bln Kasikornbank, a major banking group in Thailand, better known as KBank, established a partnership with IBM to launch a Blockchain-based letter of guarantee service.

By definition, a letter of guarantee is “a type of contract issued by a bank on behalf of a customer who has entered a contract to purchase goods from a supplier.” Conventional bank contracts including a letter of guarantee require a significant amount of paperwork from both sides: the bank’s customer and the supplier.

First, in order for a letter of guarantee to be signed off by a bank, an initial contract must be agreed upon and settled between the supplier and the bank’s customer. Upon the completion of the contract, the bank agrees to guarantee a payout for the customer in the event of default.

Hence, the process of the bank’s evaluation of the credit of customers and the legitimacy of the supplier requires manual verification and approval.

Utilizing smart contracts

Through a Blockchain-based system, IBM and KBank are trying to utilize smart contracts integrated onto a transparent ledger to avoid paperwork and process the operation of issuing a letter of guarantee in a transparent ecosystem.

Parnsiree Amatayakul, IBM Thailand managing director, said:

“Blockchain reduces traditional transaction barriers and can help to improve business processes in the financial services sector and beyond. As IBM continues to support KBank’s important initiatives in Blockchain, the value this technology can bring to the bank and its clients is becoming increasingly clear, and can redefine the way businesses in the region operate and grow.”

In Thailand alone, the commercial banking industry is expected to process of $40 bln worth of letters of guarantee throughout 2017. KBank, the largest commercial bank in Thailand, is set to process approximately $9 bln worth of letters of guarantee this year and by 2018, the bank aims to process five percent of the letters of guarantee through the IBM Blockchain system.

By 2018, KBank is planning on processing $450 mln worth of letters of guarantee through the IBM Blockchain. If the initial trial and implementation phases become successful commercially, KBank will increase the volume of its trades processed on the Blockchain.

Pipit Aneaknithi, president of KBank, notes:

“Blockchain technology is applied to create highly secure networks of document filing and retrieval. As Thailand’s largest issuer of Letters of Guarantee, KBank is working with IBM to implement this innovative technology to further define and articulate our leadership in this market.”

In the upcoming months, as the Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain protocol, a smart contract-based Blockchain network developed by IBM, Intel and other members of the Hyperledger foundation, improves in terms of flexibility and security, KBank will increase the amount of trades and settlements of KBank processed through the Fabric Blockchain network.



The Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) is planning to launch a blockchain-powered private market aimed at helping smaller firms obtain financing.

HKEX chief executive Charles Li detailed the plan, which would play out through a separate venture dubbed HKEX Private Market, in an August 1 note.

The disclosure came in response to a question about tapping local technology resources – and whether Hong Kong is positioned to do so. Though no firm launch date has been disclosed, Li said that the platform would kick off sometime in 2018.

"The Private Market will serve as a 'nursery' for early stage companies before they are ready to enter public markets," he explained. "They can conduct pre-IPO financing and other activities on an off-exchange venue not under the regulatory remit of the Securities and Futures Ordinance."

As reported previously, Li has been eyeing on the blockchain technology to upscale the operation of HKEX. Earlier this year, during a media event, Li disclosed a three-to-four year plan to reduce costs at the exchange, which could ultimately move to integrate the tech into its post-trade systems.

Hong Kong's central bank has also tested the tech, disclosing in April that it had been testing a digital currency along with several unnamed banks and distributed ledger startup R3.


The government of Malta is advancing its plans to allow the legal use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin at online casinos.

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which supervises both land-based and online casino operations in the country, has already commissioned a detailed technical study on how to effectively regulate the use of cryptocurrencies in gambling.

According to MGA Executive Chairman Joseph Cuschieri, they believe that Blockchain technologies and digital currencies are among the emerging innovations and they want to carefully assess the risks and opportunities that they present if adopted in the gaming sector.

Cuschieri says:

"The shape and form of the framework governing cryptocurrencies will be announced in due course and once the risk assessment is carried out. Once the results of the study are evaluated, the MGA will make its position official on how cryptocurrencies will be adopted."

The Maltese government’s cryptocurrency plans

The Maltese government believes in the potential of Blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies and plans to advance their development in the country aggressively. The aim is to position the county to become the leading user of Blockchain and digital currencies.

In his statement during the government’s launching of its Blockchain strategy in April 2017, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that the country should be on the frontline in the adoption of Blockchain.

Muscat stated:

"We must be on the frontline in embracing this crucial innovation, and we cannot just wait for others to take action and copy them. We must be the ones that others copy."

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary for Digital Economy, Silvio Schembri, has announced that the government is already committed to roll out distributed ledger technology in the public sector and to attract Blockchain companies in the project.


Zhou Qiang, China's chief justice, received a briefing on blockchain technology last week during an inspection of the city of Guiyang in southwestern China.

According to domestic media reports, Qiang spoke to local court representatives on projects related to big data and blockchain, a notable development given that he is leading a drive to digitize China's court system and reduce difficulties inherent in the enforcement of court decisions.

Among the topics reportedly discussed was a national credit system and asset registry, and how the lack of such a system can create issues when a plaintiff asks a court to enforce its decision in civil lawsuits.

Zhou, who is also president of the Supreme People's Court, reportedly commented:

"Under the leadership of the party, we should beef up the use of information technology, and constantly improve the workflow of the national court system to overcome the difficulties in the enforcement of court decisions."

Because the court doesn't know how much of which assets the defendant owns and where the assets are, the investigation process places a huge burden on China’s court system, the article explains.

To combat the issue, Guiyang's court system is partnering with other municipal agencies in applying big data and blockchain tech to build a social credit system. Launched and supported by Chen Gang, the former secretary of municipal party committee, the campaign puts Guiyang in a leading position among municipal governments in adopting blockchain in governance in China.

Last December, Guiyang released a white paper detailing its blockchain research efforts, making it the first municipal government in China to do so.


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