In Asia, blockchain continues to get a boost from government and regulatory efforts, especially in the realm of trade finance done across borders.
In one example from the past several days, the China Banking Association (CBA) — the regulatory agency tied to the sector — has launched a new blockchain-underpinned initiative focused on trade finance. The platform is in the midst of being rolled out for live deployment, with several pilot programs having already been completed. The banks that have signed on include HSBC, China Merchants Bank, Postal Savings Bank of China and others.
The CBA pilots, as reported by CoinDesk and other sites, were tied to the issuance of letters of credit and securities. The CBA said it will look to include smaller and mid-sized banks on the platform, with eventual additions of tax agencies and customs activities to the platform. The latest Chinese efforts come after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) brought its own trade finance platform live at the end of last year.
Separately, the South Korean government has been eyeing tax breaks for blockchain in a move that looks to bring innovation to the region. The country’s finance ministry said blockchain efforts will be included in tax law amendments, as reported by The News Asia. Under those amendments, some taxes related to research and development (R&D) spending will be deductible. Smaller firms will be able to deduct 30 percent to 40 percent of taxes, with 20 percent to 30 percent of expenses able to be deducted for larger firms.
Beyond large-scale efforts in Asia, ShareRing, a blockchain-powered firm, said users can reserve and get a rental vehicle through a partnership with Keaz, the car-sharing platform, within 30 seconds.
As reported by Venture Beat, Keaz works with Toyota, Envoy and others to facilitate 700,000 rental bookings monthly. As the service traditionally takes a few days to complete transactions, the new initiative lets ShareRing verify users and complete bookings almost immediately. The service will debut at the end of March.
ShareRing Co-founder and CEO Tim Bos told the site that the blockchain is powered by utility tokens and ShareCoins, and offers some flexibility when it comes to identity management.
“We offer a function where you can choose to only do business with providers that don’t hold onto your ID,” he said. “This is a system where identity documents are captured in the app by the user (license or passport, depending on the category of use), and verified by a third-party Know Your Customer [KYC] provider. Once authenticated, these documents are hashed and uploaded to [the ShareRing chain]. This hash is an unchangeable ID validator that is used by the business service provider to ensure that it’s valid and the renter is who they claim to be.”