02-13-2018: Microsoft Integrates Blockchain-Based Decentralized IDs to Authenticator

This Monday Microsoft revealed its plans to integrate Blockchain-based decentralized IDs (DIDs) into its Microsoft Authenticator app to manage identity data and cryptographic keys. The app, was launched in August of 2016 and is used by millions. Microsoft is looking to provide a new model of digital identity that would not be controlled by any centralized institution and would guarantee fully private data storage, enabling the individual to have full control of all elements of their digital identity. After considering a number of standards for decentralized identity systems, Microsoft reports they decided that Blockchain technology and protocols were well suited for the task, stating “Some public blockchains like Bitcoin [BTC], Ethereum, and Litecoin, to name a select few, provide a solid foundation for rooting DIDs, recording DPKI operations, and anchoring attestations” (cointelegraph).

In response to the minister of finance naming cryptocurrency as illegal tender Indian exchanges have banded together to create a central repository to maintain a real-time database of traders in a bid at self-regulation. When Finance Minister Arun Jaintly named cryptocurrency illegal tender in his early February budget speech he set off a rash of panic selling across Indian exchanges. Since then the panic has subsided and exchanges have made moves to self-regulate in order to put off any harsher government intervention. Cryptocurrency traders are required by exchanges to submit both their PAN and Aadhaar number along with banking details in order to open a trading account. Though the proceeds from all transactions are credited to the same account the data is not shared as each exchange operates exclusively.

Seven cryptocurrency exchanges have come together to form the Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Committee (BACC) of the Internet and Mobile Association of India. The committee has tasked itself with collecting and pooling users trading data through PAN cards and making this information available to government agencies (newsbtc).

South Korea is now considering a licensing scheme for cryptocurrency exchanges in a major U-turn on its previous suggestion to ban them. As local news media outlet Business Korea reports Monday, lawmakers from a dedicated “cryptocurrency task force” are examining the option of following in the footsteps of New York and Japan in vetting exchange operators before allowing them market entry. The New York scheme is several years old and faced teething problems, including backlogs and high costs, while 2017’s move by Japan received considerable demand as well as broad acclaim. Business Korea quotes a government official as stating “We are positively considering the adoption of an exchange approval system as the additional regulation on cryptocurrencies.” South Korea has faced several months of upheaval following mixed messages given by Seoul regarding the legality of cryptocurrencies and trading (bitcoinist).

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, has said it’s not his institution’s job to regulate cryptocurrencies. As part of the ECB’s #AskDraghi video series, the former Italian central banker said he has seen many users on Twitter ask if the ECB would regulate or even ban bitcoin. In response, he stated “It’s not the ECB’s responsibility to do that.” Draghi also discussed whether he would recommend purchasing bitcoin in response to a question from a college student. He indicated he would think “carefully” about buying bitcoin, explaining that he does not see it as a currency. While the euro’s value is stable, he added, “the value of a bitcoin oscillates wildly.” Also hitting out at cryptocurrencies’ decentralized nature, he also stated “The euro is backed by the European Central Bank. The dollar is backed by the Federal Reserve. Currencies are backed by the central banks or their governments. Nobody backs bitcoin” (coindesk).

And lastly, Comcast Ventures is investing in blockchain startups that invest in blockchain startups, with some very specific goals. The firm last month joined IBM and Boldstart Ventures in backing accelerator mState, which invests in startups building enterprise blockchain solutions. Further, Comcast Ventures revealed a recent strategic investment in Blockchange Ventures, a fund that invests in enterprises that have built technology using existing centralized protocols, but that might be in for a decentralized upgrade sometime soon (coindesk).

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