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    United Nations secretary-general António Guterres says the intergovernmental giant needs to embrace blockchain. In a statement provided to Forbes by the secretary-general’s office, Guterres touted the technology first made popular by bitcoin as a crucial component of the organization that generate’s $50 billion in revenue annually. Coming at a time when the president of China has touted blockchain as a national priority, and the $6 billion United Nations Children’s Fund has started accepting bitcoin and ethereum donations for some of its projects, the statement from Guterres shows that cryptocurrency and the underlying blockchain technology is being seriously explored at the highest levels of the largest organizations in the world. While China seems largely focused on using blockchain as a way to prevent money laundering and better track its citizens’ transactions, the United Nations work has been more focused on giving donors increased assurance their donations are being spent how they wish, while reducing waste in the organization’s giant supply chain. “For the United Nations to deliver better on our mandate in the digital age, we need to embrace technologies like blockchain that can help accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” said Guterres in the statement provided exclusively to Forbes. In October Guterres presented a United Nations budget to the national committee for the first time in 45 years. Among the $2.87 billion set aside for 2020, was an additional $3.3 million, about 10 percent increase over last year, for the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and other technical projects that required inter-agency cooperation. This isn’t the first time Guterres prominently mentioned blockchain. In September 2018, he gave a speech in English, Spanish and French on the global lack of trust, or what he called a “trust deficit disorder,” that could in part be solved by blockchain, with support from artificial intelligence and other technologies to help shine a light on the inner operations of global organizations. In that speech, given at the United Nations general assembly in New York, Guterres warned about the potential misuse of “near anonymous cryptocurrency payments,” even as he touted the potential of blockchain to achieve the SDGs. First set in 2015, the 17 SDGs, including ending poverty and responsibly producing and consuming goods, are expected to be completed in the 2030s. There are five blockchain projects in the United Nations Innovation Network set up to facilitate inter-agency cooperation. For example, the United Nations International Telecommunications Union and Food and Agriculture Organization have partnered to track pig supply chains in Papua New Guinea; the United Nations Capital Development Fund is exploring blockchain for remittances in Nepal; and the United Nations Development Programme is using blockchain to track the cocoa supply chain in Ecuador, according to the site. In October 2019, Unicef received its first bitcoin and ethereum donations from the Ethereum Foundation, with the expressed purpose of using the cryptocurrency to fund international startups using blockchain to solve problems that support United Nations initiatives. At launch, Unicef USA, Unicef France, Unicef Australia, and Unicef New Zealand had joined the project, which is now being explored by other national offices. The difficulty for an organization the size of the UN to accept cryptocurrency and build other applications with blockchain cannot be overstated. It took years for Unicef to get sign off from dozens of internal stakeholders just to accept cryptocurrency donations, all for the potential benefit that anyone anywhere in the world could give or receive the same asset. Other blockchain applications, which promise to reduce waste and redundancy between the UN’s occasionally competing agencies, and give donors increased trust that the funds they donated were appropriately spent, could take even longer to build. Research firm Gartner predicts that 90% of blockchain projects will fail in the next three years. While secretary-general Guterres doesn’t have direct contact with the UN’s blockchain projects, he is in a way behind all of them. In September 2018, the former prime minister of Portugal and chair of the Parliamentary Committee for Economy, Finance and Planning, published a 20-page strategic plan for using technology to accomplish the sustainable development goals, in which he explicitly called for further support of the Innovation Network’s use of blockchain and artificial intelligence. In the plan, called the “UN Secretary General’s Strategy on New Technologies,” Guterres placed the responsibility for the coordination and implementation of the plan within his own executive office, with the support of a new technology reference group, initiating quarterly meetings to provide him updates on the progress. “As we learn what is working and what is not,” he wrote. “we will revisit the strategy and update it, ensuring its relevance to support a culture of innovation, and that our global efforts are benefiting from experiences at the country and regional levels.”
  1. Market quotes are powered by TradingView.com In this final episode of the Keiser Report from Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Max and Stacy encounter Peter Schiff in the halls of the convention center and challenge him on bitcoin. Max continues his interview with bitcoin entrepreneur Charlie Shrem to discuss the latest drama and innovation in the cryptocurrency space.
  2. Blockchain -- the Distributed Ledger Technology -- is on the lips and in the good books of most large financial institutions at present from Goldman Sachs to JP Morgan; from UBS to Credit Suisse; from Barclays to Royal Bank of Scotland; from BBVA to Commonwealth Bank of Australia; and State Street. Together they were the founding members of a Blockchain technology standardisation consortium called R3-CEV* in New York. Whether one is in New York or London, Frankfurt or Zurich, Dubai or Mumbai, Hong Kong or Tokyo, there's no denying the immutable truth in regard to Blockchain technology's imminent impact. Blockchain is about to fundamentally change our global markets and financial systems forever, and probably for the better in four different ways. Why? Blockchain acts as a decentralised register of all transactions and each transaction is immutably recorded within a Blockchain. There are four ways** in which Blockchain technology could potentially transform capital markets: 1. Blockchain is going to improve the speed and efficiency of transactions. At present, when investors buy and sell debt and equity securities or transact derivatives, they generally rely on settlement and registration systems that take sometimes several days to settle trades. It can take even longer, sometimes, where the trade involves cross-border parties. Blockchain makes it possible to automate this whole process. 2. Blockchain's second benefit is the potential disintermediation of transactions. How? Blockchain automates trust; it eliminates the need for 'trusted' third-party intermediaries. In the traditional market, buyers and sellers can't automatically trust each other, so they use intermediaries to help give them the comfort they need. With blockchain, the decentralised immutable ledger offers this trust. Investors can deal with each other and with issuers in private markets directly. 3. Blockchain also reduces transaction costs. By eliminating the need to use settlement and registration systems and other intermediaries, there is significant potential to reduce transaction costs for investors and issuers. A mid 2015 report backed by Santander InnoVentures, the Spanish bank’s fintech investment fund, estimated that Blockchain could save lenders up to $20 billion annually in settlement, regulatory, and crossborder payment costs. 4. Finally, Blockchain could improve market access. Given the global nature of Blockchain-based standardisation, global markets have the potential to become even more easily accessible to investors and issuers; therefore making it easier for investors and for issuers to invest in and issue debt and equity securities. Blockchain potentially has profound implications for our global financial markets and for how we regulate. [ENDS] *The R3 consortium started on September 15, 2015 with 9 financial institutions: Barclays, BBVA, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Royal Bank of Scotland, State Street, and UBS. On September 29, 2015 an additional 13 financial insititutions joined: Bank of America, BNY Mellon, Citi, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, Société Générale and Toronto-Dominion Bank. On October 28, 2015 an additional 3 financial companies joined: Mizuho Bank, Nordea, and UniCredit. On November 19, 2015 an additional 5 financial companies joined: BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, Macquarie Group and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. On December 17, 2015, an additional 12 financial companies joined: BMO Financial Group, Danske Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, Nomura, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Banco Santander, Scotiabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, US Bancorp and Westpac Banking Corporation. ** According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) What are your thoughts, observations and views?
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