The bitcoin blockchain
Bitcoin is the most well-known use case of blockchain. It was created in 2008 by an unknown man whose pseudonym is Satoshi Nakamoto. It designates both a secure and anonymous payment protocol and a cryptocurrency. Anyone can access this blockchain (it is public, therefore open to everyone) and therefore use bitcoins. To do this, all you have to do is create a virtual wallet, which can be downloaded from the application stores. Cryptocurrency is used to buy goods and services and can be exchanged for other currencies.
Some platforms offer the conversion of dollars, euros or yuan into bitcoins. This is the case with Paymium, a French company that allows bitcoins to be exchanged for euros. Bitcoin has a very volatile price. It can increase or decrease by 20% in just two days. This volatility is linked to the strong speculation around this currency and the absence of a regulatory authority. In early December 2017, the price of bitcoin exceeded $ 15,000 for the first time. It increased by over 1000% in 2017. Faced with this surge, the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) and the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR) have warned investors about the related risks to bitcoin purchases. “This valuation may as well collapse in the same way. Buying / selling and investing in bitcoin is currently carried out outside any regulated market. Investors are therefore exposed to the risk of loss. very high in the event of a downward correction and do not benefit from any guarantee or protection of the invested capital “, indicates the two regulators in a press release. The latter would be more and more solicited by savers on this subject. through their call centers. In Japan, bitcoin was recognized as a legal means of payment on April 1, 2017. The capitalization of the leading cryptocurrency reached $ 191 billion in November 2017.
The Ethereum blockchain
The Ethereum blockchain has become as popular as bitcoin. Created in 2014, Ethereum also uses its own cryptocurrency: ether. Its price is lower (around 700 dollars at the beginning of March 2018) than that of bitcoin but its capitalization reached 66 billion dollars in March 2018.
Unlike bitcoin, which only allows for simple transactions (mainly payments), Ethereum goes further. It makes it possible to run “smart contracts”, autonomous programs which automatically carry out actions validated in advance by the stakeholders. Ethereum and these smart contracts are of interest to players in banking and insurance, but also to the legal professions. In the future, these players will be able to certify transfers of ownership in a more secure manner or even automatically pay compensation. Axa was the first insurer to release blockchain-based insurance. In September 2017, it launched automated insurance for aircraft flight delays. Based on the Ethereum blockchain, this insurance is in fact a “smart contract”, a smart contract that triggers an automatic reimbursement once the delay has been noted. This offer called Fizzy was developed with the start-up Utocat, which publishes a platform to accelerate the design of blockchain prototypes.
On the banking side, many projects are underway. For example, UBS and IBM have launched an initiative that aims to design a blockchain-based trade finance platform. Called Batavia, this technology would allow banks and their customers to automate this process which is still very manual and carried out on paper. Concretely, Batavia will make it possible to track a transaction from the departure of the goods until their arrival at the port of destination. A pilot should see the light of day in the first quarter of 2018. Another example: Crédit Agricole is experimenting with blockchain for the money transfers of their cross-border customers, via the Ripple protocol. Affected clients will be able to transfer their salary in Swiss francs to their French bank account in a few minutes instead of the current three days. This can be done via a mobile application. The blockchain will also make it possible to settle transactions in real time, to have “greater transparency of the exchange rate applied to the operation and the reduction of structural costs”, according to a statement from the bank. The test will last six months before being generalized throughout France.
Other industries are experimenting with blockchain, such as Boeing. The American manufacturer has filed a patent application for a blockchain-based system that would strengthen aircraft GPS systems.