来源：未央网 时间：2017-04-21 16:36:37 作者：Richard Kastelein
作为世界金融中心，纽约也已经渐渐发展成为了美国区块链行业发展的中心，现阶段，纽约的金融行业正在着力探索将分布式账本技术应用于金融的最佳途径，以及解决过程中产生问题的解决办法。各大区块链创业公司也已经汇聚在纽约，纷纷抢占区块链市场。区块链创业公司Consensys以以太坊(Ethereum)技术作为切入点，成功将区块链技术应用到金融行业之外的领域。数字资产控股公司(Digital Asset Holdings)，这家由前摩根大通高管Blythe Masters带领的区块链创业公司也已经获得了来自全球15家公司超过7000万美元的融资，致力于利用区块链技术降低成本、加快结算流程、提高透明度、建立更加安全分散的业务模式。
总体而言，美国区块链产业发展的停滞不前与美国证券交易委员会(SEC)在某种程度的"不作为"有很大关系。首先，SEC并没有从法律上对加密代币众筹ICO(Initial Coin Offering与公开发行股票(IPO)类似，只不过ICO发行的是加密代币。这种代币在未来可能会有极高的价值，要想使用以太坊区块链和智能合约平台，就必须要用到它们)进行定义(相关阅读：加密代币众筹ICO：首次真正意义上的VC革命)。此次，尽管SEC曾就区块链技术发展公开向公众征求意见，但迄今为止，该机构尚未出台有关的监管框架。
法规的缺失不仅影响美国公司在国内的融资，还是得世界各地的投资者对美国区块链行业望而却步。在欧洲，部分投资公司通过屏蔽IP地址等方式禁止对美国区块链公司进行投资，同时大量的加密货币公司也拒绝了来自美国区块链行业的投资。在这种情况下，美国的区块链公司不得不自谋出路。日前，区块链创业公司Brock Pierce及其风险投资分部Blockchain Capital决定利用自身技术发行ICO，打破行业壁垒。它们通过向投资者出售加密货币，在6个小时内筹集了1000万美元，相当于公司下一轮融资的20%。
相比于美国，以太坊的出现使得加拿大的区块链产业散发出了"青春活力"。目前，加拿大国内存在着一个庞大的区块链创业社区，汇集了包括以太坊概念提出者Vitalik Buterin在内的一大批区块链间断人才，此外，区块链领域的两位重要奠基者William Mougayar和Don Tapscott也均来自加拿大。与美国证券交易委员会(SEC)的无所作为不同，针对区块链创业公司和其他金融科技公司，加拿大证券管理委员会(CSA)日前主动地推出了新的Fintech"沙箱"计划，以促进国内区块链行业的发展。
(1)中国分布式总账基础协议联盟(China Ledger Alliance)：联盟致力于研究和了解全球区块链技术的最新动态，深入探索区块链技术多种技术路线的变化，特别是对于加密算法、私有链、联盟连、侧链技术以及闪电网络技术等进行深入的研究和分析。
(2)金融区块链合作联盟(Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium)：该联盟集结了包括微众银行、平安银行、招银网络、恒生电子、京东金融、腾讯、华为、银链科技、深圳市金融信息服务协会等在内的31家企业，旨在整合及协调金融区块链技术研究资源，形成金融区块链技术研究和应用研究的合力与协调机制，提高成员单位在区块链技术领域的研发能力，探索、研发、实现适用于金融机构的金融联盟区块链，以及在此基础之上的应用场景。
(3)前海国际区块链联盟(Qianhai International Blockchain Ecosphere Alliance)：联盟旨在整合国内外区块链人才、技术、资本等各方资源，建立区块链技术及其应用推广的集约高效生态环境，加快区块链技术成果产业化进程，促进区块链技术在我国社会经济建设各个领域的推广应用，主要成员包括微软、IBM和香港应用科技研究院(ASTRI)。
(2)英国：今年1月，英国首席科学家Mark Walport爵士发布了一份长达88页的区块链研究报告，主要概述了区块链在未来的发展潜力，同时着重提到了区块链能够极大提高政府的公共服务效率。不久之后，总部位于伦敦的金融科技公司GovCoin Systems Limited即宣布进行区块链实验，以支持政府优化福利分配的发展目标。
Global blockchain innovation: U.S. lags, Europe and China lead
No one can predict the future of blockchain in the same way we could not predict the future of the Internet in the early ’90s. But it is clear this technology is going to have a significant impact.
From corporations to startups and governments to organizations, the race is on to tap into the concept of distributed and decentralized trust in order to reduce friction and build more honest, transparent, and efficient frameworks for business and governance.
The U.S. has been somewhat quiet on the blockchain startup front, which has more to do with regulatory issues than a lack of companies that can innovate, and that has resulted in an absence of blockchain buzz in Silicon Valley. Kraken and Coinbase are both in the Bay Area but are cryptocurrency-centric, and there’s a real shortage of U.S.-based blockchain startups working on projects in health, energy, insurance, supply chain, and many of the other verticals that are being explored in other countries.
Although a quarter of all global blockchain companies on Outlier Ventures’ brilliant blockchain tracker are from the U.S., they are mostly cryptocurrency or bitcoin-focused; few are tapping blockchain’s huge potential for non-currency purposes.
New York is the epicenter of the American blockchain community, primarily because the financial industry is scrambling to figure out how to deal with the very real threat it is facing with distributed ledger technology. But New York is also home to a couple of big players outside finance: Consensys is the main player on the global Ethereum stage pushing blockchain beyond banking. And Digital Asset Holdings has raised more than $70 million from 15 of the world’s largest technology and financial firms to build secure and distributed processing tools to speed up settlement, reduce costs, and enhance security and transparency in regulated industries. CEO Blythe Masters, an economist and former executive at JPMorgan Chase, turned down a job to run Barclay’s investment division to build the company.
SEC puts breaks on U.S. ecosystem
But overall, the blockchain ecosystem in America is moving slowly. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has put up a major roadblock to innovation by not addressing the new phenomenon of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and providing no regulatory framework for them to exist, thus stagnating U.S. blockchain developments.
While Singapore and Switzerland are starting to swing open the doors as the only two jurisdictions in the world where tokens are treated as an asset and not as a security, the SEC is dragging its heels, which is not good for American innovators who want to raise funds using these unique financial instruments or for Europeans and Asians who want to open up to U.S. investors.
Some European ICOs are even IP-blocking Americans from participating due to the potential legal implications; and that’s not great for American investors. However, American Brock Pierce and his VC team from Blockchain Capital recently decided to take a chance at disrupting their own industry by doing their own ICO — the world’s first KYC AML compliant crowdsale. Pierce raised 20 percent of his firm’s next fund by selling digital tokens to investors last week, pulling in $10 million in six hours.
But it was not easy. He had to incorporate the entity doing the ICO in Singapore and use Regulation S and D exemptions with the SEC in order to raise money from international investors as well as domestic investors. For the U.S., that limited the raise to a mere 99 accredited American investors, while the rest of the world could invest as much as it wanted.
“It’s my belief that in the next 10 or 20 years, no startup in the world will be financed in any way other than as a token,” Pierce told American Banker.
The good news is that at least eight states are working on blockchain legislation promoting the use of bitcoin and blockchain technology, which is promising. But on the federal level, no bills have been submitted.
Canada proves more blockchain friendly
Canada has an active blockchain startup community mainly due to the fact that Ethereum emanated from the Toronto bitcoin community and there is a cluster of talent centralized in the country’s largest city, starting with Vitalik Buterin, who is the brain behind Ethereum. Not to mention, William Mougayar and Don Tapscott, two of the most prominent authors in the blockchain space are also out of Canada. And unlike the U.S. SEC, which has been quiet, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) have been more proactive by launching a new fintech “sandbox” program aimed at blockchain startups and other firms working with financial technology.
China actively fosters blockchain adoption
Figuring out what is going on in China is always complicated when you are looking in from the outside. According to Jane Zhang from Skyledger, based in Shanghai, the government is taking a tolerant approach. Zhang, a power player in the Chinese blockchain community says they are smart enough to know the next big thing.
In a recent interview she said that some of the bitcoin exchanges are even lending without a banking license, which, she says, shows the Chinese government is more interested in protecting innovation than anything else.
“The central government is putting massive investment into some of the poorer regions in China and are planning to build blockchain parks to entice some of the top blockchain minds globally to come to China backed with significant funding,” said Zhang. “There are a lot more blockchain startups this year than last year.”
Her own team at Skyledger consists of an elite global group of blockchain developers, many from Eastern Europe, who have moved over to Shanghai to work on her private blockchain platform, which was just chosen by the Dubai government for Customs and Immigration.
The ICO scene is currently unregulated in China with over two million people participating and more and more blockchain startups choosing token sales to raise innovation and growth capital.
“The Chinese government do not see the ICOs as a threat,” Zhang said. “They are actually encouraging them simply by the fact they are not stopping them.”
The Chinese market has seen a flurry of developments over the past year with the formation of consortia such as:
(1) China Ledger Alliance: Comprises regional exchanges to create an open source blockchain protocol to support an eventual ‘Internet of Everything’ for China.
(2) Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium: Has members that include Ping An Insurance (part of R3, a global consortium of more than 50 financial companies involved in R&D for blockchain usage) and a Tencent subsidiary. This consortium intends to collaborate on research and group-wide blockchain projects, with a focus on capital markets technology, securities exchange, trading platforms, banking, and life insurance. It aims to create a securities trading platform prototype and develop credit, digital asset registry, and invoice management services.
(3) Qianhai International Blockchain Ecosphere Alliance: Aims to establish an efficient ecosystem for developing blockchain technology and its applications by combining mainland China and international talent, technology, and capital. The Alliance, which includes Microsoft, IBM, and Hong Kong’s Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), hopes to accelerate the commercialization of blockchain R&D and promote its application to support China’s social and economic development
Australia, New Zealand test the waters
And not to leave out Antipodea, Australia’s Central Bank is conducting internal blockchain research and China behemoth Alibaba is using blockchain to fight China’s fake food, with a supply chain project being trialed in New Zealand and Australia.
Europe in the lead
Europe in many ways has led the blockchain rush. The notable open source culture that permeates the continent lends itself well to the new dynamic of blockchain, and both private and public entities are actively involved in blockchain projects.
And in fact, the majority of ICOs are currenting being conducted by European blockchain startups — many from Eastern Europe.
In terms of blockchain hubs, the main concentrations of startups are in London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, and Switzerland’s Cryptovalley.
(1) Estonia’s Guardtime is not only working with its own government to use blockchain for health records but has also contracted with organizations such as NATO. Plus, America’s Nasdaq has reached out to the tiny country in the Baltics to develop applications. Skype cofounder Jaan Tallinn has also kicked off a blockchain startup marketplace based in Estonia called Funderbeam.
(2) The United Kingdom’s chief scientist, Sir Mark Walport, unleashed a massive 88-page blockchain report in January, outlining the potential of blockchain and showing how it can transform the delivery of public services and boost productivity in government. Soon after, GovCoin Systems Limited, a London-headquartered financial technology company, announced blockchain trials to support government aims in streamlining the distribution of welfare benefits.
(3) The Isle of Man government has begun to use a blockchain registry to record which companies on the Isle of Man are active in using the system of distributed online ledgers.
(4) Bank Of England Governor Mark Carney stated earlier this year that the BoE is looking into the policy and technical issues posed by Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) and developing blockchain proof-of-concepts.
(5) The Netherlands’ ING Bank completed a whopping 27 blockchain Proof of Concepts (POCs) by February, and Dutch banking giant Rabobank has also been very active. Global health giant Philips was well ahead of the pack, exploring blockchain for health in early 2016. And the Dutch Central Bank did a full fledged bitcoin clone experiment with something called DNBcoin and is moving forward with more tests.
(6) The Danish Central Bank is even more game with plans to eventually issue blockchain-based E-krone as its reserve currency.
(7) And the French Central bank is also testing blockchain.
(8) Sweden is ready to move into land rights with a public-private effort to record land titles on a Blockchain that began in March.
(9) Brussels very recently proposed a blockchain pilot to examine regulatory issues as the executive branch of the European Union wants to create a blockchain proof-of-concept focused on regulation.
(10) Although the legal aspects have not been sorted out at the EU level, Switzerland is forging the way. In April, Swiss regulatory body FINMA announced its supportive position for a new licensing category for financial innovators carrying out some banking activities, but with limited acceptance of client assets and no lending activity. Compared to a full bank, the licensing requirements would be less extensive because the risks are lower and the scope of business is limited.
Who will move fastest?
The next few years are going to be interesting as blockchain continues to gain traction and creates both threats and opportunities to existing business models. The question is: Who will innovate fastest with this technology? It’s up in the air at this point, but clearly ICOs are going to have an impact on the ecosystem in the short to medium term; and much will depend on the regulators who have the power to freeze or free up the new liquidity being created via ICOs, which will provide the fuel for the next generation of blockchain innovation.
注：本文来源于未央网，译者张沛祺，原文来源 VENTURE BEAT，作者Richard Kastelein。数据观微信公众号(ID:cbdioreview) ，欲了解更多大数据行业相关资讯，可搜索数据观(中国大数据产业观察网www.cbdio.com)进入查看。