It’s 2019 and IBM Is Still Trying to Find a Use Case for Blockchain


IBM claims that six banks will issue stablecoins using its World Wire protocol which is based on the Stellar network. According to the tech giant, three banks have publicly committed to the initiative, and the remainder will reveal themselves soon. The announcement joins the resurgence of blockchain razzmatazz this year that feels eerily similar to the last time distributed ledger technology (DLT) was the cat’s meow back in 2016.

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IBM’s Race to Remain Relevant: From the ‘Largest Commercial Uses of Blockchain’ to Private Banks Issuing Stablecoins

With JP Morgan’s newly announced coin and Digital Asset replacing Blythe Masters with new CEO Yuval Rooz, it seems blockchain hype is steaming up once again like a warm pile of cow manure. One prime example is IBM recently making headlines when it announced that six banks signed letters of intent to produce stablecoins using the IBM protocol called World Wire. The barrage of IBM’s meaningless blockchain announcements over the years shows the fervor with which the multinational tech firm has tried to remain relevant. A few people might recall the distributed ledger mania three years ago when IBM told the world it planned to launch “the largest commercial uses of blockchain” by September 2016, back when everyone was gaga for enterprise blockchains that have produced nothing but media puffery.

However, according to IBM’s vice president of blockchain technologies, Jerry Cuomo, and a slew of online publications, the system promised in 2016 was allegedly supposed to free some of the “$100 million in capital tied up at any given time in transaction disputes in the IBM Global Financing unit.” IBM even released a blockchain platform available for cloud developers that looks like a cheesy Javascript copy of the NXT blockchain with a quirky VS Code extension. IBM also started the Open Blockchain Initiative and worked with the Hyperledger project that year. But like the storm of Hyperledger announcements, R3 signing 60 banks, and projects like Citigroup’s ‘Citicoin,’ IBM’s largest commercial uses of blockchain seem to be all fluff. While public blockchains like BCH, BTC, and ETH have settled trillions of notional value in a permissionless manner we should probably ask: What have all these corporate blockchains done in the last few years?

It's 2019 and IBM Is Still Trying to Find a Use Case for Blockchain
The lackluster IBM Blockchain 2.0 beta platform. Media publications are often eager to report on these so-called blockchains but rarely test them or even look at the protocol.

Technobabble Blockchains With Zero Innovation

Now IBM is using the Stellar protocol and claims that the “IBM Blockchain World Wire makes it possible for financial institutions to clear and settle cross-border payments in seconds.” Reading IBM’s World Wire homepage is like having a horrible flashback to 2015, however, where it’s blockchain mania all over again. The usual reasons stated for utilizing IBM’s blockchain include lowering clearing costs, cheap cross-border payments, and the ledger reduces a lot of time. IBM’s website insinuates that unlike those crazy libertarian bitcoiners, the corporation is willing to work with the current financial incumbents.

“Bitcoin mania has led some to believe that banks are no longer needed for secure global money transfer — Banks, however, disagree,” explains IBM’s World Wire website.

Of course, the general population and even the media publishing IBM’s blockchain fluff pieces about their quest to secure the globe’s money transfer system only get a gist of what the company wants the public to see. As with most enterprise blockchain projects, it’s all closed door deals and the media gets a technobabble press release about some banks using the platform. Whether it be IBM, Hyperledger, R3, or JPM coin, there’s nothing exciting about these enterprise blockchain solutions. Yet we read about these vacuous initiatives every day in some of the most prominent crypto and financial news outlets.

It's 2019 and IBM Is Still Trying to Find a Use Case for Blockchain

Many of the projects are downright absurd, like when everyone got excited about Bumble Bee tuna products being verified on the blockchain. Private blockchain swaps and financial banks trading stablecoins add nothing new to the table: take away the fancy wrapped DLT packaging and all you’re left with is a generic database. Cryptocurrency advocate Andreas Antonopoulos composed a tweet in 2016 that encapsulated the blockchain hype at the time.

‘Major banks complete first international transaction using a blockchain’ — You mean, the same thing bitcoin has done several million times?” Antonopoulos mocked.

The bitcoin evangelist continued:

Correction: Banks paid consultants thousands to do once what bitcoin does for pennies every day, thousands of times, better.

Right now there are many projects that are permissionless and have an open ledger for everyone to verify. Just because a blockchain project is backed by traditional big name incumbents doesn’t give it an edge over public cryptocurrency systems that have been around for a decade. The DLT-embellished stories large tech companies like IBM and banks like JP Morgan churn out are little more than a feeble attempt to stay relevant.

What do you think about IBM’s blockchain attempts over the years and other well known corporations developing enterprise digital ledgers? Let us know in the comments section below.

OP-ed disclaimer: This is an Op-ed article. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own. is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the Op-ed article. Readers should do their own due diligence before taking any actions related to the content. is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any information in this Op-ed article.

Image credits: Shutterstock, Twitter, IBM Cloud, and IBM logos.

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Spain’s 2gether Unveils Crypto Debit Card, as Polispay Is Forced to Cancel Its Mastercard


2gether, a Spanish banking platform, has announced the launch of its prepaid Visa debit card that allows holders to pay for goods and services using cryptocurrency. Customers can use the card to make payment in euros or via bitcoin core, bitcoin cash, ripple, ethereum, EOS, litecoin and stellar.

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Fee-Free Card Available for Users in the Eurozone

In a statement, 2gether revealed that the card “instantly” converts the cryptocurrency to fiat currency. Users within the 19-member Eurozone economic bloc can utilize the card without paying any fees. The Madrid-based banking startup believes that with its prepaid card it is solving problems associated with making purchases using virtual currencies.

“Currently, spending crypto is a long and difficult process involving exchanges, personal keys, and lots of waiting,” the company stated. Customers are expected to complete full KYC verification to use the card. Thereafter, they will be able to manage their balances online through a mobile app that also allows users to trade cryptocurrencies. 2gether, which was founded in 2016, has stated that purchases are offered at “no mark-ups to exchange prices.”

Spain's 2gether Unveils Crypto Debit Card, as Polispay Is Forced to Cancel Its Mastercard

Although there has been significant growth in cryptocurrency use throughout the world, most companies and service providers have yet to fully embrace the technology. Adding crypto functionalities to existing card platforms will help to improve adoption. 2gether explained that the latest development will allow it to incorporate Artificial Intelligence and machine learning technologies to assist with financial management, product choices, and investment decisions.

“2gether is developing the bank of the future, where consumers can take full ownership and control of the services they use and go beyond solely interacting with euros and dollars,” Ramón Ferraz, chief excutive officer of 2gether, opined.

Polispay Cancels Crypto Debit Card

Meanwhile, Mexico-based Polispay has canceled its Mastercard cryptocurrency debit card for users outside of the South American country. The company blames its Mexican card provider for violating Mastercard rules. In a statement released March 18, Polispay lamented:

It has come to our knowledge … that our provider was having a set of problems with Mastercard. Mastercard never gave them permission to sell cards outside of Mexico, a situation we were unaware of as we had been guaranteed our provider had the faculties and required licensing to do so.

With immediate effect, Polispay will no longer to be able to issue its prepaid crypto debit card outside of Mexico. Cards already in existence outside of the country no longer work as Mastercard will not validate their transactions. Polispay deposits, shifts and new/existing card orders have been suspended until further notice.

Spain's 2gether Unveils Crypto Debit Card, as Polispay Is Forced to Cancel Its Mastercard

Polispay has committed to refunding users in BTC whose cards have been invalidated. The company said it is “working on ways to restore the worldwide availability of the platform [as well as] searching for new card providers and evaluating different options,” but warned the process “will take time.”

What do you think about onboarding crypto payments to traditional cards like Mastercard or Visa? Let us know in the comments section below.

Images courtesy of Shutterstock and 2gether.

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