Tokens remain the first word on most people’s lips, but there was also news on Tuvalu, blockchain compliance measures and smart contracts.
The 1.5 hour-long meetup was hosted by Bitcoin Association regional manager for Southeast Asia Ella Qiang, who introduced several key figures from the APAC region to discuss what’s happening. Guests included Mempool’s Lin Zheming, Bitcoin Association technical outreach specialist Aaron Zhou, Merkle Science’s Ian Lee, and RelayX’s Jack Liu. Faia’s George Siosi Samuels and Elas Digital’s Brendan Lee also joined the event to give updates on the Tuvalu national digital ledger project.
Tokens and Bitcoin-as-a-Service
Aaron Zhou gave the China update, noting that the six-day Bitcoin SV Bootcamp for developers is about to kick off in Zhuhai City (starting April 11). An all-too-rare occurrence these days, it’s an in-person get-together where Chinese developers can learn technical topics and interact with each other to share ideas.
Zhou also gave his two cents on Bitcoin tokens, since it’s the topic of the moment. He noted that there are many protocols out there, but in the end what will matter most is how easily people can use them. The situation where different wallets use different token protocols, but which don’t interact, “needs to change,” he said.
Lin Zheming added to those thoughts, saying also that (at present) the Bitcoin SV ecosystem is still “too small.” There needs to be a focus on bringing in users who’ve never heard of or used Bitcoin before, and make blockchain more friendly overall to “normal people.”
He referred to Mempool’s own Badge protocol, and the notion of Bitcoin as a Service (BaaS). This involves selling Bitcoin’s data capabilities by developing systems that interface between external data and the blockchain, without non-Bitcoin users having to worry about things like UTXOs, exchange rates, and the like. As a public ledger, Zheming said Bitcoin has several advantages over the more complicated “permissioned” blockchains some companies had looked at, and has a serious cost-saving advantage over most public blockchains as well.
FATF and decentralized services
Next was Ian Lee of the Singapore-based blockchain analytics firm Merkle Science, who talked about changing the way potentially suspicious transactions could be identified by using a more behavioral approach, similar to that used by banks on the SWIFT network. Other forensics firms worked by building large databases of suspect addresses, which didn’t work so well in a system where users can create new addresses at will.
Qiang asked about the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the “travel rule” that could have a large impact on virtual asset service providers (VASPs). This is the rule that covers transactions between different services, mandating that those services communicate with each other and identify the transacting parties.
There are several challenges with the travel rule, according to Lee, such as the language barriers and of countries being siloed off, “which goes against the whole idea of blockchain.” Other compliance issues concerned whether FATF rules would (or could) cover decentralized trading platforms, and whether they might eventually expand to cover apps that “facilitate transactions” without actually taking custody of users’ funds. He also mentioned the need for a standardized messaging platform (like SWIFT’s) that would enable easier interaction between services, and the possibility of a smart contract-based automation of suspicious transaction reporting.
Being realistic about Tuvalu