On Monday, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance announced 86 new members that will work together to develop business applications on the Ethereum blockchain, including Toyota, Deloitte, Samsung SDS, and the National Bank of Canada.
Ethereum is an alternative to bitcoin, which still dominates the cryptocurrency world. But while bitcoin has become a haven for speculators trying to win big by trading coins, Ethereum's promise is that its blockchain—the public ledger that records all transactions—is chiefly a platform for developing apps, powered by economic incentives. One often-floated use case for blockchains in the financial industry is as a settlement layer to instantly close transactions without middlemen.
The alliance, which was founded in February of this year, is a global foundation with more than 100 members which include financial institutions like JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, and Banco Santander. Its goal is to develop business applications with Ethereum. Membership in the alliance grants organizations the ability to participate in meetings and events, as well as to make contributions to technical documents and white papers.
Canada's central bank, the Bank of Canada, has dabbled in cryptocurrencies. The bank ran a pilot using an in-house digital currency to conduct interbank transactions on a blockchain in 2016, snubbing the existing bitcoin currency. However, a recent staff paper proposed ways to regulate bitcoin.
"Our objective is to learn and actively participate in promising change initiatives in our industry," a National Bank of Canada spokesperson wrote Motherboard in an emailed statement.
The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was not available for comment at the time of publication.
Interest in Ethereum is growing as its boy genius creator, 23-year-old Vitalik Buterin, continues to travel the world and spread its gospel. Ethereum still might not be as valuable as bitcoin (one coin is worth over $2,000 USD at the moment, while one denomination of Ethereum, called ether, is worth $163), but it could be a whole lot more useful for banks. It was designed from the ground up to accommodate applications—called dapps, or "decentralized apps"—while bitcoin is still just a currency to many.
Correction: An earlier version of this article suggested that the Bank of Canada is joining the EEA, when in fact the National Bank of Canada is joining the group. It also stated that the NBC had dabbled in cryptocurrencies, although the efforts mentioned were the work of the Bank of Canada. This article has been updated, and its headline has been updated for clarity.
Update: This article was updated to include comment from the National Bank of Canada.
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