A consortium of Taiwanese financial institutions developing blockchain services is on the verge of entering a newly created safe-haven for FinTech startups.
Announced discreetly earlier this month, the Amis blockchain consortium currently consists of six local financial institutions and the Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan, but has aired plans to go international.
Having already constructed a consumer-facing, peer-to-peer payments platform using Microsoft’s Azure blockchain-as-a-service platform, the consortium’s CEO, Alex Liu, told CoinDesk the move to the sandbox is part of the group’s plans to eventually commercialize its proof-of-concept in a global market.
In conversation at CoinDesk’s New York headquarters, Liu indicated the group is currently working to deploy both consumer-facing blockchain services and interbank offerings.
“We’re going to enter the government’s regulatory sandbox so that we can widen the scope of that proof of concept to more customers.”
The consortium aims to develop blockchain opportunities in Taiwan and currently counts among its members institutions such as Fubon Financial, Cathay Financial Holdings, MegaBank, KGI, Taishin and CTBC Bank.
Initially, the consortium’s proof of concept will focus “primarily” on serving employees within the multiple member banks. Going forward, though, Liu hopes the shared ledger will be employed for business-to-business products, including cross-border transactions.
Increasingly, Taiwan is part of an apparent global push to give financial technology innovators, including those building with blockchain, a safe way to experiment with less of the usual concerns over regulatory implications.
Yesterday, Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission took steps toward molding eight existing laws into a body that is more conducive to creating new financial products, according to a local report.
In particular, the so-called “regulatory sandbox” was renamed “Financial Innovation in Science and Technology” and a path forward was established to give authorities the ability to halt financial experiments deemed a danger to the “rights and interests” of financial consumers, according to the report.
“Compared to the existing situation, where there could be criminal penalties for the type of trials we are performing, this is already a huge step forward.”
In addition to plans to join the Taiwanese regulatory sandbox, Liu is part of an early stage effort by some members of the ethereum community to resolve a number of common issues being encountered with implementation.
On Thursday, 15th December, Liu met in New York with a group of blockchain companies, also including Deloitte spin-off Nuco, to address the concerns.
Though little is known about the details of the “impromptu” meeting, Liu said “the most exciting thing to come out of it was a series of events over the next month or two months that will become successively more formal”.
“Given the multitude of ethereum-based offerings,” he said, “we’re looking forward to working with our peers in North America to converge on what would eventually be known as an ethereum enterprise-grade stack.”
With the prospect of increased cooperation between companies building enterprise-grade products on the ethereum blockchain, Liu indicated that Amis could one day expand beyond the borders of Taiwan.
2016 has certainly been the year of the blockchain consortium, with large-scale operations like R3CEV and Hyperledger each making inroads in their common goal of creating distributed-ledger solutions for businesses.
But, in the coming year, Liu believes his group of banks’ strategy to start local with a single use case could one day pay off with a more global scope.
“Unlike R3, we’re starting with a very specific geography and a smaller set of use cases. We chose that way of going about things because we think it’s easier to prove and commercialize tightly defined use cases. From there, we’ll scale up to multi-national.”
Taiwan image via Shutterstock