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如何抢占区块链高地?巴西中央银行正在四面出击

在一场关于该行的区块链技术计划的采访中,巴西央行的区块链团队的成员透露他们正在恢复与R3的Corda分布式账本平台的合作,数月之前由于这种技术被认为“不成熟”,相关工作只得暂停下来。

就在R3区块链联盟于今年10月份推出Corda的1.0版本之后,巴西央行对该版本支持该国金融基础设施表示出了兴趣。

目前,巴西央行正在使用4个不同的区块链平台开发概念验证(PoCs),分别是试验性以太坊平台、摩根大通的Quorum平台、超级账本Fabric平台以及Corda平台。

上述试验的基本目的都是使用区块链来备份该央行的实时总结算系统(RTGS)——巴西支付系统(BPS),以及更好地使巴西央行紧跟各国央行使用区块链技术进行创新的趋势。

尽管巴西央行的区块链团队早在今年1月份就已经考虑了大量区块链使用案例——包括使用本地货币进行对外贸易以及一种身份管理系统——他们最终选择了RTGS作为重点。

不同于定期进行结算,RTGS被用于允许银行在大额贷款发生后立即进行结算。因为这些交易相对来说并不频繁,很多央行都已经确定为区块链的一种潜在用例。

巴西央行每天处理314,000笔交易,转移资金规模达到8390亿巴西雷亚尔(约合2550亿美元)。

谈到重点放在RTGS用例的决定,巴西央行方面表示,该国现有系统在过去15年一直在为商业银行核查账户,但是仍然没有一个备份系统,现在他们对区块链是否能够承担这份工作非常感兴趣。

每一个区块链平台都有自己的“优势和问题”,不过实际上还剩下两个主要障碍。一是巴西央行“无法证明”实施一种区块链系统会比实施某种更加传统的系统的成本更低,而是使用共享的分布式账本的隐私性也存在着问题。

尽管RTGS是巴西央行现阶段区块链工作的重点,但该机构也在同时测试一种基于区块链的“信息交易所”。

这个叫做知道您的公民(Know Your Citizen)(似乎在监管机构要求的KYC合规性方面充当着角色)的交易所位于微软Azure云服务之上,使用了Quorum技术。它还使用了一种著名的以太坊开发框架Truffle与智能合约进行交互。

这个项目的详细信息“目前还处于机密阶段”,但是他表示“未来几个月”将公布更多信息。此外,巴西央行对于区块链发展正在越来越开放。

该央行不仅仅在瑞波公司上个月在纽约举办的央行峰会上公布了其区块链研究结果,而且还向国际货币基金组织展示了其区块链工作,并且本月晚些时候还将出席在巴西圣保罗举行的“区块链峰会2017”。

 

The Central Bank of Brazil is building with just about every blockchain it can get its hands on.

In a new interview about its plans for the nascent technology, members of the central bank's blockchain team revealed they are resuming work with R3's Corda distributed ledger platform, months after ceasing development because the technology was deemed too "immature."

After the enterprise blockchain consortium launched version 1.0 of Corda in October, the central bank said it's ready to see if the newest version has what it takes to back up aspects of the country's financial infrastructure.

And with that, Banco Central do Brasil is now developing proofs-of-concept (PoCs) on four different platforms, trialing ethereum, JPMorgan's Quorum and Hyperledger Fabric alongside its Corda work.

The PoCs broadly focus on using blockchain to both back-up the central bank's current real-time gross settlement system (RTGS), called the Brazilian Payment System, as well as better align the organization with the growing momentum for central banks to innovate using blockchain technology.

Speaking to that trend, the deputy head of the central bank's IT department, Aristides Andrade Cavalcante Neto, told CoinDesk:

"We are a central bank, and we enjoy a lot of stability. But you have to think change. You have to think in a different business model. So, for us, that's the most difficult part of this kind of work when we're talking about innovation."

Real-time blockchain

While the blockchain team at Brazil's central bank had considered a number of use cases – including enabling foreign trade in local currencies and an identity management system – as far back as January, it ultimately selected RTGS as its focus, according to the team's analyst Jose Deodoro De Oliveira Filho.

Instead of being netted periodically, RTGS is used to allow banks to settle their large-value debits immediately as they occur. Because these transactions are relatively infrequent, they have been identified by multiple central banks as a potential use case for blockchain.

Banco Central do Brasil processes 314,ooo transactions per day, moving a total of 839 billion Brazilian reals, or about $255 billion by today's exchange rate.

Talking to CoinDesk, De Oliveira elaborated on the decision to focus on the RTGS use case, stating that while the central bank's current system has been helping commercial banks reconcile accounts for 15 years, they still don't have a backup system. And they're interested in whether a blockchain it suitable for the job.

According to De Oliveira, each of the platforms has its own "advantages and problems," but really only two main obstacles – albeit big ones – remain.

Specifically, the central bank can't "prove" that implementing a blockchain system would be cheaper than implementing something more traditional, he said. And there are ongoing questions about the privacy of using a shared, distributed ledger.

"If you want privacy you can't have the other features, and if you want the other features, you can't have privacy. So, that's what we're trying to solve right now," De Oliveira said.

Out in the open

But while RTGS is the primary focus of the central bank's blockchain work, it's also testing a blockchain-based "information exchange."

Revealed for the first time to CoinDesk, the exchange, called Know Your Citizen (seemingly a play on the regulator-mandated know-your-customer compliance), is powered by Quorom in Microsoft's Azure cloud. It also uses Truffle, a popular ethereum development framework, to interact with smart contracts.

Details about the project are "kind of a secret right now," according to De Oliveira, but he said more information should be forthcoming in the "next couple of months."

Elsewhere, the central bank is increasingly open regarding its blockchain development.

Not only did it introduce its findings at the Central Bank Summit hosted by Ripple in New York last month, but also it has also presented its work to the International Monetary Fund, and will, later this month, appear at Blockchain Summit 2017 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

As other central banks from all around the world, including Hong Kong, Japan, Canada and Europe, are typically in attendance at these events, Cavalcante Neto framed this openness as a way to workshop ideas with peers, saying:

"It's very useful, this kind of meeting, to understand the different perspectives from different central banks about the technology."


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