Insurance Giant Allianz Is Working on a Token-Based Blockchain Ecosystem

German financial services giant Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE (AGCS) is developing a blockchain-based ecosystem to facilitate cross-border insurance payments for its corporate customers.

Allianz is working on a token-based blockchain system, expecting it to streamline international insurance payments for its corporate customers, Forbes reported on Aug. 8. An Allianz spokesperson told Forbes that the company is still in the experimentation phase, although the basic core infrastructure of the ecosystem has already been built and tested.

The spokesperson further explained that Allianz will next examine money transfers with a limited scope and for a short period of time in order to prove hypothesis.

Worth nothing, the CEO of Allianz Global Investors Andreas Utermann called for crypto assets to be “outlawed” last December, saying that he was “personally surprised that regulators haven’t stepped in harder.”

Conversely, Allianz’s Christian Weishuber said last summer that the company was exploring the crypto insurance sphere, saying, “insurance for cryptocurrency storage will be a big opportunity […] digital assets are becoming more relevant, important and prevalent.” (Positive)

Six Korean Firms Are Creating Blockchain Platform for Trading OTC Securities

A blockchain platform for the trading of unlisted securities is being developed in South Korea.

The goal is to take transactions that are now expensive, slow and insecure and make them efficient and accessible to a wider range of investors. Six local participants are involved in the project, including Koscom—the IT arm of Korea ExchangeKEB Hana Bank, Hana Financial Investment, Daejeon Technopark, b—a startup—and an association for accelerators. They are aiming to have the system in place by the second half of the year.

The trading of shares in smaller companies is said to be a “blind spot” in Korea, as the costs associated with the securities value chain can be prohibitive for companies not yet large enough for the Kospi main board, the Kosdaq secondary board or the Korea New Exchange (Konex). To date, unlisted shares have changed hands in an OTC manner, with humans taking orders by phone or messenger and initially recording transactions on Excel spreadsheets. The process is laborious and subject to error, while most investors are unable to access to these brokerage networks and have little chance of buying early-stage equities.

This is seen as a bottleneck in the development of innovative companies in the country. They cannot cheaply and quickly raise capital, and if they do manage to sell stock,  liquidity is poor given the lack of a diverse and active investor base. (Neutral)

Investment App Robinhood Wins License to Operate in UK

Robinhood, a stocks, ETFs and crypto investment app, has been given the green light to operate as a broker in the U.K.

Allowing the firm to now launch its offerings in the U.K. market, the firm’s subsidiary, Robinhood International, has received a broker’s license from the country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the firm announced on Wednesday.

With the news, Robinhood also revealed that it’s appointed former TransferWise exec Wander Rutgers as president to lead its U.K. operations from a new London office.

At TransferWise, Rutgers had most recently served as head of treasury and product, after a time as head of banking and expansion, according to his LinkedIn profile. Before arriving at Robinhood, he’d also led product at investment and savings app Plum.

On the new U.K. license, Rutgers said:

“Today marks the beginning of a new chapter for Robinhood, and we’re excited to take the first important step towards bringing our investing platform to customers in the U.K. I’m thrilled to be a part of Robinhood and our effort to expand into a new international market.”

Back in January, the firm received a “BitLicense” from New York Department of Financial Services, bringing its U.S. coverage to 30 states. (Positive)