• Chinese tech giant Tencent is patenting scores of blockchain-based technologies
  • The Estonian crypto boom’s halt is explained as AML measures clamp down, but this is actually good news for blockchain

With Bitcoin markets reluctant to commit to any certain direction, we continue to keep our ears on the ground to see if sentiment at least helps to move the markets. It’s still largely positive even if we’re being objective (and we’re of course on the side of blockchain), especially when considering the technological aspects.

Patenting of blockchain technologies has been an arms race between large tech companies, and now we hear even of Chinese giant Tencent who has expanded its research into the sector, with a slew of patents being registered describing various solutions related to distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the areas of advertising and fund management.

First reported by local media portal Egsea, it says that the filings are spread out over consumer applications, hardware devices, and media storage systems and is only the latest series of patent filings to come on the back increased blockchain exposure within businesses involved in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and internet-of-things (IoT).

It was reported last April that Tencent already filed 718 such patents in 2019, more than any other firm, so these latest round of filings will surely have increased its dominance in terms of patents held. All in all, last year the firm already owned 12.4% of all the 5,800 odd patents filed for DLT tech. Just last month, it confirmed its intentions of investing some USD 70 billion into emerging technologies across now till 2025, with blockchain named as once, next to IoT, AI, and cloud computing. Shortly after that news, Tencent said it would establish a blockchain alliance with 100 members from various fields including the academics, engineering, and legal areas by the end of the year.

Bit moves from China’s corporate sector, but we now turn to the Baltics, where Estonia’s crypto-friendly law has been famous for turning the country into one of the most advanced blockchain hubs in the world. Its famous crypto license was issued to hundreds of crypto firms, authorizing them and thousands of other employees to work legally under its much-touted e-Residency permit program.

The e-Residency program issued a recognized digital identity and status that gave almost free reign to freelancers and business people to run and manage companies digitally without even being resident in Estonia, and had allowed for some to get these licenses without ever being physically present.

Last week though, Estonia’s regulators revoked the licenses of about 500 crypto companies after it came to light that the Estonian branch of Danske Bank helped launder USD 220 billion — and the local authorities believed that some firms could be using their local credentials to commit fraud overseas.

Madis Reimand, the head of Estonia’s Financial Intelligence Unit, was rather cryptic in his response to Bloomberg, and did not say crypto was specifically at fault, but did say:

“This is a first step in tidying up the market, allowing us to take care of the most urgent issues by permitting operations only for companies that can be subjected to Estonian supervision and coercive measures.”

While this initially looks like bad news for the industry, and could reflect poorly on crypto, there are analysts who believe that this move will be better for the long term, as clearer regulations would benefit good players and prevent malicious ones from truly hurting the sector. Reimand himself later said the crackdown was not with the intention to curb crypto but to prevent risks associated with money laundering. In a separate interview with Cointelegraph, he said:

“The Financial Intelligence Unit can revoke the authorizations of a virtual currency provider in cases where the provider has repeatedly disobeyed precepts of the supervisory authorities.”

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