Austria’s government is set to use the Ethereum (ETH) public blockchain to issue €1.15 billion ($1.35 billion) of government bonds in an auction next week, local news outlet Kleine Zeitung reports September 25.
Oesterreichische Kontrollbank (OeKB) — one of Austria’s biggest banks with $26 billion in assets in 2017 — will reportedly operate the live blockchain notarization service. During the auction, scheduled for October 2, the bank will issue the bonds on behalf of the Austrian Treasury (OeBFA).
Austria’s Finance Minister, Hartwig Löger, noted that the ministry considers blockchain tech “forms a focus on economic policy,” adding:
“Through setting up the FinTech Advisory Council at the Ministry of Finance, we are developing strategies enabling Austria to benefit optimally from these developments.”
OeKB says this will be the the first time a blockchain-based notarization service will be used as part of a Federal Bond Auction in Austria. The procedure, which has reportedly been successfully tested, will draw on a system that has been developed internally by the bank to “notarize data from Austria’s established system — the Austrian Direct Auction System (ADAS) — “as hash values on the Ethereum public blockchain.”
As Kleine Zeitung notes, the use of blockchain in this instance does not go as far as issuing tokenized bonds that would function in parallel to existing paper or digital systems. However, as Markus Stix, managing director at the Austrian Treasury, told Kleine Zeitung, the use of the technology has key benefits for both security and cost reduction:
“This added security contributes to achieving a high level of confidence in the auction process for Austrian government bonds and strengthens Austria’s good standing in the market, which indirectly also has the capacity to contribute to favourable financing costs.”
Earlier this summer, Cointelegraph reported on a major joint initiative between the World Bank and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) to issue a public bond exclusively through blockchain. The A$100 million ($73.16 million) deal entailed two-year bonds that were priced to yield a 2.251 percent return.
This spring, Sberbank CIB — the corporate and investment banking arm of Russia’s largest bank Sberbank — conducted the first reported blockchain-based commercial bond transaction in Russia.