The World Bank Just Issued a Bond That Relies On Blockchain Technology From Start to Finish
The World Bank has launched a blockchain-only bond. The so-called bond-i—for “blockchain operated new debt instrument” and perhaps also for Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach—is a two-year bond that was arranged by Commonwealth Bank of Australia and raised 110 million Australian dollars ($80 million.)
Investors included several Australian banks and state treasuries. Arunma Oteh, the World Bank treasurer, mentioned in a statement the additional help of King & Wood Mallesons, Mark-it, Microsoft and Toronto Dominion Securities.
The World Bank said the bond was the first in the world to be “created, allocated, transferred and managed through its life cycle using distributed ledger technology.” However, that may not be quite accurate.
Some small companies have already issued bonds using cryptocurrency and the public Ethereum blockchain as an experiment in the U.K., and the Russian telecoms firm MTS privately placed bonds on a blockchain with buyer Sberbank in May.
A World Bank spokesperson told Fortune that the bond-i is the first blockchain bond “offered to a public, global range of investors” and that “what sets bond-i apart from other blockchain projects is that the entire bond process—from creation to allocation and management throughout its two year life cycle—takes place on blockchain.”
The scale of the bond-i is also much larger than the private blockchain bond offerings, similar to what may have been the first blockchain-based corporate loan, from Spain’s BBVA to Indra, in April. The Australian Securities Exchange is planning to switch to blockchain technology between 2020 and 2021.
The World Bank has also issued other pioneering bonds, such as the first globally-traded and settled bond in 1989, and the first fully-integrated electronic bond in 2000.
“We welcome the huge interest that this transaction has generated from various stakeholders and will continue to seek ways to leverage emerging technologies to make capital markets more secure and efficient,” the World Bank’s Oteh said.
But don’t expect the World Bank to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon just yet. Its president, Jim Yong Kim, said earlier this year that while it is investigating using cryptocurrencies, “I’m told the vast majority of cryptocurrencies are basically Ponzi schemes.”