In a press release published late last week, the Marco Polo Network announced the completion of a seven-week trial involving more than 70 companies across multiple industries and five continents to test the receivables financing (i.e., "factoring") solution enabled by the R3 Corda blockchain platform. According to the press release, a survey of project participants found that "100% of respondents believe that Marco Polo will accelerate and improve the receivables discounting process and reduce costs for both banks and corporates, with 75% believing this will happen within 5 years." Shortly after the press release, a global consulting firm announced that it had invested in TradeIX, a blockchain startup with a central role in the Marco Polo Network.

Institutional financial firms also made moves this week in the cryptocurrency market. One press release announced that a major U.S. financial institution has partnered with the Gemini Trust Company to launch a pilot that would allow customers "to consolidate the reporting of their digital assets serviced by Gemini, an independent digital asset custodian, with their traditional assets" serviced by the U.S. financial institution. Another report provided details on another major U.S. financial institution's plans to expand its U.S.-based digital asset custody services to European investors.

Finally, this week, cryptocurrency exchange ErisX announced the launch of a market for physically settled bitcoin futures contracts. The futures contracts will be traded through Commodity Futures Trading Commission-regulated entities, which will operate alongside Financial Crimes Enforcement Network-regulated entities that trade in the bitcoin spot market.

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