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Chilean MPs Present Blockchain Adoption Resolution to Parliament

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Two Chilean deputies have presented a resolution on blockchain adoption to the lower house of the country’s parliament (Camara de Diputados) on Thursday, October 4, local news website Fortin Mapocho reported.

The proposed blockchain resolution project was first registered in late August. In the project proposal, the two presenting members of parliament (MPs) Miguel Angel Calisto and Giorgio Jackson, along with eight other MPs, appeal to the Chilean president Sebastian Pinera, urging him to implement blockchain in all public areas of the country. The document also offers to carry out studies on the advantages of blockchain-based security and energy solutions.

Introducing the resolution to parliament, Jackson cited a recent report from the Chilean Economic Prosecution office, which stated that the maintenance of notaries had become too expensive for the government. Jackson argued that storing said data in a decentralised system would significantly help reduce those costs.

MP Calisto also stressed that blockchain technology could guarantee the accuracy of all information kept.

Earlier in May the president of the Chilean Central Bank stated that he was considering introducing cryptocurrency regulation in the country. He argued increased regulation could help the state to “monitor risks,” notably of terrorist financing and money laundering.

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Blockchain Can Help Improve Iran’s Economy

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Blockchain technology can help improve the national economy, the head of management development department of the vice presidency for science and technology, Alireza Daliri, IRNA reported on Saturday.

“This is possible with empowering the infrastructure of the blockchain technology with the help of government and private sector,” he explained.

The science and technology vice presidency is responsible for development and hi-tech like blockchain, he said.

“We should coordinate with other countries in the world in terms of new technologies and the blockchain is one of the issues,” he added.

Nowadays over 140 countries are now benefiting from blockchain technology through the world, he said.

Daliri then explained about the meaning of blockchain, a chain of blocks for recording information, which is shared with all member of the blockchain network and no one can change it due to its strong cryptography.

Some governments concern about blockchain technology, however, its benefits are more than damages, he explained.

The vice presidency decides to use this technology in different fields in the near future, he said.

Daliri said that blockchain would decrease bureaucratic procedures.

The vice presidency do its best to support and facilitate activities of the private sector active in the field of blockchain technology.

In early December, a group of blockchain experts from Tehran’s Sharif University of Technology announced that they are developing a startup which is to introduce the first Iranian blockchain-based taxi app.

The startup founder Amir Abbas Emami said that they have launched Initial Coin Offering (ICO).

The latest report of Europe Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum (EUBF) details that for blockchain to realize its potential within government institutions, they must focus on using the technology to build two things: digital identity systems, and digital versions of their national currencies.

“Digital identity is the fundamental building block and a key area for governments to focus on,” the report reads. “Another important building block … is having digital versions of national currencies on the blockchain, for example through blockchain-based central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

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Blockchains Should Have ‘Privacy by Design’ for GDPR Compliance

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General data protection regulation (GDPR) and blockchain is one of the industry’s most contentious debates at the moment. Some believe that public permissionless blockchains cannot be GDPR compliant, and that private blockchains might be the answer to blockchain’s regulatory woes. Even so, private blockchains bring into question the very meaning of what a blockchain is. There is no simple answer.

Dutch blockchain startup, LTO Network, hosted speakers from Barclay’s bank, Cambridge Computer Lab, and Queen Mary University to take on some of these challenging questions at Hard Fork Decentralized last night.

The overarching sentiment from the evening? That we should probably be trying harder to get our heads around making blockchain a legally compliant technology that can be used in a broad range of public service settings.

According to Barclay’s Intrapreneur, Julian Wilson, we need to “reconfigure our approach and way of thinking” when building blockchains. We should not be using blockchain‘s as bolt-ons or additions to current business models, but entirely re-imaging our business models built around a suitable blockchain – assuming that a blockchain is the best solution, that is.

In some cases building a blockchain purely for the sake of it is the worst thing a company can do. For a bank that has over 300 years of history, like Barclay’s, it is not as simple as just moving current banking process over to the blockchain. Hundreds of years of evolution can’t simply be unpicked and put onto an off the shelf solution, blockchains need to be bespoke.

Particularly when there are know-your-customer (KYC) policies required by law, not all blockchains would satisfy these laws, thus specialist blockchains need to be created. Indeed, to make a blockchain legally compliant, it should be built with the law in mind, and not the other way around.

Researchers from Queen Mary University believe that solving the blockchain GDPR crypto-legal puzzle is actually quite simple.

Fundamentally, it can be solved by balancing blockchains design with legal requirement from the ground up. “To solve these design puzzles we must use creative solutions that support regulations by design,” said Dave Michels from Queen Mary University.

Michels described one solution to the GDPR crypto-legal puzzle, the right to be forgotten. In this case Michels believes that transaction data could be encrypted with a private key to generate a cipher text which can be stored on the blockchain in an immutable fashion. If one wants to be forgotten, deleting and removing the key makes the transaction data stored in the cipher text unreadable, but does not break the chain of records stored on the blockchain.

The issue however, is this creates a new challenge of where and how to store these private keys, in some cases it can lead to a point of centralization. If this is the case, it challenges the notion of whether decentralization is the best choice for the given application of the blockchain – taking us back square one.

Of course, these solutions are only applicable for GDPR, other nations will have different takes on regulation, so tackling blockchain compliance on a global level is even more difficult.

Indeed, there is not going to be an easy answer to the crypto-legal puzzle that blockchains present. But with legal researchers, bankers, and deveopers – like those at LTO Network’s talk last night – working to solve these puzzles I am sure that a solution will eventually be found. Whether or not that solution can be regarded as a blockchain is a whole other conversation.

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CULedger Joins R3’s Global Blockchain Ecosystem

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CULedger, a credit union-owned CUSO that focuses on delivering innovative applications to credit unions through its cross-border global distributed ledger platform, is now a member of the enterprise software firm R3’s global blockchain ecosystem.

Based in Denver, CULedger is a consortium of credit unions focusing on delivering innovative applications on its global distributed ledger platform. It provides advantages to credit unions and their members by reducing risks associated with cybersecurity and fraud, improving member experience, streamlining internal processes and reducing administrative and operational costs. CULedger is currently rolling out its pilot program of the company’s flagship product, MyCUID, one of the first self-sovereign identification methods for credit union members.

It joins R3’s global network of more than 200 of the world’s largest financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators, and trade associations working together on Corda.

Corda is an enterprise-grade blockchain platform that removes costly friction in business transactions by enabling institutions to transact directly using smart contracts, while ensuring the highest levels of privacy and security. R3 recently launched Corda Enterprise, a commercial distribution of Corda specifically optimised to meet the demands of complex institutions.

John Ainsworth, president and chief operating officer of CULedger, comments: “We are very excited to work with R3 in some capacity. Being part of this vast ecosystem will play a part in our ability to develop additional use cases beyond digital identities for credit unions and their members. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with R3 as CULedger moves out of the pilot stage.”

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, comments: “Corda’s unique approach to privacy and security will enable CULedger to develop ground-breaking blockchain-based applications for self-sovereign digital identity and fraud detection. We look forward to working with them to create significant efficiencies for credit unions and their members.”

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South Korea’s Kakao Invests in Israeli Blockchain Firm Orbs

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Israeli blockchain startup Orbs said on Thursday it received an investment from Kakao Investment, the venture arm of South Korean internet conglomerate Kakao Corp.

Orbs did not disclose the size of the investment. Kakao, South Korea’s largest messaging app operator, earlier this year said it would establish a unit focusing on blockchain technology.

Orbs said the investment will help it further its development and growth and builds on its existing partnership with Kakao blockchain subsidiary Ground X, where the two companies have agreed to partner on blockchain applications and research and development projects.

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State Farm Testing Blockchain Solution for Auto Claims Subrogation

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In an age of fast-paced technology, companies have to embrace innovation to meet the changing demands of doing business. That is why State Farm is investing in new technologies and start-ups to help more people in more ways, far into the future. To keep up with customer expectations, State Farm is working on a blockchain solution that could speed up the subrogation process for auto claims. The company is testing the solution against existing subrogation processes to determine if it can be a viable product for insurance industry adoption and bring value to customers.

“Today, subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers,” says Mike Fields, innovation executive, State Farm. “You can imagine the time and resources required to complete these transactions.”

Companies across many industries are using blockchain technology to securely store data and manage transactions. State Farm is working with another insurer to understand how an enterprise blockchain solution can be used to reduce the time needed to complete the subrogation process by securely and automatically compiling all subrogation payment amounts, netting the balance and facilitating a single payment on a regular basis between insurers.

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UNICEF’s Innovation Fund Announces First Cohort of Blockchain Investments in Emerging Markets

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Six companies in developing and emerging economies will receive investment from UNICEF’s Innovation Fund to solve global challenges using blockchain technology.

The UNICEF Innovation Fund will invest up to $100,000 USD in the six companies; Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar and W3 Engineers to deliver open-source prototypes of blockchain applications within 12-months.

Selected from more than 100 applications across 50 countries, these six companies will build prototypes and systems for global problems like transparency in health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects. They join 20 other technology startups currently under management by the Fund in fields from data science and machine learning, to virtual reality, to drones.

“Blockchain technology is still at an early stage — and there is a great deal of experimentation, failure, and learning ahead of us as we see how, and where, we can use this technology to create a better world,” said Chris Fabian, Principal Adviser, UNICEF Innovation. “That’s exactly the stage when UNICEF Innovation Fund invests: when our financing, technical support, and focus on vulnerable populations can help a technology grow and mature in the most fair and equitable way possible.”

Atix Labs (Argentina) will develop a platform for small to medium-sized enterprises to gain access to funding while creating traceability into where the funds are used and measuring the impact.

Onesmart (Mexico) will address the misappropriation of funds in emerging markets with the scale of its prototype application, which ensures the delivery of state-provided social services to children and young people.

Prescrypto (Mexico) will provide a digital solution to the lack of electronic prescriptions in developing countries with a platform that allows medical services providers to view one common history of a patient, and improve the level of care.

Statwig (India) will use blockchain solutions to ensure the efficient delivery of vaccines through an enhanced supply-chain management system.

Utopixar (Tunisia) will deliver a social collaboration tool for communities and organisations to facilitate participative decision-making and value transfer.

W3 Engineers (Bangladesh), will improve connectivity within the refugee and migrant communities through an offline mobile networking platform without the use of sim cards and internet connection.

These investments are part of UNICEF’s larger blockchain explorations of using smart-contracts for organizational efficiencies, creating distributed decision-making processes, and working to build knowledge and understanding of distributed ledger technology both in the United Nations and in the countries where UNICEF works.

In addition to funding the start-up companies, UNICEF’s Innovation Fund will provide product and technology assistance, support with business growth, and access to a network of experts and partners. The Fund also actively seeks second-round investment and support for companies it has invested in, as well as the opportunity to scale-up these technologies, when they are successful, in the more than 190 countries and territories where UNICEF operates.

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Shinhan Bank Uses Blockchain in Work Process

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Shinhan Bank initiated a project to implement blockchain-based work process to expand the use of the new technology to the full extent of its financial services as well as internal protocol management, it said Monday.

The effort spearheaded by the bank CEO Wi Sung-ho is part of a digital transformation, an initiative led by many global financial services firms amid a growing need for tighter integration between information technology and traditional financial services for efficient management in a fast-changing business environment.

The bank said blockchain was fully adopted with transactions involving Interest Rate Swap (IRS) Nov. 30, the first time a local financial services firm has implement the technology in the sophisticated form of finance.

Similarly, the bank adopted “Smart Contract,” a financial method used for derivatives transaction, where tasks formerly managed by workers were undertaken by the computerized program, which leaves no room for error thereby improving accuracy and reliability of work products.

“Prior to the blockchain-based process, there had been no standardized rules governing keeping and managing financial records, a reason why market participants had to rely on their own records which often times led to errors despite the cross-checking process requirement,” a Shinhan official said.

“The new system helps remove such human errors and helps improve work efficiency through clearer, task-related communications rather than wasting time on correcting mistakes. The program will be expanded after it proves to be stable. We will continue to develop new technology that can be put in place for various departments.”

Meanwhile, Blockchain Lab, a special strategy-oriented research body within the bank, has completed a process whereby company officials were trained for customer services that they deem have room for improvement with the use of blockchain technology.

About 400 working-level, senior officials attended training sessions held over 20 occasions between March and November and were encouraged to come up with ideas to facilitate the project in departments that require frequent data sharing and verification with outside bodies.

They include financing businesses with export or import, lending, as well as that involving derivatives, stocks, bonds, foreign currency exchange or remittance and pension.

Blockchain, known to be resistant to data modification, is considered an efficient, verifiable and permanent method of keeping record of transactions between parties given that the data recorded cannot be easily altered retroactively, which helps ensure accountability.

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ADNOC Announces Groundbreaking Blockchain Application for the Oil and Gas Production Value Chain Using IBM Blockchain

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The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has announced its successful collaboration with IBM, piloting a Blockchain-based automated system to integrate oil and gas production across the full value chain. The groundbreaking system provides a secure platform for the tracking, validating and execution of transactions at every stage, from production well to the end customer.

According to ADNOC, using Blockchain technology will reduce the time it takes to execute transactions between ADNOC’s operating companies and significantly increase operational efficiencies across its full value chain. It will also improve the reliability of production data by enabling greater transparency in transactions.

The industry-leading project was announced by Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, ADNOC Digital Unit Manager, at the recent World Energy Capital Assembly, in London. At the event, ADNOC shared its ambitions and early successes in embedding Blockchain and other advanced technologies, including Artificial Intelligence, across its business to enhance operational efficiency, drive profitability and unlock new value from oil and gas resources to seize the opportunities created by Oil and Gas 4.0.

Al Mughairbi said: “We believe this could be the first application of Blockchain in oil and gas production accounting anywhere in the world. It demonstrates how ADNOC is leveraging innovative partnerships to unleash the power of technology and creative thinking to enhance efficiencies and deliver greater performance.

“Blockchain is a game-changer. It will substantially reduce our operating costs by eliminating time-consuming and labor-intensive processes, strengthen the marketing and trading of our products, and create long-term sustainable value that will ensure that ADNOC delivers on its 2030 smart growth strategy.”

ADNOC’s Blockchain pilot has provided a single platform that tracks the quantities and financial values of each bilateral transaction between ADNOC’s operating companies, automating the accounting process. For example, as crude oil makes its way from the production well to the refinery, or the export terminal, all quantities are accounted for on a daily basis along with the associated monetary values. Other products included in the Blockchain application are gas, condensates, Natural Gas Liquids (NGLs) and Sulphur. These products are exchanged between ADNOC’ operating companies and exported to customers overseas.

Zahid Habib, IBM’s Chemicals and Petroleum Solutions VP, said: “With this pilot, ADNOC takes a massive leap forward in asset provenance and asset financials, which, in its simplest terms, enables the ability to track irrefutably, every molecule of oil, and its value, from well to customer. This unlocks the potential to digitally reinvent ADNOC’s hydrocarbon value chain, adds a unique dimension to their data visualization in their Panorama Digital Command Center, and accelerates ADNOC towards their 2030 Vision.”

As the Blockchain application is expanded, it will eventually be linked to customers and investors, providing seamless integration among stakeholders. This enhanced clarity and transparency will reduce inherent business risks and consequently enhance the attractiveness of ADNOC Group as an investment partner.

Blockchain is a shared ledger that can record transactions amongst a network efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Information is stored in blocks and once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions independently and relatively inexpensively

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Digital Asset Security Startup Trustology Raises $8m

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Former UBS blockchain lead Alex Batlin has raised $8 million in seed funding from Two Sigma Ventures and ConsenSys for his new startup developing technology and services to help private and institutional clients secure digital assets.

Batlin, who also led blockchain innovation work at BNY Mellon and was a founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and R3, has put together a team of former banking and technology execs for Trustology.

The company, which was incubated at ConsenSys and is now onboarding beta clients, is hoping to cash in on the growing institutional interest in digital assets, promising to help protect them.

Its first product, TrustVault, combines private key protection against cyber and physical threats with low latency execution by safekeeping private keys and control code inside tamper proof, programmable hardware security modules hosted in secure data centres, with encrypted backups in the cloud.

The seed funding will be used to develop new capabilities like smart accounts with programmable controls, support additional asset classes and expand operations internationally.

Says Batlin: “Trustology’s unique blend of people, process, and key management technology offers industry defining digital asset security with speed of access and unrivalled ease of use.”

Joseph Lubin, founder, ConsenSys and co-founder of Ethereum, adds: “Trustology represents a profound technological piece that will move the needle noticeably on institutional adoption of digital assets. And the world class Trustology team has the pedigree to drive these discussions.”

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Gazprombank to Develop Cryptoasset Service for Private Clients

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The Swiss arm of Russia’s Gazprombank is to roll out a cryptoasset service for clients in mid-2019, using technology from core banking supplier Avaloq and local blockchain startup Metaco.

The project will see the integration of Silo, Metaco’s crypto-wallet management and storage product, within the Avaloq Banking Suite, with the aim of making transactions with crypto assets and currencies as straightforward as those involving traditional assets.

Once up and running Gazprombank will be able to buy, sell and transfer crypto assets and currencies on behalf of clients and provide a consolidated portfolio view, without any need for a crypto-wallet or private key management.

Thomas Beck, Group CTO at Avaloq, says: “Thanks to the close integration of the Metaco storage solution, banking and wealth management customers won’t have to trust additional third parties when trading with cryptocurrencies. By bringing together all asset classes in one portfolio view, the solution will also ensure the highest levels of convenience and usability.”

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