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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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Blockchain

Blockchain Company Dispatch Labs “On Life Support” After Burning Almost $13M

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A bear market casts a long shadow. Crypto’s total value may have doubled since December, but it turns out that some companies in the space are still reeling from the downturn.

One such company is blockchain-agnostic solutions provider, Dispatch Labs, which Crypto Briefing has learned has been running very low on operational capital for months. The company has now been forced to attempt an additional raise so it can bring a working product to market.

The Bay-Area company has twenty members of staff, and CEO Matt McGraw admitted: [W]e are on life support.”

It all started so well. Dispatch received initial funding from the executive team; a year later the company raised more than $13M in a series of private rounds from professional investors, including Fenbushi Capital, during the first half of 2018.

But complications arose almost immediately afterwards. The value of their raise dropped considerably in the market downturn in the first quarter of the year. One significant investor provided capital in a coin – he wouldn’t name which – that proved very difficult to liquidate.

Although the team quickly recognized the imminent threat posed by the downturn, McGraw claims there simply wasn’t the market infrastructure or sufficient OTC availability for them to easily liquidate millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency.

“We’ve been quite open about the financials”, McGraw said. But by the time they had successfully converted completely from digital assets, their total remaining investment had fallen by more than half, from $13M to around $6.5M.

Dispatch isn’t the first blockchain company to suffer from the market downturn. The crash destroyed the finances of lead Ethereum Classic developer, ETCDev, which was forced to shut up shop in December. ConsenSys drastically cut back the financial support it gave to spokes, spinning out those that wouldn’t be able to become revenue-earning fast enough.

Dispatch now wants to raise an additional $600,000 in order to finalize the product and bring it to market. Once they have a full product, McGraw is “mildly confident” the additional revenue will make them cash flow neutral within the next couple of years.

But there’s still doubt. Although investor appetite for a protocol is far higher than it was last year, McGraw admitted that it’s not a certainty they’ll raise the funding. “It’s absolutely possible that we could go out of business”, he said.

McGraw also spoke about the regret in not trying to raise more money, “We could have raised $100M if we went there”, he explained. Although he still maintains their funding target was the “responsible choice”, he admitted that if they had raised more, Dispatch may not now be in its current position.

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Wheaton Precious Metals leverages blockchain to streamline accounting

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Wheaton Precious Metals (NYSE: WPM), one of the world’s largest precious metals streaming companies, has hired Blockhead Technologies, a software company that creates blockchain-enabled solutions for the global mining sector.

Wheaton will be leveraging Blockhead’s technology as part of the streamlining of its metal accounting processes. With a market cap of approximately $9.5 billion, Wheaton has streaming agreements relating to 19 operating mines and nine development projects and produced over 680,000 gold equivalent ounces in 2018.

Blockhead’s flagship platform, STAMP, aims to bring secure tracking and source certification into mining value chains. The platform, which the company says is the future of mining technology, enables companies to have greater control over their current data, can integrate with any existing system with a supply chain.

Blockhead implements solutions for simplifying the data management process and provides access to instant data analysis.

Blockhead Technologies has headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, and Perth, Western Australia.

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Bitfinex is Looking to Launch Tether on the Lightning Network by the End of the Year

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As the stablecoin wars continue to heat up, Bitfinex is looking to bring USDT to more blockchains, announcing earlier today that it will launch its stablecoin on EOS’s blockchain. Currently, Tether is issued on the Omni Layer, Ethereum, and TRON. In the next couple of weeks, the company is also planning to issue USDT on Blockstream’s federated sidechain Liquid.

But chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino told The Block that the firm has ambitions to bring the stablecoin to other blockchains, saying that it will launch the coin on Lightning Network sometime this year. As part of those efforts, Bitfinex has joined a group of developers and companies called RGB, which is working to put more assets on the Lightning Network.

Lightning Network is a layer-two protocol that aims to enable quicker and cheaper bitcoin transactions.

“I think that is one of the coolest things we could ever being [sic] involved with,” Ardoino said in an email to The Block.

“We really love LN (I personally do a lot) so we want to make sure we learn and contribute to it with our resources,” he added.

Bitfinex has long had intentions to launch of Lightning Network, according to a company update dated September 2017. Implementing tether on Lightning Network could possibly improve the speed of transacting with the coin, the firm has said.

“We are excited to announce the initial discovery and integration discussion with the Lightning Network team for low-cost, instant transactions of Tether currencies on the Lightning Network,” according to the update.

Tether would be the first mainstream asset to be issued on the Lightning Network, which could help the second layer protocol in furthering its adoption. Tether’s competitors, USD Coin, TrueUSD, PAX, Gemini dollar are all issued exclusively on Ethereum.

Bitfinex and Tether, its affiliated firm that manages its stablecoin USDT, has been embroiled in a dispute with the New York Attorney General’s office over the co-mingling of funds. Still, its market capitalization, which took a beating after the NYAG imbroglio, has recouped its losses, hitting a new high above $3.1 billion.

Tether isn’t alone is hitting new highs. Elsewhere, PAX has picked up slightly under $70 million in additional market cap over the last month. Meanwhile, USDC has increased by $100 million over the same time period.

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State Farm and USAA Working Together to Test a Blockchain Solution

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State Farm and USAA know how important it is to invest, innovate and build for the future. During the 2019 Dig In Conference, the two insurance companies announced a joint subrogation solution, and are now using real claims data to test how blockchain technology can improve the speed of the auto claims subrogation process.

Subrogation is typically the last phase of an insurance claims process, when one insurance company recovers claim costs it paid to its customer for damages from the at-fault party’s insurance company, which includes its customer’s deductible.

“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. “In 2018 alone, the total amount of dollars demanded and issued through the subrogation process was over $9.6 Billion for all insurance carriers. 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. USAA and State Farm are testing how blockchain can be used to gain efficiencies in 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.

“The blockchain solution we are working on has many potential benefits,” says Ramon Lopez, Vice President, Innovation, USAA. “It helps us automate a manual process securely and creates a permanent transaction record of each payment which can easily be verified for accuracy. It also has the potential to decrease the amount of time for consumers to receive their deductible reimbursement.”

The blockchain subrogation solution is the first of its kind between two major leaders in the insurance industry. The companies began working together in early 2018 and plan to continue testing to determine if the blockchain solution can be a viable product for industry adoption.

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Auctionity Makes Record Sale on its Platform

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A unique cryptocollectible was sold at auction on the Auctionity platform for more than 8 ETH. This sale took place on April 25 as part of a special event held during the Crypto Games Conference in Minsk.

The cryptocollectible, named Darta-Nyan, is the only musketeer Blockchain Cutie in existence and was created especially in honor of the latest collaboration between Auctionity and Blockchain Cuties Universe. The sale was animated on the Auctionity saleroom and broadcasted live at the Crypto Games Conference in Minsk. All the proceeds of this sale were given to the TeenGuru Project which helps teenagers from Belarus to acquire skills in the field of blockchain and new technology so they can become the new entrepreneurs of tomorrow. This sale is a concrete illustration of Auctionity’s potential and ended at 8.1 ETH, thus becoming a record sale on the platform.

Auctionity’s development is picking up speed. Recently, Auctionity collaborated with the Ethereum-based art platform KnownOrigin for the Creative Challenge, an event dedicated to digital art in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Through this challenge, eight artworks were selected and then auctioned on the Auctionity saleroom. The winner of the challenge, an artwork called Structure of Reality and created by Barabeke, was sold for 0,95 ETH.

Including this new category in the saleroom is a big step forward for Auctionity. This choice proves that art does have its place in the world of blockchain technology.

Following the success of Darta-Nyan’s sale during the Crypto Games Conference, Auctionity has decided to strengthen its partnership with KnownOrigin by holding a similar auction during the International Digital Art Festival, which will take place on the 26th of June. The auction will happen live from the festival in Manchester but will be accessible from anywhere in the world as it will be broadcasted on the Auctionity saleroom. 

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USDC Reserve Attestation Report

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Circle released the latest attestation report on US dollar reserves backing USDC issued by independent accounting firm, Grant Thornton LLP. The report states that as of April 30, 2019 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time:

  • USD Coin (“USDC”) tokens issued and outstanding = 293,184,174 USDC
  • US Dollars held in custody accounts = $293,351,374
  • As of the Report Date and Time, the issued and outstanding USDC tokens do not exceed the balance of the US Dollars held in custody accounts

 

You can read the full report here. Grant Thornton LLP will provide USDC attestation reports on Circle’s USDC reserves on a monthly basis.

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Microsoft teams up with Starbucks on predictive drive-thru ordering and bean-to-cup blockchain

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Starbucks is quickly becoming as much a tech company as a coffee company, but that hasn’t stopped its leadership from turning to a familiar Seattle ally to up its digital bonafides.

Today at Microsoft’s Build developers conference, the two companies ran down a series of initiatives they are working on together. The new projects include everything from using machine learning to gather customer preferences, to connecting coffeemakers in stores to the internet to blockchain services for tracing coffee.

Microsoft and Starbucks have teamed up before, and they have an established connection at the highest levels. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson is a former Microsoft executive who ran the worldwide sales and the Windows divisions before joining the coffee giant in 2015.

In introducing the latest fruits of the alliance, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella applauded the collaboration between Starbucks’ software engineers and its business side. Nadella cited Starbucks as one of many examples of a consistent theme: increased hiring of software engineers at companies outside the industry that are embracing high tech solutions.

“They are coming together to completely take what is that iconic experience that is Starbucks and incorporating digital throughout,” Nadella said.

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Mexican State Incorporates Blockchain For Grain Tracking

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In a movement furthering technological incorporation, the government for the Mexican state of Tamaulipas now supports the incorporation of blockchain technology for the tracking of grain. For the movement, the state will utilize blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) software provider GrainChain.

Similar to other recent blockchain projects tracing supply chain, the endeavor looks to bring clarity to the to the way grain is tracked from the farm to the marketplace. Tamaulipas Secretary of Rural Development Ariel Longoria Garcia explained to me in an interview:

“The vision of the Tamaulipas government, specifically in the area of rural development, is focused on helping all grain producers by monitoring the warehouses that the grain is stored.”

Historically, the process for recording grain and its movement through the supply chain has been cumbersome and inefficient, often hosting mistakes along the way. Traditionally, people would need to record data by hand, such as the grain’s weight, its condition, etc., Garcia said.

“Everything was done by hand, and that wasn’t very transparent at all,” he explained. “Sometimes that led to special circumstances where the grain producers were pretty much taken advantage of.”

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Mainnet KIN is Now Available on Coinbase Custody

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Today announcing that Coinbase Custody offers the secure storage of mainnet Kin. Coinbase Custody will add the new native implementation of KIN to the platform with KIN’s pending migration from ERC20 to mainnet.

KIN holders can now benefit from Coinbase Custody’s industry-leading offline storage platform and insurance coverage. As a limited-purpose trust company chartered and regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”), Coinbase Custody has met the high standards of the NYDFS and is a Qualified Custodian.

As a leading institutional crypto custodian, we’re excited to continue to provide solutions to custody directly from new networks at launch, solving a significant pain point for the industry. As more networks launch tokens, institutional investors face a critical challenge in finding ways to securely hold each new unique asset. Coinbase Custody solves this problem by offering secure and trusted custody solutions for new network launches.

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FedEx CIO: It’s Time to Mandate Blockchain for International Shipping

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With governments calling on manufacturers and shipping companies to more closely guard their chain of custody as parts and products move between borders, FedEx sees a single, standardized ledger as common sense.

When railroad tracks were first laid across the western U.S., there were eight different gauges all competing to dominate the industry – making a nationwide, unified rail system impossible; it took an act of Congress in 1863 to force the adoption of an industry standard gauge of 4-ft., 8-1⁄2 inches.

FedEx CIO Rob Carter believes the same kind of thing needs to happen for blockchain to achieve widespread enterprise adoption.

While the promise of blockchain to create a more efficient, secure and open platform for ecommerce can be realized using a proprietary platform, it won’t be a global solution for whole industries now hampered by a myriad of technical and regulatory hurdles. Instead, a platform based on open-source software and industry standards will be needed to ensure process transparency and no one entity profits from the technology over others.

“I think we’re in the state where we’re duking it out for the dominant design,” Carter said during a CIO panel discussion at the Blockchain Global Revolution Conference here. “We’re not an organization that pushes for more regulatory control, but there are times regulatory mandates and pushes can be incredibly helpful.”

For example, Carter said, mandated blockchain standards would help customs and border agents create a chain of custody to better track the provenance of goods, enabling them to identify – and then block – the importation of things such as illegal drugs and counterfeit medical devices.

“There’s an incredible amount of information moving with an international package,” Carter said. “An incredible amount of paperwork [such as] certificates of origin, and certain commodities require specific licenses. That information moves sometimes in digital forms and sometimes paper forms. As we move toward a more digital world, blockchain is where you piece all that together.”

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