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Omise and ETDA Sign MoU to Improve Thailand’s Digital ID Program

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Omise, the popular blockchain-oriented company, recently signed a Memorandum of understanding with ETDA. This Thai government agency will collaborate with Omise on building a national eKYC portal. It is the first venture of its kind to become available in Thailand. Both entities will focus on exchanging information, experience, and technical information.

This MoU was signed by both parties in Thailand earlier today. The new venture will primarily focus on coming up with new use cases for blockchain technology. Digital identity solutions are of great interest to ETDA. Given the country’s focus on digital society and economy, the infrastructure will need to evolve sooner rather than later. By partnering with Omise, a new digital identity authentication and verification platform will be built in the near future.

Revamping Thailand’s National Digital ID Program With Omise

Omise has built up a reputation as a company focus on computer programs. They also branched into the world of online payments through the OmiseGo venture. With this new focus on digital identity verification and authentication, the company takes another major step forward. This new system will be used for online and publicly accessible online transactions in Thailand, in accordance with the current laws. Supporting online transactions will lead to cheaper, faster, and more efficiency down the line.

For Omise, a cooperation with the private sector is a big milestone. It also confirms Thailand’s focus on improving their National ID Program for Verification Services. With a transition to electronic solutions, blockchain technology seems like a logical solution. ETDA will manage the development of this system and ensure it complies with international standards. Both parties will benefit from this Memorandum of Understanding and help shape the future of digital services in Thailand.

https://twitter.com/JUN_Omise/status/965571406841856001

The digital verification platform being built will benefit Omise’s focus on digital payments as well. Before their service can be used, users need to verify their identity first and foremost. Omise will have a big role to play in this regard, as they will be responsible for screening consumers, businesses, and agencies alike. The use of blockchain technology will also prevent any information from being misused and deter fraud.

Considering how this is the first digital identity provider venture in Thailand, it is a pretty big deal for all companies involved. The Thai government expects to see this kind of cooperation extend well beyond digital identity as well. It is unclear if that means they have high hopes for Omise specifically, but more details will become apparent in the future. A collaboration between the public and private sector is the right way forward to achieve solutions which will benefit the general public.

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Blockchain

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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nChain Unveils Ground-breaking Metanet Project to Power the Internet on Bitcoin SV Blockchain

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nChain has revealed its ground-breaking “Metanet” project to power and integrate the Internet through the Bitcoin blockchain.   Using intellectual property it has created, nChain will develop the Metanet exclusively on Bitcoin SV (BSV), which reflects the original Bitcoin protocol and design.

The Metanet is the creation of nChain Chief Scientist Dr. Craig S. Wright, who announced the project during his November 30 speech at the CoinGeek Week conference held in London.  Dr. Wright explains:

“What we are going to actually create is a secure alternative to the Internet, built on the blockchain.  The Internet becomes a sidechain to the Bitcoin blockchain.  The Metanet is a value network—the entire global system of online activity and data connected commercially.”

The Internet has transformed how we live and operate, but it was born in a pre-blockchain era.  On the surface, the Metanet sounds similar to the Internet.  But the Metanet is powered by technical differences in how data can be stored and accessed through blockchain transactions, which provide security and economic efficiency advantages over current Internet technology.   The Metanet will transform how the Internet operates by using Bitcoin transactions to transfer compressed data, and thus enable reliable, semi-automated exchange of web page and other information.

The Metanet will enable new ways to distribute web content and facilitate new e-commerce business models made possible by Bitcoin microtransactions. This can allow companies to earn instant micropayments for clicks, content, and data.   Taking advantage of the economic security and stability of the blockchain, the Metanet can act to reduce the potential for fraud due to the higher data quality and integrity that blockchain-backed data storage provides.

This enables companies to create new business models with blockchain-based content distribution and microtransactions that (until now) have not been economically feasible on the Internet.  For example, new solutions will allow:

  • Authorisation of access to web content, social media accounts, and distributed systems securely, in real time, and with private identity
  • Internet search, information and content services that rely on micropayments by users rather than traditional advertising models
  • Business models for real-time and secure pay-per-use of content and digital assets
  • Integrated wallet systems for a seamless user integration and experience
  • Automated contracts for and distribution of purchased products (both digital and physical)
  • Real-time supply-chain management in a verifiable and traceable manner
  • Automation of form-free and real-time insurance policies
  • Secure real-time event ticket, transportation and hotel booking

nChain Group CEO Jimmy Nguyen observes:

“The Metanet will initially enhance, then eventually drive the Internet, making Bitcoin SV the global public ledger that underpins all Internet activity.  It is a mind-blowing concept with limitless possibilities based on the additional security, efficiency, and data integrity of the blockchain, and is another part of Craig Wright’svision for unleashing Bitcoin’s true power.   We have taken the initial steps, and know it will take work with others to make the Metanet a reality.”

The Metanet project is an enormous undertaking that will take time to specify and deliver in a business-friendly form.  nChain will continue its work and find select collaboration partners to help progressively develop the Metanet.

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Air Force Institute of Technology releases free “Blockchain for Supply Chain” Tools

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The U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has developed a free, interactive tool to help supply chain management professionals learn about blockchain and its potential uses. AFIT recently published a live blockchain application that can be accessed from any computer or smart phone, along with a complementary series of tutorial videos that walk learners through a blockchain simulation. The videos can be used as a stand-alone classroom module, or the video and the blockchain website can be incorporated into classroom exercises or business meetings.

Blockchain has become a hot topic in many supply chain management circles. Some experts have predicted that blockchain will revolutionize the way we think about designing and operating the digital infrastructure for future supply chains. By providing a secure record of transactions between multiple parties, a blockchain can improve transparency and increase trust across all of the tiers in a supply chain.

For the military, this could mean better visibility into an extremely complex logistics network. Current information systems sometimes struggle to track parts that are sourced from one region, and then assembled into equipment that is deployed to the opposite end of the planet. A blockchain digital ledger could be an elegant solution to this extremely complex challenge.

But it can be hard for many people to understand what makes a blockchain different from a traditional database. So while the potential opportunities may be huge, the practical reality is that introducing a new technology like blockchain into a large, global organization takes time, planning, and – most of all – the buy-in of decision-makers throughout the organization.

AFIT is the graduate school for the U.S. Air Force. Its mission is to provide the defense community with the knowledge it needs to make good decisions about the future. Supply chain management researchers at AFIT knew they needed an easier way to study and demonstrate how blockchains work in order to create common understanding between Department of Defense leaders, supply chain managers, and those seeking to help the defense community build the right solutions to solve the most pressing supply chain security and tracking problems.

Working together with SecureMarking, a private supply chain security firm, and the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business, AFIT developed a multi-echelon supply chain scenario and then created a blockchain application around it. In this scenario, an Air Force program manager issues digital “tokens” to upstream suppliers. These tokens are then assigned to components. The tokens are transferred from one company to the next in the blockchain, at the same time as the physical products move through the supply chain.

Some of the companies in this scenario are able to add additional information to a token. For example, when a component is assembled into a product, this can be recorded to the blockchain. And companies at any tier can see the end-to-end supply chain for all of the parts they have handled. But only the Air Force program manager has complete visibility to all of the parts from all of the companies, at any time.

So what’s special about the blockchain? Yes, it would be possible to track this information in a traditional database. But using a blockchain helps to ensure that all of the policies are enforced at each step in the process, and every transaction is permanently recorded. Additionally, given the distributed nature of the blockchain, each participant has their own immutable copy of the record. This distributed way of record keeping and coordination could be a revolutionary advance in how goods are tracked across organizations. In other words, the blockchain provides all of the supply chain participants with a higher level of confidence in the digital records, and in their physical products.

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Supermarket Giant Auchan Implements Blockchain Based Food Traceability in Five Countries

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Outbreaks and food frauds are followed by increasing media attention. The lack of traceability information, and the slow regulatory responses resulted in a growing consumer dissatisfaction. In this environment, responsible food companies take proactive steps to gain back the trust of consumers.

Auchan is an international retail group headquartered in France, and operating more than 3700 points of sale in 17 countries worldwide. Followed by a 18 months pilot period in its Vietnam branch, the retail chain decided to implement TE-FOOD’s blockchain based traceability solution in five countries: France, italy, Spain, Portugal, and Senegal.

In each country, the system starts tracking selected product categories from farm-to-table, registering all important food quality and logistics related data. Recently the system debuted in France for organic carrot, followed by a roll out to potato and chicken in December 2018 and February 2019. Soon, Italy will join with tomato and chicken, Spain with Iberian pork products and locally grown exotic fruits, before implementing it for the chicken supply chain in Portugal and Senegal.

Consumers of Auchan can use their mobile phones to scan QR codes on the products and view the food history. The authenticity of the data will be verified on the FoodChain, TE-FOOD’s global traceability information ledger.

Using blockchain technology in the supply chain is quite new, recently the U.S. based Walmart, the French Carrefour, and the Dutch Albert Heijn retail chains started experimenting with it. Auchan’s international scale implementation is quite progressive step in this space.

A new report from Label Insight and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) revealed that shoppers are increasingly demanding transparency and a closer connection to their food. 75% say they’ll switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label. When shoppers were asked the same question in 2016, just 39% agreed they would switch brands. Farm-to-table food traceability on blockchain can be an efficient method to improve the trust of consumers, but it is not the sole advantage of it.

During food related outbreaks, it often takes weeks to find the source of contamination in the supply chain, which can contain hundreds of companies residing in several countries. Using the FoodChain, the complete history of a food product can be instantly seen on blockchain, so recalls can be managed quickly and efficiently. Authorities can respond quicker to mitigate the effects of outbreaks, while the food companies can make targeted product recalls.

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China’s Crypto Ranking Update

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China’s Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID), under the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, released its revised crypto project ranking last week. This is the center’s seventh update. The number of crypto projects evaluated remains at 33, unchanged from the previous ranking.

EOS continues to occupy the top position of the overall ranking, followed by Ethereum. The two projects have been in the same spots since the center’s June update. This month, the center upgraded BTC from the 19th place in the previous month to the 13th place. BCH, which endured a contentious hard fork on Nov. 15, dropped one position to the 29th place. Decred sank to the bottom of the list with NEM trailing close by. In the previous ranking, NEM was at the bottom of the list.

Thirty-three crypto projects were ranked based on their basic technology, applicability, and creativity, as well as overall. In the creativity category, BTC tops the list. EOS claims the number one spot in the basic technology category while Ethereum ranks first in the applicability category.

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