Thursday, 22 August 2019

Real-world uses of the blockchain today, from supply chain to equity

Blockchain is already being used in a range of applications, from cross-border payments to election voting

Blockchain is increasingly moving out of research and development laboratories and into real-world applications, creating a global market that will grow from £1.2 billion in 2018 to USD 23.3 billion by 2023, according to estimates by MarketsandMarkets.

Here are some of the ways in which organisations are already using blockchain.

1. IBM develops blockchain solution to facilitate cross-border payments

IBM has developed a banking solution to help financial institutions process cross-border payments using blockchain.

The idea is to leverage the distributed ledger technology to reduce the settlement time and lower the cost of processing global payments, while also offering greater transparency for all parties involved in the transactions.

The solution has been developed on the open source Hyperledger Fabric platform. IBM has partnered with open source blockchain network Stellar.org to create the 'Lumens' which are being traded, and South Pacific financial services provider KlickEx Group to prove out the solution, with the aim of rolling it out to global banks.

In a press release, IBM says that this could enable "a farmer in Samoa to enter into a trade contract with a buyer in Indonesia. The blockchain would be used to record the terms of the contract, manage trade documentation, allow the farmer to put up collateral, obtain letters of credit, and finalise transaction terms with immediate payment," using the solution.

IBM has also released open source code patterns for blockchain (as well as AI, microservices and analytics) apps. These code patterns include packages of reusable code, GitHub repos and resources explaining the underlying code.

2. SAP

SAP is trialling a blockchain-based supply chain tracker designed to work for any farm-to-consumer or pharmaceutical suppliers. So far, 16 companies have signed up to pilot the SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain technology, including Johnsonville, Naturipe Farms and Tate & Lyle. The software is primarily aimed at increasing security and safety in supply chains and decreasing the chance for fraud.

Existing users of the SAP cloud platform can easily opt in to trial the blockchain technology that will run on top of the application. "SAP's customers first connect to its [cloud-based] applications and then connect those applications to its blockchain platform as an option they can turn on," said Hala Zeine, president of SAP's Supply Chain and Manufacturing group.

3. World Bank

The World Bank, working with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has announced that it is launching a blockchain bond on Ethereum.

The Ethereum blockchain platform was selected due to its huge active community of developers worldwide. The infrastructure will run on Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

Investor interest in the bond has reportedly been strong, and proceeds will be directed towards funding sustainable development.

Every year, The World Bank issues $50-$60 billion in bonds to fund global development projects. Because of this, the bank has often been at the forefront of financial innovation, issuing the first electronic bond in 2000.

4. KODAK

After leaping some regulatory hurdles a blockchain image copyright system developed by Wenn Digital with Kodak will open for an initial coin offering on 21 May 2018 with a $50 million ceiling.

The two companies developed the “image rights management platform” KODAKOne to create a digital ledger for rights ownership. Photographers will be able to license new or archived work on the platform where they will be paid in KODAKCoin, a cryptocurrency designed for the system.

The KODAKOne platform itself is built to constantly crawl the web looking for intellectual property infringements.

KODAKOne cofounder Cam Chell told Reuters: "We really took a step back and decided we would ensure that all Ts were crossed and Is dotted before we embark on a public sale. We wanted to make sure that we got it right."

The coin offering will move through a tool compliant with the US Securities and Exchange Commission regulator called Simple Agreement for Future Tokens, or SAFT.

5. De Beers successfully delivers diamond-tracing blockchain pilot

Diamond business De Beers claims to have successfully traced 100 "high-value" diamonds along the supply chain from "mine to retail" for the pilot of its own blockchain platform.

The Diacore, Diarough, KGK Group, Rosy Blue NV and Venus Jewel diamond manufacturers collaborated with De Beers to develop the Tracr product.

According to De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver, the pilot successfully demonstrated that a diamond can be traced through the supply chain in a “way that was not possible before”.

Rosy Blue NV managing director Amit Bhansali added: "Technology has already significantly contributed to improving transparency within the diamond industry. Initiatives that use blockchain can drive this process even further, as their implementation requires collaboration and trust creation among all industry stakeholders."

The diamond industry is controversial due to the mining of ‘conflict minerals’. It is thought that blockchain could help ensure these do not enter the supply chain.

Of course, 'legitimate' diamond mining businesses are not without controversy either, with De Beers facing criticisms for displacing indigenous people for its operations, described as a tribal "genocide" by Survival International.

6. Sierra Leone partially conducts presidential elections with blockchain

West African country Sierra Leone has become the first in the world to conduct presidential elections with the help of blockchain technology.

Swiss-based firm Agora says it offers decentralised voting based on blockchain. It has a team of cryptographers and security scientists, which the company claims have helped to develop a platform to "radically improve" voting – making votes tamper-proof, transparent, and verifiable from start to finish. The results are available to view here.

Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission worked closely with Agora to rethink the voting process for the West Districts this March. The usual manual tally was considered a slow and costly logistical process, but Agora says that with its technology in place, the election results were counted "days ahead" of the previous approach.

Digital voting has long been a possibility but there are questions around security – especially with closed-door proprietary systems: can they be tampered with and where’s the proof that they’re transparent or otherwise free from corruption?

Agora boldly claims that it might have solved this problem and that its "unforgeable" solution in Sierra Leone paves the way for a wider rollout of blockchain-based voting worldwide.


7. Isle of Man turns to blockchain to prevent egaming fraud

The Isle of Man has a thriving egaming sector that its government believes can be boosted by blockchain.

In August 2017, the British Crown dependency granted gambling company Qanta a licence to operate a blockchain-enabled lottery using the Ethereum platform.

Brian Donegan, head of e-business operations for the Isle of Man Government, told Computerworld UK that blockchain will reduce the risk of fraud in the egaming industry.

"The immutability and the censorship resistance that is offered by blockchain technology is such that we can use blockchain to keep crime out and protect the consumer," he said.


source: computerworlduk.com
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