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Use of #Blockchain in Major Industries by Numbers: Retail, Manufacturing, Finance, and Others $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:54 AM on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

  • With billions of dollars being invested annually by major corporations in blockchain development, the emerging technology has become the focal point of the long-term vision of many companies internationally.
  • The exponential increase in demand and interest in blockchain technology has enabled multi-billion dollar markets for the blockchain in major sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, retail, supply chain, IoT, and payments.

Many startups, major conglomerates, supply chain operators, and distributors have attempted to integrate blockchain technology over the past two years, to increase transparency and reduce the power of central entities in data processing.

With billions of dollars being invested annually by major corporations in blockchain development, the emerging technology has become the focal point of the long-term vision of many companies internationally.

The exponential increase in demand and interest in blockchain technology has enabled multi-billion dollar markets for the blockchain in major sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, retail, supply chain, IoT, and payments.

Blockchain in manufacturing to be $566 million by 2025

On October 4, technology research firm ReportLinker disclosed in a research paper that the market for blockchain technology in the US manufacturing sector is expected to grow to $566 million by 2025, within the next seven years.

The researchers stated that the blockchain in manufacturing market is forecasted to be worth around $30 million by 2020, and the market will continue to grow at an annual growth rate of 80 percent, to $566 million by 2025.

While the report cited the increase in demand for blockchain-as-a-service (Baas) provided by technology conglomerates such as Microsoft and Intel as a major catalyst for the growth of the blockchain in manufacturing market, it cautiously suggested that the lack of regulatory clarity in the U.S. could limit the growth of the market.

Similarly, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a Big Four auditor, expressed its concerns in regards to regulatory uncertainty in the blockchain sector of the U.S., as it restricts the extent in which the blockchain can be integrated into the existing infrastructures of large conglomerates.

According to PwC blockchain head Steve Davies, many conglomerates and startups are exploring ways to integrate the blockchain at a commercial level. However, due to regulatory hurdles, companies are unable to commercialize the blockchain at a large scale:

“Businesses tell us that they don’t want to be left behind by blockchain, even if at this early stage of its development, concerns on trust and regulation remain. Blockchain by its very definition should engender trust. But in reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn.”

China recognizes potential of blockchain technology in manufacturing

Other major cryptocurrency markets like Japan and South Korea have been encouraging the development of blockchain technology and utilization of decentralized systems across various industries.

South Korea recently recognized the blockchain as one of the three key technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, alongside big data and artificial intelligence (AI), as the government disclosed its plans to promote blockchain training to bring young talent into the fast-growing industry.

But, as $393 billion Alibaba chairman Jack Ma emphasized, China operates the world’s biggest manufacturing hub, which is actively shifting to smart manufacturing strategies and technologies to optimize the creation and distribution of products.

The “Made in China 2025” initiative, a strategic plan established by the government of China to implement sophisticated and advanced technologies to revolutionize China as an innovative hi-tech manufacturing powerhouse, is encouraging local firms to apply smart solutions, green development, and emerging disruptive technologies like the blockchain to efficiently manufacture products.

In a total of ten industries that include robotics, railway transport, hi-tech ship development, energy, agriculture, new material manufacturing, IT, and aerospace equipment manufacturing, the “Made in China 2025” strategy will deploy many innovative solutions.

Forest Tian, a venture capitalist and founder of Precision Intelligent Technology, said that China is moving to automation in manufacturing, which requires AI and data processing technologies like the blockchain to eliminate manual labor.

“The biggest trend in manufacturing is that automation is irreversible. There will be huge demand for these machines.”

At World AI Conference 2018, Ma firmly emphasized that if the blockchain, AI, and IoT projects fail to target the manufacturing industry, the three technologies will eventually fall behind.

“AI, Blockchain and IoT will be meaningless tech unless they can promote the transformation of the manufacturing industry, and the evolution of the society towards a greener and more inclusive direction.”

Depending on the stance of the Chinese government towards blockchain technology, the blockchain in manufacturing market of China could surpass $1 billion, given the current size of the smart manufacturing market of the nation.

Less than four months ago, Chinese government-run national television network CCTV characterized the blockchain as a revolutionary technology that could be 10 times more valuable than the Internet.

“Blockchain is the second era of the Internet. The value of blockchain is 10 times that of the Internet. Blockchain is the machine that produces trust.”

The State Council of China also requested local government agencies to speed up the development of the blockchain, which could encourage the use of the blockchain in smart manufacturing.

“To build a regional equity market in Guangdong, according to the opening up of the capital market, timely introduction of Hong Kong, Macao and international investment institutions to participate in transactions. We will vigorously develop financial technology and accelerate the research and application of blockchain and big data technologies under the premise of legal compliance.”

How blockchain in agriculture enables a $430 million market

A study entitled “Blockchain: Agriculture Market Forecast until 2023” released on October 4, estimated the blockchain in agriculture and food supply market to be worth around $60.8 million. By 2023, within the next five years, researchers at ReportLinker stated that the market will grow to $429.7 million, at a compound annual growth rate of 47.8 percent.

“The blockchain market is expected to grow, owing to the increase in the demand for supply chain transparency along the agriculture and food verticals.”

Already, influential food product suppliers such as Dairy Farmers of America’s food supply chain and Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn, have started to utilize the blockchain to track certain products.

Intel, the $213 billion chip manufacturing giant, launched the Sawtooth Enterprise Blockchain in 2017, a decentralized network that prioritizes scalability and security to transfer seafood internationally with a higher level of transparency.

Hyperledger, a major blockchain consortium operated by the Linux Foundation, officially launched Sawtooth under the Hyperledger banner in January, to cooperate with its member conglomerates to test the blockchain.

With strong infrastructure being built by Intel, Hyperledger, and public blockchain projects, a growing number of food suppliers have started to run pilot tests on the blockchain. Walmart and Nestle, along with 10 corporations in the food industry have been working with IBM to operate IBM Food Trust, an initiative that utilizes the blockchain to improve the traceability of food products.

Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety at Walmart, said in an interview that the existing traceability systems employed by food suppliers are costly and impractical.

“We never had the intention of creating a product, all this started with the notion that we want to create a transparent food system. The way forward is decentralised as opposed to a supplier getting into a centralised database and putting data in there and the central authority owning the data. In this blockchain ecosystem, if you get into it and give data, it is your data, you own it.”

Considering the progress that has been made by 12 of the world’s largest food suppliers to actively test, utilize, and implement the blockchain, it can be said that the food supply industry could be one of the first sectors to see actual widespread adoption of blockchain technology.

Already, as IBM offering director and vice president of blockchain solutions Suzanne Livingston explained, IBM Food Trust and the 12 companies have tested the applicability of the blockchain for over a year, clearing 500,000 transactions.

“We have been in production for close to a year. We are working with a handful of companies. General availability will be announced in the third quarter. We can then onboard a higher volume of companies. We are starting on a small scale to make sure we’re getting it right. We are very close to being there.”

Biggest market of blockchain is retail, $2.3 billion market

In June, MarketsandMarkets published a new market research report “Blockchain in Retail Market by Provider, Application, Organization Size, and Region – Global Forecast to 2023,” disclosing that the blockchain in retail market is currently valued at $80 million.

By 2023, the researchers forecasted that the blockchain in retail market could grow to $2.339 billion, a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 96.4%. That is, the highest CAGR and forecasted growth amongst any blockchain-related industry.

The study suggested that the U.S. will lead the blockchain in retail market in the years to come, as the government has acknowledged blockchain technology as an important component of its innovation economy. Leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers have also started to offer blockchain-related solutions to conglomerates.

“Retailers have recognized the blockchain technology’s potential for the efficiency of supply chain systems and started adopting the technology to develop business applications. Moreover, the US government is exploring the blockchain technology to boost the innovation economy.”

For retail, a blockchain network that is able to handle at least 50,000 transactions per second is required to facilitate large supply chains that support merchants.

The researchers said that major blockchain vendors including IBM, SAP, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Bitfury, Auxesis Group, Cegeka, BTL, Guardtime, Loyyal, and BigchainDB are actively developing business applications of the blockchain.

Blockchain in finance: $3 trillion

The offshore banking market, which is mostly dominated by financial institutions and banks that oversee savings accounts for high profile retail traders and institutional investors, is estimated to be valued at around $32 trillion.

Coinbase alum and crypto investment firm 1Confirmation founder Nick Tomaino stated during an interview that based on speculation alone, the blockchain in finance market could achieve several trillion dollars in valuation.

“I see investing and speculating as adoption. I think it is possible that crypto gets from $200 billion to several trillion on just that [speculation]. From my perspective, what I’m seeing globally in terms of viewing this new investable asset class I think that’s possible.”

Most banks that operate in the offshore banking sector generate profit from transaction fees that occur when processing large transactions. For a transaction that surpasses $1 million, even on Transferwise, a platform that eliminates hidden bank fees, it costs over $7,500 to process it.

If the blockchain disrupts the global financial system, it is highly likely that the technology significantly impacts the offshore banking market by providing decentralized alternatives to investors that need to transfer value.

On October 16, a Bitcoin investor sent 29,999 BTC, the largest BTC transaction in recent months worth about $194 million, with a $0.01 fee. Given that it costs around 1 percent of the transaction to clear a $1 million payment in fiat currency, to send a $194 million transaction could easily cost hundreds of thousands of dollars with legacy systems.

As such, Alibaba chairman Jack Ma said in a recent speech that Alibaba is closely studying blockchain technology to ensure that a cashless society in which everyone is inclusive can be established.

“I pay special attention to cashless society and blockchain technology. Mine and Alibaba’s job is we will move the world into a cashless society. The society can make everybody equal, inclusive to get the money they need, make sure it is sustainable, and is transparent. I hate corruption. I don’t have opportunity is ok. But I don’t want somebody through a dirty way take away my opportunity. This is why we want a cashless society.”

There exists several public blockchain projects, such as Ripple and Stellar, that are working with banks and payment service providers to leverage the blockchain as a base layer to process payments.

Chain, which was acquired by Stellar to create Interstellar, collaborated with Visa to implement the blockchain prior to its deal with Stellar. Ripple has secured a partnership with Banco Santander to process payments on its mobile application with the Ripple blockchain network.

If some public blockchain networks can secure a fraction of the market share of the offshore banking sector and traditional stores of value like gold, then a multi-trillion blockchain market in finance could be achieved.

So far, blockchain in retail is predicted to be the biggest market for the new technology by 2023 at $2.3 billion. With analysts expecting blockchain technology in agriculture to be worth $430 million, and $500 million in manufacturing, a rapid growth of the technology has been foreseen.

Blockchain in energy and insurance are also predicted by MarketsandMarkets to grow to $7 billion and $1,4 billion respectively by the end of 2023, at a compound annual growth rate of 84.9 percent.

The $7 billion growth target of the blockchain in energy industry assumes exponential development will continuously be made in the blockchain in energy market, which remains uncertain at the current phase of growth.


#Blockchain And The Future Of Finance $ #Blockstation $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:12 AM on Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
  • Formally, blockchain is a digital ledger technology (DLT), which focuses on recording and storing transactions of any type in a shared platform
  • Indeed, what if there was just one, unimpeachable version of the truth? That is the promise of blockchain technology

John E. Mulhall Brand Contributor

What if everyone involved in a financial transaction could share the same ledger—and it was always up to date? No need for reconciliations, with simultaneous settlements immediately available to all participants, and instant visibility into accounts receivable, the supply chain and virtually all relevant transactions.

Formally, blockchain is a digital ledger technology (DLT), which focuses on recording and storing transactions of any type in a shared platform.iStock

Indeed, what if there was just one, unimpeachable version of the truth? That is the promise of blockchain technology.

While blockchain is often mentioned in conjunction with cyptocurrency platforms like Bitcoin, the underlying technology goes way beyond those nascent digital currencies. Formally, blockchain is a digital ledger technology (DLT), which focuses on recording and storing transactions of any type in a shared platform.

What Is a Blockchain?

As the word suggests, a blockchain is a series of connected blocks, or boxes. Each block contains data involved in a specific transaction. As each transaction occurs, it is stored in a block and added to the chain. Together, the blocks form a distributed database that can hold a growing number of records—a blockchain.

But unlike a traditional database, in which information resides in unique repositories across multiple partners and must ultimately be reconciled, the distributed blockchain database creates a single, shared digital ledger.

To protect the integrity of data, each block must be validated by every participant and secured using electronic cryptography. Changes cannot be made without the approval of participants. Think of it as having a notary there to verify every transaction. This chronological chain of transactions thus provides a single source of secured, up-to-date information that all authorized parties can share.

For a quick explanation of how blockchain works, read Blockchain and the Future of Finance.

A Finance Windfall

The potential benefits for CFOs and their finance teams are compelling: New levels of data transparency, faster access to information and features like “smart contracts” will bring significant changes to financial operations. Among other things, the recent report from KPMG analysts identified the following benefits:

  • Increased efficiency: A single ledger that’s continuously synchronized throughout a network eliminates the need for reconciliations. KPMG research suggests as much as a 40 percent increase in efficiency due to straight-through, “single version of the truth” processing.
  • Reduced loss and fraud: Immutable records visible to all participants may improve data accuracy and security. This can help reduce the risk of fraud and show compliance through an audit trail.
  • Improved customer experience: Using blockchain to share information with clients and vendors may allow companies to serve customers more quickly and even find new sales opportunities. KPMG research predicts a 25 percent improvement in customer experience due to faster processing and use of digital channels.
  • Higher availability of capital: According to KPMG analysis, blockchain technology will reduce capital consumption due to quicker settlement of trades, straight-through processing, and and freed-up capital flows.

A New Future for CFOs

Blockchain is also going to have significant impact on financial operations. The KPMG analysts who have been studying the technology anticipate these key trends:

  • Work with existing systems: Blockchain will not replace current ERP systems overnight. However, it may take time to fully realize the benefits of blockchain’s real-time view of data.
  • Go private, then public: Finance organizations will start with private blockchains to retain sensitive data, but could eventually add permissioned blockchains for industry partners and even customers.
  • Mind the regulations gap: It’s going to take time for government regulators to understand the technology and its decentralization of financial activities.

Evaluating Blockchain for Your Business

Blockchain will have a big impact on core processes: Quote-to-cash, source-to-pay, and acquire-to-retire processes will all be affected.

But blockchain is not the latest new cure-all. It’s important for CFOs and executive leaders to address a number of questions about when and how blockchain implementation makes sense for their businesses, including:

  • What types of transactions are best handled by a blockchain technology?
  • What kind of infrastructure or new equipment will be required?
  • Who will manage a blockchain and new participants?
  • How can blockchain technology improve risk management?
  • What are the regulatory implications?

KPMG’s Financial Management practice and Digital Ledger Services team have developed a framework to facilitate answering these questions. To prepare for this new world, they can help you evaluate the role that blockchain can serve in your organization. To learn more, download their special report, Blockchain and the Future of Finance.


Busting The Myths And Understanding The True Potential Of #Blockchain $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:51 AM on Monday, August 27th, 2018
  • There has been much excitement about the disruptive potential of blockchain technology, but there is also much confusion.
  • Some people think blockchain is used only with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or that it’s only used to enable nefarious, anonymous online transactions.
  • In reality, blockchain is one of several key technologies — along with the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and fog computing — that are revolutionizing businesses and transforming entire industries.
Maciej Kranz Incubates businesses and drives co-innovation at Cisco. IoT pioneer, investor, board member, author.

There has been much excitement about the disruptive potential of blockchain technology, but there is also much confusion. Some people think blockchain is used only with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies or that it’s only used to enable nefarious, anonymous online transactions. In reality, blockchain is one of several key technologies — along with the internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence and fog computing — that are revolutionizing businesses and transforming entire industries. Together, these four technologies can drive new business models and deliver new value propositions while solving longstanding challenges with transparency and security in transactions that involve multiple parties and large amounts of data.

To understand the true potential for blockchain, we must first define the technology, then dispel some of the common myths and, lastly, examine some of its most exciting potential use cases.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain technology is a decentralized ledger that allows a shared set of computing systems to agree that a transaction between multiple parties is authentic. These outcomes are permanently recorded and consistently reconciled and updated in a cryptographically secure way. Because the ledger is distributed among all transaction participants, it exists simultaneously in multiple places, making it extremely difficult to manipulate entries or tamper with the data without the other parties noticing. Thus, what makes blockchain so important is its ability to automate trust and transparency among all parties using it.

Perhaps one of the most important innovations in the blockchain space is the reinvention of the smart contract. Smart contracts have existed for decades but are now being reimagined to operate and automate business processes in a fully decentralized fashion, enabling shared rules of engagement, conduct, and business processes to be automated and enforced ecosystem-wide. Smart contracts expanded blockchain applications beyond cryptocurrencies.

MYTH: Blockchain equals Bitcoin.

REALITY: Because blockchain technology is used in the bookkeeping for Bitcoin, many people equate the two or believe that blockchain is only used in the cryptocurrency world. Yes, both technologies originated together, but today cryptocurrencies are just one of many applications that can be run on top of blockchain.

REALITY: Blockchain used for Bitcoin is perhaps the most well-known example of a permissionless, public blockchain network in which anyone can participate. Cryptocurrencies use this type of blockchain technology because it allows all parties to track, verify and agree upon transactions, even when the individual participants remain anonymous. But this is just one of the blockchain models. Another one is a private, permissioned blockchain that is beginning to see an uptick in adoption. Some large enterprises — including Microsoft, Walmart and JPMorgan, among others — are beginning to deploy blockchain networks in which only known entities (such as partners, suppliers or customers) may participate. With a private, permissioned blockchain, a company uses protocols to achieve consensus and to verify and assemble blocks in blockchain. Such a blockchain can deliver thousands of transactions per second and provide granular management and control over who sees and accesses the transactions.

MYTH: A blockchain ledger cannot be altered.

REALITY: As previously mentioned, all parties have transparency into the transactions recorded in the blockchain ledger and each block is tied to the block before it. This transparency and visibility into a single source of truth makes blockchain extremely difficult, if not impossible to manipulate at scale. However, with that said, there is still much work to be done to ensure that blockchain networks are secure end to end. This starts with ensuring data and transactions entered in the blockchain ecosystem are adequately protected from manipulation. The infrastructure that the blockchain networks reside on must also have the necessary protections in place. In blockchain, you are only as strong as your weakest link. If integration points are compromised, then the entire blockchain ecosystem could be at risk.

MYTH: Blockchain is mainly applicable to the financial services industry.

REALITY: When discussing the potential for blockchain technology, most talk focuses on the financial services industry. In fact, new use cases for the technology are emerging almost daily across many different industries. Here are just a few:

• Ending counterfeiting in the supply chain: Companies are beginning to fight counterfeiting by implementing private blockchain ledgers throughout their supply chains. By creating a unique digital signature for each product or component, they can easily trace providence, chain of custody and transfer of ownership for end-to-end visibility. Similarly, supply chains can improve food safety and pinpoint the origins of tainted goods using a blockchain ledger.

• Managing electronic health records: Every year, deaths occur because of medical errors, some of which could be the result of health care providers not having a complete picture of a patient’s medical history. By maintaining health records in a private blockchain network, medical professionals can request permission to access a patient’s record to serve their specific purpose and record transactions on the decentralized ledger. This can help prevent catastrophic mistakes such as different physicians prescribing conflicting medications.

• Strengthening data privacy: Numerous large-scale data breaches like those at Equifax and Yahoo show that personal information is highly vulnerable when stored in online databases. With a federated digital identity model stored on a blockchain ledger, individuals could maintain more control over their personal information, giving businesses permission to access only the minimum amount of information necessary and enjoying the ability to know who has viewed their information.

These are only a few of the ways blockchain has the potential to disrupt and transform industries, positively impact our economy and even save lives. A variety of blockchain use cases are still in the proof-of-concept phase, but it’s increasingly clear that when paired with other leading technologies like IoT, artificial intelligence and fog computing, the potential to add new business value is nearly limitless.


Privacy Revolution: How #Blockchain Is Reshaping Our Economy $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:29 AM on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018
Sherman Lee Contributor
  • Internet has provided an unparalleled means of communicating with people all over the world
  • There are more than 60 billion messages sent per day on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger combined as well as 269 billion emails sent on a daily basis
  • However, these platforms have slowly become centralized over time allowing them to become prime targets for hackers and other actors seeking to harvest our data. Both of them have continuously threatened users’ rights to privacy

Maintaining a Bitcoin farm in Canada. Lars Hagberg/AFP/Getty Images

The internet has provided an unparalleled means of communicating with people all over the world. There are more than 60 billion messages sent per day on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger combined as well as 269 billion emails sent on a daily basis. However, these platforms have slowly become centralized over time allowing them to become prime targets for hackers and other actors seeking to harvest our data. Both of them have continuously threatened users’ rights to privacy.

Blockchain technology’s disruptive force innovates the way our data are stored, allowing users to fully control personal details they would like to share in public. Leveraging the potential of blockchain technology and decentralization may well be the key to protecting our privacy.

Centralized Threat

Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal exhibited just how companies have harvested users’ private data for monetization purposes. An estimated 87 million users around the world have had their personal information used by analytical firms, making it one of the worst data breaches in social media history. While this isn’t new, it highlights the inadequate data protection that exists in our current platforms.

Technological advancement has revealed another way to manage our data through blockchain technology. But this method isn’t something novel, in fact, it harkens back to some of the earliest ideas of the internet. Decentralization set the stage for the unparalleled World Wide Web we know today. It is also a central feature of blockchain technology.

Distributed Privacy

Blockchain provides an infrastructure that allows a secure platform that provides multiple innovative use cases. The immutability and transparency that blockchain provides can gain back users’ right to privacy. However, this technology is still in its infancy.

More Than What’s On Paper: Returning The Favor

Some entrepreneurs are attempting to increase data privacy with advanced technologies that combine cryptography and blockchain. Projects such as Origo, Oasis, and Mainframe focus completely on preserving user privacy.

Baron Gong, founder of Origo, has been a privacy activist for years. Origo focuses on privacy protection of smart contracts through data computation technology. A zero knowledge proof system allows you to verify a claim without disclosing any data. Baron Gong explained, “In Origo Network, a lot of the applications we use will not be touching your data. We are touching a computational proof of your data. The blockchain does not store your data.” Users can be confident that their personal data will not be shared with multiple companies, a concerning issue surrounding centralized organizations. This is because Origo smart contracts are private whereas smart contracts like Ethereum are all public for the world to see. Although the implementation of GDPR is designed to prevent data retention by private companies, there is no way to guarantee personal data is completely deleted in a company’s data system. Blockchain’s trust-less consensus allows them to be certain that data is used properly and if wanted, deleted permanently.

Similarly, Oasis Labs designed the Ekiden system, which carries out off-chain smart contract execution within a trusted execution environment (TEE) node to maintain the same security as if it was on-chain. TEE is an isolated secure area of the main processor in which code and data are absolutely protected against software as well as hardware attacks. No one, not even the miner, can view the code being run.

Unlike current privacy coins like Monero and Zcash, securing privacy beyond the transactional level provides more real-world applications. These projects could possibly be of great benefit in finance, enterprise, and healthcare where contracts usually contain sensitive personal information.

Adoption of Blockchain Technology

Blockchain adoption has been rather slow at a local level. However, countries such as Singapore, the Philippines, and Switzerland have progressively adopted policies in support of blockchain technology and digital currencies. Estonia has also attracted some attention after initiating an E-residency program allowing citizens to register their data on the blockchain.

Of course, mass adoption also involves awareness. Mainframe, another project promoting privacy, launched the first-ever global physical airdrop. They held real-life events where they gave away $3 million worth of their tokens. There have been significant efforts to drive blockchain tech from mere cryptocurrency investment speculation to real-world implementation.

Leading venture capital firms all over the world, including FBG Capital, Zeroth Crypto, Rockaway Blockchain Capital, Chainfund Capital, Cluster Capital, Binance Labs, and Pantera Capital ,recognize the tremendous potential of blockchain tech. They invest and support numerous projects involving privacy to produce marketable products that give power back to the consumer.

Current blockchain and centralized networks has made users’ information vulnerable to potential loss or misuse. Some entrepreneurs have come up with projects that protect user’s data with advanced technologies, combining cryptography and blockchain technology. Implementation of this tech has been seen to be slowly adopted locally. With the support of venture funds and prominent entrepreneurs, this tech could give back the power and control of data to its own users.

Sherman Lee is a Partner at Zeroth.AI where he focuses on funding AI and blockchain companies, as well as a founder at Raven Protocol. Previously, he founded Rocco.AI and Good Audience.


California Gets First #Blockchain-Only #RealEstate Deal $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:33 AM on Thursday, July 26th, 2018

  • In a milestone event for the project, real estate startup Propy announced the completion of a transaction involving only their platform and Bitcoin (BTC) as a means of payment
  • The significance stems from the fact this is the first deal of this nature in California

Kate Fomina, a licensed real estate agent in the state, represented both counterparties. One of the most interesting facts about the transfer was that all of the parties involved were separated by immense physical distances. While the buyer (Luke Carriere) was located in New York, the seller (Diana Dominguez) was in Northern California. Furthermore, at the time the process began, Fomina (the broker) was in Hong Kong and the escrow agent was in San Francisco.

The underlying technology is obviously more exciting to people interested in crypto. The Propy Transaction Platform uses smart contracts to enable the entire process to go smoothly, be recorded on the ledger and be legally binding. The startup was also behind the first ever blockchain property purchase, which happened in Ukraine.

Natalia Karayaneva, CEO of Propy commented on the recent deal:

“We believe that blockchain technology can truly revolutionize the real estate purchasing process and the management of public records […] Propy streamlines a complicated process into a simple online transaction, and we’ve seen significant traction in the industry already — buyers and sellers are increasingly turning to blockchains and cryptocurrencies. We’re excited to facilitate more property transactions, and reach more milestones in our goal to automate the real estate industry via blockchains.”

The announcement comes approximately at the same time as the first-ever physical delivery of Bitcoin futures, traded on the CME, took place. While the two stories are very different in nature, they are indicative of a growing interest in the use of cryptocurrencies not only as a speculative asset class.

Read more:

#Blockchain Could be a Powerful Tool for Shrinking Pervasive Global Money Laundering $SX $SXOOF $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 3:27 PM on Thursday, July 19th, 2018

  • Few instances in history have altered our perception of the global economy like the release of Panama Papers in April 2015 — 11.5 million leaked documents detailing instances of offshore money transfers and tax avoidance from a staggering 214,448 entities in more than 50 countries.
  • In an instant, the curtain shielding hundreds of thousands of potentially illegal financial transactions was stripped away and the general public realized our offshore financial ecosystem is not as ethical as we once may have thought.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The Panama Papers are a wake-up call that fraud is an elusive and precarious threat to global commerce. Armed with the latest technological advancements, bad actors continuously find new, cunning ways to circumvent regulatory enforcement, leaving government agencies struggling to keep up. It’s estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that money laundering annually equals between 2 percent and 5 percent of global GDP, or up to a staggering $2 trillion USD. It’s a nuanced problem that requires a tailored and innovative solution. Thankfully, recent advancements in blockchain, the technology underpinning Bitcoin, Ether and other, have the potential to put an end to a generation’s worth of fraudulent practices that have, for far too long, allowed bad actors to live above the law.

Blockchain technology is best described as a decentralized and immutable ledger of information digitally stored across an entire network. If you own a computer, and you’re an active participant in the system, then you can access an entire record of interactions — from wire transfers, to bank deposits, to tax filings — that occur within the confines of a given commercial infrastructure. When a transaction is placed on the blockchain its authenticity is verified by participants known as “nodes,” which work to ensure that the network remains tamper-proof, while also mitigating the risk of falsified documents making it onto the exchange. Once approved, the transaction is viewable to the entire community.

Historically, inadequate communication between regulatory bodies has impeded international enforcement of fraudulent activity. Blockchain technology, however, is unrestricted by jurisdiction, making information sharing, money transfers and cross-border traceability a seamless process. I spoke about this topic with several industry experts and they provided some very valuable insight. Antonio Romero, co-founder and Technology Solution Architect of Orvium, argues blockchain will soon facilitate an open dialogue between government agencies regarding how to synchronize efforts in a post-Panama Papers world, instituting international protocols to flag fraudulent behavior regardless of jurisdiction.

While this transparency certainly bodes well for progress in global enforcement, many industry experts argue that blockchain’s anonymity prevents it from being an unequivocal answer to many of the problems highlighted by the Panama Papers. Yes, blockchain transactions are viewable to the general public, but only under the guise of public or private “key,” which is a long, indecipherable collection of letters and numbers with no distinguishable correlation to the user it references. This presents a serious obstacle to widespread integration of the technology. How can regulators possibly institute ethical compliance on the blockchain when they can see, but not identify, instances of fraud?


Bank of America $BAC Reveals #Blockchain Patent for External Data Validation, Cites Need for ‘Accurate Indication’ of Financial Standing $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:58 AM on Wednesday, July 18th, 2018
  • Bank of America (BoA) has filed a patent for a blockchain-based system allowing the external validation of data, according to a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) patent filing released July 17.
  • BoA’s patent filing proposes using blockchain for tracking resource information and confirming resource transfers, noting that

“A need currently exists for providing a more accurate indication of a user’s financial standing by allowing external validation of data in a process data network.”

The patent describes how the system would record information on the blockchain based on “aggregated information associated with past transfer of resources executed by an entity,” and would update the information on the blockchain with each new transaction activity.

In April, the USPTO had published another patent from BoA for a blockchain-based storage system. According to Fortune, BoA currently has 45 live patents related to blockchain pending, with the bank’s CTO noting that the amassing of patents allows the bank to be “prepared.”

At the same time, the BoA has become infamous for its distaste for cryptocurrency, in May calling Bitcoin (BTC) “troubling” while upholding a previous decision to ban its customers from purchasing crypto using credit cards.

Despite its apparent foresight in the blockchain sphere, BoA is not without its competitors, Mastercard this week unveiling a patent of its own allowing transactions of what it calls “blockchain currencies.”


Here Are 10 Industries #Blockchain Is Likely To Disrupt $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:08 AM on Monday, July 16th, 2018
  • In simplest terms, blockchain refers to a decentralized database.
  • If you think of a traditional database like a spreadsheet, running on a single computer, blockchain distributes that so the spreadsheet runs on millions and millions of computers.
  • Also uses state of the art cryptography, so that once information goes in, it is virtually impossible to get it out again without the original passcode or key

You’ve probably heard that blockchain technology is going to revolutionize… fill in the blank. But what actually is it and how is it going to disrupt these industries?

Adobe StockAdobe Stock

In simplest terms, blockchain refers to a decentralized database. If you think of a traditional database like a spreadsheet, running on a single computer, blockchain distributes that so the spreadsheet runs on millions and millions of computers. It also uses state of the art cryptography, so that once information goes in, it is virtually impossible to get it out again without the original passcode or key.

The real disruption here is that trust is established through collaboration and code, rather than a central authority. So you no longer need a bank to make a money transfer around the world. You no longer need an escrow account to buy a home, or a real estate agent to facilitate the transaction. You no longer need a company or central authority to facilitate a transaction of any kind.  That is revolutionary and has the potential to revolutionize nearly every industry. But here are some of the most likely:


When the average person hears the word “blockchain,” they probably think “Bitcoin,” and so it’s no surprise that banking tops our list. Blockchain would be a more secure way to store banking records, and a faster, cheaper way of transferring money through the decentralization provided by blockchain. Plus, there’s minimal risk of a run on a blockchain system or a collapse, as there’s no central “vault.” It’s as though each person’s money has its own private vault that no one else can access.


Some of the biggest challenges in healthcare could be solved by a blockchain system allowing all doctors and healthcare providers to access your health records securely and easily. Unlike the days of paper records, or even today when digital health records can be created and stored in a myriad of different systems, your health records could be singular, complete, and travel with you from birth to death, regardless of how many times you change doctors or insurance systems. Additionally, your health information could be accessed immediately, at any time, potentially offering doctors lifesaving information in an emergency.


Rigged votes and “voting irregularities” could be a thing of the past, as could the threat of rival governments or terrorist organizations hacking the vote. Voting systems secured with blockchain technology would be completely unhackable. From voter registrations to verifying identity to tallying votes, the system would be indisputable. Gone would be the days of recounts and “hanging chads.”

Real Estate

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, you know how much paperwork is involved. But blockchain systems could be used to simplify the process and eliminate escrow altogether. Smart contracts could be designed that only execute when certain conditions are met, including funding. Besides, all these various documents could be stored securely. A startup called Deedcoin is offering cryptocurrency powered transactions that decrease the commission rate for the agent to as little as 1 percent.

Legal Industry

Storing and retrieving documents as well as verifying their provenance are key functions of the legal industry. With blockchain technologies, questions over the legality of wills or other legal documents could be eliminated by securely storing and verifying documents. Also, questions of digital inheritance, especially with the rise of cryptocurrencies, can be eliminated with blockchain secured documents.


The whole basis of blockchain is to create decentralized and ultimately secure ways of storing, verifying, and encrypting data, so naturally, security is going to feel the force of this new technology. Decentralized data storage in the cloud eliminates many of the problems of data hacks we’ve seen major players dealing with over the last few years. Advanced cryptography based on blockchain technologies can create virtually unhackable data encryption.Government

Aside from voting systems, blockchain technologies could be used to help reduce and eliminate bureaucratic red tape and corruption in government agencies. For example, welfare, disability, veterans and unemployment benefits could be more easily verified and distributed, eliminating fraud and waste. Smart contracts could ensure that government funds are only released when certain conditions are met whether to contractors or foreign governments in the form of aid. And security, efficiency, and transparency in government functions could be increased across the board.

Rentals and Ride Sharing

It seems like startups like Airbnb and Uber have already disrupted these markets, but blockchain could create true peer-to-peer networks for rentals and sharing of goods and services that would eliminate the need for the middle-man company, which naturally takes a cut of the fee.  In fact, there’s no reason these peer-to-peer networks couldn’t expand to renting and borrowing just about anything from books to tools to furniture and beyond.

Charities and Aid Organizations

Many people want to donate to charity organizations, but worry about whether their money will actually reach the intended recipients. Charities can create trust through smart contracts and online reputation management systems that can help donors trust that their money is going to the specified people and places. And the U.N.’s World Food Programme is implementing a blockchain based system that allows refugees to get food with an iris scan, instead of relying on cash, credit, or vouchers, all of which can be stolen.


As the power of online and distance learning grows, so does the need for an independent way of verifying students’ transcripts and educational records. A blockchain based system could serve almost as a notary for educational records, creating a way for employers and other educational institutions to access secure records and transcripts. In fact, it could also help universities and other large institutions collaborate. No longer would a student have to wait for the course she wants to be offered at Harvard if Oxford is offering it online; her grades and records would be easily and instantly transferable.

These are just some of the industries that are likely to see significant disruption from blockchain technology. What opportunity do you see for blockchain to disrupt and improve your industry?

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data. His new book is Data Strategy. To read his future posts simply join his network here.


St-Georges $SX $ $SXOOF Subsidiary #ZeU #Crypto Networks Closes First Tranche of Debenture Offering $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:23 AM on Thursday, July 5th, 2018

Sx large

  • ZeU Crypto Networks Inc., closed an initial tranche of its 10% unsecured convertible debentures offering for an aggregate principal amounts of $5,063,692,
    • of which $3,708,692 was subscribed in consideration of digital assets
  • Each Convertible Debenture issued pursuant to this first tranche will have a maturity date of July 5, 2020 and be convertible into common shares of ZeU at a price of $1.00

Montreal, Quebec / July 5, 2018 – St-Georges Eco-Mining Corp. (CSE: SX) (OTC: SXOOF) (FSE: 85G1) is pleased to announce that further to its press releases of January 7 and May 22, 2018 that its subsidiary, ZeU Crypto Networks Inc., closed an initial tranche of its 10% unsecured convertible debentures offering for an aggregate principal amounts of $5,063,692, of which $3,708,692 was subscribed in consideration of digital assets.

Each Convertible Debenture issued pursuant to this first tranche will have a maturity date of July 5, 2020 and be convertible into common shares of ZeU (each a “ZeU Share”) at a price of $1.00 (the “Conversion Price”).

There shall be no interest payable on the Principal Amount if ZeU effects a transaction pursuant to which it will become a “reporting issuer” under applicable Canadian Securities Laws and the ZeU Shares or the common shares of any resulting issuer would be listed and posted for trading on an recognized exchange, which may include, without limitation, an initial public offering, a reverse take-over or a merger with existing a reporting issuer (a “Liquidity Event”) on or before January 31, 2019 (the “Liquidity Event Deadline”). If there is not a Liquidity Event on or before the Liquidity Event Deadline then interest shall be deemed to accrue from and including July 5, 2018.

Upon the occurrence of a Liquidity Event, ZeU will be entitled to require the holders of Convertible Debenture to convert up to 25% of the Principal Amount outstanding, together with any accrued and unpaid interest owing thereon, into ZeU Shares at the Conversion Price.

Related Party Transaction

Mr. Frank Dumas, an officer and director of St-Georges subscribed Convertible Debentures for an aggregate $250,000 principal amount. The participation of Mr. Dumas in the First Tranche constitutes a Related Party Transaction within the meaning of Multilateral Instrument 61-101 Protection of Minority Security Holders in Special Transactions (“MI 61-101”). The company relied on exemptions contained in sections 5.5(a) and 5.7(1)(a) of MI 61-101 from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements of MI 61-101 for the related party transaction. The company did not file a material change report in respect of the transaction 21 days in advance of the closing of the private placement because insider participation had not been confirmed. The shorter period was necessary in order to permit the Company to close the private placement in a timeframe consistent with usual market practice for transactions of this nature.


“Frank Dumas”


About St-Georges

St-Georges is developing new technologies to solve the some of the most common environmental problems in the mining industry.

The company controls directly or indirectly, through rights of first refusal, all of the active mineral tenures in Iceland. It also explores for nickel on the Julie Nickel Project & for industrial minerals on Quebec’s North Shore and for lithium and rare metals in Northern Quebec and in the Abitibi region. Headquartered in Montreal, St-Georges’ stock is listed on the CSE under the symbol SX, on the US OTC under the Symbol SXOOF and on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange under the symbol 85G1.

The Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) has not reviewed and does not accept responsibility for the adequacy or the accuracy of the contents of this release.

What you need to know about #blockchain in 2018 $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 9:57 AM on Wednesday, July 4th, 2018


  • Blockchain is gaining speed in the humanitarian sector
  • The technology is still in its early days, yet more than half of social-good blockchain initiatives are estimated to impact beneficiaries by the end of this year

By Fatima Arkin // 04 July 2018

These concepts have the potential to impact countless people. The report, which analyzed 193 organizations, initiatives, and projects that are leveraging blockchain to drive social impact, identified 20 percent of them as providing a solution that would not otherwise have been possible without blockchain, and 86 percent as providing material improvements over existing solutions.

Still, the road for blockchain integration in philanthropy and international development is not an easy one. Development organizations, nonprofits, and governments tend to be risk averse and slow to adopt innovative and disruptive technology. And there remain a slew of unanswered questions about the potential negative implications.

“Another significant barrier to wide-scale adoption is that introducing a new technology does not solve for the local economic and political forces that often impede the effectiveness and transparency of aid or philanthropic initiatives,” adds the report. “In order for blockchain to be a transformative solution, collaboration and open dialogue is required across borders and sectors to develop a sustainable and scalable solution.”

A growing number of donors are paying attention. In just the past few months, both the United Kingdom Department for International Development and Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released reports on the opportunities for blockchain in international development. The United States Agency for International Development also released a primer two months ago on how distributed ledger technologies including blockchain can help foreign aid agencies and their partners.

To keep development practitioners abreast of this rapidly evolving space, Devex rounds up the top five things you need to know about blockchain and its most publicized application, cryptocurrency, in 2018.

1. Charities and nonprofits are increasingly accepting cryptocurrency as donations

This ranges from the Switzerland-based World Wide Fund for Nature to the Australia-based Charitex. Perhaps the most notable example is the U.S.-based Fidelity Charitable, the largest purveyor of donor-advised funds and the country’s second largest grant-maker after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Last year, the charity received $69 million of various cryptocurrencies in donations, such as Bitcoin, representing a nearly tenfold increase from the previous year, according to a 2018 report published by the organization.

Despite outcry from high-profile development figures, such as World Bank President Jim Yong Kim who compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes” earlier this year, Fidelity Charitable has been accepting cryptocurrencies since November 2015. The decision was spurred in part by requests from their clients to accept the digital asset and by favorable changes in tax regulations. The year before, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service classified cryptocurrencies as an asset similar to stocks, thereby making sales subject to capital gains.

“By donating these assets, the donors could eliminate the significant capital gains taxes on the appreciation while giving the full fair market value to charity,” noted the report.

How aid orgs are experimenting with blockchain in their HR operations

While some players in the international aid sector are capitalizing on blockchain technology to improve their programming, others in the sector are also using the groundbreaking new technology internally to create efficiencies in areas such as human resources.

In order to avoid the volatility of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, which dropped to a current market value of roughly $6,600 from a record high of almost $20,000 last December, Fidelity Charitable converts the donations to dollars quickly after receiving the donation. They don’t accept Bitcoin personally, but funnel it through Coinbase, a digital asset exchange company.

Some who profited from the initial Bitcoin craze have been known to be generous. Aside from Fidelity Charitable, the most striking example is the Pineapple Fund, which was started last December by an anonymous Bitcoin donor who claims to be among the 250 largest holders of Bitcoin in the world. The person has since donated most of their share, amounting to over 5,100 Bitcoin.

The more than $55 million has been distributed to 60 charities, including the Water Project, which aims to provide reliable water projects to vulnerable communities in sub-Saharan Africa, and Watsi, which strives to build technology to finance universal health care for patients around the world. Brian Armstrong, co-founder and chief executive officer of Coinbase, wrote in a Medium post last year that we will see more examples of the Pineapple Fund as “many of the early holders of Bitcoin will want to engage in philanthropy.”

And Bitcoin-related donations have taken even more novel forms. Last April, UNICEF Australia launched The Hopepage, which allows just about anyone with a computer to easily donate some of their computer processing power to generate cryptocurrency. Bitcoin in particular is notorious for the vast amounts of energy it requires to mine the cryptocurrency, but Hopepage allows users to choose how much processing power they want to donate. The organization ensures that the practice is “perfectly safe” for computers, and, to date, over 18,000 people have chosen to contribute.

2. Payments and money transfers are the largest use of blockchain

Nearly three-quarters of blockchain initiatives in the philanthropy and aid sector are used to facilitate payments and money transfers, according to the Stanford University “Blockchain for Social Impact” study.

This is of little surprise. Ensuring the effective transfer and utilization of billions of dollars of foreign aid is a major challenge for the international development community. Up to 10 percent of funds can be lost in transaction fees and fluctuating exchange rates, on top of the potential loss through intermediaries and corruption, notes the report.

One of the many groups tackling these issues is the U.N.’s World Food Programme. Last year WFP built and implemented its own blockchain system in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp to directly pay vendors, make cash transfers easier, and inspect beneficiary spending.

WFP has since expanded its pilot project, called Building Blocks, to all 106,000 Syrian refugees living in the Azraq and Zaatari camps, so that they can now redeem their cash transfers on the blockchain-based system. This has resulted in a monthly savings of roughly $40,000 from transaction costs alone, a WFP spokesperson told Devex.

Beyond cash savings, the spokesperson said their results show that the platform is making cash transfers much more efficient, secure, and transparent — benefitting WFP, donors, and the people they serve. The organization is looking into how blockchain solutions could help in other regions.

Aside from humanitarian organizations, nonprofits, which along with foundations account for 82 percent of blockchain initiatives in the philanthropy sector, are also exploring ways to use the technology to tackle financial sustainability. The U.S.-based RootProject aims to help ease organizations’ overdependence on external funding sources with three projects: Its new crowdfunding platform, its own cryptocurrency called ROOTS, and a “pension” fund.

Through the “laborless crowdfunding” platform, anyone can initiate a social impact project and assemble a campaign to fund it. The projects will then be finished either by RootProject itself or one of its partner nonprofits, all the while drawing on paid labor from people below the poverty line.

The project’s crowdfunded proceeds are shared between token purchases, which increases currency demand, wages for those completing the project, and the rest is deposited into a pension fund-like entity. This system enables the nonprofit to raise money to finish projects, helps those less fortunate, and creates a structure to make it all financially self-sustainable.

RootProject, like 34 percent of all the blockchain projects analyzed in the Stanford University report, was started in 2017 or later, and is still in the pilot/idea stage. But the project has high ambitions. According to its business plan, the U.S.-based nonprofit aims to complete its national expansion by next year while simultaneously piloting its concept in cities internationally.

“I’ve been in this space since 2013 and in global financial services for over 25 years, and I’ve never seen a startup move this quickly — let alone a country.”

— Loretta Joseph, chair of the advisory board at ADCA

3. Bermuda approves the first set of cryptocurrency regulations in the world

In May, Bermuda became the first country to pass cryptocurrency regulations. Spurred by blockchain, countries around the world are taking note but it may be those part of the Commonwealth, including small developing states, that are poised to benefit the most.

With certain differences, Bermuda law, similar to most of the Commonwealth, is based on English law. This means that the 30 Commonwealth members that are small states with a population usually under 1.5 million, and the 24 members that are small island developing states, can theoretically adopt the same legal regulations that Bermuda just passed. One way of doing this is by creating treatises of technology, so that the laws only have to be created once and can then be shared.

Developing countries are where blockchain and regulations have the biggest potential to take off, Loretta Joseph, who is the chair of the advisory board of the Australian Digital Commerce Association and is working with the Bermudan government on cryptocurrency regulation, told Devex: “That’s because in developing countries, especially the small ones, there’s enough room to innovate, whereas it’s very hard to change laws in developed countries.”

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Joseph has been working with the Bermudan government on this project since January, after she and a group of blockchain enthusiasts were asked by the country’s premier, David Burt, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to fly to Bermuda and advise on the regulations.

“I’ve been in this space since 2013 and in global financial services for over 25 years, and I’ve never seen a startup move this quickly — let alone a country,” she said, adding that what makes Bermuda different is its strong political will and openness to collaborate among regulating banks, policymakers, and the government to create a strong act.

New initiative aims to deliver on the promise of blockchain for identity

The launch of the World Identity Network may have taken place at Sir Richard Branson’s private luxury island, but the aim is to benefit the 2 billion people living without recognized identification documents.

Still, blockchain is not for every developing country cautions Joseph, nor would they all benefit in the same way. What a developing country needs is a strong system that can harmonize laws and regulations. This is especially important in order to create and encourage the blockchain ecosystem, while setting high standards to keep out nefarious activities such as money laundering and terrorism.

For instance, in Bermuda, which has some of the world’s strongest legislation in these areas, a proposal has been put forward to increase the fine to up to $10 million per breach for people and companies caught carrying out illegal activities.

Bermuda keeps on innovating, and is setting itself up to be a global leader in the financial technology space. It recently passed a digital assets act, which regulates cryptocurrency wallets and is now looking into electronic identification legislation — all of which could one day, with the right momentum, spread through the Commonwealth’s roughly 2.3 billion people.

“Collaboration is the new survival,” said Joseph. “We are all in this together.”

4. China is reportedly exploring blockchain for One Belt, One Road

Last October, the Hong Kong-based blockchain startup, Matrix AI Network, signed an exclusive partnership with the Chinese government-affiliated Belt and Road Development Research Center making it the institution’s first blockchain and artificial intelligence technology supporter.

The research center supports the Chinese government’s One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to foster ties through over $1 trillion in infrastructure projects in more than 60 countries. Given the scale of this policy, there are many public and private groups working on it. The center is one of them, and is affiliated with China’s National Reform and Development Commission, which steers policy on industry, energy, and many other sectors.

Matrix is positioning itself to be a key part of the team. It provides the center with overall blockchain and artificial intelligence support that has the potential to be used in any of OBOR’s many projects based locally and internationally, including in the fields of agricultural and animal husbandry cooperation, energy, and free trade zone construction.

According to Owen Tao, Matrix’s CEO, what makes his open source platform different from traditional asset management, or even other blockchain projects such as Ethereum that are active in the same market segment, is multifold.

“Matrix provides various development tools, easy-to-use interfaces, and solutions from other areas in order to help developers easily release applications on the platform,” he told Devex.

These applications can be implemented within any industry, and can be utilized by both small and medium businesses. For example, Matrix’s “smart contract” function can reduce the time developers spend on contract writing, while simultaneously making it easier for individuals without programming skills to implement them.

The platform also aims to solve what Tao calls “the most serious problem” that many digital assets face: Security. The last few months have seen increasing reports of personal accounts being stolen and exchanges being attacked by hackers. To combat this issue, the Matrix system aims to enhance security by providing a channel where all terminals have no IP address, which could otherwise be used to track a user’s online activity.

While Matrix is still a young startup, it is already receiving praise from its colleagues.

“Matrix offers outstanding technology solutions with the remarkable and legit team from China top research centers and universities behind it,” said Kai Dong Zhu, a project expert at the Belt and Road Development Research Center since 2016, prior to joining Matrix as senior vice president.

In addition to working with the government, Matrix is also collaborating with private sector companies on projects tied to OBOR. This year, the blockchain startup signed on to what is known as the China-Laos project, which will focus on the digitization, management, and exchange of tangible assets from the timber industry in the Southeast Asian country.

If all goes well, the outcome will be a “shared public-private platform that will advance environmental protection, cross-border supply chain and regulatory oversight between China and Laos,” explained Tao.

Matrix will contribute key technologies — artificial intelligence, the internet of things, which creates a digital network for all sorts of physical devices, and blockchain — for this project. They expect that the first digital assets transaction could happen by the first half of 2019.

5. Financial inclusion

Financial inclusion is one of the most mature applications of blockchain, with more program-stage projects than any other sector, according to the Stanford University report.

The opportunities in this area are enormous. While financial inclusion is on the rise globally, 1.7 billion adults still remain unbanked — with men in developing economies 9 percent more likely to have an account than women, noted the World Bank. Fortunately, many of the challenges in this space, such as a lack of digital identity and of property registration, happen to also be some of the greatest strengths of blockchain.

“A lot of governments globally are looking at land titles as a first step to start [in blockchain] because land titles in certain countries can be tampered with.”

— Katrina Donaghy, co-founder and co-CEO of Civic Ledger

“A lot of governments globally are looking at land titles as a first step to start [in blockchain] because land titles in certain countries can be tampered with, which can take away an economic proposition of its citizens,” Katrina Donaghy, co-founder and co-CEO of the Australian startup Civic Ledger, told Devex.

Also, for poor people in the developing world who own land or property, such assets are among the easiest to leverage for credit in order to help pull themselves out of poverty. Clear land boundaries and entitlement are expensive to obtain, however.

One of the most forward-looking developing countries in this space is Georgia, which launched a project with the Amsterdam-based Bitfury Group in 2016 that has secured more than 300,000 Georgian land titles on the Bitcoin blockchain to date. The project is now in phase two, which was designed to include a private blockchain anchoring the public Bitcoin blockchain, and has “smart contract” capabilities, which are programmable contracts that self-execute when select conditions are met.

“We’ve now introduced other agencies to the conversation, so that phase is being redesigned as we decide how to move forward,” Kathleen Collins, communications associate at Bitfury, told Devex.

The other main challenge is digital identification, which a 2014 World Bank survey noted as the reason why 18 percent of the unbanked cannot access financial services. But, several humanitarian and nonprofit groups are looking into this issue. WFP told Devex that for the aforementioned pilot project in Jordan, each participating refugee has an identifier on the blockchain, which could be enriched with data such as health records, education, and which supports full ID “cards.”

Given the wide range of blockchain projects, perhaps it’s no surprise that 44 percent are financial inclusion initiatives, which while still in early development, are on track to reach more than a million people each before 2020, noted the Stanford University report, adding that for almost half of the projects in this sector, reaching more people is a primary benefit of using blockchain.

The focus is now on moving from proof of concept to scale, not just in financial inclusion, but for blockchain technology in general, Jane Thomason, global ambassador and advisory board member at the British Blockchain Association, told Devex.

With the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development hosting a conference on blockchain this September in Paris, donors and the international development community continue to demonstrate that they understand the huge potential, but they still need to do more to accelerate the uptake of blockchain for development purposes, said Thomason.

“It is not time to stand back and be an observer, it’s time for donors to lean in and shape this technology and be part of shaping the future,” she added.