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IBM Reveals Blockchain Supply Chain Trial with Singapore Port Operator

A major port operator in Singapore has inked a deal to work with IBM and a regional shipping firm to test a new blockchain-based supply chain network. Announcing the news, PSA International, which operates ports in Asia, South America and Europe, said today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with IBM and Pacific International Lines (PIL), one of the largest liner services in the world. The three firms will "work together to explore [proofs-of-concept] using technologies like blockchain," according to an announcement published today. The goal of the trial is to automate the flow of documents between trading partners, providing transparency along the way. Tan Chong Meng, group CEO of PSA, said of the deal: "Blockchain has the potential to reduce inefficiencies and gaps within the supply chain, promote more cost-efficient transactions and facilitate the continued growth in world trade. PSA looks forward to working alongside its partners in supporting this initiative and we will contribute our expertise and knowledge in managing ports and advancing supply chains." The tie-up represents the latest effort within the shipping sector to test the potential of blockchain to solve industry problems, a broad push that has seen some of the world's biggest ship operators and port authorities move to launch trials of the technology. IBM, too, has built several projects focused on the supply chain use case to date. As reported by CoinDesk, the tech firm partnered with Danish shipping giant Maersk earlier this year, completing a live blockchain trial designed to automate documentation processing using smart contracts.

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IT Giant NTT Data Enlists 13 Companies for Blockchain Consortium

Japan's largest IT services firm, NTT Data, has announced a new consortium aimed to investigate use cases for blockchain technology. According to the company, the initiative so far includes 13 different companies drawn from the financial, logistical and trade industries. Notable participants include Mizuho Financial Group, Mitsu Sumitomo Insurance, Nippon Express and Sojitz Corporation. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Toyota Tsusho and Kawasaki Kisen Corporation, and others, are also involved. The effort, which will officially launch on August 30, is expected to run through next spring. Perhaps informing the new group effort, NTT Data is no stranger to blockchain. The IT giant has already completed work on pilot programs for banks looking to test the issuance of letters of credit through blockchain, as well as partnering with insurance companies to explore the technology. The announcement comes during a period of building momentum for blockchain development in Japan, which has even seen government agencies test the use of smart contracts. More recently, a group of Japanese financial institutions successfully tested a prototype that uses distributed ledger technology to streamline international transaction agreements.

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Russia Begins Work on Developing Blockchain Standards

Russia’s national standards authority is working toward the standardization of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. Russia’s Federal Agency for Technical Regulation and Metrology, also known as Rosstandart, has announced the formation of a new technical committee tasked toward the standardization of “the software and hardware of distributed register and blockchain technologies”. In its announcement, the Rosstandart adds that blockchain technology is “actively spreading” in its adoption across the Russian Federation. “Blockchain is a digital platform that records and verifies transactions in a public and secure manner based on decentralized solutions,” reads a loosely translated excerpt from the statement. “Initially appearing as technologies that facilitate the mechanisms of cryptocurrencies, blockchain technologies are finding more and more fields of application around the world. In recent years, these technologies are quite actively spreading in the Russian Federation.” On a global scale, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – commonly seen as the primary global standards authority – appointed Australia to lead an international technical committee with 35 ISO member nations to develop a uniform approach to introduce global standards for the technology. Earlier this year in March, Standards Australia unveiled its roadmap to develop these international standards, overseen by technical committee 307 or ISO/TC 307. Russia’s standards authority references these developments at the ISO whilst adding that it “abstained” from joining ISO/TC 307 at the time of its formation. However, the Russian Federation is now among 20 participating members of the committee. The newly established Russian technical committee will also presuppose international cooperation with the ISO committee. Explaining its reasons for working toward its own standards, Russia’s standards states: [The standards] are designed to raise the development of these technologies to a new level by developing international cooperation, closer interaction, speeding up their acceptance by the public, expanding the methods of their application, and ultimately increasing confidence in such operations. The move by the national standards authority to explore the standardization of blockchain technologies comes at a time when the Russian government is actively considering the introduction of regulations for the decentralized technology in 2019. Herman Gref, chief executive of Sberbank – Russia’s largest bank by assets – has predicted blockchain technology to see commercial applications on a nationwide scale in two years.

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CULedger Credit Union Consortium Launches Blockchain Services Business

A blockchain initiative backed by a group of US credit unions has formed a new service organization dedicated to the tech.As previously reported by CoinDesk, CULedger members are seeking to use blockchain in a bid to reimagine how they exchange data and provide services to their clients.The project has grown steadily since its unveiling in 2016. Now, the credit unions that back it are forming what is known as a credit union service organization, or CUSO, centered around blockchain. A CUSO is a business entity, typically owned by a group of federally chartered credit unions, that provide certain services such as business loan originations or payment card processing.In the case of CULedger, the CUSO will function as a bridging point between all of the credit unions that opt to link up with the project's permissioned ledger.Rudy Pereira, chairman of the CULedger steering committee, said in a statement:"CULedger is an opportunity for credit unions to be leaders of innovation in financial services. Getting involved now in CULedger and CULedger, LCC will offer credit unions the ability to participate in shared-ledger technology that is on path to reshape the credit union industry as a whole in the years to come."While a big step for the group, the new CUSO isn't operational yet. Over the next several months, CULedger will host events for credit unions in a bid to find investors.As part of that search, CULedger will begin looking for a CEO to take the helm of the venture as well.

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Blockchain Will Change the World: Fidelity SVP

It’s no secret that Fidelity is beginning to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon. Recent statements by the CEO, as well as the addition of a cryptocurrency holdings partnership with Coinbase, have made the investment house the frontrunner among pro-cryptocurrency institutions. The $2.3 tln investment giant has added cryptocurrencies as a service to investors, but questions still remained regarding the company’s views. Hadley Stern excited about the Blockchain A recent interview with the SVP Hadley Stern revealed more of Fidelity’s notion of where the investment market is moving in light of cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain. Stern is responsible for running the Blockchain incubator at Fidelity and believes that trying to imagine the future of Blockchain technology is like trying to conceive of Facebook or Google on the first day the Internet browser was invented. He said: "I do think [cryptocurrencies] will make things, whether it's Bitcoin or something else, faster and cheaper and create new products and services that we can't even imagine.” The frontrunner among investment houses, Fidelity joins a long list of hedge funds and market analysts who have seen cryptocurrencies as a good bet for investment. As Bitcoin price continues to skyrocket, those investors who refuse to consider Bitcoin are being left in the dust. It may be that the ‘bubble’ is actually the start of mainstream acceptance by a broader swath of the public. Too big to ban Stern also made it clear that governments must embrace Blockchain as something that is here to stay, comparing banning cryptocurrencies to banning the web. The technology is here to stay and attempting to ban or control it is futile, according to the VP.   Stern concluded the interview by expressing his opinion that the power of Blockchain technology will “change the world.”   His comments reflect the buoyant mood among Blockchain enthusiasts and crypto fans alike, especially as the concerns regarding SegWit and Bitcoin have subsided.

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Cryptocurrency is Here - And It's Frightening

Most people who buy a house or a car, or buy things on Amazon, never think about “paying” with cryptocurrency. Most people have no idea how many cryptocurrencies there are (over 1,000), though a lot of people have heard something about Bitcoin. Very few people realize that cryptocurrency is simultaneously a currency, an investment and a technology: you can buy a house with cryptocurrency, speculate with some of your retirement money in cryptocurrency (and eventually invest in cryptocurrency ETFs), and invest in cryptocurrency’s underlying technology (blockchain). Not surprisingly, banks are smarter than politicians about cryptocurrency, and many individuals and start-ups are smarter than banks. The rise of cryptocurrency is roughly analogous to the rise of medical and recreational marijuana. How long will it take “official institutions” – banks, corporations and the government – to discover cryptocurrency opportunities – and threats? Their discovery journey is already well underway.   What do you need to know about cryptocurrency? Identify theft is essentially impossible with cryptocurrency. It’s potentially nefarious: money laundering, among other transactions, is easy. Governments cannot control it – though they can – and will – regulate and tax it (principally through investment instruments). It’s available and immediate. More and more businesses will accept it – because they will have no choice. It’s volatile: the value of Bitcoin and Ethereum, for example, have swung wildly over the past couple of years. It’s enabled by a technology called blockchain, which according to Portia Crowe offers an alternative to traditional transaction processing: “Blockchains are ledgers (like Excel spreadsheets), but they accept inputs from lots of different parties. The ledger can only be changed when there is a consensus among the group. That makes them more secure, and it means there's no need for a central authority to approve transactions.” What should you do? Play with cryptocurrency: create your own digital wallet. Convert some conventional money into Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin or Ripple, and experiment with how it works. Consider sites like Coinbase to get started. There are others. Track the investment instruments beyond individually buying/selling cryptocurrencies online. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) will arrive soon, after some hiccups with the US SEC. There are other investment options including publicly traded funds, hedge funds and private buy-and-hold funds, according to Kevin Gao. They all come with opportunity and risk.  (You should speak to investment professionals before risking meaningful money.) Assess your industry’s appetite for change, experimentation and alternative payment systems; track industry progress as well as the technological infrastructure required to expand the use of cryptocurrency. Why is cryptocurrency “here” and “frightening”? It’s here because it provides a safer, faster and cheaper way to transact.  It’s also here because organic growth will stimulate massive institutional interest and offerings.  Even the payment incumbents will come around and proactively champion their cryptocurrency offerings. It’s inevitable because it’s anonymous and secretive. Which gets us to “frightening.” Any time an established process – in this case, payment systems can be replaced by another better/faster/cheaper one there are repercussions. Amazon’s continued assault on brick-and-mortar retail, Uber/Lyft alternatives to taxis, and Airbnb as replacements for hotels are just a few examples of how disruptive alternatives can be – especially if they’re measurably better/faster/cheaper.

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Square CEO: Blockchain Can Help Solve 'So Many Problems'

Jack Dorsey, the CEO of both Twitter and Square, recently said he believes blockchain can be used to solve problems in a range of different areas. Speaking in an interview with tech media publication The Verge, Dorsey described the technology as the "next big unlock", arguing that it has a plethora of applications beyond payments and the like. "There are so many problems we can help solve [with blockchain] that are not just related to finance, but finance is an obvious one," he told the site. That said, Dorsey cautioned against trying to reach too far in applying the tech, decrying the push to try and solve "every single problem with it. He went on to say: "I think we need to be more thoughtful. What are people struggling with? How does the technology help them progress or does it distract them?" Speaking about bitcoin specifically, Dorsey said that he's hearing from a number of people close to him about investing in those markets, expressing surprise at the degree of interest. "It's not about the currency at all to these people who asked me. It's about the investment," he concluded.

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Microsoft’s Coco Framework Aims to Speed Up Blockchain Adoption

Microsoft has revealed today that it is working on a new technology that will boost the adoption of the blockchain by enterprises. The multinational technology company said that it had created a system called the Coco Framework, which stands for Confidential Consortium. When implemented into blockchain networks it will solve privacy, speed and governance issues for commercial adoption, reports Reuters. The CoCo platform is aiming to solve these issues through the introduction of a trusted execution environment (TEE) and advanced algorithms. The idea is that you place your blockchain code in a trusted area, which is established through tools such as Intel’s Software Guard Extensions (SGX) or Windows Virtual Secure Mode (VSM), which then supports other compatible TEEs. This then creates a trusted network that agrees on the CoCo code and ledger, removing the need to perform a proof-of-work, thereby increasing the transaction speed. In its prototype setup, Microsoft said that Coco and ethereum – one of the distributed ledgers to integrate with the framework – were able to handle up to 1,600 transactions per second. In comparison, Visa is able to process 24,000 transactions in the same time. R3 Corda, Intel’s Hyperledger Sawtooth and JPMorgan Quorum are some of the open source blockchain and distributed ledgers that will integrate with the new CoCo platform. Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing division, said: We expect this to be the foundation for blockchain for enterprise. We think blockchain is going to potentially transform every industry. CoCo will be ready and made open source by 2018.

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8 Best Sources to Study Blockchain Technology

Since 2013, Google search for Blockchain has risen 1900 percent. It’s considered one of the hottest technologies on the market, as Blockchain is on the edge of transforming how we all interact in the digital world. Cointelegraph has compiled a list of the top 8 sources where you can get crucial information about Blockchain technology. “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World” Don and Alex Tapscott, the authors of “Blockchain Revolution” explain with clarity the workings of Blockchain technology, how it will expand in the future and transform how things are done online. This book also explains the different ways in which blockchain technology is changing the future of transactions, money and business. Don Tapscott, author of bestselling book “Wikinomics”, and his son ‘Alex Tapscott’, a Blockchain expert, present a well-researched, highly readable foundational book about the future of the economy. The book is regarded as the business leader’s playbook for the next decade and beyond. According to Tapscotts, this technology is going to enhance delivery of expanding financial services, protecting personal identity information, personal contracts and business. “Down the Rabbit Hole: Discover the Power of the Blockchain” Down The Rabbit Hole is a book written in plain English by Tim Lea. According to the author, the book is written from the ground up as your easy-to-read, deep primer for the Blockchain. A perfect choice for business people like you, Down the Rabbit Hole will not only help you to understand the power of the Blockchain, but it will also help you to understand how to capitalize on that power. No matter what your role is, Down the Rabbit Hole will give you a practical hands-on guide to the technology and its potential. If you wish to make your organization more effective or want to make yourself more valuable in your marketplace, this book is for you. In addition to this, the book also helps you to make your business more competitive and will teach your clients more about Blockchain technology and its implications. “Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy” Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy is a well-written book by Melanie Swan on Blockchain technology. This book primarily focuses on recognizing and examining the practical implications of decentralized ledger technology. Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy is recommended for those people who want to know how blockchain technology works and its potential applications. The author of this book writes that the inspiration for this book was the realization that the application of Blockchain technology extends well beyond digital currencies. “The Science of the Blockchain” The Science of the Blockchain explores the basic concepts and techniques for building fault-tolerant distributed systems. Written by Roger Wattenhofer, the book presents different protocols and algorithms that enable fault-tolerant operations. Moreover, this book also discusses practical systems which implement protocols and algorithms. The author’s research interests include fault-tolerant distributed systems, network algorithms and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. So far, he has published 250+ scientific articles. Blockchain University Blockchain University is a great place to learn about Blockchain technology as it provides a free course that will teach Blockchain development. It’s a good resource for people who are interested in learning about Blockchain and its development. “The Complete Guide to Understanding Blockchain” The Complete Guide to Understanding Blockchain is written by Miles Price. The book explores the different ways in which Blockchain technology will change the way information is shared across the world. Additionally, this book discusses how Blockchain technology is going to revamp financial services and how governments will adopt Blockchain to issue digital versions of their national currencies. This technology has completely moved out of the realm of interesting and into the spotlight as a practical and necessary tool to facilitate information sharing. The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology Hardcover The author William Mougayar discusses how Blockchain technology will give rise to new business models and ideas that are as yet undiscovered. The Business Blockchain is a perfect read for technologists to better understand the business potential of Blockchain. “The Book of Satoshi” We all know that Blockchain technology and Bitcoin are both closely linked because Blockchain has made cryptocurrency a viable possibility. This book offers readers a chance to peruse the writings of the mysterious creator of Bitcoin known as Satoshi Nakamoto. However, no one knows that if this name is real or a pseudonym, and whether it belongs to an individual or a corporation. The Nakamoto persona exists virtually, much like its cryptocurrency creation, present only through online publications. The Book of Satoshi is a definitive collection of Nakamoto’s essential writings, including the original paper detailing the idea of Bitcoin.

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Sony Partners With IBM to Use Blockchain in Student Data Management

Japanese electronics firm Sony has partnered with technology giant IBM to develop a new educational platform that employs Blockchain technology in securing and sharing student records. In their announcement in early August 2017, the partners claimed that the platform will enable educators to exchange information on student progress and achievements. The platform is powered by IBM’s new product called IBM Blockchain, which was officially launched at the company’s Interconnect conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in March. The product utilizes the Hyperledger open-source Fabric codebase, a project that was supported by the Linux Foundation. Sony’s plans for the platform According to Sony, it plans to launch the new product through its subsidiary Sony Global Education sometime in 2018. Sony also claimed that the new service will be offered to both primary and higher educational institutions. For its future plans, Sony said that they will continue developing additional educational services that will use the Blockchain platform as the data-sharing layer beneath them. In his statement about Blockchain, Masaaki Isozu, Sony Global Education President, said that the technology can disrupt various industries and the education sector is not an exemption. Isozu noted: "Blockchain technology has the potential to impact systems in a wide variety of industries, and the educational sphere is no exception when educational data is securely stored on the Blockchain and shared among permissioned users." Moreover, Sony hinted that it could develop applications for the technology in the fields of supply chain and logistics: "Sony Group is also considering innovative ways to make use of Blockchain technology. It will continue evaluating this system going forward as it works towards the creation of appealing products and services in a host of different fields." Such a move could be just the start of the collaboration between two tech giants cementing the role Blockchain has in public services and mass adoption of the same technology that powers Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.