Monthly Archives: mayo 2019

//mayo

Three of Ireland’s ‘Big Four’ banks using blockchain to verify staff credentials

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Three of Ireland’s “Big Four” banks, Bank of Ireland, AIB and Ulster Bank, are using a blockchain solution from Deloitte for a pilot initiative to verify employees’ credentials.

The solution, said to be the “first of its kind” in the European financial services industry, has been built using ethereum by Deloitte’s EMEA Financial Services Blockchain Lab in Dublin to verify and track staff credentials and qualifications data. Staff will have their credentials held in a digital wallet, which will be used to help banks comply with Central Bank of Ireland regulations for meeting specific standards for senior staff.

Ireland’s Institute of Banking – which holds professional certification data on 23,500 banking employees currently – is also a participant in the project, which is expected to run until the end of the summer. A full live launch expected by mid-2020 for the institute’s members.

Blockchain-based verification of credentials is a growing use case for the technology.

Earlier this year, financial services giant PwC launched a similar blockchain-based platform called Smart Credentials allowing company employees to be issued digital copies of professional qualifications.

Malaysia’s education ministry has also launched a blockchain platform called e-Scroll for the issuance and verification of university degrees. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection also recently began a blockchain trial to verify North American Free Trade Agreement and the Central American Free Trade Agreement certificates.

The three Irish banks have been trialing blockchain tech in other areas, too. As far back as 2016, AIB and Ulster Bank participated in a blockchain payments trial, also organized by Deloitte. The Bank of Ireland completed a blockchain trial centered on trade reporting in partnership with Deloitte in 2017.

Salesforce joins blockchain bandwagon with new ledger tool

(Article published by By Nico Grant  and Olga Kharif with same title in Bloomberg)

Salesforce.com Inc. unveiled a blockchain service in a bid to boost revenue and keep up with peers in digital ledgers, joining a growing list of companies that have sought to harness the emerging technology.

The blockchain platform will let clients create networks to securely transfer data with partners and other third parties, the San Francisco-based company said in a statement. The “low-code” product will integrate with Salesforce’s Lightning developer platform.

Salesforce has been ramping up its blockchain efforts since last year. Co-Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff said in March 2018 that he hoped to integrate “blockchain and cryptocurrencies” into Salesforce’s platform by September of last year. The market leader in customer relationship software last year joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance, which is focused on improving supply chains. “This felt like a unique opportunity for us to say, how can we let customers work with partners in a distributed and secure way,” Bret Taylor, Salesforce’s chief product officer, said during the company’s annual developer conference in San Francisco. He said he hopes that Salesforce customers experiment with different ways to use the technology.

Blockchain is a database with a unique feature that ensures the trustworthiness of transactions. It can use thousands or millions of computers to verify transactions, and this structure eliminates risks that come with information being held centrally by a single entity.

While hype around cryptocurrencies has cooled, cloud-computing companies have rushed to develop blockchain solutions. International Business Machines Corp. already has more than 1,000 staffers assigned to blockchain-related projects, and the company works with many consortia to help them use digital ledgers for projects such as supply-chain tracking. The world’s largest software maker, Microsoft Corp., unveiled a blockchain service this month that lets users create and manage digital ledgers with a few clicks. Oracle Corp. earlier this year added new features to its platform to speed up development and deployment of blockchain applications.

Salesforce said some clients are testing the blockchain product now, including drug-label validation company IQVIA Holdings Inc., S&P Global Ratings, and Arizona State University. The company said the tool will become widely available in 2020.

Salesforce doesn’t expect a swell of demand from the start. “Before we see this huge demand coming,” clients need to align their blockchain teams with the rest of their business and decide to use the technology to solve big problems, Adam Caplan, senior vice president of emerging technology at Salesforce, said during a news conference. Salesforce spoke with 100 customers while developing the blockchain product.

Rather than develop the software from scratch, Salesforce built its blockchain platform on Hyperledger, open-source software launched in 2016 whose development has been led by the likes of IBM. Hyperledger is the fastest-growing project among more than 70 open-source organizations the Linux Foundation has launched.

Salesforce has a lot of catching up to do, particularly in recruiting important, large clients. IBM, for example, is already working on blockchain projects with companies such as Maersk and Walmart Inc.

Blockchain settlement was slow, costly in trial, Weidmann (Bundesbank) says

(Article published by Carolynn Look with same title in Bloomberg)

A trial project using blockchain to transfer and settle securities and cash proved more costly and less speedy than the traditional way, Germany’s central bank president said.

The experiment, launched by the Bundesbank together with Deutsche Boerse in 2016, concluded late last year that the prototype “in principle fulfilled all basic regulatory features for financial transactions.” Yet while advocates of distributed ledger technology say it has the potential to be cheaper and faster than current settlement mechanisms, Jens Weidmann said the Bundesbank project did not bear those out: “The blockchain solutions did not fare better in every way: the process took a bit longer and resulted in relatively high computational costs,” Weidmann said in Frankfurt on Wednesday. “Similar experiences have been made elsewhere in the financial sector. Despite numerous tests of blockchain-based prototypes, a real breakthrough in application is missing so far.”

A growing number of global central banks have started exploring distributed ledger technology for their financial systems. European Central Bank Executive Board member Yves Mersch said that it’s important to differentiate between “assets” such as bitcoin and the technology behind them. “Some of the technology is worth exploring and could also be of interest to central banks,” he said. “That said, our role is not to drive technological adoption by the industry and the general public, but to ensure that changing preferences can be satisfied in a secure way.”

Dubai government and UAE Bank unveil blockchain-based mortgage platform

(Article published by Max Boddy with same title in CoinTelegraph)

The Dubai Land Department (DLD), the real estate arm of the Executive Council of Dubai, has partnered with UAE-based Mashreq Bank to release a blockchain-based mortgage platform.

The blockchain-based platform will act as a repository for mortgage records, as well as a way to confirm that the mortgages comply with registration policies. Additionally, the platform will accommodate on-going updates that occur after a property sale, such as recording liquidation and payment defaults or changes to the mortgages.

The new blockchain platform is part of the DLD’s efforts to streamline their services. DLD Director General Sultan Butti Bin Mejren said: “The development and launch of the new e-mortgage system comes as part of our ongoing efforts to enhance automation applications and systems in our transactions to reduce paper transactions and the number of visits.”

The DLD reportedly launched another blockchain-based system last year, the Real Estate Self Transaction system which is purportedly also designed to digitize documents for paper transactions and streamline the brokerage process, which includes connecting tenants and landlords to billers for utility services.

Smart Dubai, the technology arm of the government, publicly endorsed a blockchain platform released by telecoms company Du. The blockchain-platform-as-a-service (BPaas) reportedly supports cloud-based private blockchain hosting that is compatible with Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric.

Want to know your wine is genuine? EY has built a blockchain for that

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

“Big Four” professional services firm EY has built a blockchain platform for a firm that will help consumers determine wines’ quality, provenance and authenticity. The TATTOO Wine Platform has been developed for Blockchain Wine Pte. Ltd. using EY’s OpsChain solution.

The platform is backed by Asian wine cellar The House of Roosevelt, which will use it to sell wines directly from vineyards to hotels, restaurants, cafes and customers, according to the announcement.

EY said: “Each bottle of wine will be ‘tattooed’ with its own unique QR code. By scanning the QR code, participants can access information such as vineyards’ names and locations, details such as the types of fertilizers used to grow the crops, and how each batch is transported for processing and delivery.”

The platform will focus on markets in Asia where the consumption of European wines is expanding. Over 5,000 labels will be added to the system, including wines from France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America and California.

TATTOO has been built using the ethereum’s ERC-721 standard for non-fungible tokens, or crypto collectibles, according to the announcement. (Yes, basically, the wine tokens are like alcohol-based CryptoKitties.)

The asset traceability module of EY OpsChain has been used to tokenize over 11 million bottles of wine for various clients, as well as toher consumables. As well as providing data on wine provenance, TATTOO also allows consumers and distributors to buy and sell wine, schedule and track shipments, monitor warehousing and delivery, and arrange for and track insurance coverage of wine shipments.

Taking a slightly different tack, blockchain startup VinX is also developing a supply chain platform for trading wine futures, which allow connoisseurs and collectors to purchase a vintage while it’s still in the barrel, a year or two before it’s bottled and released on the market.

South Korea’s Shinhan Bank turns to blockchain to speed up loan issuance

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Shinhan, one of the oldest and largest banks in South Korea, is using blockchain technology to speed up the approval process for loan products. The bank will use a blockchain platform to verify the items of proof required for credit lending, such as qualification or certification documents.

Until now, customers had to submit these documents directly to the bank to undergo time-consuming manual verification of their authenticity, according to the report. With the blockchain-based verification system, Shinhan is expecting to process these documents more quickly and at a lower cost.

The bank has reportedly already applied the technology to its “Shinhan Doctors” loan product, reducing the time taken to confirm whether a customer is a regular member of the Hospital Doctors’ Council from two to three days to “real time.”

A Shinhan Bank official was quoted as saying in the report that the blockchain system is expected to boost the number of “non-face-to-face” loan products processed and that the bank plans to expand the system to more products.

Founded in 1897, Shinhan has been exploring blockchain technology for some time now. Last year, it trialed cross-border remittances for business customers using Ripple’s blockchain technology. As far as back in 2015, Shinhan invested around $427,000 in blockchain remittance startup Streami.

JPMorgan adds privacy features to ethereum-based Quorum blockchain

(Article published by Ian Allison with same title in CoinDesk)

JPMorgan Chase’s blockchain team has developed a privacy feature for ethereum-based blockchains, obscuring not only how much money is being sent but who is sending it. JPMorgan has built an extension to the Zether protocol, a fully decentralized, cryptographic protocol for confidential payments, compatible with ethereum and other smart contract platforms and designed to add a further layer of anonymity to transactions. The New York-based financial institution will open-source the extension 28 May, and is likely to use it with Quorum, the bank’s homegrown, private version of ethereum.

Zether, which was built by a group of academics and financial technology researchers including Dan Boneh from Stanford University, uses zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), a branch of mathematics which allows one party to prove knowledge of some secret value or information without conveying any detail about that secret.

Explaining what the new extension does, Oli Harris, JPM’s head of Quorum and crypto-assets strategy, told: “In the basic Zether, the account balances and the transfer accounts are concealed but the participants’ identities are not. So we have solved that. In our implementation, we provide a proof protocol for the anonymous extension in which the sender may hide herself and the transactions recipients in a larger group of parties.”

JPMorgan has had a busy year in the blockchain space, and not just with its headline-grabbing plan for an internal, price-stable cryptocurrency called JPM Coin. Just as importantly, the firm attracted some 220 banks to its Quorum-based Interbank Information Network and most recently completed a load of integration work with Microsoft Azure as JPM continues to prepare Quorum to be spun out and exist in the wild as an open-source protocol.

Harris pointed out that Zether’s confidential payments architecture incorporates an account-based approach employed by ethereum, as opposed to the unspent transaction output, or UTXO-based approach, which the bitcoin client uses. The UTXO is also a feature of the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency zcash, which the original ZKP component of Quorum was based on.

In this way, the extension could benefit not only users of Quorum, but also enterprises building on top of other ethereum variants – or, conceivably, businesses leveraging the public ethereum chain.

Consortium confidential

Keeping all facets of transactions between banks and other confidential could be a boon for projects like ethereum-based Komgo, for instance, which involves trading in the energy space. “When we think about the community building on top of Quorum,” said Harris, “if anyone is looking to get an efficient trustless mechanism for trustless and anonymous payments in a consortium then that’s when it’s relevant. That’s why we wanted to open-source it back to the community so anyone can build on it further and continue enhancing it and potentially put it into their use cases as needed.”

Harris, whose job is to strengthen Quorum efforts inside the bank and beyond, added: “When we look at our own JPMorgan applications [the extended version of Zether] will be one choice of many that we will be looking at.”

The work to make transactions more confidential on Zether could also be used to fine-tune Quorum for deployment inside enterprise consortia, making the extension another step towards hardening the protocol for a long-contemplated spin-out from the bank.

One drawback of complex zero-knowledge proving schemes is the amount of computation they eat, potentially slowing down blockchains. But Harris said the extra dose of cryptography to obfuscate participant identities didn’t appear to have that effect with Zether, concluding: “The performance is quite good; we had done multiple iterations to improve it and we are doing the verification in solidity smart contracts. We’ll be including in our report the performance measurements for proving and verification.”

ConsenSys launches ‘Jobs Kit’ to help devs enter the blockchain industry

(Article published by Yogita Khatri with same title in CoinDesk)

Ethereum development studio ConsenSys has launched a blockchain “job kit” to guide developers wishing to enter the growing blockchain space. The kit provides a variety of resources, including information on the skills needed to find work as an ethereum blockchain and decentralized application (dapp) developer.

JavaScript, Python and Solidity programming languages will help developers build on ethereum, ConsenSys said, while knowledge of languages such as Go, Rust, Java,.NET, C++ and Ruby will help backend or protocol development on the blockchain network. The kit also offers a glossary section on key blockchain and cryptography terms such as consensus algorithms, sharding, token standards and hash functions, as well as providing links on the places devs can start their search for employment. These include Blocktribe and Gitcoin.co, as well as more standard sites such as Indeed.com.

Citing LinkedIn’s emerging jobs list for 2018, ConsenSys said that blockchain development skills are in high demand, with related job listings have seen a 33-times increase in just a year. “Companies hiring range from small remote teams to VC-funded startups to industry leaders and tech giants,” the firm said.

Citing another study by professional services firm PwC, ConsenSys said that 77 percent of companies are well on their way towards taking blockchain-based solutions and products into production, while only 14 percent currently have no plans to integrate blockchain.

Opinions on blockchain, distributed networks, and web3 are also “rapidly changing” amongst software developers building on web2, ConsenSys said, citing another report from Deloitte, which said a majority (67.6 percent) of developers maintained a positive opinion on blockchain tech.

Back in 2017, ConsenSys also launched an academy to help developers learn more about the blockchain ecosystem.

All this comes despite recent reports of layoffs at crypto and blockchain firms as the crypto bear market downturn made its effects felt across business models and revenues. Firms and organizations such as Bitmain, the NEM foundation, and, indeed, Consensys, all felt forced to cut staffing levels in the last several months.

El consorcio Ethereum lanza una iniciativa de token con Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase y otros

(Artículo publicado por Marie Huillet con el mismo título en CoinTelegraph)

La Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) ha lanzado una Iniciativa de Taxonomía de Token (Token Taxonomy Initiative) neutral con respecto a blockchain, en asociación con importantes empresas, según un comunicado de prensa de la EEA el 17 de abril. La iniciativa tratará de definir los tokens en términos intersectoriales y no técnicos, en un intento de impulsar la adopción a escala de tokens de la empresa.

La EEA se describe a sí misma como “una organización de estándares dirigida por sus miembros, cuya premisa es desarrollar especificaciones abiertas de blockchain que impulsen la armonización y la interoperabilidad”. Entre los miembros de la iniciativa se encuentran la consultora global Accenture, los principales bancos Santander y JPMorgan Chase, la incubadora de blockchain ConsenSys, la empresa que forma parte de las cuatro grandes firmas de auditoría, EY, los gigantes tecnológicos Intel, Microsoft e IBM, el consorcio blockchain R3, el centro de estudios internacional The Blockchain Research Institute, la empresa de investigación y desarrollo blockchain Clearmatics, entre otros.

 

La nueva Iniciativa de Taxonomía de Token tendrá como objetivo establecer un conjunto compartido de términos y definiciones para los tokens —cualquiera que sea la blockchain de la que deriven— como piedra angular para las empresas y los desarrolladores.

La estandarización, argumenta Ron Resnick, director de la EEA, puede desbloquear el uso sin fricciones de los tokens “para servir como, o proporcionar acceso a, un conjunto de bienes, activos financieros, valores, servicios, valor o contenido” dentro de las aplicaciones blockchain de grado empresarial.

Además de aclarar el concepto y el alcance del modelo de token, la iniciativa tratará de abordar los casos de uso, la taxonomía y la terminología y las especificaciones técnicas.

Con este fin, el proyecto tratará de establecer normas técnicas que puedan contrarrestar la fragmentación entre múltiples protocolos de cadenas de bloques y garantizar la interoperabilidad entre las plataformas y los casos de uso, ya sea que los tokens sirvan para fines similares a la moneda o representen activos únicos.

 

La iniciativa se estructurará para incluir un marco de taxonomía de token acompañado por una iniciativa educativa, que se llevará a cabo a través de talleres de definición de tokens estructurados.

Como ya se ha informado anteriormente, la EEA —que cuenta con más de 500 miembros— está comprometida con la elaboración de normas estándar para tokens, que comenzaron centrándose en las especificaciones de Ethereum (ETH). A finales de 2018, Hyperledger y la EEA anunciaron sus mutuos miembros asociados.

La organización amplió su alcance mundial con la apertura de una oficina regional en China en febrero de este año. Ese mismo mes, la EEA anunció la creación de un grupo operativo denominado “token task force” (grupo de trabajo para tokens), que se centraría en el ERC-20 fungible derivado de ETH y en los tokens no fungibles del ERC-721.

Microsoft lanza aplicación de gestión de blockchain

(Artículo publicado por Max Boddy con el mismo título en CoinTelegraph)

Microsoft anunció su totalmente gestionado Azure Blockchain Service el 2 de mayo. La nueva plataforma blockchain como servicio (BaaS) supuestamente permitirá a los usuarios crear aplicaciones de blockchain en una red preconfigurada.

Según el director de comunicaciones corporativas de Microsoft, Frank Shaw, este servicio “simplifica la formación, gestión y gobierno de las redes de cadenas de bloques del consorcio”. Shaw señaló además que Azure Blockchain Service puede crear una nueva red de consorcio “en unos pocos clics”, o permitir al usuario realizar operaciones básicas como añadir nuevos miembros a la red.

Quorum, una plataforma blockchain de código abierto respaldada por JPMorgan Chase, es la primera plataforma que se puede gestionar a través de Azure Blockchain Service. Mark Russinovich, el Director Técnico de Azure, explicó la elección: “Porque se basa en el popular protocolo Ethereum, que tiene la comunidad de desarrolladores de cadenas de bloques más grande del mundo, Quorum es una opción natural.”

 

Microsoft Azure lanzó su servicio de creación de aplicaciones blockchain, Azure Blockchain Workbench, en mayo de 2018. Esta plataforma también fue diseñada para automatizar aspectos del trabajo relacionado con blockchain, en este caso para agilizar el desarrollo de aplicaciones blockchain, proporcionando una infraestructura fácilmente disponible para el desarrollador.

En octubre de 2018, Microsoft Azure unió fuerzas con Nasdaq. Nasdaq optó por integrar la tecnología blockchain de Azure en su marco financiero con la expectativa de que aceleraría las transacciones.

El 30 de abril, Amazon Web Services, el ala de computación en la nube del gigante minorista Amazon, lanzó su propia plataforma BaaS denominada Amazon Managed Blockchain.

Load More Posts