News and Views from the World of Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology

News & Views

The newsletter continues to grow, as does its subscriber base.  Feedback I’ve received is very positive as this is turning into the single ‘go to’ resource to quickly see what’s happening in the Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology space.  If you think I’ve missed anything or would like to see additional sections added then drop me an email.
Remember – if you find the newsletter useful then please share it so others can subscribe. If you don’t like it then let me know!
In this issue I’ve added dates to news releases to allow a better timeline to develop of when things have been announced.  I’ve added a number of enw sections too – there’s a consultancy/vendor section to highlight interesting work beign announced from the Big 4, BPO’s, systems integrators, etc.  I’ve also added an opinions/thought leaders section too as it’s often worth reading what others are saying.

Training Courses

For details of Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology online training, take a look at the published courses provided by B9Lab:

Industry Projects & Initiatives
05 Aug 2017 - Mr Kimani Mbugua, CEO of Greenspec, a Kenya Agro-Processing company has stated that the blockchain technology has the potential to transform agriculture tremendously.
Speaking at the launch of Belfrics Kenya’s Bitcoin Exchange on Saturday at the Villa Rosa Kempinski, in Nairobi, Kenya, he explained that even though there has been little talk of blockchain in agriculture, the sector stands to benefits immensely from the technology.
11 July 2017 - In Australia, ANZ and Westpac teamed with IBM and shopping centre operator Scentre Group to digitise the bank guarantee process used for commercial property leasing. The trial used distributed ledger technology to eliminate the need for current paper-based bank guarantee documents, resulting in a single source of information with reduced potential for fraud and increased efficiency.
07 Aug 2017 - A group of 11 banks have developed a trade finance application using technology developed by distributed ledger startup R3.  The firm announced that the banks built the app, aimed at smoothing the process for letters of credit, on top of R3's Corda platform. The banks involved include Bangkok Bank, BBVA, BNP Paribas, HSBC, ING, Intesa Sanpaolo, Mizuho, RBS, Scotiabank, SEB and U.S. Bank. IT consultancy CGI also took part.
07 Aug 2017 -  BNP Paribas Securities Services has progressively stepped up its blockchain expertise in the Australian market because it sees a nation filled with opportunities.
08 Aug 2017 – Thailand's Kasikorn Bank says that by 2018 it wants to process at least one-in-twenty electronic Letters of Guarantee in its corporate credit business over a new distributed ledger platform developed in concert with IBM. The bank began working with IBM in November last year to create a blockchain business network which will allow credit requestors, credit beneficiaries and KBank to fast-track traditionally lengthy procedures such as Letters of Guarantee for clients.             
Built on Hyperledger Fabric, the platform has been tested in the Bank of Thailand’s regulatory sandbox and built to be able to scale up to meet an expected increase in Letters of Guarantee issuance through electronic channels.
08 Aug 2017 - The Winschoten-based social startup Opakeco Foundation has a vision: a world where humanitarian causes are fully transparent and held accountable.
The foundation thinks that with the advent of the blockchain the technology is finally there to realise this vision. Using the blockchain and ethereum smart contracts as its technology backbone the startup is building a platform that enables the achievement of complete transparency.
Commodities Exchanges
07 Aug 2017 - West Australian Grain handler the CBH Group is investigating the potential of using blockchain technology to sell grain.  The Co-operative will complete a trial sale of a few loads of organic oats out of its South Australian company Blue Lake Milling with the help of agtech startup AgriDigital.
06 Aug 2017 - New York-based social investment network investFeed, which recently announced it had dropped equities for digital currency, has now announced the launch of its new platform’s beta version.  The roll out of the platform’s beta comes midway through investFeed’s Token Generation Event (TGE). Originally planned to be launched within 90 days of its August 7 TGE close, the beta was accelerated to offer potential users as well as participants a flavour of the unique digital currency-based marketplace and a first-look at weighted average price charts and live tickers.
09 Aug 2017 - the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”) and Linklaters LLP released a whitepaper titled “Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger – A Legal Perspective.” The whitepaper sets out to define the terms “smart contract” and “distributed ledger,” to analyze their applications to the derivatives industry, and to highlight potential legal issues raised by these new technologies.
08 Aug 2017 - Lawmakers in Australia are reportedly pushing for the recognition of bitcoin as an official currency. According the Sydney Morning Herald, representatives from the country's centre and left-leaning political parties are behind the ambitious initiative, one that comes amid a broader call for the government to better accommodate blockchain technology and its evangelists.
08 Aug 2017 - Australian senators Sam Dastyari and Jane Hume officially began the Parliamentary Friends of Blockchain group. A bipartisan initiative (Dastyari comes from the Labor Party and Hume from the Liberal Party), the group hopes to encourage the usage of blockchain technology in government and industry.
05 Aug 2017 - The Chinese government is reportedly planning to use blockchain technology for managing taxation and the issuance of electronic invoices. The announcement was made by the Miaocai Network, which is a state-sanctioned electronic taxation and invoicing enterprise. The Network revealed that it will be collaborating with the “government affairs chain GACHAIN” to create a blockchain-based system for “social taxation” and electronic invoicing.
08 Aug 2017 - The U.S. General Services Agency (GSA) has launched a new information portal in which it lists possible applications for blockchain technology under consideration by the federal government. .
Identity Management
08 Aug 2017 - IOTA, the public permissionless distributed ledger, has forged a partnership with REFUNITE, the world's largest missing persons database, to use the former's Blockchain to reunite families during and after conflicts.
The non-profit deal will provide REFUNITE expertise in Decentralized Ledger Technology (DLT) and hands on participation.
4 Aug 2017 – RS Components teamed up with Simply Business, to bring to life the first blockchain and insurance themed “hackathon,” called #BreakTheBlock. The event was designed to see the ways in which the insurance industry is going to be impacted by the increased prominence of blockchain technology, but also to help the dev community within London.
7 Aug 2017 – In USA, LIMRA announced at the beginning of August that it has established an advisory council to explore opportunities for the use of blockchain technology in the life insurance and retirement sectors.
07 Aug 2017 - Guernsey-domiciled Dom Re IC Limited has issued what it believes are the first notes ever to have been digitised on a private blockchain.  Dom Re IC Limited issued USD14.8m Principal-at-Risk, Participating Notes (an asset-backed securitization of a reinsurance contract), due 2023, to a total of six investors.
On the issue date, the paying agent created cryptographically-certificated notes on the "ILSBlockchain" and then the investors were able to execute, peer-to-peer with the paying agent, delivery-vs-payment transactions on the ILSBlockchain to purchase the newly created notes. Referred to as the "ILSBlockchain", the private blockchain mechanism replaced the role of traditional settlement systems such as Euroclear or the Depository Trust Company for this note issue.
08 Aug 2017 -  Aigang, the Singapore based leader in blockchain protocol for digital insurance, has recently launched a demo app for Android and iOS devices. The application, for the first time, demonstrates the capabilities of Aigang’s peer-to-peer digital insurance blockchain protocol for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
Real Estate
08 Aug 2017 - SmartRE, the first real estate tokenization platform using the Ethereum blockchain to help both homeowners and investors.  Homeowners have a tremendous amount of money locked in the equity their homes.  To raise funds SmartRe is launching an ICO from 14th August.
Ride Sharing
05 Aug 2017 - US Fresno-based Chasyr is founded and ran by an ex-rideshare driver with national driver outreach experience, a passion for blockchain technology and the advantages it can bring to the sharing economy.
Stock Exchange
01 Aug 2017 – The Hong Kong Stock Exchange is planning to launch a new private market to provide early stage companies with a blockchain-based share registration and transfer platform for the conduct of pre-IPO financing off-exchange and clear of the regulatory remit of the Securities and Futures Ordinance. Set for launch in 2018, the HKEX Private Market will serve as a “nursery” for early stage companies before they are ready to enter public markets.
03 Aug 2017 - Nasdaq has revealed that it has signed an agreement with SIX Swiss Exchange, a subsidiary of SIX Group, on using a blockchain-based solution for over-the-counter products, CoinDesk reported.  SIX Swiss Exchange is a leading independent exchange in Europe, connecting companies from around the world with international investors and trading participants.
02 Aug 2017 - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) which is the central bank of Singapore has made a statement as to the status of Initial Coin Offerings and their Tokens.  The MAS addresses the classification of the tokens and whether or not they are considered securities.  The position seems to be very similar to that of the recent US SEC announcement.
08 Aug 2017 - Korean Democratic Party lawmaker Park Yong-jin announced that he has introduced an amendment for the Electronic Financial Transaction Act. Its main purpose is to create a regulatory framework for digital currencies in order to “maintain healthy market order and protect users,” Inews24 reported. Business Korea calls this amendment the “Bitcoin Regulation Act.”
Platform News
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
07 Aug 2017 - So, HP has moved into the DLT space with the recent announcement that they have created their own custom DLT solution.  Built in partnership with R3, it combines the consortium startup's signature Corda technology with HP's own NonStop infrastructure. Designed for companies conducting high volumes of transactions, HPE's work leverages its own distributed database and messaging systems, upgrading them with Corda's capabilities.
New protocols/designs
05 Aug 2017 - Utabit is a collection of solutions for corporations and enterprises to enjoy the benefits of blockchain technology. It is created by a team of entrepreneurs and makes its official debut August 18.
It eliminates operational issues of implementing and deploying blockchain projects with its excellent features such as security, transparency, immutability and distribution. Utabit is active in many areas from cryptocurrency to gift voucher and ready to undertake the hard work, facilitating blockchain transformations.
Consultancy News
A new section has been introduced to reflect the growing efforts being applied by the big consultancies to establish themselves as leaders In the blcockhain/DLT space.  To reflect on this I’ll include consultancy/BPO/tech vendor news that I find of interest.
xx Aug 2017 - Accenture’s recently released report “The Voice of the Customer: Identifying Disruptive Opportunities in Insurance Distribution” reveals that the insurance market is being disrupted by a rise in alternative ways of sourcing insurance which continue to emerge and are being embraced by customers.  The report outlines how the development in blockchain technology is contributing to the reshaping of the insurance market.
04 July 2017 - Deloitte CIS and Waves Platform, a leading developer of blockchain solutions, recently signed a memorandum on strategic partnership.  The partnership is aimed at providing clients with comprehensive initial coin offering (ICO) services and customized blockchain solutions tailored for specific business tasks.
26 April 2017 - Not previously reported in this newsletter was that back in April EY announced the launch of EY Ops Chain, a set of applications and services aimed at helping organizations commercialize the use of blockchain technology across the enterprise. EY Ops Chain combines blockchain-based services developed jointly by EY and industry collaborators, combining EY’s full range of consulting, tax and audit expertise to drive enhanced business performance and growth.
15 Feb 2017 - KPMG International and Microsoft announced in February the launch of joint Blockchain Nodes, which are designed to create and demonstrate use cases that apply blockchain technology to business propositions and processes. The first joint Blockchain Nodes are in Frankfurt and Singapore, with future plans for a location in New York.
24 Mar 2017 - Although it has a team in Belfast, it’s Australia that seems to be increasing visibility with PwC announcing in March that it will work with Alibaba to provide services and advice to build better trust in the supply chain of food products.
Special Interest Groups/Consortia
30 May 2017 - BankChain, India’s first Blockchain based banking platform has started to function.
BankChain is the product which is built by the consortium of Banks including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank and DCB Bank.  Members of BankChain have instant access to a permissioned multi-node blockchain to source code of all active projects and proof-of concepts with a committee driven model. More than 20 banks have teamed up with SBI in this initiative and are implementing eight business-use cases. Additionally, banks are looking to use blockchain-based solutions in cross border trade finance, supply chain financing and cross border remittances.
18 July 2017 – Again, in India, IT and services industry body Nasscom has started a Special Interest Group (SIG) for blockchain in the National Capital Region. This SIG is primarily powered by BlockSmiths, a Delhi NCR based firm that helps businesses leverage the blockchain technology and Quatrro, a global fintech service provider. The SIG will educate and inform the public along with working on various blockchain use cases in both fintech and non-fintech industries.
09 Aug 2017 - The US Institutes Risk & Insurance Knowledge Group has formed “The Institutes RiskBlock Alliance” and has brought together more than 30 risk management and insurance industry organizations and blockchain developers to research, develop and test blockchain applications for industry-specific use cases.
The Institutes, the leading education provider for the risk management and property-casualty insurance industry, won the Insurance Industry Innovator Award at the Chicago semifinals of the 2017 ACORD Insurance Innovation Challenge (AIIC) on July 26, 2017. The company’s submission, The Institutes RiskBlock™ Alliance, will next compete against semifinalists from New York and London AIIC events for the chance to emerge as the overall category winner.
ICO Top score
Things seem to be settling down in the ICO space, although the ICO Total Market Cap on 8th August, according to CoinMarketCap is: $6,708,444,299.
There doesn’t seem to have been any outlandish massive ICO launches in the past week, so I though it would be worth mentioning an ICO with a difference – ICOBox is running an ICO with the intention to then fund its future activities which is to provide ICO’s As a Service.
As a parting thought, I would like to suggest that ICO’s aren’t dead….they’re just now called Token Generation Events (TGE’s).
Opinions & Thought Leadership
08 Aug 2017 – Heard of LedgerX?, a startup whose board members include, among others, Mark Wetjen, a former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) commissioner, and its successful registration as a derivatives clearing organization (DCO) with the CFTC – the primary U.S. derivatives regulator.  While the first registration of a DCO intending to offer cryptocurrency-linked derivatives is significant in and of itself, the approval was granted alongside a letter providing LedgerX exemptive relief from some of the onerous requirements that (justifiably) apply to DCOs.
08 Aug 2017 – From farm to fork – blockchain opportunity for provenance and traceability:
08 Aug 2017 - Blockchain Innovation in Private Investment Funds - a Comparative Analysis of the United States and Europe
08 Aug 2017 – Blockchain’s impact on marketplaces: what’s the future for decentralized marketplaces?
09 Aug 2017 – Smart Cities and blockchain:
09 Aug 2017 - Give Commercial Banks Some Credit: Commercial Bank Money, Cryptocurrencies, and CBDC Regimes
Useful resources
There are a number of forums, chats, groups etc. that you may find of interest:
Team Crypto - To discuss cryptocurrencies, exchanges, wallets, prices, etc:
Team Mining – Interested in mining rigs, pools, techniques?
Team ICO - All about Initial Coin Offerings:
ICO Meetup London – We’re planning to host physical events and webinars
For details of Blockchain / Distributed Ledger Technology online training, take a look at the published courses provided by B9Lab:

Does your organisation have a Blockchain/Distributed Ledger Technology strategy?  Does the board and senior managers even know what the technology is and how it could affect your business, your customers, competitors and the market?  I provide bespoke training, consultancy and insight to organisations across multiple industries and have access to a global talent pool of expertise.  Please let me know if you would like more details by emailing me at .

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