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National Bank of Cambodia Pushes to Claim First Place in Blockchain Race

A World Economic Forum (WEF) report has indicated that the National Bank of Cambodia could become the first central bank in the world to utilize blockchain technology.

After piloting DLT since 2017, the South East Asian central bank hopes to deploy a blockchain payment system later this year, with the aim to overtake other banks around the world which so far have limited their involvement to simply studying the new disruptive technology.

The issues that the National Bank of Cambodia are hoping to address is to improve banking through effective uses of mobile devices and addressing the bank’s rather fragment domestic payment system which has been a cause of confusion for some time.

More fluidity is sought by the bank to ensure efficient payments for its customers by resolving such issues. And if successful, could become a beacon for other larger more established banks around the globe. The WEF has pointed out in its report that Cambodia is not alone as more than 40 banks are hoping to utilize blockchain technology in order to improve its operating procedures, and some are even considering their own national cryptocurrencies; the most popular of these being CBDCs (central bank digital currencies)

Banks cited in the new report included the Bank of England, Bank of Canada, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. The Central Bank of Lithuania is one that plans to launch its cryptocurrency as a pilot in the near future.

Both Saudi Arabia and the neighboring United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced that their central banks are to cooperate on the trial of a new cryptocurrency. The digital currency named Aber was announced in a joint statement released by The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the Central Bank of the UAE. The proof-of-concept trial will be an attempt to lower the cost of transfers using a blockchain-based settlement solution.

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Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

As the Australian food industry passes through a rough period in 2018, blockchain endorsements in the French supply chain industry might offer some routes to recovery.

Perhaps the most significant impact of DLT has been on supply chain networks as companies discover a new took for offering customer satisfaction through a transparent and accountable transfer of goods across borders.

Both the US and Europe have locked into this in a big way with retail giants Walmart and French supermarket chain Carrefour both finding initial positivism in blockchain and its functionality. There, even the sacred turkey now travels to the Thanksgiving table via blockchain.

On the other side of the world, Australia is beginning to look at how its supply chains can be protected with the added security that DLT is providing elsewhere. The food industry there did not have a good year, exacerbated by the news that fruit contaminated by sewing needles were found in strawberry punnets in a supermarket chain, resulting in the potential loss to the industry of AUD 130m a year. Tons of unwanted fruit have been dumped due to the sudden unpopularity of supermarket fruit as a result and one customer was hospitalized.

Apart for the obvious repercussions for sales in Australia, the country has taken a double hit as the tampered Australian strawberries then landed on New Zealand’s supermarket shelves causing two retailers to put up a ban on buying strawberries from Australia.

Unsurprising then that supermarkets are now looking to blockchain with a little more immediate interest than previously. The Australian market needs to regain the trust of the public, something which can be achieved by careful monitoring of the supply chain from farm to supermarket shelves, something that was clearly breached in these incidents down under, albeit by an extreme case of mismanagement.

The French model employed by Carrefour demonstrates that DLT can offer simple solutions for producers, manufacturers, and buyers across supply chains. This system provides customers with a blockchain-based traceability program, currently limited to some poultry in the chain’s Auvergne stores. The system offers a record of the chickens’ life from egg to supermarket. Shoppers can use a smartphone to scan in a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field and farm to table.

 

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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Oxfam to Trial Blockchain to Improve Pricing for Cambodian Rice Farmers

Oxfam International is piloting a blockchain-based farming project that aims to ensure that rice farmers get a fair price for their produce.

With 50 organic rice farmers already on board, the Blockchain for Livelihoods from Organic Cambodian Rice project, also dubbed Blocrice, Oxfam intends to introduce the program across the country.

Blockchain boost

Currently, the technology has found itself being trialed in Cambodia’s northern province of Preah Vihear. According to the Oxfam website, it will “contract farming between farmers’ cooperatives and exporters, rice cracker makers and other buyers. Contracts predefine the primary purchase price, trade volume, transportation method and other conditions.”

The pilot will digitize and register these contracts on the blockchain platform, details such as primary purchase price, trade volume and transportation method are recorded, with cashless payments made to rice farmers through bank accounts for traceability.

Solinn Lim, Country Director of Oxfam in Cambodia, believes that with Blocrice, farmers gain “collective bargaining power”. Lim adds: “The sheer fact of being registered as an actor on the blockchain platform implies that people matter, Blocrice will give them a platform to empower themselves.”

Oxfam estimates that 60% of Cambodia’s workforce is employed in the agriculture industry, explaining that many of the low-income farmers and some laborers do not have the appropriate contracts with their clients. Furthermore, lack of market price knowledge and high-interest loans are putting producers under a great deal of pressure to sell produce and clear debt.

On the up

It’s not a fantastic situation for a key industry within Cambodia. That said, over the past couple of decades, rice exports have been increasing significantly. Since 2013, Cambodian rice exports have risen by 32.5%; this is according to World’s Top Exports (WTEx), who also report Cambodia as the ninth largest exporter of rice in 2017, selling USD 331.1 million worth.

The 50 farmers who are part of the pilot are registering their profiles as well as uploading key data such as expected yields and planting areas. The project is taking place through March 2019 during the rainy season, which is the country’s prime season to harvest and sell rice.

It’s an exciting prospect for the country. Blocrice pilot participant Kann Kunthy, Managing Director of rice exporter AmruRice said, “We expect to bring traceability, transparency, financial literacy and best practices [to] contract farming in Cambodia.”

The project will be targeting the European market which accounts for almost half of Cambodia’s rice exports. Thanks to the EU’s preferential tariff exemption, Cambodian rice exports have benefited greatly.

However, the European Commission has concerns regarding certain human rights issues that occurred in the run-up to a July election, which may cause Cambodia to be removed from the special tariff.

With any luck, the implementation of the blockchain product could ease the worries of the EU and reinvigorate the rice export industry entirely. Furthermore, the project intends to expand into other provinces and exports including cassava, cashew nuts, maize and pepper.

 

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Thai Movie Theater Chain to Take Digital Currency as Government Opens for Crypto Business

Thailand’s largest movie theater chain has given the green light to its clients for paying for their moviegoing with cryptocurrency according to Bitcoin.com.

Major Cineplex has reported that it plans to integrate cryptocurrency into its current payments system in partnership with Swiss payment company Rapidzpay.

There are currently 143 theaters in the Thai chain throughout the country, the largest being the Paragon Cineplex in capital Bangkok. The company also screens in Cambodia and Laos with plans to increase its total screens in the South East Asia region from 678 to 1,000, according to Forbes.

The massive ParagoCineplex, with 16 screens and 5000 seats, is in the center of a major upmarket shopping hub surrounded by restaurants, an art gallery, a concert hall and numerous retailers. Merchants will be able to use the Rapidz point of sale system which will accept both cryptocurrency and fiat payments. The currencies available for payment have not been announced although the current Rapidzpay app accepts BTC, BCH, and LTC.

The signing of the deal at the Paragon Cineplex was clearly not by chance due to its location within a major retail and service hub. Chanya Tamrongweenichai, the director of marketing at the group commented that:

“Rapidzpay will expand to our other businesses and lead the change for Thailand’s financial ecosystem to be cashless… You’ll be able to buy any services and products from us, such as movie tickets, popcorn and other different products with cryptocurrency.”

The Swiss payment firm has said that it has targeted a million Thai users in its first year in the country hoping that both established crypto users and newcomers to cryptocurrency will realize how convenient this method of payment is.

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently proactive in allowing to cryptocurrencies to be used as a form of payment for goods and services in the country. Currently, the following seven cryptocurrencies are earmarked for official recognition for trading purposes: BTC, ETH, BCH, ETC, LTC, XRP, and XLM.

The SEC’s secretary-general, Rapee Sucharitakul, reflected the nation’s new flexible approach to digital currency when he stated this week:

“…the SEC is (now) open for application approval for operating a digital asset business, as the Finance Ministry’s announcement on digital asset licenses has come into force.”

 

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Cambodia Bans Unlicensed Cryptocurrency

Cambodia’s government issued a statement to the public today on 19 June 2018 that essentially bans cryptocurrency in the Southeast Asian nation. The statement was signed by the National Bank of Cambodia, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia, and the General-Commissariat of National Police, and says that using cryptocurrency without a license is illegal.

However, there is no information available on the cryptocurrency license, so for the time being, it appears to be illegal for Cambodians to engage in cryptocurrency activity. Anyone who buys, sells, trades, settles, or propagates cryptocurrency in any other way, which would include mining, is breaking the law and will face severe penalties.

The statement says using cryptocurrency without regulation causes risk to the public since cryptocurrencies are not backed by collateral. It says cryptocurrency investments may result in losses due to volatility, is subject to a high rate of hacking and theft, and has no mechanism to protect customers who use them since cryptocurrency payments are irreversible. It also says cryptocurrency users can be anonymous which helps terrorists and criminals launder money.

Clearly, Cambodia’s government has a negative view on cryptocurrency based on this statement, and since there are no details and no timeline given for the cryptocurrency license, this could prove to be an outright ban of cryptocurrency activity in Cambodia.

Cambodia’s neighbors, China and Vietnam, have also taken skeptical views towards cryptocurrency. China banned all cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings in September 2017, forcing some of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world to flee the country. Vietnam has been working towards a total ban of cryptocurrency, first by saying all non-cash payments are illegal and then banning the import of cryptocurrency mining equipment.

 

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