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SAP Develops Blockchain Solution for Pharma Supply Chain

SAP Develops Blockchain Solution for Pharma Supply Chain

In enterprise blockchain news, German-based European multinational software corporation SAP announced last week that it has launched a blockchain supply chain tracking system for drug management.

It indicated major pharmaceutical companies to include Boehringer Ingelheim AG & Co KG, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, and Merck Sharp & Dohme to be involved in the development of the software.

As per the news release, in keeping with US Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), wholesalers must verify prescription drugs that are returned and intended for resale. The company hopes that its initiative will protect an estimated USD 7 billion worth of returned drugs annually to the US alone.

The system is said to be designed to monitor and authenticating pharmaceutical products along the supply chain for drug wholesalers. It uses blockchain to store encoded data from the drug products which can be correlated in real-time by comparing the barcode data at any point of the supply chain.

The aim is to create an effective system that weeds out counterfeit drugs from the supply chain during drug return. Plans to scale up the system to tackle a wider range of pharmaceutical supply chain processes are also being discussed, the news outlet said.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck had reportedly been eying blockchain since 2016. At the time, Nishan Kulatilaka, Associate Director of Product Management and Applied Technology at Merck, opined that after financial services “healthcare could potentially be the second-biggest industry to adopt blockchain technology”.

According to another report quoting OECD data in 2015, the “counterfeit pharmaceutical industry is worth in the region of USD 200 billion annually, which is only marginally less than the USD 246 billion illicit drug trade”. This alone provides a reasonable logic for entrants into the blockchain ecosystem to provide security to the pharmaceutical drug supply chain.

Like every other cutting edge technology in use today, blockchain has also found its earmark in medicine. It’s been found to be useful in preserving patients’ data integrity, providing transparency within the sector, and as an effective tool in supply chain management.

In December, the US Department of Health and Human Services had secured an authority to operate (ATO) order to develop a procurement system that leverages blockchain and AI. The system dubbed HHS Accelerate was designed to streamline the acquisition power of the department. However, Jose Arrieta, HHS Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition was quoted by a news outlet saying “…this just isn’t a model for acquisition”, implying that they would explore other areas of applicability for the model within the department and possibly layer it on other legacy systems.

Other major medical corporations continue to explore new ways in which blockchain’s potential can be maximized in the medical field such as using blockchain to validate and establish credibility for data integrity.

 

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UN Report Praises Crypto as “New Frontier” of Global Finance

UN Report Praises Crypto as

The United Nations (UN) year-end report has called Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies the “new frontier” in global finance with massive potential to revolutionize business.

Even before the release of the World Economic and Social Survey 2018, it remains no secret that the International Assembly has already invested heavily in blockchain through the International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF).

The UN itself is not new to working with companies which apply the latest technologies such as blockchain.  Binance’s head of blockchain charity has indicated in the past that the technology would bring “transformative solutions to social problems, and help bridge the UN Sustainable Development Goals funding gap in fast and innovative ways”.

The UN’s latest report refers to the advantages of crypto, blockchain and distributed ledger technology and suggests a value token under consideration called ClimateCoin, which may be a way of addressing carbon emissions in the future, a major concern to many nations at present arguing, “Cryptocurrencies represent a new frontier in digital finance and their popularity is growing. The decentralized networks for cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin being a well-known example…”

ClimateCoin is being seen as one solution using cryptocurrency that would allow P2P exchanges of carbon credits allowing devices to calculate emissions and offset them accordingly by purchasing further credits.

UNICEF recently received a boost with companies including Atix Labs, Onesmart, Prescrypto, Statwig, Utopixar, and W3 Engineers being awarded the challenge of building prototypes for global issues such as health-care delivery, affordable access to mobile phone connectivity, and the ability to direct finances and resources to social-impact projects.

The UN’s main body expressed interest in “the new frontier” in May 2018 when it announced a collaboration with IOTA to increase the efficiency of United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) operations.

 

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Robotic Art Recorded on Ethereum Blockchain

Robotic Art Recorded on Ethereum Blockchain

Art linked with cryptocurrency, whether cryptically hidden within an installation, or used for buying paintings, along with blockchain used for storing and sharing art are all becoming commonplace, but the recording of a piece of art in progress by the artist is a less familiar occurrence.

That is until now, but in this case, the artist Gaka-Chu is not a human, but the brainchild of Robonomics Network, a platform set up to integrate autonomous robots into everyday life.

Yes, this artist is a robot.

The Ethereum infrastructure, with the help of Microsoft’s Azure, allows the image to be created based on popular hashtags in social networks using sensors and an RGB camera. AI is now allowing Gaka-Chu to complete a number of tasks such as buying paints, brushes, paying electricity bills and of course creating a work of art.

Of course, as yet, Da Vinci recreations are a little beyond the robot’s artistic scope, so for the time being it is limited to Japanese characters. And for anyone who has ever learned Japanese or Mandarin, they will know that is certainly no mean achievement.  Little human support is given to Gaka-Chu, being largely self-supporting, as it is quite happy accepting tokens for its commissions, which are then used for consumables and electricity.

Robonomics Network leader Sergey Lonshakov says that the artwork isn’t perfected at this stage due to the structure of the robot’s drawing arm. The entire process is based on a smart chain contract between the customer and the robot and is fully trackable on the blockchain.

 

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Why Bitcoin Shouldn’t Focus on Succeeding as a Domestic Payment System

Why Bitcoin Shouldn't Focus on Succeeding as a Domestic Payment System

Bitcoin: the cryptocurrency that started them all.

Created as the first decentralized, peer-to-peer payment system independent of a third party mediator, the appeal to manage personal finances without requiring a traditional bank account is a concept that has appealed to many, to say the least. But as Bitcoin reaches its tenth anniversary and continues to mature as a financial instrument, the strengths and weaknesses of the cryptocurrency are becoming increasingly realized.

One recent academic study indicates that perhaps Bitcoin should move away from its goal of succeeding as a widely-used domestic payment system, and should instead focus on its strength as an international payment method.

Bitcoin’s competition

An Economic Analysis of the Bitcoin Payment Systemauthored by Gur Huberman, Jacob Leshno, and Ciamac Moallemi, compares the features of the Bitcoin payment system to that of the traditional alternatives offered by banks.

The study finds that Bitcoin payments are likely to incur higher charges compared to bank-operated, traditional domestic payment systems. The authors attribute this to the decentralized architecture of the network, with the mining structure behind the blockchain also allowing for delays on small transactions as they do not carry a great enough financial incentive to be processed quickly.

In short, the paper concludes that strictly in economic terms, Bitcoin fails to provide real competition to traditional domestic payment systems.

Where it does find strength, however, is its ability to process international money transfers far more efficiently and cheaper than its competitors at, say, Visa, Mastercard or SWIFT, particularly when it comes to larger sums of payment.

The ideological argument

Those who hold a libertarian ideology, or indeed anybody that is distrustful of central banks, can argue the benefits of Bitcoin as a domestic payment system despite these comparative downfalls.

The current monetary system has arguably been the cause of recessions, inflation, and growing wealth inequality; cryptocurrencies offer individuals the chance to operate within a new financial system that operates independently of these factors. Whether or not Bitcoin is the most practical or efficient option for spending money on a daily basis may well be overshadowed by a desire to exit the mainstream monetary system.

There is also the Lightning Network which, once launched in full, offers a potential scaling solution for the Bitcoin network with quicker and cheaper options for micropayments for when you buy a cup of coffee, for example.

And it is still early days for Bitcoin in the scheme of things; it is entirely possible that other scaling solutions will emerge for the network that will allow it to succeed domestically.

In the wake of a bad year for market performance, perhaps it would be most beneficial for developers to focus on Bitcoin’s strengths as outlined by the researchers until the cryptocurrency can find its feet again.

 

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New York State Announces Crypto Task Force

_New York State Announces Crypto Task Force

New York State has become the first to initiate a task force to examine cryptocurrency and how it should be regulated.

The bank’s committee sect of the New York state legislature voted in favor of progressing a bill that would authorize a digital currency task force back in May of last year. The board confirmed their backing for a task force that would study the effects of the implementation of cryptocurrencies on the state’s financial markets.

Crypto Task Forces are becoming a common method for jurisdictions to discuss and analyze how cryptocurrencies should be integrated into current financial systems. The UK, South Korea, Dubai, and Kenya are amongst countries announcing task forces in 2018. The planned task force for New York state will become the first in the US.

NY state governor Andrew Cuomo, signed into law the ‘Digital Currency Study Bill’ (A8783B/S9013) this week, but no report will be forthcoming until as late as December 15, 2020, so any legislature emerging from the task force is far from imminent. The main focus of the report is said to focus on tax law and market transparency and the board will include representatives from the tech sector, academia, institutional and private investment and blockchain business. The state’s proactive stance towards the cryptocurrency was illustrated by the released statement:

“New York leads the country in finance. We will also lead in proper fintech regulation. The task force of experts will help us strike the balance between having a robust blockchain industry and cryptocurrency economic environment while at the same time protecting New York investors and consumers.”

The industry was clearly encouraged by the announcement, with Executive Director of Tech: NYC, Julie Samuels commenting that the announcement of the task force demonstrates how New York state,  “is leading the way in studying and understanding these technologies to ensure they can thrive in a responsible and effective way,”

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Reserve Bank of India Pulls Back From Central Bank Issued Crypto

Reserve Bank of India Pulls Back From Central Bank Issued Crypto

A news report today by the Hindu BusinessLine revealed that the Reserve Bank of India has shelved its plan to issue a central bank digital currency.

Plans to issue a central bank digital currency was first declared in April of last year. The initial plans may have been driven by the burden of current rising costs in printing paper fiat money. However, it had set up an interdepartmental group to investigate the possibility of a central bank issued and controlled cryptocurrency. Reports were generated on the feasibility to that effect, however, findings have not been made public.

Around the same time, it had already put pressure on the development of cryptocurrency business in the country, cracking down on ICOs, exchanges and the ban on banking services for crypto-related transactions.

According to the news outlet, it quoted an undisclosed source saying “The government doesn’t want the digital currency anymore. It thinks it is too early to even think about a digital currency.” Moreover, they had not received any further response from the RBI about the matter.

The source further reports that the initial attempt to launch the digital currency was to check concerns over black money, money laundering, and cybersecurity threats. It would seem the findings may have expounded on such as the sudden retracting of their decision comes off as a surprise, seeing how some days ago, a report was released suggesting that the committee overseeing cryptocurrency was considering legalizing digital currencies – one would have thought it was a favorable premise to launch the rupee back cryptocurrency.

Further, the source also quoted the founder of cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain start-up Belfrics, Praveen Kumar saying: “It is premature for RBI to launch crypto-rupee, as more understanding of the crypto economy needs to be achieved. It is the right decision to delay the process and see how the publicly traded peer-to-peer economy is shaping up.” It is of the opinion that the crypto space in the country should be given more time to develop while watching how other smaller nations like the UAE and Singapore are adapting to the new technology.

Saudi Arabia had announced last year that its state-managed cryptocurrency will be launched in association with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2019 as a solution for international payments.

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Ethereum Set for January Spike, to Start Year on Positive Note With Constantinople

Ethereum Set for January Spike to Start Year On Positive Note with Constantinople

Ethereum has been earmarked by many cryptocurrency experts as heading for a massive spike in value early in 2019 as its Constantinople hard fork approaches.

Ethereum which recently lost its spot as number 1 altcoin by market cap to Ripple has developers hoping that its hard fork scheduled for January will make the transition from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) more effective and boost ETH’s market value moving into the new year.

In terms of development, Ethereum is lagging, while other competitors such as Ethereum Classic (ETC), Cardano (ADA), Lisk (LSK) and Quantum (QTUM) are progressing with far more intent. Despite “the sky falling” as some commentators have maintained, Joe Lubin, Ethereum co-founder, asserts that Ethereum protocol development is accelerating. He suggests that this will result in “the continued maturation of the token economy, which will see many exciting consumer utility tokens and tokenized security launched in the new year.”

The common view is that ETH is now well positioned for a price boost prior to the release of Constantinople, not only regaining its position as the leading altcoin platform. Clearly, though the Ethereum team is hoping for a more successful outcome than the last hard fork, Bitcoin Cash, leading to heavy market losses and a hash rate war.

Constantinople is scheduled for the middle of January 2019 and designed to increase the speed and efficiency of the Ethereum network, as well as making it more economically viable than the current status quo. Ethereum Classic (ETC) will still remain in play after the fork.

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WSJ Finds Fraud, Plagiarism in Hundreds of Crypto White Papers

WSJ Finds Fraud, Plagiarism in Hundreds of Crypto Whitepapers

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published research findings on Thursday, 27 December, showing that hundreds of cryptocurrency white papers appear to contain fraud, plagiarism, or offer improbable returns.

Looking at the white papers for 3,291 cryptocurrency projects that announced initial coin offerings (ICOs), analysis from WSJ showed signs of “duplicate language” with almost 10,000 sentences appearing more than once in the papers. Journalists then checked the dates of first publishment on each of the reappearing sentences to determine the original author.

The identities of individuals allegedly involved in working on the cryptocurrency projects that had key personal information missing in the white papers had their identities checked through a reverse image search; 343 projects had individuals fall in this category. Team members without photos had their information verified via the 1 million plus people on the US Census Bureau.

Over 2,000 papers utilized terms such as “nothing to lose, guaranteed profit, return on investment, highest return, high return, funds profit, no risk, and little risk”, language that US state and Federal regulators have previously cracked down on by issuing cease and desist orders or filing charges in some cases.

Some 16%, or 513 of the white papers, were found to show evidence of either plagiarism, identify theft or promising implausible returns.

 

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Report Claims Blockchain in Publishing is Crypto Crash Proof

Report: Blockchain in Publishing Will Survive Any Crypto Market Crash

A new report investigating blockchain’s role in the publishing industry claims the technology will continue to be utilized regardless of the cryptocurrency market’s performance.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, WAN-IFRA, in collaboration with the University of Arcada in Finland released the report today, in it detailing a number of benefits the publishing industry can enjoy by integrating blockchain technology.

The authors of ‘Blockchain and the Future of News‘ note that similar research to their own is often reluctant to focus on, or mention by name, blockchain because of both its complexity which makes it seem inaccessible and its “bad image” from being linked to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Despite the latter being arguably underserved, the paper reasons that “Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies are reminiscent of the Wild West, with overnight millionaires and burst bubbles galore”.

In the publishing industry which looks to preserve trust above all, it is perhaps understandable to want to avoid association with this unstable image. But blockchain has matured beyond this conception, as the report goes on to acknowledge.

Referencing Bitcoin’s poor market performance this year and analysts’ claims it will go on to lose further value, the report adds that “Blockchain’s usefulness for publishing will survive any such collapse”.

Mentioning blockchain’s compatibility with securing intellectual property, enforcing licensing rights, and collecting micropayments from content viewers through a tokenized ecosystem, WAN-IFRA shares a view that the publishing industry can have as much to gain as its consumers, who benefit from increased trust in content and reduced advertising. Once content is published on the blockchain it cannot be modified or removed, acting as a way to circumvent government or corporate censorship and interference.

Blockchain allows content providers to move away from the traditional advertising model through the token route of micropayments, increasing their trustworthiness by making them beholden to the average content consumer rather than advertisers. Readers or viewers also have the potential to earn credit by sharing constructive feedback, fact-checking, or viewing ad content.

Civil is one such news organization that operates based on these benefits of blockchain, “prioritizing ethical journalism” above all else using the technology to create an enhanced model of transparency.

WAN-IFRA offers a breakdown of the report on its website, while its members can access it in full for free and non-members are obliged to pay EUR 150.

 

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Startup Founders Survey Finds Blockchain Skepticism, Experimentation

Startup Founders Survey Finds Blockchain Skepticism, Experimentation

A major venture capitalist (VC) firm has released its annual survey, revealing blockchain-skeptic sentiments among startup founders, despite a majority presently dabbling with cryptocurrency or blockchain.

Results

The annual State of Startups survey comes from First Round Capital who polled 529 founders with focus questions surrounding the fundraising landscape, “exit environment” and operational challenges. Fascinatingly, blockchain-related questions were put forth to the founders, which may come as little surprise given that “Bitcoin” has been the most popular search request within the “What is…?” category this year. Additionally, the term “blockchain” recently overtook “cryptocurrency” searches.

According to the results of the survey, 87% of respondents “are blockchain skeptics when it comes to their industry”. Contrary to this, when queried on how many members of their industry had been integrating cryptocurrency or blockchain technologies into their enterprises, 50% responded saying “A minority. It’s still experimental”, 38.2% said “No one. It’s not on my industry’s radar” and a mere 0.7% said, “Everyone, it’s revolutionized my industry”. Some 13% of respondents also believe that cryptocurrency of blockchain technology will be dominant technologies in the future for their industries.

A majority of respondents had recently completed Seed or Series A funding rounds, so when asked whether they think initial coin offerings (ICOs) are a “legitimate alternative to venture capital funding”, it comes as little surprise that a majority (44.3%) said “no”, with 28.6% modestly answering “I don’t know enough to say”, and the remaining 27.1% being distributed almost evenly between three other answers which all view that they are now or will be within or after five years.

Amid the skepticism is another interesting result, when asked if they personally owned cryptocurrency, 40.4% said yes.

Pieces of a puzzle

Results from small sample-sizes that don’t home in with more industry-specific questions are not the greatest way to gauge sentiments, though when compared against other results, a bigger picture begins to form.

For example, a recent study from marketing firm TGE found that CEOs, firms and consultants were relatively confident about the industry despite the waning ICO and crypto-markets, with a majority of the survey’s respondents sitting anywhere between neutral and very confident with regards to the ICO facet of the industry.

Another survey from IBM that examined the state of blockchain within the automotive industry found that a majority of respondents are expecting blockchain to be a disruptive force within the next three years, also finding that many of these companies were beginning to experiment with the tech.

Another report from Outlier Ventures on the State of Blockchain Q3 2018 found that institutional investments from VCs, hedge funds, and incubators are slowly but surely beginning to replace ICOs, which it claims displays the growing “professionalization” of the industry, which may prove to wash away much of the skepticism that the nascent sector receives.

 

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