Category Archives: Spain

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Aragon Government Invests $13 Million Into Industry 4.0 Development

Earlier this week, local news outlet La Vanguardia reported a USD 13 million fund allocation by the Government of Aragon for the development of emerging technologies, including blockchain.

The source reports that the sum was co-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and was double the amount initially intended in the original plan, hence, meeting the needs of up to 320 Argonese companies.

According to the news outlet, the specific objectives of the program dubbed Aragón Industria 4.0 under the Strategy of Economic and Industrial Promotion of Aragon 2017-2019 initiative, were designed to explore concepts and applications of emerging technologies in the industry 4.0 such as artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology as well as promote synergistic tech companies’ growth within its industrial sector.

Moreover, small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be given an opportunity through the program to incorporate digitalization into their processes.

Blockchain exploration in Spain has had tremendous successes, and more ambitious prospects for blockchain within the country continue to spring up. Developments had included the proposed use of blockchain in resolving corruption and fraud within its economic system., the exploration of the distributed ledger use case in the logistics industry. In finance, a clear distinction was the successful completion of a USD 150 million syndicated loan through the blockchain. More exploits have covered other areas including agriculture, and the energy industry.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Spain to mark its territory in the blockchain industry and also in other emerging technologies as it scales up funding into research and development, and attempts an SME inclusion system for the industry.

Other governments and institutes seem not to be slacking in the pursuit of prospects within the blockchain industry. Most nations and non-government related funds have invested large sums for research purposes into the emerging technology of blockchain.

Last year, the Chinese government was reportedly involved in blockchain related funding despite their stance on cryptocurrencies. One specific event that stood out was a USD 1.6 billion investment into startups by a blockchain fund and co-sponsored by the government of Shenzhen.

As nations and tech companies continue to race to become an all-encompassing entity on the subject of blockchain and other emerging technologies, the frontier of blockchain continues to expand while adoption slowly gains traction.

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Spain Central Bank of Spain Warns Citizens Against Using Bitcoin

Spain Central Bank of Spain Warns Citizens Against Using Bitcoin

Banco de Espana, the central bank of Spain, has warned Spanish citizens of the risks associated with investment in cryptocurrencies according to a post published on its official blog.

The bank believes that “unregulated cryptocurrencies” pose a grave threat to investors due to their volatility, anonymity and lack of regulations. This conventional institutionalized response from the bank despite government assurances of sensible regulations show the lack of trust in the regulatory setup towards the new asset class.

The central bank states that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin do not have the Deposit Guarantee Fund, which is a common practice enforced by banking regulator for the benefit of investors and depositors. It also points to the age-old argument that cryptocurrencies are not a legal tender and thus cannot be redeemed by investors at any point, thus posing risk and uncertainty. The bank claims that in the event of buying goods or services with cryptocurrencies, it would seemingly be an impossible mission for the buyer to redeem or ask for a replacement if the goods or services are not as described in the advertisement or description.

Coming directly from governor Pablo Hernandez de Cos, the public cautioning goes one step further and describes the regulatory challenges posed by cryptocurrencies. The definition of cryptocurrencies, while evolving, is still not unanimous even within the European Union. All in all, the document warns citizens regarding crypto because of high volatility, cybersecurity risks, and weak consumer rights.

While the ruling Partido Popular party is reportedly working on a bill to have cryptocurrency and blockchain regulation in the country, the move will definitely collide with the ultra-conservative behavior shown by Spain’s banking regulators. While blockchain is being implemented at a rigorous pace at the institutional level with the example of the Spanish bank BBVA announcing a blockchain-recorded syndicated loan, the regulatory clarity presents several challenges.

 

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Spanish Port Authority to Explore Blockchain Logistics

Spanish Port Authority to Explore Blockchain Logistics

Spanish news outlet Europa Press reported yesterday that the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA) has signed an agreement to join the TradeLens platform, a blockchain-based logistics solution developed by multinational information technology company IBM and Danish business conglomerate Maersk.

The platform, launched in early 2018, was designed to digitize the global supply chain in order to provide transparency and foster a more secure and efficient exchange of information along the system using blockchain technology.

The system essentially stores data from different logistics operations and allows real-time management throughout the value chain to include shippers, freight forwarders, logistics operators, shipping companies, public administrations, and organizations.

The project has grown to accommodate over 100 organizations and has recorded over 230 million shipments consisting of over 20 million containers.

Algeciras is reportedly one of the busiest ports in Europe located in the south of Spain. It records one of the highest turnovers in the categories: container, cargo, and transshipment, having to host over 70 million tons of traffic annually.

Algeciras’ port is one of many other ports to include PSA Singapore, Port of Bilbao, PortConnect and Port of Philadelphia, joining the fourth industrial era of blockchain-based systems.

Hong Kong’s second-largest shipping container terminal Modern Terminals had also joined the TradeLens platform in November last year.

Last month, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) in South Korea announced that it would collaborate with the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF) on a newly launched blockchain pilot to be trialed in one of the country’s largest shipping port in Busan – the second largest port of transit in the world and the fifth busiest in the world.

The blockchain is becoming a rather convenient approach for many logistics-based businesses to efficiently streamline processes, especially in the areas of freight management, supply chain monitoring and data security in ports.

 

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Automobile Company SEAT Considers Blockchain for Supply Chain Management

Automobile Company SEAT Considers Blockchain for Supply Chain Management

Spanish automobile manufacturer SEAT announced last week that it was joining a consortium of blockchain operators on the Alastria ecosystem.

The company is currently developing a system that tracks automobile parts via the supply chain, leveraging its partnership with Telefónica.

The company has said that it is joining the consortium of over 70 companies drawn from a host of heterogeneous industries and financial institutions, to tap into the network of resources available to the members of the group. President of SEAT Luca de Meo has said that “the Alastria network opens up new possibilities,” one through which they can scale up their blockchain development from the early stages.

According to the post, it plans to promote initiatives that “optimize traditional processes” in finance. The efforts currently being channeled by the company into the development of the technology is due to the fact that it values the future of blockchain. Luca made this clear when he said: “We are convinced of the importance that Blockchain technology will have in the future.”

In recent times, more traditional companies have begun to show interest in cutting-edge technology such as the blockchain, especially when combined with other technologies. It is possible that as the speculative hide gradually exfoliates, the true value of the blockchain technology becomes more profound. SEAT is just one of many companies out there diving into the sector as part of the revolutionary 4th industrial era.

Even though the blockchain industry is about a decade old in terms of its development, many companies are just recognizing the technology as nascent. They may have been waiting and watching to see how it develops over time and are now ready to join the ecosystem.

However, while some are just trying to get a piece of the action and are heavily invested into researching various industrial use cases for the distributed ledger, others have made headways into including them in their core processes. This includes areas such as ethical food tracking being trialed by the WWF group, systems for commodities trading being developed by five global oil giants, facilitation of government processes, and a host of banking integrations.

 

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Spain’s Repsol Claims €400,000 Annual Savings from Use of Blockchain

Spain’s Repsol Claims €400,000 Annual Savings from Use of Blockchain

Spanish energy giant Repsol claims that it has successfully improved safety quality certification of its products using a blockchain platform, while giving a potential annual cost savings of EUR 400,000, reports Business Insider.

The blockchain-based platform has been developed by Finboot, a part of the Repsol Foundation Entrepreneurs Fund, in partnership with the Repsol Technology Lab Research Center. This platform has reportedly improved the petrochemical products certification system. Using this new technology, the company expects that it will be able to track its products and samples during the entire electricity production and distribution process.

Moreover, by using the blockchain-based approach, the company hopes that the number of errors during the production process will be reduced, potentially increasing profits by EUR 400,000 per year.

Tomas M Malango, the manager of experimentation at the Repsol Technology Lab Research Center, expressed his views by saying that the procedures which are used in the company involve the handling of a large number of samples. Due to the wrong labels or tags, loss or faulty connection of information, these samples are often subjected to rework. Malango added that the successful implementation of the system may lead to its application in other similar sectors of the company as well.

However, Repsol is not the only company to utilize the blockchain technology. Recently, ACCIONA Energía, also declared that it will be tracking electricity generation using a blockchain-based approach. It will allow ACCIONA’s customers to track the origin of electricity distribution.

Blockchain technology is steadily gaining recognition in the Spanish energy sector. Previously, Iberdrola, a leading energy company in Spain, declared that it will be using blockchain to track renewable energy production. It reportedly ran a successful test as well. During the initial test, the company monitored renewable energy production of two wind farms and one power station.

 

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Spanish Energy Firm to Use Blockchain Tracking System

Spanish

One of the biggest Spanish energy companies, Iberdrola, is going to use blockchain technology to track electric power across the country, according to local independent media outlet Europa Press.

The first trial of this decentralized system was conducted by Kutxabank and its subsidiary Cajasur, one of the biggest shareholders in the energy company. The bank is from the Basque, a semi-autonomous region within Spain. During the test, the power company used energy from two wind farms and one power station to the bank’s offices in the Basque and the city of Cordoba.

The system used in the pilot program was of the Energy Web Foundation, an open-source blockchain platform that allows different energy programs to test their pilot on their ledger. According to the results of the test, blockchain technology can enable a hierarchy of sorts of power producers and help automate the entire process from the point of generation to consumption.

Iberdrola will use the distributed technology-based system to issue “guarantee of origin”, a concept that enables customers to see the origin of their power thus allowing greener technologies to flourish. Additional benefits of the new system include added transparency and reduced operational costs due to automation.

Blockchain technology is now being adopted by the Spanish power industry on a wider scale. Recently, a Spanish power company was issued a blockchain syndicated loan with the BBVA bank acting as the intermediary between two other banks.

 

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Carrefour’s Blockchain Poultry Tracking Live in Spain

Retail company Carrefour has launched a new blockchain-based organic poultry tracking system in Spain. The new system has been deployed on the Hyperledger DLT system based in Spain.

The first-of-its-kind food tracking solution will be used to track organic chickens based in Galicia. Galician chickens are raised without antibiotic treatment and are considered extremely healthy for the human body but the problem lies with their tracking and recording of the originality of the meat. Now with the new system in place, the Spanish network will use a QR code tracker to search for detailed info on every Galician chicken’s date of birth, breed, nutrition and other important data.

Carrefour illustrates the importance of using the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) for supply chains in its press release, claiming it provides increased transparency and allows customers to view the entire journey of their meat to their table.

The retailer has been testing blockchain poultry tracking solutions for a while now with experiments in France in early 2018 and announced its partnership with IBM and its Food Trust in October. The food association was announced by the tech giant back in 2016 to promote its Hyperledger blockchain ecosystem. Other companies have also joined the decentralized supply chain platform including major names like Nestle SA, Unilever NV and Walmart.

Several other blockchain-based supply chain management systems are already in use including Walmart’s vegetable tracking system starting directly from the farms. Other uses of blockchain are also being implemented in the food industry including food processing.

 

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Spain’s Tax Office Homes in on 15,000 Crypto Investors

As part of a new taxation law introduced in October by Spain’s Council of Ministers, which requires private citizens to declare their cryptocurrency holdings, some 15,000 individuals have now been targeted.

The new tax model centered on private cryptocurrency investors carries stiff penalties of up to EUR 5,000 (USD 5,740) for inaccurate tax returns. The 1,500 names held by the Spanish Ministry of Finance are of individuals who have conducted cryptocurrency transactions over the past year, according to Spanish paper El Pais.

As Bitcoin News noted when the original legislation was passed for tax reform, the move came as a notable shift in direction since the ousting of former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who was on the point of pushing forward legislation for possible tax breaks in order to create a more favorable environment for potential blockchain investment.

Spain’s National Fraud Investigation Office has now opened investigations into banks, financial companies and other organizations who conduct crypto transactions. The group of around 15,000 individuals has now been added to this list for further inspection.

Agencia Estatal de Administración Tributaria (AEAT) is targeting new technologies as part of its fiscal tax plan which includes “blockchain and, especially, cryptocurrencies” to combat both tax evasion and fraud. AEAT have put out the following statement outlining its intended activities:

“The use of cryptocurrencies, such as [Bitcoin], as payment means, is one of the most demanding challenges today. In order to face this threat, the use by the tax agency’s research units of the new information collection and analysis technologies in all types of networks will be enhanced.”

Spanish authorities have indicated that the small group may not be the limitation of its inquiries as it expects to broaden the field in the future if clear evidence of tax evasion is revealed en masse. However, the tax authorities have said that the main focus will be on those citizens who have failed to declare capital gains or those involved in money laundering activities.

 

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Valencia Port Joins Maersk in IBM Blockchain Shipping Project

The Port Authority of Valencia, Spain (POV) has announced that it has joined the TradeLens blockchain shipping platform co-developed by tech giant IBM and shipping magnate Maersk.

The platform itself was launched back in August this year and it uses DLT for global supply chains. Ports and shipping are a primary part of the supply chain process. Recently, the Port Authority of Rotterdam had also joined the platform to become a part of the new decentralized shipping revolution. UK’s top port operator signed an agreement with Marine Transport International to develop blockchain-based logistics system for its port operations.

The TradeLens system is seeking to improve efficiency and security of supply chains. They can include shipping lanes, port and terminal operators, taxation and duties watchdogs and other concerned parties. The platform can be used to access the data and the documents involved, thus making it simpler and much more effective.

The Port Authority of Valencia has now integrated the platform and has become an “early adapter” of TradeLens. It means that the port will now take part in the early development of the system. There are 20 participants in the early adaptation platform.

TradeLens is gaining traction for supply chain systems as it has already processed more than 154 million shipping-related data transactions including information on container shipping, warehouse timing and customs documentation. According to early estimates, the blockchain-based system can be used to cut shipping times by almost 40%.

The POV has unveiled plans to develop a smart port which is based on blockchain and big data technologies since the start of October this year. According to the person-in-charge of implementing new technologies, Jose Garcia De La Guia, DLT-based systems can improve supply chain logistics on a global scale and thus help create fully electronic ports with no paperwork which can help reduce the maintenance times and increase efficiency.

 

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Spain Bank BBVA Announces $150 Million Syndicated Loan on Blockchain

Spanish banking behemoth BBVA has announced it has completed a pilot test of a syndicated loan through a DLT system, according to a report from Financial Times.

The report states that the Spanish bank organized the loan for Red Electrica, the national grid operator and the biggest electricity distribution company in the country.

BBVA organized the syndicated loan through two other banks namely Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Paribas from France. The loan was agreed by these three banks and then recorded on the Ethereum blockchain to make the transaction immutable.

A syndicated loan is when a number of banks team up to lend money to one borrower, usually a big company itself. Since syndicated loans normally involve significant funds, the data for the loan was time-stamped at each step of the process.

Traditionally, banks rely on centralized records for complex information like a syndicated loan. They normally involve fax papers which is not only slow but also expensive and inefficient. Blockchain has been touted as a major disruption technology for banking circles which are most affected by these outdated technologies. It can also lower the transaction times from two weeks to one or two days while reducing operational costs.

BBVA, buoyed by the recent success of a blockchain-based syndicated loan process, is now investing more into DLT and will look to process more loans like that in the future. This is not the first time the bank has issued a blockchain-recorded loan. In April, a USD 91 million sum was approved for corporate clients and recorded on the Ethereum blockchain for safe-keeping.

 

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