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UK Insurer Legal & General Picks Amazon for Blockchain Pensions

UK Insurer Legal & General Picks Amazon for Blockchain Pensions

Reuters reports that UK insurance firm Legal & General has settled on Amazon as its client to work on what it says will be the first corporate pension blockchain system.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) will launch a managed blockchain system by Legal & General to manage bulk annuities. This involves the insurer assuming the control of the defined benefit or final salary pension schemes from their clients.

Legal & General Reinsurance CEO Thomas Olunloyo explained why they chose blockchain technology in their pension solutions:

“[blockchain suits] the long-term nature of annuities business as it allows data and transactions to be signed, recorded and maintained in a permanent and secure nature over the lifetime of these contracts, which can span over 50 years.”

He references how blockchain uses a shared database to securely process and settle transactions without needing an intermediary to verify the transactions. While banks and other financial institutions have already been investing a lot of resources into researching blockchain-based applications, fintechs and insurance techs (or insurtechs as they are known) have been considering it to further cut costs and enhance the simplicity of back- and mid-office processes.

For now, Legal & General will only apply the platform for bulk annuity clients outside of its chief focus within United Kingdom and the US, although sources have said that these two markets could also benefit in the future.

AWS GM for Amazon Managed Blockchain at AWS Rahul Pathak described the deal as allowing the insurer to “focus on building new business… instead of dealing with the challenges of keeping a blockchain network up and running”.

Amazon’s managed blockchain services only went live early last month, as reported by Bitcoin News.

 

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Amazon’s Cryptography Patent Triggers Bitcoin Integration Speculation

Amazon's Cryptography Patent Triggers Bitcoin Integration Speculation

Joining some of the most recognized brands in the world, American multinational tech company Amazon has now filed its own application for a blockchain-based patent focused on cryptography, according to AMBCrypto.

The patent itself was actually filed over two years ago just before Christmas 2016, but the ‘Generation of Merkle Trees as Proof-of-Work’ filing was only recently discovered when Anthony Pompliano, co-founder of Morgan Creek Digital, shared a post on Twitter:

BREAKING: Amazon has filed a patent in the US for a proof-of-work system that leverages cryptography.

There’s not a large company in the world who isn’t going to join the revolution.

THE VIRUS IS SPREADING 🔥

— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) May 16, 2019

Pompliano went on to say that the “virus was spreading”, referencing how even large corporations and institutional money was now joining the “(crypto) revolution”. It should be noted, however, that the relation to cryptocurrency from the patent is only based on its patenting of a proof of work authentication based on cryptography, which bears some semblance to the algorithm used to secure the Bitcoin network, and the blockchains of many other cryptocurrencies.

The patent singles out the technology’s use to “purely mitigate any Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack” with a detailed SHA-256 hashing algorithm, the same used by Bitcoin.

Beyond that, there is little to say that Amazon will be integrating Bitcoin into its marketplace, but that won’t stop the rumor mill from heating up. 

Amazon itself has issued no formal statement, although the door is clearly not closed. Amazon Web Services General Manager Rahul Pathak had said at the recent Consensus 2019 that Amazon would surely obtain a “point of view” on digital assets it they were something that “matters to customers”.

 

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Amazon Managed Blockchain Goes Live

Amazon Managed Blockchain Goes Live

Amazon has just announced its new managed service enabling users to be able to create manage scalable blockchain networks.

The service called Amazon Managed Blockchain is currently available in North Virginia after the company announced the blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) at its AWS re:Invent conference in November 2018.

Jeff Barr, chief evangelist at Amazon Web Services commented that the service can be used to create scalable blockchain networks that use the Hyperledger Fabric open source framework, with Ethereum in the works, adding:

“You can create your network in minutes. Once created, you can easily manage and maintain your blockchain network. You can manage certificates, invite new members, and scale out peer node capacity in order to process transactions more quickly.”

Michael Fauscette, chief research officer of G2 Crowd, a business-to-business software review site was impressed with the launch suggesting that the adoption of BaaS will be a worthwhile addition other to cloud services with some remarkable differences. The service also secures certificates for access control using AWS Key Management Service technology, eliminating the need for customers to set up their own secure certificate storage.

“The use case ideas are really exploding around blockchain in a way that will drive in a wave of adoption that will happen faster than others,” Fauscette said in an earlier interview.

However, the jury is still out on Amazon for many cryptocurrency users after the retail giant removed its payment options of both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash recently. Twitch had used a BitPay payment gateway for users who wished to pay for their subscriptions with BTC or BCH. The cryptocurrency payment option was first added in mid-2018 and initially included options for Ethereum and Litecoin.

 

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Kaleido, AWS Launch Blockchain Solutions Marketplace

ConsenSys subsidiary blockchain company Kaleido has collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch a full-stack platform for decentralized enterprise solutions.

Dubbed Kaleido Marketplace, the companies’ press release claims the platform offers a ”whole cloud of blockchain technologies” that can save enterprises the work involved in creating a blockchain themselves, allowing them to more quickly reach live production. According to the release, early adopters claim it reduces 80% of the custom code necessary in building their projects.

The Kaleido blockchain launched in May and has already served over 1,000 clients. The marketplace is a further development of this service, offering extra applications such as AWS cloud, Chainlink for smart contract oracles, HD wallets and ID registries.

The founding companies say Kaleido Marketplace is filling a gap in the market left by a lack of skilled blockchain developers unable to meet job demands as more companies move to decentralized solutions. Kaleido Founder and Chief Operating Officer Sophia Lopez said the aim of the marketplace is to ”help radically simplify the adoption of blockchain and eliminate some of the specialized blockchain expertise needed”, adding ”[it] is a one stop shop for all things enterprise blockchain”.

A Kaleido Marketplace user, commodity trader and finance network Komgo, says the platform allows it to find the ”optimized solution” by building on existing blockchains in the ecosystem. CEO Souleïma Baddi also complimented the platform’s high speed, high volume results.

Kaleido originated as a product of Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin’s blockchain incubator ConsenSys and is also built on the Ethereum network. In May, Lubin described Amazon’s move into blockchain as “heavy duty“, and that it would do them well to integrate the technology into other areas of its business, such as the supply chain.

 

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South African Central Bank Ethereum Blockchain Tests Successful

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has just completed a multi-bank testing of bank-to-bank transfers using blockchain.

South Africa’s central bank has been testing the Ethereum based platform Quorum in collaboration with eight banks including SARB, Absa, Capitec, Discovery, Investec, FirstRand, Nedbank, and Standard Bank.

The program, called Project Khoka spread over 14 weeks, conducted tests which replicated transactions normally handled by the South African Multiple Gross Operation Settlement System (SAMOS), rather than handling actual transactions.  The project was aimed at proving that a DLT based program might be able to replicate SAMOS which can handle 70,000 daily transfers in two hours.

Project Khoka successfully used public cloud servers offered by Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services to add power needed for the transaction verifications.  SARB was happy with the outcome of the tests and claimed that the Quorum blockchain handled the transfers with “scalability, resilience, confidentiality, and finality.” The SARB post-test report stated:

“Both the process, as well as the outcome of the project, contribute to the SARB’s goals. The decision was made to assess the use case for DLT in wholesale payments and interbank settlement and thus build on and extend the work done in other parts of the world.”

SARB suggested that more testing would be required before DLT is suitable for such interbank settlements as exhibited in the trial, and if proven satisfactory for bank use would most probably be utilized as a backup system, rather than actually replacing its current system, according to Francois E. Groepe, SARB’s Deputy Governor.

Banks are increasingly testing DLT for interbank settlements around the world, some aiming to use blockchain in order to update outmoded systems. Recently the Bank of England announced that it was rebuilding its Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system to work with DLT. The announcement came after BoE Governor Mark Carney commented that private business and platforms need to be able to work with the bank’s own RTGS system.

RTGS is a system generally used to transfer large volumes of funds between banks.

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CEOs Say Amazon and Walmart Sparked Blockchain Revolution

CEOs are posing the question whether major companies such as retail giants Amazon and Walmart, and tech multinational Microsoft adopting blockchain technology will create a “blockchain revolution”, writes Hedge Co.net.

All of these companies have announced recent blockchain projects this year. Walmart published plans to use the technology in partnership with the IBM Corporation and Microsoft recently announced its Azure Blockchain Workbench, aiming to provide developers with tools to implement the ready-to-use infrastructure for blockchain application solutions, according to TruthMedia.

Amazon with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) blockchain templates, will now implement a system similar to Microsoft’s which claims “provide a fast and easy way to create and deploy secure blockchain networks using open source frameworks”.

Walmart’s vice president of food safety and health, Frank Yiannas, says that its new blockchain system reduces food tracking time from six days to two seconds, reducing contamination and food wastage.

According to Luis Manuel Lopez, the general coordinator at Workchain Centers, blockchain initiatives by Walmart and Amazon will have a positive impact on the retail industry.

He says, “Having started in a pure and theoretical technological world, blockchain has come second place in applications that make our life more comfortable, including assembly lines, traceability of objects… we are facing the beginning of a revolution that will change our way of doing business, buying food, curing our illnesses. And this will come sooner or later because it takes time, but it will come, sure.”

Vadim Kurochkin, CEO of Soundeon, sees the moves of multinationals unsurprising as the technology is brought to the mainstream, suggesting that research and development projects will reap the benefits due to increased activity in crypto space.

“As this technology is brought to mass-market, we foresee a robust merger and acquisition activity within the sector. Hence, early crypto-investors in successful, research and development driven projects will reap the benefits.”

Juan Imaz, founder, and CEO of Profede, also sees the potential of such companies influencing others to move towards updating its systems with the new technology:

“The cryptocurrency industry is likely to see a revolution in the near future across different industries, with the addition of giants adding, evaluating and planning to use blockchain which will change how the world works.”

 

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