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Canadian Pharmacy Adopts Blockchain to Standardize Medical Cannabis

Canadian Pharmacy Adopts Blockchain to Standardize Medical Cannabis

Shoppers Drug Mart, a Canadian retail pharmacy, has announced today a collaboration with blockchain-based TruTrace Technologies Inc in an attempt to validate drug quality and protect intellectual property throughout the logistics network. As reported by Yahoo Finance Canada, the collaboration was announced at the World Cannabis Congress in Saint John, New Brunswick.

The pilot project, in collaboration with the subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, the largest Canadian food retailer, will track product data from licensed producers to distribution warehouses and will be added to a blockchain ledger. The data will be available to Shoppers Drug Mart and the authorized labs, producers and patients.

The initial stage is likely to terminate towards the end of July and the project is expected to cope with larger volumes of product starting November.

Shoppers Drug Mart VP Ken Weisbrod emphasized on instilling confidence in a patient by furnishing apt standards of traceability and accountability of medical cannabis in comparison with other drugs. He said:

“When a patient takes any other medication there is an expectation that the medicine is standardized, and they can expect consistent clinical outcomes and results. Although that’s not always a guarantee with medical cannabis at the moment, we’re hoping this new program can help change that.”

TruTrace, formerly known as BLOCKStrain Technology Corp, is a company focused on using technological innovation to enhance the authenticity of the cannabis industry. The company incorporates StrainSecure software to track product information at each stage of growth and processing.

TruTrace CEO Robert Galazara said:

“We need to be able to authenticate that when you sell the product six months from now, that a product is the same exact product that you were selling previously.

Part of the reason we utilize blockchain is to be able to say that this cannabis was tested on this date. That record exists forever.”

The company expects to collaborate with other suppliers in Canada such as Aurora Cannabis Inc (ACB.TO), Tilray Inc (TLRY), and Aphria Inc (APHA.TO) to mitigate consumer skepticism towards medical cannabis.

Blockchain technology has witnessed increased adoption in the medical industry, primarily to boost supply-chain applications. The industry is seeking for a transparent, secure and robust healthcare solution to secure medical supply chains and healthcare data. Many major pharmacies are exploring blockchain to procure these aspects. About a year ago, the Good Shepherd Pharmacy incorporated blockchain technology to distribute cancer medicines to the patients.

 

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Australia Targets Crypto Tax Fraud in 5 Nation Cyber Sweep

australia, cryptocurrency, tax, bitcoin

The Australian government is in the process of investigating a number of tax avoidance schemes involving cryptocurrency with support from other jurisdictions.

This follows an announcement in April by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) that it was stepping up its database in order to monitor if the correct taxation is being gathered from cryptocurrency holders across the country. Part of the move will involve collecting information from Australian cryptocurrency designated service providers (DSPs) regarding crypto purchases and sales.

The current investigation is being conducted in tandem with the international J5 tax authorities’ group which includes Britain, Canada, Holland, and the US. The cooperation between the five nations began in 2018 as calls for dealing with cyber-related tax avoidance became a common cause.

The ATO’s Deputy Commissioner Will Day reported that the agency was currently examining 12 cases; one of which was described as a “global financial institution” which enabled taxpayers to be able to hide details which should have been recorded for taxation purposes.

At a global level, there are around 50 investigations on J5 books which involve possible cyber infringements, some including the use of cryptocurrency. Deputy Commissioner Day commented that Australia was cracking down on this kind of evasion:

“At no other time have criminals been at greater risk of being caught… In Australia, they are often intermediaries who are playing a role between the tax evader and an offshore entity.”

In Holland, a cryptocurrency mixer was removed offline by the Dutch tax authorities. Such services provide users anonymity by mixing data that could identify the holder of the currency with other holders, making it hard for authorities to track the user under investigation.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 13 May to 19th May, 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

USA

Coinbase CEO proposes crypto debit card in USA: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong in a recent Live Youtube AMA channel suggested the idea of a crypto debit card in USA and said that his company wished to launch it in the country despite giving no final date of release. 

The card will reportedly allow users to carry out both online and in-store transactions using their crypto balances. 

Armstrong said:

“The most important thing to understand about the cryptoeconomy is that we’re not simply righting the wrongs of Finance 1.0. We’re creating an entirely new way to access financial services”.

Any crypto projects in USA are challenging due to the overbearing attitude of SEC and CFTC federal agencies towards the new sector. 

2020 Presidential candidate Andrew Yang Calls himself a friend of crypto: Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has once again stressed the importance of the crypto sector at Consensus 19 and even gone on to say that he is a “friendy of crypto”. 

Previously, another communique from his campaign was also shared with the public which was a policy statement on crypto regulations in the country. 

Bank of America CTO says no use case of blockchain yet: Bank of America’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Catherine Bessant has poured cold water on blockchain adoption in the financial institution as she claimed that there was no use case of blockchain yet. She made these comments during a recent interview with Bloomberg. 

Bessant while acknowledging the fury and sound of blockchain said that a use case was yet to be seen for the banking sector. 

Crypto influencer John McAfee “Goes Dark”: John McAfee, the eccentric bitcoin billionaire and evangelist’s twitter account has said stated that he is “going dark” and the account will now be operated by his staff instead. McAfee recently announced that he was on the run from the law after he refused to pay taxes and fled to international waters. 

However, the recent attempts haven’t stopped him from pursuing crypto ventures further with him announcing his own line of crypto debit cards and crypto learning app. However, even with going dark, McAfee will probably remain in the crypto scene very much. 

SEC schedules crypto moot but industry leaders are skeptic: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has invited industry leaders and professionals from around the country in a crypto meet to help start better communication and ask their opinions on regulations. 

Interestingly, the industry insiders are not that keen in joining the meetup that is scheduled for 31st May. Many believe that it is typical lip service by the federal agency to address the plight of the industry in the country. 

CBS 60 minutes to feature Anderson Cooper and bitcoin pizza guy:  Laszlo Hanyecz, the bitcoin pizza guy who purchased two pizza for 10,0000 BTC 9 years back will be put under the microscope in 60 minutes with host Anderson Cooper. One of the first recorded payments with Bitcoin, the current valuation for his payment stands at a whopping $75 million. 

While everyone feels regret in that, Hanyecz is actually not that regretful and is content with his life. 

Canada

Exchanges opposing new regulations passed by the government: New regulations by the Canadian government are being opposed by Kraken and other crypto exchanges operating in the country. In a twitter post, Kraken protested the decision reached between Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). 

With exchanges being increasingly put under the microscope, the future has a bumpy road for crypto in the country. 

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Singapore, Canada Central Banks Conduct First Cross Border Blockchain Digital Currency Exchange

Singapore, Canada Central Banks Conduct First Cross Border Blockchain Digital Currency Exchange

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Bank of Canada have set the trend becoming the first central banks to use DLT for a digital cross border payment.

MAS linked up with its Canadian counterpart Project Jasper via its own pilot payment network Project UBin in a cooperative attempt to lower the cost of cross-border payments via blockchain, and also speeding up the process of transmission and reception.

Sopnendu Mohanty, MAS chief fintech officer, said that the two projects were following on from an ongoing collaboration between the two country’s central banks and commented: “Together, these projects have addressed many technical questions and brought the technology to a higher level of maturity.”

Scott Hendry, the Bank of Canada’s senior special director of financial technology said that forward planning for more cooperation between the banks was an essential ingredient for future success in lowering costs and enhancing efficiency in cross border payments.

“Only through continued collaboration and fundamental research will it be possible for this technology to mature and for policymakers to fully understand its potential.”

A senior financial specialist at the World Bank has released a paper which agrees that distributed ledger technology could help bring down remittance costs and improve cross-border payments compliance. The World bank blog also states the “industry is ripe for disruption“, citing DLT as being well positioned to make its mark.

One major area of concern expressed by the World Bank which was seen as a hurdle to the take up of DLT in this sector was a general distrust of such solutions due to industry concerns and misunderstanding regarding the nature of cryptocurrency, borne from the same technology.

 

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Bitcoin Miners Flock to Canadian Provinces with Low Cost Energy

Bitcoin Miners Flock to Canadian Provinces with Low Cost Energy

An article in Bitcoin Magazine is describing how several provincial governments in Canada are making attractive offers to Bitcoin miners, plying them with cheaper electricity thanks to the country’s cool climate and its abundance of hydroelectricity in return for economic gains.

Across Alberta, British Columbia, Labrador, Manitoba and Quebec, Bitcoin miners are answering the call. According to a National Post story, the government in Labrador is now making way for even more incentives as a response to what it is calling “outstanding requests for service” from Bitcoin and others.

It isn’t always good news, however, as Quebec was surprised by the deluge of miners responding to their earlier beckoning, with even Chinese companies considering to relocate there, willing to pay standard business rates for electricity. that province was forced to rescind some of its earlier advantages. That move did not come without controversy as well.

Labrador may feel it has nothing to lose, however.

Formerly a resource rich province, like much of north Canada, its forests and fisheries have been depleted and is too far away from major markets to thrive economically. What it does have still is two huge hydropower dams — Churchill Falls and Muskrat Falls.

So far so good, and there has already been a recognized increase in demand from miners, according to an anonymous source who spoke to The Telegram:

“Data businesses are expressing an interest and willingness to ‘take what’s available,’ and are requesting new transmission infrastructure to make more power available to them in Labrador, locating wherever the feed of power is possible. They just want low power rates.”

 

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QuadrigaCX Enters Bankruptcy Proceedings

QuadrigaCX Enters Bankruptcy Proceedings

Canadian Cryptocurrency firm QuadrigaCX filed its bankruptcy application in a Nova Scotia Court this week in a bid to bring the three-month saga to its next stage after claiming that the death of its CEO left a US 260 million debt.

This means that the court order giving the legal group Ernst and Young will come into action in an attempt to recoup the funds owed to 115,000 users who have been left with no access to their money, although this won’t be an easy process as the company was discovered to have no real assets.

After the death of 30-year-old CEO Gerald Cotten in India, it was revealed he was the only person who knew the encrypted passcodes needed to access USD 190 million in cryptocurrency locked in offline digital wallets.

The situation has been further confused as it is now known that the deceased mixed his personal and corporate finances and company funds had been used to buy assets which had no connection with Quadriga. The current court order prohibits Cotten’s widow Jennifer Robertson in accessing any Quadriga assets but she is allowed access to living expenses through two private bank accounts overseen by the court.

It is thought that a sum of about USD 70 million in cash is still owed to Quadriga clients although the funds are mostly in third-party accounts and payment processor banking. This adds to the complexity of finding a solution for the company’s former clients who continue to spread rumors on social media in the absence of any concrete information as to the whereabouts of their funds.

 

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Two Canadian Crypto Firm Owners Fight $30 Million Fraud Accusation

Two Vancouver cryptocurrency firms are fighting accusations of fraudulent activity to the tune of USD 30 million involving an initial coin offering.

The two company owners, Lisa Angela Cheng and Kevin Patrick Hobbs, are to fight their cases in the British Columbian (BC) courts, after having denied any wrongdoing, claiming they have “never misappropriated funds.”

The  B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office’s claim is that the couple raised money by “deceit, falsehood or fraudulent means,” by launching their FUEL token as part of their two companies’ businesses.  The companies Vanbex Group Inc. and Etherparty Smart Contracts Inc have been subjected to an RMCP investigation which determined that the couple raised more than USD 30 million illegally. The claim states:

“…by falsely representing corporate investment opportunities … knowing they did not intend to use the invested funds to develop products they were marketing but rather with the intention to misappropriate the corporately invested funds raised for their own personal benefit.”

In question are a three-bedroom townhouse with the view of Coal Harbour bought in late 2017 by Hobbs and Cheng for USD 4.1 million in cash, two Range Rovers, an apartment in Toronto purchased for just under USD 3.74 million and a leased Lamborghini. Hobbs has a criminal record, including for money laundering in 2008.

Cheng and Hobbs say Vanbex did not solicit funds from investors for the development or distribution of the FUEL token and did not claim the value of the tokens would increase. The terms were clear and transparent going in and all risks documented, according to the couple’s legal counsel. Their statement claims:

“We intend to defend vigorously and to present a complete and truthful narrative for the court. We are confident that at the end of the day the truth will come out and the facts will prevail in our favor.”

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Canadian Town Approves Bitcoin Payment for Property Taxes

Canadian Town Approves Bitcoin Payment for Property Taxes

A Canadian town, Innisfil, has started accepting Bitcoin as a payment option for property taxes. In collaboration with Coinberry Limited, Innisfil is Canada’s first such town to adopt this project making it convenient for the locals to pay their taxes and thereby making a milestone decision in the nation’s adoption of digital assets.

Although Bitcoin is the only crypto which will be accepted currently, there will be a later possibility of adding other crypto payment options (Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple).

Coinberry is a Toronto-based fintech solution provider which has recently launched Coinberry Pay – a cryptocurrency payment platform which will allow Innisfil to make Bitcoin payments. Once a local pays the tax in Bitcoin, it will immediately be converted to Canadian dollars by Coinberry which will then be deposited in an Innisfil bank account. The town’s Mayor Lynn Dollin said:

“Once again, we are proud to be first in taking this bold step by offering this new, exciting payment option to our residents… There’s no doubt that cryptocurrency is growing in usage and popularity. By getting into this now, we are making sure our municipality is ahead of the game, and signalling to the world that we truly are a future-ready and innovative community.”

Recently, Canada’s largest trade association collaborated with the BAC and this becomes evidence of how Canada is growing in the crypto sector. This could be very advantageous considering the speedy transactions and the low processing fee that Bitcoin offers as compared to the other counterparts.

Innisfil is a small town of about 36,000 people. However, it takes pride in providing modern amenities to its citizens to develop a socially, traditionally and digitally forward society. This is clearly reflected in its efforts to provide its citizens with open options to pay their taxes.

 

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The Environmental Debate is Here to Stay: Bitcoin Miners Explore Greener Options

The Environmental Debate is Here to Stay: Bitcoin Miners Explore Greener Options

The power-hungry Bitcoin debate is back on again after the release of the latest research conducted by economist Alex De Vries; the last of which stirred the crypto community into a frenzy in late 2017. One year on, the cryptocurrency ecosystem in all of its forms has developed a far thicker skin.

The argument

To refresh the original argument posed by De Vries at about this time last year, the Dutch researcher concluded that Bitcoin mining used almost as much electricity as the entire Republic of Ireland; quite an assumption and quite a response, many of which were pretty unfavorable, to say the least. Many pointed out the similarity to concerns in the 1990s when some experts predicted that half of the US electrical grid would be needed to power the then-burgeoning internet, which was later proved to be highly exaggerated.

What then of De Vries’s latest report which has taken a step further now asserting that cryptocurrency is killing the planet? Is there truth in this? Without attempting to balance what cryptocurrency is giving back to the planet in terms of helping alleviate some of the world’s humanitarian issues, many of which have been covered by Bitcoin News over the past 12 months, it might be worth examining this latest De Vries assertion in more detail, on its merits.

Although no one knows for sure exactly how much energy is being consumed across the planet through crypto mining, De Vries has now pulled Switzerland’s total power supply out of a hat as a comparison. He goes on to maintain that that this approximated 62.3 terawatt-hours consumed through mining over the course of 2018 is moving the world closer to his killing the planet prediction.

Does he have a point? It is well known that Bitcoin mining clearly is not economically viable in its present guise and that changes must be made to drastically lower power consumption. The industry, the man in the street even, knows this. It has been well published elsewhere and no one is attempting the hide this fact. The industry, however, is attempting to reassess how mining is carried out, in a way which both protects the environment and reutilizes the energy created in the process of mining, albeit slowly. The willingness is there.

The figures

De Vries poses the problem as he sees it in his latest paper. Here are the numbers which, although give a nod to renewable energy as a possible next step to solving power over consumption, focus primarily on electronic waste caused by the current status quo:

In this paper, we find that the Bitcoin network, with an electrical energy footprint of 491.4 to 765.4kWh per transaction on average, is relatively much more energy-hungry than the traditional financial system. Even though it has been argued that renewable energy may help mitigate the environmental impact of this, we find that there exist fundamental challenges in uniting variable renewable energy production with the consistent demand of Bitcoin mining machines. Moreover, we find that the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining reaches beyond its energy use. Continuous increasing energy (cost) efficiency of newer iterations of mining devices ensures that older ones will inevitably be disposed on a regular basis. The resulting electronic waste generation could equal that of a small country like Luxembourg, with a staggering average footprint of four light bulbs worth of electronic waste per processed Bitcoin transaction. Bitcoin will therefore have to address its sustainability problem in another way. This may consist of replacing its mining mechanism with a greener alternative like Proof-of-Stake.

The De Vries paper goes on to claim that based on 2018 figures the Bitcoin network processed 81.4 million transactions at about 491 to 765-kilowatt hrs per transaction. The paper asserts that the global banking industry, estimated to use 650 terawatt-hours per year, processed 482.6 billion non-cash transactions per year, meaning it only uses 0.4 kilowatt-hours per transaction.

Industry response to energy consumption

A Coinshares report conducted last year called on industry insider knowledge and data available to the general public in order to put together an estimate of exactly where the energy used by the miners originate from. The proposal is that 77.6% of worldwide Bitcoin mining is conducted through the use of renewable energy resources.

Even if these figures are refuted elsewhere, it is clear that the use of renewables and the recycling of energy created by mining is being explored both individually — using some bizarre and innovative methods — and at company-level, and also nationally. China, a massive mining nation, now has a major campaign which is aimed at drawing the country to supplying renewable energy such as solar.

The Chinese program, entitled “curtailment” is largely conducted in regions where most Bitcoin mining takes place. Last year China became the world’s highest producer of solar energy. This has resulted in a glut of power which regional grids in these newly labeled areas are simply unable to deal with. Iceland, Georgia, and the Northwestern US are also strong adherents to the use of renewable energy for Bitcoin mining. Projects are currently underway in the Sahara using a 900-megawatt wind farm south of Marrakesh, and in Japan using solar power through the Kumamoto Electric Power Company.

Natural gas

How can oil companies burning off unneeded natural gas supplies into the atmosphere be seen as viable? The releasing of unwanted gas must be viewed as an opportunity. In parts of the US, natural gas is so cheap companies pay to have gas that they can’t burn due to imposed federal limits simply hauled away. The use of gas to power mining rigs can be explored further.

To prove it can be done, one oilman turned Bitcoin supremo, is doing exactly that on a Canadian oilfield using a generator attached to a shipping container full of mining rigs which converts the natural gas to enough electricity to run the system 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The brains behind the system, Steven Barbour, believes that this transformation of otherwise wasted energy is running computers to provide “financial freedom for people all over the world”, and he has a point.

Recycling mining energy

Energy normally used elsewhere in an environment can be saved and harnessed by reliance on that same energy created by the mining process. This is now becoming a much-used process, particularly at the individual user level and must present an option for large mining companies in the future. Heating is an obvious choice as mining is mainly conducted in cold climates in spaces that require air conditioning to stop equipment overheating. With both heat available for warming attached spaces and the saving of power on air conditioning, much energy can be saved by using the mining equipment as a source of energy. With imagination, the energy generated in the mining process can be employed, not only to heat space but to grow crops and provide hot water, and there are clearly other numerous uses for the unwanted energy.

Changes to the mining mechanism

“Ultimately, Bitcoin is just software,” says de Vries. “The mining mechanism can be replaced. The challenge is that the entire network needs to agree to this change.”

De Vries is referring to his argument that by changing the mechanism behind the mining of Bitcoin the digital currency’s energy consumption can be drastically cut. It this regard he is correct, as proven by the proof of stake system used by Dash and NXT which is not dependable on computing power and doesn’t require specialized hardware.

Other solutions are out there, such as the EBGLO mechanism which operates through data transmission and HETTARER, a technology which uses an electromagnetic sticker that gathers the elementary particles into a constitution state which then work together to neutralize the electromagnetic noise. This system can lower the frequency of electric devices by around 90%. The Data Transmission System works to increase the computing performance, increase the hash rate and allow miners to receive higher revenue compared to the regular process that involves only computers.

 

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Canadian Police Appeal to Public to Apprehend Bitcoin ATM Fraudsters

Canadian Police Appeal to Public to Apprehend Bitcoin ATM Fraudsters

The Toronto Police Service in Canada has announced that they are approaching the public for information on individuals allegedly involved in scandals related to Bitcoin ATMs (BTMs).

Public assistance has been requested by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) Cybercrime Team to identify four culprits, allegedly involved in various fraudulent transactions made within Canada. The culprits targeted only one Canadian Bitcoin firm.

In September 2018, 112 fraudulent transactions at BTMs were made by the suspects. They did transactions from seven different Canadian cities including Hamilton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Sherwood Park, Montreal, and Hamilton, noted the press release.

As per the reports, in October 2018, CPS received initial information regarding the said fraud. “Double-spend” attacks were made by the culprits, believes CPS. In a double spend attack, money is withdrawn from a kiosk and the Bitcoin spend is immediately canceled before the BTM operator processes the withdrawal.

Reportedly, the fraud resulted in huge losses to the company, almost amounting to CAD 195,000 (USD 146,666).

Around USD 1.7 billion in digital assets were obtained by employing illicit means during 2018, noted recent research published in January by CipherTrace, a crypto analytics company.  Over USD 950 million out of those were obtained by hacking crypto exchanges. The said amount was 3.6 times lower in 2017.  Exit schemes, Ponzi schemes, and fraudulent initial coin offerings resulted in a loss of USD 725 million during the last year.

However, analytics company Chainalysis maintained that overall digital currency-related crime rate has decreased over a couple of years. Crime or fraud accounted for only 1% of all Bitcoin transactions in 2018. According to the report, usage of decentralized platforms and efforts to launder money through blockchain technology will increase during 2019.

 

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