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Blockchain Among Top 10 Skills in LinkedIn Report for Asia Pacific

Blockchain Among Top 10 Skills in LinkedIn Report for Asia Pacific

A fresh study by professional social networking site LinkedIn has confirmed what many have been suspecting for a while — that blockchain skills are one of the most important skills employers in the Asia Pacific are looking for.

The Asia Pacific (APAC) localized version of “The Future of Skills” 2019 report is a regular business feature from the social network and it has identified a trend for blockchain skills demand for the next few years. The specific skill set is in fact the ability of “setting up and managing a distributed and decentralised public ledger” — which is one of the capabilities blockchain is known for. This is closely followed by artificial intelligence (AI) and compliance, two buzzwords that commonly follow any white paper in a blockchain project or startup.

Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea lead the countries seeking out these new skill sets. The disruptive nature of all these technologies, it seems, also comes with a close need for compliance with the eyes of legislators and market regulators now trained on emerging tech sectors.

LinkedIn commented in the report:

“Rising skills can be used to forecast where industries are going… Examining what rising skills certain industries are hiring for shows what changes they are anticipating.”

And if that is true, then the jobs industry is expecting blockchain in commerce and enterprise to be around for many more years to come.

 

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Retail Giant Target Hits Bullseye with New Blockchain Initiative

Retail Giant Target Hits Bullseye with New Blockchain Initiative

Minnesota-based retail giant Target has now locked into a blockchain project earlier used by one of its suppliers as it shows a greater willingness to come on board with the new technology.

This now means that the international retailer, which remains the 8th largest in the US operating 1,851 stores across the country with 300,000 team members around the world, has officially entered the blockchain space.

Its two current supply support networks, ConsenSource and Hyperledger Grid, require hiring blockchain savvy staff to boost its distributed ledger technology-related work across the US, developing “distributed ledger systems, protocols, smart contracts, CLIs, and RESTful APIs in an open source environment”, according to recent employment opportunity advertising.

“I’m proud that Target will support the Hyperledger Grid project, and that we’re committing dedicated engineering resources to build out components in the Grid architecture,” said Joel Crabb, Target’s vice president of architecture, adding:

“Many companies – including Target – see the most potential for enterprise blockchain initiatives as open source.”

He explained that open-source projects required all participating parties to define the governance model collectively allowing companies to “focus their time working on blockchain-based solutions that will lead to greater speed, transparency and cost savings”.

Target plans to join the Sawtooth Supply Chain project, which is currently working on documenting the provenance of food and other assets using the Sawtooth implementation of Hyperledger, although the retail giant is not yet a member.

Rival Walmart uses Food Trust for its tracking, also a Hyperledger implemented project developed by IBM. Target’s use of blockchain had been low key up until recently until hiring Aarthi Srinivasan from IBM as its director of product management for personalization, machine learning, and blockchain, in 2016.

With Sawtooth, Target is clearly showing its intention to conduct what it calls “a broad migration of many mainframe-based systems and middleware products to a modern platform” relating to supply chain management.

 

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IBM’s Departing Blockchain Chief Still Stands by Bitcoin Million-Dollar Prediction

IBM's Departing Blockchain Chief Still Stands By Bitcoin Million Dollar Prediction

IBM head of blockchain Jesse Lund has gone in an unexpected move but he says he’s still backing blockchain as a payment platform.

Lund is noted for his prediction that Bitcoin will rocket over time to hit the USD 1 million mark, and appears to be backing that earlier enthusiasm having said that “I like that number because if Bitcoin’s at a million dollars, then the Satoshi is on value parity with the US penny”.

On his departure, which has left some analysts scratching their heads, he commented, “Yes, I’ve left IBM but am still optimistic about payments innovation using blockchain“. Lund, who jumped from Wells Fargo in 2018, was the man responsible for helping to create the IBM World Wire platform in partnership with Stellar, which has gain support from many major banks.

Lund has been very vocal on revolutionizing payment systems over the years and it appears that he hasn’t jumped ship to join another major blockchain giant. His recent remarks about other companies looking to disrupt the space were complimentary towards other players:

“Great to see more major players piling on this use case as we approach the tipping point of transforming global financial services. What’s next is an extended solution to bring open fungibility of liquidity and FX across major banking institutions… I wonder if any other big players are working toward that(?!)!”

His “USD 1 million in our lifetime” prediction assumes that DLTs, if not dominate, certainly represent, a major portion of the world’s wealth; a situation which at present is a long way off. He has, to date, expressed no desire to change the prediction for Bitcoin’s future fortunes, and remains at a long term outlook.

 

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Malta Offers 19 DLT Scholarships in Bid to Push Blockchain Education

Malta Offers 19 DLT Scholarships in Bid to Push Blockchain Education

Blockchain-friendly Malta is never slow to come forward with new crypto innovations and is now launching further into the education sector to prepare for the future with 19 students recently being awarded DLT grants.

Dubbed “Blockchain Island” by both the prime minister Joseph Muscat and Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation, the DLT Scholarship Grants to University of Malta students show the intent to keep blockchain expertise on the island and not lose innovation to overseas employers.

Both Schembri and University of Malta rector Alfred Vella are working in tandem to ensure the island nation continues on its current path to make Malta the place for blockchain companies to call home, with local expertise supporting the industry on the island. Schembri commented on the latest move:

“These 19 awardees are a symbol of courage to embrace change and we definitely need more like them. I thank the and MITA’s future-looking mind-set and for their commitment in preparing future generations for the necessities of future industries, as well as the building blocks of Malta The Blockchain Island require everyone’s involvement, from the ground up.”

The Parliamentary Secretary went on to point out that the rate of change in the areas of ICT engineering and legal work needed blockchain to keep pace with technology, as it takes more of a central role across all of the professions.

The scholarships were given the green light back in 2018 which paved the way for a grant of EUR 300,000 (USD 330,000) which will allow for a three-year period enabling students to continue studies in blockchain and distributed ledger technology at both masters and doctorate levels.

The successful students will read for a Master’s degree in Blockchain, DLT as well as Law and DLT, Finance and Business, and ICT and DLT.

 

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Can Blockchain-Backer Matt Hancock Woo Party Millennials and Become Next UK PM

Hancock

With speculation mounting as the race to become nominated for the leadership of the UK conservative party and hence become the next British Prime Minister, Blockchain advocate and tech campaigner Matt Hancock has thrown his hat into the ring.

With the number of candidates now standing at eight, with more yet to put their names forward in the next few days, current Health Secretary of State and former economist at the Bank of England, Hancock has the country’s tech-savvy millennial population well within his sights.

Matthew John David Hancock is a British Conservative Party politician serving as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care since 2018 and has served as Member of Parliament for West Suffolk since 2010 and as minister for digital policy, Hancock recommitted to a “full fibre” digital policy for the UK in 2017.

Hancock is well known for his pro-blockchain stance amongst political circles and also his strongly positive views regarding the development and application of cryptocurrency within the UK’s financial system. In his previous role as Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport he pushed to get blockchain accepted as a definitive new technology which would push the industry forward in the UK.

From his beginnings, following university, Hancock briefly worked for his family’s computer software company, and throughout his career has spoken out for IT, emerging technologies and their application across industry and finance. He even backed up his enthusiasm in February last year when he was still Culture Secretary by launching his own app called Matt Hancock MP, explaining at the time:

“It’s a chance to find out what’s going on both in my role as MP for West Suffolk and as culture secretary, and most importantly it’s a chance for you to tell me what you think, and to engage with others on issues that matter to you.”

UK MPs have become increasingly vocal on cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. In 2017, Hancock delivered a memorable speech to the UK Law Society asserting that blockchain technology would have a “monumental impact” on people’s lives in the future. He spoke of “vast areas of public life” that he predicted blockchain would transform: the financial sector, government services, and laws and regulation.

He is a champion of advocating blockchain technology to solve many of the worlds social challenges and has cited the World Food Programme Ethereum Blockchain Aid initiative as an example. The same program transferred cryptocurrency-based vouchers to 10,000 refugees in Syria, enabling them to buy cash-free provisions. He asserted at the time:

“I use as my example the use of blockchain in development aid because then you can follow the money to the recipient and go and check that the recipient has received the money and what they’re using it for. I can see anywhere where you need verification, the blockchain is a potential technology for doing that.”

Clearly, the 40-year-old Hancock will broaden the appeal of his party to attract millennials, particularly given where his pro-tech sympathies lie, including his views on cryptocurrency which are very much slanted towards innovation and limit on controls:

“We only want one currency here in the UK. Nevertheless, having other currencies whether they’re backed internationally or are essentially backed by technology and verified through a distributed ledger, it’s better to have them here than offshore…I want our regulators to carry out their essential roles – preventing harm, providing certainty to businesses and trust to citizens – without stifling innovation.

Hancock has outlined how the UK Government’s Digital Strategy demonstrates Britain becoming “the best place in the world to start and grow a digital business and to trial new technologies like blockchain” and sees London’s influence as the potential tech hub capital of the world to influence the rest of the UK.

Hancock pointed out that in June 2017, the UK’s top ten publicly-traded fintech businesses crossed the 100 billion-dollar market at a value of GBP 71 billion. He went on to illustrate that it was blockchain which was the most important emerging technology and that UK financial regulators were leading the world in encouraging innovation.

Whether this self-confessed computer geek can appeal to enough millennials to push him over the line remains to be seen. Regarding his race to Number 10, he has stated the need to reconnect with the younger generation, but not simply those who have just left university

“The average age of people who vote Conservative is now 51. So we need to reach out to a whole new generation of people – not just those in their 20s but those in their 30s and 40s, too….We desperately need that generational shift. We need a fresh start and to turn the page on some of the ugly politics of the last few years.”

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Blockchain NZ: New Zealand Needs Strategy to Keep Pace with Blockchain

Blockchain NZ: New Zealand Needs Strategy to Keep Pace with Blockchain

Blockchain NZ, a group of various blockchain-oriented business, organizations, and experts, has plans to lobby the New Zealand government to produce a national strategy for developing blockchain technology in the country.

Next week, Blockchain NZ’s executive director Mark Pascall will present their views to the New Zealand parliament’s economic development, science and innovation select committee hearing.

A report released at the end of last year, titled ‘Distributed Ledgers and Blockchains: Opportunities for Aotearoa New Zealand’, concluded that the nation’s IT sector, which presently rakes in NZD 16 billion a year with a workforce of almost 100,000, could grow to become the “second biggest contributor to gross domestic product by 2025” should blockchain be adopted sooner than later.

The report’s research was partially funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and was produced to promote the technology amongst domestic entrepreneurs and innovators.

Blockchain NZ plans to move such assumptions into space where the government can take a more proactive role in promoting new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency. Pascall commented:

“So, we really want government to take blockchain seriously and produce a strategy. We can help them with that so we strike a balance between trying to plan for an unpredictable future and taking some action so we realize huge potential economic benefits for the country.”

In the region, neighboring Australia has already moved on a national plan for blockchain, when it recently announced its own national blockchain roadmap and a funding boost to support the technology’s development in order to push the country to the forefront of international blockchain use.

 

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Blockchain Impact on Grocery Supply Chains Continues to Increase

The latest Gartner research has indicated that the move by major grocery chains towards using blockchain technology is continuing to gain ground.

Gartner, officially known as Gartner, Inc. is a global research and advisory firm providing insights, advice, and tools for leaders in IT, Finance, HR, Customer Service and Support, Legal and Compliance, Marketing, Sales, and Supply Chain functions across the world.

The research shows that 10% of the top 10 global grocers will use blockchain for food safety and traceability by 2025. Joanne Joilet, Gartner’s Senior Research Director commented:

“Blockchain can help deliver confidence to their customers, and build and retain trust and loyalty,” adding “Grocery retailers are trialing and looking to adopt the technology to provide transparency for their products. Additionally, understanding and pinpointing the product source quickly may be used internally, for example, to identify products included in a recall.”

As reported by BitcoinNews in 2018, US retail giant Walmart and French Supermarket Chain Carrefour have continued to be drivers of the move towards blockchain for supply chains and are setting standards for other companies to employ and further develop moving forward. Two other major grocery chains such as Unilever and Nestlé, are also using the technology to trace food contamination.

Carrefour extended its trials in French supermarkets from initially packaging poultry products to further inform customers on products using blockchain to tracking 20 out of its 300 Carrefour-branded products across the supply chain, with 40 more products planned this year.

With the grocery industry expected to set higher standards of visibility and traceability using technology,  Joliet sees blockchain as moving far beyond its limited application within the grocery sector to “all areas of retail.”

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Oxfam Cambodian Blockchain Project Ships First Rice to Holland

An Oxfam pilot project using blockchain technology to enable poor rice farming communities in Cambodia to sell their produce in Holland is at last underway with a first shipment now en route to Europe.

As part of the pilot, Cambodian exporter AMRU Rice linked with Dutch company Sano Rice last year in an attempt to alleviate poverty amongst the Southeast Asian country’s rice farming sector; forming a cooperative of 50 rice farmers.

Rice farming in Cambodia is a tenuous business with no predictability of sales and low profitability.  As well as farmers having to contend with extreme weather affecting and occasionally destroying annual crops, they rarely have guaranteed buyers in place. Rice accounts for 25 percent of the economy yet the average monthly income for rice farmers is only about USD 108.

The fragility of the supply chain leaves many farmers living on the breadline, not helped by fluctuating global rice prices and the cost of materials and seed.  Small scale farmers in Cambodia are struggling, suggests Lim Solinn, Oxfam’s Country Director in Cambodia. “If farmers grow a surplus, it drives down the price and the farmers can’t make a profit.”Enter Oxfam’s BlocRice pilot project, started last year which is putting contracts on the blockchain, enabling guaranteed sales for the new cooperative allowing the farmers involved to sell their rice to the European rice cake market.

The new blockchain digital agreement is based on a contract whereby the farmers on the project agree to provide 100 metric tons of rice, with the exporter guaranteeing a market price plus premium. The contract is placed on a digital smart contract visible to all parties to ease future price negotiation. “It’s a three-way digital agreement between organic farmers and rice exporters in Cambodia and buyers in the Netherlands,” maintains Solinn.

The first shipment of 92.5 tons of rice in two containers was shipped to Holland in March, just short of the target of 100 tons.  Phay Cheth, Oxfam’s BlocRice Project Manager explained that this was because a late-season drought had slightly reduced production. Cheth added that so far the project had really good potential to ease the lives of Cambodian rice farmers:

“It’s an ambitious idea, but if we can monitor the market from the small-scale farmer to the end consumer, the consumer can see that their purchase helps small growers and they can feel good that their purchase contributes to fighting poverty.”

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Malaysia to Build 835-Acre Blockchain City

Malaysia to Build 835-Acre Blockchain City

A new massive blockchain project called Melaka Straits City is planned for Malaysia with fundraising of USD 120 million needed in its initial stage.

The idea is to make the blockchain city not only functional for a range of business enterprises and educational services, but also a major tourist attraction with the Ministry of Tourism of China predicting that 3 million tourists could visit it every year.

The city will be built on over 835 acres off the coast of Malacca in a project backed by the government of China and construction and engineering company China Wuyi. The plan is to allocate 200 acres of the marine area or building chalets and water recreation facilities. Malacca, dubbed “The Historic State”, is a state in Malaysia located in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula, next to the Strait of Malacca.

The features that give its unofficial “blockchain City” tag include a 32-hectare spread of land including kindergartens, colleges, universities, and student dormitories. Melaka Straits City will primarily be promoted as an educational center along with the tourist and sustainable development elements, which are the brainchild of the current owners of the land SWT International Sdn Bhd.

Over different periods Malacca was colonized by the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British, and in 2008 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites List. Melaka Straits City’s official spokesperson Lim Keng Kai says that the construction will be futuristic, but also with a nod to Malacca’s rich historical past pointing out:

“That is why we’ve planned to build a distinctive cultural street in the center of the city. It will be inspired by the styles of different colonial eras and is going to make tourists familiar with Malaysian traditions and history.”

It is important to note that the Malaysian government has a high level of awareness regarding the crypto sector. Malaysia is still adapting to the spread of cryptocurrency with recent regulations introduced aimed at bringing more transparency to the sector in order to increase the trust level of investors.

 

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Accra and The Hague Universities Combine to Promote Blockchain in Ghana

Accra and The Hague Universities Combine to Promote Blockchain in Ghana

A partnership between a Ghanaian University and the Hague University of Applied Sciences (THUAS) in the Netherlands has been forged with a view to accommodating a student exchange programme and further promote blockchain in the African nation.

The Accra Technical University (ATU) wants to accelerate it graduate programme in order to provide the industry with the necessary skills to fill its requirements, including advancing blockchain technology in the country.

A seminar organized by the two universities entitled ‘The Power of Blockchain’ took place in Accra this week in which the way forward was discussed. Dr Ernest Winful, the Dean of International Programmes at ATU, told the press that blockchain technology was becoming vital to conducting business in Ghana and therefore students needed new skills in order to embrace tech opportunities in the industry. He pointed out:

“The blockchain is coming like how the internet came and it is important to join the train to avoid any inconvenience it may cause by the blockchain technology in the future.”

An important feature of the collaboration between the universities will be an exchange programme allowing students in both Africa and Europe to learn at both education institutions; an essential inclusion for Ghanaian students due to Africa currently lagging behind Europe, Asia and the Americas in blockchain technology.

From the Dutch side, Rene Dondjio, a Lecturer at the THUAS, said that lecturers from the university situated in the Hague would travel to Ghana making three monthly trips to Accra to train students at ATU, also pointing out that blockchain was becoming a life-changing technology for many at both an individual and business level.

ATU pointed out that it was important that Africa didn’t get left behind as new technologies such as blockchain leaped forward elsewhere around the globe.

 

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