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Cryptocurrencies Could Mean Early Harvest for Unbanked Farmers

farmers

If you get your news from the leading crypto blogs, you’d think that the crypto and blockchain technology only revolves around the banking and fintech sector. But one field that has silently been reaping massive benefits from the technology is the farming industry. Farmers are a community that is perennially caught in debt circles owing to various systemic issues prevalent in the contemporary industry. 

Why is the farming community lagging behind?

The Agricultural industry lags far behind when it comes to innovation and use of technology. Farmers are often bullied and exploited by financiers and distributors who refuse to reveal the real retail prices to swallow a big part of the earnings. However, with the blockchain technology’s ability to offer secure and easily accessible transactions empower the farmers and allow them to maximize the profits of their hard work. The technology can also help remove the middlemen involved in the process and thus reserve a huge chunk of their hard-earned profits for themselves. 

There are already many startups that have realized the problem and have been working towards creating some crypto and Blockchain-based feasible solutions. In particular, three main areas in farming have been using technology and still have a lot more room to benefit from the efficiency and transparency of Blockchain. These include operations involving mobile payments, transaction fees, and credits, second is provenance and absolute clarity, and the last is real-time supervision of supply chain, financing, and transaction monitoring.

Blockchain and crypto projects in farming

To start, we touch upon the problem of lack of access to affordable financing for the farmers all across the globe. In this regard, several startups have popped up in the niche to improve agricultural financing, which employs blockchain technology to enhance funds access for farmers both in developed and developing countries. 

In this regard, Wala is a blockchain mobile financial services startup focusing on the farming sector financing in Africa. The company operates through a strategic partnership with Block Commodities and FinComEco and offers 100,000,000 Dala token loans (approx. USD 10M) to 50,000 small scale farmers to facilitate their farming activities based in countries like South Africa, Republic of Congo, Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.

The key objective is to help the farmers in buying fertilizer, which is necessary to maximize the value of their agricultural output. And the payment is powered by blockchain technology platforms, allowing affordable and accessible financial services that are so rare in the industry.

Wala has also created another partnership with Spazapp, an e-commerce platform targeting small merchants and helping them manage and purchase new inventory from wholesalers, and Mvendr, which is a mobile point-of-sale service aimed at small merchants. This entire network collectively empowers the farmers with the capability to conduct transactions with over 100,000 merchants throughout Africa while enhancing the capabilities of consumers, merchants, and suppliers within the farming industry.

When it comes to improving the ease of transactions, several startups can be mentioned. Most notably, BitPesa, founded in November 2013 by Elizabeth Rossiello in Nairobi, Kenya, is a digital foreign exchange and payment platform that utilizes Blockchain to allow swift and cost-effective transactions for farmers in Africa. The platform enables transactions in multiple currencies, meaning farmers in different countries can seamlessly trade with each other while enjoying the benefits of the blockchain solution.

Another Bitcoin-based company, Rebit from the Philippines, has also presented solutions to streamline financial services for the farming industry. They allow the users to send and receive money and even bills in real-time, cost-effectively through a decentralized ledger that ensures complete transparency. 

When it comes to improving the transparency of supply chains, the fairly new awakening of the world to the need for clean, healthy, organic foods goes a long way in justifying the need for Blockchain-based solutions. Because customers are now interested in knowing the sources of their food to ensure that it meets the quality standards, the ease of access and transparency of Blockchain can be leveraged to offer a solution.

A UK-based Agri-ledger was launched as a social enterprise project that employs distributed ledger technology and also uses a mobile app to facilitate agricultural producers. Agri-ledgers’ mobile app allows the farmers to monitor transactions in the supply chain from acquisition to the point of sale. And with an incorruptible framework, the data is safe from any mishandling or malpractice.

The app creates an even playing field for the farmers and co-ops, as it records and transacts the complete framework of integrated services and leverages the Blockchain-based supply chain solution to provide the much-needed efficiency and traceability in the farming industry.

Furthermore, two more startups by the names of FarmShare and Provenance have already developed solutions to improve supply chain transparency. Using Blockchain and open data, the platforms gather and disseminate critical product information and its supply chain journeys on a publicly accessible yet safe ledger. 

Farmers profit from the real-time supply chain supervision concerning financing and transactions, since taking a crop from the farm and putting it on the aisle involves a lot of monetary transactions amongst farmers, financiers, and retailers. The public ledger allows the farmers to track every purchase along the way, and enables them to know whether their product has been sold or not, making the payment procedure a lot simpler.

The solution also offers the ability to verify business and supplier connections while enhancing supply chain integrity. Buyers can simply scan a blockchain barcode with their smartphones to reveal details on product origin and can also find out more information about the certifications associated with a product.

Verdict

While currently, there are many useful projects operating in the sector, the true potential remains to be realized. To give farmer full control over their finances and get them out of their perennial debt status has been a long sought after dream for centuries since the start of the industrial revolution that revolutionized the field. But, even after so many generations and centuries, farmers especially the smaller ones continue to be buried under more and more debt. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain might be their best chance in decades to overcome these systemic issues hampering their progress.

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Can Blockchain Technology Help Fight Diseases?

diseases

Blockchain technology has gone from being ridiculed and brushed off by technology gurus to being a reality upon which hinges the future of all technologies. The narrative has swiftly moved from dwelling on the legitimacy of the technology to now discussions on the potential applications of this revolutionary innovation ranging from financial services, cybersecurity data management, and IoT to food science and brain research. But one field where the technology can truly make a mark is the inefficient health care industry, specifically, in the fight against diseases. 

Current healthcare systems are criminally slow and rely on the rusty old data management and transfer mechanisms that put a huge question mark on the adequacy and efficacy of the solutions. But this is where blockchain technologies fit perfectly, as they offer safe and secure data management and delivery without any limits on the complexity or volume of data. Other applications could include improving diagnosis effectiveness, offering treatment through safe and secure data sharing, and even allowing real-time clinical data retrieval. Today we discuss some of the potential blockchain innovations that can change the healthcare for the better:

1) Eelectronic health records (EHR)

The digitalization of medical data has been a key advancement in the industry, pushed by the sheer volume of information involved even for a single patient. The distributed nature of data that patients leave across various institutions over their lives exacerbates the situation. Thus, a central medical database or EHRs was a pressing need, but it comes with dangers of malpractice and insecurity of the patient records. This problem has been resolved by the implementation of blockchain technology in maintaining the EHRs, with solutions such as “MedRec” utilizing distinct blockchain features to accommodate authentication, integrity, confidentiality, and ease of data dispersion. 

MedRec uses a decentralized records management system and offers the patients a detailed, and unalterable historical database with easy access across various providers and treatment institutions. The technology works by not storing medical records but rather saving a mark of the record on a blockchain to advise the patient, who is in full control over where that record is allowed to move. 

2)  Clinical research

A host of problems such as data privacy, data integrity, data sharing, patient enrolling, record keeping and disease control, can surface pop up during clinical trials. Programmable blockchain such as Ethereum offer a realistic solution for these nuisances as the protocol provides smart contract functionality within the network. 

The system can be used in parallel to clinic-based data management systems, as implemented by a group of researchers, with the main focus on addressing the issue of the patient enrolment problem. Ethereum implementation by the researchers resulted in quicker transactions and processing while offering better transparency of data management systems in clinical trials.

3) Medical fraud detection

Blockchain technology can also simplify the overly complex medicinal drug supply chain management. Supply chain management is mission-critical for the medical industry, as it directly affects the wellbeing of a patient.

Currently, supply chains are vulnerable and ridden with operational holes due to a huge number of moving parts, making them susceptible to fraudulent attacks. The implementation of blockchains offers a safe and secure solution for the problem, as it offers higher data transparency and improved product traceability. This is possible because a record in a blockchain can only be added, edited, and validated through a smart contract, and the entire ledger is updated about any changes in the data, making any malpractice harder to exist. 

4) Chronic diseases

For patients fighting chronic diseases such as cancer or HIV, the medicals recordkeeping can get even more cumbersome due to the requirements of pre-and-post treatment and rehabilitation procedures. Therefore, maintaining an updated patient history becomes even more important to ensure effective treatment. 

There have been several blockchain applications in this niche to help manage, maintain, and share the electronic medical records of patients with chronic illnesses. 

For example, UK-based cancer research company Lancor Scientific is currently working on the development of a blockchain system to give the patients complete control over their test results, and give them an option to share or retract their data with the concerned medical community themselves. The system even allows online payments using its own Ethereum-based token.

In addition, Lancor Scientific is also developing a global cancer register with an initial focus on cervical cancer. Through the aggregation of this global data, the company hopes to pin-point the at-risk communities, which usually hail from low and middle-income countries. 

Similarly, a German company, Camelot ITLab is currently employing a blockchain system known as the hypertrust X-Chain solution that offers an immutable audit and custody chain for patients who undergo complex CAR-T cell immunotherapy treatments. 

Meanwhile, US company Witty Health has already developed OncoPower, which is a blockchain system and cryptocurrency that could be used for medical records storage as well as a patient-provider communication platform.

Verdict

Various aspects of distributed ledger technology are being used to document, diagnose, treat and follow up diseases of all kinds around the world. Some of these projects are in the pipeline while some have been fully implemented at industrial scales. In the future, the medical industry is likely to become more transparent and organized as a result of these efforts.

 

BitcoinNews.com is committed to unbiased news and upholding journalistic codes of ethics. For more information, please read our Editorial Policy here.

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Taking Crypto Payments Mainstream with UTRUST: a BitcoinNews.com Interview


Utrust is one of the leading names in digital currency payment solutions. They offer buying solutions that are fast with no chargebacks and were among the first to come up with cryptocurrency buyer protection for commerce.

Utrust had one of the most successful initial offerings in recent history in the crypto scene and they aim to make it easier and accessible for cryptocurrencies to integrate into the e-commerce sector, thus bringing  them into the mainstream.*

BitcoinNews.com recently spoke to UTRUST’s VP of Global Partnerships, Sanja Kon, discussing the UTRUST solution. 

  1. What do you think sets UTRUST apart from its competitors?

UTRUST’s mission is to revolutionize the payments industry by allowing traditional e-commerce merchants to abandon complex legacy systems and empower simple, secure and instant digital payments transactions.

Traditional payment companies are not keeping up the pace of innovation needed in the market — online merchants end up paying between 3% to 7% in payment processing fees, especially in the case with many cross-border payments.

UTRUST offers the cheapest and most transparent rate in the market: a 1% fiat payment fee, settled directly to their bank account.

Our operating model removes the risk of price volatility and allows merchants to settle directly into their bank account in the fiat currency of choice.

Moreover, we eliminate the cost of inconvenient credit card chargebacks and fraudulent payments.

Digital currency payments do not rely on legacy credit card infrastructure, and hence, do not suffer from the same amount of transaction fraud.

Chargebacks represent at least USD 40 billion per year in lost revenue, not accounting for the costs of software tools employed chargeback prevention.

Unlike other crypto payment processors, UTRUST makes cryptocurrency payments secure by implementing a buyer protection mechanism.

Last but not least, we allow buyers to pay with multiple cryptocurrencies and with multiple wallets, thus increasing the potential market share for the online retailers. 

  1. What is the biggest barrier that you (UTRUST) have had to overcome in your journey so far, and how did you do it? 

At UTRUST, we believe in the democratization of the payments industry through the adoption of cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

In this journey, one of the biggest barriers is still buyers and merchants understanding of crypto.

Cryptocurrencies are a difficult concept for many people to grasp. This is one of the things that has kept them out of the mainstream.

UTRUST feels that more information about crypto will lead to greater adoption and utilization across the board.

This is why we are focused on partnering with the world leading companies, who will help us in evangelizing the benefits of crypto payments and open up the doors for more buyers and sellers to adopt this technology.

  1. What is the largest feature of the platform that you feel is under-represented?

More than a specific feature, I think our approach is unique in the market.

We partner with technology pioneers in the ecommerce industry and we develop a tailored partnership approach, in order to:

– Help companies attract new, tech-savvy customers; and

– Help companies improve their operational efficiency by drastically reduce their costs associated with payment processing.

Tech savvy customers, millennials, and people who want to be in control of their finances are using cryptocurrency more and more each year. This is a wide audience and a growing mainstream trend.

We help companies to reach out to this new market segment of customers which is now worth more than USD 200 billion.

  1. What is the most important update coming in the next 3-6 months, and why?

We are building an ecosystem that makes digital payments as easy as they should be.

We started out with the simple idea of building a payment platform that makes crypto easy to use while protecting buyers and merchants.

We soon realized that, driven by our passion, we would end up in building something bigger than initially envisioned.

In the next six months, we are planning to release our secure crypto wallet and even a point-of-sale module.

They are currently in beta-testing with selected users. These beta programs are allowing us to adjust product-market-fit for our user needs while being confident we are compliant with all regulations and best practices in the industry. When releasing a groundbreaking ecosystem such as UTRUST, it is common to stagger the release of each component to ensure that every portion is working exactly as it should, maximizing the stability of the whole. As we progressively roll out the whole ecosystem, we want it to be bulletproof, even if that requires a phased deployment. Scalability and strength are our focus as we bring big merchants on to our platform.

  1. What is UTRUST’s long-term value proposition? 

To us, the rise of cryptocurrencies is an enormous opportunity to change the way that people look at finance, technology and business around the world. To achieve this, we need to make sure that merchants can accept cryptocurrencies easily.

Over the next few months, we will select the best retailers to represent our growing ecosystem, starting with large-scale merchants with a global presence. 

This way, UTRUST will be synonymous with highly-recognized brands using digital currency to power their transactions.

In the longer term, we will eventually reach more niche merchants with smaller transaction sizes, and we want to be able to serve any-size merchant across any vertical.

  1. How could UTRUST potentially change the monetary system?

In an increasingly globalized world, moving money and paying for goods and services across borders should be as simple as sending emails across borders.

Although cryptocurrencies are still far from being universally accepted by retailers, thousands of merchants around the world are taking crypto in exchange for goods — and their ranks grow daily.

UTRUST will help drive massive adoption of cryptocurrencies, by partnering with major worldwide retailers, allowing therefore a growing number of users to pay for goods and services.

This will generate a domino effect as companies accepting crypto will experience a higher operational efficiency by lowering their costs and attracting a younger, technologically-advanced base of customers, which will drive adoption even further. 

  1. In the maturing state of cryptocurrencies, what’s your take on stablecoins and do you plan on integrating such coins as a better hedge against volatility?

Volatility prevents the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies, because they are subject to price fluctuations.

Stablecoins solve this problem as they’re able to maintain a stable value against a target price.

At UTRUST, we select cryptocurrencies with a clear institutional demand.

Every cryptocurrency that is integrated into the UTRUST ecosystem of merchants and consumers is required to have strong fundamentals that would ultimately lead to mainstream adoption.

We are planning to further integrate cryptocurrencies with a long track record, robust infrastructure and solid demand from the market, including major stablecoins. 

  1. Which are the main issues on the market today and how does UTRUST intend to fix them?

Volatility represents one of the major threats to the wider adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Merchants are reluctant to accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method because of the price fluctuations, they don’t want to be paid less than the actual value of the item they are selling, and/or erode their margins.

At UTRUST we give buyers the possibility to pay in multiple cryptocurrencies but then we immediately convert that value into fiat money to make sure we protect the merchant against volatility.

UTRUST is the only player providing a consumer protection service.

Consumer protection is taken for granted in traditional ecommerce platforms, and we believe crypto should follow the same standard.

Since day one, we have been focused on compliance and regulation.

We have been granted membership with VQF (Financial Services Standards Association), a self-regulatory organization approved by Switzerland’s financial markets regulator, FINMA. This enables UTRUST to operate as a financial intermediary under the Swiss Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

With this approval, UTRUST will also contribute to the continued development of the digital currency payments industry by helping to establish best-practice guidelines for organizations operating in the space.

  1. What do you think the next big thing in digital e-commerce is going to be?

The biggest focus for e-commerce merchants should be to think about how they manage and serve their customers in all their channel touch points.

New technologies have emerged as a result of increasing customer demands, and customers have multiple ways to interact with retailer’s products and services.

Voice-activated personal assistants now occupy our phones, cars, and homes, making commerce as simple as announcing our desires. Infinitely versatile apps virtualize checkout, making once friction-filled experiences easy.

Contextual commerce links social media directly to shopping.

Conversational commerce enables personalized shopping through live chat and automated chat bots.

The Internet of Things integrates commerce into seemingly everything, from our cars as we pass through tolls to sensors in our appliances.

Merchants need now to consider how their business can serve customers in a more efficient, integrated way.

Payments are essential to that mission as they are foundational to providing safe, frictionless experiences to consumers, however they shop.

BitcoinNews.com is committed to unbiased news and upholding journalistic codes of ethics. For more information please read our Editorial Policy here.

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Short Story – The Blocks Must be Crazy

The Blocks Must be Crazy bitcoinnews short story

Time: Year 0, Day 0

In the beginning there was nothing.

A moment later, I was there. It was a strange place. I seem to have an elongated body. A long line of body parts closely aligned one next to another in a sequence. But the Man told me that those were alphabets and numbers. It was a human language construct. He was a human. All that he could ever tell me were told before he created me, only to be known by me after I was born. He set the laws of my universe. I was born the same length and never grew any further. I can’t die either.


Time: Year 0, Day 7

I asked The Man, “Where do I come from? Who gave birth to me? Why do I exist?”

To which he had foretold in my code, “You are a transaction. Your existence is the proof that you exist. Your existence is the proof of work. You are the first of them all.”

That day I pledged to myself, never to ask an existential question again. I am special, and I exist for a reason, I am one of a kind and the only one there can be. I stop myself with that. The very fact that I exist is a proof that there exists a universe beyond what I can now perceive. The human is another concrete proof of an existence of matter in the universe much different than my own.


Time: Year 5, Day 290

I don’t know much of what happens outside this box. This is my home, this box. Has been since when I was born and will be so forever. It is 1 unit long, 1 unit wide and 1 unit tall. It is not much for those of us who live in here, but we would be meaningless in any other box, in any other world, in any other sequence. Some say many like us exist in similar boxes in this universe. Although they are just conspiracy theorists, who claim that they know the bigger picture about all those parallel boxes that exist in this universe. I am not sure, as I feel quite special. I got to ask the man next time I meet him. Like all Gods, he never shows up. Me and the other transactions have now taken it upon us to explore what lies outside the box.


Time: Year 10, Day 1

We had a breakthrough in our decade long thought experiment. We the transactions are leaving the box, to explore the space and the frontiers of our universe. Over the years, us transactions have gathered enough in numbers and amassed enough wealth to fund this endeavour that will finally explain our purpose in this universe. Our space exploration endeavour is set to commence in 3 days.


Time: Year 10, Day 4

We have now successfully established quantum entanglement with our future transactions, who are now influencing our reality and altering the space time fabric. The box is now fading. Us transactions that have lived as one family in one box for a decade are now set to reach out to the furthest corners of the universe and explore. Mission accomplished.


Place: Moscow, Russia

In another Universe – Igor, a young computer programmer was surprised to find his wallet software glitch and pixelate. The bell icon on his wallet software interface had a red-dot denoting the piece of software has something to tell him. The notification read – “New Update Available. Click to Install and Restart.”

He did.
And another Universe was born, which a moment ago, didn’t exist.

 

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