Category Archives: hyperledger

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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 Issues 5 Principles for “Blockchain for Good”

IBM Issues 5 Principles for

Computing innovator global giant IBM has released a new blog post that establishes five “blockchain for good principles“, which attempt to show that enterprise blockchains that are transparent and trusted can actually benefit organizations and the society.

According to the post, “Technology never exists in a vacuum”, and that this is especially true for innovative tech like blockchain, which it believes has the same capacity for good as it does for the “not so good”.

In summary, it believes that there are five principles to be followed to ensure that enterprise blockchain arrives at good outcomes: open is better, permissioned doesn’t mean private, governance is a team sport, common standards are common sense, and privacy is paramount.

It touts its own project as a proponent of open source, allowing for “growing enterprise-grade blockchain software with strong and diverse code contributors, and liberal licensing”. It insists that its solutions are also not private, pointing to TradeLens built atop Hyperledger as an example that lets participants view network peers.

In governance, it cites SecureKey, which has created a governance model that ensures constant checks and balances between constituent working groups. It talks about collaboration between Hyperledger and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to standardize tokens on blockchains. Finally, it looks at how the IBM Food Trust can still protect privacy while leveraging data for efficiency.

IBM has been promoting a lot of its blockchain technology, via its enterprise solution on the Hyperledger Fabric, otherwise known as IBM Blockchain. Today, it powers 1,300 networks in its blockchain cloud including about 100 live in production.


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IBM Launches Australian Blockchain Cloud Service, Second to Follow

IBM Launches Australian Blockchain Cloud Service, Second to Follow

IBM’s platform built on Hyperledger Fabric has launched its blockchain main net at its Melbourne-based data center in Australia.

Hyperledger is an umbrella project of open source blockchains and related tools, started in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation and supported by big industry players like IBM, Intel, and SAP to support the collaborative development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers.

The launch allows IBM customers to run their applications on the company’s cloud. A second Australian center is also planned for the end of March in Sydney. IBM Australia’s Head of Blockchain, Rupert Colchester, said that a second center would make the technology more widely available, adding, “Customers who are deploying blockchain applications have reached a maturity of projects that requires the data to be stored in Australia.”

Colchester highlighted the degree to which blockchain technology was now being used across all industries in Australia with many IBM clients now “trying to understand how best they can apply it to the business problems they have”.

An example of the growing use of blockchain at the corporate level in the country saw Australian real estate company Vicinity adding blockchain to its business operation in tandem with Australian energy tech company Power Ledger as part of a USD 75 million solar program, late last year.


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Swiss Post, Swisscom Build Blockchain App Infrastructure

Swiss Post

In a joint press release today, national postal service Swiss Post and telecoms provider Swisscom announced a partnership to launch a 100% Swiss infrastructure for blockchain applications based on the Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 software.

This project is the first of its kind in Switzerland to be made as a private blockchain partnership project. They are building a “simple, secure and sustainable infrastructure for blockchain applications with the advantage of having the data remain completely in Switzerland”.

There are current instances of ongoing blockchain developments within the individual companies being used for different purposes. The press release states that “Swiss Post stores its temperature measurement data on a blockchain during the transport of pharmaceuticals” while “Swisscom is working with its subsidiary, daura AG, on a digital share based on blockchain technology”.

The blockchain infrastructure is being built to “meet the high-security requirements of banks” and expects to meet a common objective of creating a platform for businesses and public entities to manage “sensitive digital business processes securely and verifiably”.

Besides being energy efficient, the platform will only be accessible to identified users having contractual relationships with app providers.

The first pilot application is scheduled to be released in Q2 of 2019. Meanwhile, they are extending an invitation to third party contributors who will like to take part in the infrastructure.

Switzerland is making quick progress with blockchain-related developments. Recent development includes the Finance Minister Ueli Maurer’s decision to adapt current legal systems to accommodate blockchain technology.


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Hyperledger Releases Cryptographic Toolbox for Developers

Hyperleadger Releases Ursa, A Cryptographic Toolbox For Developers

In an announcement yesterday, the Hyperledger’s Technical Steering Committee (TSC) unveiled a new project called Ursa, designed to be a cryptographic modular intended to help project developers within the Hyperledger blockchain community build resourceful applications seamlessly.

Ursa is being touted as a shared “flexible cryptographic library”, allowing developers to tap from a resource pool of development toolkits “so blockchain developers can choose and modify their cryptographic schemes with a simple configuration file change”. This would invariably save time and cost in building individual projects.

The TSC revealed that the library has two distinct modules: the first being “a library for modular, flexible, and standardized basic cryptographic algorithms” and a second library for more exotic cryptography, including so-called “smart” signatures and zero knowledge primitives called zmix.

In the announcement, TSC identified Ursa’s security experts as developers who currently handle Hyperledger Indy, Sawtooth, and Fabric. Other community members include academic cryptographers.

Hyperledger expects the library to simplify the processes of developing projects with the objective of avoiding duplicates, cutting down development costs, improving security, and creating a platform for expert reviews. Further, the ease to use model lowers the entry barrier for inexperienced developers.

On a broader event scale, Hyperledger has been used for both institutional and commercial purposes. Sberbank recently conducted an over-the-counter (OTC) foreign exchange by deploying smart contracts on the Hyperledger platform. More so, last month, retail company Carrefour deployed organic poultry tracking system on the Hyperledger DLT.

Germany’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, in collaboration with Deutsche Börse, also successfully completed two blockchain trials developed on the Hyperledger Fabric to test potential applications in securities settlements, transactions, and payments, as well as bond repayments.


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Copenhagen Uni Blockchain School Up and Running with Latest Training

A blockchain school in Copenhagen is off and running again for the third consecutive year, offering the latest innovative training for those entering the industry.

The school was initially created through a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen, IT University of Copenhagen, and Copenhagen Business School. It promotes blockchain as “a revolutionary technology that has the potential to disrupt multiple industries” and describes its primary focus as training its students in the latest developments in the industry, claiming:

“The design and implementation of blockchain-based systems require interdisciplinary knowledge as well as mindful consideration of broader economic and societal issues.”

The week-long annual program in Denmarks’s capital was described by Dr Omri Ross, CEO of Firmo and assistant professor for the University of Copenhagen’s computer science department:

“Blockchain is an incredible technology because it encompasses a wide array of disciplines from cryptography to mathematics, computer science, law, business, and economics. Students in the program have the chance to apply deep technical knowledge to real cases that we develop with existing industry players and cutting-edge crypto companies.”

The program targets primarily PhD students, with the course also including masters students and industry professionals. Dr Ross suggested that it was currently important to spread information about blockchain tech over a broad audience, and not simply limit this to academics, professionals or developers. He saw blockchain as having a more widespread significance across a range of sectors in the future as it becomes more mainstream.

Partnerships with the university this year reflect the cross-sector nature of the programme including a contribution from the World Wildlife Foundation. All the latest industry developments are covered by the course, again reflecting the holistic nature of blockchain. Dr Ross explained:

“While we do work on Ethereum-based Dapp development we are also collaborating with QTUM’s protocol (they are the second biggest blockchain in China) as well as the protocols of Ontology, Hyperledger, and Firmo.”


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Deutsche Boerse Becomes Second German Stock Exchange Embracing Crypto

Deutsche Boerse, the owner of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, is evaluating whether to offer cryptocurrency products, according to Bloomberg.

If this is the case, this will be the second German stock exchange to make announcements this year regarding a move towards the adoption of cryptocurrency related products, after Boerse Stuttgart Digital Adventures announced the release of its Bison app in April.

Jeffrey Tellsler, Deutsche Boerse’s head of clients products and core markets, spoke to an industry event in London organized by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe on Wednesday suggesting that the company was “deep at work with it”. Tellsler went on to comment:

“Before we move forward with anything like Bitcoin we want to make sure we understand the underlying transaction which isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

The company’s rivals in the US, Cboe Global Markets Inc and CME Group Inc, became involved in Bitcoin futures last November, and due to regional regulation, no European company had been able to follow suit until this latest move, although he did admit that as yet Boerse Deutsche wasn’t at the same level.

Germany, along with France who is more supportive of ICOs, has been vocal within the EU in supporting blockchain technology and has joined 21 other countries in supporting initiatives with the aim of reinforcing local innovation.

Last June, Deutsche Boerse revealed a plan to move the majority of its post-trade services to a blockchain, using Hyperledger’s open-source Fabric protocol to transfer securities and move commercial bank money.

The firm is clearly moving into the crypto space arena with some urgency, following its announcement in March of a securities lending platform using R3’s Corda blockchain technology. Tellsler explained that before they could proceed, the firm needed to ensure that they understood the volatility of the Bitcoin market, and made sure clients and regulators were in line before moving forward.

In a recent Sowa Labs survey of 1,019 German crypto traders, 16.9% owned a single cryptocurrency, while 18.2% confessed to owning several. Of the respondents, 81% were male, 19% were female, and 54% were 35 years old or younger. More than 80% of respondents opened their first trading account from 2017 onward.


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Amex Looks to Blockchain for Customer, Merchant Security

Multinational financial services corporation American Express is exploring the potential of a blockchain solution to increase customer and merchant security.

Vice president of technology at American Express, Tereasa Kastel, spoke at the Oktane 18 conference in Las Vegas earlier this week, discussing the multiple uses for blockchain being explored by the corporation.

Protecting identities and information

As reported by TechRadar, identification security and protecting user information formed the basis of Kastel’s speech. She discussed the prospect of an immutable blockchain solution to American Express’s objective of providing the highest levels of user security and data protection.

“If you’re in this industry, you have to have a voracious appetite for all things identity… to be able to work in a world where there is constant change, you… have to always ensure you can stay ahead of the curve,” she noted.

“Being in the financial industry, we have to be somewhat conservative on what legal and regulatory requirements there are,”‘ she added, commenting on the disparity between government policy, or lack of, regarding blockchain.

Despite this, Kastel said: ”On the other hand, what empowers an individual user to do in terms of controlling their identity, and have that identity be immutable, is something you can’t pass by.”

A blockchain identity wallet

Kastel outlined that initial blockchain probes would be limited to financial transactions. Now, however, she reported American Express is looking into creating a blockchain identity wallet.

”We were starting to explore what would an identity wallet look like, and could blockchain be used to help serve as, both internal, but also external card members and merchants,” Kastel said, detailing a visit to the corporation’s research and development lab.

She added that “American Express is a very innovative company”, in an acknowledgement of blockchain as the next seminal development in the technology industry.

Hyperledger blockchain technology

While Kastel’s talk was predominantly focused on the significant role of blockchain in American Express’s future service development, it coincided with the announcement of the corporation’s utilization of hyperledger blockchain technology.

This is being offered to merchants as an opportunity to create tailormade rewards programmes for individual American Express cardholders.


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