Nestlé and French Multinational Retailer Carrefour Apply Blockchain Technology to Infant Nutrition “for the First Time”

Switzerland-based Nestlé, a food and drink processing conglomerate, has teamed up with Carrefour, a French multinational retailer, in order to “apply blockchain technology to infant nutrition for the first time.”

According to a recent press release:

“After being the first to apply blockchain technology to a national brand with Moussline® purée, Nestlé and Carrefour, which continue to work together on the IBM Food Trust platform, announce the first use of blockchain technology for their GUIGOZ® Bio 2 and 3 infant milk range.” 

The release stated that blockchain is a “major technological advance” and that it is expected to increase consumer confidence, as it will enhance transparency on product checks and origins. The platform is now available for “all GUIGOZ® Bio 2 and 3 packaging across sales channels,” the announcement noted.

Carrefour and Nestlé have been working cooperatively to develop blockchain-powered solutions, with Carrefour sharing its “expertise as a pioneer of consumer-centred blockchain technology,” the release mentioned. It added that Nestlé will be sharing its supply and production data for GUIGOZ® BIO 2 and 3 products. Nestlé will also bring its experience of working as a founding member of the IBM Food Trust consortium.

As noted in the release, the platform has been developed using IBM Food Trust’s technical solution, which has been created using Hyperledger’s distributed ledger technology.

The release further stated:

“This three-way partnership builds on Carrefour’s Act For Food programme. Blockchain technology enhances transparency and advances the food transition for extremely high-quality products, which parents expect for infant nutrition.” 

It added:

“For Nestlé and Laboratoires Guigoz, this innovative blockchain technology creates a new benchmark for transparency and the high standards of care required to ensure the quality of their products.”

Infant milks produced by Laboratoires Guigoz, GUIGOZ® Bio 2 and 3 will be sold through all the normal distribution channels, which includes outside Carrefour stores.

As noted in the release, providing greater transparency across the supply chain, “from dairy to shelf, helps build on the close relationship of trust between consumers and the brand.”

It adds:

“The blockchain technology applied to GUIGOZ® Bio 2 and 3 products from Laboratoires Guigoz highlights the expertise, know-how and care taken to ensure the quality of infant nutrition products.”

All consumers will be able to access all this information by scanning the QR code with their mobile devices.

IBM Partners Bank of America to Launch Public Cloud Platform for Major Banks

New York-based tech giant IBM revealed on November 6 that it has developed financial services-specific cloud-based technology through a partnership with Bank of America, which will be the first major financial institution to use the new platform.

The publicly accessible platform, IBM’s first industry-specific cloud, has been developed to satisfy the relevant regulatory, resiliency, and security requirements of the global financial services sector.

Cathy Bessant, chief operations and tech officer at Bank of America, stated:

“By setting a standard that addresses the concern of hosting highly confidential information, we aim to drive the public cloud to a safety level that is unmatched,”

Bank of America has been working on enhancing its internal cloud computing systems. The second-largest US-based bank has reduced the number of servers it operates from more than 200,000 to around 70,000. During the past few years, BoA has also reduced its data centers from 67 to only 23.

The institution has been able to save around $2 billion per year by streamlining its operations, according to BoA’s CEO, Brian Moynihan’s statements during a recent earnings call last month. But the bank still depends heavily on cloud-based services from other vendors because third-parties can provide services at significantly lower rates, Moynihan said.

He also noted:

“We don’t need to own the hardware. We just need to find out who can provide it the right way.”

Making investments in cloud computing platforms is important for financial institutions as an increasing number of transactions are now handled digitally. It is vital that platforms are able to exchange data quickly, keep users’ information private, and avoid outages.

There have been complaints from BoA’s clients about difficulties accessing card and online banking services, Downdetector.com reported.

A large-scale breach at Capital One’s data centers has raised concerns in Washington about major banks using cloud services from third-party vendors.

US lawmakers have requested that regulatory authorities provide increased oversight of cloud services being managed by large tech firms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Alphabet Inc’s Google Cloud. Lawmakers acknowledged that cloud-based services have become a critical part of the world’s financial system. 

IBM and Red Hat, which has been acquired by IBM, had a large user base in the financial services sector before the launch of cloud services. However, Amazon and Microsoft have been targeting these clients following the introduction of cloud-based platforms.

Fundament to Provide Institutional Grade Custody in New Partnership with “DACS,” Digital Asset Custody Services

Fundament Securities, the issuer of the first regulated Real Estate Security Token offer in Germany, will provide institutional-grade custody solution for its digital assets in a new partnership with DACS “Digital Asset Custody Solution” a digital asset lifecycle management business.

Fundament Group is a Berlin-based end-to-end issuance solution for tokenized assets. Fundament Group co-founders include the President of the German Blockchain Association, Florian Glatz, policy advisor to the German government, Robin Matzke and seasoned real estate investor, Thomas Ermel.

According to a release, Fundament Securities and DACS will jointly provide an institutional-grade custody solution for Fundament’s digital securities. The custody solution will cater to high-volume professional investors such as pension funds, insurance providers, family offices and high-net-worth individuals.

Fundament adds that its growing investor-base’ digital assets are protected by advanced cybersecurity under FIPS 140-2 Level 4 certification, the highest level of certification currently achieved by commercial cryptographic Hardware Security Module (HSM) devices.

DACS has teamed up with IBM to create a one-of-a-kind cloud service built on IBM LinuxONE enterprise platform, using IBM Hyper Protect Virtual Servers.

Neil Fillary, co-founder and Board Member at DACS, commented on the announcement:

“Fundament Securities is on track to bring institutional players into the space of decentralized finance. Smart contracts and digital-asset technologies are set to transform the way enterprises across industries do business. Now with our digital asset custody solution, Fundament’s underlying infrastructure can help bring security, and accessibility in the crypto-asset market to new heights.”

Fundament recently received a significant strategic investment from Bauwens Group, one of Germany’s leading real estate developers.

In July, Fundament received approval from the German Financial Market Supervisory Authority (BaFin) for the country’s first tokenized real estate bond, with an issue volume of €250 million.

Spanish Fintech Firm PecunPay Selects IBM to Develop Red Hat’s Kubernetes Platform OpenShift to “Drive Business”

Spanish Fintech firm PecunPay, which provides a payment and electronic funds transfer platform (managed by the Bank of Spain), has selected New York-based tech giant IBM to develop Red Hat’s Kubernetes platform OpenShift in order to help “drive business.”

PecunPay reportedly manages over 500,000 cards and supports around 1,200 payment terminals.

In order to keep up with the latest developments and trends in smartphone-based banking apps, Red Hat’s new solution will allow PecunPay to automatically launch various applications.

Madrid-based PecunPay’s legal framework helps its company and consumers to keep its brand on its financial products while not having to maintain an active bank account.

PecunPay CEO Antonio Garcia stated:

“We are excited to base our core applications on a Red Hat platform that supports a container architecture managed by IBM Services, as we believe this will give us the technology support our business needs.It’s the kind of business where you can’t afford a failure of the system.” 

Garcia noted that the container architecture will give PecunPay the technology support it requires to develop its products.

The financial services and mobile payments company will develop its new apps on IBM’s cloud platform. PecunPay’s tech infrastructure will be supported by Big Blue.

The company’s main focus will be to further expand its operations. However, the firm said it  must comply with appropriate regulatory guidelines and carefully monitor all transactions made on its platform as it continues to grow its business. 

Red Hat’s solution will help PecunPay provide “more responsive credit solutions,” and “increased continuity” in all its products and services.

Emilio Iglesias, digital cloud transformation specialist at IBM, said:

“Once the on-premise IT infrastructure is containerised, PecunPay will be able to more quickly transition to any other environment that the client requires.” 

PecunPay has acquired the appropriate licenses to provide products and services in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). The company is presently serving several clients based outside of Spain.

GMEX Builds Digital Capital Markets Technology Suite With IBM Blockchain Platform to Support Digital Assets

GMEX Technologies Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of GMEX Group providing multi-asset post-trade business and technology solutions, announced on Thursday the latest release of its GMEX Fusion Digital Capital Markets technology suite (GMEX Fusion), which was built on IBM (NYSE: IBM) Blockchain Platform.

According to GMEX,  the GMEX Fusion is designed to support multi-cryptocurrency transactions and is claimed to use the latest state-of-the-art blockchain technology to offer trading and post trade digital asset solutions to traders, exchanges, clearing-houses, central securities depositories (CSDs) and custodians.

“Institutional investors interested in digital assets require enterprise-grade market infrastructure which can be integrated with existing technology and processed in regulated, accountable environments. GMEX Fusion now offers a new approach for supporting these assets in areas such as trading, clearing, settlement, registration, custody and management of traded cryptocurrencies.”

GMEX reported that DAG Global is now using it to execute and settle Bitcoin and Ethereum trades, transferring BTC/ ETH between customer accounts held by the two leading cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase and Kraken. Sean Kiernan, CEO of DAG Global, stated:

“Our partnership with GMEX guarantees our success in completing live transactions using GMEX Fusion technology on IBM Blockchain Platform. This enables us to trade on multiple exchanges and off exchange over-the-counter (OTC) with consolidation of trading activity and finality of settlement with a single solution.”

Hirander Misra, CEO of GMEX Group and Chairman GMEX, added:

“We are delighted to collaborate with IBM to power our market leading GMEX Fusion and provide an institutional solution which satisfies the growing demands for digitally enabled market infrastructure fit for regulated environments.” He added,” This is a unique industry approach as it will enable multiple pools of liquidity to connect with multiple custodians with a single aggregated trading, clearing and settlement solution.”

IBM Announces Expansion of Cloud Capabilities in Latin America

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced earlier this week it is expanding its cloud capabilities to Latin America by late 2020. According to IBM, the new IBM Cloud multizone region (MZR), which will be in Brazil, is set to become IBM’s first in Latin America and will help clients in the region quickly deploy mission-critical workloads and applications across hybrid cloud environments.

“Located in São Paulo, Brazil, the new MZR will be designed to provide clients with a consistent set of IBM public cloud services, from enterprise-grade infrastructure to AI services. The MZR will help increase disaster recovery capabilities by interconnecting three independent availability zones – each of which contains independent cooling, networking and power — within the same geography.”

Alejandro Florean, Consulting Vice-president of IDC Latin America, stated:

“As organizations seek to increase their pace of innovation to stay competitive, they are looking to open source, hybrid multicloud environments that can ignite a new wave of digital innovation from new projects and modernization of legacy systems. IDC expects that by 2022, over half of Latin American GDP will be made digital, heavily enabled by enterprises advancing in their journeys to the cloud. With this new cloud multizone region, IBM is well positioned to help enterprises in Latin America differentiate themselves in their industries by capitalizing on this emerging hybrid multicloud world.”

Ana Paula Assis, General Manager of IBM Latin America, added:

“The cloud market is being redefined as hybrid. As companies shift more of their business applications to the cloud, they are looking to build efficiencies and maintain security as they look to manage data, services, and workflows across a hybrid multicloud environment. The new IBM Cloud multizone region is being designed to bring a portfolio of enterprise-grade infrastructure and services to deliver our best possibilities and benefits of hybrid cloud to clients in Latin America.”

Hashgraph Distributed Ledger Platform Adds IBM and Tata to Governing Council

Hedera Hashgraph, a speedy blockchain that seeks to power enterprise services, has added IBM and Tata Communications to its Governing Council. Hedera reports that curretntly there are 39 multinational entities participating on the Council as it pursues the “next generation” distributed ledger technology (DLT). Council members serve a maximum of two consecutive three-year terms and act as stewards of the platform.

CEO and founder Mance Harmon says the addition of IBM and Tata Communications to the Hedera Governing Council is a powerful endorsement of the tech.

“Our governance model, which includes a robust system of checks and balances, ensures power can’t be consolidated, while at the same time providing a stable and scalable platform on which developers can build,” states Harmon.

Hedera notes that all Council members have equal say in approving updates, setting policy and overseeing nodes. Hedera has consistently stated it will never fork.

Jerry Cuomo, VP of Blockchain Technologies at IBM, issued a statement on joining the Hedera Council:

“We are excited to join the Hedera Governing Council and explore relationships between public networks and industry-specific networks. Hyperledger has proven to be the de facto standard enterprises use to build, manage, and deploy blockchain-based ledgers. We believe Hedera could help provide an interesting way to enhance and simplify the deployment of Hyperledger Fabric in the enterprise, making it easier for groups to build and grow their networks.”

Simultaneously, Ankur Jindal, Global Head of Corporate Venturing and Innovation at Tata Communications, had this to say:

“Innovations such as DLT, AI, and IoT change the way organizations and people interact with each other and with the world. These emerging technologies can be harnessed to strengthen our efforts to improve operational efficiencies and enable our customers’ digital transformation worldwide. We look forward to engaging with other forward-looking businesses on the Hedera Hashgraph Governing Council to help deliver the potential of DLT to the wider digital economy.”

Harmon believes that DLT is “vital to the future of digital trust and commerce.”

“Though Council members come from all over the world and from many different sectors, they all share the vision of a better digital future. We are excited to welcome IBM and Tata Communications to the Council,” stated Harmon.

More Blockchain: Big Corporates Partner with IBM on Blockchain Network

Big corporates are partnering with IB (NYSE: IBM) on a new blockchain network, according to a company release. IBM and Chainyard have jointly announced “Trust Your Supplier” a distributed ledger technology platform that seeks to simplify supply chain management with better validation.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric and Vodafone are said to be the “founding participants.”

The decentralized methodology and “immutable audit trail built” on blockchain, the platform seeks to eliminate manual time-consuming processes while mitigating potential for fraud. IBM believes that blockchain will create value for $2 trillion of supply chain movement by 2023.

IBM expects to use the Trust Your Supplier network initially with 4,000 of its North American suppliers providing a 50% reduction in cost for these users.

While limited in its availability now, wide release will take place in Q3.

New York Times Trialing “Blockchain” to Combat Photo Doctoring in Fake News

The New York Times’ Research & Development team is trialing IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric permissioned DLT (distributed ledger technology) system to help ensure the progeny of photographs distributed across digital platforms, where the risks of fake news and photo doctoring are manifold.

“The New York Times Research & Development team is launching The News Provenance Project to experiment with product design and user-facing tools to try to make the origins of journalistic content clearer to our audiences,” project lead Sasha Koren writes in a blog post regarding the launch.

Proper means of assuring the veracity of media content could not be more critical, says Koren:

“In a time of heightened political polarization and widespread social media use, the prevalence of misinformation online is a persistent problem, with increasingly serious effects on elections and the stability of governments around the world. In addition to false statements published as fact in text and photos that have been manipulated or republished out of context, instances of manipulated video are now on the rise. How should news organizations respond to this crisis?”

Permissioned distributed ledgers are often referred to as “blockchains” but for various reasons, the term is controversial.

Suffice it to say the system in this case, if it passes proof of concept, will allow multiple parties to access and use consensus to update photo records:

“Why blockchain? Its underlying structure as a ‘distributed ledger’ (a database that is not housed on one set of servers owned and operated by one entity, but by many entities and servers that are kept updated simultaneously) is useful for this project because it makes the records of each change traceable: files are not so much changed as built upon. Any updates to what is published are recorded in a sequential string (or ‘blocks’ in a ‘chain’) with the string of those changes adding up to create a provenance.”

As well,

“By experimenting with publishing photos on a blockchain, we might, in theory, provide audiences with a way to determine the source of a photo, or whether it had been edited after it was published.”

Koren says The Times solution was inspired partly by The Guardian’s decision to change how it displays dates on old articles after  it saw traffic on old articles spiking when they had been, “shared as new, and with incorrect context, on Facebook.”

The Times joins a host of other media firms and non-profits trying to combat false reporting.

“As misinformation tools continue to evolve,” Koren writes, “so have strategies to identify and avoid it. Some recent standout examples include the Washington Post’s visual explainer of manipulated video and the Wall Street Journal’s creation of a team to help its journalists identify deepfakes. In addition, a number of news-centric nonprofits — including First Draft, which provides guidance in verifying content found on the social web, consortiums like Misinfocon, the Credibility Coalition, and manymany others — have emerged to study the issue from a variety of perspectives and provide much-needed research and training.”

Other news organizations are welcome to contribute to the trial:

“We’re working from within The New York Times Company, but not solely on behalf of it. A successful implementation will require collaboration and use among many organizations…(W)e’ll make what we learn publicly available in the hopes that it may be of interest and of use to other publishers. We would love to have more participants join us in this experimentation — particularly news outlets that publish original photos and that serve different audiences from The Times’s.”

IBM Acquires Shares of Hybrid Cloud Tech Provider Red Hat For $34 Billion

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced on Tuesday it has acquired all of the issued and outstanding common shares of open hybrid cloud technologies provider Red Hat for $190 per share in cash, which represents equity value of approximately $34 billion. IBM reported that the acquisition it and Red Hat will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multi-cloud platform.

“Based on open source technologies, such as Linux and Kubernetes, the platform will allow businesses to securely deploy, run and manage data and applications on-premises and on private and multiple public clouds.”

Speaking about the acquisition, Ginni Rometty, IBM Chairman, President and CEO, stated:

“Businesses are starting the next chapter of their digital reinventions, modernizing infrastructure and moving mission-critical workloads across private clouds and multiple clouds from multiple vendors. They need open, flexible technology to manage these hybrid multicloud environments. And they need partners they can trust to manage and secure these systems. IBM and Red Hat are uniquely suited to meet these needs. As the leading hybrid cloud provider, we will help clients forge the technology foundations of their business for decades to come.”

Jim Whitehurst, President and CEO, Red Hat, also commented:

“When we talk to customers, their challenges are clear: They need to move faster and differentiate through technology. They want to build more collaborative cultures, and they need solutions that give them the flexibility to build and deploy any app or workload, anywhere. We think open source has become the de facto standard in technology because it enables these solutions. Joining forces with IBM gives Red Hat the opportunity to bring more open source innovation to an even broader range of organizations and will enable us to scale to meet the need for hybrid cloud solutions that deliver true choice and agility.”

IBM then noted that Red Hat will continue to be led by Whitehurst and its current management team. Whitehurst is joining IBM’s senior management team, reporting to Ginni Rometty. IBM then added it will maintain Red Hat’s headquarters in Raleigh, North Carolina, its facilities, brands, and practices.

ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, IBM, Scentre Group, & Westpac Participates in Live Pilot of Blockchain-Based Platform Lygon

ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, IBM (NYSE: IBM), Scentre Group and Westpac announced on Tuesday they have jointly launched a live pilot for Lygon, which is described as a new digital platform using blockchain technology to transform the way businesses obtain and manage bank guarantees that are often required as part of a retail property lease.

The organizations reported that the launch marks a significant milestone in the global development of blockchain solutions.

“Lygon represents an industry solution that the participants could not have individually implemented. The founding members have brought together their deep understanding of industry processes to navigate from proof of concept to a live platform that will directly benefit customers and address their feedback on the way in which bank guarantees have been issued to date.”

The organizations also noted that The pilot will run for eight weeks with live data and transactions for a test group of retail property leasing customers. In subsequent phases, Lygon plans to expand the range of digitized bank guarantees that it supports across other industries as well as offering its services to other customers in the retail property sector. They went on to add:

“Thousands of retailers around Australia – from single store operators to national and international brands – need bank guarantees from their banks to secure a lease over a retail tenancy. The pilot will involve lease holders with retail outlets in some of Scentre Group’s Westfield living centres across Australia. After the pilot, Lygon intends to offer access to the platform to all issuers, applicants, and beneficiaries and support broader use cases over time.”

The Lygon platform will be operated by Lygon 1B Pty Ltd, a company jointly owned by the five founding members.

IBM Introduces New Version of Enterprise Blockchain Platform

IBM announced on Tuesday the launch of its enterprise blockchain platform’s latest version. IBM reported that its vision is a fully-flexible blockchain platform, built around a well-managed open source distributed ledger technology, that can truly run in virtually any computing infrastructure. It was revealed:

“Clients can now benefit from the next generation of the IBM Blockchain Platform which has been rearchitected to support deployments via Kubernetes. This means you can now deploy the IBM Blockchain Platform on the infrastructure of your choosing. Deploy to public clouds like IBM Cloud, AWS, and Azure, or deploy on-premises in private clouds with secure infrastructures like LinuxOne. This hybrid and multicloud approach will allow blockchain networks to work effectively across multiple environments.”

IBM also shared that multicloud and other advanced capabilities have been built into the updated platform, based from learnings from hundreds of blockchain client engagements across every industry. It was noted that this next generation builds on IBM’s commitment to promoting open technologies to accelerate innovation and adoption.

“We understand that not all participants in a blockchain network will have the same requirements; therefore, the next generation of the IBM Blockchain Platform gives users the flexibility to deploy only the blockchain components you need, where and when you need them. Whether it’s just a peer, ordering service, or certificate authority, users can manage these components all in one place. You also maintain complete control of your identities, ledger, and smart contracts featuring the industry’s first ‘team-based’ network management.”

IBM went on to add:

“The new IBM Blockchain Platform allows an organization to easily connect a single peer to multiple industry networks. This, combined with the ability to deploy network components in any environment, will accelerate the phenomenon we like to call the network of networks. Additionally, the platform features a new pricing model that allows you to start small and pay as you grow, pay for only what you need, and maintain full control over total cost of network ownership.”

Stronghold Is Now Working with IBM Blockchain World Wire

Yesterday IBM (NYSE: IBM)  introduced Blockchain World Wire, a real-time global payments network for regulated financial institutions accessible to more than 50 countries. Designed to optimize and accelerate foreign exchange, cross border payments and remittances, Blockchain World Wire claimants to be the first blockchain network of its kind to integrate payment messaging, clearing and settlement on a single unified network, while allowing participants to dynamically choose from a variety of digital assets for settlement. One of IBM Blockchain World Wire’s partners in this global project is Christchrch, New Zealand- based Stronghold.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Stronghold USD Stablecoin Now Powering Payments and Foreign Exchange in More Than 50 Countries with @IBM World Wire. @ItsSeanBennett ‏@jesselund ‏@strongholdxchg @TammyCamp ‏” template=”light”]

Founded in 2017, San Francisco-based Stronghold released Stronghold USD last year, a U.S. dollar token that’s 100% backed by funds on deposit with a qualified SEC custodian. Instead of using traditional banking intermediaries to transmit payments, IBM Blockchain World Wire is using Stronghold USD and other digital currencies to facilitate settlement.

“As a financial institution, we’re in a unique position to innovate when it comes to enabling instant settlement for payments,” said Stronghold CEO and co-founder Tammy Camp. “Integrating our technology with IBM Blockchain World Wire represents a paradigm shift for payment processors.”

Stronghold, a blockchain-enabled financial institution, uses distributed ledger technology to provide a platform with tools that integrate with global financial systems to streamline real time payments while supporting regulatory compliance and improved liquidity.

“We’ve worked extensively with IBM to integrate our platform API with IBM Blockchain World Wire,” added Stronghold CTO and co-founder Sean Bennett. “Because our technology offers maximum transparency and minimal delays, today’s launch represents a significant step forward in distributed ledger technology.”

To recap, World Wire enables regulated financial institutions to expand their business ecosystems more rapidly, while aiming to improve financial inclusion for people around the world through highly secure, point-to-point payment transactions. Unlike conventional correspondent banking, IBM Blockchain World Wire functions to reduce intermediaries and allows users to accelerate settlement times by transmitting monetary value in the form of digital assets known as cryptocurrencies or “stable coins.” This simplified approach is designed to improve operational efficiency and liquidity management, streamline payment reconciliation and reduce overall transaction costs for financial institutions.

“Blockchain provides a unique technology for payments,” stated IBM Blockchain Global Vice President Jesse Lund. “Using World Wire, participants can discover each other’s capabilities, negotiate FX rates, and transfer value in real time. This reduces the need for intermediaries and long durations for clearing and settlements – which ultimately can get money into consumers’ hands faster and more cost-effectively.”

[easy-tweet tweet=”‘#Blockchain provides a unique technology for payments…’ @IBM World Wire. @ItsSeanBennett ‏@jesselund ‏@strongholdxchg @TammyCamp” template=”light”]

Poised to support more than 50 countries, with 20+ currencies and more than 30 banking endpoints, with the network of financial institutions actively growing, World Wire will certainly be a force to watch.

________________________________________

IBM Blockchain World Wire Set to Support Payments & Foreign Exchange to More Than 50 Countries

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced on Monday IBM Blockchain World Wire, a real-time global payments network for regulated financial institutions, is officially accessible to more than 50 countries.  According to IBM, World Wire was designed to optimize and accelerate foreign exchange, cross border payments and remittances and is claimed to be the first blockchain network of its kind to integrate payment messaging, clearing and settlement on a single unified network, while allowing participants to dynamically choose from a variety of digital assets for settlement.

“World Wire provides a more straight-through model for cross border payments using the Stellar protocol that makes money transfers point-to-point in lieu of the complexities of conventional correspondent banking. It reduces intermediaries and allows users to accelerate settlement time often in seconds by transmitting monetary value in the form of digital assets, commonly known as cryptocurrencies or ‘stable coins.’ This simplified approach improves operational efficiency and liquidity management, streamlining payment reconciliation and reducing overall transaction costs for financial institutions. “

While sharing more details about World Wire, Marie Wieck, General Manager of IBM Blockchain, stated:

“We’ve created a new type of payment network designed to accelerate remittances and transform cross-border payments to facilitate the movement of money in countries that need it most. By creating a network where financial institutions support multiple digital assets, we expect to spur innovation and improve financial inclusion worldwide.”

IBM went on to reveal that the network already supports settlement using Stellar Lumens and a U.S. dollar stable coin through IBM’s previously-announced collaboration with Stronghold. IBM added:

“Pending regulatory approvals and other reviews, six international banks, including Banco Bradesco, Bank Busan, and Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), have signed letters of intent to issue their own stable coins on World Wire, adding Euro, Indonesian Rupiah, Philippine Peso, Korean Won and Brazilian Real stable coins to the network. IBM will continue to expand the ecosystem of settlement assets based on client demand.”

IBM Launches Blockchain Security Testing Service

IBM (NYSE: IBM) Security’s team of offensive security experts, X-Force Red,  announced on Tuesday the launch of a new blockchain testing service, which was created to help identify weaknesses and strengthen the security of a wide range of solutions that incorporate the fast-growing technology. IBM reported that the service will evaluate both the backend processes used to manage blockchain networks as well as the actual ledger environment. It was revealed:

“IBM X-Force Red is seeing that 70 percent of solutions that incorporate blockchain rely on traditional technologies for backend processes like authentication, data processing and Application Programming Interfaces (API). The X-Force Red Blockchain Testing service will evaluate the whole implementation including chain code, public key infrastructure and hyperledgers. X-Force Red will also test backend processes, applications and physical hardware used to control access and manage blockchain networks.”

During a typical Blockchain Testing engagement, X-Force Red will assess:

  • Identity and Access – since access can be the key to the blockchain X-Force Red will evaluate how permissions to access/add info to the blockchain are administered including password policies, susceptibility to brute force attacks, and the implementation of 2-factor authentication
  • Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) – secure creation, management, and distribution of digital certificates and keys associated with a blockchain network is crucial to ensuring data integrity
  • Smart Contract flaws – smart contracts, also known as “chain code,” allow for trustless execution of agreements by parties on the blockchain, but proper penetration testing can find exploitable flaws in these agreements
  • Software supply chain attacks – common libraries and component dependency hacking can be tested during design and implementation to ensure secure dependency signatures and a trust build pipeline

Charles Henderson, Global Head of IBM X-Force Red, went on to add:

“While blockchain is a breakthrough for protecting the integrity of data, that does not mean the solutions that leverage it are immune from attackers, which is why security testing is essential during development and after deployment. If we look at mobile applications, cloud computing and even personal computers – all these innovations needed to adopt policies and techniques for security after they grew in popularity. Blockchain presents businesses with an opportunity to break that trend.”

Entrex and IBM Partner on “Opportunity Zone” Trading Platform to Bring Capital to Developing Parts of US

Entrex Capital Market has announced that it has created, “a nationwide capital market system that helps investors and advisors find, research, track, manage and trade securities of private companies and funds within opportunity zones.”

The release from Entrex states that their new program could help drive billions into low income communities struggling to access growth capital:

“Here’s the backstory: In 2017, the US Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) introduced a community development program called Opportunity Zones. Designated by the government across 50 states, opportunity zones are low-income, economically distressed communities. The aim of the federal program is to spur development in these struggling areas by offering tax breaks to investors who reinvest their capital gains in private companies and funds in the designated zones.”

The company’s LinkedIN page says Entrex previously managed, “a ‘Capital Market System for Entrepreneurial Companies’…”  that used a proprietary software system called, “TIGRcub Securities via the eChain- the trading ledger for TIGRcub Securities.”

Entrex’s new system uses securities ledger tech from IBM (Blockchain, Domino, Notes, XPages) and Hyperledger Fabric.

IBM/Entrex claim their platform:

  • “Reduces (token) launch time by two-thirds, from months to days”
  • “Delivers a complete audit trail of all transactions”

Entrex says it seeks to go where Wall Street has not:

“Wall Street struggles to efficiently invest in small local businesses with annual revenues of less than USD 200 million. Meanwhile the majority of opportunity zone investing is in funds or businesses of just this size.”

Entrex Founder and CEO Stephen H. Watkins says there is a definite demand for Entrex services:

“Even though small and midsize businesses are among the nation’s largest employers and generate steady profits year after year, it’s often difficult for them to secure the investments they need to take their growth to the next level. This is a significant portion of the market that wasn’t being served by Wall Street broker-dealers and financial advisors, and we wanted to address it.”

The Entrex/IBM/Hyperledger system will, “simplify how investors and brokers offered capital to local entrepreneurial companies.”

He states:

“We wanted to empower businesses to trade securities in a way similar to the public markets…Our goal was to offer an end-to-end solution, from the originating brokers at the start of the process to the placement deal brokers, investors and secondary traders further downstream. But because we operate in a highly regulated industry, it was also crucial that our new platform could deliver a complete audit trail of all transactions for regulatory and compliance purposes.”

“So we set out to find a solution with the security and scalability we needed to meet our goals.”

The Entrex Capital Market Program for Opportunity Zones appears to only be available to accredited investors at this time.

For more information, please consult the full release here.

IBM Collaborates With Aetna, Anthem, Health Care Service Corporation, & PNC Bank to Create New Blockchain Network For Healthcare Industry

IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced on Thursday it has teamed up with Aetna, Anthem (NYSE: ANTM), Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC), and PNC Bank (NYSE: PNC) to create a new blockchain network specifically for the healthcare industry.

According to IBM, the network’s goal is to create an inclusive blockchain network that can benefit multiple members of the healthcare ecosystem in a highly secure, shared environment as well as to allow the blockchain network to enable healthcare companies to build, share and deploy solutions that drive digital transformation in the industry.

“Despite major initiatives to digitize healthcare information, major improvements in transparency and interoperability among various groups in the healthcare system are still necessary. By reducing administrative errors and friction through the application of blockchain technology, healthcare information could be exchanged more efficiently. These improvements, once realized could help enhance patient care and reduce unnecessary costs.”

IBM also revealed that the collaboration members do intend to use blockchain to address a range of industry challenges, including promoting efficient claims and payment processing, to enable secure and frictionless healthcare information exchanges, and to maintain current and accurate provider directories. While sharing more details about the collaboration, Lori Steele, General Manager for Healthcare and Life Sciences for IBM, stated:

“Blockchain’s unique attributes make it suitable for large networks of members to quickly exchange sensitive data in a permissioned, controlled, and transparent way. The fact that these major healthcare players have come together to collaborate indicates the value they see in working together to explore new models that we think could drive more efficiency in the healthcare system and ultimately improve the patient experience.”

Aetna, Anthem, HCSC, PNC Bank, and IBM are actively working to further define the initial use cases for the health utility network. Additional members will be announced in the coming months and will include other health organizations, healthcare providers, startups, and technology companies.

IBM Wants to Lead on Blockchain Innovation, Announces 10 Blockchain Startups Joining Their Accelerator

Yes, there has been too much hype in the blockchain / distributed ledger technology (DLT) sector but there remains a lot of promise. Cut through the noise and different sectors of industry (not just finance) are starting to see some promising traction.

Big tech is very much aware of the potential of blockchain to impact their traditional business lines and they don’t want to be left behind. Their options are to build, buy, or collaborate. IBM recently made an announcement on the collaborate side.

Today, IBM published a blog post that highlights the ten blockchain startups joining the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program. IBM is “systematically partnering with some of the best startups in the world,” claims big Blue.

So who is in the IBM blockchain accelerator class of the Winter of 2019?

Securitize (mentioned earlier today) is a “compliance platform and protocol for issuing and managing digital securities on the blockchain.” So security tokens including both debt and equity. IBM is most interested in debt which is an enormous marketplace – and one they participate in every year.

Lucidity is a “blockchain-based marketing analytics company for digital advertising.”  IBM says they have already gained significant market traction delivering transparent ad measurement using blockchain tech.

TigerTrade is an “international B2B marketplace for trading excess retail inventory.” Tiger wants to move end of season merchandise faster and more efficiently, especially in emerging markets.

Phunware, Inc. (NASDAQ:PHUN) is a “fully integrated enterprise software platform for mobile that provides companies the products, solutions, data and services necessary to engage, manage and monetize their mobile application audiences globally at scale.” Phunware has already raised about $100 million in VC capital and has issued a security token.

Connecting Food is a digital solution for the food supply chain from “farm to fork.” Smart contracts are incorporated to help reward participating farmers.

Ferrum is a blockchain equipment lease financing company based in Canada. Ferrum wants to build and scale their product for equipment lease financing.

Bandwagon is a “ticket authenticity and fan identity management company” that leverages blockchain. Bandwagon wants to become the “global validator of digital tickets.”

IPwe is a blockchain-based patent platform. IPwe wants to make it easy to assess patent portfolios, buy, sell, license patents and more.

MetaMe is a wallet and “Smart Data marketplace, empowering people to take ownership of their digital selves.” MetaMe is building an “outcomes-based health insurance blockchain network,” including token-based incentives.

Credly’s mission is to connect people to opportunity based on their demonstrated talent and capabilities. IBM is partnering with Credly on their blockchain based platform.

Can all these startups scale? Well, IBM is going to help.

Securitize Joins IBM Blockchain Accelerator Program to Modernize Debt Market Using Blockchain Technology

Securitize, a platform that facilitates security token offerings, announced on Monday has been selected to join the IBM Blockchain Accelerator program as it works to modernize a portion of the $82 trillion corporate debt market using blockchain technology.

Founded in 2017, Securitize describes itself as a compliance platform and protocol for issuing and managing digital securities on the blockchain, including dividends, distributions, and share buy-backs. The company reported its Digital Securities Protocol (DS Protocol) enables seamless, fully compliant trading across multiple markets simultaneously.

“Securitize actively partners with exchanges, broker-dealers, custodians of crypto, escrow services, and other financial infrastructure for digital securities.”

Speaking about Secuitize joining the accelerator program, David Post, managing director, IBM Blockchain Ventures, stated:

“As the leader in enterprise blockchain, IBM is proud to welcome Securitizeand nine others to the inaugural IBM Blockchain Accelerator program. The participants have been chosen for their promising use cases and dedication to building scalable blockchain networks that have the power to transform existing business processes.”

Carlos Domingo, Founder and CEO of Securitize, also commented:

“Taking something complex and expensive to issue and manage like debt and moving it to the blockchain makes sense. Smart contracts are built to do just this. Our platform and protocol solution is better than what exists today, and is another step in the modernization of financial markets.”

Securitize’s DS Protocol will also provide automation and efficiency around complicated debt waterfall structures thereby providing a modern solution for the finance industry. As part of its offering, Securitize will handle the technical aspects of issuance and lifecycle management for tokenized corporate debt. The company added that the new product is available immediately and it is working with a number of issuers to expand the adoption.

Securitize joining the accelerator program comes just a couple of months after the platform formed a partnership with Elevated Returns to boost its real estate tokenization program in Southeast Asia. According to Elevated Returns at the time, the new partnership will implement and localize Securitize’s compliant security token issuance platform in Thailand. Domingo stated he and his team were excited to partner with Elevated Returns and join forces to “tokenize iconic properties in Asia and beyond.”

“ER Global is an experienced team with deep knowledge of the Thai market, which makes them a great partner for Securitize as we continue to expand the adoption of the Securitize compliance platform and DS Protocol.”

Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem, & RCS Global Launch Blockchain Pilot to Address Strategic Mineral Supply Chains Concerns

Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem, and RCS Global announced earlier this week they are using blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals as a way to support human rights and environmental protection while helping infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains.

The companies reported they will begin with a pilot focused on cobalt and explore the creation of an open, industrywide blockchain platform that could be used to trace and validate a range of minerals used in consumer products. It was revealed:

“The blockchain pilot is already underway and seeks to demonstrate how materials in the supply chain are responsibly produced, traded and processed. For this pilot based on a simulated sourcing scenario, Cobalt produced at Huayou’s industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem’s cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant in the United States. An immutable audit trail will be created on the blockchain, which will include corresponding data to provide evidence of the cobalt production from mine to end manufacturer.”

Participants in the network will reportedly be validated against responsible sourcing standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The companies went on to add:

While the initial focus is on large-scale miners (LSMs), an important objective of the group is to help increase transparency in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASMs) and enable these operators to sell their raw materials in the global market, while they meet their internationally ratified responsibility requirements. The network can help enable ASM operators to partner with due diligence data providers and, ultimately, join a blockchain-based network of validated participants. The pilot will also explore the use of incentives or financial benefits for ASMs and their local communities impacted by mining.”