Russian Parliament Pushes Forward With the Waves-based Blockchain Voting; Despite ID Issues

  • Russia’s blockchain-oriented voting system set to be used in the upcoming national elections is yet to be fully efficient but will be implemented nonetheless.
  • According to the country’s Central Election Commission, this initiative’s user tests have been successful, although some improvements need to be made on voter identification.

First reported by Russian media, Kommersant, the newspaper, highlighted that Yaroslavskaya and Kurskaya parliamentary elections scheduled for September 13 would leverage this blockchain solution for remote voting. So far, around 15,000 people have registered to vote through this blockchain-based ecosystem, while at least 3,500 had participated in the project’s testing.

The Technical Underpinnings

This project was developed under Russia’s state back telco giant, Rostelecom, which will also host the blockchain nodes on its company servers. Built on the enterprise version of Waves blockchain, the e-voting system leverages some advanced solutions, including encrypted tech that is yet to be battle-tested. Dubbed ‘homomorphic encryption,’ this tech keeps the votes encrypted until voting is over when they can finally be decrypted.

While the value proposed is better than what was used in Moscow’s e-voting, homomorphic encryption poses a challenge when it comes to voter identification. MixBytes Co-founder and Cybersec expert, Sergey Prilutsky, told Coindesk that authorities could meddle with the votes if they are in control of the list. In addition to this, the embedded encryption in homomorphic ‘elliptic curves’ is not considered secure by Russia’s counter-intelligence agency, FSB.

“It uses elliptic curves that are not considered secure by the FSB,” said the Chief Product Officer of Waves, Artem Kalikhov.

He, however, went on to assure stakeholders that the firm is working on this and noted progress with other functions such as e-signatures, which have already been certified by the FSB. Also, Kalikhov said that getting the ‘homomorphic encryption’ certification is unlikely to be a challenge that might stall development.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Shyft’s Veriscope Governance Task Force for AML Adds Bitfinex, Huobi, Tether, & Others

Shyft Network, a blockchain-oriented firm focused on KYC and AML solutions has added significant liquidity players in the crypto space, including Bitfinex, Unocoin, Tokocrypto, Haskey, and Tether to its Veriscope Governance Task Force. They join the likes of Bitfury and Binance, who had already been onboarded to the Veriscope decentralized compliance framework and smart contract ecosystem.

According to the announcement on August 8, this development will further increase Shyft Network’s favorability in providing a self-regulatory solution to the FATF Travel Rule. This regulation, which came into effect early this year, requires Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to share the underlying KYC details of both originators and fund beneficiaries for amounts above $1,000.

Despite a preference towards privacy and anonymity, the crypto community led by market giants have reacted positively towards the FATF Travel Rule initiative. Shyft Network’s Veriscope is among the solutions that have since been floated to ease the burden of sharing information or reporting the same to oversight bodies.

Notably, the company tapped some of the FATF top leadership to lead Veriscope which launched as recent as July. They include Rick McDonell who served as the FATF’s executive secretary and former head of Canada’s FATF delegation, Josee Nadeau. The two will serve as Veriscope’s chairs in collaboration with VASPs that have been onboarded in the governance task force.

Veriscope’s Value Proposition in Travel Rule Compliance

As the FATF compliance deadline approaches in 2021, viable and cost-efficient solutions to sharing KYC information are in the pipeline. Some players like BitGo have already gone ahead to leverage API integration to assist their clients in seamless data appending, as per the Travel Rule guidelines. Now that Veriscope, a public blockchain built network, has also made a debut; the vision to FATF compliance in crypto just made a significant milestone.

Shyft Network Co-founder, Joseph Weinberg, noted that Veriscope’s governance task force will work collaboratively to develop sustainable and growth accommodating policies,

“In a time where we are seeing global coordination challenges and incoming guidance requirements that make significant alterations to our ecosystem, it is critical that the rest of the world has strong liquidity representation and directives from our largest operators who in turn aggregate network effects for the smaller VASPs in our space.”

It is also quite noteworthy that the Veriscope underlying model will allow the VASPs within its network to choose who they want to share information with, hence maintaining operational sovereignty while complying with the FATF Travel Rule.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

USAF Allocates $1.5M to SIMBA Chain for Blockchain Supply Chain Integration

The U.S Department of Defense has allocated $1.5 million towards SIMBA Chain, a blockchain-oriented firm, to advance research in supply chain logistics. This blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) startup has developed close ties with the U.S Air Force, hence the opportunity to embark on research and development in blockchain logistics for security forces.

According to an announcement on June 15, SIMBA Chain has since begun the second phase of its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) in collaboration with the U.S Air Force. This project aims to provide a value proposition based on blockchain tech to scale the efficiency of military supply chains.

Blockchain Supply Chain for the USAF

Joel Neidig, the CEO of SIMBA Chain, said that they would set up a Hyperledger Fabric node at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Notably, this is the U.S Air Force supply chain logistics hub.

Neidig went on to highlight that the initial focus will be on risk management within the $62 billion USAF procurement pool. The aim will be the identification of what, who, and where risk factors to single out a potential break down areas in the supply chain.

SIMBA Chain has partnered with Boeing to roll out this initiative and leverage stats from ‘real data’. However, Neidig did not specify which Boeing parts will be tracked in this second phase of the SBIR project. Other than supply chain logistics, the SIMBA Chain CEO was keen to note that blockchain could also streamline information sharing in the military:

“Within the military, they’re also thinking about how people are sharing data, where it is coming from, where else it’s connected to. They think out all the things that can go wrong, and that’s where blockchain can come in.”

SIMBA Chain History in Blockchain

The BaaS is no newcomer to the game, having raised seed funding from the Department of Defense back in 2017. At the time, they were tasked with creating a crypto chat app for Advanced Research Projects within the military. The firm would later secure more SBIR contracts with the Air Force and Navy.

Following these developments, SIMBA Chain has positioned itself as the advocate for blockchain in military ecosystems. Interestingly, the company’s tech has, in turn, received support from the Air Force according to sentiments by the director of Special Programs, Strategy, and Policy in USAF, Jeffrey Slayton:

“Emerging technologies like SIMBA Chain’s blockchain platform have the potential to achieve the reliable exchange of information over an unreliable network where not all participants can be trusted, and in so doing, continue to advance the technological supremacy of America’s air, space and cyber forces.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

KY Gov. Approves Blockchain Working Group Bill to Explore Use In Security of Critical Infrastructure

Kentucky has successfully completed a legislative process to create a blockchain-oriented working group. This is after its governor, Andy Beshear, signed a bill on April 24 effecting the establishment of a proposed task force.

An official update has since been shared on Kentucky’s General Assembly website on the details of this new bill. According to the publication, the bill was introduced in January 2020 with the aim of advancing blockchain tech. It was, therefore, dubbed ‘AN ACT relating to blockchain technology’.

Kentucky’s Blockchain Bill

This new development is expected to change the approach towards blockchain tech within Kentucky’s government and existing industries. Part of the bill reads,

“The working group shall evaluate the feasibility and efficacy of using blockchain technology to enhance the security of and increase protection for the state’s critical infrastructure, including but not limited to the electric utility grid, natural gas pipelines, drinking water supply and delivery, wastewater, telecommunications, and emergency services.“

Given its fundamentals, the bill appears to have been popular as it was passed with a unanimous vote of 87 against 2 during its final reading on April 14. It was then approved ten days later by Kentucky’s governor and will now guide this state in blockchain-related issues. If successful, Kentucky, is set to join the likes of Wyoming and other states that have so far developed concrete structures for oversight on blockchain tech.

As for the blockchain working group, the bill outlines a total of nine members, three of whom are ex-officio. They will be tasked with different sectors which include, energy, local government, public utilities, Information technology, Communications, and Fiscal matters. Notably, the members will include stakeholders from various public entities in Kentucky such as the Public Service Commission, Homeland Security, and the Commonwealth Office of Technology.

The working group is hence expected to report to Kentucky’s governor and the LRC towards the end of every year,

“The workgroup shall report to the Governor and to the Legislative Research Commission by December 1 of each year. The report shall include the current priority list and a discussion of whether blockchain could be deployed, and any associated cost-benefit analysis,”

This initiative is set to cost the state of Kentucky $400,000 annually according to a fiscal noted attached to the bill. The state, therefore, plans to raise these funds from its multiple revenue sources and invest in blockchain oversight and implementation through the acquisition of expertise for its desired goals.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Ripple Consolidates its xRapid, xCurrent and xVia Features Under One Network; RippleNet

Ripple recently announced the consolidation of its services within RippleNet offering. The blockchain-oriented firm known for its convenient transfer features in the blockchain ecosystem made these changes to enhance service delivery to clients.

The New Ripple Network Outlook

A spokesman from Ripple noted that besides the change of name, the firm had sought to make its xRapid, xVia and xCurrent features more accessible. As a result, clients will now be able to use xVia and xCurrent on-premises in addition to cloud services. This will be an improvement from the current design that requires prospective clients to buy the features. Furthermore, Ripple’s xRapid technology will leverage the on-demand liquidity that comes under RippleNet offering.

According to Ripple’s sentiments, the strategy to consolidate under one network is a step in the right direction as the market evolves. One of the most notable reasons is a demand in the firm’s services that has seen its user base grow hence the need for a standard development that competes favourably.

Ripple’s Decentralization in Question!

The project has however had its fair share of criticisms with players in crypto attacking the fundamentals of Ripple’s decentralization. This has put the firm in a defensive position over its growth journey. Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple’s CEO, recently said the nature of Ripple’s transparent ecosystem is what has attracted many critics. He added that there exists a lot of misinformation about Ripple’s products amongst the crypto community which can be partly attributed to their success in creating a highly transparent network.

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Author: Lujan Odera