FDA Releases Blueprint On Using Modern Technologies To Usher In A ‘New Era Of Smarter Food’

  • The U.S Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) is looking into integrating modern technology such as AI and blockchains to develop a new era of food safety.

In a blueprint document published on July 13, ‘New Era for Smarter Food Safety Blueprint,’ the FDA is looking into a new approach to food safety through leveraging modern technologies to “create a safer and more digital, traceable food system.”

The document focuses on new technologies, strategies, and leadership to offer the safest food possible, blockchain is mentioned as a key component in the blueprint.

The new era of modern food security and safety lies on four key pillars, namely the new business models and retail modernization, food safety culture, faster prevention and approach methods to outbreaks, and finally, a tech-enabled traceability feature such as AI, Big data, and blockchain.

When we look at how industries track, through digital means, the real-time movement of planes, ride-sharing, and packaged goods or how firms are harnessing big data to identify trends,” the blueprint reads.

“It is clear FDA, and our stakeholders should be looking at how to tap into new technologies that include, but are not limited to, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, sensor technologies, and blockchain.”

Blockchain technology also mentioned as a critical component in leveraging digital transformation whereby if implemented, it will help in “receiving receive critical tracking events and key data elements from industry and regulatory partners.”

FDA is critically looking at blockchain solutions to improve traceability and tracking of food and medicine. In May, BEG reported FDA’s successful completion of a pilot blockchain program together with IBM, KPMG, Merck, and Walmart to trace medication in the U.S.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Currency.com Obtains DLT License From Gibraltar Financial Watchdog for Tokenized Exchange

Currency.com, a Belarus based crypto firm, has obtained a distributed ledger technology license granted by the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission, according to an announcement on July 6. This license would allow the platform to use blockchain for either storing or transmitting value to others in provision with the dealer.

Squires, the CEO of Currency.com, explained how the newly obtained license would reinforce clients’ belief in the firm while offering them better prospects of expanding and reaching new customers. He said:

“For our European clients, we’re aware that they have a preference for a recognizable legal framework for the venue through which they trade (Gibraltar is based heavily on the laws of England and Wales), so we intend to engage with clients and entities in the EU using this license.”

He elaborated further on the plans of expansion and said:

“We have several regions we’re keen to extend into, and we have the technical capacity and team to do so easily. That said, we are very cautious about any market entry to make sure that we protect both our clients and our brand. Once we have built our European expansion through Gibraltar, we’ll be moving on to other large markets for sure.”

He also lauded Gibraltar for regulating cryptocurrencies and crypto platforms, given how strict the governance around digital assets is. He noted:

“Our Gibraltar license is an important endorsement for the platform and further confirms our adherence to the most stringent standards, providing the highest level of safety and security for our traders.”

The EU regulations and guidance are considered to be among the strictest ones, and thus efforts made by the likes of Gibraltar helps in pushing the adoption.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Crypto Custodian, Curv, Raises $26M Led By Commerzbank, Digital Currency Group, Coinbase Ventures

Crypto custody firm, Curv, which claims to enhance the multi-signature technology through a “secrecy computational model,” closed a $23 million Series A funding round. They will use the new capital to expand its business to global clients, improve its secrecy features, strengthen its technological infrastructure, and grow its team.

The funding was led by Digital Currency Group (DCG) and CommerzVentures, subsidiary of one of Germany’s leading banks, Commerzbank, which deals with the investments of the bank. Other participants in the round include Coinbase Ventures, Tokyo-based Digital Garage Lab Fund, and Team8, a cybersecurity firm headquartered in Israel.

Curv is a cryptography startup that raised $6.5 million in a seed funding round in 2018, launching its International Digital Wallet service providing users with security, independence, and flexibility in its digital asset storage. The firm uses the multi-party computation (MPC) cryptography system to keep funds safe.

MPC generates random private keys and shares them across a group of designated authorities instead of the multi-signature technology that secures the wallet through one fixed private key and hard computations.

On the significance of employing MPC over multi-signature technology, Curv CEO, Itay Malinger said,

“There is not any point in time or space where there will actually be a private key. MPC breaks that paradigm, so you don’t have additional layers of security like guards or cameras or World War II bunkers that can take 24 hours to get at.”

Real industry adoption

Curv is experiencing sustained growth in the number of clients, including top industry players such as Franklin Templeton (to secure and custody tokenized shares), trading platform eToro and trading desk, Genesis Trading, also owned by DCG. Itay declined to give too much on its future partners and customers but said Curv is speaking to several exchanges and institutional players on Wall Street.

The funding will also support tX, a group of engineers developing on Curv, to ensure the platform is ready for both crypto-focused and traditional financial institutions in the international markets.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ripple CTO Bullish on Bitcoin But Has Been Selling His Stash for Years

David Schwartz, chief technology officer at Ripple, recently shared that he is still bullish on bitcoin but is currently selling his BTC stash.

On being asked by Adam Back, co-founder and chief executive officer of the blockchain technology company, Blockstream, “aren’t you pro-BTC and converting XRP into Bitcoin?” Schwartz shared,

“Nope. I’ve been slowly selling bitcoin for the past several years.”

And the reason behind selling bitcoin is the risk. “I’m still bullish on bitcoin, it’s just the level of risk that has me selling,” he said.

This snippet is from the discussion about who is the pseudo-anonymous bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

Stop Searching for Satoshi; We are all Satoshi

A Twitter user declared Adam Back as Satoshi Nakamoto to which the cryptographer replied with a simple “not me.”

Some also see Hal Finney, a cypherpunk and early Bitcoin contributor and Nick Szabo, a cryptographer who designed BitGold, as the pseudo-anonymous creator. Both are among the top runners for being Satoshi.

“FWIW they both said it wasn’t them also. We’ll never know – many cypherpunks had no social media footprint, and anon posts. Probably a digital ghost, who burned the nym to be safe,” said Back about Finney and Szabo being Nakamoto.

“Bitcoin is better as a decentralized digital commodity without a founder. We are all Satoshi,” he added.

This is where software engineer and Director at Ripple, Nik Bougalis, came who agreed with Back about Bitcoin being better without a founder.

“Abandoning the Satoshi Nakamoto persona and leaving Bitcoin to the world was a brilliant move,” he said.

A Ripple enthusiast also feels Ripple CTO Schwartz could be Satoshi Nakamoto. Still, Bougalis dismissed this, stating Schwartz has publicly denied it and that “his code & writing style simply don’t match Satoshi’s.”

And, “unfortunately” for Schwartz, he “didn’t find out about bitcoin until 2011.”

Schwartz chimed in to say that he thinks it’s plausible that instead of just an individual, Satoshi was a small group of people.

And that’s where Schwartz shared that he doesn’t have millions of Bitcoins, but he hasn’t lost the keys to his BTC holdings either, which he has been slowly selling for the past some years now.

“Bullish on X but Selling the X? Charlie is that you?,” a user commented on this statement.

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Author: AnTy

Six Blockchain Startups Selected On World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2020 Tech Pioneers List

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has announced the list of technology pioneers, and among them were six blockchain-based startups. The announcement was made earlier today through the official WEF Twitter account.

The six firms consist of:

  • MakerDAO
  • Chainlink
  • Veridum Labs
  • Lightning Labs
  • Ripio
  • Elliptic

The WEF Technology Pioneers of 2020 list brings together 100 startups from across the globe, which are set to introduce or pioneer new technologies as well as innovations in different sectors, including Artificial Technology (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine Learning.

The listing of technology pioneers by WEF started in 2000, where outstanding tech pioneers are acknowledged and recognized. The startups are incorporated in various WEF initiatives as well as events to shed more light and insights into various critical world discussions.

According to WEF, the six blockchain-based startups will be incorporated into the organization’s initiatives, events, and activities for two years to bring their fresh thinking in various global discussions.

The six blockchain startups will also become members of the WEF’s Global Innovators Community, which is an invite-only group bringing together the globe’s most promising startups.

The six startups will also be part of WEF Strategic Intelligence ecosystem that assists industry leaders as well as policy and decision-makers to navigate different transformations in various industries, economies as well as global issues. In other words, the six startups will be taken as experts to help in making important decisions by global leaders and decision-makers.

Blockchain-based startups have been recognized previously with Bitfury, which offers blockchain solutions, making it to the list last year. In 2015, Ripple made it to the list.

The recognition is essential as it helps the startups to access a wide range of expert insights as well as the market. The startups can exchange notes with other firms from across the globe. The listing will also give the six blockchain startups the much-needed exposure to potential clients.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Russia’s Supreme Court Employs Blockchain Technology To Vote Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Russia’s Supreme Court uses blockchain technology to finalize voting decisions.
  • Polys, a blockchain based voting platform by Kaspersky Labs, enhances transparency and security in voting systems.

An official statement published on the official website of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, the Plenum of the court used Polys blockchain technology, developed by Kaspersky Lab, to vote in light of the current social distancing protocols in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kaspersky- developed Polys blockchain is built on the Ethereum aiming to build completely secure and immutable online voting platforms to enhance transparency and accountability in elections.

The Supreme Court participants used Kaspersky Lab’s Polys blockchain to “make decisions” which were then “deployed on the basis of Softline’s Russian cloud storage.” The successful implementation of the blockchain solution pushed a recommendation on its use in the upcoming meeting in July. The statement reads,

“As a result, this system is recommended for use in the framework of the next plenary meeting of the Council of Judges of the Russian Federation, which will be held in July 2020. The meeting is supposed to include the maximum possible number of representatives of the Russian judicial system.”

Blockchain voting adoption in Russia

Russia is heavily focusing on blockchain voting systems in a bid to improve their elections – both at the state and national level. In 2019, the Moscow’s city parliament, known as Duma, successfully conducted a regional election while in December 2018 another regional election in Saratov Oblast, with over 40,000 participants, was conducted on a blockchain platform.

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Author: Lujan Odera

QuadrigaCX was an “Old-fashioned Fraud Wrapped in Modern Technology” – OSC Report

“What happened at Quadriga was an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in modern technology,” said the Ontario Securities Commission in an investigation.

The 10-month long investigation into the exchange by the country’s biggest securities regulator revealed that the collapse of the Canadian cryptocurrency trading platform QuadrigaCX was because of a Ponzi scheme operated by its founder Gerald Cotten, who died in December 2018.

Back in 2019, the collapse of the exchange caused $125 million in losses for 76,000 investors. The exchange was shut down in January 2019, weeks after Cotten died at age 30 suddenly while on his honeymoon in India. Jeff Kehoe, director of the enforcement branch at the OSC, said in a statement,

“While public release of an investigative report is rare, we believe the tens of thousands of Ontarians who entrusted Quadriga with their money and crypto assets deserve to know what happened.”

Outlining the events from Quadriga’s inception to its eventual collapse, the report stated the exchange faced losses when the price of digital currencies changed which Cotten covered with other clients’ deposits.

Running a Ponzi Scheme

The investigation of data related to 368,000 client accounts and more than 6 million individual transactions revealed that Cotten operated a Ponzi scheme.

He opened accounts under aliases and credited himself with fake crypto assets and currency balances which he traded with Quadriga clients. And when he sustained real losses with the change in the price of cryptocurrencies, it created a shortfall in assets for client withdrawals. This shortfall was covered with other clients’ deposits.

Out of the total C$169 million in client losses, about $115 million of this was due to Cotten’s fraudulent trading. When he died, the platform owed C$215 million to its client, the regulator said.

Cotten also siphoned off assets about C$24 million for personal use and lavish lifestyle between May 2016 and January 2018, according to the OSC.

About C$46 million was recovered and paid to clients while assets worth about C$22 million were returned by Cotten and his widow Jennifer Robertson, the report said.

“The information presented in this report highlights the unique risks that can arise when using crypto asset trading platforms,” which are magnified when they are traded on platforms not registered with regulators, Kehoe said in a statement.

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Author: AnTy

E-Commerce Giant, Amazon, Patents Blockchain Authentication Of Accepted Consumer Products

The world-leading e-commerce platform, Amazon Technologies Inc., filed a patent on blockchain technology for proving the authenticity of consumer goods in its online marketplace. The filing approved and made publicly available on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, describes the platform as an

“interface for verifiable tracking of an item through a supply chain using a distributed electronic ledger.”

The patent titled “Distributed ledger certification” was filed back in July 2017 with the U.S. Patents Office signaling a long term view of Amazon on distributed ledgers.

The platform aims at improving the trustworthiness of an item, service, or party as the world’s online marketplace grows to unseen levels. Currently, systems that lack transparency, coherency, referential integrity, or security set challenges for the global growth of online marketplaces. All these challenges reduce the trust between different parties – a problem that Amazon aims to solve with its DLT network.

The platform aggregates data from manufacturers, distributors, and shippers on an open network architecture to give the consumer real-time trusted information. The patent further touches on a possible implementation of permissioned enterprise network, Hyperledger.

Amazon in blockchain

In late September of last year, the company announced plans of hiring a specialist in blockchain in a bid to integrate decentralized ledger technologies in advertisements on the platform. The project will curb the mistrust between the sellers and buyers to create a more transparent and secure online marketplace.

Additionally, in late 2019, Amazon announced two blockchain-based products in early phase testing – Amazon Managed Blockchain and the Amazon Quantum Ledger Database.

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Author: Lujan Odera

COVID-19 Has Uncovered The Need for Verification by Blockchain In A Social Distancing World

Blockchain technology has proven to be a game-changer, even though cryptocurrencies which brought it into the mainstream is still struggling on the regulatory front. While cryptocurrencies were believed to liberate the society from a centralized financial system, blockchain has found various use cases well beyond the financial ecosystem. As of today, blockchain is being actively used in the field of supply-chain management, agriculture, healthcare, and education to name a few.

Many mainstream firms such as IBM, Amazon, Facebook, Samsung, and Microsoft have shown great interest in blockchain technology creating numerous solutions based on the decentralized tech to help enterprises become more efficient. CB Insights in its latest report has calculated that the blockchain solution spending would cross $16 Billion marks by 2023 and also identified at least 58 industries that have limitless potential to harness the decentralized tech.

Key Industries Where Blockchain can Excel

CB Insights report pointed towards numerous industries that can implement various blockchain solutions in their system to see the added benefit of transparency in data, decentralization. The key industries included,

Banking:

Banking services have become more online and digital in the past decade with services like PayPal and Jack Dorsey’s CashApp becoming mainstream. As of today even in the developing nations the need to physically go to a bank for any form of service has reduced significantly. While a majority still need the banks for a number of financial needs, it is no secret that only middle-class and rich folks are the main beneficiaries, while a poor find it difficult to even open a bank account.

Decentralization and blockchain technology can prove to be the real savior of the unbanked and the recent rise of the DeFi ecosystem is a clear example of how decentralized finances can become mainstream with enough reach. DeFi technically does the same thing as a banking system i.e to offer loans and lend money, but without the discrimination.

The fintech industry has seen a rapid growth of near 23% year-on-year and blockchain could be the perfect catalyst to push it in the mainstream. Jan Sammut, the founder of IBIS Brokers explained how blockchain can change the financial world,

“Finance is definitely the sector that has seen the most blockchain adoption.

Since blockchain networks combine settlement, computing, and the unit of account in a single layer, they are perfectly suited to applications such as P2P lending.”

Voting:

Elections are one of the keys practices of any democratic nation, and thus conducting a free and fair election is the core of democracy. Almost every democratic nation currently makes use of the physical casting of ballots to ensure that the casted ballots are valid. The voting process also requires authentication of voter identity secure record-keeping of casted ballots and final tallies to determine the winner. While this process has been carried out for centuries, the ongoing pandemic has made everyone think to look for an alternative to being physically present at the voting booth.

Remote voting through blockchain systems is being actively tested in the USA where people can cast their votes directly from their mobile phones and the casted votes are maintained trough a blockchain-based ledger which ensures privacy and security. With enough trials and testing, blockchain-based voting systems could prove to be a boon for many who cannot go out to cast their votes.

Supply-Chain:

Supply-Chain management has adopted blockchain with open arms and one of the key industries which have ramped up the incorporation of various use cases of the decentralized tech to track goods, food, and beverages. Be it Nestle, one of the biggest food and beverage producers, or French Supermarkets like Carrefour. Most of these firms have experienced the efficiency of implementing blockchain tech in their work process.

IBM has turned out to be one of the biggest suppliers of the enterprise-grade blockchain solution in the supply-chain industry.

Jack Barrett, the CEO of Catalyst commented on the trend of blockchain technology in the supply-chain management suggesting,

“Blockchain is finally breaking out of the hype phase as we have begun to see its innovative capacity at work in the financial industry, the supply chain sector, the real estate market, and so on.

Personally, I see this technology take root and completely overhaul traditional financial systems plagued with cumbersome and costly processes.”

Blockchain Solutions are being actively used in a number of industries and that is only going to grow further as its popularity rises. The decentralized tech has proven to be more efficient and reliable than the centralized systems most of these industries have been using. And given the growth rate of the fintech industry which is near 25% per year, it won’t be a big surprise if the blockchain revolution comes way early than what many experts are anticipating.

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Author: James W

US House Rep. Member Launches Bill to Promote National Advancement Of Blockchain Tech

The global digital technology integration race is on with leading states in Europe and Asia taking the first step in developing national blockchain strategies.

With the U.S. lagging behind, U.S. Representative for Kentucky’s 2nd congressional district, Brett Guthrie, presented a bill titled “Advancing Blockchain Act” to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enhance the study of blockchain advantages across the economy and its uses across the states.

The “Advancing Blockchain Act”, presented to the House of Representatives by Rep. Brett Guthrie challenges the U.S. lawmakers to lay down the legal foundation for digital payments and blockchain technology adoption across the country.

The FTC is expected to complete the survey in about two years, with a further six months to give recommendations to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The issues highlighted in the bill include state-level adoption of blockchain technologies, legislative frameworks in the industry, development plans and risk-mitigation strategies on implementing blockchain, and overall business sector adoption across the country.

According to Guthrie, who introduced the bill on May, 20 with no co-sponsors, the quickened development of blockchain technology is key to enable the U.S. to compete with other countries such as China, which already announced its digital currency/electronic payment (DC/EP) program while taking major steps in integrating blockchain technology across the country. In a statement on why the American lawmakers should aim at implementing the law, Guthrie said:

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it clear that we need to maintain American leadership in technology. America is a nation of innovation and enterprise – and we need to keep it that way.”

The lawmakers seem to be taking keen notice of the crypto and blockchain field, with a total of 32 bills introduced so far in the U.S. 116th Parliament sitting.

There have been talks of a possible digital dollar to support the distribution of the $2.3 trillion dollar stimulus package. While this did not pass in the House, there remain calls on the U.S. government to try their luck in implementing it.

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Author: Lujan Odera