Posted on

World Economic Forum Report: 6 Ways to Evaluate Blockchain Benefits

The World Economic Forum announced that it released a guide for the evaluation of the benefits of blockchain applications.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced that it released a guide for the evaluation of the benefits of blockchain applications in a press release shared with Cointelegraph on July 16.

The document delves into how to apply blockchain technology, providing six recommendations for companies. The first is to take time to understand the technology, set realistic expectations (identifying incentives and accounting for risks), and align to strategic priorities.

The report also recommends evaluating whether blockchain or other technologies are the best solution specifying that “blockchain is not a substitute for digitization and should not be treated as such.” 

Lastly, organizations should keep an agile approach since it better allows for strategy evolution and think beyond the individual organization. This last point is explained in the following way:

“The decentralized nature of blockchain makes a transformation from an isolated approach to end-to-end value-chain integration within fragmented and complex environments more attainable. In fact, a lack of collaboration can undermine – or even block – such transformation. In assessing value, it is important to consider network and scaling effects, particularly as enabled by collaboration.”

The Blockchain Value Framework guide is a follow-up to the “Blockchain Beyond the Hype” report released by the WEF last year and has been co-designed with consulting firm Accenture. 

Sheila Warren, Head of Blockchain at the World Economic Forum, explained that the previous report stressed that blockchain deployment should not be a goal in and of itself. The purpose of this whitepaper is to provide guidance in applying the technology, she said:

“This new framework is for those business leaders that have figured out blockchain is the right solution for a specific problem, but don’t know what to do next.”

The document is based on an evaluation of 79 blockchain projects and a global survey of 550 individuals across 13 industries. The report found that 51% of the respondents said that they expected “missing out on developing new products/services” if their organization did not invest in blockchain technology. Another 23% of the respondents expected “missing out on speed/efficiency gains,” and 15% “missing out on cost savings.”

Furthermore, in nine of the 13 industries surveyed, full traceability and integrity of the data were identified as the top advantage brought by blockchain. Meanwhile, not many organizations answered that blockchain’s benefit could be delivering “new business products or services.” The author of the press release commented:

“This suggests the current focus for organizations is on improving existing products and services before considering investing in new opportunities.”

At the end of May, the WEF also announced the formation of six separate “fourth industrial revolution councils” to work on new technology policy guidance.

Posted on

MetLife’s LumenLab Using Blockchain to Automate Life Insurance Claims

Bereaved families who place an obituary for a loved one in a newspaper will now be able to instantly trigger searches for a matching life insurance policy.

MetLife subsidiary LumenLab is using blockchain technology to automate life insurance claims, according to a news release published on June 17.

Known as “Lifechain,” the collaboration with Singapore Press Holdings and NTUC Income will enable bereaved families who place obituaries in a local newspaper to instantly trigger searches to see whether their loved one had a life insurance policy.

This month, 1,000 Income policyholders will be randomly selected to take part in a pilot scheme.

The technology works by submitting the deceased’s National Registration Identity Card to Lifechain as hashed data once consent from the family has been obtained. Families are notified within one business day when a matching policy is found, and a notification is automatically sent to the insurer so the claims process can commence.

Julian Tan, the chief of digital business at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH,) said:

“SPH hopes to expand Lifechain to include more insurers in time to come to bring greater convenience to family members attending to the deceased’s administrative matters securely.”

Insurance companies are increasingly turning to blockchain technology. Earlier this week, tech firm BlockClaim received $627,000 in funding for a platform that uses blockchain to automate car insurance claims.

Meanwhile, British insurance agency Legal & General recently announced it has teamed up with Amazon to create a blockchain system for managing pension deals.

At the Synchronize Europe conference in London on June 18, attended by a Cointelegraph correspondent, Accenture managing director Sarah Hazzledine said there were “huge opportunities for digitization” in the paper-based sector. She also confirmed that the global accounting giant is part of an insurance consortium building a distributed ledger (DLT) platform with two use cases that are scheduled to launch within the next six to 12 months.

Posted on

Accenture to Sign Blockchain ID Deal With Canada, Netherlands and Aviation Players

A senior executive at the firm revealed a deal was weeks away from becoming official after over a year of preliminary work.

Global accounting giant Accenture will sign a formal deal with Canada, the Netherlands and other parties to use blockchain in identifying travelers. The company’s managing director of capital markets, David Treat, confirmed the move at the Synchronize Europe conference in London on June 18, attended by a Cointelegraph correspondent.

Part of its expanding activities in the blockchain sector, Accenture will team up with the Canadian and Dutch governments, as well as Air France-KLM, Air Canada and several airports under a new agreement.

Treat will personally ratify the deal, called “Known Traveller Digital Identity,” which aims to tailor travellers’ experiences using biometric data, in around two weeks’ time.

“If I’m able to take my user-controlled identity, decide that I actually want to share, so that I can get hyper-personalized service. I want to share aspects of my preferences, my identity with those players […] in my journey, can I get a better service?” he explained during a presentation.

The rollout of blockchain-based ID will effectively allow travellers to inform customs and border control of their biometrics, along an itinerary of their movements, in advance.

The scheme originally surfaced in early 2018 around the World Economic Forum, with officials highlighting the need to coordinate traveller data.

“Innovation is key to enhancing global competitiveness, mobility and productivity,” Canada’s Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau, commented at the time. He added:

“Leveraging new technological advancements can support risk-based approaches to public safety and security, making air travel more efficient while improving the travel experience.”

Blockchain has already found other inroads into aviation in particular, with both Air France-KLM and Accenture itself highlighting its potential.

Posted on

Singapore and Canada Central Banks Complete First Cross-Border Blockchain Payment

A linkup of the banks’ respective blockchain-based platforms enabled a payment without an intermediary.

The central banks of Singapore and Canada have successfully used their blockchain networks to send each other digital currency, a joint press release confirmed on May 2.

As part of the distributed ledger technology (DLT) projects being pursued by both banks, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (BAS) sent funds to the Bank of Canada (BoC) without a third party.

The process was made possible by linking up two DLT networks: MAS’ nascent Project Ubin platform and BoC’s Project Jasper.

JPMorgan and accounting giant Accenture, which assisted in the development of the platforms, also partnered with the banks to make the trade possible.

“The next wave of central bank blockchain projects can make further progress by bringing technology exploration together with policy questions about the future of cross-border payments,” MAS chief fintech officer, Sopnendu Mohanty, commented in the press release. He added:

“It is challenging work, and we welcome other central banks to join us in this global collaboration, to bring benefit to consumers, businesses and the broader financial industry.”

As with other bank-initiated blockchain payments schemes at various stages of development worldwide, cost-cutting and efficiency lay at the heart of the central bank trade, which the participants claim is the first to be completed successfully.

MAS and BoC subsequently released a summary report in which they discussed the merits of the joint network bridge.

“In our tests, no other action would proceed if any action fails, thus ensuring the end to end consistency of a transaction,” it reads. The summary stated:

“In the correspondent banking method of payment, the sender and receiver trust the correspondent bank. In this DLT-based system using HTLC, trust will still be required, albeit in the technical system rather than in a third party.”

MAS had previous eyed 2020 as a potential timeframe for Project Ubin to begin delivering tangible results.

Posted on

Accenture, Generali Launch Blockchain Solution for Employee Benefits

Accenture and Generali Employee Benefits have launched a blockchain solution for employee benefits that innovates the reinsurance process for captive insurance services.

Ireland-based global consulting firm Accenture and Italy-based insurance giant Generali Group’s employee benefits unit have debuted a blockchain solution for employee benefits. The partnership was announced in a press release from the firms on April 16.

Generali Employee Benefits (GEB) is an employee benefit solutions provider and global business line of Italy’s largest insurance firm — and 8th largest globally. The press release states that GEB operates the largest employee benefits solutions network worldwide.

The blockchain solution will reportedly facilitate data sharing for parties involved in the reinsurance process for captive and pooling services. It will also reportedly improve procedures’ reliability through the use of smart contracts and automated reconciliation.

Captive insurance refers to underwriters who are wholly-owned by their insured clients, while reinsurance pooling services are a risk financing mechanism used by insurers to increase their ability to underwrite specific types of risks.

The blockchain tool is designed to innovate and simplify GEB’s existing employee benefits operating model for captive services, which spans policies such as life, disability, accident and healthcare insurance.

The solution is reportedly supported by Generali and inspired by the work of the insurance industry collaborative blockchain initiative B3i.

The solution’s launch reportedly comes after the successful completion of a prototype in 2018, involving major agricultural firm Syngenta, as well as Spanish, Swiss and Serbian local insurers.

The prototype was found to provide significant benefits for the employee benefits sector by establishing effective integration of systems, data and processes for all stakeholders, improving data quality and saving time and costs.

GEB’s CEO stated in the press release that in its provision of a seamless ecosystem, “blockchain will change not only our Network but the employee benefits industry as we know it.”

As reported, B3i Service AG — the Swiss blockchain startup founded by B3i in March of last year — expanded its group of investors this month as part of its ongoing funding round.

The startup is focused on multi-company syndicated risk placement, accounting, and claims, and has developed a product based on R3 Corda’s distributed ledger technology.

Posted on

European Union Launches International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications

The European Union announced the launch of the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications.

The European Union announced the launch of the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA) on its official website on April 3.

According to a Cointelegraph representative who attended today’s ceremony at the European Commission in Brussels, the more than 100 members who have signed the charter include IBM, Accenture and Deutsche Telekom. Among the blockchain-related members number Iota, Ripple, ConsenSys, and the Sovrin Foundation.

Per the announcement, INATBA aims to bring together industry startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), regulators and standard setting bodies to bring blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) into the mainstream.

During the Brussels ceremony, European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel noted that the EU is committed to fostering the development of blockchain. She said:

“In today’s economy, there is less and less time to build trust in the way it happened in the past. To fight cancer, to balance renewable energy, to trace the authenticity of goods, actors must be able to trust one another without meeting face-to-face. And how can we achieve this? Of course, with the help of blockchain.”

The body’s post also notes that the new organization is willing to promote the use of decentralized technologies by establishing a dedicated regulatory framework. It states:

“INATBA aims to develop a framework that promotes public and private sector collaboration, regulatory convergence, legal predictability and ensures the system’s integrity and transparency.”

At today’s ceremony, it was noted that 48 additional organizations had applied for membership on the day of the launch.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, the European Banking Authority (EBA) has recommended further research into cryptocurrency and will develop work on the sector in 2019 in a document focusing on the “applicability and suitability of European Union law to crypto-assets.”

Also in January, a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) has warned that “the [cryptocurrency] bubble has already started to collapse.”

Additional reporting by Simon Chandler.

Posted on

PwC is Top Recruiter for Blockchain-Related Jobs on Indeed, Big 4 Auditing Firms Follow

Big four auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is the top recruiter for blockchain-related jobs on recruitment platform Indeed.

Big four auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is the top recruiter for blockchain-related jobs on recruitment platform Indeed, search results showed at press time on March 30.

At press time, PwC is responsible for 40 blockchain-related job offers on the platform. Other big four auditing firms are apparently recruiting professionals in this niche on the platform: more precisely, Ernst & Young posted 17 such announcements, while Deloitte posted 10.

This leaves Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler (KPMG) as the only big four auditing firm not recruiting blockchain professionals on the platform. Tech giants IBM and Oracle posted ten job offers related to blockchain as well, while global management, consulting and professional services firm Accenture posted 11.

This last company, Accenture, is also already a user of distributed technology. In November last year, Accenture deployed a distributed ledger technology platform created to manage and track software licenses.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, a blockchain and financial partner at PwC France declared that central banks should leave issuance of digital currencies to corporations such as Facebook and JPMorgan.

In February, news broke that Accenture is working with major global firms including Mastercard to introduce a blockchain-based circular supply chain.

Posted on

German State Bank KfW Tests Blockchain App for Public Finance Management in Burkina Faso

German state-owned bank KfW will trial its blockchain-driven app in Burkina Faso, where it also funds water supply and sanitation programs.

Germany’s major state-owned bank KfW and Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Finance will test a blockchain application for use in public financial management, according to a statement posted Monday, Dec. 17.

KfQ, ranked in 2017 as the country’s third largest bank by total assets, had also previously signed an agreement with the Burkinabe government in June 2018, providing the country with a credit of €7 million ($7.9 million) to finance water supply and sanitation areas.

According to the recent blockchain-related announcement, TruBudget, an open source app developed by KfW, will be tested in Burkina Faso, Africa within the next six months with the assistance of global consulting companies Accenture and BearingPoint.

The application will allow users to store and approve all the contracts in the sector using blockchain in real-time mode. The bank expects it could help reduce lengthy manual processes and ensure that funds are used properly.

According to KfW, the bank would normally open an office in a partnering country to deal with risks. Joachim Nagel, member of the executive board at KfW, believes that blockchain can help oversee these processes at a distance:

“With TruBudget, we create transparency for the benefit of all parties involved, and we enable donors to use funds safely, even using the structures of the partner country directly.”

As Cointelegraph frequently reports, global banks are using blockchain to reduce paperwork, cut costs and reduce human errors.

For instance, 26 French companies and five major banks conducted a Know Your Customer (KYC) test based on the blockchain consortium R3’s blockchain, completing a live commercial paper transaction.

And in December, South Korea’s second-largest commercial bank, Shinhan Bank, announced it will implement blockchain in its internal processes to avoid the chances of human-based mistakes and enhance overall efficiency in financial operations.