Posted on

UN Partnership to Roll Out Blockchain-Based Telemedicine, Telepsychology in East Africa

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime has partnered with blockchain-based telemedicine and telepsychology firm doc.com.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will reportedly partner with blockchain-based telemedicine and telepsychology firm doc.com to expand free basic healthcare services across Eastern Africa. News of the partnership was shared with Cointelegraph in an email on Dec. 26.

In an officially sealed letter signed on Dec. 20 by Amado Philip de Andres, Regional Representative for UNODC’s Regional Office for Eastern Africa (ROEA), de Andres wrote that the organization is “willing to cooperate […] in a new partnership.” Doc.com is a tech firm that offers blockchain-based 24/7 telemedicine and telepsychology platforms, allowing users to tokenize their personal data and sell it in return for access to the services.

Via the UN partnership, the company now reportedly plans to roll out both its platforms to the African market by the second quarter of 2019.

Up until now, the company has reportedly operated in 20 countries, most recently opening an office in the United States. Its data and healthcare service ecosystem uses an ERC20-compatible token dubbed “MTC,” which is currently tradable on several crypto exchanges, such as Singapore-based Coinbene and Kucoin.

According to statistics on the company website, over 130,000 users have to date used its telemedicine services and almost 70,000 have used its doc.com, “Emotions,” telepsychology platform.

Doc.com also reportedly plans this year to expand its services across a wider range of U.S. states, to launch its tokenized telemedicine service in the United Kingdom by March 2019, and to branch out to the Asian market, starting with India, by the end of 2019.

Aside from these expansion plans, the company states it plans to launch its in-house mainnet by Q1 2019 to replace its existing Ethereum-based ERC20 token system. It will also launch a subsidiary blockchain-based veterinary services system, dubbed “doc Pets,” in the U.S. by Q2 2019.

As previously reported, blockchain has been gaining increasing traction across healthcare and related sectors that involve highly sensitive data. In the field of genomics, several initiatives are harnessing the technology’s potential to provide a secure and equitable means of not only monetizing and managing the circulation of existing data, but of incentivizing its generation.

Earlier this month, a group of major U.S. healthcare companies formed an alliance to trial blockchain solutions that would improve data integrity and security and reduce costs — the latest of a series of similar approaches being developed globally.

For its part, the UN has long been exploring multiple –– largely humanitarian –– use cases for blockchain, beginning with its use of the Ethereum blockchain to transfer coupons based on cryptocurrencies to refugees in Syria, followed by a blockchain-based digital identity system designed to combat child trafficking globally.

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.

Posted on

IBM Research Teams up With Agritech Firm to Boost African Agribusiness with Blockchain

IBM Research has teamed up with U.S.-based agritech firm Hello Tractor to boost the African agriculture industry with blockchain.

IBM Research has teamed up with United States-based agriculture tech firm Hello Tractor to boost the African agriculture industry with blockchain. The partnership was described in a Dec. 11 blog post on IBM’s official website.

According to the post, the IBM Research division in Kenya is working with Hello Tractor’s developers in order to apply various tools and technologies, including blockchain, to the Hello Tractor mobile platform that enables farmers to access tractor services on demand.

Specifically, IBM Research scientists will incorporate blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to Hello Tractor’s tool platform. IBM Research also intends to integrate the platform with its own cloud solution IBM Cloud, as well as Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, a jointly developed agribusiness tool based on artificial intelligence (AI).

The new jointly developed platform will reportedly represent an “agriculture digital wallet” featuring a blockchain-based AI platform that will provide a high level of transparency of  instantly shared data between all parties involved in a certain agribusiness value chain.

In particular, the pilot is expected to address to a wide range of processes in the agriculture industry, such as crop yield prediction by farmers, fleet utilization management and predictive maintenance, and compilation of credit portfolio for farmers and tractor owners by banks, as well as investment and regulation processes by governments.

According to IBM, less than 20 percent of crops are managed by tractors and other machinery in sub-Saharan Africa to date, while food demand is constantly increasing due to population growth averaging 11 million per year. Moreover, around 50 percent of farmers face significant harvest losses each year, which is caused by poor planting practices.

Last week, Overstock.com’s blockchain venture wing Medici Ventures bought $2.5 million in equity in agricultural blockchain project GrainChain, which enables supply chain parties to track the distribution process of harvests.

Earlier this year, the Ethiopian government signed a MOU with crypto startup Cardano (ADA) in order to apply blockchain technology to the country’s agritech industry.

Posted on

First Kenyan Cryptocurrency Project Aims to Improve Quality on Logistics Industry

Blockchain technology-based businesses and ventures continue to grow. Every day new projects appear on the market, showing the potential that DLTs have to promote economic activity without any distinctions.

A case worth mentioning as an example of crypto money having no borders is TMX, the company behind TMX Global Coin, a project that seeks to consolidate itself as the first cryptocurrency of Kenyan origin in the crypto-verse.

The development team behind TMX Global Coin seeks to solve a real problem that has affected the country for years: logistics failures and the difficulty of re-tracing packages and transactions.

Anthony Njoroge, CEO of TMX, told the Kenyan portal Daily Nation how he hopes to change the cargo logistics business around the world through the use of specialized tokens running on a blockchain:

“We are using Blockchain technology to enhance Cargo logistics business to have more open, transparent and democratic process using a decentralized system, where all the users are able to talk to each other on an open platform, “

[embedded content]

According to a video that can be seen on the official website, the kenyan project uses a series of ERC20 tokens as cryptocurrency that allow the execution of smart-contracts between various parties involved in a business. In this way, they hope to provide the ability to real-time track the status of a package as well as any associated transactions.

Mr. Njoroge explains that the payment system developed by TMX provides stakeholders with a higher level of security than current solutions

“The consumer as well gets to know the amount of money required throughout the different processes the cargo goes through and the estimated amount of time. Once the cargo successfully goes through a process the system ticks in the system as complete and starts the next process.”

A Long Way To Go, A Better Future Approaching

TMX Global Coin started its development process last year; however, it was not until mid-2018 that the product was mature enough to generate a sufficient level of credibility in the marketplace.

The TMX team has made contacts to establish business alliances in Asia and Europe as stated by local media; however, there is not yet a specific date for its implementation. According to its Roadmap, the Pre-ICO phase will begin in September of this year and is expected to be launched sometime in May 2019.

Kenya is one country that is using blockchain to boost its economic and political development. Just a few days ago, Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati said in a public statement that the government is considering the use of DLTs to improve efficiency and transparency of its electoral system

Girl in a jacket

loading…

Posted on

Cardano (ADA) Possibly Turning to the Leader of the New Gen of Cryptocurrencies

Waking up to the green bullish sentiment it automatically comes to your mind what should you choose to diversify your wallet. When it comes to digital token assets, they impressively are impacted and affected by how the network and blockchain respectively is performing. As time passed more competition arise and one of the most intriguing ones to follow by no doubt is Cardano (ADA).

Cardano Debut

Ethereum co-founder and founder of Cardano and IOHK – Charles Hoskinson, has introduced a first row competitor to the second in the lead. Being the pioneer of smart contracts [which are contract allowing exchange of tokens, lets say ETH in this case after various requirements are met] Ethereum became famous and very respected throughout the crypto-verse and financial industry. But, Mr. Hoskinson wants to step up the game by fixing the existing issues that the second generation of coins [e.g Ethereum] do face until this day.

Some of the problems that cryptocurrencies are facing are: Scalability, Sutainability and Interoperability. Cardano here comes with its layer architecture structure making it stand out in safety and security of the smart contracts. As its divided into layers, the security is heightened as the processing done by the following layer [part] is made independently from the previous. Such the information is handled safely and not shared.

Another very highlighted issue is communication between the network and outside forms of financial entities like banks or virtual networks. Standing behind the privacy idea of cryptocurrencies, it is very difficult to know where the tokens are coming when you transact or to communicate between the systems with the different codes in them. This was a major game changer for many that initiated an offering last year or this year when traders wanted to fun various start-ups like ICO’s. The invested money was needed to be explained to the bank where its coming from. Additionally this is a No to do in the crypto-verse in which all we know is private and decentralized. The 9th largest coin by market capitalization targets to go beyond these issues and be the network where all entities can communicate with freedom.

Cardano’s Aim

The platform is attempting to overcome various hurdles (M-Pesa) and and take over various markets by offering the solutions to the above. Market in different nations, for example in Africa, South America and Central Asia. M-Pesa’s payment system lead is for the time with no rival in the globe. It has made possible money transfer on the mobile very easily and impacting. The service was launched back in 2007 during the boom of mobile devices in Africa.

Girl in a jacket

loading…

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Posted on

Cardano (ADA) Possibly Turning to the Leader of the New Gen of Cryptocurrencies

1,173

Waking up to the green bullish sentiment it automatically comes to your mind what should you choose to diversify your wallet. When it comes to digital token assets, they impressively are impacted and affected by how the network and blockchain respectively is performing. As time passed more competition arise and one of the most intriguing ones to follow by no doubt is Cardano (ADA).

Cardano Debut

Ethereum co-founder and founder of Cardano and IOHK – Charles Hoskinson, has introduced a first row competitor to the second in the lead. Being the pioneer of smart contracts [which are contract allowing exchange of tokens, lets say ETH in this case after various requirements are met] Ethereum became famous and very respected throughout the crypto-verse and financial industry. But, Mr. Hoskinson wants to step up the game by fixing the existing issues that the second generation of coins [e.g Ethereum] do face until this day.

Some of the problems that cryptocurrencies are facing are: Scalability, Sutainability and Interoperability. Cardano here comes with its layer architecture structure making it stand out in safety and security of the smart contracts. As its divided into layers, the security is heightened as the processing done by the following layer [part] is made independently from the previous. Such the information is handled safely and not shared.

Another very highlighted issue is communication between the network and outside forms of financial entities like banks or virtual networks. Standing behind the privacy idea of cryptocurrencies, it is very difficult to know where the tokens are coming when you transact or to communicate between the systems with the different codes in them. This was a major game changer for many that initiated an offering last year or this year when traders wanted to fun various start-ups like ICO’s. The invested money was needed to be explained to the bank where its coming from. Additionally this is a No to do in the crypto-verse in which all we know is private and decentralized. The 9th largest coin by market capitalization targets to go beyond these issues and be the network where all entities can communicate with freedom.

Cardano’s Aim

The platform is attempting to overcome various hurdles (M-Pesa) and take over various markets by offering the solutions to the above. Markets in different nations for example in Africa, South America and Central Asia. M-Pesa’s payment system lead is for the time with no rival in the globe. It has made possible money transfer on the mobile very easily and impacting. The service was launched back in 2007 during the boom of mobile devices in Africa.

Girl in a jacket

loading…

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

Posted on

Even If It Fails: Why Dash Could Have a Lasting Impact on Crypto Adoption

It’s easy to see why Zimbabwean entrepreneur James Saruchera wants to use cryptocurrency to circumnavigate inflation.

As a university student in South Africa, Saruchera dropped classes and worked multiple jobs when inflation in his homeland made it impossible to remit school fees. His parents later lost their savings and pension investments after another bout of hyperinflation.

Yet when Saruchera founded his payments startup in February 2017, after years of researching different blockchain networks, he made what many in the crypto community might consider a surprising choice. He picked dash to be the backbone of the business.

Founded in 2014 as darkcoin before adopting a more regulator-friendly brand, dash is best known for its optional privacy features and boasts a market capitalization in the lower half of the top 20 cryptos. It’s drawn a fair bit of criticism for its cryptography practices and the way the core team has been run as a for-profit venture from day one.

But dash has at least one thing going for it: Its team has figured out how to win over entrepreneurs in the developing world like Saruchera.

His startup, Kuvacash, was seeded with a grant for roughly $550,000 worth of the cryptocurrency from the Dash Treasury DAO, a pool of mining rewards that allows dash fans worldwide to submit proposals and vote on which ideas get funding.

Saruchera said:

“It’s as close as you can get to a perfectly decentralized, democratic organization.”

Now, he’s getting ready to pilot Kuvacash’s mobile payments app with 100 users in October and negotiating with the government of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, to build a dash-powered transit app for an upcoming tram line.

While cryptocurrency adherents have been evangelizing the technology in poorer countries since the early days of bitcoin, few projects if any have done so as aggressively as dash.

The Dash Treasury DAO alone has granted over $33 million worth of dash since 2015, $2.3 million of which went to projects in developing countries such as Zimbabwe, Ghana and Kenya. That number is clearly ramping up as the community shifts strategies. Out of 27 grants in the developing world, 20 of those proposals received funding over the past 12 months. The August 2018 payout alone is expected to give around $920,273 worth of dash, including grants for programs in Venezuela and Brazil.

In addition to providing this startup capital, the project has set it itself apart in these markets by offering support for entrepreneurs, starting with their first transaction and wallet all the way to launching a dash-oriented business. Protocol developers also improve the underlying software based on feedback from such diverse users.

And despite the lingering controversies over dash’s technical infrastructure, these efforts to serve marginalized communities are starting to gain notice.

“I have heard about and admire their outreach,” said Ray Youssef, CEO of Paxful, a bitcoin exchange that focuses on emerging markets.

Boots on the ground

The Dash Core startup, which stewards the dash network, learned people in the developing world can drive adoption on their own when given free capital and technical support.

“In the same way that you have a credit card that might say JPMorgan Chase on it, and its powered by Visa, it’s their own brand of services and its powered by dash,” Dash Core Group CEO Ryan Taylor told CoinDesk.

According to Taylor, dash is seeing the fastest adoption rates in places with high inflation and easy access to mobile phones. So, to maximize growth, the company will focus on hiring more local staff in emerging markets.

“We’re going to be putting a lot more resources into that corridor of countries that exhibit those attributes,” Taylor said.

Beyond funding, grant recipients also engage with Dash Core developers to provide feedback and get support on infrastructure development.

“We have the ability to effect improvements, feedback on certain use cases and how those [insights] can be adjusted at the core platform level,” Saruchera said, adding:

“On-the-ground insight has led to them [Dash Core Group] modeling zero confirmation instant send, increasing the speed and capacity of InstantSend on the network. These high-performance protocol adjustments help lay the foundation to improve dash’s speed even further.”

Meanwhile, Dash Core Group employees often give away small amounts of crypto to users in places like Venezuela.

To be sure, other blockchain projects have used similar tactics in developing countries. Some have rewarded locals for recruiting new users, such as the South African startup Wala, or worked with crypto exchanges to increase access, like the startup behind Zcash did by partnering with AirTM exchange in Latin America. The Ethereum Foundation funds one-off research projects. Some bitcoin projects are donating crypto to groups in the developing world.

But dash is doing all of the above, and starting to get some results. Take, for example, Venezuela, where according to the Dash Core Group, hundreds of merchants are now transacting with dash thanks to local advocacy programs. These ambassadors literally walk up to Venezuelan businessmen and convince them to start using dash.

“We’re going to be rolling out a plan for Latin America more broadly,” Taylor said. “Venezuela has become our second largest market.”

Yet these Venezuelan users aren’t necessarily joining the broader crypto community. One such merchant in Caracas, food truck entrepreneur Alejandro Valderrama, told CoinDesk he hasn’t learned about any other blockchain technologies or engaged with the dash community beyond his own customers and dash ambassadors.

To be fair, a dash saleswoman introduced Valderrama to digital wallets this July, so he’s quite new to the scene. Now four or five customers a day now buy Valderrama’s food with dash, worth up to $7 per transaction, adding around three percent to his overall revenue. He hodls without converting into fiat or seeking any significant funding from dash organizations.

Valderrama described dash as a “strong currency,” the best way to hedge against the devalued bolivar.

Critics and converts

Funding and infrastructure model aside, some still question Dash Core Group’s tactics and sustainability.

Critics say the dash model artificially restricts supply with misaligned incentives since node operators and miners share fractional profits. Plus, it is far more expensive to operate a dash node than a bitcoin node, which some say hinders the network’s decentralization.

Blockchain consultant Tone Vays told CoinDesk he’s concerned the dash governance model isn’t sustainable and the community’s evangelizing tactics may confuse less tech-savvy consumers, adding:

“If people convert their dash into something that has a higher probability of lasting for a longer time, that’s great. But if they don’t, they will be scammed or lose all their value and hate all crypto going forward.”

Bitcoin is more secure and decentralized than dash’s experiments, Vays said. Bitcoin may not accommodate low-value transactions yet, but onboarding merchants with a dash-only digital wallet troubles Vays.

When asked about the risks of promoting an altcoin to unsophisticated consumers, Venezuelan business development lead Alejandro Echeverría, head of the Dash Merchant program, pointed to dash’s educational efforts. These include monthly events drawing 500 attendees in Caracas and “Dash Youth” lectures at high schools and universities.

“We are focused in Dash exclusively and we want people really use it as a daily currency,” Echeverría said.

On the other hand, Tricia Martinez, CEO of the ethereum-powered Wala, told CoinDesk hiring local ambassadors to promote a single digital asset is the norm in emerging markets. Gathering feedback from novices is also invaluable to developers abroad, as is hands-on cooperation from sophisticated users like Saruchera in Zimbabwe.

“These consumers need to be on our team,” Martinez said. “They need to be building.”

As for the criticism about expensive nodes, dash node operator Eric Sammons wrote a blog post that running such software is simply a job that requires collateral as a prerequisite. And in response to criticisms of mining and other technical aspects, the Dash Core Group published a statement that dash is a work in progress able to “deliver innovations” without venture capital or a token sale because investors and users decide for themselves whether to support the project.

Crypto rails

Since there’s no substitute for giving people tools to help themselves, dash adoption may deliver the most impact in places where entrepreneurs run their own experiments with support from technical experts.

Starting in October, Kuvacash will run a pilot with roughly 100 users to test the mobile app’s remittance, merchant payments, and peer-to-peer money transfers.

“Not just in stores, but also in informal trading settings like a person selling tomatoes or bananas at a market,” Saruchera said. “If the person that they are sending funds to doesn’t have a smartphone, just a feature phone, we can allow them to get a reference number so they can go to our agents and cash out that way.”

Following the hyperinflation cycles over the past decade, most Zimbabweans use imported U.S. dollars because they no longer trust local bonds or banks. So, Kuvacash got a license to import dollars and is now deploying local agents who can help users cash out in person for fiat bills as needed.

By 2019, Kuvacash aims to offer both peer-to-peer payments and crypto-powered transit accounts through the same wallet app to anyone in Harare who wants to use dash. Representatives from the municipality of Harare confirmed they are negotiating a transit deal with Kuvacash, although it is not yet finalized.

If all goes according to plan, commuters will use the mobile app pay for tram rides with dash, which Kuvacash will promptly convert back into U.S. dollars for the tax collector.

At the moment, it’s difficult to regulate public transit in Zimbabwe, in terms of price gouging, safety, and taxation, because vehicles are mostly operated by individual drivers and owners. Transparent blockchain records of tax revenue could be especially useful for establishing trust in a country fraught with accusations of bureaucratic corruption.

“Poor people, they can spend as much as 50 percent of their income on travel,” Saruchera said, adding the new metro would offer reliable transportation for less than $0.50. “If we can help fix this, then we can exponentially increase their quality of life.”

Image via Dash Foundation

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Posted on

Overstock Subsidiary Partners With Zambian Gov’t on Blockchain Land Registry

Zambia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the blockchain land registry subsidiary of American retail giant Overstock, the company revealed in a press release July 31.

Under the agreement, Overstock’s Medici Land Governance (MLG) will work with the Zambian government on overhauling land ownership, allowing rural landowners to legitimize their estates and gain access to the financial world.

“Without formal ownership, individuals struggle to obtain access to credit and public services, while governments are limited in their ability to collect taxes, enforce property rights, and plan for economic expansion and innovation,” the release explains, continuing:

“Using blockchain and other technologies, Medici Land Governance […] will create systems to collect and easily secure property ownership information.”

Discussing the Medici venture, the subsidiary’s CEO Dr. Ali El Husseini called its partnership with Zambia “momentous.”

“[The partnership] has the potential to be a real, sustainable game-changer in reducing poverty and supporting economic development on a large scale,” he added.

Blockchain land projects have been underway across the world for several years, the technology offering a promising solution to fragmented paper records and unverifiable claims.

This week, the world’s fourth-largest bank by assets, Agricultural Bank of China, confirmed it had issued a blockchain-based loan backed by land.

Overstock continues to make multiple inroads across blockchain and cryptocurrency-related spheres, despite warnings earlier this year that its share price was suffering and its future could involve upheaval.

The company currently has fourteen ventures in its Medici Blockchain accelerator, to which MLG is the most recent addition.

Posted on

CFA Exams To Include Crypto and Blockchain Topics beginning Next Year, 2019

The financial industry is not being left behind with the recent decision by the CFA Institute to include cryptocurrencies and blockchain in its Level I and II curriculums beginning next year, 2019. According to Bloomberg, the new material for the 2019 exams will be available in August this year.

The fact that the new Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams in 2019 will include cryptocurrencies and blockchain, is a sign that the digital assets have arrived in Wallstreet. The debate as to whether cryptocurrencies are investment instruments, can now be put aside for they will now be included in the 3 level CFA program to help train more financial professionals who are in tune with the ever evolving crypto industry.

The CFA Institute added the topics as part of a new reading called Finetech in Investment Management as a result of industry leaders showing urgent interest in surveys and focus groups. The CFA material on Crypto and Blockchain will appear alongside other finetech subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Big Data and Automated Trading.

Crypto and traditional finance have been fused together ever since Bitcoin made it to mainstream media mid last year with a corresponding stellar Bitcoin bull run into the Holiday season of 2017. We also have firms like Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Mastercard and J.P Morgan Chase, expressing their interest in blockchain technology as well as cryptocurrencies.

Stephen Horan, Managing Director for general education and curriculum at CFA Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, had this to say about the new curriculum:

We saw the field advancing more quickly than other fields and we also saw it as more durable. This is not a passing fad.

Kayden Lee, a 27 year old financial economics student at Columbia University had this to say about the inclusion of crypto and blockchain into the CFA curriculum:

It will be beneficial for us, since there’s been a huge expansion and adoption of crypto in our investment universe. But more importantly the focus is on fintech and blockchain. How it works to improve, unravel or even disrupt certain sectors.

[Photo source, InvictusNews.com]

loading…