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Hyperledger Rolls Out Suite of Blockchain Tools for Interoperability

Hyperledger has introduced a set of tools dubbed “Hyperledger Aries” aimed at interoperability of different types of blockchain-based data.

Hyperledger has introduced a set of tools dubbed “Hyperledger Aries” aimed at interoperability of different types of blockchain-based data. The company announced the development in a blog post on May 14.

Hyperledger Aries is a set of tools that purportedly enables the exchange of blockchain-based data, supports peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging and facilitates interactions between different blockchains and other distributed ledger technologies.

Per the post, Hyperledger rolled out the project in order to provide code for P2P interaction and advance interoperability, among other objectives. The product includes a blockchain interface layer, cryptographic wallet, encrypted messaging system, application programming interface-like use cases and other tools.

In February, Intel, which is a member of the Hyperledger collaboration, launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger ecosystem designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchains.

Last December, the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee approved the Ursa project, a modular cryptography software library. Ursa is meant to avoid wasted work on duplicate projects, improving security by simplifying analysis and making it “less likely for less experienced people to create their own less secure implementations.”

That same month, Hyperledger onboarded 12 new members, including Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of the eponymous e-commerce giant; financial services firm Citigroup, Deutsche Telekom, one of the largest telecoms providers in Europe; and European blockchain trading platform we.trade, among others.

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Upgraded Hyperledger Fabric Sees 7-Fold Increase in Transaction Speed

Researchers have boosted Hyperledger Fabric’s capacity from 3,000 transactions per second to 20,000.

Researchers have re-engineered the Hyperledger Fabric to support almost seven times more transactions per second (TPS), according to a May 2 news release from Canada’s University of Waterloo.

A new series of optimizations increased the volume of data that the blockchain — used by financial institutions, IT giants and engineering companies — can process. Where it formerly maxed out around 3,000 TPS, the researchers claim they managed to achieve 20,000 TPS.

The university’s work focused on improving “end-to-end transaction throughput” by redesigning Fabric’s ordering service, transaction service and data management layer. This means that the blockchain is more practical for “fast-paced sectors such as e-commerce.” Christian Gorenflo, one of its PhD candidates, explained:

“Our modifications are completely under-the-hood. Fabric’s application programming interfaces and modularity stay intact, so existing applications work just as before.”

Professor Lukasz Golab said the researchers are now in discussions with major Fabric contributors who want to adopt their optimizations in future releases. Golab described the reception so far as very positive.

Professor Srinivasan Keshav explained that the team is now determined to pursue further optimizations, which they believe could take Hyperledger Fabric’s capacity to 50,000 TPS.

The Hyperledger community has been expanding apace. In February, Intel launched a commercial package through the ecosystem. The package is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain quickly and efficiently.

Italy’s postal service, Poste Italiane, joined in January, following in the footsteps of America’s FedEx, which claimed the technology has “big, big implications” for supply chains and transportation.

IBM is using its Hyperledger-based blockchain platform to improve supply chain management in the mining industry and ensure commodities such as cobalt are sourced responsibly.

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Forbes Releases List of Billion Dollar Companies Using Blockchain

Finance publication Forbes has released a list of 50 $1 billion firms that are implementing blockchain technology.

Financial news outlet Forbes has released a list of “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies,” or companies implementing blockchain technology that have minimum revenues or valuations of $1 billion, on April 16.

The list includes companies in the cryptocurrency and blockchain development spaces, in addition to traditional financial firms like banks and clearing houses, food companies, supply chain management firms and others.

Most of the companies listed are household names like Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, ING, Mastercard, Microsoft and Nestle.

Cryptocurrency-related companies featured on the list include United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, European mining and hardware firm Bitfury, and blockchain-based financial services network and XRP token creator Ripple.

In addition to noting major firms that are dabbling or full-on adopting blockchain technology, the list also includes which blockchain protocols are being adopted and by whom. Various Hyperledger protocols, blockchain consortium R3’s Corda protocol and the Ethereum network are prominently featured at a number of firms across various industries.

Forbes notes the potential for blockchain technology to simplify various business process per the example of Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC), which keeps records of 90 million transactions a day, or most of the world’s $48 trillion dollars in securities.

Per Forbes, the firm will begin switching its 50,000 accounts to a blockchain-based system, which will help eliminate duplicate procedures and reconciliations that are still prone to happen on traditional electronic clearing networks.

In mid-March, DTCC published a white paper outlining guiding principles for the post-trade processing of tokenized securities. The paper notes the unique characteristics of the nascent market for tokenized securities and proposes that global policy standards for traditional markets are often applicable, and useful for stakeholders to identify the legal responsibilities pertaining to security token platforms.

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Thirsty California May Be Wary of Blockchain Water Rights

Blockchain water rights may upset California’s status quo.

Last week, Colorado lawmakers filed a bill exploring how blockchain technology could be applied to water rights management.

Now, California is also studying blockchain for use in water rights management, as reported by Cointelegraph. But coming off a severe drought, which saw water restrictions throughout the state, they are facing a far different set of circumstances than Colorado, as water rights in California have always been a highly political issue.

The film “Water & Power: A California Heist” examined how a handful of corporate landowners took advantage of a state-engineered system and gained control of its water, leaving local homeowners with dry wells. Hollywood also has examined the issue with a bit more drama in “Chinatown,” where the California’s water wars and dirty dealing was dealt with by Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.

In a state where agricultural and corporate interests consume much of the available water while restaurants won’t serve a glass for free and residents’ lawns turn brown, blockchain adoption may be looked at warily by special interests and government, all with a vested interest in maintaining a veil over water usage while blaming the little guys for waste.  

Here’s a closer look at how the blockchain might be implemented in California to manage water.

IBM, The Freshwater Trust and SweetSense

In California, researcher the Pacific Institute has a nonprofit called The Freshwater Trust. It has already spearheaded a collaboration on water management with IBM and SweetSense. The project amounts to a blockchain-based system that implements Internet of Things (IoT) sensors across water pumps in a major river.

The state has been plagued by severe water shortages since 2006, and suffered drought in nine of these past thirteen years. That’s actually keeping within historical norms, as in the 20th century, the state had five periods of drought, with one lasting nine years and another eight years.

California receives most of its water from systems called atmospheric rivers. These storms drop most of the water the region receives on a yearly basis. On average, between 30 and 50 percent of annual precipitation in West Coast states happens in about three atmospheric rivers.

When too few happen, California is in a drought.

Scientists and engineers will use blockchain and IoT sensors to track groundwater usage in real-time across the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta. Their aim is to manage the water supply and ease pressures on the water table.

Covering 1,100 square miles, the northern California delta is one of the largest aquifers considered by many to be at a high risk for ecological destruction. It sources water for the southern and coastal areas of the state and supports dozens of endangered species, including around 75 percent of all salmon found in California. Three quarters of the delta is further used for agriculture, and this is responsible for much of the high water demand.

“California is huge for American agriculture, but it’s heavily groundwater dependent,” said Alex Johnson, fund director for The Freshwater Trust, while speaking to Digital Trends. “There are some basins in the central valley that have been so depleted over the last couple decades that they are 20 feet lower in elevation.”

Aquifers in California have suffered from intensive farming and business use. The water table is not just being lowered, making water more scarce, but rain has not replenished the aquifers fast enough. One, or even two, rainy years are not enough; the ground is already sinking in a phenomenon called subsidence, the sudden sinking or gradual downward settling of the ground’s surface with little or no horizontal motion.

A market for water

IoT sensors track levels of groundwater pulled up from individual pumps before uploading data via satellite to IBM’s blockchain — with no need for internet connectivity — and then water credits can be granted according to usage. A credit grants its owner the right to extract a set amount of groundwater, but if their need is less, they can sell it as a digital asset.

Conversely, those in need of additional water credits are able to buy from others. This is great if, for example, a farmer chooses to rest their land for a season at the same time a winery realizes it needs extra groundwater during a particularly dry spell. A blockchain system coupled with AI could theoretically recognize opportunities for businesses to trade credits for water and notify administrators and businesses. There is no direct negative effect on the aquifer, if the additional water shares can be bought from the farmer.

Such an open market gives an incentive for businesses and farmers to manage their water use due to the fact that using less means they can sell their credits for a profit. Managing the water supply in this way could prove efficient in a region where already too much groundwater has been drawn.

Using blockchain brings transparency to the system because all records and subsequent amendments can be seen by anyone. Being able to observe the amount of groundwater used by various entities is vital: There is no incentive for an individual to regulate water usage if competitors pay no heed to regulations. If the pilot project is successful, blockchain will be set to play an instrumental role in helping prevent a state-wide ecological disaster looming large for California.

So, how can blockchain help more efficiently manage these artificial rivers and the water they bring?  

Beyond water rights database management, water markets and general administration, a blockchain system could make the management of water more efficient while interfacing with automation and AI. For instance, after numerous recent artificial rivers, less than 1 percent of the state is still considered in drought (one year ago, the United States Drought Monitor classified 48 percent of California as being in a drought). Surprisingly, this region is on the Oregon border.

Using trustworthy oracles, an AI-blockchain could theoretically identify changes in conditions ahead of time, suggest contingency plans, and find buyers (in the drought-stricken region) and sellers (in the regions with ample rainfall) for water before the atmospheric storms even arrive. A blockchain logistics system could be implemented as part of a blockchain-based water management system.

The Hyperledger blockchain

IBM, SweetSense and The Freshwater Trust will likely use the Hyperledger blockchain — which is hosted by the Linux Foundation, Ripple, Stellar and Ethereum — for any experiments pertaining to water management. Local and city governments could also partner with R3 on such a critical part of the infrastructure.

There are several reasons why state officials prefer to partner with a blockchain organization focused on enterprise. For instance, Hyperledger, R3 and Ripple have received money from investors and clients, and can afford research and discovery.

Blockchain water banks

Colorado’s Bill 184 says the Pacific Institute should look into water rights database management, the establishment of water “banks” or markets, and general administration with blockchain once it acquires funds.

The experiment is underway in California. And there, the improved management of approximately three to four atmospheric rivers per year is critical — from collection all the way to allocation.

“We will never capture it all, but we need to do a better job of capturing what we can,” Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute told Fox News.  

“The challenge is: How do we capture more of that water to use it so we can use it during dry parts of the year? And cities in California have not historically done a good job of capturing what we call stormwater,” Mr Gleick added.

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South Africa’s Standard Bank to Launch Permissioned Blockchain for Overseas Exchange Services

Standard Bank will launch its private permissioned blockchain for overseas exchange trades with the participation of its Ugandan partner.

South Africa’s Standard Bank will soon launch its private permissioned blockchain for overseas exchange trades on behalf of corporate clients, fintech news outlet FinExtra reports Thursday, Feb. 28.

The platform, which is set to go live in the second half of 2019, is based on the Hyperledger Fabric — a foundation for developing applications or solutions for enterprise with a modular architecture. The South African bank is also planning to connect its foreign currency trading app, Shyft, to the blockchain platform.

The blockchain-driven system is expected to speed up the processing of international trades, foreign exchange payments and settlement. In addition, Standard Bank hopes to increase the transparency of transactions, as all the documents will be available for all parties in real time.

Richard de Roos, head of foreign exchange for Standard Bank, says that the blockchain solution is likely to reduce the incidence of trade failure, while increasing regulatory transparency and improving the visibility of liquidity.

Initially, the solution will be used by Standard Bank and its partner in Uganda, Stanbic Bank, along with third parties directly involved in trades.

Moreover, as the South African bank also works with the Industrial and Commercial Bank (ICBC) of China, the permissioned blockchain can further be extended to that partnership. De Roos confirmed that the bank and 20 of its franchises are currently negotiating with ICBC to extend the hub into Asia, Finextra reports.

Earlier this year, a working group of South African financial regulatory organizations had released a consultation paper focusing on cryptocurrencies. In the paper, the country’s officials called for public input to develop a cryptocurrency regulation policy for South Africa.

More recently, Intel has launched a commercial blockchain package based on the Hyperledger Fabric and using Intel’s hardware, including Xeon processors and Ethernet Network Adaptors. The new product is designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain.

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Hyperledger Onboards 12 New Members Including Alibaba Cloud, Deutsche Telekom and Citi

Open source initiative Hyperledger has announced 12 new members including Alibaba Cloud, Citi and Deutsche Telekom, among others.

Hyperledger has onboarded 12 new members, including such major firms as Alibaba Cloud, Citi, and Deutsche Telekom, according to an announcement published on Dec. 11.

Launched in 2016, Hyperledger is an open source project created by the Linux Foundation and created to support the development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers.

The new members were announced at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland. The latest general members that joined the initiative include Alibaba Cloud, a subsidiary of the e-commerce giant; financial services firm Citigroup, Deutsche Telekom, one of the largest telecoms providers in Europe; and European blockchain trading platform we.trade, among others.

Hyperledger executive director Brian Behlendorf said that “the growing Hyperledger community  reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets.” Beth Devin, Head of Innovation Network and Emerging Technology at Citi Ventures said:

“We believe blockchain has the potential to drive new forms of efficiency and develop new markets, and are pleased to join the Hyperledger project to advance our exploration.”

This month, the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee approved the Ursa project, a modular cryptography software library. Ursa is meant to avoid wasted work on duplicate projects, enhancing security by simplifying analysis and making it “less likely for less experienced people to create their own less secure implementations.”

In October, the central bank of Germany, Deutsche Bundesbank, and securities marketplace organizer Deutsche Boerse (DB) successfully completed the trial of a blockchain solution in the settlements area. The transaction volume and speed of a production system were tested on the Hyperledger Fabric framework and Digital Asset, a distributed ledger (DLT) solution for the financial sector.