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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.

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India’s Telecom Regulator Completes Mobile Blockchain Pilot with IBM

India’s telecom regulator and telecom firms completed blockchain tests with IBM to improve mobile network data records.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has completed blockchain pilots with tech giant IBM to improve mobile data records. The trials were reported today, Dec. 12, by local English-language, Indian daily newspaper The Economic Times.

The TRAI, India’s telecom regulator, along with major telecom providers, have completed tests with tech firms such as IBM in order to explore blockchain’s benefits in improving mobile network systems such as mobile number portability (MNP) and the Do Not Call Registry (DNC).

Sriram Raghavan, vice president of IBM Research, claimed that the company has carried out proof-of-concepts (PoC) and pilots with “all the major telecom providers,” as well as the TRAI. However, the VP did not specify the names of telecom firms that participated in testing.

Raghavan explained that the latest telecom blockchain application will allow companies to store MNP and DNC data on a private distributed ledger with “customer consent.” According to the expert, the solution will enable the governmental agency to have better tools for monitoring the network in order to “spot malfeasance quickly.”

Mobile number portability, or MNP, is a feature that enables mobile phone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when shifting from one mobile network carrier to another. Do Not Call Registry, or DNC, represents a data record that aims to provide customers with an opportunity to limit incoming telemarketing calls.

A TRAI official has confirmed that telecom suppliers are currently working on agreements with tech firms, as they said on a meeting this Monday. According to the official, the companies will set up the launch of blockchain-based mobile record systems “in the next couple of months.”

In late May of this year, the TRAI first announced its plans to implement blockchain in order to prevent malfeasance in the telecom industry. The agency explained that the blockchain solution would provide regulators with better tracking tools for spotting telecom spammers who use unregistered 10-digit phone numbers.

In mid-November, IBM partnered with the major Spanish telecom supplier Telefónica in order to manage international mobile network call traffic.

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Altcoin Daily Preview: Tron (TRX) Could Bounce back, CoinBase Prospects Bullish for Stellar Lumens

TRX/USD (Tron)

Latest Tron News

Straight from the announcement of the Tron Accelerator, the launch of Tron Developer Suite and the apparent meltdown of crypto prices, Justin Sun, the co-founder of the platform is now urging developers to migrate from EOS and Ethereum platforms.

Read: Tron (TRX) Announces Accelerator Plan For DApp Creation With $1 Million in Prizes

Through a fund that Sun says will “rescue” these developers from imminent “collapse” of their respective platforms, dApp creators would get a boost only if they migrate their work to the Tron Platform.

This is not the first time Sun is throwing sublime jabs at EOS and Ethereum. He has on several occasion been tussling with Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin who at one time said Tron plagiarized part of its white paper from Filecoin.

TRX/USD Price Analysis

From left to right, prices are negatively sloping meaning the path of least resistance is southwards. But this has been the trend in the last 11 months or so and after tumbling >85 percent, we expect TRX to find support.

At the moment, prices are edging higher in line with Nov 28 bulls and though consolidating within a tight 0.5 cents range, we expect buyers to print higher by the end of the week. The only time we expect bulls is when TRX/USD thrust above our resistance at 1.5 cents–$1.7 cents zone.

Fitting stops will be at 1.4 cents with first targets at 2 cents. Losses below 1.2 cents and 1.3 cents invalidate this plan.

Our TRX/USD trade plan will therefore be as follows:

Buy: Break and close above 1.5 cents

Stops: 1.4 cents

Target: 2 cents

XLM/USD (Stellar Lumens)

Latest Stellar Lumens News

As reported by EWNs, CoinBase—the US based crypto exchange platform has once more announced that it will be exploring 31 digital assets including Stellar Lumens (XLM).

Also Read: CoinBase Pro Lists the ERC20 Tokens of Civic (CVC), DNT, LOOM, and Decentraland (MANA)

This being the second time, the community is pretty excited about the news and could be pointers of what’s to come especially if CoinBase deviates from listing a high supply, low cost pre-mined coin.

Listing on XLM could be attractive for users who would want to diversify waiting for price appreciation now that Stellar has a working relationship with IBM. IBM’s mainframes are still in use by 92 out of 100 global banks and as they have been in service for more than 50 years, an alternative proposed by IBM could easily be adopted even if it means leveraging on the Stellar platform.

XLM/USD Price Analysis

XLM/USD Price Analysis

Stellar Lumens (XLM) is perched at fourth and quite stable in the last few hours. Though XLM is printing higher against the USD, bears are in control. From candlestick arrangement, we expect XLM to print higher and even close above 13 cents triggering short term bulls aiming at 17 cents.

However, since XLM/USD is trending within a bear breakout pattern and prices are below 15 cents, we cannot discount the possibility of sellers stepping up, driving prices below our support zone. If this print out then our XLM/USD will be nullified.

Nevertheless, our short-term XLM/USD trade plan will be as follows:

Buy: 13 cents—Above Dec 9 highs

Stops: 11 cents

First Target: 17 cents

All Charts Courtesy of Trading View.

This is not Investment Advice. Do your Own Research.

The post Altcoin Daily Preview: Tron (TRX) Could Bounce back, CoinBase Prospects Bullish for Stellar Lumens appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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IBM Partners with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Blockchain Supply Chain System

A United Arab Emirates national oil company has successfully piloted a blockchain system for oil and gas production.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has successfully collaborated with IBM to pilot a blockchain supply chain system, according to an ADNOC press release published on Dec. 9.

The release notes that ADNOC — a state-owned oil company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — is reportedly among the world’s leading energy and petrochemical groups, with a daily output of about 3 million barrels of oil and 10.5 cubic feet of natural gas.

The pilot project has “provided a single platform that tracks the quantities and financial values of each bilateral transaction” between the involved companies automating the accounting, the release reports.

The system had been announced by the ADNOC Digital Unit Manager, Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, at the recent World Energy Capital Assembly in London. During the summit, he noted that “this could be the first application of blockchain in oil and gas production.” Al Mughairbi then further illustrated his perception of the underlying technology:

“Blockchain is a game-changer. It will substantially reduce our operating costs by eliminating time-consuming and labor-intensive processes, strengthen the marketing and trading of our products, and create long-term sustainable value.”

Zahid Habib, an IBM representative, claimed that the system “enables the ability to track irrefutably, every molecule of oil, and its value, from well to customer.” ArabianGazette also added that in the future, customers and investors will be given access to the data “providing seamless integration among stakeholders.”

The press release further noted what ADNOC hopes this system will bring to the company and its customers:

“[The system] will reduce the time it takes to execute transactions between [its] operating companies and significantly increase operational efficiencies across its full value chain. It will also improve the reliability of production data by enabling greater transparency in transactions.”

Cointelegraph reported earlier last week on the launch of a blockchain-based processing tool from post-trade management platform VAKT, designed for an initial group of crude oil industry clients including giants such as BP, Equinor, Shell, Gunvor and Mercuria.

The Abu Dhabi Global Market also completed a test of a blockchain-based system earlier this week. The international financial free zone in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly successfully concluded a pilot for the Know Your Customer (KYC) project.

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Stellar Lumens (XLM) Price Possibly impacted by IBM’s Announcement: Latest News

It has been one touch week for all crypto-enthusiasts. Especially for those trading for a near term gain as in just two days the whole market capitalization plunged from $239 bln to barely just above $200 bln. The rigorous selling had no mercy. One of the coins that is attempting to get back on its feet is the speedy Stellar Lumens XLM.

Stellar (XLM) Latest

Per time of writing, the pair XLM/USD is the highest gaining for the last day marking 4.42% in the green. Trading just above the $0.2000 level, bulls are battling to take over the major $0.2100 as it is returning for a retest after failing to make it above.

XLM Investing

Source: coinmarketcap

Keeping in mind that Stellar wants to reforge the existing money-transferring system with its platform, its team is working constantly to do so by teaming up with various giants the can support its infrastructure for further expansion. With this mind-setting, it has partnered with the leading-tech firm IBM to develop a Stellar-powered payment solution that aims to compete directly with the solutions designed by other initiatives. Most important competitor being Ripple’s XRP xRapid and xCurrent.

Read Also: Stellar Lumens (XLM) Vs Ripple’s XRP: Round Two

Just recently, IBM announced the new “Blockchain World Wire” which delivers a “new financial rail that can simultaneously clear and settle cross-border payments in near real-time”. Before that, the tech giant made it public how by using the sixth largest coin blockchain technological solutions it is going to develop a stable coin that is supported 1-for-1 with the USD.

“Sending money across borders today requires a series of intermediaries for both clearing and settlement, each adding time and cost to the process. With IBM Blockchain World Wire, clearing and settlement with finality happens in near real-time. The solution uses digital assets to settle transactions – serving as an agreed-upon store of value exchanged between parties – as well as integrating payment instruction messages. It all means funds can now be transferred at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional correspondent banking”.

The above described stability of the coin could have perhaps even hoisted the complete number of accounts on its ledger going above 1 Million. According to the block explorer for the Stellar network, the exact number of accounts is 1,247,730 at the moment of writing this.

The post Stellar Lumens (XLM) Price Possibly impacted by IBM’s Announcement: Latest News appeared first on Ethereum World News.

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IBM Makes Another Blockchain Identity Play With Health Data App

IBM’s blockchain division is widening its work in the nascent field of “self-sovereign identity” – technology designed to give individuals greater control over their personal data.

Announced today, the tech giant is working with Hu-manity.co, whose #My31 app just became available on iOS and Android mobile devices. The app’s name alludes to the idea that legal ownership of one’s data should by a “31st human right” in addition to the 30 already ratified by the United Nations.

It’s the latest in a series of similar projects IBM has been involved in. Others include SecureKey, a bank consortium building a digital ID system in Canada, and Sovrin, contributor of the Indy toolkit for Hyperledger-based blockchains.

As such, the partnership with Hu-manity is a strong signal that Big Blue sees long-term business value in this use case for distributed ledgers. Marie Wieck, the general manager of IBM Blockchain, told CoinDesk:

“Getting people’s permissioned rights on a blockchain will create a marketplace and entirely new economic business models as a result.”

Indeed, while Hu-manity’s app is consumer-facing, an enterprise version will be generally available to corporations starting in the healthcare industry in the first quarter of 2019, Wieck said.

“We tend to agree that data is the next natural resource and like a natural resource has to be mined responsibly in the same way,” she added. “Blockchain combined with the notion of rights to individual data, facilitates the distributed sharing of that information securely and at scale.”

Richie Etwaru, founder and CEO of Hu-manity, has a similarly expansive vision. Starting with the well-established market for health record data, he said he expects location data, search history and e-commerce habits will also be “owned” by users.

Upon claiming their data property rights, Hu-manity users receive a title of ownership, akin to a property deed. Thereafter their personal details, signature and photograph can be added in the form of a hash on the blockchain, along with things like the individual’s data-sharing preferences.

While the Hu-manity.co global consent ledger, which records the granting and revocation of permission to use someone’s data, is built on the IBM Blockchain Platform using Hyperledger Fabric, the two companies will also collaborate with Sovrin.

Data: The new oil?

Comparing the personal data humans produce to crude oil, Etwaru told CoinDesk, “The partnership with IBM enables private blockchain to create a direct relationship between the crude data provider – the human being – and the buyer of the refined data at the end of the supply chain.”

And in its refined form, personal data such as a patient’s health record changes hands for an average of around $400, Ewaru pointed out.

Yet regulations in the U.S. and beyond are very unspecific when it comes to personal data and can be interpreted in different ways, noted Etwaru.

Provided data has been masked, an organization may sell it for specific uses, which might often be for research as opposed to overtly commercial purposes. However, there could equally be an interpretation whereby an individual has the right to notify a corporation requesting them not sell data in the de-authorized format.

But wide adoption of an empowering data-sharing app, he said, would constitute a “call to action, and pool consensus around how laws should actually work,” Etwaru said.

And it’s not only the individual who stands to gain. Rather than walking on eggshells concerning people’s growing awareness of their privacy (or lack thereof), Etwaru said, corporations could have clarity and transparency by virtue of what describes as a “movement.”

“The end buyer could have better compliance posture if they use our data and we can figure out the economics between the individual and the buyer. The pharmaceutical industry has never really been offered an explicit consenting relationship with individuals before,” he said.

IBM’s Wieck added that large anonymous datasets can be noisy and inaccurate, but could be better relied upon to be clean using the blockchain app.   

“In clinical trials, there would be a way of tracking data and ensuring these are all real human beings and doing it at scale. Trust and transparency have been a challenge up until now,” she said.  

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.

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IBM Reveals Stellar-Based ‘Near Real-Time’ Blockchain Payment Network

IBM has brought its Blockchain World Wire (BWW) payment network out of beta this week, according to a ?? post on IBM’s website.

BWW, which uses digital currency on Stellar’s blockchain to facilitate international settlements between banks in “near real-time,” is the latest step forward for IBM and Stellar, which have been eyeing blockchain payment options since October last year.

“The solution uses digital assets to settle transactions — serving as an agreed-upon store of value exchanged between parties — as well as integrating payment instruction messages,” a new summary of the platform explains, noting:

“It all means funds can now be transferred at a fraction of the cost and time of traditional correspondent banking.”

As Cointelegraph reported in July, IBM had partnered with Stronghold, a Stellar-based asset, to create the Stellar network’s first stablecoin.

“We see this as a way of bringing financial settlement into the transactional business network that we have been building,” the corporation’s vice president of global blockchain Jesse Lund said at the time.

The latest move provides fresh competition for entities such as Ripple, which has had a controversial few months as executives voice doubts over blockchain’s appeal to the banking sector.

While IBM claimed that blockchain could “revolutionize” the global financial system in an analysis published in January, the firm nonetheless considered the idea of banks themselves becoming obsolete as “not likely.”

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IBM Debuts Stellar-Powered 'Blockchain World Wire' Payments System

IBM is taking its long-in-the-works blockchain-based payment system out of beta, with the launch of a new product called Blockchain World Wire.

Aimed at institutions and harnessing the stellar blockchain network, Big Blue says its new financial rail “can simultaneously clear and settle cross-border payments in near real-time.”

Similar to other blockchain-based payment networks such as Ripple, World Wire attempts to do away with banking intermediaries that add complexity and cost to the traditional international payments systems.

According to a document provided by IBM, the product works by substituting the banking intermediaries normally needed for cross-border payments with digital assets sent over a distributed network.

The company says on its website:

“Two financial institutions transacting together agree to use a stable coin, central bank digital currency or other digital asset as the bridge asset between any two fiat currencies. The digital asset facilitates the trade and supplies important settlement instructions.”

Effectively, using World Wire APIs plugged into banks’ existing systems, fiat currency is exchanged into a digital asset at bank A. It is then transmitted to bank B, where it is converted into a second fiat currency. “All transaction details are recorded onto an immutable blockchain for clearing,” says IBM.

As CoinDesk reported, IBM was in July revealed to be working with a startup called Stronghold on the launch of a low-volatility stablecoin that will run on the stellar blockchain and use its consensus mechanism to verify transactions.

“What we really want to do is enable all sorts of digital transactional networks to settle their transactions with digital fiat currency on the same blockchain networks,” said Jesse Lund, IBM’s head of blockchain services for financial institutions, at the time.

IBM plans to demo the product at the Sibos banking conference in October, according to a report.

With it’s move into blockchain payments, IBM will be competing with industry startup Ripple, which already offers several similar products aimed at institutions, such as xCurrent and xRapid, that have been seeing increasing usage globally.

A number of notable institutions are also working towards their own similar products, with GMO, Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial and others recently announcing moves in the space.

IBM has been working with the stellar project since last October, indicating in March that it is interested in expanding the business applications of cryptocurrencies.

Lund told CoinDesk at the time:

“What’s happening is there’s this emergence of a new segment that could actually be one of the biggest segments, that is a permissioned but public blockchain network typology.”

IBM image via Shutterstock

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.

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Alibaba, IBM Ranked Top Globally for Number of Blockchain Patent Filed

Tech giants Alibaba and IBM are vying for the top spot on a new list that ranks global entities by the number of blockchain-related patents filed to date, published August 31 by iPR Daily.

iPR Daily — a media outlet specializing in intellectual property — says it consolidated data as of August 10 from across China, the EU, America, Japan and South Korea, as well consulting the International Patent System from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

China’s Alibaba only just seals first place, having filed a total of 90 blockchain-related patent applications, whereas IBM has to date filed a total of 89.

In third place is Mastercard — with 80 filings — followed by Bank of America, with 53. Fifth on the new list is China’s central bank, People’s Bank of China (PBoC), which has filed a total of 44 patent applications devoted to its project for central bank digital currency.

As Cointelegraph has reported, WIPO data has previously indicated that the highest number of patent filings for blockchain technology in 2017 came from China, which filed 225 that year as compared with the America’s 91 and Australia’s 13.

China’s embrace of the technology is counterbalanced by an increasingly stringent stance against decentralized cryptocurrencies, which has intensified yet further in recent weeks.

This split position is mirrored by Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, who has been vocal in his endorsement of blockchain, even while reserving skepticism for cryptocurrencies.

IBM for its part has been steadily expanding its involvement in blockchain across diverse fields, recently signing a five-year $740 million deal with the Australian government to use blockchain and other new technologies to improve data security and automation across federal departments, including defense and home affairs.

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Microsoft Is Slowly (But Surely) Connecting Blockchain to Main Products

Three years ago, Microsoft Azure was the first to bring blockchain to the cloud. Now it’s connecting the technology to just about everything else.

The software giant has quietly been building bridges between its blockchain services and other, widely used infrastructure and platforms, such as Office 365 Outlook, SharePoint Online, Salesforce, Dynamics 365 CRM Online, SAP, and even Twitter, according to Matt Kerner, the general manager of Microsoft Azure. The idea is to allow Microsoft customers to port their data from these platforms into the cloud, and from there onto a blockchain.

Why? In addition to the usually touted blockchain efficiencies, one of the less-discussed benefits of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in a cloud environment like Azure, according to Microsoft, is that it amasses data from multiple companies in a standardized format at scale. The potential to mine data for all sorts of insights then becomes limitless, the company reckons.

Hence, the company is integrating tools such as Microsoft Flow and Logic Apps – which offer hundreds of connectors to thousands of applications – into Azure Blockchain Workbench, a service it launched in May to make the creation of blockchain apps easier (Workbench currently has ethereum Proof of Authority configured as the consensus protocol).

It’s all a part of the evolution of Big Data, Kerner explained. Prior to blockchain, he pointed out, cloud computing enabled departments within the same company to break out of their data silos and collaborate on heterogeneous data sets, increasing smarts through machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).  

“Blockchain empowers the next step – enabling a single, authentic data set shared across counterparties. This is already improving the way transactions happen,” Kerner told CoinDesk, adding, “We believe the same will be true with data analytics.”

Stepping back, many would argue that data is now the most valuable naturally occurring resource on the planet. As the race to prove the best data analytics intensifies, firms are springing up whose sole purpose is to structure and format data to run AI algorithms on.  

But with enterprise blockchain, you get the structured and formatted data part thrown in for free, as Kerner said many Azure customers were discovering.

“What blockchain is doing is creating a multi-party business process that is moving out of email, phone calls, spreadsheets and into a single system with a single view on the data that all of the participants can rely upon and trust,” he said.

Looking ahead, Kerner said bringing vast amounts of unstructured and siloed data into a context where it could be leveraged and even shared would drive exponential change. He said:

“Even the fiercest of competitors can onboard and mutually derive benefit from that system and find new revenue streams.”

Taking on IBM

A good example of Azure connecting and balancing components in a large and complex production environment is Insurwave, which simplifies maritime insurance for shipping hauls carried by Maersk.

The platform was built using R3’s Corda platform with help from EY and Guardtime and is now in commercial production with insurers such as Willis Towers Watson, XL Catlin, and MS Amlin.

Insurwave, which tracks cargos and adjusts insurance premiums in real time, collates all sorts of data, everything from internet of things (IoT) sensors monitoring temperature, to whether the ship is going to hit a storm, or enter a war zone or an area heavily populated with pirates. Once this data is shared on the blockchain, Power BI, a Microsoft business analytics tool, can be used to gain insights about shipping hauls, Kerner said.

Further, Ricardo Correia, a managing director and head of partner management at R3, said its relationship with Microsoft is a good deal more than Azure being Corda’s default preferred cloud.

In addition to a one-click Corda capability, Correia pointed to integrating Corda into modules within the Azure marketplace.

“This enables Corda to plug into a number of different capabilities including Azure SQL, active directory for identity access management and key vault for key management,” he said.

Some of this is already in place because of Insurwave, with deeper integration also happening in a number of use cases. Notable ones include the webJet blockchain, which aims to reconcile hotels and other travel arrangements on a single ledger, and was cited by R3’s CTO Richard Brown as an example of Corda extending beyond mainstream finance.

Widening the lens, the ability to track items in real time and share things like IoT data using a blockchain has made global trade and supply chain a leading light in terms of domains to chase. From a strategic point of view, Insurwave challenges IBM’s bid for global trade dominance, which also has Maersk in the position of flagship, so to speak.

IBM has openly stated that this was its No. 1 target. However, Correia said Microsoft is also making its mark in supply chain – perhaps with a little less fanfare. “It’s in their interest given they too have very large supply chains with a number of their product offerings,” he said.

In terms of offering blockchain as a service, IBM has championed Hyperledger Composer for the past couple of years. However, there may be some question marks over the design of Composer, at least from an IBM perspective.  

Azure’s Kerner was tactfully equivocal about Microsoft’s enterprise blockchain rivals, adding that everything is built with an eye towards enabling a consortium that’s not exclusively on Azure.

“It’s got to be open. Any meaningful consortium is going to have members who have different choices that they have made around their cloud provider and who they choose to work with,” he said.

Microsoft image via Shutterstock.

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.