Posted on

Share Internet Data Launches Banking App in Tandem With LDJ Capital

Internet crowdsourcing company Share Internet Data has partnered with LDJ Capital to incorporate a banking solution into its Internet-sharing platform.

Internet crowdsourcing company Share Internet Data Ltd (SID) has partnered with private equity firm LDJ Capital to launch a blockchain-based digital banking solution. The new digital banking app is called LDJ Digital, according to a press release on July 16.

According to the announcement, LDG Digital can function as a debit card and it supports both fiat money and cryptocurrencies. Moreover, the professed goal of LDJ Digital is to provide banking services to the unbanked, as per the report.

LDJ Digital will reportedly be a part of the existing SID platform and is based on its core technologies and principles. The SID and blockchain technology underpinning LDJ Digital will purportedly make banking accessible and affordable for the unbanked, the press release says.

SID reportedly allows users to provide Internet to other users via its mobile app, somewhat like a mobile hotspot. However, SID users do not have to acquire a password in order to gain hotspot access; instead, the app automatically generates a one-time-use password when SID users are in proximity of one-another. 

As per its website, SID has completed an Initial Token Offering and uses blockchain-based contracts to trade tokens in exchange for Internet usage.

LDJ Digital CEO Jose Merino commented that financial inclusion is a natural upshot of a free Internet ecosystem:

“Free access to the internet opens the floodgates of access to a host of other global resources. Financial inclusion is one of logical results of this. The SID ecosystem is setup to support a robust community that embraces educational, social, and financial inclusion among others.”

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Napster creator Shawn Fanning’s company Helium performed a limited launch of the company’s Internet of Things (IoT) hotspot devices in June. This project also aimed to create a decentralized Internet ecosystem, and further intended to provide an array of use cases harnessing the devices’ sensing mechanisms. Use cases included tracking pets and preventing bike theft via location-detecting sensors.

Posted on

Digital Tech Is Driving Growth in Transportation Management Systems

Market research by Grand View Research suggests that digital tech, including blockchain, is driving the growth of global transportation management systems.

A recent market report by Grand View Research suggests that blockchain is one of the digital technologies driving market growth in the global transportation management systems (TMS) sector, according to a press release on July 11.

According to Grand View Research, a market research company based in San Francisco, the TMS market is expected to reach $198.82 billion by 2025 with a compound annual growth rate of 16.2%.

A number of digital technologies are credited as driving forces for current and projected TMS market growth alongside blockchain, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud transportation management systems, the so-dubbed Internet of Things (IoT), and predictive analytics.

Blockchain tech and AI reportedly contribute significantly to streamlining TMS. According to the report, these technologies have led to a rise in competition among module developers as they scramble to invest in the best streamlining tech.

There is also said to be an increasing need for automation and technology in supply chains and logistics, which apparently motivates companies to use TMS. Additionally, there is a demand for visibility, scalability, and flexibility for supply chains. 

The supply chain industry is also increasing its use of blockchain technology to provide transparency and efficiency. 

The World Bee Project is using blockchain tech to track honey along its journey from hive to store, and gather data on bee population decline; international shipments are being tracked and coordinated on the blockchain; a company in Canada is even using blockchain tech to track marijuana on the supply chain, in a purported effort to improve its image as a legitimate medicine and gather strain-specific data.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Turkey has put blockchain adoption in the transportation sector on its 2019-2023 economic roadmap.

Posted on

Napster Creator’s Blockchain Firm Helium Releases IoT Hotspots

Helium releases blockchain-based hotspots with Wi-Fi and sensor capabilities, and intends for them to eventually provide a network of seamless IoT coverage.

Napster creator Shawn Fanning’s new company Helium has released its internet of things (IoT) wireless hotspot devices with a blockchain-based incentives program, according to an official blog post by Helium on June 12.

According to the post, a Helium Hotspot provides wireless connectivity to the Internet; one node on its own will cover about 1/50 to 1/150 of a city, according to the company’s research.

The nodes are intended to support a network of internet coverage, one which is decentralized and powered by individual contributors. Contributors are rewarded by an incentives program on the Helium blockchain, which is powered by the hotspots themselves — one hotspot is one node for the blockchain.

According to the company website, the hotspots’ mining mechanism within the blockchain is much less energy-intensive than traditional consensus algorithms used for blockchains such as proof-of-work. The mining works by verifying the legitimacy of other nodes using a “Proof-of-Coverage” protocol, which purportedly is no more energy-consuming than an LED light bulb.

Energy concerns have been an issue voiced by critics of blockchain tech in the past, as a recent study suggested that carbon emissions from bitcoin (BTC) mining are comparable to the whole of Kansas City.

There are also a number of potential use cases mentioned, on the post and the website, that go beyond typical internet services via Helium’s sensors, such as using smoke or heat sensors to prevent wildfires, tracking pets, or even preventing bike theft via location-detecting sensors.

Helium Hotspots are only available for purchase in Austin, Texas upon release, but national coverage is reportedly planned for the fourth quarter of 2019. The company also intends to sell the hotspots globally in the future.

As reported by Tech Crunch, Helium has raised at least $51 million in funding for its IoT network. One issue noted in the report is that there needs to be a large number of hotspots, sufficiently spread out, in order for there to be a functioning network at all.

Last month, engineering and electronics manufacturer Bosch said that it would aid the development of the IoT space by defending it from censorship. Board member Dr. Michael Bolle said:

“We cannot accept a situation in which the overwhelming reaction to digital innovations is mistrust and fear.”

Posted on

Blockchain for Retail: Use Cases and Potential Applications

From fixing ads and loyalty programs to ensuring ethical sourcing of products, here’s how blockchain can make retail more efficient.

Cryptocurrencies have gone a long way since the day when, nine years ago, Laszlo Hanyecz had paid 10,000 bitcoins for two large Papa John’s pizzas, marking the first purchase of tangible goods for digital money. Although bitcoin is still far from being universally accepted by retailers, thousands of merchants around the world are taking crypto in exchange for goods — and their ranks grow daily. The latest of the big developments in this vein came up at this year’s Consensus conference, as blockchain startup Flexa made public its partnership with a number of major U.S. retailers. Flexa’s payments app, Spedn, will allow users to pay for their purchases in more than a dozen stores of the caliber of Barnes & Noble, Office Depot and Whole Foods with cryptocurrencies.

Payments, as we know, are just a tip of the blockchain iceberg, though. While expanding the number of stores and chains that accept digital money remains an important avenue leading toward mass adoption, there are several other domains where distributed ledger technology (DLT) can be of help to the retail industry. Some of these solutions are already up and running, and some hold the promise to bring about massive changes within the next few years.

Crypto payments

There is evidence that cryptocurrency payments are gradually moving away from the fringe. The Kaspersky Lab Global IT Security Risks Survey, published in February, reported that a respectable 13% of more than 12,000 consumers across 22 countries have used cryptocurrency to pay for their online purchases.

The most popular payment methods

Companies that step on the path of accepting crypto might be driven by various motivations. Some might want to appeal to younger, technologically advanced customers by appearing savvy with the cutting-edge tech, while others embrace the promise of the technology and are bullish on crypto themselves. Digital money’s volatility remains the main deterrent for large corporate retailers. Intermediaries like Flexa, which are ready to stand in between corporate businesses and the dicey crypto market to absorb part of the uncertainty, come in handy as the big players find themselves willing to experiment with the new payment method yet are wary of potential risks.

It appears that this indirect model could become a dominant means of easing major retail chains into digital money payments in the next few years. For instance, this is how the recently announced crypto-payment partnership between Starbucks and fintech firm Bakkt is expected to work.

This running list tracks major stores and services that accept cryptocurrencies. You can already spend your digital money on travel, gift cards, jewelry, games and movies, moving services, gadgets, goods for your home and more. The list will surely keep growing.

Blockchain’s capacity to facilitate transmission of both value and information can give rise to more sophisticated, multifunctional forms of payments in the near future. A recently unveiled Civic Pay app is a vivid example: The solution will enable vending machine operators to simplify access to age-gated goods by combining payment, identity verification and earning reward points in one transaction.

Loyalty programs

Another important domain of the retail business that could use some optimization and enhanced fraud protection is loyalty programs. A primary tool for building a lasting relationship with a customer, these transaction-based programs oftentimes rely on infrastructure that is less secure than that of “real” payments, leading to a substantial increase in loyalty-fraud crime in recent years. Both value and personal data are subject to theft. In addition, many reward programs fall short of providing enough value to customers, as the ways of spending the hard-earned points are limited.

Introducing blockchain into the equation could help retailers address both issues. On the security side, hackers and fraudsters will have a much harder time penetrating a system that relies on a distributed ledger than one that stores all the data in a centralized database. In terms of consumer value, creating a token-based rewards ecosystem open to third-party businesses is a means of giving customers a wealth of diverse ways to spend their points.

This is exactly what American Express is looking to achieve with its Hyperledger-based rewards platform, which is geared toward enabling partner merchants to create customized rewards offers for the financial corporation’s clients. A prominent player in the space is Swiss firm Qiibee, which specializes in helping businesses tokenize their loyalty programs.

Supply chain tracking

Another well-established and profusely covered family of blockchain use cases in retail has to do with the technology’s capacity to make the goods’ origins transparent and verifiable. The demand for such transparency may stem from different considerations, depending on a particular industry, with three key concerns being safety, authenticity and ethical sourcing.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the arm of the federal government responsible for promoting and protecting public health and safety, estimates that each year, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne illness. Outbreaks of diseases like E. coli and salmonella caused by bad groceries are still nothing irregular, and once the contaminated produce makes it to a large retailer’s enormous supply chain, it becomes difficult to track its origin in order to quickly extinguish the threat. It may take days until the source is identified, potentially causing the chain heavy losses and putting customers at risk.

Industry leaders have come to realize that recording every actionable event along the produce’s journey — from farm to table — on a blockchain is an efficient solution to this problem. It could also enhance stores’ ability to quickly identify and remove recalled foods, among other logistical benefits. The IBM Food Trust initiative, which offers its members a blockchain-based platform to track produce on every step of the supply chain, launched in the fall of 2016, when the U.S. retail giant Walmart began testing the system. Since then, Walmart has started requiring suppliers of certain types of produce to implement the DLT-powered solution. Other U.S. and global players in the field — such as Albertsons, Unilever, Nestlé and Carrefour — have joined the club as well, and many more are poised to follow suit.

Closely related to food safety but a conceptually different consumer demand is the need to verify that the product in question has been ethically sourced. As millennials and gen Z-ers are becoming the driving force of global capitalism, concerns over businesses’ environmental and social responsibility are becoming an increasingly conspicuous factor in purchasing behavior. Again, recording the product’s journey on an immutable ledger and creating a consumer-friendly interface enabling customers to obtain a clear picture of its origins can become a powerful tool for companies to build trust and get rewarded for transparency and responsible sourcing practices.

Some examples include the World Wildlife Fund-Australia championing the use of OpenSC, a supply chain tracking tool built on blockchain, to enable consumers make ethical choices when purchasing food. Customers will be able to obtain information regarding the products’ origins and life cycle by scanning a QR code on the package.

On another note, the Ford Motor Company is testing an IBM-built system running on Hyperledger Fabric that will trace supplies of cobalt — a material used in lithium-ion batteries that is seeing increased demand as the electric vehicles market expands. A large share of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where child labor and slave-like working conditions are widespread. The blockchain initiative would address these issues by providing Western corporations with a means of ensuring that the cobalt they purchase comes from the mines where a certain level of labor protection is enforced.

Finally, when it comes to luxury consumer goods, being able to establish the provenance of an item is of utmost importance. The diamond industry’s largest players, such as Alrosa and De Beers, have adopted blockchain-based solutions to track gems from mine to store and verify that their origins are clean — in both literal sense and with respect to previous ownership. Luxury apparel brand Alyx will implement Iota’s blockchain solution to showcase sustainable practices used on every step of its supply chain.

Customer data management, security and sharing

Retailers routinely record, store and utilize vast amounts of customer data. Blockchain applications related to streamlining processes in this line of their work present a less explored yet immensely promising area. Harnessing the benefits of distributed ledger technology could improve security, give customers more control over their data, and create new forms of marketing to help retailers meet consumer needs with higher precision and capture the value otherwise missed.

With the help of an artificial intelligence-powered recommendation system, retailers would be able to identify customers’ needs and advertise highly tailored offers to them. With advertising expenditures thus optimized, merchants will be able to reward those who opted into opening their data with tokens spendable at the store.

With a blockchain data-sharing system in place, customers could also proactively let retailers know about their needs and preferences, sending them shopping lists in the form of smart contracts. Coupled with the potential affordances of the Internet of Things to outsource the execution and delivery of such orders to machines, blockchain could become a fundamental infrastructure for the new era of fully automated shopping.

Posted on

Blockchains Acquires Development Firm Behind ‘The DAO’ Project

Blockchains, LLC, has acquired slock.it, a small blockchain development team that created The DAO.

United States-based blockchain incubator and investment firm Blockchains, LLC, has acquired the German Ethereum dev team slock.it, according to a press release on June 3.

Slock.it’s team is reportedly around three dozen large, and is known for its creation of the now-defunct decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) project “The DAO.” Co-founders and brothers Christoph and Simon Jentzsch will reportedly join Blockchains as VP of technology and director of blockchain development, respectively.

During the first few months of the acquisition, the newly-linked organizations will reportedly ship a line of open-source tools for Ethereum developers. As per the organizations’ acquisition agreement, teams will reportedly work together on existing projects, such as Blockchains’ digital asset custody product and slock.it’s “Incubed,” which purports to connect Internet of Things (IoT) devices with the Ethereum blockchain. The organizations will continue to stay in their separate offices inside the U.S. and Germany.

In 2018 slock.it deployed ‘The DAO,’ which was a decentralized property-sharing application similar to Airbnb following a $150 million crowdfunding. However, The DAO’s code contained flaws which hackers exploited to funnel $50 million in ether (ETH) from the project.  

The subsequent fallout from the hack undermined confidence in both the Ethereum network as a hosting platform and the concept of DAO’s in general.

As previously reported on Cointelegraph, the Ethereum Foundation announced a re-release of its website in May, aimed at promoting the development and dissemination of community resources.

As per their official blog post, the website is intended to curate community-created content for developers as its core documentation, not to replace them with official write-ups:

“Ethereum.org’s purpose is to be a portal to those resources, not a substitute for them. Ethereum.org will prioritize linking to content created by the community, as opposed to hosting native content on every topic. Through community contributions, the website will evolve over time to always surface the best relevant material about Ethereum.”

Posted on

World Economic Forum Forms Tech Policy Councils for Blockchain, AI, IoT

The World Economic Forum announced the formation of six different “fourth industrial revolution councils.”

The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the formation of six separate “fourth industrial revolution councils” to work on new technology policy guidance, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 29.

Per the release, the councils intend to help regulators regulate artificial intelligence, autonomous mobility, blockchain, drones, internet of things and precision medicine. The boards — allegedly composed by over 200 leaders from the public and private sectors, civil society and academia — will also gather regularly to address the absence of clearly defined rules.

The announcement notes that the councils met for the first time today at the Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in San Francisco. The WEF promises that those organizations will enable cross-country policy exchange, address regulatory gaps, shape a common understanding of best policy practices and provide strategic guidance.

Among the co-chairs of the councils are reportedly leaders from the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Dana-Farber, European Commission, technology giant Microsoft, mobile microchip manufacturer Qualcomm, Uber and the World Bank.

As Cointelegraph reported at the beginning of the current month, the WEF has teamed up with over 100 global supply chain and logistics leaders to standardize blockchain apps in the industry.

At the end of January, the WEF appointed the CEO and founder of BitPesa, Elizabeth Rossiello, to serve as one of two co-chairs of the Global Blockchain Council.

Posted on

IOTA Rolls Out Decentralized Transaction Validation to Replace Centralized Version

The network’s “Coordicide” solution replaces the temporary Coordinator function in place since launch.

Internet of Things (IoT) blockchain network Iota (IOTA) has completed preparations to further decentralize its transaction validation, Cointelegraph Auf Deutsch reported on May 28.

According to a press release and blog post from the company, its Coordinator mechanism will now give away to a new tool dubbed “Coordicide.”

Like its predecessor, Coordicide will manage transaction security, ensuring transactions process and that the same funds are not spent twice (so-called double spending).

According to executives, the move marks a major step towards complete decentralization for IOTA, which had previously stressed its Coordinator was a temporary fixture.

“We have been working towards the removal of the Coordinator since IOTA’s inception. Now with the maturity and growth of the protocol, and the quality of our research team, we are bringing that promise to fruition,” David Sønstebø, co-founder of operator the IOTA Foundation, commented in the press release. He added:

“IOTA was designed to address the limitations of Blockchain with a feeless and scalable solution. That is now becoming a reality. With this major milestone, we are poised to accelerate into our next phase of growth and enterprise adoption in the real world.”

The company’s in-house cryptocurrency token jumped around 18% on the news, which followed previous gains on the back of a deal with United Kingdom car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover late last month.

IOTA/USD currently trades at just over $0.50, still over 90% down versus the pair’s all-time high of $5.23 in December 2017.

A publicly-accessible whitepaper for Coordicide has also been released.

Posted on

Deutsche Telekom Unit to Cooperate With Binance-Listed Project on Autonomous IoT Network

Following a $6 million token sale on Binance Launchpad, Fetch.AI will work with German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom.

A unit of German telecom giant Deutsche Telekom will work with Binance-listed project Fetch.AI (FET) to develop decentralized IoT network innovations, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on May 22.

Fetch.AI, a Cambridge-based tech startup, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Labs to build and implement autonomous agents (AEAs) on the Fetch.AI test network in order to integrate them into Internet of Things (IoT) device communications.

The new partnership intends to find out how AEAs can be incorporated into IoT devices in order to provide them with the authority and autonomy to operate with no need for human involvement, the press release notes.

In an email to Cointelegraph, Humayun Sheikh, the CEO of Fetch.AI, noted that the partnership aims to apply machine learning and artificial intelligence integration to smart contracts.

Sheikh added that the upcoming project can enable unique search and discovery tools, and the described solutions will potentially allow AEAs to make themselves visible to each other while actively delivering a much more flexible and direct connectivity.

According to Sheikh, the concrete goals of the cooperation include creating a modular framework that allows T-Labs to deploy services using the Fetch tech and using machine learning in terms of decentralized electric scooter deployment.

Both Fetch.AI and T-Labs are members of blockchain-powered IoT consortium Trusted IoT Alliance, which reportedly includes major global tech companies such as Bosch and Siemens, according to the press release.

The partnership has followedFetch.AI’s successful token sale conducted on Binance’s Launchpad platform in February 2019. As previously reported, the project raised $6 million in a sale of more than 69 million tokens that was completed in 22 seconds.

Also in February, Deutsche Telekom, the world’s fifth largest telecoms firm, partnered with South Korea’s largest wireless carrier, SK Telecom to deliver a blockchain-enabled mobile identification solution.

Recently, Cointelegraph reported that major South Korean electronics giant Samsung plans to incorporate crypto and blockchain features to its budget smartphones, including cooperation with telecom companies to provide a blockchain-powered mobile identification cards and local currencies.