Private Capital Market Ecosystems Meet the Blockchain

Private Capital Market Ecosystems Meet the Blockchain

In a move signaling blockchain technology’s continued advancement in the financial world, Hong Kong–based PrivateMarket.io and NY-based Symbiont announced an agreement to build an alternative investment marketplace for closed-end funds utilizing Symbiont’s SmartSecuritiesTM software. The parties anticipate that the marketplace will go live in late 2017.

PrivateMarket’s strategic intent is to ensure that a new generation of wealth managers are able to access, analyze and seamlessly execute primary and secondary market transactions online. Through technology, they deliver concrete solutions that foster a more transparent and efficient private capital market ecosystem.

In a statement, Loïc Engelhard, founder and CEO of PrivateMarket.io, said he welcomed the partnership, noting that the security and privacy elements being delivered by Symbiont are of paramount importance for his company’s success. In particular, he touted the ease of integration and fit of Symbiont with their own internal processes at PrivateMarket.  

Symbiont is largely known for a smart-contracts platform that tethers to institutional applications of distributed ledger technology. Its growing number of disclosed users include 19 financial institutions for Smart Loans™, arranged by Credit Suisse and executed via Synaps; its syndicated-loans joint venture with Ipreo; the State of Delaware for Smart Records™; a major European insurance company for Smart Swaps™ in the catastrophe insurance market; and Orebits, a provider of asset digitization services. The company’s technology has also been used in markets for syndicated loans and digitized gold claims.

Symbiont was started in early 2015 by Mark Smith, Adam Krellenstein, Evan Wagner and Robby Dermody — all of whom have extensive track records in the Bitcoin/blockchain space as well as in fintech. Prior to Symbiont, the trio of Krellenstein, Wagner and Dermody founded Counterparty, the “Bitcoin 2.0” open-source project targeting digital representation of non-bitcoin assets on the Bitcoin blockchain.

In August of 2016, Caitlin Long, a Wall Street veteran of over 22 years, joined Symbiont as chairman of the board and president, assuming responsibility for Symbiont’s commercialization, business strategy and client relationship efforts.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Long discussed how Symbiont’s new partnership with PrivateMarket is designed to provide an enhanced and efficient approach to private capital markets, with private equity and real assets as a main focus.

“The implementation of our blockchain and Smart Contracts solution will increase efficiency, transparency and the speed of the transactions in the antiquated over-the-counter market. It will also improve greatly the security of the private equity market by simplifying complex and highly manual bilateral contracts.”

She also noted that unlike the current state in private equity, where unlisted (investment) vehicles exist, Symbiont’s solution will greatly improve the liquidity of asset classes through the implementation of its SmartSecurities solution.

“We see blockchain technology having a significant positive impact on the investment world, and it starts with the fact that the foundational document for any investment — the registration of a company — will likely soon be possible to do on a blockchain in Delaware.”

Long says that when securities are issued natively on a blockchain, not only can they be administered via smart contracts, but issuers and investors will be able to communicate directly. In addition, she says, payment of dividends can be handled directly, proxy voting will be clear and accurate, share repurchases and tender/exchange offers for bonds will be easy to execute, and the roster of security owners will always be accurate and up to date.  

Long says that amid these advancements, there are also significant opportunities for improvement of business processes in the fund administration business — whether it be mutual funds or private asset funds.  

“At the end of the day, all of these benefits will accrue to end investors, who we’ve always said should be the biggest beneficiaries of blockchain technology in the financial sector.”

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China’s Interest and Investment in Ethereum’s Blockchain Expands

China's Interest and Investment in Ethereum's Blockchain Expands

Copyedit by DoEun

Ethereum Is Dominating in China

Bradley Fink

When we first heard Vitalik Buterin was learning Chinese, it was a clue to his ambitions in China. Less than two years later, the platform he co-founded is now a growing force in the Middle Kingdom. Since he joined the ChinaLedger Alliance (May 2016) and announced the expansion of BlockApps, an Ethereum building-blocks platform, in China (September 2016), there has been a movement in cities and among companies in big industries all throughout China. This is in some part due to the efforts of Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, which has made it their mission in China to bring Ethereum to the mainstream, and also in part to the savvy and persistent efforts of Buterin himself.

At a recent Ethereum meetup in Hong Kong, Buterin said that “Wanxiang Blockchain Labs are making good inroads into China.” Headquartered in Hangzhou, Wanxiang has led the Ethereum charge in China for more than a year. Having partnered with Ethereum early on for the Global Blockchain Summit following Devcon2 in Shanghai in July of 2016, Wanxiang is now China’s top funder of promising blockchain projects.

With its BlockGrantX sponsorship program, it has allocated funds to Ethereum startups including iEx.ec (for fully distributed cloud computing), Proof-of-Identity (for KYC, wallets, multisig, voting, authentication and reputation systems), Golem (P2P computation), Casper (a proof-of-stake consensus protocol), the Raiden Network (an Ethereum off-chain state network) and Micro Oracles (blockchain identity verification). And this month, Wanxiang launched its WanCloud platform for Chinese developers, giving them access to tools for building applications on open-source blockchains.

Since the recent Global Blockchain Financial Summit in Hangzhou, China’s rapid technological developments on the Ethereum platform has been garnering attention. One blog post in particular, from ConsenSys’s Head of Global Business Development Andrew Keys, gave some insight into the rapid rate of Chinese adoption. Highlights of the post, titled “Ethereum Growing Exponentially in China,” include:

  • The creation of an Ethereum Laboratory at Peking University, to work on applications for improving supply chain management and energy markets

  • The Royal Chinese Mint experimenting with a digital RMB on the Ethereum blockchain

  • Chinese companies such as Baidu, Ctrip, JD.com and Meituan utilizing Ethereum technology for aggregated payments services

  • Establishment of the Jiangsu Huaxin BIockchain Research Institute (JBI) in Nanjing, which Keys writes “will be a powerhouse in the Ethereum ecosystem and will become a beachhead for corporations outside of China.”

  • Experimenting with Ethereum technology by Ant Financial, Alibaba’s $60 billion financial arm, to improve their global payment platforms

In Hong Kong, there has also been a surge of new interest in Ethereum. Jehan Chu is the founder of the Ethereum meetup there and a partner at Jen Advisors, a Hong Kong–based early-stage blockchain VC firm. Though the technology is still very young, Chu has seen a huge uptick in activity.

“Ethereum in Southern China has been on a rampage of growth,” Chu told Bitcoin Magazine, “with the local HK meetup growing by 50 percent to nearly 800 members in the last six months, and ether trade skyrocketing. Banks, corporates and even casual investors have all heard about Ethereum’s white-hot growth and mounting challenge to Bitcoin dominance. More importantly, Ethereum startups worldwide from Status.im and Ox to Golem and MakerDao have made HK’s environment of high-level industry professionals a can’t-miss stop on their Asia business development and capital raising tours.”

Recently the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), connecting Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics and technology vendors with Ethereum, announced its expansion into China with a new office in Hangzhou.

At the Global Blockchain Financial Summit in Hangzhou, EEA China said that its main objectives are to “explore and develop new standards and technologies using blockchains, so that Chinese enterprises can more easily meet domestic market needs.” Founding members of the EEA include JP Morgan, Banco Santander, CME Group, Microsoft, Intel, Accenture and blockchain startup ConsenSys.

Over the past week, the price of ether has surged from $85 on May 17 to a high of around $211 on Coinbase on May 25. While many credit this rise to the announcements of the EEA, it is also notable that ETH trading was added to some of China’s digital asset exchanges. On May 14 CHBTC.com added an ETH/CNY trading pair, and on May 16 Yuanbao.com added ETH trading to its platform. It has also been confirmed that China’s top Bitcoin exchange OKCoin will soon add ETH trading.

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Hyperledger Moves Blockchain Frameworks Sawtooth and Iroha Forward, Adds Members

Hyperledger Moves Blockchain Frameworks Sawtooth and Iroha to Active Status

Hyperledger, the open-source, cross-industry collaborative effort focusing on blockchain technology, has advanced the status of its Sawtooth and Iroha blockchain frameworks from “Incubation” to “Active” status.

The green light was given by Hyperledger’s 12-member Technical Steering Committee (TSC), chaired by Christopher Ferris, CTO of Open Technology at IBM. It followed an extensive review period during which each project was evaluated based on exit criteria that include legal compliance, community support, test coverage and continuous integration support, documentation, code reviews and more.

Ray George, senior director of PR at the Linux Foundation, told Bitcoin Magazine that “there is no difference [between Incubation and Active status] when it comes to how the projects are expected to run and how the TSC works with them to ensure a healthy community continues to be built.

“The most tangible difference is how this is presented to the public — not as projects whose communities are still finding their bearings, but as communities ready for new contributors and whose users can depend upon those communities persisting for the long term.”

Hyperledger Iroha, which was initially proposed by Soramitsu, Hitachi, NTT DATA and Colu, is a business blockchain framework inspired by Hyperledger Fabric. It was designed to be simple and easy to incorporate into infrastructural projects requiring distributed ledger technology, and aims to provide a development environment where C++, web and mobile application developers can contribute to the Hyperledger Project.

Hyperledger Sawtooth was initially contributed by Intel and designed to explore scalability, security and privacy questions prompted by the original distributed ledgers.

The modular platform allows organizations to build, deploy and run complex distributed ledgers, and includes a novel consensus algorithm, Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), which targets large distributed validator populations with minimal resource consumption.

Sawtooth and Iroha follow Hyperledger Fabric, the first project to graduate in March 2017. These projects, alongside five others, all fall under the Hyperledger organization umbrella, which focuses on bringing together software developer communities to develop open-source blockchain and smart contract related technologies.

Projects currently in Incubation include Hyperledger Cello, a blockchain module toolkit; Hyperledger Composer, a set of collaboration tools for building blockchain business networks; and Hyperledger Explorer, a blockchain explorer for viewing, invoking, deploying or querying blocks, transactions and associated data.

Hyperledger’s Membership Expands

The news of Sawtooth and Iroha moving out of Incubation broke on Monday at Consensus 2017, a major blockchain-focused event taking place this week in New York, during which Hyperledger also announced the addition of eight new members, bringing its total membership to 142.

New members joining the Hyperledger Project include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Schroder Investment Management, AlphaPoint and Change Healthcare, one of America’s largest healthcare IT companies and the first healthcare organization to join at the top membership level.

Change Healthcare’s CTO, Aaron Symanski, will be joining the Hyperledger Governing Board, chaired by Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset, and consisting of representatives from 20 members of the Hyperledger membership.

“Blockchain [technology] is a promising and exciting new technology for secure online transactions,” said Symanski. “But it is crucial that healthcare leaders step up to champion innovation to help take blockchain [technology] from its early implementations to tomorrow’s healthcare IT solutions.”

In October 2016, Hyperledger kicked off a Healthcare Working Group to advance blockchain development in the healthcare industry. The group now has more than 425 technologists and executives representing the likes of Accenture, Gem, Hashed Health and IBM.

Another company that has joined the Hyperledger Project is FZG360 Network Co. Ltd., a leading real-estate portal and trading platform in China, which aims to “enhance the application of [blockchain technology] to a higher maturity level,” particularly in the area of real estate.

Hyperledger was founded in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation and counts among its members leading firms representing various industries including blockchain technology, finance, healthcare, the Internet of Things, aeronautics and real estate, among several others.

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Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

As moonshot projects in the distributed world abound, it’s not surprising to see the energy sector jumping into the fray. This comes as the heavily regulated power industry eyeballs new approaches for allowing consumers to generate and sell electricity in various locales worldwide.

It’s here that blockchain technology is increasingly being seen as a potential, low-cost means for delivering energy transactions across a distributed network without need for a centralized authority. In fact, some surmise that blockchains may one day eliminate the need for intermediaries altogether, thereby allowing a more free market approach to energy distribution.

Blockchain tech could also boost efficiency by serving as the backbone for “smart grid” systems, automatically identifying and addressing network hitches that may arise. Moreover, when tethered with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, energy devices such as those used for heating, cooling, ventilation, electric vehicles, solar installations and even batteries will be able to interact with one another, resulting in greater cost savings.

Not to be overlooked is the enhanced cybersecurity element that blockchain technology offers for an industry that has become increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Despite blockchain technology’s potential utility, industry adoption may pose a number of gritty challenges. For starters, the energy grid is fraught with complexity associated with managing the process continuum of materials management, energy generation and delivery. Moreover, prevailing recordkeeping and data management systems remain cumbersome, resulting in costly missteps when it come to energy trading and asset ownership tracking.

Global Experimentation Abounds

As the intersection between blockchain technology and the energy sector advances, experimental demonstration projects are taking shape throughout the world.

Last year, the blockchain-centric Brooklyn Microgrid project, a peer-to-peer energy market for local renewable energy generation, attracted quite a bit of media attention. The intent of the startup is to deliver solar panels to this New York borough’s rooftops, allowing local residents to purchase and offload electricity within their community. This initiative allows for a system that bypasses power companies, thereby creating a generation-and-storage ecosystem that works in a more independent and efficient manner.

In another example, Austria’s largest regional utility company, Wien Energie, in collaboration with the Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group has engaged in a blockchain trial run targeting energy trading with two other utilities. The objective? To gather a repository of knowledge about blockchain technology, assessing the viability of it and relevant business models for the industry. This pilot ran from March to May 2017 and is expected to generate a set of new commercial strategies to explore.

Additionally, the SP Group, Singapore’s energy provider, will be developing blockchain solutions in partnerships with other providers throughout the world, with the goal of lowering consumer utility costs in that nation. This initiative is also intended to create simpler mechanisms for integrating new renewable energy sources into the mix.

Andre De Castro, founder of the NY-based Blockchain of Things and Catenis Enterprise — which delivers blockchain solutions for simplifying and accelerating secure global peer-to-peer edge device messaging, digital asset control, and recording of immutable data — tells Bitcoin Magazine that blockchain technology is just the beginning foundation for advancing the energy sector. “Having a distributed database doesn’t necessarily get you a trading system or an application. So what’s really needed is an application layer on top of the blockchain, to get real-world solutions.”  

De Castro says that his company enables the creation of digital assets, more commonly known as tokens, that can be applied to energy units across endpoints to create new business models for energy markets. “Everything is moving toward more open exchanges when it comes to the energy industry. Therefore consumers will soon be able to choose their own energy providers and even resell energy to their neighbors in certain areas of the world.”

He notes one additional benefit to the advancements, namely that the global Bitcoin blockchain is incredibly secure due to the fact that transactions can be cryptographically verified, thereby protecting critical assets on the energy grid. “This addresses a major challenge that currently exists today involving utility systems where there is a reliance on centralized cloud servers. What we’ve developed at Catenis with the blockchain allows for decentralization and the elimination of central points of failure that could affect big swaths of the energy grid.”

Ultimately, De Castro sees a day where blockchain technology will foster the creation of more flexible business models for exchanging power in open markets and selling that power back to the main energy grid. He also believes that this will open up immense opportunities in the clean energy space, welcome news for the eco-friendly movement. “I believe that control mechanism allowing digital tokens to be mapped will become more common resulting in lower energy costs while making peer-to-peer exchanges more efficient.

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How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

Can identity trust be integrated with blockchain technology? The answer to that question appears to be yes, according to a recently completed proof-of-concept study conducted by Peer Ledger, a Canadian blockchain company; SAFE-BioPharma Association, the organization managing the global SAFE-BioPharma digital identity management standard; and Synchronoss, a leading provider of standards-based digital identities.

This development is believed to have significant implications for the use of distributed electronic ledgers (i.e., blockchains) for medical, pharmaceutical and other health system applications.

The purpose of the study was to demonstrate that cyber identities that comply with the SAFE-BioPharma standard may, via Peer Ledger APIs, enable blockchain identities to be de-anonymized, thereby fulfilling a requirement for double-blind clinical trials, audits and responsible supply chains. Prior to the study, identities associated with distributed electronic ledgers were entirely anonymous.

“Identity trust” means that there is trust in each cyber identity, using a process that proves the individual’s identity before linking it to the cyber credential. In general terms, it means that the credential can be trusted to represent the vetted identity of the individual one is doing business with but has never met face-to-face. This is critically important to the pharma/life sciences space because of several factors, including deterrence of hackers seeking valuable patient records and intellectual property, as well as compliance with regulations protecting patient data.

These discoveries underscore the power of blockchain technology to disrupt traditional practices for drug discovery, patient engagement and monitoring, payments and participatory healthcare delivery. Here, the technology leverages its quality as a shared, synchronized, distributed ledger of transactions, fostering security and decreasing fraud by providing a permanent record of who accessed ledgers and what activities they engaged in.  

The proof of concept demonstrated that SAFE-BioPharma-compliant digital identities can be tied back to the blockchain to assure trust in the identity of each person engaged in the transaction. Transactions can be anonymous until the end of a clinical study and “chained back” to the proven identity of the user, if needed, for regulatory or clinical purposes. Alternatively, the identities associated with each block can be known throughout the process, such as in track-and-trace applications for the medical supply chain.

Blockchain technology’s use of a group-consensus algorithm can be used to catch intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset. For example, an accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes” to prevent double invoicing. Similarly, a counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain application can prevent harmful substances and devices from entering the medical system.

Ultimately, for blockchain technology to reach its full potential in any sector, myriad systems must be interoperable. Currently, healthcare technologies rarely work in a highly synchronized way with one another, which is why pharmaceutical and other medical companies that already have powerful identity management tools are trialing a number of different blockchain-based applications.

Thus far, these apps have been unable to bridge to the systems pharma companies use to establish identity credentials for their personnel. This is the problem addressed in the proof of concept. Peer Ledger has therefore developed software that now maps a trusted identity, from the Synchronoss-implemented Verizon Universal Identity Services system to blockchain credentials.

“Every SAFE-BioPharma-compliant identity credential accurately represents the proven identity of the person using it,” explains Mollie Shields-Uehling, president and CEO of SAFE-BioPharma Association. “Teaming these credentials with anonymous blockchain ledger postings enables use cases critical for overall cybersecurity across healthcare and the life sciences.”

When asked about future applications of all of this for healthcare, Shields-Uehling and Dawn Jutla, CEO and founder of Peer Ledger, highlighted three major areas of blockchain intersection.

Blockchain and clinical trials: In order to co-partner in the discovery of cures, patients may give pharmaceutical companies direct access to their digitized healthcare records, thus improving both data used for research and the speed of patient treatment. Britain’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Mark Walport, has argued that the National Health Service, which provides healthcare for 65 million people, should use blockchain technology to improve such tasks as the sharing of health records.

Blockchain and data collection: Earlier this year, IBM Watson Health announced it would work with the FDA to develop a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology. Oncology data will be the initial focus.

Blockchain and personalized precision medicine: Blockchain technology’s cryptography will secure economical home healthcare sensor feeds. Trusted identity will be important to ensure that the right test results are associated with the right patient.

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Irish Banks to Test New Blockchain-Based Interbank Payment System

Irish

Irish lenders Allied Irish Banks, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have teamed up with global consultancy Deloitte to work on a pilot program that will leverage blockchain technology to increase the speed and security for the country’s domestic interbank payments.

The collaborative project carries the name Project GreenPay and will use technology developed by Ulster Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The payments platform being trialed is called Emerald. RBS’s Emerald platform, which was built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, has already been tested in the Dublin-based startup hub Dogpatch Labs, where participating banks have been conducting dummy payments among themselves to test the blockchain-based system for performance, stability and accuracy. The platform is able to acknowledge payments in less than 10 seconds while processing large transaction volumes.

The distributed ledger technology pioneered by Bitcoin allows transactions to be recorded and shared with permissioned members on a distributed ledger, enabling payments to be processed in a more secure and efficient manner.

“[The blockchain is] essentially a software that provides a way of recording transactions in a trustworthy way. It has the potential to disrupt multiple industries for the benefit of customers, and we’re determined to investigate how we can harness this for the financial sector,” said Ulster Bank’s chief administrative officer, Ciarán Coyle.  

“When we saw that RBS had that capability, we decided to use the platform in the Republic. We looked at how we could prove it at an industry level and looked at doing collaboration at an industry level,” he added.

For RBS’s Head of Innovation Engineering Richard Crook, it “made sense” for RBS’s Irish subsidiary, Ulster Bank, to adopt its Emerald payment system for the collaborative industry-wide payment network trial. “We’re delighted to support that and further prove that blockchain [technology] can be used to better serve customers,” Crook added.

David Dalton, consulting partner and financial services industry leader at Deloitte Ireland, stated that the pilot project would leverage the company’s blockchain lab in Dublin, and added: “We believe blockchain adoption will happen more quickly than anticipated and without a proactive and well-adopted strategy, banks and insurers risk being locked out of potential innovations enabled by this technology.”

No specific timeframe has been set for when the new payment system could be implemented in the Irish financial system, and there is no guarantee that it will. However, Project GreenPay is another clear signal that banks across the world are embracing blockchain technology to improve the efficiency and security of their services. It will not be long until the blockchain will become an integral part of the global financial system.

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Sandbox for Public Blockchain Projects Launched in China By Wanxiang Group

Sandbox for Public Blockchain Projects Launched in China By Wanxiang Group

On May 12, 2017, Chinese blockchain technology leader Wanxiang Group, a conglomerate with automotive, real estate and financial services holdings, announced the launch of WanCloud, a new blockchain product under its Wanxiang Blockchain Corporation subsidiary in Shanghai.

WanCloud provides an ecosystem for open-source blockchain protocols to be localized and made easily accessible to the Chinese development community and enterprise users. Initial blockchain protocols included in the ecosystem and supported by WanCloud’s infrastructure of developers and consultants are  BlockApps, Factom and Stellar.

Part of Wanxiang’s stated goal is to drive the advancement of China’s blockchain ecosystem of developers, startups and enterprises. Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, WanCloud CTO Haifeng Xi described WanCloud as “not just a technical platform; it’s an open innovation platform. WanCloud is essentially a bridge between [the] global blockchain development community and China. We aim to connect the world to the Chinese developer community, Chinese startups and traditional Chinese businesses.”

WanCloud is unique as an ecosystem in that it allows users to work with open-source blockchains more easily and in one place. Unlike traditional Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) providers that have private networks or build on top of one public chain, WanCloud plans to continually introduce the most useful open-source platforms into the WanCloud ecosystem.

Tom Tao, vice president at Wanxiang Blockchain Corporation and head of WanCloud, told Bitcoin Magazine that he hoped to “bring as many fabrics as possible into the Chinese community and to drive interaction and even inter-chain collaboration, improving application level innovation for each participating protocol.”

David Johnston, chairman of Factom, and Jed McCaleb, CEO of Stellar, spoke with Bitcoin Magazine about why they chose to be a part of WanCloud and how it aligns with their respective companies’ goals.

“WanCloud platform is acting as a bridge between the advanced tech provided by U.S. entities and the huge market of potential users in China,” said Johnston, “providing them a more transparent and secure use case set in important areas like data management and auditing where Factom has core competencies as a platform.”

Zeen Zhang, CEO of Factom China, added, “This partnership is important for Factom China because it will make it easier for our product to reach and serve the needs of the end users in China. WanCloud is really adding value, helping us localize the platform for enterprise users and the large community of developers in China.”

Fresh off the launch of its global payments platform Lightyear, McCaleb spoke with Bitcoin Magazine about WanCloud’s benefits for Stellar’s development.

“Its an exciting development that makes it much easier for people to integrate with Stellar and will enable more experimentation … China is obviously a huge market and almost every partner that we talk to in the world asks us how they can get money either in or out of China.”

Chainbase Accelerator’s New Cohort

In addition to the launch of WanCloud, Wanxiang announced the opening of the second cohort of its Chainbase Accelerator to startups, in coordination with ICOAGE, an Initial Crypto-Token Offering platform based in Shanghai and headed by James Gong, a leading blockchain intellectual and consultant in China and CEO of ChainB. Projects accepted into Chainbase Accelerator will have the opportunity to receive technical support and consulting from WanCloud architects.

Yu Cheng, a partner at Chainbase Accelerator as well as the chief product officer at WanCloud, spoke with Bitcoin Magazine about Chainbase Accelerator and said that the first cohort was “made up of experts from traditional industries and they saw blockchain [technology] as a way to solve for problems in their industries. We are looking to bring in businesses whose applications are suited for the distributed nature of blockchain tech.” Cheng has coined the term “distributed commercial value” in China to refer to new capabilities that blockchain tech enables.

WanCloud joins a burgeoning group of blockchain subsidiaries for Wanxiang Group under Wanxiang Blockchain Corporation, including consulting and research interests Wanxiang Blockchain Business Innovation Consulting and Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, as well as Chainbase Accelerator and VC arm Fenbushi Capital.

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Using Blockchain, IoT to Boost Meal Programs for Schoolchildren

Using Blockchain, IoT to Boost Meal Programs for Schoolchildren2

India, the second-most populous country in the world with over 1.2 billion people, boasts one of the fastest-growing economies bolstered by the youngest workforce in the world. Despite this, India ranks 97th out of 118 countries on the Global Hunger Index (GHI), according to the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). While millions of dollars are spent every year on tackling malnutrition, 3,000 children die every day due to hunger.

In a bid to combat this problem, Accenture Labs has teamed up with Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO-run mid-day meal program, to use disruptive technologies such as the blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to boost the number of meals served to children in schools in India that are run and aided by the government.

Since 2000, Akshaya Patra has been working toward reaching more children to provide them with wholesome food every single school day. When it first started it was serving 1,500 schoolchildren in five schools. Now, it reaches more than 1.6 million children from over 13,500 schools across 11 states in India.

By teaming up with Accenture Labs, Akshaya Patra aims to feed even more children by expanding its reach through Accenture’s Tech for Good initiative. As the two organizations worked on their “Million Meals” project over a six-month period in Akshaya Patra’s Bengaluru kitchen, they illustrated how technologies such as the blockchain, IoT and artificial intelligence can be utilized to help address significant challenges in mass meal production and delivery.

Akshaya Patra employs unskilled workers in its operations and the data is recorded manually; however, as the data needs to be collated on a routine basis, it can have a direct impact on the planning and kitting process.

“We realized that having real-time data on the cloud would be beneficial as it will enable traceability and decision making in limited time frames during emergencies,” said Shridhar Venkat, CEO of the Akshaya Patra Foundation, speaking to Bitcoin Magazine.

By analyzing the daily demand for meals on an Android phone, the location-aware artificial intelligence system can predict the demand requirement for each school each day by reviewing all the historical transactions, thus enabling quick decision-making on the spot and enhancing efficiency.

In Akshaya Patra’s Bengaluru kitchen, cooking is improved by working from more than 15 recipes while IoT-based sensors, which are installed in the cookers, facilitate real-time monitoring of the cooking process. Whenever there is a deviation, workers are prompted to take immediate action.

On systematic review of the collected information, it is possible to identify gaps in the system and put in control measures, thereby optimizing the resources, Venkat explained.

“When the production starts, the supervisor updates the sequence of activities for which the time and temperature gets captured from the cloud,” he added. “In case the requisite temperature is not met, one has to wait to attain the right temperature, which ensures real-time monitoring of time and temperature.”

A further key component of Akshaya Patra’s operations is its invoicing and audits. To achieve transparency in both fields, the blockchain is used to create data trust networks to ensure accurate reporting and invoicing.

“Authentic feedback is crucial for any organization to improve its services,” said Venkat. “The use of [the blockchain] facilitates real-time feedback from the stakeholders directly on the application without being influenced and helps in initiating appropriate corrective actions.”

Through the use of disruptive technologies such as IoT, the blockchain and artificial intelligence, Accenture Labs’ Tech for Good initiative leads to 4,500 more meals produced by Akshaya Patra for every paisa saved (a monetary unit in India).

“We are running a unique partnership with Akshaya Patra, which will allow us to give a million more meals per year with the combinatory power of all the latest technologies: AI, IoT, blockchain and industry 4.0,” said Sanjay Podder, managing director of Accenture Labs in Bengaluru. “This is an Akshaya Patra ‘Tech for Good’ story.”

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