Blockchain Has Benefits for African Markets, Says Alexander Forbes CEO

Blockchain

The chief executive officer of one of Africa’s biggest and diversified financial and insurance company, Alexander Forbes, has told  that there are benefits in deploying blockchain technology in corporate operations.

The company’s chief executive officer, Andrew Darfoor, told  in Harare on Friday that blockchain is an exciting technological platform that the company is investigating and assessing.

Several other African companies, as well as the South African government, have already made advances on blockchain, considered key for its decentralized management nature which experts say helps with transparency.

Darfoor said in an interview in Harare:

“Blockchain is something that we are investigating and we are assessing it. I think blockchain has benefits but I think it’s a broader digital strategy.”

Alexander Forbes is listed in South Africa and has operations in that country as well as in Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia among others. It has just received regulatory approvals after acquiring a significant stake in an actuarial company in Zimbabwe.

South Africa has just completed a blockchain trial for the banking sector which was undertaken by the country’s reserve bank. It determined that about 70,000 transactions processed through the automated settlement system can be completed within two hours at an average of two seconds.

The trial of blockchain deployment by the Reserve Bank of South Africa has buoyed other players in the country. For Alexander Forbes, blockchain can be a game changer and it has set up an innovation team to work on technological platforms and possible deployment across its operations and across its South African and rest of Africa markets.

The innovation team will investigate blockchain usage and adoption alongside other digital platforms as well as Artificial Intelligence and data interrogation.

“We have created a group innovation team that looks at all channels, digital, AI, data interrogation. We have created a new team that’s assessing this technology and how we need to evolve our business,” added Darfoor.

There is growing interest in blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Africa and markets running from Zimbabwe to Kenya and into West Africa are buzzing with advances towards utilizing the platform.

According to a report by Global Risk Insights, the “most important factors” that have influenced the development of Africa’s cryptocurrency and blockchain markets include “its large informal” sector.

However, companies also dealing with formally employed professionals are also seeing opportunities for usage of blockchain and adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Walmart Patents System for Accessing Medical Records Stored on a Blockchain

walmart

Big-box retailer Walmart has been awarded a patent for a system that is designed to store a patient’s vital medical records in a blockchain database. The information can then be retrieved at the scene of an emergency when a patient is unresponsive and can’t communicate with first responders. To protect privacy the only medical information that is stored on the blockchain database is emergency-specific.

The system described in the Walmart patent titled “Obtaining a Medical Record Stored on a Blockchain from a Wearable Device” is comprised of three critical devices. One of them is a wearable device which serves as the local storage medium for the blockchain database. Then there is a biometric scanner which is used to obtain the patient’s biometric signature and a Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) scanner whose purpose is scanning the wearable device. In the patent, the retail giant proposes that the wearable device ideally be a bracelet.

Decrypting Using Biometric Features

At the scene of an emergency, the Walmart patent envisions first responders scanning the patient’s wearable device using the RFID scanner. They are then able to get an encrypted private key as well as the public key associated with the particular patient to whom they are attending.

blockchain

To decrypt the encrypted private key, a biometric feature of the patient has to be scanned. This could be the face, the retina, iris, or fingerprint. Once decrypted, the patient’s medical records can then be obtained from the blockchain database.

A patient’s medical information can also be shared with other healthcare entities including paramedics, hospitals, emergency rooms or relevant healthcare personnel. The patent theorizes that the use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will enable medical professionals to easily transmit this medical information from one entity to another.

Saves Time, Saves Lives

According to the patent, the system will allow medical care personnel to be fully briefed on a patient’s vital medical records as well as medical information before the patient arrives at a particular facility. This will not only prove time-saving but also potentially life-saving. Walmart initially filed the patent application on December 14, 2016, and it was awarded last week on June 14, 2018.

Other blockchain patents that have been awarded to Walmart in the recent past include one designed to manage energy demand on an electrical grid.

With regards to its core business of retailing Walmart was last month awarded two patents. One of the patents describes a digital marketplace system that customers may use to resell items. The other is geared towards facilitating customer deliveries to restricted areas using autonomous ground vehicles.

Curaizon Using Blockchain and Big Data to Revolutionize the Pharmaceutical Industry

The cost of some much-needed medication is often a big concern for national health services who are at times reluctant to pay the high prices charged for them. This means that some critically ill patients are given less effective medications that partly treat illness while causing numerous side effects – it is logical to suggest that this can lead to increased non-adherence. From a pharmaceutical company standpoint, high drug prices stem from the investments made in research and development (R&D) to develop new, more effective treatments for various diseases. According to a recent report by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, the cost of developing a prescription drug that secures regulatory approval can reach an estimated USD 2.6 billion. A big reason for such a high cost in developing new drugs is the low levels of drug adherence seen presently as well as the related lack of data to inform of the reasons why. In fact, many pharmaceutical companies have seen their profits evaporate as a result. Recent reports estimate more than USD 630 billion in revenue is lost annually as a result of patient non-adherence, and the amount is increasing by 13 percent each year.

The disparity in accurate information often affects the reliability of research on the impact of medications leading to long and exhaustive testing processes. Another sticking point is the restricted access to relevant pieces of patient data for new drug development with factors including data protection, competition and non-standardized data. Curaizon, a pioneer of medical adherence technologies, is leveraging its blockchain-based technologies to provide the standardized, reliable and real-time big data needed by pharmaceutical companies, medical researchers and healthcare providers.

According to recent research by the McKinsey Global Institute, standardization of data analytics in healthcare could cut costs by 30%. Until now, pharmaceutical companies have endured high R&D expenditures, burdened by the lack of sufficient data due to limited drug trials, and by issues of the quality of the data present due to the varying research methods used in trials. In addition, competition between different companies has stymied research efforts, while access to certain data may be blocked either by healthcare providers or legislation. Effective May 25, 2018, the European-wide General Data Protection Regulation stipulates that all EU citizens are entitled to know what data have been stored on them and to demand deletion of the data. Compliance with the rules is causing havoc in national health services and complicating access issues for pharmaceutical companies and medical researchers.

Here is where Curaizon comes in. Its CuraData solution merges its patient adherence data with machine learning and AI technologies to develop unique, standardized and anonymized datasets that medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies can easily use. Through its data analytics tools, Curaizon aims to improve the quality and availability of real-time information. Its platform will generate datasets on adherence based on anonymized big data using its technologies to facilitate end-to-end data integration, a collaboration between different players in the healthcare sector, predictive modeling of the efficiency of different drugs to enhance clinical trial efficiency. Its adherence technology will also help improve understanding of the efficacy of drugs, something that is hard to achieve when adherence is estimated at only 50%.

The company’s adherence technology was created for the purpose of increasing drug adherence levels, reducing waste and facilitating research for new, more effective medications. The Curaizon ecosystem consists of three key components: CuraServe™, CuraView™ and CuraData™. CuraServe issues non-intrusive reminders to patients so that they take medication on time, while CuraView integrates with national health service systems. Using these technologies, Curaizon captures on average four data points for each patient every day. Unique demographic and adherence data on patients is collected and anonymized through CuraServe, stored and analyzed in CuraData. The data collected by Curaizon’s real-time adherence technologies can be merged with health provider-patient data to create even better and detailed datasets to further assist medicine research and development.

With the use of blockchain, the security, transparency and immutability of medical records can be ensured as access is restricted by the respective rules and storing points on blockchain.

As both patients and health services use Curaizon’s technologies, it creates opportunities to enhance the adherence data functionality and utility. In turn, data scientists, academics and researchers from pharmaceutical companies can overlay their own data with within CuraData to generate unique insights and further develop the ecosystem.

This indirect collaboration and information sharing from all parties will help reduce costs of medical research. For instance, researchers will gain valuable insights into the shortcomings of existing treatments from patient feedback and real-time information on non-adherence as well as understand any complications that could be linked to a specific drug or form of treatment.

By providing relevant real-time data, Curaizon will help pharmaceutical companies reduce their R&D costs, thereby bringing to market better quality medications quicker and more efficiently. In turn, this will lower the prices paid by patients and healthcare providers.

Firefox Founder’s Blockchain-Based Brave Browser is #12 Top Tech Firm of 2018

brave

On June 12, The Wall Street Journal released its “Top 25 Tech Companies to Watch in 2018” list, featuring innovative startups in the AI, blockchain and cybersecurity sector. The list ranked Brave Software, the blockchain-based browser created by Firefox and JavaScript creator Brendan Eich at twelveth.

Brave Browser’s Progress

Over the past year, Brave Browser, which compensates publishers with tokens by transparently embedding advertisements through the blockchain, has made a successful attempt in penetrating one of the most difficult industries even for large-scale businesses to maintain dominance over. Largely controlled by Chrome and Firefox, the the market share of the browser industry is mainly dominated by a few key players including Safari, Opera, and Edge.

Last month, after securing a partnership with Dow Jones, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, Brave secured a partnership with YouTube creators Bart Baker and Philip DeFranco to improve the adoption of the Brave browser amongst young users and popular creators.

DeFranco, who has been one of the most influential and beloved YouTubers for many years with more than 6 million subscribers, said at the time:

“I’m so excited to work with Brave and spread the word because, in addition to being such a fantastic product that creates a cleaner, faster, and secure browsing experience, they are thinking about creators, their audiences, and how to support both first. This is a fantastic opportunity for the creators looking to diversify and get the platform that makes it easier to go from creating as a hobby, to creating and supporting yourself, to building your very own business.”

As of May 2018, Brave had more than 2.2 million monthly active users, with the majority of users residing in the US and the EU. Given the rapid increase in its user base within a 12-month period, the Brave team stated that it is confident Brave browser can add millions of new active users by the end of 2018.

More importantly, the Brave Software team emphasized that the utilization of the Brave browser amongst publishers and creators has increased significantly. Already, more than 3,500 websites have become Brave-verified, 10,400 YouTube creators and Twitch streamers have verified with Brave, exposing 180 million YouTube subscribers to Brave.

Recently, Jeremy Stoppelman, the CEO of Yelp, the $3.37 billion review platform, was seen using the Brave browser on Last Night’s 60 Minutes (CBS) special about Google. The usage of the Brave browser by public figures and well recognized entrepreneurs is expected to improve the mainstream awareness of Brave in the upcoming months, which will be crucial for the long-term growth of Brave.

Blockchain-Based VR Content Platform ImmVrse Looking to Become Top VR Platform in the Next Ten Years

VR is considered the next frontier in entertainment, gaming and even medical fields as the groundbreaking technology continues to gain traction. While VR is universally recognized as one of the sure shot things the future has in store for the world, there is no specialized platform for the sharing of proprietary VR content for major VR contributors from around the world.

ImmVRse is a Blockchain-based VR content platform that is scalable, versatile and is designed to become the go-to place for all VR content in the future. The platform is aiming to develop into a decentralized community of VR content creators, viewers and advertisers that will encourage P2P interaction. ImmVRse has recently set a target of becoming the top VR content platform within the next decade.

Focusing on Quality VR

While there are tons of VR videos available right now on Youtube and other channels, high-quality VR content is missing. ImmVRse is on a campaign to develop exceptional hybrid-architecture that will help process in-demand VR content and allow their seamless uploads and distribution within the community.

Fixing Issues with VR

As of right now, Ultra-High Definition and low latency are two qualities that are associated with streaming top VR content that can help mitigate the effects of motion sickness associated with Virtual Reality. ImmVRse is researching about the effects of VR on the human mind and body for this purpose and , in doing so, it has partnered with leading educational institutes. A recent combined research into the VR’s effects with Imperial School of Medicine in 2017 showed that increased latency and poor content creation in VR adds up to motion sickness associated with the genre.

ImmVRse gives content creators the ability to upload high quality VR videos with faster encoding, increased latency times and capacity associated with the created VR content.

A Fully Decentralized VR Platform

As of right now, the ImmVRse platform is based on a hybrid model that is in between centralized models and decentralized models in data storage and execution. The reason is that setting up a fully decentralized protocol takes time and resources that are spread in the user base. As of now, ImmVRse is going ahead with a hybrid system that facilitates faster latency times, faster encoding and capacity. ImmVRse is also engaged with other companies to introduce fully decentralized options in the market as the world moves away from centralized data banks to increased transparency and security associated with decentralized systems.

LG, Government Mint to Launch South Korea’s ‘First Public Blockchain Platform’

LG CNS KOMSCO

LG CNS, the IT subsidiary of electronics giant LG, has been handpicked by South Korea’s minting corporation to establish a blockchain platform for the public sector to provide a number of services including issuing a community token to the masses.

As reported by Business Korea, LG CNS won the order from the Korea Minting, Security Printing & ID Card Operating Corp (KOMSCO) on Sunday to develop and launch the country’s first blockchain platform for the wider public.

KOMSCO, the Korean government-owned corporation that prints and mints fiat banknotes, coins, stamps, passports and other government documents, is eyeing a number of key services including the issuance of a community token, digital authentication for the public and document certification over the open blockchain platform that will be established over the cloud.

Issuing Digital Currency?

The blockchain will be built on top of LG’s enterprise blockchain platform ‘Monachain’. Launched in May, the in-house platform specializes in digital authentication, digital supply chain management and, notably, digital currency.  Monachain allows its participants to create their own digital currency wallets. This feature, LG CNS officials said at the time of launch, would enable local governments to issue welfare payments and issue local currency to end users over the blockchain.

According to the Business Korea report, KOMSCO plans to issue these community tokens in a multitude of ‘digital gift certificates [that] can be distributed in cooperation with local governments and universities’ directly into users’ digital wallets.

Authentication and Document Certification

Further, KOMSCO is also planning to unveil a ‘digital authentication service’ to allow users to instantly authenticate their identity through biometrics over a smartphone. Presumably, this feature will help the public sign-up for and access services in a quick, seamless manner. In a similar blockchain-powered effort unveiled this week, a national banking group representing Korea’s commercial banks will have the means to use a blockchain-based customer ID verification platform next month.

LG CNS is also working on a range of ‘document certification services’ with KOMSCO to accurately determine whether or not a document is original or forged. “Those who manage mainly paper documents can draw up, register, send and shred documents without forgery problems,” the report added.

The LG subsidiary will reportedly sign a formal contract with KOMSCO near the end of June before beginning work on the development and the launch of the platform.

Korean Banks to Use Samsung SDS Blockchain to Verify Customer IDs from July

A national banking group representing South Korea’s commercial banks will launch a customer ID verification powered by blockchain technology in July.

The Korea Federation of Banks (KFB) will officially launch “BankSign”, a blockchain-based identity verification platform that will enable retail domestic banks to improve a decades-old verification system with digitization in both online and mobile banking, the Korea JoongAng Daily confirmed.

Until this year, Korean banks were forced to use a 20-year old public banking security system that is predictably inefficient and outdated. However, the government reversed its ‘Digital Signature Act’ policy wherein domestic institutions were mandated to use the public certification system.

A KFB spokesperson added:

BankSign is the first project co-developed by the local banking sector utilizing blockchain technology.

The blockchain platform is notably built on top of Nexledger, a private enterprise cloud computing platform developed by Samsung SDS – the IT subsidiary of South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, Samsung.

Samsung SDS was launched in April 2017 alongside the launch of Nexsign, a biometric authentication solution also developed by Samsung that enables customers to gain access to a multitude of services using a single ID authentication. While this is unrelated to KFB’s BankSign, Samsung has already tested its Nexledger blockchain with Samsung Card, the conglomerate’s credit card company, as early as October 2016.

It has now been revealed that the KFB established a consortium of its member to research and implement blockchain technology in the domestic banking sector in November 2017. Development of BankSign took off immediately, the KFB said, before select member banks began beta testing the system in April this year.

Furthermore, the KFB said BankSign will find other applications within government and other public organizations after taking off in the banking sector with an official launch that is only weeks away.

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange Partners UK FinTech for Blockchain Applications

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange

The Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange has inked a partnership with Equifax, a UK-based fintech company that provides blockchain technology services for capital markets. Equichain will be advising ADX on the best way to use new technologies including blockchain to increase the operational efficiency of the exchange in terms of transaction speed and security.

ADX Chief Executive Rashed Al Blooshi released a statement on Monday saying:

“The open exchange with Equichain and members of the working group will allow us to identify and test new applications of blockchain technology, aiming to enhance the speed and security of capital market transactions to the benefit of our investors and stakeholders.”

Many capital markets across the Arabian Gulf are considering blockchain and related fintech technologies for their logistics and operations as the trend of blockchain adoption gains more traction worldwide.

Governments in the oil-rich region have identified fintech as a means of diversifying from the traditional hydrocarbon-based industries which may have their days numbered as environmentalism looks to new solutions to provide fuel for heating and transport – a knowledge-based economy and digital enterprises may be the answer. The governments of the UAE, Kuwait, and Bahrain have all already developed new regulations for the fintech industry.

ADX is the third stock exchange in the world and the first in the Middle East/Africa region to adopt blockchain after already using the distributed ledger technology for its e-voting services for the annual general meetings of its listed companies according to Al Blooshi’s emailed statement. The statement further read:

“The goal of this strategic initiative is to seamlessly connect the two ends of the institutional investment spectrum through blockchain technology, thereby eliminating some of the intermediating layers that form part of the trade cycle, whilst enabling incumbents to redefine and expand their product scope.”

Equichain is based in London and manages two groups which are both available by invite only: one for institutional investors and one for market infrastructure providers like stock exchanges. Blockchain could help simplify the trading cycle and increase the efficiency of the exchange processes.

ADX will join the second group which also includes fintech and financial services industry thought leaders. The statement announced that the group will “explore applications of Equichain’s platforms and products, in addition to providing a forum to discuss the practical application of blockchain in capital markets.”

ADX will be a partner in the group and as such work closely with other partners to share knowledge and experiences of the use of blockchain technology in the industry.

BlockAsset Leads Investment in IoMob’s Launch of Global Blockchain-Powered Urban Mobility Platform

IoMob, a forerunner in decentralized urban mobility and pioneering blockchain fund BlockAsset have reached agreement on an undisclosed six-figure investment to assist IoMob’s efforts to develop its open technology stack and forthcoming roll-out of prototypes in smart cities around the globe.  Boyd Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of IoMob commented on this important investment:

“The IoMob team are honored to have BlockAsset, a pioneering fund for investing in promising blockchain startups that aim to change the world through the technology, be our first, lead investor as we prepare for our initial coin offering (ICO).  It’s been our goal to have Block Asset on board from the beginning because we have shared values and global aspirations. The team at BlockAsset, led by David Lee, is phenomenal to work with and we are looking forward to a long-term partnership with them.”

The shared urban mobility marketplace is heating up with new entrants such as electric scooter sharing, public and private bike sharing services and even experiments with autonomous vehicles and buses. IoMob’s Internet of Mobility (IoM) Protocol combined with blockchain technology aims to provide a more powerful alternative to current innovations such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS) model, which may use only an IoM protocol. Instead of setting up their own pricey systems of operation, urban mobility services can get operational faster using IoMob’s open source, secure blockchain-based system for business essentials like handling payments, customer registration and reputation management, and focus their efforts on building their brand and customer base.

According to Goldman Sachs, the global mobility marketplace is currently valued at $7 trillion (USD), while McKinsey estimates the shared mobility marketplace will continue to grow at a rate of 20% per year through 2030. The development of an open ecosystem of urban mobility operators that share access to infrastructure and client bases supports customer retention as a range of public and private mobility services sharing the same platform has the capacity to ensure customer needs are met.

Accompanying the investment, Bo Shen, General Partner of Fenbushi Capital and David Lee, Managing Partner of BlockAsset and Blockchain Professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences have agreed to join IoMob’s global advisory board.

Mr. Lee stated: “We are excited about our latest investment on IoMob. Mobility can immensely benefit from decentralization; it is yet another area where blockchain technology can make a positive impact at a global scale by challenging incumbent monopolistic actors. IoMob’s vision for mobility is aligned with the values of decentralization, democratization and inclusivity, but at the same time, it is eminently practical. Moreover, they have a phenomenal team. We at BlockAsset expect great things from this gem of a project.”

IoMob is a blockchain-powered Internet of Mobility startup with its founders based in Barcelona and current incorporation in Estonia.  IoMob is also co-founder of the Blockchain Cities Alliance, an initiative to promote the adoption of blockchain technologies in smart cities.

Block Asset is an investment company which leverages its years of experience in the digital asset space and strong industry relationships to co-invest in a portfolio of prominent digital assets.

94 Out of Top 100 Blockchain Projects are Built on Ethereum

ethereum

According to Kevin Rooke, a cryptocurrency researcher and YouTuber, the Ethereum community already has more than 250,000 developers and 94 out of the top 100 blockchain projects have launched on top of the Ethereum network.

“You simply cannot build excellent applications and products without a big developer base behind you. But today, Ethereum has roughly 250,000 developers building on its platform. The industry is still really small [and thus], 250,000 is a shocking number. Ethereum’s development framework called Truffle already has more than 500,000 downloads and even through the price fall of 2018, development interests have continued to rise,” said Rooke.

Can Other Decentralized Application Protocols Compete?

The vast majority of cryptocurrencies and tokens apart from payment-focused blockchain networks like Bitcoin, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin are built on top of the Ethereum protocol. Even Tron, the 10th largest cryptocurrency in the global market with a market valuation of $3.4 billion, is built on the ERC20 token standard of Ethereum (though it’s currently in the process of migrating to an independent blockchain).

$2 billion China-based IoT blockchain network VeChain, $1 billion high performance blockchain Ontology, $900 million South Korea-based ICON, and $850 million Sharding-focused blockchain project Zilliqa are a few examples of major blockchain projects that currently exist on the Ethereum network.

Over the past year, alternative blockchain protocols have emerged, with an aim to compete against Ethereum and evolve into the leading decentralized application platform. EOS, NEO, Cardano, Qtum, and ICON have gained significant market valuation and presence in the global market, with their focus set on decentralized applications.

EOS

EOS, which is also based on the Ethereum network,

raised $4 billion in the biggest initial coin offering (ICO) in history, with support from the likes of billionaire investor Mike Novogratz. Only NEO, Cardano, and Qtum out of the top 100 blockchain projects in the world are decentralized application protocols built from scratch, with a genuine vision of becoming the leading blockchain protocol.

The mainnet of EOS is expected to launch in the next 24 to 48 hours, and despite its multi-billion dollar token sale, it still relies on the Ethereum network to settle smart contracts. An Ethereum smart contract is necessary to prove incoming funds for EOS tokens, as EOS leverages the security and efficiency of the Ethereum protocol.

Rooke emphasized that large capital is no longer sufficient to kickstart the process of creating a major blockchain project specifically for decentralized applications. Ethereum’s potential can only be demonstrated through successful Dapps and if developers leave the Ethereum protocol, regardless of its sophisticated architecture and technology, the Ethereum network will lose its value.

As such, Rooke noted that Ethereum has already won the race to become the leading smart contract platform for the cryptocurrency industry, adding:

“How do you get developers when you don’t have anyone using your platform? How do you get using your platform when you don’t have developers who are going to build that underlying infrastructure to make it easy to launch applications? In some ways, money can kickstart the process but in crypto today, everyone has money, including Ethereum, so that cancels out the competitive advantage.”