Retail Giant Carrefour Launches Blockchain Food Tracking Platform for Poultry in Spain

Retail giant Carrefour, headquartered in France and operating in more than 30 countries, is deploying a blockchain food tracking platform based on Hyperledger in its Spanish network, a press release states Tuesday, Nov. 20.

The food tracking solution, initially developed by U.S. tech corporation IBM, will be used to track free-range chickens branded as “Calidad y Origen” (“Quality and Origin”) that were raised in the northern region of Galicia without antibiotic treatment. Each package in the Spanish network will be marked by a QR code providing detailed info on the chicken’s date of birth, type of nutrition, packing date, and more.

In the press release, Carrefour writes that blockchain is a key technology for supply chains, as it provides greater transparency and allows customers to review the entire distribution process. In the nearest future, the company is planning to extend the use of decentralized technologies, implementing them to all food from the “Calidad y Origen” line.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier, Carrefour already tested blockchain tracking for French poultry in early 2018, expressing its commitment to decentralized solutions.

In October, the retail giant announced it was joining IBM’s blockchain-based Food Trust that had been created back in 2016. Since the launch of the trials in August, the program has been joined by major retailers and companies, such as Nestle SA, Unilever NV, and Walmart.

Other firms with large supply chains have often applied blockchain in order to increase transparency, cut costs, and reduce time spent on food delivery. For instance, Walmart uses a farm-to-store blockchain tracking system for its leafy greens, while U.S. fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen is planning to trace its salads in the same way.

As well, the world’s four largest agriculture companies, mostly known as ABCD, use blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate grain and oilseed post-trade execution processes, considered to be a highly manual and costly part of the supply chain.

North Korea to Hold Crypto Conference in April

North Korea plans to host an international summit of experts from the cryptocurrency industry. The Pyongyang Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Conference will be held in April of next year at a science and technology center in the national capital.

Also read: Crypto Detectives Project Rates and Investigates Suspicious ICOs

Delegates to Pay €3,300 to Attend the Forum

Alejandro Cao de Benós, a special delegate for the North Korean government’s Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, announced the upcoming event in a tweet this week. According to the conference’s official website, the event will be held between April 18 and 25, 2019. International experts in the field will gather “for the first time in Pyongyang to share their knowledge and vision, establish connections and discuss business opportunities.”

The main summit will only take two days, but attendees will also enjoy an organized tour of the country that will include a trip to the city of Kaesong and a visit to Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The Korean War Museum, the Juche Tower and the Kim Il Sung Square will be part of the itinerary as well.

North Korea to Hold Crypto Conference in April

During the first few days of their stay, the guests will be taken to the Great People’s Study House and the Pyongyang University of Foreign Languages. And before they leave, they will visit an information technology company, the Taedonggang beer brewery and conduct private business meetings with their counterparts.

Recreational activities such as skating, bowling, shooting and shopping will all be part of the program, which will cost delegates €3,300 (~$3,760). The amount includes accommodation at a three-star hotel with three daily meals, including a vegetarian menu, transportation, Korean-English translation services and access to the conference venue. However, participants will have to pay for their visas separately, which cost another €80 each.

South Koreans, Japanese, Israelis
and Journalists Not Allowed

North Korea to Hold Crypto Conference in AprilThe actual forum itself will only take place on April 22 and 23 at the Pyongyang Sci-Tech Complex. Interested representatives from the international cryptocurrency industry are welcome to join, except for citizens of South Korea, Japan and Israel. Holders of U.S. passports will be allowed to apply, but the event will be closed to the media.

Participants and lecturers are required to send copies of their passports, as well as contact information and short resumes that identify their positions, as well as the companies or organizations they represent. The documents will be accepted up until Feb. 10, 2019. The FAQ section of the event website assures attendees that North Korea “can be considered the safest country in the world.”

Cao de Benós, who is also the president of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA), will lead the conference in cooperation with cryptocurrency expert Chris Emms. According to The Independent, Emms currently serves as an expert within Britain’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain, a forum that was set up to make the U.K. a leader in distributed ledger technologies and related innovations.

North Korea and Cryptocurrencies

Pyongyang’s plans to organize an international crypto event were first announced this past August. According to a report by U.S.-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), the event was initially scheduled to take place in October of this year. The broadcaster quoted one security expert as saying that the North Korean government wanted to demonstrate its capabilities in the field of crypto technologies at what it referred to as the first Korean International Blockchain Conference.

North Korea to Hold Crypto Conference in April

Earlier reports that the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology had started offering crypto courses appeared to confirm the country’s intentions to develop its potential in the cryptocurrency space. There have also been numerous other reports indicating that North Korea, which is currently under western economic sanctions, had become interested in crypto technologies because of the opportunities they provide for unrestricted and anonymous global transactions.

Over the past year, the North Korean government has been accused by officials in Seoul and Washington of a number of alleged crimes related to cryptocurrencies. In February, the South Korean intelligence service said that hackers associated with the North had been trying to attack digital asset exchanges in the South. And in March, a former representative of the U.S. National Security Agency claimed the North had obtained 11,000 bitcoins, worth more than $200 million at the time, through mining and hacking activities in 2017.

What do you think about the upcoming cryptocurrency conference in North Korea? Tell us in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Korea-DPR.info.


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Bakkt Focusing on Bitcoin Due to Its Liquidity and Classification as a Commodity

Following the cryptocurrency market’s foray down to fresh yearly lows, investors are becoming increasingly alert to news regarding upcoming institutional-aimed products, including that being offered by Bakkt.

On the heels of Bakkt’s recent decision to delay their platform’s launch until late-January, 2019, the company released an update on their Twitter account informing the public about why Bitcoin will initially be their primary focus. It noted that its liquidity and classification as a commodity by the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) are the primary driving factors behind their decision.

In a two-part Twitter thread, they explain this, saying:

“We’ve been asked why we’re starting with Bitcoin. Here’s why: Bitcoin today accounts for over half of total crypto market capitalization and has been deemed to be a commodity, and its derivatives are regulated in the U.S. by the CFTC… As the world’s most liquid and widely distributed cryptocurrency, and where we’ve seen the most customer demand, Bitcoin’s profile creates a liquid product on which to build a futures contract.”

Related Reading: Why Are Novogratz, Fidelity, And Bakkt Banking On Institutional Crypto Investors?

Bakkt Delays Launch Until January

The importance of platforms like Bakkt has ballooned since the cryptocurrency markets crashed over the past couple of weeks, as many investors now feel that institutional investors will be able to resurrect the markets and lift them back to their all-time highs and beyond.

Despite this, Bakkt’s launch has now been delayed by several months, meaning that investors will have to wait longer to see how the markets unfold naturally without the potential influence of Wall Street funding.

In a November 20th Medium post from Kelly Loeffler, Bakkt CEO, she explained that the exchange will be delaying their launch until January 24th, 2019, citing their commitment to releasing a stellar platform that is fully functional on day one as the reasoning behind this decision.

“Given the volume of interest in Bakkt and work required to get all of the pieces in place, we will now be targeting January 24, 2019 for our launch to ensure that our participants are ready to trade on Day 1,” she said.

Despite there being a delay in the launch, which was originally scheduled to occur on December 12th, 2018, Loeffler also noted that they have made significant progress in their discussions with regulatory authorities in the U.S. and have been working hard to onboard as many customers as possible.

Furthermore, she offered readers several answers to persisting questions in the FAQ section of the Medium post, including the aforementioned reasoning behind their decision to focus exclusively on Bitcoin (which was cited both on their Twitter and in the Medium post), and clarification as to how the price of Bitcoin will be established.

“Given the transparency and regulation of the futures markets, the futures price in a one-day physically settled Bitcoin contract will serve as a price discovery contract for the market. There is no reliance on cash platforms for settlement prices for pricing the daily Bitcoin futures contract,” she noted.

How institutional investors take to Bakkt and the Bitcoin futures product they offer will give the markets a huge signal as to whether or not traditional retail investors are ready to enter the cryptocurrency markets, or if they are simply too nascent and volatile in their current state.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Circle Provides of Proof of USD Reserves Backing Its USDC Stablecoin

/latest/2018/11/circle-provides-of-proof-of-usd-reserves-backing-its-usdc-stablecoin/

Today, Circle Internet Financial (‘Circle”) released the first attestation report by accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP for its USD Coin (USDC).

When Circle launched USDC on 26 September 2018, it promised transparency:

“USDC is an open source project that works within US money transmission laws, uses established banks and auditors and runs on blockchain technology via smart contracts. This is true financial and operational transparency.”

Furthermore, it promised regular monthly reports from accounting services firm Grant Thornton LLP “on the US dollar reserves that back the USDC tokens in circulation.” (Grant Thornton LLP is “the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world’s leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms.”) And true to its word, today, Circle released the first such report for the month of October 2018.

The report, which is titled (“INDEPENDENT ACCOUNTANT’S REPORT”), is addressed to the Board of Directors of Circle Internet Financial, Inc.

It says that Grant Thornton has “examined” Circle’s assertion that the “Reserve Account Information” in the Reserve Account Report as of 31 October 31 2018 (11:59 PM UTC) “is correctly stated, based on the criteria set forth in the Reserve Account Report.”

The management of Circle says in the Reserve Account Report that the following information is correct (as of the aforementioned date and time):

  • There are 127,408,827 USDC tokens “issued and outstanding”
  • USD held in custody accounts: $127,412,240.89

This means, of course, that as of the report’s date and time, “the issued and outstanding USDC tokens do not exceed the balance of the US Dollars held in custody accounts.”

This is what the Reserve Account Report prepared by Circle’s management team looks like:

Circle's Report.png

And for the cynics out there who might be thinking that an attestation report is not the same thing as a full audit, Cameron Winklevoss, the Co-Founder and President of Gemini, which offers its own GUSD stablecoin, had this to say on the subject last month:

 

All Images Courtesy of Circle Internet Financial

Tezos Korea Foundation Partners With Yonsei University for Blockchain Development

The South Korean branch of the Tezos Foundation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Yonsei University to collaboratively work on the development of blockchain talents, says a Tezos official press release published Nov. 21.

The new agreement between the Tezos Korea Foundation and Digital Society Research Center at Yonsei University in Seoul aims to provide “blockchain education cooperation, training of OCaml [Objective Calm] and smart contract experts.” The MoU is primarily focused on human resources and education in the blockchain technology industry. The press release states:

“Through this agreement, both sides will strengthen the expertise of the blockchain and education expertise, and discuss various cooperation opportunities to lead the blockchain field.”

Back this summer, the Tezos Foundation had already announced a public call for research grants in July. Later, Tezos provided financial grants to four research institutions for blockchain tech and smart contracts development, as Cointelegraph reported Aug. 10.

Also this summer, the Tezos Foundation announced that PricewaterhouseCoopers Switzerland (PwC) — one of the four largest professional services networks in the world, commonly known as the “Big Four” — would conduct an external audit of its finances and operations, Cointelegraph wrote Jul. 24.

Previously this week, Japanese banking giant Sumitomo Mitsui (SMBC), the Ethereum Foundation, and the University of Tokyo jointly announced an education course, dubbed “Blockсhain Innovation Donation Course,” in the university’s graduate school of engineering, Cointelegraph reported Nov. 21.

Siemens Joins Blockchain-Driven Energy Platform to Increase Interoperability in Industry

Two energy divisions of German tech giant Siemens have joined a blockchain-driven energy platform to promote the use of decentralized technologies in the sector, according to a press release published Wednesday, Nov. 21.

According to Siemens, its Energy Management and Power Generation Services departments are partnering with open-source, scalable blockchain platform Energy Web Foundation (EWF), founded in 2017 to elaborate regulatory, operational, and market solutions for the energy sector.

Siemens officials believe that blockchain technology will help increase interoperability in the area, linking consumers with energy producers and network operators, the press release writes. Moreover, the technology could help increase the efficiency of energy systems and enable new forms of project financing.

The statement also notes that Siemens is already using blockchain accompanied by microgrid control solutions to optimize control over energy consumption. For instance, in 2016, the German firm collaborated with U.S. startup LO3 Energy to develop microgrids

that enable local trading between energy consumers and producers on a blockchain platform. The solution was trialed in one of New York’s boroughs, Brooklyn, enabled to feed the excess electricity back into the local grid and receive payments from its purchasers.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the company’s financing arm, Siemens Financial Services (SFS), took part in a blockchain pilot in August for bank guarantees using R3 Corda technology, launched by U.K. multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered (SC).

Blockchain is actively tested by major energy industry players in different countries. For instance, major Singaporean utility company SP Group, which provides electricity and gas transmission in the country, launched a blockchain marketplace to trade solar energy. Also in Asia, South Korea’s largest power provider KEPCO will use blockchain and other innovative energy solutions to develop an eco-friendly microgrid.

Bitcoin Hashrate Drop Sparks Rumors of $3.8K Miner ‘Turn-Off Price’

Bitcoin mining turn off price Mining

Bitcoin Hashrate Drop Sparks Rumors of $3.8K Miner ‘Turn-Off Price’


The drop in Bitcoin hashrate has sparked rumors China has turned off huge numbers of mining rigs as the process is no longer profitable.


‘More Economic To Turn Them Off’

Video and photo content which allegedly came from F2Pool owner BitFish hit western social media November 20, being uploaded by local news feed cnLedger and Primitive partner Dovey Wan.

“…Many miners are mining at loss at the current price point, now it’s more economic to turn it off and take it off from the rack to reduce cost on electricity and opex,” Wan explained.

Bitcoin price 00 continues to suffer after a week of price losses which saw its value against the dollar drop around 30 percent. At press time Tuesday, BTC/USD hovered at $4400.

According to Wan, the “turn off price” for mining in China with a Bitmain Antminer S9 rig is approximately $3800, but will adjust down if difficulty and competition also drop.

Factors such as China’s dry season forcing up hydroelectricity costs exacerbated the problem, she said, adding that “some top mining pool owners” had admitted operating at a loss for several months.

F2Pool subsequently released its own list of mining price cut-offs, urging miners to check to ensure they were “running in profit.”

Fake News Allegations Abound

Due to much of the source material originating from Chinese social media, western Twitter commentators were quick to pour scrutiny on the claims, many calling out Wan and cnLedger for allegedly spreading “fake news.”

The material showing miners lying in piles outside was from the Sichuan Province floods, which knocked out many rigs in June, they claimed, nonetheless failing to reproduce the video or photograph from other sources.

Data from Blockchain meanwhile confirms the hashrate drop in Bitcoin, which has reversed to levels last seen in August.

Bitcoin hashrate

The turnaround marks a rare occurrence for the network, which has gotten used to the gradual increase in hashing power, particularly over the past year.

Ongoing attempts to divert miners to Bitcoin Cash in an effort to shore up one of its chains post-hard fork continue.

What do you think about the drop in Bitcoin hashrate? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, blockchain.info

IOTA Partners with HIGH MOBILITY to Build New Mobility Apps

IOTA Foundation has entered a partnership with HIGH MOBILITY, under which its developers can build new types of apps based on IOTA’s ledger, significantly simplifying the development process, the company announced in a Medium post on November 20, 2018.

Partnership Between IOTA Foundation and HIGH MOBILITY

HIGH MOBILITY, one of the leading companies in the world of automotive API development, has announced the start of its partnership with IOTA Foundation. The partnership will be dedicated to using the strength of IOTA’s open source distributed ledger technology to power HIGH MOBILITY’s standardized connected car API.

“With IOTA’s ledger and the team’s vision for future mobility, we will see it being applied by many new services. The type of applications that can be enabled with IOTA’s technology and vehicle data are many,” HIGH MOBILITY’s CTO Kevin Valdek said.

According to the company’s November 20 Medium post, the companies launched the first stage of this collaboration via a smart charging blueprint in the all-new IOTA Workspace. Valdek explained that the first blueprint would show them how vehicle data can be put onto a ledger, as well as how it can be combined with charging infrastructure and payments.

Speaking of the advantages of the collaboration, Alisa Maas, Head of Mobility and Automotive at the IOTA Foundation said that bridging the gap between corporates and developers while implementing easy to use and scalable tools will solve major “pain points” in adoption.

Workspace Will Improve the Companies’ Relationship

HIGH MOBILITY is expected to start working in the all-new IOTA Workspace by the end of the year. In this workspace, developers will be able to build and test apps using HIGH MOBILITY’s standardized connected car API on the IOTA platform.

According to the company’s Medium post, the new Workspace will include lightweight and easy to understand documentation and webinars. The Workspace will also feature interactions focusing on users and navigation within the platform.

The ability to cooperate in such a high-end workspace will have a significant impact not only on the companies joint projects, but the individual development of the companies themselves.

Partnering with HIGH MOBILITY will increase the potential the IOTA Foundation and its IOTA protocol have in the mobility industry. The Foundation could also see its potentials rise in the blockchain world if more developers start using the new, simplified workstation to develop mobility apps.

Nearly 500 Crypto Startups Bank at Silvergate, IPO Filing Reveals

The California-based parent of Silvergate Bank has detailed its relationships with the cryptocurrency industry as part of its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Touting itself as “The Banking Platform for Innovators” in its S-1 prospectus, filed with the SEC on Nov. 16, Silvergate Capital disclosed that the bank now serves 483 crypto clients, with a combined $1.7 billion in non-interest-bearing deposits as of Q3 2018. The number of clients is up from 114 on Sept. 30, 2017, marking an increase of 323 percent.

Its primary customers are crypto exchanges, with $793 million in deposits; institutional investors such as hedge funds and VC funds taking a focus on crypto assets, with $573 million in deposits; and other firms including new protocol developers and miners, with $227 million in deposits.

“The majority of our funding comes from noninterest bearing deposits associated with clients in the digital currency industry,” Silvergate states, adding that that “unique source of funding” offers an advantage over traditional financial institutions. Those deposits are invested into interest-earning deposits at other banks and investment securities, as well as into lending opportunities “that provide attractive risk-adjusted returns,” it says.

Capitalizing on its crypto relationships, the firm has developed its own crypto infrastructure, called the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN) – a network of digital currency exchanges and investors that, it says, allows “the efficient movement of U.S. dollars between participating digital currency exchanges and investors” around the clock.

SEN was developed and tested in 2017 with some customers and opened up to all crypto-related customers in early 2018.

Bullishly, the corporation believes that the market for crypto-related financial services infrastructure solutions and services is “significant” and will grow as the crypto market grows. The addressable market for fiat currency deposits related to cryptocurrencies is possibly worth $30–$40 billion, it added, citing various research.

For its IPO, the bank is seeking to raise $50 million and aims to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SI.

“We intend to continue focusing on our digital currency initiative as the core of our future strategy and direction,” said Silvergate.

Featured image courtesy of Silvergate