Alex Fauvel talks identity management at CoinGeek Seoul

Identity management is a key issue in the blockchain world, central to a number of real-world applications of the technology.

Alex Fauvel, general partner at TwoHop Ventures, took time out at the recent CoinGeek Conference in Seoul to address issues of identity management, and to discuss his plans for an on-chain solution that allows more effective, secure management of individual identity.

Fauvel said that one of the fundamental problems with blockchain at the moment is that owning a digital asset is in practice, not legally possible. This is because digital assets are effectively just data that can be copied, pasted, and passed on to anyone.

To ensure that assets can’t just be given away freely, ownership needs to be tied to a more permanent record of identity. While there have been a number of attempts to date to build this type of model, they fall down because identity is not being recorded on chain.

This means these services are relying on company servers to authenticate identity, creating a single point of failure—if a company goes bankrupt, for example, identity is lost.

Fauvel said that the solution was on-chain identity that survives any single point of failure, by recording unique identity information on the blockchain and tying this data to asset ownership.

Naturally, any data written to the blockchain can be publicly accessed, raising security concerns for those building and relying on this type of system. The solution, according to Fauvel, is to encrypt the data, as well as identity, and to hide sensitive encrypted data within other encrypted data on the chain.

He said this provides a foundation model for recording identity data securely on-chain by ensuring attackers don’t even know where to look to find the data they need to unencrypt to carry out an attack.

Billed as a general solution to secure data storage and identity management on the blockchain, Fauvel said there were a number of applications where verifiable identity was essential, such as managing title deeds on the blockchain and blockchain voting.

nChain’s Jack Davies tackles challenges of blockchain payments at Future of Money and Digital Payments

How can businesses maximize the opportunities in this changing financial landscape? That is one of the questions that will be discussed at the upcoming Future of Money and Digital Payments event in London on November 7.

The event, which is gearing up to be one of the most informative gathering related to digital payments, is hosted by Acuity Law and will include some prominent speakers with significant experience in the digital asset world: Principal speaker Nigel Dean of My PinPad will address future payment systems and payment services regulation, while Paul Harwood of Wallet Systems will discuss privacy and the challenges involved in ensuring that proper identity is established in a digital economy.

Another member of the panel that will provide a great deal of insight on digital payments is Jack Davies of nChain. Davies is a research and development scientist in blockchain technology at nChain, and has written several articles about the use of blockchain technology, and how it will play a significant role within the digital payment systems. In fact, Davies is considered one of the leading experts when it comes to Bitcoin SV (BSV).

Most of his recent work has been focused on technologies built using Bitcoin, and Davies has been looking to add utility and increase on-chain transaction volume and has been a leading developer in the Metanet project. At The Future of Money and Digital Payments, Davies will discuss the challenges presented by new blockchain payment systems—and whether BSV, Ethereum 2.0 and other cryptos can scale up to financial services.

The event will tackle the ongoing revolution in the financial industry, and how the sector is working to change how money transfers are handled. There will be a detailed discussion on digital platforms and how updated regulations are creating a number of great opportunities for new entrants to get into the market, offering them the opportunity to challenge those who have been the established authorities.

It is expected that these changes will have a dramatic impact on the banking industry and payment services, as electronic money and digital currencies are becoming increasingly popular. Those who are informed about these kinds of assets will have a clear advantage over others, as the financial markets seem to be moving towards these crypto assets.

Register to attend The Future of Money and Digital Payments, hosted by Acuity Law, at Home House in London on November 7.

New IBM blockchain tie-up targets seafood protection

Tech giant IBM has partnered with Raw Seafoods Inc to create a platform that will monitor the seafood supply chain. The initial product that will be monitored will be scallops, and it is hoped that this partnership will improve the transparency of where scallops originated, plus provide a secure, sustainable record related to the supply chain.

Initially, IBM will work with a fleet of scallop boats off the coast of Massachusetts. These boats will share data related to their catches, enabling those involved in the supply chain to be able to know where and when the catch was made.

In a statement, IBM explained that the “platform will also track when the boat landed portside, and when each scallop lot was hand graded, selected, packed and shipped to its final destination.” The data, along with images and video, will be uploaded via staellite.

This technology will address a number of problems related to this industry. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, at least 80% of Americans eat far less than the recommended amount of seafood they are to consume each week. This has become a growing problem which is partially attributed to the widespread fraud and mislabeling of seafoods that are sold to consumers.

By storing this data using the blockchain, those at the end of the supply chain will be able to prove the source of where the goods originated. Daniel McQuade, the VP in charge of marketing for Raw Seafoods, explained, “We are always actively engaged in helping our suppliers, retailers and restaurants deliver a product that’s well above the industry standard for quality and freshness. With IBM Food Trust, we found the perfect tool for establishing a direct link between the consumer and the captain of the boat that caught their fish, empowering shoppers and diners to demand more from their food supply chain.”

In August, IBM partnered with Chainyard to launch a new supply chain platform that would create a sort of digital platform authenticating goods within the supply chain. In addition, IBM has created platforms using blockchain technology to monitor supply chains for Nestle, Walmart, Lenovo, and others.

BitcoinFiles: An awesome way to share digital content via BSV

The introduction of cryptocurrency and blockchain has spawned an entirely new way to do business. The power of blockchain technology is seemingly endless, with a myriad of potential applications and solutions that are able to revolutionize how companies operate and share information. Even beyond that, though, there are everyday practical solutions for individuals, as well, and one of the most noticeable is BitcoinFiles. It has proven to be an amazing way to store and share data and is made possible because of the Bitcoin SV (BSV) blockchain.

BitcoinFiles lets anyone store and share virtually any type of content—images, files, documents—right on the blockchain. This means that, even 100 years from now, that same data will be right there, ready to be viewed to anyone who has access. No data loss, no data corruption, no possible way for the information to be changed.

Once on the site, uploading the information is a piece of cake. Select the type of file—image, text, HTML, JavaScript, etc.—and then upload it. Uploading requires a link to a MoneyButton BSV wallet, but this is simply to ensure the integrity of the data. After that, record the hash code and you’re all done.

Any type of data can be uploaded and stored, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t procedures in place to ensure the data is legitimate and legal. BitcoinFiles records IP addresses and the BSV community has already shown what happens when someone tries to store illegal content.

It isn’t even necessary to visit the website in order to upload information. The minds behind the project have created an application that allows the functionality to be integrated into other platforms, such as a website, so that data can be uploaded to and stored on the BSV blockchain from anywhere. With the virtually unlimited scaling possibilities of BSV, this means that even the most robust websites could be completely built and maintained right on the blockchain.

It took the public about 15 years to get used to the idea of email after it was invented. It has only taken about two for blockchain’s potential to begin to be realized. Applications like BitcoinFiles are helping to facilitate the next wave of innovative solutions and it’s amazing to try to envision where we’ll be even as soon as five years from now.

Zdravko Loborec: Bringing blockchain efficiency to loyalty programmes

The integration of blockchain technologies into mainstream business, both as money and for data recording, continues apace. A Vancouver entrepreneur, Zdravko Loborec, is the founder of REM Loyalty, a provider of ‘off the shelf’ loyalty programmes for all kinds of business. 

REM Loyalty started in 2017 and now boasts more than 300 well-known brands that its users can spend its tokens on. It sells to businesses who want an easy and efficient way to set up a loyalty programme without having to start from scratch. 

REM’s business customers can reassure their end users that the scheme overcomes most of the drawbacks of loyalty programmes. As Zdravko explains: “The biggest problems in loyalty rewards that people complain about is that their points expire, they can’t transfer them to other people, they don’t convert to cash. Well, when you build your loyalty point actually onto the blockchain and turn it into a form of cryptocurrency, all those problems go away.” 

The company has created its own currency, the REM dollar, which is itself a cryptocurrency, but can be converted into BSV or other currencies on the company’s platform if the user chooses to redeem it. 

The other side of REM Loyalty’s relationship with blockchain is that it is used to record transactions of its token: “It’s made things a lot more efficient,” Zdravko says. 

One of the company’s clients is a Canadian property management company, RentPerks. They used REMs to reward their clients for ‘good behaviour’—things like getting a clean inspection report or paying their rent on time. But the renters can do more than that if they choose: they can use the platform to exchange BSV for REMs and use them to pay their rent. 

Another client is a travel agent, where, similarly, REM can be used to book flights and holidays. 

Zdravko says that what excites him about the business is the possibilities for new levels of efficiency: “No one likes to swipe their card and lose four or five per cent—and it happens to us all the time.” With blockchain, the charges are far lower. But what’s important to the customer is the end product, not the fact that it’s built on blockchain, because “they don’t care.” 

That message came through before the company asked its developers to “unblockchain” its apps. It was a response to clients’ confusion with earlier versions—when they were “coming back and saying ‘we don’t understand what you mean by download a wallet’ …and there was a lot more than that.”

REM Loyalty has “eight large commercial clients in various parts of the world …we’ve got deals in place with Mastercard and Visa—so in 104 countries we can already convert at any point in time up to $1000 from REM into cash at a 1% conversion rate.” The company is self-funded and has never had to raise money from outside investors. Zdravko says it has been “revenue-positive” since its first year.

Hear more from Zdravko Loborec in this week’s CoinGeek Conversation podcast:

You can also watch the podcast video on YouTube.

Please subscribe to CoinGeek Conversations – this is the fourth episode of the podcast’s second season. If you’re new to it, there are 30 episodes from season one to catch up on.

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A successful first Bitcoin project: ImmortalSV review

As the Bitcoin blockchain was designed to be immutable, saving information for the world to forever look back upon, using it to archive important data is a natural use case. While naturally that works for digital money, as Bitcoin SV (BSV) has scaled massively and also become the data carrier of the world, it also works great for things like websites, best evidenced by ImmortalSV.com.

Much like how archive.org and it’s WayBackMachine helps archive the internet, ImmortalSV offers the same service to anyone looking to do the same on the blockchain. The service is pretty simple to use: simply enter a website address, and the site will take a screenshot for you to archive. Using a Money Button wallet, just pay for your screenshot to be recorded on the blockchain, and the site provides a bico.media address for you to see that it worked.

We tested the site and found it worked flawlessly for what it’s intended to do. Using the website for the top movie in the world at the time, Joker, we paid $0.08 in BSV, and an image of the site was quickly written to a transaction and saved on the blockchain.

A successful first Bitcoin project: ImmortalSV review

There are some important differences from how archive.org’s service that have to be taken into account. The site doesn’t proactively seek out websites to record to the blockchain; it only saves those that users wish to save. That could be both a pro and a con, in that it may miss out on quality content that should be saved to the blockchain, but it’s also more efficient, in that it won’t save a bunch of junk there either. It also doesn’t save the code of a website like archive.org does, only taking a screenshot instead.

But the business model is very different from archive.org as well. ImmortalSV requires users to pay their own way to make the service work, while archive.org requires donations from the public to provide an ad free service.

We reached out to the site’s creator, Twitter user @Synfonaut, to ask him more about the site and what his motivation in creating it was. “The inspiration behind ImmortalSV was to build something quickly so that I could learn BSV development,” he replied. “I wanted to build a useful tool, and the ability to store snapshots of websites on the blockchain seemed like a good fit.”

If you’re hoping for ImmortalSV to become a more feature filled site, Synfonaut cautioned that he thinks you should look to another service. “There aren’t any more major plans for ImmortalSV,” he noted. “I had some future ideas for more archiving, but etched has done a fantastic job providing this.”

But if you’re impressed with Synfonaut’s ingenuity and first attempt at a Bitcoin app, he’s got more coming. “Shortly after ImmortalSV, I launched Open Directory and since then have been working on a major update that helps content creators monetize their work—I should have a big announcement soon!”

Student hacker may have attempted to breach West Virginia’s blockchain voting pilot

Last year, West Virginia became the first state to test out a new voting mechanism that would allow remote voters to make their selections over the blockchain. The goal was to make it easier for state residents not physically in the state, such as those serving overseas in the military, to participate in elections and have the results calculated more efficiently. Given the advantages blockchain technology can offer many applications, it is a worthwhile pilot with positive implications for a number of industries. And last year’s pilot may have been successful in more ways than one. It appears that someone attempted to hack into the system, but couldn’t.

According to a statement that was just released by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner about threats to the election process, there could have been an attempt to break into the system last year. He explains in the letter, “In last year’s election, we detected activity that may have been an attempt to penetrate West Virginia’s mobile voting process. No penetration occurred and the security protocols to protect our election process worked as designed. The IP addresses from which the attempts were made have been turned over to the FBI for investigation. The investigation will determine if crimes were committed.”

The statement comes in response to a new federal law regarding foreign interference in domestic US elections. President Trump signed an Executive Order, “Imposing Certain Sanctions in the Event of Foreign Interference in a United States Election,” that could result in sanctions being applied to countries if any interference is uncovered from those states.

Warner adds, “Every safeguard designed for the system was very successful and worked as designed: to gain as much information as possible, and protect the sanctity of the voters’ identities and ballots. Although the details of the investigation cannot be disclosed, we can say that no votes were altered, impacted, viewed or in any way tampered with.”

The FBI’s investigation has reportedly led to the University of Michigan. According to CNN, the attempt may have been part of a course on election security, but the investigation is still continuing. The University of Michigan is involved significantly with election security research and is the home of the Michigan Election Security Commission. Warner added in his statement:

This announcement is made for its deterrent effect. This is to caution people to not even attempt to mess with an election. Even if well intentioned, the mere act of attempting to probe a voter registration list, a mobile device, or any aspect of the election process may amount to a criminal offense. We have the 2020 election coming up, and everyone should now know that local, state, and federal officials take election security very seriously.

Walmart pilot to track shrimp imports via blockchain

American retail giant Walmart has continued its foray into blockchain technology with a pilot project that will track shrimp imports. The project will ensure end-to-end traceability for shrimp sourced from India, a report by Inc42 has revealed. The retailer, which is the largest in the world both by revenue and employee count, believes the use of blockchain technology will improve the quality of the product.

The pilot will focus on shrimp imported from the state of Andhra Pradesh in India to selected Sam Club’s locations in the United States. The membership-only store, which is operated by Walmart requires all its suppliers of seafood products to complete internationally-recognized standard best aquaculture practices (BAP). This standard has previously made it impossible for small farmers to supply to the retailer, but this is all set to change.

To further support the small farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Walmart intends to fund them so that they can acquire BAP certificates. It will also assist them to gain new market opportunities.

In a statement, the company noted, “The introduction of blockchain in the shrimp supply chain could help improve the quality of information on the product for compliance purposes and for sharing with consumers, providing added traceability beginning at the farm and extending throughout the transportation process.”

Walmart has partnered with Sandhya Aqua, a seafood processing company based in Andhra Pradesh and Stanley Pearlman Enterprises, a U.S.-based supplier.

Chowdary Kunam, managing director of Sandhya Aqua, commented, “This end-to-end blockchain pilot is the first of its kind in India and has the potential to create long-term economic opportunity for the shrimp farming community in Andhra Pradesh, directly benefiting the farmers through new skills training and development.”

The project could grow into a multi-billion dollar channel, especially since India continues to dominate the shrimp market globally. The Asian country exports most of its shrimp to the U.S., with the industry registering $2.17 billion in 2018.

Walmart has continued to venture into blockchain technology, with its projects ranging from supply chain management to stablecoin ambitions. The retailer already relies on blockchain technology to trace its leafy greens while also assisting the FDA to track prescription drugs on the blockchain.

New Balance to use blockchain to stop counterfeit shoes

Tennis shoes are getting a boost from the blockchain. New Balance has announced it is working with the Cardano blockchain to develop an authentication system that will help consumers quickly and accurately determine if their shoes are the real deal, or counterfeit knockoffs. The program reportedly revolves solely around the Cardano blockchain, created by Hong Kong-based FinTech firm IOHK, and won’t use the platform’s associated ADA cryptocurrency.

According to a report by Decrypt, Cardano CEO Charles Hoskinson announced the new partnership during a celebration of the company’s second anniversary. Festivities marking the anniversary were held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and Hoskinson spoke about the new arrangement during the celebration, stating:

It provides a lot of things to New Balance that they’re really struggling with. Last year New Balance confiscated around 25 million pairs of fake shoes. Authentication is a very expensive proposition for a bunch of brands. What we can bring to the table is not only a very better way for them to accommodate this but also potentially create a marketplace.

According to figures provided by the International Trademark Association, about $1.13 trillion in revenue was lost to counterfeit products last year. The new blockchain platform will be able to establish provenance and determine if any products are being manufactured outside of expected channels. It can also help ensure that commissions and royalties are properly distributed to their intended destinations.

Hoskinson added, “Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Gucci—if you work with these companies, you can dramatically reduce counterfeiting risk, create better supply chains and better markets for their goods. And, frankly, it can give them the ability to sell their goods at even higher prices—because they can have the authentic blockchain version of the bag, and they can mark it up considerably.”

How the platform will work and more specifics of the partnership are forthcoming. According to Decrypt, New Balance is expected to make an official announcement this month, at which time the shoe and apparel company will divulge all the particulars.

From lettuce to wine, and now shoes, more products are continuously finding support from blockchains. Walmart has begun to track supply chains for many of its suppliers using the technology and France-based grocery chain Carrefour has its own internal blockchain to track milk delivered from its suppliers. Several wine producers have also embraced the innovative technology, allowing consumers to verify the origins of their purchases.

Korea Blockchain Week ‘D.FINE’ the blockchain dream

“The DNA of blockchain is seeping into the world.”

That was one of the major takeaways from Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Michael Novogratz, who took part in the Korea Blockchain Week’s main event “D.FINE” on Monday. In a fireside chat with Ryan Lee of Dunamu & Partners, Novogratz noted that by entering the blockchain industry, global giants are helping boost the market.

“Blockchain services with a large number of users will change the industry,” he said, adding that tech-savvy Asia could serve as a test bed for the technology. “Asia’s fintech is just way better than U.S.’s.”

South Korea, in particular, is making huge investments in blockchain—the technology has found use cases in both private and government sectors. The government of Seoul announced that it’s launching a blockchain-based administrative service for residents in November, while the port city of Busan has already been designated as a “regulation-free blockchain zone.” Its close contender for the title, Jeju Island, announced a new initiative called the Blockchain Hub City Development Research Service in August.

To secure global competitiveness, Chang Byunggyu, head of the Presidential Committee on the 4th Industrial Revolution, told the audience at D.FINE that the committee’s upcoming recommendation will include the promotion of blockchain and institutionalization of crypto assets. He said, “Technological advances are so rapid that we need to be able to do a lot of experiments in the industry through the regulatory sandbox.”

Korea Blockchain Week ‘D.FINE’ the blockchain dream

Even more breakthroughs are happening in the private sector. Kim Joowan, VP and Head of Service Planning Group, Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, noted how blockchain is helping the tech giant build a “multi-chain open ecosystem.”

“We are trying to apply blockchain technology to Samsung Health as well as other services as much as possible,” he said. “It is a true multilateral open ecosystem where users can manage their personal information and identity.”

The D.FINE event—the first conference in Korea hosted by media conglomerates in the country—will run until October 1 at the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas. If you’re in the area, also check out the CoinGeek Seoul Conference happening at Le Meridien Hotel on October 1-2.

NBA blocks Spencer Dinwiddie’s attempt to tokenize contract

NBA point guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s heart was in the right place, but his efforts have fallen short. The Brooklyn Nets star had wanted to tokenize his league contract, worth $34.4 million, on a blockchain before the NBA stepped in and shot him down. The league asserts that Dinwiddie’s contract isn’t really his to tokenize.

The 26-year-old basketballer has found his tokenization efforts to be a league foul. According to the New York Times, the NBA said in a statement: 

According to recent reports, Spencer Dinwiddie intends to sell investors a ‘tokenized security’ that will be backed by his player contract. The described arrangement is prohibited by the C.B.A. [collective bargaining agreement], which provides that ‘no player shall assign or otherwise transfer to any third party his right to receive compensation from the team under his uniform player contract.’

Investors would have been able to bet and capitalize on Dinwiddie’s skills on the court as he tried for an even more lucrative contract following the second year of his current contract. He had hoped to raise $4.95 million to $13.5 million through the plan, which was developed through his own company, Dream Fan Shares. The tokenization effort would have had a minimum investment of $150,000 and Dinwiddie has indicated that he would have offered guaranteed interest of a few percentage points for the duration of the contract.

The NBA’s application of the regulation can only be viewed as a loose interpretation at best, since Dinwiddie wasn’t planning on transferring the right to receive compensation. Instead, he was offering to augment the opportunity the contract provides, which is new territory for the NBA.

Dinwiddie isn’t ready to give up and accept the NBA’s decision as final. He has stated that he hopes to meet with league officials to present his plan and show them how it works, adding, “What better way to be invested in a player as a fan than to have some level of skin in the game. […] With the way mine works, if I play well in that player option year and we split the profits up the first year of my new deal, it greatly appreciates the return on this investment vehicle.”

Ant Financial wants to put agriculture on blockchain

China’s fintech giant Ant Financial has partnered with German pharmaceuticals company Bayer Crop Science in a project that intends to put agriculture on the blockchain. The two firms signed a letter of intent during the Apsara Conference which is being held in Hangzhou, China. The partnership will seek to develop a blockchain-powered system for the tracing of agricultural products.

The use of blockchain in agriculture has continued to grow, with provenance solutions enabling consumers to trace the source of their foods. Ant Financial intends on becoming part of this movement, with the proposed system promising to improve efficiency in the agriculture industry, boost farmer income and ensure the highest quality of food products in the market.

In a statement sent to Ledger Insights, the vice president of Ant’s Intelligent Technology Group stated, “We are excited to join hands with Bayer Crop Science to explore the application of blockchain technology in agriculture. Agriculture is the foundation of human civilization. Together with Bayer, our exploration of blockchain in agriculture will improve the transparency and responsiveness of its supply chain, and bring more value to consumers, farmers and the society.”

While it’s mostly renowned as a pharmaceuticals company, Bayer is also a big player in the crop industry, with its crop science division acquiring American agrochemicals firm Monsanto in 2018. The partnership is strategic for Bayer, especially since its crop science division has a strong presence in China where it offers such services as advanced crop solutions, digital farming technologies and safety training.

Weidong Huang, the head of Bayer’s Crop Science division in the Greater China region commented, “By working side by side, we strive to assist the agriculture industry on its transformation in the new era, enhance the application of advanced agricultural technologies, increase agriculture production efficiency, improve farmer’s income, and protect food safety.”

Ant Financial, which is valued at $150 billion making it one of the world largest fintech companies, has been a pioneer in blockchain applications. The company, which runs mobile payment service Alipay, announced last year that it had secured $14 billion to invest in blockchain and other emerging technology.

Ant’s blockchain systems have been applied in supply chain, with its subsidiary Ant Shuglian Technology developing a blockchain-powered invoice financing platform earlier this year. Ant also partnered with Philippines-based GCash mobile wallet and Standard Chartered bank on a blockchain-based remittance app. Other sectors where Ant’s blockchain solutions have a presence include insurance, healthcare and pharmaceuticals and rice traceability.