The COVID-19 pandemic has infected more than 800,000 around the world, killing more than 39,000 people. The novel coronavirus is spreading fast and governments all  around the world are trying to educate people on social distancing, lockdown, and bailouts

 

The Privacy and Enforcement Conundrum

 

An effective way to prevent the spread of this virus is to first identify who have been potentially affected by it and then making sure that they don’t come in contact with anyone. We first need data of the infected patients and people who potentially may be affected, in order to achieve this. 

Currently, there are two extreme approaches being taken:

  1. Complete surveillance – We have seen multiple instances of Databases of people who have a history of travel publicly shared, while it is important to combat the virus it cannot be at the cost of individual privacy. 
  2. Complete reliance on users – On the other end of the spectrum apps have been created which completely rely on users approving to share their location with complete privacy, while it may be ideologically well placed but simply not enforceable and practical enough to be implemented on a wider scale.

 

Enter TRACY 

Tracy app screens

A bunch of volunteers from India have come together to solve this conundrum without having to give up privacy, they have built an open-source app using the Ethereum Blockchain and the IPFS-based MoiBit.

 

The app allows citizens to voluntarily participate in a program which records their location history in an anonymous way. If there are any infected people with a travel or location history originating from a particular place, the other users who were present in the close vicinity will be warned of the incident, to put them on close observation as a precaution. Meaning, the privacy of the user stays in-tact until government agencies intervene in specific cases of contact or outbreak.

 

Tracy addresses privacy concerns by allowing people to safely and confidently share information without compromising privacy. The medical teams/task forces get access to location data that is stripped of PII (Personal Identifier Information) and can apply business rules to intervene in specific cases.

 

User flow

Privacy-preserving tech

 

While other apps are just storing the location and identity data in central databases, Tracy is leveraging MoiBit – an IPFS based decentralized storage system to store data. The data is encrypted at the device and stored in the network in an anonymous fashion, so even when governments access the data they only get the essential data such as geo-location, symptoms, etc. 

 

How it uses Ethereum

 

The App uses an identity system called Moi_ID which leverages the Ethereum Blockchain to store some of the identity metadata whenever they are created. All of this is done with zero-knowledge proofs so that the identity of individuals remains pseudonymous. 

 

The project is already getting a lot of traction, there are over 160 active members actively contributing to the project. Aicumen, the company behind MoiBit has presented the solution to several lawmakers in India and the US. 

They have started a crowdfunding campaign on Gitcoin, find the link here: https://gitcoin.co/grants/547/tracy-an-intelligent-application-using-decentraliz

 

TRACY Whitepaper: https://www.GetTracy.app/assets/files/TRACY-Whitepaper_NoCopy.pdf
TRACY Website: https://www.GetTracy.app/

TRACY Telegram community: https://telegram.me/ProjectTracy
TRACY Twitter: https://twitter.com/GetTracyApp

 

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WHO Partners IBM, Oracle on Blockchain COVID-19 Data Hub

The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered with top blockchain and tech firms to launch a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform for distribution of info related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO is collaborating with IBM, Oracle, enterprise-level blockchain-powered platform provider Hacera and IT behemoth Microsoft in this venture. Together, they are launching a new blockchain platform, dubbed MiPasa. It is designed as a COVID-19 information highway, using the Hyperledger Fabric.

Jonathan Levi, CEO of Hacera, the company that built the platform said MiPasa aimed at facilitating “early detection of COVID-19 carriers and infection hotspots.” The platform would also pave the way for “fully private information sharing between individuals, state authorities and health institutions.”

MiPasa to predict trends

According to the official website of MiPasa, it “can help monitor and foresee local and global epidemiological trends. And detect likely asymptomatic carriers. By feeding big data on infection routes and occurrences to powerful AI processors around the world.”

The venture benchmarks separate location and health info are ‘partitioned’ on the platform to collect worldwide impressions. It is also set to guarantee patient seclusion with MiPasa calling the platform as a “verifiable information highway.”

The platform also plans to come out with a series of analytics tools, to be made freely accessible.

IBM blockchain in the limelight

Incidentally, several applications based on blockchain technology has come into existence in light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic. Speaking about IBM’s endeavors, their CTO, Gari Singh, pointed out that it was essential to “kickstart a consortium” soon.

“We started off brainstorming ideas on how to collect, provide and use verified information about the virus,” said Singh. “It’s not that we were trying to force blockchain into this solution, but we thought we need to replicate data. We need to have trusted sources, we need to make sure it can’t be tampered with.”

Regarding MiPasa, IBM plans to use the Call for Code initiative to power the platform. This can help to easily create necessary tools to stem the COVID-19 crisis.

“You could also think of a simple set of applications for the drive-through testing,” the IBM Blockchain CTO added.

Several national health associations, including US, European, and Chinese Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, are giving support to the venture. Other notable participants involved are the Government of Canada and Johns Hopkins University. Besides, the Hong Kong Department of Health and China’s National Health Commission will also take part.





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Blockchain technology hit the mainstream in 2017 when the general public was suddenly made aware of Bitcoin thanks to its rising prices. The main headlines on news websites, front pages of newspapers, and lead stories on the TV news was all about the ever-increasing value of this new cryptocurrency.

Riding on this wave of global enthusiasm for cryptocurrencies, many other digital currencies were launched. This includes some successful ones like Litecoin and Ethereum, which could experience a price recovery soon, as well as less successful options like XEM and Emercoin. 

Alongside the interest in cryptocurrencies, there was a huge spike in interest and discussions around blockchain technology and cryptography for other purposes. Using “smart contracts”, many imagined blockchain technology would soon be disrupting many industries, in addition to the financial revolution that would come from cryptocurrencies.

In reality, change typically happens more slowly than this, especially in sectors like finance, and the technology isn’t quite mature enough to take over much older systems. That’s not to say that it won’t, it’s just that, if it does, it will take more time. 

Blockchain in iGaming

During the 2017/18 period, when interest in blockchain technology was at its peak, there was talk about blockchain disrupting most industries. Although, there was much less talk about how iGaming could be changed by technology.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for blockchain in the iGaming industry. By its very nature, iGaming is built on financial transactions, internet technology and trust. These are what blockchain technology works best with. 

Yet, at present, there doesn’t seem to be much appetite for blockchain technology within iGaming. At least not among the established brands.

Blockchain in iGaming

Accepting Cryptocurrencies

The most obvious place that online casinos and bookmakers could make use of blockchain technology is by accepting cryptocurrencies. They have global revenues in the 10s of billions of dollars each year, with approximately €20 billion spent in Europe alone, so accepting Bitcoin and other tokens could present an opportunity.

 However, just like most online retailers don’t accept cryptocurrencies for payments, few iGaming platforms are accepting Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrencies as an option for deposits or withdrawals.

However, players who wish to use what’s in their crypto wallets can use services like the Coinbase card. Since almost everywhere, including retailers and gaming sites accept Visa cards for transactions, it’s possible to use the Visa debit card issued by Coinbase to make deposits.

Platforms that do accept cryptocurrencies will typically use a payment gateway that converts the token into a fiat currency. This removes any risk for the iGaming company who may not wish to be exposed to the fluctuations of cryptocurrencies.

Using Blockchain in Other Ways

Cryptocurrencies are not the only way that blockchain technologies could be applied to the iGaming industry, although outside of a few indie operations, they are the only solution being implemented.

For example, smart contracts could help to create decentralized gaming platforms. This would mean that RTP rates could be publicly audited, and it would be possible to verify that each payout has been made to the customers. While this may deter unscrupulous operators, legitimate operators are already heavily scrutinized by governing bodies, so there is little to gain here.

It could provide an opportunity for smaller entities to enter the market, particularly in attracting blockchain enthusiasts who also enjoy online gaming. However, it’s not clear how big this niche is, and iGaming is a very competitive industry, so building a large enough customer base will be difficult.

It may be possible for these blockchain platforms to allow for crowdsources games, where independent developers could profit from their games. In theory, smart contracts could allow for the implementation of such a payment system. However, no one has yet built a working system of this kind, although there are some reports that some are in development. 

Blockchain technologies present many exciting possibilities for the world as a whole and in the iGaming industry. However, the technology still needs to mature some more before some established players will consider adopting it.



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Manetu, a data privacy startup, reportedly just notched $3.5 million in seed funding, but distributed ledgers only have a small function in the company that will reportedly launch in April even though its team has blockchain expertise, Coindesk reported.

The firm is not heavy on the blockchain for coming up with the best way to handle personally identifiable information, as it chooses a mix of an encrypted portal that’s linked to systems such as Salesforce and Oracle as well as machine-learning algorithms.

CEO Moiz Kohari said per the report, “We could have retrofitted Hyperledger or any other blockchain project to do the management of consumers’ personally identifiable information, but it would have just added so much unnecessary burden on the platform that we felt that wasn’t necessary.”

The personnel at Manetu, however, are not short on their blockchain knowledge. The startup’s head of product, Conor Allen, was State Street’s senior vice president of enterprise data in the past, while former State Street executive Greg Haskins is the chief technology officer.

In other news, digital wallet firm Civic Technologies said in an announcement that its Civic Wallet is the “first and only non-custodial crypto wallet” to provide a $1 million crypto guarantee offered by Coincover.

The Coincover Cryptocurrency Protection Guarantee covers all customer holdings with a maximum value of $1 million for each wallet. Users don’t have to take extra measures to be eligible. The protection occurs automatically when signing up for the wallet.

Civic CEO and Co-founder Vinny Lingham said in the announcement, “We believe that everyone needs access to a neutral, trustworthy place to store their digital currency, especially in this extraordinary new financial climate. People are looking to move their digital currency so that they have more control and reliable, easy restoration if they ever lose access to their funds.”

Lingham continued, “Together with Coincover, we’re now ensuring that Civic Wallet users have this unique protection.”

Civic, for its part, is providing pre-registered users with its private beta in “a phased rollout” per the company.

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LATEST PYMNTS REPORT: MARCH 2020 B2B API TRACKER  

B2B APIs aren’t just for large enterprises anymore — middle-market firms and SMBs now realize their potential for enabling low-cost access to real-time payments and account data. But those capabilities are only the tip of the API iceberg, says HSBC global head of liquidity and cash management Diane Reyes. In this month’s B2B API Tracker, Reyes explains how the next wave of banking APIs could fight payments fraud and proactively alert middle-market treasurers to investment opportunities.





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GrainChainGrainChain, a blockchain platform for the agricultural ecosystem businesses, plans to expand its operations by moving to the Symbiont enterprise blockchain platform, Assembly. Assembly provides robust privacy features with the scalability GrainChain believes it needs to satisfy the demands of its existing and future markets.

Our mission has always been to help support farmers around the world,” comments Luis Macias, Chief Executive and Founder of GrainChain. “By pulling the agriculture supply chain onto blockchain technology, we’re helping every participant in that ecosystem — from farmers to bankers to grain elevators — get fairer value, faster payment and a bigger participant pool. We cannot be constrained by technology — which is why we moved to the Symbiont network. Symbiont is the blockchain engine that will help power our global vision.

Luis Macias, Chief Executive and Founder of GrainChain
Luis Macias, Chief Executive and Founder of GrainChain

The Grainchain background

Grainchain has established operations in Texas, Honduras and Mexico. It wishes rapidly to extend its value proposition to those countries with agriculturally-based economies which could benefit from better technology.

A key element of this is GrainChain’s use of smart contracts. These provide low-income farmers with faster-to-arrive payments, an often critical dimension for struggling farming businesses.

Enterprise Times has discussed GrainChain previously. In this instance, GrainChain’s technology was relevant to coffee production in Honduras.

Evolving from Hyperledger Fabric

Before this move to Assembly, GrainChain used the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain. But Grainchain has found that it needed to move to a more scalable network with full enterprise-level support. GrainChain requires this for easier global growth. Having moved to the Symbiont network, GrainChain has seen a substantial improvement in:

  • platform performance
  • privacy.
Daniel Truque, Symbiont's Alternative Assets team
Daniel Truque, Symbiont’s Alternative Assets team

These features have allowed GrainChain to increase substantially (no figures given) the number of farmers, buyers and grain elevators that it is servicing. Already working with 20+ commodities, GrainChain now plans additional commodity types for its platform.

GrainChain’s mission to empower farmers is one that we truly believe in,” comments Daniel Truque from Symbiont’s Alternative Assets team. “The Symbiont platform was purpose-built for this kind of global scale. Around the world, the agricultural supply chain is plagued by inefficiency and lack of digitization, which is keeping money out of farmers’ pockets. It’s time we change that.

Symbiont’s Assembly

Symbiont is an enterprise fintech seeking to create next generation financial markets infrastructure using blockchain technology. It works with institutions such as Citi, Nasdaq, Ranieri and Vanguard. Symbiont shares, with GrainChain, Overstock as an investor (via Medici Ventures).

Assembly is a blockchain platform for building networks in which multiple, independent entities share data and logic in real time. As a decentralised database, it replicates and executes application logic in the form of smart contracts. In Assembly, a smart contract is a self-executing cryptographic agreement. In Symbiont’s system, these contracts refer to logic:

  • shared on the blockchain
  • written in an embedded domain-specific language in Python.

A Symbiont network has no single points of failure or trusted third parties. Cryptography enables the sharing of private data, peer-to-peer, with all communication happening via a distributed log. the latter provides the audit trail of network events. Symbiont says it developed Assembly to satisfy the standards of institutional finance in security, reliability and performance.

GrainChain recently closed a funding round of $8.2m, led by Medici Ventures. The latter is the wholly owned blockchain subsidiary of Overstock.com, which has also invested in Symbiont.

Jonathan Johnson, President of Medici Ventures and CEO of Overstock
Jonathan Johnson, President of Medici Ventures and CEO of Overstock

Jonathan Johnson, President of Medici Ventures and CEO of Overstock, says, “These are two powerful, purpose-driven companies coming together to bring important technology to the global agricultural community. We have ownership in both GrainChain and Symbiont because we believe in their underlying value propositions and advanced technology and the potential impact they will have on the verticals and countries in which they do business.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

GrainChain’s platform use blockchain, IoT and advanced logistics systems to expedite agricultural settlement payments to farmers and suppliers while providing the immediate availability of tradeable commodities to buyers. In the agricultural world, swift payment is, arguably, disproportionately important.

For Enterprise Times, however, the unsung aspect of the adoption of Symbiont’s Assembly by GrainChain is its replacement of Hyperledger Fabric. This could be because of the common interests/investments of Overstock/Medici Ventures (in both Symbiont and GrainChain). Or it could be confirmation that Hyperledger Fabric is nowhere as scaleable as its proponents would like enterprises to believe. or both.



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NullTX China Coronavirus

Medical supplies have become a crucial commodity during the novel coronavirus crisis. SF Express, a courier in China, is now turning its attention to blockchain to streamline its delivery processes. 

There are many potential applications for blockchain technology.

A Bold Venture by SF Express

Unlocking the full potential of distributed ledgers will take some time, for obvious reasons.

Qries

Chinese courier SF Express is looking for ways to make the best of blockchain technology.

Its current venture seems to focus on implementing DLT to transport medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis.

While that sounds interesting, no one really knows how far the company has gotten in this regard.

Experimentation with the technology is very different from commercializing something on a global scale.

It would also appear that SF Express has its eyes on artificial intelligence and big data.

Combining these three major technologies can unlock a ton of hidden potential, albeit it will require ample research and development.

It seems as if SF Express is launching this venture due to the Local government indicating its interest in blockchain.

As such, it seems plausible to assume that a ton of innovative projects will come to fruition in the next few months. 

In terms of medical supplies, no stone should be left unturned during the coronavirus crisis.



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Hyperledger Besu, an enterprise-focused initiative and the first which was able to operate on a public blockchain, has taken a step towards mainstream operability after comittee members voted to place it as an active project.

The move, which makes Besu the only Ethereum project to have moved outof the incubation phase, ‘demonstrates the strength of the project and the active community supporting it’, according to the company. Among the community are ConsenSys, Chainsafe and Web3Labs.

Active status is by no means just a sash and awards ceremony: by voting for Besu in this way, Hyperledger’s technical steering committee believes it meets all of the incubation exit criteria, including legal requirements, high-quality documentation, diversity, and consistent tooling usage. A similar process happens with technologies led through the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) – also a Linux Foundation initiative – where Kubernetes and Prometheus have achieved the dizzy heights of full graduation.

“Hyperledger Besu’s team has been focused on developing the project to be a leading client for the public Ethereum mainnet as well as in permissioned consortium settings,” a blog post from the Besu team noted. “The optionality of running Besu in a public chain or permissioned chain setting is part of its radical appeal with community members.

“Now that Besu is an active project, we plan on continuing to encourage enterprises, individual contributors, and application developers alike to explore and support Besu to ensure it continues to evolve to fit each of their purposes,” the Besu team added.

Speaking to this publication in November Daniela Barbosa, VP of worldwide alliances at Hyperledger, said feedback to Besu had been ‘fantastic’. “It’s been a strategy – when the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance originally joined, [it] was to do exactly what we’ve been doing. The Ethereum Foundation joined us as an associate member, and then we’ve had these new projects like Besu and Avalon, working very closely with those two organisations, and with the leaders in the Ethereum world.”

You can read the full announcement here.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.   

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EisnerAmper’s Bagels & Blockchain series is ideal for anyone interested in learning how blockchain has been transforming financial services — and is now on the verge of impacting all industries across the planet. This next episode will feature an enlightening discussion with Paige Krieger, Digital Engagement Program Manager – Blockchain Platform at IBM. With COVID-19 testing the limits of modern-day healthcare systems, our timely discussion will highlight ways in which blockchain technology is making significant inroads in the medical field.

Participants will learn why health-related blockchain spending is forecasted to climb to $5.6 billion by 2025 as well as gain insight into the wide range of blockchain applications and uses in healthcare including the management of patient records, medical supply chains and the streamlining of clinical trials.

LIVE STREAM ONLINE!
This will be an online event only. We will provide a link to live stream this event after you submit your registration form.



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The world is still struggling to find the right approach to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, China is going beyond ideation to launch a full-scale digitization process. The authorities are planning to launch a national blockchain platform for individuals and business this April.

What is China planning?

The Blockchain Service Network (BSN) was first announced on October 15, 2019. It is a trans-regional public infrastructure network released by state-run telecom company China Mobile in association with Red and China Union Pay. The Chinese National Information Center is at the helm of this project, gathering resources and support from banks, government groups and other institutional. Popular cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is also involved in this project.

China’s National Blockchain Platform Will Go Live in April

An announcement suggests that the system is looking to service the digital economy and smart cities using emerging technologies like 5G, AI and the Internet and Things. BSN is expected to provide cheaper alternatives to SMEs to build their own businesses from scratch. It will also help in developing custom applications for the users within its blockchain environment.

What else does the BSN offer?

There is limited information available about the network. However, an article on IEEE Spectrum suggested that it will be a permissioned network that will allow only approved members in the house. Interestingly, it has used the word “public” in the name of the network. This type of architecture will help remove unauthorized parties from the blockchain which will be beneficial for typical businesses who will find it easy to scale.

The blockchain is based on the BCOS open-source protocol which was derived from Ethereum. The protocol was developed by the Financial Blockchain Shenzhen Consortium (FISCO) which includes Tencent, WeBank, Huawei, and ZTE. The blockchain network boasts of Byzantine fault tolerance and supports Zero-Knowledge Proof. The blockchain also comes with observatory nodes which will help authorities monitor the network.

The blockchain has already seen some pilot projects. For instance, the BSN Development Alliance, which included some founding members who were running the initiative, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hangzhou’s local government in late 2019. The two partners aim to explore the use of cases for blockchain in creating smart city infrastructure and governance.

The applications planned by then include a digital identity system. It will also be used for credit rating ledger for SMEs and road health monitoring initiatives. BSN has been undergoing beta-testing and development. The system will go live in April 2020 and will have a hundred city nodes that will be spread across China and across the world.



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CryptoMode Data Storage Blockchain

Using blockchain domains is a powerful way to avoid internet censorship or third-party control. Accessing those domains has always been difficult, albeit Opera is the first major browser to make this process more straightforward.

The rise of Unstoppable Domains has been well-documented in recent months.

Opera Grants Access to Blockchain Domains

By trying to disrupt the domain registrar space, the project has tremendous potential.

It is also backed by Tim Draper, a notorious Bitcoin bull.

Until now, it required some trickery to effectively view these blockchain domains in a browser.

Opera is now changing that narrative with its most recent update.

Users of this browser can now access all .crypto domains without any extra trickery involved.

Moreover, everyone can now make convenient cryptocurrency payments directly from the browser as well.

In terms of avoiding online censorship, this integration may prove to be very crucial in the long run.

Cutting out the middleman from all aspects of life is something everyone needs to pursue.

It is also another validation of how powerful blockchain technology can be when put into the right hands.

It is now a matter of time until other browsers begin incorporating this feature without forcing users to download extensions or plugins.

If and when that will happen, remains anyone’s guess.



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