Global trade on the blockchain


The global supply chain moves $64 trillion annually. It’s an unbelievably complex network and even small businesses are reliant on the logistics of this chain operating smoothly. In reality, the global trade network is a challenge for every business, regardless of size and anything that makes it more efficient is to be welcomed. Not only would more efficiency help businesses and their customers, it would also help the environment.

You might think that the information aspect of the Internet would have contributed to simplifying the global trade network, but it hasn’t. Add in the fact that the network has a vast number of intermediaries who establish trust between vendors, but don’t add value to the network, and the fact that it is usually up to humans to identify weaknesses in the supply chain and you can see that there is a lot of inefficiency already. However, there is a solution to this – the blockchain!

Blockchain and AI

If you combine the blockchain with artificial intelligence (AI) it is possible to build an autonomous and decentralised supply chain that can ‘think’ for itself. It would be able to identify areas of inefficiency and correct them. Some think this could be one of the most important developments in blockchain usage and the Blockchain Research Institute has commissioned a research study into the intersection of blockchain and supply chain management.

Don Tapscott, a founder and executive director at the Blockchain Research Institute has commented on the research study “Introducing Asset Chains” on LinkedIn Pulse and shared some of the high level conclusions with readers. The key points is: “Assets all over the world are extracted, designed, combined, transported, and sold every day through the supply chains that underpin global commerce.“ This system has not been overhauled for years and blockchain has the potential to decentralise these traditional supply chains. Add in AI and the Internet of Things and we can have a completely new approach to scaling the network.

Logistics on the blockchain

This new network would have the ability to self-regulate and adjust to improve efficiency. It would also be able to establish “machine trust.” And asset chains are an essential element of machine trust. As Tapscott says: “Asset chains provide a framework for machines to participate autonomously in supply chains and the markets they serve. They allow us to unlock the trading capability of machines without human intermediaries.”

That’s why some of the largest supply chain logistics firms are looking at blockchain to transform their operations. This will of course, give birth to a new group of companies providing these blockchain solutions. Tapscott cites the example of Sweetbridge, an Arizona-based firm that is, “leveraging the value of stranded, underutilized assets within those networks – like trucks or shipping containers – into more liquid tokens.” This means that a supply chain can basically fund itself.

This is an exciting way forward for the global trade network, and it is one in which human intermediaries will have fewer functions, making the entire supply chain less expensive, faster and more trustworthy thanks to cryptography and clever coding.




BTC is the new silver



You have probably read many articles saying that Bitcoin is the new gold. However, while this may yet prove to be true, at the moment it actually has more similarities with the silver market in the 1970s and 80s. This was a period that saw an extraordinary spike in silver trading for reasons that are remarkably like the activity around Bitcoin and a few other crypto currencies.

Forty years ago, the price of silver made it accessible to the average man on the street. Added to this, it didn’t have the kind of Wall St. or City of London elitism attached to it in the same way that gold has. These two situations encouraged the small investor to get into the silver market.

At least one experienced investor believes this is the same situation with the Bitcoin market. Mark Fisher, a renowned trader, says: “The reason people are so attracted to Bitcoin is because people want something that’s actually moved dramatically, that there’s no Wall Street to it. It’s the thing that every cab driver is talking about all day long.”

As he says, Bitcoin has attracted people who might not normally invest at all, partly because you can put in small, manageable amounts and because it is completely disconnected from big institutions and conventional investing. Anyone can get into it, from teens to grannies.

The decentralised nature of Bitcoin and all the other crypto currencies is what really appeals to many people. They like the fact that it doesn’t have any bureaucracy or rules surrounding it. Like silver in the 70s and 80s, Bitcoin feels like it was made for the people, not for the benefit of banks and other financial institutions.

And of course, the more popular Bitcoin becomes, the higher its price rises. In the last month or two we have seen phenomenal gains, much of this powered by mass adoption of Bitcoin in Asia. Now we are waiting to see what the big investors will do–they call them the ‘Wall St. Whales’ in Cointelegraph. Fisher predicts that when these guys get involved in the Bitcoin futures markets, which open next week, it is going to resemble the Wild West at the start. We will undoubtedly see some hugely volatile movements, but as long as there is movement, we know Bitcoin still lives and as investors we must hope the only way is up!



Crypto adoption booms in November 2017


The last weekend of November 2017 may prove to be an historical point on the cryptocurrrency timeline. It is too early to say just yet how important it will prove to be, as we have seen a number of spikes in investor activity with Bitcoin since it appeared. However, this felt like an important moment and I’m not the only person watching cryptocurrency and other blockchain products who felt the same way.

Jon Buck, one of the expert commentators who I follow, wrote that this period of November signposts the fact that adoption of cryptocurrencie is increasing massively. He even goes so far as to say, “trading numbers from last weekend indicate that the volume of cryptocurrency trades exceeds that of many US equities trading markets.” And, the volume of Bitcoin traded exceeded $5 billion, which was more than business on the Chicago Stock Exchange as well as other exchanges.

It has been quite a dramatic month all round with the “will they, won’t they” situation with Segwit2X, which eventually didn’t happen and then the clash between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. It looked like Bitcoin was going to be the loser, but it came back with some force to inspire renewed confidence in prediction that it will reach $10,000 by the end of the year.

That alone produced a spike in Google search volumes for ‘Bitcoin’ and the exchange Coinbase added another 100,000 users. The increased adoption we are witnessing is placing Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, which also traded very strongly at the weekend to reach milestone values, even more firmly in the spotlight. Jon Buck commented that it was surprising that the other altcoins had done so well, because a bull run on Bitcoin usually takes money away from the other altcoins and makes their prices drop. Instead we are seeing them growing together and this indicates that new money is flowing into digital currency.

Finally, news just on from Japan reveals that Bitcon has just broken through the 1,000,000 Yen price point. Like the $10,000 in the U.S., this level represents the breaking of a psychological price barrier. Some even believe that the weekend’s BTC bull market started in Japan and reports state that the yen is responsible for an impressive 59.6% of all Bitcoin trades worldwide. The Japanese government exempted BTC from an 8% consumption tax on BTC trading and this has made it very popular with the Japanese people who are now keen to own Bitcoin. Watch Japan, because its behaviour is influencing the global BTC economy. Their bullishness is encouraging others and a $10,000 BTC for Christmas—or even this coming weekend — is pretty much inevitable.





Europe’s Insurance Brokers Adopt Blockchain


Every day there is some news about another sector of the mainstream financial world adopting blockchain. In the last few days news has come out that 14 of Europe’s largest insurance brokers have joined forces with Deloitte to operate a blockchain system that will simplify the transfer procedure for clients who want to move to another broker during the first year of taking out a policy. This move will enable insurers to comply with the Hamon Law, which states that insurance companies must make transfers easy for their customers.

Why have they chosen the blockchain? Because it will provide the most secure storage system for customer data. It is more secure than any existing database storage system and it will also allow these insurers to comply with a new EU directive on General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), which is coming into force in 2018. And this won’t only affect Europe. If you plan to sell anything to an EU citizen, then you must comply with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards (even if you don’t have operations in the EU).

The blockchain can overcome the challenges company’s face in complying with a range of regulations. It can provide a means of cost-effectively producing and sharing information with regulators whilst also reducing the burden of “report exhaustion” many organisations are facing. Furthermore, two of the key properties the blockchain can help with include provenance of assets and a chain of custody for operations on assets.

Companies that don’t adequately protect consumer data face large fines, so now is the time to turn to the blockchain as this group of insurance brokers have. The blockchain platform uses ‘Proof of Process’ technology that secures user data in a shared data storage system. It will limit data release to the absolute minimum for processing transactions.

AIG, another massive insurer has already started issuing policies on the blockchain. It is offer multinational smart contract-based policies in partnership with Standard Chartered Bank and IBM. According to AIG, the insurance sector is seen to vastly benefit from the blockchain technology. It will help cut down the processes that most insurance providers usually face with paperwork and filing of all the requirements.

As Adam Perlow, Founder and CEO of Zen Protocol told Jon Buck, writing for CoinTelegraph: “If the insurer sets some money in a smart contract, and the contract pays out based on the occurrence of an event as determined by an objective actuary/oracle, then there is no need for novel incentive schemes, the insurer simply cannot avoid the payout. In the long run, as one insurance company uses smart contracts to gain the public trust, others will be forced to follow suit.”