Coca-Cola and the U.S. State Department Teams Up To Reduce Forced Labour Using Blockchain 613

Coca-Cola is joining forces with the U.S. State Department and three other organizations — Bitfury Group, Blockchain Trust Accelerator (BTA), and Emercoin — to launch a blockchain-based project that aims to create a secure registry for workers to fight the use of forced labor worldwide. This is the State Department’s first major blockchain project, and serves to reinforce the technology’s growing application for social and humanitarian causes.

The initiative is set to use blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to create a secure, decentralized registry for workers and their contracts, according to BTA, a non-profit organization involved in the project that focuses on real-world applications of blockchain to deliver social impact. Bitfury Group, a U.S. tech company, with help from Emercoin, will build the blockchain platform for this project.

As for the State Department, the agency will provide expertise on labor protection. “The Department of State is excited to work on this innovative blockchain-based pilot,” Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott Busby said in an email to Reuters.

Food and Beverage Companies: Forced Labor

Recently, food and beverage companies have been facing increased pressure to address the risk of forced labor in countries where they obtain sugarcane. A study released last year by KnowTheChain (KTC), a partnership founded by U.S.-based Humanity United, showed that most food and beverage companies fall short in their efforts to solve the problem. According to the International Labor Organization, nearly 25 million people work in forced-labor conditions worldwide, with 47% of them in the Asia-Pacific region.

To combat this issue, Coca-Cola is playing a major role as part of a pledge to conduct 28 national studies on labor and land rights for its sugar supply chains before 2020. And while this blockchain project is still young, it appears likely it will still represent an improvement over a modern employment system that frequently lets companies abuse workers with relatively little consequence. 

Despite Coca-Cola certainly taking a step in the right direction, the project already faces some limits. As noted by Busby, while blockchain can help persuade companies and governments to respect work contracts, it can’t actually force them to respect those contracts.

Also, blockchain’s digital nature raises some implementation questions, like how do you ensure that workers can access the necessary information when many of those affected might not even have the access to a smartphone or computer?

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ACORD Solutions Group Launches Data Exchange Platform with First-of-Its-Kind Implementation by Aon & Zurich North America 4232

ACORD Solutions Group (ASG), the industry-owned subsidiary of ACORD, the standards-setting body for the global insurance industry, today announced the successful implementation of its ADEPT platform to perform automated, real-time premium accounting reconciliation between insurers and brokers. This market capability was developed working closely with some of the industry’s largest stakeholders, with the first data exchanged by professional services firm and broker Aon plc and carrier Zurich North America.

“While ACORD works closely with virtually all major brokers and carriers, we owe special gratitude to Aon and Zurich, who have been leading the way in defining and implementing this technology,” said Bijesh Jacob, SVP of Technology & Standards, ACORD. “Their contributions have been invaluable in launching an industry-wide platform to enable secure, digital data exchange and validation for brokers and carriers.”

Working with Aon and Zurich, ACORD recognized the common issues and themes associated with the premium settlement process. “The premium accounting process is a highly inefficient transactional service provided by brokers and carriers. Leveraging the Blockchain-based backbone of ADEPT will provide brokers and carriers with an industrial-strength platform to identify and resolve inconsistent transactions very early in the process. This industry innovation will not only drive out non-value-added cycles, but also provide clients a more seamless premium payment experience,” noted Mark Schmalzer, Aon’s Global Service Delivery Leader.

ADEPT (ACORD Data Exchange Platform & Translator) offers a secure, decentralized storage and access service which acts as a ‘single source of truth,’ enabling participants to verify payment information. By structuring, translating, and validating the data in real time, ADEPT greatly reduces the time and cost of reconciliation.

“The insurance industry is experiencing unprecedented change and technology is unlocking new and efficient ways of conducting business,” said Tracey Bailey, Billing Solutions Lead, Zurich North America and project manager for Zurich’s implementation of the ADEPT platform.

“The ACORD ADEPT solution is well aligned with Zurich’s continued efforts to improve our customer experience and broker interactions through innovation. We are proud to be on the front end of this journey with ACORD and Aon and are excited about ADEPT’s continued adoption within the insurance industry.”

ADEPT is a market capability which leverages the industry-accepted ACORD Data Standards to link trading partners with real-time data exchange, transformation, and validation. Although extracting inefficiencies from the premium accounting process provides significant value for the trading partners, it only provides a glimpse of transformational functionality to come. Now that a central matching mechanism for policies is created, future use-cases may include claims, placing and other critical insurance processes covering all major lines of business.

“We are honored to help pioneer the first data exchanged on the ADEPT platform. Our collaboration with ACORD showcases Aon’s continued commitment to innovation within the insurance industry,” said Joe Propati, Chief Operating Officer for North America, Aon. “This technology will change the way we do business, boosting efficiency for insurance carriers and brokers all while protecting the integrity of the data.”

“Thanks to the efforts of these visionary organizations, ADEPT is now in production and able to support millions of transactions,” Jacob added. “By improving operational efficiencies, strategic positioning, and customer satisfaction, ADEPT will truly transform the operating economics of our industry.”

Covalent Taps IBM Blockchain to Help Track the Carbon Impact of its AirCarbon-based Fashion Goods 4509

IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Covalent, a fashion brand recently launched by Newlight Technologies, today announced that Covalent is using IBM Blockchain technology on IBM LinuxONE so consumers can track the carbon footprint and supply chain of its sustainable, AirCarbon-based fashion accessories, from eyewear to handbags. Purchasing sustainable products is a growing motivation for consumers. A recent study by IBM showed 57% of consumers surveyed were willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact. Covalent’s products, which can be purchased on its website, are made with AirCarbon, a biomaterial made by microorganisms that is meltable and can be used as an alternative to fiber, plastic and leather. Because it is made using renewable power, AirCarbon is certified as carbon-negative by the Carbon Trust, meaning it reduces the amount of carbon in the air.

In addition to being part of a new category of “regenerative” products emerging that can have a positive impact on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, Covalent’s AirCarbon-based products provide a new level of traceability through the application of IBM Blockchain technology. Often, when consumers buy products labeled as sustainable fashion, they cannot see a verified record of how the product was made or how it affects the environment. Covalent’s products bridge that gap with a blockchain-based number that can be used to show the steps in the production process for that specific product as well as its third-party-verified carbon impact so customers can view impact the product is having on the environment.

A unique 12-digit number printed on each Covalent product, known as the “Carbon Date,” represents the time when the AirCarbon used to create that specific product was created. The number can be entered into Covalent’s website to trace the steps that went into creating the product. The supply chain journey that brought each product to life is stored in an immutable record on the blockchain and stretches from when the AirCarbon was formed and molded into a handbag to who independently verified its carbon footprint and when it was moved to a stockroom.

“Our goal was to give people the information they need to decide what kind of impact they want to make,” Newlight CEO Mark Herrema said. “With IBM Blockchain and LinuxONE technology, we can now provide visibility into not only the steps used to make each Covalent product, but also the carbon impact that each specific product has on the environment. For us, that’s important, because it helps make tangible the unique pathway that led to the creation of that product.”

By working with IBM Business Partner Cognition Foundry, a services provider and systems integrator, Covalent is able to host its IBM Blockchain solution on IBM LinuxONE, a highly secured server for mission critical workloads and that provides scalability and resiliency, including the industry’s first and only FIPS 140-2 Level 4 certified Hardware Security Module (HSM).[1]

“Blockchain’s ability to foster trust gives Covalent’s customers a better understanding of how their products were made,” said Alistair Rennie, General Manager of IBM Blockchain. “In turn, Covalent can create a better customer experience, and a better opportunity for consumers to understand how their choices impact the environment. This is another great example of how blockchain is supporting our mission of using technology for good.”

AccuChain Secures Investment from Vertex Partners 4751

AccuChain, Inc. today announced that it has received an investment from Vertex Partners Inc. in Tokyo, Japan. This investment will accelerate development of AccuChain’s Human Resource technology software. The funding also demonstrates Vertex Partners’ long-term vision and commitment to launch AccuChain in Japan and other countries in SE Asia. AccuChain is developing a resume validation and recruitment platform. This innovative platform will allow individuals to create their own validated resumes and enable HR departments to find the best qualified candidates.

Vertex Partners, a business development firm, reveals that there is a growing need for AccuChain in SE Asia. Junichi Yukihira, Co-founder of Vertex Partners Inc., said “It is very exciting and also significant for us to have the opportunity to participate in the AccuChain investment this time. We highly value the potential of AccuChain’s HR solutions based on AI/machine learning and blockchain technology, and as their business co-creation partner, we are now working together to develop markets in Japan and other Asian countries. We are confident that this investment will strengthen our relationship.” Hiring in SE Asia demonstrates a growing need for qualified candidates. AccuChain will reduce bad hires using validation methodologies, immutable records, matching of jobs to qualified candidates and uncovering false information.

AccuChain CEO, Tim R. Connelly adds “The Vertex Partners investment demonstrates the importance both of our organizations see in next generation HR recruitment software. The combined resources of our companies will make a positive difference in the successful launch of AccuChain in Japan and then SE Asia.” AccuChain is working to improve their hiring process, and create a new standard for applicants’ digital resumes. The technology will help reduce fraudulent resumes.

Stratis Brings Blockchain as a Service to All Businesses via Its C# Native Platform 5206

Stratis was created for a simple purpose – to provide enterprises with blockchain as a service (BaaS) solutions, designed to implement complex blockchain architecture within mainstream coding languages, used by everyday companies away from the crypto niche. It does this through cloud solutions, support for C# and .NET application building, alongside tool customization via its open source protocol. The result of this? Stratis unlocks the power of blockchain technology for mainstream businesses, and unlocks the mainstream market for the blockchain industry – two powerful combinations.

Enterprises that find themselves relying on the Stratis tool set will access a less expensive and less complex blockchain building framework. Companies no longer need to purchase and manage their own full nodes, nor do they need to build a blockchain infrastructure from scratch – something which is niche and represents a huge barrier to entry by setup cost to all but the largest of companies. Moreover, businesses in need of smart contract support will be pleased to find that Stratis supports virtual machines via Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Stratis – Tailored with Perfection

Stratis holds several key values that make it an optimal choice for blockchain operations – decentralization, privacy, scalability, practicality, accessibility, reliability, security, and performance. To better understand this, Stratis blockchains run a number of cloud-based full nodes, so decentralization is assured. Privacy is guaranteed – through cryptographic encryption, all transactions and communications remain private. Stratis is also keen on providing an adaptable degree of scalability, achieved through the means of intuitive sidechain usage.

Companies looking to leverage the power of smart contracts must know that Stratis is the only platform providing support for C# execution, so developers can efficiently code self-enforcing programs utilising their existing development tools and existing knowledge of a rich and versatile programming language. Stratis is also working on facilitating cross-chain communication between contracts running within Stratis’ ecosystem and those deployed on the Ethereum blockchain, hence increasing their suitability for today’s interconnected world.

STRAX Swap on Binance

In September 2020, the team introduced STRAX, a more powerful protocol designed to flawlessly integrate within the platform’s existing business model. Previously-minted STRAT tokens have been swapped to STRAX tokens on a 1:1 basis via Binance. Following the shift, Stratis will introduce a series of other advanced features, such as the STRAX SideChain, Stratis InterFlux, SegWit support, cold-staking, the DeFi app library, IoT development tools, and many others.

Since STRAX is based on the proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, network participants can receive token-based rewards in exchange for staking their STRAX tokens. Stratis is well-aware of the security risks posed by hot wallet storage, so the team has decided to use cold-staking for ideal token security.

2021 – The Year for Stratis & BaaS

In Q1 2021, Stratis will launch the Unity Development Kit (allowing the integration of NFTs and decentralized identities within the gaming ecosystem), the DeFi Software Library (a catalogue of C# standardized smart contracts), the Stratis DAO (a means of funding next-gen developments via voting), the Stratis System Contracts (introducing on-chain logic and simplifying user-driven processes), and the mobile wallet featuring token support (supporting tokens issued on the Cirrus Sidechain).

In Q2 2021, Stratis will launch the Python Development Kit (allowing Python coders to build on Stratis), the IoT Development Kit (meant to introduce Stratis solutions to IoT hardware), a new version of Proof-of-Stake (boasting improved security and additional features), Stratis Oracles (a distributed means of accessing off-chain data), and Dex Mobile Support (allowing mobile trading of SRC20 tokens).

In Q4 2021, Stratis will launch Ethereum Interoperability (known as InterFlux, this will enable usage of wrapped STRAX tokens on the Ethereum chain), alongside the STO & Digital Asset Platform (providing the tools needed to manage token offerings).

Kim Dotcom’s Next-Generation Content-Monetization Service K.IM Announces Bitcoin Cash Integration 6087

Dotcom, whose website Megaupload was once the 13th most popular site on the Internet and responsible for 4% of all Internet traffic, said K.IM turns “digital files into file shops. Users can use our service to package a file that they want to sell into an encrypted container file and then they can place it anywhere on the Internet. Customers who want to access the content inside the encrypted container can make a payment using cryptocurrency like Bitcoin Cash.”

Asked why he was excited about K.IM and Bitcoin Cash in particular, Dotcom said that while Bitcoin (BTC) has been a great tool for asset storage, Bitcoin Cash is “great for payments” for services like K.IM and offers new financial opportunities for consumers, vendors and investors. Kim had the following to say about the crypto market:

“My opinion is that crypto use is on the rise and BCH is in a good position to accumulate market share. For me it’s simple: The more users you have the more value you have.”

“The winners in the crypto race will be decided by vendors and users. Focus on the fundamental question: What do vendors and users want? Low fees, fast transactions, high security and ease of use.”

He went on to say that Bitcoin Cash was currently “undervalued” and that the “upside potential for those who missed the BTC train” is enormous. Bitcoin.com Founder and friend of Dotcom, Roger Ver, said that Dotcom has “always been ahead of the rest of the market and that people should pay attention to his predictions.” He went on further to say:

“When you look at interest in BTC these days, a lot of it comes in trying to chase its historic investment gains. As long as the price keeps going up, there is going to be a lot of interest. But what happens when people want to start actually using it to pay for things? They will discover the limitations of Bitcoin and look for an asset that can be both an investment and a true peer-to-peer payment system like Bitcoin was originally meant to be. That’s what Bitcoin Cash is.”

SwiftPass and Wallyt to Partner with Findora on Payments Network 7387

Findora announced today that the company will integrate their solutions with SwiftPass, a leading mobile payments service provider in Asia, and Wallyt, a Hong Kong based Fintech that provides international mobile payments and open banking solutions. Findora is a blockchain network that leverages zero-knowledge proof technology to ensure privacy for financial transactions while remaining auditable. Findora supports confidential transaction processing, verification and asset issuance for any cryptocurrency or financial asset, such as equities, derivatives, debt and cash.

“Among its peers, Findora has a unique approach to financial systems, with a balance between transparency and privacy for building a large-scale transaction network. We are excited to partner with Findora and, together, provide more Fintech solutions,” said CEO of Wallyt, Tong Liu.

Wallyt’s global presence and SwiftPass’ expansive platform and user base are ideally suited for Findora’s confidential ledger. The use of Findora is expected to provide enhanced data safety and privacy for the financial institutions and other clients they serve.

“Findora Development Foundation is excited to partner with two dynamic platforms in Wallyt and SwiftPass, in the constantly evolving Fintech and payments sector. The Findora blockchain’s unique approach to combining cryptography and blockchain will help Wallyt and SwiftPass achieve both confidentiality and auditability,” said F.I.R.S.T. Director of Findora Foundation, Paul Sherer.