The city of Dubai is globally renowned for its residents’ luxurious lifestyle. The ultramodern architecture, mega shopping malls, and lively nightlife are just a few of the things that make it stand out. Even the cops in Dubai live in luxury, with their fleet of squad cars consisting of Bentleys, McLarens, and Lamborghinis. However, the city is also taking a huge step forward as a technology hub, with initiatives such as Smart Dubai thrusting the city ahead of its peers. And now, Dubai is exploring blockchain technology in its vibrant trade finance industry. The city is working with Global Blockchain (GB), an investment company that delivers its clients access to assets in the blockchain space. As the company’s CFO revealed to NullTX, this ambitious project aims to fully revolutionize the way business is done in Dubai.
Enterprise Blockchain Is Like the Internet in the 90s
Dubai has become a financial hub for the Middle East, with most of the trade happening in the region going through the city. Its ports are the ninth-busiest in the world, with the Jebel Ali port being the largest in the region. With a high volume of goods passing through the city, the trade finance industry is thriving. Despite the city’s advancements in tech, the trade finance process has remained tedious and costly, noted Theo van der Linde, GB’s CFO. Speaking exclusively to NullTX, van der Linde cited the many benefits that the blockchain solution will bring about for the city.
WITH THE SECURITY OF BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY, PARTS OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS SUCH AS INVOICES AND IMPORT PERMITS CAN BE DONE ON-CHAIN, SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCING THE AMOUNT OF STEPS AND TIME TAKEN TO COMPLETE A COMMODITY ORDER AND SHIPMENT. FURTHER, WITH FULL TRACEABILITY OF FUNDS, LENDERS CAN THEN BE ASSURED THAT THEIR CAPITAL IS BEING USED FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSE. WITH TRIMMED-DOWN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES, AND A LOWER RISK OF MISUSED FUNDS, FINANCING OF COMMODITY TRADES BECOMES FASTER, EASIER, SAFER, AND LESS EXPENSIVE – ALL DUE TO THE WAY WE’RE GOING TO IMPLEMENT BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY IN COMMODITY TRADE FINANCING IN DUBAI.
The Vancouver, Canada-based company which trades on the Canadian Stock Exchange will develop the blockchain-based solution for the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) through its newly-formed subsidiary, Blockchain Technologies DMCC (BTD). GB has invested in a variety of projects both in the blockchain industry and beyond, including Kodak’s blockchain platform KodakONE, electronics manufacturer Spectra7 Microsystems, and permissioned blockchain platform Galaxycoin.
The UAE government has been very supportive of the blockchain industry, van der Linde stated. Of cryptos, not so much. Initially, cryptos were termed haram (forbidden) by the Islamic community, and while perceptions have gradually improved, the UAE hasn’t quite warmed up to this new asset class.
Enterprise blockchain will take over the business world similar to the internet, van der Linde believes. This is despite reports showing that despite the buzz it’s created, enterprise blockchain hasn’t taken root. This is natural, he believes, as blockchain is currently just a buzzword many companies are playing around with as they try to figure out how best to implement it.
FOR A LOT OF COMPANIES, “BLOCKCHAIN” IS A BUZZWORD THAT GETS PEOPLE EXCITED, KIND OF LIKE THE WORD “INTERNET” BACK IN THE 1990S. UNDENIABLY, THERE IS A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF HYPE RIGHT NOW. BUT BETWEEN NEW CRYPTOCURRENCY COINS AND TOKENS, AS WELL AS UNIQUE ACTUAL BUSINESS APPLICATIONS OF BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY IN AREAS TO INCLUDE VOTING AND THE SUPPLY CHAIN, THIS IS A SOMEWHAT ROUTINE CASE OF A NEW TECHNOLOGY BEING NARROWLY USED AT FIRST UNTIL IT HAS TRULY “COOLED OFF”, AND IT STARTS TO GET USED IN THE MAINSTREAM.
GB is developing an interoperability solution for the blockchain, van der Linde revealed. The platform will be known as Laser, and according to him, “what SWIFT does for banks, that is exactly what Laser will do for blockchains.”
As for where blockchain technology will have the most impact, van der Linde stated:
RIGHT NOW, IT’S LOOKING LIKE BANKING AND GOVERNMENT ARE GOING TO BE THE MOST IMPACTED BY BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY. THESE ARE TWO INDUSTRIES IN WHICH THE NUMBER ONE PRODUCT IS TRUST; THE VERY KIND OF TRUST THAT BLOCKCHAIN ENABLES, BUT WITHOUT ANY THIRD PARTY.
Top 3 Japanese Bank to Roll Out Services on Marco Polo Blockchain
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC), Japan’s third-largest bank by total assets, will launch blockchain-based trade finance services in the second half of this year.
SMBC’s vice chairman Yasuyuki Kawasaki announced the news at a recent fintech seminar in Tokyo, saying that the bank will roll out new services for import and export companies using the Marco Polo trade finance blockchain platform, CoinDesk Japan reported Thursday.
Kawasaki said that, traditionally, trade finance is a “very complicated,” paper-based and time-consuming process. SMBC completed a proof-of-concept using the blockchain platform back in February, aiming to improve its trade operations. It said at the time that the platform “provides paperless, real-time connectivity and easier access.”
The Marco Polo network – built on blockchain software startup R3’s Corda platform – saw its first real-world transactions going live last month. The network was founded by R3 and trade finance specialist TradeIX.
The transactions took place between two German companies. One transaction involved the delivery of special hydraulic couplings from Germany to China and the other the delivery of pumps within Germany.
Since launching in 2017, the Marco Polo network has added some major financial institutions as members, including ING, BNP Paribas and Commerzbank, among others.
Announced this morning, BayernLB, Helaba and S-Servicepartner have also joined the Marco Polo network “for piloting and evaluating purposes.”
Daniel Cotti, managing director, Centre of Excellence for Banking and Trade for Marco Polo, said:
“Today, we have the resources and technology to transform the way banks serve their trade finance customers and enable easier access to credit, while minimizing risk and increasing transparency.”
Trade finance is increasingly being eyed as a beneficial use case for blockchain technology. Last July, another trade finance blockchain platform called– built on Hyperledger Fabric and with nine banks on board – went live.
Just yesterday, China’s forex regulator and manager, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), said that it has developed a blockchain system aimed to address inefficiencies in cross-border trade finance. Pilots in three regions and two cities are now
Naturipe farms uses blockchain to track blueberries from harvest to table
Naturipe Farm, in collaboration with tech company SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain service, will use blockchain to track Naturipe’s blueberries all the way from the point of harvesting to your dining table.
Carol McMillan, director of information technology at Naturipe Farms explained that the crates with berries are weighed, scanned and then sent to cold storage.
‘Moments after our produce is picked, the growers now place QR codes onto these crates. That QR code stays on those berries all the way to the store. Soon, by simply scanning the QR code with our smartphones, we’ll see proof of where the berries were grown and learn about the farm’s sustainability practices.’
With SAP’s blockchain technology, consumers and customers will have the possibility to easily access the complete origin and history of Naturipe Farms produce, simply by using their smartphones to scan a QR code on the product package.
‘Blockchain helps SAP customers track and trace goods across their entire supply chain by using SAP’s cloud platform blockchain services’, said Eric Somitsch, senior director of SAP Agribusiness.
‘Suppliers must use a provided code to enter their information into the blockchain. SAP’s blockchain captures that data and protects it with the world’s most stringent encryption security protocols.’
At present, most fruit is traced manually, using hand-written paperwork that accompanies the shipments.
‘Just in that process alone, there can be delays of up to four hours for an air shipment, up to two days for a boat shipment for a product to get cleared and go through customs’, Naturipe’s IT Director Carol McMillan added.
— Jan Musil (@janmusil) April 12, 2019
In the future, blockchain data can be used to make better decisions relating to production itself, she said.
‘Freshness is imperative to keep people healthy. We can use all the data input from weather patterns and harvest data to eventually better forecast the future.’
McMillan pointed out that currently, food supply chain stakeholders record their own product information and share only if necessary.
‘The goal with our new blockchain technology is to help create a system with higher trust and transparency that ultimately simplifies operations and reduces food waste’, she said.
‘By pioneering this technology with SAP, we are hoping to lead a movement in the produce industry that minimizes waste and promotes transparent sustainability practices.’
Blockchain art platform raises $2 million from Facebook, Coinbase, and more
A new digital art marketplace will make use of blockchain technology to ensure creators’ ownership. MakersPlace has just completed a seed funding round for $2 million (as reported byTechCrunch).
Uncork Capital has led the seed round, with investment also coming from Pinterest, Facebook, Coinbase and more. MakersPlace allows artists with limited knowledge of blockchain tech to easily fingerprint their works. They just need to provide photo ID, and an ERC-20 token will be generated for each work that they put on to the platform.
According to MakersPlace co-founder Dannie Chu, “millions of digital creators…are spending countless hours creating digital artwork, but they struggle with basic things like attribution…If you can’t create a sustainable model for digital creators to create, you’re not going to have art…People are actually valuing digital creations like physical creations”.
The work that is offered on the MakersPlace platform includes animation, photography, drawings, pixel art and 3D creations. They can be bought using regular payment methods as well as Ethereum (ETH), and MakersPlace takes a 15 percent cut of sales, similar to the model offered by hobbyist marketplace Etsy.