The government of Singapore will offer financial incentives in order to grow the blockchain ecosystem in the country.
According to The Business Times, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) which falls under Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information will offer seed funding to players in the media and ICT sector. This is with a view of incentivizing them to develop platforms which link special interest groups in the blockchain space, solution providers as well as other related groups.
In order to obtain seed funding from the IMDA, the platforms to be developed must meet certain criteria and this includes a capacity to connect with other blockchain communities spread across the globe.
Expanding Beyond Finance
Per the IMDA, blockchain adoption has largely been restricted to the financial sector and there are few, if any, large-scale successful cases that exist outside banking and insurance. In IMDA’s view, this has hampered the adoption of blockchain in other sectors due to lack of interoperability.
The IMDA said in a statement:“This has resulted in the industry showing signs of siloed, specialised blockchain solutions rather than interoperable network blockchains, which would deliver the most benefit to users.”
To reach its goal of becoming a smart nation, Singapore has come up with various other initiatives aimed at boosting the country’s blockchain ecosystem. Earlier in the year, the IMDA launched the Blockchain Challenge whose goal is to incentivize firms to develop pioneering solutions that go beyond financial applications using distributed ledger technology.
Through the Blockchain Challenge, participating firms are required to come up with either Proofs-of-concept or Minimum Viable Products that solve particular problems.
Three months ago, a fund to assist tech firms in sectors such as blockchain was launched jointly by the governments of Singapore and China. Known as the China-Singapore ICM Joint Innovation Development Fund, the sectors that the initiative sought to target were in ICT and Media and hence the initials ICM.
Other pro-blockchain initiatives undertaken by Singapore include a move by the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) to grant firms in the fintech space including blockchain companies special treatment when awarding patents. Rather than having these companies wait the usual two years, the IPOS announced in April that the waiting period would be cut to six months, as CCN reported at the time.
According to the CEO of IPOS, Daren Tang, this would serve to assist Singaporean fintech firms to compete globally:
“By significantly reducing the time needed for grant of a fintech patent, our innovative enterprises will be able to compete effectively through their intellectual property and use these intellectual assets to scale up and enter the world’s market.”
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.