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Blockchain This Week: How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Decentralised Ledger

Blockchain This Week: How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Decentralised Ledger

IBM and TRAI team up to stop spam calls

Walmart is using blockchain to digitally track the movement of pork in China

Hands-on blockchain training workshops being held in Bengaluru

In 2016, a smart contract platform called Slock(.it) run on the Ethereum, partnered with a German energy giant RWE, in an effort to revolutionise the way electric cars are charged. The project would allow cars with digital wallets to “talk” to autonomous electric charging points placed beneath the road at a traffic signal, which would charge the car by tiny increments.

Charging up your electric car at the traffic signal is technologically possible today. The problem however are the multiple gateways that need to be bridged between the charging company, your bank and the car’s payment system. Slock(.it)’s solution, built on blockchain, cut out the friction entirely from what was previously a mishmash of contracts.

Clearly blockchain technology is not just about cryptocurrencies anymore.

While governments, banks and other financial institutions have taken a rather defensive stand on cryptocurrencies, they have been very eager to understand and adopt blockchain solutions. From land-registry records in Karnataka, to providing crop insurance to small-hold farmers in Africa, to IBM and Walmart using blockchain to digitally track the movement of pork in China; people are finding new use cases for the technology everyday.

It is now December and businesses world-over are retreating for the holiday break, but news does keep cropping up from time to time. So here’s a quick roundup of blockchain news from India and around the world.

Blockchain News From India

Crowd Ownership In Real Estate

Online real estate company has proposed a centralised government land records registry based on blockchain. In a blog post, the company highlighted that land title records in India tend to be fragmented and unclear. Blockchain technology can help buyers, in determining the title of land, ownership details of the land, number of transactions that have happened on the land parcels, land disputes, etc. This information can save time, cost and avoid fraudulent land deals.

Blockchain can even enable crowd ownership of property. For instance, a group of people who cannot afford to buy a hotel on an individual basis, can come together through an online process, to buy a part of the hotel.

IBM And TRAI Team Up To Stop Spam Calls

International Business Machines (IBM) has reportedly developed a solution to stop those pesky spam calls with a ‘Do Not Call’ (DNC) blockchain-powered registry and even a blockchain solution that can be used in mobile number portability (MNP).

“We have completed proof of concepts and pilots with all the major telecom providers and with TRAI in this space,” Sriram Raghavan, vice president of IBM Research told ET. “We anticipate that, going into the New Year, we’ll start to see blockchain solutions getting rolled out.”

Hands-On Blockchain Training In Bengaluru

Dunya Labs, a blockchain product company, hosted the inaugural sessions of its Catalyst Series in Bengaluru. Catalyst, a programme of hands-on blockchain developer workshops, was launched in partnership with the Government of Telangana’s Blockchain District as part of the State’s blockchain education efforts.

Currently less than 1% of the country’s developers have exposure to blockchain development, and their experience is limited to platforms such as Hyperledger and Ethereum.

Blockchain News From Around The World

Bitcoin Gets Its Own Network Of Satellites

Bitcoin has undoubtedly had a tough year. However US-based startup Blockstream, which raised $101 Mn (INR 709.93 Cr) from Khosla Ventures and others, is now reportedly streaming the entire bitcoin blockchain from five satellites strategically positioned in orbit around Earth to reach all major landmasses.

Switzerland Gets Comfortable With Blockchain

The Swiss Government has said that it does not need to formulate new laws to regulate blockchain and will accommodate new technologies into existing financial laws of the land.

The country’s Federal Council issued a report on Friday (December 14), providing a legal framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT), or blockchain, stating that Switzerland’s existing rules are well suited to dealing with such new technologies, but there is still a need for some amendments.

A Parting Thought

Since the advent of globalisation, the source of production is often hidden from the end user. For example how do you know if a chocolate labelled fair trade has been actually grown without exploiting farmers or a pair of shoes you bought were not made in a sweatshop? Due to the current system of trade, it is often very hard to verify the authenticity of a manufacturer’s claims.  

In order to be certain, you need a record of all the transactions in the lifetime of the product, without interference from any bad actors or vested interests. This is possible with blockchain as it is a decentralised ledger that stores data in chronological order. 

It would be utopian to think that with growing interest of big companies such as IBM, blockchain applications will remain decentralised. As big companies they will have a large influence on the future of the technology. Still, early experiments in the field have proven to be promising, not just in terms of usefulness but for throwing a challenge to the current gatekeepers of trade and finance. By recording the contributions of often overlooked participants of the economy such as blue collar workers and farmers, blockchain may one day bring true change to the way business is done.