TECHNOLOGY

BLOCKCHAIN

INTRODUCTION

Blockchain is the technology on which Bitcoin and all the other cryptoassets are based – but it has very broad applicability, and will soon be recognized as another disruptive technology that will provide great benefit to business, and will contribute to substantial job re-definition and loss.

A blockchain is fundamentally an electronic ledger, shared among a number of people, which consists of a linked chain of blocks of time-stamped transactions, with special characteristics:

  • They are immutable (which means that once a transaction is added, it cannot be changed or deleted).
  • They are distributed on many computers (each with their own copy), and no transaction can be added to a block without consensus, i.e.the agreement of all computer owners.
  • All transactions and the chain linkages are encrypted.
  • The blockchain operates without relying on a central co-coordinator to provide the authoritative version of the transactions.

A blockchain allows a number of independent parties (who may not trust each other) to keep a tamper-proof and secure record of a number of transactions (involving, for example, the purchase, delivery, and payment of a product). This eliminates the need for the involvement of trusted third parties (like lawyers and bankers). Software (consisting of a sequence of ‘IF … THEN … instructions) has been developed to set out all the steps required to complete a process, and to initiate and record the completion of each step. This is called a ‘Smart Contract.’

The first description of Distributed Ledger Technology (of which Blockchain is a subset) was in 1991. Bitcoin started in 2008. The first commercial application was in September 2016, when Barclays Bank facilitated a $100,000 trade of cheese and butter between Irish food company Ornua and the Seychelles Trading Company, which took less than 4 hours (compared to the current average of 10 days).

To emphasize the breadth and global reach of the technology, here are a few current applications:

  • The World Bank, working with Microsoft and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has issued the first blockchain-based bond.
  • The shipping giant Maersk, working with IBM, has developed a blockchain-based supply chain, shipping and logistics platform that 94 world-wide companies have agreed to use.
  • De Beers is using blockchain to track the source and shipping of their diamonds.
  • Italian insurance companies are testing a blockchain-based solution to resolve disputes involving car-liability claims,
  • Wyoming farmers want to use blockchain to track what their cattle eat, and then brand their beef as superior,
  • China’s first blockchain social network is the brainchild of a 24-year-old female poker player,

The lack of need for trusted third-parties will impact the demand for bankers and lawyers, and blockchains will eliminate the need for a lot of currently-printed documentation. But other applications, most as yet unspecified, will be more disruptive to the labor force. One such application occurred in March 2018 when a house in Vermont was sold using a blockchain-based platform.

George Gilder, the technology futurist who predicted the iPhone 13 years before its release, and the death of cable TV 10 years before Netflix, believes that blockchain technology will be used to replace the world’s current fiat currencies (based on its security and lack of a controlling entity), and to replace current internet technology. (His current book is entitled ‘Life after Google’!) 

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... AND LEARN MORE FROM THESE ADDITIONAL VIDEOS

Supply chains using blockchain improve food safety (Retail – 2019-04 – TechRepublic)

Is blockchain an overhyped technology (Blockchain – 2018-10 – TechRepublic)

Blockchain to be used in voting and to sell excess IT storage (Blockchain – 2018-09)

Almonds sent from Australia to Germany in a blockchain-based supply chain trial (Blockchain – 2018-07 – ZDNet)

Blockchain to enable storage sharing amongst competitors (Blockchain – 2018-07 – TechRepublic)

Blockchain and business: Looking beyond the hype (Blockchain – 2018-06 – ZDNet)

Explaining blockchain (Blockchain – 2018-05 – TechRepublic)

How the blockchain could help build a decentralized media economy (Blockchain – 2018-05 – TechRepublic)

The emergence of blockchain as a business tool, and its potential uses (Blockchain – 2018-04 – TechRepublic)

IBM made a major investment in blockchain technology (Blockchain – 2018-02 – Fox News)

 

REVIEW THESE INFORMATIVE ARTICLES - AND READ THOSE THAT INTEREST YOU

Blockchain-based platform addresses food safety concerns in China (Retail/Food Safety - 2019-06 - CoinDesk)

Walmart China has launched a blockchain-based platform aimed to address food safety concerns in China, including 23 product lines tested and listed, with another 100 planned by the end of 2019.

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Walmart and IBM pilot prescription medication tracking (Medicine/Prescriptions - 2019-06 - TechRepublic)

IBM, Walmart, KPMG, and Merck were chosen by the US Food and Drug Administration to run a pilot project using blockchain to identify, track, and trace prescription medications and vaccines distributed in the US. The pilot is intended to quickly identify suspicious products and speed the recall process.

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Shoppers Drug Mart to use blockchain technology to trace medical cannabis (Medicine/Marijuana - 2019-06 - CTV)

Shoppers Drug Mart plans to use blockchain technology to trace the source of the cannabis it distributes, as part of an effort to set standards for the flourishing industry. It is teaming up with Canadian software firm TruTrace to develop and deploy a pilot project to ensure the traceability of medical cannabis.

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5 Blockchain breakthroughs coming in 2019-2024 (2019-06 - Singularity Hub)

Blockchain is poised to cut out middlemen, dramatically improve transparency, and increase the efficiency of countless transactions worldwide – in particular, fundamentally revolutionizing supply chains, healthcare, elections, and real estate.

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Every rental contract in Malta will be registered on the blockchain (Rental Contracts - 2019-06 - CoinDesk)

Malta will require every rental contract to be registered on the blockchain. This ensures security, prevents record tampering, and ensures only authorized persons can access the records. The distributed ledger prevents there being contracts for which there is no record.

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A blockchain-based real-estate transaction platform can close a traditional real estate deal entirely online (Real Estate - 2019-06 - CoinDesk)

Propy is a real-estate transaction platform that empowers buyers, sellers, their agents, and escrow agents to close a traditional real estate deal entirely online. The purchase offer, payment and deeds are uploaded to an immutable blockchain. Propy completed its first deal in 2017, its first US transaction in Vermont in 2018, and has assisted worldwide in over 60 real estate transfers.

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IBM's notes as a sponsor of Consensus 2019 (2019-05 - CoinDesk)

With 500+ client engagements and 100+ active networks, IBM Blockchain includes applications in banking (clearing and settlement of cross-border payments in near real-time), financial services, insurance (slashing regulatory and compliance costs), retail, food supply (80+ clients processed 4+ million transactions), supply chain (60+ clients tracked 360 million shipping events), identity, and consumer goods.

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Real estate buying and selling could be reduced from 3+ months to 3- weeks (Service/Real Estate - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

Barclays Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, enterprise blockchain firm R3, and others have completed a successful blockchain trial. The trial used test data to carry out simulated property transactions over a distributed ledger system over a 5-day period. This demonstrated that real estate buying and selling could be reduced from >3 months to <3 weeks.

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The UK’s first digitized end-to-end residential property transaction (Service/Real Estate - 2019-04 - UKTech)

As part of the UK Land Registry’s Digital Street R&D project, Mishcon de Reya has successfully completed the UK’s first digitized end-to-end residential property transaction. The project is looking at ways of improving the home buying process in the future.

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Albertsons is the latest grocery store to adopt the blockchain-based system for tracing food from farm to store shelf (Retail/Food - 2019-04 - TechRepublic)

IBM continues to expand the blockchain-based Food Trust network to improve the way food is traced from farm to grocery store, with Albertsons Companies piloting food safety measures in its 2,300 stores across the US,

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Trade organization ICC supports blockchain adoption for 45 million members (Supply Chain - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

The Paris-based 100-year-old International Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Singapore-based blockchain startup Perlin to improve supply chain processes for its 45 million members (from 130 countries), making the processes more traceable and transparent.

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Tata settles securities between national depositories on a blockchain (Finance/Securities - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

India’s Tata Consultancy Services has completed a blockchain trial of cross-border securities settlement between two central securities depositories. The successful pilot project created a set of equity and fixed income securities for Morocco’s Maroclear depository and the Kuwait Clearing Company. Segregated accounts to hold the securities were also created. The cross-border settlement instructions for these securities were matched and settled instantaneously, with confirmation notifications also arriving in real time.

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French lender Societe Generale issues $112 million bond on Ethereum blockchain (Finance/Investments - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

French financial services giant Societe Generale Group has issued bonds (to itself) worth $112 million in the form of a security token on the public ethereum blockchain: “Many areas of added value are predicted, among which, product scalability and reduced time to market, computer code automation structuring, thus better transparency, faster transferability and settlement. It proposes a new standard for issuances and secondary market bond trading and reduces cost and the number of intermediaries.”

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Using blockchain to eliminate business process waste in construction projects may save 5+% (Construction/Supply Chain - 2019-04 - CoinDesk)

A World Economic Forum report indicates that, by eliminating transactional costs associated with fragmented supply chains, blockchain drives value by simplifying processes and providing greater transparency. This will lead to greater trust and collaboration in construction projects.

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IBM completes blockchain trial tracking a 28-ton shipment of oranges (Agriculture/Supply Chain - 2019-02 - CoinDesk)

IBM has completed a trial of blockchain technology to track a shipment of 3,000 cartons of mandarin oranges from China to Singapore. The electronic bill of lading was recorded on a blockchain. The normal time of 5-7 days was eliminated, providing traceable and tamper-proof record storage, where 40% fraud involves documentation.

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Introduction to blockchain (Blockchain - 2018- 12 - Shelly Palmer)

A blockchain, or distributed ledger, is a continuously growing list (digital file) of encrypted transactions called “blocks” that are distributed (copied) to a peer-to-peer (P2P) network of computers.

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New South Wales Land Registry to trial blockchain for conveyancing (Blockchain - 2018- 10- ZDNet)

Under a New South Wales state government directive, applying to the start of the 2019 financial year, all mainstream property transactions must be lodged electronically using a blockchain-based eConveyancing system, and all paper-based Certificates of Title will be cancelled.

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Blockchain-based platform used for New South Wales' new digital drivers licence (Blockchain - 2018- 09- ZDNet)

Australian data security company Secure Logic is launching a blockchain solution to support the digitisation of government services, including motor registration, birth and death certificates, medical records, and property titles. New South Wales is using the platform in its trial of a digital drivers licence.

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Debunking the 5 biggest blockchain myths (Blockchain - 2018- 09- TechRepublic)

5 persistent myths about blockchain, and why they are false. The myths are: Blockchain, bitcoin, and distributed ledgers are the same thing; Blockchain is a hotbed of illegal activity; Blockchain will solve every business problem; Blockchain technology is immutable and unhackable; All blockchains are open.

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Trading in oil and wheat using a blockchain will start in 2018 (Blockchain - 2018- 09- TechRepublic)

Several major global banks and trading firms are using blockchain to trade commodities like oil and wheat. The platform will be launched by a new venture named komgo SA, and is set to go live late in 2018.

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Walmart to track lettuce from farm to store, using a blockchain (Blockchain - 2018- 09- The Next Web)

Walmart is asking all its leafy greens suppliers to get on blockchain by October 2019. With instances of E. coli on the rise, using a blockchain to track and trace products from source to customer will enable diseased produce to be identified and destroyed.

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Overwhelming' response to world's first blockchain bond (Blockchain - 2018-08 - CNBC)

The world’s first public bond created and managed using only blockchain had support from seven investors, with lead manager the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. It raised $80.48 million for the World Bank.

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Blockchain is starting to show real promise amid the hype (Blockchain - 2018-08 - Barron's)

Blockchain is now being used to make businesses as varied as trade finance, video-gaming, travel insurance, and diamond mining more efficient and more secure. Projects that actually solve real-world problems are rare. The technology is growing largely through consortiums that allow companies to share the cost of developing software and make sure they’re building systems that will be compatible with one another. Gartner estimates that blockchain will generate $5 billion worth of business value in 2018, exceeding $3.1 trillion in 2030.

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Almonds sent from Australia to Germany in a blockchain-based supply chain trial (Blockchain - 2018-07 - ZDNet)

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has successfully completed a global trade experiment, shipping 17 tons of almonds to Germany, tracked via blockchain.

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Dubai to use blockchain to streamline judicial processes (Blockchain - 2018-07 - Next Big Future)

Dubai is making the first blockchain of the court to streamline the judicial process, removing document duplications, and driving greater efficiencies across the entire legal ecosystem by 2020. They will also expand existing dispute resolution services, and explore how to aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement.

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IBM uses the blockchain to boost financial services innovation (Blockchain - 2018-07 - TechRepublic)

IBM and New York-based cash settlement firm CLS have teamed up with major banks to launch a blockchain-based platform to provide financial services, including KYC processes, sanctions screening, collateral management, derivatives post-trade processing and reconciliation, and market data.

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Korea Telecom first to apply blockchain to commercial network (Blockchain - 2018-07 - ZDNet)

KT (Korea Telecom) has applied blockchain technology to its network, planning to reach 100,000 transactions per second by 2019, and to launch many new platforms in multiple industries that capitalise on the network. KT has also applied blockchain for authentication in internet access.

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Blockchain: 6 Great Non-Cryptocurrency Use Cases (Blockchain - 2018-07 - Shelly Palmer)

Six categories of applications using blockchain technology: Smart contracts; Tokenization of content; Eliminating counterfeit products; Supply chain improvement; Digital twins; Encrypted messaging.

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Banks conduct cross-border trades on IBM-powered blockchain (Blockchain - 2018-07 - CoinDesk)

A series of cross-border financial trades were completed through a jointly developed blockchain platform by a group of European banks (Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Société Générale and UniCredit) over five days between 10 companies.

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The Coolest Blockchain Startups at Consensus 2018 (Blockchain - 2018-06 - PCMag)

A wide selection of Blockchain startups.

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5% of the world’s energy transactions take place via a decentralized network (Blockchain - 2018-06 - Technology.org)

The growing use of private solar cells and heat pumps is creating a new decentralized energy system, where everyone can produce and sell energy through a blockchain network. 5% of the world’s energy transactions already do this, and the World Energy Council expects this to rise to 25% before 2025.

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Blockchain and business: Looking beyond the hype (Blockchain - 2018-06 - ZDNet)

A general overview of blockchain: Definition; Applicability; Concepts; Analysts outlook; Market size. Surveys; Landscape; Issues; Outlook; References. Many enterprises will get re-tooled, and new business models will emerge – but not overnight.

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What is a smart contract? (Blockchain - 2018-05 - ShellyPalmer)

Smart contracts are self-executing programs that automatically check the rules of a transaction, verify and process it, and, if needed, enforce the obligations of the parties. This has the potential to dramatically increase productivity and lower costs. Several use case examples are given.

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Blockchain governance options (Blockchain - 2018-05 - Hackernoon.com)

An opinion piece of the various blockchain governance models, and why a democratic model is not right – yet.

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De Beers uses blockchain technology successfully to source and monitor diamonds throughout the supply chain (Blockchain/Supply Chain - 2018-05 - TechRepublic)

Diamond giant De Beers has successfully tested Tracr, their new platform that uses blockchain technology to source and tracks diamonds throughout the supply chain. Other diamond companies have joined the effort, and the platform will be made available to all diamond companies by the end of 2018.

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Food waste management company uses blockchain to track food waste from restaurant to the needy (Blockchain/Waste management - 2018-05 - Fast Company)

Goodr has created a system that has diverted nearly a million pounds of food in Atlanta from landfills–and into kitchens. Surplus food is redirected from businesses to nonprofits which share it with needy families. Goodr’s app has clients signaling the availability of surplus food, which is picked up, packaged, and delivered to nonprofits, with all steps recorded on a blockchain.

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The Bank of England is testing blockchain to support domestic payments (Blockchain/Banking - 2018-04 - Digital Treds)

The Bank of England said that it’s currently working on a “proof of concept” to see if its real-time gross settlement service will benefit from blockchain. The bank’s governor, Mark Carney, said that securities settlements need innovation, and blockchain technology – aka distributed ledger tech – could produce “significant” gains regarding platform stability, efficiency, accuracy, and security.

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The emergence of blockchain as a business tool, and its potential uses (Blockchain - 2018-04 - TechRepublic)

Big organizations using blockchain include Walmart, L.L.Bean, and Codec, with many new startups in the process, including Dubai’s government. Walmart is tracking beef products across China, reducing tracking time from weeks to days. In medicine, complete medical records will be added to the blockchain.

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Spanish bank’s customers using blockchain to transfer money (Blockchain/Banking - 2018-04 - Quartz)

Santander, a major Spanish bank, has launched an international money transfer service, using California-based Ripple’s distributed ledger technology (but not its XRP cryptocurrency). The service is supposed to be cheaper and faster than existing systems and will provide more certainty about when the money will arrive. It’s currently available for retail customers in Spain, UK, Brazil, and Poland and will roll out in other countries soon. Transfers to Europe can be made on the same day and the bank is targeting instant payments by the summer. The service uses touch and facial identification and connects with Apple Pay.

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The Blockchain Security Revolution (Blockchain - 2018-04 - Stansberry Research)

Hacking is the world’s fastest-growing criminal enterprise, costing the global economy $450 billion in 2016. Applying blockchain technology to various encryption, cybersecurity, and digital identification activities could help end many hacking schemes. Illinois is piloting a blockchain-based system for recording birth certificates. 63% of other US States are considering how to implement blockchain.

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Alibaba is trialling a blockchain platform for supply chain tracking (Blockchain/Supply Chain - 2018-04 - Coindesk)

Alibaba is trialing a blockchain platform for supply chain tracking to counter the spread of counterfeit food and health products. The new pilot program will track international shipments to China from an Australian healthcare supplier and a New Zealand dairy product maker.

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IBM partners with jewelry industry on blockchain supply chain project (Blockchain/Supply Chain - 2018-04 - Coindesk)

IBM is collaborating with international jewelry industry leaders to create a cross-industry supply chain tracking platform. Powered by a permission blockchain, the initiative will facilitate the tracking of diamonds and precious metals as they advance from mine to market.

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How blockchain trade finance is breaking proof-of-concept gridlock (Blockchain/Trade Finance - 2018-04 - Coindesk)

Several trade finance distributes ledger technology platforms currently under development were initiated by banks, and are designed to satisfy clients’ need for a leaner, faster process for securing and financing international trade transactions.

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ANZ and IBM build blockchain solution for insurance (Blockchain/Insurance - 2018-04 - Coindesk)

ANZ bank has partnered with IBM to build a blockchain solution for transparent, secure transfer of data and premiums between insurance brokers and insurers.

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This is what a 4th-generation blockchain looks like (Blockchain - 2018-03 - Medium)

1st Gen: Bitcoin and variants using Proof of Work algorithm to validate transactions.
2nd Gen: Ethereum, NEO, WAVES, etc, with smart contracts and easy tokenization of assets.
3rd Gen: Cardano, etc. solving problems of scalability, speed, and energy efficiency by using Proof of Stake validation and off-chain routing.
4th Gen: Multiversum making the blockchain environment flexible and economical for the enterprise, industrial and institutional use, and safe for consumers. Features include complex data types, multidimensional structures, data sharding, chain splitting and Proof of Integrity validation.

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There needs to be a standard definition for blockchain technology (Blockchain - 2018-03 - The Verge)

As increasingly legislation involves reference to blockchain technology, there is a need for an accepted definition of what features are integral to it. The ISO is trying to get international agreement.

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9 easy steps to a secure, cross-border multi-language home sale (Blockchain - 2018-03 - Futurism)

February 20, 2018: Through a pilot program between the city of South Burlington, Vermont and a San Francisco-based start-up, Propy, developer of a blockchain platform designed to facilitate real estate transactions, Katherine Purcell became the first person in the U.S. to sell a home using blockchain. Propy allows anyone to buy or sell real estate, anywhere, completely online. Their blockchain records each step in the transaction, from expressing interest in a property to signing agreements to title transfers. There’s an immutable record of every action on a virtually unhackable ledger. Propy will eventually completely replace the city’s software for managing land records.

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IBM making major investment in blockchain technology (Blockchain - 2018-02 - Fox News)

IBM is making big bets on blockchain—the technology behind virtual currencies. It has formed a joint venture with Maersk, the world’s biggest container operator, in January in hopes of accelerating trade, and with Walmart and a group of consumer companies to explore how to apply the technology to food safety.

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IBM And Maersk start Blockchain supply chain company, to be operational 3Q2018 (Blockchain/Shipping - 2018-01 - CoinTelegraph)

IBM and Danish transport and logistics company Maersk are creating a shipping and supply chain company to commercialize Blockchain for all aspects of the global supply chain system, from shipping to ports, and banks to customs offices. Delivery is expected for 3Q2018.

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