Blockchain start-up Blockfreight has ambitions to serve 360 million shipping containers on blockchain networks by the year 2020, the company’s Australian Founder and CEO, Julian Smith, tells Logistics & Materials Handling.
After many years working on the development of applications for large corporations, universities and government agencies, software engineer Smith became increasingly interested in Bitcoin technology, an interest that eventually led him to the logistics space.
“Bitcoin is a way to digitally track and transfer virtual assets, but a similar type of technology can be used to track and transfer physical assets,” Smith said. “This method has great potential in the logistics space, reducing fraud and increasing efficiency and consistency – effectively leading to a more effective movement of goods between parties on a global framework.”
At the beginning of 2017, Smith founded Blockfreight in San Francisco to commercialise and build a reference implementation for enterprise, designed to act as a blockchain partner to the container logistics industry. He now spends his time between New Zealand, Australia and Blockfreight’s US offices.
To date, Blockfreight has completed a research period and is entering beta trials of its Blockchain technology on global freight, findings and case studies of which Smith will share at the upcoming Supply Chain Management Australia 2017 event, to be held in Sydney in November.
As a firm dealing with a developing technology, Blockfreight is delighted to be investing in Australia, with a three-year commitment to a Melbourne research and development lab, Smith noted.
“I believe Australia is a leading adopter of technology in the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” he said. “This is evidenced by the spectacular growth of vendors such as WiseTech Global, and is also the product of a relatively low population and its distance from major markets.”
“We put a particular emphasis and focus on opportunities for technology-led cost and process efficiencies.”
IBM and Stellar Are Launching Blockchain Banking Across Multiple Countries. The news also comes as an important validation of blockchain technology. In a breakthrough for payments technology, IBM and a network of banks have begun using digital currency and blockchain software to move money across borders throughout the South Pacific.
The significance of the news, which IBM announced on Monday, is that merchants and consumers will be able to send money to another country in near real-time, accelerating a payments process that typically takes days.
The banking network includes “12 currency corridors” that encompass Australia and New Zealand, as well as smaller countries like Fiji and Tonga. It will reportedly process up to 60 percent of all cross-border payments in the South Pacific’s retail foreign exchange corridors by early next year.
The news also comes as an important validation of blockchain technology, which has long promised enormous efficiencies for the financial sector, but has been slow to move from the concept stage to the real world.
Blockchain, which relies on a disparate network of computers to create an indelible, tamper-proof record of transactions, is most famously associated with the digital currency bitcoin. But it can be used in many other applications such as tracking shipments or, as in this case, to record a series of cross-border transactions.
As an example, IBM said a farmer in Samoa will soon be able to contract with a buyer in Indonesia, and use the blockchain to record everything from the farmer’s collateral to letters of credit to payment.
“This is the next step in the evolution of blockchain technology. It’s live money moving around a network,” Jesse Lund, IBM’s VP of Blockchain, told Fortune.
Digital Currency is Key The new blockchain banking process is also notable because the banks will initially rely on a bitcoin-like digital currency, known as Lumens, to facilitate the cross border payments.
Currently, banks arrange such payments by maintaining foreign accounts in a local currency (so-called nostro accounts), and then debiting the accounts as required—a process that is both slow and ties up capital.
Under the new blockchain arrangement, banks will conduct the transactions using Lumens, and then rely on local market makers to convert the Lumens into local fiat currency. The Lumens are created by a non-profit company called Stellar, founded a Jed McCaleb, a well known figure in the payments and crypto-currency world.
Both Stellar and IBM are part of a project called Hyperledger Fabric, which is building open source blockchain tools to support payment infrastructures.
According to Lund, though, the banks use of Stellar’s digital currency is likely to be temporary. He predicts that, in the next year, central banks will begin issuing digital currencies of their own, and that these will become an integral part of blockchain-based money transfers.
The IBM-backed blockchain project comes at a time when other companies are creating efficient new ways to conduct global money transfers. These include BitPesa, which relies on the bitcoin network to replace traditional wire transfers between merchants in Africa, and TransferWise, which provides an inexpensive way for consumers to obtain foreign currencies.
German's largest airlines, Lufthansa, is investing into an ICO pre-sale and teaming up with a Swiss startup on bookings on Ethereum.
One of Europe's leading airlines, Lufthansa, will be buying into an ICOs and teaming up with a startup on bookings on the blockchain. Winding Tree, a Swiss-based startup, is building a marketplace on the ethereum blockchain to connect businesses and suppliers. The deal between was announced today. Together with Lufthansa Group, the pair is exploring a decentralized booking platform.
The two companies met through Lufthansa's Innovation Hub. Both firms view this collaboration as an overall win-win. Lufthansa hopes to bring on board its expertise in customer experience from the airline industry while benefiting from Winding Trees blockchain development.
CEO of Winding Tree, Maksim Izmaylov shared their intentions to help the German airline build and deploy blockchain- powered travel apps on that align with the industry's standards. Lufthansa will provide Maksim's development team with access to APIs.
Markus Binkert, Senior Vice President Distribution & Revenue Management Lufthansa Group Airlines explained the goal of API integrations via press release:
"By integrating these APIs with Winding Tree's public blockchain, Lufthansa Group enables all innovative partners who develop cutting-edge travel applications to access these offers via a decentralized and intermediate-free travel marketplace."
The largest German airline is exploring customer service applications on the blockchain including bookings, and itinerary travel information. Lufthansa is on the forefront of exploring use cases for the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies for its aviation business. The scalability and efficiency of blockchains are features it can explore both customer service and aircraft maintenance. Last year, the firm launched a Blockchain for Aviation (BC4A) initiative aimed at evaluating innovative technology for flight maintenance.
Lufthansa Buys into Pre-Sale ICO
Winding Tree is in the process of launching an initial coin offering (ICO) to fund development. As part of their commitment to this partnership, Lufthansa will finance part of the token sale at the ICO pre-sale stage. Investors will receive native ‘Lif' cryptocurrency in exchange for their contributions.
More startups are turning to ICOs for capital, the latest cryptocurrency crowdfunding craze. Typically, investors make contributions via cryptocurrency and receive issued tokens representing some form of right or utility. But in more recent times, the model has opened up avenues for Hedge funds and private investors to participate at a pre-ICO stage.
Lufthansa's buy-in to Winding Tree's pre-sale is likely to contribute regular currency. Regulatory warnings on ICO funding have picked up over the course of the last few months. It is becoming harder for startups to skirt rules on securities laws.
The LIF crypto token will have utility on the marketplace. Businesses and suppliers will settle payments and transfer of data relating to accommodation, flights, and cruises on the blockchain using Lif.
Dr. Christian Langer, Chief Digital Officer of Lufthansa Group, said: "To us, Winding Tree is a strong candidate to turn today's understanding of distribution upside down."
New Ripple (XRP) gateway being developed by Ripple Exchange LLC. The company goal is to allow everyone to have the opportunity to purchase and sell XRP in a fast, secure, affordable, and enjoyable way.
It was announced from a California-based company Ripple Exchange, LLC that their new Ripple (XRP) gateway will be unveiled this month around the time of the inaugural Ripple Conference known as Swell.
The company shows limited information but on a timeline from their official website, it’s documented that back in April they began development and experimenting with Ripple blockchain integration and started creating some test applications leveraging the technology.
In July, the company started reaching out to the users to figure out what they actually needed. They started issuing polls, gathering opinions, and fine-tuning what the software should look like to deliver the best possible experience for an upcoming release.
We now learned that the company’s current target trajectory is to release the initial version of Ripple Exchange for users by October 15th, just in time for the Ripple Swell Conference.
This morning, New Zealand-based cryptocurrency brokerage BitPrime has released a new service that now allows Kiwis to buy and sell Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) using New Zealand Dollars. BitPrime is a full-service brokerage offering phone and email support, in addition to facilitating cryptocurrency trades. BitPrime has launched these new coins alongside the Ripple, Ethereum and Bitcoin they already stock on their site. The innovative business can also source almost any cryptocurrency from this snowballing asset-class to customers via custom orders.
Litecoin and Ethereum Classic are considered Bitcoin alternatives and they have been quickly gaining traction with investors in the cryptocurrency market. “The popularity of cryptocurrencies in NZ has been increasing rapidly, with trade volumes having grown more than eight-fold since we launched in March,” says Ross Carter-Brown, Senior Partner at BitPrime. As a testament to this, the total cryptocurrency market capitalisation is currently NZD$188 billion at the time of writing, which is an increase of 830% since August 2016.
To date, these “Bitcoin alternatives” like Litecoin, have increased 1520% over the past year with an approximate market capitalization of NZD$3.7 billion. Ethereum Classic has also grown in popularity with NZD$47 million turn-over per day. But what exactly is Litecoin and Ethereum Classic? Essentially Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum Classic are all cryptocurrencies, with some technical differences between the three.
Litecoin (LTC) was developed by the ex-Google engineer, Charles Lee. Some have said that if Bitcoin is the “gold” of crypto-currencies, Litecoin could be considered the “silver.” Litecoin boasts faster confirmation of transactions than Bitcoin, as well as a higher coin limit of 84 Million (compared to Bitcoin’s 21 Million). It has also been theorised that since Litecoin has a faster block time, this reduces the risk of “double spending” attacks (the same coin being spent twice) and therefore more secure.
On the other hand, Ethereum classic (ETC) is the original Ethereum blockchain with Ethereum (ETH) being the new fork, after the Ethereum blockchain split in 2016. Ethereum Classic (ETC) uses “Smart Contracts” which is revolutionising the business world including many industries such as insurance and real estate.
A Bitcoin success story that went viral on social media is Kristoffer Koch from Norway. Koch invested around $27 in Bitcoin in 2009 and then forgot about it for four years. He remembered about his Bitcoin wallet in 2013, which had then grown in value to $886,000.
BitPrime’s new launch has opened the markets up for Kiwi investors to buy and sell Litecoin and Ethereum, as alternatives to Bitcoin. As the demand for cryptocurrencies increases, Carter-Brown says, “we aim to make cryptocurrencies easily available to everyday New Zealanders, and expanding our offering is part of achieving that goal.”
You can contact BitPrime at www.bitprime.co.nz or 0800 4333 55 for more information about their Litecoin and Ethereum Classic launch.
Sparkle Coin has introduced its eponymous cryptocurrency, the first of its kind backed by diamonds.
The launch is the initial step toward the company’s goal of creating more efficient global economic growth to promote societal advancement by developing a platform that brings cryptocurrencies into the mainstream business and consumer markets.
Sparkle Coin is a hybrid cryptocurrency possessing the best qualities of both POW (Proof of work) and POS (Proof of stake), providing rapid adoption through mining of Sparkle Coin as well as long-term sustainability through minting.
Founded by business and technology veterans, Sparkle Coin is designed to be a part of a new economic ecosphere, built on a foundation of proven business fundamentals essential for real-world transactions.
“Cryptocurrencies were always envisioned to revolutionise global financial markets and the way consumers and businesses transact,” says Victor Wong, Sparkle Coin founder and CEO.
“Sparkle Coin bridges the gap between cryptocurrencies and traditional business by developing an economic ecosphere comprised of an asset-backed cryptocurrency, transacted through a powerful currency exchange, with an outward facing cryptocurrency payment gateway allowing virtually all merchants to accept cryptocurrency though an online shopping mall or directly on their own websites.”
After the initial coin release (ICO), Sparkle Coins can be transacted on VCoin Exchange, an advanced currency exchange that allows for trading with other cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies.
VCoin Exchange also provides software and payment gateways for virtually any merchant to accept Sparkle Coin and other cryptocurrencies as payment for products and services.
Online shoppers can use their Sparkle Coins as well as other cryptocurrencies to purchase products directly from their favourite stores including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, Bed Bath & Beyond, Staples and more via VCoinMall.com, a front-end order management and payment processing service.
Together, Sparkle Coin, VCoin Exchange and VCoinMall.com make up a unique economic ecosphere that connects the latest blockchain technologies with existing business platforms and networks to drive adoption of cryptocurrencies for real business transactions.
“Cryptocurrencies have struggled in the past to be widely adopted because the technologies were still being developed and the necessary infrastructure was not in place yet,” says David Chen, Sparkle Coin financial strategy vice president.
“Sparkle Coin represents the second generation of cryptocurrencies that will push through the barriers because it’s fully funded, asset-backed and easy to integrate with existing payment infrastructure.”
Sparkle Coin’s hybrid POW and POS algorithm is the latest technology for cryptocurrency, providing a rapid ramp up of miners and subsequently processing power for the network to create extremely powerful encryption and security, and accelerated transaction processing.
Sparkle Coin is the only company in the blockchain and cryptocurrency world to incorporate a fund set aside for the operation of the company for 100 years.
In addition, the public will be able to mine for approximately 1,000 Sparkle Coins a day for the same 100-year period to further increase the size and stability of the network. This approach, along with minting, creates stability, longevity and managed growth.
At launch, each Sparkle Coin is backed by US$5 worth of Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certified diamonds, procured through established diamond wholesalers, which can be immediately redeemed the day after the Sparkle Coin ICO in increments of US$500.
By backing Sparkle Coin with diamonds, which have been shown to steadily increase in value over time more than other assets such as gold, early adopters have a safety net for their participation in this new economic ecosphere.
When the price of Sparkle Coin reaches US$25 per coin, there will no longer be any need to back the coins with diamonds as the worth generated by the economy built around Sparkle Coin will have proven itself, thereby providing Sparkle Coin with its own intrinsic value five times greater than the initial price.
The Sparkle Coin ICO will occur at TechCrunch’s Disrupt in San Francisco on September 20 at 1pm PDT.
International payments provider Veem has announced an integration with New Zealand cloud-based accounting software Xero.
The integration will enable Xero users and accounting professionals to automatically sync vendor bills from Xero into Veem to streamline international payments, save time and money, and limit human errors.
With the Veem integration, Xero users can seamlessly pay international bills through the Xero platform.
When a user enters a bill in Xero, the bill automatically can be paid through Veem’s global payment platform.
The Veem platform supports global payments in US Dollars as well as multiple currencies to over 60 countries.
Users are able to see exchange rates as well as the currency related to the payments.
Veem is built on multi-rail routing tech and powered by blockchain technology.
Additional automation ensures that Veem payment IDs are automatically added to Xero bank reconciliation reports.
The Veem platform is an essential tool for small and medium businesses paying international vendors.
“Connecting Veem with Xero simplifies international payments even further by eliminating double entries and simplifying reconciliation,” comments Mark A. Gilbert, MBS Accounting Technology & Advisory president and CEO. Veem Helping Automate Accounting
The Veem global payments platform now allows financial professionals to bypass the cumbersome bank-to-bank international wire transfer process and send global payments through a simple interface in a few clicks, instead of hours.
Through the Veem - Xero integration, Xero customers now have access to simple, more automated international wire transfers.
“We’re excited about the additional functionality the Veem integration brings to our customers,” says Sid Maestre, Xero developer evangelism head.
“Global platforms like Xero and Veem have a massive opportunity to eliminate the headaches small business owners face doing trade across borders, in turn helping their businesses thrive.” The Veem-Xero Impact on Global Trade
Both Veem and Xero serve small to medium-sized business, which in the US account for ninety-four percent of global trade by volume.
Both Veem and Xero have large global customer bases, who send and receive payments to and from customers and suppliers around the world regularly.
"Veem is the global bridge that brings businesses, their customers, and suppliers closer together. We’re here to support the network of small businesses that power the global economy," says Marwan Forzley, Veem CEO and founder.
Veem is a next generation platform for business-to-business payments.
Veem enables businesses to send and receive payments in local currency with a few simple steps using multi-rail technology across several global networks.
According to their website, Veem avoids intermediary bank networks, using blockchain technology to transport payments.
And because it only touches payments once, it only needs to charge once.
Fewer touches mean less fees and faster payments.
Founded by a team of industry veterans with over 100 years of combined experience in payments, payment processing and banking IT infrastructure management, Veem aims to change the financial payment system through innovation.
The company wants to change the legacy financial payment system through innovation and improve the costly and outdated payments industry by building a new user focused financial ecosystem that services businesses globally.