IBM’s Food Trust Blockchain Adds Another Grocery Chain

International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) sees potential in blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like …

International Business Machines(NYSE:IBM) sees potential in blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. The century-old tech giant is a leader in the blockchain market, with over 500 client engagements so far. Notable projects include IBM Blockchain World Wire, a platform for cross-border payments, and TradeLens, a blockchain system for the global shipping industry.

Another notable IBM blockchain project is Food Trust, a platform that enables quick tracking of food from farm to store. Tracking the source of a contamination, like recent E. coli outbreaks associated with romaine lettuce, can often take days or even weeks. IBM Food Trust can bring that time down to seconds, reducing costs for the industry while potentially saving lives.

A woman in a room full of plants.

Image source: IBM.

Growing the network

IBM Food Trust began as a pilot project with multiple food companies in 2017. In September of 2018, megaretailer Walmartfully embraced the platform, setting a timeline for its leafy-greens suppliers to join IBM Food Trust and enable end-to-end traceability. IBM Food Trust was made generally available in October, and a few more big companies joined the network. Most notably, French retailer Carrefour uses IBM Food Trust for some of its private-label products.

With Walmart jumping on board, it was only a matter of time before other supermarket chains followed suit. This morning, IBM announced that Albertsons Companies, a privately owned chain of roughly 2,300 stores, would begin piloting Food Trust for tracing bulk romaine lettuce from one of its distribution centers. If all goes well, Albertsons will explore expanding to other food categories.

Food Trust creates digital records of transactions and interactions. These records may include packaging dates, temperature readings, and dates of arrival at a grocery store. The goal is to turn the inefficient process of tracking down where a foodborne illness originated into an efficient, digitized process that can take contaminated products out of circulation quickly. The system can also help reduce food waste and food fraud (the deliberate tampering with or misrepresentation of food).

Albertsons sees Food Trust as a way to build trust in its own brands while providing greater transparency for its customers. “Blockchain technology has the potential to be transformational for us as we further build differentiation on our fresh brand. … In addition, the provenance of the products enabled by blockchain — the ability to track every move from the farm to the customer’s basket — can be very empowering for our customers,” said Albertsons chief information officer Anuj Dhanda in IBM’s press release.

The opportunity for IBM

The network effect, whereby the more people use a product or service, the more valuable that product or service becomes, is a powerful competitive advantage. Food Trust becomes more compelling for grocery chains and other food supply chain participants as more companies join the network. In fact, it begins to become necessary as large chains like Walmart mandate its use for suppliers.

If Food Trust ever reaches critical mass, becoming the de facto standard in the food industry, IBM will have a platform that generates fees and will be very difficult to disrupt. That’s just about the best kind of business there is.

It remains to be seen whether IBM can continue to grow Food Trust into an industry standard. But with Albertsons joining the network, the odds just got a little bit better.

Blockchain Or Bust: How This Tech Can Boost Port & Rail Logistics Efficiency

And, as blockchain breaks free of its crypto origins, the commodities trading and shipping world is beginning to recognize and realize technology’s …

One of the largest ‘Very Large Container Vessels’ (VLCV) in the world, Madison Maersk, entering the Maasvlakte 2 in the Port of Rotterdam, The Netherlands, September 2, 2017: (Photocredit: Getty).

Getty

Even though there have been momentous developments in the recent history of freight, most commodities are still shipped mostly the same way they have for at least 200 years – by sea and railroads. Indeed, after a relative decline towards the end the 2000’s, rail freight seems to be increasing.

In the European Union (EU), for instance, the amount of weight transported by rail freight steadily expanded from 2010 to 2017. During the period between 2006 and 2017, EU rail freight transport peaked at 438 billion tonne-kilometres in 2007.

And, rail freight transport for 2017 in the EU was estimated at 416 billion tonne-kilometres, up 3.2% over the previous year’s figure of c.403.3 billion tonne-kilometres in the EU’s 28 member states – from Austria to the United Kingdom (U.K).

Similarly, ports are a vital component of the world economy, as they are the entry point for most of the globe’s imports.

In 2016, for example, ports in the United States (U.S.) saw nearly $2.2 trillion dollars of exports leave, while more than $2.7 trillion in imports entered the country. Along with railroads, they comprise a key link in the world’s commodities supply chain.

Railroads are essential for overland transport and are responsible for moving large amounts of freight directly from ships and towards their final destinations. Even so, advances have focused largely on improving physical structures, and not as much on the technological infrastructure that supports the overland shipping economy.

Nevertheless, technology rarely stands still, and especially in an industry so vital to the global economy.

And, as blockchain breaks free of its crypto origins, the commodities trading and shipping world is beginning to recognize and realize technology’s potential, implementing it to great success and with tremendous future potential.

Expediting Movement of Commodities

Despite its essential nature, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has noted that America’s railroad network needs an investment of at least $200 billion over the next 15 years to sustain the projected demand long-term. ASCE, which is the nation’s oldest engineering society that was founded in 1852, graded or ranked U.S. rail infrastructure with a C- (C minus).

Back in 2013, the Federal Railroad Administration in the U.S. estimated that Class II and III railroads would only be able to invest $1.6 billion out of a required $6.9 billion over the following five years in order to maintain, modernize and expand capacity.

Overseas freight containers being transported on a Union Pacific Railroad train passing nearby Palm Springs, Coachella Valley, California, U.S., January 14, 2018. (Photocredit: Getty).

Getty

Ports are in the same boat – forgive the pun – functioning despite infrastructure that is old and cannot quite meet demand. Take the U.K., around 90% of all imports enter through ports.

While these physical improvements are necessary and concerning, technological improvements could make the burden less worrisome, and help mitigate many of the worst issues these vital supply chain cogs face.

One of the biggest ways the industry is seeking to reduce the burden of transportation on ports and railroads is by improving the technology that manages supply chains.

And, one of the biggest issues many train and rail systems encounter is so-called detention dwell, whereby delays in one train leaving or unloading at a station spiral and creates larger problems both for loading and train entries.

In some cases, blockchain technologies could be an ideal solution for detention dwell, as it allows for more immediate information transfer, and smarter decisions based on real-time data.

Indeed, some studies have found that railroads could significantly improve their performance by reducing friction at these transit bottlenecks, as well as facilitating the entry and exit processes for trains thanks to improved data transfers.

New platforms, from the likes of Brisbane-based CommChain, which manages the documentation companies need to ship goods worldwide on blockchain, could reduce the delays caused by missed or late paperwork. Having recently launched a platform the company is seeking to marry and combine the power of blockchain technology with bulk commodity trading.

By transferring the movement of documents to blockchain – aka the distributed ledger – these applications improve the speed of document transfer. It becomes almost immediate and they can clearly establish a chain of custody. And, it has been claimed that by facilitating payments via the CommChain’s network, settlement period can be completed in less than three days.

Faith Dempsey, a co-founder and director of CommChain who is also a founder of TransCoal and TransBulk Logistics in Australia with around 40 years’ experience in exporting coal and mineral worldwide, commenting said: “Not only will this technology assist in reducing the “air-gap” that exists in the payment process from the ‘cutting’ of bills of lading to their delivery in the buyer’s country by an approximately 10 days delivering a significantly reduced payment period, the ‘tokenization’ of the commodity means the product producers can bring liquidity into their businesses at an earlier time in the supply chain.”

Industry experts see blockchain as one of the most revolutionary technologies to change rail freight in decades. In some eyes, most of the industry will likely be on blockchain entirely – or at least partially – within the next decade. That is the boast anyway.

Global advisory firm EY has pointed out that the commodity transaction life cycle needs a substantial number of processes across multiple market participants – even for basic transactions to be completed.

In a report from 2017 published by EY titled Overview of blockchain for energy and commodity trading” (2017), the firm noted that by applying blockchain technology, the commodity trading arena could reap multiple benefits spanning capital costs, swifter settlements, reduced manual processing and a lesser reliance on multiple systems.

Upgrading Ports’ Commodity Tracking

At ports, the issues are similar though somewhat unique. Many were built for a much smaller workload and have started showing the strain of higher throughput. Others are simply run inefficiently or face the same problems as other links in the supply chain.

Congestion, slow times to move goods in and out of holding points, container management, and more are issues that could be readily solved by technology – but have not yet been fully tackled.

Here, however, blockchain has already started to make an impact. For instance, in Antwerp, one of Belgium’s – and the world’s – largest seaports on the River Scheldt, a trial run has shown the extent to which blockchain can streamline the loading and unloading process.

In some cases, getting a truck to the right container area takes as many as seven complex steps. Blockchain removes the need for most of them by presenting a clear chain of custody and allowing stakeholders to communicate exactly what they need and where it is.

IBM Blockchain

Similarly, IBM – aka “Big Blue” – and the Danish shipping giant Maersk have been hard at work in the past few years creating a blockchain-based system for supply chain management. The project has already on boarded many of Europe’s largest ports of entry, already registering over 230 million shipments and 20 million containers.

IBM, which has have around 1,600 staff working in blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) across all areas and sectors in its IBM Blockchain area, announced in January 2018 that it had forged a global joint venture with business conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk Group Maersk with the aim of applying blockchain to “digitize” global trade.

The venture, which as a new company will be headquartered in the New York metropolitan area, named Michael J. White, former president of Maersk Line in North America, as its CEO.

The IBM logo appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, March 18, 2019. (Photocredit: Richard Drew/Associated Press).

This initiative followed around a month after IBM had announced that together with Walmart, Nasdaq-listed Chinese retailer JD.com and Tsinghua University the parties would collaborate on a food safety alliance in China using blockchain for greater safety and tracking within the food supply chain

Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, IBM Global Industries, Solutions and Blockchain, stated at the time: “Our joint venture with Maersk means we can now speed adoption of this exciting technology with the millions of organizations who play vital roles in one of the most complex and important networks in the world, the global supply chain.”

The executive, who and has been listed as one of Fortune Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and holds a Master of Commerce from the University of South Africa, added: “We believe that blockchain will now emerge in this market as the leading way companies seize new untapped economic opportunities.”

On a similar tack, a Russian blockchain project for ports named Edge.Port was reported this February to have estimated that the technology can decrease waiting times for ships and containers at ports from over 4 hours to just 25 minutes, and improve overall port capacity from 3% to 5%.

Improving Infrastructure for Better Global Shipping

Ports and railways are still two of the biggest components of the global commodities trade, and their technological advancement to date has been meagre at best. Even so, the introduction of blockchain and decentralized ledger technology could be a game-changer for both.

By improving communications, chain of custody, and reducing the possibility of fraud and other crimes, technology makes shipping safer and more efficient by rail.

Additionally, the efficiency and streamlining effects the technology has on even the most complex processes – such as releasing cargo to the right companies while managing inventory and space – can result in billions of dollars in savings, as well as more capable global trade. It’s a brave new world for sure.

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US Startup Raises $14.1 Mln for Blockchain-Based Payments Network for Retailers

New York-based blockchain startup Flexa has raised $14.1 million to develop a payments network for retailers. The development was announced in a …

New York-based blockchain startup Flexa has raised $14.1 million to develop a payments network for retailers. The development was announced in a press release published on April 11.

Per the release, Flexa has raised $14.1 million in funding from such participants as early stage token fund 1kx, investment firms Access Ventures and Nima Capital, and hedge fund Pantera Capital, which recently revealed that it was close to completing funding for its third venture fund, already raising $160 million.

The company intends to create a payment network for retailers that would reduce costs, overhead, and fraudulence by means of blockchain-based settlements. Flexa is also planning to release a mobile application through which customers could conduct operations with cryptocurrencies they already own.

Tyler Spalding, Co-Founder and CEO of Flexa, said that “the anti-fraud and cost benefits of global cryptocurrency payments are enormous, but there are many barriers to mainstream adoption for merchants and consumers alike. Flexa’s going to change that.”

Blockchain technology has become widely applied in the retail industry. Earlier today, United States food and drug chain Albertsons Companies announced it will use IBM’s Food Trust blockchain platform to track the supply chain for romaine lettuce, but aims to branch out into other products.

Last month, the U.S. Pork Board partnered with blockchain startup ripe.io to test out a blockchain platform for pork supply chains. The collaboration will ostensibly enable the Board to use a blockchain-based ecosystem to monitor and evaluate sustainability practices, food safety standards, livestock health, and environmental protections.

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How To Create Your First Ethereum Wallet?

If you are a crypto enthusiast and are looking to store Ethereum in a digital wallet, you might be wondering how to go about creating your very first …

Apr 11, 2019 19:30&nbspUTC

| Updated:

Apr 11, 2019 at 19:30&nbspUTC

By&nbspSumedha Bose

If you are a crypto enthusiast and are looking to store Ethereum in a digital wallet, you might be wondering how to go about creating your very first Ethereum wallet?

In that case, we can help you figure out how to go about creating your very own Ethereum wallet. But if you have no clue about why you might possibly need an Ethereum wallet, read on to find out.

An Ethereum wallet can be used to receive Ether tokens and in turn store them. With the advent of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), more people want to find out about new projects to invest in.

An ethereum wallet will allow its user to receive tokens from various new ICOs, via distributions called airdrops. Without it, a user cannot receive these tokens.

You May Also Read: How is Ethereum Different Than Bitcoin?

How To Create Your First Ethereum Wallet: A 5 Step Guide

Step 1

The first step is to visit www.myetherwallet.com.

This site will allow you to create your Ethereum digital wallet. Once you are on the site, you will find a safety popup, which you can either click through or skip by clicking on the corner box.

Once that is done, you will see the option to create a new wallet.

Step 2

To secure your new wallet, you will need to set a password for your wallet. This password needs to be strong and unique so that your wallet is not easily breachable.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.49.04 PM.png

Once you have entered the new password, click on “Create New Wallet”. Note that there is no option to reset your password like is provided for our other accounts. So make sure to either remember it well or note it down somewhere.

Step 3

In the next step, you must download your JSON recovery file. This is the keystore file which is your recovery file. You should ideally store it someplace safe and make sure to keep a backup.

You will require the keystore file, along with your password, to access your wallet. Under no circumstances should you lose this file.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.50.51 PM.png

Step 4

In the next step, you will see your private key. This private key is very important so make sure you save it safely and create a backup somewhere.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.55.45 PM.png

Step 5

Well that’s pretty much it. You will now see many options to login. You can now use either your keystore file or your private key to unlock your wallet. Just upload the file or paste in the private key and enter your password.

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 11.56.47 PM.pngAll done, there you have it! Your first Ethereum wallet is ready.

Here Are Few Articles For You To Read Next:

Sumedha Bose

Sumedha uses words as her crutch to get by in life. She takes a keen interest in debating, dancing and destroying the patriarchy in her free time. She can be contacted at [email protected].

Coinbase CEO Outlines 3 Things Needed For Crypto Mass Adoption

Brian Armstrong, CEO of major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase and prominent individual in the crypto community, has done a lot to move the …

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5 hours agoBy Jeremy Wall 0Comments

Brian Armstrong, CEO of major cryptocurrency exchange Coinbaseand prominent individual in the crypto community, has done a lot to move the cryptocurrency industry forward and is very knowledgable about the space.

When he has something to say, people listen. Which is why he recently held a live ask-me-anything (AMA) session where he answered selected questions submitted by the crypto community.

The AMA ran for 45 minutes and was filled with interesting questions and keen insights.

Armstrong kicked off the AMA with a question of popular demand: what does cryptocurrency need for mass adoption? In response, Armstrong said he believes crypto mass adoption is mostly dependent on 3 things: volatility, scalability, and usability.

Volatility: Crypto Needs More Stable Price Action

The problem with Bitcoin (BTC) and most other cryptocurrencies, other than stablecoins, is that they fluctuate drastically against the US dollar. Take Bitcoin, for example. If on a FOMO-fueled impulse you’d bought $100 worth of Bitcoin in December 2018, you would have just $25 now.

Traditional investors are not comfortable or used to this heavy volatility, which presents a much greater risk for their investable capital. Armstong stated that if the crypto markets continue to swing drastically, traditional investors will be less inclined to get involved.

To combat price volatility, Armstrong suggested that stablecoins can be used as a means of exchange, and that real-world use cases will attract more and more people to crypto, thus reducing its volatility.

Scalability: Crypto Needs to Sustain Visa and PayPal Volumes

The second thing Armstrong believes is critical to crypto mass adoption is scalability solutions.

He started off by saying there are currently 5 to 10 teams working on viable scalability solutions. He named second-layer solutions like the lightning network and next-gen protocols, which he says will begin to come out over the next 6 to 12 months.

These scaling solutions and next-gen protocols will see that cryptocurrencies reach 500-5,000 transactions per second, putting them in competition with the likes of Visa and PayPal level volumes. Once crypto can attain these volume levels, applications with millions of users will be easily supported and mass adoption can occur.

Usability: Crypto Needs To Be Easy

As many people are also aware, using cryptocurrency is not nearly as intuitive as it needs to be for mass adoption. Armstrong explained that there are too many steps when it comes to buying, selling, storing, and securing your cryptocurrency. He stated that retail investors need something that works as well as the popular Chinese app, WeChat.

Adding to this he said:

“We need to get usability simpler and simpler and simpler. Kind of like having the Netscape moment or the iPhone moment.”

Armstrong couldn’t be more right on this point, as previously reported by IIB, 75% of crypto holders still fear the failure of sending transactions while sending crypto. In order for crypto mass adoption to occur, managing your crypto has to be as easy using a common messaging app.

Final Thoughts

Armstrong’s 3 points for crypto mass adoption are being worked on at this very moment. New developments to improve crypto’s scalability, usability, and even volatility are in the works, and Coinbase may be leading the way on this front.

For instance, Coinbase is already known to be one of the most user-friendly crypto exchanges available. What’s more, they are now tackling crypto’s usability and volatility problems with the launch of their new Coinbase Visa card which allows users to spend their crypto in-store and online at millions of merchants.

Crypto mass adoption may be closer than you think, as the solutions to the crypto mass adoption problems are already being developed and released.

Do you think we will begin to see cryptocurrencies being widely adopted among mainstream users this year? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.

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About Jeremy Wall

Jeremy is a financial writer and aspiring investor. He is also a cryptocurrency enthusiast that’s fascinated with blockchain technology and the financial markets. When he’s not researching and learning about cryptocurrency, he’s traveling the world with his dog and girlfriend.

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