News Roundup – Blockchain Innovations and Developments

News Roundup

The following are some of the latest developments and innovations to emerge in the blockchain industry:

Korean blockchain pilot targets shipping logistics in Busan
Two government agencies in South Korea – the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries – are testing a blockchain system aimed at streamlining the handling of shipping containers transiting through the port of Busan, one of the busiest in the world. Designed to eliminate missing data and errors when containers are moved between vessels and terminals, the year-long pilot project is one of six announced by the agencies earlier this year. Depending on the outcome of the pilot, the blockchain system could later be rolled out to other ports and agencies as a way to improve competitiveness, according to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

XYO Network opens blockchain- and DApp-focused innovation lab
XYO Network, a San Diego-based startup focused on decentralised geolocation data, recently opened an innovation lab in Carlsbad that will focus on the “most practical, seamless and innovative use cases” and DApps (decentralised apps) to be used on its blockchain network. Announced Dec 17, XY Labs will initially target development of location-based DApps. On its website, XYO Network says cryptography will help enable trust in the location data needed for self-driving vehicles, package-delivering drones and smart cities, and says it aims to build “the world’s first people-powered location network built on blockchain technology”.

Eight blockchain projects complete Binance Labs’ incubation program
Eight new blockchain projects recently came out of stealth mode after being developed through an incubation programme led by Binance Labs, the venture arm of the cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance. The onsite, 10-week Binance Labs Incubation Program was launched in October 2018 as a way to “help entrepreneurs deliver products with clear product-market fit”, according to Binance. Seven of the eight new blockchain projects, chosen from a field of more than 500, have already shipped working products with the help of $500,000 each in seed funding and access to a wide variety of resources. The eight projects – all of which will be able to pitch onstage during the Jan 21-22 Binance Conference in Singapore – include Akio Labs, Deaux, Decore, Injective, Nym, Path, SafePal and Torus. A second session of Binance Labs’ incubation programme is scheduled to begin in March 2019.

Blockchain-friendly measures could boost New Zealand economy: Report
New Zealand is lagging in its development of a blockchain industry but opportunities could improve through stronger support from “a government willing to engage with it and to clarify how existing rules apply to the emerging industry”, according to a report released Dec 13 by Callaghan Innovation and blockchain venture studio Centrality. “Technology is now New Zealand’s third-biggest export sector, bringing in more than $16 billion a year in overall revenue, with plenty more headroom for further growth,” Callaghan’s Erica Lloyd said in a news announcement. “Technological innovation is the path to lifting our earnings and productivity.” Noting that there is “a reasonable chance that underlying technologies will cause innovations on a scale comparable to the internet, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things”, the report suggested a number of actions that could encourage further growth in the distributed ledger and blockchain industry, including the convening of a cross-agency blockchain working group, unblocking access to banking services for blockchain companies and establishing a multidisciplinary research centre for decentralised computing.

Blockchain a ‘unique environment’ for observing institutional change
Blockchains offer “a unique economic environment for institutional discovery” and entrepreneurial experimentation, according to a study from a trio of researchers with the Blockchain Innovation Hub at Australia’s RMIT University. “The public nature of blockchains – most blockchains offer public transaction – allows us to observe experimentation and competition at an institutional level with a precision previously unavailable compared to other instances of institutional competition,” write Chris Berg, Sinclair Davidson and Jason Potts in a paper presented at the Western Economic Association Conference in Canada this past June. “The standard approach to institutional change has been to exploit natural experiments..., using historical instances to draw conclusions about the causes and consequences of those changes. Blockchains offer a different, and potentially significant approach.”

PayPal tests tokenised reward system for employees
PayPal has been trying out a blockchain-based incentive programme that rewards employees with tradable, internal tokens, according to a Dec 6 report from Cheddar. Launched in mid-November, the programme lets employees redeem tokens for a variety of “experiences” such as a morning martial arts session with PayPal CEO Daniel Schulman. As an early enabler of Bitcoin-based merchant transactions, PayPal has experimented with a number of proofs of concept and blockchain platforms to explore the technology’s potential for financial services.

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