News Roundup – Blockchain Innovations and Developments

News Roundup

What are some of the innovative ways in which organisations are putting blockchain to use? Here are some recent stories in the headlines:

Distilled ID uses blockchain for drinks-related story-telling
The Scottish cloud data company arc-net is enabling the distiller William Grant & Sons to trace its Ailsa Bay Scotch whisky from source to store. Launched in 2018, arc-net’s Distilled ID platform was “born from a desire to protect supply chains and prevent counterfeiting and parallel trading”. William Grant & Sons is using the platform to help guarantee the provenance of its single-malt whisky Ailsa Bay, which it began producing in 2007. “Distilled ID stores operational data on a private blockchain, ensuring it is secure and immutable, providing William Grant with the confidence, and ability, to share every aspect of the Ailsa Bay story and engage directly with their consumers,” Distilled ID’s case study states. “For the consumer, Distilled ID not only provides the scientific facts and tasting notes specific to their bottle of Ailsa Bay but also provides the trust and transparency in the bottle they have purchased.” Other brands using or preparing to use arc-net’s technology include Adelphi, the Irish craft beer maker Downstream, Irish Blackwater gin and Eden Mill.

Binance launches new way to buy cryptocurrencies in Australia
The cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced on 20 March that it is entering the Australian market with the launch of a platform called Binance Lite. The company describes Binance Lite, which is supported by a network of 1,400 convenience stores across Australia, as “a simple way to purchase digital currency and make blockchain-enabled transactions”. It says the new platform is part of Binance’s “ongoing expansion of fiat-to-crypto options for all”. “Australia has been at the forefront of blockchain innovation, and we hope Binance Lite Australia can play a role to help further this cause,” Binance CFO Wei Zhou said in a press release. “We want to see Australia become a Blockchain Continent.”

Singapore accelerator teams up with BMW, Intel, Nielsen
Singapore’s blockchain-focused Tribe Accelerator has partnered with BMW Group Asia, Intel and Nielsen to promote “knowledge sharing” and demos at industry events. According to a press release on 22 March, BMW Group Asia will participate in masterclasses and mentoring sessions to: “[S]hare best practices around innovation and insights in the mobility industry. It will also share how it approaches and integrates new technologies into its business, and how blockchain solutions can be implemented in a mass market situation that is viable for the everyday man.” Intel, meanwhile, plans to work with companies to help them use its own technologies and Nielsen is creating a sandbox for Tribe Accelerator startups. Supported by the Singapore government, Tribe Accelerator is part of the VC firm Trive Ventures. Tribe Accelerator says it selects startups to work with based on the strength of their blockchain use cases and their strategic alignment to the key focus areas of fintech/insurtech, mobility and supply chain, data and telecommunications, and energy and sustainability.

Telefónica, Microsoft to jointly explore new technologies for ‘telco of the future’
Telefónica and Microsoft recently entered into a new partnership aimed at designing the “telco of the future”. Announced at Mobile World Congress in late February, the collaboration will see the two companies work together on developing a variety of new services, and will look for other new opportunities for using artificial intelligence and disruptive technologies such as blockchain, 5G and edge computing. The partnership will include the creation of a joint working team to explore how intelligent technologies can help to optimise networks, reduce costs and drive industry-wide transformation. “[W]e are already using AI to enhance our customer relationships and are really excited to work with Microsoft to further harness the power of Azure AI,” Telefónica chairman and CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete said in a press announcement. “This agreement strengthens our relationship and our common belief that AI technology and the use of data should be based on solid ethical principles and empower people to control their digital lives.”

Renewable energy report includes blockchain among 30 enabling technologies
Blockchain is one of 30 key technologies that could contribute to a more innovative and sustainable future powered by renewable energy, according to a report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report, “Innovation Landscape for a Renewable-Powered Future”, describes blockchain as an enabling technology that could pave the way for lower-cost, smaller-scale and decentralised energy systems while also providing “potential cyber security benefits”. “Currently the most conspicuous application for energy is peer-to-peer energy trading,” the report notes. “However, business models that enable distributed energy resources to provide services to the grid are much stronger so far.” Other key technologies identified in the report include utility-scale batteries, smart charging for electric vehicles, the Internet of Things, AI and big data, peer-to-peer electricity trading, energy-as-a-service and virtual power lines.

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