What are the latest blockchain-based innovations to make headlines around the world? We review a variety of recent announcements:
Medicine-tracing app wins Columbia Alliance blockchain challenge
Meditect, a decentralised system to ensure the traceability of medicines in developing countries, recently won the Columbia Alliance programme’s first-ever Blockchain Innovation Challenge. The $30,000 prize will help support the development of the Meditect project, created by researchers at France’s Sciences Po research university. The Meditect app is currently being used in West Africa. “The next step for Meditect is to bring our solution to the market,” co-founder Romain Renard said in a Sciences Po interview. “We are thrilled to announce that we have just signed a contract with a first major client. We are now launching our solution in Ivory Coast, allowing pharmacists and patients to check the authenticity of their medicine thanks to our free app. In the near future, our objective is to partner with more pharmaceutical companies to secure their medicine distribution and expand to other Sub-Saharan countries such as Senegal, Burkina Faso and Mali.” The Columbia Alliance is a transatlantic partnership between Columbia University and Sciences Po, École Polytechnique and Panthéon-Sorbonne University.
France eyes €4.5 billion for ‘breakthrough innovations’ in next five years
The French government is making it a priority to develop the nation’s blockchain ecosystem, finance minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, that was held on 16-17 April. Over the next five years, Le Maire said in an interview with the French business magazine Capital, the state plans to invest €4.5 billion in “breakthrough innovations, including blockchain technologies”. He added, “It is an important commitment. The goal is to take a technological lead to be able to fight, French and European, against the Chinese and American technological giants. Blockchain technologies are evolving very fast. To avoid wasting time, funding has already been proposed in the form of calls for projects.” The government this spring has already launched an innovation growth competition to support projects, “particularly in the context of blockchain technology”, Le Maire said. Earlier in April, the French government approved legislation that promotes blockchain development and also creates a legal framework for token issuers, Invest in Blockchain reported.
ITIF: To promote blockchain innovation, policymakers must have ‘firm grasp’ of technology
Policymakers “can and should do more to support blockchain innovation and adoption, such as ensuring regulations are targeted and flexible, so as to encourage blockchain experimentation”, according to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) a US-based think tank that hosted a panel discussion on 30 April in Washington, DC, along with members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. “Blockchain is moving from hype to reality,” Daniel Castro, ITIF vice president and co-author of the report, said in a press announcement. “Given the potential magnitude of its impact, policymakers need to understand how it works and why it matters. Many regulations, from tax policy to data protection, will have an impact on blockchain adoption. If policymakers do not have a firm grasp on the technology, they will be unable to facilitate the continued roll out of blockchain in the public and private sectors.” To promote blockchain innovation and adoption, the report recommends – among other things – setting rules at the national level, promoting data interoperability and working to harmonise blockchain regulations internationally.
UAE certification paves way for blockchain-based payments
The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Telecommunications Regulatory Authority recently issued a telecom equipment registration certificate that will allow the Singapore-based Pundi X to roll out its blockchain-based point-of-sale technology across the country. That decision paves the way for “wider adoption of XPOS in the UAE, Middle East and North Africa”, the company said in a post on Medium on 29 April. The UAE certification was issued to Digital Force Pro (DFP) Information Technologies and Ebooc Fintech & Loyalty Labs. “In particular, this rollout will see the implementation of XPOS across several industries – retail, consumer, industries, banking and finance, etc., across the city, in turn allowing people to pay all related utility bills, school fees, and their daily needs through the state-of the art blockchain point-of-sales equipment in the fastest, easiest and most secure fashion, using multiple digital currencies and assets,” Abdalla Al Shamsi, CEO of DFP and co-founder of Ebooc Fintech, said on Medium. Together, Pundi X and Ebooc plan to deploy XPOS and XPASS cards in Dubai, enabling users to conduct blockchain-based transactions across the city.
NTT opens innovation lab in Tokyo, with another planned for Bangkok
The Japanese telecommunications company NTT recently announced the launch of its Nexcenter Lab programme in Tokyo to promote innovation focused on digital transformation. The programme will provide participating companies with access to proof-of-concept environments for testing and verifying new technologies – including blockchain and deep learning – so they can bring new offerings to market more quickly. NTT Communications Thailand plans to open a similar innovation lab in Bangkok in the second quarter, BlockTribune reported on 26 April. The publication noted that the innovation lab will “reportedly serve as preventive maintenance for smart factories and blockchain solutions for financial and insurance sectors”.
GFIN unveils next steps for financial innovation tests
The Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), which launched in January, recently announced its next steps for cross-border testing of innovative financial technology pilots. After reviewing 44 applications from 17 participating regulators, the GFIN plans to work with eight firms to develop plans for testing that will include live transactions. Among those firms, three have proposed tests using blockchain technology: Alphapoint, whose products “support the requirements for issuance, custody and trading of digital assets with liquidity across multiple exchanges”; Coinvestion, which provides a platform allowing securities- and fractional-ownership-based real estate investments; and Tradle, a platform to help financial institutions meet KYC (know-your-customer) and other regulatory obligations.