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IBM blockchain powers new app to help firms reopen amid pandemic

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A new application powered by the IBM blockchain aims to help people around the world return to physical encounters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

IBM Watson Health, a healthcare-focused arm of tech giant IBM, is launching IBM Digital Health Pass, a blockchain-based app to support global organizations and companies as they start reopening after months of lockdown.

IBM Watson stated that the new app can deploy multiple data types like COVID-19 test results and onsite temperature scans to generate a verified health status. With the opportunity to verify health status via the app, individuals can safely access public locations like a sports stadium, airplanes, museums or amusement parks, IBM’s representatives said.

Eric Piscini, vice president of the blockchain division at IBM Watson Health, emphasized that IBM Digital Health Pass is designed to support privacy as its core feature. According to the executive, the app will allow users to share their verified health pass without exposing any of the underlying data used to generate it:

“We believe that trust and transparency remain paramount when developing a platform like a digital health passport, or any solution that handles sensitive personal information, and we remain committed to this philosophy as we continue to build solutions to help support organizations during the current public health crisis.”

This is not the first time that IBM blockchain has been used to help people tackle COVID-19. Earlier this year, IBM also launched IBM’s Rapid Supplier Connect network — a cloud-based application that uses blockchain to assist businesses providing coronavirus relief supplies to connect with buyers.



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In China, most blockchain R&D funds are going toward this segment

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A report published by Securities Daily explained how China’s publicly-listed companies spend the millions they have allocated toward blockchain R&D. The study surveyed 23 companies in China who began working with blockchain back in 2016. Figures suggest that companies allocate an average 20% of their annual revenues toward such purposes. The majority of these funds are spent to further government-related solutions.

The report highlighted that Yuanguang Software, an enterprise software provider, have increased their related research spending by around $24.3 million since 2016. Other companies, such as Xinchen Technology, have actively spent funds on blockchain-related government research projects in an effort to strengthen the nation’s financial sector.

Chen Xiaohua, the chairman of the China Mobile Communications Federation’s Blockchain Professional Committee, commented on how blockchain interest has grown amongst publicly-listed Chinese companies:

“Listed companies can use blockchain technology to improve their products on the one hand. Awareness and brand promotion, on the other hand, use blockchain technology to improve its own technological level, break the structural constraints of the traditional Internet model, and an in-depth layout of the digital economy.”

According to a report titled “2020 Blockchain Industry Development”, Chinese companies have applied for 4,435 blockchain patents — over half of all global blockchain patents. This surge in interest followed Chinese president Xi Jinping’s endorsement of the industry.



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An encryption study revealed a surprising fact about blockchain adoption in Mexico

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A report called “Encryption Trends in Mexico 2020/2021” surveyed a total of 353 representatives from companies throughout Mexico.

The study, published by privacy research center the Ponemon Institute, indicated that 40% of the Mexican companies surveyed were looking to adopt blockchain and cryptocurrencies in some form. Out of this segment, 71% were focused specifically on crypto usage.

The figures also showed that 51% of these companies were intent on implementing blockchain for asset management and transaction handling purposes, while 37% expressed an interest in the implementation of smart contracts. Many of these companies could ultimately use blockchain to improve their security systems and guarantee proper encryption processes, the study said.

Though Mexico is not often viewed as a major blockchain player on a global scale, the country has played an active and ongoing role in terms of adoption. In September, Mexico announced plans to enable a blockchain-based electronic voting system for certain citizens residing abroad. The county aims to make this available in time for its 2021 election cycle.

Cointelegraph Spanish reported in August that Mexican companies had raised over $1.3 billion in the fintech sector. Part of these funds went toward blockchain technology development within the country.



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With job listing, Canada’s central bank takes additional steps towards a CBDC

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The Bank of Canada is looking to hire an economist who has a deep knowledge of financial technology and digital currencies, potentially signaling the latest in a series of steps towards a Canadian Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). 

According to the bank’s official page, the economist’s duties will be to monitor and analyze the latest developments related to electronic funds and payments, implement research projects, prepare analytical notes, and work on the “potential development of a CBDC.”

The Bank has defined a set of requirements that the applicant must meet, among which are an in-depth knowledge of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other major cryptocurrency platforms, as well as familiarity with traditional payments systems like card networks, merchant acquirers, and point of sale technologies. 

The applicant must also have experience in handling and analyzing public blockchain data and analyzing consumer survey data.

Oct. 25th, 2020 is the deadline for receiving applications.

The Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Canada, Timothy Lane, has recently called on central banks worldwide to issue their own digital currencies, highlighting their importance for the economy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. At the Central Bank Payments Conference Lane also said that Canada’s CBDC development was progressing at “a good pace.”

In laying the foundation for a CBDC, the Bank joins the Bank of England, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan, among others, who have also begun conducting research into the viability of CBDCs. 



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