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



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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Amid IRS bounty and competitor progress, Monero developers ship a major update



First announced in September, Monero developers today went live with a network update featuring a new version of its node software, codenamed ‘Oxygen Orion.’ The product of 30 contributors, the update promises significant improvement across nearly all aspects of the privacy-focused cryptocurrency’s performance. 

The highlight of the new update is the compact linkable spontaneous anonymous group (CLSAG) feature. According to the Monero blog, CLSAG will reduce transaction sizes by 25% and improve transaction times by 10% while maintaining transactional privacy.

The developers wrote: 

“CLSAG enables smaller and faster transactions with rigorous security.” 

In addition to CLSAG, the new update brings security improvements to the network especially with regard to Dandelion ++, which is responsible for hiding user IP addresses.

Technically speaking, Monero updates are hard forks so it is imperative that network participants make sure that their software is up to date. Users who store their XMR in a hardware wallet will need to stay updated with the latest firmware, the blog noted. 

This latest update comes amidst an uncertain outlook for the cryptocurrency due to pressures on multiple fronts. 

In September the U.S Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offer a bounty of up to $ 625,000 to anyone who can crack Monero’s privacy. Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security claimed to have acquired software that can track Monero transactions, though some researchers question the veracity of those claims. 

Meanwhile, rival privacy cryptocurrency Zcash is heading into a halving event sometime this November, which some analysts believe will lead to bullish price action for the competing asset. 

In spite of these headwinds, positive social media sentiment for XMR is up roughly 4% in the past week, according to analytics provided by TheTIE. 

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Germany’s blockchain solution hopes to remedy energy sector limitations




Distributed energy resources, or DERs, have the potential to disrupt traditional electricity markets. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that innovative countries are looking toward emerging technologies that will allow DERs to transform entire energy economies.

Germany in particular is interested in using DERs to drive its digital energy economy while also complying with the European Green Deal. As such, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur, also known as DENA — the main governmental group responsible for energy innovation in Germany — announced plans to trial a blockchain-based solution to construct a digital registry for DERs.

Sara Mamel, senior export in digitalization at DENA, told Cointelegprah that DENA unveiled a pilot project six weeks ago called the “Blockchain Machine Identity Ledger,” or BMIL. According to Mamel, BMIL is being implemented together with Energy Web, a blockchain-focused nonprofit, along with 20 other partners in the energy and blockchain sectors:

“This is a highly ambitious project with the goal of testing an infrastructure layer for the german digital energy system of the future. We want this project to have the biggest impact possible for the energy sector as a whole, which is why we have a highly innovative set-up.”

Blockchain for DER automation

Jesse Morris, the chief customer officer for Energy Web, told Cointelegraph that BMIL will construct a digital registry for DERs in Germany. Examples of DERs include rooftop solar photovoltaic power stations, battery energy storage like the Tesla Powerwall, smart thermostats and electric car charging stations. Morris added:

“For power grids around the world, this represents a massive shift in investment and infrastructure. From a centralized system with a relatively small number of very large power plants to a decentralized system with hundreds of millions of small assets working as part of a larger whole.”

According to Morris, a blockchain-based digital registry for DERs leverages decentralized identifiers that enable assets to self-register in the directory. This allows third parties like DER installers to easily verify claims about certain DERs. This solution should also help grid operators bring DERs into various market applications to provide grid services, which would serve as the basis for streamlined settlements after energy services are delivered.

This is extremely important, especially for a country like Germany, which ranks as the fourth-largest economy worldwide. It’s also interesting to point out that a European Parliament document on DERs suggests that by 2024, global deployment of DERs will have overcome the deployment of centralized energy generation. The document further states that in Germany, renewables produced from DERs hold a significant market share, paving the way for more decentralized energy production.

Pushing blockchain interoperability to its limits

If successfully executed, Morris explained that BMIL could serve as the basis for a wide range of DERs supporting both Germany’s wholesale and retail electricity markets: “This will make it easy, efficient and low cost for any DER in Germany to participate in the energy market. Grid operators and utility providers will also gain access to an untapped decarbonized Germany energy system.”

However, technical challenges remain. Mamel from DENA noted that BMIL is a project built around the premise of interoperability — one of blockchain’s greatest challenges to date. While DENA is technology agnostic, Mamel explained that DENA aims to test a solution that will be applicable to the German energy sector, which already consists of a decentralized framework with many industry players using different standards.

As such, DENA decided to take an interoperability approach to drive Germany’s energy economy, testing two blockchain development environments in BMIL. Both Ethereum and Substrate, the blockchain-building framework for Polkadot, will be applied, along with different concepts regarding decentralized identity protocols. “The results of this experiment remain to be seen, but we are highly confident that we might be setting a new standard for the energy industry as a whole,” said Mamel.

If interoperability challenges are met, the BMIL project could benefit the entire blockchain sector. For instance, Jonathan Waldenfels, a blockchain engineer at Energy Web, told Cointelegraph that one problem in the blockchain space is that there are many use cases running on various different chains. According to Waldenfels, BMIL tries to reflect just this in the pilot project:

“Energy Web looks to innovate in the blockchain space and wants to see how our tech stack, EW-DOS, can integrate with new technologies. For EW, this pilot is a great opportunity to explore how EW-DOS can be utilized across base use cases running on different chains on a shared identity registry. Secondly, it shows how EW-DOS can integrate into new blockchain technologies like Substrate and Polkadot.”

Waldenfels expects this use case to be a likely business architecture moving forward and hopes the energy sector can help the entire crypto industry see what’s possible by combining multiple chains and ecosystems under one umbrella with this project.

What about regulations?

Technical challenges aside, regulatory standards could also prove to be an issue for such solutions. Mamel explained that the German energy sector is among the most complicated and regulated ones in the world. As such, BMIL claims to be fully compliant with all regulations in the German energy sector. “It was of great importance for DENA to work hand in hand with existing regulatory guidelines, trying to enhance and boost existing regulation to the next level by providing interesting use cases to build a bridge between theory and practice,” said Mamel.

However, Mamel noted that important questions remain, such as how to ensure that the BMIL blockchain solution is compatible with the General Data Protection Regulation, along with understanding the regulatory challenges that might come up when DENA attempts a “full roll out” of the Blockchain Machine Identity Ledger in the German energy system.

Although concerns remain, using a blockchain solution for DERs is highly promising. Paul Brody, global innovation lead for blockchain at big four firm Ernst & Young, told Cointelegraph that this is an area of significant opportunity for blockchain technology because the nature of the power grid is changing in a way that elegantly matches the nature of blockchain software: It is becoming decentralized. Brody further noted that every industrial revolution has been closely linked with major developments in information technology:

“If we are going to have an industrial revolution that decentralizes power production and manufacturing with solar panels, batteries, and 3D printers, then it will probably be accompanied by an information technology revolution that is also decentralized.”

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Agriculture giants team up on blockchain platform to track grains in Brazil




The world’s largest grains and oilseeds companies, American giants Bunge and Cargill, have joined together to create the joint venture Covantis, which will use blockchain technology in the agricultural sector in Brazil.

The unprecedented project foresees the exchange of information between all members of Covantis, which also includes the participation of other agribusiness giants such as the French Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), the Chinese state-owned company Cofco International and the Dutch multinational Glencore Agriculture.

Together the companies that make up Covantis move around 550 million tons of grains and oilseeds every year.

The goal of the partnership is to unify the sector’s data and facilitate communication between all participants, improving the logistics processes at the ports, among other things, all using blockchain. The official platform is expected to be launched next year.

Companies negotiate around 500 thousand contracts for purchase and sale each year in Brazil and the first tests for the platform were carried out at the Port of Santos between July and August this year and involved 11 companies, including trading companies, originators and grain producers. Covantis CEO Petya Sechanova said:

“Covantis should become the leader of operations in our sector and will be able to streamline processes, modernize and digitize them.”

According to the CEO, the choice of Brazil was due to the complexity of its market. Speaking to the Valor publication, Sechanova said the country saw “chain sales” or “string sales” taking place, in which dozens of intermediaries needed to act for the shipments to happen, even though only final buyers and senders have contact with the physical shipment.

Marcos Amorim is the director of the contracts committee of the National Association of Cereal Exporters (Anec), whose associated trading companies are actively working with Covantis. He said it’s a complicated and difficult process:

“Imagine that each shipment has both a purchase contract and a sales contract, that there are phytosanitary certificates attached to them and a series of other documents required by different countries. And that ships form lines and must have a certain loading rate. This greatly escalates the operation at the port and the delay at any end implies losses for the entire chain.”

Within the trading companies, the process generates a somewhat messy work flow, that is currently managed by email, phone and WhatsApp. Arrival and departure dates, ship flags and cargo volumes circulate non-stop, especially during peak seasons. But with mistakes happening daily, so too expenses and fines mount up.

But with Covantis all this information circulates using blockchain technology, which, according to its participants, helps the flow of information, prevents fraud and ensures the security of shared data.

Sechanova also says that Covantis’ ambition is to gradually bring together all the grains and oilseeds shipments in bulk from its founding companies in the world.

Argentina and the United States are the next countries in which Covantis plans to use its blockchain solution.

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