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  • Fri, Oct 19, 2018 Crypto Accepted as Payment for Elon Musk’s Flamethrower, No More ETH Giveaways

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    Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is now accepting payments of various cryptocurrencies to purchase its handheld flamethrower and accessories.

    Buy a Flamethrower with Bitcoin or Ethereum from Elon Musk
    The sub-heading above reads as crazy as one of Elon Musk’s tweets, but it’s entirely true. The product pages for Elon Musk’s The Boring Company have been updated to include cryptocurrency logo icons indicating that the likes of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Ethereum are accepted as forms of payment. This is alongside more traditional means like Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, and PayPal.

    The Boring Company is an infrastructure and tunnel construction company founded by eccentric and controversial serial entrepreneur Elon Musk. Among the products it sells on its website includes a flamethrower and safety accessories such as gloves, propane tank refills, and in the case of an emergency situation, a 5lb fire extinguisher.

    All proceeds of the sales of the currently on-sale, $500 flamethrower, will go toward funding digging tunnels to house Musk’s Hyperloop transportation system.

    Musk is infatuated with many means of transportation, from underground tunnels running under Los Angeles, to energy-efficient self-driving Telsa motorcars, to his ambitious Space X project that could lead to the colonization of neighboring planet Mars. Musk also began designing a miniature submarine in an attempt to save 12 Thai boys who were trapped in a cave back in July.


    Elon Musk Burning Bridges with SEC Via Twitter, What Will Scambots Do?
    Musk first announced the Flamethrower via his Twitter soapbox back in December, a platform that has caused quite a stir for the Tesla and Space X founder. The quirky entrepreneur got himself into a world of trouble with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for tweeting in relation to his automobile manufacturing company Tesla.

    His tweets forced Musk to have to settle with the SEC in court for $20 million in fines. The settlement also sees Musk stepping down as chairman of Tesla for three years, and includes a stipulation that all Elon Musk tweets must be reviewed and approved by a Musk-appointed lawyer.

    With Musk muzzled on the popular social media platform, Twitter scambots that often pose as the Space X CEO to run their “ETH giveaway” scams might be out of luck.

    In the scam, scammers pretend to be prominent figures across various industries in an attempt to steal user’s cryptocurrencies in a scheme that involves sending a specified amount of cryptocurrency to an address in return for a larger amount. Only the larger amount is never sent, and the scammers make off with investor’s assets.

    After first praising the scambots for having “mad skills,” Musk hit his frustration limit and reached out to Dogecoin creator Jackson Palmer last month, imploring him to help keep the scam under control. However, now that Musk can no longer speak freely on Twitter, and with the public knowing that Musk’s tweets are filtered through a lawyer, the frequency of these scammers posing as Musk should diminish over the coming weeks – even if Musk does now have some extra crypto laying around from the sales of his flamethrower.

  • Thu, Oct 18, 2018 UK-Based Global Security Firm G4S Announces Crypto Custody Solution

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    Multinational security company G4S has announced that it has been working on a custody solution for cryptocurrencies.

    The firm is the latest in a long list of those seeking to address one of the largest perceived problems in the digital asset space – secure storage.

    G4S to Join Goldman Sachs, Bakkt, and Others in Crypto Custody Sector
    According to a report in the Financial Times, U.K.-based security firm G4S has just launched a cryptocurrency custody solution.

    Known for operating a network of prisons, providing event security, and storing large amounts of cash for a number of companies, the global security service provider’s crypto protection offering will be the firm’s first product tailored to the ever-expanding digital asset industry.

    It has long been argued that the lack of trusted custody solutions represents one of the largest barriers to institutional cash entering the cryptocurrency market.


    So far in 2018, many existing cryptocurrency firms, as well as those associated with more traditional finance, have proposed their own takes on a solution to the problem. The likes of Coinbase, Goldman Sachs, Bakkt (a venture backed by the ICE, owners of the NYSE), and several others have all announced services addressing the need for security measures tailored to those who do not feel comfortable setting up their own digital asset storage solutions.

    Perhaps the most exciting name to announce a cryptocurrency custody solution is Fidelity Investments. The multi-trillion-dollar asset management firm stated earlier this week that they would be launching “enterprise-quality” custody for digital currencies, along with a trading desk.

    According to Carbon Black, a U.S.-based cybersecurity firm, around $1.1 billion of cryptocurrency was stolen in the first half of 2018.

    Much of this has been taken from various exchanges that have had their security compromised by hackers. The likes of G4S, Bakkt, and Goldman Sachs are all hoping that their approaches to securing digital assets will encourage institutional investors put off by the stories of the cyber theft of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to take up positions in the market.

    G4S plans to offer a “secure vault storage” service that can be accessed anywhere in the world. It will add additional protection by fragmenting private keys and storing them in different locations. According to the Financial Times report, the pricing of the service will be based on the number of different offline storage devices requested by each client.

    Dominic MacIver, a senior risk analyst at G4S, spoke about the custody service in a statement:

    “The [crypto] sector has attracted the same old threats for financial systems including robbers, scammers, market manipulators and many others… Our innovative security solution helps protect against some of those threats by taking the assets offline and storing them in high-security vaults.”

    Featured image from Shutterstock.

  • Wed, Oct 17, 2018 19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippine Economic Zone

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    Nineteen firms have been granted provisional licenses to operate crypto exchanges by the Philippine government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority. In addition, eight firms have paid the application fees and are being reviewed. A list of all 27 companies has been published.

    Provisional Licenses Issued
    19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippines Economic ZoneThe Philippine government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) on Friday published a list of all companies that have been issued Financial Technology Solutions and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ftsovc) and Offshore Virtual Currency (Ovc) licenses as well as those that have paid the application fees and are being reviewed.

    As of Oct. 12, a total of 19 companies have received provisional licenses — 17 were issued provisional principal licenses while two were issued provisional regular licenses. Ceza detailed:

    Provisional principal licenses [allow licensees] to conduct offshore financial technology solutions business activities and offshore virtual currency exchange activities … Provisional regular licenses [allow them] to conduct offshore virtual currency exchange activities.

    19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippines Economic ZoneThe Philippine News Agency previously noted that “A principal license for Ftsovc operation under Ceza is priced [at] USD360,000, while a regular license is at USD85,000.”

    Ceza Corporate Board Secretary Catherine Joy Alameda explained in July that provisional licenses are valid for six months. A company “will be able to acquire its permanent license when it is able to fully comply with the requirements of Ceza,” she described.

    Licensees must have authorized capital stock of $500,000 with paid-in capital of $200,000. Furthermore, Ceza “requires each cryptocurrency exchange to invest at least USD1 million in a period of two years and must put up a back office in the Philippines,” the news agency wrote.

    The 19 Licensees
    19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippines Economic ZoneThe 17 companies that have been granted Ftsovc provisional principal licenses are Golden Millennial Quickpay, Ultra Precise Investment, Liannet Technology, Rare Earth Asia Technologies Corp., Formosa Financial Holdings, Tanzer Holdings, Asia Premiere International, Orient Express Global, White Ranch Limited, Dragon Empire Developments, Galaxy Plus Developments, Tiger Wheel, Ipe Global, Cr8tiv Solutions Management, Sino-phil Economic Zone Agency Development and Management Corp., Digifin Technologies, and Hong Kong Yuen Shing Hong.

    The two recipients of Ovc provisional regular licenses are Cezex Trading Pte. Ltd. and Unicorn Venture Investment Ltd.

    8 Firms Being Reviewed
    Ceza is also currently reviewing eight companies that have already paid the application fees for the two types of licenses.

    19 Companies Licensed to Operate Crypto Exchanges in Philippines Economic ZoneSix companies being reviewed for provisional principal licenses are Bitventures Inc., Mbex Inc., Idragon Science Development Corp., Seryna Coin Metrics Inc., Lideres Inc., and Cx Tech Pte. Ltd.

    Two companies, Csm Corp. and Birdmouse Co. Ltd., are being reviewed for provisional regular licenses.

    In July, Ceza announced that “about 20,000 jobs in financial technology (fintech) will open up as soon as it awards the initial 25 principal licenses to be made available to qualified fintech companies,” the Philippine News Agency wrote, elaborating:

    Ceza expects to earn PHP3.6 billion [$66.6 million] from the initial 25 Ftsovc licenses that it will issue, on top of the 0.1 percent share per transaction value generated from the operation of the fintech firms.

    In August, Ceza partnered with Northern Star Gaming and Resorts Inc. to develop a crypto and fintech hub called Crypto Valley of Asia.

  • Tue, Oct 16, 2018 Cryptogro users will be able to participate in trading Whycoin.

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    Japanese technology multinational Sony revealed it is working on a blockchain-powered extension of its digital rights management system Monday, Oct. 15. The project is a joint endeavor with both Sony Music Entertainment Japan and Sony Global Education.

    The as yet unnamed project — the commercialization of which is currently being “considered” — specifically targets “managing rights-related information of written works.”

    The announcement comes around a year after Sony announced its original blockchain product for education data, when it partnered with fellow technology giant IBM.

    The press release notes that this “new system” is built off of Sony and Sony Global education’s previously developed system for “authenticating, sharing, and rights management of educational data, and additionally features functionality for processing rights-related information.”

    In the Oct. 15 press release, Sony notes that “advances in technologies for digital content creation allow anyone to broadcast and share content,” adding:

    “But the rights management of that content is still carried out conventionally by industry organizations or the creators themselves, necessitating a more efficient way of managing and demonstrating ownership of copyright-related information for written works.”

    The convoluted process of protecting digital rights from falsification has led to various blockchain projects being developed, each targeting a slightly different niche within the larger sphere.

    The exact nature of the blockchain to be used by Sony, meanwhile, remains unclear, with the company describing the technology more generally as a way to “record verifiable information in a difficult to falsify way.”

    “Sony Group is also considering innovative ways to make use of blockchain technology for information management and data distribution in a host of different fields,” it added.

    In August, the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) released two Sony patents that had been filed for boosting blockchain-based ecosystems.

  • Mon, Oct 15, 2018 Leading Auction House Christie's to Record Art Sales on a Blockchain

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    London-based Christie's, one of the oldest and most noted art auction houses in the world, is turning to blockchain tech to securely store sales and provenance data.

    The firm, which has a history going back to 1766, announced in a press release Thursday that it is collaborating with blockchain-powered digital art registry Artory to pilot the encrypted recording of auction transactions.

    The pilot program will register Christie's upcoming autumn sale of artworks from the Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, a privately-held collection of 20th century Modernist American art, which is estimated to bring in $300 million in total.

    Artory's blockchain platform will store data from each sale, including the item's title, description, final price and date. The startup will also provide a digital certificate of the transaction.

    Christie's will then issue each buyer a registration card to access the encrypted information about their purchased artwork.

    Richard Entrup, chief information officer at Christie's said:

    "Our pilot collaboration with Artory is a first among the major global auction houses, and reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology."

    Artory said in a blog post that its blockchain registry offers a "secure digital record of transactions, with a goal of providing greater confidence in an artwork's ongoing provenance and greater efficiency in its eventual resale."

    Christie's offers around 350 auctions annually and handled sales of $4 billion in the first half of 2018, according to the release.

    Blockchain technology is gaining momentum across the art industry. Last month, Andy Warhol's 14 Small Electric Chairs (1980) painting, was tokenized and sold on a blockchain using an ethereum smart contract.

  • Sun, Oct 14, 2018 Hundreds of ICOs Being Secretly Investigated by SEC, Claims Report

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    Hundreds of startups are reportedly being “secretly” targeted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their involvement with initial coin offerings. Companies that participated in ICOs are now scrambling to clarify whether their token constituted a security, and, if so, whether it was properly registered with or exempted by the SEC.

    SEC ‘Tightens the Noose’ on Startups That Used an ICO
    Hundreds of ICOs Being Secretly Investigated by SEC, Claims ReportYahoo Finance and Decrypt claims that “Hundreds of startups that did token sales are finding out they’re in violation of securities law— including many that were sure they did it the right way.”

    The auspicious beginning of the present year came with subpoenas, characterized by the Commission as informational in scope. There appears to be more than mere cataloging of the crypto landscape, as “the Securities and Exchange Commission has significantly widened its crackdown on certain initial coin offerings, putting hundreds of cryptocurrency startups at risk.” The agency “has returned to many of those companies, and subpoenaed many more—focusing on those that failed to properly ensure they sold their token exclusively to accredited investors,” Decrypt notes.

    Formal litigation can be costly, taxing a given regulatory bureaucracy’s workload and clogging up courts and judges. It also appears the agency is at first moving to have suspected companies in violation settle. “In response,” Roberts explains, “dozens of companies have quietly agreed to refund investor money and pay a fine. But many startups that have been subpoenaed say they are left in the dark struggling to satisfy the SEC’s demands, and are uncertain of how others are handling it, according to conversations with more than 15 industry sources.”

    IPOs Died in the US, Startups Resorted to ICOs
    Compounding matters is how this widespread investigation was unearthed: anonymous sources due to the fact the agency formally “restricts them from discussing the matter,” Decrypt insists. Initial coin offerings are a twist on initial public offerings, IPOs, which have been effectively strangled out of existence in the United States within just the last few decades. Legacy American stock markets, for example, have something close to half the number of public companies listed as they might have otherwise.

    'Secret' US Investigations into 'Hundreds' of ICOs, SEC 'Tightens Noose,' According to Report

    Saddled with regulations, barriers to entry and countless legal frictions only hordes of lawyers can battle, smaller companies have been priced out of the IPO model for bringing a business to public market in the US. Instead, those that might have participated at one point wait in the queue at merger and acquisition wings of established juggernauts. That, or they leave the US altogether and try their hand in places such as Hong Kong, which has, sure enough, seen an IPO boom recent years.

    ICOs, then, are at least part of a response to that environment. Unaccredited investors, with minimal friction, have accomplished in ICOs at least two things most analysts agree: financial democratization and innovation, but at the expense of a wildcat space filled with scams. A startup can in a manner of clicks become presentable enough to sell a proprietary digital token quickly.

    A Game of Definitions
    About a month after subpoenas were sent by the agency, Chairman Jay Clayton seemed to make the regulator’s opinion going forward very clear. During a Senate hearing on the subject of cryptocurrencies, Clayton stated flatly, “I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security.” But what constitutes an ICO then becomes the question if every initial coin offering is subject to their jurisdiction. The agency “does not care” about semantics, the report scolds, even though some “companies that did ICOs called their offering something else, such as a ‘utility token’ or a ‘SAFT’ (Simple Agreement for Future Tokens, an ICO method in which investors buy a reservation for tokens yet to be launched).”

    'Secret' US Investigations into 'Hundreds' of ICOs, SEC 'Tightens Noose,' According to Report

    Due to the cat and mouse nature of the space, “It is hard to say precisely how many ICOs occurred during the past four years,” Decrypt acknowledges. Thousands for sure, and more than “$20 billion has been raised in ICOs to date, but the ICO boom peaked in January 2018. Concerns over the legality of token sales have had a chilling effect.”

    However, it is well known that all US firms anywhere near to offering a security are governed by the SEC in one form or another. And the agency does offer a formal exemption which asks participation be limited to vaunted “accredited investors” who earn more than $200,000 per year, for two years, and hold a net worth of at least $1 million – factors that probably led the company to seek an ICO in the first place. At that same Senate hearing, Clayton was asked how many had sought SEC approval. The answer came back ominously: almost none.

  • Sat, Oct 13, 2018 AUSTRAC Investigates Cryptocurrency Exchanges

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    AUSTRAC Investigates Cryptocurrency Exchanges
    Australia’s financial regulator, the Australian Transactions Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), is tightening up surveillance on cryptocurrency exchanges as sophisticated criminals leverage digital currencies to send money internationally. According to the ABC Radio Program broadcast on October 9, 2018, cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia are being investigated since global risks concerning money laundering, terror financing, and cybercrime are becoming increasingly large problems in the country.

    AUSTRAC Concerned About Money Laundering
    According to Brad Brown, the deputy chief executive of AUSTRAC, any cryptocurrency exchange or provider operating in Australia needs to be registered with AUSTRAC. Furthermore, they need to be a proper business with a clear business model, possess an electronic footprint and meet anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) compliance and reporting obligations.

    These AML and CTF compliance and reporting obligations are very serious in Australia. In a report released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) in August 2017, the ACIC noted that digital currencies are increasingly used as a popular medium of exchange by organized crime groups. The idea that digital currencies are pseudo-anonymous and can be sold easily online without the need for a financial institution is a very attractive offering to criminals.

    With growing concerns surrounding criminals, cryptocurrencies, and money laundering activities, in April 2018, the Australian Government provided AUSTRAC the powers to police cryptocurrency exchanges. AUSTRAC noted that, when it comes to the AML/CTF Act, it’s required for cryptocurrency exchanges to collect information concerning their customer’s identity, monitor transactions, and report any activity that appears suspicious such as large cash amounts exceeding $100,000.

    Nicole Rose, AUSTRAC’s CEO, mentioned that the cryptocurrency exchange community was open to the new laws. Although there were concerns that new regulations could limit the growth and innovation of the cryptocurrency sector, the community was overall pleased with the reforms as they were designed to protect businesses from money laundering and terrorist financing, while strengthening consumer confidence in the cryptocurrency sector.

    In April 2018, there were currently less than 100 cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia. ABC reported that approximately 20 cryptocurrency exchanges have registered with the financial regulator during that month.

    Although it’s only been six months, AUSTRAC now regulates over 150 cryptocurrencies exchange providers.

    While Brown was firm on monitoring cryptocurrency exchanges, he, however, acknowledged that there are increasing uses of digital currencies that can provide greater financial inclusion around the world. Brown also mentioned that there more vendors who are accepting of popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin as a medium of exchange and storage of value, which over time increases the legitimacy and use of these tokens.

  • Thu, Oct 11, 2018 Bitcoin Cash Advocate Roger Ver Considers Launching Own Exchange

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    Digital-coin wallet provider Bitcoin.com plans to buy or develop its own exchange, according to Chief Executive Officer Roger Ver.

    The early investor in Bitcoin, who courted controversy last year when he switched his allegiance to an offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, said he’s considering finding a partner to produce the platform, or may “build one internally,” in an interview in Malta. He gave few other details.

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    Digital-coin wallet provider Bitcoin.com plans to buy or develop its own exchange, according to Chief Executive Officer Roger Ver.

    The early investor in Bitcoin, who courted controversy last year when he switched his allegiance to an offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, said he’s considering finding a partner to produce the platform, or may “build one internally,” in an interview in Malta. He gave few other details.




    “If we build it ourselves, we can do it really, really cheap, and we get exactly what we want,” he said of the the firm’s early-stage plans. “But we don’t have the security of a battle-tested exchange that’s been around for a while.”

    Ver, an early promoter and investor in Bitcoin, is expecting to tap the traffic already running through his website for services ranging from news to wallet operations. He may also be seeking a way to increase adoption of Bitcoin Cash, which has struggled to gain traction after it was spun off in 2017. It may be facing a split of its own later this year.

    Ver said Bitcoin Cash would be the base-currency for the exchange.

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    Digital-coin wallet provider Bitcoin.com plans to buy or develop its own exchange, according to Chief Executive Officer Roger Ver.

    The early investor in Bitcoin, who courted controversy last year when he switched his allegiance to an offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, said he’s considering finding a partner to produce the platform, or may “build one internally,” in an interview in Malta. He gave few other details.




    “If we build it ourselves, we can do it really, really cheap, and we get exactly what we want,” he said of the the firm’s early-stage plans. “But we don’t have the security of a battle-tested exchange that’s been around for a while.”

    Ver, an early promoter and investor in Bitcoin, is expecting to tap the traffic already running through his website for services ranging from news to wallet operations. He may also be seeking a way to increase adoption of Bitcoin Cash, which has struggled to gain traction after it was spun off in 2017. It may be facing a split of its own later this year.

    Ver said Bitcoin Cash would be the base-currency for the exchange.


    The exchange “will be posted on Bitcoin.com so we’ll have thousands or tens of thousands of new users every single day,” he said.

    Bitcoin.com has become less attractive in the second half of the year than it was in the first, according to data published by Alexa.com, an online traffic analytics firm owned by Amazon.com Inc.

  • Wed, Oct 10, 2018 VENEZUELA BITCOIN TRADING HITS NEW RECORD AS MADURO CONFIRMS PETRO LAUNCH

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    Venezuela posted its largest-ever Bitcoin trading volumes last week, data compiled October 6 confirms, as the country announced several new economic shake-ups.

    7 DAYS, $7 MILLION
    Statistics covering P2P trading platform Localbitcoins show that Venezuelans converted a total of 1073 BTC ($7.1 million) in the week ending Saturday — the most since records began in 2013.

    The previous record came in September with 898 BTC ($5.95 million) exchanged during week three, with the following week taking third place with 879 BTC ($5.82 million), Bitcoinist reported at the time.

    Traders continue to turn to cryptocurrency in Venezuela to circumvent the government’s increasing stranglehold on the economy and rampant hyperinflation which persists despite a currency redenomination in August.

    Petro, the country’s highly-controversial government-issued cryptocurrency, is set for a rebranding and release in November, President Nicolas Maduro announced October 2.



    PETRO FAILS TO CONVINCE
    On Friday meanwhile, vice president Delcy Rodriguez revealed the next step towards reliance on Petro, stating all new passport applications and extensions could only be paid using it from today.

    The price of a new passport will be 2 petros (7200 sovereign bolivars, currently $115) — roughly four times the national minimum wage, Bloomberg notes. Extensions will cost 1 petro.

    A migration police force, ostensibly aiming to “preserve citizen security and migratory control,” will also appear, as statistics show 5000 citizens flee Venezuela every day.

    Petro’s identity problems continue to plague the project at international level and among ordinary citizens critical of the Maduro regime.

    In August, sources told tech publication Wired that the cryptocurrency constituted was worse in nature than the hyperinflated Reichsmark in Germany during the Weimar Republic.

    Tied to oil reserves, the publication also noted state oil company PDVSA’s debts totaled $45 billion — far in excess of Petro’s alleged $5.9 billion market cap.

    “To put it bluntly: it’s a scam on top of another scam,” Wired summarized.

  • Tue, Oct 9, 2018 IBM's Food Blockchain Is Going Live With a Supermarket Giant on Board

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    IBM is taking its food-tracking blockchain into production, making it one of the largest enterprise projects to achieve that milestone, and has signed European supermarket giant Carrefour to use it.

    Announced Monday, the commercial launch of IBM Food Trust means that large players, as well as small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the food industry supply chain, can now join the network for a subscription fee ranging from $100 to $10,000 a month.

    And many SMEs may have a stronger incentive to participate now that Carrefour, which operates 12,000 stores in 33 countries, is on board. The retailer will track and trace its own branded products in France, Spain and Brazil, before expanding to other countries by 2022.

    "For us, it's a matter of sense for the consumer," Emmanuel Delerm, blockchain program director at Carrefourm told CoinDesk. "It's really this that will push us to say to our producers or partners or suppliers, will they come on the platform? It's really consumer-orientated; it's really for them that we are doing this."

    Yet Carrefour is only the latest food company with supply chain clout to sign up for IBM Food Trust. Others include Nestle, Dole Food, Tyson Foods, Kroger, Unilever – and not least of all the U.S. big-box behemoth Walmart. Notably, Walmart has already flexed its muscle, telling leafy-greens suppliers last month that they must integrate with the network by September 2019 and citing an e.coli outbreak as an urgent reason to improve transparency.

    Describing the fruits of more than a year's work, Ramesh Gopinath, IBM's vice president of blockchain solutions, told CoinDesk,

    "IBM Food Trust is the first production blockchain at real scale and we are super-excited to finally be making the product available broadly."

    Indeed, the one other enterprise blockchain of comparable heft to go live is we.trade, the trade finance consortium of 12 global banks, which entered production in late June.

    The mainstay of the IBM Food Trust commercial offering, explained Gopinath, is the ability to trace items backward and forward through the supply chain. This means the apples in a brand of baby food, for example, can be pinpointed back to a particular batch and orchard; then, in the event of, say, contamination, the trace can go forward to recall the whole range of products that might be affected.

    "That obviously requires the growers, the suppliers, and the retailers all to be part of the solution, sending in information in a trusted and permissioned fashion and we link it all together," said Gopinath.

    So far, 3 million transactions have been processed on the ledger during 18 months of testing, and now that it's gone live, Gopinath is confident that "if anything it will be ten times faster."

    Top of the food chain?
    IBM Food Trust is without doubt leading the track-and-trace food space. The network was built using the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain protocol (which Big Blue contributed to the Hyperledger project). But there will likely be others in the race, including some which may also emerge from within the Hyperledger commmunity.

    Also gathering momentum is Sawtooth, the codebase donated to Hyperledger by Intel. Indeed, if you take the time to inspect the Sawtooth Supply Chain GitHub repository, in July of this year there were 15 code commits from U.S. food giant Cargill, involving some kind of track and trace project; the word "fish" is mentioned. Asked if a proof of concept was forthcoming on Sawtooth, Cargill declined to comment.

    But in any case, IBM's Gopinath was sanguine about other Fortune 100 companies working on possible solutions, adding that interoperability is an ultimate goal.

    "All of that, in my view, is good news," he said. "It's affirmation that path we started on three plus years ago is the right one. And back when we started out, we have always had interoperability in mind."

    He also pointed to data sharing standards like GS1 which means the necessary work will be done up front. Gopinath added,

    "I'd love it if IBM Food Trust was the only platform out there for this, but we are not that naive. If there's another one that is as good and as mature as Food Trust out there then absolutely we will be happy to do the interop."

    Chicken and egg
    Carrefour's Delerm said the supermarket chain worked on its own blockchain for more than a year, mainly using internal engineer teams, before switching to IBM's.

    "Being a retailer we knew that IBM was working with Walmart on IBM Food Trust in the U.S. primarily," he said.

    As such, Carrefour saw scope to widen the range of products it was already working on, such as the way it currently verifies production of free-range chicken in the Auvergne region in central France.

    "As of today, we have three products in France that since the start of the year we have been delivering to consumers all the information: tomatoes, chicken and eggs, and we added recently the chicken also in Italy," said Delerm.

    In addition to the existing Carrefour Quality Lines live on the blockchain, the plan is to use IBM Food Trust to include international brands, said Delerm, such as some of those already working with Food Trust like Nestle and Unilever, as well as exploring organic produce-tracking.

    Growing adoption
    Also joining Food Trust on Monday are the cooperative Topco Associates representing 15,000 stores; retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern, representing 50 member companies and 344 stores; as well as suppliers including Beefchain, Dennick Fruit Source and Smithfield.

    Food Trust can also be accessed by way of a module that simply allows firms to upload data about goods to the system, done via the cloud or another app, and which is free of charge. A more advanced version of this involves certificates, organic or Fair Trade credentials and so on.

    Stepping back, Food Trust is one of IBM's main blockchain buckets; another is shipping and global trade, and in this area, the flagship platform is IBM's collaboration with Maersk, dubbed TradeLens.

    So far, TradeLens is yet to onboard any other carriers that are anything like the size of Maersk. So, could it be that the food industry is an easier ride in terms of adoption, or perhaps it's an area where the benefits are more immediately tangible?

    Gopinath pointed that Food Trust has been some 18 months in the making, and that progress is being made on TradeLens to scale up to the same degree among parties that normally compete with each other.

    He concluded:

    "IBM Food Trust is making this big announcement; similarly, TradeLens will also have a commercial availability announcement. And at that point, I can guarantee you it will be in the same shape we are in here."