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Oil majors Chevron and Total join blockchain platform for energy commodity trading ?Vakt?
Oil giants Chevron and Total have joined London-based blockchain platform Vakt, Reuters reported. Vakt is a blockchain-based post-trade processing platform backed by energy majors BP, Shell, and Statoil; trading houses Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading, and Mercuria; and banks ABN Amro, ING, and Societe Generale. It was created and launched as an independent company in December 2017. Last month, Indian energy and telecom giant Reliance Industries announced that it has acquired 5.56% equity stake (on a fully diluted basis) in Vakt for $5 million. A member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance, Vakt aims to digitize the global commodities trading industry by creating a secure, trusted ecosystem, powered by blockchain technology. The platform went live in November 2018 and is already being used by its member trading firms.

Israeli shipping firm ZIM advances blockchain-based Bills of Lading initiative to next phase
Israeli shipping firm ZIM advances blockchain-based Bills of Lading initiative to next phase In November 2017, the company announced the successful completion of the first pilot of the blockchain solution in cooperation with Sparx Logistics and Wave Ltd. Since then, ZIM said that it has been testing the platform in multiple shipping lanes with more customers. These transactions suggested that blockchain technology has the potential to not only replace paper but also improve current activities which rely on emails, fax and other existing tools, it added. In particular, the company pointed out two recent transactions which involved transferring original Bill of Ladings to the receiver. All documentation processes, including endorsements, ownership transfers etc. were performed over the blockchain-based platform.

Dubai telecom company du to develop blockchain solution for patient safety
Dubai-based telecom company du has entered into a partnership with blockchain healthcare solutions company Dhonor HealthTech to develop the UAE's first blockchain solution for patient-centric safety verification, Unlock-BC reported. The project would mark the latest use case of its Blockchain Platform as a Service (BPaaS), which was announced in October 2018 in collaboration with ConsenSys. du's BPaaS is a cloud-native blockchain infrastructure that can provide private blockchain networks with a high level of customization, support multiple consensus algorithms with monitoring, managing capabilities, and smart contract capabilities. It will enable users to create blockchain networks and deploy and run their use cases using intuitive user interface (UI). It supports Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric v1.3 frameworks.

Blockchain startup Chronicled secures $16M in Series A round
Blockchain startup Chronicled has raised $16 million in a Series A funding round led by Mandra Capital, a Hong Kong-based VC firm. The funding round also saw participation from Streamlined Ventures, The Perkins Fund, Frank Fiore, and David Aho. Mandra Capital is an existing investor in the company and had previously led Chronicled's series seed financing round in 2016. What excites us about Chronicled is that they are building blockchain application networks for the long-term, said SongYi Zhang, Principal of Mandra Capital. While many companies in the space are conducting ICOs fueling speculation and hurting the legitimacy of the space Chronicled has stayed disciplined by pursuing traditional funding while focusing on developing needed applications with quantifiable ROI value.

Swiss investment bank Vontobel launches crypto custody solution
Swiss investment bank Vontobel on Monday announced the launch of a crypto custody solution, called Digital Asset Vault. In its press release dated January 14, Vontobel said: Vontobel now offers financial intermediaries such as banks, asset managers, and wealth managers a custody solution for digital assets ?Digital Asset Vault?. The solution would enable these financial intermediaries to provide their clients with an end-to-end service offering for digital assets. Importantly, they would be able to do so via a simple connection to Vontobel and without any significant investment in their own infrastructure.

Coincheck joins the list of registered cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan
Coincheck, which suffered a major $530 million hack last January, has now received the license to continue its operations as a cryptocurrency exchange. Monex Group, a Japanese online brokerage firm that acquired Coincheck in April 2018, announced last week: Coincheck, Inc'announced today that it had registered with the Kanto Financial Bureau as a cryptocurrency exchange agency in accordance with the Payment Service Act, effective January 11, 2019. Monex added that Coincheck complied with the Financial Services Agency's Registration Process for Cryptocurrency Exchange and gave a full explanation to the agency on its business descriptions, plans, risk management, and security aspects, among others.

Blockchain Beyond Finance: A look at the technology?s implementation in healthcare
Blockchain technology can bring a number of benefits to the health care industry such as improved health care data management, tracking and verification of the authenticity of medicines, and more. According to the results of a survey conducted by PwC published in September 2018, 49 percent of global healthcare companies are developing blockchain solutions. However, 47 percent of companies said that lack of trust is a barrier to implementing blockchain and 39 percent of companies said that regulatory uncertainty is holding back blockchain. Blockchain-based technologies offer substantial opportunities to reinvent how healthcare companies access, collect, distribute, share, leverage, monitor, and audit data. Not all companies will benefit. Companies that are slow to change may lose out to ones that use the technology to cut costs and increase efficiencies, PwC said.

Mongolia?s capital city to launch blockchain-based money transfer services via Terra partnership
Mongolia's capital city of Ulaanbaatar has partnered with stablecoin project Terra with the objective of launching instant money transfer and lending services, e27 reported. Founded by Daniel Shin, Terra is a new project that aims to create a price-stable digital currency. In August 2018, it raised $32 million in a seed funding round that received support from Binance Labs, OKEx, Huobi Capital and Arrington XRP Capital, among others. According to e27, Terra's payment solution will be first rolled out in Ulaanbaatar City's Nalaikh District through a pilot program with two main features including peer-to-peer (P2P) payments and mobile payments.

exchange Seed CX launches new wallet solution for institutional investors
Cryptocurrency exchange platform Seed CX has announced the release of a new digital asset wallet solution designed with the needs of institutional investors in mind. The new wallet features on-chain settlement and aims to be more stable, more transparent, and more secure than any other wallet solution. Each Seed CX market participant will receive a unique wallet instead of having their assets held in a single omnibus wallet, or across multiple shared wallets. According to the official release, the wallets will be provided to customers via Seed CX's settlement subsidiary, Zero Hash, which would synchronize its internal accounting layer with the blockchain. This would give users an additional external view of all deposits, movements and withdrawals associated with their wallet.

Crypto startup Wirex adds support for WAVES token
Wirex, the UK-based digital money platform, has announced that it is collaborating with blockchain startup Waves to add support for the WAVES token on its platform. WAVES is currently among the top 25 cryptocurrencies in terms of market cap. Wirex said that the WAVES token holds a unique place in the crypto space because its underlying utility addresses some critical hurdles that hinder the mainstream adoption of blockchain technology, such as scaling, interoperability, and security. Previously E-Coin, Wirex is a hybrid personal finance platform that facilitates the seamless conversion of cryptos and traditional currency. In August 2018, it was granted a UK FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) e-money licence.

China?s internet regulator to implement new rules for blockchain firms next month
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has approved new regulations for blockchain companies operating in the country. In an online post dated January 10, the CAC said that the new regulations will go into effect on February 15, 2019. The rules aim to encourage blockchain industry organizations to strengthen industry self-discipline and establish and improve industry standards. They also seek to guide blockchain information service providers to improve the professional quality of the staff and promote the healthy and orderly development of the industry.? [The blockchain information service provider shall bear the responsibility of information content security management and establish and improve management systems such as user registration, information review, emergency response, and security protection,] the CAC said.

Trust Wallet adds support for Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash
Trust Wallet, a crypto wallet provider acquired by Binance last year, has announced that it has added support for Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Previously, Trust Wallet had added support for Bitcoin (BTC) on iOS. According to the latest announcement, the support for the top digital currency has also been added for Android users. After you update your Trust Wallet app to the latest version, you can enable the new assets by tapping on the plus sign in the upper right corner and tapping once more on the slide bar next to Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Trust Wallet said.

Airlines Reporting Corp. successfully completes blockchain trial for settlement of tickets
Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), a provider of ticket transaction settlement services, in collaboration with United Airlines and blockchain startup Blockskye, has successfully tested blockchain technology in facilitating reporting and settlement of tickets. The joint proof of concept (PoC) involved determining the viability of using blockchain technology with the ARC settlement system to facilitate the reporting and settlement of United Airlines tickets. To enable the PoC, ARC partnered with Blockskye, a provider of blockchain solutions to the travel and entertainment industries. ARC's Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dickie Oliver, said that company is actively exploring blockchain's potential across all of its product offerings.

Crypto exchange Gate.io to refund $200k to users affected by 51% attack on ETC
Cryptocurrency exchange Gate.io has announced that it will cover losses of around 40,000 ETC (approximately $200,000), which its users suffered due to the recent 51% attack on Ethereum Classic. In an online post, the company said that its research has confirmed that the 51% attack was successfully carried out. Earlier this week, major cryptocurrency exchanges including Coinbase, Poloniex and Kraken suspended all ETC transactions, withdrawals, and deposits after detecting a deep chain reorganization of the ETC blockchain. Gate.io said that its analysis identified 7 rollback transactions. The announcement further said:

Hong Kong Federation of Insurers launches blockchain application for motor insurance authentication
The Hong Kong Federation of Insurers (HKFI) last month launched a blockchain application to authenticate motor insurance cover notes/policies. Called the Motor Insurance DLT-based Authentication System or MIDAS, the project was initiated in April 2018 with the support of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Local blockchain startup CryptoBLK was the technology provider for the project. MIDAS is the first ever industry-wide application of blockchain technology in the space of motor insurance in Asia, said Philip Kwan, Chairman of HKFI's Accident Insurance Association. This is a classic case of Public-Private Partnership initiative to address the perennial problem of fake cover notes in our insurance market.

Coinbase, Poloniex, Kraken disable Ethereum Classic deposits and withdrawals following chain reorganisation
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that it has suspended all ethereum classic (ETC) transactions, withdrawals, and deposits after detecting a deep chain reorganization of the blockchain, CoinDesk reported. According to block explorers Bitfly (Etherchain) and Blockscout, ETC saw reorganization of over 100 blocks during a potential 51 percent attack late Sunday. We can confirm that there was a successful 51% attack on the Ethereum Classic (#ETC) network with multiple 100+ block reorganization. We recommend all services to closely monitored the chain and significantly increase required confirmations.

UAE-based telecom giant Etisalat partners with four startups to develop blockchain and AI solutions
UAE-based telecom giant Etisalat is collaborating with four startups to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain-based solutions, Trade Arabia reported. The company has signed agreements with Yitu Technology (China), Com IoT Technologies (UAE), 300cubits (Hong Kong), and Tradefin (USA). According to the official release, the signing ceremony also saw the opening of the Future Now startup collaborative space for these Etisalat Digital's partner companies. Etisalat said that the companies have been selected on the basis of their [ability to design and launch innovative solutions, as well as demonstrate the actual use of these technologies in practice.]

South Korea to offer tax relief to companies working on blockchain technology
The government of South Korea has added 16 fields including blockchain and fine dust reduction technology to their R&D tax credit in a bid to boost innovation. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance announced the proposed amendments to the enforcement decree of the 2018 tax law which is to be enforced starting this February. South Korea provides R&D tax relief through a hybrid R&D tax credit and volume-based investment credit. According to the document, 16 areas including fine dust reduction technology, blockchain, and wearable robots will be added to the existing tax credit for R&D in new growth industries.

Patrick Childress, Director of Strategic Development at Bcause: ?Cryptocurrency market reacts like any other market?
?I am struck by how real this market is in terms of how markets react to a variety of phenomena. Markets do tend wash out weeks long before they ever go higher. Patrick Chilress, Director of Strategic Development at Bcause Bcause aims to establish a full ecosystem exchange ranging from mining, a spot marketplace, a derivatives exchange to clearing. The firm will operate a CFTC-approved derivatives exchange under Designated Contract Market (DCM) license alongside a clearing house under the Derivatives Clearing Organization (DCO) application for both institutional investors and retail investors. Furthermore, Bcause seeks to integrate institutional liquidity and retail liquidity for the construction of a robust marketplace for cryptocurrencies.

China Banking Association develops blockchain-based inter-bank platform
China Banking Association (CBA), a self-regulatory bank organization, is going to develop a blockchain-based platform to enhance efficiency across the banking sector, CoinTelegraph reported. According to an official statement issued on December 29, the China Trade Finance Inter-bank Trading Blockchain Platform aims to bring blockchain benefits to the trade finance ecosystem and financial services. A number of banks have joined the initiative including Ping An Bank, HSBC Bank (China), China Merchants Bank, Bank of China, and others. Hang Seng Electronics Co., Ltd., Hengyin Financial Technology Co., Ltd., and other financial technology companies will provide important technologies and services for the platform.

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