Blockchain This Week: IIT Kanpur’s $5 Mn E-Governance Project, UK’s Zebi To Foray Into Indian Market And More

Blockchain is slowly but steadily spreading across the verticals, changing lives. Leading companies, government institutions and universities across the world have already taken several initiatives in this regard.
 
On a short trip to Manchester, I had the opportunity to meet the faculties of the University of Manchester and Prof Sher-Huang Poon informed me how the University is in the process to make blockchain, as part of its academics, right from the first semester.
 
The University has recently also won the 1st prize in the US Vs UK Blockchain Hackathon event, last week, which saw the participation of top prominent universities from both the countries. The theme revolved around how blockchain could help ease student financial problems and debts incurred for higher education.
 
Back to India. Speaking to Inc42, Blockchain (.com) co-founder Nicolas Cary who was in India last week and has been working with Indian blockchain and crypto startups such as Unocoin, averred that the blockchain space as an industry or a sector has attracted more Venture capital than any other entrepreneurial vertical in the past seven years.
 
What are the developments pertaining to blockchain this week? Let’s take a look!
 
It’s Blockchain Now. Bitcoin Died 2 Years Ago: Vivek Wadhwa
“It is blockchain. Cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, etc. are just overhyped. Bitcoin died as a cryptocurrency two years ago, it became a scam and it became a way of speculating. So, stay away from bitcoin because it’s a disaster,” said Vivek Wadhwa, Distinguished Fellow at Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering, Silicon Valley during an AMA with Inc42.
 
Vivek further warned, “However, when bitcoin value falls, it goes to zero; so these ICOs, 99% of which are fraud, also go to zero and then you have a few which are gonna be worthwhile, which are gonna be massive as happened with dot com. As a result, blockchain itself is going to get a bad name because it became a casualty of that.”
 
Like Bitcoin, blockchain is also getting caught in dichotomy.
Bringing transparency and efficiency to the governance has always been perceived as one of the biggest potentials of blockchain. Now, the office of national Cyber Security has commissioned a project worth $5 Mn to IIT Kanpur to develop an indigenous blockchain architecture for e-governance.
 
As per reports, IIT-K professors Manindra Agrawal and Sandeep Shukla of the Department of Computer Science & Engineering are the principal guides who would work in collaboration with IIT Madras professor Shweta Agrawal on the project.
 
Zebi Launches Blockchain-Based AI Solution For Hospitality
Andhra Pradesh-based blockchain startup Zebi Data India has launched blockchain based Artificial Intelligence (AI) solution for its hospitality industry.
 
Commenting on the launch, Babu Munagala, founder and CEO of Zebi said, “AI and modern technologies created an extraordinary power of utilising people sensitive data collected by governments or enterprises, that could potentially be misused. Zebi AI Chain provides the much-needed controlling function with complete transparency through Smart Contracts. So, the individual can trust enterprises and governments that reliable privacy and security measures are implemented.”
 
As per Sudheer Kuppam, board member of Zebi, AI can help automate surveillance by employing state-of-the-art algorithms for facial recognition, image analysis, etc. while ensuring the security and protection of the data through blockchain.
 
Zebi AI Chain solution is currently deployed at more than 200 hotels and we are preparing for full-scale deployment across all the hotels in India. The total market for online hotel bookings in India is expected to be more than $2.3 Bn by 2020 as per the Deutsche Bank Report.
London-based Nuggets, a blockchain startup is set to expand its operations in India, as part of the Access India Programme. Access India Programme is UK’s initiative to support the Make In India initiative.
 
As per Nuggets co-founder and COO Seema Khinda Johnson, Nuggets is one of the 24 companies chosen for the first cohort. This will give the company access to a range of invaluable services, from mentorship to networking and market-entry support.
 
Nuggets has some apt solution for the Indian economy. The country has only recently moved away from making 80% of payments in cash, with 60% of the population unbanked. Even so, India’s GDP is forecast to grow by 7.4% in 2018, and the economy is set to overtake both the UK and France in size over the next few years. A consumer product like ours, which enables simple, secure e-commerce payments, has clear value in accelerating India’s move towards a cashless society,” wrote Seema in her blog.
 
News From Across The World
Andra Capital Set To Raise $1 Bn
Leveraging blockchain through SILICON VALLEY COIN, a regulatory compliant and asset-backed security token, San Francisco-based Andra Capital has announced the launch of its late-stage, technology growth fund.
 
The Andra Fund is tokenised with Blockchain technology to enable greater access to global investors. As per the official statement, the company has already secured more than $500 Mn in investment commitments and allocations and is well underway to successfully raise $1 Bn. Andra has experienced significant market traction from global, traditional investors (institutions, hedge funds, family offices, individuals), token holders and alternative investors seeking access to high-growth assets to maximise returns.
 
Through its Silicon Valley Coin, Andra aims to democratise venture capital by allowing global investors to participate in top-tier Silicon Valley investments. Previously, this exclusive access has been limited to closed VC networks and large investment firms.
 
Andra Capital now also offers access to late-stage high-growth pre-IPO technology companies such as Lyft, WeWork, AirBnB, SpaceX and Palantir.
EY is set to launch a blockchain-based Tesseract mobility platform that looks into core mobility issues relating to sharing vehicle ownership by integrating mobility options.
 
Speaking to ET John Simlett, Executive Director of EY stated, “With this platform, OEMs, mobility and transport companies, as well as cities and infrastructure providers can tap different revenue streams.”
 
The solution also helps meeting consumer demands by giving them access to the right vehicle for their journey on demand.
 
So far, the solution has been tested in Australia on tractors. And, further trials are set to be undertaken in Eastern Europe on bikes, cars and buses.
 
In other news, aimed to set international standards for blockchain, representatives from 25 countries met in Tokyo.
 
Representing the Russian delegation, Gregory Marshalko, FSB, Russia stated,
 
“Look, the internet belongs to the Americans — but blockchain will belong to us.
 
Enabling the right ecosystem for cutting-edge innovations, the US has enjoyed being at the forefront of technologies for the past few decades, with India, China and Russia (As USSR broke down) following the race. However, while India and China are already dictating the startup race, and Russia betting big on blockchain, the equation is fast shifting. More so, towards decentralisation.
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