Blockchain This Week: Tech Mahindra To Set Up Blockchain Centre, Kwikxchange To Expand To India, And More

Blockchain is a technology which has a lot of potential but it’s also the source of a large number of frauds, highlighted the latest study by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
 
Wharton professor of legal studies and business ethics Kevin Werbach, said, “This is a new infrastructure baseline technology that can lead to lots of benefits — also, it has lots of problems. Blockchain is now the source of a great deal of fraud, of illegal activity and regulatory arbitrage, but it is also sparking innovation across the world in all sorts of areas.”
 
“This is not a mature technology. There’s great uncertainty, there are all sorts of problems, even basics technical programs that need to be worked out, and there are all sorts of non-valuable applications,” Werbach added, according to an article published on Knowledge@Wharton.
 
However, Werbach is of the opinion using the technology makes sense for the government because much of what it does is actually record-keeping. The article cited him as saying that at a time when trust in the government is “at an all-time low,” systems that don’t rely on trust have “tremendous potential.” Also, government resources are constrained and so blockchain-based solutions that wring costs out of the system are helpful. Moreover, the technology tend to be “incredibly secure systems because they decentralize out this process of security and create an alignment of incentives to secure the network,” he added, according to the report.
 
Meanwhile, we’ve been tracking some interesting development in the ecosystem of India: Tech Mahindra Ltd plans to set up a blockchain centre at its Hyderabad facility. Also, Canadian fintech startup Citrusxchange Inc has launched its blockchain-based financing platform for SMEs and is expected to expand to India.
Important Developments In The Indian Blockchain Ecosystem This Week
Tech Mahindra To Set Up Blockchain Centre In Hyderabad
Tech Mahindra Ltd has plans to set up a blockchain centre within its research and development arm ‘Makers Lab’ at its Hyderabad facility, aimed at facilitating co-innovation in the space and developing enterprise-grade solutions for customers across industries.
 
The company has launched the Tech Mahindra BlockGeeks programme on its Hyderabad campus to facilitate competency in the field of Blockchain Technology.
 
In its first phase, the company will upskill a batch of 20 eligible candidates to make them blockchain-ready and further plans to train around 3,000 block geeks by FY19.
 
Kotak Bank, RippleNet to Accelerate Cross-Border Remittances
Kotak Mahindra Bank has partnered with blockchain solution provider RippleNet to facilitate real-time cross-border transactions. Kotak will use Ripple’s settlement solution xCurrent to reduce the average time associated with remittance payments.
 
Kotak Mahindra Bank’s chief digital officer Deepak Sharma said, “xCurrent enables us to offer our customers a more transparent and efficient global payments service using the technology.”
 
Remittances in India continue to see steady growth. In 2017-18, India received inward remittances worth $69 Bn with the outbound remittances market increasing by 38.7% from $8.2 Bn in 2016-17 to $11.3 Bn in 2017-18.
 
Citrusxchange’s Kwikxchange To Be Launched In India
Canadian fintech startup Citrusxchange Inc has launched its blockchain-based supply chain and invoice financing platform Kwikxchange for small and medium enterprises, seeking supply chain financing and invoice financing. The company is looking to expand Kwikxchange to India, among other countries.
 
Kwikxchange offers a seamless, convenient, and faster way of onboarding borrowers. The company claims that SMEs from anywhere can apply for a loan to multiple lenders and banks through the digital platform.
 
Citrusxchange plans to enhance the platform’s functionality in the next six months and hopes to assist in decision-making for lenders using smart contracts, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
 
Blockchain Developments Around The World
Senior Engineer Evan Cheng To Lead Facebook’s Blockchain Division
Facebook has promoted one of its senior engineers, Evan Cheng, as director of engineering, blockchain. Cheng is also listed as an advisor to blockchain startups and projects Zilliqa and ChainLink.
 
Earlier in May, Facebook had set up a group within the company to explore the technology and its potential use for the platform, headed by long-time Messenger chief David Marcus.
 
Besides Cheng, the tech giant has also promoted Kevin Weil, former vice-president of product at Instagram (owned by Facebook), as the vice-president of the division.
 
Walmart Awarded Patent For Its Blockchain-based Delivery Hubs
US retail giant Walmart has been recently awarded a patent for its blockchain-based delivery hubs, which are focused on the deliveries as well as scheduling the delivery of these packages.
 
Last year, Walmart had filed an application entitled ‘Delivery Reservation Apparatus and Method’, which talks about delivery hubs (locker docking stations) that uses a public ledger to determine available capacity and make reservations.
 
Once requests for reservations are made, the public ledger is analysed with a view of determining whether there is sufficient capacity available. If there is, a contract is executed seeking to reserve capacity. The public ledger is then updated to indicate this development.
 
In order to utilise a blockchain reservation system, each docking station or delivery hub is essentially a node within a blockchain network.
 
Czech Investment Bank To Raise $100 Mn To Fund Blockchain Startups
Benson Oak, an investment bank based in Prague, Czech Republic, is raising $100 Mn to launch an investment fund for blockchain-based early-stage Israeli startups offering consumer products or creating platforms that enable community growth.
 
Reports suggest that the investment bank’s new investment arm — Benson Oak Ventures — has already secured $25 Mn and aims to reach the $100 million target by the end of 2018. The new venture arm’s capital will come from private investors and family offices and will exclude institutional investors.
 
Blockchain Startup Oasis Labs Raises $45 Mn
Cloud computing startup Oasis Labs has raised $45 Mn in a private token pre-sale to develop a blockchain platform focused on developing its core features, which will be deployed to the company’s private test network, slated to be opened soon to the public.
 
The sale was led by Andreessen Horowitz’s new A16z crypto fund and saw Accel, Binance, Pantera, Polychain, Metastable, Foundation Capital, Electric Capital, DCVC, and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam contribute to it.
 
RiskBlock Alliance Partners With Accenture To Expand Use Of Blockchain
Blockchain-focused, industry-led consortium RiskBlock Alliance is joining forces with management consulting firm Accenture to expand the use of the technology within the insurance sector.
 
According to Accenture’s global insurance lead Michael Costonis, “Accenture is building out the blockchain framework to allow for ease of use by RiskBlock’s membership and eventually for other stakeholders within the insurance ecosystem.”
 
RiskBlock plans to serve industry policyholders and save costs by “streamlining payments, reducing frauds, and improving the accuracy of customer data” using applications and tools developed via its interoperable blockchain architecture.
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