Germany

Ontology Partners With German Startup to Accelerate Supply Chain Identity Solutions

Ontology has partnered with digital identity specialist Spherity to expedite the development of ID solutions across the supply chain.

Ontology recently partnered with German digital identity and cloud wallet provider, Spherity, to collaborate on expediting development on digital identity solutions for products and enterprises.

The partnership will see Spherity’s Cloud-Edge wallet integrate with Ontology’s (ONT) blockchain, and allow Ontology to use Spheriy’s Decentralized Digital Identity solutions.

The two firms will work together on creating proof-of-concept pilots demonstrating applications for digital identity within the context of supply chain, mobility, and pharmaceuticals — leveraging Spherity’s existing customer base.

Ontology and Spherity will also collaborate on research and marketing initiatives.

Identity solutions target the supply chain

Spherity CEO, Dr. Carsten Stöcker, told Cointelegraph that most of the investment, research, and development into blockchain-based identity solutions is not directed at identifying individual citizens.

“[B]lockchains and distributed ledgers are mostly used to encode a myriad of other forms of information that goes into tracking goods and value as it moves across the planet,” said Stöcker. He continued:

“The technologies that we call identity systems don’t just identify individual citizens and correlate their legal, financial lives with their digital lives – they also identify machines, autonomous algorithms, corporate entities, product information, licenses, and many other things that need a strong identity and signing rights to enter into this system of auditable, yet private transaction information.”

“There are millions of use-cases that have nothing to do with KYC or human identity of any kind, and even in the KYC space there are many ways to build in pseudonymity, revocable anonymity, disposable identities, and other capabilities beyond merely asking crypto users to show their papers and peg their digital lives to their status as subjects in a nation-state,” he added.

Connecting Asian and European DLT platforms

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Ontology co-founder, Andy Ji, stated that the firms “are looking for partners to build a proof of concept showing end-to-end traceability of manufactured goods from birth in an Asian factory to sale in the European market.”

“Most likely, this would take the form of a Chinese manufacturer already using other Ontology services to make their transactions more auditable, and a German import sector with very high regulatory compliance needs or facing reputational risks,” he added.

The partnership will also allow both firms to access new markets, with Ontology having an established foothold in Asia while Spherity boasts a strong European presence — particularly within Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.

The firms hope to facilitate greater interoperability and collaboration between European and Chinese blockchain ecosystems.

Ledger, Neufund Partner to Create Security Tokens Framework

Crypto hardware wallet Ledger to allow users to manage security tokens through Ledger’s desktop app.

Cryptocurrency hardware wallet firm Ledger has partnered with German crypto startup Neufund to let users manage security tokens via Ledger’s desktop app, according to a press release Dec. 6.

Ledger’s collaboration with blockchain-based equity and crypto fundraising platform Neufund aims to develop a framework for security tokens. Ledger Live — a recently launched desktop application for crypto asset management — is reportedly adding an ERC-20 integration “soon.” The app will let users manage security tokens issued via Neufund’s set of protocols.

Previously, Neufund teamed up with cryptocurrency exchange BitBay to let investors buy and sell equity tokens with fiat currencies. At that time, Neufund was reportedly aiming to become the first end-to-end primary issuance platform for security tokens, specializing in equity tokens.

Meanwhile, Ledger announced in late November that it is expanding to New York as part of its development of institutional custody offering Ledger Vault. Ledger Vault is a form of custody solution allowing multiple members of a corporate entity such as a hedge fund to access the same cold storage wallet.

Also in November, the Germany-based IOTA Foundation announced it will integrate IOTA tokens with Ledger’s cryptocurrency hardware wallets.

Siemens Joins Blockchain-Driven Energy Platform to Increase Interoperability in Industry

German tech giant Siemens’ energy divisions join an open-source blockchain platform Energy Web Foundation.

Two energy divisions of German tech giant Siemens have joined a blockchain-driven energy platform to promote the use of decentralized technologies in the sector, according to a press release published Wednesday, Nov. 21.

According to Siemens, its Energy Management and Power Generation Services departments are partnering with open-source, scalable blockchain platform Energy Web Foundation (EWF), founded in 2017 to elaborate regulatory, operational, and market solutions for the energy sector.

Siemens officials believe that blockchain technology will help increase interoperability in the area, linking consumers with energy producers and network operators, the press release writes. Moreover, the technology could help increase the efficiency of energy systems and enable new forms of project financing.

The statement also notes that Siemens is already using blockchain accompanied by microgrid control solutions to optimize control over energy consumption. For instance, in 2016, the German firm collaborated with U.S. startup LO3 Energy to develop microgrids

that enable local trading between energy consumers and producers on a blockchain platform. The solution was trialed in one of New York’s boroughs, Brooklyn, enabled to feed the excess electricity back into the local grid and receive payments from its purchasers.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, the company’s financing arm, Siemens Financial Services (SFS), took part in a blockchain pilot in August for bank guarantees using R3 Corda technology, launched by U.K. multinational banking and financial services company Standard Chartered (SC).

Blockchain is actively tested by major energy industry players in different countries. For instance, major Singaporean utility company SP Group, which provides electricity and gas transmission in the country, launched a blockchain marketplace to trade solar energy. Also in Asia, South Korea’s largest power provider KEPCO will use blockchain and other innovative energy solutions to develop an eco-friendly microgrid.

Rwandan Government to Use Blockchain Tech to Track Conflict Metal Tantalum

Rwanda’s tantalum mining traceability will be improved by British blockchain startup Circulor in tandem with Rwanda’s government.

Rwanda has partnered with a U.K.-based blockchain startup to trace the mining of the conflict metal tantalum in the country, according to the startup’s press release, published Oct. 16.

Rwanda is the world’s leading producer of tantalum, the mineral used in consumer electronics such as smartphones and computers. By using blockchain technology in partnership with startup Circulor, the Rwandan Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board plans to make the production of tantalum more transparent.

The press release states that blockchain tech implementation will help “companies comply with the internationally mandated efforts to eradicate sources of funding for conflict minerals.”

According to Reuters, mining company Power Resources Group (PRG) — whose listed partners include Kemet, an Apple supplier — has run a pilot for tracing the metal and is now “using the production system.” PRG’s CEO, Ray Power, told Reuters that he has been hearing “criticisms on traceability” for minerals since 2015.

The companies have partnered to use Circulor’s blockchain platform, built on the Hyperledger Fabric, an open source enterprise-focused digital ledger software hosted by the Linux Foundation, for tracing the tantalum’s supply chain.

Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, Circulor CEO, underlined that the new technological application will “dramatically reduce costs for miners who current shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of compliance.” He also added:

“Our blockchain platform will empower consumers to understand where the materials in the products they buy come from and also make it harder for materials that are not ethically sourced to pass through the supply chain.”  

This spring, Circulor had partnered with the German car manufacturer giant BMW “to track so-called ‘clean’ cobalt supplies in order to ensure their ethical provenance,” Cointelegraph reported March 6.

Also this spring, De Beers, the global diamond producing giant, had announced the use of blockchain technology for digital tracking diamonds “from mine to retail.” The company’s goal was to increase efficiency in the supply chain and to support consumer and public trust in De Beers’ non-conflict diamonds production.

BMW to Host Event for Blockchain in Auto Tech Tournament

Technology from the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative’s tournament for blockchain in auto tech will be showcased publically at an event hosted by BMW next year.

The Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), and the Trusted IoT Alliance (TIoTA) have launched a tournament for blockchain applications in vehicles, according to an official press release published Oct. 10.

The new tournament entitled MOBI Grand Challenge reportedly intends to develop “the first viable” blockchain-powered network of vehicles and system to coordinate machines, provide data sharing, as well as to improve the level of mobility in urban conditions.

The three-year blockchain challenge, which plans to award winners with over $1 million dollars worth of tokens, will cover a number of events, and invites entrants to participate online globally.

The MOBI Grand Challenge will begin Oct. 12 with the first four-month challenge to showcase “potential uses of blockchain in coordinating vehicle movement and improving transportation in urban environments.”

Selected technologies from the first challenge will be demonstrated at an event hosted by MOBI community member BMW Group in Munich, Germany in February 2019.

The outcomes found in the first series of the MOBI Grand Challenge will be used as basis to create the next challenges of the three-year tournament.

According to the press release, the winners of the first challenge will be granted $350,000 worth of awards in a number of categories, including $250,000 worth of tokens by Beyond Protocol, and $100,000 worth of tokens by Ocean Protocol.

Ocean Protocol is a blockchain-based data exchange protocol that has committed a prize of $1 million dollars in tokens to the MOBI Grand Challenge. Beyond Protocol is a Silicon Valley-based firm that is applying distributed ledger technology (DLT) to secure Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The firm has committed $250,000 worth of tokens to be used on its protocol network.

Zaki Manian, Executive Director of the Trusted IoT Alliance and a member of MOBI’s Board of Advisors, stated that mobility is a “breakout” IoT industry direction for blockchain. According to Manian, just a “small percentage of companies have completed end-to-end proof of concepts in this area,” so the new tournament intends to “fill this gap.”

In May 2018, four leading global vehicle suppliers BMW, GM, Ford, and Renault launched a jointed blockchain platform aiming to “change transportation.” The joint effort aims to address mobility issues, making it “safer, greener, and more affordable” by using blockchain technology.

In March, Cointelegraph reported that major American car manufacturer Ford patented a system for vehicle-to-vehicle communication methods via exchange of crypto tokens in order to facilitate traffic flow.

PayPal for Crypto: Up to 25,000 Online Stores in Germany May Accept Digital Money in 2019

A Swiss startup aims to become the PayPal of crypto and make cryptocurrency payments a reality for everyone.

A Swiss startup company is attempting to make using cryptocurrencies for online transactions as simple and safe as using PayPal.

The main accusation of the mainstream media against crypto is that it is “a currency that is hard to spend.” Even though, according to CNBC, the total worth of Bitcoin spent on merchant services has increased to $190.2 million in 2017, from $9.8 million in 2013, however the market is still in its infancy. According to a study published by the Bank of Netherlands in February 2018, only two percent of online retailers accepted crypto, in spite of “substantial” interest.

The UTRUST API is aimed at online and point-of-sale crypto acceptance worldwide. This set of tools will also include a conflict mitigation system, chargeback protection, and a proprietary cryptocurrency which increases purchasing power within the platform. While UTRUST has their sights set on assisting global retailers in the use of crypto it has decided to launch its business in Europe.

The company has signed strategic partnerships in Europe to establish a “beachhead” for further expansion. One such partnership is Gambio.de, a German e-commerce solution provider with more than 25,000 online stores. According to UTRUST´s estimates, Gambio-powered stores generate about 30 percent of e-commerce revenue in Germany and therefore are in a powerful starting position for UTRUST to expand across the continent.

UTRUST says these partnerships mean that from the first day of operation, thousands of merchants will be able to accept cryptocurrencies in a simplified way, while receiving fiat currencies in their bank accounts. Furthermore, UTRUST customers will have access to a proprietary digital wallet which allows zero fee transactions. The company believes, the large amount of merchants will offset the lower figures of cryptocurrency use, gaining UTRUST a substantial foot-hold in the on coming crypto economy. The company intends to help all businesses it interacts with, and rise with the tide of cryptocurrencies.

“In three years, you will be able to pay online [with cryptocurrencies] at major vendors. This will come offline in another five years,” said Filipe Castro, UTRUST’s Chief Information Officer and co-founder,  Cointelegraph. “I am a strong believer that in the future, in ten years, you will have state–issued cryptocurrencies from major economies”, – added Mr. Castro. And at that moment, UTRUST expects to be already there for them “on the ground”.  

UTRUST protocol also has a built-in mechanism for dispute resolution. Specifically, UTRUST arbiters may step in to mediate between the buyer and the seller, if they don’t agree on a refund or release of funds in 30 days.

While several companies like BitPay or Coinbase have risen to the challenge of bridging the gap between crypto and traditional vendors, UTRUST differentiates itself as “the first cryptocurrency payment solution to offer instant transactions, buyer protection, and crypto-to-cash settlements.” In a marketplace which is often seen as too volatile for both merchants and users, an offer to bring peace of mind to both may indeed make a difference. 

UTRUST hopes to become the “PayPal of Crypto” by offering protection for both buyers and sellers. It also provides the added benefit of refunds paid in crypto in case of a dispute. Also, while PayPal protects only physical goods, UTRUST extends its security proposition to include services, too. UTRUST recently announced that the former eBay head of European partnerships and Head of Marketplaces and Large Enterprise Partnerships for PayPal in the U.K, Sanja Kon, has joined the company. UTRUST believes that this addition to the team will lend much needed traditional e-commerce expertise in bridging the gap between digital and fiat currencies.

The company says, this, combined with 1 percent merchant fees, promises to trigger a feedback cycle of more customers bringing more merchants into cryptocurrency, and so on ad infinitum.

UTRUST was successfully funded with $21.3 million in crypto in 2017, it is slated for commercial launch in Q1 2019. So far, the company says its roadmap is ahead of schedule.  It is the belief of the company that its dispute resolution system, one percent merchant fees, and simple interface will be enough to bring merchants and customers into the global crypto ecosystem.

 

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Report: Investors in German ICOs Have Suffered Losses as High as 90%

According to a report by business magazine WirtschaftsWoche, investors in German ICOs have lost up to 90 percent of their capital.

Investors in German ICOs have lost up to 90 percent of their capital, Cointelegraph auf Deutsch reports Monday, October 1.

German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche compared the token issue prices of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) carried out by German startups with the prices of early September 2018. The report found that, with up to 90 percent loss in value, the German startup coins lost even more value than lead coins like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), which have also fallen sharply following record highs at the end of 2017.

WirtschaftsWoche has found that, so far, only eight startups with a head office in Germany have completed an ICO. Many other German ICOs were carried out by legally independent companies abroad. The coin of financial group Naga, which is listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Frankfurter Börse) was bought by Naga Development Association Ltd. and issued in Belize.

Among the numerous German token publishers, only the financing platform Neufund and the shopping app Wysker managed to keep the value of their tokens stable. Five other projects, such as the Frankfurt financial start-ups Savedroid and Iconiq Lab, have lost between 40 and 92 percent in value, respectively.

Last summer, IT industry association Bitkom reported that German IT startups continue to prefer a classic Initial Public Offering (IPO) over an ICO for raising capital. In a survey of 302 IT and internet startups, 22 percent of respondents reported that they planned to go public, while only three percent said they wanted to raise funds with a token offering.