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.

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Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and Hyperledger Enter Formal ‘Association’ Agreement

The EEA and Hyperledger will seek more active cooperation to advance the enterprise blockchain sphere.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) and Hyperledger announced October 1 they would join each other’s organizations as “Associate Members” in order to support enterprise blockchain adoption.

The EEA, an enterprise blockchain organization created in March 2017 by Santander, JPMorgan, and a variety of other members, focuses on improving the privacy, scalability, and security of Ethereum (ETH) blockchain applications.

Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director of Hyperledger at the Linux Foundation and Ron Resnick, Executive Director of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, explained the impetus for the decision to join together in a blog post:

“This will enable more active and mutual cross-community collaboration through event participation, connecting with other members, and finding ways for our respective efforts to be complementary and compatible.”

Hyperledger’s Fabric technology has found its way into a raft of enterprise blockchain-based integrations in various sectors of the global economy. At the end of September, FedEx joined Hyperledger, which has over 270 members, in order to look into blockchain use for supply chains, logistics, and transportation.

“Down the road, we hope this mutually beneficial relationship will encourage Ethereum developers to consider submitting their enterprise projects to Hyperledger and Hyperledger project maintainers to consider taking de-facto interfaces appropriate for standardization to the appropriate EEA working groups,” Behlendorf and Resnick continued, adding:

“This relationship will also enable Hyperledger developers to write code that conforms to the EEA specification and certify them through EEA certification testing programs expected to launch in the second half of 2019.”

In May, the EEA had released both a new software stack to standardize the specifications for Ethereum-based business applications, and the Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0, which will enable interoperability for companies that use Ethereum blockchain-based solutions.

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Deloitte Outlines Five Major Obstacles to Blockchain’s Mainstream Adoption

Deloitte has outlined five major areas where blockchain needs to develop to achieve widespread adoption.

“Big Four” audit and consulting firm Deloitte has outlined five basic areas of development for blockchain technology in order achieve widespread adoption, according to a study published September 28.

According to Deloitte, in order to be adopted by enterprises on a mass scale, blockchain technology should overcome five major obstacles – the possibility of time-consuming operations, lack of standardization, high costs and complexity blockchain applications, regulatory uncertainty, as well as the absence of collaboration between blockchain-related firms.

Identifying the area that needs the most development, Deloitte singled out the problem of possible operational delays on a distributed ledger network. The company emphasized that slow transaction speed is one of the main reasons for many players to avoid considering blockchain as a technology that can be applied in “large-scale applications.”

Another major obstacle for blockchain on the path to widespread adoption is lack of standardization. Deloitte pointed out that the lack of standardization prevents technology disruptors from interact with each other. The consulting giant cites the fact that there are over 6,500 active blockchain projects on GitHub, with most of them based on different protocols, consensuses, privacy measures, as well as written in different coding languages.

Among the remaining areas for development, Deloitte listed the necessity to reduce both costs and complexity of network operations, the importance of innovation-supporting regulation, as well as the crucial role of collaboration between blockchain-related firms.

In terms of costs and complexity of the emerging technology, Deloitte referred to major technology giants such as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft that have reportedly delivered less complicated implementations of blockchain by using cloud technology, as well as contributed to improving the costs of operations on blockchain.

Among the most complex issues around blockchain regulation, the company highlighted the difficulty of regulating smart contracts, which do not necessarily fit into existing frameworks.

The report’s final point stresses the importance of cooperation between blockchain-related firms in order to push forward the new deployments of the technology, as well as to provide better education in the sphere. The company says the increasing number of blockchain consortia, such as R3, is a “bullish sign,” because the “value of a blockchain network increases with the number of users.”

Last month, Cointelegraph published an interview with Jeremy Gardner, founder of Blockchain Education Network and co-founder of blockchain prediction platform Augur. In the interview, the industry expert claimed that in order to achieve mass adoption, those developing in the industry must “include the people who have the most benefit” from blockchain technology – namely the world’s disenfranchised – commenting that “we haven’t done a great job doing that, yet.”

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Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Releases Client Specifications To Facilitate Interoperability

The EEA’s release of the Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification follows an earlier release of an Architectural Stack, with a testnet and certification program to follow.

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) has released the Enterprise Ethereum Client Specification 1.0 today, May 16, that will enable interoperability for companies that use Ethereum blockchain-based solutions.

The EEA, which was formed in March 2017 by Santander, JPMorgan, and a variety of other members, now numbers 500 enterprise members. It focuses on improving the privacy, scalability, and security of Ethereum blockchain applications.

At the beginning of May, the EEA’s Enterprise Ethereum Architectural Stack went live, a software stack which standardizes the specifications for business applications based on Ethereum. The next steps for the EEA will be building a testnet to test proofs-of-concept and a revision of the specifications ideally by the end of the year, followed by a launch of an EEA certification program.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, EEA head Ron Resnick, said that the EE Client Specification is “basically the catapult that launches the whole ecosystem”:

“Without interoperability, the big players aren’t going to want to jump in, because they don’t want to be locked in to one particular vendor for a proprietary solution […] It attracts more and more of the bigger players to come in and make a commitment, because they feel a little more safe that they’re not going to get stuck.”

Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of Hyperledger, said that the release of the specifications is “yet one more way in which the Hyperledger and Ethereum communities are not competitors but allies:”

“We’re very happy that the Hyperledger Sawtooth developer community has the goal of EEA 1.0 compatibility.”

Last week, the Blockchain Research Office of China’s IT Ministry announced that they aimed to release nationwide blockchain standards by the end of 2019. When asked about the compatibility of EEA specifications for the ETH blockchain and potential blockchain standards coming from China, Resnick told Cointelegraph that “we would have to come up with a way to partner:”

“At the end of the day, if 500 companies, and now let’s say we double it to 1000, if all the global countries in the world are basing their solutions on Enterprise Ethereum specification, I would suggest that if China is working on something, they would want interoperability […] All we would do is engage with them, we would share. Our spec, we can have it […] I would think that they would probably want to take a look.”

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