R3 Inks Deal with Wethaq to Digitize Islamic Markets 16125

Digitize

Fintech, Wethaq, has signed a strategic partnership with enterprise blockchain software firm R3 to build the next generation of financial market infrastructure to enable issuers, investors, central banks and regulators to seamlessly transact in Islamic capital markets.

Wethaq’s platform –built on R3’s Corda Enterprise – is initially aimed at improving the market infrastructure supporting the issuance and trading of Sukuk securities. There is currently substantial unmet demand for Sukuk, the global market for which is worth over $120bn annually. The platform will make Sukuk more accessible by digitizing the costly and lengthy issuance process, which is at present manual, non-standardised and fragmented.

Wethaq has been working alongside regulators in several jurisdictions to ensure the platform will be fully compliant both from financial and Shariah perspectives.

R3’s Corda Enterprise platform is specifically designed for practical business usage and includes additional security protocols that make it ideally suited to the heavily regulated and complex Sukuk capital market.

The Wethaq platform will simplify the Sukuk lifecycle, being solely accountable for performing functions that would otherwise be performed by a number of banks, clearing and trustee entities. Furthermore, the Wethaq platform is designed to seamlessly interoperate with global Financial Market Infrastructure enabling wider distribution for issuers and investors.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3, said: “Blockchain is driving an unprecedented period of innovation across capital markets, with more assets moving towards complete digitization. As such, there is no better time to seize the advantages of blockchain to transform global financial systems. Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East region are areas where we see huge potential for Corda to modernize the economy and our partnership with Wethaq is a step towards achieving that.”

Mohammed Alsehli, CEO at Wethaq said: “In building the next generation of financial market infrastructure for Sukuks we have found a valuable and trusted partner in R3 and its Corda Enterprise software. Our joint focus is on building world-class financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia, in alignment with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and the UAE, pursuant to their ambitious fintech agenda, before we expand to the entire Middle East and Southeast Asia. We invite the wider Sukuk community to join the platform to ease access to capital markets, source new products for investors internationally and more closely integrate Sukuk markets with their global counterparts.”

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Nestlé on propagating digital thinking & pioneering the use of blockchains 15549

Nestl

AS COMPANIES embrace technology and add digital to their DNA, they realize that the sky is the limit. Of course, digital thinking skills are critical, and that’s what sets organizations such as Nestlé apart from its competitors.

The company has been working on the Chain of Origin project — an effort to bring more transparency into the supply chain — which has just been shortlisted for an award in the ‘Operating Model Mastery‘ category at the IDC Digital Transformation Awards.

Ahead of the award ceremony, Tech Wire Asia caught up with Nestlé Digital Technology Manager Armin Nehzat to learn how the company propagates digital thinking and its success pioneering the use of blockchains in the Chain of Origin project.

“The company, on a global level, has seen the need to develop in a digital way. We launched a global program called DAT (Digital Acceleration Team) where members of the brand teams are exposed to digital projects.

“Members of the DAT also have the ability to go on missions to other Nestlé offices in order to propagate digital thinking and complete briefs based on brand & consumer problems and needs, usually on smaller budgets and condensed timelines.

For the Chain of Origin project, the company took a similar approach and started with an initial proof of concept that did not require an investment. That helped the team present the business case and secure funding for development.

According to Nehzat, the Chain of Origin project has been a tad more challenging than most others.

“It has been testing how quickly we can move as an organization to completely review how we do business. From sourcing products at the micro lot level, all the way through to tracking products individually to the end consumers.

In order to succeed, the company adopted a “start-up” mindset approach, deploying small teams with the ability to solve problems on the go.

However, Nehzat plans on taking the learnings from this project and transferring them to things that the organization pursues in the future.

“While we are starting the transformation on a small scale with a new brand, we are looking to see how this could scale to other product offers. So I guess it’s more of a long term journey rather than a short term bet.”

MERJ Exchange Partners With FCA-regulated Globacap to Offer Tokenized Securities to EU Investors 16670

MERJ Exchange

In a move to shape the future of financial markets, the first national stock exchange to list tokenized securities today announces its partnership with the UK’s first regulated platform to issue tokenized equity. MERJ Exchange beat rivals to become the first fully-regulated exchange globally to list equity-security tokens in August. Now, in another first, the national stock exchange of the Seychelles plans an initial public offering of the tokens. It will partner with London-based Globacap to distribute the securities in the UK and Europe.

The alliance brings together two companies intent on introducing international governance standards and safety nets to the world of digital assets through fully compliant end-to-end infrastructure. In 2018, Globacap became the first company to issue an equity-security token under supervision of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority.

“We will be the first entity anywhere in the world to hold an initial public offering of security tokens,” said Edmond Tuohy, CEO of MERJ Exchange. “For this ground-breaking event, it is essential to have a partner on board with the right technology, systems and approach to grasp the significance of this milestone. Globacap are among the leaders who are really executing in this space and that resonates well with us.”

With 8.7 million of its own shares listed on the Seychelles exchange in tokenized form, MERJ plans to offer 16% of the company’s share capital in its IPO, set for next month.

“Globacap and MERJ share a sense of mission to bring the efficiency and cost benefits of distributed ledger technology to the regulated financial markets arena,” said Globacap Founder and CEO Myles Milston. “MERJ has demonstrated unquestionable leadership and its IPO will be a landmark event in bridging regulated financial markets and the world of digital assets.”

The Seychelles exchange developed as a result of the IMF and World Bank working with the islands government to build a financial services sector, while coordinating with agencies like the OECD and FATF to ensure compliance with the highest international standards. An affiliate member of the World Federation of Exchanges, MERJ is licensed by the Seychelles Financial Services Authority, which is an associate member of IOSCO.

KBA Becomes General Partner of R3 Corda 16857

R3 Corda

Kerala Blockchain Academy (KBA), a state government initiative under the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management – Kerala (IIITM-K), has been chosen as a general partner of R3, a New York-based enterprise blockchain platform and technology firm enabling blockchain solutions in the financial sector. KBA has already designed a developer certification programme on corda blockchain and it will be rolled out from September, this year. This programme is meant for banking and technology professionals and includes training on Corda App development.

Apart from offering in-person classroom training on various blockchain technologies such as ethereum and hyperledger, KBA is the first government institution in the country to offer a developer programme on corda blockchain.

Many banks in Kerala have already started implementing corda blockchain-based solutions for their core banking systems.

R3 consortium leads an ecosystem of more than 300 organizations working together to develop distributed applications for usages in industries such as financial services and insurance.

Most of the banks and other financial institutions across the globe are now focusing on building solutions using R3’s corda blockchain. Development on corda and corda enterprise is happening now, with many live apps in production, and hundreds of firms and thousands of technologists engaged as part of the R3 community to solve a multitude of problems across various industries.

EPAM Joins Blockchain in Transport Alliance, the World’s Largest Commercial Blockchain Association 16404

EPAM Systems, Inc., a leading global provider of digital platform engineering and software development services, today announced that it has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA). BiTA is the largest commercial blockchain alliance in the world and develops blockchain best practices and standards in the transportation, logistics and supply chain industry. As one of BiTA’s member organizations, EPAM will leverage its software engineering expertise to help the alliance drive standards and enable blockchain technology adoption.

“With all the buzz and hype in the market, some companies assume that blockchain is the ultimate be-all, end-all solution for any business challenge. At EPAM, we’re working closely with our customers to help them truly understand how they can utilize distributed ledger technology, in combination with our other solution offerings, to increase efficiency and unlock new business models,” said Jitin Agarwal, VP, Enterprise Products, EPAM. “With over 25 years of software engineering expertise, we’ve helped our customers through each wave of technology change, and we’re excited to work with BiTA and other industry partners to help our clients navigate this emerging technology and realize the real business benefits of blockchain.”

EPAM has identified 21 blockchain use cases across six industries, including agriculture, consumer packaged goods, manufacturing and retail, insurance, healthcare, life sciences and transportation and logistics. With over 30 engagements and 15 working prototypes, EPAM helps its customers create enterprise blockchain solutions from scratch and integrate enterprise IT ecosystems to external blockchains, resulting in increased traceability and greater customer trust and engagement.

“On behalf of the members of BiTA, I welcome EPAM Systems to the Alliance,” said BiTA President Patrick Duffy. “EPAM’s real-world blockchain expertise will be valuable as the organization moves forward in its development of additional standards for the global transportation marketplace.”

Kelly Services Enters Public Blockchain Arena, Partners With Online Hiring Platform 17214

Stablecoins

An increasing number of mainstream giants have taken the plunge into the blockchain world over the past two years. Players such as Walmart and Facebook have shown interest in the technology to improve areas like supply chain and value transfer. Staffing giant Kelly Services has joined online hiring platform Moonlighting to bring blockchain to human capital.

Kelly has announced “a strategic partnership between Kelly Services and Moonlighting,” John Healy, vice president and managing director for the Office of the Future of Work, “an organization within Kelly [Services],” said to me in an interview.

“Kelly’s innovation fund and our Office of the Future of Work, together, are coming together with Jeff [Tennery] and Moonlighting to form this,” Healy said. “A big part of it is the aspect that Moonlighting has made a commitment to using blockchain as a foundation for what they’re doing with their platform as they move forward,” he added. “We think that [there are] some pretty significant market opportunities that are going to come as a result of that.” The Moonlighting platform is based on EOSIO’s public blockchain, with no crypto asset involved, Moonlighting CEO and founder Jeff Tennery clarified to me in an email.

In the hiring world, job seeking and freelancing can be difficult and redundant in the sense that such parties may need to upload their skills, profiles and information to many different platforms and websites in an attempt to gain job exposure. This can be time consuming. Blockchain may hold the keys to smoothing out the process, as well as adding elements of decentralization and security to the mix.

ICON Foundation Announces $600,000 Incentivization Plan Towards Public Representatives Elections 16444

ICON Foundation

ICON Foundation is pleased to announce that it will be incentivizing community members to prepare for participation in the upcoming Public Representative (P-Rep) elections with a giveaway of 3 million ICX tokens. The giveaway will take place during the pre-voting period, which will run for 30 days from August 26 to September 24.

Why Run a Pre-Voting Period?

The pre-voting period serves two purposes. Firstly, it provides an early opportunity for the ICON community to become involved in the process of staking and voting and be rewarded for doing so. Furthermore, the giveaway of 3 million ICX tokens helps to distribute voting power throughout the ICON Network. Diluting the percentage of the network owned by the ICON Foundation, thereby promoting decentralization and providing more voting influence to ICON Network participants.

Secondly, the pre-voting period provides an opportunity for the ICON community to balance out votes between all P-Rep candidates. This will serve to stabilize the ICON Network by avoiding the centralization of power in the hands of just a few representatives at the point of launch. For this reason, ICON is actively encouraging all members to spread their delegation across multiple P-Reps.

Speaking of the pre-voting period, Min Kim, Council Member and Founder at the ICON Foundation stated:

“We are very excited towards the upcoming P-Rep elections. We have been working on it together with the community for a long time. With the giveaway, we expect not just to re-distribute 3 million ICX for better decentralization and voting capabilities, but we also hope to encourage current ICX holders and ICON community members to transfer their coins to ICONex wallet, so they can properly stake and participate in the upcoming P-Rep elections.”

How ICX Holders Can Participate in Pre-Voting

Anyone holding ICX tokens during the pre-voting period is eligible to participate. Participants can earn their share of the 3 million ICX giveaway by staking and delegating their tokens to their chosen P-Reps.

During August, the ICONex wallet will be updated with a new user interface, which will enable the voting process once it officially opens on August 26.

Within the ICONex wallet voting interface, ICX holders can simply specify the percentage of their ICX tokens they wish to stake in the overall vote. From there, they can vote for up to 10 P-Reps per wallet, and choose how much of their staked ICX they wish to delegate to each of their chosen P-Reps.

Subsequently, participants share of the ICX giveaway will be sent to their ICON wallet.

ICON has published a full tutorial including a step-by-step guide to the staking and delegating process. The ICON YouTube channel also contains a dedicated playlist for the ICONSENSUS voting process which includes videos from P-Rep candidates. ICX holders wishing to vote are encouraged to review a wide range of candidates and spread their votes accordingly.