March 2020 Newsletter

CEO’s Update: Blockchain Solutions for Recovery & Resilience

How Blockchain technology can assist the economic and health recovery and safeguard our systems in the future.

COVID19 is perhaps the harshest example of a black swan event: it has come as a surprise to almost all, its impact is likely to be severe and there is an abundance of those claiming in hindsight that it was entirely predictable.

Around the world, government and business leaders along with ordinary citizens are coming to the unsettling realisation that assumptions about the robustness of economic, health and social systems can be brought undone by a microbe.

As we face into a period of shared uncertainty and economic difficulty, we need to begin NOW to accelerate the recovery and create much greater resilience against future shocks.  This is not a business as usual challenge. New and innovative thinking along with the smart deployment of technological and organisational solutions is needed – at pace.

Blockchain technology can help drive the economic and health recovery and underpin more resilient systems in the future.

Accelerating Recovery

Ubiquitous and trusted digital credentials can assist now in managing safety, distribution and entitlement issues.  Just to name a few areas, a blockchain credential could:

  • verify that a medical professional or essential services worker is entitled to enter a certain area;
  • confirm that a benefit recipient (eg old age pensioner) is entitled to shop at a certain time or purchase certain products;
  • easily demonstrating that a stood down QANTAS flight attendant has recent first aid credentials that mean they could be quickly redeployed to assist with health triage;
  • verify that an individual has been tested for COVID and found to be negative or recovered as at a certain date.

Or even that I have already purchased a packet of toilet paper this week and just need to wait a while before buying another!

See the full contributions in the articles below by John Phillips of SSI and John Macy of CET for further detail.

Another key opportunity as we see a shift to much more extensive working from home is the ability to verify and share delegated authorities that we exercise on behalf of our employers.  Our current systems are not well designed for virtual working and lack interoperability.  As one small example, I was recently forced to attend a bank branch in order to record a physical signature allowing a colleague access to our online banking app.  What was an annoying inconvenience a month ago has become a potential threat to health.

The National Blockchain Roadmap has already identified credentials as a key use case.  Importantly, the core technology already exists.  Efforts that were once seen as a nice-to-have way to remove costs from the banking and utility sector could easily be accelerated to become a key tool in accelerating economic recovery.

Building Resilience

As we look beyond the immediate crisis and recovery, it is increasingly clear that systems and processes across society will be changed forever by the COVID19 phenomenon.

Government and business leaders now tasked with ‘Horizon 3’ planning for the post-COVID world should evaluate and begin investment in potential blockchain solutions that will make our institutions more robust in the face a future shock including:

  • Track and Trace solutions that allow linking of identity data in a public health or other emergency while remaining privacy compliant in day to day life;
  • More resilient supply chains achieved through transparency and smart contract based governance tools;
  • Virtual working through ubiquitous and trusted identity credentials including authorities and permissions;
  • Enhanced virtual learning through ‘learning wallets’;
  • Targeting of welfare and other social benefits through conditional payments;
  • Enhanced labour mobility through trusted vocational credentials
  • Improved investment returns as citizens rebuild damaged superannuation funds through more efficient funds management tools.

All of these ideas and more have already been identified as transformative solutions for industry and government.The current crisis has shown that not only is there a business case for change based on efficiency and transparency in normal times but that these tools can help protect and preserve markets and populations in times of crisis.

Business as usual is over. The emerging trust economy has long been predicted to change our economy and society for the better.  The COVID19 emergency means that we should accelerate those efforts so that we can recover more quickly and have greater resilience in the future.

Nicholas Giurietto
CEO
Blockchain Australia

SSI in the time of COVID-19: this can help us all
John Phillips, Self-Sovereign Identity

 

Self-Sovereign Identity can be a powerful ally in our global battle against COVID-19. Here’s why.

The Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) community is, first and foremost, a group of people caught up in the crisis with their friends, families, colleagues, communities and countries just like everyone else. However, we are also aware that what we have been developing as an open-source, open-standards, global movement can help our collective COVID-19 response right now.

This is not profiteering. SSI is an open-source, open-standards community whose members typically have a strong altruistic streak even if they, like everyone else, need to earn a living. Nor is SSI a cure for COVID-19, but SSI has the real potential to help us organise ourselves to get through the unfolding crisis.

The impacts of COVID-19 are being felt by all of us and have demanded unprecedented personal and collective action. Some responses offer hope – the collaborative response of the global medical community continues to be exceptional. Some responses offer embarrassment – panic shopping and the hoarding of toilet rolls. While changes are felt daily, this is a crisis that will be measured in months, not days. No matter who we are, or where we live, we are all having to adapt and change as we find out more about the contagion, about our societies, and about ourselves as individuals.

An essential part of managing the response is the ability to bring out new regulations with unprecedented speed and frequency. These regulations define and demand changes in what we can, and cannot, do as individuals.

What seems certain is that we will increasingly need to adapt to new and changing regulations. We will need to be able to prove things to others that have not been required before, yesterday, last week, or last month. What we need to prove, who we need to prove it to, and when we need to prove it, will be unprecedented. By definition, we do not have recognised ways to prove these things at present.

Moving forward we may need to prove things like:

  • I live near here (I’m allowed to be here)
  • I can shop here (I live nearby)
  • I can shop at this time (I’m a medical professional)
  • I can shop at this time (I’m over 60)
  • I can shop on this day (I’m allowed to shop on Tuesday)
  • I can purchase these items
  • I have had COVID-19 and been tested as clear <on date>
  • I was tested for COVID-19 on <date>, and found to be negative
  • I need this prescription (I have been diagnosed and require these drugs)
  • I am medical professional
  • I am an essential services worker

SSI offers a way to issue these “verifiable credentials” securely to people. They can be issued using technology we have now, by existing authorities (Government bodies, Professional Organisations, Medical Authorities etc.), and delivered to people using technology they already have (mobile phones). We can carry these credentials around with us and prove that we have them to the people and organisations that need to check them. Critically, four things can be checked:

  1. Who issued the credential?
  2. Was it given to the person presenting it?
  3. Has it been changed fraudulently after it was issued?
  4. Has it been revoked

SSI is flexible (new credential definitions can be defined and credentials issued by authorities when they choose), secure, and privacy enhancing (the holder of the credential can choose the information to share depending on context).

This last point is critical. We will all need to accept losses of liberties over the coming months. That is unfortunate, but for most of us, understandable and acceptable. However, we need to avoid developing long-lasting and poor system responses, in particular we need to avoid trying to repurpose single-purpose centralised systems for a number of critical reasons:

  1. They are just too slow and expensive to work with. Most cost hundreds of millions of dollars and years to build, and any change is measured in more millions and months of time.
  2. They are fragile in ways that are hard to predict and govern
  3. They are single point sensitive – if that one system fails, everything fails
  4. They can be hard to unwind afterwards and leave toxic data collections that can be hard to manage
  5. Centralised systems and data are a honeypot for hackers and those who want to further disrupt societies when they are most vulnerable.

SSI lets us rely on our existing societal and organisation structures. It relies on the legal frameworks, organisations and people we already recognise as having responsibility and authority. It enables these organisations to create the dynamic, responsive and decentralised framework of trust that these times demand. Critically, the decentralised technology means it can rapidly develop to support a myriad of credentials and social interaction scenarios. When this crisis is over, these credentials leave no central legacy of sensitive data.

I and my colleagues at 460degrees would be happy to discuss with any authority working on the COVID-19 response how SSI can help them respond to the crisis. I know this to be true for the wider SSI community too. We want to help, and this is how we can.

There is no time like the present. Literally.

 

See the article on LinkedIn

CET adds Vaccination Status to its’ Global Workforce Blockchain
John Macy (FAHRILife), Founder and MD at Competitive Edge Technology Ptd Ltd

Premise on which this article is based:

  • The current COVID-19 will end when a vaccine to stop the spread of the virus is developed
  • The brightest minds in the world are working on a vaccine and they will succeed very soon
  • Once a vaccine is developed there will be a huge logistic exercise to vaccinate populations
  • For fast economic recovery there must be consumer confidence
  • The resumption of economic activity is essential to avoid global recession, or worse
  • Customer facing businesses must have their workforce immunised to claim COVD-19 free status
  • Proven workforce immunisation is critical for the resumption of economic activity
  • Blockchain technology offers immutable verification of vaccination claims

In preparation for the post-corona era, Competitive Edge Technology have added a new credential to their list of employee owned blockchain data. Along with private identifiable data, bank details, superannuation (pension), education, etc. CET is now adding vaccination status to its integrated blockchain database.

 

COVID-19 will not disappear overnight – a vaccine is needed

 

The world has taken drastic action to contain the spread of COVID-19 by closing down economic and social activity, but that is not sustainable: Nor, is the eradication of the virus in the short term. It is still uncertain how it is spread and whether human-to-human is the only way. Even, if the virus is miraculously reduced through current measures in the major countries we may still be calling today’s experience COVID-19 ROUND ONE. The virus could flare up again as northern and southern hemispheres rotate between summer and winter and pockets of the virus still exist in some countries currently flying under the radar. We can expect a fall in instances in the northern hemisphere as the warmer weather kicks in and isolation measures takes affect: But, it will not disappear altogether until a vaccine is developed to successfully prevent the virus. Without a vaccine we could experience a COVID-19 ROUND TWO.

 

A vaccine to prevent the virus spread will happen – get ready

 

We know there are existing drugs that claim to kill the virus and it is only a matter of time before a vaccine is developed to prevent a person from catching the virus. The challenge now is to develop strategies to manage the workforce in the post-corona era and make a fast global economic recovery. That is critical and must be carefully managed. Blockchain technology has a role to play in the vaccination monitoring process.

 

The hypothetical vaccination process

 

Let us assume a vaccine passes medical trials and is available in the next few months. The last thing that must not be allowed to happen is for countries to let down their guard and re-start social activities resume immediately. The population will need to be vaccinated before that can happen, and the vaccination process should start with the workforce first. Of course, that will need to be done in an orderly manner, without the kind of panic we have seen in supermarkets, and industries must be prioritized: For example, health care industry and emergency workers first.

Because of all the global travel, trade and tourism economic activity involving physical movement between countries there will still need to be strict border controls and confirmation of vaccination for non-workforce members. That is a challenge for the World Health Organization and governments, but the same technology solution applies.

 

Vaccination verification process

 

Workforce vaccination claims should be subject to electronic credentials checking, along with education, past experience, skills, criminal checks, etc.

Company owners and investors will want to know what risk their companies are exposed to if a COVID-19 ROUND TWO kicks in. There must be:

(1) full immunization of their workforce, and

(2) certainty that vaccination claims have been verified.

That is where blockchain kicks in. It is so easy to falsify records in the modern era and that is why the immutable capabilities of blockchain is so important. Eventually, there could be integration with country health records but that will take time before standards can be developed and data integration can take place.

 

HR strategy starts with workforce vaccination data

 

Hopefully, the world has learned lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic and companies will take the opportunity to develop what-if scenarios in case a similar situation arises such as COVID-19 ROUND TWO.

From an HR technology perspective, unless the vaccination data is integrated to a company data platform, at the onboarding or pre-employment phase, the vaccine information would be not be reliable. Visual checks of another government or medical application would introduce a human verification process and would not be acceptable.

Commercially, when a vaccine is available and the mass vaccination process starts, companies claiming full workforce vaccination could claim a “COVID-19 FREE WORKPLACE” status and that would be a huge competitive advantage: Especially for restaurants, clubs, etc.

 

CET’s pro-active strategy

 

CET is hoping their global workforce blockchain can be rolled out in the next couple of months before the vaccine is widely available so policies and procedures can be put in place to capture vaccination data immediately and companies can get back to a new form of normality, secure in the knowledge their workforce will not be spreading the virus to their colleagues, customers, or the wider community.

 

See the article on LinkedIn

APAC Blockchain Conference & Australian Blockchain Industry Awards Postponed 

 

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, Blockchain Australia and the conference organisers, Quest Events, have taken the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the APAC Blockchain Conference.

We have worked together over the past four years to make the APAC Blockchain Conference, the premier industry event for the blockchain sector in Australia. To maintain the quality of the program along with the health and welfare of the attendees, it is necessary to postpone the conference.

A new date for the rescheduled conference will be announced as soon as possible. It is expected that the conference will be held in the September – November time period.

The Australian Blockchain Industry Awards, which are announced in conjunction with the Conference will also be postponed. Applications that have been received to date will be preserved  along with any applications finalised by the original closing date of 29 March. A further application window will also be provided.

Both the APAC Blockchain Conference and Blockchain Industry Awards will be back – bigger and better than ever – as soon as possible.

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Blockchain Young Professionals Update: Louisa Xu, Piper Alderman

 

As Co-Chair of Blockchain Australia Young Professionals, it was wonderful to kick off the year with our event with Women in Blockchain in Sydney event on 17 February 2020. With the recent bushfires across Australia, the event focused on Blockchain for Social Good and supported the Crypto Fire Alliance fundraising efforts for fire affected families and animals.

Michael Bacina, Partner at Piper Alderman started the night off sharing insights in relation to the recently released and much anticipated National Blockchain Roadmap.

Karen Cohen of Women in Blockchain then progressed the dialogue on gender diversity in the blockchain industry, in particular highlighting the importance of male champions of change to support women in leadership across the blockchain industry. Karen then invited Caroline Bowler, the recently appointed CEO of BTC Markets to share her achievements and the importance of backing yourself in leadership.

A panel of movers and shakers in the social impact space including Nick Byrne, CEO of TypeHuman, Anorah John, Innovation Project Specialist at WWF, Robert Allen, Managing Director of nodl.io and Samantha Jewel, Founder of urth.io, which I had the pleasure of moderating, shared their experiences and discussed projects such as Impactio, digital IDs, financial inclusion projects in South Africa and challenges of measuring the impact of these projects.

It was incredible to witness the energy and passion to progress and debate social impact development and gender diversity issues in the blockchain industry.

Blockchain Australia Young Professionals host events and run initiatives to share insights around blockchain and promote discussion around emerging technology. If you would like to get involved with our next initiative, please get in touch.

5 Questions in 5 Minutes with Charlie Karaboga, RelayPay

Company Name              
RelayPay

What does your company do in one sentence?
At RelayPay, we are building B2C and B2B interfaces to bridge the gap between digital currencies and traditional finance.

What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in blockchain?           
With all due respect to Bitcoin, the genesis of cryptocurrencies, it sometimes takes too much attention away for people to see the big picture and the innovation in the blockchain space. Bitcoin was a novel solution to a painful problem but we have other problems that can be solved with blockchain technology, these problems await new inventors.

My advice would be to start with reading the whitepapers of Bitcoin and Ethereum, following the influencers in the space and listening to podcasts to understand the new projects trying to solve other important problems. Finally, pick one that makes you feel passionate and deep dive.

Who are the three people who have been the most influential to you?              

  • Brian Armstrong, CEO and Founder of Coinbase, shows us one of the best examples of how to scale up with a product-led strategy.
  • Kain Warwick is leading by example on how to move traditional financial instruments to the blockchain by creating a synthetic assets platform and exchange on Ethereum called Synthetix.
  • Hayden Adams inspired us by creating a highly successful decentralised exchange called Uniswap with very limited resources, which has been attracting more liquidity than other extremely well-funded projects.

What developments in the blockchain industry are you most excited about?   
Crypto-payments – Last year, leading crypto payment processors reported $4B USD transaction volume, Coinbase e-commerce had a 600% YoY increase.

In 2018 and 2019, a number of successful USD-backed stablecoin were launched and they are now playing a crucial role in the adoption of crypto payments.

Crypto-backed Lending – As of 2019, it is a $6B USD industry and has emerged from nothing just two years ago.

Where can our members & readers connect with you online? 
They can reach us at all our communication channels listed at RelayPay.io. I guess the easiest is still an email to info@relaypay.io

Welcome To Our New Members

BC Gateways is dedicated to evolving a better Financial Services Industry that ultimately drives better outcomes for investors by stripping inefficiency and cost while supporting profitability for real value add services.

View their profile HERE

BDO Australia offers a leading range of services in accountancy, tax and advisory, to clients Australia-wide and are connected by our global network.

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Elbaite is a Melbourne based cryptocurrency exchange service provider in Australia with a focus on safety for traders. Traders can buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies directly with AUD.

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Future CX Pty Ltd is a Blockchain Development, IT Software Solutions and Consultancy Company based in Melbourne Australia. Future CX has it’s back office, core development and technical teams in Colombo Sri Lanka.

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The future of trading. KKBits is Australia’s most reputable and secure cryptocurrency exchange. We have years of experience and are fully licensed.

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Qoin launched in January 2020 with a fully functional blockchain & wallet. Qoin is a front facing digital currency that offers merchants the opportunity to join the Qoin community & accept new customers who pay using Qoin.

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RelayPay is a fintech startup that bridges the gap between traditional finance and digital currencies. The company has built proprietary software, including a crypto enabled payment gateway to solve interoperability problems between fiat rails and digital currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and increasingly popular stablecoins.

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Ryft.tech is presently in an explorative stage. We are considering investment in managed infrastructure and cloud deployment services, and related support. Our skills and experience in this area extend from other ventures.

View their profile HERE

SSI at 460degrees is a strategic investment in the emerging technology of Self-Sovereign Identity by the 460degrees Expert Management Agency.

View their profile HERE

 

Verida is leading the development of self-sovereign data technologies for government and enterprise, using the latest web standards. We believe everyone has a fundamental human right to own and control their data.

View their profile HERE

 

Zipmex is a digital asset exchange that is focused on providing retail and institutional investors the ability to invest securely in cryptocurrencies.

View their profile HERE

 

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