18.01.2021

IBM and Citibank Join Singapore Late-Stage Blockchain Accelerator

Local news outlet TheStraitsTimes reported on Sept. 18 that the companies above joined as corporate partners Tribe accelerator for the second edition of its four-month program. Per the report, Tribe helps blockchain startups in their growth-stage by connecting them with major corporations.

IBM, Citibank and video game giant Ubisoft have signed up to Singapore-based blockchain accelerator Tribe Accelerator.

Corporations mingle with blockchain startups

Startups of this second group operate in fields such as media and advertising, cybersecurity, healthcare, fintech and supply chain management.

The list of participating startups includes Binance-backed digital identity and password management firm Torus, distributed database service Bluzelle, healthcare startup WhiteCoat, digital identity and data management platform AID:Tech, and customer loyalty management platform Aqilliz.

The first batch of startups which completed the program in July this year and reportedly raised over $12.2 billion within three months.

Major corporate backing

Since its launch last year, the program received support from government and corporate partners including insurance giant AXA, BMW Group Asia, Intel, business blockchain platform R3, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Nielsen, Big Four auditor PwC and Temasek. Tribe Accelerator managing director Ng Yi Ming commented on the first round:

“The success of the inaugural batch far surpassed our initial expectations. By ensuring all parties are aligned with a common objective, it has greatly reduced information overlaps and made solution integration prompt.”

Citibank has already established a long track record with blockchain technology. As Cointelegraph reported in July 2015, the bank’s parent company Citigroup developed three blockchains and a test cryptocurrency dubbed “Citicoin” – which turned out to be no more than vaporware in hindsight.

IBM and Chef Aarón Sánchez Bring Food to the Blockchain

Chef Aarón Sánchez and IBM teamed up at CES 2020 to create a vision of a blockchain-based food chain. IBM’s Food Trust project, of which Sánchez is a part, aims to allow growers, grocers and cooks to track their food from seed to plate.

The system, said IBM General Manager of Blockchain Services Jason Kelley, uses the blockchain simply because it is the cheapest way to get everyone –  from the farmer in the field to a tech-loving chef like Sánchez – to connect. Rather than forcing each participant to run massive data stores or buy expensive gear, this blockchain allows for most of the interaction to happen using 3D-printed hardware and cellphones.

Sánchez is the founder of the restaurant Johnny Sanchez in New Orleans and a judge on the television show MasterChef.

Originally aimed at managing food supply chains for big corporations like Nestle, the new tech allows for farmers to optically or chemically scan their products using simple electronics. Then, as the food moves from farmer to supplier to kitchen, everyone involved can confirm the product matches the description. In fact, IBM showed off how its technology can “read” the colors in olive oil and help identify the manufacturer. One manufacturer, CHO, is already shipping its blockchain-tracked oil to Whole Foods stores.

We spoke with Kelley and Sánchez at CES 2020. In fact, Sánchez cooked with blockchain-tracked produce including kale and scallops.

“For me, I felt like there were a lot of nameless ingredients, in the sense that I didn’t have the connection to the farmer necessarily,” said Sánchez. “Blockchain allows you to have a direct connection and a conversation through technology.”

Sánchez served his blockchain-infused food at the event, showing us that the path to mass adoption may be through our stomachs.

Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf Says Blockchain’s Potential Is ‘Hitting a Tipping Point’

Last December, Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf said 2019 was a year of “careful, prosaic BUIDLING.” Now, in an interview with CoinDesk’s Michael Casey in Davos, Switzerland, Behlendorf says a lot of what the blockchain ecosystem was building is getting closer to becoming a net positive for the world.

Citing “double-digit” blockchain usage in the diamond trade for tracing provenance, a variety of blockchain-based digital identity projects and the rise of the central bank digital currency (CBDC), Behlendorf painted an upbeat picture of a technology moving quietly from concept phase to “in-production” deployment.

“At this point, there have been enough pilots. There’s a path here through this technology to production employment,” he said.

By using tools like digital identity and secure transactions, Behlendorf believes many of the biggest problems of the day can, in some ways, be improved.

“We’re moving towards much more self-managed, self-sovereign distributed digital identity, which would not have been possible without distributed ledger technology. I know that’s a big recurring theme here that we’re hearing, and now you’re seeing legitimization in the form of the central bank’s recognizing the technology inside. So I’m feeling a tipping point,” he said.

The annual event in Davos, he said, is the right place to get government and business leaders to engage on such projects.

“I worked for the World Economic Forum for two years as chief technology officer so I’ve been coming here for quite a while,” he said. “The forum itself was founded on these idealistic notions of making the world better.”

The goal, said Behlendorf, was to build consensus around pressing issues. He sees parallels to this mission in the blockchain.

“[You get] people in a room around a table from all sorts of different sides of an issue, get them to talk about how you get out of a thorny systemic problem and come out of that room with a consensus view of how to fix things, right?” he said. “That’s kind of blockchain in a nutshell.”

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