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Using Blockchain To Solve Real World Problems – Interview With Ubirch CEO, Karim Attia

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Image Credit: Ubirch.de

Ubirch is a German-based company using blockchain to solve real-world problems globally. The company is utilizing blockchain in innovative ways across several industries. By providing secure, portable, and immutable data, Ubirch is one company showing the world just how ground-breaking blockchain is. 

Surprisingly, the company started in a garden. Founder and Co-CEO Stephan Noller, connected a birch tree in the garden to the internet with an IoT (internet of things) device he designed. Mentioning the name of the tree in a tweet, caused lights on the tree to glow. The company has since been able to link data generated physically to the digital world, efficiently and securely.

With the company on the verge of being a global provider of digital trust, Karim Attia, CEO of Ubirch, will be taking us on a journey of how Ubirch is using blockchain and cryptography to provide digital trust, integrity, and security. 

How important is blockchain to Ubirch?

Blockchain is a key component for Ubirch in the provision of data that is trustworthy. On a global level, trust becomes very important, and this is where the importance of blockchain comes in. It is a distributed ledger which means no one can tamper with the information on it.  

This is one of the many positive effects of this new technology. Once something has been written in there it is there until the end of time. Therefore, we are using this technology for our trust services. 

We have developed a layer between the public blockchains and our infrastructure which gives us an extra edge in terms of scalability and efficiency. Hence, we can make public blockchains faster at the same time very cost-effective.

Verifying COVID-19 tests results with blockchain, blockchain-on-a-Sim and other applications by Ubirch

Health certificates are becoming more and more important in everyday life. There’s an increasing need for people to prove that they are not infected with COVID-19 or in the future prove that they have been vaccinated. The ability to prove this could be a prerequisite for granting travel permits or even work permits. 

One of the many solutions Ubirch is providing is making sure that these health certificates are not falsified. The test and vaccination status is assessed at the test centre or vaccination centre. We make it easy to verify certificates globally with public blockchains. 

Recently, together with known partners, Ubirch has been able to implement a blockchain client on a Sim Card – a project we are very proud of. Now, any sim card enabled device will be able to use our trust service. It is a very big achievement and we are the only company worldwide, as far as we know to achieve such a feat. 

The Ubirch infrastructure is also being used to provide data that helps women track their cycles and know their fertile time window. The device is created by German startup, Trackle. Trackle is one of our first clients. They are using our infrastructure to make sure that specific temperature data gathered by the device specially designed for women is correct. This data is used to assess fertility rates, supporting women naturally in their family planning efforts. 

Level of blockchain adoption

In Europe, most people think of blockchain as bitcoin, it is still very much associated with cryptocurrency in people’s minds. The other benefits of this revolutionary technology haven’t really caught on in Europe. It takes a lot to convince people of the benefits of blockchain, people usually conclude that you are trying to sell them bitcoin. 

However, it is getting better gradually. We are partnering with a group of data centres across Germany that are providing a local governmental blockchain to support the digital transformation of administrative processes. They are getting it and they are seeing that blockchain has more benefits beyond cryptocurrencies. 

Interestingly, the opportunities of the blockchain ecosystem are the motivation of our team at Ubirch. The enthusiasm emanates from the belief that we are shaping the future. We are setting the pace for entirely new data-driven business models.

Challenges to using blockchain technology

One of the challenges is to identify the right industry and sector that will really benefit from blockchain in the short term. There are sectors where you do not see the benefits of blockchain immediately. So knowing the industry and sector that will benefit from the technology at a sprint is a major challenge. 

For us, however, it is healthcare, insurance, logistics, energy, smart cities, and industry. These sectors are benefiting most from the solutions we offer. 

Ubirch’s plans for Africa?

Soon, we will have the same capabilities we have in Europe, in Africa. Ubirch is happy to support regions within Africa with our knowledge and expertise. There are a lot of ways in which Africa can benefit from blockchain and the solutions we provide. 

Healthcare, supply-chains, real-estate amongst others, are areas where our infrastructure will be beneficial for the continent. 

The future of blockchain. 

Blockchain will be a fundamental part of our lives soon. A lot of things will depend on blockchain infrastructures such as the ones we provide. 

It is already evident from the way it is transforming the financial sector. It will eliminate the need for intermediaries. Blockchain will be a trustworthy global technology on which activities of different sectors will be organized. 

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Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

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Blockchain Technology

Africa Blockchain Hackathon 2021 Edition Begins Registration 

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Africa Blockchain Hackathon
Image Credit: Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI)

The 2021 edition of the Africa Blockchain Hackathon, a brainchild of the Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI) is ready for take-off. The initiative was created to allow young professionals, tech enthusiasts, students and policymakers amongst others to gain exposure to the opportunity of Blockchain/DLT Digital Innovations through mentorship, career and business opportunities. The Hackathon Program is a product of the partnership with FreeTON Africa (Sub Governance). The Hackathon provides a controlled, structural and sustainable mentorship model as well as a community to nurture and empower developers with potential towards building DLT and blockchain solutions. Registration for the Hackathon is already underway and the deadline is fixated on August 25, 2021. 

The contest is done in collaboration with FREE TON, an Open Source (OS)  community project created by developers of the Telegram Open Network (TON). TON OS  has more features than the Ethereum Virtual Machine and is designed as a decentralized operating system capable of handling decentralized applications. TON OS also has a stack of components that can be used by developers to create powerful applications. By making these components Open Source, anyone or everyone can view and copy fragments of the code.

The contest is open to all Africa Blockchain enthusiasts, newbies, artists, developers, policymakers and students. There is a prize of over 62,000 TONs up for grabs for the winner. The contest is open to the 54 countries in Africa for participants to build Blockchain Applications on Free TON. The aim is to add value to the FreeTON Network and the continent will equally benefit from the applications.  

According to John Kanyiri, FreeTON Africa Representative and the FreeTON Africa Team, “… we once again look forward to identifying projects culminating from this hackathon as being not only a showcase of what Africa can offer the global blockchain space but also solutions to the continent’s challenges. The creativity, ambition and sophistication of our localized developers are quite evident in the Hackathons and this time around we hope to see the same. Discovery of new talent and exposure of the same from very remote locations of Africa was witnessed in the last Hackathon and we look forward to the same this time too.”

The Hackathon is open to covering aspects of the blockchain that academia needs to know giving ample information about how the blockchain works and the current and future applications needed to change the world from the blockchain Point of View. The contest is open to both newbies and experienced developers as some of the best technical experts in the blockchain community will be there to aid you. In other words, the event is open to all who seek blockchain knowledge. 

The contest will be carried out in three sections: country competition, regional competition, and continental competition. The country and regional competitions will be held virtually however, winners of the regional competitions will get an all-expense-paid trip to South Africa for the Finals. The winners will attend the Grand Finale which will be hosted in South Africa. Participants are allowed to work on topics or applications that are peculiar to the needs of the African continent. However, some applications may include: 

  • National voting platforms
  • Fintech infrastructure/Digital Wallets (to help those who do not have access to banking)
  • Land ownership and registry
  • High tech job creation
  • Human rights protections

There are lots of prizes to be won including an all-expense paid trip to South Africa for the winners of the regionals. Other prizes includes:

1st Prize: 25,000 TONs

2nd Prize: 15,000 TONs

3rd Prize: 5,000 TONs

4th – 20th Prize: 1,000 TONs

Participants will have to follow a simple process leading up to winning amazing prizes. The first step is to submit applications for the hackathon, meet all the requirements and pitch ideas. Next, participants have to receive Acceptance Confirmation Notification/Onboarding, form a team and then join the opening session. The last part of the process involves building the application and collaborating with team members. 

Notable Dates 

Applications open July 2021.

Application Deadline: August 25th, 2021.

Hackathon Dates:  September 6th – 24th 2021. 

Begin your application here:  https://bit.ly/africablockhack 

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Jelurida Africa Launches Blockchain-backed Certificate Platform, Digicert

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As one of its action plans for accelerating blockchain adoption on the African continent, Jelurida Africa has launched a blockchain-backed certificate-issuing platform called MyDigiCert. The platform allows issuers to store certificates on the blockchain, and equally give requisite access to intended recipients of the certificate(s).

MyDigiCert equally provides an option for certificates to be verified on the blockchain through the use of a unique hash which would be allotted to each certificate that is duly issued by the platform. According to the Managing Director of Jelurida Africa, Adedayo Adedajo, MyDigiCert was primarily created in a bid to curb the widespread certificate fraud in African institutions and universities. With blockchain-backed certificates, the risk of forging would be little to none, as one of the most prominent features of blockchain technology is its immutability.

To upload or create blockchain-backed certificates through the platform, users can sign up with telephone numbers across several African countries, and subsequently verify issued certificates from anywhere in the world. Asides creating certificates, recipients of such certificates may equally apply to receive them, provided that such recipients possess the unique hash code which is allotted to each certificate at the point of issuance.

Due to the fact that MyDigiCert operates an immutable system for creating, issuing, receiving an verifying certificates, issues such as certificate loss, certificate fraud or unnecessary delays in certificate issuance which often embattle the African educational system can be adequately curbed. Similarly, the product’s payment plans are specially tailored according to individual needs. As such, every person would be able to find a reasonably affordable payment plan to suit his or her needs. Payments can be made through a debit card or bank transfer, all powered by Paystack. The product is offered as a subscription-based SaaS platform, and there are equally provisions for institutions that may be seeking to fully run to product through their own servers.

An in-house testing was conducted on MyDigiCert on the 6th of May, 2021. The official date for the launch of the product has been slated for June 13, 2021. In commemoration of the official launch, a blockchain workshop will be conducted for African universities.

MyDigiCert is one of the several products which Jelurida Africa is set to launch this year. In addition to its pipeline of prospective blockchain products, the company is set to launch the first Europe-Africa blockchain bootcamp for European and African developers and policy makers across both continents. For partnerships on any of Jelurida’s products or the upcoming blockchain program, you may send a mail to info@jelafrica.com

Jelurida Africa
Image Credit: Jelurida Africa / CoinPost

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LVMH, Prada and Cartier Join Forces To Use Blockchain To Fight Counterfeiting

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Three top competitors in the European luxury market—LVMH, Prada and Cartier—have united forces to leverage blockchain technology to combat the worsening challenge of counterfeiting. Counterfeiting remains one of the major challenges that luxury brands face. In the 2020 fiscal year alone, $1.3 billion worth of goods were seized by the US customs alone. To address this issue, these three brands have signed up to the Aura Blockchain Consortium, a non-profit that utilizes blockchain technology to tackle counterfeiting.

The Aura Blockchain was launched earlier in 2019 by LVMH, in partnership with Microsoft and Consensys to achieve the same goal as the newly formed consortium. Aura will gather data on products at every step of the supply chain. Thus, through the Aura Blockchain, consumers will have access to the entire history of a product as well as a proof of authenticity that will be received electronically as a digital certificate after purchase. Each product will come with its unique ID that will be connected to the digital certificate on the blockchain.

According to a statement by Aura, through the use of the blockchain-based tool, “Consumers can easily and transparently follow a product’s lifecycle, from conception through distribution, with trusted data throughout, and thus strengthen their relationship with their favorite luxury brands.”

The Aura Blockchain will be available for use to any luxury brand. Participating brands will be required to pay a license fee and a volume fee annually, and more brands are encouraged to join the system. “We invite the entire profession to join this consortium to design a new luxury era enabled by blockchain technology,” Cyrille Vigneron, president of Cartier and a member of Richemont’s Board and Senior Executive Committee, said in a statement.

According to a press release earlier in the week, Bulgari, Cartier, Hublot, Louis Vuitton and Prada are already using the system and “several advanced conversations” are being held with other luxury brands to join the Consortium. Emphasizing on the importance of forging an alliance to fight counterfeiting via the Aura blockchain innovation, Toi Belloni, LVMH managing director, commented that, “By joining forces with other luxury brands on this project, we are leading the way on transparency and traceability. I hope other prestigious players will join our alliance.”

The Aura blockchain will significantly improve the security of luxury brand products and help consumers to ascertain the authenticity of these products. Dr. Martina Olbert, founder of Meaning.Global, adds that this alliance can drastically change the future of luxury. According to the Meaning.Global founder, “The alliance of three big players signals something important about the future of the luxury market dynamic. Luxury isn’t a game of competition. Luxury is a game of value creation. It is based on embracing the unique identity, authenticity and inner essence of brands. To function that way again, the luxury industry needs to become collective and tackle challenges as a whole.”

The use of blockchain in the luxury market will be significant in the restoration of trust, which is critical to the growth and survival of the system. “Brands can take back control over the customer relationships and focus on creating long-term value for themselves by putting the customers first and giving the customers transparent access to the luxury brands for communication, traceability and purchase,” adds Dr. Olbert.

Commenting on the importance of this blockchain innovation to the luxury market, Chris Ramey, founder of Affluent Insights notes that “In a world full of counterfeiters and poseurs, protecting clients is vital to protecting the luxury brand.” He adds that “Aura will secure the traditional pillars of luxury which define luxury brands and protect their wealthy clients.”

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