Carrefour and Nestle Use IBM Blockchain Platform for Supply Chain Tracking

Two European multinational companies have been working together with the IBM Food Trust platform. Retail giants Nestlé and Carrefour revealed that they are working with IBM’s blockchain platform to track the supply chain of baby milk formula.

Leveraging the platform, the companies aim to enhance consumer confidence and credibility in the products’ quality. Based on Hyperledger technology, the platform provides more transparency of the entire supply chain of baby milk formulas.

Following a successful pilot allowing customers to access blockchain data about Mousline purée, the two companies have announced a second product to the service.

Specifically, the GUIGOZ Bio 2 and 3 infant milk will be traced on the blockchain platform as a means to provide consumers with more information on the milk’s origin and transparency on product checks. With a simple scan of a QR code, customers will be able to trace the product’s origin as well as certification tests along the way.

“Blockchain technology enhances transparency and advances the food transition for extremely high-quality products, which parents expect for infant nutrition. For Nestle and Laboratoires Guigoz, this innovative blockchain technology creates a new benchmark for transparency and the high standards of care required to ensure the quality of their products,” Nestle stated.

Both Carrefour and Nestlé have already experimented with the application of blockchain for their logistic processes. The companies began using IBM’s blockchain technology in April in order to track the supply chain of Mousline, a well-known brand of instant mashed potatoes.

Representatives of the two companies also shared their satisfaction with the greater transparency enabled by the system. They commented on the ease with which customers could access information about where products originated and confirm that what they are buying is indeed genuine.

Furthermore, Carrefour reported an increase in sales after a number of blockchain implementations that tracked the supply chains of a range of products including meat, milk and fruit. Reportedly, the enhanced traceability allowed consumers to identify products that contained genetically modified organisms and pesticides.

Amun Introduces Interest-Earning Tezos ETP on Swiss Stock Exchange

Switzerland’s primary stock exchange SIX has listed a Tezos (XTZ) exchange-traded product (ETP) that allows investors to generate passive income.

According to an announcement, the new ETP has been issued by fintech crypto startup Amun AG in partnership with the Tezos Foundation and will trade under the symbol AXTZ on the SIX Swiss Stock Exchange.

As a proof-of-stake (PoS)-based products, Tezos investors will be able to passively earn a form of interest by staking or depositing their tokens to both maintain the network and earn rewards.

The new ETP’s main objective is to provide exposure to the performance of the token whilst simulatenously generating additional yield for investors through so-called baking rewards.

Baking is a specific term to Tezos, which enables stakeholders to participate in the staking and governance process by delegating their coins to a delegation service of their choice. Once delegated, these holdings are set in correlation with the total staking balance of the service, with rewards paid out accordingly once they have been released by the network.

It is further explained that it is the first such product that will allow investors to yield a passive income through transactions that are validated on the Tezos blockchain. In addition to that, the firm will charge an annual management fee of 2.5%.

Hany Rashwan – co-founder and CEO of Amun – explained in a statement:

“Investors will be able to buy a stock for as low as $20 and we bake/stake on their behalf and return it to them as a dividend without them required to do any staking on their own.“

The Tezos ETP will be available for both retail and institutional investors, who can participate in the rewards for contributing to the security and stability of the Tezos blockchain, “without the need to ever have to set up a crypto wallet or taking care of a private key,” said Rashwan.

Rashwan further added:

“Via our ETP, [investors can] participate in the associated rewards for contributing to the security and stability of the Tezos blockchain – without the need to ever have to set up a crypto wallet or taking care of a private key.”

The Tezos ETP is Amun’s ninth issued crypto-based ETP and according to the statement the product’s underlying Tezos tokens will be custodied with and staked by Coinbase Custody.

Other cryptocurrency ETPs listed on the SIX exchange include ETPs based on XRP, Bitcoin (BTC), a Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ethereum (ETH) amongst others.

Most recently, Amun has partnered up with Bitcoin Suisse to launch a new BTC and ETH- based ETP on the Swiss exhange stock.

Meanwhile, Amun AG has also launched seven of its ETPs on Germany’s Börse Stuttgart stock exchange, ready to be traded in Euros. Prior to this, the ETPs were available only in US dollars and Swiss francs.

Bitcoin Suisse Partners European Payment Provider Wordline to Bring Crypto Payments

The largest Swiss-regulated financial intermediary and pioneer in crypto-financial services – Bitcoin Suisse – has just announced its partnership with European leader in payments and transactional services provider Wordline.

Recently announced, Bitcoin Suisse and Wordline have signed a letter of intent for a partnership that will provide cryptocurrency payment services to Swiss merchants and consumers both in-store and online.

As one of the oldest and largest crypto financial services provider, Bitcoin Suisse has developed extensive in-house technical and crypto-financial expertise through its more than 6 years of experience in trading, brokerage and storage for cryptocurrencies.

According to the reports, the main goal of this partnership is to augment the existing payment service network of Worldline with cryptocurrency payment capabilities as well as promote and encourage the adoption of cryptocurrency on a larger scale across a wide range of businesses and industries. Further details about the partnership will be revealed at the upcoming Swiss Payments Forum in Zurich.

Upon the announcement, Dr. Arthur Vayloyan – CEO of Bitcoin Suisse – commented:

“Our partnership with Worldline is an incredible step forward on the journey to bring crypto payments into broader adoption. Bitcoin Suisse is proud to serve as the processor of cryptocurrencies in Worldline’s payment service system. We applaud them for their pioneering spirit in taking this monumental step and pointing the way forward for others.”

As noted in the press release, the new system will be available for all users on SIX Payment – Worldline’s nationwide payments infrastructure. Currently, there are 65,000 Swiss merchants who are using the SIX Payment Services. Equipped with cryptocurrency payment capabilities, the traditional network will be expanded to promote the use of the new asset class at a mass scale, in-store and online.

In addition to that, it is noted that the service will be intuitive and easy to use for both staff and consumers. Payouts to merchants will be made in Swiss francs or Euros and the transaction figures will be fully integrated into the merchant reports like any other card or wallet.

Marc Schluep, CEO of Worldline in Switzerland, added that as a market leader, the company had a reputation to introduce latest payment functionalities that boost the customer journey as well as increase efficiency and profitability for its merchants. He further stated that due to the new partnership with Bitcoin Suisse, their client base could benefit from an entirely new offering without taking any conversion risk.

In the event of a successful launch in Switzerland, Worldline will roll out its new cryptocurrency payment service across Europe.

Meanwhile, this partnership aims at strengthening the leading position of Switzerland and as a result establishing the country as a strong center in the crypto-financial services industry. Nonetheless, there are currently over 800 companies developing blockchain solutions or providing services to crypto and companies in Switzerland.

Bakkt Launches Custody Solution for Institutional Investors

Bakkt, the institutional Bitcoin (BTC) trading platform backed by Intercontinental Exchange, has announced on Monday the launch of its custody feature for its entire client base.

The news was shared in a blog post on November 11th by Bakkt, confirming that it had received regulatory approval from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to offer custody services to any institution. Prior to this, this feature was only available for those trading its BTC futures.

The news came just weeks after the company said it would begin offering options on top of its existing BTC futures contracts, which in turn came less than a month after the company went live with its long-anticipated physically delivered offerings.

The new service provides is an extension of the company’s Bakkt Warehouse and will offer bitcoin custodial services to institutional investors. At the moment, several companies have signed on as initial customers for Bakkt Warehouse, including Pantera Capital, Galaxy Digital and Tagomi. Other marquee firms are expected to join in the next few weeks.

Following the release, Bakkt COO Adam White has claimed that the company believes that the custodial feature is a critical link in the institutional adoption of bitcoin is custody.

The blog post further noted that:

“Safely storing digital assets demands a comprehensive approach to custody. Institutions and sophisticated investors need more than cutting-edge technology. They require proven infrastructure, robust operational controls, and independent oversight.”

White further added that whilst technology provided the foundation by which the company stored customer funds, “the Bakkt Warehouse employs extensive physical, operational and cybersecurity safeguards too.”

He noted that due to the relationship between Bakkt and Intercontinental Exchange allowed them to uniquely address client needs in the digital asset custody space, including on-premises data centers and dedicated network connectivity between operational sites,that remove the need to rely on third parties.

According to Bakkt, the new tool will employ a range of security and safeguards, such as redundant secondary facilities, geographically-distributed signing operations, as well as independent reporting structures amongst others. The company is currently working with BNY Mellon to support its geographically separated key storage feature.

In addition to that, the company will also protect its systems with 24 hour video monitoring, armed guards, and security operations and incident response teams. The trading platform has also secured its SOC2 certification – a review of its systems by a third-party auditor.

Although a number of other companies are currently developing their own platforms for physically-settled bitcoin futures in the U.S., Bakkt has been the only one to launch so far.

In the meantime, Bakkt has also recently announced its plans to launch a cryptocurrency consumer app and merchant portal – Starbucks – which would launch in the first half of 2020 with Starbucks.

Meanwhile, Bakkt Warehouse is entering a market with a fair amount of competition, including Fidelity Digital Assets, which fully rolled-out its platform in October. Another market competitor is Coinbase Custody, which launched in 2018 and now manages over $7 billion thanks in part to its acquisition of Xapo’s institutional business.

Singapore Central Bank Develops Cross-Border Payment Rail with JPMorgan

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, in collaboration with investment bank JPMorgan has developed a blockchain-based prototype for multi-currency payments.

According to an official release on Monday, MAS stated that the latest development for its Project Ubin allows for payments to be executed in different currencies on the same network, enabling cross-border payments. This is the fifth phase of the project, which was developed in collaboration with JP Morgan and Temasek – a government-owned investment company.

Started as a collaborative project to test the viability of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, MAS states that the novel implementation is bringing cost and speed benefits.

“There is growing evidence now that blockchain-based payments networks are able to enhance cost efficiencies and create new opportunities for businesses,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer of MAS.

In its fifth phase, the prototype developed allows for payments settlement and clearing with different currencies. The payments network will also provide an interface for other blockchains to connect and will support delivery-versus-payment (DvP) settlement with private exchanes, conditional payments, escrow as well as payments commitments for trade finance.

Beyond technical experimentation, the fifth phase of Project Ubin sought to determine the commercial viability and value of the blockchain-based payments network. Until now, MAS and its partners have engaged more than 40 financial and commercial companies to explore the potential benefits of the blockchain-based network.

“The inclusion of non-financial services companies has demonstrated applicability of blockchain technology beyond capital markets and trade finance. We look forward to deeper collaboration and support for Singapore’s pioneering efforts in the blockchain space,” stated Chia Song Hwee, Chief Operating Officer at Temasek.

Investment bank JP Morgan, part of project Ubin, acts as the infrastructure provider for the prototype’s development. The banking giant has tipped its toes in the blockchain industry with various initiatives, including the inter-bank settlement network with its own stablecoin JPM Coin.

“J.P. Morgan is excited to be an infrastructure partner of MAS and Temasek for Phase 5 of Project Ubin. By leveraging our key learnings from building the Interbank Information Network® (IIN) and the JPM Coin, J.P. Morgan is well-positioned to support the development of a blockchain-based payments network and operate at scale.” John Hunter, Global Head of Clearing and Interbank Information Network.

Consultancy firm Accenture is set to publish a detailed report with the results of the prototype by early 2020, which will also indicate additional features that could be provided by the network.

Singapore officials hope that the success of their trial will motivate other central banks to explore blockchain-based settlement networks as well. Recently, People’s Bank of China (PBoC) revealed the development of its own digital currency, while the European Union is considering the issuance of a digital Euro.