IBM Partners with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Blockchain Supply Chain System

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has successfully collaborated with IBM to pilot a blockchain supply chain system, according to an ADNOC press release published on Dec. 9.

The release notes that ADNOC — a state-owned oil company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — is reportedly among the world’s leading energy and petrochemical groups, with a daily output of about 3 million barrels of oil and 10.5 cubic feet of natural gas.

The pilot project has “provided a single platform that tracks the quantities and financial values of each bilateral transaction” between the involved companies automating the accounting, the release reports.

The system had been announced by the ADNOC Digital Unit Manager, Abdul Nasser Al Mughairbi, at the recent World Energy Capital Assembly in London. During the summit, he noted that “this could be the first application of blockchain in oil and gas production.” Al Mughairbi then further illustrated his perception of the underlying technology:

“Blockchain is a game-changer. It will substantially reduce our operating costs by eliminating time-consuming and labor-intensive processes, strengthen the marketing and trading of our products, and create long-term sustainable value.”

Zahid Habib, an IBM representative, claimed that the system “enables the ability to track irrefutably, every molecule of oil, and its value, from well to customer.” ArabianGazette also added that in the future, customers and investors will be given access to the data “providing seamless integration among stakeholders.”

The press release further noted what ADNOC hopes this system will bring to the company and its customers:

“[The system] will reduce the time it takes to execute transactions between [its] operating companies and significantly increase operational efficiencies across its full value chain. It will also improve the reliability of production data by enabling greater transparency in transactions.”

Cointelegraph reported earlier last week on the launch of a blockchain-based processing tool from post-trade management platform VAKT, designed for an initial group of crude oil industry clients including giants such as BP, Equinor, Shell, Gunvor and Mercuria.

The Abu Dhabi Global Market also completed a test of a blockchain-based system earlier this week. The international financial free zone in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly successfully concluded a pilot for the Know Your Customer (KYC) project.

Blockchain Could ‘Speed up the Economy,’ Says Nigerian Presidential Candidate

The presidential candidate of Nigeria’s leading opposition party has promised to support blockchain and cryptocurrency, local news outlet the DailyPost article reported Nov. 24.

The Nigerian news outlet reportedly analyzed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar’s “Get Nigeria Working Again” policy that he reportedly promised to enact if he is elected president February 16, 2019.

DailyPost reports that in the document, the politician declared that “he aims to speed up the economy positively through blockchain and cryptocurrency.”

According to DailyPost, Abubakar stated that to unlock “the potentials of the new economy” PDP “shall promote the production of a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.”

DailyPost also quoted Abubakar platform as stating “regulation will provide clarity” in this “industry that consists of 1,800 currency types.” The terms of the mandate are also promised to be “managed in a way that provides job opportunities as well as income for the government and people of Nigeria.”

As Cointelegraph reported in mid-October, the Nigerian government has been partnering with local startups to develop blockchain in the country. In March, Nigerian regulator Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) warned against the use of cryptocurrencies because transactions are not insured.

West Virginia Secretary of State Reports Successful Blockchain Voting in 2018 Midterm Elections

The Secretary of State of the U.S. state of West Virginia Mac Warner reported a successful first instance of remote blockchain voting in an official announcement Nov. 15.

Warner stated that in the 2018 midterm elections, 144 military personnel stationed overseas from 24 counties were able to cast their ballots on a mobile, blockchain-based platform called Voatz, adding:

“This is a first-in-the-nation project that allowed uniformed services members and overseas citizens to use a mobile application to cast a ballot secured by blockchain technology.”

Voting for the general elections on the platform started in September, when absentee balloting opened in West Virginia.

The first trial of the new platform took place during the state’s primary elections in April. Blockchain-based ballots were then restricted to a select group of voters such as deployed military members and other citizens eligible to vote absentee under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and their spouses and dependents.

The Voatz system was initially developed to address the issue of low voter participation among members of the military. According to Symantec — the firm behind the Voatz system — only 368,516, or 18 percent of the 2 million service members and their families serving overseas received ballots in 2016. After counting rejections and tardy ballots, only 11 percent of said votes were counted.

While Warner noted the project’s success, his deputy chief of staff Michael Queen told the Washington Post that they have no plans for expanding the program beyond military personnel serving overseas:

“Secretary Warner has never and will never advocate that this is a solution for mainstream voting.”

According to data from the United States Elections Project, West Virginia ranks 44th of 50 states in voter participation at 42.6 percent.

Some experts have expressed concern over the safety of mobile voting. Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the Chief Technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, claimed:

“Mobile voting is a horrific idea. It’s Internet voting on people’s horribly secured devices, over our horrible networks, to servers that are very difficult to secure without a physical paper record of the vote.”

Conversely, Bradley Tusk of Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies has encouraged mobile voting, stating that it can turn out more voters, and as a result, “democracy would work a lot better.” Tusk Montgomery Philanthropies helped fund the Voatz app’s development.

IMF Vows to Continue ‘Devoting Attention’ to Blockchain, Cryptocurrency in Fintech Drive

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it plans to use its ongoing research and experimentation with blockchain as an “anchor” for its future policy on the technology in comments Nov. 12.

Speaking on a panel with Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse during the Singapore Fintech Festival 2018, IMF Deputy General Counsel Ross Leckow highlighted three areas the organization has been “active” in regarding blockchain, cryptocurrency and more.

“The IMF is devoting a lot of attention to fintech and in particular to blockchain,” he told the audience, continuing:

“But we think that it’s difficult to talk about blockchain without considering it in light of the other new technologies that are forming part of the fintech debate.”

For Leckow, these include artificial intelligence (AI), so-called distributed ledger technology (DLT), cryptoassets and several others.

He further underscored the continued research efforts underway at the the IMF regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain, referring to the various documents published in recent years.

Member banks and governments, he added, were demonstrating considerable interest in guidance on how to handle and regulate the emerging sector.

“Given the demand for advice in this area, at our annual meeting in Bali last month, we and the World Bank jointly launched an initiative called the Bali Fintech Agenda, which we think is the first comprehensive framework of issues that countries need to think about when designing policy around fintech,” Leckow said.

“This will be an anchor for much of our work going forward.”

Thai Revenue Department to Track Tax Payments Using Blockchain

The Thai Revenue Department has revealed its plans to track tax payments using blockchain and maсhine learning, local news outlet Bangkok Post reported Nov. 5.

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, the Revenue Department’s director-general, told reporters that blockchain will be used to verify the validity of taxes paid and to speed up the tax refund process.

Machine learning, in its turn, will help reveal tax fraud and create more transparency, Nitithanprapas also noted. The official further noticed that a digital tax collection system based on modern technologies is one of the government’s top priorities.

Nitithanprapas, who has also been International Economic Advisor of Fiscal Policy Office for the country’s Ministry of Finance since 2015, did not reveal when exactly the Department’s experiment with blockchain was going to start or which particular solutions it would use.

The Thai Revenue department is evidently following the path of the country’s Ministry of Commerce in terms of tech adoption  – the Ministry announced last month that it will trial decentralized solutions in copyright, agriculture, and trade finance. The Thai official responsible for the project explained that blockchain feasibility studies would refer to processing digital IDs, IP registration management, and security, along with smart contracts.

Thailand’s finance industry also has a stake in deploying blockchain networks. In October, Thailand’s oldest bank, Siam Commercial Bank, partnered with global management consultancy firm Accenture to release a blockchain platform for supply chains.

In September, Thailand’s fourth largest bank, Kasikornbank, partnered with Visa’s B2B Connect program to provide its customers with blockchain-powered solutions for cross-border payments.