Alpine Private Key #3 — Identity, Enterprise Tokens, and the Rise of Ethereum

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Your key to the latest in Private chains.

Welcome to the third edition of Alpine Private Key — our monthly aggregation of what we think are the top enterprise/private chain project updates with a quick tl;dr for you. If you think we missed an important news update please let us know and we’ll make sure to add that into next month’s considerations.

Okta — Blockchain-based Identity

Okta, the San Francisco-based identity and management service provider, has announced ‘Okta Ventures Fund’ — a $50M VC fund focused on investments in early-stage tech startups. Its first investment is in a company called Trusted Key, who are building blockchain-based identity solution for groups of large organizations. The fund is primarily targeting startups developing the identity, machine learning, and artificial intelligence sectors respectively. Okta has raised a total of $229M since its founding.

PayPal — Blockchain-based Identity

Following this theme, PayPal — a global online payments service provider — made its first-ever investment in a blockchain company. Cambridge Blockchain, a startup helping financial institutions share their using ledgers recently raised $3.5M in new equity from the likes of PayPal, Future/Perfect Ventures, Flourish and Omidyar Network. Both companies refused to comment on the specific amount that PayPal invested. This follows a trend we’re seeing in infrastructural identity components being built out to help manage user data.

Gazprom (Russia) — Gas Supply Chain

Russian government-owned natural gas giant ‘Gazprom’ is actively exploring digitizing their supply chain process utilising DLT. At present, they have developed a prototype that automates parts of the monitoring, executing and concluding contracts. The system is said to be tamper-proof and participants will have full transparency to process modifications and state. This marks Gazprom’s second major foray into the blockchain field, following on from last years aviation refueling PoC.

EY — Launches ‘Nightfall’, an Ethereum-based Platform

Professional services giant, EY, caused a big media stir when they announced a new private transaction-based protocol utilising zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs) to help bring enterprise to public blockchains. Dubbed ‘Nightfall’, the platform uses ZKPs to allow private transactions on a public ledger. The idea behind this allows transactions to be immutably logged without the risk of revealing confidential data that could harm an enterprise. The creators believe that enterprises should not have to handle ‘hashes’ to attribute to physical assets, but rather digital tokens that represent these goods. EY has hence developed an erc-721 compatible token standard that is able to distinguish between the physical asset and the ownership of that asset itself.

Microsoft and the EEA — Token Taxonomy

Sticking on the theme of tokens, major blockchain service providers including the likes of Accenture, EY, IBM and ConsenSys have rallied behind a new ‘Token Taxonomy Initiative’ led by the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA) and Microsoft. The initiative will focus on helping these companies to design and standardize ‘digital tokens’ suited to specific use-cases. Members can expect help build core frameworks behind tokenized assets by participating in workshops, Github contributions and using test data across a range of blockchain infrastructure such as Ethereum, Corda, Hyperledger, and DAML. The idea behind this arose from Microsoft after finding themselves being approached by clients seeking guidance on how to tokenize software licenses.

Volkswagen — Mineral Supply Chain Tracking

Volkswagen Group are the latest addition to IBM’s growing client base for blockchain services. The German automaker will use IBM’s blockchain platform, utilising Hyperledger Fabric, to track minerals such as cobalt used to produce batteries for their electric car model. The existing supply chain process is incredibly opaque, often involving manual processing by 3rd-party auditors who are subject to time delays of participants amongst other process obstructions. This new system allows for a much more fluid transfer of information around mineral packages, with the RCS Global Group handling the compliance and vetting of participants in the value chain.

Samsung — Developing an Ethereum-based Network

Samsung has announced they are developing their own blockchain mainnet network that will be based on Ethereum. Current reports state that the development team is likely to settle on a hybrid version that will facilitate public and permissioned traits for enterprises and the public alike. Coindesk Korea also reported that the electronics giant may also issue its own token although details on this are very early stage at present. This comes 3 months after Samsung announced its latest flagship phone, the Galaxy S10 which has its own secure blockchain wallet, allowing users to store their private keys.

Samsung — Invests in Hardware-Wallet Leader Ledger

Samsung is also making moves in the investment space. Crypto wallet startup, Ledger, secured $2.9M from the electronics giant which values it at around $295M. The news was jointly presented along with the announcement promoting Pascal Gauthier to CEO following the departure of co-founder Eric Larcheveque. Ledger has also been working with several large institutions helping to build custody solutions, the most notable being Japanese-based Nomura bank.

Jaguar Land Rover — Get Paid for Data

Jaguar Land Rover is currently trialing a system which rewards drivers who provide data with cryptocurrency IOTA. Users who enable their cars to autonomously feed local authorities with live data around traffic congestion, road conditions etc can receive the tokens which will be held on a ‘smart wallet’. The tokens can then be redeemed to purchase on-the-go services and products such as coffee, toll payments, and parking fees. Jaguar explained that vehicles will be equipped with IoT sensors which will feed data into IOTA’s tangle and passed on to the necessary authorities.

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