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Blockchain Technology Could Unblock Southeast Asia

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Hard disks are pictured inside a server room at a company in Bangkok, Thailand.
Hard disks are pictured inside a server room at a company in Bangkok, Thailand. VOA

Imagine you could swipe your phone over a piece of fish in the supermarket and instantly see secure records of its entire path through the supply chain, from the technique used by the fisherman who caught it in Indonesia to when it was shipped and how it was processed at a factory in your home country — all at the tap of a smartphone.

Trial projects such as that one are testing the potential of Blockchain technology to bring transparency to all sorts of notoriously inefficient or shadowy industries in Southeast Asia.

Blockchain, the technology that powers bitcoin, is an essentially unchangeable form of bookkeeping. It creates cryptographically chained signatures between blocks of information that are authenticated by users over a peer-to-peer distributed ledger — a public record that can be applied to any type of bookkeeping, not just cryptocurrencies.

“It removes the requirement for a centralized authority, and in a lot of the products that it’s being launched in, this centralized authority tends to be the government,” said Alisa DiCaprio, head of research at R3 — an enterprise banking software firm that uses distributed ledger technology.

In a region where the most important records — identity and ownership for instance — are often subjected to little or no external oversight, blockchain offers enormous potential benefits.

Erin Murphy, Founder and Principal of Inle Advisory Group, a Myanmar and emerging business advisory firm, said major Asian business hubs are looking to blockchain to clean up and simplify transactions.

“Ideally, we would want to see the adoption of blockchain at an official level all across the region,” she said in an email. “But perhaps not surprisingly, the governments that are leading blockchain adoption are those that are already low-corruption.”

One of those governments, she said, is Singapore, which is working with major banks on a blockchain-based system to streamline and qualitatively improve their customer (KYC) processes.

In other countries, it is being used for completely different purposes. In the Philippines, a remittance market worth billions of dollars per month has been invaded by firms offering cheaper services built on the blockchain, which people can access without a bank account.

“Any steps that get taken at first may not be viewed through an anti-corruption lens and may inadvertently tackle that issue; it will likely be viewed through a development lens to kickstart poverty alleviation and bringing sectors up to international standards that attract foreign investment,” Murphy said.(VOA)

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Facebook to Come Up with Global Cryptocurrency “Libra” in 2020, Powered by Blockchain Technology

The new digital wallet for Libra will be available in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app in 2020, the company said in a statement

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Facebook said it is still early in the process of developing Calibra and would consult experts to make the product safe and private. Pixabay

Amid intense calls to break it down as the company has grown too big, Facebook on Tuesday announced its own digital wallet subsidiary called “Calibra” for its global cryptocurrency “Libra” which would be powered by Blockchain technology.

The new digital wallet for Libra will be available in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and as a standalone app in 2020, the company said in a statement. Facebook currently generates 99 per cent of its revenue from advertisements and its own digital currency would help it reach billions of its users across products, creating another stable revenue stream.

“Today we’re sharing plans for Calibra, a newly-formed Facebook subsidiary whose goal is to provide financial services that will let people access and participate in the Libra network,” said Facebook. From the beginning, Calibra will let users send Libra to almost anyone with a smartphone, as easily and instantly as they send a text message and at low to no cost.

cryptocurrency, facebook, facebook digital currency, libra
Bitcoin Cryptocurrency. Pixabay

“In time, we hope to offer additional services for people and businesses, like paying bills with the push of a button, buying a cup of coffee with the scan of a code or riding your local public transit without needing to carry cash or a metro pass,” said the social media giant which is facing intense scrutiny over users’ privacy violations.

Facebook said Calibra will have strong protections in place to keep your money and your information safe. “We’ll be using all the same verification and anti-fraud processes that banks and credit cards use, and we’ll have automated systems that will proactively monitor activity to detect and prevent fraudulent behaviourm” explained the company.

It said it would also offer dedicated live support to help if a user loses the phone or password — and if someone fraudulently gains access to the account and the user loses some Libra as a result, Facebook would offer a “refund”.

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Facebook said Calibra will have strong protections in place to keep your money and your information safe. Pixabay

Aside from limited cases, Calibra will not share account information or financial data with Facebook or any third party without customer consent, claimed the company. “This means Calibra customers’ account information and financial data will not be used to improve ad targeting on the Facebook family of products.

ALSO READ: Facebook Rolls Out an Update to Rank Comments on Public Posts to Make Conversations Meaningful

“The limited cases where this data may be shared reflect our need to keep people safe, comply with the law and provide basic functionality to the people who use Calibra. Calibra will use Facebook data to comply with the law, secure customers’ accounts, mitigate risk and prevent criminal activity,” the company explained.

Facebook said it is still early in the process of developing Calibra and would consult experts to make the product safe and private. (IANS)