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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
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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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HTC Officially Announces a New Blockchain-Powered Phone

HTC working on blockchain-powered Android smartphone: Report

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Taiwanese tech giant HTC is reportedly working on a new Android phone named
Taiwanese tech giant HTC is reportedly working on a new Android phone named "Exodus" that will be powered by blockchain technology. Pixabay

Taiwanese tech giant HTC is reportedly working on a new Android phone named “Exodus” that will be powered by blockchain technology.

“The upcoming phone will come with a “universal wallet” and a built-in secure hardware system to support cryptocurrencies and decentralised applications,” TheNextWeb reported late on Tuesday.

Blockchain smartphones are claimed to offer better security and user experience by integrating “cold wallet” storage right into the device and enabling direct trading of the native cryptocurrency with peers on the phone’s network, without mining fees.

Representational image.
Representational image.

“The company plans to create a blockchain network using ‘Exodus’ phones to facilitate cryptocurrency trading among the phone users,” the report added.

Phil Chen, the brain behind HTC’s Virtual Reality (VR) headset “Vive” will be in charge of all blockchain and cryptocurrency related initiatives of HTC including “Exodus”.

“Through ‘Exodus’ we are excited to be supporting underlying protocols such as Bitcoin, ‘Lightning Networks’, ‘Ethereum’, ‘Dfinity’ and more,” Phil Chen was quoted as saying by TheNextWeb.

Also Read: Microsoft’s Search Engine Bing Bans Cryptocurrency Advertisements

However, HTC has still not announced the price of the smartphone but the company is reportedly considering accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment for the device.

Before HTC, Sirin Labs’ blockchain smartphone which was announced in September 2017, is slated to launch in October 2018. (IANS)

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