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Blockchain This Week: RBI Sets Up Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Research Unit, Microsoft To Use Blockchain To Curb Spam Calls, And More

Important Developments In The Indian Blockchain Ecosystem This Week

RBI Sets Up Blockchain And Cryptocurrency Research Unit

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has formed a unit that will research and possibly draft rules and supervise new emerging technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Although the Indian government is taking strides towards the use of blockchain — a distributed ledger technology — the RBI has banned banks and payments companies from extending any kind of services to blockchain-based cryptocurrency exchanges.

According to people familiar with the development, “This new unit is on an experimental basis and will evolve as time passes.”

Lala World Launches Blockchain & AI-Based Payment App

Singapore-based fintech company LALA World has launched a blockchain-and artificial intelligence-based payments app for iOS users in India and the UAE, for utilities-related payment use.

The application requires users to create a LALA ID to allow Indian users to pay for prepaid and postpaid phone bills, landline bills, DTH, and data card top-ups and online recharges offered by 29 different services providers.

LALA World CEO Sankalp Shangari said, “We launched the iOS version of the LALA World App to ensure that iPhone users in India and UAE get hassle-free access to financial services across multiple geographies. The app’s interface is easy to understand and use while offering high levels of security and efficiency being based on blockchain.”

Microsoft Is Using Blockchain To Curb Spam Calls In India

Microsoft has partnered with IT solutions provider Tech Mahindra to tackle spam calls using blockchain technology in India. The solution is being built on Microsoft Azure Platform and will also utilise cloud services, although the exact technical or product map hasn’t been revealed yet.

“The intersection of Cloud and Blockchain will ensure a new way of monitoring and enforcing compliance throughout the ecosystem. With Microsoft Azure blockchain-powered solution, we will ensure that we mitigate loopholes used by fraudsters and spammers to reach end users,” Prashant Shukla, National Technology Officer of Microsoft India said. ecosystem, including all telecom operators, legal authorities, users, and even telemarketers. The ecosystem is expected to make obtaining user consent and registering their preferences about marketing calls easier.

Blockchain Developments From Around The World

Alibaba-Owned Ant Financial To Setup Blockchain App For Wuchang Govt To Tackle Food Fraud

Come September — Ant Financial, a payments affiliate of ecommerce company Alibaba —is set to launch a blockchain-as-a-service platform, alongside a rice-tracking application intended to tackle counterfeit products.

The company has partnered with the municipal government of the Chinese city of Wuchang to deploy a consortium blockchain for tracking the entire production process of locally grown rice. The move in the aftermath of news reports which revealed that packages delivered from the region were sometimes mixed with rice of lower quality.

Ant Financial will create a public ledger that contains unique information for each rice package, and consumers will be able to access production and logistics information, and other details associated with the harvesting, packaging and transportation of the rice.

Hong Kong to Expedite Immigration for Blockchain Job Seekers

Hong Kong is seeking to attract worldwide talents with specialties in innovative technologies including blockchain by introducing a special immigration policy. It has recently released a talent list that covers a range of 11 professions eligible to receive bonus marks while applying for the city’s Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS).

According to report, one of the areas is dedicated to “innovation and technology experts in, but not limited to, … artificial intelligence, robotics, distributed ledger technologies, biometric technologies and industrial/chemical engineering, etc.”

QMAS is a quota-based entrant scheme. It seeks to attract highly skilled or talented persons to settle in Hong Kong in order to enhance the city’s economic competitiveness. The effort comes at a time when the Hong Kong government is taking the lead in adopting blockchain to boost the city’s competitiveness in financial technology.

AP Inks Deal With Blockchain Media Startup Civil Network

The Associated Press (AP) has signed a deal with blockchain journalism startup Civil Network — comprising up of 14 startups — to license articles. According to Civil founder and CEO Matthew Iles, the partnership is aimed at ensuring content creators receive credit – both in name and compensation – for the works they produce.

“When you’re licensing content to a legacy media company, you can pretty well track it. But on the internet, it’s never been easy,” AP senior vice president of strategy and enterprise said.

He added, “When we do contracts with people, we establish their rights to use it, and they’re generally followed. But when it’s published, it’s freely available for people to scrape and cut and paste. It used to be, we just worried about people using it for free.”

World Bank Launches World-first Blockchain Bond

The World Bank has priced the world’s first public bond created and managed using only blockchain. The bank has signed a $73.16 Mn deal designed to test how the technology might improve decades-old bond sales practices.

The prototype deal, dubbed a “Bondi” bond – standing for Blockchain Operated New Debt Instrument as well as a reference to Australia’s most famous beach – is being viewed as an initial step in moving bond sales away from manual processes towards faster and cheaper automation.

“You’re collapsing a traditional bond issuance from a manual bookbuild process and allocation process, an extended settlement then a registrar and a custodian, into something that could happen online instantaneously,” James Wall, executive general manager at Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) told Reuters in an interview earlier this month.

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