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Portland state university BUSINESS blockchain certificate program

By Blog, Education

Portland State University is in its first year of its fully online, six-course Business Blockchain Certificate. The intensive academic program targets graduate and upper division undergraduate students and is also open to non-degree seeking community members. The for-credit program is the first of its kind and, unlike other universities, the program focuses on business students rather than engineering or computer science students.  

The program is supported by a board of advisors from well known organizations in the region and across the United States. PSU has formed partnerships with Hyperledger, the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and the Oregon Enterprise Blockchain Venture Studio in an effort to produce world-class blockchain curriculum that meets the challenges of a quickly evolving and disrupting force in business.  

Through this certificate, The School of Business is responding to the needs of the business community as rapid advances in technology create workforce skills gaps. The employment forecast for 2019-2024 shows that demand for blockchain-related skills are the most desired by companies across functions like finance, insurance, digital media and supply chain. Regionally this demand has doubled since 2010, with the top seven northwest companies looking for blockchain professionals to drive this tremendous growth.

The objective of the Business Blockchain Certificate is to provide students with the ability to make informed decisions about whether, when and how to apply distributed ledger technology to real business and social problems. The program employs a hands-on and interdisciplinary approach, reflecting the diversity of skills necessary for success in this rapidly-changing field. Graduates of the program will have practical experience writing proposals for blockchain-based business networks, solving technical problems, designing governance protocols, determining success metrics, and building active blockchain networks with smart contract capabilities.

The coursework and projects, lab assignments, and interactions with guest speakers equip students with the ability to evaluate technical, business and ethical problems; interact directly with distributed ledger technology and its developers; and respond effectively to future technological advances in data handling in their companies and industries.

PSU student teams won the national Trueup Blockchain Challenge competition in 2018 and 2019. Additionally, a team of PSU students is currently one of five finalists in the year-long Blockchain for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Innovation Challenge hosted by Arizona State and Sponsored by the US Military.    

The program’s co-founders, Dr. Kristi Yuthas and Dr. Stanton Heister, recently published an article titled The blockchain and how it can influence conceptions of the self in the journal Technology in Society.

Deploying Hyperledger Fabric in Production

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

In recent years, a number of economic sectors have seen the great promise of blockchain and are already using or piloting it in different use cases. But proof-of-concept projects are often led by evangelists, developed in R&D, and always in controlled environments. Moving to production requires stakeholder buy-in and can be a real challenge, especially at the current time with blockchain.

The Hyperledger Hyderabad Meetup organized a meetup to demonstrate the potential of Hyperledger technologies and discussed the challenges related to the production deployment of Hyperledger Fabric. This session was headed by a startup team out of the Hyperledger Hyderabad community itself, called ChitMonks, who have set a benchmark in their use case in the chit fund industry. 

The chit fund industry, with estimated assets under management (AUM) of ₹1.50 lakh crore, involves a great deal of paperwork. In some instances, it forms the backbone of the informal economy in developing countries like India. This results in drudgery for both the foremen (who organizes the chits) and the regulators (the State governments). 

Administration of chit funds through companies are happening manually. Every time a company wants to start a chit, they have to submit a huge pile of documentation on a monthly basis to the registration and stamps department, which is the regulator. Consequently, there is a lack of transparency for subscribers, and audits need to be done to ensure the government and chit fund company have matching documentation. The information gap between the chit fund company and the regulators produces a loophole for frauds, which are hard to trace back.

The approach of ChitMonks is to place a private blockchain-based, consortium-driven infrastructure and establish a process-based trust, by bringing all the stakeholders involved in the process to the same platform of blockchain.

Actors and Key activities

ActorTypeRoleKey Activities
ForemanROSCA Business OrganizerParticipant / Blockchain Node Maintainer Initiates ROSCA transactions in the systemResponds to queries related to ROSCA transactionsResponds to queries related to Health of company operationsOptionally maintains the node in the network. 
RegulatorState Government EntityRegulator / Blockchain Node MaintainerApproves or Monitors the ROSCA operations of the companiesMonitors the health of the company financialsAddresses Subscriber GrievancesMonitors the payments made to the subscribers and compliances related to it
SubscriberROSCA ParticipantParticipant Approves transactions that involve his participation.Provides consent to the information-seeking queries 
BankTransaction validatorParticipant and/or ValidatorProvides validation to payment transactionsProvides services to ROSCA companies like FD, automatic money sweeping, etc
AuditorTransaction validatorValidatorProvides audit approvals of the company financials to fulfill the  ROSCA regulations.
Non-Banking Financial services CompaniesOther Business ProviderOther Business Provider/ Blockchain Node MaintainerProvides other financial services to ROSCA organizers and their subscribers
Insurance CompanyOther Business ProviderOther Business ProviderProvides insurance service  to ROSCA SubscribersProvides insurance service to ROSCA organizers / Companies
Auction ServiceService ProviderService Provider / Blockchain Node MaintainerProvides auction services to smoothen and automate the ROSCA auction services
Many new service providers to join….………….

Technical Architecture 

The three major entities involved in the process are:

  • Foremen: it’s a consortium of all the chit fund companies.
  • Regulators: it’s a consortium for all the regulatory entities (generally the local government bodies). 
  • Subscribers: they are the end beneficiaries of the chit fund companies.

The foremen and regulators act as the two organizations in the network. And each of the organizations has two peers each. The organizations also have their respective C.A. (Certificate Authority) for letting any new member join the consortium.

  • A channel is established between the two organizations to keep data in synch between regulators and the foremen.
  • The chaincode is framed around the Chit Funds Act, 1982, passed by Indian legislative. This chaincode takes care of all the guidelines like commissions by foremen, a form of chit agreement, filing of chit agreement, minimum capital requirements for the commencement of a chit, creation of a reserve fund by a company and many more aspects of chit fund.
  • The orderers follow Raft ordering service, after being maintained on Kafka ordering service for quite some-time.
  • The state DB chosen here is couch DB, after testing it with Go level DB, which can handle complex data and adds rich querying practices. 
  • Here the ledger holds only relevant data for both the organization’s, keeping a separate off-chain database for specific purposes.
  • The infrastructure is designed as such where a foremen organization can own and maintain organization nodes. Typically, a big organization can own the infrastructure, medium and small organization can be part of consortium org/nodes. This makes the blockchain network more self-sustaining and more decentralized.  

So, here the blockchain system is used in a very optimized way by keeping only the shared data over the system. To make this complex system easily accessible for both organizations, each of the entities has different applications for their purposes.

As already mentioned, ChitMonks serves its platform to more than 700+ chit fund companies. Data privacy was the biggest concern for them, since the consortium of all the chit fund companies are structured as an organization here, and they all have access to the same state DB. To ensure data privacy, ChitMonks used private data collection introduced by Hyperledger Fabric in its 1.4 release. In this case, each transaction is encrypted, and the keys to check data are shared between the regulator and chit fund company over the private data collection provided by Hyperledger Fabric’s latest release.    

Challenges Encountered

Asset Modeling – Asset modeling helps to define the entities and assets involved in the process of business.  Challenges include the incipient regulatory framework and the relatively limited experience of managing large amounts of data with respect to entities (i.e., who will own what data and hierarchy involved each level of the process). While there haven’t been verifiable data breaches of blockchain backbones to date, there have been deficiencies in the implementation of smart contracts, mostly due to failures in coding. But a well-defined set of terms and conditions from the government authorities (which is also the regulatory and one of the organizations in our Blockchain infrastructure) for  the chit fund business helped ChitMonks to encode an ultimate and sustainable asset modeling. 

Testing chain code – Hyperledger Fabric provides us an immutable infrastructure. So, it’s important to test the chaincode well before deploying it. ChitMonks took the approach to perform unit testing at every change to follow up on potential bugs.   

Docker infrastructure – Containers might thus move from one host to another, especially while scaling the number of containers up or down or during container redeployments. There is no static relation between hosts and services they are running anymore! For troubleshooting, this means one must first figure out which host is running which containers. And, vice versa, when a host exhibits poor performance, it’s highly valuable to be able to isolate which container is the source of the problem and if any containers suffer from the performance issue.

Continuous Integration tools (CI) such as Jenkins can build and deploy Docker images across application environments very easily. Builds can be automated and also can be monitored efficiently using CI administrator console.

Maintaining the Kafka cluster – Initially, ChitMonks established its Hyperledger infrastructure with Kafka-based ordering services. Kafka provides a scalable multi-orderer infrastructure and poses a viable fault-tolerant solution for Hyperlуdger Fabric infrastructure, but it required us to maintain zookeepers along with it in production, which added a layer of complexity. So, ChitMonks have shifted to Hyperledger Fabric 1.4, which allows raft ordering services.  

The Raft consensus is a mature consensus algorithm and is easier to implement on a large scale than Kafka. It can extend a network with new organizations, as we don’t need to rely on a third-party Kafka cluster. In the previous versions of the platform, it was impossible to change a consensus type of a blockchain network without full redeployment. However, Hyperledger Fabric v1.4.2 introduced a mechanism that makes it possible to migrate a network from a Kafka consensus to a Raft-based one. And Hyperledger has provided a very easy step-by-step guide for migrating from Kafka to raft consensus.

Conclusion

The meetup was received with a very enthusiastic response. Many of the attendees were very happy to see a local startup deploying production-grade applications. The ChitMonks engaged well with the audience to help them understand the difference between a POC and production level applications and shared their perspective on scaling a blockchain-based product!

Kartikey is a co-organizer of the Hyperledger Hydrabad Meetup and works as a Software Engineer at MSR Cosmos and is a team member of TEDxHyderabad. You can reach out to me via TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn.

Looking ahead to Hyperledger Global Forum

By Blog, Hyperledger Global Forum

The upcoming Hyperledger Global Forum, March 2-6, in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, provides us with an opportunity to come together face-to-face and learn what is happening in the Hyperledger community. 

With the chance to collaborate in person, we can align on how we think about fundamental questions, such as:

  • How do we meet the growing need for interoperability?
  • What can we do to achieve an inclusive community?
  • How can we build the blockchain ecosystem?

While at Hyperledger Global Forum, here are some sessions that will help us answer the questions above.

The growing need for interoperability

Before joining Accenture this time last year, I spent two years with the Linux Foundation as a community architect for Hyperledger. With 15 different projects in the greenhouse, maintainers share a baseline understanding of each other’s work, but community collaboration tends to stay within project silos.

The thing is, multiparty systems like blockchains are a team effort. They rely on an ecosystem of people working together. To reach the technology’s full potential, we need interoperability between every person, every platform, and every project.

As a result, the dialogue in the community is shifting from “Which chain will rule them all?” to “How do I get my chain to work with yours?” The answer hinges on ecosystem collaboration. 

On Wednesday, Accenture’s Giuseppe Giordano and Peter Somogyvari’s session, “Connecting Ecosystems: Blockchain Interoperability,” will give an update on our development work and unique approach to interoperability for permissioned blockchain networks with Blockchain Integration Framework, recently open sourced to Hyperledger Labs.

Inclusive collaboration by design

If you ever attended a Hyperledger event or meeting, you have likely heard the phrase “All Are Welcome Here.” Ensuring we fulfill this commitment is table stakes, for our global community, for our code, and for the future adoption of these cutting-edge technologies. There are a number of sessions related to this important topic that will benefit each of us.

To kick off the event on Monday evening, March 2 at 6pm, Accenture is sponsoring a diversity happy hour. We will be thinking through actions we can all take to make our community more diverse and inclusive in 2020.

On Thursday, Hyperledger Marketing Committee co-chair and Accenture’s Alissa Worley and I will host a workshop on unconscious bias. With the help of VR, this immersive experience will help participants understand what unconscious bias is and how to mitigate it.

I am honored to serve alongside IBM’s Swetha Repakula as the first women on the Hyperledger Technical Steering Committee. Swetha and I will lead a session on Wednesday about how we create an inclusive Hyperledger community. We will share a number of tips about making people feel welcome and being open to contributions. These ideas apply beyond Hyperledger tools to any open source project. 

Building the ecosystem

Building the ecosystem starts before the technology choices are made. We need to make sure that we define the right governance models with our clients, our partners, and our regulators. There are a number of talks that will shed some light on how to lay a successful foundation, ranging from making the case for blockchain initiatives to governing DLT networks

If you are like me, you may have got into the blockchain space because of the technology’s potential for positive impact. I will be curious to hear Sheila Warren’s keynote to learn how WEF is using blockchain to change the world. 

Looking ahead

At Accenture, we see blockchain technology flourishing in three main areas: financial services, supply chain and identity.

From hosting the Hyperledger Maintainers’ Summit, contributing code, and supporting Hyperledger Global Forum as a diamond sponsor, it is great to see Accenture further our commitment to the blockchain open source ecosystem. 

I am looking forward to seeing you in March, as we learn from one another and grow the Hyperledger community. Lastly, while you are in Phoenix, you cannot miss having a bite and a beverage at Four Peaks Brewery, taking a hike at Camelback Mountain, or visiting the Heard Museum Indian Fair and Market.

  • Discover and bookmark all of Accenture’s sessions at Hyperledger Global Forum by searching “Accenture,” in the program agenda.
  • Visit us in the Accenture booth in the Technology Showcase. 
  • Learn more about Accenture’s work at Accenture.com/blockchain

Looking back on 2019: Identity, blockchain and Verified.Me

By Blog, Hyperledger Global Forum

It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that we all imagined 2020 would be one of those years far in the future when everyone would have a sort of robotic personal assistant, microchip implants or flying cars. Well, the first electric “flying” vehicle is scheduled to be tested next year by ride-sharing giant Uber, and AI personal assistants and microchip implants are a reality.  

What I imagined the future would look like revolved around technology serving humanity and helping solve societal problems. We’ve seen examples of technology, like blockchain, being used to enable digital commerce while also fighting corruption, deterring fraud and, mostly importantly to me, solving problems with today’s identity landscape. 

Identity-related digital fraud is one of the direst challenges with today’s digital economy. Whether it’s trouble with credit card fraud, data breaches of varying sizes, the advent and rise of SIM swapping fraud or identity theft, bad actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated at stealing our data through innumerable channels. Just last year, over five billion records were exposed through at least 6,515 publicly reported data breaches. In Canada, CPA Canada’s 2019 Annual Fraud Study(1) found that 70 per cent of Canadians are more concerned about fraud today than they were five years ago, 86 per cent are familiar with identity theft and credit card fraud and almost 80 per cent have experienced email and telemarketing fraud. 

Think this doesn’t have an impact on your personal life? Take a quick visit to Troy Hunt’s haveibeenpwned.com to see where your email address has been publicly leaked in reported breaches, the vast majority of which occured in the latter half of this decade. 

These concerning stats serve to both scare and encourage us to continue to develop solutions that protect people’s data. From conversations around FaceApp’s face-aging filter opening the door to hackers to stories about how people still write their passwords on a piece of paper, it’s clear there’s still lots to be done to mitigate risk. We believe that taking care of personal data should be a combined effort between users and technology providers – and we look forward to doing our part at SecureKey. 

My vision for 2020 is seeing blockchain reach its full potential in helping participants in the world’s digital economy arm themselves against bad actors. My vision is to solve the problems of today’s identity landscape and help consumers – and their data – move forward into the next decade with greater privacy, security and consent-driven tools at their fingertips. 

My personal goal is to move beyond society’s justified milieu of fear and frustration toward online services, instead making online service delivery trustworthy and cost effective. I want to grow online transactions for business while also making it simpler, more convenient and respectful of privacy for all of us who want to do more online.

In the last year, there were a number of important milestones, amazing advancements and new use cases of blockchain technology:

2019’s milestones in blockchain (2)

January

  • Blockchain-based Bitcoin turned 10 years old
  • Coinstar machines begin selling cryptocurrency at grocery stores across the US

February

  • Ethereum’s Constantinople hard fork is released, part two of Metropolis
  • Parliament of Canada Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics holds hearings on what can be done to better protect Canadians online with emerging technologies like AI and blockchain

April 

  • Bitcoin surpasses 400 million total transactions

May:

  • SecureKey and Canada’s major financial institutions launched blockchain-based network Verified.Me in Canada

June 

  • Daily Ethereum transactions surpass one million

June

  • Facebook announces Libra

July 

  • United States Senate holds hearings titled “Examining Regulatory Frameworks for Digital Currencies and Blockchain”

August 

  • Ethereum developer dominance reaches 4x that of any other blockchain

September 

  • Santander bank settles both sides of a $20 million bond on Ethereum

October

  • Block.One fined $24 million by the SEC for its unregulated $4 billion EOS ICO
  • Over 80 million distinct Ethereum addresses created

November 

  • Over 3000 Dapps created. Of them, 2700 are built on Ethereum
  • Amount of Ether locked in Decentralized Finance apps reaches all time high of 2.7 million ETH

Register for Hyperledger 2020 to absorb everything you can about blockchain, how it’s being used and how it will impact our day to day lives. Join our CTO, Dmitry Barinov, during his speaking sessions as he explores building a new standard for trust using Hyperledger.

Looking for tickets? Readers can take advantage of a special promotional offer and receive 20% off your general ticket. Visit Hyperledger Global Forum’s website https://events19.linuxfoundation.org/events/hyperledger-global-forum-2020/register/ and entire the code HGF20SEC

We look forward to seeing you there – and seeing what the future of digital identity, blockchain and tech holds for all of us.

(1) CPA Canada 2019 Annual Fraud Study: https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/the-cpa-profession/about-cpa-canada/media-centre/2019/february/canadians-express-strong-concerns-about-fraud-cpa-canada-survey

(2) Taken from Consensys’ “The Decade in Blockchain – 2010 to 2020 in Review”

Cover image: Image by Schwoaze from Pixabay

Welcome Hyperledger Fabric 2.0: Enterprise DLT for Production

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

As the first project of the Hyperledger greenhouse in 2016, Fabric introduced its v1.0 release in July, 2017. Since then, a number of enhancements and new features have been implemented based on the feedback from industry and community. 

To celebrate the 4th birthday of Hyperledger Fabric, what can be a better gift than the major release of v2.0?  Before we jump into the new additions and features in this release, we think this major milestone is a good time to reflect on some of the key design objectives behind Hyperledger Fabric and how it has evolved to this point.

An open, proven, enterprise-grade blockchain framework

Echoing the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) trends and requirements in finance, supply chain and other industries, Hyperledger Fabric was initiated by tens of leading companies globally in early 2016. Since then, under the support of the Linux Foundation, hundreds of open source developers have been working together to design and implement a practical DLT framework to meet these real demands by integrating the advanced techniques of databases, networking, distributed consensus, and cryptography.

Hyperledger Fabric has quickly become one of the most popular open source DLT projects, with hundreds of deployments worldwide. In 2019, 30 companies in the “Forbes Blockchain 50” were using it.

Due to its open source model and popularity, Hyperledger Fabric has been adopted by major Cloud Service Providers including Alibaba, AWS, Azure, Baidu, Google, Huawei, IBM, Oracle, SAP, and Tencent.

What is Hyperledger Fabric?

Hyperledger Fabric is an enterprise-grade, distributed ledger platform that offers modularity and versatility for a broad set of industry use cases. Rather than a permission-less system where anyone can transact and access data, Fabric offers a permissioned, secure, and scalable platform that supports smart contracts and data privacy. This architecture allows for solutions developed with Fabric to be adapted for any industry, thus ushering in a new era of trust, transparency, and accountability for businesses.

While members of a network work together, businesses still often need to maintain separate relationships within their networks to keep certain interactions private. For example, a purchaser might be selling the same product to different sellers at different prices.

Fabric provides a spectrum of options to support transaction and data privacy. You can use separate “channels” if you need total transaction isolation between member organizations. And you can use “private data” within a channel if you’d like to keep data private while writing hashes on a shared ledger as transaction evidence. Private data can be shared on a need-to-know basis and then verified against the on-chain hash evidence. 

Why Hyperledger Fabric?

Because Hyperledger Fabric has matured in the open source community with a focus on enterprise use cases, it has evolved to support the features and production operations that enterprises demand. Here’s a few of the features that make Fabric unique relative to other distributed ledger technologies:

  • Permissioned and modular architecture
  • Flexible endorsement model for achieving consensus among transacting organizations
  • Pluggable consensus for transaction ordering and block distribution
  • Open smart contract model – flexibility to support various solution and data models (account model, UTXO model, structured data, unstructured data, etc)
  • Data privacy – complete transaction isolation using “channels”, or share private data on a need-to-know basis using private data “collections”
  • Low latency of finality/confirmation
  • Multi-language smart contract support: Go, Java, Javascript
  • Support for EVM and Solidity
  • Governance and versioning of smart contracts
  • Queryable data – keyed queries, range queries, and JSON queries on-chain, and event hooks to integrate data into your preferred database or analytics engine
  • Designed for continuous enterprise operations, including rolling upgrades and asymmetric version support

Hyperledger Fabric 2.0: The Latest Evolution

The evolution continues and we are excited to see the next generation! Let’s welcome Hyperledger Fabric v2.0 by taking a quick glance at the highlighted features compared to the v1.0 release:

  • New chaincode lifecycle management. The totally redesigned chaincode lifecycle management process introduces decentralized governance for smart contracts, with a new process for installing a chaincode on the peers and starting it on a channel. The new Fabric chaincode lifecycle allows multiple organizations to come to agreement on the parameters of a chaincode, such as the chaincode endorsement policy, before it can be used to interact with the ledger.
  • New chaincode application patterns for collaboration and consensus. The same decentralized methods of coming to agreement that underpin the new chaincode lifecycle management can also be used in your own chaincode applications to ensure organizations consent to data transactions before they are committed to the ledger. Additionally, organizations can now extend their copy of a chaincode to meet their individual requirements. For example, an organization can add its own chaincode validations to better protect the organization’s specific interests before agreeing to endorse a transaction. As long as there is consensus on the chaincode execution results among the required endorsers for a given transaction, the transaction will be committed to the ledger as in prior releases.
  • Data privacy on a need-to-know basis. In addition to the traditional use of channels and private data collections to share data among a subset of network members, the new implicit organization-specific private data collection feature in v2.0 allows organizations to privately share data with other organizations in the channel on a need-to-know basis, eliminating the need to define channels or private data collections for many combinations of members. Hashes on the channel ledger serve as transaction evidence to ensure that private data can be verified when shared, or later audited as needed.
  • New external chaincode launcher. The external chaincode launcher feature empowers operators to build and launch chaincode with the technology of their choice, removing the requirement to give the peer access to a Docker daemon. For example, an operator may decide to deploy chaincode as an external service in a Kubernetes pod.
  • New consensus type of Raft. The new Raft consensus for ordering service introduced in v1.4.1 is now the recommended consensus service, eliminating the dependency on an external Kafka cluster. This makes the ordering service a decentralized governing model that can be provided by multiple ordering organizations. Additionally, an ordering node can now choose which channels it will serve instead of the legacy requirement of serving all channels. This brings an important scalability improvement to better support a large number of channels and transactions, not to mention the obvious privacy improvement.
  • Performance improvements. A number of performance improvements have been added throughout the v1.x releases and in v2.0. A new cache has been added to the peer to improve performance when using CouchDB as the state database. Additionally, transaction validation is parallelized in the commit phase. The ordering node message processing flow has been optimized to remove redundant checks, and the write block processing is now asynchronous. Chaincode queries can be paginated, making it feasible to support large result sets with high performance. It’s now possible to achieve thousands of TPS in practice.

Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 is already getting strong interest within the blockchain community:

“The release of Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 is an important step forward in the on-going evolution of DLT, and was developed based on feedback from real-world use, including improved chaincode management capabilities and performance enhancements. DTCC’s work with Hyperledger enables us to bring DLT expertise and knowledge in-house while contributing our learnings and progress on enterprise-scale projects with the DLT community. We look forward to our continued efforts around Fabric 2.0 and in working with Hyperledger. – Rob Palatnick, Managing Director and Global Head of Technology Research and Innovation at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) and Governing Board Chair at Hyperledger

“The release of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 was an enormous accomplishment and provided the enterprise blockchain community with an extensible framework upon which HACERA has built products that accelerate the building of business networks. HACERA has been part of the Hyperledger Fabric development team since the beginning and after working as the release manager for Fabric 1.0 in 2017, HACERA’s main contributions to Fabric have focused on two of our core strengths – identity and privacy (based on Zero-Knowledge Proofs). With Fabric 2.0, we are now able to offer HACERA Kore (for managing and governing decentralized networks), HACERA’s DAML-on-Fabric Enterprise 2.0 as well as seamless integration of a secure and decentralized data availability layer (The Unbounded Network). What a way to start the new decade!” – Jonathan Levi, CEO of HACERA, The Unbounded Network and Vice Chair of the Token Taxonomy Initiative/Framework

“I am delighted to see Hyperledger Fabric v2.0 released. Hitachi has contributed to the social innovation through the development of superior, original technology and products since its foundation in 1910.  Hitachi believes that Hyperledger Fabric v2.0 and related blockchain technologies will further expand the possibility to merge sustainability and business and to resolve social issues through the contribution to the initiatives like Society 5.0 and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hitachi continues to contribute to the Hyperledger community and to provide blockchain solutions for various industries.” – Nao Nishijima, Researcher, Hitachi, Ltd

“IBM is excited about this key milestone in Hyperledger Fabric’s development life cycle. We are proud to have been part of the community that has collaborated on its development, and we are eager to upgrade the IBM Blockchain Platform — industry’s first multi-cloud implementation of Hyperledger Fabric — to leverage the new capabilities and improved performance in this milestone release.” – Jerry Cuomo, IBM Fellow and VP of Blockchain Platform, IBM 

“IntellectEU is grateful to have been a part of the Hyperledger community since the very beginning. The release of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0 was a breakthrough for enterprise blockchain. Today we are excited about the Hyperledger Fabric 2.0 release. More specifically the private data enhancements that will drive adoption for our clients in the financial services industry. Our engineering team will be applying decentralised governance for chaincode when helping our clients migrating to Fabric 2.0.” – Thomas Bohner, VP of Blockchain at IntellectEU

“Oracle is excited about the Fabric 2.0 GA release. Hyperledger Fabric underpins Oracle Blockchain Platform, which is used by numerous customers in production, and a number approaching production deployments. The new capabilities in this release will directly benefit these customers who are looking for greater data privacy capabilities, increased performance, and decentralized consensus mechanism. I also think the new decentralized governance model for chaincode updates and organization-specific extensions will enable broader flexibility and help with the chaincode update process in consortia environments. These practical improvements will help to accelerate adoption of Fabric across our enterprise customers and government organizations. Oracle is very committed to Hyperledger Fabric, and we’d like to congratulate the Fabric community on this important milestone.” – Mark Rakhmilevich, Senior Director, Blockchain Production Management at Oracle

“We’re excited to stand alongside our friends as they launch Hyperledger Fabric 2.0. This release demonstrates a mature project with enhanced performance and deployment features that will allow for innovative identity projects to come to fruition, like our Verified.Me service. Hyperledger’s projects – such as Fabric and Aries – provide important open source components for building ecosystem services like Verified.Me, and we’re happy to contribute to such an excellent and dedicated community.” – Troy Ronda, Chief Scientist for SecureKey Technologies Inc.

To try out the new version of Hyperledger Fabric, see the Getting Started documentation. A new test network in the fabric-samples repository makes it easier than ever to start using Hyperledger Fabric within minutes!
For more details of the new features in Fabric v2.0, see the What’s New documentation.

Five Healthcare Projects Powered by Hyperledger You May Not Know About

By Blog, Healthcare

The New Year brings about various resolutions for millions across the globe. For many, that means putting more focus on their physical and mental health. Blockchain’s ability to revolutionize healthcare is undeniable. When applied to healthcare, blockchain is a shared platform that decentralizes health data without compromising the security of sensitive information. For example, patients can potentially use their own signatures, combined with a hospital signature, to unlock data to provide secure access to medical information for use in treatment. Patients could have full control of their medical information, selecting the information they want shared and viewed by providers or doctors. This model lifts the costly burden of maintaining patient’s medical histories away from hospitals. Also, counterfeit medicine is a big issue pharma companies face in their everyday operations since there are many stakeholders involved in the supply chain. Recall of drugs and avoiding counterfeit drugs from entering into legit marketplaces will help in reducing the losses and improving service delivery to the end customer. Blockchain could be used to maintain the entire supply chain in healthcare.

Below is a list of some interesting healthcare applications powered by Hyperledger technology you may or may not have known about:

Axuall – Axuall is a digital network for verifying identity, credentials, and authenticity in real-time using the Sorvin Network and Hyperledger Indy. The Axuall network is currently in pilot with Hyr Medical and their 650+ physician network in addition to two other health systems. Physicians’ time is better spent practicing medicine than filling out redundant, repetitive credentialing paperwork consisting of unchanging information. Using Axuall’s digital credentialing network, physicians will be able to present fully compliant credential sets to participating healthcare systems and medical groups they are affiliated with or applying to. Utilizing the cryptographic constructs from Hyperledger Indy, healthcare organizations will be able to verify the validity of a physician’s credentials – spanning medical education, training, licensing, board certification, work history, competency evaluations, sanctions, and adverse events – ensuring compliance with industry standards, regulatory mandates, and health system bylaws. 

KitChain – LedgerDomain joined forces with other industry leaders like Pfizer, IQVIA, UPS, Merck, UCLA Health, GSK, Thermo Fisher, and Biogen to build out a pilot on Hyperledger Fabric called KitChain. Scoped and developed over the course of two years, KitChain aims to demonstrate a robust collaborative model for managing the pharmaceutical clinical supply chain, creating an immutable record for shipment and event tracking without the need to resort to paperwork and manual transcription. KitChain has two major components: a frontend mobile application and a backend blockchain server. The backend was implemented in Golang and used Hyperledger Fabric, the LedgerDomain Selvedge blockchain app platform, and LedgerDomain’s DocuSeal framework, encompassing smart contracts and application logic. As such, the pilot has a fully functioning highly secure blockchain backend.

MELLODDY Project – This drug discovery project uses Amazon Web Services technologies to execute Machine Learning algorithms from academic partners on a large scale. The data never leaves the owner’s infrastructure and only non-sensitive models are exchanged. A central dispatcher allows each partner to share a common model to be consolidated collectively. To provide full traceability of the operations, the platform is based on a private blockchain and uses Substra, a software framework for orchestrating distributed machine learning tasks in a secure way. Substra is based on Hyperledger Fabric. MELLODDY is designed to prevent the leaking of proprietary information from one data set to another or through one model to another while at the same time boosting the predictive performance and applicability domain of the models by leveraging all available data. The MELLODDY consortium consists of 17 partners: 

  • 10 pharmaceutical companies: Amgen, Astellas, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Boehringer Ingelheim, GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Merck KgaA, Novartis, and Institut de Recherches Servier 
  • Two academic universities: KU Leuven, Budapesti Muszaki es Gazdasagtudomanyi Egyetem
  • Four subject matter experts: Owkin, Substra Foundation, Loodse, Iktos
  • One large AI computing company: NVIDIA

MyClinic.com – Medicalchain was one of the first healthcare blockchain companies to join the Hyperledger community, signing on as a member in 2017. The company’s ethos is to empower patients to have access to their medical records. Providing patients with direct access to their data unlocks the barriers we face in healthcare today such as patient choice and interoperability issues. A doctor-led team based in the UK, Medicalchain trialled the first telemedicine consultation using blockchain technology.  The company’s first blockchain-based product to market, MyClinic.com, makes it easy to schedule appointments, review medical reports and request further investigations or assistance using an Android and iOS app. Now the company is set to focus on scalability with the view to onboarding clinics and patients locally, nationally and internationally.

Verified.Me – SecureKey launched its innovative and in-demand network to Canadian consumers in early 2019. Verified.Me is a blockchain-based digital identity network built upon Hyperledger Fabric 1.2 that enables consumers to stay in control of their information by choosing when to share information and with whom, reducing unnecessary oversharing of personal information. Sun Life Financial has signed on as an early adopter and the first North American (health) insurer, making it easier for their clients to do business with the company.  Dynacare, one of Canada’s largest and most respected providers of health and wellness solutions, has joined the Verified.Me network. Dynacare’s participation will make it easier for Canadians to verify their identities as well as gain safer and faster access to their health information.

Curious about blockchain and advances in healthcare? Contribute to the conversation by joining the Hyperledger Healthcare Special Interest Group (HC-SIG). Open to anyone, the SIG was created to offer healthcare professionals and technologists a forum to discuss the implementation of technology solutions using blockchain technologies in general like Hyperledger frameworks and toolsets in specific.

Cover image: Pixnio free images

How Hyperledger Besu Will Help Solve the Pharmaceutical Waste Problem in the U.S.

By Blog, Healthcare, Hyperledger Besu

The problem of surplus medication is getting increasingly serious. Each year, tons of prescription drugs remain unused in clinics, assisted living facilities, and at individual patients’ homes. Often, the law demands that any unused medications be destroyed, which results in a whole complex set of problems. 

On the one hand, about $2 billion worth of prescription drugs are wasted every year. On the other hand, one in every three Americans cannot afford their prescribed medications due to the high cost or absence of medical insurance. At the same time, there is no unified procedure for using surplus medications and making them available to those who need it. 

Another issue to consider in this context is the cost of unused drug disposal, which can be around $1.25 per pound. The rules require that unused drugs be disposed of through incineration that creates additional environmental concerns. 

The obvious solution to this complex problem is establishing a mechanism for returning the unused medications and offering them to patients who need them. In fact, the drug donation and reuse programs have been researched for more than twenty years, but only 38 states have passed laws on drug reuse as of now. 

At the same time, the implementation of these laws gives hope that the multi-faceted problem of surplus drugs can be resolved. However, to achieve true effectiveness and prevent misuse, such programs need to take into account many practical aspects: 

– Control over the donated drugs’ quality and expiration. Of course, to be accepted, drugs must be unexpired and their packaging must be intact. 

– Motivation for pharmacies to act as drug acceptance facilities. Participation in the drug donation program has its costs, which pharmacies are not too eager to bear. 

– Motivation for clinics and patients to donate unused drugs. The law prohibits selling medications, thus, their owners should be motivated in a different way. 

– Data security. Medication-related data is highly sensitive and needs special protection from unauthorized access. 

How technology can help 

Our experience with blockchain and distributed applications proves that these technologies can become the core of an effective and secure platform for unused drug donation and redistribution. It resolves the problems of data security and traceability and can help to automate a number of processes. 

Together with the Save Pharmaceutical project, Adoriasoft is now building a blockchain-based platform to join drug donors (clinics, assisted living facilities, individual persons), drug repositories (pharmacies), and patients. The solution will be a multi-functional product allowing donors to donate the medications they do not need, and pharmacies to approve or reject the donations and, ultimately, to provide them to patients. 

We are using Hyperledger Besu as the base technology for this project. By choosing Hyperledger Besu, we plan to leverage the benefits of the protocol to enable transaction processing. Furthermore, we see Hyperledger Besu as a platform for building a permissioned enterprise-scale network to serve the drug repository system. 

In view of the high sensitivity of healthcare data that is going to be exchanged in the network, the transactions will be processed via smart contracts executed on Hyperledger Besu. Only the parties directly involved in the transaction will have access to its details. 

At the same time, blockchain provides the means of controlling the entire transaction flow from the drug donation by the owner to its final assignment to the patient. The platform will include a mechanism of monitoring the pharmacy income from reselling the donated drugs and distributing it among the other participants. 

Since the law explicitly prohibits donors from demanding payment for the drugs they donate, there should be other methods of motivating them to participate in the program. The state laws establish a tax deduction for drug donation, but our product can include an additional compensation in the form of a tradable digital token. 

The tokens issued on the blockchain can be used towards a discount on the platform or exchanged for other assets. The same tokens can be issued to pharmacies, too, to attract them to the program. 

Blockchain-based drug repository networks are going to be a true quantum leap in the healthcare industry, on the one hand, bringing significant cost savings, and, on the other hand, making medications accessible to patients who were otherwise unable to purchase them. We are proud to be a part of a project of such a social impact and to make the knowledge accumulated by the Hyperledger community serve this noble cause.

Hyperledger welcomes the Climate Action & Accounting Special Interest Group

By Blog, Special Interest Group

Hyperledger has launched the Hyperledger Climate Action & Accounting (CA2) Special Interest Group (SIG) to facilitate focused technical, business and global-level conversations and projects related to appropriate use cases for blockchain and compatible emerging digital technologies across the climate sector. 

For several years now, climate science has had an unequivocal consensus that global emissions should peak by 2020 and take a sharp decline to zero by 2050. 2020 is now here and yet we are nowhere near this goal. At a critical inflection point in the history of this planet and the global effort to prevent irreversible climate damage, this Hyperledger SIG is launched in an outmost timeline fashion to help bridge action between planet, policy, technology and economy.

SIGs gather community members from an industry segment to work on domain-specific problems and create an environment for open discussion, document co-creation and solution proposals. Hyperledger now has nine SIGs, including ones focused on healthcare, telecom, trade finance, supply chain and social impact.

Climate change is recognized globally as both a crisis and an opportunity requiring transformational change to attain sustainable societies and economies. Urgent action at a global scale is crucially important to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement (i.e., UN global climate accord). Five years later, the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risks Report 2020 highlighted “Climate Action Failure” as the top risk – ahead of all other major risks such as war and trade conflicts. Concerted action is often fraught with mistrust and lack of transparency among the scope of actors (countries, subnational governments, companies, individuals) due to uncertainty of distributed responsibilities and clashing incentives at the short-term level. Whilst the Paris Agreement is a globally encompassing framework to prevent warming above 1.5oC (relative to pre-industrial levels), it still lacks a clear mechanism enabling actors to “speak the same language” when recording and governing the use of climate-relevant data and verified actions. 

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) and other emerging digital solutions have the potential to provide trusted record-keeping processes, data consensus and rules automation — crucially needed components in order to align actors, accelerate mitigation and adaptation action, and mobilize the trillions of dollars of finance required annually. Hyperledger’s ecosystem and DLTs are central to the creation of a global and open climate accounting system that helps integrate all actors and actions under the same planetary goal. The Climate Action & Accounting SIG has launched to leverage Hyperledger frameworks and the Linux Foundation’s know-how for the development of an open source and decentralized climate accountability network that both operationalizes transparency (i.e., Article 13 of the Paris Accord) whilst enhancing each actor’s personal privacy, security, and control.

The scope of the SIG is defined by the terms climate action and climate accounting:  

Climate Action is a broadly encompassing term that involves all climate-relevant actions (e.g., policies, programs, technologies, goods, services) taken by actors (e.g., states and non-state actors such as businesses, cities, individuals). This covers the range from emission generating activities to the broad set of actions encompassed within climate mitigation and adaptation and its associated finance mechanisms.

Climate Accounting, on the other hand, is referred by the SIG as the encompassing term that involves all processes of recording climate-relevant information/data. This ranges from the physical state of the planet to the list of all climate actors, their broad set of climate actions and agreements in respect to the shared account of the climate challenge.

In other words, whilst climate action occurs in the real world, climate accounting is recorded in the digital world.

Through open and participative discussions, the SIG will help build the relationship between both climate domains and consolidate technological tools to do so.

The new SIG is led by two co-chairs: Martin Wainstein, PhD, and Tom Baumann. Martin is the founder and lead researcher at the Yale Open Innovation Lab at the Center for Business and the Environment at Yale, climate advisor to the Spatial Web Foundation, and manager of the climate & energy finance projects at the Digital Currency Initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Tom Baumann is the founder and co-chair of the Climate Chain Coalition, co-chair of the INATBA Climate Action WG (International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications), former international chair (2014-2019) of ISO’s climate change standards committee, as well as co-founder of several start-ups including Xpansiv, Adaptation Ledger, ClimateCHECK, GHG Management Institute, Collaborase, and NovaSphere.

The mission and goals of the Hyperledger CA2 SIG is to foster a collaborative network of climate, DLT other emerging technology organizations (i.e., universities, NGOs, government, startups, corporations, multilateral development banks, etc.) that can create a center of gravity around the role of DLT and open source software to address challenges in the global climate action, policy and digital accounting space. 

A focus point of the SIG would be to turn this network into action under a common open source project that defines shared protocols, standards, and platform tools for a globally integrated climate accounting system to be operationalized, and meet requirements by emerging initiatives like the FSB TCFD (Task Force for Climate-Related Disclosure). This open climate project can act as a shared initiative where participants can contribute value to and share explorations in the use DLT alongside other emerging technologies such as IoT (Internet of Things), big data, and machine learning to address the challenge of keeping a transparent climate accounting system towards the climate targets set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The SIG community will take initiative to specifically address and develop:

  • Compile completed, ongoing, and proposed future activities related to blockchain for climate action & accounting
  • Create a directory of organizations and initiatives involved with blockchain and the climate space (map of organization location, contact person, description, website, etc.)
  • Consolidate the architecture of an integrated system, involving multiple blockchain mechanisms connected through shared protocols, allowing contractual automation in the link between finance and climate value flow based on the agreed physical parameter of the Earth system
  • Identify Hyperledger tools and frameworks to develop and maintain a single record-keeping ledger with global consensus (i.e., a ‘ledger of ledger’ where all parties agree)
  • Propose and define shared protocols and standards to allow interoperability across the climate accounting system and integrated platforms
  • Compile of best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations to stakeholders (policymakers, technology developers, etc.)
  • Support events (e.g., at blockchain and climate conferences such as COP) and related activities for collaboration among members and stakeholders.
  • Propose, discuss and define a longer-term strategic vision of an open innovation consortium that can help steward, fund, and maintain an open source climate action and accounting project and system

We welcome your participation. If you would like to join the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, please subscribe to the mailing list and join the chat channel where online meeting details will be announced. The CA2 SIG wiki page contains links to resources, activities, meeting minutes, project details and the active member directory. Find a list of all Hyperledger community meetings, including the Climate Action and Accounting SIG, on the Hyperledger Community calendar. We look forward to your active involvement and valuable contributions.

Introducing the Hyperledger Diversity, Civility and Inclusion (DCI) Working Group

By Blog, Working Group

At Hyperledger, “All are welcome here!” That is a message that we want all current and prospective open source contributors to hear. As open source software (OSS) becomes more prominent, the communities that surround it become more important. Having a community that has a culture of encouraging people to voice their diverse opinions is crucial for the long term success of the project. With the motivation of creating an ecosystem that enables many diverse views, the Hyperledger community with the support of the Hyperledger staff has started the Diversity, Civility and Inclusion (DCI) Working Group (WG).

The journey to creating this WG started at the Hyperledger Member Summit in 2018 in Montreal. Hyperledger is the fastest growing project in the Linux Foundation’s history. Despite that, discussions at the Montreal event raised issues about obstacles to participation. Current processes could make it difficult for newcomers to integrate and participate, and some of the processes do not always promote inclusiveness. Newcomers do not always know where to go to find information or ask questions, and conversely active members have difficulty monitoring all the avenues people can participate (e.g., mailing lists, channels on rocket chat, wiki). Geography sometimes also presents a barrier as meetings and correspondence are optimized for certain time zones over others.

Motivated by the observations at the summit, community members along with Hyperledger staff began discussing how to improve the inclusiveness and in turn increase diversity. They wanted DCI initiatives to be community driven and tracked openly. The DCI WG was created to give interested community members an open forum to investigate, collaborate on solutions, and provide visibility to the DCI issues found in the community. The charter for the DCI WG includes collecting data on various metrics, suggesting possible improvements based on those metrics to the TSC or projects, and, if actions are taken, measuring the impact of them.

Diversity, Civility and Inclusiveness can cover many different community health issues. In order to be the most impactful, the DCI WG decided to focus our efforts and tackle a subset of issues first. One of our first goals will be to collect metrics across as much of that breadth as we reasonably can. We are launching a survey to help baseline the current community. Without that data, it is difficult to know where we need to place our emphasis. One of the small pieces of data we do have today suggests a gap in gender representation. After much discussion, the working group has chosen to make that an initial focus and use what we learn through that process and the survey to expand into other aspects of DCI. 

Within the Hyperledger ecosystem, the DCI WG is looking to collaborate with other working groups, SIGs, and projects to analyze and measure diversity. We are also looking to work with groups such as CHAOSS. We encourage everyone to participate, give their feedback, and voice their opinions!  One of the ways to participate right now is taking our survey. Regardless of your background, the projects or WGs you work on, we want to hear your ideas and feedback. The DCI WG meets bi-weekly and can be found on Hyperledger Community Meeting Calendar. We also have a mailing list and a chat forum. We welcome all contributors!

Conflict minerals and child labour: Enabling better business with blockchain traceability

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

The hidden costs of raw materials

How much do you know about the making of your phone? How important is it for you to know where all the materials came from?

There are now over 3 billion smartphones in the world and the growth in numbers is expected to continue. This, along with demand for other electronics like tablets, laptops, electric vehicles, even vacuum cleaners, is driving a huge need for raw materials such as cobalt, tin, tungsten and tantalum. Cobalt is used in every lithium-ion rechargeable battery on the planet, while the 3 Ts, also known as conflict minerals, are found in all manner of electronic goods.

Conflict minerals have been classed as such due to their sourcing in conflict areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Militias will frequently seize control of a mine and force people to work in dangerous conditions for minimal or zero pay. With weak law enforcement in these areas there are many examples of slavery, theft of natural resources, environmental damage and human rights abuses.

The other issue that is rife here is child labour. The Guardian estimates there are more than 255,000 creuseurs (diggers) mining cobalt in the DRC, at least 35,000 of whom are children, some as young as six. These children will spend an entire day digging up enough cobalt-containing heterogenite stone to fill a sack, which they will then try to sell to Chinese traders for about $0.65.

Traceability-as-a-Service

For a long time. people have been talking about blockchain and how it is a technology looking for a problem to solve. Circulor is one of the first companies to build a solution using Hyperledger blockchain and artificial intelligence that provides traceability and transparency across the supply chain where it is really needed – conflict minerals, rare earth minerals, toxic and polluting waste, child labour-based production, to name a few. 

Responsible companies need to know the answers to the questions:

  • To what extent is your supply chain traceable?
  • Are you confident in the provenance of your raw material?
  • Can you prove the provenance?
  • What impact are you having on people and nature?

With extractive industries, true traceability requires reaching far upstream and being able to track material flows through refining, amalgamation and manufacture. Circulor addresses two core challenges – reliably creating a digital identity for a physical commodity at its source in the field, as well as connecting the inputs and outputs from a manufacturing process to enable that identity to be inherited. 

In order to make the identity reliable and digital, Circulor’s solution gives a commodity a dynamic identity, or dynamic twin, so that it can be tracked along the supply chain journey, from source to consumer, even if the commodity changes on the way. Then through the material journey, we use machine learning tools to identify anomalies or fraudulent activity.

With their entire supply chains mapped out for the first time, manufacturers are able to definitively prove responsible sourcing and sustainable production. In relation to conflict minerals and child mining, there are a number of controls in place to enable this. Artificial Intelligence is utilised for facial recognition, ensuring only authorised people are involved in the process, while anti-GPS spoofing measures guarantee that transactions are only done at accredited facilities.

One of these measures is tags that can only be used in a specified geo-fenced area, such as a mine site or production facility. This is an important safeguard because, especially with the case of tin and tungsten mining in Rwanda, the current tagging system is insecure, and tags are frequently traded on the black market. If a commodity has one of these tags, even though it holds no real information on location or identity, that is often enough for it to pass any security checks. Circulor’s tags are linked to specific locations and individuals.

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Photo by Hasin Hayder on Unsplash

Enabling better business

In partnership with Kumi, Circulor recently completed a successful project with Volvo Cars, using Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to trace the cobalt in the company’s forthcoming electric vehicles. Volvo Cars is leading the way in its industry to conduct responsible production, not just in its own operations but now in all of its suppliers as well. It recognised the importance of being able to prove to its consumers that it sources raw materials ethically and sustainably.

There is no doubting a current consumer trend towards a greater concern for our impact on people and the environment. Last year, the UK spent over £83bn on ethical goods with the continued growth driven by increased environmental concern, showing that more consumers than ever are looking for ways to shop that help people and the planet. Businesses are taking note – Circulor has just signed on with another automotive company to conduct a similar project and there are various examples of opportunities in other industries, such as waste, recycling, agriculture and more. In partnership with Kumi and other forward-thinking organisations, traceability provides huge potential to enable better business.

Sources:
https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-conflict-minerals-funded-a-war-that-killed-millions/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/theworldpost/wp/2018/04/19/conflict-free/

Cover image courtesy of Circulor