Category

Hyperledger Fabric

DEON: A Hyperledger-based DEcentralized Off-grid Network

By Blog, Hyperledger Aries, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Indy

The DEON project focuses on the application of blockchains to secure data sharing in private networks and was initiated in 2018 in the wireless and sensor networks laboratory at the Yale Institute for Network Science. The use case of off-grid communication networks was identified with the goal of enabling their full decentralization in terms of data management and identity management. Off-grid (communication) networks are peer-to-peer networks that are autonomous, without super nodes and not dependent on the Internet’s physical infrastructure. Several recent developments like goTenna[1] and the Beartooth[2] offer standalone wireless devices that could be used to form local peer-to-peer networks. Other developments like the well-known Guifi community network[3] in Catalonia, Spain, are community-led paradigms in that space. Although these networks promote decentralization, openness, and fairness, they rely on legacy, centralized technologies for specific parts of their architecture like data and identity management. The integration of blockchains into off-grid networks appeared promising since blockchain provides attributes like transparency, privacy, distribution of governance and decentralization that are highly desirable in off-grid networks.

We chose Hyperledger Fabric as the framework to build our architecture because of its flexibility, performance and the potential we saw behind this huge community of enthusiasts and developers to further advance the technology. After we got familiar with the framework, we identified a key missing aspect: a decentralized identity management component. Unlike the rest of Fabric’s architecture, its native identity management is centralized and based on Certificate Authorities. So we came across the following questions: “which of the nodes in the network is going to host and manage the CA?”, “can we stick with the initial plan of having equal nodes?”and “how can we preserve the decentralization of off-grid networks if we rely on centralized nodes?”

Looking at the rest of the Hyperledger ecosystem, we found that Hyperledger Indy and Aries enable decentralized identity management. We could transform the centralized CAs of Fabric to a distributed CA entity, aka the Indy ledger, so that they are accessible by all nodes but not hosted by a specific one. This approach would work like a distributed oracle of trust in the network but necessitated some changes in Fabric and other extensions in the entire stack to bring DIDs into the “Fabric world.”

Approach and proposed architecture

The first Fabric extension identified as necessary for the integration was an Indy-based MSP to verify identities, signatures and transactions signed by DIDs. In addition, we had to enable the Fabric SDK (Go) to sign transactions using DIDs. For the Indy/Aries part, we leveraged the Hyperledger Aries Cloud Agent (aca-py) [4], which is deployed in each node of the network and serves as both the verifier and the issuer in the network. On one hand, it signs Fabric transactions using DIDs and issues credentials to the users of the network, and on the other it verifies proofs and transactions signed by DIDs. The DEON Core Service leverages Fabric private data collections and an interface to IPFS to expose a REST API for secure, transparent, fast and privacy-preserving data storage. An overview of the integration is shown in the figure below. The proposed architecture can be employed by off-grid networks of any kind, from IoT to communication and inter-enterprise consortia networks, for enabling self-sovereign identity and user-centric data sharing.

Figure 1: HL Fabric-Indy/Aries integration

Project outcomes and future work

The work started as a joint effort between the wireless and sensor networks lab of Professor Leandros Tassiulas at the Yale Institute for Network Science and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which put its expertise in decentralized identity to work in the development of the identity parts. Part of the work and initial benchmarks of the architecture deployed in off-grid settings are presented in the paper “A Blockchain-based Decentralized Data Sharing Infrastructure for Off-grid Networking[5].”

Currently the Yale team is working on improving the code to make it more usable by others as a standalone solution for integrating Fabric and Indy/Aries. The team is also working on feature enhancements for the DEON platform, such as supporting Fabric v2, updating DEON identity agents to the latest version of the aca-py agent, extending the DEON REST API with admin functionalities and finally looking for new applications of the platform. The code of the project can be found on GitHub https://github.com/off-grid-block.

[1] goTenna off-grid device: https://gotenna.com/
[2] Beartooth off-grid device: https://beartooth.com/
[3] Guifi.net: https://guifi.net/
[4] aca-py agent: https://github.com/hyperledger/aries-cloudagent-python/
[5] “A Blockchain-based Decentralized Data Sharing Infrastructure for Off-grid Networking”: https://arxiv.org/abs/2006.07521v2

About the author
Harris Niavis is a Research Engineer at Yale University. His research interests lie in enterprise blockchain networks, decentralized identity management, mesh networks and IoT.

 

Cover image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

The move to a production network: What you need to consider and how Hyperledger Fabric can help

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that provides a shared, immutable, and transparent history to the participants in the network of all the actions that have happened. Currently, different types of blockchain technologies exist, including private permissioned implementations that allow governance of the network participants and secure management of sensitive data. 

Blockchain has already demonstrated its potential in numerous POCs and implementations in production in Switzerland and abroad. Deployments are live in various business areas such as supply-chain management, finance (e.g., payments in crypto-currencies, tokenization), healthcare data management, ticketing services, eVoting, cars and planes configuration and maintenance, among others. Increasingly, companies are moving past the initial stage of  testing whether  blockchain is a good solution to a specific business problem (i.e., developing a POC) and are starting the work of adopting this technology in production networks. 

The move from a successful POC implementation to a production deployment brings many added challenges such as ongoing management, integration (on both the technology and business process fronts), security and budgeting. Here are some key areas where advanced consideration and preparation can smooth a production implementation:

  1. Deployment options for running and maintaining the blockchain nodes and other components of the blockchain network.

Blockchain technology is often employed to ensure transparent and secure transactions executed between parties without fully aligned interests. Instead of relying on a centralized “trusted” party, which can become a target for the internal and external cyber-attacks, parties opt to set up a distributed network. This blockchain network consists of replicated nodes that execute smart contracts – programs defined by the business logic of the application. Depending on the business requirements, a specific type of blockchain implementation (i.e., permissionless/permissioned, private/public, or hybrid) shall be chosen. This choice also impacts the network configuration and maintenance. When the nodes are located on premises, execution of smart contracts can be verified by the parties directly. However, infrastructure maintenance costs and shortage of specialists “in house” can complicate such an approach. The nodes can also be deployed in the cloud; multiple companies provide such services. Working with service providers simplifys management. However, it also requires careful selection of the provider(s) based on the sensitivity level of data that are being processed by the smart contracts, regulations, and physical location of the hosting data centers.

  1. Set up or integration of identity management approach.

For the permissioned blockchain technology implementation, identity management service plays a crucial role. Often, even as a part of distributed ledger frameworks, identity management services are implemented in a centralized manner, which poses serious security threats and can become a single point of failure. Setting up a distributed identity management service, using blockchain-based approach for identity management (such as self-sovereign identity solutions) and implementing privacy-preserving approaches (using advance cryptographic primitives such as zero-knowledge proofs) are the approaches that must be considered for the real-world implementation. 

  1. Transformation of  business processes into chaincode (smart contracts) 

Transforming paper-based contracts and business processes into computer programs can be challenging and may require compliance with domain-specific regulations (i.e., Drug Supply Chain Security Act in US, Falsified Medicines Directive of the European Union in the pharmaceutical sector). Making sure the business processes are properly transferred and are available for  verification and audits are cornerstone requirements for the successful integration of the blockchain. To understand and translate specifics of a company’s business area into smart contracts, collaboration between the company and blockchain specialists with the specific domain knowledge and legal expertise is required.

  1. Data management approach.

Replication of the code execution between multiple parties brings transparency into blockchain implementations. At the same time, more parties may access the sensitive data that is required for the execution of the smart contracts deployed on the nodes. In the course of development of the blockchain, a number of approaches for hybrid data management have been proposed. These approaches assume that only part of the data is managed within the blockchain network, and most of the data, especially of a sensitive nature, is stored and processed locally. Private data collections, hardware security modules, data encryption are examples of approaches that aim to ensure data security and user privacy.

  1. Estimation of the infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Once the above points are considered, and preliminary choices are made, it’s easier to estimate the effort and costs of implementing and maintaining a system. It is important to ensure integration and interoperability with other non-blockchain-based components. Detailed specifications of SLAs and timelines in the dynamic blockchain environment must not be overlooked.

Working with customers, we have found that Hyperledger Fabric, one of the most mature permissioned blockchain technology platforms implementations, is well architectured to help companies to make the leap from POC to a successful production deployment.

Hyperledger Fabric networks can be set up on the customer premises and in the cloud, including multi-vendor cloud environments. Deployment and maintenance of the robust and secure blockchain-based POCs and real-world systems can be achieved in close collaboration between the company and a vetted service provider that has deep experience helping enterprises successfully adopt Fabric.

With Hyperledger Fabric, business logic can be “translated” into the chaincode using one of the following general-purpose languages: Go, node.js, or Java. Fabric also provides a set of built-in tools for sensitive data management, such as private data collections and channels, as well as flexibility in the choice of identity management approach, such decentralized identity management and anonymous credentials. 

Being aware of the challenges, knowing how to address them, and working together with a Hyperledger Certified Service Provider, like Swisscom, are key components to the successful deployment of a blockchain-based project in production.

Hyperledger-powered supply chain solutions in action

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

As 2020 has shown, supply chains are both vital and vulnerable, underscoring the need for trust and transparency. To meet that need, blockchain is playing an increasingly prominent role in many supply chains, and Hyperledger technologies underpin most of the biggest and best known networks, including FoodTrust and TradeLens. 

But there are many other examples of Hyperledger technologies in action in the supply chain space. Read on for details about a range of #HyperledgerSupplyChain solutions that are powering supply chains and the businesses that rely on them:

Accenture’s True Supplier Marketplace

Inaccurate supplier master data and incomplete risk assessments cost businesses an average of 15 million dollars per year. What if onboarding a vendor and managing their data could be done more effectively to ensure compliance? Imagine a solution where onboarding times drop from weeks to hours, while adherence to risk assessments improves.

With this supply chain transformation in mind, Accenture used Hyperledger Fabric to develop a double-sided procurement marketplace to source, onboard and maintain supplier relationships. By giving suppliers ownership of their own data, the solution creates a shared source of truth between parties that improves risk compliance, speeds time to onboard, and removes the manual effort required to maintain siloed systems. Accenture’s True Supplier Marketplace is live and available now. 

DL Freight™

Developed by DLT Labs, DL Freight is the national standard for freight invoice management for Walmart Canada and its national network of third party transportation companies or carriers. The system tracks deliveries, verifies transactions, and automates invoices in real time across the network of up 70 different carriers in Walmart’s supply chain.

DL Freight is built on Hyperledger Fabric, an open source platform that allows Walmart to bring together the carriers within its multi-partner freight operations under one architecture to automate and implement universal workflows across the network. At the same time, through Hyperledger Fabric’s unique “channels” feature, the solution allows independent and protected relationships for each organization directly between itself and Walmart, and the information is not accessible to other members.

Within DL Freight, carriers are the peers, and the governance of the platform is controlled by the applicable contracts, as in any conventional business. The difference is that the freight, legal, and finance departments of Walmart, as well as all the carriers, have all agreed that the solution fairly and accurately represents those agreements so it processes them automatically. As a result, it has removed the guesswork and any real potential for dispute over the interpretation of agreements.

Telefónica’s e2e Supply Chains

Today’s supply chains are increasingly global and complex with hundreds of companies involved in the manufacturing and distribution of products and with logistics that expand across borders. In this context, collaboration has become key to streamline operations. To manage the complexity, Telefónica launched a project to transform the way it collaborates with third parties by blockchain-enabling its e2e Supply Chain solution to make it faster, simpler and more efficient.

Trust is at the heart of that collaboration, and, to build that trust, Telefónica selected Hyperledger Fabric as the underlying technology that serves as a secure and transparent single source of truth for all.

Telefónica started using the blockchain-based supply chain solution to support one of its core products – CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) – the routers, decos, and other devices that provide connectivity and services at home to their customers. The company manufactures over 15 million serialized devices a year that are then distributed and installed by a field force of over 30,000 technicians.

Telefónica put this blockchain platform for operations into production in 2019 in Brazil, where the program delivered ROI in under six months.Telefónica is planning to extend the use of its blockchain-enabled e2e solution to the rest of its Fixed Operations and other products in the coming months.

Trust Your Supplier

Just named as the 2020 Winner of Blockchain Revolution’s Innovative Entrepreneurship in Blockchain Award in the Supply Chain Applications category, Trust Your Supplier is an innovative solution developed in a partnership between IBM and Chainyard to address the inefficiencies and risks associated with supplier information management. 

During this time of a global pandemic, many buyers are procuring goods and services in the context of a supply constrained situation. This has resulted in substantial challenges in vetting and onboarding new suppliers.

Built on Hyperledger Fabric, Trust Your Supplier provides both a cross-industry network and a blockchain secured platform to speed onboarding and minimize risk. 

Blockchain provides cryptographic security that allows suppliers to control access to their single digital identity. Buyers are able to view profiles of their connected suppliers, as well as a timeline of all the various activities that have taken place with this supplier. Writing this information onto the blockchain allows for an immutable record of all the events that have taken place with this supplier and are fantastic for supporting auditing capabilities.

Trust Your Supplier is bringing speed, accuracy and most importantly trust, to supplier information management and the supply chain needs of today’s world.

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Join the conversation about solutions and applications in the supply chain market with #HyperledgerSupplyChain this month on social channels. Or get involved with the Supply Chain  Special Interest Group.

Cover image by Free-Photos from Pixabay.

Lessons learned from COVID: The role blockchain can play when supply chain disruptions hit

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

On April 27, 2020, IBM and Chainyard launched Rapid Supplier Connect (RSC), a blockchain-based network designed to help government agencies, hospitals and healthcare buyers to identify PPE suppliers in the United States. The participants included non-traditional suppliers who had pivoted to address the shortage of equipment, devices and PPE supplies needed for COVID-19 relief efforts with a greater efficiency.

The blockchain network, which was launched, free of fees, to help frontline healthcare organizations confidently identify and procure PPE, had unprecedented adoption. More than 500 buyers and suppliers joined in no time to quickly find each other, accelerated verification and onboarding processes, and gained near real-time insights into inventories of life-saving equipment.

Six weeks from ideation to market

During mid-March 2020, when the pandemic hit the United States with unanticipated impact and scale, hospitals found themselves struggling to procure quality and essential PPE equipment needed in the frontline battle. Availability was uncertain, quality was questionable, and trust in suppliers was eroding.  

IBM and Chainyard jumped in to help responders to battle the pandemic by launching RSC, leveraging Trust Your Supplier and IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite, within six weeks.

Trust Your Supplier, owned and operated by Chainyard, is a production blockchain network with trusted source of verified supplier information and digital identity that reduces risk while simplifying and accelerating supplier onboarding and supplier management. IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite provides inventory visibility and deep insights into supply chain activities. 

What are the reasons RSC had such quick adoption and successfully met its objectives? When looking back we identified the following five themes for how blockchain helped when the supply chain disruption hit:

1. Trust was paramount, and that trust will survive the pandemic

When the pandemic hit the supply chain, leading to shortages, price increases and quality distortions that cascaded from factories to ports to suppliers to consumers, the buyers needed a system that could be trusted.  Blockchain is known to create trust in the system without any one individual or company in the system ensuring the trust. The trust is achieved through trust in the ecosystem, which included trust on third party verifiers, immutable data, immutable logic and audit trail of supplier information. Trust Your Supplier, the foundation for creating the trust, and previously proven with thousands of suppliers, was the right choice to be quickly leveraged to build trust between buyers and suppliers during the pandemic.

2. Blockchain provides the skeleton for trust; however, it is the ecosystem that brings it to life.

Blockchain provides the skeleton for creating the trust. However, it comes to life and offers greater value when more trusted industry players participate and contribute as validators, verifiers and solution providers working on top of the network. Each blockchain requires the creation of new industry ecosystems in which participants must work together. RSC achieved this through multiple verification agencies helping to generate trust in the ecosystem, including:

  • Dun & Bradstreet contributed its identity resolution, firmographic data, and supplier risk and viability scores to TYS network.
  • CDAX served as a third-party paymaster, securing funds on behalf of buyers in a custody and settlement account and holding goods ordered contractually from the supplier under a consignment arrangement until the buyer verifies acceptance of the order and releases funds to the seller. 
  • Project N95 served as a clearinghouse for information on COVID-related suppliers.
  • RapidRatings provided financial health data on suppliers.
  • KYC SiteScan provided “Know Your Business” due diligence report access. 
  • Thomson Reuters provided access to its CLEAR customer due diligence tool to provide buyers with access to real-time and comprehensive data to vet suppliers and identify potential fraud risks.

3. Inventory visibility and transparency accelerates on time delivery and adaptation.

When the pandemic caused a shortage of supplies, the buyers’ biggest need from suppliers were inventory visibility and transparency into delivery timetables.  The solution was expected to provide real time visibility and transparency across the key supply chain pillars of procurement, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution. In the case of a pandemic, critical supply delivery lead time misinformation could lead to significant loss including lives.

RSC integrated IBM Sterling Supply Chain Suite to provide inventory visibility and deep insights into supply chain activities. Increased real-time visibility helped buyers to pace the PPE orders. The network also helped to identify existing supplies and excess inventory going unused, allowing hospitals to make it available to others and redirect supplies where they were needed most.

4. Simple solutions to solve pain points need to be swift to the market.

Blockchain solutions for supply chain can be very complex, supporting myriad use cases with a large consortium providing the single source of truth. One cannot build these solutions overnight when a pandemic hits. In order to be swift in the market, reuse solutions that are proven and available in the market being used by suppliers over the years.  The level of integrations can be daunting and can take years. RSC adopted agility against the features, made integrations simple and was quick to market to address the critical needs.

5. Trusted Digital Identities bridge the trust gap between reality and the digital world.

Blockchain-based digital identity played a major role in creating trust . Digital Identity is about linking real world identities and the digital world. Each physical object’s digital replica (known as a digital twin) is created in a way that prevents or reveals any human interference that alters information. For a digital business transaction on supply chain, it is substantially important to prove the authenticity of one’s own identity and to verify that of the transaction partner. RSC leveraged TYS’s Digital Identity services to issue verifiable credentials associated with a company identity, digitally signed, and thus verified by a trusted party.

Additional aspects of blockchain that also contributed to supply chain resiliency during the pandemic include data privacy, confidentiality of shared data, innovative business models that glue together stakeholders in the ecosystem, and third-party solution integrations that work on top of these ecosystems. With many blockchain supply chain solutions on the rise, and interoperability actively being addressed, our society will have quicker resilience when we encounter the next pandemic.


For more on this topic, tune into a discussion on “Leveraging blockchain to drive supply chain resilience and accountability in the face of climate change and other disruptions” at Open Source Summit Europe at 13:00 GMT, Monday, October 26. The panel will include Chainyard’s Gigo Joseph along with Douglas Johnson-Poensgen of Circulor and Marta Geater-Piekarska of Hyperledger.

More details are here.

Join the conversation about solutions and applications in the supply chain market with #HyperledgerSupplyChain this month on social channels.

Cover image by MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann, CC-BY-2.0

DLT Labs Turns to Hyperledger Fabric to Resolve Freight Transportation Invoice and Payment Challenges for Walmart Canada

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

As part of its commitment to provide the lowest everyday prices for its consumers, Walmart Canada has a sharp focus on supply chain logistics. One vital piece: the freight transportation that ensures Walmart is sufficiently stocked to service more than 1.2 million customers across 400 stores every day. 

Walmart partners with third party transportation companies, referred to as carriers, that work around the clock, and through all seasons, to deliver goods. These carriers are a vital link in Walmart’s supply chain. However, there is a high level of complexity to managing the information flow and invoice payments with the carriers, which is a big deal as shipping is a capital-intensive business with a high degree of cost volatility (fuel prices, delays, unexpected events). 

It is not uncommon to have invoice disputes in the range of 70% or more for every load a carrier delivers (one invoice per load). Despite various service providers trying to solve this puzzle using the full spectrum of existing technologies, disputes continue to plague the industry with high administrative costs and lengthy payment delays, and invoice reconciliation often simply means one side or the other capitulated.

For Walmart, the complexity is multiplied by working with up to 70 different carriers in its supply chain, each of which has its own respective process for calculating shipping costs based on individual contracts that outline varying rates for fuel, line haul and other charges.

Walmart Canada enlisted the help of DLT Labs™, a global leader in the development and deployment of an innovative enterprise-level platform using distributed ledger technology, to develop a solution that would solve the perennial dispute problem once and for all.

In early 2019, DLT Labs rolled out the world’s largest full production blockchain solution for any industrial application: DL Freight™. Remarkably, because the platform is fully configurable, DL Freight was configured for the demanding needs of Walmart in just 60 days. The new system tracks deliveries, verifies transactions, and automates invoices in real time. Reconciliation between Walmart and its fleet of carriers is no longer even necessary because they are all working off the same information and calculations by way of smart contracts.

DL Freight is built on Hyperledger Fabric, an open source platform that allows Walmart to bring together all the carriers within its multi-partner freight operations under one architecture to automate and implement universal workflows across the network. At the same time, through Hyperledger Fabric’s unique “channels” feature, the solution allows independent and protected relationships for each organization directly between itself and Walmart, and the information is not accessible to other members.

Within DL Freight, carriers are the peers, and the governance of the platform is controlled by the applicable contracts, as in any conventional business. The difference is that the freight, legal, and finance departments of Walmart, as well as all the carriers, have all agreed that the solution fairly and accurately represents those agreements so it processes them automatically. As a result, it has removed the guesswork and any real potential for dispute over the interpretation of agreements. 

Hyperledger teamed up with DLT Labs and Walmart Canada on a case study about the creation and adoption of DL Freight, the national standard for freight invoice management for Walmart Canada and its national network of carriers. It delves into key design decisions and outcomes as well as security safeguards and the roadmap for DL Freight as an industry platform.

Read the full case study here.

Join the conversation about solutions and applications in the supply chain market with #HyperledgerSupplyChain this month on social channels.

How Hyperledger Fabric is impacting the Telco, Media and Entertainment industry

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric, Telecom

The rise of blockchain

Blockchain is already a reality in the Telecommunication, Media and Entertainment (TME) industry. In fact, many companies, both established and start-ups, have implemented blockchain-based solutions to automize, digitize and re-invent some of their processes.

Like other industries, TME is characterized by the lack of visibility, transparency and auditability of some of its processes, making asset transactions less efficient, thus generating both extra costs and revenue leakage. In telecommunication, a good example of such a process is wholesale voice settlements. Carriers around the world exchange large amounts of money for interconnection costs, but there are no industry standards to ensure consistency and transparency. Each report is subject to dispute and reconciliation. In the media industry, we all know how difficult it is for artists and music labels to track the revenues that are due to them from streaming and video platforms.

Hyperledger helps in bringing efficiency to TME operations

The stakeholders in the TME industry are pioneers in the application of blockchain to solve some of the critical industry issues. In particular, they recognize that a platform designed for the enterprise like Hyperledger Fabric provides tangible value-adds such as  privacy, transparency, trust and security. Leveraging these key characteristics, telco and media companies have started building consortia and projects to validate the value of the technology. These consortia can be categorized into three categories: operations-focused, customer experience and full revenue generating ecosystems.

In the first category, companies collaborate to improve back end processes that take place between them, with the goal of eliminating redundant costs and activities. This helps improve productivity and efficiency in the value chain. In a nutshell, this is an efficiency play. Some processes touch all players in the industry. Examples include roaming settlements for telecommunications or digital advertising supply chains for the media industry. (Recently, Syniverse and IBM went live with the first blockchain-based roaming solution compliant with the new GSMA billing standard.) Alternatively, some processes may interest only a major player and its closest suppliers. 

Reinventing customer experience with Hyperledger 

The second category, customer experience-focused consortia, revolves around improving the engagement of the customer rather than the efficiency of the processes. The main financial goal is not cost cutting but revenue generation, either through new services or new business models.

In this context, the sky is the limit: use cases are several and very different. When the goal is to provide a better customer experience, Hyperledger technologies can be used to improve customer engagement and make client-facing activities easier and less redundant. For example: IBM uses Hyperledger Fabric to simplify the dispute resolution process for commercial financing. Fabric is also used to automatically enforce warranties or reduce the time needed to port your mobile number from one carrier to another, thus improving the customer experience. 

On the other side, blockchain can be used to create new services for telecommunication and media companies. For decades, telcos have harbored an ambition to get into the mobile payment business. Now, with blockchain, they have an easy and secure way to implement digital wallets, create tokens and exchange them in their own network or with other networks. The same can apply to the gaming industry, where the concept of credits and digital token has been popular in the last few years but was hard to monetize.

Carriers can also now provide digital identity services. Blockchain is the ideal platform for creating a trusted identity, and carriers are in the perfect position to enable subscribers with digital identity and to develop an ecosystem of applications. IBM’s Verify Credentials creates a decentralized approach to identity management – enabled by blockchain – building on top of open standards in combination with Decentralized Identity Foundation (DIF), World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and other standards groups

Hyperledger Fabric is the foundation of new industry ecosystems

Finally, the third category, the ecosystems, comprises consortia that cover the entire industry. Consortia turn into ecosystems over time, when an initial application becomes an industry-wide platform, setting the standards for the whole industry and allowing for flexible, modular and open participation, in a “network of networks” fashion. The founder of the ecosystem can extract high value from the platform and become a winner.

The application of Hyperledger Fabric in the TME industry has not achieved the level of maturity necessary for the establishment of a real ecosystem, but a few companies and industry organizations are already laying the foundations for the future ecosystems.

There are several organizations that are creating consortia and implementing blockchain networks.

  • Companies that interact frequently are getting together to form small groups of three  or four participants to streamline existing processes. They can either be telecom carriers that need to facilitate settlements among themselves or music streaming services that want to remunerate music labels faster and more accurately.
  • Regulators are playing a big role: in India, the local telecom regulatory agency (TRAI) mandated the use of blockchain to prevent unsolicited commercial communication. Indian mobile subscribers can opt out of telemarketing calls and a blockchain distributed ledger will manage this information for carriers, content providers and the regulators.  IBM is working with TRAI and Bharti Airtel on the commercial deployment that will initially help the operator curb unwanted calls and messages from advertisers. It will also help the operator in Mobile Number Portability, interconnect settlements, supply chain streamlining and content partner settlement.
  • The European Union, through the Horizon 2020 fund, is financing several blockchain projects to improve the way information and infrastructure is shared within telecom companies.
  • Service providers are very active organizations that are leveraging their neutrality to build industry-wide ecosystems. They can be either established platform providers that already serve the majority of their market or new start-ups trying to disrupt the competition. In the first case, service providers are improving their value proposition through blockchain. In the second case, start-ups are rethinking the way the industry works.
  • Finally, industry standard organizations are gathering their members to define how blockchain can transform their industry. This is happening both in telco and media. In telco, organizations such as the GSMA, TWI GLF and the Bridge Alliance are advocating for blockchain with the goal of establishing common standards for the most immediate blockchain use cases (e.g., wholesale and roaming settlements). In the media space, AdLedger is leveraging blockchain to re-shape the digital advertising industry.

2020 is going to be a KEY year for blockchain in the TME industry: we are going to see the outcome of the work done in the last couple years and the move to production of many consortia.

Cover image by pisauikan from Pixabay

Developer Showcase Series: Sushma Varadaiah, Coding Bootcamps

By Blog, Developer Showcase, Hyperledger Fabric

Back to our Developer Showcase Series to learn what developers in the real world are doing with Hyperledger technologies. Next up is Sushma Varadaiah from Coding Bootcamps.

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

I personally feel that it’s the right time to get into blockchain as it holds a lot of potential in the very near future. Blockchain will be the way that we are going to establish trust and transparency in the world as we move forward. Along with other technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things, the use of blockchain multiply.

Give a bit of background on what you’re working on, and let us know what was it that made you want to get into blockchain?

I have 6+ years of experience as a software developer. I am currently working on blockchain systems (Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric). I got into blockchain because I studied cryptography and security while getting a Master degree in Computer Science and Information Security. It was easy for me to pick up blockchain’s underlying technologies because of my Master’s studies. I recognized the technology’s potential and got into blockchain.

What project in Hyperledger are you working on? Any new developments to share? Can you sum up your experience with Hyperledger?

I am working on Hyperledger Fabric. My journey with Hyperledger Fabric started when I got my first blockchain certification from the Linux Foundation followed by a Master’s degree certification in blockchain from International Institute of Information Technology Bangalore. I have developed Hyperledger Fabric Proofs of Concept for a range of use cases including  pharmaceutical drug supply chain, certificate verification and property registration network. You can find source code for all these in my GitHub page.

What are the main differences between teaching Hyperledger to students and developing Hyperledger applications?

While teaching at Coding Bootcamps, the main challenge is to explain blockchain concepts to a student who is new to the technology. Troubleshooting the issues that are faced by students who are learning to develop blockchain applications is a very rewarding feeling. On the other hand, developing Hyperledger applications for a business involves different complexities like deploying and scaling the application according to user growth.

What do you think is most important for Hyperledger to focus on in the next year?

Devtools for easy smart contract development and deployment.

As Hyperledger’s incubated projects start maturing and hit 1.0s and beyond, what are the most interesting technologies, apps, or use cases coming out as a result from your perspective?

I personally feel Hyperledger Fabric has a lot of potential to bring transparency to supply chain management use cases. 

What’s the one issue or problem you hope blockchain can solve?

Increasing transparency and trust among users.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in five years?

I hope to see applications moving towards decentralization and industry maturing towards adoption of blockchain with other technologies like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.

What is the best piece of developer advice you’ve ever received?

Never stop learning.

What technology could you not live without?

Internet!

How AAIS Aligned Insurers and Regulators with the Hyperledger Fabric-Based openIDL Data Reporting Network

By Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Since 1980, the United States has suffered more than 250 extreme weather disasters causing more than $1 billion damage each. Every time a natural catastrophe strikes, state regulators quickly ask insurance carriers to send them data about the affected properties. This data helps regulators model risk, monitor market activity, protect consumers, and plan for future emergencies.

These ad-hoc reports come on top of routine quarterly and annual statistics that insurance carriers must provide to regulators. But the reporting process was flawed. Insurers could barely keep up with the requests for data, in various formats and often with short deadlines, coming in from 50 different state regulators. 

As a national, not-for-profit member association that gathers, aggregates and anonymizes data from its property and casualty (P&C) insurance industry members to inform legislative policy, Chicago-based American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) saw the reporting problems first hand. In fact, everyone in the industry saw the need for a more resilient and efficient resource: a system that would yield data to inform policymakers and also help carriers operate efficiently and the platform to compete and innovate in the marketplace.

AAIS invited carriers and regulators to brainstorm a solution they could build and deploy to address the industry’s data problem. As discussions progressed, the group raised the idea of using blockchain. And, to address the cost concerns, using open source software. By starting with an existing open source framework, AAIS wouldn’t have to code a blockchain platform from scratch. The team could get on with building the higher-level components and interfaces for their system, which they named the Open Insurance Data Link (openIDL).

That led to the choice of Hyperledger Fabric. After AAIS picked a blockchain platform, it needed a development partner with all the skills and resources to bring openIDL to life. The team decided to partner with IBM because of the organization’s track record with Hyperledger Fabric and their expert team. With shared philosophies that included design thinking and agile development, AAIS and IBM developed and tested a prototype in record time. With the first prototype, they were able to test five million records in less than 90 days.

In 2018, openIDL went into production as the first blockchain network connecting data across the American insurance industry. Insurers have the option to manage their own node or use the multi-tenant environment managed by AAIS. And, to help insurers spin up their own nodes, IBM created openIDL in a Box: a managed service offering everything an insurer needs to join the blockchain network.

Hyperledger worked with AAIS to document key steps in engaging stakeholders in planning openIDL and building a network that ensures data privacy for insurers and reporting for regulators. Read the full case study here for more on the design process, solution architecture and next steps for openIDL.

#HyperledgerFinTech: A sampling of production applications using Hyperledger technologies in the finance market

By Blog, Finance, Hyperledger Besu, Hyperledger Fabric, Hyperledger Indy, Hyperledger Iroha

The financial services market has long turned to technology to address a range of back-end challenges and enhance customer-facing services. Blockchain is increasingly becoming a go-to technology for advancing many different financial systems and solutions with different Hyperledger platforms serving as the core for an array of applications now in production. 

Read on for just a sampling #HyperledgerFinTech solutions, built using a mix of Hyperledger technologies:

Bakong

Sponsored by the National Bank of Cambodia, the country’s central bank, Bakong is the first retail payments system in the world using blockchain technology. Built on Hyperledger Iroha, Bakong delivers value for customers, merchants and banks. Individuals can now transfer money and buy from merchants with a simple smartphone app. Merchants gain a fast, cashless, and secure payments system. And banks can do interbank transfers at much lower cost.

Bakong was developed by Soramitsu and, after a soft launch in 2019, is now expanding with 16 financial institutions using the system and more expected to join in the near future. The project was also designed to promote financial inclusion for the country’s large number of unbanked citizens. Any citizen of the country can open a Bakong account, even if they don’t have a traditional bank account. The more than 500 merchants that accept Bakong can be viewed in a map inside the app. 

daura 

Built atop the private Swiss Trust Chain run by Swisscom and Swiss Post and powered by Hyperledger Fabric, daura is a digital share platform for financing and investing in Swiss SMEs. With daura, the share register is easily digitized and capital increases are carried out quickly and inexpensively at the push of a button. Shares can be split into any number of small lots and the share register is always digitally maintained, complete and up-to-date. With daura, companies have also transitioned virtual Annual General Meetings as a response to COVID-19 with authorization and access are granted directly via the blockchain. 

ioCash

ioBuilders is a blockchain technology company focused on building regulated fintech and enterprise solutions based on distributed ledger technology to help businesses succeed in their blockchain adoption. The company offers professional services, including technical, business and regulatory, and develops its own product line. ioBuilders has been one of the first adopters and advocates of Hyperledger Besu, providing essential feedback to improve its enterprise requirements capabilities. 

ioCash, one of ioBuilder’s core products, is a fintech platform enabling the use of regulated fiat money on blockchain networks, making it programmable with smart contracts and able to interact with other blockchain use cases. ioCash’s platform operates under an electronic money licence, providing accounts (with or without IBAN) and complex payments functionalities through API and smart contracts connectivity. ioCash is also available as a technology license for financial institutions that hold banking or electronic money licences and are aiming to add the benefits of blockchain into their payment systems. 

Memberpass

CULedger, a credit union service organization (CUSO) that began when a group of credit unions came together in 2016 as a direct response to the increasing threat of fraud, set out to bring a decentralized identity solution product for credit unions to market. The result was MemberPass, a permanent, portable digital identity credential for credit union members.

Built in partnership with Evernym and using Hyperledger Indy, Memberpass replaces vulnerable authentication processes such as common knowledge-based questions. Now credit unions are able to issue a digital credential to members, giving them a hassle-free way to control and prove their identity quickly and easily while protecting their personal information.  

Verified.Me 

Verified.Me offers a secure and convenient way to help Canadians verify their identities.

Verified.Me is a service offered by SecureKey Technologies Inc. The Verified.Me service was developed in cooperation with seven of Canada’s major financial institutions – BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank and TD. The Verified.Me network continues to evolve adding new identity providers and service providers to make your life easier.

Verified.Me is built on top of the IBM Blockchain Platform which is based on Linux Foundation’s open source Hyperledger Fabric v1.2, and will be interoperable with Hyperledger Indy projects. 

Users of the Verified.Me mobile app or web browser experience are able to get a free credit score with Equifax, register with Sun Life, verify their identity when registering for Dynacare Plus, an online and mobile service that lets users manage their health remotely, and more.

Join the conversation about solutions and applications in the financial service market with #HyperledgerFinTech this month on social channels. Or get involved with the Capital Markets or Trade Finance Special Interest Groups.

If you are interested in peer-to-peer transactions, mark your calendar for a webinar hosted by CoinDesk at 11:00 am ET on October 20th. A panel of experts on different Hyperledger platforms will be discussing “Governance, standards and interoperability: Getting past the roadblocks to peer-to-peer financial transactions.” Go here to find out more.

Answering the FDA’s call: LedgerDomain’s Hyperledger Fabric-based BRUINchain improves tracking and tracing of prescription drugs

By Blog, Healthcare, Hyperledger Fabric

Four billion prescriptions were dispensed at US pharmacies in 2019, and even conservative estimates suggest that over 100 million prescriptions may be incorrectly dispensed. To address this problem, healthcare leaders are actively working to put new tools into the hands of pharmacists to ensure the right drugs reach the right people.

Part of that effort is the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), an ongoing, decade-long effort to track and trace prescription drugs in the United States. The DSCSA is intended to enhance the FDA’s ability to help protect consumers from drugs that may be counterfeit, stolen, contaminated, or otherwise harmful. The vision is to have an interoperable system in place by 2023 that will allow for drug tracing, product verification, and prompt detection and response protocols to handle all suspect medications. To get the system in place, the FDA turned to the public in 2019 and asked for new, cutting-edge approaches to improve the prescription pipeline.

LedgerDomain, an enterprise-grade blockchain solutions provider known for its work on developing the next generation of healthcare and pharmaceutical supply chains, was one of the companies that responded to the FDA’s request. LedgerDomain’s proposal of a blockchain-based solution in collaboration with UCLA and the pharmaceutical company Biogen was selected by the FDA as part of its pilot project program. 

LedgerDomain’s pilot centered on the development and live testing of BRUINchain, a blockchain-based system that meets DSCSA standards for pharmaceutical dispensers all within a shared-permission yet private ecosystem. While the pharmaceutical supply chain has numerous stakeholders, BRUINChain, which is built on Hyperledger Fabric, establishes one version of the truth for the pipeline that is immutable and invaluable.

The team tested BRUINchain within UCLA Health’s network of 500 pharmacists and technicians, focused on tracking the drug Spinraza, the first medication approved to treat children and adults with a rare and often fatal genetic disease called spinal muscular atrophy. The results exceeded UCLA Health and LedgerDomain’s expectations. The BRUINchain app’s barcode scanning functionality on iPhones was 100 percent effective, and the Hyperledger Fabric-based system was able to track every dose of Spinraza at UCLA Health, down to which refrigerator each dose was stored in across the campus. Even before the pilot ended, the team was adding new functionality and products as the network of pharmacists grew more reliant on the BRUINchain system. 

Hyperledger teamed up with LedgerDomain on a detailed case study on the BRUINchain pilot, including deployment details and results, projected cost and time saving and next steps based on the solution’s success to date.

Read the full case study here.