Blockchain applications may still be a ways away from real-world proliferation, but the technology is certainly beginning to take steps from proof-of-concept phase into beta and pilot testing. This week’s Blockchain Tracker takes a look at some of the latest initiatives to make progress and inch closer to a real-world launch.
IBM is no stranger to blockchain, and the technology conglomerate has several distributed ledger projects in the works. But one of its latest pilots to launch is in Kenya, where the company is collaborating with food supply chain management company Twiga Foods. Together, the companies are testing a blockchain micro-lending solution that would broaden food vendors’ and farmers’ access to capital.
According to IBM research’s Isaac Markus, the solution aims to provide borrowers with a credit score using machine learning algorithms to underwrite loans.
“Once the credit score is determined, we used a blockchain, based on Hyperledger Fabric, to manage the entire lending process from application to receiving offers to accepting the terms to repayment,” Markus said, according to EconoTimes reports this week.
The pilot launched last year with 220 small food sellers in the country; during its eight-week trial, the solution managed 220 loans, averaging about $30 each, reports said. Vendors accessed that capital via their mobile phones.
As IBM and Twiga continue to test the solution, they are refining the platform based on retailer feedback and plan to broaden the scope of the solution to small businesses in other industries across the continent by the end of the year.
As Ripple continues to add more bank partners to its blockchain platform RippleNet, the company offered an update this week on its first-quarter performance. While shares for the company increased, the price of CRP dropped to $0.51 from $1.91 during the quarter, reports in Finance Magnates noted.
Still, the company said $160 billion worth of its digital coin was traded in the first quarter of the year; Ripple attributed the coin value drop to regulatory pressures, particularly in South Korea where the government could be exploring a ban on cryptocurrency trading.
But pilots with Western Union, Cambridge Global Payments, Mercury FX, IDT and MoneyGram all contributed to a positive performance, most notably with Ripple’s share of total market capitalization growing from 3.56 percent to 7.57 percent, with listings on 18 new venues.
China eCommerce giant Alibaba moved Down Under for its latest blockchain test. The company is piloting a supply chain management solution deploying blockchain technology along with Blackmores, a health supplements provider, and Fonterra, a dairy products supplier, reports in ZDNet said.
Alibaba Australia kicked off its pilot that enables B2B orders made on its Food Trust Framework, which uses blockchain to heighten transparency of transactions in the food supply chain. If successful, the pilot could provide the framework for a global supply chain management solution for Alibaba’s eCommerce markets, the publication said.
Blockchain accounting platform PayPie is now in beta testing, according to Accounting Today reports. The solution integrates with QuickBooks Online, enabling small businesses to link their Quickbooks Online accounts to the PayPie platform, which can automate analysis of small businesses’ finances.
PayPie’s offering includes a credit risk assessment with proprietary credit score, the firm added.
“SMEs have a real need to constantly improve their finances and access affordable financing to maintain a healthy cash flow, but that’s often a challenge that most businesses struggle to overcome,” the firm’s CEO and Founder Nick Chandi said in a statement. “By partnering with the FinTech powerhouse Intuit to deliver a QuickBooks Online integration at beta launch, PayPie instantly enables a service to help millions of QBO users to achieve a transparent understanding of how to improve their finances while also providing them with fast and affordable business financing possibilities to come.”