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Oracle Boosts Blockchain Efforts

Tech giants such as Oracle and IBM are expanding their features and scope of blockchain projects, with an eye on financial and logistics capabilities. Elsewhere, social media firms such as Facebook are scaling hiring efforts in the blockchain as cryptocurrency prices crash.

The movement to embrace blockchain — notably, among some tech giants — has gotten some momentum in recent days, with new announcements of projects going live.

Oracle said on Tuesday (Feb. 12) that it has as many as a dozen enterprise clients using a cloud-based blockchain platform that went live in the summer of 2018. Amid the offerings, the platform helps users with development tools and data integration.

Customers using the blockchain platform include the Global Shipping Business Network, which tracks cargo (the consortium includes five carriers); China Distance Education Holdings, focused on educational certificates; and SERES, which works with eDocuments, including invoices. As reported in CoinDesk, other clients at the production stage include a range of financial firms and regulatory agencies, such as Arab Jordan Investment Bank, Nigeria Customs and Certified Origins.

The site noted that, up until then, enterprise blockchains in production had relied on the IBM blockchain, and had been geared toward trade finance. In an interview with CoinDesk, Frank Xiong, group vice president of blockchain product development at Oracle, said, “Other vendors may still be experimenting, but we do have real customers in live production. I would say around 10 to a dozen are in a live situation.” He told the site that “in production” means the Oracle applications have end users in place, and are handling live transactions. Transaction numbers are on the rise.

“To start with, we were seeing transactions probably among hundreds an hour. But [we] are expecting many of them to grow to thousands of transactions per second,” he said. As CoinDesk noted, the shipping consortium exists as a competitor to IBM and Maersk’s TradeLens, which also focuses on shipping.

IBM, for its own part, said its Canadian unit is partnering with pharma firm Boehringer Ingelheim to use blockchain for clinical data and record-keeping. The companies said in a press release that they are testing whether using blockchain can reduce costs, and boost data transparency and integrity.

Dr. Uli Broedl, VP of medical and regulatory affairs for Boehringer Ingelheim Canada, said in a statement accompanying the news that “the clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex, as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment.”

Crypto Losses To Mean Blockchain Gain?

Separately, CNBC reported that the drop in crypto prices translates to what seems like a bit of shift in the job market. Some blockchain startups are laying off workers as funding is harder to come by, and as proven use cases seem, thus far, out of reach. That means that, in some cases, employees are in the market.

That may be of benefit to companies like Facebook, which confirmed to the site that it has hired a “handful” of employees. Though the social media giant did not confirm which firms (or employees) made leaps to Facebook’s ranks, CNBC noted companies such as Chainspace, a crypto startup that now has two founders listed as Facebook employees. At least one observer has seen blockchain as a threat to Facebook: RBC Internet Equity Researcher Zachary Schwartzman wrote that the internet is at the “embryonic stages of a potential massive paradigm shift” to public blockchains.

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