KW 25: Blockchain could revolutionize land purchases in Africa, German crypto bonds aren’t making any progress, Blockchain in the working world


Unilever uses blockchain for supply chains: Consumer goods company Unilever has announced a set of measures for sustainable business practices to achieve net-zero emissions by 2039. Along with reducing its carbon footprint, the company aims to have a deforestation-free supply chain by 2023 leveraging traceability solutions that use satellite monitoring, geolocation tracking, and blockchain. Additionally, the company is introducing a new regenerative agriculture code for its suppliers and will implement water stewardship programs for local communities in the coming years.

Blockchain could revolutionize land purchases in Africa: Blockchain technology, on which digital currencies like Bitcoin are based, could have the potential to revolutionize land purchases in Africa. In many countries on the continent, the real estate industry is suffering from corrupt authorities and outdated, analog land registers. Those who sell real estate are often not the actual property owners. Kiberu Nagenda, head of the blockchain consultancy Bit2Big, wants to remedy the situation. Projects are currently underway in Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, among others, to increase security and simplify real estate registration with the use of blockchain. In Uganda, the land registry has already been converted to the digital Lands Information System. According to Dirk Siegel, who heads the Blockchain Institute at the consulting firm Deloitte, the technology offers great potential for Africa.

“New York Times” explores blockchain for photo and news provenance: The “New York Times” has built a blockchain prototype for “The News Provenance Project” to verify the source and edits of a photo. The media company has been exploring solutions to weed out fake news and misinformation, and last year announced it was working on a blockchain pilot with IBM Garage. Developers at IBM Garage built a solution that tracks a photo’s journey from capture by the photographer, through editing, to publication. This information is stored in the form of photo metadata on the blockchain and can be shared with network members.

German crypto bonds aren’t making any progress: The German government had planned to pass a law for so-called blockchain bonds in 2019. These offer the advantage of not requiring any documents thanks to good traceability. This would have given Germany the chance to become one of the leading countries in blockchain technology. According to the finance ministry, the issuance of electronic bearer bonds should still be possible during this legislative period. So far, however, no concrete progress has been made and there is no timetable for an implementation. The civil law concept for the transfer of electronic securities apparently poses problems. Opposition politician Frank Schäffler criticized the government’s announcements on the subject as a “marketing gag”. He is worried that Germany could lose touch with modern technology. The EU, on the other hand, is already one step ahead and last week presented its final report on the further development of the Capital Markets Union, which talks about crypto assets and the integration of blockchain technology into European financial market regulation.

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Blockchain has potential to be the cornerstone of digital infrastructure: The potential of Bitcoin and other blockchain applications could be far greater than previously thought, according to mathematician Rene Pickhardt. “Bitcoin is a technology with a great number of possible uses”. However, too few people understand how Bitcoin works. Pickhardt is currently researching the question of how Bitcoin could be used to pay faster. Another big area of application is the conclusion of contracts thanks to Bitcoin and blockchain. “In many situations, the physical signature is still considered the universal means of signing a contract,” Pickhardt explains. But digital signatures are now more difficult to forge than analog ones. Norway is already showing what is possible thanks to digital signatures. The BankID system has been in use there for 16 years, enabling digital signatures for transactions, from grocery shopping to purchasing a house. Doctor appointments can also be arranged in this way. Pickhardt believes that the system could be greatly improved with the use of blockchain technology.

Blockchain in the working world: Software company SumTotal sees the blockchain as an opportunity to verify degrees and qualifications during the job application process. Thanks to this type of verification, employers would be able to focus more on the information given to them by the applicants themselves. However, SumTotal is going one step further. The blockchain could also be used, for example, to record the entire career of an employee, for instance when the employee is being promoted. This would also have clear advantages for employees who change companies. According to SumTotal, other possible applications in the working world include smart contracts, identity management, the management of individual content access, or access to sensitive areas of a company via biometric evidence.


“We should view cryptocurrencies as a ‘high-tech call for help’ in the face of government instability […]. What the blockchain does is provide the architecture for cryptocurrencies.”
Publisher Steve Forbes on the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.


Cryptocurrency firm collapsed due to Ponzi scheme by late founder: Last year’s collapse of Canadian cryptocurrency trading platform Quadriga CX was due to a Ponzi scheme operated by founder Gerald Cotten, who died suddenly in December 2018, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) wrote in a report. “What happened at Quadriga was an old-fashioned fraud wrapped in modern technology,” staff at the OSC wrote. Facing losses when the price of crypto assets changed, Cotten covered the ensuing shortfall with other clients’ deposits, according to the report.

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