The New Kid on the Block(chain) - Part 1

As we round out 2017, the rise of cryptocurrency ranks high on the list for what we will remember in the world of technology innovation. But where it goes from here remains to be seen. How much does overall market cap grow? When does the bubble burst? Will the U.S. and other sovereigns ban it outright? Will differing ideologies of whales or miners pose geopolitical threats? What determines and who defines consensus?

With so many twists and turns in the plot over the last year, here are a few notable highlights of blockchain adoption for smart development, collaboration, and potential threats, as we watch the drama continuing to unfold.

“Building Blocks” Pilot by World Food Programme

In January 2017, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) proactively took steps to harness blockchain technology as a means of addressing the challenge of providing food assistance to over 80 million hungry people worldwide. Aimed to deliver assistance more effectively, the Building Blocks field simulation endeavored to make WFP’s growing cash-based transfer operations faster, cheaper, and more secure. Full implementation of the technology promises significant cost savings to WFP, and donors alike, potentially totaling millions of dollars per year.

With the support of the Innovation Accelerator in 2016, Building Blocks established a robust concept suitable for prototyping in a field environment. Utilizing a private fork of the Ethereum blockchain, Building Blocks tested the technical viability and usability of blockchain in Pakistan. With positive results, the project moved into full-development, expanded to Jordan, integrating an existing biometric authentication technology IrisGuard, allowing refugees to identify themselves in a blink of the eye.

This successful application innovating a worldwide program in the face of humanitarian crisis exhibits a prime example of leveraging blockchain to expedite assistance to the world’s most vulnerable.

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) Launch

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