Dun & Bradstreet is testing blockchain as a way to securely distribute its content

The venerable commercial data firm is engaged in several projects with this potentially revolutionary tech, because its financial customers are.

Lest you think blockchain technology is still in the far future of commercial communications and commerce, keep in mind that the venerable Dun & Bradstreet is busily kicking the technology’s tires.

The company — whose origins stretch back to the middle of the 19th century — is currently testing a pilot project that allows clients to verify the identity of a potential business partner through a unique blockchain identifying number that corresponds to the traditional Dun & Bradstreet D-U-N-S Number.

The nine digit D-U-N-S Number is a widely accepted way of identifying a business entity. Blockchain is a new kind of online distributed software ledger that forms the technological underpinning for a variety of applications, the most famous of which is the bitcoin digital currency. Dun & Bradstreet says it has the world’s largest commercial database, providing basic information and reputational assessments for companies around the globe.

Several firms that use its data are involved in testing this project, which launched last fall. One firm, the company said, wants to see if it can dramatically reduce the cost of onboarding new suppliers.

Basic data about 6,500 public companies — such as name, street and web address, CEO and so on — are recorded in company profiles that are housed in “smart contracts” in an instance of the open-source Ethereum blockchain platform.

More at: Dun & Bradstreet is testing blockchain as a way to securely distribute its content

Illinois to Trial Blockchain Tech in Bid to Track Medical Licenses – CoinDesk

The state of Illinois is expanding its work with blockchain, launching a pilot program aimed at applying the tech to the medical licensing process.

As reported last year by CoinDesk, the state unveiled a wide-ranging blockchain and cryptocurrency initiative last November. Illinois has since embarked on a multi-agency effort to explore public applications of the technology, while also releasing new rules for startups working with cryptocurrencies.

Now, the Illinois Blockchain Initiative has partnered with Hashed Health, a U.S.-based blockchain startup focused on medical applications, to see whether the tech can help streamline how medical licenses are issued and tracked.

The program’s backers expect to build a license registry and medical credential-sharing system running on a blockchain, with smart contracts automatically updating information. The ultimate goal is to create an authentic and transparent chain of records for patients and healthcare provider networks.

More at: Illinois to Trial Blockchain Tech in Bid to Track Medical Licenses – CoinDesk

Sony blockchain-based service aims to revamp how qualifications are shared – IT PRO

Sony’s new service will give employers an accurate view of a student’s history

Sony Global Education, a subsidiary of Sony that develops international education services, has announced it’s working on a new blockchain-based certification platform designed to make it easier for students to share their qualifications with employers.

The new service, built using IBM’s Blockchain, allows schools and universities to host a student’s entire educational history, providing a means for companies and educational authorities to gain an accurate view of a person’s qualifications.

Qualifications can often be difficult to share or prove, particularly if they’re tied to pieces of paper, informal achievements, or qualifications gained at international institutions. The system essentially creates an immutable hub for all those disparate records that can be shared securely with organisations, safe in the knowledge the information has been verified.

“Blockchain technology has the potential to impact systems in a wide variety of industries, and the educational sphere is no exception when educational data is securely stored on the blockchain and shared among permissioned users,” said Masaaki Isozu, president of Sony Global Education, in a statement on Wednesday.

More at: Sony blockchain-based service aims to revamp how qualifications are shared – IT PRO

UN Integrates IrisGuard’s Ethereum Payment Platform for Refugees – ETHNews.com

IrisGuard is revolutionizing the refugee experience by incorporating a biometrics payment system into UN camps.

The ongoing conflict in Syria has thrown millions of people into turmoil and displacement. Since the onset of the Syrian Civil War in 2011, many of those displaced have pursued sanctuary in other countries. According to the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR), an estimated 13.5 million people require humanitarian aid. Of this number, the UNHCR estimates there are over five million registered Syrian refugees.

After those seeking asylum are registered through UNHCR, further assistance can be made available to them by other humanitarian organizations, like the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). These groups provide international assistance instruments, such as refugee resettlementprograms, international remittance, healthcare services, microfinance, and more. These programs promote a better livelihood and advancement for those displaced. Unsurprisingly, many of them are being spearheaded by emerging technologies, including blockchain.

IrisGuard, a Jordan-based company that provides IT banking, humanitarian relief, and biometric camera systems, has been driving innovation with a new payment system that utilizes a private Ethereum blockchain to enable streamlined payment services. As per IrisGuard:

“The UNHCR has achieved financial inclusion for unbanked refugees and enabled them to efficiently receive international donor cash assistance directly on unattended bank ATM’s and food at checkout counters in supermarkets and nonfood items in camps; all while refugees are either unable or not allowed to open a bank account by law.”

More at: UN Integrates IrisGuard’s Ethereum Payment Platform for Refugees – ETHNews.com

Linux for Everyone–All 7.5 Billion of Us – Linux Journal

Linux has long since proven it’s possible for one operating system to work for everyone—also that there’s an approach to development that opens and frees code so everyone can use it, improve it and assure its freedoms spread to everyone doing the same.

This has been great for computing at all scales. But, it hasn’t been great for everybody, yet, because not everybody has access to hardware or software, but we can still help them out, our way.

. . .

It hurts that we chose client-server (which might as well be called slave-master) as the defaulted way to deploy the World Wide Web in the first place, and still today. Brian Behlendorf of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project, called client-server “the original sin” of the web when he spoke to Quartz’s The Next Billion conference last October. Hyperledger is a global “open-source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies”. It also “incubates and promotes a range of business blockchain technologies, including distributed ledger frameworks, smart contract engines, client libraries, graphical interfaces, utility libraries and sample applications”.

Among Hyperledger’s projects and frameworks is one called Indy that uses what it calls a universal trust framework to provide “accessible provenance for trust transactions”. More specifically, it supports “user-controlled exchange of verifiable claims about an identifier” and “has a rock-solid revocation model for cases where those claims are no longer true”, adding “Verifiable claims are a key component of Indy’s ability to serve as a universal platform for exchanging trustworthy claims about identifiers.”

More at: Linux for Everyone–All 7.5 Billion of Us – Linux Journal

How Blockchain Can Make Passwords Obsolete – The Cointelegraph

It feels like almost every day there is another data breach making the headlines. From banking to chatting with friends, the average person spends more than 10 hours online every day. However, most of the sites or online resources we use daily—from Facebook to Gmail—are secured using a simple password.

Most security breaches happen because of some sort of human weakness. A password may be too easy to guess, as studies show that 10,000 of the most common passwords, such as 123456 or qwerty, can access 98 percent of all accounts.

Other points of failure originate from people leaving their browsers open on public computers, writing passwords down on paper or in a file on their computers or simply getting tricked into giving away their login data.

More at: How Blockchain Can Make Passwords Obsolete – The Cointelegraph

‘End Poverty, Restore Trust’: World Bank Dives into Blockchain with Lab Launch – CoinDesk

The world’s largest multilateral development bank is launching a blockchain lab as part of a bid to pilot projects that can improve governance and social outcomes in the developing world.

The World Bank, based in Washington, DC, officially launched the venue Tuesday morning to serve as a forum for learning, experimentation and collaboration on distributed ledger technology. The blockchain lab will now seek to bring together internal and external participants to work on blockchain use cases of significance to the bank’s more than 80 client countries.

Core focus areas will include land registry, digital identity, aid distribution and financial infrastructure.

More at: ‘End Poverty, Restore Trust’: World Bank Dives into Blockchain with Lab Launch – CoinDesk