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Daily Byte: Tuesday, December 11, 2018




Samsung jumps into the blockchain phone game, UNICEF backs blockchain startups, and State Farm looks to embrace blockchain. Plus, Calgary gets its own digital currency.

UNICEF Invests in Blockchain

The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has announced it will invest up to $100,000 to six open-source blockchain projects serving emerging markets.

The funding comes from the agency's Innovation Fund, which invests in emerging technologies such as data science and machine learning. "It functions just like a VC fund," principal advisor Chris Fabian said to Forbes, "except that we're investing in companies in emerging markets exclusively, companies that have some human good baked into them, and companies that are open source and that can be combined with each other during the investment period."

UNICEF first invested in blockchain is 2016 with a commitment to a South African startup. UNICEF's goal in these investments is to develop the technology for possible use in UNICEF's operations or for new businesses in emerging markets.

The selected projects hail from Argentina, Mexico, India, Tunisia, and Bangladesh. These include cross-border financing server Atix Labs and blockchain-based prescription platform Prescrypto.

Calgary Launches Digital Currency

Global News is reporting that the Canadian city of Calgary has issued an officially backed digital currency, the first municipally issued currency in the country. Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci unveiled the new coin, the Calgary Digital Dollar, with a ceremonial first transaction – buying coffee at a cafe.

The Calgary Digital Dollar is meant to be a way to promote small businesses and nonprofits in the city. Like other local currencies, such as the Ithaca (NY) HOURS or San Francisco's Bay Bucks, Calgary Digital Dollars are meant to encourage citizens to spend money locally. Local currencies do not replace national currencies, but typically work as a community supplement akin to Disney Dollars.

The Calgary Digital Dollars system is run by smartphone app, with businesses having the freedom to determine how much of the currency they wish to accept, from 10 percent of the transaction cost to the full amount. Calgary Digital Dollars can also be used as donations to local charities.

Samsung Galaxy S10 May Feature Cold Wallet

Samsung cellular devices blog SAMMobile is reporting that Samsung has secured the trademarks for – and is developing – a crypto app that will likely be included in its upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10. The app will feature a cold wallet for the secure storage of keys and a hot wallet for transfers and account activity.

Cold wallets are crypto wallets that are not readily accessible through the internet – because they are stored on physically removable drives, are physical printouts of the private key, or are stored in a segregated portion of the device's memory. Hot wallets, conversely, are managed and stored by an online provider, such as an exchange or a wallet provider.

Details, such as the name of the app, have yet to be released. Information on the app has largely came from Samsung's December 10 requests for European trademarks for its "Blockchain KeyStore," "Blockchain key box," and "Blockchain Core."

Samsung would be joining HTC and Sirin Labs in developing blockchain-enabled smartphones. Earlier this year, Samsung claimed that its devices are the best security-wise for blockchain and cryptocurrency applications.

State Farm Tests Blockchain Platform

Major home and auto insurer State Farm has announced that it will be testing a blockchain platform to simplify subrogation for auto claims. Subrogation is the process where an insurer recoups damages paid to its customer from the at-fault party.

"Today, subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers," Mike Fields, State Farm's innovation executive, said in a press release. "You can imagine the time and resources required to complete these transactions."

The company is hoping that blockchain can help simplify the subrogation process by tracking payment amounts, netting balances, and allowing for single payments of all claims between insurers. As the current system requires payment per claim, a system that could potentially bundle payments would significantly reduce payment processing and tracking time and cost.

Be fast, be clever, be wise. Most importantly, be here tomorrow for your Daily Byte.

Frederick Reese

Frederick Reese is a politics and cryptocurrency reporter based in New York. He is also a former teacher, an early adopter of bitcoin and Litecoin, and an enthusiast of all things geeky and nerdy.

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