This week in tech: Blockchain makes foray into fighting the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus has become a major global disaster. While Wuhan province in China has been the most affected, the effect has been global, with the number of confirmed cases now topping 30,000. The economic effect has been huge, and the world of crypto has felt it as well. Cryptocurrency mining is almost entirely dependent on China, with the biggest manufacturers of mining equipment Bitmain and Canaan Creative being located in the capital Beijing. With the Chinese government clamping down on international travel to contain the virus, Bitmain, Canaan and others have found it difficult to ship their products. This could see miners being forced to pay more for their mining gear.

As the Coronavirus epidemic persists, blockchain could greatly aid the response efforts. According to one expert in Hong Kong, blockchain could introduce transparency in funds distribution, especially now that the government has centralized charity efforts. Combined with AI, the technology could also increase data authenticity and lead to a better decision-making process.

Already, blockchain solutions have been developed aiming at fighting against the Coronavirus. One of these is Hyperchain’s blockchain-powered charity platform to raise funds for the cause. The Hangzhou-based company has announced that the platform will serve as a medical donations supply portal, with the money raised being given to hospitals in China.

In yet another instance of blockchain response to the epidemic, Acoer, a blockchain solutions developer has built a data visualization tool to track the spread of the virus. The platform uses data from the Word Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control. It gives the public an easier, more transparent and authentic way to view the data relating to the virus.

In South Korea, blockchain has offered one university a great alternative as it sought to keep its students safe from the virus. Pohang University of Science and Technology issued graduates their degrees on a blockchain-powered online platform. The institution couldn’t hold a graduation ceremony as it feared the congregation would put the student in danger of contracting the virus.

Elsewhere, adoption of the technology has continued, with IBM leading the pack. The Big Blue this week welcomed French food company Avril Group to its Food Trust Network. The company expects to use the network to ensure the quality of the livestock it sources as well as ensure animal welfare with its suppliers. Avril Group joins multinationals such as Carrefour, Topco, Beefchain, Smithfield and over 50 others.

The tech giant is also the leader in the U.S. in securing patents, including in blockchain technology. According to a new report this week, the company received over 9,000 patents in 2019, leading the list for the 27th consecutive year.

The U.S. Navy believes blockchain could enable secure and private messaging and it’s betting $9.5 million on this. The Navy invested the money in blockchain startup Simba Chain this week to develop the messaging platform on the blockchain. Simba has previously worked with the U.S. Airforce on a similar project.

On the central bank digital currency front, Japan is calling on the U.S. to partner in a CBDC research project. Japan believes that China means business and will launch a digital yuan soon. As such, Japan this week called on the Federal Reserve to join six other central banks to develop an alternative before China runs off with its digital currency.

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