Agriculture, Finance and Copyright in Thailand Might Get Blockchain Boost Soon

After having emerged as a leading economy in blockchain, Thailand is progressing further with the technology and integrating it into various other sectors. The Thai Ministry of Commerce singled out copyright, agriculture, and trade finance as the three sectors which could use a blockchain boost. Feasibility tests have already begun with respect to this new development.

Thailand has begun studying use of blockchain in intellectual property which could revolutionize the sector, since intellectual property thefts are frequently reported. These studies are expected to be wrapped up by February 2019. This news first came out in Bangkok Post. Pimchanok Vonkorpon, an official from the Trade Policy and Strategy Office (TPSO), informed media that the tests are being conducted in collaboration with the British Embassy and it is taking place in Bangkok.

The country is currently focusing on developing small businesses. To that end, the government is studying whether integration of decentralized solutions could increase the efficiency and standard of the small businesses in the country.

These tests will be looking into smart contracts, intellectual property registration management, security issues and processing digital IDs.

When it comes to agriculture, blockchain could smoothen the entire process of trade with other countries. Farmers in Thailand have informed the ministry that their products take atleast 15-20 days to be shipped abroad and it involves the complicated process of including multiple government agencies. This makes the process more costly and time consuming. A blockchain solution could potentially reduce the time taken for shipment delivery to three days and resolve any existing security issues. Pimanchok said,

“Using blockchain for the process could reduce processing time to less than three days, improving transparency and increasing confidence and trust for exporters and foreign importers, benefiting Thai farmers.”

The Thai Bond Market Association (TBMA) is also exploring the use of blockchain technology. They came up with a new registrar service platform to fasten the process of bond issuance. All in all, a lot of sectors in Thailand are looking into the integration of blockchain.

Author: Sumedha Bose
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Russian Farmers Are Ditching The Ruble For A New Cryptocurrency

In a small village outside Moscow, a quiet revolution is underway.

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Farmers and small businesses around Kolionovo, 80 miles from the capital, are ditching the ruble and switching to a cryptocurrency — the kolion — to pay for local trade.

Banker turned farmer Mikhail Shlyapnikov led the way. Diagnosed with cancer a decade ago, he moved out of the city with the aim of reviving a dying village.

Five years later, he needed funds to develop his plant nursery but ran into an obstacle many small Russian businesses face: banks wanted to charge 12% interest to lend him money.

“I didn’t want to suffocate and be a slave of the banks,” Shlyapnikov says, putting a hand on his throat. “So I had to invent my own money. And I did it. I’m my own bank, government, regulator.”

He started issuing paper kolions in 2014, but they were banned by a Russian court in 2015. So he started working on a cryptocurrency version, and in April 2017 raised $500,000 in an initial coin offering (ICO).

Unlike bitcoin, Shlyapnikov’s cryptocurrency can’t be mined using a computer. The digital tokens can be bought using a range of other cryptocurrencies, or earned through a process called “plowing” — helping the residents of Kolionovo with farming and construction work.

It’s changing the way people do business in the village.

Shlyapnikov, who calls himself an “agro-anarchist” and throws parties honoring Karl Marx, uses the currency to support what he calls the “Kolionovo Ecosystem.”

He has persuaded about a hundred farmers and suppliers in the neighboring villages to use kolions for local trade, making paper money a rarity in the community.

“We now have about $2 million in kolions because its value has jumped since the ICO,” Shlyapnikov says, adding that the currency is backed by a reserve of 500 bitcoins (worth roughly $3.7 million at current prices.)

“This way we can attract real money into the business,” and connect the cryptocurrency with the real economy, he added.

Russia’s economy has returned to growth after being hit by a one-two punch of Western sanctions and plummeting oil prices, shocks that saw the ruble lose half its value since 2014.

Now Shlyapnikov and other enthusiasts are touting cryptocurrency as a way to insulate themselves from Russia’s financial system.

Cryptocurrencies have boomed in the country thanks to good scientific and technical education and some of the cheapest electricity in Europe to power the servers needed to mine them.

Last year alone, Russia had several blockchain projects attracting major funds, the largest ICO being the MobileGo games platform, which raised $53 million.

But it’s still early days for cryptocurrencies in Russia, and the legal environment is shifting. Restaurants and shops were quick to spot the trend and allow customers to “pay” with bitcoin, although the owners must do mirror transactions in rubles to avoid falling foul of the law.

The emerging industry awaits regulations that President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Finance Ministry to introduce by July.

First drafts of the measures suggest that the ruble will remain the only legal form of payment but initial coin offerings and mining will be granted some legal protection.

Putin said earlier this year he wanted Russia to become more open to innovation, warning that “those who ride the technological wave will advance, others will drown.”

The Russian president, however, has also voiced concerns that cryptocurrencies can be used by criminals, so questions remain how tolerant the Russian government will be of such experiments.

“To move forward, we must expand the space for freedom, be a country open to the world, new ideas and initiatives … to cut everything that prevents our people from opening their full potential,” Putin said in March.

Shlyapnikov has more modest goals. He thinks cryptocurrencies could be a way for small and remote enterprises to survive independently from Moscow.

“I don’t want to expand because it will bring obligations I’m not ready for,” the farmer says. “I’m not ready to save the world or even Russia, I want to be comfortable and I want to share this comfort with the community.”

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