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IBM Announces Major Blockchain Collaboration to Address Food Safety Worldwide

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A group of leading companies across the global food supply chain today announced a major blockchain collaboration with IBM intended to further strengthen consumer confidence in the global food system. The consortium includes Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever and Walmart, who will work with IBM to identify new areas where the global supply chain can benefit from blockchain.

Every year, one-in-ten people fall ill – and 400,000 die – due to contaminated food.* Many of the critical issues impacting food safety such as cross-contamination, the spread of food-borne illness, unnecessary waste and the economic burden of recalls are magnified by lack of access to information and traceability. It can take weeks to identify the precise point of contamination, causing further illness, lost revenue and wasted product. For example, it took more than two months to identify the farm source of contamination in a recent incidence of salmonella in papayas.**

Blockchain is ideally suited to help address these challenges because it establishes a trusted environment for all transactions. In the case of the global food supply chain, all participants – growers, suppliers, processors, distributors, retailers, regulators and consumers – can gain permissioned access to known and trusted information regarding the origin and state of food for their transactions. This can enable food providers and other members of the ecosystem to use a blockchain network to trace contaminated product to its source in a short amount of time to ensure safe removal from store shelves and stem the spread of illnesses.

Dole, Driscoll’s, Golden State Foods, Kroger, McCormick and Company, McLane Company, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, Unilever, Walmart and others are now coming together with IBM to further champion blockchain as an enabling technology for the food sector. Together they will help identify and prioritize new areas where blockchain can benefit food ecosystems and inform new IBM solutions. This work will draw on multiple IBM pilots and production networks in related areas that successfully demonstrate ways in which blockchain can positively impact global food traceability.

“Unlike any technology before it, blockchain is transforming the way like-minded organizations come together and enabling a new level of trust based on a single view of the truth,” said Marie Wieck, general manager, IBM Blockchain. “Our work with organizations across the food ecosystem, as well as IBM’s new platform, will further unleash the vast potential of this exciting technology, making it faster for organizations of all sizes and in all industries to move from concept to production to improve the way business gets done.”

New IBM Blockchain Platform

Beyond food supply chain applications, blockchains are now being used to transform processes and streamline transactions for everything from flowers, real estate and trade finance, to education, insurance and medical services.

To accelerate this adoption, IBM is introducing the first fully integrated, enterprise-grade production blockchain platform, as well as consulting services, that will allow more organizations to quickly activate their own business networks and access the vital capabilities needed to successfully develop, operate, govern and secure these networks. The IBM Blockchain Platform is available via the IBM Cloud.

The platform builds off of the successful blockchain work IBM has delivered to more than 400 organizations, incorporating insights gained as IBM has built blockchain networks across industries including financial services, supply chain and logistics, retail, government and health care.

Extensively tested and piloted, the platform addresses a wide range of enterprise pain points, including both business and technical requirements around security, performance, collaboration and privacy that no other blockchain platform delivers today. It includes innovation developed through open source collaboration in the Hyperledger community, including the newest Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 framework and Hyperledger Composer blockchain tool, both hosted by the Linux Foundation.

The integrated platform allows multiple parties to jointly develop, govern, operate and secure blockchain networks to help enterprises accelerate blockchain adoption.

Features of the IBM Blockchain Platform include:

Develop – For developers, easy and flexible network tools designed to bring blockchain networks up to speed in minutes. The platform also includes the first commercial introduction of Hyperledger Composer a framework that helps developers focus on the business use case and more easily and quickly map it to the application code. Developers can create standard business language in JavaScript and the APIs help keep development work at the business level, rather than being highly technical, making it possible for most any programmer to be a blockchain developer. Additionally, a variety of IBM Developer Journeys for blockchain are available featuring free open source code, documentation, APIs, architecture diagrams and one-click deployment Git repositories to fast-track building.

Govern – The platform offers all participating members a level of control, while preventing any one member from having exclusive control. A new class of democratic governance tools is designed to help improve productivity across the organizations using a voting process that collects signatures from members to govern member invitation distribution of smart contracts and creation of transactions channels. By quickly onboarding participants, assigning roles and managing access, organizations can begin transacting via the blockchain.

Operate –The platform is underpinned by an architecture that operates more than 55% of today’s global transactional systems.*** It is the first offering available to allow updates to be made to the network while it is running without any downtime. Running in the IBM Cloud, it offers unique protection from insider credential abuse, protection from malware and hardware encryption key protection. IBM Blockchain Platform provides the highest-level commercially available tamper resistant FIPS140-2 level 4 protection for encryption keys.

In addition to food safety, IBM is advancing other blockchain supply chain initiatives using the IBM Blockchain Platform for an automated billing and invoicing system. Initial work to use blockchain for invoicing is underway starting with Lenovo. This will provide an audit-ready solution with full traceability of billing and operational data, and help speed on-boarding time for new vendors and new contract requirements.

To complement the new platform, IBM Global Business Services offers Blockchain Services, which brings deep industry expertise from its 1,600 blockchain consultants who have helped clients deploy and integrate active networks. These consultants can apply design thinking to help enterprises conceptualize and implement blockchain enabled business models to realize optimal value. For example, during recent blockchain projects with major shipping and retail organizations, IBM consultants have been able to improve food safety traceability by 99.9 percent and decrease trade document workflow by 97percent, potentially unlocking millions of dollars in cost savings and market capital.

The IBM Blockchain Platform offers a range of pricing options, starting at $0.50 per hour, to support rapid adoption for networks of all sizes. To support blockchain ecosystems among different organizations, the cost of the network can be shared across all network members.

Strengthening Trust Across the Global Food Supply Ecosystem

In parallel trials in China and the U.S., IBM and Walmart recently demonstrated that blockchain can be used to track a product from the farm through every stage of the supply chain, right to the retail shelf, in seconds instead of days or weeks.

These trials also demonstrated that stakeholders throughout the global food supply chain view food safety as a collaborative issue, rather than a competitive one, and are willing to work together to improve the food system for everyone.

“As an advocate for greater transparency in the food system to benefit customers, Walmart looks forward to expanding on our initial work by collaborating with others to accelerate exploration on how this technology can be used as a more effective food traceability and food safety tool,” said Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety, Walmart. “Blockchain technology enables a new era of end-to-end transparency in the global food system – equivalent to shining a light on food ecosystem participants that will further promote responsible actions and behaviors. It also allows all participants to share information rapidly and with confidence across a strong trusted network. This is critical to ensuring that the global food system remains safe for all.”

“IBM has deep experience and a commitment to business processing and security needs, which are exactly the skill sets needed to bring blockchain to full maturity for food safety and all associated transactions,” said Guilda Javaheri, chief technology officer. “As a customer and partner with IBM for more than forty years, Golden State Foods is pleased to collaborate with IBM and this group of trusted food companies.”

“Safety is a key value for Kroger, and our partnership with IBM positions us to explore and test blockchain technology as a solution for enhanced food safety across our business,” said Howard Popoola, Kroger’s vice president of Corporate Food Technology and Regulatory Compliance. “Food safety is a universal priority for food retailers and companies. It’s not a competitive advantage; it benefits our customers to have greater transparency and traceability in the supply chain.”

“We’re excited about the possibilities that come with this technology and are glad to collaborate with IBM and others,” said Scott Stillwell, Ph.D., senior vice president of food safety and quality assurance for Tyson Foods. “Producing safe food is critical to our business; it appears blockchain can help provide trust not only about the origin of food, but also about how that food moved through the supply chain.”

Expanding the Blockchain Ecosystem Across Academia and the Start Up Community

To help meet the increasing demand for a skilled technical workforce trained in blockchain, IBM is making available a wide range of resources including software, training and professional partnerships free of charge to more than 1,000 universities in the IBM Academic Initiative. Offerings include six months of access to the IBM Cloud for use of the IBM Blockchain cloud sandbox to help students hone development skills.

IBM is also working with select universities including Baruch College/CUNY, Fordham University, University of Arkansas, University at Buffalo and University of British Columbia to fund research grants, develop customized curricula and host workshops and hackathons. For technologists who want more in-depth guidance, IBM has refreshed its blockchain training and educational materials on developerWorks for Hyperledger Fabric 1.0.

As interest in Hyperledger Fabric continues to grow, IBM is also working with other companies such as Boldstart Ventures, to provide support and resources that broaden access. Boldstart Ventures has launched Fabric Foundry, the first accelerator dedicated to this framework, to foster adoption.

*Source: World Health Organization 
**Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 
***Source: Share.org 

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CCCI GMM and Annual Election

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The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry will hold its General Membership Meeting and Annual Election on February 23 at 11:00 am at the Ballroom B & C, Summit Galleria Hotel, Cebu City.

This event is in partnership with UnionPay International (UPI), a global payment network with a wide range of world-class payment products and services. UPI is committed to providing access to value and secure payment solutions that are tailored to the needs of the local market, to enable choice and ease of payment for consumers and businesses alike.

With over 7 billion UnionPay cards issued in 48 countries and regions, over 51 million merchants and 2.57 million ATMs accepting UnionPay cards in 168 countries and regions, UnionPay serves the world’s largest cardholder base and is one of the fastest growing payment networks in the world.

Bannering the theme “Land & Air Transport Updates for Cebu”, this month’s GMM will be graced by the presence of Department of Public Works and Highways Regional Director Ador Canlas and GMR Megawide Chief Executive Advisor Andrew Harrison as esteemed speakers of the event.

For this year’s CCCI Annual Board of Trustees Election, there are eleven (11) positions to be filled. In the service sector, there are four (4) open positions; three (3) for industry; two (2) for trade; one (1) for sectoral and one (1) for the ICT.

All CCCI members are enjoined to actively participate in this coming General Membership Meeting and Annual Election. CCCI members are further encouraged to cast their votes by submitting their filled out and signed ballots on or before 12NN of February 23.

For more inquiries, one may call CCCI at 232 1421 local no. 111 and look for CCCI Membership Development Division Head Joy Lorena Amador.

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CCCI, DOST holds Training on Industrial Calibration on March

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With an aim to leverage the capabalities not just of its members but also the business community in Cebu, CCCI holds a training program dubbed as Training on Industrial Calibration on March 7 to 9 at Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Regional Office 7, Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City.

In partnership with DOST, the training program aims to introduce its participants the Laws on Metrology in the Philippines and the method on the calibration of the common measuring instruments for mas, temperature, pressure and length.

It further seeks to equip the participants with better understanding of calibration system and the advantages in their production systems.

Registration fee costs Php 6, 000 for CCCI Members while Php 6,500 for Non-CCCI Members, which includes training/ seminar kits, certificate of attendance and meals. Interested participants are required to bring their own laptop for the exercises.

For further inquiries, one may call CCCI at 232-1421 to 24 local no. 109 and look for Ms. Jessa Mae L. Abapo of CCCI’s Business Development and Management Services Divison.

Join CCCI’s two-day HACCP Training!

CCCI is set to conduct a two-day Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Training on March 14-15, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, at Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Regional Office 7 located in Sudlon, Lahug, Cebu City.

This training intends to provide businesses in the food industry sector the necessary knowledge and skills on the fundamentals of HACCP.

HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and pharmaceutical safety that addresses physical, chemical, and biological hazards as a means of prevention rather than finished product inspection. HACCP is also used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards, so the key actions, known as Critical Control Points (CCPs) can be taken to reduce or eliminate the potential risks of the identified hazards.

Moreover, the system is used at all stages of food production and handling processes including packaging, distribution, among others.

Registration fee costs Php 5,000 for CCCI Members while Php 6,000 for Non-CCCI Members, which includes training kits, Certificate of Attendance and meals.

For further inquiries, one may call CCCI at 232-1421 to 24 local no. 109 and look for Ms. Jessa Mae L. Abapo of CCCI’s Business Development and Management Services Division.

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South Star Drug Now Accepts GCash in Metro Manila Outlets

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Image source: Globe PR

South Star Drug, one of the biggest drugstore chains in the Philippines, becomes the first drugstore in Metro Manila that allows customers to purchase medicines and other items using GCash scan to pay mode of payment.

The medicine retailer has over 450 stores nationwide and still growing.  The use of GCash in South Star Drug’s Metro Manila outlets is being piloted in six branches – two in Pasig (C. Raymundo cor. F. Legaspi, Dr. Sixto Ave.), two in Makati (Herrera, Guadalupe Unimec), one in Pasay (Balabag Merville), and one in Las Pinas (Philamlife).  By end of the year, all South Star Drug outlets are expected to accept GCash scan to pay.

GCash is being operated by Mynt which is owned by Globe Telecom, Ant Financial and Ayala Corp. “Mynt’s partnership with South Star Drug is part of our company’s efforts to make payments more convenient, safer and easier.  This brings us another step closer to our goal of making the Philippines a cashless country,” says Anthony Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of Mynt.

Christine Tueres, General Manager of South Star Drug said:  “South Star is always working to improve customer experience and find ways of doing things better – that includes giving our customers more payment options. With GCash QR code feature, even without cash or credit card, our customers can make a purchase in any of our stores with just a few taps on their smart phones”.

Using GCash is easy.  A customer with an iPhone or an Android smartphone only needs to download or update to the latest version of the GCash App, register for an account, and fund  their GCash wallet at any of over 12,000 GCash Partner Outlets nationwide. This includes Robinsons Business Centers. Once done, the customer just has to tap on Scan QR, point a phone’s camera at the partner’s QR code, and key in the amount to be paid.

 

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Manila Water to expand in Thailand

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Ayala-led Manila Water Company Inc. is venturing into the water industry of Thailand as part of its ongoing expansion in Southeast Asia.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Manila Water said it signed Monday a share purchase agreement with Electricity Generating Public Company Limited (EGCO) to acquire its 18.72-percent equity in Thailand-based Eastern Water Resources Development and Management Public Company Limited.

The company intends to finance the transaction through internally generated funds and bank debt.

It said the closing of the acquisition is still subject to the “fulfillment of certain conditions precedent.”

“We recognize the opportunities this new market presents for us, and we are eager to share the technical expertise and service quality which Manila Water has developed over the last 20 years. From the conglomerate perspective, Ayala sees this development as a strategic entry point into Thailand. With Manila Water leading the way, we hope to leverage our various capabilities to enlarge our footprint in the country,” said Ayala President and Chief Operating Officer and Manila Water Board Chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

East Water’s operations are strategically located along the Eastern Economic Corridor which is targeted to be a leading economic zone in the Southeast Asian region.

East Water, a publicly listed company whose shares are traded in the Stock Exchange of Thailand, is engaged in the provision of raw and tap water supply services in the eastern region of Thailand and home to a number of heavy industries, including automotive, electronics and petrochemicals.

“Our entry into the Thailand water space aligns squarely with our internationalization strategy, with focus in Southeast Asia. East Water presents great potential, as its future growth will mainly come from the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC), the Thai government’s initiative to further develop the country’s eastern seaboard into a leading economic zone in ASEAN,” said Manila Water President and Chief Executive Officer Ferdz dela Cruz.

Manila Water’s entry into Thailand comes after its foray into bulk water and concession projects in Vietnam.

It has also completed pilot projects in Bandung, Indonesia for a non-revenue water reduction program; and in Yangon, Myanmar for leakage reduction.

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