Daily Byte: Thursday, November 29, 2018

Amazon walks into the blockchain jungle, Vakt oil platform is pumping, and UAE gets serious about emerging tech. Plus, trouble with Iran.

  • Amazon Steps into the Blockchain Jungle

    Amazon Web Services (AWS) is introducing two new services, including one managed blockchain product, to let customers set up “a scalable blockchain network with just a few clicks” that “automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions.”

    The AWS press release reads:

    “Amazon Managed Blockchain eliminates the overhead required to create the network, and automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions. Once your network is up and running, Managed Blockchain makes it easy to manage and maintain your blockchain network.”

    AWS has made other forays into the blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) market, along with other big tech companies, including Google and Microsoft.

    Amazon Managed Blockchain will be based on Hyperledger Fabric, with an Ethereum framework reportedly on the way.

    North Sea Crude Oil Blockchain Platform Goes Live

    A BP- and Shell-backed blockchain platform for crude oil deals has opened. The move bears the potential of radically redefining an industry known for high operating costs.

    London-based Vakt will open today, although no trades are scheduled to occur for the day. Oil companies BP and Royal Dutch Shell, energy trading firms Mercuria Energy Group and Koch Supply and Trading, as well as Gunvor and Equinor, will be the only users of the trading platform until public access is opened in January.

    Vakt aims to simplify the paperwork involved in global oil trades. It will work in conjunction with a financing blockchain platform, komgo, which will offer digital letters of credit. Vakt will be initially limited to trades involving the top five grades of North Sea crude. Future plans include the integration of US crude pipelines and Northern Europe refined crude oil products, like gasoline.

    UAE Launches Blockchain Initiative

    The Emirates News Agency is reporting that the UAE has launched two national initiatives “aimed at reinforcing the artificial intelligence, AI, and Blockchain sector to strengthen the UAE leading position globally.”

    One of the initiatives, announced at the second UAE Government Annual Meetings, would introduce a standardize definition of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence as federal policy. This AI and blockchain guide would be offered across all seven emirates with the intention of familiarizing relevant authorities with the technologies.

    The UAE’s minister of state for AI, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, said:

    “The UAE is keen to adopt AI and Blockchain technologies in all the economic, health, educational and other vital sectors. It seeks to boost cooperation and forge partnerships between the various government, federal and local entities, international companies and startups in a bid to find effective and innovative solutions and make a positive impact.”

    The ultimate goal is to ensure that, by 2021, at least half of the UAE’s government transactions are conducted via blockchain. The UAE also plans to become the global leader for AI adoption by 2031. Crypto is a controversial issue in the Middle East, as Islamic law frowns on speculative and interest-based economics.

    US Indicts Iranian Hacking Team in Bitcoin Extortion Scam

    The US Department of Justice has charged two Iranian men with six counts of international hacking resulting in more than $30 million in losses to North American institutions.

    The two, Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri, allegedly hacked computers in Canadian and American hospitals, municipal offices, and other public entities and installed ransomware from within Iran. They demanded ransoms in bitcoin for the decryption keys and collected $6 million in ransoms.

    In a related action, the US Department of the Treasury disclosed the crypto addresses of two Iranians that allegedly helped the attackers exchange these payments for Iranian rial. (For more on that news, read our full article.)

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

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