How The Blockchain Can Fix A Supply Chain Problem In The Tequila Industry 7 1897

Looking beyond Bitcoin, Ethereum and the scores of other cryptocurrencies we hear about every day, takes us to the ground-breaking technology behind it. The blockchain not only has the power to create digital gold and facilitate international money exchanges; it can also be used to remedy problems in the supply chain. And, specifically, within the tequila industry. Let’s take a closer look.

The Problem With The Supply Chain

There are many problems with the supply chain currently, not least that it creates a large number of links and exchange of hands before the product reaches the consumer. Not only does this push up the end price, but it also gives the seller less control over what happens at each link in the chain.

Agricultural supply chains, in particular, involve many phases and widely dispersed geographical regions. This makes it hard to investigate incidents, such as environmental issues or damage, and adds the additional problem of language barriers, cultural issues and, of course, currency exchanges. The resounding lack of transparency further makes it impossible to evaluate the true value of the produce that we purchase.

Illicit activities, such as child labor, substandard conditions in factories, or even revenues being used to fund criminal activity are also extremely hard to control when there are so many stakeholders involved.

The Alcoholic Agricultural Industry

The team at AgreCoin is recognizing these problems in the supply chain and the woeful inefficiency of the agricultural industry. The mechanism responsible for feeding the world’s growing population should not be losing money hand over fist. The wine industry is a case in point. Winemakers lose billions of dollars every year in damaged assets and production losses, and tequila farmers experience similar problems.

Alcoholic agricultural products have profound boom and bust cycles, leading to farmers ending up with too much product, or facing serious shortages. In the case of tequila in particular, it is only produced in Mexico and the agave plant used to make it takes eight years to mature. But with a steady global demand for tequila, supply cannot keep up. That, coupled with environmental issues, such as unseasonal weather damaging plants in parts of Mexico, leads to increased chinks in the supply chain.

How The Blockchain Can Help

The blockchain as a distributed ledger can help make great strides towards controlling and regulating the supply chain, avoiding lack of knowledge and mark up at each stage. The nature of the technology provides transparency and security, as the ledger is publically available and every product can be traced back to the origin of the raw material.

Each stage of the supply chain can be documented and cannot be tampered with at any point. Applying the blockchain would serve to identify all parties involved in the supply chain and track and record important data, such as prices, dates, shortages, and the quality of the product at each stage.

One of the blockchain’s major advantages is that it is decentralized, which means that no one person would have ownership of the ledger. Cryptography-based technology further makes the ledger impossible to manipulate, tamper with or change in anyway. The blockchain is unhackable, at least currently.

AgreCoin believes that the blockchain efficiencies would allow millions of independent farmers to more effectively handle supply and demand and reduce unnecessary losses. A futures exchange for liquor related agricultural products would be the vehicle used to eradicate the problems.

Furthermore, the use of cryptocurrency would allow providers in different locations globally to trade in the same currency. That includes workforce, transporters and financial intermediaries. They would sign and use smart contracts using blockchain priced and settled in AgreCoins.

Removing transaction and conversion costs would drive down the end price of the product. Having an untamperable record of every stage of the supply chain would avoid wrongdoing, markup and waste.

The blockchain has the potential to fix problems in the supply chain industry wide and improve conditions for producers, workers and consumers. This will eventually change the way we purchase and consume goods. Transparency and security will help make our economy safer, remove dubious practices from the equation and ensure that we’re never worried about a shortage of tequila shots at the bar.

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This New Blockchain Phone Has a Built In Cold Wallet 3 2834

The blockchain phone you didn’t know you needed has arrived. As phones have transformed into mobile devices they’ve absorbed tasks previously delegated to desktop computers, cameras, globes, flashlights, alarm clocks, and your Sony Walkman. Now you can add crypto wallets to the mix.

Digital Trends gave us the scoop on the Finney, the new phone by London-based mobile security specialists Sirin Labs. It includes a cold storage (fancy term for ‘offline’) wallet, a built-in token conversion service for smooth transactions, and a DApp center. They designed the phone to be the premier mobile “for crypto experts and novices alike,” according to their website.

It’s timely, as crypto is still trying to break through the membrane into mainstream adoption, and mobile could be the vehicle to make it happen. The Finney itself, though, may not make the crossover.

First, Some Tech Specs

Finney’s standout feature is a second screen hidden behind the top edge of the phone. The screen is actually a separate set of hardware altogether—the cold wallet itself. When it’s tucked into place, it’s disconnected and unhackable. Only when you slide the screen open does it go live so you can execute a transaction.

The phone’s software, SirinOS, is Android 8.1 modified for security and certified by Google. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, with 128 gigs of storage and 6 gigs of RAM. It has a body of metal and Gorilla Glass, a 12 megapixel camera on the back, along with a fingerprint sensor. The Finney also features an Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) for an added layer of security.

Having the wallet placed at the top means the camera and fingerprint scanner are lower on the phone’s body than on previous models. See for example Sirin’s first phone, the Solarin, a security-obsessed $14,000 non-blockchain luxury mobile, which came complete with Italian leather backing and had a camera and fingerprint scanner where you’d expect them. On the Finney, the fingerprint scanner is too far down for effortless use. It invites slip ups where you press the camera lens instead.

The Finney is Nice, But It Will Take More to Mainstreamize Crypto

“It makes sending, receiving and converting cryptocurrencies securely on a smartphone surprisingly easy,” says one Digital Trends review of the Finney. But they qualify that ‘easy’ is relative, and the Finney is actually more of “a niche device for those who really are invested in cryptocurrency.”

Senior Writer Andy Boxall was less impressed. “The problem is its main feature,” that is, the cold wallet, “is only compelling to those who use, understand, and believe in cryptocurrency and the Blockchain.” For those who don’t already understand the ins and outs of crypto, it won’t be much of an advantage.

“Do not expect the Finney phone to make this baffling world [of crypto] much less confusing and problematic,” says Boxall. He describes the setup process as requiring trust in a bunch of companies you’ve never heard of, as well as the navigation of unfamiliar technologies and products. And for all the effort, he says, there’s little benefit for the crypto newcomer or ordinary mobile user.

“I carried on with the process because it’s my job,” says Boxall, “but if it wasn’t, I may have given up a lot sooner.” While the Finney hits many of the marks it aims for as far as design and functionality, simplifying the crypto process for novices doesn’t seem to be coming together with this phone.

“Living with the Finney has made it very clear that cryptocurrency is not ready for mainstream use yet,” says Boxall.

Get Your Finney If You Can

Sirin first released the Finney for sale only in exchange for their native SRN token. It went on the mainstream market in January so you can now purchase it with Paypal or, if you’re Gordon Gekko, a credit card. One final and important caveat: the company ships from their UK headquarters to 143 countries, but alas, the US isn’t one of them.

If you’re looking for a way to store your crypto securely and portably, make smooth crypto transactions on the go, or inspire jealousy in your American blockchain friends, the Finney may well be worth its $1,000 price tag. If you’re a newbie who’s interested in learning the ins and outs of crypto, there are better places to start.

Happy 10th Birthday, Bitcoin!! 7 2913

On January 3rd, 2009, block number zero produced the first 50 bitcoins. They were mined by none other than the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto. Thus was born the phenomenon of the decade. And on January 8th, ten years ago today, bitcoin became a public network when Nakamoto released bitcoin version 0.1.

Nakamoto announced the release via the Metzdowd cryptography mailing list, calling bitcoin “a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending.”

Nakamoto’s description of the software that would revolutionize technology is sparing and to the point. “It’s completely decentralized with no server or central authority,” the succinct announcement goes on. “Windows only for now.  Open source C++ code is included.” It describes the proof of work as “ridiculously easy”.

It follows with a brief description of how transactions work, how many coins will be released and how they can expect to split every 4 years, along with the caveats that the software was still “alpha and experimental,” offering “no guarantees”. It’s signed with no letter closing, simply:

“Satoshi Nakamoto”

Bitcoin, This Is Your Life

My what a ten years it has been. Just to recap:

On January 12th, 2009, programmer Hal Finney, who had downloaded the new bitcoin software immediately, received ten bitcoins from Nakamoto. This was the first ever bitcoin transaction. Over a year later in May 2010, programmer Laszlo Hanyecz received 10,000 bitcoins in exchange for two Papa John’s pizzas, initiating the first real-world bitcoin purchase and thereby creating the pizza index.

Bitcoin simmered until 2017, when it’s value jolted from $900 to over $19,000, and bitcoin became a household name. Over the past year, the original crypto has settled to a more modest $4,000 valuation, and stirred up a lot of public din in its wake.

Where Were You on January 9th, 2009?

So where were you on the day of Nakamoto’s announcement? Probably on your couch watching DVDs of Pineapple Express and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia seasons 1 through 3, or laughing at Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog on your iPhone 2.

It was a simpler time. Wired was calling Google Earth the number one app on the fancy new iPhone app store. Competition was fierce with Windows 7 in beta. Facebook had recently dropped the “is” from status updates, and a fun app called Twitter (formerly “Twttr”) had just introduced a feature called Trending Topics.

Trending Topics

David Bowie was celebrating one of his eight final birthdays, while Michael Jackson and Patrick Swayze were enjoying their last few months among us mortals. Only days later, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles made aviation history by skillfully crash landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, saving everyone on board.

A burgeoning class of ennui soaked fashionistas, deemed “hipsters,” were described in Time Magazine as “smug, full of contradictions and, ultimately, the dead end of Western civilization,” a vermin who “manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity.” They went on with this colorful character sketch:

“Hipsters are the friends who sneer when you cop to liking Coldplay. They’re the people who wear t-shirts silk-screened with quotes from movies you’ve never heard of and the only ones in America who still think Pabst Blue Ribbon is a good beer. They sport cowboy hats and berets and think Kanye West stole their sunglasses. Everything about them is exactingly constructed to give off the vibe that they just don’t care.”

Time Magazine, 2009

Is it time for any of that to come back into style yet? Maybe give it a few more years. We need a break.

Williamsburg was gentrifying and Portland was still America’s best kept secret. The streets were flooded with fixed gear bikes and the sounds of Grizzly Bear, Real Estate, Kings of Convenience, and TV on the Radio.

Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was just a few days old, and Fever Ray’s self titled was about to drop. The world was listening to Lady Gaga, whose single “Just Dance” hit number one on Billboard’s top 100, and Taylor Swift’s Fearless, which was the top selling album.

That same month, box offices favored the cuddly Marley & Me, while The Dark Knight swept the people’s choice awards. Audiences were still getting wowed by Avatar, paying a lot to be disappointed by Mall Cop, and getting hyped about the upcoming Watchmen movie.

Meanwhile in Washington DC, a president with a multisyllabic vocabulary was about to be inaugurated (a rarity in the 21st century, we would find out), and his kids were playing with a Wii they got for Christmas.

Here’s To Another Decade Ahead

What a time it was, the dawn of 2009. And most of us, at least for a few more years, had never heard about blockchain, cryptocurrencies, or bitcoin.

And now here we are.

So, dear reader, here’s to ten more years of crashes, booms, bubble scares, hype, derision, libertarian fanboys, pizza and moon lambos. Happy tenth birthday, bitcoin!!1

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