Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Kleiner Perkins has joined a $ 24.5 million Series A funding round for Bison Trails, a provider of blockchain protocols, which was led by Blockchain Capital to develop the firm’s infrastructure services.

Other participants included Coinbase Ventures, ConsenSys, A Capital, Collaborative Fund and Sound Ventures as new investors. Galaxy Digital and Initialized, as early backers, joined this latest round after participating in a $ 5.25 million seed round in March.

Bison Trails became one of the 21 founding members for Facebook’s Libra Association in October, boosting its somewhat flagging reputation as a global infrastructure service provider after high profile players like PayPal pulled out.

That makes Bison Trails the only blockchain infrastructure firm in the Libra project.

The New York-based startup helps customers deploy the participation nodes on any blockchain, without having to develop their own supporting technologies such as security, and serves more than 20 protocol projects.

In a statement Kleiner Perkins investing partner Monica Desai said: “Bison Trails realized early that node infrastructure would become a bottleneck to blockchain adoption, which is why they created a decentralized, user-friendly solution.”

“When we started building Bison Trails, we wanted to bring transparency and ease to entrepreneurs bold enough to build in a decentralized ecosystem, investors wise enough to back a nascent market, and enterprises courageous enough to commit to a technological inevitability like blockchain technology and cryptocurrency,” said Joe Lallouz, CEO of Bison Trails. “We have become the easiest way to run infrastructure on multiple blockchains. And have helped the world’s leading protocols, companies and builders launch and manage secure, highly-available, and geographically distributed nodes on blockchain networks.”


TechCrunch

Zamna — which uses a blockchain to securely share and verify data between airlines and travel authorities to check passenger identities — has raised a $ 5m seed funding round led by VC firms LocalGlobe and Oxford Capital, alongside Seedcamp, the London Co-Investment Fund (LCIF), Telefonica, and a number of angel investors.

Participation has also come from existing investor IAG (International Airlines Group), which is now its first commercial client. The company is also changed its name from VChain Technology to Zamna.

When VChain-now-Zamna first appeared, I must admit I was confused. Using blockchain to verify passenger data seemed like a hammer to crack a nut. But it turns out to have some surprisingly useful applications.

The idea is to use it to verify and connect the passenger data sets which are currently silo-ed between airlines, governments and security agencies. By doing this, says Zamna, you can reduce the need for manual or other checks by up to 90 percent. If that’s the case, then it’s quite a leap in efficiency.

In theory, as more passenger identities are verified digitally over time and shared securely between parties, using a blockchain in the middle to maintain data security and passenger privacy, the airport security process could become virtually seamless and allow passengers to sail through airports without needing physical documentation or repeated ID checks. Sounds good to me.

Zamna says its proprietary Advance Passenger Information (API) validation platform for biographic and biometric data, is already being deployed by some airlines and immigration authorities. It recently started working with Emirates Airline and the UAE’s General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners (GDRFA) to deliver check-in and transit checks.

Here’s how it works: Zamna’s platform is built on algorithms that check the accuracy of Advanced Passenger Information or biometric data, without having to share any of that data with third parties, because it attaches an anonymous token to the already verified data. Airlines, airports and governments can then access that secure, immutable and distributed network of validated tokens without having actually needing to ‘see’ the data an agency, or competing airline, holds. Zamna’s technology can then be used by any of these parties to validate passengers’ biographic and biometric data, using cryptography to check you are who you say you are.

So, what was wrong with the previous security measures in airports for airlines and border control that Zamna might be fixing?

Speaking to TechCrunch, Irra Ariella Khi, co-founder and CEO of Zamna, says: “There is a preconception that when you arrive at the airport somehow – as if by magic – the airline knows who you are, the security agencies know who you are, and the governments of departure and destination both know that you are flying between their countries and have established that it is both legitimate and secure for you to do so. You may even assume that the respective security authorities have exchanged some intelligence about you as a passenger, to establish that both you and your fellow passengers are safe to board the same plane.”

“However,” she says, “the reality is far from this. There is no easy and secure way for airlines and government agencies to share or cross-reference your data – which remains siloed (for valid data protection reasons). They must, therefore, repeat manual one-off data checks each time you travel. Even if you have provided your identity data and checked in advance, and if you travel from the same airport on the same airline many times over, you will find that you are still subject to the same one-off passenger processing (which you have probably already experienced many times before). Importantly, there is an ‘identity verification event’, whereby the airline must check both the document of identity which you carry, as well as establish that it belongs to your physical identity.”

There are three main trends in this space. Governments are demanding more accurate passenger data from airlines (for both departure and destination) – and increasing the regulatory fines imposed for incorrect data provided to them by the airlines. Secondly, Airlines also have to manage the repatriation of passengers and luggage if they are refused entry by a government due to incorrect data, which is costly. And thirdly, ETA (electronic transit authorizations, such as eVisas) are on the rise, and governments and airlines will need to satisfy themselves that a passenger’s data matches exactly that of their relevant ETA in order to establish that they have correct status to travel. This is the case with ESTAs for all US-bound travelers. Many other countries have similar requirements. Critically for UK travelers – this will also be the case for all passengers traveling into Europe under the incoming ETIAS regulations.

The upshot is that airlines are imposing increased document and identity checks at the airports – regardless of whether the passenger has been a regular flier, and irrespective of whether they have checked-in in advance.

Zamna’s data verification platform pulls together multiple stakeholders (airlines, governments, security agencies) with a way to validate and revalidate passenger identity and data (both biographic and biometric), and to securely establish data ownership – before passengers arrive at the airport.

It doesn’t require any new infrastructure at the airport, and none of these entities have to share data, because the ‘sharing without sharing’ is performed by Zamna’s blockchain platform in the middle of all the data sources.

Remus Brett, Partner at LocalGlobe, says: “With passenger numbers expected to double in the next 20 years, new technology-driven solutions are the only way airlines, airports and governments will be able to cope. We’re delighted to be working with the Zamna team and believe they can play a key role in addressing these challenges.” Dupsy Abiola, Global Head of Innovation at International Airlines Group, adds: “Zamna is working with IAG on a digital transformation project involving British Airways and the other IAG carriers. It’s very exciting.”

Zamna is a strategic partner to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and an active member of IATA’s “One ID” working group.


TechCrunch

India’s Reliance Jio, which has disrupted the local telecom and features phone businesses in less than three years of its existence, is now ready to aggressively foray into many more businesses.

In a series of announcements, the subsidiary of India’s largest industrial house Reliance Industries today said it will commercially launch its fiber-optic broadband business next month, an IoT platform on January 1, 2020, and “one of the world’s biggest blockchain networks” in the next 12 months.

The broadband service, called Jio Giga Fiber, is aimed at individual customers, small and medium sized businesses, as well as enterprises, Mukhesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, said at a shareholders meeting Monday. The service, which will be available starting September 5, will offer free voice calls, high-speed internet and start at Rs 700 per month.

Continuing its tradition to woo users with significant offers, Jio said customers who opt for the yearly-plan of Giga Fiber will be provided with the set top box and an HD or 4K TV at no extra charge. A premium tier, which will be available next year, will allow customers to watch many movies on the day of their public release.

The Giga Fiber broadband service, which also offers access to TV channels, will bundle games from many popular studios including Microsoft Game Studios, Riot Games, Tencent Games, and Gameloft,

Partnership with Microsoft

The company also announced a 10-year partnership with Microsoft to leverage the Redmond giant’s Azure, Microsoft 365, and Microsoft AI platforms to launch new cloud datacenters in India to ensure “more of Jio’s customers can access the tools and platforms they need to build their own digital capability,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a video appearance Monday.

“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Core to this mission is deep partnerships, like the one we are announcing today with Reliance Jio. Our ambition is to help millions of organizations across India thrive and grow in the era of rapid technological change…”

“Together, we will offer a comprehensive technology solution, from compute to storage, to connectivity and productivity for small and medium-sized businesses everywhere in the country,” he added.

As part of the partnership, Nadella said, Jio and Microsoft will jointly offer Office 365 to more organizations in India, and also bring Azure Cognitive Services to more devices and in many Indian languages to businesses in the country. The solutions will be “accessible” to reach as many people and organizations in India as possible, he added.

The first two data-centers will be set up in Gujarat and Maharashtra by next year. Jio will migrate all of its non-networking apps to Microsoft Azure platform and promote its adoption among its ecosystem of startups, the two said in a joint statement.

Ambani also said Jio is working on a “digital stack” to create a new commerce partnership platform in India to reach tens of millions of merchants, consumers, and producers.

The announcement comes weeks after Reliance Industries acquired majority stake in Fynd, a Mumbai-based startup that connects brick and mortar retailers with online stores and consumers, for $ 42.3 million.

More to follow…


TechCrunch

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