In this issue

  1. Binance buys CoinMarketCap and launches in Korea
  2. BMW uses blockchain to track auto parts
  3. Nodle launches own network
  4. Netherlands uses DLT in fight against coronavirus
  5. Toilet Paper Token skunks Bitcoin
  6. In China: Pulling ahead in patent race; blockchain and AI in TV and film

From the Editor’s Desk

As individuals, we are an amalgam of our own unique experiences, expertise and knowledge. This shared struggle against an unseen enemy is now what unifies us into a common goal for survival. We now share collective expertise, knowledge and know-how.

In this age of Covid-19, one of the more promising applications of blockchain is how it serves to manage critical data and provide transparency at the highest level of trust. Dutch tech companies are coming together to assist their government and front-line health care teams. Among them is Tymlez, a Netherlands-based DLT company, that will help track medical goods and match supply with demand, in a transparent platform designed to prevent price gouging. Similar efforts are happening in countries around the world. But some of the most powerful direct impact will come from a network of friends, family and neighbors joining forces — to send millions of masks from Asia to front-line health care workers in New York, or donate hand cream to soothe the parched and overwashed hands of nurses in Taiwan. The enemy may be felled by a million of these little cuts.

Media is also experiencing a renaissance. At Forkast.News, we’ve seen an exponential increase in readership, just like everyone else. During enormous times of change, journalists help explain. We also help explain the consolidation of influence in blockchain, with the Binance purchase of CoinMarketCap, a provider of cryptocurrency data, for an estimated $400 million. It’s an ironic aggregation of control for an industry that champions decentralization. But that’s capitalism.

In the post-Covid world, of which we are now only starting to realize, what new industries will form? Which companies will survive? Which will be relegated to the history of pre-Covid memories? And how will Asia play into this dynamic?

Stay tuned. Stay well.

Angie Lau,
Founder, CEO, & Editor-in-Chief

1. Binance buys CoinMarketCap and launches in Korea

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Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said CoinMarketCap would remain independent Photo: Forkast.News

By the numbers: Binance — over 5,000% increase in Google search volume.

Busy week for Binance as the exchange announces a deal to acquire CoinMarketCap (CMC) for an undisclosed price. First reported by The Block, the amount is estimated to be around $400 million, which would peg the purchase as one of the largest ever in the world of cryptocurrency. 

  • CoinMarketCap has also announced that founder Brandon Chez will be stepping down as CEO, and former Chief Strategy Officer Carylyne Chan will fill in the role as the company’s interim CEO. 
  • Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao told CoinDesk that the site would remain independent from Binance to preserve its autonomy and prevent conflicts of interest. 
  • Binance has also announced that its first exchange has launched in Korea with zero-fee trading for the first three months. In turn, the Binance community praised the crypto giant’s recent moves, expecting more Korean projects to be available soon. 
  • Binance has also gained mainstream support for its Crypto Against COVID campaign. CZ announced during an AMA (ask-me-anything) session that Binance has pledged at least $2.4 million. 

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

Decisions are based on data, and for most retail investors looking at crypto, CoinMarketCap is their first port of call when investigating a particular coin or token to purchase. 

Because so many people make CMC their go-to destination for crypto data, and others link back to it, Google took notice and has boosted the site’s SEO ranking significantly — meaning that it is one of the first results when looking up a specific coin/token name or related keywords. The value of CMC comes from its domain and SEO. Its product, data, is quite simple and the whole operation could be easily replicated with a modicum of effort. There are a plethora of other platforms offering the same thing. However, none are ranked nearly as highly as CMC. 

For Binance, CMC is the beginning of a sales funnel. Binance doesn’t particularly care which crypto asset you buy — as long as it’s listed on Binance, the exchange makes money on every trade and interaction, be it a long, short, put or call. Binance doesn’t have an incentive to manipulate this data, as at the first sign of any sort of adulteration, its user base will notice and jump ship, the sales funnel will be broken, and regulators will get involved. CMC already had a run in with regulators over allegations of fake data populating its platform. CMC acknowledged the concerns and promised transparency and better tools to scrub out incorrect information that was being pushed to the platform. 

Binance has no interest in doing anything to harm the quality of CMC’s data. It would make no financial sense, as it would significantly degrade the value of the asset. If anything, all the company intends to do is use its developer base to further build tools that will improve the integrity of CMC’s data all the while running it as a separate asset. With this arrangement, CMC will improve its stature as a crypto data provider while delivering a Binance perspective and customers looking to make some trades on the asset they have researched.   

2. BMW uses blockchain to track auto parts

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BMW is using blockchain to increase transparency in its supply chain. Photo: Artiom Vallat 

By the numbers: PartChain — 2,500% increase in Google search volume. 

The BMW Group has announced the launch of PartChain project. The initiative aims to provide data transparency in its complex supply chains for all partners involved, through the use of blockchain technology. The automobile giant states that the project will also incorporate cloud technology to allow tracing of component origins between all partners without risking manipulation. 

  • The project follows a successful 2019 pilot project for vehicle front light parts in two of their 31 plants. 
  • Although the pilot project focuses on tracking automobile parts, BMW is expected to expand the project to trace raw materials. 
  • BMW previously co-founded the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), a consortium of automakers, in 2018.

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

Tracking automotive parts is one of the next big use cases for blockchain. The inherent liability that automobiles produce — steel cages weighing thousands of pounds hurtling at speeds of over a hundred kilometers per hour down a road — means that there’s a need for transparency and traceability of components used in their production. 

Like any other consumer product, an automobile is really a consortium of parts from a variety of different vendors. Even though the car has the BMW badge on its front, many of the key components are sourced from different companies. 

When recalls happen, they can be an expensive disaster for everyone involved. For instance, Takata, an airbag manufacturer, has been the cause for a number of recalls during the last five years. Its parts are found in many autos, and testing by regulators have found that certain components that Takata uses can be defective and even deadly. 

To make matters more complicated, a vehicle that might not have been initially equipped with a defective part — such as a Takata airbag system — but a component may have found its way into the vehicle during after-market repairs. Or, worse, an unscrupulous mechanic might have swapped out a brand-name part for a counterfeit one during a visit to the shop. 

Being able to have complete traceability of all the components of a car is crucial for auto manufacturers. It can be vital for determining if a specific vehicle needs to be brought in as part of a recall, or if the breakdown of a used vehicle is due to a manufacturer defect or the presence of inauthentic parts. In China, PlatON has run a pilot in conjunction with Mercedes Benz to track vehicle health and emissions via internet of things (IoT) and record it to the blockchain.  Expect spending on blockchain technology to increase dramatically in this sector over the next few years as auto markers do their best to avoid expensive recalls, especially as Covid-19 brings new challenges to the market.  

3. Nodle launches its own blockchain network

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Blockchain can be used with the Internet of Things to record the sources of data. Image: Tumisu

By the numbers: Nodle — over 5,000% increase in Google search volume. 

With its competitor IOTA recuperating from recent hacks exploiting the Trinity wallet, Nodle, a blockchain-IoT platform, has announced the launch of Arcadia, leveraging Polkadot Network and Parity Substrate. 

  • Although the Stellar blockchain was able to support Nodle’s 1.3 million transactions per day, Nodle believes its own blockchain is required to unlock the full features noted in its White Paper
  • Nodle is an internet of things (IoT) platform that promises to connect the next billion things via Bluetooth Low Energy, using smartphones as hubs for internet connectivity. 

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

The launch of Nodle’s Arcadia blockchain network shows that the maturity of blockchain networks for IoT devices is dramatically improving. It’s important now to take a step back to figure out why it’s important to meld IoT and blockchain. 

Blockchain is a “truth machine,” but in order for it to become a source of truth, it needs data. This is where IoT comes in. If the blockchain network is about preserving data, that data needs to be recorded and stored somewhere securely before being transmitted to the internet to be recorded on the blockchain. This is the value of Nodle’s infrastructure. Two examples of where it can be used are in the automotive industry and food business. 

As Forkast News has previously reported, China’s used car market is looking to incorporate blockchain technology to ensure authenticity of parts as well as to track driving patterns for leased vehicles. Data on information such as the list of car parts currently installed on the automobile, to driving patterns is collected by IoT sensors on the car and then stored in a black box before being sent to the blockchain. 

Another example would be food safety. Bright Food, headquartered in Shanghai, utilizes a network of IoT-enabled sensors to track its milk products from farm to table. Everything from the contents of the cow’s fecal matter, to additives placed in the milk, and temperature of the storage facility is measured via IoT-enabled sensors.

Nodle is making remarkable strides in the field, and is poised for enterprise adoption in a big way. But now it’s time for enterprises to catch up — especially in the West — and be ready to adopt this technology. 

4. Going Dutch against the coronavirus

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Tech companies in the Netherlands are using blockchain as a tool against the coronavirus pandemic. Image: The Hague Security Delta

By the numbers: Tymlez — 600% increase in Google search volume. 

Not long after MiPasa was announced, Dutch tech companies established the “Tech against Corona” initiative to assist the government and front-line battles against the coronavirus. 

  • Tymlez, a DLT company based in the Netherlands, will “model the medical goods ecosystem through a platform that matches supply & demand” based on blockchain technology. The company will also make its platform available to the government for free, to prevent price gouging during the outbreak. 
  • The Dutch Red Cross is following Italy’s lead as it recently started accepting bitcoins as a method of donations.

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

Blockchain technology has had many important use cases in the Covid-19 pandemic, especially when it comes to balancing civil liberties with the need to track those potentially infected by the virus, and ensuring authenticity of critical equipment such as masks. 

However, sometimes blockchain technology isn’t the best solution for everything. Blockchain isn’t going to disrupt every industry, and there are many use cases where established technologies can be expediently implemented without the need to try and imagine how blockchain could fit in. 

While there are use cases for blockchain during the Covid-19 pandemic, it should be stressed that this is a pandemic. Expediency and proven solutions should be emphasized. The theoretical can wait. 

5. Toilet Paper Token causing a stink

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The April Fool’s joke over toilet paper tokenization has caused a stir. Image: Toilet Paper Token

By the numbers: Toilet Paper Token — over 5,000% increase in Google search volume. 

Toilet Paper Token dethrones Bitcoin on CoinMarketCap’s top cryptocurrencies by market capitalization on March 31 in the U.S., when it was already April 1 elsewhere in the world. CMC’s April Fool’s prank came with a wipe paper, explaining that the fictional coin does not exist. The prank garnered mixed reactions from the community.

  • @officiallykeith: Can’t help but wonder if @CoinMarketCap seeded a rumour about selling to @binance for $400m just to get eyes on their corona virus themed April fools gag. Too soon guys, people are dying, stadiums are being converted to hospitals and the dead are in ice rink morgues
  • @CoinMarketCap: Hi Keith, we hear you! Please stay safe and well. We’re not making a joke about the virus; it’s more of a please-don’t-hoard-toilet-paper-and-be-kind-to-everyone reminder. 

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

The run on toilet paper during the Covid-19 crisis is one of the more bizarre human responses to a crisis. 

It started as a rumor in the early days of the coronavirus in Hong Kong. As China ramped up production of face masks, a rumor spread that many of the toilet paper manufacturers were stopping production to focus on China’s need for face masks for its own people. The “run” on toilet paper supplies happened soon after.

The reality is, toilet paper is one thing that is never going to be in short supply. Lumber is a commodity that North America and Europe have a lot of (Canada’s British Columbia, for example, supplies a sizable quantity of the world’s pulp). A relatively uncomplicated supply chain and heavily automated production process means that the industry will unlikely be affected by any Covid-induced labor shortage.

Titans of the TP industry have been quick to take to the media to reassure consumers that their factories are immune from the plague of paper paucity. 

“There isn’t a structural shortage of toilet paper in the country, we’re not going to run out,” said Kruger Products, one of continent’s biggest suppliers of loo roll, CEO Dino Bianco, to CTV News

“You are not using more of it. You are just filling up your closet with it,” Jeff Anderson, president of Precision Paper Converters, told The New York Times

But one panic buy that will have a shortage directly caused by Covid-19 is the Nintendo Switch. Faced with months of a reduced supply of entertainment  — all professional sports have been postponed until fall and movie theaters will be closed for weeks — Americans are turning to video games to tide them over. An intricate supply chain that spans continents means that Nintendo will have a tough time scaling up supply of its game consoles to meet demand. Parts shortages from suppliers in China and Korea as factories slowly spool up again post Covid-19 means that no new consoles will be available for a while, but that hasn’t stopped hoarders from grossly inflating selling prices on sites like Amazon. 

6. In China: Blockchain and AI in TV and film. Pulling ahead in the patent race. House rentals in new intelligent city.

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Blockchain will be applied to Chinese television and film to track content. Photo: Pinho

A recent People’s Daily story states that blockchain technology, digital copyright protection and artificial intelligence will be applied to the approval process of TV shows and films. 

  • Currently, TV shows and internet TV dramas are required to send copies to authorities for offline filing and approval.
  • Blockchain technology is expected to create an intelligent online security approval process to shorten the approval period.

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

Digital fingerprinting is commonly used to ensure the authenticity of media files containing the likes of music, TV shows and movies. Once a digital fingerprint is established, it’s easy to locate additional copies of the file on the web even if alterations such as edits to the run time have been made. 

With this use case in China, a digital fingerprint is made of the movie or TV show, and it is attached to the broadcaster or theater’s license to play said media. The license, and a record of showings is recorded to the blockchain. This is useful for ensuring that royalties to the producer are paid and also to provide a record to authorities of every screening or broadcast. Should the production house or director run afoul of the good graces of Beijing, it would be a simple task to identify their body of work by the respective digital fingerprints, and put out a nationwide broadcasting ban.   

Blockchain also allows China to track the salaries and royalties earned by some of its top stars. Actress Fan Bingbing (in)famously was caught in the China tax dragnet for dramatically underreporting her earnings, and she was fined $70 million USD in unpaid taxes and penalties. Blockchain just makes it easier for Chinese tax authorities to police for the state. 

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Alibaba is investing in blockchain development through the Xiong’an new area near Beijing. Photo:

By the numbers: Xiong’an new area  — 164% increase in Baidu search volume.

Alibaba and Ant Financial signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Xiong’an New Area to build a blockchain-based house-renting platform, according to local media’s report

  • Xiong’an New Area is a state-level new area near Beijing supervised directly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
  • Alibaba and Ant Financial will apply cloud computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more technologies in Xiong’an’s urban planning and operation, to foster the development of an “intelligent city.”

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

Real estate is one sector of the economy that blockchain technology is poised to disrupt. Smart contracts can replace rental agreements, and tokenized titles can take the place of traditional paper titles. Arguably, the bigger use case here would be from Chinese interested in purchasing real estate in jurisdictions that are not well known for their integrity of the title system. A blockchain record of ownership from the developer of a condominium might be worth more than a record from a title registry department that’s notorious for corruption and inefficiency.

The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has submitted 37 blockchain patents. Photo: David290

By the numbers: People’s Bank of China  — 144% increase in Baidu search volume.

“As of the end of November 2019, PBOC has submitted 37 blockchain patents to the State Intellectual Property Office,” said People’s Bank of China, in reply to an inquiry on an online investor relations platform. “The major applying scenarios of PBOC’s blockchain applications are in the areas of cross-border remittances, trade settlements, e-wallets, digital invoice, collateral valuations, philanthropy, and digital Xiong’an.”

Forkast.Insights | What does it mean?

There are more blockchain patents filed in China than anywhere else in the world: Chinese firms represent 68% of the total global blockchain patent filings. Interestingly, a major source of patent applications within China are from foreign companies. This shows that trust of China’s patent system is rising, and many foreign firms are viewing China as the most important market for blockchain technology. (For more on this topic, see Forkast Insight’s China Blockchain Report.)