Today’s Bitcoin in Brief features several examples of harnessing crypto and blockchain technologies to improve quality of life around the world. The United Nations is involved in a crypto-funded project to power Moldova’s Technical University with solar energy. Initiatives in Malta and India will employ blockchain technologies to create more reliable public transportation and land registry systems.
Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: OECD Explores Cryptocurrencies, Central Asian Powerhouse Calls for UN Crypto Rules
UN Launches Crypto-Funded Solar Power Project in Moldova
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is launching this year a crypto-funded initiative to power a university in Moldova with solar energy. The project, to be realized in partnership with the South African solar power marketplace Sun Exchange, will allow people to buy solar cells and then lease them to the Technical University in Chisinau, which is one of the largest in the country.
According to a VOA report, the purchases will be made using Solarcoin, a crypto launched by the blockchain startup Electricchain. The idea is to find new sources of finance “to help buildings go green overnight, in this case with rooftop solar panels,” said Dumitru Vasilescu, program manager with UNDP in Moldova. “One of the biggest obstacles to countries investing in renewable energy is the lack of financing, as you often have to wait 10 to 15 years before you get a return on your investment,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Vasilescu added that the university will get a full 1 megawatt of energy installed in the summer as a result of the crowdfunding effort. The owners of the solar cells will in turn receive Solarcoins, as soon as the university produces energy, and will be able to earn about 4% interest on their investments. According to the UNDP representative, there is more than 10,000 square meters of unused rooftop space on public buildings in the country, which could potentially be covered with solar panels.
Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, is heavily dependent on energy imports, mainly from the Russian Federation. Cryptocurrencies have been gaining popularity in the former Soviet republic which is economically and politically on a crossroad between East and West. The local crypto community has recently opened the country’s first cryptocurrency exchange and presented a new digital token, both developed locally.
Malta Uses Blockchain for Better Public Transportation
Authorities in Malta, a country maintaining a crypto-friendly regulatory environment, are working on a project to use blockchain to improve the public transportation services. Maltese Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Ian Borg, has announced a partnership with Omnitude, a multi-enterprise blockchain platform. According to a press release, the deal is part of the nation’s blockchain strategy that will see the technology implemented to develop a transport and logistics platform using Omnitude’s blockchain middleware technology.
On the first stage, the government will work with the company to introduce overall improvements in transport reliability. Omnitude is a tech partner of Formula 1 team Williams Martini Racing and is working to assess the benefits that blockchain can bring to advanced engineering. Their project is said to be the first example of using blockchain in F1.
“We believe in Omnitude’s blockchain technology and its broad use-cases for the government […] It will improve the quality of life and enhance access to information for Maltese citizens. Blockchain technology is a key part of our overall technology strategy that will transform different sectors,” Ian Borg said. Earlier this year, Malta became one of the first countries in the world to approve a national strategy on blockchain technology.
Land Registry in India Made Reliable with Blockchain
The potential of the technology underpinning the majority of cryptocurrencies is not left unnoticed in other parts of the world. In India, blockchain will be used to trace transactions in property sales almost in real time. A newly announced project aims to build a land registry using blockchain technology for the Indian city of Panchkula, according to a blog post on the website of the London School of Economics.
The people behind the initiative – Alexandru Oprunenco, innovation advisor for the UNDP in Asia, and Chami Akmeemana, CEO of the Blockchain Learning Group – say their small venture is actually a “big deal” that represents a “meaningful and commercially viable solution” for the region. They point out that in many cities across the developing world land registry systems suffer from inefficiency and corruption. People selling a piece of land are often unsure if they legally own it, even if they have a legitimate sale deed. Potential buyers, on the other hand, are also not sure if the seller owns the plot.
“With blockchain we have a chance to fix many of these problems. The solution we are building incorporates many key benefits of the technology, such as an immutable history of transactions, so that no one doubts the authenticity of the records or be able to forge them,” Oprunenco and Akmeemana explain. Their project is using the Ethereum blockchain.
The Central Bank of Libya Says Bitcoin Is Illegal
Obviously failing to recognize the potential of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the underlying blockchain technologies, the central bank of Libya has declared “virtual currency” illegal in the country. Those who use it cannot be protected by Libyan law, the financial institution said, quoted by The Libya Observer.
On Tuesday, the CBL warned all Libyan citizens and businesses of the “security perils” of cryptocurrency, saying that it could be used in crimes, financing terrorism and money laundering – arguments often heard from financial regulators and central banks around the world. According to the notice, any use of virtual currency requires prior permission from the central bank in Tripoli.
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