This week, one of the world's largest cloud computing providers announced a new managed service offering to facilitate customer creation and management of blockchain networks. In addition, blockchain-based shipping platform TradeLens added Hong Kong's second-largest terminal operator to its user base. In other enterprise news, Gustav Gerig, a Swiss food company founded nearly a century ago, plans to release a consumer-facing, Ethereum-based track-and-trace technology for its canned, sustainable tuna. The cans of fish will be marked with QR codes that direct users to a blockchain explorer where they can view data about that tuna, including which captain manned the vessel that caught it.

According to a recent report, the market for blockchain solutions in retail may surpass $2.3 billion, which is 29 times its current value, by 2023. One source points to the following use cases as catalysts: supply chain management, inventory management, authenticity verification, auto-renewal and subscription services, and customer data and loyalty programs. Survey results revealed that while only 6 percent of businesses are prepared to use blockchain for payments today, 78 percent say they will be ready within the next five years.

In the smart contracts space, the CFTC's hub for engaging with the fintech innovation community, LabCFTC, released a comprehensive primer on the tech. It covers definitions, use cases and legal frameworks applicable to smart contracts and enumerates cybersecurity, manipulation, operational and technical risks, including: "Humans! – make mi$taak3s when K0diNg." LabCFTC cites good governance practices as a mitigating factor to these risks. In government use cases, voting pilots continue as the South Korean National Election Commission and Ministry of Science and ICT plan to develop a blockchain component for their online voting system by year-end, not far behind West Virginia's statewide pilot earlier this month.

With bitcoin prices hitting a 14-month low earlier this week, the overall cryptocurrency downturn has reigned in token and virtual currency-related activity. For example, blockchain-based social media platform Steemit reduced its headcount by 70 percent, U.S.-based bitcoin mining company Giga Watt petitioned for bankruptcy with a rushed filing, and between 600,000 and 800,000 bitcoin miners have gone dark since mid-November, as estimated by the founder of the third-largest bitcoin mining pool.

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