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Blockchain in healthcare updates
Walmart officially announces its involvement in a second FDA DSCSA pilot
Of course my readers have known this for almost 3 weeks now, but Walmart is participating in an FDA DSCSA pilot with IBM, Merck, and KPMG. This comes on the heels of news breaking on Walmart's involvement in the MediLedger project and several months after the announcement of the IBM led Health Utility Network.

These announcements represent a significant movement into the healthcare space by Walmart, but their focus on the pharmaceutical supply chain space is not a surprising one given their previous work with FoodTrust, a leafy greens track and trace platform, and the size of Walmart's pharmacy business.

What will be interesting to watch is whether Walmart expands past track and trace use cases. There is certainly ample opportunity in the pharma space for blockchains to create efficiency and transparency, especially as the industry comes under fire for its opacity and high costs. Moreover, not only is Walmart a large pharmacy, but it is a large insurer as well for its employees. And as a self-insured employer, Walmart has much more flexibility to innovate than other market segments. I'd like to see them use this unique position to do something equally unique with blockchain in the future.

Nebula Genomics enters into anonymized data sharing agreement with Merck’s EMD Serono
Nebula is the blockchain and genomics startup cofounded by George Church which raised $4.3m last year. Under the new agreement with Merck's North American biopharmaceutical business, EMD Serono, lung cancer patients can receive free high-coverage germline and tumor whole-genome sequencing in exchange for access to their data. After that patients get to choose what to do with their data.

As far as I'm aware this is the first blockchain and genomics startup that has entered into an agreement with a pharma company to facilitate research using patient data. That represents a significant milestone for the industry, as startups previously had failed to get the scale necessary to attract pharma's involvement.

Podcast: Medical Career Management with Hashgraph by Health Unchained
What I'm reading this weekend

Facebook's GlobalCoin is set to launch a testnet under the name "Libra" next week
Facebook's quickly moving project has garnered an impressive roster of participants that you can see above, and each of these parties have reportedly paid $10m for the rights to run a node. You can begin to see the outlines of what GlobalCoin might be used for by noting the categories of these early backers. But some of these parties are surprising to me. It's not clear what 5 top venture capital funds are doing (after all, how are they going to make money on a stable coin?) and digital asset custodian Xapo famously pledged to only custody Bitcoin.

The non-profits fit well into the broader strategy of targeting emerging markets where people don't have access to financial services or less confidence in their nation's currencies. WhatsApp is very popular in places like India, and it would instantly provide a lot of people access to some kind of banking and payments infrastructure if Facebook layered GlobalCoin on top of WhatsApp. That's a very good thing that GlobalCoin can bring to the world.

It will be interesting to watch government's reactions to GlobalCoin. It is very much so a direct competitor and a threat to their power. Historically the ability to print money has been reserved to nation states and that has been slowly eroded ever since Bitcoin was released. GlobalCoin represents another attack on the state's monopoly on money, this time by a global corporation, or perhaps a cabal of them. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the initial plan is to back each coin by fiat in a bank account somewhere, but that peg could be broken some day much like the dollar's peg to gold was previously. And if GlobalCoin does debase from fiat currencies, it will become a currency in its own right, perhaps the most used currency on the planet.

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim Delivers Remarks for the Antitrust New Frontiers Conference
After details of a series of investigations into big tech companies emerged in the past weeks, a senior member of the Department of Justice gave a speech on antitrust enforcement in the digital economy. It's an interesting read with some clear foreshadowing of what is to come, and he makes some compelling arguments. However, I can't help but feel that the solution to massive centralization of power by big tech is not to break them up, but to open them up.

In the early days of Twitter there were many third party Twitter clients. These could compete against each other and innovative on content filtering, privacy, business models, etc while maintaining one underlying infrastructure. Eventually Twitter shut these third party clients down because they feared the competition.

If Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc worked like early Twitter did, that is, if they provided underlying infrastructure (or "protocols") for multiple clients to build on top of, then we could have both competition and network efforts. Indeed, that's a similar architecture to how much of the web works, with a number of underlying permissionless protocols like TCP/IP being shared across networks and having applications built on top of them.

There are a range of ways you could open up tech giants. Allowing third party clients is one of them. Others could be mandating easy to use data import/export APIs, or giving third party applications the same permissions as native apps on smart phones.
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