Afternoon Coffee: Digital solutions grab spotlight in coronavirus crisis; Vertex upgrades tax offering for SAP Ariba

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Delegates at a symposium acknowledged that the blockchain ecosystem was impacted by the disruptions of COVID-19, necessitating companies to increase collaboration, question standard implementations and optimize digital logistics, according to a report from

Alisa DiCaprio, head of trade and supply chain at the blockchain software firm R3, focused on how digital needs soared because of the coronavirus disruptions, when people were working from home, not offices that are set up for business. She also is part of International Chamber of Commerce Digital Standard Working Group, and in surveying businesses, she heard directly how digital solutions fared during the lockdown.

“One bank responded that it is possible to go digital in an emergency. It was messy ... but it happened, and that changed a lot of people’s minds about where things (with blockchain) are going,” DiCaprio said at the event, BiTA Symposium @Home.

She said the focus of digital technology needs to be on solving specific problems for clients, being scalable and offering visibility into supply chains.

Employment data for May shows improvement

As the nation grapples with the coronavirus disruption, federal employment figures released today show that the U.S. added jobs instead of shedding more, as had been forecast, according to Labor Department data reported in a CNBC article.

The unemployment rate for May fell to 13.3% from 14.7% in April. Before the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate had been as low as 3.5%.

“The jump in employment almost perfectly mirrored the 2.7 million decrease in workers who reported being on temporary layoff,” CNBC reports. “Economists had expressed doubt as to whether that would be the case or if more job losses would be permanent.”

Vertex upgrades tax offering for SAP Ariba

Vertex, a provider of tax technology and services, has updated its solutions integration with SAP Ariba to give customers "timely, advanced tax insights within their procurement and supply chain processes," according to a press release.

"This integration with SAP Ariba solutions helps calculate tax at the purchase requisition, invoice reconciliation and final tax determination phases, carrying tax from the purchase requisition to the purchase order," Vertex said in the release. "The integrated solution is now enhanced to distinguish between vendor charged, buyer payable, self-assessed and value-added reverse charge taxes, as well as multiple levels of jurisdictions."

Farmers go straight to customers to reduce losses

Supply chains are broken because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving farmers with tons of food waste. Faced with the prospect of plowing over fields or euthanizing pigs, some U.S. farmers are trying to cut losses by going straight to consumers, Bloomberg News reports.

This direct-to-consumer sales is being done with fruit stands going up along roads and livestock producers finding their own processing plants or selling whole animals to consumers.

Amid pandemic, Oakland port sees rise in meat exports to Asia

The Port of Oakland, California’s main ocean cargo gateway has reported meat exports to Asia had increased in the first quarter of 2020, according to the American Journal of Transportation.

Meat exports jumped 26% in the first quarter of 2020 over Q1 2019. The port said it now controls 42% of the market for meat exports leaving U.S. West Coast ports.

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