Lis 04

CoinAgenda Announces Startup Competition Winners

Source: bitcoin

coinagenda

This week, CoinAgenda organizers announced the final winners of the startup competition held at the Las Vegas conference on October 25-26.

Also read: Altcoin Report: Zcash ‘Bug’ Diminishes Privacy

CoinAgenda Startup Competition Places Blockchain Business Ideas in Front of Potential Investors

The firms participating in this competition showcased their products and services, all of which utilize blockchain technology to solve existing problems or create new experiences and business opportunities not possible without the blockchain.

Seventeen businesses competed, each giving 20-minute presentations to industry leaders and investors, including the relatively new Intellisys Capital.

Here is a list of the winners in each of the competition’s categories:

Best Pre-Crowdsale Token: GoPayWin (GoCoin)

Best Trading Token: GameCredits

Best Startup: CakeCodes

Best Ramp Up: Airbitz

Rising Star: CakeCodes

Best of Show: Airbitz

These winners will have their presentations shared among members of the BitAngels investment group, giving the startups a chance to secure new funding.

The other finalists received honorary plaques, and had the chance to network with investors attending the conference.

CoinAgenda founder Michael Terpin expressed his satisfaction with CoinAgenda’s turnout and the results from the startup competition.

“Once again, the BitAngels network allowed us to field an extraordinary group of presenters, from Australia to Europe, and our judges were impressed by the quality of not only the winners, but the entire group of presenters,” Terpin told Bitcoinist.

“As CoinAgenda expands globally, we look forward to connecting even more exciting blockchain startups with a growing wave of investors seeking out these opportunities.”

CoinAgenda has scheduled a one-day summit in Las Vegas on January 4, 2017, a day before the opening of the highly-popular CES. As part of the summit, Terpin will speak at the CES Blockchain Breakfast as part of the conference’s Digital Money Forum.

Did you attend CoinAgenda? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Ryan Strauss.

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Money 20/20 Panel: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Source: bitcoin

Money 20/20 Artificial Intelligence

On Wednesday morning at the Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas, a unique and timely panel discussed the emergence and potential applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) in the global, traditional payments arena.

Also read: Technical Analysis: Bitcoin Price to Hit $1500 By Year-End?

Bringing Blockchain to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

As computational technology advances, leveraging trends in data and meta-data will help organizations understand both their customers and other businesses more extensively. AI and ML are going to affect all realms of society, and payments are not immune to this trend.

Democratization of tools for analytics in the field will help open up doors for an expanded crowd. As tools and APIs for developers looking towards AI or ML expand, developers will be able to access these complex tools more easily.

Speaking to this, Dr. Arif Ahmed of U.S. Bank remarked how, “With deep learning, you have better ways to conceptualize problems. You see how voice recognition, fraud recognition, and more are improving. You start with the technology, and then you host concepts. . .We have reached a point where this will exponentially increase over the next few years.”

Pattern recognition from AI and ML advancements will have a strong impact as it relates to Anti-Money-Laundering (AML) and Know-Your-Customer (KYC) practices. Particularly in the litigation response matters, Husayn Kassai of Onfido explained how often times remediation work today is outdated.

“The current way that it is carried out isn’t necessarily fit for a digital age,” said Kassai. “It doesn’t make sense to have fully human authentication systems at a bank.”

Ensuring a proper intake of data will be key here, the panel said, as financial services players transition to updated or increasingly distributed backend platforms.

In the future, many consumer-facing products, including chatbots, will make their way into digital services. For lots of financial players, the ability of machines to understand human slander falls short, as placing consumer-facing concerns in context is a major challenge.

People can build chatbots with specific purposes, such as manuals to build a plane or figure out the nature of a mortgage contracts.  To minimize errors, look for chatbots in financial services to be developed with specific purposes, such as mortgage loan contracts or ATM interfacing.

David Gilvin of IBM remarked how “AI is always on, 365, 24/7. . .If the machine is making the decision, then fundamentally it is not the same as the financial advisor, it is automated through machine learning. . .not only is it always on, it is everywhere.”

Due to increased regulatory pressures and oversight, AI development in financial services is in a stranglehold. Banks and traditional financial institutions will look towards AI once business models emerge for ways to profit from solution-grade AI-financial software.

Blockchain technology, however, presents a more emergent structure for data storage and application processing such that its inclusion in traditional financial institution circles could lend more easily to AI and ML applications.

Inevitably, the panel said, the regulatory environments at home and abroad will have to adopt. Speaking to this, Martina King of Featurespace echoed the challenges that banks faced in the early days of the internet, and how primitive regulation frameworks created during this timeframe can be changed to help AI and ML applications in banking along.

Finally, in the future, improvements will become more clear to everyone. Stakes for taking an early lead in proprietary software markets in AI and ML to financial services institutions signals the large amounts of money currently on the table.

Adding additional programmatic layers on top of existing disparate financial data should yield massive insights for supply chain providers, retailers, customers, and businesses worldwide.  Look for both AI and ML to move away from “black boxes” and more towards proofs-of-concept, similar to the trend that is ongoing in the permissioned-blockchain world. Both applications will likely have a massive impact in the near future!

What do you think about the possibility of Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning as it applies to financial services, or even blockchain technology?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Ryan Strauss.

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Říj 30

Apptrade to Hold ICO on OpenLedger, Mainstream Investors Expected

Source: bitcoin

apptrade

Apptrade, recently announced at CoinAgenda in Las Vegas, and covered by Forbes contributor Roger Atkins, will hold an ICO with OpenLedger.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Bitcoin PR Buzz.

This ICO is one of three upcoming crowdsales on the OpenLedger platform that will reportedly bring mainstream attention to the ICO method of fundraising, according to the decentralized conglomerate.

Apptrade: ‘The Stock Market of Apps’

Apptrade, calling itself “the stock market of apps,” presents a new way for app developers and publishers to raise funding for their projects. According to a press release, the platform will let developers pool resources that everyone can use as “collateral to attract funding.”

In return, each app benefiting from the pool contributes a portion of its earnings to a shared reserve. Held on a blockchain, OpenLedger said that Apptrade’s resources come with “standardized regulatory features,” which it said will make the app attractive to institutional investors

Furthermore, with its large set of analytical tools, OpenLedger said Apptrade will allow speculators “to easily track the monetary trajectory of portfolios.”

“Apptrade’s Featured Public Offerings and digitally shared reserves have the potential to transform the App investment market in the same way as ICOs have transformed cryptocurrency investments,” said Ronny Boesing, OpenLedger CEO.

“Apptrade’s venture is an innovation in investment finance, one that could have a massive impact on the future of fundraising.”

Apptrade announced its ICO at CoinAgenda last week. Developers will offer an Apptrade-specific token in the crowdsale, which gives holders a 10 percent stake of the app’s market value and future revenue.

“We have the backing and support of [Boesing],” Apptrade founder Daniel Pineda said. “OpenLedger has built the marketplace for smartcoin creation.”

OpenLedger told press that interested investors can contact Ronny Boesing for information on pre-investment arrangements.

Do you think this project will have a successful ICO on OpenLedger? Will it really attract institutional investors? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Apptrade.

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Apptrade to Hold ICO on OpenLedger, Mainstream Investors Expected

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Říj 26

OpenLedger: 3 New ICOs Have Crypto ‘Going Mainstream’

Source: bitcoin

openledger

LAS VEGAS — At CoinAgenda, OpenLedger CEO Ronny Boesing said his company is “taking ICOs mainstream” by opening pre-investment to 3 new funding projects, all of which are unrelated to the cryptocurrency market.

Disclaimer: This article is sponsored by Bitcoin PR Buzz.

Three Companies to Draw Attention to Blockchain Through OpenLedger ICOs

 

Boesing said that the three incoming ICOs will be fore Apptrade, Centz and Beyond the Void, all of which will reportedly attract institutional investors to the ICO funding method.

“Apptrade, Centz, and Beyond the Void all show applications of blockchain technology to mainstream audiences,” Boesing said. “By accelerating their ICO crowdfunding, we’ll accelerate the spread of ICO culture and practices as well.”

Apptrade brands itself as “the stock market of apps,” combining ICO investment with token trading to, according to OpenLedger, “revolutionize how the app industry gets funding.

In a press release, OpenLedger explained that Apptrade “helps publishers leverage their exposure with cross-marketing and collaborate funding via app portfolios.”

The platform competed in front of BitAngels investors this week at CoinAgenda.

Centz is a gift card service, making balances on all gift cards tradable for a specialized currency called “Centz Gold Bucks.” According to the service’s website, multiple gift cards can be lumped into one spendable sum on a mobile wallet, including cards with fractional balances. The comapny also claims to provide a “comprehensive approach” to security and fraud prevention.

Finally, Beyond the Void is an upcoming MOBA game that centers around battling spacecraft called “motherships.” The game will use a blockchain-based token system to facilitate buying and trading vanity items for player personalization. Developers told press that this item market will make up the game’s main revenue stream.

All three of these companies will launch ICOs on the OpenLedger cryptocurrency exchange, which has gained popularity in the blockchain community for hosting several high profile crowdfunding campaigns. The company recently began calling itself a “decentralized conglomerate” after adding services beyond cryptocurrency trading, including advertising, “blockchain talent,” and ICO marketing.  

Do you think these ICOs will draw mainstream attention? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of OpenLedger, Apptrade

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Říj 26

Only Permissioned Blockchains Can Transform Finance, Says Chain’s Ludwin

Source: bitcoin

Governance chain

Who really understands what a blockchain is? Could you explain it to your mother? Chain CEO Adam Ludwin got down to fundamentals yesterday, as he explained his company’s intention to transform financial services by digitizing already-existing assets.

Also read: Visa Introduces Blockchain-based Solution for Payment Services

Ludwin spoke on a Tuesday afternoon panel with at the Money 20/20 Conference in Las Vegas.

Blockchains Transform Finance From the Bottom Up

Adam Ludwin

Assets including U.S. dollars and Starbucks points could move on blockchains with greater efficiency and security, he said.

“A blockchain is actually a new type of database,” he said, adding that it’s a “boring” topic that only fills conference halls because it involves money and wealth. These aspects still have the power to transform financial services and thus society though, he added.

“A blockchain is like a digital network of safety deposit boxes, in the sky.”

You don’t have physical possession of a safety deposit box but you do have a key, he said. Anyone can have control of those keys, individuals and institutions.

Other (non-blockchain) FinTech models are trying to transform financial services from the top down, connecting back into existing infrastructure like banks. Blockchain, on the other hand, starts at the bottom of the stack, with the creation of the asset itself. Then it works up from there.

Bitcoin seeks to build a financial system completely outside any existing network, Ludwin said. When Bitcoin proponents talk about moving away from the dollar completely it sounded like “I’m going to get shotguns and bitcoins and go live in the mountains,” he quipped, adding that he still thinks Bitcoin is “great”.

Ludwin: Chain to Focus on Results, Not Hype Cycle

Most of what you’ll hear about Chain from now on will be from partner firms like VISA, he said. The company is moving out of the “hype cycle” and wants to focus on real-world results.

A day earlier, Chain also announced it is open-sourcing its platform, and published its technology roadmap for the next five years.

Moderator Robert Hackett of Fortune asked if there is any “snake oil” in the industry. Ludwin replied it’s good to see a Darwinian-style winnowing-down of those projects focusing on hype more than real outcomes — which is common in all tech sectors.

How Chain Moved from Bitcoin to Asset Chain Development

Chain launched in April 2014 as a company building Bitcoin APIs. The intent was to build tools to make life easier for Bitcoin developers. After demonstrating the technology to clients, however, they asked fundamental questions about how blockchains actually move value. And in doing so, they opened the Chain team’s eyes about how financial networks functioned.

“There’s a real problem in the market around asset movement,and security and custody, and it’s a much bigger and harder problem,” Ludwin said. Neither Bitcoin, Ethereum nor even Ripple was designed to solve this. Chain then put its heads down for two years to develop the technology it’s releasing right now.

What the Financial Services Industry Really Needs

Chain has sat down with executive-level employees at financial services firms to get a better understanding of their needs.

Their companies have proprietary assets (such as loyalty points) and they want to control the networks those assets move on, Ludwin said. They don’t see open, public blockchains as a viable option.

It’s important for networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum to remain decentralized, he said, because that’s the whole reason they exist. Permissioned blockchains are more about finding the least amount of centralization its participating entities need. Each node can control a different function in the consensus process.

Chain sees itself as halfway between existing financial infrastructure and the Bitcoin network, he said. The aim is to integrate with what exists rather than trying to replace everything.

Is Ludwin right about the nature of blockchains and how they can transform our world? Let’s hear your thoughts.


Images via: Money 20/20, Chain 

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Říj 26

Money 20/20: Visa, Chain Expand on B2B Connect

Source: bitcoin

B2B Products

On Sunday afternoon’s lead-off keynote address at the Money 20/20 Conference in Las Vegas, Visa and Chain joined to collectively promote their new, blockchain-inspired payments platform, B2B Connect.

Also read: Altcoin Report: Monero Shutting Down Until January

Visa and Chain Use Blockchain for B2B Transactions

Leveraging benefits from shared infrastructural ledger technology, including global scale, transparency, and cryptographically-backed security, the Visa B2B Connect product is built on Chain’s proprietary Chain Core software. The product will go live with a pilot in early 2017, though successful tests have already been conducted.

Vicky Bindra, Global Head of Products and Solutions at Visa, began by telling the story of how international payments today are rather clumsy. The compartmentalized nature of payment systems makes it difficult to identify when payments arrive at corresponding banks.

Traditionally, payment systems need to wait on a complex web of signed messages to cascade through banks and record, process, clear, reconcile, and settle in order to complete a transaction.

Speaking to this, Bindra pointed out that “It can take weeks to solve that issue, and cause a headache for buyers and suppliers looking to engage in international trade. . .and this in an environment where business expectations have sped up. We want things faster, we want to engage with consumers more quickly.”

Coupled with a recent explosion in international trade volumes, updating payment rails will likely alleviate these pressures and unleash unrealized business potential.

Speaking second, Adam Lubin, CEO of Chain, explained blockchain technology as part of a larger story in the evolution around how technology has impacted the ways by which goods, communication, and money has changed over time.

For example, with music, there has been a transition from raw music, to recorded music, to digitally stored music, to cloud-based streaming. Under each scenario here, music was involved yet what changed was the medium through which this moved.

As Mr. Lubin succinctly stated, “A blockchain enables a new medium for money.”

This news follows Western Union’s April announcement of a global, B2B platform for settling payments. Seeing a shipped product in the permissioned blockchain space is exciting news, as prototypes are beginning to transition from theory to reality.

Visa and Chain’s collaboration shows the potential of collaboration between Wall Street and Silicon Valley, and it is evident that the initiative will effect a wide array of customers worldwide given the vast network Visa works with.

What do you think about the VISA B2B connect platform?  Can VISA and Chain’s collaboration demonstrate future wins for permissioned blockchains? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Visa.

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Říj 25

Money20/20 Panel: Integrating Blockchain Into Mainstream Business

Source: bitcoin

Money20/20 Panel: Integrating Blockchain Into Mainstream Business

On Sunday afternoon at the Money20/20 Conference in Las Vegas, a panel of industry experts discussed the exciting potential of blockchain applications and the array of solutions being developed to meet the needs of a wide number of players. Panelists urged the packed auditorium to take a serious look at the quickly evolving cryptocurrency technology space, and honed in on the need to lower settlement costs and times.

Also read: Money 20/20: BitPay Announces New Mobile App

Much like the internet of the early 1990’s, blockchain applications can potentially open up an entirely new ecosystem for digital project deployment. Financial services firms are increasingly aware of this opportunity and issue.

Money 20/20 Panel: Which Mainstream Firms Use the Blockchain?

Overstock.com is one organization taking a lead in this realm. Through trading their stock on a blockchain, settlement times are reduced to 10 minutes. Judd Bagley, director of communications at Overstock, pointed out the power of exponential change ushered into the financial services industry by blockchain technology:

“Most tech changes only affect point marginally. This isn’t a small matter of degree, this is orders of magnitude difference. A 90% reduction in cost.”

Such cost reductions make a real business case for blockchain technology to financial services providers such as payment processors looking to cut costs.

By 2017, Overstock will have established a beachhead for blockchain-based equities trading, but will in-turn need to convince others to join the t0 platform. Through eliminating counter-party risk in times of panic, such as the Great Recession in 2008, or the Flash Crash of 2010, opposing parties can leverage shared ledgers to ensure the accountability of an opposing party.

Emmanuel Aidoo, Director of Investment Banking Technology at Credit Suisse, pointed out how much capital is stifled by being locked up in the slow, overhead intensive traditional systems. Credit Suisse has a lot of legacy in these traditional systems, and needs to figure out how to merge with blockchain in the with existing cloud and internal IT solutions.

Many industry players’ hard work is beginning to pay off, as blockchain technology applications have moved towards launches and direct proofs of value. For example, IBM is using blockchain technology to show that transparency provided through a blockchain enables for quicker dispute resolution in for food quality intake tracking on Chinese supply chains.

Jacob Farber sampled things through pointing out that all blockchain application can move beyond Bitcoin towards pointed gateway applications to be implemented within financial systems.

“We went from Bitcoin, what’s that? To, Bitcoin,watch it,” Farber said. “And now, to an assumption now that blockchain technology will be deployed, it’s just about how and where.”

Initiatives such as the R3 consortium, made up of over 50 banks, large financial institutions now collaborating on massive scales to research the potential applications of blockchain technology.

So where are we in the hype cycle, you may ask? Yolanda Goettsch, Vice President and Associate General Council at NASDAQ  was rather optimistic.

Estonia, for one, is a leader in collaborating for instituting blockchain applications, as shareholder voting in a use case in the NASDAQ-operated region. NASDAQ’s Linq platform already enabled a successful trade of shares from Chain.com to a private group of investors last December. Through eliminating processes that are done manually, reconciliation costs are lowered as peer-to-peer, real time information on a distributed ledger can increase efficiencies for many parties.

Furthermore, according to Goettsch, two-thirds of banks are working on commercializing blockchain tech by 2019, with many proof of concepts will go into production within the next 2 years, may take 5-8 years.

The panel painted a rather optimistic future for adoption of blockchain technology. Large players are rightfully looking towards the technology to offer a competitive advantage, increase security, and scale with the experimental blockchain infrastructure in development. Exciting questions are additionally raised around crowdfunding projects and their relation to these initiatives.

What are your thoughts about the increased adoption of blockchain technology? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Ryan Strauss.

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Money 20/20 Recap: Ethereum, Consumer Protection, Investment

Source: bitcoin

Money 20/20

On Monday afternoon at the Money20/20 Conference in Las Vegas, Ethereum lead developer Vitalik Buterin, and Don Tapscott, author of Blockchain Revolution, took center stage to speak to the groundbreaking potential of the Ethereum network.

Also read: Money 20/20: Cybersecurity Panel Praises Information Sharing to Reduce Cybercriminal Risks

Buterin started off by going over his history within the Bitcoin space, going back to when he first learned about the technology in 2011, and then his involvement in various “Bitcoin 2.0″ projects starting in 2013 and onward.

Bitcoin as a network is optimized to append the text-based list of who-has-what, Buterin said, not run complex applications on a distributed blockchain network. To answer this problem, he began creating the Ethereum network, where each node doubles as a virtual machine and can run applications on the native scripting language and cryptocurrency, called Ether.

Don Tapscott, Author of Blockchain Revolution, framed the narrative early. “The internet is entering a second era,” he said. “We’ve seen the internet of information for many days, and now we are seeing the internet of value.” As the internet evolves, traditional infrastructural technology in the financial sector needs updating to lower reconciliation and overhead costs.

Banking in the Age of Blockchain: Scalability and Immutability in Bitcoin and Ethereum

Banks are going to have to change, Buterin claimed, the technological developments in financial infrastructure are inevitable. Banks have to adopt in turn to oncoming decentralization technological pressures.

As Buterin put the ongoing struggle, “Automated contract execution has a lot of exciting applications in general.” Centralization in payments infrastructure is also a bad idea, Buterin argued, echoing, “with credit cards, this is an insane notion that to make a payment you have to give an actor your private keys.”

A major problem of  Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains is delay times due to an increasingly costly and crowded blockchain. With realistic scalability goals around 100,000’s of transactions per second, Ethereum would need to implement their Proof-of-Stake (POS) architecture to raise from the embryonic level of 15 transactions per second currently.

When discussing the possibility of redacting data from a blockchain solution, full-immutability may not service a societally beneficial purpose. Speaking to the notion that “Code is Law” and miners will have the final say over the networks, Buterin reiterated the final say that miners have over a given network, stating, “The fact is that you can 51% attack Ethereum or Bitcoin when you get that mining power. So you need to be realistic about where these systems stand today.”

At the end of Vitalik’s interview, Tapscott asked what the future holds for banks. “Are the banks toast?” he asked.

Buterin responded, “Toast, french toast!”

Panel Recap: Consumer Protection and Blockchain

In the second panel of the day, an all-star lineup consisting of former White House executive Jamie Smith, BTCC CEO Bobby Lee, and serial entrepreneur Eric Martindale spoke to the multi-faceted nature of blockchain technology.

Security and maintenance of the decentralized Bitcoin network is what gives the system finality, the panel established. In this sense, Bitcoin holds unique benefits, because the security on the extremely computationally intensive Bitcoin network enables for a secure list of who owns what to append without opportunity for redaction or recourse.

As Lee put it, “you can’t print more Bitcoin!”

The panel also raised an industry-wide problem, where as long as customers are not holding their own keys, then the companies who are managing funds on behalf of the customers essentially become centralized entities themselves in turn.

Bitcoin is not even in its 8th year, is still very young, and yet the Bitcoin blockchain itself is open to be compromised. Mr. Martindale echoed the paradigm shifting nature of these changes, stating, “These (blockchain) changes are exponential, we need to re-evaluate everything at a deep level, if you can sign with a private key then no authority can take that (capability) away from you.”

While advances in the space are occurring rapidly, it is important to remember that blockchain technology is a double edged sword. Especially as cybersecurity attacks take on increased sophistication, the blockchain space is writing history as the industry progresses. Jamie Smith detailed use cases that BitFury is undertaking with the Blockchain Trust Accelerator, including land titling in Georgia, vaccine dissemination in developing countries, and other solutions in the marketplace that can help in solving a social good.

Still, potential for Orwellian monitoring of transactions on a blockchain needs to be approached with caution.

“Everyone in the world will have a phone, and will have wifi, and if now people can transfer a digital asset for free, then what do we do about that?  We all need to ask themselves this,” said Mrs. Smith.

At the end of the talk, the panelists were asked to predict the price of Bitcoin in one year’s time. Eric Martindale thought a 10x growth to $6,000 per Bitcoin was in reach, but Bobby Lee saw things doubling.  Jamie Smith thought that the industry could do better with branding and communication, leveraging the human spirit to explain blockchain technology and Bitcoin succinctly and accurately to a wider audience.

Money 20/20 Panel Recap: Investing in Blockchain Technology

To round out the day, a team of experienced industry investors across the blockchain space discussed the investment environment in the industry. What is starting to emerge as a Linux-type operating system — geared towards hardcore techies —  blockchain investments have a rocky track record at best. In turn, the space needs more success stories to demonstrate narratives which show success stories of real-world implementation and show the power of investing in R&D development.

Past paradigm-shifting technological changes such as the radio or internet have evolved way beyond initial use cases to realize exponential growth.  In the blockchain space, the same opportunities exist, but lots of hard work is still to be done.

In the end, however, people are the ones accessing the code. As Meltem Demirors of the Digital Currency Group put it: “People are underlying everything. People, not technology.  So we need better tools and standards around how cryptocurrency is stored and how it is exchanged. . .The user experience in blockchain today is not very friendly.”

However, panelists brought up the sheer newness of blockchain technology — which may serve to ease worries over its ease of use problem.

Over time, the emergence of the internet plays into a larger story of value transfer online functions and evolves.  Protocols for compute, storage, and verification will make up different levels of the global blockchain networks. Innovations will likely take a decade or two to develop fully and at scale, but will simultaneously add infrastructural substance to managing the industry-wide deployment of blockchain technology. Just as the, TC/IP protocol took decades to emerge, Blockchain protocols will need to be designed to both proactively and reactively handle challenges faced from regulators and scammers alike.

Matt Roszak, Founding Partner of Tally Capital, spoke to the nascent nature of blockchain technology:

“We are no where near the hype cycle on blockchain. . .20%, maybe rounding up on this. . .This is a 1000x opportunity.  We have so much to build. Think about Uber in 1997, we needed to build so many things first to have Uber in 2007.  We will need billions of dollars more in investment to move things on the rails that are blockchain”

Building equity trading directly into these protocols will enable for their proliferation. Eventually blockchains can make a huge impact and jump old tech just like mobile phones did.

Overall, the panels showed the growing interest in cryptocurrency among the wider financial services and FinTech crowd.  Blockchain and cryptocurrency remain hot topics at the event.  Coders, industry players, and investors alike are thinking along similar long term lines with a vision towards adopting blockchain technology into a wider set of walls.

It won’t be an easy ride, but discussion between industry leaders is helping to pave the path for future collaborations.

What do you think about Vitalik Buterin’s comments on Ethereum? What takeaway themes were these from the other two panels featured here? Share your thoughts in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Ryan Strauss, Ethereum.org.

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Money 20/20 Recap: Ethereum, Consumer Protection, Investment

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Western Union Launches B2B Platform for Global Payments

Source: bitcoin

Western Union

At the Money20/20 conference in Copenhagen, Western Union announced the launch of the WU EDGE platform, designed to provide increased transaction channels and analytics opportunities for Western Union small and middle-sized business clients. The Enterprise Digital Global Exchange (EDGE) is the new Western Union business-to-business digital platform which will make buying and selling overseas much more seamless and cheap.

Also read: How to Implement the Blockchain in Financial Institutions

Western Union Borrows From the Blockchain

Given Western Union’s scale, the platform aims help business owners in the developing and developed worlds alike. Speaking to the potential impact of the platform, Kerry Agiasotis, President of Western Union Business Solutions, commented, ““WU EDGE technology will enable hundreds of thousands of businesses across the world to easily engage in global trade, potentially enabling them to grow, invest and deliver the jobs of the future. We view ourselves as business partners to our SME customers and we are proud to offer this platform to them.”

While not blockchain-based, the WU Edge seems to be applying lessons from distributed ledger technology. Through providing a centralized data collection space with global integration and reach, small and medium sized businesses will now be able to view their accounting data in a single location, thereby forgoing barriers traditionally present in integrating foreign or disparate data systems. Initial partners can additionally invite existing or new partners to trade globally and interact with them in real-time on WU Edge, which should help expand it’s use and lead to growth in international business offerings and trade.

Western Union’s announcement gives hope that the outdated and silo-based global financial architecture is evolving. Hundreds of thousands of businesses have less than fully realized business potential due to local technological and regulatory standards, disparate currencies, time lags, and burdensome fees. The traditional players can significantly help overcome these problems and bridge previously disconnected business avenues. WU Edge, for example, will operate in over 130 currencies in and 200 countries and territories. The platform also promises to provide “near real-time” service for 22 currencies, becoming real-time for 49 currencies within a few months from launch.

WU Edge will go-live on April 11th in six initial markets: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom and United States. The platform will be available in other select markets in 2016.

What do you think about Western Union’s announcement? Can traditional players continue to have an impact on the quickly evolving payments space? How can Western Union apply the Blockchain’s lessons even further? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Western Union

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Western Union Launches B2B Platform for Global Payments

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The Vanbex Report: Bitcoin’s Battlefronts

Source: bitcoin

Vanbex Report

April 5, 2016 — Trying to decide if Bitcoin is a currency or an investment is not unlike trying to discern whether light is a particle or a wave. The correct answer of course is, it’s both. Bitcoin faces a multitude of battlefronts that may obstruct it from further pushing into the mainstream, as a universally accepted currency.

The Vanbex Report is a periodic summary of the blockchain industry’s top news stories from the biggest companies, as well as the most promising newcomers.

Bitcoin’s Battlefronts

Whether from within, externally, or fundamentally, through design or accident, Bitcoin is up against the real-world pressures of accommodating to wide-spread use. Most notable is the question of scalability, which, if left unsolved, will almost certainly spell disaster for the invention of Satoshi Nakamoto.

Positive news arrived last week with the announcement of a $900,000 Bitcoin Developer Fund for MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative, the institution’s first foray into the Bitcoin and blockchain world.

The money, which came from a range of Bitcoin-related (or dependent) companies will help fuel the continued work of Bitcoin Core developer Cory Fields, former Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Gavin Andresen and current Bitcoin Core lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan. The trio arrived under the wing of MIT last August, a saving grace from the funding constrictions as a result of the Bitcoin Foundation’s collapsing profitability.

Motherboard’s Christopher Galmo wrote a good piece on the $900k announcement titled, “To Survive Long Term, Bitcoin Needs a Break from the Real World.”

However, in it Malmo concludes, “Taking it off the line and into the academic realm could just be the shot in the arm that bitcoin needs to move forward with new ideas.” He further states earlier in the article, “To move forward, it may just need a place to grow without these real-world constraints.”

The problem is that the slew of issues — the battlefronts — Bitcoin is up against will not suddenly cease, not to mention a key competitor currently surging in popularity (See Related articles) coupled with backing from a particular tech giant.

The crucial thing, as Van der Laan told CoinDesk in late January, “The time of discussion and planning is over for now and we need to move on with actually realizing the roadmap.”

But let’s first backtrack a bit.

In Cyprus, in 2013, amid the banking crisis, many Greek citizens looked to Bitcoin as a means of placing their money in a place the government could not reach.

Put your feet in the shoes of government then and it’s quite clear why they would be hard pressed to accept an alternate unit of account or exchange as a viable option alongside their own sovereign fiat.

The Cyprus episode catapulted the cryptocurrency to new heights, as Guillaume Babin-Tremblay, executive director of the Bitcoin Embassy in Montreal, Que iterated.

“Bitcoins were growing slowly until Cyprus. Cyprus was the catalyst for the big increase in the price,” said Babin-Tremblay, as quoted by Kitco News.

The price sat at $40 per Bitcoin and then doubled within a couple of days, according to Babin-Tremblay, with Kitco News reporting, “Prices pushed towards $200, but dropped to about $60 after the banking crisis abated.”

Bitcoin offered Cypriots, who were at risk of having assets seized by the Central Bank of Cyprus, a place to put their money outside the reach of governments.

China, Argentina, Iceland and Russia, with their slumping economy the target of international sanctions and duly battered by the collapse in commodity prices, are all home to economies that have fomented a need for investors to seek an alternative vehicle of investment.

Right or wrong, this action, moving currency out of the domestic system, affects economic stability. Growth is also hindered when citizens move funds offshore for the obvious reasons that that money no longer feeds the national economy through taxation, consumer spending or on-hand capital for banks.

This is what investment in Bitcoin is tantamount to and, hence, the opposition to the cryptocurrency and the ensuing legislative battles.

The above example is also demonstrative of how and why a digital currency gains value and can experience intense volatility.

It’s quite circular in nature.

On one hand, it’s about demand, which in turn feeds the purchasing power of a currency. On the other hand, demand for investment in a particular currency oftentimes has to do with its purchasing power or value on the world market, otherwise, why invest?

Venezuela is an interesting example. There is projections its economy could inflate by 700 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund. This is the highest inflation rate in the world. The collapsing economy has driven entrepreneurs to Bitcoin as their preferred payment method.

This type of economic environment feeds demand for the cryptocurrency.

But the cryptocurrency is struggling to make a decisive choice. Relevancy as a legitimate currency, crypto- or otherwise, hangs in the balance with governments bearing down.

Pundits discuss Bitcoin’s prowess with a $6.3 billion market cap, compared to Ethereum’s cryptocurrency which, in second place, makes up just below $900 million in market cap at the time of writing this piece.

However, value, as we’ve seen in Bitcoin’s own history, is relative. Governance is needed; action is needed, as Van der Laan had espoused.

For the digital currency to move forward, beyond its current state of ambiguity the realization that a decentralized currency functioning via a laissez-faire environment or attitude does nothing to produce the most efficient, effective and secure monetary system.

The most talked of issue plaguing Bitcoin at the moment is the block size debate.

At the current 1MB size, by design it was supposed to take around 10 minutes. Under current conditions, this timeframe can stretch to anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. We know the time it takes in comparison with a credit card and so on.

Whether the delayed transaction time is a result of mining centralization in China is another debatable subject, just as the topic of the centralization of the mining network to the overall goal of Bitcoin itself is subject for discourse.

Bitcoin’s relevancy hangs in the winds of innovation and real-world action.

The $900,000 injection from Bitcoin-based companies is a small price to pay to resuscitate their lifeline, a cryptocurrency that commands billions and in which their enterprises are based, for the most part.

It all can evaporate, diminish just as Blackberry’s North American dominance vanished in the wake of competition.

Returning to Venezuela: Consider why citizens would select Bitcoin versus any of the alternatives. It has nothing to do with computational algorithms of the cryptocurrency; it has everything to do with the current store in value presupposed by demand.

Bitcoin’s core developers must start to fight through the battlefronts, and soon, otherwise Mike Hearn’s parting words will run as true as any tautology ever could.

As we know demand for a product is never guaranteed in this fiercely competitive environment and the items that plague Bitcoin, both internal and external, could spell its decline.

Some news stories from this past week:

U.S., Global Regulators Move Toward Regulatory Framework

FinTech industry gaining traction as agencies seek education, further assessment

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an independent arm of the U.S. Department of the Treasury responsible for administering the federal banking system, announced the desire to begin building a new FinTech framework that will help foster and develop the fast-growing industry.

On Thursday, the OCC released a whitepaper entitled “Supporting Responsible Innovation in the Federal Banking System,” which outlined the current state of the industry and discussed the development of a framework to “identify and evaluate” financial innovation, part of which involves education and dialogue.

Thomas Curry, U.S. Comptroller of Currency, said, “The OCC will approach innovation with our eyes wide open to the attendant risks, but also an open mind to promising new ideas and new technology.”

This shift in U.S. regulatory mindset comes alongside news global regulators are also looking to better manage the FinTech industry.

The Financial Stability Board meeting in Tokyo on Thursday agreed to examine the industry in components and begin assessing the potential risks within the main pockets of the FinTech ecosystem.

“The important thing for us as members of the FSB is to be moving in parallel with these developments and not be stifling innovation, but being able to apply them in a way that improves the resilience of the system,” said FSB Chairman and governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney said, as reported by Reuters.

Reuters further reported, paraphrasing Carney as stating, policy intervention by other authorities such as in competition, conduct and consumer protection, would need come before any financial stability considerations.

Also Read: Supprorting Responsible Innovation (Whitepaper)

Hyperledger Project Elects New Leadership, Gains New Members

Elections see Digital Asset CEO and IBM’s Ferris assume key roles as chairpersons

The Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort created to advance blockchain technology with an aim toward establishing an open-source platform, elected new leadership and gained new investment.

Appointments made by member vote saw Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, named as board chair. Additionally, Chris Ferris, engineer and CTO of open technology at IBM, was appointed as chair of the technical steering committee (TSC).

The blockchain initiative also acquired 10 new companies to join in on the collaborative effort, a list which includes Blockstream and Bloq as well as eVue Digital Labs, Gem, itBit, Milligan Partners, Montran Labs, Ribbit.me, Tequa Creek Holdings and Thomson Reuters.

See Hyperledger.org for the list of TSC and Governing Board members.

Israel’s FinTech Hub Finally Gets a Permanent Residence
Based in the heart of Tel Aviv, The Floor lands in Stock Exchange

The Floor, Israel’s first FinTech hub established in 2015, has secure a permanent place of residence, landing in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in an 800 square meter leased property.

The hub secured $250 million from the Pando Group last year, a Chinese-backed venture capital fund based in the Virgin Islands.

At the start of March it was also announced Banco Santander had joined with HSBC, Intesa Sanpaolo and RBS to support The Floor, which opens officially this June.

The Floor is dubbed as a place to trade FinTech ideas with a proposed vision of providing partners and members “with value by nurturing innovation capable of delivering brilliant solutions to the global financial industry while securing Israel’s position as a prominent Fintech capital.”

The initiative is an interesting arrangement in that it will connect Israeli FinTech innovation with China.

Also Read: Support the Floor – Santander InnoVentures Press Release

Some Upcoming Events …

Smart Contracts, Blockchain & Data Standards

A free half-day FinTech forum hosted by XBRL US will be held on Apr. 4 in New York City. Speakers from Consensys, ItBit, Markit, Nasdaq, Safeguard Scientifics will be featured. For more information visit:

Money 20/20 Europe

Touted as an “experience for European innovators” and “catalyst for the growth and development of the payments and financial services ecosystem.” To register go to: money2020europe.com/register-2016. Event runs Apr. 4 – 7.

Coinfest 2016

Coinfest, coined as Canada’s crypto-holiday, is celebrating this year’s event across multiple cities worldwide. Events will include geographically decentralized activities such as the International Hangout and the Decentralized Arcade, which allow mass participation on a global scale. The event will be held Apr. 5 – 10. For more information visit Coinfest.org.

Innovate Finance: Global Summit 2016

The Innovate Finance Global Summit will champion and celebrate the latest developments in FinTech at the historical heart of financial services in London. The summit will feature bepsoke sessions, VIP keynotes and more. Conference is Apr. 11 with tickets available through Eventbrite.

Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technology

The conference will bring together, Apr. 13 – 14, an unparalleled faculty of in-house counsel and compliance professionals, senior executives from industry-leading companies, high-level regulatory and enforcement officials, and top outside counsel. For more information visit, AmericanConference.com.

Press Contact: Kevin Hobbs

Email: K@vanbex.com

Telephone: (604) 379-9032

Written By Brandon Kostinuk

The post The Vanbex Report: Bitcoin’s Battlefronts appeared first on Bitcoinist.net.

The Vanbex Report: Bitcoin’s Battlefronts

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