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Japanese Messaging App LINE Positioning Itself As Leader In Blockchain and Crypto Space – Forbes

(Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images)

Enterprise blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption has been peeking in 2019 with news constantly filtering through of major Western powers such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, and other tech companies exploring space.

Advancements such as Facebook looking to create its own cryptocurrency, and JPMorgan and Wells Fargo also piloting their cross-border payments, have been heralded as revolutionary. However, there are other companies out of the western media that are doing far more to position themselves as leaders in the ever-growing space of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

One company that has been pushing the limits in recent times is Japans leading messaging app LINE. Not only was it one of the first publicly traded companies to launch a proprietary blockchain mainnet with its own cryptocurrency, it recently opened the doors on its exchange BITMAX.

The latter move by LINE was especially important as the app, which boasts 81 million users, has achieved the full backing of the Japanese Financial Services Agency, the watchdog that has cracked down on exchanges in the country following the hacks of Mt. Gox and Coincheck.

LINE have moved fast with their own blockchain, token, and now exchange, but this is all part of their ongoing plans to be well placed for the next technological fintech wave that will include both cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Looking ahead

Brian Lee - Manager of Global Corporate Affairs, LVC Corporation - has said that both blockchain and cryptocurrency require substantial time and financial investment if the messaging app is to be well positioned in the coming decade or so.

Regarding fintech, including cryptocurrency, we recognize that a substantial investment over several years is necessary, Lee told The Daily Chain. We need to be fast in order to be a leader within this field, with early investment the key to innovation and success. Once we are established, we anticipate that fintech services like cryptocurrency will provide stable revenues for a long time to come.

Regarding blockchain specifically, we regard blockchain as a disruptive technology that enables users and services to exchange value and enhance transparency between one another, with cryptocurrency a kind of investing business for the future that utilizes blockchain-based systems.

Applying this kind of new technology into the fintech area, we can actualize innovation in various ways. For example, using blockchain technology, we can analyze user behavior patterns. We can use data to enhance our credit service by further developing our LINE Score offering. We can also apply this blockchain framework to provide incentive to users who contribute to the development of services.

I followed up with Lee to understand LINEs move within the nascent space and to understand how they see the integration of cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

It will take several years for banks, securities, and other conventional financial services to work together with blockchain, which is why right now we are focusing on the blockchain business and other financial services. When the technology advances further we imagine the possibility of a crossover between conventional financial services and blockchain technology, Lee told me.

Being regulatory sure

One big important aspect of the launch from LINE has been their intention to be fully regulated, especially in light of Japans intense pressure on exchanges. Of course, being a well established enterprise there was never any doubt as to the company seeking full regulatory clarity, and this was expressed in the quick turn around from the approval to the launch.

We maintain regular communication with the FSA in order to ensure that we comply with all the necessary rules and regulations, Lee added. As an operator in the online space, LINE places the utmost importance in reaching the highest standards to ensure that user trust, privacy, and security is protected.

With specific reference to cryptocurrency, we collaborate with BitGo Inc., which provides the highest international standard of wallet services, to deliver the most robust and secure service to our users. We also leverage a wealth of internal expertise, particularly in the field of encryption, in order to ensure secure provision of our wallet service.

On the course for more

With Lee explaining that LINE is committed to working in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space for the foreseeable future, it is interesting to plot its journey, and to speculate where it is going next.

With a mainnet blockchain, cryptocurrency and exchange, the foundations are laid for LINE to be a true driving enterprise force in the ecosystem, but they are not quite ready to explain what is next in the pipeline.

With the launch of BITMAX, our current aim is to provide a secure service to users. We forecast that cryptocurrency will form a linchpin of future infrastructure, and intend to continue developing our crypto-related services placing the utmost importance on security. Any announcements regarding LINK coin, or other crypto services and products, will be made at the appropriate time, Lee concluded.

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Japanese Messaging App LINE Positioning Itself As Leader In Blockchain and Crypto Space - Forbes

Could Blockchain Help the Cannabis Industry? Were About to Find Out – Observer

A Uruguayan cannabis company has announced it will track marijuana sales via blockchain. But is it really necessary? RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages

Blockchain at times can feel like a very large, very inchoate Rube Goldberg machine. The security advantages of decentralization and encryption for sensitive data are obvious, but why employ a peer-to-peer distributed ledger to record simple or mundane tasks unlikely to be targets of hackers or other malfeasance? Because its coolor because its cool and it works, in the case of the blockchain-based tracking solution soon to be employed by Montevideo-based cannabis company Uruguay Can.

Blockchain has many fans in the drug policy reform world for the very simple reason that, until quite recently, blockchain was a viable technique to mask drug transactions from authorities. (It was not for the cool factor that Bitcoin was Silk Roads coin of the realm.) Blockchain may yet be the bedrock on which solutions to the American cannabis industrys banking woes are built (though its more likely that big centralized banks will start taking cannabis business accounts first).

SEE ALSO: Whats Wrong With Genetically Modified Marijuana?

In the meantime, blockchains value as a tracking tool will be tested by Aeternity, which announced on September 25 that it would be creating a blockchain-based supply chain management platform for Uruguay Can, which producers both medical and recreational cannabis.

In a press release, the company said blockchain would allow the registration and tracking of cannabis strains from the seed to the final product which ensures consumer safety while complying with regulations, according to AeternityCEO Pablo Coirolo.

In theory, using blockchain to track a cannabis plants progression from seedling to cured and saleable product would make it more difficult for a bad actor to inject bad product into the supply chain, and more difficult for anyone to fudge the decentralized ledger. Thus, the end users should be more assured of the validity of the data they are receiving about the cannabis theyre consuming, particularly if they are using a device thats on the blockchainthey are also the holder of that data, not an institution or third party.

The ability to trace the source and the way cannabis is produced is beneficial for both the cannabis and pharmaceutical industry as well as its consumers and end users, who should feel more secure about the product that they are consuming, Uruguay Can CEO Eduardo Blasina said in a press release.

OK, but why do this? Is it necessary, or is this just an SEO-friendly solution in search of a problem? From whom, exactly, must this data be kept safe and secure, and why isnt the governmentwhich has been inspecting and assuring food and drug safetyup to the task?

In the United States, several states mandate cannabis companies to track the progress of their supply chain from seed to sale to ensure that cannabis grown under legal protections doesnt end up on the underground market. This doesnt really work all that wellthe black market in the United States is still colossalbut whether thats because regulations are too strict and legal cannabis too expensive, or because its an impossible and unwieldy task using the wrong technology depends on who you ask and is a query outside the power of this brief item to answer.

Blockchain might do this task better, but decentralizing the data chain wouldnt necessarily preclude unscrupulous operators from declaring a batch of product bad and destroyed when its really being sold off-marketthats a job for regulators. And there has yet to be evidence of a bad cannabis company altering data to put out bad productthey just put it out.

Theres also the open question of why this is necessary for such a tiny cannabis market. Uruguay is a country about half the population of Los Angeles. Uruguay is important in the marijuana world because it became the first country in the world in 2013 to legalize recreational cannabis for adultswho can buy cannabis at licensed pharmaciesbut the market remains extremely small. Small enough to track on Google Sheets, or whatever solution a mid-sized American company is employing.

The country boasts fewer than 40,000 customers. Only about 3,000 kilograms of flower have been consumed since sales began, according to official figures, although there is a nascent export market: Uruguayan companies have begun exporting medical cannabis flower to other countries. Up to 100 kilograms a month may eventually be shipped overseas from the South American nation, as Marijuana Business Daily reported.

But again, if quality and security need to be established or verified by official government inspectors anyway, and theyre not using blockchain, what is the utility of putting such data on a decentralized ledger?

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Could Blockchain Help the Cannabis Industry? Were About to Find Out - Observer

Overstock.com Hones In On Blockchain Identity With Medici Ventures And Evernym Partnership – Forbes

(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

Overstock.com, one of the original Bitcoin-believer companies, has had a long and storied history in its evolution with blockchain technology. The company, and it's blockchain subsidiary Medici Ventures, are in an interesting point of flux at the moment with former CEO Patrick Byrne stepping down and president of Medici Ventures, Jonathan Johnson, taking over.

While Byrne was the face of Overstock's Bitcoin fascination, Johnson has been at the coal face of getting the company heavilyinvested in blockchain business. Medici Ventures has been incubating a family of companies which it labels as a Keiretsu a Japanese term describing companies with interlocking interests.

Now, adding to that, and honing in one of its six key areas of focus - identity - Medici Ventures has participated in Evernym's recent Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), which entitles Medici Ventures to convert its interest in the SAFE to preferred stock in Evernym's future, priced round of equity financing.

Medici allocated $2 million to help the company continue to bring blockchain-based identity products into production, with Johnson explaining that this signals a growing intent by the company to invest into blockchain identity as a critical area of focus.

Focusing on Identity

The business model seen by Overstock and its expansion into Medici Ventures has been a noteworthy one as it is quite unique. The separation of Overstock and Medici, and then the further breakdown into the Keiretsu companies is something that has not been seen from high-level enterprises.

Looking deeper into it, Johnson spoke with me about Medici Venture's short to mid-term ambitions and how this latest move has them upping the ante on blockchain identity - something seen as potentially revolutionary.

"We have two main initiatives for both the short and mid-term focus of Medici Ventures," explained Johnson. First, supporting the companies that are in the Medici Ventures family. This includes support with software development, management, recruiting, public relations, and fundraising as requested by the leadership at those companies."

"We believe we have found the best in breed in each of our six areas of focus (Identity, Land Titling, Banking & Currency, Capital Markets, Supply Chain, Voting) with Evernym squarely filling out the Identity focus.

"Our second initiative is to build out our Government as a Service offering, which ties the service providers in each of our focuses together to offer a full menu for governments to choose where they would like to increase efficiency, reduce redundancy, and provide transparency in their services."

The breakdown of Overstock, and Medici Ventures', blockchain involvement by Johnson, appears to be expanding rapidly even under the new management. Even back in 2018, there was signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority and the Rwanda Information Society Authority. The MoU will be aimed at implementing the company's blockchain-based land management technology to the context of Rwanda.

Linking identity to governments

Johnson goes on to show how these two sides of Medici Ventures coin are interlinked with blockchain identity often spoken about in the same breath as voting, governmental initiatives, and citizen registration and identity.

"One of Medici Ventures' areas of focus is in the identity space," added Johnson. "Identity is core to the other services we plan to integrate in a Government as a Service product built on the technology stack for civilization."

"Evernym is bridging the gap between the traditional siloed approach to identity and true self-sovereign identity. We have finally found the last piece of our tech stack puzzle. Evernym's approach to identity is aligned with Medici Ventures' vision of bringing individuals trust through technology."

"Medici Ventures and its companies are focused on bringing blockchain-based products into production to democratize capital, eliminate middlemen, and re-humanize commerce."

"Medici Ventures has been focusing in the identity space for quite some time, so this is a continuation of the direction we plotted for Medici Ventures from the beginning. Everything finally fell into place for Medici Ventures and Evernym to come together," the new Overstock.com CEO also added.

A driving force

Because of Overstock's history within the Bitcoin and then blockchain space, it is a company - an enterprise - that has a lot more experience than others in implementing and growing the blockchain ecosystem.

The success and expansion of Medici Ventures have been visible in the last few years and is relatively unique and pioneering in its approach. If it will be the leader in years to come is yet to be seen, but in this experimental phase of the technology, Medici is doing a lot in several different sectors to find the killer application of blockchain.

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Overstock.com Hones In On Blockchain Identity With Medici Ventures And Evernym Partnership - Forbes

How Blockchain Is Affecting The Marketing And Advertising Industry – Forbes

If youve been a CMO for the past five years, you remember those times when entrepreneurs looked at blockchain through hype-filled eyes. Some regarded it as an opportunity to make big bucks, while others were scared of the Wild West label that the media put on crypto markets due to their free regulation.

Ultimately, this kind of hype has largely died down. Yes, the global blockchain technology market is expected to climb to over $23.3 billion by 2023 (paywall), but I believe this is because businesses are shifting their gaze toward completely different purposes: redefining advertising and marketing processes, management, accounting and communications with users. In 2019, almost no one I know confuses blockchain with bitcoin, and this is the first and foremost of blockchain's accomplishments with which we should begin.

When we look at global service industries, advertising stands out: Digital ad spending worldwide could reach a total of $427.26 billion by 2022. Still, it is an area affected by fraud and insufficient transparency. From that standpoint, we have yet to gain great efficiency.

Blockchain Startups In Advertising: Now And Then

Advertising fraud can take a severe toll on advertising income, to the tune of an estimated $6.5 billion in losses in 2017. But in 2017, some of the first blockchain-based advertising projects were also getting press and seemed promising for resolving issues of fraud.

Stage two, the year 2018, proved the great potential and willingness of companies to invest more money into blockchain projects. That's when Toyota managed to raise its site visits by 21% (paywall) with help from a blockchain analytics company. AB InBev also ran blockchain-enabled ad campaigns for several beer companies in 2018. Around the same time, Google Trends illustrated a peak in searches for "blockchain advertising."

The outcome of this is tremendous growth; by 2019, research from Never Stop Marketing (via VentureBeat) showed that the number of blockchain marketing companies multiplied to a total of 290. In 2017, the landscape featured only 22 companies. Altogether, these projects belong to various areas in which marketing could benefit from further innovation, including social media, data, e-commerce and programmatic advertising.

Big names like Unilever, Kelloggs and Kimberly-Clark joined a consortium for ad-buying blockchain solutions last year in order to eliminate middlemen and enable buyers to audit advertising spending. Additionally, MetaX mergedads.txt (a register of authorized sellers) with Ethereum in order to make media-buying transparent on an inventory level. Recently, startups like Lucidity have worked to create "advertising supply chain transparency which should reduce fraud and minimize reconciliation discrepancies."

How Blockchain Can Reshape Advertising

Lets recall why AdTech reached out to blockchain in the very beginning. Digital advertising is based on an open system fueled by Internet connections. This openness creates immense media-trading opportunities, but it also creates gaps and a lack of transparency in the media supply chain. These challenges make the entire ecosystem vulnerable to fraud. With no source of consistent information and no centralized marketplace, digital advertising lacks a common data source that could identify and prevent fraud.

Blockchain creates a distributed database that can serve as a single source of truth about ad impression for both demand and supply partners. Think of it as of huge database that constitutes all data related to advertising. All related kinds of actions and information are automatically recorded on the distributed ledger. Within the chain, demand and supply partners can detect questionable activities and delete the wrongdoer. It is exactly the event-level transparency basis for which we all strive, and this is what we as entrepreneurs and marketing leaders should use to redefine our business relationships in the long-term.

What It Means For CMOs

By creating tools that enforce trust along the advertising chain, CMOs can restore dollars back to the working media side. By adding a blockchain ledger to their systems, CMOs can ensure better accountability for all internal processes, not only those related to media-buying. For example, your team can use event-level data and cryptographic transaction verification to create a new safety layer and secure automatic information processing when breaches occur.

You can also use the blockchain to track and help customers understand how your business handles their data and tracks their activities. This way, they can trust you and feel at ease with your business practices.

Overcoming Challenges

When obstacles associated with a regulatory framework are left in the past, CMOs face a new kind of challenge -- learning how to combine profitability and privacy. So far, its largely been a one-way street. Websites collect user data and sell it to advertisers, who then use it for the purposes of advertising personalization.

Entrepreneurs, startups, publishers and advertisers should direct their efforts toward rewarding user attention in exchange for their data usage, which is especially important in regard to the General Data Protection Regulation.

Like every great work, it won't be easy. Advertising entities will need to redefine their approach to hiring and the day-to-day workflow if they incorporate blockchain into their advertising approach. For this, they will have to attract specialists in both advertising and blockchain and partner up with publishers who understand the significance of fair play for every participant of the advertising process, including users.

Will this all be embodied in the next wave of user-rewarding startups, or should we expect existing advertising companies to reform from the inside? In either case, I expect that it won't be a matter of function but rather of form in which changes will arrive, and only the future will show which one will be taking root in digital advertising.

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How Blockchain Is Affecting The Marketing And Advertising Industry - Forbes

Will Facebook’s Libra Overtake Bitcoin Cryptocurrency And The Ethereum Blockchain? How Will It Work? – Forbes

Trust is the fundamental element in business transactions. It is what keeps economies and societies functioning. Throughout history, we have managed to build complex institutions from legislative, judicial, law enforcement to banks and various financial institutions to enable trust in commercial transactions. We also invented tools such as fiat money, bonds, stocks and contracts to guarantee the successful execution of business transactions.

And then came Bitcoin and its blockchain technology that allowed two parties to exchange value with trust without legislative institutions, fiat money, banks or contracts. It is, simply, a revolutionary technology. This is probably why blockchain was hyped as the next generation of the internet that will create the programmable economy.

(Full disclosure: I own bitcoins and have a small investment in Facebook.)

Despite the many successful implementations of blockchain, it has not been as transformational and didnt generate the much-hyped benefits.

One reason is that blockchains are implemented as disconnected solutions with no foundational protocols such as TCP/IP, HTTP and HTML that created the internet revolution. Additionally, no single blockchain network emerged as the dominant one that would offer a multitude of business services to produce the desired transformational benefits.

Enter Facebooks Libra cryptocurrency and blockchain.

On June 18th, Facebook announced the Libra blockchain and cryptocurrency, which raised many questions: What is Libra and how will it work? Is it a cryptocurrency? Is it a blockchain? Will it overtake Bitcoin and Ethereum? Will consumers trust it? What is its potential? Whats in it for Facebook? And will Libra become the unifying and transformational blockchain that everyone was hoping for?

The Libra whitepaper holds some answers to the above questions, including how it will be governed. Libra will be launched by the Libra Association, which is an independent, nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Libra will be governed and controlled by this association and will be independent of Facebook. It is currently composed of 28 organizations.

The key difference between Libra and Bitcoin is the permissionless versus permissioned blockchain. Simply put, a permissionless blockchain implies that anyone with the right hardware infrastructure can apply the mining protocols and participate in validating transactions and in becoming a validating node on the Bitcoin network. Currently, Bitcoin has over 9,500 nodes, which enabled it to withstand the test of time and produce an immutable, distributed and secure ledger.

In contrast, Libra is going to be a permissioned blockchain that is centralized where its consensus mechanism, software and governance are controlled by Libra Association members who are the only ones permitted to validate transactions. At launch, the Libra blockchain will have 100 permissioned organizations. Visa, Mastercard, Uber, Vodafone and Spotify are among the founding companies of the Libra Association.

So, is Libra a cryptocurrency with a blockchain like bitcoin?

Well, Libra applies many of the same building blocks and concepts as Bitcoin. It uses a blockchain, cryptography, digital wallets, anonymous accounts, smart contracts and the gas concept with a new programming language called "Move." This makes Libra more like Ethereum than Bitcoin.

Libra will be implemented as a stable cryptocurrency by pegging it to a basket of low volatility assets such as the dollar, euro, yen and bonds, and through creating the Libra Reserve. This reserve allows the 100-node consortium to mint and destroy Libras as needed and based on demand. So, when customers buy Libra coins using dollars, those dollars are put into the reserve that is then invested in low volatility assets. This fund concept is missing from Bitcoin and Ethereum, which leads to their price swings and speculations and makes Libra a powerful contender to Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptos.

Libra is also being architected with some advantages over traditional cryptocurrencies. It will consume far less electricity than Bitcoin and is touted to have a higher throughput of 1,000 transactions per second (TPS) compared to bitcoins seven TPS and Ethereums 15 TPS.

It also promises to make sending money across the globe as easy as texting and will have very low fees compared to close to 5% of the transaction value of international wire transfers.

Furthermore, Libra has the potential of helping many of the 1.7 billion unbanked to enter the global financial system. It could trigger a wave of innovation in financial services as much as the internet did for online services. These are some remarkably important advantages for Libra that could possibly offer the transformation that has been expected from blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

With Facebooks 2.4 billion users across the globe, Libra has the potential of transcending governments and central banks and possibly becoming an international digital currency. If Facebooks users adopt Libra to shop, transfer money and transact, it could make Facebook one of the most powerful financial institutions in the world. That would herald a consumer revolution but could also make financial systems less stable and reduce governments economic sovereignty, writes The Economist.

Its clear that Facebooks Libra has legs but also some serious challenges. Aside from the technological challenges of delivering the Libra network with the advertised throughput, security and smart contracts, there are questions on whether a 100-node blockchain network can be immune to global outages and to denial of service attacks.

In addition, how will a 100-node permissioned blockchain move into a permissionless one within the planned five years, and maintain the promised 1,000 TPSs? Will consumers accept it as a slower alternative to credit card processing that is at some 1,700 TPS? Finally, it is not clear when Libra will be available and how will it be rolled out.

But, more importantly, Facebook needs the blessing of governments across the globe and the trust of its customers. These are two enormous obstacles that Facebook would need to overcome. It is by this fundamental trust from governments and from consumers that would define the future of Libra and possibly of Facebook. So, can Facebook address these two trust problems and use Libra to solve its own low level of trust from consumers and governments?

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Will Facebook's Libra Overtake Bitcoin Cryptocurrency And The Ethereum Blockchain? How Will It Work? - Forbes

Exploring cryptocurrency and blockchain in Iceland – Penn: Office of University Communications

Imagine a hairdryer running on high, continuously, for 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The energy it drainsabout 40 kilowatts per hourequals what one extremely powerful specialized computer uses to mine cryptocurrency. A single six-building data center outside a small town in northern Iceland houses nearly 30,000 of these machines.

That town of about 900 people, called Blndus, uses about 1,500 kilowatts of energy per hour, on average. The data center uses 32,000, says Zane Griffin Talley Cooper, a doctoral student in Penns Annenberg School for Communication. That data center also has its own dedicated connection to the nearby hydroelectric power plant, which itself is growing in anticipation of industrial expansion into northern Iceland.

On its face, Iceland seems an ideal setting for the fast-growing cryptocurrency industry. The country uses 100% renewable energy thats relatively cheap to access. Its climate acts as a natural coolant for continuously running machines that heat up quickly. And to date, the political environment there has mostly welcomed this industry.

But despite those facts, Cooper has questions, not about what cryptocurrency is or does, but about what it requires. How does it work on the ground? he asks. What must be in place for cryptocurrency to happen in a given setting and what about the people involved in building and maintaining the system?

A multimodal exhibit Cooper created with Annenberg technologist Kyle Cassidy and doctoral student Katie Gressitt-Diaz of Rutgers aims to answer some of these questions through a virtual reality (VR) documentary film, a photo series, and conceptual sound work. It also brings people face to face with a fully operational cryptocurrency mining machine, called an application-specific integrated circuit or ASIC. The intent of the exhibit, on display in the Annenberg Forum through May 2020, is to convey an ethnographic exploration of cryptocurrency and blockchain in Iceland and to spur thinking and conversation about their energy use.

Without understanding the nuts and bolts of cryptocurrency, the subject can seem, well, cryptic. Part of the confusion, according to Cooper, is the word mining attached to it. Its not something that already exists that you find, he says. Rather, its a sort of transaction-verification process and subsequent reward for that authentication, in the form of a finite number of untraceable electronic coins.

Cassidy likens it to a ledger book. All of the people who are mining cryptocurrency, theyre watching that ledger and making sure no fraudulent entries are put in. At intervals decided by each currencys creatorand there are thousands of cryptocurrenciesa coin is generated and given to one of those people as a reward. A verified transaction then typically gets added to a block, which joins other blocks to form a chain known as the blockchain. The blockchain is the history of all transactions on that particular network, ever, Cooper explains. And, in theory, it cant be erased.

The verification process itself is complicated. It requires generating a very particular number that, when added to the data already in the block, produces just the right number of zeros in a row, something impossible for humans to solve. That means the more computing power, the better. When Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, came on the scene in 2009, nearly anyone could verify transactions on a regular old laptop. But as more coins started to circulate, meaning more puzzles to solve, that soon wasnt enough computing power.

People moved to desktops, then to graphics cards, stringing them together, Cooper says. Then that wasnt enough, so companies started creating whats essentially a motherboard built for a single purpose, to mine Bitcoin. It used to be that you could make a profit with just one, but all of a sudden, four wasnt enough. You had to get seven, 10. Then you had mining pools, where people would link a bunch of machines together in the hopes of getting pieces of a coin. These mining pools grew, and then large data centers started being built, first in China, then in other placeslike Iceland.

For the past year, Cooper has been thinking about cryptocurrency in Iceland within the broader context of his research, which focuses on how our digital world depends heavily on what he describes as regimes of resource extraction and energy production. In fall 2018, he started contemplating a trip to experience and document how Icelands natural resources move from the earth to the ASICs, and who is involved in that process. He asked Cassidy to come take pictures and enlisted Gressitt-Diaz, who studies sonic representation in media at Rutgers, to construct conceptual sound pieces, do field recording, and design an audio mix for the documentary.

In 2019, the trio visited Iceland twice, once in March, a second time in July. They met with blockchain and cryptocurrency industry insiders, environmental activists, two members of the Icelandic parliament, and several people in the energy industry. They toured a geothermal energy facility and a data center.

They learned a great deal. Being in these spaces is so wild because you can hear what they sound like. It doesnt jive with the images portrayed on Instagram, says Gressitt-Diaz. Youre hearing traffic, the sound of drones flying overhead. There are all of these sounds, of tourists chattering, machine sounds, the hum of powerlines, what I refer to as dirty noises that are there and real and part of the sonic identity of Iceland. But they dont come across when youre looking at idyllic images of Iceland on Instagram.

Technology is everywhere, too. Gressitt-Diaz recalls experiencing this even on a deserted road on a relatively empty part of the island.

We pulled over at one point on top of this hill, she says. There was a wide-open space where you could look out onto this vista, land as far as the eye can see. There was nothing around except power lines, and they were really loud, this technology connecting people on the island to power, to electricity. Even in this spot in the middle of nowhere, you could hear the presence of people and their machines.

From that time in Iceland came the exhibit now on display in the Annenberg Forum, Alchemical Infrastructures: Making Blockchain in Iceland. Coopers part is a 40-minute, two-part VR documentary film that visitors experience with Google Cardboard viewers, a 360-degree ethnographic examination of cryptocurrency landscapes in Iceland. The film blends multiple environments into single spaces in an attempt to show how different infrastructures and ecologies mix and depend on each other in complex ways.

You have Icelands active geology, which is the foundation of all of this. If Iceland wasnt at the intersection of two tectonic plates, then geothermal energy wouldnt be so prominent there, Cooper says. You have the energy industry, which is involved in tapping into that geothermal energy. Then you have the blockchain companies, which have set up real estate and are negotiating with the energy companies. Plus, you have the environmental angle.

With this film, he adds, Im trying to allow people to feel the geography of it all.

Cryptocurrency mining machines are so loud that the single Antminer S7 on display must be submerged in mineral oil. As the top recording showcases, the sound is still noticeablethough much quieter than the 30,000 machines that run continuously outside an Icelandic town called Blndus, heard in the bottom recording.

Cassidys portion consists of 10 portraits. Theres one of someone who survived a volcanic eruption and another of a powerplant manager, plus photos of cryptocurrency managers and an environmental activist, among others. I wanted to make my part of the story about these individuals, the faces of these people who are part of this along the way, he says. That made it real for me.

With her soundscape, called Icelandland, Gressitt-Diaz says she wanted to showcase just how entangled technology and nature, the environment and people are. I hope people will come away from the piece understanding how the use of technology in Iceland has a profound and sometime irreversible effect on nature, she says. If we continue to allow big industry to take advantage of that great energy resource, nature will continue to suffer until its too late.

The final component of the show is a fully functional ASIC, specifically a Bitmain Antminer S7thats actively mining Auroracoin, the unofficial national cryptocurrency of Iceland. The machine is so loud when turned on that it must be submerged in mineral oil to stay cool and be suitable for a public space. Etienne Jacquot, an Annenberg IT support specialist, was the lead engineer responsible for setting up the Antminer and connecting it to the network. He maintains the energy and revenue displays at the exhibit and manages the digital Auroracoin wallet.

The ASIC will run continuously during the course of the exhibition, costing roughly $2 a day in electricity. In just about a month, it earned 123 Auroracoins which, at current exchange rates, comes in at about $3.16.

But Cooper and the others are much more interested in energy consumed than coins earned. Because if the process to put on the exhibit taught them anything, its that blockchain and cryptocurrency can succeed, but often at great cost to the environment, even in a place that runs on 100% renewable energy. When the S9 version of the Antminer was released, for example, S7s suddenly became too slow, making them mostly obsolete and likely destined for a landfill.

This exhibit is intended to open peoples minds to what this system looks like. Its the beginning of something, not the end product, Cooper says. I dont know if we should or shouldnt build a world out of blockchainI think it has a lot of promisebut we need to account for all of these negotiations between the environment, energy infrastructure, and social and political infrastructure. Then maybe some good can come of it.

Homepage photo: Through his two-part 40-minute virtual reality film, Cooper is aiming to convey an ethnographic exploration of cryptocurrency and blockchain in Iceland and to spur thinking and conversation about their energy use. (Photo: Kyle Cassidy)

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Exploring cryptocurrency and blockchain in Iceland - Penn: Office of University Communications

Blockchain At The United Nations Leading Solutions To The Global Crisis – Forbes

UN SDG Poster 2019

The 73rd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convened this week in New York and was dominated by the climate crisis with Grete Thunberg, the "16-year-old poster child" for the climate crisis movement, delivering a passionately blistering speech on how the political and business establishments have stolen her dreams by not appropriately responding to the crisis.

Last years UNGA was dominated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how blockchain and related technologies could help expedite the achievement of the goals. This year, thanks to the burning platform created by Thunberg and the Global Climate Strike where an estimated 1.4 million children stayed away from school to protest, and greater developments in blockchain technologies, SDGs and the blockchain which last year seemed slightly uncomfortable bedfellows were unquestionably united.

Dr. Jane Thomason commented: It is early days, but in the social benevolence and impact space, the application of blockchain for remittances, financial inclusion, green bonds and new forms of financing are receiving increasing prominence in global discussions at 2019 UNGA."

Thomason is the ceo of Fintech Worldwide and is a global thought leader in social impact with a pedigree in public policy. I have the privilege of crossing paths with Thomason at big global events and brain trusts where industry meets government meets academia meets digital / fintech meets impact investing. She is in my global superhero community of people who help connect the dots between these intersecting silos. She also knows her way around UNGA both on and off-piste.

Blockchain has significant relevance for climate change and The Sustainable Digital Finance Alliance (SDFA) along with HSBC Center of Sustainable Finance launched the report: BLOCKCHAIN Gateway for Sustainability Linked Bond". The report outlines how the blockchain, AI and the IOT can reduce administrative reporting requirements and move the green and sustainable bond market from $167.3 billion, two percent of the overall bond market in 2018, and help to access capital to meet the annual funding deficit of the SDGs.

"With 130 banks representing more than$47 trillion in assets and one-third of the global industry signing the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Banking on Sunday, the role of green digital finance will be central to meet the goals of the U.N.'s Paris Agreement on Climate Change, as well as its Sustainable Development Goals," says Katherine Foster, the chief intelligence officer of the SDFA.

The report is a strong signal from the market that sustainable bonds, enabled by blockchain, are ready to take off. In contrast to last year's UNGA, I was moderating panels with bankers and corporate financiers who didn't have this on their radars with most pointing to the World Bank Commonwealth Bank of Australia as the first ever blockchain bond, and indicating a "wait and see" approach.

Another important use case for refugees was profiled. Among the digital finance pioneers for humanitarian settings is the World Food Program (WFP) flagship initiative Building Blocks: Blockchain for Zero Hunger was showcased at multiple events. WFP is using digital cash vouchers powered by the blockchain to ensure that food aid is getting to where its needed in Jordan, Kenya and Somalia.

Richard Byworth, the ceo of Diginex, blockchain financial services and technology company, and a big proponent of the power of using blockchainto create an impact, said: The progress we are making in this area is outstanding, as well as working with a number of global NGOs and intergovernmental organizations, we are rapidly seeing interest from corporates that are starting to understand the efficacyof good. One example of this is oureMintool, launched last year to help migrant workers from being exploited, which is now being rolled out across Thailand.

The Women Political Leaders (WPL) Global Forum, the Blockchain Charity Foundation (BCF), and the Finance Centre for South-South Cooperation, hosted Blockchain for Social Good: Utilizing Blockchain to Aid Economic Development focusing on the possibilities for blockchain to be a strong driver for inclusive growth. WPL pursues this topic in the belief that women politicians have an opportunity to play an important role in understanding and driving the crucial role of blockchain for future social and economic development. Jorge Chediek, Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General and Director of the UN Office for South-South Cooperation, pointed out that blockchain technology could act as a game changer, having a massive impact on economic development to build a better world.

Promising partnerships were formed, with BCF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recognizing the importance of blockchain technology to construct a better society and, during this event, announced their partnership to support the work of blockchain for social good. BCF will contribute one million dollars to UNDP.

On the SDG financing theme, another side event explored Cryptocurrencies & Blockchains A New Boost For SDG-Financing? hosted by The Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development, represented by Georgia, France and Germany. The event explored the potential of blockchain to stimulate new private sector investment but warned of the tax and regulatory issues, or rather lack of in the sector.

I moderated a global financial services regulator panel at UNGA last year where in broad terms, regulators were supportive of crypto, digital assets and blockchain as investment vehicles for achieving SGDs, however, they were concerned about the marketing of such products to retail consumers, and the "provenance" of the investment products demonstrating they actually achieved SDG goal targets. This is a serious area that needs further monitoring and development.

No Blockchain event is complete without a good hackathon!On September the 21st and 22nd a hackathon at the NYC Blockchain Center was convened by the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and Blockchain for Social Impact Coalition (BSIC). Developers and entrepreneurs worked over the weekend to solve three challenges framed by three of the UNs SDGs: Goal 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities and Goal 11, Sustainable Cities & Communities. Teams came up with innovative new ways to address the SDGs. It is always inspiring to see the commitment of blockchain developers to use technology to build a better world.

Sandra Ro, ceo of GBBC commented, Against the backdrop of the UNGA 2019, we are thrilled to have partnered with leading blockchain companies, enterprise, and institutions to host the Scaling Impact for the UN SDGs Hackathon. The solutions that have emerged from this hackathon will no doubt advance the conversation around the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and move the dial on employing blockchain technology to advance our shared vision of a better, more sustainable and equitable future for all.

The international and blockchain ecosystem communities are increasingly looking at how to use this technology to work towards achieving the SDGs. The UN recently published a white paper entitled The future is decentralized Blockchains, distributed ledgers, and the future of sustainable development. An increasing number of startups, non-governmental organizations, cryptocurrency philanthropy funds, and organizations including Global Goals, the Pineapple Fund, Impact Coin, SDG Coin, Moeda, Dapact , Gainforest, SolarCoin and Unicef are all working on applications for blockchain technologies to move the dial to achieve the SDGs.

Thomason adds, An increasing number of blockchain events at and around the UNGA this year focused on demonstrating how blockchain is continuing to contribute to the SDGs by offering up some excellent use cases.

What a difference a year makes! The pace and maturity of blockchain technology use cases to expedite the achievement of the SDGs displayed at UNGA 2019 is breathtaking. Lets hope it continues at this pace to help effectively respond to the global crisis humanity is facing.

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Blockchain At The United Nations Leading Solutions To The Global Crisis - Forbes

U Wyoming Spurs Blockchain Development with Hackathon ‘Stampede’ – Campus Technology

Coding

For the second year, the University of Wyoming has hosted a multi-challenge hackathon focused on blockchain. The "Blockchain Stampede," part of the university's College of Engineering and Applied Science WyoHackathon, is intended to help highlight the state's commitment to blockchain technology.

During the 2018-2019 legislative session, the state passed 13 separate blockchain bills, covering property rights, banking services, authorized custodians for digital assets and setup of "sandboxes" for financial innovators. Shortly after, state officials reported that 200 new companies had registered in Wyoming with names indicating their involvement in blockchain technology. Various blockchain courses have been introduced at the university, and its money-raising foundation is among the first to accept donations in bitcoin.

At the end of last year, a blockchain developed at the university was used to track the first shipment of beef that was proven to be free range and "fairly farmed." That trial shipment, demonstrated by BeefChain, a Wyoming-based company, was a joint effort of U Wyoming's Department of Computer Science and the colleges of Agriculture and Business. The beef was raised at Murraymere Farms in Powell, WY, then placed in tagged cases with RFID labels and shipped to a "five-star dining establishment" in Taipei, Taiwan. The labels included a digital identifier that enabled the cases of beef to be tracked along the complete supply chain, from plant processing, export, import and into the kitchen at the restaurant.

The latest blockchain event brought together tech companies, blockchain developers and lawmakers to the campus for meetings, planning sessions and coding competitions. The WyoHackathon competition included 13 challenges, which promised $184,000 in prizes. As an example, one challenge offered $15,000 to the best solutions for promoting interoperability "between exchanges, blockchains, wallets, cryptocurrencies, infrastructure and traditional fiat financial systems." A $30,000 challenge wooed developers to come up with a "simple and interactive game" to explain "Green," a blockchain technology that helps people pay for their power. And a third, sponsored by Sandcastle Foundation, was a regional qualifier that would allow the winners to head to Dubai in 2020 for a World's Fair event.

According to local reporting, the institution's Board of Trustees has asked the state to provide $2 million to support "the university's fledgling blockchain programs." That funding would cover the hiring of four blockchain professors: two in computer science, a third in finance and a fourth in agricultural economics.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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U Wyoming Spurs Blockchain Development with Hackathon 'Stampede' - Campus Technology

How the blockchain is inspiring organizational design – Quartz

In August, the Business Roundtable CEO lobbying groupled by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and with members including Amazons Jeff Bezosredefined the purpose of a corporation and essentially rejected Milton Friedmans long dominant theory about shareholder supremacy. It was a historic moment that challenges popular teachings in MBA programs across the country and the business practices we see in corporations today.

That same week, a few hundred developers gathered in Berlin to discuss the future of DAOs, a relatively new organizational model that decentralizes power and decision-making among all stakeholders. The two gatherings, though philosophically divergent in many ways, were united in their core thesis that the classic corporate model is due for an upgrade.

This is, of course, a popular topic among organizational designers. Aaron Dignan, founder of design firm The Ready, opens his 2019 book Brave New Work with an image of an early 20th-century organizational chart, which looks exactly like the pyramid-shaped org charts of today. If I showed you a house, a car, a dress, or a phone from 1910 and asked you whether it was modern or antique, youd have a pretty good idea because almost everything has changed, he writes. But not management.

The traditionally hierarchical model, with a concentration of power at the top, has persisted since the Industrial Revolution, when assembly-line work was in its infancy and Taylorism was the scientific management practice of the day. As we enter the next industrial revolution, we are operating in a far more complex global economy. Somehow, amid a period of relentless innovation, including the internet, mobile computing, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and rockets to space that can land themselves, Dignan notes, the way we come together as human beings to solve problems and invent our future has stayed remarkably constant.

Rigid hierarchies prone to bureaucratic gridlock have unique vulnerabilities now, whereas dynamic entities that can react quickly to black swan events have compelling advantages. Furthermore, as routine tasks are automated, humans will be freed to take on and create more creative rolesif organizations will allow it. A lot hinges on our ability to organize in new ways, including our collective wellbeing. Charity: Water founder Scott Harrison put it this way: Eliminate bureaucracy, and awaken the humanity within.

So what does the next evolution of the organization look like? How do companies harness a greater intelligence through design, and in the process cultivate human flourishing?

Former McKinsey consultant Frederic Laloux was compelled to find answers to these questions after a decade of exploring the interiors of some of the worlds most influential companies as a coach and advisor. He determined there must be a better way to design companies in the 21st century.

I just couldnt work with these big organizations anymore, he told the New York Times. They felt too soulless and unhealthy to me, too trapped in a rat race of just trying to eke out more profits.

So he left his job and began researching organizations that are operating at the next stage of consciousness. Laloux discovered a number of successful companies that fit this description, ranging in size from a few hundred to several thousand employees. In 2014, he published his findings in an internationally bestselling book, Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness. His thesis, that there is an evolutionary process behind the way we organize ourselves, draws from developmental psychology and philosopher Ken Wilbers mapping of the stages of human consciousness.

This next stage involves taming our ego and searching for more authentic, more wholesome ways of being, Laloux wrote. If the past is any guide to the future, then as we grow into the next stage of consciousness, we will also develop a corresponding organizational model. He doesnt downplay the significant work it takes to get there: Cognitively, psychologically, and morally, moving onto a new stage is a massive feat.

The companies he identified as already operating within this new paradigm include French metal manufacturer FAVI; Buurtzorg, a healthcare network in the Netherlands; and iconic US apparel company Patagonia. His book provides all the details on his research methods and findings, but in short, a dominant shared trait among these progressive organizations is a decentralized hierarchy that facilitates self-organization. Trust is baked into the system; employees are given significant agency. Juxtaposed against the standard model, which is low on trust, this is revolutionary.

While decentralizing decision-making and power is not enough to ensure that companies operate at this next level of consciousness, its a critical piece. As companies evaluate how to design their workforces during this next industrial revolution, its worth exploring the lessons and data emerging from DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), which anchor near one end of the centralization decentralization spectrum.

DAOs famously emerged out of the 2008 financial crisis as the system design for cryptocurrency economies. Authentic DAOs are built on blockchain technology. Members can exchange value in a direct peer-to-peer manner through smart contracts, which are pre-programmed with an entitys rules and bylaws. Decision-making is distributed among stakeholders, and the organization is essentially leaderless. DAOs have so far been effective for a number of cryptocurrency networksmost notably Bitcoin, which has a market capitalization in the range of $200 billion, rivaling that of some of the worlds largest companies. As with any new technology, DAOs are in the very early stages of development.

The 2016 hack of The DAOa smart contract on the ethereum blockchain which raised $150 million and lost about a third of its assetsrevealed critical vulnerabilities, proving these systems are not immune from rogue behavior, even though they are designed to promote and protect rational actors. But the popularity of The DAO also signaled real interest in this emergent organizational structure.

There are a number of communities that are designed to support the creation of DAOs, including Aragon, Colony, and DAOStack. These organizations provide tools like dispute-resolution frameworks that aid in the scaling of decentralized networks. DAOs arent limited to a physical location and they allow anyone in the world to create value, says Aragon co-founder Luis Cuende.

Among the biggest opportunities and challenges for DAOs is the process of developing new governance protocols. DAOs ask all of their participants to exercise true agency and self-sovereignty, behaviors that are not necessarily intuitive (and not always rewarded) in traditional corporate environments. Additionally, as citizens weve become numb to the idea of a participatory-type of system, Stratis Karad, a business developer at DAOStack, said on the State of the DAO panel discussion on the Emerge podcast. If we give [this muscle] enough rest and good stimuli then this muscle will wake up again.

In short, DAOs require adopting entirely new ways of thinking. Being decentralized is not for the faint of heart! Ceri Power, who handles people operations at ethereum blockchain messaging startup Status, wrote in a Medium post. It takes a lot of belief in the core values of autonomy, privacy, personal liberty, and open source.

Entrepreneur Tom Thomison, who co-founded HolacracyOne, a consultancy that provides a framework for self-organization, says that decentralized entities require a new social contractone that is quite different from the social parenting construct embraced by todays corporation. Dont expect as individuals to get these needs met through the organization, he says. With his next startup, Encode, Thomison is developing new legal infrastructure in jurisdictions around the world that can support the next evolution of the organization.

At the end of the day, no matter where you stand on the centralization decentralization spectrum, organizations experience long-term success or failure due to the strength of incentive alignment among all stakeholdersemployees, leaders, customers, suppliers, society at large. The Business Roundtable took an important step by formally acknowledging this.

We are only in the early stages of this next evolution in consciousness, which begins with greater self-awareness and exploration. How it manifests at scale remains to be seen, but thanks to a number of pioneering leaders and organizations, we have some clues as to whats ahead.

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How the blockchain is inspiring organizational design - Quartz

US Homeland Security grants blockchain credentialing contract to Danube Tech – Ledger Insights

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has awarded a $143,478 contract to digital identity firm Danube Tech for credentialing. The Austrian firm has been tasked with developing blockchain security technology for the DHS to secure associated services such as customs and immigration.

The DHS incorporates U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The current system employs paper-based documentation for issuance, validation and verification of licenses and certificates from these federal bodies. This legacy system is susceptible to errors and does not facilitate data exchange between departments.

Meanwhile, the funding was provided under S&Ts Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) solicitation for Preventing Forgery & Counterfeiting of Certificates and Licenses. SVIP works with private players to advance solutions for homeland security.

Danube Tech received the award for its Universal Issuer and Verifier project. In the first phase of the contract, Danube Tech will integrate interoperability support for credentialing data formats, existing blockchains and standardized and open application programming interfaces.

Danube Tech is building core interoperability infrastructure for issuers and verifiers, said Anil John, SVIP Technical Director. Interoperability between blockchains is enabled by using emerging World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) standards to globally resolve and find information where it exists on a particular blockchain.

Digital identity has been marred with security issues. The primary concern is that data silos are attractive to hackers and the organizations that hold this centralized data have repeatedly failed to protect it.

Decentralization reduces the amount of siloed data. It often enables users to keep far more information themselves. Trusted authorities such as a passport issuer can attest that this person is who they say they are, without sharing the passport details. Hence, this also addresses the second issue, privacy.

Credentialing is one of the popular blockchain applications for digital identity. Thats in part because businesses are a more accessible and eager target to adopt decentralized identity.

The current W3C specification for Decentralized Identifiers (DiDs) was edited by representatives of three companies, including Danube Tech. The other two organizations were Evernym (which started the Sovrin Network) and Digital Bazaar.

Danube Tech and Digital Bazaar act as stewards on the Sovrin Network, which enables users to control their personal data. Recently Sovrin started supporting the issuance of credentials. Numerous big corporate names are Sovrin stewards (operate nodes) including the likes of Cisco and IBM.

And last week, Digital Bazaar announced it is collaborating with standards organization GS1 US on a blockchain-based identity project. Digital Bazaar has also worked on a proof of concept with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The DHS had earlier acknowledged that it was working with its divisions to introduce blockchain in government programs. Last month, the U.S. Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee said that the U.S. government was working on blockchain projects for international trade.

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US Homeland Security grants blockchain credentialing contract to Danube Tech - Ledger Insights

Energy Industry Blockchain Landscape – The National Law Review

Monday, September 30, 2019

At the recent Blockchain in Energy conference hosted by Greentech Media (GTM), the theme was entirely clear: the perception of blockchain in the energy industry has matured from proclaiming blockchain a disruptive panacea that would completely vault a heavily regulated industry into the transactive grid of the future to placing blockchain as a tool in the firmament of the technology stack for the currently transitioning grid. In the words of Scott Clavenna, GTMs Chariman, ICOs were the worst thing that ever happened to blockchain. Said differently, the massive publicity surrounding the value increase of cryptocurrencies and the attendant utilization of blockchains such as Ethereum for raising funds created a wave of hype that promised the future energy grid now and obscured a critical analysis of the role the technology could play.

From 2016 to 2018, blockchain energy companies raised $324 million, a good portion of which came through ICOs premised solely on white papers. Industry experts saw use cases for blockchain in every facet of the energy sector, and the road to the transactive grid seemed clear-cut even if the details of the on-ramp still needed to be clarified. Blockchain appeared to be on the cusp of disrupting the energy industry. The allure of disruptive technology evoked dreams of success found most famously in startups in Silicon Valley, stoking the appetite for blockchain.

This fervor proved unsustainable. The landscape today is not tinged with the same effervescent confidence that the future is right around the corner. Instead, the reality of attempting to transform a heavily regulated industry with fixed returns and little appetite for risky innovation solely for innovations sake has created a smaller but hardier ecosystem of companies seeking to solve the myriad complex problems of an energy grid morphing from the traditional hub-and-spoke model to, in the words of the conference attendees, the flexible grid. To succeed, an impetus to deploy blockchain solutions is necessary for these companies. Despite the excitement surrounding blockchain when it first entered the energy industry, that impetus has not come as quickly or as widespread as many initially thought that it would.

Much of the current innovation with blockchain in energy is occurring in Europe. With a stronger emphasis on renewable energy resources, a greater penetration of vehicle electricification and the accompanying effects on the grid, regulators have allowed distribution system operators to experiment with blockchain-based solutions. American regulators have not, as of yet, granted American utilities the same latitude to experiment. Without an objective and clearly identifiable need, like that in Europe, it should come as no surprise that experimentation with blockchain solutions in American utilities runs into roadblocks that have little to do with the underlying technology.

The nature of a heavily regulated monopoly, like the American utility system, is that major policy decisions intersect between technical, strategic and legal concerns. Blockchain projects fall under the umbrella of a major policy decision and thus the experiment to prove that something can be done often runs into the question of whether it should be done. The steady transition to distributed energy resources (DERs) has inverted the traditional thinking about the energy grid. In the past, a utility would forecast load and manage generation. With renewable energy resources taking a larger role in the DER stack, utilities find themselves attempting to forecast generation (will the sun shine? will the wind blow?) and manage load. New problems require new solutions and the technical features of blockchain satisfy many of the criteria established to ease the transitioning grid.

It remains clear that blockchain projects can and should be deployed to ease this transition. However, will the aha moment for blockchain adoption come from a disruptive startup or from within the established industry? The story for the disruptive startup is well established in high tech culture, even if it has not caught on with the same fire in the energy industry. Part of the fervor for ICOs can be attributed to the desire for disruption. We now see that the disruption that early startups hoped to create has not, as of yet, borne fruit. More curious is the possibility for change from within an established player in the industry.

A blockchain solution is a necessarily technical solution to complex technical problems. One panel consisting of primarily representatives of utilities explained that the unique internal dynamics of heavily regulated monopolies are an additional impediment to this technical solution. A proponent of a blockchain solution must first choose a proof-of concept that will have a great chance for success, persuade the appropriate stakeholders that the risk of failure is worth the benefit of success and then must actually succeed. Having successfully proven the technical solution, that proponent must then argue for widespread adoption and scaling of the technical solution while ensuring that any regulatory or other non-technical concerns are satisfied. This process is patently fatiguing and clearly shows the need for an internal champion of blockchain technology, ideally one in a position with strategic responsibility and the technical chops to understand the intricacies of the problem and the solution.

An internal champion should be planning for the flexible grid now rather than waiting until it is forced to act. Navigating the energy industry is entirely different from the environments in which disruptive technologies have traditionally thrived. There is little room for error; no matter what, the lights must stay on. For a company to implement a blockchain project successfully, it must consider regulatory barriers, privacy implications, and complexities associated with digital securities among various other obstacles.

1994-2019 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.

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Energy Industry Blockchain Landscape - The National Law Review

Mark Cuban bullish on blockchain, but would take bananas over bitcoin – The Block Crypto

Quick Take

In a Q&A video segment with WIRED magazine, Dallas Mavericks owner and billionaire investor Mark Cuban answered a question regarding the opportunity for cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

Cuban started off saying that crypto, particularly Bitcoin is only worth what somebody will pay for it.

Cuban then compared bitcoins with collectibles such as baseball cards, art, and comic books, stating that Theres no real intrinsic value, you cant eat a baseball card or shouldnt eat a baseball card; your artwork might look good on the wall but not much you can do with it. Bitcoin, theres even less you can do with it. At least I can look at my baseball cardI can look at artwork.

Cuban also expressed his doubt for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies due to its complexity, saying Cryptois so complicated for 99% of the population. Do you put it in a device? Do you print it out? How do you keep it from being hacked? Whos going to host it for you? Its just so difficult that its only worth what somebody will pay for it.

During the segment, Cuban also compared bitcoin to gold. So I say its like gold. Gold is a religion. Now, people who are really into gold, theyll tell you that theres a bad depression and things go to hell in a handbasket, if you own gold then youll be okay. No, you wont! You carry around a gold bar someones gonna hit your ass, knock you out and steal your gold bar and its gonna happen again and again and again. Id rather have bananas, I can eat bananas. Crypto, not so much.

Cuban, however, did conclude on a more positive note, citing the blockchain as something he can make a great argument for, and conceding that cryptocurrencies can be used as a store of value. Theres a lot of applications, and theyll be usedbut you can create a blockchain on your own without using all the available cryptocurrencies, he said. Its not that Im against cryptocurrencies. You just have to be very careful. At best theyre a store of value.

The Block reached out to Cuban directly to clarify his perspective. In an email, Cuban said I probably shouldnt have said bananas, since they go bad, adding that the WIRED segment was supposed to be a humorous piece.

Cuban also added that the rest of the point was solid. [Cryptocurrencies are] a store of value, not a currency, fiat or otherwise and that If you can get enough people buying it the value will go up. And vice versa.

In August, the Dallas Mavericks announced that they were going to start accepting bitcoin as payment.

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Mark Cuban bullish on blockchain, but would take bananas over bitcoin - The Block Crypto

BurstIQ raises $5.5M to bring blockchain to the healthcare space – VatorNews

The company has been profitable for the last 18 months and will use the new funding to scale

Blockchain gets a lot of hype, mostly because of the cryptocurrency market, but its a technology that can be used in an endless number of spaces. The real opportunity it represents is the trust and transparency it provides; to have data that is secure and cannot be tampered with or altered. In no other space are those qualities more important than healthcare, where data is literally life or death, and, yet, blockchain has not become as large a part of the healthcare space as you might expect.

That is where BurstIQ comes in; it provides a secure, HIPAA-compliant blockchain platform for the healthtech space, allowing its tocustomers use the platform for interoperability, granular consent, data marketplaces, analytics, IoT connectivity and personalized medicine.

We started out with the basic premise that precision medicine and all the data created by it, coupled with next generation IoT and machine intelligence, is going to truly transform the healthcare engagement model to where health becomes an every day, all the time experience, Frank Ricotta, CEO of BurstIQ, told me in an interview.

What was missing was an open and secure data platform that pulls all this data together and allows a person to truly own and control their health profile. When you look at the current environment, health data is locked in silos. We wanted to build the pathways that unlock that data and allow it to be accessible to the healthcare ecosystem but do it in a person-centric way. From working with my medical professionals, to managing my chronic conditions, to participating in medical research, and, of course, my health and fitness, we want each person to sit at the center of their own health, not the periphery of it."

The BurstIQ platform allows health businesses toprovide consumers with more control over their data, as well as the need to increase accessibility of that data for all the stakeholders who participate in the health ecosystem.The company positions its platform as a B2B blockchain enablement platform for large enterprises, digital health solution providers, life science and pharma companies, and government agencies, allowing these organizations to connect with each other and exchange data, while allowing individuals to manage how their own data is used and accessed across that ecosystem.

On Tuesday, the Denver-based company announced that it raised a $5.5 million Series A round of funding from Elsewhere Partners. BurstIQ had previously raised $425,000 in venture funding, making this its first major institutional funding round.

BurstIQ sees Elsewhere as more than an investor, Ricotta made clear to me; they see them as a key partner going forward.

Anytime a company brings in a major investor at a pivotal growth point, that investor becomes a critical partner. Because we were revenue and cash-flow positive, we had the flexibility to be patient and hold out for the right partner. We were looking for a firm that would add value to the business in terms of the relationships they can bring forward to help us accelerate and grow our market presence. The Elsewhere team understands both blockchain and healthcare in a way that is rare in venture capital, he said.

Investors who are comfortable with healthcare may not be comfortable with some of the technical aspects of our platform, like the blockchain piece. And if theyre comfortable with the blockchain side of life, healthcare is a foreign domain. Whoever we partnered with had to be able to bridge both. Elsewhere has the talent and the relationships to do that."

Founded in 2015, BurstIQ builds health profiles of people, places and things by connecting data from all the disparate sources of that data. The platform then provides the mechanisms for those people, places and things to interact with each other, share and collaborate.

We can handle any source of data and make it simple to access while putting each person in control of their own data, Ricotta said.

The platform is used by hospitals and large healthcare systems, large enterprises, startups and government agencies. The company gained early traction by partnering with large enterprises such as Empiric Health, Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) and Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO).

Empiric Health, a company that is dedicated to eliminating unnecessary surgical costs, is the companys cornerstone use case," Ricotta said; the two entered into a partnership in 2017. Empiric is able to identify 20 to 25 percent cost savings within surgical workflow.

Our stack enabled them to get to market faster by providing a plug-and-play HIPAA compliant data management layer and development frameworks. In addition, the platform allows them to execute advanced predictive modeling across datasets and customers while maintaining full regulatory compliance, said Ricotta.

Unlike other startups in the space, including Guardtime and Hyperledger, which has a health initiative, and large, established players like IBM, Microsoft, Google, all of which have their own blockchain initiatives within the healthcare sector, what separates BurstIQ is its focus on building a broad-based platform and an interconnectivity network, rather than bringing single-sector applications to market, said Ricotta.

The BurstIQ platform lets you do things that you wouldnt otherwise be able to do within current application development environments. We provide an interconnectivity framework to allows for the exchange data across applications and allows for people to manage their data, he told me.

The company, which has been cash-flow positive and profitable for the past 18 months, is going to use the new funding to scale the company; that means, in part, expanding the number of employees from the low teens to the mid-30s in the next year, though the exact number will partially depend on how some of its partnerships come together in that time.

We process billions of transactions through the platform, so we know the base platform works. Now its time to scale it. We are at that tipping point where the company will significantly accelerate its growth over the next year. To support that growth, we are going to grow the business development team and our community team, building communities and ecosystems on the global network, said Ricotta.

While Ricotta admits that blockchain is often used as a buzzword in the tech world, he considers it a good buzzword, as Blockchain opens the possibility of entirely new health economies new products and services and monetization opportunities that have never been possible before. It gets people thinking differently, and it creates an opening for innovation.

The true innovation of blockchain is not the ledger. Its the whole trust establishment. Can I trust that piece of data? Can I trust the person who is on the other end of this transaction? Thats pretty key, he said, explaining that the ability to trust the source and authenticity of data is critical in healthcare, where life-and-death decisions depend on whether the right data is accessible at the right time, and whether that data is trustworthy or not," he said.

According to Ricotta, giving people access to their records so they can take them from doctor to doctor is necessary, but its not enough; the true disruption occurs with the ability to make that data actionable for the person, for their provider, and for the ecosystem of researchers, B2B services, AI tools, decision support systems and consumer products that all contribute to delivering on the promise of truly person-centric care.

We are moving health towards a true access-based economy, where I have 24/7 access to care as well as access to tools and capabilities that allow me to make smarter choices and access personalized services. In health, everybody talks about person-centric care, but blockchain is the critical piece that truly allows us to achieve person-centric, holistic health.

For BurstIQ, success going forward isnt just a numbers game,Ricotta explained. Success for the company means being the most trusted health data platform in the world, and it means being the platform that allows health companies to finally achieve the promise of person-centric healthcare and empowers people with the tools and insights to live their healthiest, best life.

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BurstIQ raises $5.5M to bring blockchain to the healthcare space - VatorNews

Blockchains Next Frontier: Saving the Planet (and Possibly Pandas, Too) – Observer

Obtaining funding for social and environmental projects has historically relied on a one-way and opaque system. Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Despite the boom and bust cycle of Bitcoin and its extensive family of cryptocurrencies, there is a general consensus among the tech and business community that blockchain is a real innovation bound to underpin the future of the digital world. The nascent technology is already seeing application in such areas as e-commerce, publishing and database management.And now, its eyeing a next-level mission: to save the planet.

This week, amid the climate change-themed United Nations General Assembly conference series in New York City, Brooklyn-based blockchain software company ConsenSys, led by Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin, unveiled a partnership with the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Natures Panda Labs (an incubating program for sustainability projectsnot just panda projects) called Impactio, a blockchain-powered platform tasked with connecting entrepreneurs, investors and subject-matter experts on social and environmental projects.

SEE ALSO: HeresWhat You Really Need to Know About Blockchain

Historically, obtaining funding for sustainability-related projects through nonprofits like WWF relies on a one-way and opaque system, where project leaders submit grant applications and keep their fingers crossed for a response from interested funders. Impactio seeks to make this process more efficient and transparent by bringing various stakeholders on to one platform and creating a feedback loop where participants can peer-review projects through a digital token-based voting process. The same tokens can also be donated by curators to chosen projects as seed funds.

There are a whole bunch of people who have great ideas, a whole bunch of people who want to invest in projects, and a whole bunch of subject-matter experts scattered all around the world. You need a trustworthy platform to serve as sort of a magnet for all these different actors, ConsenSys CEO Lubin explained to Observer. Its almost like a game, but a game with real stakes. You bring in people with expertise who want to stake their reputation and even to benefit financially.

The curation and voting mechanism is supported by a set of smart contracts, while every activity on the platform is recorded on the blockchain ledger to prevent unauthorized editing and hacking.

We face a $2.5 trillion funding gap to achieve the SDGs (sustainable development goals) by 2030. We know that this isnt necessarily due to a lack of capital or a lack of solutions. What is lacking is a robust mechanism for linking these private dollars to viable, large scale, SDG-advancing projects, Kavita Prakash-Mani, director of WWF Global Conservation, said in a statement.

Impactio was born in 2017 out of a collaboration between ConsenSys staff in Sydney, Australia and the WWF Australia team with an initial goal to incentivize people into participating in wildlife preservation in Australia, said Robert Greenfield, co-founder of ConsenSys Social Impact. But the project later evolved into one focused on reducing the operational cost of finding such projects.

During a seven-week pilot program from July 1 to August 21, Impactio attracted over 100 participants who approved 17 social and environmental projects through its token-based curation process.

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Blockchains Next Frontier: Saving the Planet (and Possibly Pandas, Too) - Observer

Stellar Development Foundation proposes to disable inflation mechanism from its protocol – The Block Crypto

The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF), the non-profit organization that supports thedevelopment of the Stellar blockchain network, has proposed to disable the inflation mechanism from its protocol.

The foundation announced the proposal Monday, saying that it is a good idea as inflation is not benefiting projects building on the Stellar network. In the networks inflation mechanism, new lumens (XLM) tokens are added to the network at the rate of 1% each year. Each week, the protocol distributes these tokens to any account that gets over 0.05% of the votes from other accounts in the network that hold a balance of at least 100 XLM.

A few Stellar ecosystem projects receive enough votes to qualify for inflation, but the good people who vote for those projects are essentially opting out of inflation pools. Theyre choosing to make a donation, the foundation said.

It stressed that it is just a proposal and that Stellar validators will have to vote on it. The foundation has already disabled the inflation mechanism in its version 12 of the Stellar core network and asked validators to decide if they would accept the release. But it "encourages" validators to vote to accept it.

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Stellar Development Foundation proposes to disable inflation mechanism from its protocol - The Block Crypto

MineRP to partner with Karuschain to adopt blockchain platform – Mining Technology

Mining software and consultations provider MineRP has signed a letter of intent (LoI) to partner with blockchain platform Karuschain.

As part of the signing, MineRP will adopt Karuschains blockchain platform creating a path for data immutability and traceability in the mining and precious metals industry.

The proposed partnership aims at creating an opportunity for further transparency, as well as ensuring the secure management and tracking of crucial data throughout the mining and precious metals supply chain.

MineRP has been working with Karuschains executive and technical crew to partner on an integrated blockchain solution that meets the demands of the companys customers.

Karuschains blockchain platform is modular by design, and improves a range of existing industry technologies and software systems by offering customisable, scalable and interoperable solutions.

By applying this technology to MineRPs existing systems, Karuschain will enable seamless traceability and audit reports through simple user-friendly dashboards. It also enables tracking of processes with a digital signature, from extraction to the final consumer.

This proposed partnership represents the way in which digitalisation is transforming the mining and metals industries.

According to an analysis conducted by the World Economic Forum, approximately $425bn of value is said to be generated from the digitalisation of the mining and metals industry by 2025.

Karuschain CEO and founder Richard Verkley said: I have been involved in some incredible growth businesses in my time, but I have never witnessed the synergy between two companies like this before.

This relationship is creating a new-world software solution that truly will become a leading industry force driving dramatic cost benefits, enhanced security, information innovations, and an opportunity for next-generation compliance.

MineRP operates five offices across four continents, and has partnerships with SAP, Deloitte, IBM and GE, while Karuschain provides end-to-end traceability and tracking for the global precious metals industry.

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MineRP to partner with Karuschain to adopt blockchain platform - Mining Technology

Vontobel to offer structured product using blockchain technology – Investment Europe

Vontobel becomes the first issuer worldwide to offer a classic structured product for trading and custody using blockchain technology by means of a Smart Contract.

Vontobel, together with Lienhardt & Partner Privatbank Zrich AG as the first partner, adds another product to the digital financial ecosystem that is based on Blockchain technology.

The structured product is a tracker certificate based on the successful Vontobel Swiss Research Basket. Smart Contracts are able to map all the functionalities of contracts - or in this case financial products - and make the transaction chain unalterable.

The Swiss private bank is consistently pursuing its strategy in the blockchain segment, which began in 2016 with the launch of the first tracker certificate on Bitcoin. This was initially followed by the option of storing digital assets in the Digital Asset Vault. Today, the next step is the issuance of a structured product in the form of a smart contract. The product can be traded between Vontobel and financial intermediaries without having to make any technological adjustments.

"The mapping of structured products to so-called Smart Contracts is a logical further development that rounds off our range of digital assets. By distributing financial products on the blockchain, we are able to offer a cycle of services based on this technology and at the same time open up new distribution channels and trading platforms," said Roger Studer, head of Vontobel Investment Banking.

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Vontobel to offer structured product using blockchain technology - Investment Europe

Could Blockchain Revolutionize the Real Estate Industry? – RisMedia.com

(Above) John Heithaus, Heithaus Properties LLC, and Chao Cheng-Shorland, ShelterZoom, discuss How Blockchain May Change the Future of Real Estate at RISMedias 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange. (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

Blockchain has become a buzzword in recent years, and according to two real estate industry experts, the tech phenomenon is worthy of the buzz.

John L. Heithaus, principal of Heithaus Properties, LLC, and Chao Cheng-Shorland, co-founder and CEO of ShelterZoom, discussed this innovative technology at RISMedias 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange in New York City last week.

During a session titled, How Blockchain May Change the Future of Real Estate, Heithaus noted blockchain is making substantive changes in many other industries, including financial services, healthcare and homeland security. Now, he said, its the real estate industrys turn.

Heithaus suggested the home-buying and -selling process is still too complicated and slow, and it needs to evolve to accommodate todays consumers, who are used to an increasingly fast-paced, technologically driven world.

Theres been a tremendous amount of innovation in our business, Heithaus acknowledged. Zillow, Trulia, Homes.com and others have done a great job of revolutionizing the searching experience. Yet when it comes to actually buying or selling property, the process needs improvement. We must do better.

He said blockchain adoption could go a long way toward streamlining real estate transactions.

So, what is blockchain technology? If you search online, youll find a definition similar to this one from Harvard Business Review: Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Depending on where you search, the explanation can get much more complex from there.

Fortunately, according to Heithaus, the beauty of blockchain is that you dont necessarily need to understand how it works in order to benefit from it. For example, he said consumers dont know the inner workings of an automated teller machine, yet they still know how to grab cash from an ATM on the go quickly and easily.

You dont need a user manual, you dont have to sit in a training classyou just go up and push the buttons and the darn things work, Heithaus said of ATMs. He emphasized that the key to blockchain adoption in the real estate industry is to ensure that blockchain-based solutions are as transparent and straightforward as possible for the user.

Cheng-Shorland agreed, adding that ShelterZoom, a developer of blockchain-based solutions for real estate professionals, aims to ensure that users dont worry about whats underneath the surface.

You just need to understand the benefits it can give you, she said.

John Heithaus, Heithaus Properties LLC, and Chao Cheng-Shorland, ShelterZoom, discuss How Blockchain May Change the Future of Real Estate at RISMedias 2019 Real Estate CEO Exchange. (Credit: Korin Krossber of PlanOmatic)

As for those potential benefits, Cheng-Shorland said blockchain enables interconnectivity, speed, trust and security throughout the entire real estate transaction process.

One of the first things I observed about the real estate industry, Cheng-Shorland said, was that it is truly fragmented. She suggested that the buying and selling of homes can take months, in large part, because theres no interconnectivity between all the contracts, the forms, the people.

According to Cheng-Shorland, blockchain technology could provide the necessary interconnectivity and interoperability, enabling real estate transactions to be done digitally and allowing documents and data, all in one place, to talk to each other. It could help eliminate paperwork, manage offers and negotiations, and ultimately save a significant amount of time.

Blockchain is very much built around agents to help them streamline their operations, cut down huge costs and speed up their process, she said. Speed is your friend. If you have the speed, youll have more listings, youll get more sales done and youll get more commission checks.

Cheng-Shorland pointed out that the iBuyer business model is growing popular among industry stakeholders and consumers due to its expediency, but she claimed in order to really enhance that model, you need the blockchain because it enables that speed, which other traditional technology does not have.

Cheng-Shorland said blockchain could also help real estate professionals build trust with clients and colleagues because everything is self-governed and the technology enables instant communication. Furthermore, she said blockchain is a secure transaction platform that allows users to hold onto their own data.

Even we, as a service provider, dont see any data going through your system, she added.

Cheng-Shorland said the fragmentation issue across the whole real estate transaction process is the immediate problem were trying to solve. It is a big task to tackle.

For its part, ShelterZoom has developed a suite of blockchain-based solutions to help spur interconnectivity in the industry. Most recently, the tech company announced its Contract of Things (CoT), designed to transform forms, documents and contracts into fully digital and interoperable assets.

Because its relatively newand rather complicatedblockchain may be confusing or seem intimidating. But during the CEO Exchange session, Heithaus reminded the 300-plus attendees about another once-mysterious tech innovation people were wary of: the internet.

Heithaus showed a slide displaying Coldwell Bankers very first website. He explained that the site was launched back in 1998. With its bland colors and clunky layout, it looked like a technological relic in 2019.

Heithaus told the crowd, Part of my job was to go around the country and convince all the directors we worked with that this internet thing was a good thing.

They chased me out of there with pitchforks, he quipped. Now fast-forward almost 25 years later, imagine an agent, a team, a brokerage without a website.

Will blockchain change the future of real estate? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, Heithaus urged anyone interested in blockchain to reach out to Cheng-Shorland and ShelterZoom for more in-depth information.

For CEO Exchange continuing coverage, visitRISMedia.com.

Joe Bebon is RISMedias associate editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at jbebon@rismedia.com.

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Could Blockchain Revolutionize the Real Estate Industry? - RisMedia.com

Cross Reality And Blockchain – A New Era Of The VR Industry – Forbes

According to theVirtual Reality Market Forecast to 2024, published on the worlds largest market research store, the VR industry is about to face a 35% annual growth in the upcoming years.

With peoples interest in VR headsets growing, the industry is headed toward a stable path of development. Naturally, with such rapid growth comes the need for improvement.

Competitors in the VR industry are adopting new technologies and techniques to offer the best virtual reality experience the world has ever seen. One of these improvements includes the integration of blockchain as a solution for cross-reality platforms.

Cross Reality

What Is Cross Reality

There are several ways to define cross reality:

Cross reality and the VR technology in general are most popular in the entertainment industry. However, such technology has applications in numerous industries from engineering and medicine to TV, film, and marketing.

How Is Blockchain Integrated in Cross Reality

Competitors in the VR industry saw plenty of potential in blockchain as a decentralized system that could revolutionize virtual reality.

A blockchain can be useful in the virtual reality space in multiple ways:

The No Borders Corporation used blockchain to connect the virtual and the real world with their recently-formed startup calledAngeliumwhichis essentially a cross reality platform that offers an interactive lifestyle where users can communicate and offer services within a virtual world. The platform is based on unique blockchain technology that a blend of both worlds.

Founded by Rio Takeshi Kubo, the platform is going to allow users to use tokens from the virtual world in the real world, as well as sell real physical items in the virtual world.Rio also created the Angelium Wallet, which serves as a passport that connects the two worlds. His main goal is to turn Angelium into a global standard as a blockchain-based cross-reality platform.

The Future of the VR Industry

The complex technology packed under the term virtual reality is seen as the future of our digital world. VR started out as a gaming trend but this widely applicable technology quickly exceeded expectations.

Virtual reality and X reality allow users to create new experiences and immerse themselves into a new world. With blockchain at its core, cross reality will allow people to go as far as opening virtual businesses, attending events, shopping, or even selling goods or services.

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Cross Reality And Blockchain - A New Era Of The VR Industry - Forbes

Could Blockchain Help the Cannabis Industry? Were About to Find Out – Observer

A Uruguayan cannabis company has announced it will track marijuana sales via blockchain. But is it really necessary? RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/GettyImages

Blockchain at times can feel like a very large, very inchoate Rube Goldberg machine. The security advantages of decentralization and encryption for sensitive data are obvious, but why employ a peer-to-peer distributed ledger to record simple or mundane tasks unlikely to be targets of hackers or other malfeasance? Because its coolor because its cool and it works, in the case of the blockchain-based tracking solution soon to be employed by Montevideo-based cannabis company Uruguay Can.

Blockchain has many fans in the drug policy reform world for the very simple reason that, until quite recently, blockchain was a viable technique to mask drug transactions from authorities. (It was not for the cool factor that Bitcoin was Silk Roads coin of the realm.) Blockchain may yet be the bedrock on which solutions to the American cannabis industrys banking woes are built (though its more likely that big centralized banks will start taking cannabis business accounts first).

SEE ALSO: Whats Wrong With Genetically Modified Marijuana?

In the meantime, blockchains value as a tracking tool will be tested by Aeternity, which announced on September 25 that it would be creating a blockchain-based supply chain management platform for Uruguay Can, which producers both medical and recreational cannabis.

In a press release, the company said blockchain would allow the registration and tracking of cannabis strains from the seed to the final product which ensures consumer safety while complying with regulations, according to AeternityCEO Pablo Coirolo.

In theory, using blockchain to track a cannabis plants progression from seedling to cured and saleable product would make it more difficult for a bad actor to inject bad product into the supply chain, and more difficult for anyone to fudge the decentralized ledger. Thus, the end users should be more assured of the validity of the data they are receiving about the cannabis theyre consuming, particularly if they are using a device thats on the blockchainthey are also the holder of that data, not an institution or third party.

The ability to trace the source and the way cannabis is produced is beneficial for both the cannabis and pharmaceutical industry as well as its consumers and end users, who should feel more secure about the product that they are consuming, Uruguay Can CEO Eduardo Blasina said in a press release.

OK, but why do this? Is it necessary, or is this just an SEO-friendly solution in search of a problem? From whom, exactly, must this data be kept safe and secure, and why isnt the governmentwhich has been inspecting and assuring food and drug safetyup to the task?

In the United States, several states mandate cannabis companies to track the progress of their supply chain from seed to sale to ensure that cannabis grown under legal protections doesnt end up on the underground market. This doesnt really work all that wellthe black market in the United States is still colossalbut whether thats because regulations are too strict and legal cannabis too expensive, or because its an impossible and unwieldy task using the wrong technology depends on who you ask and is a query outside the power of this brief item to answer.

Blockchain might do this task better, but decentralizing the data chain wouldnt necessarily preclude unscrupulous operators from declaring a batch of product bad and destroyed when its really being sold off-marketthats a job for regulators. And there has yet to be evidence of a bad cannabis company altering data to put out bad productthey just put it out.

Theres also the open question of why this is necessary for such a tiny cannabis market. Uruguay is a country about half the population of Los Angeles. Uruguay is important in the marijuana world because it became the first country in the world in 2013 to legalize recreational cannabis for adultswho can buy cannabis at licensed pharmaciesbut the market remains extremely small. Small enough to track on Google Sheets, or whatever solution a mid-sized American company is employing.

The country boasts fewer than 40,000 customers. Only about 3,000 kilograms of flower have been consumed since sales began, according to official figures, although there is a nascent export market: Uruguayan companies have begun exporting medical cannabis flower to other countries. Up to 100 kilograms a month may eventually be shipped overseas from the South American nation, as Marijuana Business Daily reported.

But again, if quality and security need to be established or verified by official government inspectors anyway, and theyre not using blockchain, what is the utility of putting such data on a decentralized ledger?

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Could Blockchain Help the Cannabis Industry? Were About to Find Out - Observer


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