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BlockApps and Optimum Plan to Track Energy Usage on the Blockchain – Cointelegraph

Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) company BlockApps has partnered with software consulting firm Optimum to develop a blockchain solution for tracking energy usage.

A founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), BlockApps is the developer of a cloud-agnostic blockchain platform, STRATO, designed to serve as a flexible base layer for various business network transactions and activities.

Optimum is a software consulting firm focused on the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction industries. As part of a strategic partnership announced on March 27, Optimum has now joined the BlockApps Partner Network a group of technology and service providers and blockchain experts cooperating on application development and integrations for STRATO.

In their announcement, BlockApps and Optimum allude to recent intense pressure on the global energy industry, triggered by a price war in the oil sector, strained supply chains and the economic shocks rippling through world markets during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Verifiable, granular energy usage tracking is a mission-critical need for the energy industry and will be an essential part of any solution to improve management of future shocks in supply and demand.

Optimum plans to implement BlockApps STRATO platform to develop and customize blockchain solutions that will address the needs and challenges of their clients in the oil and gas, manufacturing and construction sectors at a juncture of unprecedented challenges.

U.S. crude oil prices have now dropped to an 18-year low of below $20 a barrel. The sector faces a glut of supplies and insufficient storage for reserves due to collapsing global demand. A number of North American shale producers are already reported to be on the brink of bankruptcy.

In May 2019, BlockApps partnered with the agricultural division of pharmaceutical and life science giant Bayer AG which acquired the agrochemical and agricultural corporation Monsanto in 2018 to cooperate on a series of joint blockchain initiatives.

BlockApps connections include integrations with major cloud providers Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud Platform and the numerous blockchain start-ups, research groups, Fortune 500 firms and banks among them JPMorgan and Cisco of the EEA.

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BlockApps and Optimum Plan to Track Energy Usage on the Blockchain - Cointelegraph

How Blockchain Technology Offers Computational Trust For Tracking The Coronavirus Outbreak – Forbes

Before our lives as U.S. citizens were upended as we knew it, the idea of some data nerds hoping to cure the U.S. healthcare system of all its ailments probably would not be in the headlines. With the limited activities of life inside, surfing the web to learn the latest on coronavirus is one activity in which most Americans are likely to engage. This story examines how blockchain technology may help us trust the information we are given as accurate and timely.

Man self isolating at home

In an age where information is at our fingertips, a recent poll from NPR provides insights into who we trust most in providing us information on coronavirus. With the choices including the President, news media, state and local officials, and public health experts, public health experts led the pack when it came to entrusting the accuracy of information provided.

One of these public health experts is providing a nervous population timely and accurate information on coronavirus. Jim Nasr is the CEO of Acoer and has offered a data visualization tool for COVID-19 offering real-time and trusted information on coronavirus. As the former Chief Software Architect at the Center for Disease Control in the Obama Administration, he is someone most Americans would likely trust on receiving much-needed accurate and timely information.

Coronavirus written on file folder label

It is not just his credentials that might lead you to trust him - he also uses blockchain-enabled technology to create a Coronavirus (COVID-19) tracker, where machines provide the fuel for trusting the data inputs. Mr. Nasr defines blockchain as a computational trust protocol, and uses Hedera Hashgraph, a public distributed ledger technology, to create trust in the data used in his visualization tool.

Jim sees blockchain as a way of providing trusted data to the public when the source of the information is at a premium in the case of the current pandemic. He noted, For most Americans, blockchain is a term that is becoming more and more familiar and typically involves a connection to bitcoin. As a peer-to-peer exchange of digital currency, blockchains first use case in 2009 was bitcoin. Jim sees the conflation of these concepts as a negative for how the technology can be leveraged in health care.

The more we talk about other use cases, the less we talk about bitcoin, the better. Regarding his view of what is distinctive about blockchain, he states, Blockchain is a platform for computational trust.

To understand the benefit of blockchain to this visualization, data from the CDC, World Health Organization, and clinicaltrials.gov is digested into the system and a reference file including the data and metadata is created that matches this information to the source. This file is confirmed by a blockchain or distributed ledger technology where a timestamp of when the information was received and from what source is securely recorded and publicly available for others to review.

Jim states the distributed ledger technology he uses (known as Hedera Hashgraph) is a way to provide the public a tamperproof transaction log of everything that has happened on Hedera,. With extremely efficient and computationally sound aspects that makes Hedera Hashgraph one of the trusted platforms he uses to offer a computational trust layer to prove what I have done.

Victoria Adams, a leading blockchain influencer, notes, It is vital that we understand the provenance of these data and be able to trace back how it has been used.Blockchain is vital in this respect.We much know not only what we know but how reliable that data is.Tools like the Hedera Hashgraph DLT can be vital in providing this information.

Avoiding Tradeoffs Of Health Care Privacy To Fight COVID-19

Heather Leigh Flannery, Founder and CEO of ConsensSys Health, also includes blockchain technology in helping to achieve computational trust of public health data. At ConsenSys Health, Covid-19 response is our number one priority. We are working on constellations of tech for the benefit of humanity as this pandemic is continuing.

Heather doesnot believe we need to give up all of our rights to personal privacy when it comes to healthcare data in the rush to fight this pandemic. The current ethos is to give up all our personal privacy. This is problematic in the long term, and we should be prioritizing technology that can help us advance public health while preserving personal privacy. Blockchain alone does not deliver this privacy. However, this technology used in concert with two other families of technology: zero knowledge cryptography and federated analytic and machine learning does.

As U.S. citizens accepts the reality of a major pandemic and the information on coronavirus is at an all-time premium, the idea of whether blockchain technology can engender trust in the information provided on the coronavirus will certainly be put to the test.

Disclosure: Jason Brett has worked at ConsenSys. Additional, he serves as CEO and President of the Value Technology Foundation, where Hedera Hashgraph is a contributor.

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How Blockchain Technology Offers Computational Trust For Tracking The Coronavirus Outbreak - Forbes

Survey reveals consumer acceptance and willingness to use blockchain – New Food

Blockchain is said to still be in its infancy in terms of widespread use, but a survey from FMCG Gurus has indicated a willingness from consumers to integrate it into food supply chains.

In Q3 2019, FMCG Gurus surveyed 26,000 consumers across 26 countries on the topic of blockchain, to find out more about consumer attitudes and acceptance of the technology.

Blockchain is an example of a distributed ledger technology (DLT) which is distributed, as opposed to centralised. The system records data in many places, each of which is owned by the actors within the blockchain, allowing the idea of trust and integrity to be improved across the chain.

The research found that 18 percent of consumers across the globe were currently aware of the technology, but when given a definition, a total of 50 percent said that they would be likely to use it to find out more about food, drink and nutritional supplements.

A total of 31 percent of global consumers said that they do not trust food brands, whilst 25 percent said they have become less trusting of food brands in the last two years something that blockchain could potentially help with.

When it comes to using blockchain, those who said they would use the technology said that they would research many areas to find out more about the product in question and its supply chain.

The most popular answer that consumers would investigate across the globe would be to check the level of carbon footprint omitted during the distribution of products (58 percent). However, the research also showed that consumers are interested in finding out about sustainability initiatives along the whole of the supply chain.

51 percent said it is important that brands monitor the supply chains of their suppliers to ensure that they are acting in an ethical and environmentally friendly manner.

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Survey reveals consumer acceptance and willingness to use blockchain - New Food

Blockchain Game Alliance Elects The Sandbox COO, Sbastien Borget, as President and Announces Ubisoft, AMD, Animoca Brands, and MakerDAO as 2020…

GENEVA, Switzerland March 26, 2020 Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA), a coalition of game and blockchain companies advocating for blockchain technology within the game industry, today announced the election of Sbastien Borget, blockchain evangelist and co-founder and COO of The Sandbox, as President following his appointment to the Board. The organization further announced that Ubisoft, AMD, Animoca Brands and MakerDAO have returned as 2020 sponsors, which will further BGAs goals to represent blockchain gaming at major game industry events.

Founded in 2019, Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) is an organization committed to the adoption of blockchain technologies in gaming by promoting the creation of common standards, facilitating networking and knowledge-sharing and encouraging cooperation and the implementation of best practices. Over 90 companies are members of the alliance.

Newly announced BGA President and board member, Sbastien Borget, is the co-founder and COO of The Sandbox decentralized virtual world gaming platform. The Sandbox is a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, an innovative gaming and blockchain company based in Hong Kong that is ranked fifth on BlockchainGamer.bizs list of Top 50 blockchain companies 2020. A passionate advocate for blockchain technology, gaming, and education, Borget is an active speaker and evangelist for the benefits that Non-Fungible Tokens bring to gaming. In his role on the BGA board, he will use his experience as a serial entrepreneur with 10 years in the gaming business to evangelize and contribute to the industry adoption of blockchain technology in ways that expand player possibilities without introducing barriers to play.

Sbastien Borget has been an active community member in the blockchain game space for years, and we're delighted to elect him as the new President of the Blockchain Game Alliance, said Manon Burgel, outgoing President of Blockchain Game Alliance. The BGA seeks to foster collaboration opportunities and encourage blockchain adoption in video games. In 2020 were looking to represent blockchain game companies at traditional video game industry events and the support weve received from industry luminaries like Ubisoft, AMD, and MakerDAO strongly facilitates that goal.

Im a strong believer in aligning the interests of players, creators, and game developers and will continue to encourage true ownership for game players and creators through the inclusion of the blockchain industry, said Sbastien Borget, BGA President and co-founder of The Sandbox. Im honored to lead Blockchain Game Alliance and my goal is to make BGAs effective advocacy even stronger as blockchain gaming moves forward, leveraging my track record, network and influence in the industry to increase its reach globally.

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Board Members from the Blockchain Game Alliance:

Sebastien Borget (The Sandbox/Animoca Brands), Marc Coupal (Enjin), Shaban Shaame (Everdreamsoft), Ludovic Courcelas (Consensys), Manon Burgel (B2Expand), Nicolas Gilot (Ultra), Alex Amsel (Valerian Capital) and Nicolas Pouard (Ubisoft)

For more information about BGA and its ongoing activities, visit blockchaingamealliance.org and follow BGA on Twitter at @BGameAlliance and on Medium.

About Blockchain Game Alliance

The Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA) is a coalition of over 90 game and blockchain companies committed to advocating for blockchain technology within the game industry. Our goal is to spread awareness about blockchain technologies and encourage adoption by highlighting their potential to foster new ways to create, publish, play, and build strong communities around games. The BGA also provides an open forum for individuals and companies to share knowledge and collaborate, create common standards, establish best practices, and network. For more information, please visit blockchaingamealliance.org and follow on Twitter.

About Ubisoft

Ubisoft is a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, with a rich portfolio of world-renowned brands, including Assassins Creed, Just Dance, Tom Clancys video game series, Rayman, Far Cry and Watch Dogs. The teams throughout Ubisofts worldwide network of studios and business offices are committed to delivering original and memorable gaming experiences across all popular platforms, including consoles, mobile phones, tablets and PCs. For the 2018-19 fiscal year Ubisoft generated Net Bookings of 2,029 million. To learn more, please visit http://www.ubisoft.com.

About AMD

Blockchain algorithms require compute platforms, PCs and servers more specifically CPUs and GPUs to run on. AMD is in a unique position to offer the best combination of CPU and GPU technologies to make blockchain transactions increasingly faster and more secure. We are working with existing ecosystem partners to bring blockchain compute solutions to market for a large variety of use cases and exploring opportunities with new and innovative platforms using blockchain. http://www.amd.com/en/technologies/blockchain.

About MakerDAO

Maker is a decentralized organization dedicated to bringing financial stability and transparency to the world economy. Maker enables the generation of Dai, the worlds first unbiased currency and leading decentralized stablecoin. MakerDAO.com.

About Animoca Brands

Animoca Brands (ASX: AB1) leverages gamification, blockchain, and artificial intelligence technologies to develop and publish a broad portfolio of mobile products including games such as The Sandbox, Crazy Kings, and Crazy Defense Heroes as well as products based on popular intellectual properties such as Formula 1, Garfield, Snoopy, Thomas & Friends, Ever After High and Doraemon. Animoca Brands portfolio of blockchain investments and partnerships includes Lucid Sight, Dapper Labs (creators of CryptoKitties), WAX, Harmony, and Decentraland. The Company is based in Hong Kong, Canada, Finland, and Argentina. For more information visit http://www.animocabrands.com or get updates by following Animoca Brands on Facebook or Twitter.

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Blockchain Game Alliance Elects The Sandbox COO, Sbastien Borget, as President and Announces Ubisoft, AMD, Animoca Brands, and MakerDAO as 2020...

Chinas 2nd-Largest Courier Using Blockchain to Deliver Key Supplies Amid Pandemic – Cointelegraph

SF Express, the second-largest courier services provider in China, is exploring the use of blockchain to transport critical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 30, the Global Times an English-language newspaper within the CPC-owned Peoples Daily Group reported that the Shenzhen-based firm is finding the technology to be beneficial for tracking the provenance and checking the quality of medical goods.

While the extent and status of SF Express implementation of blockchain is not detailed, it has reportedly already begun to establish the use of blockchain, specifically for the transportation of medicines and foods, both of which necessitate high standards and reliability.

The report situates blockchain as one of the key emerging technologies alongside big data and artificial intelligence that are helping frontline medical workers and aid suppliers to provide relief efforts during the pandemic.

SF Express is said to be combining blockchain with big data to construct a logistics network that supports the tracking, verification and accurate recording of goods. The system will reportedly be able to identify supply priority levels as well as mitigate the risks of counterfeit or unlicensed products being distributed to regions.

Big-name Chinese technology firms such as Alibaba Group and Huawei are reportedly focusing their energies on providing artificial intelligence solutions that can enhance diagnostic solutions for the public health crisis.

As reported, academic researchers have previously argued that the widespread use of blockchain and AI technology by the likes of Alibaba, SF Express and Apple should be replicated by charitable organizations and government-led public health initiatives.

Castigating Beijings choice to funnel all public donations through five government-backed charity organizations, academic Syren Johnstone said that less centralized blockchain systems would provide more public visibility, accountability and reliability than current approaches to the crisis.

At a regional level, however, as many as 20 new blockchain-based applications designed to help fight the outbreak had reportedly been launched in China by mid-February, several in collaboration with provincial authorities.

This weekend, the World Health Organization partnered with major blockchain and tech companies to launch a distributed ledger technology-based platform for sharing data connected with the pandemic.

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Chinas 2nd-Largest Courier Using Blockchain to Deliver Key Supplies Amid Pandemic - Cointelegraph

Algorand Launches a Blockchain App to Thwart the Coronavirus – The Merkle Hash

It would appear that many people see merit in blockchain technology to fight the coronavirus crisis on a global scale. Algorand is the latest project to throw its hat into the ring, as its new blockchain app launched earlier this week.

Algorand is a relatively established project in the blockchain space.

Albeit it never generates many headlines, the latest effort is worth paying attention to.

The Singaporean company is launching a new application called IReport-Covid.

As the name suggests, it is designed to help those in need during the coronavirus crisis.

Its main order of focus is to prevent the virus from spreading further.

In the application, users are asked to fill in a survey which will be recorded on the Algorand blockchain.

As the global coronavirus toll keeps rising, efforts like these are direly needed first and foremost.

Over 600,000 confirmed cases have now been recorded all over the world.

IReport-Covid is designed to cater to both symptomatic and non-symptomatic users alike.

Once there are ample reports, the aggregated statistics will be made publicly available.

This information can then be used by the proper instances to determine how the domestic situation has evolved.

Putting an end to this global pandemic will require ample work, but it remains to be seen how things will evolve exactly.

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Algorand Launches a Blockchain App to Thwart the Coronavirus - The Merkle Hash

Three new ways of doing business enabled by blockchain – Information Age

Steve Bryen, senior technology evangelist at Amazon Web Services, identifies new ways in which blockchain is enabling business

How can blockchain be used in various industries?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) that helps to simplify transactions and conduct efficient, secure interactions with multiple independent parties around the globe, all without the need for a third-party intermediary. These transactions can vary within business, from sending anything from farm data, to banking and contract transactions.

As the world becomes more interconnected, opportunities for companies and individuals to interact and transact across borders, time zones, and channels grow quickly. To make sure that these transactions run smoothly, proactive management specifically to ensure the minimisation of cost, lowering of risk, and the elimination of inefficiencies is needed.

Blockchain technology works by establishing a peer-to-peer network where each participant maintains a database a ledger of all the networks transactions. Compiled into blocks, transactions are then linked together using cryptographic hashes, forming a chain. The cryptographically connected blocks create an underlying data layer that provides a common, unified view of information for parties who can access the data. This gives organisations a new way of establishing trusted business networks.

Mention blockchain to CTOs and technology leaders, and their reply will probably include epithets such as has potential, experimental platform, and the dreaded, still in its infancy. To paraphrase Star Wars Jedi master Yoda, Shrouded in mist are the business benefits of blockchain technology. Atlas City CEO and co-founder Darren Oliveiro-Priestnall demystifies the technology and spotlights some business benefits. Read here

Today, building a scalable blockchain network with existing technologies is complex to set up and hard to manage. To create a blockchain network, each network member needs to manually provision hardware, install software, create and manage certificates for access control, and configure networking components. Once the blockchain network is running, you need to continuously monitor the infrastructure and adapt to changes, such as an increase in transaction requests, or new members joining or leaving the network.

Blockchain technology use cases, built on Amazon Web Services (AWS) are addressing customer pain points and enabling new ways of doing business across a range of industries.

Farmers collect large volumes of data with each step in the planting and harvesting process. Licensed data data that qualifies as intellectual property of the farmer such as which crops to plant or how many seedlings can be anonymised, sold to third parties and offer the agricultural industry with real-time insights on farms across the world. However, farmers are unsure how to monetize this crop data.

Farmobile addresses these challenges through a blockchain-based exchange, built on AWS. The solution empowers farmers to licence data to approved buyers and includes account set up, creation, confirmation, execution of the offer, and delivery of the digital asset. They can seamlessly sell single-use licenses while keeping their farms identity completely anonymous. However, farmers have full visibility into the identities of potential data buyers, such as agronomists, equipment producers, and retailers, and are free to decline offers.

Farmobile is working towards global expansion so that it can assist more farmers in making crop data a more valuable commodity. Farmobile sees building its blockchain-based exchange on AWS as crucial to its growth potential, enabling the business to scale fast while ensuring high security and compliance standards.

Another case study for blockchain technology in business is the financial sector in the Philippines. Here, rural banks lack the resources of larger banking institutions, making it nearly impossible for them to thrive or survive. This has left a large majority of rural-based Filipinos with little or no banking access.

How CIOs and CTOs can succeed in todays evolving financial landscape and support and meet the demands of both the organisation and customers. Read here

UnionBank, a pioneer in its use of blockchain technology, joined forces with ConsenSys, an AWS Partner, to build a blockchain solution that would resolve this issue. The new, blockchain-based solution created a decentralised, cost-efficient, and near real-time network, allowing for the execution of domestic payments without relying on existing banking infrastructure and intermediaries. Furthermore, by using Kaleido a ConsenSys business built for enterprise blockchain technologies on AWS, UnionBank saved money, time and effort required to build a blockchain solution from scratch, all the while ensuring that AWS provided baked-in security at an infrastructure level.

The blockchain solution introduced means that rural banks no longer have to shoulder the burden of manually processing back-office transactions, freeing up staff to serve more customers. As such, the technology not only increased banking access and inclusivity, but drove sustainable future banking practices.

Another example comes from the oil and gas industry. Moving resources through the oil and gas supply chain involves many stakeholders, including landowners, governments, oil and gas company operators, surveyors, and financial institutions. One critical step occurs between those mining the oil and royalty owners on whose land the oil is mined. Checking royalty transaction payments is a lengthy, manual process where stakeholders must agree to contract terms upfront. However, those terms are often interpreted differently on either side, often leading to disputes.

Many industries have exploited the exciting opportunities to improve operations via digital transformation, but the oil and gas sector has lagged behind. Ron Beck, Energy Industry Director, AspenTech, explains why its time for digitisation in this heavy, asset-intensive industry. Read here

GuildOne believed companies needed more efficient, secure, and cost-effective ways to execute a royalty contract transactions. They developed a solution through which contract terms are capable of being replicated, and consensus agreed using blockchain technology. By doing so, they mitigated the possibility of disputes and eliminated a large chunk of the expense of contract administration.

To build its royalty ledger and to meet the stringent privacy and security needs of its stakeholders, GuildOne chose to use R3s Corda a blockchain platform built for business and longevity on AWS. Believing that the security capabilities gained would be vital in enabling rapid adoption of the royalty ledger solution in the oil and gas industry.

Blockchain solutions are transforming the ways companies and individuals do business, locally and globally, by simplifying transactions and increasing their efficiency. Those looking to take advantage of the technology should partner with cloud providers capable of scaling up while delivering cyber security controls and standards to protect from external attacks.

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Three new ways of doing business enabled by blockchain - Information Age

CasperLabs Pivots Away From Ethereum to Fundraise With Its Own Blockchain – CoinDesk

Some crypto startups, including Solana and Dapper Labs, are eager to execute fundraising plans regardless of any coronavirus-induced downturn.

Likewise, CasperLabs, the startup formerly advised by Ethereum Foundation researcher Vlad Zamfir, is now partnering with the Singapore-registered exchange BitMax to conduct its token sale in the form of an Exchange Validator Offering (EVO).

Its a really attractive opportunity to participate with the same terms that are usually only available to institutional investors, said CasperLabs COO Clifford Sarkin.

This fundraising effort comes after the startup raised $14.5 million in 2019 from investors like Arrington XRP Capital and Terren Scott Peizer, who the New York Times dubbed Wall Streets jack-of-all-trades. It originally focused on Casper protocol experiments.

Since then, CEO Mrinal Manohar said the startup switched to developing a new blockchain inspired by Ethereums proof-of-stake plans for participants to deposit their tokens as a way to fuel the network. Manohars team of 26 developers and researchers, out of a total staff of 34, plan to launch the new blockchains mainnet before 2021. Investor Michael Arrington said hes not sure whether his firm will participate in the upcoming token sale before CasperLabs mainnet launch.

We will very likely run a node, Arrington said. We havent made a decision yet on further investment.

In the meantime, starting on March 30, a new CasperLabs token (CLX) will be sold to retail investors through BitMax, which predominantly serves traders in China, Vietnam, South Korea, Russia and India.

The exchange will automatically stake CLX for buyers when the mainnet launches later this year, after which there will be an enforced 90-day lock up to prevent prompt sell-offs.

The target audience is for a more sophisticated demographic, since this token wont be liquid at launch, said Shane Molidor, head of business development at BitMax.

BitMax is especially popular with crypto traders in Japan and China, where token sales to non-accredited investors may not attract enforcement from securities regulators, as they do in the U.S. But BitMax and CasperLabs are officially registered in Singapore and Switzerland, respectively. And American retail investors will be barred from the sale, Manohar said.

Molidor added that, across the board, his exchange saw more than a 272 percent surge in trading volume this month, compared to February. The coronavirus crisis may turn out to be a boon for exchanges.

As such, BitMax is committed to operating a full node at CasperLabs mainnet launch to facilitate staking services for CLX and selling up to $3 million worth of tokens, as evaluated by both participating companies.

On a relative valuation basis, were allowing people to come in at the ground floor, Manohar said. It performs exactly like ether will perform when Ethereum becomes a primarily proof-of-stake chain.

CasperLabs, one of many prospective smart-contract-based Ethereum competitors, is betting its security setup on the hope that the network will quickly decentralize.

Manohar said the team is in talks with several other exchanges and companies that offer staking services. But, as it stands, so far just a few people are committed to staking or running nodes, which could invalidate the security model if it isnt eventually resolved. Series A investor Omer Ozden of Rocktree Capital said his firm plans to participate in a private token sale and rely on staking services to utilize the tokens.

We also have a wide ecosystem of partners, clients and projects we have invested in, Ozden said. In China particularly, blockchain is being rapidly adopted by large and medium-sized enterprises because of the government's top-down directive.

From Ozdens perspective, he said he wants to see this project as part of the emergence of Wall Street 2.0.

Meanwhile, CasperLabs employees will retain roughly 8 percent of the token supply, restricted with a three-year vesting period. Manohar said the total token supply, yet to be launched, will be worth an estimated $100 million.

When asked how to sell such assets to retail investors in coronavirus-stricken jurisdictions, he replied terms reflect several things to protect risk, such as the prospect of built-in yields once the network launches.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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CasperLabs Pivots Away From Ethereum to Fundraise With Its Own Blockchain - CoinDesk

Blockchain in the Current Monetary System – ICO Examiner News

Researchers from the Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre have published their views on a number of ways blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) could be beneficially integrated into the current financial system and the competition existing fiat currency providers will face from the private sector.

The report provides insights into the existing non-DLT fiat system, the advantages DLT can offer, the role of cryptocurrencies and fiat-backed stablecoins, as well as central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

Interest in DLT by European financial and governmental institutions has been expressed on multiple occasions this year. The European CommissionsFinal Report on Study on Blockchains (Legal, governance and interoperability aspects) recently came into print and the European Central Bank (ECB) published a working paper in January looking at Tiered CBDC and the Financial System.

Shortly after taking office, ECB President Christine Lagarde voiced her intent to accelerate research into a European CBDC and provide answers to the questions surrounding what it would mean for the individual participating nations and the technical challenges involved.

The Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre suggest a convenient way for central banks to trial a CBDC is to introduce the concept on a wholesale, rather than retail, basis. Such a scheme would only involve central and commercial banks and possibly other financial institutions, excluding access to all members of the public and most corporations.

It is reasoned that while a CBDC could counteract private crypto assets such as Bitcoin only if central banks used DLT in the retail market its use in the wholesale environment could bring to an end to the current tiered-banking system, in which smaller banks must hold accounts at bigger banks which then hold accounts at the central banks.

Such a move, according to the authors, would provide higher efficiency, resilience, competition and less credit risk in the payment sector since all participants could settle their transactions and hold customer deposits in risk-free central bank money.

Although a risk-free fiat currency is a misnomer to most of those active in the independent blockchain community, the Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre assert that now is time for central banks to participate in the process of innovating and digitising the money and payment system.

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Blockchain in the Current Monetary System - ICO Examiner News

Santander and Ripple Launching Blockchain-Powered Payment Service in Mexico – The Daily Hodl

Santander, the 16th largest bank in the world with $1.74 trillion assets under management, is planning to launch its Ripple-powered payments app One Pay FX in Mexico this year.

The blockchain-based international payment solution, which went live in 2018, has already added six countries: Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Poland, Portugal and Chile.

According to a filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Santanders multi-corridor international blockchain app aims to offer customers increased transparency and predictability, and improve the current sub-optimal customer experience and client stickiness through a best-in-class global payment system.

Traditional borderless payments can take up to five days to process. One Pay FX says its users can expect their payments to arrive on the same day while benefiting from competitive rates.

The app also provides a seamless digital experience with several details about each transaction including bank fees, exchange rates, estimated delivery time and a notification that the money has been received.

One Pay FX uses Ripples payment messaging system, as opposed to Ripples native token XRP, to move money between currencies. The tech product, which is a competitor to the international financial network Swift, helps banks settle fiat-to-fiat transactions in real time by using messaging to clarify and verify transaction details.

Featured Image: Shutterstock/Yurchanka Siarhei

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Santander and Ripple Launching Blockchain-Powered Payment Service in Mexico - The Daily Hodl

Animoca Brands partners with Atari to create blockchain-based virtual theme park – Proactive Investors Australia

Under the terms of the agreement, Atari will receive large digital spaces, known as ESTATEs, in The Sandbox gaming metaverse.

Animoca Brands Corporation Limiteds blockchain gaming platform The Sandbox is partnering with Atari, one of the worlds most iconic gaming brands, to create 3D voxel versions of beloved Atari game properties including Asteroids, Centipede, Pong and RollerCoaster Tycoon.

The Sandbox is a virtual world where players can build, own and monetise their own voxel gaming experiences on the Ethereum blockchain.

The teams vision is to offer a deeply immersive metaverse in which virtual worlds and games will be created collaboratively and without central authority.

Under the terms of the agreement, Atari will receive large digital spaces, known as ESTATEs, in The Sandbox gaming metaverse.

On these ESTATEs, 3D voxelized versions of Ataris classic and most popular gaming creations will be made available to players when The Sandbox publicly launches later this year.

Furthermore, Atari and The Sandbox will develop Atari-inspired in-game ASSETs for game creators to use in their own games.

The Sandbox chief operating officer and co-founder Sebastien Borget said: Atari is rightly celebrated as a pioneer in the world of gaming, and this partnership continues the brands innovation by bringing its treasured gaming heritage into the decentralized, blockchain-based metaverse of The Sandbox.

Together, we are making history by creating the first virtual Atari theme park on blockchain, and it will be really fun for our players to play, explore, and create inside Atari-inspired virtual worlds.

Atari chief executive officer Frdric Chesnais said: Given that Ataris iconic brands introduced so many people to their very first interactive entertainment, it only makes sense for us to be part of the imaginative experience that is The Sandbox.

This exciting collaboration with The Sandbox also expands and deepens Ataris strategic involvement in Blockchain-powered and cryptocurrency-fueled entertainment.

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Animoca Brands partners with Atari to create blockchain-based virtual theme park - Proactive Investors Australia

Blockchain – Wikipedia

distributed data store for digital transactions

A blockchain,[1][2][3] originally block chain,[4][5] is a growing list of records, called blocks, that are linked using cryptography.[1][6] Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,[6] a timestamp, and transaction data (generally represented as a Merkle tree).

By design, a blockchain is resistant to modification of the data. It is "an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way".[7] For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for inter-node communication and validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires consensus of the network majority. Although blockchain records are not unalterable, blockchains may be considered secure by design and exemplify a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been claimed with a blockchain.[8]

Blockchain was invented by a person (or group of people) using the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin.[1] The identity of Satoshi Nakamoto is unknown. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double-spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has inspired other applications,[1][3] and blockchains that are readable by the public are widely used by cryptocurrencies. Blockchain is considered a type of payment rail.[9] Private blockchains have been proposed for business use. Sources such as Computerworld called the marketing of such blockchains without a proper security model "snake oil".[10]

The first work on a cryptographically secured chain of blocks was described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta.[6][11] They wanted to implement a system where document timestamps could not be tampered with. In 1992, Bayer, Haber and Stornetta incorporated Merkle trees to the design, which improved its efficiency by allowing several document certificates to be collected into one block.[6][12]

The first blockchain was conceptualized by a person (or group of people) known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Nakamoto improved the design in an important way using a Hashcash-like method to timestamp blocks without requiring them to be signed by a trusted party and introducing a difficulty parameter to stabilize rate with which blocks are added to the chain.[6] The design was implemented the following year by Nakamoto as a core component of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions on the network.[1]

In August 2014, the bitcoin blockchain file size, containing records of all transactions that have occurred on the network, reached 20GB (gigabytes).[13] In January 2015, the size had grown to almost 30GB, and from January 2016 to January 2017, the bitcoin blockchain grew from 50GB to 100GB in size. The ledger size had exceeded 200 GiB by early 2020.[14]

The words block and chain were used separately in Satoshi Nakamoto's original paper, but were eventually popularized as a single word, blockchain, by 2016.

According to Accenture, an application of the diffusion of innovations theory suggests that blockchains attained a 13.5% adoption rate within financial services in 2016, therefore reaching the early adopters phase.[15] Industry trade groups joined to create the Global Blockchain Forum in 2016, an initiative of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.

In May 2018, Gartner found that only 1% of CIOs indicated any kind of blockchain adoption within their organisations, and only 8% of CIOs were in the short-term "planning or [looking at] active experimentation with blockchain".[16]

A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and oftentimes public, digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.[1][17] This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions independently and relatively inexpensively.[18] A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. They are authenticated by mass collaboration powered by collective self-interests.[19] Such a design facilitates robust workflow where participants' uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving the long-standing problem of double spending. A blockchain has been described as a value-exchange protocol.[20] A blockchain can maintain title rights because, when properly set up to detail the exchange agreement, it provides a record that compels offer and acceptance.

Blocks hold batches of valid transactions that are hashed and encoded into a Merkle tree.[1] Each block includes the cryptographic hash of the prior block in the blockchain, linking the two. The linked blocks form a chain.[1] This iterative process confirms the integrity of the previous block, all the way back to the original genesis block.[21]

Sometimes separate blocks can be produced concurrently, creating a temporary fork. In addition to a secure hash-based history, any blockchain has a specified algorithm for scoring different versions of the history so that one with a higher score can be selected over others. Blocks not selected for inclusion in the chain are called orphan blocks.[21] Peers supporting the database have different versions of the history from time to time. They keep only the highest-scoring version of the database known to them. Whenever a peer receives a higher-scoring version (usually the old version with a single new block added) they extend or overwrite their own database and retransmit the improvement to their peers. There is never an absolute guarantee that any particular entry will remain in the best version of the history forever. Blockchains are typically built to add the score of new blocks onto old blocks and are given incentives to extend with new blocks rather than overwrite old blocks. Therefore, the probability of an entry becoming superseded decreases exponentially[22] as more blocks are built on top of it, eventually becoming very low.[1][23]:ch. 08[24] For example, bitcoin uses a proof-of-work system, where the chain with the most cumulative proof-of-work is considered the valid one by the network. There are a number of methods that can be used to demonstrate a sufficient level of computation. Within a blockchain the computation is carried out redundantly rather than in the traditional segregated and parallel manner.[25]

The block time is the average time it takes for the network to generate one extra block in the blockchain. Some blockchains create a new block as frequently as every five seconds. By the time of block completion, the included data becomes verifiable. In cryptocurrency, this is practically when the transaction takes place, so a shorter block time means faster transactions. The block time for Ethereum is set to between 14 and 15 seconds, while for bitcoin it is on average 10 minutes.[citation needed]

A hard fork is a rule change such that the software validating according to the old rules will see the blocks produced according to the new rules as invalid. In case of a hard fork, all nodes meant to work in accordance with the new rules need to upgrade their software.

By storing data across its peer-to-peer network, the blockchain eliminates a number of risks that come with data being held centrally.[1] The decentralized blockchain may use ad hoc message passing and distributed networking.

Peer-to-peer blockchain networks lack centralized points of vulnerability that computer crackers can exploit; likewise, it has no central point of failure. Blockchain security methods include the use of public-key cryptography.[4]:5 A public key (a long, random-looking string of numbers) is an address on the blockchain. Value tokens sent across the network are recorded as belonging to that address. A private key is like a password that gives its owner access to their digital assets or the means to otherwise interact with the various capabilities that blockchains now support. Data stored on the blockchain is generally considered incorruptible.[1]

Every node in a decentralized system has a copy of the blockchain. Data quality is maintained by massive database replication[8] and computational trust. No centralized "official" copy exists and no user is "trusted" more than any other.[4] Transactions are broadcast to the network using software. Messages are delivered on a best-effort basis. Mining nodes validate transactions,[21] add them to the block they are building, and then broadcast the completed block to other nodes.[23]:ch. 08 Blockchains use various time-stamping schemes, such as proof-of-work, to serialize changes.[27] Alternative consensus methods include proof-of-stake.[21] Growth of a decentralized blockchain is accompanied by the risk of centralization because the computer resources required to process larger amounts of data become more expensive.[28]

Open blockchains are more user-friendly than some traditional ownership records, which, while open to the public, still require physical access to view. Because all early blockchains were permissionless, controversy has arisen over the blockchain definition. An issue in this ongoing debate is whether a private system with verifiers tasked and authorized (permissioned) by a central authority should be considered a blockchain.[29][30][31][32][33] Proponents of permissioned or private chains argue that the term "blockchain" may be applied to any data structure that batches data into time-stamped blocks. These blockchains serve as a distributed version of multiversion concurrency control (MVCC) in databases.[34] Just as MVCC prevents two transactions from concurrently modifying a single object in a database, blockchains prevent two transactions from spending the same single output in a blockchain.[35]:3031 Opponents say that permissioned systems resemble traditional corporate databases, not supporting decentralized data verification, and that such systems are not hardened against operator tampering and revision.[29][31] Nikolai Hampton of Computerworld said that "many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases," and "without a clear security model, proprietary blockchains should be eyed with suspicion."[10][36]

The great advantage to an open, permissionless, or public, blockchain network is that guarding against bad actors is not required and no access control is needed.[22] This means that applications can be added to the network without the approval or trust of others, using the blockchain as a transport layer.[22]

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies currently secure their blockchain by requiring new entries to include a proof of work. To prolong the blockchain, bitcoin uses Hashcash puzzles. While Hashcash was designed in 1997 by Adam Back, the original idea was first proposed by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor and Eli Ponyatovski in their 1992 paper "Pricing via Processing or Combatting Junk Mail".

Financial companies have not prioritised decentralized blockchains.[citation needed]

In 2016, venture capital investment for blockchain-related projects was weakening in the USA but increasing in China.[37] Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies use open (public) blockchains. As of April2018[update], bitcoin has the highest market capitalization.

Permissioned blockchains use an access control layer to govern who has access to the network.[38] In contrast to public blockchain networks, validators on private blockchain networks are vetted by the network owner. They do not rely on anonymous nodes to validate transactions nor do they benefit from the network effect.[citation needed] Permissioned blockchains can also go by the name of 'consortium' blockchains.[citation needed]

Nikolai Hampton pointed out in Computerworld that "There is also no need for a '51 percent' attack on a private blockchain, as the private blockchain (most likely) already controls 100 percent of all block creation resources. If you could attack or damage the blockchain creation tools on a private corporate server, you could effectively control 100 percent of their network and alter transactions however you wished."[10] This has a set of particularly profound adverse implications during a financial crisis or debt crisis like the financial crisis of 200708, where politically powerful actors may make decisions that favor some groups at the expense of others,[39][40] and "the bitcoin blockchain is protected by the massive group mining effort. It's unlikely that any private blockchain will try to protect records using gigawatts of computing power it's time consuming and expensive."[10] He also said, "Within a private blockchain there is also no 'race'; there's no incentive to use more power or discover blocks faster than competitors. This means that many in-house blockchain solutions will be nothing more than cumbersome databases."[10]

The analysis of public blockchains has become increasingly important with the popularity of bitcoin, Ethereum, litecoin and other cryptocurrencies.[41] A blockchain, if it is public, provides anyone who wants access to observe and analyse the chain data, given one has the know-how. The process of understanding and accessing the flow of crypto has been an issue for many cryptocurrencies, crypto-exchanges and banks.[42][43] The reason for this is accusations of blockchain enabled cryptocurrencies enabling illicit dark market trade of drugs, weapons, money laundering etc.[44] A common belief has been that cryptocurrency is private and untraceable, thus leading many actors to use it for illegal purposes. This is changing and now specialised tech-companies provide blockchain tracking services, making crypto exchanges, law-enforcement and banks more aware of what is happening with crypto funds and fiat crypto exchanges. The development, some argue, has led criminals to prioritise use of new cryptos such as Monero.[45][46][47] The question is about public accessibility of blockchain data and the personal privacy of the very same data. It is a key debate in cryptocurrency and ultimately in blockchain.[48]

Blockchain technology can be integrated into multiple areas. The primary use of blockchains today is as a distributed ledger for cryptocurrencies, most notably bitcoin. There are a few operational products maturing from proof of concept by late 2016.[37] Businesses have been thus far reluctant to place blockchain at the core of the business structure.[49]

Most cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to record transactions. For example, the bitcoin network and Ethereum network are both based on blockchain. On 8 May 2018 Facebook confirmed that it would open a new blockchain group[50] which would be headed by David Marcus, who previously was in charge of Messenger. Facebook's planned cryptocurrency platform, Libra, was formally announced on June 18, 2019.[51][52]

Blockchain-based smart contracts are proposed contracts that can be partially or fully executed or enforced without human interaction.[53] One of the main objectives of a smart contract is automated escrow. An IMF staff discussion reported that smart contracts based on blockchain technology might reduce moral hazards and optimize the use of contracts in general. But "no viable smart contract systems have yet emerged." Due to the lack of widespread use their legal status is unclear.[54][55]

Major portions of the financial industry are implementing distributed ledgers for use in banking,[56][57][58] and according to a September 2016 IBM study, this is occurring faster than expected.[59]

Banks are interested in this technology because it has potential to speed up back office settlement systems.[60]

Banks such as UBS are opening new research labs dedicated to blockchain technology in order to explore how blockchain can be used in financial services to increase efficiency and reduce costs.[61][62]

Berenberg, a German bank, believes that blockchain is an "overhyped technology" that has had a large number of "proofs of concept", but still has major challenges, and very few success stories.[63]

In December 2018, Bitwala (a crypto-friendly banking service[64]) launched Europe's first regulated blockchain banking solution that enables users to manage both their Bitcoin and Euro deposits in one place with the safety and convenience of a German bank account. The bank account is hosted by the Berlin-based solarisBank.[65]

The blockchain has also given rise to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) as well as a new category of digital asset called Security Token Offerings (STOs), also sometimes referred to as Digital Security Offerings (DSOs).[66] STO/DSOs may be conducted privately or on a public, regulated stock exchange and are used to tokenize traditional assets such as company shares as well as more innovative ones like intellectual property, real estate, art, or individual products. A number of companies are active in this space providing services for compliant tokenization, private STOs, and public STOs.

A blockchain game CryptoKitties, launched in November 2017.[67] The game made headlines in December 2017 when a cryptokitty character - an in-game virtual pet - was sold for more than US$100,000.[68] CryptoKitties illustrated scalability problems for games on Ethereum when it created significant congestion on the Ethereum network with about 30% of all Ethereum transactions being for the game.[69]

CryptoKitties also demonstrated how blockchains can be used to catalog game assets (digital assets).[70]

There are a number of efforts and industry organizations working to employ blockchains in supply chain logistics and supply chain management.

The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) works to develop open standards for supply chains.[citation needed]

Everledger is one of the inaugural clients of IBM's blockchain-based tracking service.[71]

Walmart and IBM are running a trial to use a blockchain-backed system for supply chain monitoring all nodes of the blockchain are administered by Walmart and are located on the IBM cloud.[72]

Hyperledger Grid develops open components for blockchain supply chain solutions.[73][74]

Blockchain technology can be used to create a permanent, public, transparent ledger system for compiling data on sales, tracking digital use and payments to content creators, such as wireless users[75] or musicians.[76] In 2017, IBM partnered with ASCAP and PRS for Music to adopt blockchain technology in music distribution.[77] Imogen Heap's Mycelia service has also been proposed as blockchain-based alternative "that gives artists more control over how their songs and associated data circulate among fans and other musicians."[78][79]

New distribution methods are available for the insurance industry such as peer-to-peer insurance, parametric insurance and microinsurance following the adoption of blockchain.[80][81] The sharing economy and IoT are also set to benefit from blockchains because they involve many collaborating peers.[82] Online voting is another application of the blockchain.[83][84] The use of blockchain in libraries is being studied with a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.[85]

Other designs include:

Currently, there are at least four types of blockchain networks public blockchains, private blockchains, consortium blockchains and hybrid blockchains.

A public blockchain has absolutely no access restrictions. Anyone with an Internet connection can send transactions to it as well as become a validator (i.e., participate in the execution of a consensus protocol).[89][self-published source?] Usually, such networks offer economic incentives for those who secure them and utilize some type of a Proof of Stake or Proof of Work algorithm.

Some of the largest, most known public blockchains are the bitcoin blockchain and the Ethereum blockchain.

A private blockchain is permissioned.[38] One cannot join it unless invited by the network administrators. Participant and validator access is restricted.

A hybrid blockchain has a combination of centralized and decentralized features.[90] The exact workings of the chain can vary based on which portions of centralization decentralization are used.

In October 2014, the MIT Bitcoin Club, with funding from MIT alumni, provided undergraduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology access to $100 of bitcoin. The adoption rates, as studied by Catalini and Tucker (2016), revealed that when people who typically adopt technologies early are given delayed access, they tend to reject the technology.[91]

The need for internal audit to provide effective oversight of organizational efficiency will require a change in the way that information is accessed in new formats.[92] Blockchain adoption requires a framework to identify the risk of exposure associated with transactions using blockchain. The Institute of Internal Auditors has identified the need for internal auditors to address this transformational technology. New methods are required to develop audit plans that identify threats and risks. The Internal Audit Foundation study, Blockchain and Internal Audit, assesses these factors. [93] The AICPA has outlined new roles for auditors as a result of blockchain.[94]

The Bank for International Settlements has criticized the public proof-of-work blockchains for high energy consumption.[97][95][98] Nicholas Weaver, of the International Computer Science Institute at the University of California, Berkeley examines blockchain's online security, and the energy efficiency of proof-of-work public blockchains, and in both cases finds it grossly inadequate.[96][99] The 3145 TWh of electricity used for Bitcoin in 2018 produced 1722.9 MtCO2.[100][101]

In September 2015, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology research, Ledger, was announced. The inaugural issue was published in December 2016.[102] The journal covers aspects of mathematics, computer science, engineering, law, economics and philosophy that relate to cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.[103][104]

The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a file hash of submitted papers, which are then timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers for non-repudiation purposes.[105]

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Blockchain - Wikipedia

IBMs Blockchain Will Support The MiPasa COVID-19 Data Project – Forbes

IBM logo is seen on the office building in Krakow, Poland on February 28, 2020. (Photo by Jakub ... [+] Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Announced on March 27th, IBMs Blockchain Platform will support the data steaming service for the MiPasa Project.MiPasa is utilizing data analytics and privacy tools for the public health analysis of COVID-19.

The information is sourced from the World Health Organization, the Center of Disease Control and others similar agencies.

From the press release, MiPasa is designed to make it possible to synthesize data sources, address their inconsistencies, help identify errors or misreporting and seamlessly integrate credible new feeds. Our hope is that this tool can help technologists, data scientists and public health officials by giving them the data they need at scale to respond and devise solutions that can help subdue the outbreak or support recovery.

A multi-disciplinary group of health professionals supports MiPasa. Along side are software developers and privacy experts who are working together to gather reliable, quality data, and make it accessible to the appropriate entities.

Member on-boarding is done through the Unbounded Network, which is running a production version of The Linux Foundations Hyperledger Fabric on multiple clouds. IBM has been among the early supporters of the Unbounded Network.

MiPasa is starting to get off the ground.

From their website, corporations, such as IBM, Oracle and Microsoft, and organizations like the World Health Organization and John Hopkins University, among others, are supporting the effort.

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IBMs Blockchain Will Support The MiPasa COVID-19 Data Project - Forbes

Algorand Launches A Blockchain App To Help Battle The Coronavirus – CryptoPotato

The Singapore-based blockchain company, Algorand Foundation, has launched an application called IReport-Covid to help the fight against the novel COVID-19. Users can fulfill a survey, which will soon be publicly posted on the Algorand blockchain to ensure free and constant access.

At the time of this writing, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is exceeding 600,000. The death tolls are close to 30,000, and the effects are not slowing down. In attempts to fight it, numerous health organizations, businesses, and even individuals are launching different initiatives.

Such is the case with IReport-Covid application by the blockchain company Algorand Foundation. It allows symptomatic and non-symptomatic users to directly report any information they wish about the virus anonymously by filling a survey.

According to the website, this will teach us about how COVID-19 is affecting people in real-time, which can help inform the public and studies on the pandemic now and into the future. All responses cannot be altered or dismissed and are automatically posted publicly on the Algorand blockchain to guarantee free and permanent access to anyone.

Once theres a sufficient amount of reports, the app will publish aggregate statistics and will introduce tools for the community to build applications using the collected data.

Its worth noting though that the app does not provide medical advice nor treatment consultations regarding the issue.

According to Dr. Tal Rabin, the person who managed the research team, the application can provide invaluable data, which can ultimately help other people in their personal struggles. She also believes that the app could be beneficial in receiving information for future viruses, as well:

The Algorand Foundation app leverages blockchain technology to provide users with timely, transparent, and permanent information sharing tools. The app serves as a tool to deliver information during the current crisis and support future research on epidemics.

Dr. Rabit added that sharing and obtaining accurate data will be essential in ending the novel virus:

The need for information is one of the key requirements in the fight against the Corona epidemic, with many emergency operations in the world having to rely on up-to-date information.

There are many sources related to Corona today, but very little information is coming directly from the people in the community. I hope more people in the world will respond to the questionnaires in our app so that we can gather meaningful information.

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Self-Proclaimed Worlds Lightest Blockchain Rolls Out Phase Three of Its Testnet – Cointelegraph

A new cryptocurrency ecosystem claiming to be the worlds lightest blockchain has ostensibly grown to become one of the largest layer 1 testnets by peer count in the industry.

Speaking Cointelegraph on March 24, the developers behind Coda Protocol said that phase three of the networks testnet launch has now drawn over 400 users with 300 users signing up to stake, and 143 maximum concurrent users.

When compared with data from block explorers for other testnets as well as anecdotal information from professional validators Coda claims this peer count already makes it competitive with established testnets such as Celo, Solana, Cosmos, and Cardano.

The Coda Protocol, created by software development firm O(1) Labs, uses recursive zk-SNARKs, or zero-knowledge proofs, to improve scalability and operate as a tiny, portable blockchain that can be downloaded on smartphones and browsers, or integrated into decentralized applications.

As reported, zk-SNARKs are a cryptographic primitive that can sever any tractable piece of data between two parties over a public medium, such as a blockchain. They are therefore commonly used to enhance digital privacy for transactions using cryptocurrencies, as with the anonymity-focused altcoin Zcash (ZEC).

Yet beyond their privacy potential, they are also, as Codas developers emphasize, extremely lightweight, and therefore well suited to lighten the overall data size of a given blockchain.

The Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain has a current blockchain size of roughly260,900 MB with nodes needing to download the entire chain in order to verify that it is correct and reach consensus.

Such resource-intensivity, Codas developers argue, places increasingly high barriers to entry for participant nodes, compromising decentralization and potentially rendering the network more vulnerable to a 51% attack. In trying to tackle this problem, they write:

What weve done with Coda is replace that whole transaction history with a lightweight, zero-knowledge proof (recursive zk-SNARKs), which is only about a kilobyte, or the size of a few tweets, so you only need to look at that small proof to know that the current state of the blockchain is correct.

In this view, the lighter a blockchain, the larger and more inclusive the pool of eligible validating nodes can be.

Alongside its testnet launch, Coda has rolled out a token program called Genesis, distributing 6.6% of all tokens to founding members to prepare them to become block producers on the network. The team has reportedly already received 1,300 applicants wanting to join Genesis and has onboarded 40 founding members to its first cohort.

Among these members is Libra Association founding member and blockchain infrastructure provider Bison Trails, as well as Figment Networks a validator on the decentralized Ethereum-compatible network Skale.

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Self-Proclaimed Worlds Lightest Blockchain Rolls Out Phase Three of Its Testnet - Cointelegraph

Bitcoin Bays post-work meet-ups helped give birth to the blockchain community – ITBusiness.ca

You can credit a good portion of Torontos crypto and blockchain communitys to the free time of hobbyists and tinkerers.

Sure, the decentralized smart contract platform ethereum, widely viewed as a successor to Bitcoin, put the citys blockchain community on the map. But it was the people who devoted their free time to learn about this brave new blockchain technology underpinning bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that laid the groundwork for the community that would eventually become a front-runner in blockchain technologies.

And many of those hobbyists dropped in on one ofBitcoin Bays after-work meet-ups.

Bitcoin Bays gatherings started small, says Edward Buchi, as in, really small. Like beers in a pub sometimes itd be four of us, he recalls. It was 2014 and Decentral had started winding down their meet-ups to focus on their own projects. Edward Buchi, alongside Jerry Qian, Allwyn DSouza, Leonard Fiadzinu, and Antonine De Vuyst, all met and kept it alive, bonding over their shared interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Over the years, (the meet-ups) got bigger.

At the end of 2017, when cryptocurrency catapulted into the public eye, their meet-ups drew crowds of more than 100 people.

There was so much hype around crypto, says Buchi.

But the Bitcoin Bay co-founders already knew it was going to be big. Bitcoin Bay had become a bit of a sounding board for the community, helping blockchain startups explore new applications for the technology behind cryptocurrency.

We were acting as an advisory service to these startups, all in the capacity of being a meet-up, says Fiadzinu, another of the Bitcoin Bay co-founders. They realized there was an opportunity to still build the community and run the events on the side while also evolving into a business. We have these connections weve developed over time, this technical expertise now we need to mirror that and help this space grow as well (ourselves) and monetize it.

So they transitioned their model, working with clients to develop decentralized products and advise them on tools within the blockchain landscape. People in the community have a great grasp of what blockchain can theoretically do, they have a good sense of the problem that needs to be solved, says Buchi. But blockchain is like a toolbox there are many different blockchain solutions that could solve a particular problem and sometimes you dont need a blockchain

In the time since Bitcoin Bay launched, Toronto has grown into a leader in the blockchain space. We definitely see a lot more companies than back in 2014 or 2015, says Qian. Ive spoken to a couple of people who have come to Toronto from the UAE just to experience the blockchain space.

From Bitcoin Bays perspective, one of the key missing ingredients is a unified voice representing blockchain that liaises directly with all levels of government. Fiadzinu says it could help keep policymakers informed of the state of the technology.

A bit of breathing room would be helpful, says Fiadzinu, especially given the pace of innovation happening in the blockchain sphere. Freemium, subscriptions, those are typical web 2.0 business models with blockchain (there are) a whole bunch of business models we havent even discovered yet and thats a great opportunity for businesses and startups here in Toronto.

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The UAE Turns to Blockchain to Address the COVID-19 Situation – NullTX

Fighting the COVID-19 outbreak has proven to be incredibly difficult. Existing legacy systems are simply insufficient, which is why the UAE has high hopes for blockchain technology.

Tracking a global pandemic is not doable with databases and other traditional tools.

Instead, it will require the use of innovative and groundbreaking technologies.

For the UAEs Ministry of Community Development, blockchain technology is of great interest.

The use of digital channels makes a lot of sense in this modern era.

Citizens are now identified through a digital identity.

Moreover, the use of blockchain technology is becoming a lot more prominent in the region.

This is in line with the Ministrys transition from paper documents to approved digital documents.

MOCD has been using blockchain technology for digital authentication of certificates and documents for some time now.

It is expected that the DLT system will soon be able to process over 3,00 types of documents in the near future.

All of these measures are needed to deter people from visiting government offices during the COVID-19 crisis.

How the situation will evolve, remains to be determined.

For now, there is no real improvement in sight as far as the COVID-19 situation is concerned.

This may be a good time for other governments to explore blockchain technology in the near future.

Image(s): Shutterstock.com

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The UAE Turns to Blockchain to Address the COVID-19 Situation - NullTX

Could Blockchain be the solution for surveillance and reporting of the Covid-19 pandemic? – Express Computer

By Mohua Sengupta, Co-founder, Ventures

In November 2018, purely out of my keen interest in Blockchain and a little influence from my daughters MUN (Model United Nations) preparation in WHO committee, I had written an article, Unleashing Blockchain for cross-border surveillance & reporting of Communicable Diseases. It was pure research at that point and seemed like a perfect use case for Blockchain. Today this COVID-19 crisis suddenly makes me wonder, that if we had a blockchain based real time reporting of Communicable Diseases, maybe we could have avoided a pandemic?

Biggest challenges for Communicable DiseasesThere are two major challenges with communicable diseases. First in todays globalized world, communicable diseases are extremely hard to contain. They spread like wildfire and moves across political and geographical boundaries at ease, infecting people across countries.Secondly, there is a huge social stigma around Communicable Diseases even today. Man by nature is a social animal and the idea of being separated from fellow human beings is scary to all. So there is a tendency to hide. This tendency is further aggravated by the fact that most people do not respect privacy. Maintaining privacy in case of sharing information about communicable diseases is of utmost importance.

How did COVID 19 start, spread and then become a pandemic?While there are various opinions about this matter and many conspiracy theories are floating around, lets for now just consider the proven cause. The disease started from the wet markets of Wuhan, China, where live and dead animals and birds are sold daily. The virus most likely has originated from Bats, but since bats are not sold in that market, the scientists think that the bat must have bitten a bird or animal that got sold in the Wuhan wet market.

This much we have seen many a times when any new disease hit us. But then whats different with this? How has this virus brought the world to a standstill? We have seen its more dangerous cousins, MARS, SARS etc., but they didnt bring the world to a standstill. Then why Covid 19? The difference is that its very highly contagious, much more than its close cousins. So when one person got infected, he started infecting many in a day and each one of them infected that many and very soon there were thousands of people in Wuhan who were infected.

Since the symptoms are typically like simple flu, people continued to travel and China missed sending the warning to the rest of the world and did not restrict travel to and fro. So, international travelers kept on coming to China and vice versa. More than a month went by before the world woke up to realize that this is a serious threat and by then the disease has already spread to many countries like Italy, Spain, UK, US, Iran and a few others too.

And then while the news of Wuhan epidemic as well as the challenges in the other countries came out, travel was not restricted. It took a couple of more weeks for the travel restrictions to start and by then the virus has travelled to 20 odd countries. Now the world really wakes up and every country starts taking measures to do lockdown by restricting travel and also taking various other measures to reduce spreading of the virus within the country. But by then its a pandemic!

The entire world gets introduced to a very different challenge, business suffers, stock market tanks across the world, many people lose their jobs, not to speak of the enormous loss of life and pressure on the healthcare system of all affected countries.

Could Blockchain have helped the situation?As we all know, with Blockchain we can share any transaction / information, real time, between relevant parties present as nodes in the chain, in a secure and immutable fashion. In this case, had there been a blockchain where WHO, Health Ministry of each country and may be even relevant nodal hospitals of each country, were connected, sharing real time information, about any new communicable disease, then the world might have woken up much earlier. We might have seen travel restrictions given sooner, quarantining policies set sooner and social distancing implemented faster. And may be fewer countries would have got impacted.

What every country is doing now fighting this pandemic, would have been restricted to fewer countries and in a much smaller scale. The usage of a Blockchain to share the information early on, might have saved the world a lot of pain.

Why Blockchain?The top five advantages of Blockchain technology are:#1 Greater transparency#2 Enhanced security#3 Improved traceability#4 Increased efficiency and speed#5 Reduced cost

Arent they all supremely important for reporting cross-border Communicable Disease cases?

The world had not seen anything like this Covid 19 pandemic before. Today we need to take a hard look at the reporting infrastructure available for communicable diseases, both technology and regulations and improve upon that, such that we do not need to face another pandemic like this in the future.

But of course Blockchain, in this case, like any technology is not a solution, its just an enabler. An enabler that would ensure the security and efficiency needed for sharing something so sensitive. Finally it would depend on the goodwill of people and governments.

Wish we come out of this crisis soon and as unscathed as possible!

If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [emailprotected]

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Could Blockchain be the solution for surveillance and reporting of the Covid-19 pandemic? - Express Computer

University of Malta Students who are Enrolled in Masters in Blockchain Program are Now Voting for Student Representatives Using a Decentralized…

A decentralized application (dApp) created at the University of Malta is helping Master students in Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies to cast their votes for student representatives, for the very first time, using blockchain or distributed ledger tech (DLT).

Dr. Joshua Ellul, director at the University of Maltas Center of Distributed Ledger Technologies, stated:

At this time especially, given the current situation, it was important to have a remote voting mechanism in place that enables trust and transparency thanks to the blockchain-based solution.

Dr. Ellul added:

A main challenge to achieve this is onboarding users in a trusted manner and digital identity platforms such as that provided by Vodafone provide a solution.

This dApp was enabled using a decentralized digital identity platform, which leverages blockchain tech provided by Vodafone. The platform allows each trusted user to access enhanced privacy features by giving them complete control of their personal data, instead of it being managed by a centralized authority.

The dApp allows users to cast votes in a transparent manner. Each persons vote can be reliably verified through the digital identity system.

Voters identities remain anonymous throughout the process.

Dr. Ellul confirmed:

We [recently] hosted a student representatives election using a dApp developed in-house and partnered with Vodafone Group Service GmbH, which provided a Digital Identity (#DID) platform. We are pleased to have been the first use-case for the Vodafone DID platform, and as far as we can tell a world first to hold a student election on a blockchain.

He added:

Given the current #COVID19 situation, and in our measures to flatten the curve, this solution enabled for a remote, transparent, verifiable and anonymous election process through the use of blockchain and smart contracts.

The University of Maltas Masters in Blockchain and DLT is a multidisciplinary program. It helps students gain an in-depth understanding of the main areas involved with the development of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, smart contracts, and other DLT-enabled solutions.

It also helps grad students pursue their own particular area of specialization.

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Blockchain and Decentralization Are the Future of Network Security and Privacy – The Daily Hodl

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The problem of privacy and security on the internet is becoming increasingly important. To ensure privacy, traditional centralized solutions can be used along with innovative ones blockchain-powered decentralized tools.

Today there is a rapid growth of decentralized applications (DApps) that are becoming more user-friendly and reaching a high level of functionality. In particular, DApps that can be installed on a hi-tech gadget to increase privacy can be demanded in the market. However, to better understand how the market changes and to predict trends for the near future, its important to look at last years statistics.

Growing threats mean growing demand

Generally speaking, at present three groups are engaged in guerrilla warfare over privacy and internet anonymity. These are government agencies, cybercriminals (hackers) and ordinary internet users, who sometimes intentionally or accidentally provide Facebook with all the personal information, and then complain to Facebook about it.

Unfortunately, sometimes its the users who are the source of their own troubles regular use of simple and popular passwords becomes the reason for hacking social media accounts and emails.

The level of concern is growing, so is internet literacy. Services like Last Pass can make life a lot easier. However, the question arises: how secure is centralized password storage? The answer will be given when addressing the topic of decentralization.

User concern is growing

These statistics reflect the number of internet users worldwide by region (Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, BRICS countries, etc.) that are increasingly concerned about internet privacy, especially when comparing the data with the last year numbers. As can be seen in the graph, 39% of European users were much more concerned about their privacy on the Internet than a year ago. Overall, 53% of internet users worldwide agreed that a year ago they were less worried about this issue.

Meanwhile, lets not forget about the responsibility of every internet user to society and remember that privacy and confidentiality do not imply lawlessness and permissiveness. Governments must remember that protection of the rights of one group of people cannot be done through infringing on the rights of others. If drug dealers used Bitcoin in the past, this does not mean that all Bitcoin enthusiasts do the same. However, such precedents undoubtedly cast a shadow over the entire community.

J.R. Forsyth, founder of Onfo, a blockchain project based on the network mining model, believes that the social aspect is very important for the security of the internet in general and data in particular. He said,

The social responsibility of everyone is a criterion for the development of society and demonstrates its involvement in social processes. Without a doubt, this is exactly what will allow us to improve many mechanics, whether its the issue of user privacy and data security or network marketing systems.

In general, the concern is understandable. Threats to personal data security have grown in connection with technological advances in the 21st century. Now there is a movement towards a more open, transparent and secure use of the internet, as well as towards active actions to protect personal data. For example, many users opt for VPN, TOR and sometimes use them together as a comprehensive security system.

VPN is easy

A virtual private network (VPN) is a tunnel infrastructure between two messages. A VPN essentially gives the user an IP address different from the one that is originally used. It looks as if the user is online from a different geographic location. This is especially useful for accessing censored or inaccessible sites in some countries. Notably, while most VPNs are designed to provide security and privacy, there are still centralized issues that need to be addressed when using traditional VPN services.

Centralized private networks

Traditional VPN servers are hosted by a particular company which controls all the data. These servers are controlled by a commercial organization that charges subscription and bandwidth fees. Even worse, local regulations permit the disclosure of subscriber data. This means that there is a high probability that these companies also store the users personal data. As a result, no central server is secure and can be vulnerable to hackers. Thus, when using centralized VPNs, it is difficult to claim that privacy and security are enhanced.

Decentralized private networks

A decentralized VPN doesnt depend on a single centralized server. That is why such a system becomes more fair, secure and confidential. The way that data is written to the blockchain embodies the very meaning of decentralization.

Basically, a decentralized VPN combines the traffic of many computers and exchanges data using a peer-to-peer system. Thus, each computer acts as a server.

Decentralized VPNs can be built using blockchain technologies significantly increasing their security.

The fact is that blockchain technology allows network nodes to make decisions that affect VPNs. This means that decentralized VPNs cannot be hacked since it requires each network node to be hacked for getting access to the system.

By the way, if you are thinking of VPN integration but cant choose among the number of tools that are available now, it is worth paying attention to the ranking of the safest and most convenient VPNs in 2020.

Not only the internet

The subject of security and confidentiality is extremely extensive. For example, cellular communications is also an area with a number of vulnerabilities. Today the community is witnessing the growth of private communications startups that offer solutions aimed at maintaining the confidentiality of phone calls and internet connections as a part of the GSM system (Global System for Mobile Communications).

Simply put, it is about private cellular companies. Among services offered by such companies are a ban on tracking user location; random routing; outgoing call number substitution; anonymous communication with followers; modification of voice messages and/or voice; a virtual phone number rent for incoming calls, etc.

However, users should always remember that everyday use of VPN connection will be much more expensive than the use of services offered by traditional mobile operators. Besides, it is not entirely clear how law enforcement agencies will react to the popularization of the VPN tools.

The future of internet privacy

To date, the protection from digital giants control can only be avoided by completely disappearing from digital space. The question is whether it is possible in the current conditions without loss of quality and speed of communication, service, and life in general.

Given that more than 50% of Americans think that surveillance of their gadgets by intelligence agencies for no apparent reason is unacceptable, there is no better time than now to think about privacy while you still have it.

In order not to jeopardize your data, a blockchain-based decentralized VPN is the smartest way to securely communicate on the network thanks to the magnitude of the potential security and reliability available with this technology. Since the information is not stored in one central place, hacking becomes practically impossible for cybercriminals. After all, when information is recorded in a blockchain network, it cannot be modified or deleted. Thus, unauthorized access is excluded.

Traditional communication networks are based on centralized servers. The user needs only to exclude a centralized server from this chain to make his personal communication truly private for everyone.

This is no longer just a theory and technology of the future. Decentralized VPNs, devoid of the disadvantages of centralization, are available already now. For example, in the fourth quarter of 2019, the first decentralized VPN was released by Tachyon and now is available on MacOS, Google Play and iOS. The secret lies in a decentralized distribution and processing of data by servers that are distributed around the world and operated by different people.

Another example is Debrief solution aimed at improving security and privacy in the B2B segment. It is noteworthy that it was founded by Jeff Pulver, co-founder ofFree World Dialup and Vonage, among other companies, who gave the world the opportunity to use WhatsApp and Telegram messengers for free.

In addition to these solutions, more than 2,217 active DApps are available on the market, of which more than half (1,445) were developed in 2019. According to Dapp.com, there are about 1.4 million active DApp users and more than a million of them are new users, that is, they have never used any DApps before. Perhaps these figures clearly demonstrate the growing interest in decentralized solutions around the world.

Featured Image: Shutterstock/Shtennikova Evgenia/whiteMocca

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