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DC #Blockchain Hearing Sees Call for Congressional Commission $SX $ $ $ #Blockstation

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:03 AM on Thursday, February 15th, 2018
  • Members of the U.S. House of Representatives got a crash course on blockchain today, with subcommittees of the Science, Space and Technology Committee meeting to hear testimony on the tech
  • During the “Beyond Bitcoin: Emerging Applications for Blockchain Technologyhearing, the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oversight asked a range of questions, primarily aimed at getting a sense of which use cases have attracted the most attention today – and could, in theory, wind up being used by the U.S. government itself.
Feb 14, 2018 at 21:20 UTC  |  Updated  Feb 14, 2018 at 21:25 UTC

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives got a crash course on blockchain today, with subcommittees of the Science, Space and Technology Committee meeting to hear testimony on the tech.

During the “Beyond Bitcoin: Emerging Applications for Blockchain Technologyhearing, the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oversight asked a range of questions, primarily aimed at getting a sense of which use cases have attracted the most attention today – and could, in theory, wind up being used by the U.S. government itself.

Ultimately, the witnesses would recommend that Congress set up a legal framework which would encourage and, perhaps, even fund research into uses of the technology within the public sphere.

“I would encourage Congress to commission a blockchain advisory group,” said Aaron Wright, an associate clinical professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and co-director of its Blockchain Project.

He later elaborated:

“So the idea with the blockchain commission would be to provide a degree of uniformity and a unified approach to the numerous regulatory decisions. Some issues raised by the witnesses today – there’s privacy issue, identity issues, consumer protection, commodities laws, and there’s competing interpretations that have been issued already by federal agencies, so the thought would be to standardize that.”

Applications, not regulations

The hearing pointedly sought to avoid a topic that has been a hot one, both in and outside of Washington, D.C.: regulation. While it was a subject that came up through witness testimony, chair Ralph Abraham (R-LA) said he wanted to focus on what he described as a potentially “transformative” technology.

To that end, the hearing called for examples of how the technology can be used, both in the private sector and by the federal government.

Representative Barbara Comstock (R.-VA) started listing use cases by noting that her personal information was likely stolen or compromised by a data breach at the Office of Personnel Management. As a result, she said she was “pleased” to hear about efforts to create more secure identity management platforms that uses blockchain as a means to encrypt data.

One notable topic of exploration came through Chris Jaikaran, a cybersecurity analyst from the Congressional Research Office, who discussed the tech’s use for underpinning voting systems.

“The blockchain doesn’t record the vote, it records the person, the identity, the voting. The vote itself is stored on another secure system,” he explained.

Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety, Walmart Inc., detailed his company’s work with blockchain to the subcommittee members, explaining how the retail giant is using the tech to track food shipments.

Yiannas spoke on the pilot projects the retail giant had concluded already, explaining that blockchain has already seen success in helping track food supply chains.

He explained:

“In 2017, Walmart and IBM decided to trial a blockchain to track mangos from source to store … at the end of the trial, we proved we could cut down the time to trace food from seven days to 2.2 seconds. That’s food traceability at the speed of thought.”

Security concerns

While committee members seemed enthused on the idea of private-sector blockchains helping businesses solve problems, they shared concerns about using similar platforms to share government-related information. Representatives Clay Higgins (R-LA) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) in particular asked for clarification on how distributed ledgers would be secured from potential attackers.

Charles Romine, director of the Information Technology Lab at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), noted that 51 percent attacks and compromised computers could both disrupt a blockchain, but that these types of attacks would be less dangerous for large – and therefore powerful – networks.

One particular area that was honed in on is quantum computing, which some have warned could undermine the security of blockchain systems.

These concerns are being considered but are at least 15 to 30 years away from becoming a reality, Romine explained.

“If there is a concerted effort to develop quantum computing, I believe we have a number of years before it reaches maturity – what we refer to as being cryptographically relevant.”

Looking ahead

As with any hearing before Congress, the natural question becomes: what comes next?

Prior to the hearing, aides to the committee downplayed the prospects of immediate action, though they floated the idea that the testimony on Wednesday could form the basis of work toward some kind of legislation around blockchain.

IBM’s Jerry Cuomo prepared a list of potential actions Congress could take in order to provide more support for blockchain research. First and foremost, he recommended that the government should encourage projects which can directly impact the U.S.

Cuomo argued in favor of a “thoughtful” approach to legislation.

“Perhaps most importantly, [Congress should] recognize the difference between blockchain’s use in new forms of currency from broader uses of blockchain when considering regulatory policy. Carefully evaluate policies established regarding cryptocurrencies to ensure that there will not be unintended consequences that stymie the innovation and development surrounding blockchain.”

Ultimately, it’s tough to say whether Congress will move on such legislation anytime soon – especially considering the current political climate in the U.S. today – but the process likely moved one step closer through today’s testimony.

Panel image via YouTube


#Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most $SX $ $SXOOF $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 2:01 PM on Monday, February 12th, 2018
  • Blockchain is best known as the technology behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin — a digital currency whose value soared above $19,000 over the last year before slumping to half that when the frenzy subsided
  • But blockchain is so much more, potentially easing the doubts and uncertainties that dog so much of life — whether buying a used car from a stranger, having faith that a piece of fruit really is organic, or knowing that a prescription drug isn’t counterfeit
  • Blockchain, in effect, hard-wires trust into transactions or data that we might otherwise be more cautious about

Here’s everything you need to know about the technology powering the bitcoin cryptocurrency today and, soon, a myriad of services that will change your life.

This is part of “Blockchain Decoded,” a series looking at the impact of blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrency on our lives.

These days, we’re having a harder and harder time trusting each other.

Trust is an essential part of ordinary living, whether it’s picking mechanics based on Yelp reviews, sliding credit cards into gas station fuel pumps or heeding our doctor’s advice. But our trust has been eroding for years. In the US, only 33 percent of us felt we could trust our government in 2017 — a decline of 14 percentage points from 2016, according to Edelman’s annual trust barometer study. Trust in businesses dropped from 58 percent to 48 percent, too, while media (fake news!) and social networks also took a hit.

That’s a problem. The less trust you have, the harder everything becomes. Did that job candidate really graduate from college? Did your brother-in-law really repay that loan?

But there’s an unlikely solution that might help restore enough faith in strangers to make our lives a bit easier: an encryption technology called blockchain.

Blockchain is best known as the technology behind the cryptocurrency bitcoin — a digital currency whose value soared above $19,000 over the last year before slumping to half that when the frenzy subsided. But blockchain is so much more, potentially easing the doubts and uncertainties that dog so much of life — whether buying a used car from a stranger, having faith that a piece of fruit really is organic, or knowing that a prescription drug isn’t counterfeit. Blockchain, in effect, hard-wires trust into transactions or data that we might otherwise be more cautious about.

“It’s revolutionary,” said Mark Siegel, an investor at Menlo Ventures.

Bitcoin’s value has soared and plunged over the last year, and it’s hard to separate the sensible from the scams among the 1,500 other cryptocurrencies. But blockchain has enjoyed more stable appeal.

Indeed, staid companies like IBM, Microsoft and Intel are offering blockchain as just another software tool to get business done. Other companies dabbling in blockchain include Goldman Sachs, Nasdaq, Walmart and Visa.

Because blockchains work as a secure digital ledger, a bumper crop of startups are hoping to bring it to voting, lotteries, ID cards and identity verification, graphics rendering, welfare payments, job hunting and insurance payments.

A lot of that revolution could be invisible to you, taking place inside and among businesses. But it’s potentially a very big deal. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that blockchain will provide $176 billion in value to businesses by 2025 and a whopping $3.1 trillion by 2030.

How does blockchain actually work?

OK, strap yourself in, because this gets a bit hairy.

A good place to start is the name: a blockchain is an ever-growing set of data blocks. Each block records a collection of transactions — for example, that you now hold the title to the car you bought or that you paid a car dealer to get it.

IBM and Maersk have a partnership to use blockchain to smooth shipping operations. A single blockchain can help exporters, shipping companies, port authorities and importers cooperate.


That may sound simple, but here’s a difference between blockchain and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Today, the government stores the information on its own central computer. Blockchains, though, distribute it across a group of computers — maybe even thousands of them. Each has its own copy of the blockchain transactions.

That decentralization and synchronization means no single party controls the data. If one business sells an asset to another, each sees the same data. There’s no need for lawyers at one company to call the other if their accounting databases disagree, because there’s only one accounting database.

Cryptography — mathematical methods of keeping data secret and proving identity — now enters the picture when it comes to recording transactions. Blockchain uses the same cryptographic key technology that keeps hackers from sniffing your credit card number when you type it into an e-commerce website. One digital key ensures only you can enter a transaction to the blockchain involving your assets, and another digital key lets someone else confirm it really was you who added the transaction.

“You can take a network of parties that didn’t have prior experience working with each other — that didn’t have reason for trust — and still find a way to build a transaction record or a history of the truth,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director for the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger project for blockchain software.

Indelible ink

Another fundamental part of the blockchain is called immutability — its resistance to tampering or other changes. To understand it, you need to understand another cryptographic concept called the hash.

Hashing reduces data to a bunch of seemingly random characters — for example, the hash of the phrase “the quick brown fox” is “9ECB36561341D18EB65484E833EFEA61EDC74B84CF5E6AE1B81C63533E25FC8F” using an encoding method called SHA-256. Tweaking just one letter in the phrase produces a completely different hash, and you can’t go backward to figure out the original data from the hash.

With blockchain, hashes are linked together so any minute change is immediately visible, not just for the block housing it but for all other blocks added later. With red flags that big for changes that small, you can see why auditors would get excited.

“It’s like doing the crossword puzzle in ink instead of pencil,” said Marie Wieck, head of IBM’s 1,500-employee blockchain group. “You will see if you change your answer to 3 across from moon to star.”

That’s no fun for embezzlers accustomed to hiding behind dodgy or altered records. Cryptocurrencies can offer anonymity to criminals, which is why it’s been popular for things like the WannaCry ransomware that locked up people’s computers until they paid up. But blockchain makes it easier to find the digital scene of the crime — especially with private blockchains that networks of business partners can set up to cooperate.

Mining madness

The process for locking down a block onto the blockchain so it can’t be changed, at least today, is called mining.

And it’s a problem.

Here’s how it works. When you and others announce transactions to a blockchain network, computers on that network race to solve a complicated mathematical puzzle based on those transactions. A computer that succeeds announces it to the network, and the transaction is accepted if other computers verify that none of the assets in question were already used. That’s what’ll keep you from selling the same concert ticket twice on a blockchain-based ticket market. (Citizen Ticket and Active Ticketing are working on this.)

Cryptocurrency mining computers like this Antminer S9 from Bitmain may look modest, but when stacked by the thousands there’s immense horsepower to make today’s blockchains work.


But today’s mining approach, called “proof of work,” has huge drawbacks.

For one thing, mining works most profitably on powerful computers that consume immense amounts of electrical power. For example, bitcoin mining today uses about as much power as the country of Singapore, enough to power 4.4 million houses, according to cryptocurrency analyst firm Digiconomist. That amount is growing.

For another, transactions are relatively slow. Blockchain transactions can race past transactions that rely on middlemen and reconciliation procedures, like escrow accounts for home purchases or international money transfers. But bitcoin transactions can take about 10 minutes, which is why cryptocurrencies today aren’t useful for just buying something in a store.

There’s lots of work to free blockchain from the problems of transaction speed and energy consumption, though. One idea, “proof of stake,” uses no significant computing power and looks to be the future for the Ethereum Project, which is responsible for the ether cryptocurrency.

If bitcoin was the first generation of blockchain and Ethereum the second, there are a number of people hoping their project will catch on as the third.

Tezos, for example, hopes to build in better governance so its technology can move forward without the troubles bitcoin and Ethereum have suffered, said Tezos CEO Kathleen Breitman, speaking at the Techonomy conference in November — though ironically, Tezos has suffered governance problems of its own with a spat over its own management. Another challenger is Dfinity. Its chief scientist, Dominic Williams, promises transaction speeds 600 times faster than Ethereum, which today is only a bit faster than bitcoin.

Smart contracts

The original blockchain was described in a 2008 bitcoin paper by Satashi Nakamoto, a pseudonym for a person or perhaps group that unified some ideas into the first working cryptocurrency. The idea became reality with the release of open-source bitcoin software in 2009. The bitcoin blockchain now records about 300 million transactions and counting.

But ether has popularized a newer idea called smart contracts. These are programs that run on the Ethereum network and take automated if-this-then-that actions. For example, a smart contract could look for the highest bid in an auction at a certain time and automatically transfer ownership rights to the auction winner.

Bitcoin is based on blockchain technology. The surging price helped generate new interest that’s withstood the recent plunge in bitcoin value.

Yahoo Finance

“When companies sign a contract, it’s enforced by a judge or lawyers in a court,” said Vipul Goyal, an associate professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s cryptography group. “Smart contracts are enforced by cryptographic mechanisms in the code. Enforcing the contract is much cheaper and much faster — almost instant.”

With smart contracts, blockchain could help automate lots of computing operations, including ones humans never touch. Your electric car could wait for favorable electricity prices before deciding when to charge itself from the grid, solar panels or in-home batteries, then the blockchain could handle accounting among all the parties.

Goyal expects blockchain will help automate all sorts of transactions. For example, if it’s used to register your car purchase, that could trigger a cascade of other operations, like transferring the car’s cryptographic keys that let its owner unlock the car.

“This is much more efficient than going to the DMV and filling out paperwork,” he said. “It’s also more secure, because these keys cannot be forged. The seller can’t make copies of the key and try to steal the car.”

The ties that bind

Expect to see blockchain showing up in particular where there are groups of interlinked organizations. That could include one company and its suppliers, or it could be consortiums of competitors and and their suppliers.

For example, IBM has a blockchain partnership with a long list of food suppliers and grocery retailers, including Dole, Kroger, Nestlé, Tyson Foods and Walmart.

The basic attention token, developed by browser maker Brave Software, uses blockchain to oversee online ad payments that can flow among advertisers, publishers and anyone using its browser.

Brave Software

Another blockchain project comes through browser startup Brave, which relies on the technology to change online advertising in a way that improves performance and privacy while giving browser users a cut of the proceeds. Blockchain accounting, using a digital payment mechanism called the basic attention token (BAT), enables direct payments among advertisers, publishers and browser users — for example an advertiser paying a publisher or a reader making a small one-off payment for a news article without buying a subscription.

It’s transparent, so anyone can see exactly how many BATs were transferred and check that Brave didn’t illicitly siphon any off, Brave CEO Brendan Eich said.

But for companies averse to sharing data with competitors, blockchain’s transparency is a difficulty. There are mechanisms for handling the challenge, Behlendorf said.

“In most networks, you have a balance between data that can be kept private, but enough public that you can attest to its veracity,” Behlendorf said.

Another way blockchain could bring many parties together is property records.

There are thousands of counties in the US, each with its own record of who owns what. One startup, Propy, hopes to digitize those records, mirroring the records initially the way title companies do, but also storing them on the blockchain, said CEO Natalia Karayaneva.

If county clerks saw the benefit, they could gradually move to the system — it’s decentralized, not Propy’s own database. Propy hopes to profit by taking a percentage of the sales it facilitates, but at the same time, it also hopes to cut purchasers’ costs — for example by eliminating the thousands of dollars that title insurance can cost.

Slow down there a minute

For something as hyped as blockchain, with millions of dollars raised, you have to expect some backlash. There’s plenty, starting with the criticism that blockchain would have already taken off if it’s so great and concerns that it’s abetting cryptocurrency shenanigans. There’s also the concern that poorly written code could leave a faulty foundation.

Overinflated expectations are nothing new to the tech industry, though, and there are enough serious players engaged that it’s hard to dismiss blockchain as all sizzle and no steak. Expect a winnowing as reality sets in.

“In 2018, we expect to see a number of projects stopped that should never have been started in the first place,” said Forrester analyst Martha Bennett.

She points out plenty of other areas where blockchain falls short of its promises. The immutability comes at a cost, lacking some of the mechanisms for recourse found in today’s slower processes. Companies cooperating to set up their own private blockchains, rather than using public ones like Ethereum, must have some trust already to set up rules for access and governance.

Here’s another hitch: getting everybody on board. For example, Automaker Renault hopes for a blockchain to lock down car maintenance records. After all, who wouldn’t want to know if the used car you’re thinking of buying made lots of trips to the repair shop? It turns out the seller may not share your enthusiasm for that much transparency.

So it’s not perfect. But it doesn’t have to be. Blockchain just has to be better than what we have today. There are a lot of underhanded cryptocurrency dealings, but regulators are now reining in abuses, said Rick Levin, chairman of the financial technology and regulation team at the AmLaw law firm Polsinelli. Likewise, engineers are hammering out improvements to blockchain and big names like Nasdaq and Goldman Sachs are embracing it.

“I don’t think it’s just going to vanish,” Levin said. “There’s too much energy behind this.”


5 #Blockchain Opportunities No Company Can Afford To Miss $SX $ $ $ #Blockstation

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 12:56 PM on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018
  • blockchain phenomenon appears to be gathering pace as we head into 2018
  • With big announcements from the likes of Kodak and Microsoft, it’s clear that there are opportunities beyond finance where it has already taken a foothold

Bernard Marr , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

The blockchain phenomenon appears to be gathering pace as we head into 2018. With big announcements from the likes of Kodak and Microsoft, it’s clear that there are opportunities beyond finance where it has already taken a foothold.

But what are the opportunities for your business? To help start to answer that question I have come up with five areas of activity where a move to distributed, encrypted record keeping could provide a competitive edge.

Reducing costs

Banks and other financial institutions such as insurers have already moved to investigate and adopt blockchain technology. Of course for them it may be a case of survival as the concept is so disruptive to their traditional business model, the danger is that if they don’t act, someone else will.

Banks and credit card companies charge around $2 trillion a year for providing middle-man services such as clearing payments and fraud-checking. Moving to blockchain systems can effectively automate much of this, bringing down costs.

But the characteristics of blockchain which make it so transformative in finance – the transparency, reduced need for trust, and robust, immutable structure of data – can help reduce financial burdens involved with making and recording transactions in many other industries, too.

If centralized, unwieldy and unsecure ledgering and inventory systems can be replaced with a streamlined, distributed blockchain system for record keeping, then there will be reduced need for middle-man functions such as administration and compliance-checking of those records.

Storing data on a blockchain also means it is more reliable. If this data is then being used in your business analytics (e.g. machine data) it is more likely to be accurate and yield insights which will align with real-world objectives.

Increasing traceability

In the food industry there is a huge demand for provenance. Demonstrating that safety and welfare standards have been met at every point of the supply chain is hugely important, for legal and business reasons.

Blockchain has been given rise to the potential of every individual ingredient or product effectively receiving its own “digital passport”, meaning its origin and journey can be traced at any stage of the process.

Traditionally these records will have been kept by a number of different organizations – from growers to pickers, packagers, retailers and deliverer – in a centralized fashion. This leaves multiple points of potential failure, such as data loss, and possibly invites fraudulent activity.

Blockchain has also been enthusiastically adopted by the diamond industry – where provenance is also paramount. UK-based Everledger has recorded details of more than 1.6 million of them on a blockchain, storing data such as their size, color and certificate number. High resolution imagery is used which means diamonds can still be matched to their “digital twins” on the blockchain, even if the unique identifying numbers which are invisibly etched into the stones are removed. It plans to begin doing the same with vintage wine in the near future.

Improving customer experience

Loyalty and reward programs encourage repeat custom and also give access to invaluable insights into buying habits and trends. Traditionally the data from these programs is collated centrally rewards are issued in arrears, after administration and processing.

Moving to a blockchain based system enables reward points to be calculated and issued at the point they are earned. This not only speeds things up, it potentially lets customers use the value in their purchases to receive immediate discounts.

Several startups, such as Qiibee and Loyall, have brought blockchain-based loyalty cards to the market, with the idea that it will make it easier for customers to transfer and trade the value in their freebie vouchers across different retailers.  This could lead to reward and loyalty exchanges, where customers can choose to invest their earned value in what they need right now, rather than what they have previously spent money on. Overall this will lead to happier and more satisfied customers.


#Blockchain: A Very Short History Of #Ethereum Everyone Should Read $SX $ $ #Blockstation $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 12:37 PM on Friday, February 2nd, 2018
  • Even those who are not familiar with blockchain are likely to have heard about Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency and payment system that uses the technology.
  • Another platform called Ethereum, that also uses blockchain, is predicted by some experts to overtake Bitcoin this year.

Bernard Marr , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.


What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is an open-source, public service that uses blockchain technology to facilitate smart contracts and cryptocurrency trading securely without a third party. There are two accounts available through Ethereum: externally owned accounts (controlled by private keys influenced by human users) and contract accounts. Ethereum allows developers to deploy all kinds of decentralized apps. Even though Bitcoin remains the most popular cryptocurrency, it’s Ethereum’s aggressive growth that have many speculating it will soon overtake Bitcoin in usage.

How is Ethereum different than Bitcoin?

While there are many similarities between Ethereum and Bitcoin, there are also significant differences. Here are a few:

  • Bitcoin trades in cryptocurrency, while Ethereum offers several methods of exchange including cryptocurrency (Ethereum’s is called Ether), smart contracts and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
  • They are based on different security protocols: Ethereum uses a ‘proof of stake’ system as opposed the ‘proof of work’ system used by Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin allows only public (permissionless or censor-proof) transactions to take place; Ethereum allows both permissioned and permissionless transactions.
  • The average block time for Ethereum is significantly less than Bitcoin’s; 12 seconds versus 10 minutes. This translates into more block confirmations which allows Ethereum’s miners to complete more blocks and receive more Ether.
  • It is estimated that by 2021 only half of the Ether coins will be mined (a supply of more than 90 million tokens), but the majority of Bitcoins already have been mined (its supply is capped at 21 million).
  • For Bitcoin, the computers (called miners) running the platform and verifying the transactions receive rewards. Basically, the first computer that solves each new block gets bitcoins (or a fraction of one) as a reward. Ethereum does not offer block rewards and instead allows miners to take a transaction fee.

What are the advantages of Ethereum?

Proponents of Ethereum believe its main advantage over Bitcoin is that it allows individuals and companies to do much more than just transfer money between entities leading Bloomberg to write it’s “the hottest platform in the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains” and companies such as JPMorgan Chase, Intel and Microsoft to invest in it.

Ethereum’s co-founder, Vitalik Buterin said, “I thought [those in the Bitcoin community] weren’t approaching the problem in the right way. I thought they were going after individual applications; they were trying to kind of explicitly support each [use case] in a sort of Swiss Army knife protocol.”

He envisioned a different way.

Buterin was introduced and intrigued by blockchain technology when he got involved in Bitcoin as a 17-year-old programmer in 2011 and co-founded Bitcoin Magazine. He started to imagine a platform that went beyond the financial use cases allowed by Bitcoin and released a white paper in 2013 describing what would ultimately become Ethereum using a general scripting language.

The key differentiator from Bitcoin was the platform’s ability to trade more than just cryptocurrency.

In 2014, Buterin and the other co-founders of Ethereum launched a crowdsourcing campaign where they sold participants Ether (Ethereum tokens) to get their vision off the ground and raised more than $18 million. The first live release of Ethereum known as Frontier was launched in 2015. Since then, the platform has grown rapidly and today there are hundreds of developers involved.

Ultimately, Buterin hopes Ethereum will be the solution for all use cases of blockchain that don’t have a specialized system to turn to.

Ethereum is still experiencing growing pains and suffers from some of the same issues that Bitcoin does primarily in its scalability. In 2016, $50 million in Ether was stolen by an anonymous hacker which resulted in questions about the platform’s security. This caused a split within the Ethereum community and it broke off into two blockchains: Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).

There have been dramatic fluctuations in the price of Ether, but the Ethereum currency grew more than 13,000 percent in 2017. This tremendous growth is attractive to many investors, but the volatility makes other investors cautious.

It’s still a very young platform, but its potential and applications could be limitless. Ethereum’s infrastructure was enhanced over the last few years when it was challenged with security issues and since it’s less monopolistic than Bitcoin, it is more open to reform measures that might ultimately make it a superior solution to Bitcoin.

Bernard Marr is a best-selling author & keynote speaker on business, technology and big data. His new book is Data Strategy. To read his future posts simply join his network here.


ThreeD Capital $ Adds Dr. Eric Ting-Kuei Chou To Advisory Board $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 8:52 AM on Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Threed capital

  • Announced today the addition of Dr. Eric Ting-Kuei Chou to its Advisory Board.
  • Dr. Chou is a Vice-President and the Head of Research and Development at Goldspot Discoveries Inc.

TORONTO, Feb. 01, 2018 — ThreeD Capital Inc. (the “Company”) (CSE:IDK), a Canadian-based venture capital firm focused on investments in promising, early stage companies and ICOs with disruptive capabilities, is pleased to announce today the addition of Dr. Eric Ting-Kuei Chou to its Advisory Board.

Dr. Chou is a Vice-President and the Head of Research and Development at Goldspot Discoveries Inc., a technology/investment company that focuses on improving mineral exploration targeting through machine learning/AI.  He specializes in the field of applied geophysics, computational science, data science, and machine learning.  Dr. Chou received his PhD in Mineral Engineering from the École Polytechnique de Montreal and holds a Master’s in Applied Science from the same engineering school.

Dr. Chou possesses over 6 years of university teaching experience at the rank of a lecturer in the field of mathematics and applied geophysics. Dr. Chou obtained his B.Sc. in Physics from McGill University. Dr. Chou has accumulated over 7 years of experience working with public and private sectors analyzing data sets associated with industrial activities. Prior to joining Goldspot, he was a research associate working on various cutting-edge technology projects and he has also served in the Canadian Army Reserve as a Signal Officer.

About ThreeD Capital Inc.

ThreeD is a publicly-traded Canadian-based venture capital firm focused on opportunistic investments in companies in the Junior Resources, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain sectors.  ThreeD seeks to invest in early stage, promising companies and ICOs where it may be the lead investor and can additionally provide investees with advisory services, mentoring and access to the Company’s ecosystem.

For further information:
Gerry Feldman, CPA, CA
Chief Financial Officer and Corporate Secretary
Phone: 416-606-7655

How #Blockchain is Transforming Payments and More $SX $ $SXOOF $ #Blockstation $ $ $ $ $BAC $MA

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:31 AM on Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
  • Less than a decade ago, blockchain sounded like the fodder of science fiction; today, the technology is demonstrating its ability to revolutionize the finance industry
  • blockchain provides a new and secure way to execute financial transactions
  • Use of the technology is rapidly expanding, and because of the innovative nature of the technology, its wide-ranging possibilities are being explored and developed by a range of companies with unique objectives

NEW YORK, January 30, 2018  — NetworkNewsWire Editorial Coverage

Less than a decade ago, blockchain sounded like the fodder of science fiction; today, the technology is demonstrating its ability to revolutionize the finance industry. By stepping outside the existing payment structures, blockchain provides a new and secure way to execute financial transactions. The use of the technology is rapidly expanding, and because of the innovative nature of the technology, its wide-ranging possibilities are being explored and developed by a range of companies with unique objectives. Some, such as SinglePoint, Inc. (OTC: SING) (SING Profile), are looking at how to integrate these technologies to provide a better service for select markets. While alarming articles predict the bursting of the ‘blockchain bubble’, established companies such as Bank of America Corp. (NYSE: BAC) and Mastercard, Inc. (NYSE: MA) have moved to adopt blockchain technology, signalling its acceptance by mainstream banking. Meanwhile, companies such as Bitcoin Services, Inc. (OTC: BTSC) and Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) continue looking for new ways to exploit the technology’s potential.

The Future of Payment
Blockchain is a system for recording and sharing information, including financial data. Because of the way data is stored within a blockchain, there is no need for a central organization tasked with controlling records. This decentralization makes it easier to transfer data or money while reducing the risk of fraud or error. The benefits are such that the World Economic Forum has predicted that 10% of GDP will be stored on blockchain technology by 2025.
Blockchain has become famous mostly through the meteoric rise of bitcoin, which has seen the market value of cryptocurrencies rise to over $540 billion. But its use goes far beyond this. Its ability to verify clients and products is expected to lead to better records of property ownership and certification of diamonds. It could provide smart contracts that automatically pay out when success criteria are hit. By acting as a secure system for direct payments, it will reduce the need for intermediaries in financial systems, allowing people to make payments more quickly and directly.

Putting the Pieces Together
One of the companies seeking to take advantage of these capabilities is SinglePoint (OTC: SING), which has grown from a mobile technology provider into a diverse holding company with a growing portfolio of investments in blockchain-related technology. SinglePoint’s aggressive, acquisition-based growth strategy has seen it dramatically expand its services and brand awareness in the investment community.
SinglePoint is implementing blockchain to the core of its business strategy, specifically as it pertains to the cannabis and other ‘high-risk’ industries. By acquiring companies and technologies with established roots in blockchain services, SinglePoint can provide increasingly integrated options for blockchain-based payment systems. For example, the company’s recent agreement to acquire Bitcoin Beyond will provide SinglePoint a user-friendly point-of-sale payment system that will provide merchants and bitcoin users a range of unprecedented capabilities. Bitcoin Beyond was created to overcome the challenges of merchants in the cannabis industry, which is crippled by cash management issues due to the lack of banking options. Functioning as a general-purpose point-of-sale system, Bitcoin Beyond is poised to address the growing demand for fast and reliable electronic payment processing for the cannabis industry.
“We are thrilled with this opportunity. Acquiring Bitcoin Beyond put us ahead of what we believe merchants have access to now. This platform has by far the easiest user interface we have seen in the market, and we are confident merchants will be quick to adopt this solution as it stands as the sole alternative to traditional options offered to the cannabis industry,” SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated in the press release (
One of the advantages of the Bitcoin Beyond System is that it makes cryptocurrency transactions easy by instantly doing the conversion for USD for merchants and customers. It can process payments in bitcoin, the most popular blockchain payment system, from any web-enabled terminal available at checkout, from a cell phone or tablet to a full PC.
SinglePoint also has its own proprietary bitcoin exchange (, launched in November 2017. Customers can easily sign up using a credit or debit card, then use the system to benefit from blockchain’s quick, secure payments.
SinglePoint’s commitment to integrated solutions extends beyond acquiring companies and into collaborations. The company has agreements with various businesses, including fintech solutions provider Global Payout, to advance and streamline the process involved in delivering payment applications.
The company has also teamed up with SharkTank veteran and entrepreneur Kevin Harrington – which has led 20 companies to reach revenues of over $100 million – to develop and promote a range of cryptocurrency projects, including SinglePoint’s exchange and bitcoin payment platform and the integration of Procurrency, an e-commerce and rewards platform using blockchain currency (
With these initiatives, SinglePoint is tapping into not just one fast-growing sector but two, as many of its financial and technological solutions are geared toward cannabis merchants.

Financial Services for a New Market
With cannabis sales now legal in 29 U.S. states, and legislators opening the way to recreational as well as medical use, cannabis is a lucrative business. But federal legislation designed for the war on illegal drugs has created problems for legal cannabis businesses. Many are unable to access the financial services available to other companies and have been forced to work on a cash basis, making them vulnerable to theft and fraud. Blockchain payment systems provide them with a secure alternative to cash payments without needing to engage with banks.
Services such as SingleSeed are specifically geared toward this market, providing a much-needed product for a growing industry. SinglePoint’s blockchain-based services allow secure payments for cannabis merchants. Its collaborations with other companies, including developing mobile apps with AppSwarm, ensure that these services are easily accessible. SinglePoint’s willingness to move quickly is vital in these fast-growing sectors. The AppSwarm collaboration began with an aim to launch their first app within 90 days.
SinglePoint’s services for the cannabis sector show how blockchain technology and the companies behind it can provide more than just financial solutions. The work with AppSwarm will allow safe delivery to customers in their homes, increasing the speed, security, and efficiency of the cannabis supply chain.
The technology provided by SinglePoint goes beyond just a payment system. It also provides vendors with a system to digitally track their inventories, provide information about products to customers, and automatically remove products from the inventory once sold. Though this is currently targeted at cannabis suppliers, it is a system that could be useful for any cash-based business looking for a more secure way to operate. Thanks to money from the fast-growing legal cannabis market, SinglePoint is creating software that will be useful for all manner of small businesses.
SinglePoint’s interest in integrating systems and supply chains extends into other parts of the cannabis industry. The company recently established a joint venture with Smart Cannabis, making a major move into California’s cannabis market before blanket marijuana legalization in that state. Having previously acquired Discount Indoor Garden Supply in California and invested in California-based cannabis equipment supplier Convectium, SinglePoint is now the owner or investor in products and services covering the whole cannabis supply chain. It is in a position to provide the same sort of integrated services it has pioneered in blockchain payments.
The partnership with Smart Cannabis is particularly valuable in capturing market share within California’s red-hot commercial marijuana cultivation market. Smart Cannabis provides a range of innovative products for cannabis growers, including automated greenhouse systems and a unique seed-to-sale app. Seed-to-sale systems are important in managing cannabis sales and ensuring compliance with government regulations. The joint venture will allow the two companies to incorporate blockchain currency into Smart Cannabis’ SMARTAPP and sell it to growers, integrating seed-to-sale and payment mechanisms (

The Bigger Picture on Blockchain
While SinglePoint is providing some of the most interesting examples of integrated systems using blockchain, an increasing number of companies are also exploring the services this technology can provide.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), the second largest bank in America and the largest wealth management company in the world, has long distanced itself from bitcoin, the leading blockchain currency. But as the holder of at least 27 blockchain patents and 39 relating to cryptocurrency, including some for exchanging currencies, it is clear that the bank is interested in the broader technologies. CEO Brian Moynihan has played down the bank’s interest in cryptocurrencies, even as his organisation prepares for a future built around blockchain.

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), one of the largest payment processing companies in the world, prides itself on its forward-looking approach to finance, listing “Putting technology first” among its areas of focus. It has repeatedly shown an interest in blockchain. In a patent filed on the 9th of November 2017, it set out details for a blockchain database that would reduce delays in payment transfers. Like Bank of America, its leaders are pro-blockchain but anti-bitcoin.

Bitcoin Services (OTC: BTSC) provides support services for people dealing in the most prominent blockchain currency, bitcoin. The company is also working on developing blockchain software, as this technology keeps moving forward.
Direct banking and payments company Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) has singled out blockchain as one of the most important technologies shaping the future of payments. Describing blockchain as secure, transparent, and closer in the way it works to cash than to card payments, Discover has identified the technology as one to keep an eye on. Though the company has not yet announced any blockchain innovations of its own, comments on its Discover Network suggest it is preparing its customers for a blockchain future (
Like any transformative technology, blockchain creates challenges as well as benefits. It relies on large data sets, meaning that new infrastructure may be needed to support widespread use. Its ability to provide direct payments with a minimal data trail has created concerns about money laundering and regulatory oversight. But the genie is out of the bottle, and given its benefits, the question isn’t whether anyone will overcome these challenges, it is who will.

For more information on SinglePoint, visit SinglePoint (OTC: SING)

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#Arsenal secures #Blockchain partner #CashBet Coin, a gaming #cryptocurrency $SX $ $SXOOF $ $ $GMBL #Blockstation

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 2:48 PM on Friday, January 26th, 2018

  • Arsenal has become the first team in the Premier League to secure a Blockchain partner – the buzz-worthy technology that underpins cryptocurrency
  • CashBet Coin is a gambling cryptocurrency designed for the iGaming marketplace, a gambling exchange covering eSports, sports and casino gaming. The company and will gain prominent exposure through in-stadium ad sites in the Emirates.

Dr Mike Reaves, chief executive and founder of CashBet, said: “With our ICO for CashBet Coin, we are actively targeting a global, multi-billion dollar marketplace of iGaming content providers, operators and players.

“We are delighted to do so in partnership with one of world football’s true giants in Arsenal, enabling us to build our brand and engage this audience in a meaningful way.”

He promised “increased trust and transparency, faster payouts, reduced fees and dedicated player protection,” through CashBet Coin.

What benefits the club will derive from the implementation of Blockchain remains to be seen. The partnership comes as the firm seeks $40m in funding, the day after the coin was made available to the public for the first time on Wednesday.


Developments And Adoption Of #Blockchain In The U.S. Federal Government $SX $ $SXOOF $ #Blockstation $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 11:30 AM on Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Steve Delahunty , Forbes Councils

  • Technology of blockchain has many applications to secure transactions and activities outside of the financial sector, including in healthcare and other industries.
  • U.S. federal government has interest in the application of blockchain for various purposes

With the rise of Bitcoin, one of the underlying supportive technologies that makes it possible has gained more awareness — blockchain. The technology of blockchain has many applications to secure transactions and activities outside of the financial sector, including in healthcare and other industries. The U.S. federal government has interest in the application of blockchain for various purposes.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed “chain” of validated transactions secured through cryptographic hashing. Each block added is stored with timestamp and transaction data along with a cryptographic hash pointer to the previous block. Various open-source and commercial options for blockchain technology exist. The best-known example of the use of blockchain is for securing and recording of Bitcoin transactions. For another example, an organization can use blockchain to analyze whether a mobile device is valid for use inside its corporate systems using various internal identifiers for the device. Another way to think of blockchain is as a trusted ledger of transactions.

Adoption Of Blockchain By The U.S. Federal Government

While the U.S. government was late to embrace cloud computing due to challenges with deciphering the model, lack of suitable procurement options and slow adoption, it appears to be engaging actively with the potential use of blockchain technology. The appeal of blockchain may center on the decentralized nature of the technology along with interoperability and reduced cost outcomes.


In one of the first contract awards for blockchain technology implementation for the U.S. government, the Department of Homeland Security awarded a blockchain contract to “Prove Integrity of Captured Data From Border Devices.”

The Food & Drug Administration issued a “sources sought” notice late in 2017 for an application of blockchain. According to the notice, this was for real-time application for portable interactive devices (RAPID) “to enable [the] exchange of patient-level data within the United States Critical Illness and Injury Trails Group network.” The FDA requirements noted that “Implementation of the blockchain connection between FDA RAPID and USCIITG/Discovery network is being created in order to exchange influenza patient data at clinical sites administered by USCIITG.”

The U.S. Department of Defense Transportation Command also showed a recent interest in blockchain centered on an innovative use of distributed ledger capabilities. Its interest also included extensibility, monitoring and scalability of the technology across extended domains. An example potential application included security and surety of logistics and transportation transactions.


How #Blockchain Technology Can Help B2B Companies Become More Profitable $ $ $ $ $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 3:10 PM on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
  • Blockchain is a sophisticated algorithm created for cryptocurrency
  • Drives a distributed data structure that manages electronic cash movements
  • Replaces the administrative role of a central bank or government backing
Larry Myler , Contributor I write about B2B sales strategies. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Blockchain builds trust, security and efficiency.

Second in a series about blockchain and B2B.

The Bitcoin frenzy has made it very difficult to understand blockchain technology and advanced ledger technologies. Until they are more easily understood, B2B interests cannot take advantage of the potential profits. But that won’t be the case for very long.

Blockchain is a sophisticated algorithm created for cryptocurrency. It drives a distributed data structure that manages electronic cash movements. It replaces the administrative role of a central bank or government backing.

The blockchain is the repository and distributor of virtual coins. Crypto-coins are not carried or handled, but they do trade, multiply and function thanks to the blockchain at the center. If you picture a business ledger that updates itself in real-time, multiplying that picture by billions of data spaces will give you some illustration of the way blockchain works.


For B2B companies, it can be a virtual bank—moving money, accepting deposits, completing transactions and more. This differs from online banking where your business is subject to regulation, monitoring, business hours and other restrictions.

How Does Blockchain Technology Help B2B companies?

  • Efficient supply chains. The blockchain is open to all members of the network. An IBM report notes, “This ‘shared version of events’ enables improved supply chain efficiencies, better multi-party collaboration, and streamlined resolution processes when exceptions or disputes occur.” It does not replace legacy chain supply software, but it engages new realities like the expanding data flows presented by the Internet of Things.
  • Improved sales processes. “The B2B sales process is based on relationships and responsibility,” said Jeremy Epstein, blockchain marketing expert and CEO of blockchain consulting firm, Never Stop Marketing. B2B sales relationships are ongoing, have a longer lifespan, and in general, require a longer sales cycle than B2C sales. “Trust is essential to B2B sales success and blockchain technology represents a way to expedite the creation of trusted relationships at lower costs” he continued. His eBook, The CMO Primer for the Blockchain World, points out that only 50% of businesses check buyer credit worthiness, request secure forms of payment, or both. And 81.5% of companies report employing credit management policies to mitigate trade risks.
  • Ease and speed. Joe McKendrick points out that, with this open access system, “blockchain’s value proposition is that it takes out the middlemen in transactions, enabling more autonomous types of engagements.” Easing and escalating the speed of financial transactions, blockchain replaces banks, credit card processing and checking. This reduces cost to B2B vendors and customers.
  • Beyond fintech. B2B Business Network believes, “Outside of fintech applications, blockchain has yet to make its impact felt.” However, contributor Derek Handova predicted B2B applications will catch on soon. In 2016, the writer saw it serving only the finance/tech world. But, he envisioned future value in real estate transactions, identity management, healthcare records and more. He called it a “Swiss Army Knife of technology.”
  • Safe and secure. Phoebe Luckhurst insists, “The future is in the chain.” But she also admits that the blockchain is only as good as its code, and codes have been cracked. Goldman Sachs agrees on its credibility, calling it “a faster, safer way to verify key information and establish trust.” And Professor Kevin Werbach at Wharton refers to “a new architecture of trust,” a system where you do not deal with an intermediary person, institution or authority.
  • Real savings. B2B merchants in retail or online need the cost savings promised by blockchain dealing. First and fundamentally, it speeds the transaction, immediately moving the customer payment to the vendor. Second, this speed ripples back through the supply chain and forward to the customer’s satisfaction. Third, it facilitates distribution and logistics, increasing efficiencies down the line. And, fourth, by bypassing credit card processors and other merchant services, blockchain reduces the overhead reflecting the price of service.

Blockchain is Picking Up Velocity

This technology may have the public confused. Most people had never heard of it until Bitcoin started to catch everyone’s attention. Virtual coinage and cryptocurrency are a long way from being ubiquitous terms, but that is changing fast. Epstein notes, “We are living in the ‘age of accelerations,’ as Tom Friedman calls it. In fact, there are studies out now that say millennials would prefer to hold cryptocurrencies over stocks. Granted, some of that is due to the crypto-mania currently taking place, but it is noteworthy.”


#Blockchain and the Rise of Transaction Technology $SX $ $SXOOF $

Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 10:57 AM on Monday, January 15th, 2018
  • The last couple of years were owned by the ‘fintech’ buzzword
  • In a digital dimension, all relations are transactions, like it or not, that’s the way it is
Magda Borowik
Jan 14, 2018 at 10:15 UTC


Magda Borowik is the special envoy for fintech to the Ministry of Digital Affairs of the Republic of Poland and the director of technology research at FinTech Poland.

The following article is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2017 in Review.

The last couple of years were owned by the ‘fintech’ buzzword.

From startups to investors to government programs, fintech was everywhere. But within the last year, “regtech” and “govtech” have joined the conversation. Very often, you can spot the three in a thought-provoking proximity.

But, do they have something in common?

I believe they all can be described as transaction technologies that enable the secure transfer of value online – be it monetary or non-monetary value. Alternative financial technology, the use of modern computing, and also, technology as a means for building trust, all are tools that are needed by every government.

It’s no surprise then that applications are popping up in many areas – regulators and supervisors using DLT or cognitive computing, governments providing electronic payments for public services or social security. In Poland, strides have been made to harness emerging tech for digital identity, in such a way that it can be provided by the state along with banks and other institutions of trust.

Importantly, our national scheme of electronic identification is based on federated model, which means citizen’s identity is not only served by the state – banks, insurers and telecom providers are able to contribute, too.

This is an important distinction as transaction technologies are defined by the use of a special type of data, data that documents an exchange, agreement or value transfer between parties.

It’s a bit of information describing an event that includes the time and numerical value, and that specifies an agreement or value exchange of commercial or legal significance. Very often it relates to personal data and falls into the scope of banking secrecy.

A natural fit

In a digital dimension, all relations are transactions. Like it or not, that’s the way it is.

Administrations transact with citizens to provide them with trusted public services. They transact with businesses and governments, too. Sometimes citizens transact with government through business. Within strategic sectors, like energy or utility business, transacting is key.

In an increasingly data-focused economy, transacting data can even be said to be a special type of virtualized critical infrastructure. This is why states and businesses need to focus on assuring trusted data structures.

Blockchains and distributed ledgers, then, can be considered a tool for ensuring data integrity, immutability and trust. It does not mean we need to port everything to blockchain. But it can mean provide an additional, transaction layer to existing data structures, a robust audit trail on what happens on our critical infrastructure.

In this way, the possible role of distributed ledgers within digital state infrastructure too often goes unrecognized.

They can be a tool for licenses, rights and entitlements management. What the modern state mostly does is endorse, manage and verify ledgers of social relations; be it property titles register, ledgers of social security entitlements or identity ledgers – of who is a citizen and who can therefore participate in political dealings.

It’s a huge, important and largely under-appreciated and even overlooked function that state fulfills. Based on a social contract, the state is a large trusted entity.

How much we trust the state today is questionable, but the invention of distributed ledgers introduces a way of building a new type of institutional trust – trust in the computer code an institution operates, instead of relying only on trust in its human representatives. Human-to-machine is a new type of trust, which complements the one we traditionally put in people.

In order to progress with digitization, we need to ensure new type of digital trust, where appropriate investments are of highest priority.

Harnessing the potential

So, if distributed ledgers can act as a trust machine, what then?

The first step would be to audit our existing data resources – identifying, cleaning and structuring them in order to achieve organization. Then, a trusted transaction layer may be put on top. This means there won’t be an easy jump onto distributed ledgers for state-owned big data lakes.

Ensuring the integrity and immutability of random, inconsistent data makes no sense.

Still, within the scope of emerging transaction technologies, digitization can benefit from distributed ledgers in many aspects. Trusted data structures, arising from handling data with decentralized consensus mechanisms, can bring in additional value to many horizontal challenges, like e-commerce and legislative processes (where document version control and oversight is critical).

Ultimately, value transfer protocols and distributed ledgers may enable the functional digitization of public services, transforming the service stack together, not just rewriting each physical element to a digital twin. Particularly, if we consider value transfer protocols as digital public services, their use by the state becomes a bit more obvious.

In the coming months, governments around the globe will become more and more aware of the meaning of transaction technologies and the role they play in digitization. Having policies enabling experimentation with emerging transaction technologies will be key.

At the Ministry of Digital Affairs, Republic of Poland, we recently published a new industrial digitization strategy, in which transaction technologies are one of three key areas for growth.

Understanding requires experimenting, and experimenting is an act of humility – to acknowledge that there is no way of knowing without trying new things, making your hands dirty.

Understanding that truth is a first step, but it is important. I wish all government policymakers to act on it, in order to get well prepared for the future to come – sooner than later.

Calculator image via Shutterstock

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