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All Posts (1319)

Gold Level Contributor

Image: KISSPatent

Alibaba is on track to supersede U.S. computer giant IBM as the single-largest holder of blockchain-related patents, according to a new study.

report from intellectual property consultancy KISSPatent Thursday found the Chinese tech conglomerate was "definitely running the show," having already published ten times more blockchain patents than IBM, its nearest rival.

Should Alibaba continue at its current pace, the study predicted it would become the biggest patent holder in blockchain by the end of 2020.

KISSPatent said this was part of a broader surge in the number of blockchain-related patents published. The first half of 2020 had more patents than the whole of 2019. In turn, 2019 had triple the number of blockchain patents compared to 2018.

Another key point was that most of the patents were filed by traditional Fortune 500 companies rather than companies that exist wholly within the blockchain space.

That might be down to blockchain's prevailing open-source culture, which is at odds with the practice of patent filing, KISSPatent said.

Indeed, Jack Dorsey's Square last week set up a non-profit group for blockchain companies to pool patents and preserve the industry's open-source spirit.

Just in the past few months, Alibaba has patented a cross-chain system that it claims is better than Cosmos, as well as a blockchain that protects music copyright.

Originally published by
Paddy Baker | September 17, 2020
Coindesk

 

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Gold Level Contributor

Renault’s XCEED system uses Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology to create neutral compliance-tracking platform for auto components

Carmaker Renault Group said it has developed a blockchain-based system allowing manufacturers to certify the regulatory compliance of vehicle components from design through to production.

The XCEED (eXtended Compliance End-to-End Distributed) project was developed in response to new regulations that came into force on 1 September placing additional regulatory controls on the car industry and its supply chain.

The “market surveillance” regulations were largely developed in response to the VW diesel scandal, which involved onboard computers being engineered to conceal vehicles’ real nitrogen-oxide emissions when they detected that tests were being run.

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Hyperledger Fabric

Renault said its new system is based on the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology and was deployed in collaboration with IBM.

The system establishes an independent ledger that tracks and certifies the regulatory compliance of vehicle components and subcomponents.

The independent nature of blockchain technology allows information to be shared and tracked by several organisations, without any one of them controlling the system.

XCEED is intended to be used for sharing compliance information between parts manufacturers and vehicle makers.

Decentralised

The distributed system makes data available in real-time and is more efficient than a centralised system, Renault said.

The decentralised system allows each party to maintain data control and confidentiality, without compromising its integrity, according to Renault.

Renault has been developing XCEED since 2019 and worked with automotive industry partners including Continental, Faurecia, Plastic Omnium and Saint-Gobain.

In testing at Renault’s Douai plant the system has accumulated more than 1 million archived documents while running at a speed of 500 transactions per second.

Blockchain was first widely deployed to run the Bitcoin digital currency, but has since been applied to a wide variety of fields, notably including the financial sector.

Originally published by
Matthew BroersmaSeptember 14, 2020
Silicon.co.uk

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Unsplash - Tan Kaninthanond

The Thai central bank, Bank of Thailand, has launched a blockchain-enabled platform for the issuance of government saving bonds. 

According to a press release, the Thai central bank sold 50 billion baht (approximately $1.6 billion) worth of government savings bonds over one week’s time.  

The release added that the blockchain-enabled platform will help build a more secure, efficient mechanism for issuing government bonds and also aid in reduction of associated operational costs. 

Thailand has been pivoting its bond market toward blockchain-enabled platforms as the country's finance ministry had earlier in June announced plans to sell $6.42 million worth of low-face-value government savings bonds using state-owned Krung Thai Bank’s blockchain wallet. 

“In the next phase, the infrastructure will expand to support all different government bonds,” the release said. Thailand’s finance ministry announced last month that the funds obtained from selling $1.6 billion worth of savings bonds would go toward financing the government’s budgetary deficit. 

Originally published by
Jaspreet Kaira | September 14, 2020
Coindesk

 

 

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Gold Level Contributor

3 keys to understanding blockchain

Image via iStock.com

Blockchain technology can be very difficult to understand. While most of us may have heard the term before and have some idea of what it means, it can be a challenge to really get at the meat of what makes the blockchain so important.

I believe, however, that blockchain is actually easier to understand than you might think, you just have to grasp these three key facts.

Blockchain isn't bitcoin

One major misconception that often pops up is that people assume blockchain and bitcoin are synonyms. This can be especially problematic when people judge blockchain based on bitcoin's flaws.

Bitcoin is not blockchain, it is a use case for blockchain. Satoshi Nakamoto, the anonymous creator of bitcoin, initially crafted a blockchain as a way to confirm and keep track of bitcoin transactions, but the technology has since grown beyond bitcoin to many different use cases.

A more accurate comparison would be that blockchain is like the internet and bitcoin is like email. While email was one of the first use cases for the internet, the internet can do so much more than just send emails.

Blockchain isn't just for transactions

Blockchain is essentially an immutable database that may be controlled through a decentralized model. It offers a great deal of security for data since it often secures the data through highly complex algorithms, and with a decentralized database, other users can instantly tell if someone has messed with one version of the database.

This can be very useful for keeping records on transactions, but that isn't its only usage. For example, the healthcare industry can use blockchain tech to keep patient data private and give patients control of who accesses their data.

Other potential uses include:

  • Artists can receive credit for their artwork by giving it a block on a blockchain.
  • It can speed up the process for smart contracts.
  • It can confirm impressions for advertisements.
  • It can reward customers with tokens on loyalty platforms.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what blockchain can accomplish when it comes to data, which brings us to our last point.

It puts people in charge of their data

One major issue this past decade has been customer privacy. Facebook has gotten into hot water for selling user data to advertisers, and facial recognition companies have had legal problems as well.

Blockchain can offer a better solution to these privacy concerns by giving people control of their own data. By securing certain data, such as identifiable documents or creative works on a blockchain, users can control who accesses their data and how they gain recompense for offering that data.

Blockchain can thus create a more equitable world where customers, advertisers and businesses can come to reasonable understandings when it comes to data usage and access. This in fact in the ultimate key to understanding blockchain, it isn't just a new technology, it's a new way to handle how we "handle" data.

Originally published by
Bradley Cooper | September 11, 2020
Mobile Payments Today

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Gold Level Contributor

A research paper from the University of South Australia suggests blockchain technology needs to be refined so it can better protect privacy.

Described in a university blog post on Thursday, the research findings show the very features that make blockchain secure are also problematic for personal privacy, particularly under European standards.

The work was conducted by emerging technologies doctoral researcher Kirsten Wahlstrom in collaboration with Anwaar Ulhaq and Oliver Burmeister of Charles Sturt University, also in Australia.

The team found emerging technologies such as blockchain and the internet of things possess the potential to compromise people’s privacy in the way they immutably store data.

That's because blockchains use details of previous transactions, including data that can be used to identify participants, to verify future transactions.

“Once someone’s details are embedded in a blockchain, the system never forgets," Wahlstrom said. "Yes, those details might be encrypted, but they are also part of an irreversible ledger, and one that’s on the cloud."

The paper references recent legal developments in the European Union meaning citizens possess the "right to be forgotten" in relation to their internet-hosted data.

So, as long as a blockchain exists it conflicts with the European ruling that people have the right to retract their data, Wahlstrom said.   

In August, digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation raised similar concerns over a proposed California law allowing medical records to be stored on a blockchain.

Standards need to be cemented now in order develop a clear distinction on what privacy is, as well as what governments and organizations are trying to protect and why, Wahlstrom noted.

"The main problem is, we’re still struggling to understand what 'privacy' actually means in an online world," she added.

The research cited Holochain as an example of technology that might address the privacy issue.

The project uses distributed hash tables, a form of a distributed database that can record data associated with a key on a network of peer nodes, and avoids the all-encompassing "ledger" of a blockchain.

“This allows individuals to verify data without disclosing all its details or permanently storing it in the cloud," Wahlstrom said, "but there are also still a lot of questions to answer about how this affects the long-term viability of the chain and how it obtains verifications.”

Originally published by
Sebastian Sinclair | September 10, 2020
coindesk

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Chuttersnap - Unsplash

Canadian law firm Miller Thomson has hired consultancy firm Kroll to perform blockchain analytics work in relation to the ongoing dissolution of QuadrigaCX, the exchange which failed last year after its CEO Gerald Cotten was reported to have died

The firm, which represents the now-former users of Quadriga pursuant to a court order, announced the move in a notice to creditors Friday, adding that Kroll would work “with its strategic partner Coinfirm” to analyze a subset of transaction data. Miller Thomson began looking for an analytics firm at the beginning of the year.

“Since being founded in early 2016, Coinfirm has created a powerful analytics engine for blockchain tracing exercises,” the update said. “The Kroll/Coinfirm partnership will use a combination of professionals as needed with experience in cryptocurrency, asset tracing/searching, asset recovery, fraud investigations, and data analytics.”

The law firm will not share further details “due to confidentiality,” the document said, though it said Miller Thomson arrived at the decision in conjunction with the Official Committee, a group of users appointed by a Canadian court to act as a sort of liaison between the law firm and the broader group of former customers.

Miller Thomson was likewise appointed to represent Quadriga’s former customers last year, alongside Ernst and Young (EY), which is acting as a bankruptcy trustee and has been tasked with identifying and securing any of Quadriga’s funds to disburse back to its former customers. So far, about $46 million CAD (around $35 million U.S.) has been recovered, according to the Ontario Securities Commission, far short of the nearly $200 million customers are supposedly owed.

Kroll will receive a fee of $50,000 CAD ($38,000 U.S.) and is indemnified against any potential lawsuit up to $150,000 CAD ($114,000 U.S.).

Crypto Capital

Miller Thomson did not provide any other information about what users could expect in terms of fund distributions. The law firm did update Quadriga’s users about its research into Crypto Capital however, announcing it had “forwarded the information” it received from individuals to EY and found that Crypto Capital does not currently possess any of Quadriga’s holdings.

“Representative Counsel understands that based on the Trustee’s review of the information  provided by Affected Users and information in its possession, there is currently insufficient  evidence to establish that Crypto Capital owed any funds to Quadriga as of the date of  bankruptcy,” the update said.

The update caps a brief investigation which began in January of this year, when Miller Thomson asked Quadriga’s users to share any information they had about the Panama-registered “shadow bank,” whose operators currently face a host of charges in the U.S. (one, Reginald Fowler, was arrested and is now awaiting trial).

Originally published by
Nikhilesh De | September 8, 2020
Coindesk

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Bronze Level Contributor

A USAF Airman participating in command and control drills near Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. (Staff Sgt. Kaylee Clark/USAF)

The U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) continuing series of blockchain investments is entering the realm of battle management systems with a nearly $500,000 contract award to defense giant Raytheon.

Raytheon BBN Technologies won a $495,039 contract titled: "Characterizing the applicability and relevance of DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) in Air C2" (CARDIAC) from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).

The contract's title indicates that Raytheon's advanced tech researchers will consider how DLT can benefit commanders' ability to keep their eyes on the skies and their pilots safe and lethal. That's the gist of C2, Pentagon shorthand for Command and Control.

Other than the title, the parties, the funding and the date, the CARDIAC viewed by CoinDesk Thursday had little to reveal. Raytheon BBN did not immediately respond to a request for comment and neither did AFRL.

But Lt. Col. Neil Barnas, who has studied blockchain's military potential, told CoinDesk DLT could be an asset for the USAF's C2. He said distributing otherwise centralized C2 systems makes them less vulnerable to enemy attack.

"If you have the one command and control system to rule them all you’ve really just created a target," he said, speaking to CoinDesk in a personal capacity.

The USAF has made clear this year that it is preparing to spend millions of dollars on modernizing C2. "Highly advanced and lethal tools" help airmen "to prevail in the high-end fight," officers wrote in their FY2021 budget overview.

That document requested $435 million for an "Advanced Battle Management System" that links USAF and Space Force's war-fighting capacity.

Originally published by
Danny Nelson| September 3, 2020
Coindesk

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: Unsplash

Members of Congress are urging the federal government to use blockchain solutions to boost COVID-19 relief efforts.

In a Wednesday letter addressed to the U.S. President Donald Trump and federal officials, lawmakers said blockchain technology can help identify and authenticate individuals set to receive government benefits, streamline supply chains and create a registry of medical professionals. 

This is the latest development in a trend of U.S. lawmakers actively advocating for blockchain applications and virtual currencies, with representatives re-introducing bipartisan legislation in January that would reduce the tax burden on small crypto transactions, and Massachusetts Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) proposing a bill in April to record national stockpiles on a blockchain. 

The letter was led by the four co-chairs of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus: Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Bill Foster (D-Ill.), David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) and Darren Soto (D-Fla.). 

They were joined by Caucus members Stephen Lynch, Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

“The membership of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus urges your consideration, support and implementation of utilizing blockchain technology that could greatly mitigate the effects of the [c]oronavirus,” the letter said.  

Ongoing effort

This is not the first time members of Congress have urged the government to consider innovative technologies in the pandemic response. In April, 11 representatives signed a letter calling on the U.S. Treasury Department to consider blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) in streamlining the distribution of stimulus funds to citizens across the nation. 

Within a week of sending the letter, Lynch introduced a bill to mitigate the failures of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) in distributing personal protection equipment such as ventilators to those in need: it would require relevant government agencies to use private blockchain technology to inventory supplies in each state to ensure availability. 

The goal of the bill is to facilitate the creation of a network that would allow the government to have a transparent view of stockpiles, and allocate resources to where they are most needed, Lynch told CoinDesk back in April. 

“I think there are reasons for adopting a very secure protocol. You could envision instances where if the country were at war you would not want this system to be hackable and so I think the private blockchain model probably works best,” he said.  

'Wake-up call’

The lawmakers’ letter to Trump echoes Lynch’s call to use blockchain to create secure and efficient databases. 

The letter makes a case for a blockchain-based identification system, to securely store and authenticate an individual’s identity “to receive necessary funding or supplies” 

The lawmakers explained how the built-in architecture of blockchains can help easily identify individuals when receiving government benefits, while its strong encryption protects sensitive data. It also urged the government to consider putting crucial supply chains that would map origins, inventories and transportation routes on a blockchain.

“The lack of these fundamental supplies has served as a wake-up call across the nation as we continue to struggle to track, reroute, and deliver necessary supplies to those who need them most,” the letter said. 

The lawmakers also suggested that blockchain could help create a comprehensive registry of medical professionals that would verify qualifications, locations and help deploy “skilled resources” in times of crisis.

“Federal regulators must be willing to shed the bureaucracy and implement new solutions,” Rep. Emmer said in a statement to the press. 

Originally published by
Sandali Handagama | September 2, 2020
Coindesk

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

Nuclear power (Thomas Millot/Unsplash)

Nuclearis, a manufacturer of precision mechanical components for the nuclear industry, is using the Bitcoin blockchain to verify the manufacturing blueprints of parts that make up nuclear power reactors.

Announced Tuesday, Nuclearis, which is headquartered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has offices in the U.S. and China, is using the Bitcoin-powered RSK blockchain as an immutable anchor, keeping tabs on critical documents. The firm has open-sourced the framework so other players in the nuclear industry can use it.

It’s not the first time blockchain tech has been leveraged within the nuclear industry. Estonia’s Guardtime has been using its own version of DLT for some time to distribute data as a way to prevent cyberattacks on nuclear infrastructure. There have also been projects using blockchain to track the uranium fuel supply chain and also track what happens to nuclear waste.

Safety is everything when it comes to nuclear. The track and trace use case for manufacturing documents is important because there have been forgeries in the past, where antiquated nuclear reactors have opted for shortcuts to revamp equipment (a high-profile case of this sort went through the courts in France in 2016.)  

Some 150 new reactors are set to be built over the next 30 years and the “NuclearTech” space is all about instilling trust within the operators of nuclear power plants, said Nuclearis CTO Sebastian Martinez.

“Part of the problem is that there are many intermediaries in this supply chain and parts of it are still paper-based,” said Martinez. “We hash the manufacturing documents and upload to the blockchain at the point of creation of the steel part. Months or even years later, when we deliver the part, the power plant can check if everything digitally matches.”

Nuclear in Argentina

Nuclearis, which is working with Argentina’s three power plants – Atucha I, Atucha II and Embalse – said the Argentine government and the country’s main operator of nuclear power plants, Nucleoeléctrica Argentina, are looking to adopt its blockchain system.

The RSK blockchain developed with consultancy IOV Labs uses a process called “merged mining” to run a sidechain on the Bitcoin blockchain and harvest the hash power of the largest cryptocurrency.

“The immutability and security that blockchain provides are of the most importance for the nuclear industry,” IOV Labs CEO Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar said in a statement. “We are very excited about Nuclearis’ solution in that industry and thrilled they have chosen RSK blockchain and RSK Infrastructure Framework (RIF) technologies for its development.”

The RSK-based platform now in use is only for tracking the provenance of new parts, but there are lots of interesting use cases going forward around areas like decommissioning of parts, Nuclearis said.

“If you replace something like a pump from a primary circuit that has been radioactive for the last 50 years, you have to decommission it, get it out of the reactor and dismantle it,” said Martinez. “Traceability of that stuff is very important so it doesn’t turn up on some black market, or worse, finds its way into a dirty bomb.”

Originally published by
Ian Allison | September 1, 2020
coindesk

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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Alan Emery - Unsplash

A “critical bug” has left 13% of Ethereum nodes useless, highlighting what is a growing chink in the network’s armor: client centralization.

First hinted at in May and June on GitHub, minority clients Parity-Ethereum and OpenEthereum versions 2.7 and later contain an unknown critical bug that stops nodes from syncing with the network’s latest block.

Such bugs would be a normal issue if it weren’t for the length of time it will take to fix (weeks to months) and additional strain it’ll place on the majority client, Geth.

Clients themselves are different programming language implementations of blockchain software. Running multiple implementations together is considered a way to thwart network attacks by having concurrent yet separate systems running.

It’s proven to be a helpful model historically. For example, the 2016 Shanghai attacks saw Geth momentarily shut down following a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. Parity-Ethereum managed to keep the network afloat single handedly.

The Ethereum Foundation-backed Geth client now supports some 80% of the $43 billion network. This dependency is a recognized attack vector that has forced developers to postpone the July hard fork, Berlin, so minority clients could gain some traction. 

Yet, eight weeks later Geth’s pie share has only grown larger. And it’s likely to climb as these broken node operators have a decision on their hands: turn off their client, back up to an old client version or swap to another client entirely.

Geth did not return questions for comment by press time.

Hot potato

It was an open secret among Ethereum developers that the Parity-Ethereum client was not up to spec. Indeed, OpenEthereum project manager Marcelo Ruiz de Olano told CoinDesk in a private message that his team found both unresolvable and “very severe issues affecting memory and disk usage.”

Parity Technologies, which originally founded the Parity-Ethereum client, stepped away from maintenance in December 2019, citing costs. The client was then handed off to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) of developers funded by ConsenSys spinout Gnosis, called OpenEthereum.

A cursory glance comparing Geth’s and Parity-Ethereum’s codebase commits on GitHub, particularly after the December transition, leads to some more questions about the latter’s codebase integrity, as noted by non-custodial marketplace LocalCryptos in a May tweet.

In the meantime, the OpenEthereum team has urged node operators to turn back the clock to 2019’s version 2.5 to bring nodes back online. De Olano said he has four engineers on the project alone and hopes to have a workable client by mid-September. Still, client diversification will remain an issue without additional support, he said.

“Ultimately this is a community project to increase the client diversity in Ethereum and everyone’s help is appreciated,” de Olano said.

Originally published by
William Foxley | August 27, 2020
coindesk

 

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Bronze Level Contributor

Image: Ciaran O'Brien - Unsplash

Coinbit, South Korea’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange, has reportedly been seized by police over allegations it faked most of its trading volume.

According to a report from Seoul Newspaper on Tuesday, local police raided and confiscated the company's Gangnam headquarters and other premises.

Accused of fraud, the firm's owner, Choi Mo, and other managers are said to have artificially inflated volumes on the exchange by using "ghost" accounts to make fake trades, a practice known as wash trading.

In its report, Seoul Newspaper said it had been informed by insiders of corruption at Coinbit months ago and that up to 99% of trading volume was "manipulated" on the platform.

Police allege wash trading at Coinbit had produced over 100 billion won ($84 million) in faked income.

The newspaper said it had put off reporting its findings until the raids at the request of the Investigation Department of the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

An accounting firm had reportedly refused to work with the firm after viewing its books.

Seoul Newspaper said it had seen the books and that 99% of recorded trades could not be associated with deposits or withdrawals.

Originally published by
Daniel Palmer | August 26, 2020
coindesk

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Bronze Level Contributor

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is one of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks in the U.S., and is evaluating more than 30 blockchain platforms for a possible future central bank digital currency. (Beland/Wikimedia Commons)

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, one of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks operating under the U.S. central bank, is evaluating more than 30 different blockchain networks to determine if they would support a digital dollar.

The Boston Fed, as it’s more commonly known, announced earlier this month it was actively testing a digital dollar – a tokenized version of the U.S. dollar – with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Digital Currency Initiative. The collaboration builds on previous research efforts, and is intended to establish how a digital dollar might complement the existing greenback, said Boston Fed Senior Vice President Jim Cunha. Ultimately, the results will be published and potentially considered for an actual digital dollar, though the latter part is still years away. 

“What we’re doing now really is much more thorough, much more building a platform to see whether distributed ledger can meet the needs of a U.S.-based central bank digital currency,” he said. “Can it actually function?”

The collaboration is “in its formative stages,” he said, meaning right now the two institutions are determining what the requirements are for the project and which platforms to build on.

As the work proceeds, the researchers hope to answer questions about scalability, throughput, privacy, resiliency and resistance to cyber attacks, he said. 

“I would think we’re probably looking at 30 to 40 different either open source or private solutions at a very high level first, and then doing a deeper dive into a few of them, because we’re in the early stages of this, and we want to make sure we have the broadest view possible,” Cunha said.

Fed x MIT

The Boston Fed announced its formal collaboration with the DCI to test a digital dollar last week. However, the relationship between the two entities and their research into digital currencies stretch back years, Cunha said.

“Now that we are going further with our research with the Digital Currency Institute, we decided to get a more formal relationship with them,” he told CoinDesk.

Neha Narula, director of the DCI and a research scientist, said MIT’s lab is a neutral research institution. 

Researchers on the project will implement different designs, which Narula hopes will provide concrete data and options for policymakers who are considering whether to move forward with a CBDC and what tradeoffs might exist with one model or another.

“We’re excited about this collaboration because DCI’s goal is to answer the fundamental questions necessary to determine under what circumstances a CBDC is a good idea, and how we might deploy one should a central bank decide to do so,” she said. “Working closely with one of the largest central banks in the world is incredibly helpful in terms of getting real-time input on how to frame and answer these questions.”

For the moment, the research is exploratory and focused on the technology aspects, rather than policy. 

Bob Bench, assistant vice president at the Boston Fed, told CoinDesk the U.S. might have a different view on privacy or other issues than other nations do, so the research effort has to consider what privacy measures it can take, as one example. 

Even basic questions such as which programming language should be used are up in the air, he said.

“These are some of the issues we’re thinking about at the core level before we even start thinking about user interface,” he said.

Cunha said the goal is to publish joint research over the next two years, to ensure anyone else looking at CBDCs can learn from the collaboration’s work. 

“We hope to create an open source code base that supports multiple trade offs and will be useful to anyone who is interested in building, testing, and deploying central bank digital currency,” Narula said. 

Design needs

A number of factors will be considered during the research effort. Narula noted that a retail-focused CBDC would need low latency and high throughput, meaning it would need to be able to process a large number of transactions per second, while remaining secure. 

Part of this mission means leveraging existing cryptographic and distributed ledger systems “that have been vetted in the real world,” she said. 

“We don’t want to take some brand-new consensus algorithm or cryptographic protocol and use it for a country’s national currency,” she said.

Ensuring this digital dollar can serve un- or underbanked users is another goal, Cunha said, an initiative Narula agreed with. 

It’s also important to ensure the resulting designs can be flexible, he said. 

"We don't want to take some brand-new consensus algorithm or cryptographic protocol and use if for a country's national currency."

Beyond the basic questions, the Boston Fed wants to know how issues like throughput and privacy might be affected if participants are required to pass know-your-customer and anti-money laundering checks, he said.

“We’re not getting granular with this. We’re not trying to design and think about product design down to the level of ‘how would someone unbanked use this?’, we’re trying to be flexible enough to allow innovation to answer some of those problems,” he said.

 

Different central banks have different issues they may be concerned with, Narula said.

Like Cunha, he emphasized that throughput is an important area of concern, saying whatever engine powers the CBDC would need to be able to support “the world’s largest currency’s transactions.” 

These are questions that may take years to resolve. Cunha said he does not expect to see anything come to production within the next two or three years.

“I would say I think a digital currency will launch inevitably, but then that’s a long time,” Cunha said. “These are decade-long paths, versus something that changes overnight.”

Years of work

The Boston Fed has been looking at distributed ledger technology since 2015 or 2016, Cunha said, and has published numerous papers on the subject. The group has also looked at similar central bank digital currency and payment efforts by other central banks, including the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Project Ubin and Canada’s Project Jasper.

“Our goal really was to understand distributed ledgers, how it was unfolding,” he said.

This goal hasn’t changed. While private digital currency efforts like Libra and CBDC projects like China’s digital yuan may have created a bit more urgency to the Boston Fed and DCI’s work, there’s no mandate or timeline to launch a digital dollar by.

“It just creates more interest in the project,” Cunha said. 

In other words, he does not see the new collaboration as being a competition between the U.S. and China, or the U.S. and the Libra Association. 

“I would say as the major powers start to launch, it does get the attention of people that are thinking about this broadly and at a policy perspective,” he said.

If anything, the fact that there are now multiple efforts underway to create a mainstream-accessible cryptocurrency might just indicate that distributed ledger technology “actually may have legs,” and has the potential to be incorporated into payment and monetary systems’ infrastructure in the future.

The Boston Fed intends to publish thought leadership papers and analysis of the platforms it evaluates as part of its new Project Hamilton, in an effort to provide educational materials based on the research, he said. 

The name is a nod to Alexander Hamilton, but also to Margaret Hamilton, one of the founders of software engineering and a former director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, who worked on technology for part of the moon landing.

Originally published by
Nikhilesh De | August 24, 2020
Coindesk
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Gold Level Contributor

Image: Terry - Unsplash

Stablecoin issuer Tether shifted 1 billion in USDT from the Tron blockchain to the Ethereum blockchain in an early morning chain swap Thursday.

Swapped in conjunction "with a 3rd party," according to a Tether tweet, the token transfer drains 23% of TRON's USDT reserves, which previously stocked $4.3 billion in the stablecoin.

It also pumps up Ethereum's reserves, where well over half of the nearly $13 billion circulating USDT already reside. Ethereum is a hotbed for decentralized finance projects and as such a popular spot for USDT.

Tether has played a notable role in the Ethereum blockchain's recent congestion, according to Decrypt.

Big-dollar USDT transfers and billion-token burns spotted by the exchange-tracking Twitter account Whale Alert suggest that Binance may be the third party that ordered the swap.

Originally published by
Danny Nelson | August 20, 2020
Coindesk

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The technology aims to help utilities optimise water delivery, billing and conservation

The patented blockchain architecture within CityEdge validates water usage data from the moment that it leaves the meter’s sensors to the moment it reaches the customer, the company claims.

Olea Edge Analytics, an intelligent edge computing platform for the water utility industry, has unveiled a product intended to help recoup revenues associated with broken or malfunctioning commercial water meters.

Olea Edge Analytics says its history with numerous utilities shows that up to 40 per cent of all high-volume commercial water meters can be underbilled and need repair. And under normal conditions, it reports, commercial water meters can lose their accuracy by more than 10 per cent per year.

Water infrastructure issues

According to Olea, its CityEdge platform can notify customers of water infrastructure issues more quickly than current crews can find them, allowing utilities to fix them fast and recover lost revenue. The platform comprises a combination of blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The patented blockchain architecture within CityEdge validates water usage data from the moment that it leaves the meter’s sensors to the moment it reaches the customer, the company claims. The encrypted data in the blockchain ledger is also distributed across every device in the network, making it more secure and traceable than ever before.

The platform also creates a digital twin – a virtual replica of a physical product or system – of every meter on the network. A full suite of sensors monitors and provides advanced analytics for each component in the system.

“People are surprised to learn that they can make these simple repairs and turn that money into a catalyst for much-needed projects,” said Dave Mackie, CEO of Olea Edge Analytics.

“Everyone is looking for an edge in funding, especially during these economic times. This platform gives them that.”

Olea said its technology empowers utilities to optimise water delivery, billing and conservation generating millions more in revenue in the process. Committed to helping water utilities combat aging infrastructure, meet greater demand and limit rate increases, its patented solution combines IoT and edge computing capabilities to bring transparency, accuracy, and reliability to water delivery.

Originally published by
SmartCitiesWorld News Team | August 18, 2020
SmartCitiesWorld

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Image: Hitesh Choudhary Unsplash

ING Bank, AB-InBev, Rolls Royce, and Multi.io joined the Blockchain Education Alliance launched by blockchain accelerator MouseBelt.

The Blockchain Education Alliance launched by blockchain accelerator MouseBelt has gained several noteworthy new members. 

Ashlie Meredith, the head of education for MouseBelt Blockchain Accelerator, told Cointelegraph on Aug. 17 that the new members include brewing company Anheuser-Busch InBev, Dutch bank ING, cryptocurrency exchange Multi.io, and luxury car company Rolls Royce. The addition of these firms makes 26 current members in the organization.

According to MouseBelt, these companies have been utilizing blockchain technology for up to five years.  

Blockchain Education Alliance was involved in a three-day conference which streamed nonstop in May when many students were still sheltering in place and unable to attend classes. The Reimagine 2020 virtual conference hosted students from more than 20 universities. 

The firm said it would connect related projects to students, researchers and blockchain protocols through the Blockchain Education Alliance. The alliance aims to support education “to ensure students receive the skills, connections, and knowledge necessary to contribute to the blockchain ecosystem.”

“In a time when many students will not be returning to campus, increasing opportunities for educational experiences, jobs and internships is of utmost importance,” said Meredith. 

At its launch in October 2019, the alliance counted the Stellar Development Foundation, Tron, Hedera, ICON, Ontology, Wanchain, Harmony One, Nervos, Orbs, LTO Network, Emurgo, Nem, and ETC Labs among its members. 

Mastercard, Binance X, Ripple's accelerator Xpring, cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin, smart contract platform NEO, startup IoTeX, blockchain security firm Quantstamp, and blockchain service Constellation Labs joined the alliance in February 2020.

Originally published by
Turner Wright | August 17, 2020
Cointelegraph

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Singapore-based fintech BondEvalue has conducted the first trades on its blockchain-based debt trading platform, providing retail investors with access to fractional ownership of bonds in smaller denominations of $1000.

Investors using the platform can buy and sell 'BondbloX', which are $1,000 fractions of traditional wholesale bonds, via their bank or broker.

The first trade was between a Singapore citizen and a buyer who is a Singapore permanent resident. The transaction was for $8,000 of BondbloX representing the underlying1 Olam 4.375% bond maturing 2023 at a price of 100.25%, executed through Taurus Wealth Advisors, the first member of BBX.

Settlement on BBX is on a T+0 basis, and trades incur a flat $2 fee alongside a platform fee of 20 basis points annually. BBX partners may also charge a commission for each transaction.

Alongside Taurus Wealth, the firm has signed up Northern Trust as custodian and one of Singapore’s largest brokerages, UOB Kay Hian.

Established by former traders at Citi and DBS Bank, BondEvalue was the first company in the bond industry to be approved under the MAS regulatory sandbox, from which it is preparing to obtain the necessary regulatory approval to exit as a recognised market operator in the coming weeks.

BondEvalue’s founder and CEO, Rahul Banerjee, says: “We believe BondbloX will be an industry game changer. Our vision is to have over 25 million people in Asia invest in bonds in the next five years, from 500,000 individuals currently."
 
Originally posted by
Finextra | August 12, 2020

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(Shutterstock)

Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN), a Chinese state-sanctioned blockchain infrastructure project, launched its English-language website for international decentralized applications (dapp) developers on Monday. 

First reported by CoinDesk on July 21, the website is part of BSN’s effort to extend its global reach. 

Developers are now able to build dapps and run nodes on either permissioned blockchains or major public chains through the global version of the network. 

Available permissioned blockchains include Hyperledger Fabric and FISCO-BCOS, patented by digital banking company Tencent’s WeBank. 

Six major public chains are also available on the network now: Ethereum, EOS, Tezos, NEO, Nervos and Cosmos’ IrisNet. 

BSN touts that it is one of the few cross-chain infrastructure networks where developers can use the network’s internet services for different blockchains under a standardized development environment. 

The cross-chain feature is enabled by BSN’s Interchain Services. Cosmos’ IrisNet and Chainlink contributed to the feature.

The network also claims developers will have an easier user experience through its simplified and standardized development tools, which cost a fraction of what similar internet services from traditional cloud companies would.

Originally published by
David Pan | August 11, 2020
coindesk

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Chinese yuan notes (Toni Schmidt/Shutterstock)

A former vice president of a top Chinese bank said digital currency should replace fiat in the nation’s financial systems.

Yongli Wang, previously of the Bank of China, said in a WeChat post that wide use of digital currencies would encourage monetary reform, as reported by media outlet The Global Times on Sunday.

Wang, now a director of the Haixia Blockchain Research Institute, also said China would use digital currency as a substitute for cash in circulation initially, but that could impact its market competitiveness if confined solely to that role.

Digital currencies, he said, could help to bolster liquidity in an economy, while placing limits on excessive issuance of physical cash.

Wang added that preventing the printing of too much cash would help maintain monetary and financial stability.

One way forward, he suggested, would be to provide exclusive "basic accounts" on the central bank's digital currency platform for all social entities, according to the report.

Bank of China is one of the nation's four biggest state-owned commercial banks.

The former VP's comments come at a time when China's biggest banks and other commercial entities have begun trialing the pilot of the central bank's Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DC/EP) system.

The digital currency, often dubbed the digital yuan, is designed to facilitate the replacement of all the nation's cash in circulation in the coming decade.

Originally published by
Sebastain Sinclair | August 4, 2020
coindesk

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(Krys Amon/Unsplash)

Music is back on the blockchain. 

Audius, a streaming service that connects music fans directly with artists, has raised $3.1 million in a strategic round co-led by Multicoin Capital and Blockchange Ventures, with participation from Pantera Capital and Coinbase Ventures. 

Audius has now raised a total of $8.6 million as the platform prepares for prime time, having grown in less than a year to over 250,000 monthly users and 40,000 artists. EDM artists seem to be the site’s burgeoning specialty with notables including RAC, deadmau5, Lido, 3LAU, Zeds Dead, Mr. Carmack and REZZ all signed on.

The blockchain use case for music is a familiar one: the inequity and tardiness of the revenue model of streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify.

“It shouldn’t take a year and a half to get paid, and it’s just crazy that the people creating the music only take 12%,” Audius CEO Roneil Rumburg said in an interview. “After this extreme time delay, the artist just gets this check, so they don’t actually see who’s listening to them. There is no visibility because the artist doesn’t own their own data or their audience.” 

The Audius P2P network allows artists to be paid in full by their fans, directly and instantly for every stream with the ability to cash out daily or hourly if they want, Rumburg added.

‘Fair trade’ but for music

Ethereum-based Audius picks up the mantle carried by ConsenSys-backed Ujo Music and groundbreaking projects like Imogen Heap’s Mycelia, which the artist described as “fair trade” music.

Indeed, folks such as Jesse Grushack, co-founder and CEO of the now-shuttered Ujo Music, have helped and advised Audius, as has Ujo’s former artist-in-residence, André Allen Anjos, better known by his stage name RAC, a Grammy Award winner who has remixed the likes of New Order, Lady Gaga and the Kings of Leon.

Anjos, who worked with Ujo for over a year and released an album on Ethereum, said the problem was the complexity of onboarding users.

“We used to kind of joke that it could take like 36 steps to get ether into MetaMask,” Anjos said in an interview. “Just to interact with these systems you needed to go through this crazy setup, and I think Ujo kind of suffered from that. But today, if you go to Audius it’s a pretty similar experience to any other platform, arguably better. That initial barrier to entry is not a problem anymore.”

Audius, which was founded in 2018 by Stanford University buddies Rumburg and Chief Product Officer Forrest Browning, has benefitted from “a kind of diaspora of talent that had already been working on this problem,” said Rumburg. 

“Back in 2016, when these projects came about, was just really early,” he said. “The amount of stuff that [ConsenSys founder] Joe [Lubin] had to build from scratch was just this astronomical ask.”

The Audius team may have built the music player with a user interface that looks and feels like Spotify or SoundCloud, but it couldn’t be more different under the hood.

Decentralized streaming

The network consists of indexing nodes, which provide a discovery service, and content-posting or creator nodes. This intersection of fans, artists and infrastructure providers who host and index content (“stakers” in blockchain parlance), uses both the Ethererum public blockchain (which is where all the staking and look-up nodes are running) and a second, permissioned network where the uploaded content lives. 

Continue reading

Originally published by
Ian Allison | July 30, 2020
Coindesk

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(Ppictures/Shutterstock)

Fasset, a fintech company headquartered in the U.K., has launched what it claims is the world’s first operating system built on the Ethereum blockchain dedicated to the ethical financing of sustainable infrastructure.

Announced Tuesday, the system is intended to democratize investments in sustainable infrastructure, including the construction of solar power plants, wind farms and fiber optic networks, by tokenizing (creating digital representations of) those assets to make them accessible to a global pool of investors. 

Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Fasset’s CEO and a former technology adviser to the United Arab Emirates' prime minister, told CoinDesk infrastructure assets are some of the most resilient and long-yielding financial assets, continuing to provide dividends long after the project is complete, because they provide important utilities to the public.

These infrastructural assets are useful and accessible to anyone, he said, irrespective of where they come from, just like a decentralized blockchain.

In a press release, Hossain said climate change is expected to cost the world economy $7.9 trillion by 2050, and that the need for sustainable infrastructure has never been more urgent.

The Fasset Enterprise Platform (FEP) enables hard-asset owners in sustainable infrastructure to tokenize their assets for fundraising purposes. 

By moving the entire sustainable infrastructure financing process to the blockchain, the firm intends to improve liquidity in the sector and lower barriers to entry that will enable asset owners to avoid costly middlemen and directly list their assets on exchanges.

The initiative, inspired by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals, is a response to rapid climate degradation and the lack of capital entering the sustainable infrastructure sector, which is moving toward a $15 trillion deficit by 2040.

Fasset’s primary objective is to bridge that deficit with blockchain-backed investments, Hossain said.

Founded in early 2019, the firm has already won the support of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Kuwait and Bahrain, and has raised over $4.7 million.

It also plans to launch a regulated exchange for hard assets in the near future. 

Originally published by
Sandali Handagama | July 28, 2020
Coindesk

 

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