Blockchain Demystified – PPC Land


IAB Europe is hosting a webinar about blockchain on 25 September 2019, at 15.00 BST / 16.00 CEST. The webinar Blockchain Demystified will be moderated by Anton Kopytov, Partner Technology Consulting, Mindshare Worldwide and Chair of the IAB Europe Research Committee. The speakers are Jason Manningham, General Manager, Blockgraph (part of FreeWheel), Toccara Baker, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Ad Cloud, EMEA, Adobe, Tom Kershaw, Chief Technology Officer, Rubicon Project, and Samuel Zwaan, EU Product Lead Programmatic Advertising, eBay.

The webinar topics are: introduction into blockchain; the use of blockchain in the digital advertising industry; challenges and limitations for the technology; a panel discussion on the future of blockchain; questions in a dedicated Q&A segment.

According to IAB Europe, the Blockchain Demystified webinar aims to build on the Blockchain Demystified white paper published in April.



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‘The Banker’ recognizes BBVA’s blockchain corporate lending platform


According to the publication, part of the Financial Times editorial group, submissions of blockchain-related projects more than doubled in this edition, which evidences the level of maturity that projects across the financial industry are reaching. In choosing BBVA’s new blockchain corporate lending platform over the rest of candidates, The Banker cites its capacity to “improve efficiency and transparency” in loan negotiation processes with its corporate customers.

‘The Banker’ underscores the fact that BBVA combines private and public platforms: the private platform, based on Hyperledger, allows the whole process to be perfectly monitored and traced by all parties involved; and the use of a public hash recorded in the public blockchain Ethereum with a time-stamp that validates and ensures the immutability of the agreement.

“The project has changed the way corporate clients interact with BBVA, thanks to a process that increases transparency” through the use of smart contracts, which guarantee that the process remains simple and all related information stored in an immutable ledger, explains the publication.

The fact that BBVA encourages clients to host their own blockchain nodes and that it is building a do-it-yourself portal for this type of transactions are seen as key traits that set BBVA’s proposal ahead of the pack.

‘The Banker’ also notes that BBVA has tested its platform with different financial instruments, including corporate loans, syndicated loans and structured bonds, with deals ranging from €35 million to €1 billion.

“Blockchain is a useful technology because its features of real time, traceability and transparency are instrumental to creating smart interactions and front-to-back automation. We believe blockchain technology is a long-term play, creating faster, easier and safer ways to share data and pieces of data modularly,” says Ricardo Laiseca, head of Global Innovation & Analytics and data analysis at BBVA Corporate and Investment Banking.

As part of its efforts to explore the possibilities of distributed ledger technologies in the negotiation of corporate loans, BBVA has already completed a series of pioneering pilot tests, including a syndicated loan with Red Eléctrica, a green bond with Mapfre, or a sustainable ‘Schuldschein’ loan with the Community of Madrid, as well as several corporate loans with Porsche, Indra, ACS or Repsol.



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Bitcoin and Blockchain Boosting Law Intended to Create Jobs


Bitcoin and its underlying technology blockchain are reinvigorating the law intended to create jobs: The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act.


Blockchain To Get the JOBS Act Right

The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, colloquially known as the JOBS Act, is a law intended to create jobs in the United States. The concept behind it is to encourage funding of small businesses by easing various securities regulations.

President Barack Obama signed JOBS into law in April 2012. Before the enactment this law, authorities allowed companies to raise money only from accredited investors holding a net worth of at least $1 million.

Then, under the JOBS Act, new rules and proposed amendments were designed to assist smaller companies with capital formation, providing investors with additional protections.

Thus, on October 30, 2015, the U.S. Stock Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted the rules to allow companies to offer and sell securities through crowdfunding. Specifically, Title III of the JOBS Act provided a federal exemption under the securities laws so that investor can use crowdfunding to trade securities.

However, according to Forbes, the law failed to materialize the number of jobs expected, forcing former vice-chairman of NASDAQ David Weild IV, one of the main supporters of the law, to call “for a JOBS Act 2.0 that would be built using blockchain, a shared distributed ledger.”

Now the law it seems is starting to fulfill its promise. For example, on August 19, 2019, INX Ltd. filed with the SEC the initial public offering (IPO) petition to raise $130 million by selling security tokens. The minimum investment amount to participate in the IPO is $1,000. Moreover, Forbes reports,

“Weild, who sits on the board of INX, says he now has 14 blockchain and cryptocurrency clients waiting in the rafters to bring the best of blockchain to the best of traditional exchanges, and perhaps, finally get the JOBS Act right.”

Bitcoin Adds Jobs to the Digital Economy

Bitcoin is also streaming jobs into the economy directly. Job sites such as Monster.com, Simplyhired.com, and Indeed.com continuously post a variety of jobs related to BTC.

Additionally, sites specialized in freelance job opportunities often post jobs that pay in BTC. Cointastical published a long list of freelancing platforms that offer payments in Bitcoin.

So, thanks to Bitcoin’s technology and the Internet of Things (IoT), the digital economy continues to provide us with more jobs and opportunities.

What are your thoughts about the increasing demand for cryptocurrency-related specialists? Let us know in the comments below!


Images via Bitcoinist Image Library



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AssetBlock Launches Tokenized Property Trading on Algorand Blockchain


Real estate startup AssetBlock has launched a new platform for trading commercial properties that have been linked to tokens on the Algorand blockchain.

Announced Tuesday, the platform gives investors access to commercial real estate properties, such as upscale hotels, AssetBlock CEO Mark Liddell told CoinDesk. The Algorand blockchain uses the ALGO cryptocurrency, but investors cannot trade their ALGO for real estate stakes just yet.

Liddell told CoinDesk that tokenized properties – including those held by Lodging Capital Partners, AssetBlock’s launch partner – will not go live until mid-October.

AssetBlock’s platform has been in development for over a year, according to Liddell, who said his team approached Algorand’s project managers early in the development process. They chose the Algorand network for its security and efficient network speeds.

Algorand’s fast transaction times are what CEO Steve Kokinos pointed to as the blockchain’s greatest advantage for real estate.

“We have immediate finality. If you start to look at high value assets like real estate, finality – having absolute certainty over who owns that asset – is very important,” he said.

Algorand has benefitted from an infusion of recent capital. Its Algo token sale raised $60 million in June; in August, investment company Arrington XRP raised $200 million for investment in Algorand projects.

Kokinos said tokenization improves access to global investments. “I think, at its core, the idea is to use tokenization and decentralized currencies to democratize finance,” he said.

“For a large number of people in the world, there are many different investment opportunities, financial services and other products that aren’t really accessible.”

Real estate image via Shutterstock



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L.A. to Choose Blockchain Pilot Project at CIS Conference


With a growing interest in blockchain solutions for government, the city of Los Angeles has partnered with organizers of a major technology conference to bite the bullet and test one.

According to an announcement today about the fourth annual CIS, the world’s largest investment-focused conference about blockchain, this year’s event in October will debut Block Tank, a “Shark Tank”-style pitch contest for blockchain-related startups. The contest is still open here on CIS’ website, and entries must propose to help Los Angeles crack one of three issues: environmental sustainability, an online voting platform or secure resident IDs.

Four finalists — to be chosen by the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Budget and Innovation (MOBI) and Information Technology Agency (ITALA), with input from the event’s organizers at Goren Holm Ventures — will have about 10 minutes on stage at the Los Angeles Convention Center to present and answer questions in front of more than 4,000 people, before judges announce a winner. That team will receive a $25,000 minimum investment from GHV and a $25,000 pilot project with the city of Los Angeles.

GHV co-founder Alon Goren said stage presentations have long been a staple of CIS, which launched in 2014 as Crowd Invest Summit, then became Crypto Invest Summit, and now just goes by “CIS.” But he said when GHS reached out to Los Angeles, the city already had a few blockchain initiatives in mind.

“We reached out to the city and they were interested in doing something like this for a long time, and we basically created the perfect venue for it, so it turned out to be great,” he said. “[Contestants] will have to demonstrate that they’ll able to execute on it, but it’s very much like a startup pitch, or a Shark Tank pitch … of why you think you’ll be able to build, or you have built, a solution that will help the city in one of those categories.”

Since “blockchain” entered the public lexicon around 2016 as the underlying technology of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, startups and innovators around the world have struggled to realize its potential as a secure, publicly transparent ledger of information. The much-hyped technology has yet to prove its value in many cases, including for online voting, for which companies like Voatz and the now-defunct Votem have tested limited mobile voting platforms.

This hasn’t discouraged Goren, whose Los Angeles-based venture firm is prepared to bet $25,000 that blockchain’s big day is just around the corner.

“It’s really early in this industry, but I’m extremely optimistic that there are real solutions that are amazing and can change the world,” he said. “We get thousands of people to come from all over the world to the Los Angeles Convention Center because this industry is taking off, so I’m excited to see what companies present.”

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Hedera Hashgraph, Touted as High-Speed Blockchain Alternative, Goes Live


Hedera Hashgraph has launched its long-awaited public network, backed by some of the world’s largest corporations and promising faster transactions and greater capacity to scale than any blockchain to date.

Since December 2018, the network had been available in a testing environment to a small group of corporations and developers. As of 00:00 UTC Tuesday, anyone can open an account or build a decentralized app (dapp) on the hashgraph, which is similar to a blockchain but uses a different mechanism to achieve consensus about the state of the ledger.

With the public network now live, the Hedera treasury is set to begin distributing the system’s HBAR tokens around 01:00 UTC. The first tokens – more than 379 million – will go to investors who participated in a $124 million crowd sale that took place in three rounds from March 2018 to August 2018.

Another 1.95 million tokens will go to advisors, vendors and other participants on day one. The balance of the 50 billion supply of HBARs is to be released over the next 15 years by the network’s governing council.

Twelve cryptocurrency exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) desks plan to list HBAR for trading: AlgoZ, BitOoda, Bering Waters, Bittrex, Galaxy Digital, GSR, Liquid, OKEx, OKCoin, OSL, Upbit and xFutures.

A year and a half in the making, the hashgraph stands out from other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) in several ways. Its creators claim it works more efficiently than blockchains, making it more suitable for enterprises and commerce. Specifically, Hedera says the network can support up to 10,000 transactions per second, compared to 2.8 per second for bitcoin and 15 for ethereum, the two largest blockchains.

“This is the first instance globally of hashgraph being put to the test,” Hedera CEO Mance Harmon told CoinDesk. “It’s a different data structure, different technology and looks nothing like a blockchain, but solves the same kinds of problems with better security and better performance.”

Hashgraph proponents also say its proof-of-stake consensus mechanism is fairer than bitcoin’s proof-of-work, allowing transactions to come in the order they were recorded and to all settle in the same amount of time. Hedera’s code is patented rather than open-source, a condition the network says it will enforce to deter copying of the codebase or forking.

Not least of all, Hedera boasts the imprimatur of blue-chip names, with IBM, Boeing, Deutsche Telekom, Tata, Nomura and bank tech vendor FIS represented on its governing council, whose members run nodes and vote on software updates.

Praise and pans

In the lead-up to the launch, Hedera Hashgraph has gained its share of admirers and critics.

Among its fans are Steve Wilson, a principal analyst at emerging technologies advisory firm Constellation Research, who says Hedera’s size is the key to its speed.

While regular blockchains are a couple of gigabytes large, the hashgraph is smaller because it does not store all transaction history on the ledger (though it can be optionally stored on a “mirror” network). In addition to its speed, the hashgraph promises finality and instant payments as opposed to around 70 percent of transactions settling every ten minutes for bitcoin and a handful of transactions never reaching finality, Wilson said.

“If we think crypto is going to be viable for retail transactions, it’s not acceptable for you to walk out with the merchant unsure if they’ll get paid,” he said. “Hedera has a quality of service that others are not as committed to.”

That speed, however, only applies to certain kinds of transactions, said Eric Wall, the former blockchain lead at Nasdaq-owned fintech vendor Cinnober.

“A dapp requires smart contracts and since Hedera is currently throttling 10 transactions per second with smart contracts, then it doesn’t make this any more interesting than ethereum,” said Wall, who recently wrote a pair of skeptical Medium posts about Hedera.

Hedera’s consensus service is also nothing new, Wall maintained. Sidechains have also been created off of public blockchains that take advantage of the consensus strength of the underlying system.

“I can’t predict the future of what Hedera will transition to in the future, but moving away from a model that is based on economic and game theory guarantees to a trusted model is a severe reduction in the neutrality model of the system,” he said.

Link to private networks

Since October, hundreds of developers have been building on the network and 25 are now running dapps that were integrated into the mainnet prior to launch, Harmon told CoinDesk.

Nevertheless, the hashgraph is considered to be in a beta testing phase because the network still lacks the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS) and a few other features which will be included in version 1.0.

The HCS is to serve as a link between private blockchain networks and the hashgraph. It allows a hash of transactions from another network to be ordered in the Hedera network by time, showing a searchable record of when transactions occurred with the trust of a decentralized network.

For example, Certara, a drug development and decision-support company, plans to use the HCS to create “tamper-proof” recording of health data transactions while using a private network like Hyperledger Fabric to ensure privacy, said Jim Nasr, vice president of technology and innovation at Certara subsidiary Synchrogenix.

The HCS will also allow Fabric to run on top of mirror nodes that provide insights into all the transactions flowing over the hashgraph but do not participate in the consensus mechanism like a regular node.

“Getting computational trust is why you want to go down the blockchain path for healthcare,” Nasr said. “With the consensus service, your transactions finalize on the mainnet yet can still leverage a private blockchain.”

Hedera Hashgraph co-founders Leemon Baird and Mance Harmon, image courtesy of the firm.



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Legislators look to add real estate, banking to blockchain laws | Local


Wyoming Business Report

LARAMIE — A state task force will meet Thursday and Friday in Laramie to discuss legislation that could shape Wyoming’s landmark blockchain laws.

If enacted, the laws under consideration could change the landscape for real estate, banking and energy, among other industries.

“I think over the next decade or two, a lot of traditional assets will be issued in blockchain form,” said Blockchain Task Force member Caitlin Long. A former University of Wyoming graduate, Long dove into blockchain through her business in New York.

Blockchain technologies use the power of a network to make a ledger more secure, said David Pope, a certified public accountant in Cheyenne who acts as executive director for the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition. In a traditional database, a single server holds the master copy of the data, which can be accessed from authorized computers. If the server is hacked or one employee is too loose with login info, you have an Equifax breach. Or an Anthem. Or a Target.

With blockchain technology, every computer or node that has a blockchain on it houses the entire database, and instead of one executive decision making vast changes to the database on demand, it takes majority approval from all computers on the chain.

“You have to attack all the computers at once” to hack into a blockchain, Pope said.

While crypto heists have occurred to the tune of $731 million in January through July 2018, proponents still argue it’s the safest way to store digital assets.

Opponents argue that digitization opens the door for more sophisticated hackers where more is at stake.

But Wyoming’s Blockchain Task Force and its Legislature have opened the door to the technology, for better or worse, already attracting companies such as Cardano — founded by the former co-founder of Ethereum — and others.

The state task force is pushing toward its next motion to tokenize assets like real estate and mineral rights. Tokens are a digital placeholder for real-world value. Wyoming firms are already chasing tokenization to do things like booking a vacation rental, where the token on the blockchain represents the stay at an Airbnb-style unit.

Long said the measure that would replace real estate deeds with digital representation tokens is more of a behind-the-scenes conversation at this point, but it could fundamentally change the game.

Currently, Teton County is part of a pilot project with a subsidiary of Overstock.com to make it the first county in the country “to record land information (including warranty deeds, mortgages, release of liens and other similar documents), on a blockchain-based platform.”

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Harbor Tokenizes $100 Million in Real Estate Funds on Ethereum Blockchain


The startup Harbor announced a partnership with Seattle-based real estate investment firm iCap Equity to tokenize $100 million in real estate funds.

On Sept. 16, Harbor announced in a blog post that iCap Equity is using Harbor’s blockchain-enabled platform to improve its liquidity in four of its real estate funds which manages over $100 million in assets.

Harbor created the tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, which represent portions of the funds. The partnership between the two companies will allow iCap Equity’s investors and placement agents to buy and sell iCap securities with one another.

Tokenization of the funds will purportedly improve liquidity for real estate investors. Chris Christensen, iCap Equity CEO added:

“iCap provides high-yield investment opportunities for investors, but those investments typically come with a 3 to 5 year lock-up period because they are based in real estate. Now, with Harbor, we are able to provide the same strong returns, but also an option for investors to more easily liquidate if desired.”

Tokenization giving more access to investors 

As Cointelegraph recently reported, the Liechtenstein Cryptoassets Exchange is tokenizing a $25 million movie fund together with Hollywood actor Wesley Snipes. The Daywalker Movie Fund will invest in future movies and TV shows produced by Snipes and his production studio Maandi House. The fund will offer investors a share in the profit of its productions, as well as confer extra benefits such as invitations to movie premieres.

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CIOs say blockchain will ‘transform’ healthcare, other industries in the next decade


survey.

For its 2019 CIO Agenda report, Gartner, an information technology research firm, surveyed 3,102 CIOs from industries including healthcare, insurance and education, about their predictions regarding blockchain adoption.

Three survey insights:

1. Survey respondents said they expect blockchain adoption in healthcare to plateau in more than 10 years.

2. Just 6.7 percent of participants referred to blockchain as a “game-changing technology.”

3. Blockchain adoption has seen considerable growth in banking and investment services industries, with 18 percent of CIOs saying they have adopted or will adopt some form of blockchain within the next year.

More articles on health IT:
8 recent vendor contracts, go-lives
Phelps Health to implement Epic EHR: 3 notes
Google Maps adds tools to help locate addiction recovery services


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Blockchain For Ethical Practices Raises $4 Million in Seed Funding


A blockchain startup for ethical supply chain management just raised $4 million in seed money.

OpenSC, a joint venture of the Boston Consulting Group and environmental protection group the World Wide Fund, announced today $4 million in seed funding from investor Christian Wenger. OpenSC uses blockchain technology to track goods for ethical malpractice.

The capital will be used to further develop blockchain-based supply chains such as overfishing and human rights violations, incoming OpenSC CEO Markus Mutz told CoinDesk. With the funding, Mutz left his role as a director at BCG Digital Ventures to be the full-time CEO of OpenSC.

The funding round came on the heels of its international pilot project with Austral Fisheries, one of the world’s largest seafood companies. OpenSC helps Austral monitor the fishing process of its Patagonian Toothfish — more commonly known as the Chilean sea bass.

The fishery company collects data from fishing boats’ GPS and put the fishing locations in the blockchain platform through an automated algorithm.

Retailers and customers throughout the supply chain can learn where the fish are caught and who catches them by scanning the QR code on the products, Mutz said. The blockchain platform will increase transparency between suppliers and customers throughout a supply chain so that it will be easier to monitor the whole process.

Mutz said the company will also work with Nestlé to trace the food company’s milk products from farmers in New Zealand to customers in Middle East and palm oil sourced in the Americas.

The Nestlé project will apply OpenSC’s blockchain technologies to a large-scale supply chain, which could serve as a model for other big companies, he said.

Penny image via Shutterstock



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