Tag Archives: bitcoin

Could blockchain be the operating system of the cities of the future?

Could blockchain be the operating system of the cities of the future?

Servers, of the sort which you might need for blockchain, maybe. Look, this is quite hard to illustrate, okay?

Many trends on the horizon offer opportunities that could transform our cities. From self-driving vehicles and the sharing economy through to cloud computing and blockchain technologies, each of these trends is quite significant on its own. But the convergence of their disruptive forces is what will create real value and drive innovations.

Take blockchain and the sharing economy as an example. Bringing these two forces together can potentially disrupt established companies like Uber and Airbnb. The success of these companies is largely due to their ability to make use of existing assets people owned, that had been paid for, but from which new value could be derived.

Effectively, these companies set up digital platforms that harnessed “excess capacity” and relied on other people to deliver the services. The same applies to other so-called “sharing economy” companies that merely act as service aggregators and collect a cut off the top. In the process, they gather valuable data for further commercial gain.

But can this business model be challenged and enhanced for the benefit of those who are delivering the service and creating the real value? Can technology be used to bypass the third party and allow direct peer-to-peer collaboration within a distributed governance structure? What could a “peer-owned” and “peer-run” marketplace look like? Blockchain technology could just be the answer.

What is different about blockchain?

You can think of blockchain as the second generation of the internet – a transformation from an internet of information to an internet of value. Blockchain allows suppliers and consumers – even competitors – to share a decentralised digital ledger across a network of computers without the need for a central authority.

The assets that can be described on the blockchain can be financial, legal, physical or electronic. No single party has the power to tamper with the records – sophisticated algorithms keep everyone honest by ensuring data integrity and authentication of transactions.

But the impacts of blockchain go well beyond financial services and transactions. Its real value is in establishing trust-based interactions and accelerating the transfer of governance from centralised institutions to distributed networks of peer-to-peer collaboration. The impact can be profound: a centralised institution acting as intermediatory in a transaction of value is now at risk of being disrupted because the same service can be provided on the blockchain through peer-to-peer interaction.

Blockchain gives service providers a means to collaborate and derive a greater share of the value for themselves. Smart agents on a blockchain could do just about everything provided by a service aggregator. The technology’s trust protocol allows autonomous associations to be formed and controlled by the same people who are creating the value. All revenues for services, minus overheads, would go to members, who also control the platform and make decisions. Trust is not established by third parties, but rather through an encrypted consensus enabled by smart coding.

The transformation has already begun

We already have examples of this technology in action. Arcade City, a global community of peer-to-peer services, is planning to offer a ride-sharing service on the blockchain. To catch a ride, the user buys digital currency (known as tokens), creates an offer and commits funds for the ride. A driver claims the offer, matches the funds to signal their commitment to provide the service, and picks up the passenger. The blockchain releases the funds as soon as the user acknowledges completing the ride. Arcade City has a city council, which will overlook the system for three years until it is fully decentralised and up and running.

The same concept of using distributed public record technology can be applied to a wide range of urban applications. For example, an energy startup in Perth is looking to trial a peer-to-peer technology solution that would allow consumers to offer excess energy, available through their solar panels, on the blockchain. A clever code matches the suppliers with consumers without the need to go through the energy provider.

Still more questions than answers

The blockchain technology and ecosystem around it are evolving rapidly, and are probably raising more questions than answers. How do we establish a system of transparent governance to ensure the longevity of the blockchain? What about security, speed, cost and, more importantly, regulations? As with other disruptive technologies, there will be winners and losers. If the technology is successfully managed for scalable growth, it could very well disrupt established norms and transform our societies. Large layers of data generated by consumers today, which are controlled by hubs, can become public. In a world driven by blockchain, consumers can monetize their own data to derive greater value.

By knowing when and how to take advantage of this technology, we have an opportunity to transform the digital platforms for tomorrow’s cities. The blockchain becomes the city’s operating system, invisible yet ubiquitous, improving citizens’ access to services, goods and economic opportunities. Today, the technology is yet to mature. It remains to be seen if the expectations can live up to reality. But, in many ways, this is quite reminiscent of the internet in the mid-1990s. Not many people would have predicted its significance back then. Had we understood the impacts of the internet 20 years ago, what could we have done differently to create more value?

That is where we stand today with blockchain. The power of this transformation will become more compelling as the hype settles down and we begin to unleash the possibilities.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain Is Bubbling Up As A Solution To The Supply Chain’s Transparency Woes

Blockchain Is Bubbling Up As A Solution To The Supply Chain’s Transparency Woes

Ad tech has a transparency problem. Some are pointing to blockchain as a possible answer. It’s fairly easy for fraudsters or an ill-intentioned party to weasel their way into a programmatic transaction, said Ken Brook, CEO and co-founder of metaX, a blockchain-based ad tech company that launched into beta on Tuesday. “The supply chain is opaque – you can’t see beyond the first hop,” said Brook, whose company developed a protocol called adChain that uses a blockchain-inspired system to publicly verify digital ad transactions.

The technology behind blockchain is predicated on knowing who did what when. That’s how users of the digital currency bitcoin, for example, are able to guard against fraud and double-spending. All bitcoin transactions are tracked through a decentralized network of peers in a shared digital database, known in bitcoin parlance as a ledger. Because the ledger is updated with every interaction, and no single person has control over that repository, it’s virtually impossible for malicious activity to creep in because it’s fairly easy to double check the source.

 

Blockchain is “the internet of value,” said Stacy Huggins, CMO and co-founder of MadHive, a video ad platform powered by blockchain tech. The existence of a distributed ledger where everyone has a copy of the information associated with a transaction “helps among ecosystems where parties can’t trust each other,” Huggins said at the Gabbcon audience-based buying conference in New York last month. And there’s a lack of trust in the ad tech ecosystem, said Jim Wilson, president of Tegna’s OTT business unit, Premion. Tegna, like other media companies, wants to protect its data, and that can sometimes get in the way of doing business, Wilson said.

“It’s in our best interest right now, without a blockchain system, for there to be fewer partners because it’s easier for us to integrate and, frankly, there’s less reconciliation in the end,” Wilson said. “If we had a trusted source, certainly we’d go much faster, and at the end of the month, people would get paid faster.” Publishers can use Deal ID identify buyers and manage their private marketplace deals, but Deal ID isn’t standard across exchanges, sell-side platforms and DSPs, which creates inefficiencies and workflow issues. “The industry has an open-access problem, call it an inability to coordinate,” Brook said. “We see blockchain as a single source of truth for digital advertising.”

Part of the issue with fraud, for example, is that it’s difficult for advertisers, DSPs and verification and safety vendors to pinpoint the perpetrators. And even when the perps do get nabbed or an IP address is found to be nefarious, the industry needs to manually block and blacklist it, which is “a blunt and reactive instrument,” said Brook. “But if an entity registers and it doesn’t behave according to the guidelines and agreed-upon policies, their campaign channels and their domain are switched off and they can no longer operate in the protocol with other vetted members,” he said. That approach is a little different from how other players, like the Trustworthy Accountability Group, are approaching the problem.

“TAG is more of a register, a list of entities that have been approved and paid to be there,” Brook said. “But this is regulating at the technology level.” That doesn’t mean blockchain is a set-it-and-forget-it panacea for transparency and fraud problems across the board. Blockchain “isn’t the police,” Huggins said, “but we can certainly report on bad actors. It’s up to the other members of the supply chain or even the standards boards” to fix those problems.

The adChain technology is being tested primarily through VidRoll, the video monetization platform where Brook serves as CEO, and its network of roughly 60 partners. Publishers, advertisers, exchanges and verification vendors are being invited to sign up for the beta. Blockchain technology has been cropping up more frequently in the advertising context. Last week, Nasdaq launched a startup called NYIAX – the New York Interactive Ad Exchange – that uses blockchain tech to allow publishers and advertisers to buy, sell and trade guaranteed ad inventory like a stock on a stock exchange.

Nevada Lawmaker Moves to Block Taxes on Blockchain Transactions

  

A new bill filed in the Nevada Senate would, if passed, prevent local authorities from imposing fees or taxes on the use of a blockchain. Nevada Senate Bill 398, filed yesterday and introduced by Senator Ben Kieckhefer, seeks in part to create a legal basis under state law for the use of blockchain-based records and contracts. Notably, the bill would also prohibit local governments from taxing the use of the tech or requiring the use of a licensure for that purpose.

The proposed legislation states:

"A local governmental entity shall not: (a) Impose any tax or fee on the use of a blockchain or smart contract by any person or entity; (b) Require any person or entity to obtain from the local governmental entity any certificate, license or permit to use a blockchain or smart contract; or (c) Impose any other requirement relating to the use of a blockchain or smart contract by any person or entity."

The bill’s impact wouldn’t be limited to those potential economic costs, however. Kieckhefer's proposal would prohibit the exclusion of blockchain records in "proceedings", noting at one point that "if a law requires a record to be in writing, submission of a blockchain which electronically contains the record satisfies the law".

"A smart contract, record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because a blockchain was used to create, store or verify the smart contract, record or signature," the bill goes on to state. "In a proceeding, evidence of a smart contract, record or signature must not be excluded solely because a blockchain was used to create, store or verify the smart contract, record or signature." The proposal is similar to a bill put forward in Arizona last month, constituting a further move to legitimize the use of blockchain records at the state level, with a previous effort also being pursued last year in Vermont.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

When will blockchain technology deliver on its promise?

When will blockchain technology
deliver on its promise?

How Blockchain Technology might be useful as a Security Tool

This week, the International Telecommunications Union is holding a workshop to see how blockchain technology might be useful as a security tool. It’s a good indicator of the technology’s ongoing success. Eight years after the original bitcoin blockchain emerged, efforts are well under way to push its security benefits into multiple industries. What strengths does it carry, and what challenges will it face, as a next-generation security tool?

We explained basic blockchain operations here. The technology’s biggest security benefit is its ability to cut out the middleman. Instead of transacting via a trusted arbiter, parties get to transact with each other directly and seal the outcome so that neither can dispute it in the future.

Why is this useful, if trusted third parties promise to do all that work for you? The problem with trusted third parties is that you can’t always trust them. Just look at what happens if your trusted third party happens to be Wells Fargo, or Bank of America, say.  Or Deutsche Bank, or Barclays, UBS, Rabobank, and the Royal Bank of Scotland. We could fill an entire article with links like this. You get the picture.

Secure all the things

The second security benefit complements the first; blockchain technology allows participants to “seal” transactions so that they are visible but immutable, which keeps everyone honest. Different implementations use different techniques. Bitcoin chews up the computing power of a small city to preserve its transactions in digital resin. Other techniques include proof of stake. Each has its own technical and economic implications. No wonder, then, that people are experimenting with blockchains for security reasons. Some, such as the Danish Liberal Alliance and Australia, hope to use it for voting, perhaps misunderstanding some of the bigger security concerns with online votes.

Sophos Home

Free home computer security software for all the family like Factom, want to notarise your documents using the blockchain. Others are mulling the use of blockchain tech to keep your medical records safe.Blockchain technology faces some challenges, though. One of the biggest is block-washing. Whenever a technology comes along, people inevitably apply it to everything. Developers and marketing types alike suddenly shoehorn the technology into every project they can think of, even when it doesn’t fit.

This mad rush to capitalise on new technology fuels the early curve of the Gartner Hype Cycle, leading to an inevitable crash as the technology fails to meet expectations. It’s happening with AI right now, and also with blockchain technology, some argue. We can see this as the blockchain moves to the cloud. Decentralization was an important characteristic of the original blockchain, but Microsoft’s Project Bletchley runs blockchain middleware and application marketplaces in Azure. IBM does something similar on its Bluemix cloud platform.

All this stuff will be cryptographically protected, of course, but it’s still facilitated by a single trusted party, and in effect turns the blockchain into something else. Marketing types at Microsoft are already playing with the inevitable, depressing moniker “Blockchain as a Service”, which pretty much negates the whole idea of a decentralized, independent network.

Once the tech industry stops being so breathless about the blockchain and the blue chips have reinvented it in their own image, it will face other problems. Standardization is one of them. There are many different approaches to blockchain technology, each claiming its own advantage. It will be important for these to work well together. Standardization efforts are now  in the works; The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) already has a committee looking at it.

Good concepts and bad code

The other problem for blockchain technology revolves around software security. Just because blockchain’s underlying concept offers security doesn’t mean that the implementations follow suit. China, which has its own interest in cryptocurrency, recently analysed 25 of the top blockchain-related software projects, and found significant software security flaws in many of them. Most of the software tools related to input validation.

These issues aren’t just theoretical. They’re antithetical to what many blockchain projects are hoping to achieve. Coding flaws in blockchain implementations are serious, and lead to financial losses, such as the $400,000 theft of Zcoins last month. As blockchain software becomes more sophisticated, the attack surface and scope will expand. A key factor here will be smart contracts. Whereas the original bitcoin blockchain only holds records of digital transactions, more recent efforts have bigger ambitions. Smart contracts are in effect programs designed to run on the blockchain.

Imagine replacing a legal contract with a computer program. Instead of paying a lawyer to govern the contract, all parties can run it independently, and the blockchain makes the program’s output immutable and transparent. The program checks external conditions and executes its clauses accordingly. Let’s say Bob and Jane both own equal shares in a company. If the share price hits a certain threshold, they get a bonus dividend based on the number and class of their shares. Normally, a lawyer would have to take care of that, charging handsomely for the privilege. A smart contract with access to company funds would do it automatically.

That whole access to company funds thing is a bit scary, though, given that a smart contract is just a computer program, and computer programs have security flaws. The DAO, a company created entirely from smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain, lost the equivalent of $50m or so last year in Ethereum’s Ether cryptocurrency. An enterprising hacker found a flaw in the smart contract code and flushed it all into another account.

Ethereum had to fork its own blockchain – going back to rewrite history – to get the cash back. Several developers didn’t like that idea, and retained the original Ethereum code, thus creating Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. We wonder if the Coca Cola Company would have approved? None of this sounds like the basis for a bright, secure future. What it means in practice is that we must get much better programming this stuff before we begin trusting huge swathes of our economy with it or enthusiastically using it to organize the Internet of Things.

Vinay Gupta, one of the original members of the Ethereum team and author of this HBR article on the blockchain’s security promise, has said that we should look to more rigorous disciplines like functional programming to avoid costly screw-ups in the future. The problem is that few people have that rigour. Raise the bar for blockchain coding, and half of the startup projects lining up for their virtual crowdsales would probably disappear. The blockchain holds promise, but it might have to go through Gartner’s trough of disillusionment before it becomes a major item in the security industry’s toolbox. We might have to keep revising our coding practices, too.

The blockchain is today where the web was in 1994. Two decades later, the web is the Justin Bieber of tech – recently come of age, hugely successful, but addled and tarnished by its runaway success. It’s is a beautiful but insane place let down by a dystopic mixture of dodgy Javascript and rampant cybercrime, and ruled by privacy-eating monoliths. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could learn from our mistakes while priming the Next Big Thing?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

IBM unveils Blockchain as a Service based on open source Hyperledger Fabric technology

IBM unveils Blockchain as a Service based on open source Hyperledger Fabric technology

  

IBM unveiled its “Blockchain as a Service”

Yes, IBM has unveiled its “Blockchain as a Service” today, which is based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric, version 1.0 from The Linux Foundation. IBM Blockchain is a public cloud service that customers can use to build secure blockchain networks. The company introduced the idea last year, but this is the first ready-for-primetime implementation built using that technology. The blockchain is a notion that came into the public consciousness around 2008 as a way to track bitcoin digital currency transactions. At its core blockchain is a transparent and tamper-proof digital ledger. Just as it could track bitcoin’s activity in a secure and transparent fashion, it’s capable of tracking other types of data in private blockchain networks.

This could allow any private company or government agency to set up a trusted network, which would allow the members to share information freely, knowing that only the members could see it, and the information couldn’t be altered once it’s been entered. Jerry Cuomo, VP of blockchain technology at IBM, says his company is offering a set of cloud services to help customers create, deploy and manage blockchain networks. This fits in with IBM’s broader strategy to offer a wide range of cloud services to its customers.

Although the blockchain piece is based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric project of which IBM is a participating member, it has added a set of security services to make it more palatable for enterprise customers, while offering it as a cloud service helps simplify a complex set of technologies, making it more accessible than trying to do this alone in a private datacenter. “Some time ago, we and several other members of the industry came to view that there needs to be a group looking after, governing and shepherding technology around blockchain for serious business,” Cuomo told TechCrunch.

The Hyperledger Fabric project was born around the end of 2015 to facilitate this and includes other industry heavyweights such as State Street Bank, Accenture, Fujitsu, Intel and others as members. While the work these companies have done to safeguard blockchain networks, including setting up a network, inviting members and offering encrypted credentials, was done under the guise of building extra safe networks, IBM believes it can make them even safer by offering an additional set of security services inside the IBM cloud.

While Cuomo acknowledges that he can’t guarantee that IBM’s blockchain service is unbreachable, he says the company has taken some serious safeguards to protect it. This includes isolating the ledger from the general cloud computing environment, building a security container for the ledger to prevent unauthorized access, and offering tamper-responsive hardware, which can actually shut itself down if it detects someone trying to hack a ledger.

What’s more, IBM claims their blockchain product is built in a highly auditable way to track all of the activity that happens within a network, giving administrators an audit trail in the event something did go awry. In addition to the blockchain service itself, IBM announced a customer, Secure Key Technologies, a digital identity and attribute sharing network. The company has been testing a consumer digital identity network built on top of the IBM blockchain technology with banks in Canada.

If it works as advertised, it could end up greatly simplifying and securing how we maintain and share our identities in a digital context, allowing us to expose only the information the requesting authority requires (and no more), while enabling us to revoke those sharing privileges at any time.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

IBM Goes Live With First Commercial Blockchains

IBM Goes Live With
First Commercial Blockchains

  

The First "Commercial Application"

Tech giant IBM is set to unveil what it's calling the first "commercial application" of Hyperledger’s open-source Fabric codebase. Previously released in beta and scheduled for official release today, the offering – dubbed "IBM Blockchain" – is formally debuting in front of a group of 20,000 developers at the Interconnect conference. There, its first two major deployments will also be detailed.

One of those is a blockchain identity solution built with SecureKey, in which it will power a public-private partnership that saw six Canadian banks invest $27m. In addition, it will be revealed that a Chinese energy company is using the IBM Blockchain to create an exchange for trading carbon credits. In conversation with CoinDesk, Jerry Cuomo, IBM's vice-president of blockchain technologies, described how the company used Hyperledger's open-source code to create a series of new features, which are now in use as part of its IBM Blockchain product.

Cuomo said:

"Hyperledger Fabric is the operating system for IBM Blockchain, and the IBM Blockchain built an environment to develop, govern and operate a production, permissioned blockchain."

Currently available on IBM's BlueMix cloud computing store, the commercial blockchain application will be available on a graded price scale based on the size of the implementation, with startups being charged less than enterprise builders. The announcement comes after Fabric became the first of several open-source projects to emerge from the Linux Foundation-backed Hyperledger's "incubation" period into "active" status.

Secured using IBM hardware security modules that cost on average about $10,000 per month for four nodes, IBM Blockchain gives users the ability to spin up blockchain networks with tailored governance models for onboarding new customers, supporting about 1,000 transactions per second, according to a statement. Previously revealed clients that we now know are also using IBM Blockchain include the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Everledger, Maersk, Northern Trust and Walmart.

Identity for banks

At the conference, Toronto-based SecureKey will discuss an identity network built in partnership with Canadian banks BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Bank. Using the platform, the banks will be able to share information about onboarding clients with one another – for a fee – while potentially also saving money by paying one another less than they currently pay credit agencies for the same information. The idea, according to Cuomo, is to create a blockchain identity solution that would make it simpler to verify identities while also reducing the amount of data shared.

To develop the identity network, a group of regulators, including the Digital ID and Authentication Council of Canada (DIACC), the Command Control and a research center funded by the US Department of Homeland Security, took part in the project. Notably, Cuomo said the group has solved the problem of adhering to the "right to be forgotten" requirements of some governments that don’t want their citizens permanently recorded, while still using the immutable Fabric blockchain. "We do have a patent pending, so I don’t want to go into too much detail," said Cuomo. "But we solved it without deleting from the blockchain, which is pretty cool."

Carbon credits

The second commercial-scale deployment revealed today involves Beijing-based Energy-Blockchain Labs Limited. The firm announced what it described as the "world’s first blockchain-based green assets trading platform," built with Hyperledger Fabric and deployed using IBM Blockchain. The so-called "cap-and-trade" system allows companies a certain amount of carbon emissions and lets them exchange those allowances with one another to incentivize the creation of policies and technologies that minimize emissions. But a lack of transparency in the system has resulted in fraud concerns, both in China and elsewhere.

Cuomo told CoinDesk the blockchain-based carbon credits exchange is designed to make it easier for companies that generate pollution to trade credits as part of the build-up to China’s transfer to a unified national market later this year. It's an application that has won the support of the Chinese government as well. The director of China’s National Climate Change Strategy Research and International Cooperation Center, Li Junfeng, said in a statement:

"We must work to limit high energy consumption and high emission industries, encourage clean energy development and further promote energy saving and emission reduction. These tasks are not only necessary for China’s own sustainable development, but for the welfare of the entire human family."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Full Disclosure of Your Salary: Blockchain Remuneration Models

Full Disclosure of Your Salary:
Blockchain Remuneration Models

  

All systems that preserve user privacy are alike; each system that violates user privacy does so in its own way. As more people earn income in Blockchain-based currency the social norm of salary confidentiality is challenged.

Salt wage

Consider the modern word salary, derived from the Latin salarium, the root of which means salt, an ancient medium of exchange. To be “worth one’s salt” is an expression meaning that one contributes value in proportion to the amount one is paid. Under a regime of wages dispensed in salt, there are doubtless a considerable set of challenges to overcome in the implementation and management of an efficient remuneration system. What are the problems we’re confronted with in designing such systems with Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin?

Transparent salary

Information pertaining to the amount of compensation awarded to different individuals is often considered sensitive, commanding a certain degree of privacy. As Bitcoin and similarly designed cryptocurrencies evolve into a recognized medium of exchange for larger swaths of the world economy, an increasing number of people will earn income in the form of Blockchain-based payments. The nature of these transactions is such that the minute details of an affected individual's compensation package and spending habits will be exposed to public scrutiny.

In some cases, this violates cultural norms which respect the confidentiality of salaries, yet in other cases, it could be regarded as providing the benefits associated with greater transparency. For instance, a policy of treating salary data as openly available can preempt compensation differences between similarly skilled workers based on spurious criteria like gender.

Unimagined business models

The practice of compensating employees via Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies has made possible the realization of heretofore unimagined business models. Bitcoin facilitates the compensation of contributing individuals across the world regardless of whether or not they have a consistent home address or a bank account.

The practice of paying salaries with this contemporary medium of exchange is growing in, if not popularity, at least notoriety, as indicated by corporations ranging from machine learning focused hedge funds to small start-ups proclaiming their affinity for remunerating their workers using Bitcoin.

Alice’s payments

Let’s examine the public Blockchain of Bitcoin for evidence of this new paradigm. Consider a particular live address, hereafter referred to as Alice, which receives regular payments for goods and services rendered from an institution. This is a real case study of a real-world company that pays its employees in Bitcoin, although the names have been changed.

Histogram of the 50 most recent transactions emanating from Bob & Company. The y-axis represents the number of contributors, colleagues of Alice. The x-axis represents calendar days. The regular periodicity of payments to approximately the same number of addresses indicates behavior characteristic of remuneration.

The tendency for payments to accrue to Alice at regular intervals from the same address serves as a strong indicator that these transactions constitute remuneration. The single address associated with Alice formed the initial basis of our analysis.

Blockchain salary detection

By exploring the transaction profile associated with Bob & Company we can generate the histogram in Figure 1, this information yields insight into (at least) a consistent subset of the number of accounts payable (presumably employees) with whom Bob & Company has regularly interacted over the course of the time period depicted. Based on the behavior exhibited by Bob & Company as described by Figure 1 we can catalog a rule of thumb for the identification of organizations compensating employees over the Bitcoin Blockchain.

    

The proportion of transactions partitioned according to the number of times transmitted Bitcoin to the address in question.

Bitcoin price influence

In November 2014, when the Bitcoin price was approximately $340.00, the average compensation was 0.25 Bitcoin per transaction. In December of 2016, when one Bitcoin typically sold for a price of approximately $930.00, the average compensation from Bob & Company was 0.05 Bitcoin per transaction. Therefore, from the period during which data is first available until the time of writing, the Bitcoin price has increased and the amount of remuneration has decreased in proportion to each other.

The median transaction value in Bitcoin sent over the lifetime of the address. Note that as the Bitcoin price increases relative to the United States, the dollar value of transactions emanating from Bob & Company is decreasing in rough proportion.

In this Blog, we have demonstrated the substantive privacy concerns raised by the practice of awarding salaries using cryptocurrencies with design principles similar to those of Bitcoin by the meticulous analysis of live Blockchain data. In this section, we explore some of the implications of the possibilities unleashed by this mechanism of disseminating personal salaries.

Industrial espionage

In this Blog, we were able to track the growth. If this analysis were undertaken by a competitor, it could erode their competitive advantage by divulging information relating directly to the economic viability, growth patterns, and trajectory of businesses.

Endangering employees

The Women’s Annex Foundation (WAF) encourages girls in Afghanistan to engage in blog writing, software development, video production and social media marketing, paying them for their efforts in Bitcoin. The heuristics described in this article could be used to identify organizations on the Blockchain, organizations like the WAF. Business models with similar objectives do well to consider whether compensating workers via the Blockchain is consistent with promoting the well-being of their contributors and if decided in the affirmative, to take all necessary precautions to sufficiently anonymize their transaction profile.

Corporate governance

While doubtless there are ills associated with increased transparency there are also considerable benefits. Increased oversight, transparency and participation on behalf of stakeholders is realizable as never before through the deployment of public ledger-based value transmission systems. This could herald a new ethos in corporate governance.

Open budget initiative

There are at the moment projects underway from various governments and civic institutions – e.g. the World Bank Institute – to promote the kind of budget transparency that can decrease corruption and improve living standards, the kind of transparency detailed in this article.

Obfuscation techniques

The poor privacy profile of Blockchain-based currencies with design principles analogous to those of Bitcoin is well established. The most common mitigation to the risk posed by de-anonymization is to utilize a mix to shuffle Bitcoins between different users. There are several of such services operating commercially and while specifics of the remedial measures vary slightly according to the provider there are some common drawbacks. These include the propensity of anonymity service providers to misappropriate funds, either explicitly or by going out of business.

For those willing to consider cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin, two alternative approaches for the compensation of workers are Zerocoin and Zcash, both of which are Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies that preserve the integrity of personal data in ways orthogonal to Bitcoin while posing their own unique set of risks.

What does it all mean?

In the early days of Bitcoin, the perceived anonymity of this value transfer technology was one of it’s most attractive features, helping to fuel its adoption on marketplaces such as the Silk Road. Today it is clear that the anonymity guarantees of Bitcoin are tenuous. This Blog provides a foundation for the creation of mechanisms that might search the Blockchain for evidence of remuneration behavior taking place using cryptocurrencies. In consideration of the ethics of anonymity, we do well not to overlook the multitude of important reasons for anonymity that we might take for granted with traditional currencies. It is still the case that many people are uncomfortable divulging the details of their salaries with friends or coworkers.

The relative ease with which individual addresses in the Bitcoin Blockchain can be associated with a salary through the heuristics herein presented demonstrates a host of new challenges and opportunities. This article presents the first step in the determination of what this paradigm shift will ultimately have in store for the way we relate and interact with one another through one of the oldest social technologies, money.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Some of the Most Successful Cryptocurrency ICOs to Date

Some of the Most Successful
Cryptocurrency
ICOs to Date

World of Cryptocurrency

One of the most popular trends in the world of cryptocurrency comes in the form of companies raising funds through an ICO. Several of these projects have proven to be quite successful in the process, raising millions of dollars from investors all over the world. The list below highlights some of the successful crypto ICOs.

ICONOMI

The ICONOMI project has attracted a lot of interest from cryptocurrency investors during their crowd sale. The company aims to provide a connection to the distributed economy by allowing anyone to create their own Digital Asset Arrays. This digital asset management platform allows anyone in the world to create their own DAA and manages it accordingly. However, the project should not be looked at as just a marketplace for value tokens.

During the ICONOMI ICO, the team hoped to raise around US$10m in funding. It was quite an ambitious goal at that time, yet the investors helped the team reach that goal with relative ease. Even though US$10.5m sounds like a lot of money, it pales in comparison to some of the other recent successful ICOs. The company reported nearly 4,000 investors from all over the world partook in this ICO, which is quite intriguing.

WAVES

The year 2016 was quite a positive one for cryptocurrency projects looking to raise a lot of money. WAVES made quite an impact, as the team raised the US$16m worth of bitcoin in the end. That is quite a significant amount, although some other projects raised more funds in the process. Unfortunately, the WAVES ICO turned into a very controversial topic later on, as allegations were filed of how the company successfully scammed investors. The thread on bitcoin talk is worth reading through, that much is certain. Despite these allegations, new projects are still built on top of WAVES, indicating some of these rumors might be overstating things.

Lisk

The Lisk platform has seen its fair share of success, especially during the ICO phase. With US$5.8m raises in a short amount of time, investors were more than excited to invest in this new crypto-based project. Ever since launching the platform in Q2 of 2016, the team has been actively working on adding improvements to the project and its wallet. The team also liquidates some of their bitcoin raised during the ICO as part of their liquidation plan. A total of 101,000 BTC remains under their control, according to a recent Twitter update.

Golem Project

Raising US$8.6m in mere minutes is quite an amazing feat, and most people will always remember the Golem Project for achieving that goal. This significant amount of interest was not entirely unexpected, considering Golem is a decentralized global market for computing power. It is evident these types of ICOs will always see great interest from investors all over the world. Being able to rent computer resources from other people in exchange for Golem Network Tokens is something to look forward to.

Ethereum

The Ethereum ICO was one of the first of its kind to put this concept of an initial coin offering on the map. The team successfully raised US$18m over the course of 42 days, making it the number one most funded ICO in cryptocurrency. Ever since receiving that amount of funding, Ethereum has quickly grown and successfully became the second-most valuable cryptocurrency ecosystem in the world today. Although it is not the most successful ICO – The DAO raised US$150m but the project had to be abandoned – Ethereum has proven to be very successful in its own right.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Millennials using the blockchain could lead to local currencies

Say farewell to the Pound:
Millennials using the blockchain could lead to local currencies

For Generation Y, ATM's were the right technology at the right time. Now, millenials are turning to blockchainx

Successful ideas have as much to do with good timing as they do with great technology. For Generation Y, ATMs were the right technology at the right time, offering quick cash on demand and changing our relationship with money. For millennials, what's the next big thing in managing their hard-earned wages?

Move over Bitcoin, the blockchain is only just getting started

It may just be local currencies. These can be used in certain cities or neighbourhoods to shop in local stores, buy local goods and even pay bills for rent and local utilities. The timing is right for such a paradigm shift in the way we pay. Why? Because of the confluence of three key phenomena.The first is urbanisation. According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history. More than half of the world's population lives in cities. By 2030 the number of urban dwellers worldwide will swell to around five billion. That means cities will increasingly become primary drivers of economic growth. And as the municipal hub becomes the global nexus for financial progress, so will demand growth for unique currencies that reflect this shift.

But there's another reason to expect a rise in local currencies, one that's more in line with the social and cultural norms which characterise the coming of age of the millennial generation: ironically, the denser living that comes with urbanisation does not usually engender community. As cities grow and we live in closer proximity, we feel less connected to each another. That's one reason that city living is linked to increased rates of depression.

But millennials famously need to feel connected, to feel a sense of community and belonging. Just look at the booming phenomenon of shared living – not just spaces such as WeLive and Common, but also the tendency of millennials to choose to live with room-mates rather than on their own. Yes, part of this is economic, but it also has to do with millennials' well-documented desire to reclaim a sense of the "social" that social media alone has failed to provide.

               

Why expensive security alarms could actually be putting your valuables at risk

That is exactly what local currencies are doing – building urban communities from the wallet up. Local currencies create this sense of community that millennials crave by giving city residents the chance to support local merchants and vice versa. Rather than seeing hard-earned cash go into invisible pockets, it stays within the locality of the spender. When money is kept within the confines of the community, it expands opportunities within, adding value to every dollar spent. Consider the American Independent Business Alliance study that found that for every dollar spent at a locally-owned business, 48 % stayed in the community as opposed to 14% of every dollar spent at a chain. In other words, we can use money itself in the form of local currencies to help create community in an otherwise alienating and lonely urban landscape, turning the city itself into a driver of economic growth and change while revitalising the way people feel about spending their money.

Take two successful examples: the Brixton Pound, a currency in south London "designed to support Brixton businesses and encourage local trade… for use by independent local shops and traders", and Tel Aviv's Pishpesh, used by 300 local merchants in the city. Again, cash in the service of a community.

But such currencies wouldn't have been the least bit valuable unless there existed the technological underpinnings to make them viable. And that brings us to the third timely phenomena enabling this shift in the way we view our money: the blockchain enables local currencies in a way similar to how high-speed internet enables Spotify and YouTube. Transactions occurring via blockchain are highly secure, corruption-resistant, accessible to anyone with a smartphone and offer real-time economic data that can be used to help meet the needs of local economies. Blockchain technology affords citizens a way to support local businesses, drive economic growth and increase job opportunities by developing and using a local currency.

In short, the confluence of growing urbanisation, the rise of the millennial generation and emerging blockchain technology is what makes the timing for local currencies so ripe. This can lead to a new way of thinking about money – one based not on scarcity and competition, but rather on cooperation. Imagine you were offered a million pounds, but it came in a box that can never be opened. Would you want it? The answer is no because money itself isn't valuable, it's what you can do with it that gives it worth. That's exactly what millennials are beginning to do with localised currencies – make money more meaningful.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Spikes to $1,600 in Nigeria

Bitcoin Price Spikes to $1,600 in Nigeria

Nigeria’s Bitcoin Price is Going Crazy

Nigeria is displaying an insatiable appetite for bitcoin right now. NairaEx, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, is trading BTC at nearly US$1,600 each. Considering how the market average is just above US$1,10 right now, the situation raises a lot of questions. Bitcoin is being embraced by the Nigerian population by the look of things, even though no one is quite certain as to the exact cause for this sudden demand.

It is not uncommon to see certain regions of the world trade bitcoin at slightly higher prices. China, for example, has paid a 5% premium for bitcoin for as long as people can remember. Indian exchanges have gone through a similar situation when the demand for bitcoin was met with low liquidity. Nigeria, however, is doing things very different from those countries, as their bitcoin premium price is much higher than one would expect.

To be more precise, trading bitcoin at NairaEx will currently cost traders 494,755 Naira. A quick currency conversion tells us that is equal to nearly US$1,600 at current rates. That means Nigerian traders are  – willingly – paying a near US$600 premium per bitcoin right now. Although this bodes well for cryptocurrency valuation in general, one does wonder what is driving this sudden demand. Moreover, it is unclear why such a steep premium price is not slowing down the demand right now.

A few days ago, it was clear the weekly bitcoin trading volume in Nigeria was on the rise. Just last week, over US$1.3m worth of bitcoin was traded in Nigeria – according to Trail Blazers Nigeria – which is quite a staggering amount. Do keep in mind this volume only represents LocalBitcoins trading and does not take exchange volumes from NairaEx into account. Interestingly enough, the current LocalBitcoins price for bitcoin is nearly the exact same as the one found on NairaEx.

Finding an explanation for this sudden development is not easy, though. Nigeria has seen an uptake in internet and technology use over the past few years, which could eventually lead to increased cryptocurrency adoption. However, there is also the threat of MMMGlobal, which now only accepts bitcoin as a payment method. Even though a lot of people know MMM is a Ponzi Scheme, Nigerians continue to invest bitcoin into this program.

Perhaps the biggest mind shift comes from the growing number of merchants accepting bitcoin payments in Nigeria. Thanks to companies such as BitPesa, it becomes easier to use cryptocurrency for everyday needs. The company recently launched a new feature allowing Nigerian businesses to transfer funds to Chinese partners over the bitcoin network. More efficient payment solutions will lead to a booming economy, all of which is made possible with bitcoin right now.

Last but not least, the local media are paying more positive attention to bitcoin as well. An article about Satoshipay surfaced on the Nigeria Today website yesterday, explaining how anyone can make money with bitcoin. All signs are pointing toward a bright future for bitcoin in Nigeria, even though it remains to be seen if these high premium prices will be sustained for long.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain: A Primer and Promises for the Future of Payment Tech

Blockchain:
A Primer and Promises for the Future
of Payment Tech

 

Bitcoin – you might have heard about this digital currency, and it’s gaining some traction in payments. Online retailers like Newegg and Overstock.com accept it. There are services that let consumers convert Bitcoin into gift cards for use at their favorite retailers. And beyond that, bitcoin doesn’t seem to be going away.

Bitcoin, however, is but one piece of the conversation about emerging technologies such as blockchain and distributed ledger technology, thus it helps to first start a conversation about these concepts. You might even be more curious to learn how blockchain and Bitcoin might feature in the future for your business.

What is blockchain?

The easiest way to understand blockchain is to think of it in terms of a typical bank account. When you spend money, it’s recorded as a transaction in your bank account, right? It’s the same thing with bitcoin or other industries using blockchain technology. A transaction is recorded in a “block.” Think of blocks like your monthly statements, which neatly divide up your transactions for easy reference (month, date, time, vendor, amount, credit or debit). A set of transactions is recorded as a block once it?s been verified by distributed trusted parties.

Once a block of transactions is complete, they become part of the blockchain. They are linked together in proper order (both chronologically and in a linear fashion), and each block links to the block before and after it in the sequence – much like your bank statements for each month showing a starting and ending balance. Blocks are impossible to alter once they’re part of the blockchain, which can create a more trusted, unchanged record of transactions or data that a large network of parties can see and verify.

How does blockchain work within the use case of currency?

To understand how virtual currencies such as bitcoin and other blockchain-based systems work, we have to have a look at credit/debit transactions and cash. Credit/debit transactions are what are referred to as “pull payments.” A merchant terminal (virtual, i.e. online, or physical) processes a customer’s credit card using all of the encoded information and then decides how much money to “pull” from a customer’s account to satisfy a purchase.

Cash, and bitcoin are “push” forms of payment. In every bitcoin and cash transaction, a customer decides how much money to hand over to a merchant to satisfy a purchase. There’s no exchange of sensitive personal information, such as what’s found on a plastic card. Bitcoin and cash are not reversible and each can only be refunded by the holder who is initiating a return. This means that bitcoin and other forms of payments powered by blockchain technology are more like cash than even a debit transaction. It also means that industries outside of payment technology are taking notice of how the foundation, blockchain, could help better manage data and information.

How is blockchain being used outside of payment processing?

The mortgage title industry and diamond industry have begun leveraging blockchain technology to solve some of their most critical challenges. According to a January 2016 report by NASDAQ, these two industries are taking advantage of blockchain technology in a few ways.

The diamond industry has long faced challenges around fraud relating to the certification of diamonds, which can dictate the value of one diamond over another. Blockchain technology allows for the recording of diamond certification and for that information to be immutable and shared between insurers, law enforcement, and those who are filing claims. For the real estate sector, title fraud is also a rampant problem. By recording property titles using blockchain technology, title insurance companies can save millions each year fighting title fraud, because titles become permanent and in historical record once they are part of the blockchain. There are other pending applications for medical technology (such as sensitive patient medical information) and the credit ratings industry as well.

What’s next?

Blockchain technology has been gaining attention for some time, and several industry consortiums have developed to track and innovate with the technology and identify applications for it in business. Just a segment of these groups includes R3 and Chain, two consortium groups, and consulting specialist groups such as SolidX. Ultimately, it will take many factors to determine the applications and use cases of blockchain technology in the coming years, but it has become a promising mechanism for data management, record-keeping, and payment processing in its early stages.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member