Category Archives: Markethive

Bitcoin vs Onecoin

A lot of people seem to think Onecoin is a far better investment compared to bitcoin. While nothing could be further from the truth, it is not hard to see why people would invest in Onecoin rather than bitcoin. To the average consumer, bitcoin makes little sense. However, it is evident bitcoin will always be the superior currency.

2. ONECOIN

Over the past few years, Onecoin has made quite a name for itself. The people responsible for this project advertise Onecoin as a digital currency that will not only make investors rich over time but also provides a gateway to product and services as part of the Onelife ecosystem. However, there are quite a few caveats regarding Onecoin that most less tech-savvy people tend to overlook. After all, the concept looks appealing, but can its creators back up any of their initial claims?

That is where the Onecoin project falls apart almost immediately. While it is true investors will see their account balance update over time, that does not necessarily mean they own said funds. In fact, until they request  a payout from Onecoin, they will never control their profits or original investment ever again. Moreover, the account balances one sees update every so often is nothing more than a number in the Onecoin site database being changed, even though it has no value whatsoever.

Moreover, the Onecoin team claims they have made a digital currency, which is issued over a blockchain. So far, there has been no proof of a Onecoin blockchain, simply because it doesn’t exist. Nor will it ever come to fruition either, as the project team has no idea on how they would create such a technological marvel in the first place. It is evident Onecoin is not even a currency with proper use cases, other than the ones provided by the Onelife network. No one has ever been able to buy food or pay a bill with Onecoin directly, that much is certain.

1. BITCOIN

Which brings us to bitcoin, the so-called “inferior currency to Onecoin”, according to some of the platform’s investors. In fact, one can argue bitcoin is everything Onecoin is not and vice versa. Unlike the scammy counterpart above, bitcoin is an actual currency that can be used around the world without requiring approval from a centralized company that has no honest intentions whatsoever. It is rather interesting the OneLife network does not accept bitcoin payments, nor does any other merchant around the world accept Onecoin payments.

Moreover, bitcoin is a digital currency, as it does not merely exist in one website’s database. The entire world can see bitcoin transactions take place in real-time without having to install special software to do so. Onecoin transactions, on the other hand, have never been publicly documented. This begs the question whether or not there is any value to the Onecoin “currency” in the first place, considering it has no use cases.

Speaking of use cases, thousands of merchants and retailers around the world are accepted bitcoin payments as of right now. Both online and offline purchases can be completed with bitcoin. Additionally, there are also bitcoin debit cards, whereas Onecoin has no debit card whatsoever. That is quite surprising, considering the value of Onecoin seems to increase every so often. Striking a deal with a credit card issuer would not be all that hard in this regard. Then again, bitcoin has a value, and Onecoin does not, which explains why no card issuer wants to deal with Onecoin right now.

Chris Corey MarketHive Chief Marketing Officer

 

author: Jdebunt

JP Buntinx is a FinTech and Bitcoin enthusiast living in Belgium. His passion for finance and technology made him one of the world's leading freelance Bitcoin writers, and he aims to achieve the same level of respect in the FinTech sector.

 

 

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

German Finance Watchdog Shutters OneCoin Payment Processor

German Finance Watchdog Shutters OneCoin Payment Processor

Germany's top finance regulator has moved to shut down a payment processor tied to the OneCoin cryptocurrency scheme, a digital currency service that has faced widespread allegations of fraud.

The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) said on 10th April that it was freezing the accounts of IMS International Marketing Services GmbH, which is registered in Germany.

According to BaFin, the firm accepted €360m on behalf of OneCoin between December 2015 and December 2016. Of that amount, €29m is being held in the accounts frozen by the regulator.

The agency went on to threaten financial penalties in excess of €1m, going on to say:

 

"In case IMS should not abide by the order to cease business, BaFin threatened to impose a coercive fine of €1.5m; for non-compliance with the winding-down order, it would impose a coercive fine of €150,000. By law, the administrative acts, including the threats of coercive fines, are immediately enforceable."

With the move, BaFin becomes the latest regulator in Europe to take action against elements of the OneCoin scheme.

OneCoin is a multi-level marketing scheme that pitches an eponymous digital currency as an investment opportunity. Prospective buyers purchase batches of tokens which can then be redeemed online, though those involved are strongly encouraged to find buyers of their own – a characteristic that lends itself to accusations that OneCoin is a pyramid scheme.

In the past year, regulators in several African countries have warned consumers about local efforts by OneCoin to solicit investors. In the UK, London police have been investigating OneCoin since as early as September, while in Italy, regulators moved last month to prohibit promotional efforts for OneCoin by local proponents.

Notably, BaFin made it clear in a statement that it was moving against the firm due to unlicensed money activities rather than the legality of sales of OneCoin tokens.

"BaFin does not have the right to decide as to the validity under the civil law of the 'OneCoins' sales contracts. It may therefore not answer questions of this nature," the agency said.

Chris Corey CMO MarketHive Inc

 (@mpmcsweeney) | Published on April 18, 2017 at 14:00 BST

Closed sign image via Shutterstock

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Bitcoin Mining Pool ViaBTC Says No toSegwit

Bitcoin Mining Pool ViaBTC Says
No to
Segwit

  

Following a previous announcement by F2Pool

that they are now to signal for segregated witnesses (segwit), ViaBTC has publicly reiterated they do not support segwit for a number of reasons.  The bitcoin mining pool says:

SegWit, which is a soft fork solution for malleability, cannot solve the capacity problem… Even if SegWit after activation can slightly scale up block size with new transaction formats, it’s still far behind the demand for the development of Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin has been running at full capacity for months with numerous proposals put forward and rejected by miners. The latest ones are segwit, currently at around 32% hashrate share, and Bitcoin Unlimited which stands just under 40%. Segwit’s main aim is to send transactions off-chain and onto second layers, such as the Lightning Network or sidechains. ViaBTC says such transactions “are NOT equal to Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer on-chain transactions” before adding that “LN will also lead to big payment “centers”, and this is against Bitcoin’s initial design as a peer-to-peer payment system.”

The main criticism against segwit is its use of a 1:4 ratio, which many suspect is a political decision that will bind bitcoin’s trajectory for decades to come regardless of technical factors. ViaBTC says: “SegWit lifts the block size limit to 4MB with 1MB base and 3MB witness block. However, from the current transaction data, the average effective block size will be less than 2MB even if all transactions upgrade to SegWit. This is a tremendous waste. If we want to double the capacity of Bitcoin, we’ll need to make sure the internet bandwidth to run full nodes can support at least 8MB blocks, instead of 2MB. This will make it even tougher to increase block size in the future.” Moreover, the decision to upgrade to segwit is irreversible, according to ViaBTC. So if something goes wrong, bitcoin might be stuck because:

“On technical terms, SegWit uses a transaction format that can be spent by those who don’t upgrade their nodes, with segregation of transaction data and signature data. This means SegWit is irrevocable once it’s activated, or all unspent transactions in SegWit formats will face the risk of being stolen.” Some 70% of miners have now made a decision on whether to support segwit or Bitcoin Unlimited, a proposal which simply increases the blocksize as set by nodes and miners. It’s not clear what the other 30% are waiting for, but it will be interesting to see what they do decide once they get around to exercising their duty.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

ICO Market: from $6,000 to $150 mln. Overview with Waves CEO

ICO Market: from $6,000 to $150 mln. Overview with Waves CEO

  

The concept of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)

has made massive progress since its emergence in 2013 – evolving from makeshift efforts on Bitcointalk to unbelievable campaigns which raked in millions of dollars in mere minutes. Today, we take a look back, as well as try to predict the future of the market of ICOs, together with one of its largest players – the Waves Platform and its CEO Alexander Ivanov. ICO is the practice of securing funds for an early-stage company, issuing a digital token, cryptocurrency and selling a part of its total supply to the intended audience of the project. That way, the startup is able to fund further development of its product, and in return, the users get a tradable asset that may appreciate in value with the future success of the company.

As the name suggests, ICOs are somewhat similar to a much older concept of an Initial Public Offering (IPO), although they aren’t as clearly defined or regulated. Like almost everything in the Blockchain industry, the question of how an ICO should be organized and conducted is an ongoing evolutionary process and a rapid one at that. It’s not hard to surmise that ICOs are a godsend to the young Blockchain-powered startups, which often manage to build a large and loyal fan following based on the idea alone, but may struggle to convince the conservative and incredulous venture capitalists. However, there’s still a long road ahead for the community, before an ICO truly becomes a standard in funding such projects. This ongoing progress can be defined in terms of several prominent trends described below.

Growing numbers

The most evident is the growth in sheer numbers. More and more campaigns are being launched year-on-year and each one of them is able to bring in more and more money, as time goes by. The earliest examples of ICOs, which weren’t even called that at the time, were ad hoc efforts conducted in 2013 by the developers of various cryptocurrencies on the Bitcointalk.org forum. Such projects as NXT and Mastercoin had a proof-of-concept and a fan base but not much money. To them, it seemed reasonable to fund the development of the final product by selling a part of the total supply of coins to the enthusiastic crowd.

And so they did, perhaps unknowingly giving birth to what we now call an Initial Coin Offering. As improvised as they were, these efforts were rare and not too mind-blowing money-wise, at least by today’s standards. Mastercoin has managed to secure a little over half a million dollars, while NXT has grabbed a mere $6,000. But, the precedent was set, and in the next year, it was a massive success. Ethereum, a decentralized applications platform, has secured over $18 mln in a crowd sale of its ETH tokens in July to August 2014.

Some may argue that this was the breakout, needed to propel the concept of ICOs to popularity, especially considering that Ethereum developers made good use of the collected money. Today, the cryptocurrency can boast the second-highest capitalization, only exceeded by Bitcoin itself. It only went uphill from there, as the community realized that any Blockchain-based project can be funded this way, not just the cryptocurrencies. Waves Platform, SingularDTV, ICONOMI, Golem – 2016 truly became the year of ICOs, with 64 campaigns bringing in an incredible total of $103 mln.

Cointelegraph: What is your opinion on the fast rate of growths of the ICO market? Some have noticed similarities to the early days of the dot-com boom. Are we in for a bubble burst, or is this a natural growth driven by real demand?

Alexander Ivanov:

“It’s certainly real demand. These are real projects, with real people and companies behind them. The rate of growth is fast but it’s not fake. People are simply starting to access funds a different way. If it’s not possible to start a business with a loan from a bank or with VC funding – as it’s not for many people – they will turn to the alternatives. The ICO market is a subsection of the crowdfunding sector more broadly, and we’ve seen how popular platforms like KickStarter have been.”

Perhaps, the most impressive testament to the strong – if reckless – appetite the Blockchain community has acquired for this new paradigm of fundraising was The DAO. The absolute record in the history of crowdfunding, it was able to secure over $150 mln, which it would hold to this day, were it still active. The DAO was built as a decentralized autonomous VC fund, meaning that it didn’t have a conventional management structure, and was instead governed by software. Soon after the ICO was finished, some unidentified hackers have exploited a software vulnerability to siphon off one-third of The DAO’s funds, leading to its eventual demise.

Self-regulation

Although the investors did get most of their money back, in the end, adequate preventative measures would have likely made the attack impossible in the first place. Thus, the story of The DAO highlights another major trend present on the ICO market – evolving self-policing measures and increasing compliance with financial regulations. Hacker attacks aren’t the only danger here. The anonymous and permissionless nature of cryptocurrencies often allows scammers to dupe investors out of their money in a crowd sale and then disappear into thin air, never to be heard of again.

Legitimate startups have quickly realized that self-imposed restrictions are the only way to ensure the investors’ trust and, by extension, their contributions. So, gone are the days when a good idea backed by a fuzzy whitepaper were enough for a developer to secure the money to move forward. Today, if an ICO wants to be taken seriously, it has to provide a whole range of detailed data regarding the developers, the project, its goals, the terms and conditions for the investors, and so on.

The use of escrow wallets to store the collected funds is basically a given. These wallets ensure that the money for development is released in parts and only after certain milestones have been reached on the project’s roadmap. Otherwise, the danger of the company just unilaterally withdrawing all the money and disappearing with it is too high. Waves Platform, a service which allows anyone to set up their own digital token and use it in an ICO, is a prime example of this trend. It works exclusively with fully AML/KYC-compliant fiat gateway organizations. Not only that, it has also established its own, decentralized analogue of those regulations, which allows to pinpoint and eliminate unscrupulous actors from the network.

Cointelegraph: What customer protection measures are implemented on your platform, and what is their importance?

Alexander Ivanov:

“With a decentralized platform, it’s hard to have the kinds of protections that people take for granted with existing crowdfunding solutions. Waves is an Open Blockchain platform, so by design, you can’t stop people from issuing their own tokens on it. What we have done is start a system of community-based due diligence through the creation of the Waves Community Token. This will allow holders to vote on a project and make a collective decision about whether it is viable and trustworthy.”

ICO platforms

In fact, Waves is also an example of another big movement on the ICO market – the development of platforms designed specifically to serve as aggregators of ICOs. They provide the necessary tools for the startups to set up their campaigns, and for the investors to look for and contribute to them. Crowdfunding was an option long before the Kickstarter was a thing, but it was the appearance of this platform, where the projects and backers could find each other with unprecedented ease, which made it into the multi-billion dollar industry it is today. Platforms such as Waves and ICONOMI are trying to do to ICOs what Kickstarter did to crowdfunding. By creating a single place for Blockchain startups to list their campaigns and the potential investors to find them, they may soon enable a similar explosion of growth on the ICO market.

Cointelegraph: How is the experience of launching an ICO on a specialized platform different from launching your own token? In which ways is it better?

Alexander Ivanov:

“It’s hugely different. All of the infrastructure is taken care of. It’s a very simple matter to launch a token on the Waves platform – it takes less than a minute and costs less than a dollar. And it’s very easy to distribute those tokens to your investors. Compare that with creating your own coin from scratch – cloning and altering bitcoin, at the very least, or coding a new platform from the ground up; bootstrapping the network and ensuring its ongoing security; creating a custom solution for crowdfunding investment, and then distributing coins. All of this has a significant financial and technical overhead. It’s hard to do well and security is key. Waves is a proven and secure solution that takes that headache away from token issuers – which is why a growing number of regular businesses are using it.”

Looking into the future

Trying to predict what’s going to happen next is never easy, especially in a such a fast-growing and changing environment as ICOs. Perhaps, the most likely scenario is that we’ll keep seeing more of the same: continued growth in numbers, the emergence of legal regulations, further development of the tools and practices involved in conducting a campaign.

It’s definitely not too early to say that 2017 is turning out to be a good year for emerging startups. Qtum, a platform for mobile decentralized applications, has secured over $15 mln back in March. Humaniq, a Blockchain-powered decentralized bank for the unbanked, has just collected $5.4 mln for the ICO. ChronoBank, an innovative time banking platform, has grabbed more than $2.7 mln in January. The $103 mln secured in ICOs in 2016 are impressive, but it’s still nowhere near the $34 bln valuation of the crowdfunding industry as a whole. As the crowd sales of digital tokens become more accessible to the newcomers – especially with the development of the ICO platforms and evolving regulatory environment – we may see larger numbers of crowdfunding enthusiasts taking part in them.

Cointelegraph: Any predictions you might have for the near future?

Alexander Ivanov:

“Well, interest will only increase – both in Blockchain and in ICOs. It’s likely that Blockchain crowd sales will grow to a point where they rival and even overtake VC funding in the coming years. That point will probably come sooner rather than later as we see a large number of small ICOs as well as more multi-million dollar ones.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

The Unbreachable Data Made Possible With Bitcoin & Ethereum Blockchain, Here’s How

The Unbreachable Data Made Possible With Bitcoin & Ethereum Blockchain, Here’s How

  

MyBit, a Berlin-based startup, is utilizing the Ethereum and Bitcoin Blockchain networks to solve data manipulation.

For decades, large-scale corporations in the industries of healthcare, finance, and technology have struggled to secure, store and process data in a secure ledger. If most data breaches and hacking attacks launched since the early 2000’s are evaluated, the issue of the vast majority of successful attacks stems from the inefficient and impractical implementation of security measures.

The drawbacks of private Blockchain

For a start, any centralized server, database or platform is vulnerable to data breaches and hacking attacks. Malware distributors and hacking groups have introduced highly sophisticated technologies over the last few years, making it that much more difficult for companies to protect their data and assets. Some multi-billion dollar companies in the insurance and healthcare industries are attempting to utilize private Blockchain networks created on top of infrastructures developed by Blockchain-focused corporations such as IBM.

However, as Jerry Cuomo, VP of Blockchain technology at IBM noted in an interview, it is not possible for private Blockchain networks to be completely immutable and unbreachable. Blockchain infrastructure providers such as IBM provide technologies such as safeguards to strengthen security measures which automatically detect hacking attempts and shut down a Blockchain network if and when necessary.

Immutable technologies for data storage and transfer

Companies in the industries of insurance and healthcare that almost entirely rely on the settlement of data prioritize immutability and are actively investigating the potential of Blockchain technology due to its unbreachable nature. This is where startups like MyBit can offer unique propositions to corporations looking for immutable technologies for data storage and transfer. Ian Worrall, co-founder and managing director of MyBit stated:

“MyBit revolutionizes asset management by enabling the secure administration of ownership via a decentralized, golden source ledger. It effectively removes the single point of failure risk, reliance on third-party escrow agents and much of the friction in traditional systems.”

Streamline peer-to-peer commerce and Smart Trusts

The key component in MyBit’s data storage technology is its non-custodial nature, which is seen in most Bitcoin wallet platforms and infrastructures. For instance, the world’s most popular Bitcoin wallet Blockchain is a non-custodial platform as it does not hold passwords or other sensitive information of its users.

Once data is recorded to the infrastructure of MyBit, it autonomously transfers data into the Bitcoin and Ethereum Blockchains thus removing trust and offering immutability to users and companies. “We extend the functionality of MyBit to enable the transfer of ownership between users to streamline peer-to-peer commerce and offer Smart Trusts as a flexible tool to secure ownership as you desire,” added Worrall. Currently, many startups such as MyBit are leading the development of unique and innovative technologies that can be utilized to protect data of large-scale commercial companies.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

What Is Bitcoin? Is It Legal Money? What Could Happen To Bitcoins In 2017?

What Is Bitcoin? Is It Legal Money? What Could Happen To Bitcoins In 2017?

  

Bitcoins, a form of digital currency

that operates on the principles of cryptography, has lately come under the scanner of the authorities throughout the world. So, it’s become necessary to know what are Bitcoins, how it works, the legal status of Bitcoins as well as what holds in the future of Bitcoins. 

In the year 1976, F.A Hayek, in his book “The Denationalisation of Money,” propagated the establishment of competitively issued private money. In the mid-70s, what seemed like a farfetched idea was conceived by yet another Economist in the year 1999. Milton Friedman, an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, predicted of time where internet, (still in a nascent stage then) would help abolish the role of a government and evolve a currency free from the shackles of the government control. Less than ten years later the prophecy came true when Satoshi Nakamoto, a Japanese, invented a form of cryptocurrency called “Bitcoin.” The origin of Bitcoins can be traced to the aftermath of the global recession and money crisis of 2008 that shook the whole world economy.

What is bitcoin? How does it work?

In the simplest form, Bitcoins can be described as a “Peer to Peer Electronic cash system.” Bitcoins can be used as a method of payment for numerous goods and services and for simple transactions like purchasing vouchers, paying bills, etc. In different jurisdictions, Bitcoins are treated as a property, currency, virtual asset, good, security or commodity for the purpose of trading on a stock exchange or commodity exchange.

Essentially Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, i.e., it operates on the principles of cryptography to manage the creation of Bitcoins and securing the transactions. Cryptocurrencies are managed by private parties, without the need for a government authority to monitor the currency system. The currency has been designed in a way that the number of total units of Bitcoins in circulation will always be limited. Going by the pace at which Bitcoins are being minted, the last unit will be mined around the year 2140.

The cryptocurrencies essentially work on the Blockchain system. A Blockchain is a public ledger of Bitcoins that is designed to record all the transactions. The chronological order of Blockchain is enforced with cryptography and each new ledger update creates newly minted Bitcoins. This is designed in a way that Bitcoin wallets can calculate their total balance and new transactions can be verified. The integrity and the chronological order of the block chain are enforced with cryptography.

Bitcoin Working

The buyer and seller can enter into transactions by using their Bitcoin wallets that are secured by a secret piece of data called, a “Private key.” The key is used to authorize the transactions by the owner of the wallet, and cannot be normally tempered by anyone, once it is issued.  The transactions are performed by adding the Bitcoin wallets on an exchange, acting as a facilitator for sale and purchase of Bitcoins. All transactions are displayed between the users and usually begin to be confirmed by the network through a process called “Mining.” It is essentially the process of creating new Bitcoins out of the total Bitcoins that are designed to be “Mined” using computers. The transactions transfer the value between the users and get recorded in the Blockchain, ensuring that each transaction is valid.

Is Bitcoin legal money?

The legality of Bitcoins is controversial, while some jurisdictions have express laws and regulations to deal with Bitcoins, others still fall in gray areas. As per a recent bill in Japan, Bitcoins and other virtual currencies have been given legal recognition and are accepted as a mode of payment. While in China, trading in Bitcoins come under the regulatory restrictions imposed by People’s Bank of China.

In the U.S.A, different states have adopted varying approaches to Bitcoins. Recently a U.S Magistrate in the state of New York ruled that Bitcoins are not money, while a contradictory stance was taken by a judge in Manhattan, who ruled that bitcoins are acceptable means of payment. The Internal Revenue Service in the United States defines bitcoin as property rather than currency for tax purposes. The U.S. Treasury, by contrast, classifies bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency.

In Russia, reportedly, Bitcoins may soon be regulated in a bid to tackle money laundering, though, in the past, Russia has expressed its displeasure with Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies. In India, as of now, no regulations have been framed by either Reserve Bank of India or Securities and Exchange Board of India, the two contenders, for the purpose of drafting regulations pertaining to Bitcoins and acting as a watchdog.

In India, who ultimately acts as a regulatory authority can only be decided based on whether the government decides to treat Bitcoins as “Currency” or “Security/Commodity.” As per current Indian laws, “Currency” can only be issued by the government but the residuary powers in this regard lie with the Reserve Bank of India which can notify “Bitcoins” as currency.  After the demonetization drive in India, the demand for Bitcoin has more than doubled in less than two months. The Indian government has reportedly set up an inter-disciplinary committee to regulate the Bitcoins amidst the apprehensions that the black money hoarders may have invested into Bitcoins.

Bitcoin trends in 2017

Bitcoins are extremely volatile in nature. While the future trends for Bitcoins can’t be predicted with utmost certainty, as per a report published on Forbes, the market is set to show strong waves in the favor of cryptocurrencies, as predicted by a crypto market intelligence startup. As per the latest position, The 24-hour average rate of exchange across USD Bitcoin markets is US$1184.87, the 7-day average is US$1204.85, and the 30-day average is US$1080.26 confirming only the volatility of Bitcoins.

There are possibilities that some countries may introduce an Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) to make Bitcoin Trading easier and accessible. While a similar application to create an ETF has been rejected by The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the chances of other countries adopting it are not bleak. Currently, sale and purchase of Bitcoins is a multi-step process. Creating an ETF would make it possible for the investors to buy Bitcoins through the stock market.

Further, In the future Blockchains, the underlying technology to Bitcoins may bring revolution in the music industry.  Cryptography could transform the music industry by using Blockchain ledgers. As per reports, an attempt is being made to bring music distribution under the cryptography. This can be done by adding the music to blockchain and letting the users distribute the music by paying a sum. This can also bring down music piracy.

To sum up the discussion, it can be said that while Bitcoins may not replace the “Fiat Currency” anytime soon, but there has been a phenomenal growth in the acceptance of cryptocurrencies around the world. While the investors may still be reluctant to invest in Bitcoins, given the high risks associated with it, the demand for Bitcoins has grown manifold. In the end, it could be argued that a good legal and regulatory framework for Bitcoins would help the investors decide the viability of Bitcoins in the long run.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Smart Contracts: Separating Ethereum from Bitcoin

Smart Contracts:
Separating Ethereum from Bitcoin

  

One question that a substantial portion of people asked

when Ethereum was launched was “Why to develop Ethereum when we already had Bitcoin for the transfer of payments?” Well, Blockchain is a powerful technology and it is true that we haven’t fully utilized it to its potential. Bitcoin only makes use of one of the many possible applications of the Blockchain technology i.e. peer-to-peer transfer of funds. Ethereum is a platform based on the Blockchain technology used for developing decentralized applications. It has a few benefits over Bitcoin such as the feature of coding Smart Contracts and the Ethereum Virtual Machine.

What is a Smart Contract?

Simply put, Smart Contracts are a digitized version of a traditional contract. They are computer programs which run on the Blockchain database and can be programmed to self-execute when the conditions written in their source code are met. Smart Contracts are trusted by the users as once programmed, the terms of the contract cannot be changed thus making the contract immutable. Smart Contracts are coded using the language ‘Solidity’ and offer numerous advantages over traditional contracts:

  • There is no dependence on a third party for the enforcement of the contract. The elimination of the middleman considerably reduces the total amount of money spent on the contract.

  • Eliminating third-party vendors also mean that the entire process of validation and enforcement of the contract becomes speedy as the users are directly transacting with each other.

  • Since the terms of the contract cannot be changed, the users are at a lesser risk of being cheated. Smart contracts are free from all kinds of human intervention.

  • Smart contracts are not prone to failures such as power cuts, node failures etc. There is no risk of misplacing or losing the contract as the contract is saved on a distributed ledger. What this means is that each device connected to the network has a copy of the contract and the data stays on the network forever.

How does a Smart Contract work?

Developers work on writing the code for Smart Contracts. The Smart Contracts can be used for the transaction and(or) exchange of anything between two or more parties. The code contains some conditions that will trigger the contract to execute itself. For example, a Smart Contract relating to a rent agreement for an apartment would only get triggered when the owner receives the rent and would send the security key for the apartment to the tenant. This contract could be programmed to ensure regular payments of rent and could be reinitiated every month.

Once the coding is done, the Smart Contracts are uploaded to the Blockchain network i.e. they are sent to all the devices connected to the network. Relating this to another Blockchain application – Bitcoin – the upload is like how a network update regarding a Bitcoin transaction would be uploaded onto the Blockchain. Once the data is uploaded onto all the devices, the users come to an individual agreement with the results of the execution of the program code. After the users have reached an agreement, the database is updated to record the execution of the contract and to monitor the terms of the contract to check for compliance. Here, there is no possibility of the contract being manipulated by a single party as control over the execution of the Smart Contract does not lie in the hands of any single party anymore.

Potential use-cases for Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are already becoming pivotal for many Blockchain applications and will most likely become one of the most important pillars of the Blockchain technology. We are already seeing Smart Contracts being used in fintech and non-fintech domains with new use-cases coming up daily. Some fields where Smart Contracts can be successfully used include:

Supply Chain Management
Supply chains are vulnerable to paper-based systems, where forms pass through several channels for approval thus increasing exposure to fraud, theft and other setbacks. Blockchain annuals such setbacks by providing a safe and accessible digital version to each party participating in the chain and automates the process of payment.

Governance
Smart Contracts could be used to provide a more secure and flexible ecosystem to the voters where voters need not come to the polling booths but can transfer their votes from anywhere since they’re already participating in a contract initiated by the governing authority. All it would need for the completion of the contract – an internet connection.

Real Estate
Using Smart Contracts, many hassles surrounding payments to the broker, advertising firms, and similar costs could be nullified as the Blockchain ledger would help us cut costs and the tenant and the owner would be able to directly transact with one another.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights
IPR can be enforced using Smart Contracts, which allow the users to track ownership of any file uploaded onto the network. Content creators can participate in Smart Contracts with other users, allowing the creators to get due credit for their content and be compensated easily since there is no need for any third-party intermediary.

What lies in the future for Smart Contracts?

The Blockchain technology is being integrated with multiple aspects of an average user’s life. Also, Smart Contracts are becoming an important pillar of Blockchain. Both Blockchain and Smart Contracts have use cases that have not been fully explored but constant research is being done on the same, with many big companies investing heavily in the research and development of these technologies.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

New Tool Might Finally Make Banks Comfortable With Bitcoin

 New Tool Might Finally Make Banks Comfortable With Bitcoin

  

Bitcoin intelligence provider

Elliptic is rolling out a program with California-based Silvergate Bank to analyze and screen possible nefarious activity on the bitcoin blockchain. The effort is focused on helping banks assess future bitcoin-based business clients. For banks, often the associated risks are deemed higher than the potential rewards when considering new clients that operate in the bitcoin space – an often-cited stumbling block in the industry. "The banks that are working with bitcoin companies really don’t have much visibility into how effective they are at handling the risk associated with bitcoin transactions," said James Smith, Elliptic's CEO.

Smith told CoinDesk:

"Until now, they pretty much have had to rely on the word of the exchange or whoever [processed the transaction] to say 'We’re doing the best we can.'"

Elliptic's software allows financial institutions to take a more robust approach in vetting bitcoin businesses and complying with know-your-customer (KYC), anti-money laundering (AML) and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements. The platform will help banks find suspicious bitcoin activity, allowing them to reduce risk assessment costs for current and potential customers while demonstrating to regulators that there are internal safeguards in place to weed out bad actors. "We see this as a great step forward in terms of raising the industry standard, in terms of compliance, improving the level of risk mitigation and, ultimately, allowing Silvergate to work with more businesses who are handling bitcoin," said Smith.

Silver lining

While beneficial in this regard, Silvergate is already one of the exceptions to the rule in the banking world when it comes to bitcoin. The bank currently provides services to more than 30 bitcoin-related companies, including digital currency exchanges, institutional investors, miners and software developers. Still, those involved in the project argue better visibility will in turn aid banks as the regulatory environment moves to one where banks are now responsible for their customer's customers as well.

Plus, Silvergate and Elliptic argue that the platform will allow financial institutions to better assess when their customers' internal controls may be suspect. "What we’re looking for is to see how a client is performing over time as an indication of whether their internal control environment is getting stronger," said Ben Reynolds, vice president of business development and digital banking at Silvergate. Similar to Elliptic's other anti-money laundering products, the platform screens each blockchain transaction for potential linkages to suspicious activity and then issues each with a risk score.

Proactive push

While efforts to separate the allegedly 'good' bitcoin users from the 'bad' ones have been met with pushback from certain factions of the bitcoin community, Elliptic and Silvergate emphasize that the goal is not to micromanage clients, but rather to understand holistically what clients are doing to filter out eyebrow-raising activity. "What they want to know is – at a high level – what percentage of transactions going through this business are suspicious? How has that changed over time? Does it look like they are improving their controls?" said Smith.

The bottom line, Reynolds said, is that the software will soften Silvergate’s overall risk management overhead. "For us, each client that we take on initially is a pretty large investment in terms of the due diligence process that we go through," he said.Reynolds went on to explain that while Silvergate has no regulatory obligation to enact such a program, it's being proactive to advance the legitimacy, credibility and sustainability of the bitcoin industry and pushback on negative stereotypes.

Smith concluded:

"With this extra visibility, they’re able to understand how effective these companies are at handling risk and therefore get more comfortable with the idea of banking them."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain in Energy Sector: IOTA to Offer Decentralization, Scalability, No Transaction Fees

Blockchain in Energy Sector: IOTA to Offer Decentralization, Scalability, No Transaction Fees

  

With motor vehicles becoming an ever increasing luxury around the world,

pollution levels are increasing but the Blockchain could help to reduce the transportation industry’s contribution to global warming that promises a cleaner and energy efficient future. In an article written in December by Carsten Stöcker, Senior Manager in the Machine Economy Innovation Lighthouse Lead at German energy firm, Innogy SE and Thomas Birr, Senior Vice-President of Innovation & Business Transformation at Innogy SE, the future of transport will change through 'Blockchain-enabled secure peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions that eliminate or minimize the need for centralized authorities such as banks or ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.'

Blockchain and energy transactions

Through the Blockchain, trip charges will be deducted from the passenger's Blockchain-enabled digital wallets or charged to their credit card, with payment going straight to the vehicle owner. As noted by Stöcker and Birr, Blockchain-enabled mobility transactions mean that consumers and providers can take part in the transportation system, setting the terms, conditions, and pricing they choose.

"Automotive OEMs want to collaborate with us in order to participate in building a Special Purpose Decentral Platform for Mobility Transactions,” said Stöcker, speaking to Cointelegraph. "We are also now engaging with many owners of EV charging assets around the world in order to bring charging poles to one Blockchain platform." Yet, while the Blockchain can have a significant impact on how energy transactions are conducted, there are issues with it, such as scalability, transaction costs and offline transactions, that limit its effectiveness. The IOTA Tangle is attempting to fix this by addressing many of the shortcomings with today's Blockchain technology by delivering secure, practical and scalable applications.

Transferring value without any fees

The IOTA is a digital currency with the goal of establishing itself as fuel for efficient machine-to-machine and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. Instead of using a regular Blockchain, the IOTA uses its IOTA Tangle, which validates transactions in a Directed Acyclic Graph structure (DAG). This is a revolutionary new blockless distributed ledger, that is scalable, lightweight and makes it possible to transfer value without any fees. Stöcker, who is also an IOTA Foundation member, which was founded by David Sønstebø, said that instead of achieving consensus through an expensive mechanism, which can lead to centralization, those within the IOTA network are active in the validation of transactions and consensus.

"When a device makes a transaction and broadcasts the transaction to the network, by protocol or 'by default' it has to validate two previous transactions," he said. "So, it's a real peer-to-peer network by machines for machines." He adds that this new concept has immediate advantages: decentralization, scalability and no transaction fees. With all IOTA tokens pre-mined, no mining is required. Not only that, but given the fact that 2779530283277761 IOTA were created, this enables transactions with a little value attached to them. For instance, micro-transactions, which can be beneficial within the energy industry.

Deploying the IOTA in the real world

Of course, in order to deploy the IOTA in the real world, adoption needs to be achieved in a development friendly ecosystem, which is being undertaken in its IOTA Development Roadmap. With the IOTA Tangle designed less rigorously, it means transactions can be made in an offline environment, which copies the IoT, where devices use different networking protocols such as Lemonbeat, Bluetooth LE, LPWAN, or ZigBee. "As such, IOTA is the first permissionless distributed ledger that achieves scalability, making Machine-to-Machine payments for the IoT possible," said Stöcker.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange: Blockchain is Most Innovative Technology For Digital Transactions

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange: Blockchain is Most Innovative Technology For Digital Transactions

   

Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADSM),

a stock exchange in Abu Dhabi with a market cap of $135 bln, considers the Blockchain as the most innovative technology in finance and digital transactions. In 2008, the government of UAE released the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, a 22-year-long strategy and roadmap for the country’s economic progress. A major component of the agenda drafted and implemented by the UAE government was the development of a sufficient and resilient infrastructure capable of supporting anticipated economic growth. Rashed Al Baloushi, the CEO of ADSM, stated that the development of Blockchain technology is an important part of the company’s vision derived from the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Baloushi stated:

“Blockchain is the most innovative technology in digital transactions. It represents the second generation of the internet and has enabled ADX to join the elites of top 10% of institutions globally who have already taken steps in adopting this technology.”

The global banking and finance industries currently lack an efficient and secure infrastructure for digital payments and transactions. The settlement of cross-bank and cross-border transactions is expensive, slow, opaque and insecure.

Latest development

To meet the expectations of the UAE government and to follow the economic roadmap laid out for the private sector, local banks and financial service providers including ADSM have already begun to look into various technologies such as the Blockchain.

Upon the evaluation and analysis of Blockchain technology, researchers at ADSM perceived a great potential for the technology in the finance industry and particularly in the digital transactions market. Since their initial discovery of the Blockchain, ADSM led the development of several Blockchain projects, including a Blockchain platform for e-voting at an annual information technology exhibition held in Dubai. Maintaining its momentum, ADSM plans to demonstrate the applicability of Blockchain technology in the realm of finance and digital payments in their next projects.

Baloushi reaffirmed that the company will collaborate with emerging startups and innovative developers in the Blockchain industry to ensure that ADSM and the rest of the finance industry adopt a revolutionary technology such as the Blockchain to optimize operations and reduce operating costs.

Strategy

“Abu Dhabi Plan is what inspires us to accomplish our strategic goals. ADX is committed to creating a business environment that is both competitive and flexible. Accordingly, adopting Blockchain technology in our projects comes in alignment with the digital transformation of Abu Dhabi’s government services as we constantly strive to introduce new ways that ease the process of doing business in the Emirate,” said Baloushi. Previously, Cointelegraph reported that Dubai aimed to become the first Blockchain-powered city by 2020, with the help of local authorities and startup incubators such as 1776. With Abu Dhabi joining the Blockchain race, UAE seeks to see a rapid development and growth in its local Blockchain industry.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member