IOTA showcases sustainable energy traceability at Powerhouse Energy Positive Building

Traceable, renewable energy seamlessly being tracked locally in real time between buildings, infrastructure, and consumers is already being tested in a real-world environment.

The Powerhouse building in Trondheim, the world’s northernmost energy-positive building, officially opens today in Norway’s third-largest and most innovative city.

Neighboring buildings will be able to enjoy the excess energy of the Powerhouse produced from solar panels and geothermal energy.

IOTA will be present at the opening, along with ENTRA, the building owners, and many tenants including Sopra Steria. Together they will demonstrate a Proof of Concept (PoC) developed in collaboration with the UK’s largest car manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, and ENGIE Lab CRIGEN, the corporate center for Research & Development for the major French energy operator, ENGIE Group.

When buildings and vehicles talk to each other

The PoC will allow visitors to follow the energy usage and provenance of the award-winning Jaguar I-Pace connected to the building through an electric charger.

The Jaguar I-Pace in front of the Trondheim Powerhouse

A lot of energy today, also renewables, is notoriously difficult to trace back to a point of origin. Particularly when you want the energy to be green, this can lead to frustration.

In order to validate the energy’s origin, the Tangle, IOTA’s immutable distributed ledger technology is used to create a tamper-proof record of all transactions and sources

On the road to a safe and sustainable future

This is in line with Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero Strategy (Zero Accidents, Zero Congestion, Zero Emissions) as well as ENGIE Group’s leading efforts in the transition to renewable energy. In a press release put out today, Russell Vickers, manager, Jaguar Land Rover’s vehicle-as-a-service engineering group states:

“This agile initiative demonstrates vividly how cities can transform both infrastructure and transportation into a sustainable and mutually beneficial ecosystem. We are excited to let the public see how energy-positive buildings and vehicles such as the I-Pace in this demonstration can create positive sustainability innovation in line with Jaguar Land Rover’s Destination Zero strategy.”

The Jaguar I-Pace is also equipped with a Smart Wallet developed by Jaguar Land Rover that utilizes IOTA’s technology. The wallet allows the vehicle to autonomously earn currency for reporting data about potholes, weather conditions, traffic and more.

The money earned can then be used to pay for services such as tolls, parking, and charging. All features can be turned on and off at any time according to the wishes of the driver.

Features can be turned on and off at any point in the IOTA-powered Smart Wallet developed by Jaguar Land Rover

Another possible service currently being tested in the Smart Wallet is a Green Charging feature. It offers the driver of the vehicle the option to solely charge from renewable energy sources, also utilizing IOTA’s distributed ledger technology to ensure the energy is renewable from the point of origin.

EU-funded Smart City project

The energy positive Powerhouse building in Trondheim is a landmark in the pan-European +CityxChange project funded by the European Commission, one of the three bodies of the European Union.

Trondheim in Norway and Limerick in Ireland act as the leading “Lighthouse Cities” while several other cities all around Europe act as “Follower Cities” based on the innovative development happening in Trondheim and Limerick.

The Norwegian University of Science and Technology(NTNU) coordinates the project that consists of a wide array of partners and collaborators, among those also the IOTA Foundation.

What a Smart City is can be defined in various ways. A short note from +CityxChange explains it this way:

“A smart city will use digital technologies to enhance performance and wellbeing, to reduce costs and resource consumption and to engage more effectively and actively with its citizens”.

A Smart City will often begin with a Smart Building like the Trondheim Powerhouse. The ambition of +CityxChange and many other actors in the industry is to expand this into Smart Districts and eventually Smart Cities and beyond.

The +CityxChange project launched in 2018 and spans over a five year period and will act as a real-world testbed for implementation of IOTA technology.


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Why We Settle: Global Payments Should Be Fast and Cheap

Good, Cheap, Fast

In the retail and service industries, customers face inherent trade-offs: good, cheap, fast. It is commonly thought that a company, product or service can achieve two of the three, but it is nearly impossible to find an offering that incorporates all.

McDonald’s is fast and cheap, but far from a Michelin star dining experience. BMW delivers the Ultimate Driving Experience, but you’ll have to pay for it. You can fly to Denver rather inexpensively on Spirit, but the experience will never live up to Singapore Airlines. Healthcare poses myriad examples: access to care, disease treatments or even receiving diagnoses.

However, with the advent of digital business models, we have seen an increasing number of companies achieving the trifecta of all three elements across industries such as insurance (Lemon), entertainment (Netflix), communications (Skype) and healthcare (Teladoc). Amazon is a particularly relatable example.  The lack of a costly physical retail footprint, state-of-the-art logistics, and an ever-increasing inventory has allowed Amazon to achieve high standards of good, cheap and fast.  

That said, in urban areas it is still faster to cross the street to Walgreens and purchase items“on demand.” Perhaps that is why Amazon sees value in building some form of physical footprint–retail stores with frictionless, fast checkout.

The Payments Parallel

In cross-border payments, particularly for individual payments (a.k.a., remittances), there is a parallel to the good, cheap, fast adage. In ethnographic and survey-based research across thousands of individuals, we are constantly reminded that remitters care about four things more than anything else:

  • Reliability: Often defined as certainty of payment, reliability is knowing that a payment will, indeed, arrive (and with a confirmation when it does). 
  • Speed: The faster the payment arrives, the greater peace of mind for everyone.
  • Convenience: While this could be defined differently for everyone, it is best expressed as, “Can I make this payment with as little effort as possible?”
  • Cost: This is self-explanatory, and the least surprising requirement.

As with good, cheap, fast, these key elements are inherently at odds when it comes to cross-border payments. For many, going to their bank for cross-border payments is a reliable venture–“I trust that my bank, even if does take three days, won’t lose my money.” However, most remittance payments happen outside of the formal banking channel.  

Companies like Western Union have grown their business to provide highly-convenient and fast means to send payment–but these companies are hardly inexpensive, demanding up to 10% of the transaction value. With the advent of the internet, we have seen the proliferation of digital-only payment providers. Like most online businesses, these payment providers are thriving by undercutting fees of the traditional players. However, as subjects of the same inefficient correspondent banking network, speed is often limited.

Do We Have to Settle?

The greatest trade-off of these four elements is between speed and cost. When it comes to reliability and convenience, these are manageable attributes and become increasingly so as more consumers come online and adopt modern mobile technology. The proliferation of digital wallets for payments services, even amongst the unbanked, has been a wide-spread phenomenon.

So, why would speed and cost be at odds? To answer this, we must look at the difficulties of moving money between currencies and the institutions that are licensed to handle these transactions. Even though most remittances happen outside of traditional banks, banks are the critical layer to any cross-border, fiat payment system today – providing settlement and foreign exchange capabilities for global payments. However, cross-border settlement through this system is far from instantaneous, due to a function of batch processing, limited bank operating hours and fragmented providers and systems.

However, this doesn’t make speed impossible, it just requires a “work around” through something called “pre-funding.” That is, having accounts in the destination countries with enough capital to make the payout to a receiver “instant.” This itself may solve for the speed dilemma, but now we’re back to the issue of cost. A series of respondent and correspondent network participants, utilized by bank and non-bank remittance providers, adds cost to the complexity. 

Cost increases significantly (as much as 35% according to McKinsey) when a payment provider opens, maintains and pre-funds accounts around the world.  The risk, cost and hassle creates an immense burden–which is passed along to the end user in the form of fees or disadvantageous exchange rates.    

The critical next question, which we will explore in our next post, is simply: do we have to accept that there will always be a trade-off between speed and cost? Stay tuned.

The post Why We Settle: Global Payments Should Be Fast and Cheap appeared first on Ripple.

This article was originally published on: The Ripple Blog on 

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Miniscript: Smart Contracts & Bitcoin

Smart Contracts op Bitcoin worden een stuk makkelijker dankzij Miniscript. Met deze vereenvoudiging van de Script programmeertaal wordt het een stuk simpeler om Bitcoin smart contracts te creëren en verifiëren.

Smart Contracts op Bitcoin? Jazeker. Wanneer het over smart contracts gaat denken veel mensen vaak aan allerlei andere blockchains, maar Bitcoin was de eerste waarmee het mogelijk was om smart contracts te programmeren.

Een smart contract is een conditionele transactie: er kunnen voorwaarden geprogrammeerd worden aan een transactie. Die voorwaarden kunnen van alles zijn. Bijvoorbeeld de voorwaarde dat de bitcoins alleen te besteden zijn wanneer meerdere partijen ondertekenen (Multi-Sig). Of bijvoorbeeld dat de fondsen alleen besteedbaar zijn nadat er een bepaalde hoeveelheid tijd is verstreken (timelocks).

Dankzij deze smart contracts zijn allerlei innovatieve financiële toepassingen denkbaar die een stuk verder gaan dan het versturen van bitcoins van A naar B. Via de programmeertaal Script is het mogelijk om dergelijke smart contracts te programmeren. Daarmee is veel mogelijk maar het is ook ingewikkeld. Bitcoin gebruikt een complexe datastructuur en Script is een vrij basale programmeertaal die het niet makkelijker maakt. Zo kun je met Script een smart contract programmeren om op een bepaalde manier te handelen bij een bepaald soort input, maar is het niet altijd direct duidelijk wat er zal gebeuren wanneer er een ander soort input gegeven wordt.

Het is daarom ook lastig en tijdrovend om de werking van smart contracts in Script te verifiëren. En dat is wel belangrijk, want als het om geld gaat wil je natuurlijk niet dat er onverwachte dingen gebeuren. Dat moet beter kunnen, dachten Bitcoin programmeurs Pieter Wuille, Andrew Poelstra en Sanket Sanjalkar.

Miniscript

Een jaar lang werkten ze daarom aan Miniscript, een vereenvoudigde manier om in Script te programmeren. Miniscript is een aanvulling op Script en is bedoeld om de logica achter smart contracts voor mensen begrijpelijker te maken. Het is in de kern nog steeds Script, maar dan minder foutgevoelig en weergegeven in een structuur die voor mensen beter is te volgen.

Daardoor is het makkelijker om smart contracts te creëren die zich op een gewenste manier gedragen. Ook is het voor anderen eenvoudiger om de werking ervan te controleren. Vooral dat laatste kan wel eens een belangrijke bijdrage leveren aan de adoptie van smart contracts.

Volgens de ontwikkelaars is Miniscript voor de meeste praktische toepassingen te gebruiken. In het uitzonderlijke geval dat Miniscript niet voldoet is het nog steeds mogelijk om Script te gebruiken.

Om het nog makkelijker te maken heeft Pieter Wuille bovendien ook een ‘policy language’ ontwikkeld. Dat is als het ware nog een extra programmeertaal bovenop Miniscript. Daarmee kun je eenvoudig de voorwaarden voor een smart contract vastleggen, om die vervolgens op de meest efficiënte manier te laten vertalen naar Miniscript.

Dat levert programmeurs van smart contracts eenvoudigere bouwstenen op om fatsoenlijke en geoptimaliseerde smart contracts mee te creëren, zonder dat zij zelf telkens opnieuw het wiel hoeven uit te vinden.

“The thing about Miniscript is that it's basically Script … you have a ton of different ways to write ‘or,’ a ton of ways to write ‘and’ and some are more efficient than others. The policy language only has one ‘or,’ one ‘and’ and so forth, and Pieter [Wuille] has written this super optimized compiler which will convert that to Miniscript for you, and do it in the optimal way.” –Andrew Poelstra, Director of Research Blockstream

Een vroege versie van Miniscript werd vorige week al gedeeld via een Bitcoin mailinglist. Dat bevatte implementaties in de programmeertalen Rust en C++. Wanneer een definitieve versie van Miniscript beschikbaar wordt gemaakt is nog niet bekend.

Catapult Elephant Update (Part 1)

Catapult Elephant Update (Part 1)

Part 1 of 3

NEM Catapult

Elephant Update

Understanding PoS+ Algorithm

Document link: here.

Translations:
Japanese: here.
Mandarin: here.
Spanish: here.
Russian: here.
Italian: here.

Catapult Elephant Update (Part 1)

Stomping Elephant (1 of 3):

Understanding PoS+ Algorithm

Latest Core Engine Milestone

Catapult is the upcoming full-featured core NEM engine. The development milestones are chronologically alphabetized and code-named for organization and recognition. Most recently, the Dragon update soared past us, and now the fifth milestone is fast approaching. In this series, we will introduce and examine the changes in the imminent milestone, Elephant.

Catapult Elephant Update (Part 1)

Proof-of-Stake+ (PoS+)

NEM1 uses a modified proof-of-stake consensus algorithm called Proof of Importance (PoI). Recall that in a basic Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, the formation of a subsequent block in a blockchain is stochastically assigned to a coin-holding “stakeholder” of the blockchain weighed by a combination of factors relating to the stakeholders’ wealth. PoI was so named because the block creators (all block creators are sourced from the pool of local and delegated “harvesters”) are selected on the basis of each account’s “importance” in the NEM network.

The novel algorithm determines the score based on a network theory that considers each account’s recent transactions, “vested stake”, and transaction partners. It was cleverly innovated by NEM’s devs to overcome the pitfalls of the Proof of Work (PoW) and PoS consensus systems, but the PoI system as in NEM1 needed improvement.

Problems

  1. Scalability: While PoI compares favorably to PoW in terms of scalability, PoI is not projected to scale well in the long run. The computation of importance for large numbers of harvesters puts an exponential strain on the network. For instance, if the minimum required balance for harvesters were 10,000 XEM, the number of harvesters could potentially near 900,000 in the worst-case scenario; the collection of relevant transactions and subsequent calculation of importance scores for all eligible accounts would simply cost too much memory and computing power.
  2. Harvesting distribution: PoI was originally designed to disrupt the unfair advantage given to coin hoarders in the standard PoS consensus system. However, the present PoI protocol does not involve smaller accounts to the extent originally intended, making PoI behave much too similarly to PoS.

Solution

From an ecosystem’s health perspective, there were three primary factors to consider:

  1. Stake: Owners with larger balances create stability and have more incentive to see the ecosystem flourish.
  2. Transactions: Usage of the network should be encouraged
  3. Nodes: More active nodes lead to a more robust and stable network.

The combination of these factors should determine an account’s stake in the ecosystem and their appropriate reward. Hence, the new algorithm factors in three sub-scores for all high-value accounts:

  1. Stake Score (S’): Percentage of the effective balance of all high value accounts at time P.
  2. Transaction Score (T’): Percentage of total transaction fees among all high-value accounts in period P-1 to P.
  3. Node Score (N’): Percentage of total beneficiaries among all blocks in P-1 to P.

In summary, the new algorithm rewards accounts for having stake, participating in the network, and running active nodes.

This consensus protocol is much more efficient. In NIS1, power iterations are calculated by creating an outlink matrix that defines the transaction graph. Catapult simplifies the calculation, using transaction fees as a proxy of activity. As a result, the scalability of NEM’s consensus protocol is significantly improved.

Furthermore, the algorithm selects harvesters more fairly. It is constructed so that the combination of the Activity Score and the Node Score has a multiplier effect when the Stake Score is low but becomes insignificant when the Stake Score is high. The mathematical adjustments were made in accordance with observations made in NIS1; the influence drops sharply between effective balances of 10,000 to 100,000 and phases out almost entirely at 200,000. Consequently, the rich-get-richer problem is corrected.

The improved consensus protocol considers accounts’ stakes in the network, but with more variables than the standard PoS protocol. Thus, the consensus protocol for Catapult is aptly named PoS+, and it will perform as how the PoI was originally envisioned to. More efficient than PoW and more egalitarian than the PoS, the upgraded PoI will enhance the NEM blockchain experience for all users powering the network.

For more details about the PoS+ algorithm, please visit the NEM Developer Center. In the next part of this series, we will introduce the notable upcoming features such as metadata and Mosaic Restriction.

References

https://nemtech.github.io/concepts/consensus-algorithm.html

https://nemtech.github.io/concepts/harvesting.html

This article was originally published on: The NEM Blog on 

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Bakkt gaat in september ‘live’

In augustus vorig jaar kondigde de Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) Bakkt aan. Met deze dochteronderneming is het de bedoeling om een bitcoin futuresmarkt te creëren voor institutionele investeerders waar met echte bitcoins wordt gehandeld. Een jaar lang liep het initiatief op tegen allerlei wettelijke obstakels, maar vorige week liet Bakkt weten dat het van de toezichthouders 'groen licht' heeft gekregen en volgende maand officieel van start gaat.

Op 23 september is het dan eindelijk zover. Dan moeten de eerste 'echte' bitcoin futuresmarkten van ICE en Bakkt officieel openen. De verwachtingen hieromtrent zijn hooggespannen. ICE is namelijk ook het moederbedrijf van de New York Stock Exchange, de belangrijkste aandelenbeurs ter wereld. Bovendien krijgt Bakkt steun van partners als Microsoft en Starbucks.

Futures zijn een beetje te vergelijken met obligaties, maar in plaats van het recht om in de toekomst voor een bepaalde prijs te kopen of verkopen is dat bij een future een verplichting. Dat kan nuttig zijn om de risico's van toekomstige prijsschommelingen te beperken. Bijvoorbeeld in het geval van een graanboer die weet hoeveel de oogst over enkele maanden zal zijn, maar die niet het risico wil lopen dat de prijs van graan in de tussentijd daalt.

Vaak zijn futuresmarkten ook het speelterrein van institutionele investeerders. Dat is een soort parapluterm voor grote 'Wall Street' investeerders zoals banken, investeringsfondsen en kapitaalkrachtige individuen. De toetreding van dit 'grote geld' tot het Bitcoin ecosysteem maakt menig Bitcoiner enthousiast, omdat het de legitimiteit van Bitcoin versterkt en daarnaast veel waarde aan de bitcoin economie kan toevoegen.

Futuresmarkten voor bitcoin bestaan echter al een tijdje. De bekendste is van de Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) die sinds eind 2017 een bitcoin futuresmarkt aanbiedt. Daarbij wordt echter niet in echte bitcoins gehandeld maar met derivaten gebaseerd op de bitcoin prijs. Fictieve bitcoins, als het ware. De afhandeling gebeurt gewoon in dollars.

Bij de aankomende futuresmarkten van ICE en Bakkt is dat anders, want daar zal wel met echte bitcoins worden gehandeld. Voor elke aankoop worden ook echt bitcoins afgeleverd, en om te kunnen verkopen moet je dus eerst bitcoins bezitten. In tegenstelling tot andere bitcoin futuresmarkten zou de handel via Bakkt dus bitcoins uit het aanbod op de vrije markt kunnen onttrekken. Bij voldoende populariteit kan dat een effect op de prijs hebben.

Ten tijde van de aankondiging liepen de verwachtingen omtrent Bakkt daarom hoog op. Dat enthousiasme is inmiddels wel iets ingedaald, omdat het initiatief een jaar lang telkens tegen allerlei bezwaren van de toezichthouders aanliep.

Vooral het beheer van de te verhandelen bitcoins bleek een ingewikkelde zaak. Bitcoin is nu eenmaal iets nieuws dat lastig is te classificeren binnen bestaande wettelijke definities. Desondanks kondigde Bakkt vorige week aan dat zij inmiddels over de benodigde toestemmingen beschikken en dat zij op 23 september de spreekwoordelijke deuren zullen openen.

Bakkt treedt vooral op als 'custodian', ofwel beheerder, van de te verhandelen bitcoins. De handel zelf zal plaatsvinden via de bestaande infrastructuur van ICE. Institutionele investeerders kunnen daarbij rekenen op dezelfde garanties en zekerheden die zij van traditionele markten gewend zijn in een vertrouwde en gereguleerde omgeving.

Komen de institutionele investeerders eraan?

Toch is het niet voor het eerst dat 'de institutionele investeerders eraan komen'. Al jaren wordt gespeculeerd over hun komst en welke effecten dat op de prijs zou kunnen hebben.

Zo zouden de gebroeders Winklevoss in 2015 de institutionele investeerders al eens aan boord halen met hun gereguleerde exchange Gemini. Ook de komst van de eerdergenoemde CME bitcoin futuresmarkt in 2017 ging met enig gejuich gepaard, totdat de bitcoinkoers gelijktijdig met de opening ervan piekte en nadien begon aan z'n lange neerwaartse trend.

Ondertussen zijn er in de loop der jaren diverse mogelijkheden bijgekomen waardoor institutionele investeerders zich aan bitcoin kunnen blootstellen. Grote exchanges richten zich bijvoorbeeld in toenemende mate op het bedienen van institutionele investeerders.

Ook zijn er via traditionele financiële markten steeds meer mogelijkheden, zoals de Exchange Traded Notes (ETN) op de NASDAQ Stockholm en de Swiss Exchange (SIX), of het Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). En hoewel Bakkt de eerste in zijn soort is staan er vergelijkbare initiatieven van TD Ameritrade's ErisX, LedgerX en Seed CX op de planning.

Het is wellicht dan ook verleidelijk om te hopen dat Bakkt, of één van de anderen, een gouden formule heeft waardoor alle institutionele investeerders in één keer de overstap wagen, maar misschien is het realistischer om uit te gaan van een geleidelijker adoptieproces. En dat proces is eigenlijk al een paar jaar gaande.

De institutionalisering van bitcoin kan met Bakkt dan ook een belangrijke stap vooruit zetten, maar de andere initiatieven dragen allemaal net zo goed een eigen steentje bij. En misschien is het ook wel goed als het niet allemaal van één initiatief afhangt. Een beetje decentraliteit, dat kunnen wij Bitcoiners namelijk wel waarderen.

Ripple Supports Xendpay in Opening New Remittance Markets to Stay Ahead of the Competition


As an exclusively online service, Xendpay is able to provide its customers with some of the most competitive rates on cross-border money transfers. The London-based company even gives customers the option to waive fees with its Pay What You Want service. To extend this extraordinary initiative even further and help millions of people get more when sending their money abroad, Xendpay recently joined RippleNet, opening up new corridors to Bangladesh, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia and enabling real-time payment rails to Thailand.

“Most of our customers are migrants who are sending money back home,” explained Bhavin Vaghela, Xendpay’s Head of Product Innovation. “This money is vital to support their families: to pay rent or mortgage, electricity bills, medical fees and education costs. Being an online service allows us to reduce our overheads and pass the savings on to these clients, for whom every penny counts.”

Xendpay is popular in countries with established and growing migrant communities, including the U.K. and Europe, as well as Canada, South Africa and India. Other customers include students needing to pay tuition fees and receive funds to cover living costs, as well as small online businesses who buy and sell goods from other countries.

Transfer Fees Are Optional with Xendpay
All Xendpay customers are concerned with maximizing the value of their cross-border transfers, which is why the company’s low costs and wholesale FX rates stand out. What makes Xendpay truly unique is the company’s Pay What You Want feature that allows customers to waive fees on transfers totaling around $2,500 over a calendar year. This ensures that the full extent of a customer’s hard work is appreciated by their families. The Pay What You Want feature also extends to businesses, who can waive fees on transfers totaling around $5,000 per calendar year.

“Our suggested fees start at GBP3.50, which is already low for a cross-border payment,” said Vaghela. “Though it may not seem like much, when you translate that into a currency like Vietnamese Dong, it’s a significant amount of money. Our customers can choose to pay our suggested fee or change it to one they feel is fair.”

“I think of our fees as similar to providing a tip,” he added. “If you feel like you’ve been treated well, received a good rate and enjoyed the experience, you might pay the recommended rate. We’ve even had clients pay us more.”

Opening Local Markets with RippleNet
While flexible fees attract new customers, the difficulty involved in transferring anything other than U.S. dollars to these new countries was still a significant barrier for Xendpay. Dealing in smaller currencies required direct partnerships with local banks and the set-up and maintenance of complex API arrangements for each one. Using RippleNet to connect with a robust network of partners has proven to be a simple solution to this problem.

“Previously we had to create a whole business case for each partner,” said Vaghela. “RippleNet reduces that complication and friction. There’s a built-in trust factor, which allows us to get to market quicker. We were unable to offer currencies like Malaysian Ringgit or Bangladeshi Taka before. Now that it’s easier to connect with local partners, we can provide our clients with more local currencies and, therefore, see new growth in those corridors.”

Even when Xendpay did have an established local partner, the transactions took days to complete. With RippleNet, previously lengthy cross-border payments are happening in real-time.

“When we sent Thai Baht, it took 3 to 4 days for the payment to be processed,” recalled Vaghela. “Thanks to RippleNet, a customer in Germany can log onto our platform at 3AM on a Sunday morning and the money will be in their beneficiary’s bank account in Thailand within an hour. More than 90 percent of our recent payments to Thailand over RippleNet have been delivered within 10 minutes.”

Growing Ahead of the Competition
Xendpay plans to continue opening new corridors and enabling more migrant workers, students and small businesses to transfer money inexpensively and efficiently. The company has also just launched services into Africa, including high-value remittance markets like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.

“As traveling to and working in other countries has become easier, people are also increasingly more comfortable with transferring money digitally,” concludes Vaghela. “The rapid growth of the online payments market demonstrates this. It’s now a highly competitive sector with a growing number of new entrants. By helping us continually open up new markets, keep our fees low and reduce processing times, Ripple ensures Xendpay remains ahead of the competition.”

The post Ripple Supports Xendpay in Opening New Remittance Markets to Stay Ahead of the Competition appeared first on Ripple.

This article was originally published on: The Ripple Blog on 

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Consensus in the IOTA Tangle — FPC

Consensus in the IOTA Tangle — FPC

This is the first in a series of posts that explain the consensus protocols described in IOTA Coordicide.

The main objective of this series is to keep the community updated on recent research results and also to explain interesting research questions having good chances to be funded by Coordicide grants. As you will see, the topic is quite vast and there are a lot of connections and dependencies on other parts of the Coordicide project.

Faced with this complexity, we’ll try to explain only a few points at a time and focus on questions that are currently being researched. That said, let us note that IOTA already has all the key ingredients for an efficient and secure solution for Coordicide.

The remaining questions are about optimality of the solution, for instance:

  1. Increasing safety
  2. Increasing sustainability (e.g. decreasing message complexity, decreasing PoW)
  3. Increasing TPS
  4. Decreasing time to finality
  5. Increasing the flexibility of the implementation for challenges in the future

Now, let’s get down to it and understand what this “consensus” is all about.

Why consensus?

Distributed consensus algorithms allow networked systems to agree on a required state or opinion in situations in which decentralized decision making is difficult or even impossible.

Distributed computing is inherently unreliable. Achieving consensus enables a distributed system to work as one entity. The importance of this challenge stems from its omnipresence in which fault tolerance is one of the most fundamental aspects.

Common examples include: replicated file systems, clock synchronization, resource allocation, task scheduling and last, but not least, distributed ledgers.

Distributed systems form a vast and classic topic in computer science and the same is true for associated consensus protocols: see How does distributed consensus work for an elegant introduction to this topic.

The existing consensus protocols are essentially the classical protocols — e.g. those based on PAXOS — and the recent game-changer: the Nakamoto consensus. Both protocols have serious restrictions.

The classical protocols have quadratic message complexity, they require precise membership knowledge and are rather fragile against disturbances. The Nakamoto protocol, on the other hand, is robust and does not require precise memberships. However, it relies on PoW, leading to well-known problems such as mining races and non-scalability.

So how is consensus achieved in the IOTA Tangle?

Let us first look back at the Nakamoto consensus. One brilliant idea of the Nakamoto consensus is to make the consensus non-deterministic or probabilistic. Instead of all nodes of the (distributed) system agreeing on the correctness of a value, they agree on the “probability” of that value being correct.

The role of the leader in traditional consensus protocols is taken by the node that solves a given computational puzzle the fastest; this winner adds a new block to the blockchain. This way, the (distributed) network is building the ever-growing blockchain and agrees on the validity of the longest chain or the chain with most cumulative difficulty.

So why is this consensus probabilistic? In order to know that a certain transaction will be considered valid, in say 100 days, we have to know that the longest chain in 100 days will contain this given transaction.

In other words, we are interested in the probability that the longest chain in 100 days will contain this transaction. The probability that a transaction will not be reverted increases as the block which contains this transaction sinks “deeper” into the chain.

In the bitcoin blockchain, for example, it is recommended to wait until a transaction is six blocks deep in the blockchain. After this depth, the probability that a transaction is reverted is very low.

This effect also applies to the Tangle. The deeper — or more “enveloped” by the Tangle — a transaction gets the more final it becomes. In the following picture, the dark green transaction is validated by all light green transactions. As the number of light green transactions grows, the probability of the dark green transaction being in the future Tangle converges to 1.

But wait, the Tangle is different to a blockchain! While the blockchain is not allowed to contain two conflicting transactions, the Tangle may temporarily contain such transactions. Therefore, it may be that a malicious player attaches two conflicting transactions at different parts of the Tangle, like the dark green and the orange squares in the above picture.

These transactions may “survive” in the Tangle for a short time until honest nodes detect the conflict. Once such a conflict is detected, the nodes decide on which transaction to choose. In the example above, the darker green transaction is “more enveloped” by the Tangle and should eventually be approved by all nodes.

For the Tangle to become a real consensus protocol we have to decide on conflicting transactions. That decision should be taken by using a consensus protocol.

Did we walk in circles here?? Fortunately no: Coordicide proposes two other consensus protocols:

The rest of this post will be devoted to a short introduction to FPC and to explain how to reach consensus when it comes to deciding whether a single transaction is valid or not.

In a future blog post, we will address why this is sufficient in order to reach consensus on Tangle level and we will discuss the finality of transactions in the Tangle.

What is FPC?

In fancy terms, the FPC is a leaderless probabilistic binary consensus protocol of low communicational complexity that is robust in a Byzantine infrastructure — check the original article by Serguei Popov and Bill Buchanan.

Let us see, as we proceed what all these terms really mean and start by presenting a lighter version of the FPC that is easy to implement and contains most of the important features.

We assume the network to have n nodes indexed by 1,2,…,n. Every node i has an opinion or state. We denote s_i(t) for the opinion of the node i at time t. Opinions take value in {0,1}; being the reason we speak of a binary consensus.

The basic idea is majority voting. At every round, every node queries k random nodes and sets its opinion equal to the majority of the queried nodes. Simple as that! However, this simple majority voting turns out to be fragile against faulty nodes and malicious attackers. It needs an additional ingredient, in fact an additional randomness, to make it robust.

More formally, at each step, each node chooses k random nodes C_i, queries their opinions and calculates the mean opinion

We denote 𝝉 ∊ [0,1] the first threshold that allows some asymmetric nature of the protocol, another topic we’ll address in the near future. Furthermore, we introduce an “additional randomness”; let U_{t}, i=1, 2,… be i.i.d. random variables with law Unif(𝜷, 1- 𝜷) for some parameter 𝜷 ∊ [0,1/2].

At each time, each node i uses the opinions from k random nodes to update its own opinion:

and for t>0:

It is important that at each round a node queries a different random set of nodes and that the random variables U_t are updated in each round as well.

We introduce a local termination rule to reduce the communication complexity of the protocol. Every node keeps a counter variable cnt that is incremented by 1 if there is no change in its opinion and that is set to 0 if there is a change of opinion.

Once the counter reaches a certain threshold l, i.e. cnt≥1, the node considers the current state as final. The node will therefore no longer send any queries, but will still answer incoming queries. The next graphs show typical evolutions of the variable cnt for each node with l=5, k=10 and initial opinions of 90% of 1`s and 10% of 0`s.

In the left picture the protocol is not disturbed, but in the right picture 20% of the nodes are maliciously trying to turn the majority of the honest nodes. In both cases, eventually all honest nodes agree on the initial majority.

We want to highlight the feature of the common random thresholds of the FPC and refer to Simulation of the FPC for a first analysis of the FPC for various different kinds of parameter settings and attack strategies.

Effect of the random thresholds

The importance of uncertainty in war was introduced by Carl von Clausewitz:

War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.

– Carl von Clausewitz, 1873

What does this have to do with the random thresholds in the FPC? In simple majority, voting these thresholds would just be equal to 0.5. A fruitful attack strategy could be to keep the η’s of the honest nodes around 0.5 preventing a convergence of the protocol (we will see such a successful attack later on). The idea of Popov and Buchanan was to add “noise” or “fog” to the system to increase the uncertainty of information for the potential attackers.

Why is all of this important? In a situation without malicious nodes, the distribution of the η’s will be close to a normal distribution:

Already in a non-disturbed situation, the opinions of the honest nodes can stay close to a 50:50 situations. However, random effects, caused by the random voting, finally lead to convergence of the protocol. This situation is completely different in a Byzantine infrastructure.

Let’s consider an adversary strategy that subdivides the honest nodes into two equally sized groups of different opinions leading to a distribution of the η’s among honest nodes like:

So how can an adversary achieve this?

The adversary waits until all honest nodes have received opinions from all other honest nodes. The adversary then calculates the median of these intermediate η’s. Now, the adversary tries to keep the median of the η’s close to 0.5 by trying to maximize the variances of the η’s.

How can the FPC prevent such an attack? By replacing the deterministic threshold (red, dashed) by random thresholds (blue, dashed). In the following graph, each blue line stands for a random threshold of a given round. As these thresholds are random the adversary cannot foresee how to split the honest nodes in order to keep the 50:50 situation. The best way is to still split them around the value 0.5.

However, once a blue line (in r3 in the picture below) is far enough away from the red line, the adversary loses control of the honest nodes and the protocol terminates.

In the following animation you can see the behaviour and outcome of the protocol when this adversarial strategy is applied with no randomness (threshold=0.5) and after the randomness is added. As you can see, the adversary manages to keep the nodes in limbo for an extensive amount of time. But even worse, the network is split in its opinion — leading to an agreement failure. However, after the additional randomness is introduced, the protocol concludes quickly and in unity.

Ongoing work and next steps

Last — but not least — let’s come back to some of the points IOTA is currently working on and point out some examples of future collaborations:

  1. At the moment we are running thorough simulations to study various attack strategies on different kinds of network topologies. The results will allow us to identify the optimal amount of randomness and choice of the protocol parameters. We are also investigating robustness of the FPC against failures and disturbances of the random threshold.
  2. The bounds on the convergence of the FPC obtained in simulations are far better than the ones obtained theoretically by Popov and Buchanan. Various parameter setting simulations show that there is a so-called “cut off phenomenon”. Informally, this essentially means that the protocol needs, say m steps, with high probability to reach consensus and that it is very unlikely that the protocol needs more than m steps. Theoretical results in this direction would be much appreciated.
  3. The actual implementation of the FPC will depend on the reputation of the nodes. As the reputation or mana of the node plays a prominent part in other parts of the Coordicide project, we will write more about this in a future blog post. Anyway, this additional feature will make the protocol safer against various kinds of attacks.
  4. The parameters studied above in the FPC were set in stone at the beginning of the protocol. However, in order to increase safety and, at the same time, reduce message complexity (which sounds like a miracle), we are investigating adapted versions of the FPC. For instance, if a node’s η is close to 0.5, the node might decide to increase the number of queries while, if it is close to 1, it may decide to either reduce the number of queries of the next step or immediately stop querying at all.
  5. Nowadays, machine learning is adopted in a wide range of domains where it shows its superiority over traditional rule-based algorithms. We are planning to use machine learning, not only for the detection of faulty and malicious nodes, but also to identify the most harmful attack strategies using reinforcement learning.

We look forward to taking you with us on the exciting journey of Coordicide through the eyes of the research department and we hope you will enjoy the development on this project as we do.

As always, we welcome your comments and questions either here in the comments or in #tanglemath on our Discord. You can also engage in a more intense scientific collaborations with us and apply for a grant.

The author is not a member of the IOTA foundation. He wrote this blogpost in collaboration with the members of the IOTA research group.


Consensus in the IOTA Tangle — FPC was originally published in IOTA on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This article was originally published on the: IOTA Blog on 

The post Consensus in the IOTA Tangle — FPC appeared first on Coin News 24/7 | All Crypto news sorted for all Coins.

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Foundation August Update

Hi community, August has been a month full of activity with significant progress toward the Catapult launch and global teams working together toward Catapult commercialization. Check out what we’ve been up to!

Translations can be found below:

Japanese: here.
Russian: here.
Mandarin: here.
Italian: here.
Spanish: here.

Catapult Migration

  • Our team is working in collaboration with partners, supporters and exchanges to determine the best way forward for the Catapult migration.
  • Our analysis takes into account datasets that will be migrated, listing partners (exchanges), companies active on NEM, SuperNode owners, legal and reputational implications, as well as technical implications.
  • To improve our communication around this topic, we have opened the following NEM Improvement Proposal: Here and have also published an open invitation to ‘Join the Catapult Conversation’: Here – which is also available in Japanese: Here.

Brand Steering Committee + Branding Agency Update

We’ve hit a major milestone with the Brand Steering Committee (comprised of Alexandra Tinsman, Nate D’Amico and David Shaw). The branding agency hired by the Foundation (working with the Steering Committee) has almost completed the initial strategic discovery phase, having conducted 17 internal interviews, 15 external interviews, competitor analysis and market research. The last interviews with Japan advocates and blockchain practitioners are happening now.

The agency has developed some “building blocks” around our customers, our capabilities, the context and the competitive landscape that will be used to create the brand philosophy and territory.

Their findings point towards an opportunity with Catapult for us to move Blockchain into the next phase of an internet of value, that will resonate with an enterprise audience keen to adopt blockchain as a pragmatic solution for a genuine business challenge.

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Academy

  • Screenshots of NEM Academy project
  • Developers and designers are working on the project with the content team to deliver an awesome experience for the users.
  • The prototype of the NEM Academy – here.

Tech Team Updates

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Take a look at what we’ve worked on in the Tech Department this past month of July including the second iteration of Catapult ‘Elephant’ milestone, latest updates to our SDKs and Testnet, as well as client application progress updates. Click here
  • We want your opinions! Check out the open invitation to join the Catapult Conversations, click here.

AGM Update

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Annual General Meeting (AGM) on the 29th day of August 2019 at 7:00 pm UTC.
  • Only NEM.io Foundation members are given this invitation and can only attend the meeting.
  • The main purpose of this AGM is to receive and accept the audited accounts for the financial year 2018.
  • Link to the conference call will be sent to this email 3 days before the AGM.

Global Team Updates

Welcome Our Newest Team Members

  • Adele Rom, Global Talent Advisor – 20 years in talent management and operations experience including the roles of Vice President of Human Resources for JP Morgan Chase & Co and Head of Talent for Riot Games. She is also an advisor for the high profile, PeopleTech Partners, an early stage advisory and investment group that leverages the insights of current People leaders operating in top tier businesses to accelerate the growth of companies in our portfolio.

Adele’s focus will be on shaping the Foundation team to be enterprise focused and high performers through HRIS implementation and Performance Management Systems and Processes.

  • Shelly Harris has joined the HR Team to help with global recruitment. Shelly has experience with Recruitment and HR in Professional services companies.
  • Ronica Hu has joined the Marketing team to help with social media support in China.
  • Jimmy Batifol-Oliverio has joined the Tech Team to provide support for wallets/supernodes.
  • Laura Angel has joined the Business Development team in Latin America to support Pedro as the interim Chief Revenue Officer LATAM Region.

Job Opportunities

We have opportunities to join the NEM Foundation team. The jobs can be found on our website, or reach out to hr@nem.foundation for more information.

Foundation in the News

  • Cointelegraph – Leadership article from President Alexandra Tinsman on what the next decade holds for crypto.
  • Token Economist – Alexandra Tinsman and Jeff McDonald discuss future blockchain strategies from the Foundation and Catapult at the Mijin Utilization Seminar in Tokyo.

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Coindesk Japan – Alexandra Tinsman and Jeff McDonald share a deep dive of Catapult and the Foundation at the Mijin Utilization Seminar in Tokyo.
  • Crypto Watch Impress – At the Mijin Utilization Seminar on July 30th, Alexandra Tinsman and Jeff McDonald speak about Catapult.
  • Coinpost Japan – Alexandra Tinsman and Jeff McDonald talk about the NEM ecosystem and plans for Catapult

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Top Blockchain 100 – LATTICE80 includes President Alexandra Tinsman in their top Blockchain 100 list, where they showcase 100 leaders in the global blockchain. community making their impact as startups, corporate, governments, or investors in the space.

Japan Community Update

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Great progress continues happening on Qitta.com from the Japanese community, click here (Big thanks to contributors Daoka and Planet)
  • Exciting article about Gifu University (ShizuiNet) using the NEM blockchain as a traceability solution for Dental Pulp Stem Cells. Here
  • On-going website revamp for NEM Japan. Proposed website design:
  • Light Theme
  • Dark Theme

Business Development Updates

Southeast Asia

Malaysia

  • We hosted a closed door Meet & Greet Lunch session with the ecosystem partners including Malaysian government agencies with NF President, Alex Tinsman and Council Member, Steve Li. The atmosphere was welcoming and our partners are positive with the launch of NEM’s next core engine, Catapult. More info and photos here.

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Our Business Development Manager, Jesyka Hiu shared what Blockchain technology is about and how it is like to be working with a global tech company during “Study in Australia” Expo.

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Foundation August Update

NEM Foundation August Update

  • NEM inked partnership with Asia Blockchain Review as one of the official content contributors to share and promote Blockchain technology as a whole.

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Join us at the Sabah IT Symposium 2019 on August 19-20 as we discuss the issues and challenges in the industry. Also witness our MoU signing ceremony with one of the most prominent public universities, University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and a full day closed-door Blockchain workshop co-host by our ecosystem partner, Sabah Net.

NEM Foundation August Update

Philippines

  • Richard Tiu shared that Foundation has trained 20 universities and 267 lecturers so far in the Philippines and is on track to train ~5,000 students by 2020. A total of 800 new students started learning about NEM in September.
  • Check out the Train the Trainers session at iACADEMY held on August 5, 2019. The Elective Course will soon be implemented by iAcademy on their curriculum.

NEM Foundation August Update

  • Marketing team representatives recently attended a Google 101 Learning Session. The 101 session covers the Top 3 Google Solutions (Search, Youtube & Display Network) and how to optimize strategies and digital advertisements.

NEM Foundation August Update

LATAM

  • Within the framework of the alliance with BIMTRAZER, the solution for the construction market was formally launched. The launch was made in Chile at EXPOBIM BIMTRAZER use BIM and NEM Technology, And this was reviewed by Cointelegraph.
  • Council member Pedro Gutierrez made a Podcast at Criptotendencias to talk about Catapult and the advances of the NEM Foundation.
  • Meeting con BAIOT solutions SI company in Medellin, to start face-to-face technical training about Catapult.
  • In Mexico, contact has been made with Arca Continental (Coca Cola bottling company) to evaluate the application of a proof of concept in the production processes. Laura Angel has contacted development agencies in Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey to get meetings and offer alliances.
  • Laura Angel was interviewed in Cointelegraph informing the start of operations in Mexico.
  • Argentina: Meeting with the Notaries Association secretary Gustavo Boccolini. Subject: NEM Foundation participation in XXX International Congress of Notaries (November), Investigation of possibilities to implement Blockchain in Notary process and make a presentation in Notary monthly meeting.
  • Negotiation with La-Conexion Conference organizer to have NEM as honoured guests.
  • Preparation for Blockchain Summit Uruguay, keynote speaker: Catapult, speaker on panel discussion “Women in Blockchain”, speaker in panel discussion “Blockchain in modern media.”
  • Working with press: negotiation with “El Economista” about guest articles.

Ukraine

  • Council member Anton Bosenko attended an event as a panelist organised by the Blockchain Association of Ukraine and The State Finance Institution for Innovations. The main topic of the event is supporting startups ecosystem and synergy with blockchain technology. Click here.

NEM Foundation August Update

Get to Know the Foundation Series

Get to know the faces of the NEM Foundation leadership team in our ‘Meet the Team’ series. Each week we highlight a new team member that shares about their background and what they’re currently working on. So far the following profiles have been published with more to come so stay tuned!

RFP Portal Update

  • NEM Service Providers | New Contract Awarded for Japanese Translators

We’re delighted to announce the winner of the NEM SP Contract for English-Japanese Translators!

Congratulations to Opening Line for winning the bid. Read about the contract here.

NEM Foundation August Update

  • RFP for Trezor integration into NEM Catapult wallet is launched.

NEM Foundation August Update

We are excited to announce a new contract opportunity under NEM Service Provider! Request-for-Proposal (RFP) for Trezor integration with NEM Catapult is now open!

https://nem.bonfirehub.com/opportunities/4090582

Open: 16th of August 12:00 AM UTC.
Close: 24th of August 12:00 AM UTC.

If you or your organization is interested, sign up now at bonfire.

How to register: here.
About NEM SP – here.

Latest Partnership Updates

  • Origins – completed its 3rd milestone in the NEM Community Fund.
  • HIT Foundation – the first healthcare blockchain built on NEM platform.
    • HIT Foundation is a decentralized platform that matches health information seekers with individuals. The individuals control their health data and get fair pay for its use while the value of health information is tokenized and converted into the future health currency (HIT Tokens).
    • HIT’s HI-Trust app has been completely redesigned. The new design will launch in September but you can already take a sneak peek: Click here.
    • HIT Foundation offers a 400 HIT signup bonus for the first 10,000 app users. Download HI-Trust to claim your tokens: here.
  • Geens.
  • Tech Bureau -to expand the reach of mijin #Catapult v.2 outside of Japan.
  • ShizuiNet, a traceability solution in Japan for the supply chain in dental pulp stem cell research.
  • Crypto Millionaire Boardgame features NEM.

Partner Highlight Series

Get to know our NEM projects in our ‘Partner Highlight’ series where we learn more about their story, what they are currently working on and why they chose the NEM Blockchain. So far we have published the following interviews with more to come so stay tuned!

NEM Foundation August Update

Verified Exchange Series

Get to know what are the verified exchanges and wallets where you can buy, sell and store XEM in our ‘Verified Exchange’ series.

  • ALFAcashier’s mission is to make money available everywhere in the world and offer quality currency exchange services. It lets you instantly buy, sell or exchange XEM with other cryptocurrencies, USD or Euro! :point_right: alfacashier.com/buy/nem

NEM Foundation August Update

  • XEM holders will be able to manage XEM with Trezor devices using Magnum Wallet’s interface. Stay tuned for further updates.

NEM Foundation August Update

Core Devs on Social

As always, we enjoy hearing from the community and welcome constructive feedback. Join the conversations across our social networks, such as our Telegram channels, our Facebook pages, or our Twitter feeds.

We look forward to more exciting updates to come, see you next month!

This article was originally published on: The NEM Blog on 

The post NEM Foundation August Update appeared first on Coin News 24/7 | All Crypto news sorted for all Coins.

A New Reality Unfolds: Announcing Swell 2019 Keynote Speakers

Today, we are thrilled to announce Dr. Raghuram Rajan, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and Distinguished Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago, and Kamal Quadir, CEO of bKash as our 2019 Swell keynote speakers.

The invite-only conference—hosted in Singapore, Nov. 7-8—brings together the world’s most trusted voices across financial services, payments, technology and policy to explore the new reality unfolding in global payments—and why it matters. Applications to attend are now open. 

Swell’s opening keynote Dr. Raghuram Rajan is the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at Chicago Booth. Previously, he was the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India and earlier Dr. Rajan was the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Dr. Rajan is considered a key visionary behind India’s early adoption of mobile banking. His brainchild, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) that launched in 2016, is revolutionizing peer-to-peer payments and helping usher in India’s migration to a more digital society. 

Our closing keynote, Kamal Quadir, is a practitioner who focuses his efforts on technology that brings about social progress by enabling people to advance economically. He is the CEO of bKash, a digital financial service that offers millions of unbanked and underbanked people access to financial services through basic cell phones or smartphones in Bangladesh. Earlier Quadir founded CellBazaar, a communication company that has introduced a cellphone-based electronic marketplace for developing countries.

Advancements in mobile technology are bringing financial inclusion and economic opportunities to emerging markets, but digital transformation at scale requires thoughtful regulation that protects consumers while fostering innovation. At a time when groundbreaking technology and regulation were on a potential collision course, Dr. Rajan and Quadir’s work ushering in a digital society brings to mind the efforts from our 2018 Swell keynote, former President Bill Clinton. As the internet took flight in the 1990’s, President Clinton worked to establish programs that would bridge the “digital divide” and bring new technology to underserved communities around the world. 

We are at a similar moment in time. Today, digital assets and blockchain technology are impacting daily life. Financial institutions can deliver on the promise of instant, reliable cross-border payments—offering a better, lower-cost service to millions around the world. 

This year, Swell includes a bold roster of payments experts and industry luminaries to discuss trends, successful blockchain implementations and real-world use cases for digital assets. Our speakers will share learnings about how today’s leading financial institutions are meeting growing customer demands for better, more accessible global payments.

Now is the time to change how the world moves money. The future that leaders across financial services, payments and technology industries have been envisioning for almost a decade is now here. What can we expect as this new reality unfolds? Find out at Swell.
Be sure to check Ripple Insights for updates. We will be announcing the agenda and even more speakers in the coming weeks. See you in Singapore!

The post A New Reality Unfolds: Announcing Swell 2019 Keynote Speakers appeared first on Ripple.

This article was originally published on: The Ripple Blog on 

The post A New Reality Unfolds: Announcing Swell 2019 Keynote Speakers appeared first on Coin News 24/7 | All Crypto news sorted for all Coins.

IOTA ESP32 Wallet

Now that CClient v1.0.0-beta is released, IOTA can implement a hardware wallet based on it. I will, in this blogpost, briefly explain the architecture of the IOTA Wallet on ESP32 and I will demonstrate the wallet application.

Introduction

The CClient library is meant to apply the Tangle into IoT ecosystems. It is able to communicate with small devices. The ESP32 is a good candidate because it has built-in wireless connectivity.

But what’s the ESP32?

  • It is a 32bit SoC (System on Chip) based on the Xtensa LX6
  • It is able to operate at 160 or 240 MHz with the memory size of 512KB
  • It provides two development frameworks: arduino-esp32 and esp-idf. Even if both of them are good, I prefer the esp-idf as my development framework since it’s native to the ESP32.

The IOTA ESP32 Wallet

The wallet architecture consists of three parts:

  • Hardware: the Xtensa LX6 processes and peripherals
  • FreeRTOS: real-time system, network, and HAL support
  • Wallet application: IOTA CClient library, SNTP client, and Console service.

The system time will be reset on reboot every time, so we need to get the correct timestamp via SNTP client. The console service allows you to interact with IRI node through the terminal.

IOTA ESP32 Wallet Block Diagram

Demonstration

You can follow the README.md to create your IOTA wallet using ESP32 microcontroller.

This video demonstrates how to get account data and send 1i to an address :

Please feel free to give suggestions and continue the conversation on the #entangled-discussion channel on IOTA Discord.


IOTA ESP32 Wallet was originally published in IOTA on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This article was originally published on the: IOTA Blog on 

The post IOTA ESP32 Wallet appeared first on Coin News 24/7 | All Crypto news sorted for all Coins.

Welcome Thabata Dias to the IOTA Foundation

Thabata Dias is joining IOTA Foundation as a Social Media Manager. In this role, she will focus on helping IOTA to grow its social media channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. She will also be an evangelist for IOTA’s mission through speeches, written communication, and events.

Thabata has more than 12 years of experience in the marketing & digital communications field. Born and raised in Brazil, she started her career in large corporations in Sao Paulo. In 2014, she came to Europe to do an MBA. Since then, she decided to make Europe her home and started working with tech startups.

After working in France and the Netherlands, she moved to Lisbon, where she currently lives. Her broad experience helped her develop a variety of different skills, including strategy planning, tactics and execution, writing, communication, analytical skills and a passion for the latest in digital marketing trends.

On joining IOTA

I truly believe that the IOTA Foundation can change the world for the better. I feel honored to be part of this technological adventure. As a professional, I’m more than happy to work with such diverse and brilliant minds with the goal of improving our present and future lives.

We are very happy to officially announce that Thabata Dias is joining the communications team. Her expertise on social platforms will be a great addition to the Comms team and bring more engagement with the community. Please give her a warm welcome!


Welcome Thabata Dias to the IOTA Foundation was originally published in IOTA on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

This article was originally published on the: IOTA Blog on 

The post Welcome Thabata Dias to the IOTA Foundation appeared first on Coin News 24/7 | All Crypto news sorted for all Coins.

Blockstream onthult mega-miningfarm

In een poging om Bitcoinmining verder te decentraliseren onthulde Bitcoinbedrijf Blockstream vorige week dat het mining diensten gaat aanbieden: Blockstream Mining en Blockstream Pool. Met een mega-miningfarm en een miningpool op basis van het BetterHash protocol wil het de drempel om de miningindustrie te betreden verlagen.

Op dit moment is het niet zo makkelijk om als nieuwe Bitcoin miner te starten. Om alles onder eigen beheer uit te voeren is gespecialiseerde kennis en een flinke investering nodig, en uitbesteden aan een professionele hosting provider gaat vaak gepaard met het uit handen geven van de controle en alle risico's en onzekerheden die daar bij horen.

De drempel om de sector te betreden is daarom hoog en veel van de Bitcoin hashrate is dan ook in handen van vrij grote spelers. En dat is volgens Blockstream niet goed voor de decentralisatie van Bitcoin.

Daarom lanceerde het onlangs Blockstream Mining, een nieuwe tak van het bedrijf dat Bitcoin mining diensten aanbiedt. Via Blockstream Mining kunnen bedrijven een eigen miningoperatie starten waarbij ze zelf het beheer voeren, en Blockstream de installatie, hosting en het onderhoud op zich neemt.

Daarvoor heeft Blockstream een mega-miningfarm opgezet verspreid over twee locaties, in Canada en de Amerikaanse staat Georgia. De totale capaciteit van deze twee faciliteiten is maar liefst 300 MegaWatt (MW). Op basis van de nieuwste miningapparatuur is dat genoeg om zo’n 8% aan de totale hashrate van Bitcoin toe te voegen.

Met het aanbod wil Blockstream de drempel voor bedrijven verlagen om met Bitcoin mining te beginnen. Op die manier hopen ze het miningproces van Bitcoin over meer verschillende partijen te decentraliseren.

blockstreamminingfarmx

Een kijkje in de Blockstream miningfarm in Quebec, Canada

Bedrijven die van Blockstream Mining gebruik maken kunnen ervoor kiezen om onder eigen beheer te minen of zich aan te sluiten op Blockstream Pool. Deze miningpool is volgens Blockstream de eerste commerciële miningpool die gebruik maakt van het innovatieve BetterHash protocol.

In tegenstelling tot oudere miningpool protocollen dragen aangesloten miners daarbij zo min mogelijk controle over aan de beheerder van de miningpool. En dat komt de decentralisatie van het Bitcoin miningproces ten goede.

Volgens Blockstream's Chief Strategy Officer Samson Mow is er bovendien veel nadruk op transparantie van de user interface en hebben klanten inzicht in allerlei soorten metadata.

Een deel van de capaciteit is al in gebruik. Blockstream heeft een eigen miningoperatie die volgens hen 'minder dan 1%' van de Bitcoin hashrate vertegenwoordigt. Daarnaast heeft het klanten gevonden in het Fidelity Center for Applied Technology en LinkedIn mede-oprichter Reid Hoffman.

In de eerste instantie is Blockstream Mining alleen beschikbaar voor grote investeerders en bedrijven die een grote miningoperatie willen opzetten. Het gaat daarbij om honderden, of duizenden, eenheden van de gespecialiseerde ASIC (Application-Specific Integrated Circuit) miningapparatuur.

De bedoeling is om de dienstverlening in de toekomst echter op te schalen zodat ook kleinere partijen van het aanbod gebruik kunnen maken. Mow gaf aan dat hij hoopt de instap tegen 2020 te verlagen naar 10 tot 20 ASICs. Des te meer verschillende partijen zich bezighouden met mining des te beter dat voor Bitcoin is, is de gedachte.

Helemaal zoals de goede oude tijd waarbij iedereen een eigen miner had is het niet, maar volgens Mow is het wel een stap in de goede richting. "Het is moeilijk om terug te gaan naar het punt waarbij iedereen zijn eigen hardware draait... Er zijn verschillende gradaties in verbetering, en dit is een verbetering.", aldus Mow.

Blockstream

Blockstream is een Bitcoinbedrijf dat een belangrijke rol speelt in het Bitcoin ecosysteem. Het werd in 2014 opgericht met als doel Bitcoin door te ontwikkelen voor commercieel gebruik. Blockstream heeft meerdere prominente Bitcoiners in dienst, waaronder de CEO Adam Back en Bitcoin Core ontwikkelaars zoals Pieter Wuille, Andrew Poelstra, Jonas Nick, Rusty Russell, Christian Decker en Russell O'Connor.

Het bedrijf is onder andere bekend door initiatieven zoals Blockstream Satellite, Green Wallet en de Liquid Network sidechain, en het leverde belangrijke bijdragen aan de ontwikkeling van Segwit en het Lightning netwerk.

The Ripple Drop – Episode 14

Welcome to Episode 14 of The Ripple Drop, a web video series covering the latest news about Ripple’s customers, technology, products and culture.

This episode of Ripple Drop features Xpring, that just celebrated its first anniversary. We talk with two companies under Xpring’s umbrella, Coil and Raised in Space Enterprises, about how they are building innovative solutions on blockchain and XRP. 

We first chat with Xpring SVP, Ethan Beard, about what the initiative has accomplished in year one and what it will focus on going forward. 

Over the past year, Xpring has focused on building out an ecosystem of companies around XRP. This includes investments and strategic partnerships in over 20 startup companies. In year two, we are starting to layer in developer tools inside of Xpring to make it a developer platform and make it simple for companies to build with XRP.” – Ethan Beard, SVP, Xpring  

Next up, we talk with Coil Founder and CEO, Stefan Thomas. The former Ripple CTO shares how Coil can help both content creators and consumers of content across the web. He also provides insight into the company’s recent partnership with Imgur.

“Coil is working to establish a new web standard for monetization. Our hope is that one day this standard will be so ubiquitous that most websites will support it and provide a more competitive advantage for smaller and independent content creators.” – Stefan Thomas, CEO, Coil

Finally, we interview the Raised in Space Enterprises leadership team to learn how they are supporting innovative companies and artists in the music industry. CEO Zach Katz and President Shara Senderoff fill us in on how blockchain and digital assets can shape the future of the music business.

“The music industry has been traditional in its view of the relationship between an artist and a fan. Blockchain is a powerful new tool to empower new relationships where artists can invite and incentivize fans to experience music in an exclusive way.” – Zach Katz, CEO, Raised in Space 

“There are roughly 30,000 new songs released every day. To stand out and diversify, artists have a greater need to provide their fans authenticity and exclusivity. With this exclusivity comes the need for a blockchain solution that is able to track how monetization is exchanged.” – Shara Senderoff, President, Raised in Space 

We hope you enjoy this episode! Let us know in the comments if there are any topics you would like us to cover in the future. 

If you haven’t already, catch up on previous episodes here and subscribe to Ripple’s YouTube Channel, where we will be featuring extended cuts!

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This article was originally published on: The Ripple Blog on 

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Verdere decentralisatie miningpools met Stratum V2

Een veelgehoorde kritiek is dat Bitcoin mining te gecentraliseerd is rond de miningpools. Daarom werkt Braiins, het bedrijf achter de miningpool Slush Pool, aan een verbeterde versie van het Stratum protocol. Stratum V2 verbetert de decentralisatie van miningpools door de macht terug te leggen bij de miners.

Gemiddeld vinden miners elke tien minuten een nieuw block om aan de bitcoin blockchain toe te voegen. De gelukkige miner die een block vindt krijgt daarvoor een miner’s reward van (op dit moment) 12,5 BTC. Niet slecht! Maar wat als je niet degene bent die het volgende block vindt? Dan krijg je niets. Dat maakt het leven van een miner die in zijn eentje probeert te minen er niet makkelijker op.

Daarom minen veel Bitcoin miners via zogenaamde mining pools. Daarin bundelen de miners hun krachten om gezamenlijk mee te dingen naar de miner's reward. Wanneer één van de aangesloten miners het volgende block vindt verdeelt de miningpool de beloning onder alle deelnemers aan de hand van de hoeveelheid rekenkracht die zij hebben bijgedragen. Veel miningpools gebruiken daarvoor het Stratum protocol.

Zo'n miningpool is voor miners erg handig omdat ze erdoor meer zekerheid hebben. In plaats van ééns in de zoveel tijd een grote uitbetaling te ontvangen krijgen zij bij een miningpool namelijk veel regelmatiger uitbetaald. Soms wel meerdere keren per dag.

Het zorgde er echter ook voor dat het miningproces op een zekere manier gecentraliseerd raakte rond de miningpools. Miners bleken namelijk de neiging te hebben zich bij grotere miningpools aan te sluiten. Die vinden door hun hoge gebruikersaantallen vaker een nieuw block dan een kleinere miningpool en kunnen daardoor regelmatiger uitbetalen.

De vier grootste miningpools zijn inmiddels zo groot geworden dat zij gezamenlijk over meer dan 50% van de rekenkracht van het netwerk beschikken. En dat is een veiligheidsrisico dat door veel mensen als een probleem wordt gezien. Het miningproces is immers juist bedoeld om Bitcoin gedecentraliseerd te houden.

hashratedistributionminingpoolsxbt

De grafiek toont de huidige distributie van rekenkracht onder bitcoin miningpools. Bron: XBT.eu

Miningpools fungeren echter als een soort tussenpartij bij het miningproces en hebben daardoor een flinke vinger in de pap. Zij beslissen voor de gehele miningpool welke transacties aan een block worden toegevoegd en zij kunnen er dus ook voor kiezen om bepaalde transacties juist niet op te nemen.

Bovendien is het de miningpool die een zogenaamd 'version bit' aan een block meegeeft. Dat is van groot belang bij soft fork upgrades, zoals de activatie van SegWit in 2017. Via de version bit geven miners namelijk aan of zij een fork steunen of niet. Op dit moment is het echter de beheerder van de miningpool die voor alle aangesloten miners kiest of een fork wel of niet gesteund wordt.

De macht van miningpools en hun beheerders is volgens velen dan ook te groot. Braiins, het bedrijf achter Slush Pool, werkt daarom aan een verbeterde versie van het Stratum protocol: Stratum V2.

In het nieuwe Stratum V2 wordt het protocol op zijn kop gezet en komt de macht weer in handen van de individuele miners. In plaats van de miningpools zijn het in deze nieuwe versie de miners die de transacties uitkiezen, een version bit toevoegen en de eerste aanzet doen voor een volgend block.

Dat is geïnspireerd door het BetterHash voorstel van Matt Corallo dat op een soortgelijke manier werkt. Van kwaad bloed tussen de twee projecten is overigens geen sprake. Corallo verleende zelfs zijn hulp aan het Braiins team om hen met een aantal complexe problemen te helpen.

Behalve verbeterde decentralisatie bevat Stratum V2 ook nog een aantal andere upgrades. Zoals een versleuteling van de data tussen de miningpool en miner om te voorkomen dat een 'man-in-the-middle' aanval het signaal kaapt en ermee aan de haal gaat.

Daarnaast is in Stratum V2 de efficiëntie van het protocol verbeterd, en is uitwisseling van meer soorten data mogelijk (zoals temperatuur, voltages en andere informatie) tussen miners en miningpools. Er ligt nog meer in het verschiet, maar daarover wil het Braiins team nu nog niets kwijt.

De specificaties van het nieuwe Stratum V2 protocol staan dan ook nog niet helemáál vast. Het team zegt eerst nog aanvullende feedback af te wachten, waarna ze het protocol waarschijnlijk eerst een tijdje bij wijze van test op Slush Pool activeren. Pas daarna zal het beschikbaar worden gemaakt voor andere miningpools. Ergens in augustus hoopt Braiins de definitieve specificaties via een Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) bekend te maken.

Meer lezen over verdere decentralisering van het miningproces? Lees ook eens over het BetterHash protocol van Matt Corallo.


Afbeelding: Marco Verch, Creative commons 2.0 license

Digitale tokens op Bitcoin via RGB en Lightning

Met het RGB protocol van het Spectrum project moet het binnenkort mogelijk worden om digitale tokens op de Bitcoin blockchain uit te geven. Hoewel er eerder ‘colored coin’ projecten waren denkt het Spectrum team dankzij de innovaties van het Lightning Network dit keer wél te slagen.

Eén van de spreekbuizen van het open-source Spectrum project is Giacomo Zucco, bekend Bitcoiner en fervent criticus van altcoins. De Spectrum ontwikkelaars winden er ook geen doekjes om: ze zien eigenlijk weinig toekomst in andere digitale tokens dan Bitcoin. Volgens hen zijn er maar weinig reële toepassingen te bedenken en is de huidige interesse in digitale tokens onderdeel van de marktcyclus en vooral gedreven door marketing.

Zij stellen dat het gebruik van een blockchain in de meeste gevallen nutteloze tokens oplevert omdat projecten meestal wel ergens rond een bepaalde partij zijn gecentraliseerd. Een blockchain kan een project bovendien zelfs in de weg zitten omdat het langzamer en inefficiënter is en slechtere privacy eigenschappen heeft dan gecentraliseerde alternatieven.

Toch zijn er een paar toepassingen van digitale tokens te bedenken waar het Spectrum team wél iets voor voelt. Bijvoorbeeld als digitale verzamelobjecten (collectibles), of om te gebruiken om te stemmen bij decentrale autonome organisaties (DAO’s) en vergelijkbare mechanismen. Lang niet zo spannend als Bitcoin, vindt het Spectrum team, maar misschien voor sommige niches ook wel interessant.

Op dit moment is Ethereum’s ERC-20 protocol nog het meestgebruikte protocol om tokens mee uit te geven, maar volgens het Spectrum team houdt dat vanwege tekortkomingen op termijn geen stand en is een beter alternatief wenselijk. Als men dan toch per se tokens op een blockchain wil uitgeven, is de gedachte, dan is het beter om dat op de Bitcoin blockchain te doen.

Tokens op de Bitcoin blockchain

Dat is mogelijk omdat er in een Bitcoin transactie aanvullende data kan worden meegegeven waarmee transacties van tokens cryptografisch kunnen worden bijgehouden. Zo kun je het eigenaarschap van een token vastleggen in een Bitcoin transactie, en wanneer je de tokens wilt overdragen aan een ander kun je die mutatie in een volgende Bitcoin transactie opnemen. Op die manier zijn de tokens 'verankerd' in de Bitcoin blockchain en profiteren ze van dezelfde veiligheid en decentralisatie als Bitcoin zelf.

Het is niet de eerste keer dat 'tokenization' op de Bitcoin blockchain wordt geprobeerd. Dergelijke pogingen worden meestal geschaard onder de 'colored coin' projecten. De naam van het RGB protocol van het Spectrum team is hier natuurlijk een verwijzing naar.

De colored coin projecten waren in het verleden echter vaak doodlopende wegen. Het bleek namelijk dat het wel mogelijk was om tokens op Bitcoin uit te geven maar dat de problemen van blockchain met betrekking tot privacy en fungibility door de colored coins werden vergroot. Het werd erdoor makkelijker om transacties te traceren en van elkaar te onderscheiden.

Die problemen zijn volgens het Spectrum team nu op te lossen dankzij het Lightning Network. Het Lightning Network is bovenop Bitcoin gebouwd en biedt behalve een veel hogere transactiesnelheid ook sterk verbeterde privacy eigenschappen. Bovendien is via het Lightning Network functionaliteit mogelijk die vergelijkbaar is met smart contracts.

Om een succes te worden zal het RGB protocol echter wel moeten uitgroeien tot een nieuwe standaard en daarvoor is brede adoptie nodig van zowel gebruikers als dienstverleners zoals exchanges en wallets. Een aantal daarvan zoals Bitrefill en Chainside zijn al aan boord maar vooral de steun van de populaire exchange Bitfinex kan hierin veel betekenen.

RGB Tether

Deze exchange zou via zustermaatschappij Tether namelijk plannen hebben om de veelgebruikte Tether (USDT) stablecoin ook via het RGB protocol uit te geven.

Op dit moment werkt Tether (USDT) ook al op basis van een eerdere colored coin implementatie via het Omni protocol. Dit protocol is inmiddels verouderd en Tether (USDT) is sinds enige tijd dan ook bezig met uitbreiding naar andere platformen en protocollen. Zo maakte het recentelijk al de overstap naar het Liquid Network en nu dus ook naar het RGB protocol.

Aangezien Tether (USDT) na Bitcoin de meest verhandelde cryptovaluta ter wereld is kan dat het RGB ecosysteem een belangrijke initiële impuls geven. Heel lang hoeven we er volgens Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino overigens niet op te wachten. Hij vertelde in een interview dat eraan wordt gewerkt om Tether (USDT) tegen het einde van het jaar al via het RGB protocol uit te geven.

Het is dus nog even geduld hebben, maar dankzij initiatieven als het RGB protocol en het Liquid Network komen er steeds meer mogelijkheden bij voor tokenuitgifte op de veiligste en meest gedecentraliseerde blockchain ter wereld.

Tether lanceert L-USDT op Liquid Network

Tether lanceerde maandag een variant van haar veelgebruikte stablecoin USDT op het Liquid Network, een side-chain van Bitcoin. Daarmee is het mogelijk rechtstreeks bitcoins voor tether-dollars te verruilen zonder tussenkomst van een derde partij zoals een exchange.

Het Liquid Network is een snelle side-chain voor Bitcoin ontworpen door Blockstream en bestaat sinds vorig jaar oktober. Het is op dit moment vooral een netwerk bedoeld voor bitcoin exchanges om onderling liquiditeit uit te wisselen en snelle arbitrage mogelijk te maken. Veel transacties op het Bitcoin netwerk vinden namelijk tussen exchanges plaats, onder andere om te profiteren van de onderlinge prijsverschillen. Om de Bitcoin blockchain te ontlasten kan dat verkeer worden verplaatst naar het razendsnelle Liquid Network.

Bitcoin side-chain

Wat het Liquid Network bijzonder maakt is dat het een Bitcoin side-chain is. Dat betekent dat het een eigen blockchain is, maar gekoppeld is aan de Bitcoin blockchain. Je kunt namelijk BTC van het Bitcoin netwerk versturen naar het Liquid Network. Daar worden ze door het netwerk vastgehouden en krijg je er L-BTC voor terug, totdat je ze weer omwisselt voor BTC op het Bitcoin netwerk. In de tussentijd kun je gebruik maken van de mogelijkheden die L-BTC op het Liquid Network biedt.

Dat kan bijvoorbeeld zijn om razendsnelle transacties te doen, bijvoorbeeld naar een exchange toe of tussen exchanges onderling. Maar ook kun je er zogenaamde confidential transactions mee doen die de privacy verhogen omdat daarbij de transactiehoeveelheid is afgeschermd. Bovendien is het mogelijk om op het Liquid Network digitale assets uit te geven zoals aandelen, effecten of andere tokens.

Van die mogelijkheid maakt Tether nu gebruik om haar USDT stablecoin in de vorm van L-USDT ook op het Liquid Network uit te geven. Een stablecoin is een digitale token waarvan de waarde gelijk is (of zou moeten zijn) aan een bestaande traditionele valuta. Tether’s USDT is op dit moment de meest populaire ‘virtuele dollar’. De stap van Tether naar het Liquid Network is veelbelovend omdat daarmee de mogelijkheid ontstaat voor atomic swaps tussen L-USDT en L-BTC.

Bliksemsnel bitcoins tegen dollars ruilen

In simpele termen betekent een atomic swap dat in één handeling een token voor een andere token kan worden geruild, zonder dat één van de twee partijen als eerste hoeft over te steken. Op dit moment is daar veelal nog een exchange als tussenpartij voor nodig maar bij een atomic swap neemt het netwerk die rol over.

Op die manier kunnen twee partijen dus rechtstreeks en zonder wederzijds vertrouwen L-USDT voor L-BTC met elkaar verhandelen. Dat kan voordelen opleveren voor de Over-The-Counter (OTC) markt, waar kopers en verkopers buiten de handelsbeurzen om rechtstreeks met elkaar zaken doen. Ook voor andere markten waar peer-to-peer handel plaatsvindt, zoals localbitcoins of hodlhodl, kan L-USDT een uitkomst zijn.

Interessant is ook dat het mogelijk is om een Lightning Network bovenop het Liquid Network te bouwen. Het gaat daarbij niet zozeer om extra snelheidswinst, maar vooral omdat daardoor de mogelijkheid ontstaat om het Lightning Network van Liquid met het Lightning Network van Bitcoin te verbinden, zodat BTC via het Lightning Network voor L-BTC of L-USDT is om te wisselen zonder dat er een traditionele exchange voor nodig is. Daarnaast levert een Lightning Network nog een extra laag privacy op bovenop de toch al verbeterde privacy die het Liquid Network verschaft.

Aanvulling maar geen vervanging

Ondanks al deze voordelen is het Liquid Network geen alomvattende of definitieve schaalbaarheidsoplossing voor Bitcoin, noch een vervanging ervan. Hoewel de Liquid side-chain veel sneller is en enkele voordelen biedt is het consensus model anders, en daardoor ook de betrouwbaarheid van het netwerk.

In tegenstelling tot het volledig gedecentraliseerde Bitcoin netwerk is de mate van decentralisatie in het Liquid Network beperkt tot enkele tientallen netwerk deelnemers. Die moet je dus wel vertrouwen. Behalve Blockstream zelf zijn dat op dit moment vooral exchanges die nu ook al een bepaalde mate van vertrouwen genieten van hun gebruikers.

Het Liquid netwerk is misschien dan ook wel het beste te beschouwen als een aanvullende infrastructuur. Daarin wordt het vertrouwen dat normaal in een enkele partij wordt gelegd verspreid over een consortium van exchanges en andere deelnemers. Dat is al een hele stap vooruit vergeleken met het vertrouwen in een enkele exchange maar nog lang niet zo decentraal, betrouwbaar of censuurbestendig als het Bitcoin netwerk zelf.

Tether controverse

Ook in het geval van Tether’s USDT is een kritische noot zeker niet misplaatst. De immer populaire stablecoin is namelijk al sinds jaar en dag in opspraak en Tether is op dit moment zelfs verwikkeld in een rechtszaak met de staat New York.

Afgelopen maart bleek bovendien dat Tether niet langer garandeert dat elke USDT 1-op-1 gedekt is met echte Amerikaanse dollars. Het is dan ook nog maar de vraag of één USDT eigenlijk wel echt een dollar waard is. Het bezitten van USDT is dan ook niet zonder risico, omdat veel valt of staat met de betrouwbaarheid van de garantstelling van het bedrijf erachter.

US Security Token Platform Adds New Policies to Comply with FinCEN

Security tokens platform TokenSoft has officially launched Know Your Business support in order to comply with new regulations recently introduced by FinCEN.

Security tokens platform TokenSoft has officially added Know Your Business (KYB) services following a successful alpha test in 2018.

The San Francisco-based token issuance platform said in a press release on July 31 that the KYB feature was added in order to enhance customer due diligence (CDD) requirements in compliance with an amendment to the Bank Secrecy Act.

Per the press release, the KYB test launched on the eve of the effective date of the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) CDD final rule. The CDD rule amended the Bank Secrecy Act in order to improve financial transparency and prevent illicit activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing.

The new feature purportedly intends to simplify a number of on-boarding procedures, including collection and verification of entity data, as well as personal data from the authorized signer, beneficial owners and others.

TokenSoft CEO Mason Borda stated that the new level of automation provided by KYB reduced the processing time of data collection and verification from an average of ten days to a few hours.

Acquisitions and other new services

In December 2018, TokenSoft acquired a broker-dealer firm that was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The acquisition purportedly allowed TokenSoft to expand its services including referrals to exchanges or brokers, custody solutions, or private placement services.

In January 2019, TokenSoft announced the launch of the beta version of its wallet for digital assets and digital securities called Knox Wallet. The wallet provides a cold storage and self-custody platform for managing various assets, including major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), as well as tokenized assets such as real estate, equity or debt.

Judge Dismisses Libel Suit Against Roger Ver Over Lack of Jurisdiction

A British judge has thrown out Craig Wright’s libel case against Roger Ver due to questions of jurisdiction and whether actual harm was committed.

A Justice of the High Court of England and Wales has dismissed a libel lawsuit against Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponent and Bitcoin.com CEO Roger Ver. Justice Matthew Nicklin of the Queen’s Bench Division threw out the case earlier this week, according to a decision published on July 31.

Back in May, Craig Wright — an Australian computer scientist who claims he is Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of Bitcoin — served Ver with a libel suit in London. Wright accused Ver of calling him a fraud and a liar, among other things. Justice Nicklin wrote:

“The Claimant has not satisfied me that England and Wales is clearly the most appropriate place to bring his action for defamation over the publications complained of. In consequence, the Court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the action. The action will be struck out.”

According to Nicklin, the evidence presented led him to believe that England and Wales were purview to very little of the alleged defamation. Rather, the vast majority of the complaints supplied fall under United States’ jurisdiction:

“The evidence clearly demonstrates that the most substantial publication of the statements complained of is in the U.S. It is common ground that, of the global publication, only some 7% took place in England and Wales.”

While Nicklin offered jurisdiction as the primary grounds for dismissal, he also went on to discuss his doubts about the extent to which Ver actually libelled Wright. The judge wrote that the claim of harm due to the alleged publications is “weak, lacks detail and the three paragraphs I have set out [...] put forward evidence at a level of generality that is almost entirely speculative.”

Jurisdiction critical in other crypto-related case

Questions of jurisdiction have been central in another prominent crypto case. In a back-and-forth battle between the New York Attorney General (NYAG) and Tether, the NYAG claims that some of Tether’s financial activities violated New York law and could have harmed investors in the state. 

Conversely, the lawyers defending stablecoin operator Tether — as well as associated crypto exchange Bitfinex and its parent company iFinex — have been arguing that Bitfinex and Tether have not been transacting with any New York customers.

The NYAG has tried to demonstrate that the firms have been operating in New York, therefore giving the office precedent to pursue the case under the Martin Act — a New York-specific finance law — to which the NYAG initially appealed.

First Physical Bitcoin Future Hits U.S. Market as Institutional Bakkt Hype Swells

Although the crypto industry has been closely watching to see when the highly anticipated physically settled Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform Bakkt officially launches, they have now been beaten by their competitor – LedgerX – who officially launched today.

The platform is open to all US-based investors with a government issued ID and is not limited to institutional clients or high-net-worth clients. Despite this, most analysts believe that the benefits that physically settled futures contracts will bring to the crypto markets come primarily from the institutions that will trade them.

LedgerX Wins Race to Be First to Launch Physically Settled Bitcoin Futures Contract 

Currently, there are three main platforms that are competing to gain the attention of investors who are interested in trading physically settled Bitcoin futures contracts, with LedgerX, the ICE-backed Bakkt, and the TD Ameritrade-backed ErisX, all launching similar products.

The primary benefit that a physically settled future contract brings is that it allows traders to deposit and collect Bitcoin in order to directly trade the contracts, without having to use USD or other fiat currencies as the trading pair, thus subverting the traditional banking system entirely.

This is a critical feature for a decentralized currency like Bitcoin, assuming that it will one day be utilized as a currency in its own right, and not one that is denominated and traded against fiat currencies.

Importantly, it does appear that there is significant interest in these contracts, as LedgerX has previously noted that multiple institutional investors have asked for these contracts in the past.

Will Institutional Demand for Physically Settled BTC Futures Contracts Propel the Markets?

Although retail interest in the crypto markets has been diving as of late, many analysts and investors alike are closely watching to see how interested institutions are in the nascent markets, as they may be the next source of major funding that propels Bitcoin (BTC) and the aggregated crypto markets.

Sam Doctor, a strategist at Fundstrat Global Advisors, recently explained that Bakkt – one of LedgerX’s competitors – could be a major catalyst for institutional demand for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

“We think #Bakkt could be a huge catalyst for institutional participation in the #crypto market. Here are our takeaways from the Bakkt institutional summit yesterday at the NYSE,” he said while referencing the talking points seen in the image below.

Although it still remains unclear as to how interested institutions truly are in the volatile crypto markets, interest in physically settled futures contracts could be a bullish sign, and these platforms will undoubtedly provide a gateway for a massive influx of fresh capital into the markets.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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