Calls for a blockchain digital identity system capable of safeguarding people’s identity are gaining momentum in Europe. Spearheading the need for such a system is the European Union Blockchain Observatory and Forum (EUBOF) in a new EU blockchain report.
Digital Identity System
A report prepared by ConsenSys AG working for EUBOF has shed more light on the need for the blockchain digital identity system. The report also details blockchain capabilities that could go a long way in benefiting governments.
For starters, the EU blockchain report suggests the development of user-controlled digital identity system. Such a system would put users at the forefront in controlling who gets access to their data. The secure and private systems would also enable sufficient proof of identity. It should also avert the possibility of sharing too much information on transactions.
The idea is to come up with a self-sovereign blockchain system, where people safeguard their personal information without relying on third parties. The system would get rid of intermediaries, as individuals will act as custodians of their data.
However, the proposed blockchain digital identity system could spell more trouble for governments according to the report. The government will have to take into account how digital identity attributes change over time during people’s lifecycle.
“[…] and will need to offer different levels of transparency depending on the context (e.g., verifying that someone is over 18 without providing a birth date). Identity platforms also need to be inclusive of all citizens, including those who, for whatever reason, have no access to or are not able to use technology,” read the report.
Calls for National Currency
The EU blockchain report also proposes the need for national governments to embrace digital versions of their national currencies. Such a move would make it easy to embed digital national currencies on smart contracts.
National digital currencies should go a long way in fuelling blockchain innovation. The system should make it easy for people to come up with automated agreement powered by smart contracts.
Calls for national digital currencies comes just a day after some European countries made a declaration calling for the promotion of the ledger technology in the region. The group is also calling for increased use of the technology to protect citizen’s privacy.
ADNOC partners with IBM – Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has recently teamed up with IBM in order to create and launch a blockchain-based platform for (pretty much all of) its commodities. The company is planning to move its current infrastructure to the blockchain, starting from the oil wells to the end customers.
The primary aim of this automated solution is to aid ADNOC in oil and gas production management. It is expected to cover a comprehensive chain, including but not limited to, transaction handling, tracking, execution, and validation.
ADNOC has set its eyes on achieving a greater level of automation and transparency. However, it is quite evident that the scope of this pilot goes way beyond the regular pilot projects launched in the very niche. You must have realized that this solution targets the entire oil and gas lifecycle.
It is also worth noticing that even at the development stage, they have future goals in mind. ADNOC plans to extend the solution to customers and investors as well.
Zahid Habib, IBM’s VP for chemical and petroleum, praised the pilot in golden words. He said that the achievement is indeed a major step into the future. Adding more to it, he also mentioned that the solution enables ADNOC to track every molecule of oil and offer asset provenance as well.
How does ADNOC take it?
Pretty well, of course!
Just after its announcement at the World Energy Capital Assembly in the UK, Al Mughairbi, ADNOC’s digital unit manager, clarified how the pilot could benefit them.
He expressed himself by calling the blockchain technology a game changer, possessing the potential to reduce ADNOC’s operational costs. The company is keenly looking forward to diminishing the expenditure on cost-ineffective and labor-intensive procedures. Blockchain surely has the ability to turn the table in that regard.
If we look at the overall proceedings of the industry, cool stuff seems to be happening. Towards the end of November 2018, Shell and BP’s blockchain based solution hit the market. It should be noted that the consortium includes other industry giants. Companies as Equinor, ABN Amro and Gunvor Group are driving blockchain innovation.
IBM Partners with ADNOC - Abu Dhabi National Oil Company - YouTube
ICOs have long been a gray area, a continuous bubble, now fading away in the shade of a declining crypto-market.
It has not always been like this: the first half of 2018 blockchain startups have collected 11 billion dollars. However, by October the investments in ICOs had reached the lowest level in 2018, and the buzz was getting lower.
Pros and Cons of ICOs
PRO– the definite positive point of ICOs was giving a new investment option to individuals. While traditional financial markets hold a high barrier for small investors, ICOs allowed anyone to join.
CON– some of the disadvantages of ICOs became the reason for their decline. Besides the high amount of scams and shady projects, half of the ICOs did not yield any returns, while 55% of them have failed even to complete their crowdfunding.
3 Factors of ICO Decline
1. Market Saturation
The crypto-market offers now over 2068 tokens and coins. From here the top 7 coins (such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether) hold 87% of the total market cap. The 13% remaining is divided between about 2061 players who share less than 1% of the market. Even for the most devoted crypto enthusiasts, it is hard to follow all of the changes in the market, and new entrants are less than welcome.
2. Lack of Use Cases
Even the greatest ideas could fail- regardless of the many lucrative projects in the blockchain market, ICOs had a way of higher failure rates than the average startup. 92% of all launched projects have failed by this year August, striving at an average lifespan of 1.2 years. Hardly any startups were able to provide a working platform, and show a use case.
3. SEC Repercussions
The SEC is starting to strike down ICOs: 2 startups have been forced to return all of their ICO funds to investors. ICO influencers are fined for promoting unauthorized securities. Startups launching now have to think twice about building a strong case for their utility token, or registering their funding as security.
ICOs were not a bad idea: providing individuals with a chance to invest individually and break the silos of the current financial market. However, there need to be clear regulations, carefully vetted projects, and protection for investors for the market to revive. Security token offerings, though still in their infancy, could provide these benefits while keeping the door open for individual entrants.
Blockchain and distributed ledger technologies are affecting industries all around us: finance, insurance, real-estate. The next target is digital marketing.
While using blockchains is not a cure-for-all solution to the current problems of digital marketing, it has a huge potential for cutting down middle-man and complexity.
Many powerful middlemen currently handle digital advertisements. Website owners and companies looking to advertise rarely communicate directly with each other. Instead, they turn to services like Google AdSense, which makes sure that a credible and relevant advertisement is displayed on websites, and all the clicks are registered accordingly.
What happens with the blockchain?
As blockchain registers all transactions with transparency and immutability, parties can directly trust each other. Advertisers can directly look at how certain websites perform on specific advertisements and handle pay-per-click transactions directly.
Browsing the internet lately has been turning into a sour experience – firstly we are bombarded by ads. There is a pop-up here, and a banner there, plus everybody wants us to turn on notifications. Secondly, websites have been sneaking away from our data with cookies and trading them around. There is so much information about us only; sometimes I wonder if online advertisers know more about me than I do.
Blockchain has the possibility of bringing back consumer control and transparency. Customers would be able to see where their information went, what it used for and charge advertisers using their data. Blockchain could allow customers to get a micro-payment for looking at advertisements or opening a newsletter.
Blockchain can bring a whole new level of transparency and trust in the relationship between advertisers, platform holders, and customers. It will bring whole new accountability to companies while decreasing the role of middlemen through direct transactions.
Without a doubt, Google will not go anywhere yet- while the possibility for blockchain-based digital advertisements is here, there are not many proofs-of-concept however. One of the key examples can be the revolutionary website and cryptocurrency Brave, which rewards users for viewing advertisements when they want to see. It also gives the possibility for readers to reward their favorite publishers- this way they do not only have to rely solely on advertising revenues.
The title must have triggered a series of crazy yet innovative thoughts in your head. If you happen to be aware of the blockchain technology, you must be wondering as to whether a self-driving car would add blocks in the chain for honking at you or not. Well, there are more significant things to handle here.
This patent would allow General Motors to obtain, manage and store the data of self-driving cars on a blockchain in a decentralized manner. If you are unaware of the technology, please note that it enables storage of information on an array of nodes, while maintaining utmost standards for immutability and privacy. Therefore, it serves as a perfect model for the use case of autonomous vehicles which require pinnacle integrity for event-driven data.
General Motors also outlines the exact, comprehensive flow through which the data would be generated and stored, while ensuring that only authorized users on the network can view it – hence, constituting a permissioned blockchain.
Working at the core of self-driving cars is the navigation system. As of yet, we have different navigation apps for varying Operating Systems. However, if the entire navigation data is put up on a blockchain ledger, nobody would have the autonomy, and the information will be interoperable. But that’s one among a variety of use cases presented in the patent.
Users are also at the liberty to get information regarding refueling stations (or charging stations for electric cars) and other major locations that a traveler might want to visit during a journey.
It would also allow the ticketing authorities to upload the relevant information on a public ledger, hence encouraging a transparent and trustworthy environment. Moreover, different service providers, based on their authority level, can also put up information regarding the paid services the car has availed. So, let’s say if user A wants to buy a used self-driven car, he doesn’t have to rely on the trustworthiness of the seller. Just search the blockchain, and every single detail will be presented in a matter of clicks.
Global leaders have gathered again at the end of this year to discuss crucial matters in the world at the G20 summit. Their topics have included the growing subject of cryptocurrencies and related regulations. The summit brought together both international government officials and representatives from the world‘s largest corporations, such as Bank of America or the World Trade Organization.
One of the key discussions of the summit was creating an open and resilient financial system that is equally beneficial for all participants and follows international regulation.
The subject led to cryptocurrencies as well. The parties agreed that in order to battle fraud and money-laundering in the financial markets, they needed to impose more regulations on crypto-markets.
“We will regulate crypto-assets for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism in line with FATF standards and we will consider other responses as needed.”
For many years G20 had an open approach towards cryptocurrencies, due to some encouragement from progressive countries like Japan. Japan is the second largest crypto-market with a healthy ecosystem for startups and traditional companies.
During the last few years many countries have already developed their individual regulations towards cryptocurrencies. The effort to regulate the international cryptocurrency market could encourage countries like Russia, Argentina and India to establish regulations around this new asset class.
While excessive regulation can halter new business growth, G20 is only aiming to even out international regulatory requirements, and encourage moving cryptocurrencies closer to traditional financial markets. The G20 intends to help crypto create an open and resilient financial system and emphasized that it is “crucial to support sustainable growth.”
As cryptocurrencies spread in the last few years, more and more transactions were recorded on certain blockchains, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, increasing the size of the chain and making computation more resource-intensive. This decreases the mining capability, and keeps the transaction speed low- Ethereum can process about 15-20 TPS, which compared to the 45,000 TPS on the Visa network is not enough for the current world.
Solution: many are trying to solve this issue by either using entirely new blockchain platforms or employing a second layer on existing blockchain applications to increase scalability.
As mentioned above, scalability directly affects security issues on a blockchain. There are three major problems we need to consider within security. Firstly, if the majority of validators are corrupt, fraudulent transactions can be added to the blockchain- this is called 51% attack. Secondly, smart contracts can be vulnerable- a wrongly written smart contract can be exploited. Thirdly, private keys, which constitute the only access to cryptocurrency funds, are hard to keep safe, and can not be recovered if lost- resulting in inaccessible assets on the blockchain.
Solution: innovative blockchain platforms and diverse consensus methods are being developed to increase security against malicious nodes taking power. While autonomous, self-executing smart contracts are a high possibility, we need to learn how to use them, write them, and find intersections with legal systems.
Blockchain suffers from an image problem: in the general public many still fully associate blockchain technology with cryptocurrencies, with high volatility and shady transactions. Blockchain for many is even passing fancy, unreliable technology and just a useless trend. Some others believe blockchain can be applied to anything and will change everything in the world.
Solution: there are significant efforts to educate audiences, highlighting the separation of blockchain from cryptocurrencies. With the development of practical use cases and increased communication, a brighter image is forming towards what blockchain can accomplish.
Blockchain brings a new possibility in many fields- investment, data sharing, and privacy, financial transactions, etc.. The regulatory environment is trying to adapt, but still, many questions remain: how will data on blockchains comply with privacy laws? What will be the regulation on tokenized securities?
Solution: Governments around the globe are pushing for better regulations around technology, working with industry professionals to establish a framework suited for blockchains. Countries such as Malta, Israel, and South Korea, to mention a few, have developed an exemplary open approach.
Blockchain technology is a hard concept to grab- nodes, immutability, smart contracts, cryptography, etc.. None of these are easy to understand. Moreover, the user experience of blockchain applications has not been perfected yet- many applications are complicated to use and understand.
Solution: Education is crucial for blockchain technology in a friendly, understandable way. This is our main mission with Flash Learn. Secondly, blockchain applications are striving to reduce complexity, and consider users who do not know in depth technology to use it. At the intersection of these 2 points, we will achieve mass adoption.
One of the current issues in the market is the appearance of fierce competition between blockchain platforms. Ethereum, Waves, Hyperledger Fabric, Stellar and R3 Corda, and many more on the market seem to be competing to build better applications. The truth is, these applications have different benefits and will be used in different environments.
Solution: building cooperation and interoperability. Everyone is striving for the same goal- spreading blockchain technology to make our world more effective. The blockchain platforms are starting to communicate with each other, and creating overarching interoperable solutions.
These are the six major hurdles now in blockchain technology. It might seem that blockchain is flawed mainly- but we need to remember that these are the baby steps of the technology. Blockchain now is what the Internet was in 1995- complex, inefficient with world-changing potential.
Now is your chance to let us know which problem you like to hear more about it?
Chinese adventures on blockchain- Alibaba, IBC and more
While the Chinese government may have banned cryptocurrencies, in other areas blockchain technology is welcomed with arms wide open. Several major Chinese companies are exploring possible use cases to enhance their services with blockchain.
First, IBC, the largest bank in China, has announced its new venture into blockchain technology. IBC founded 1966 serves over 5000 corporate and 530 million personal clients. They are also an institution with an innovative approach and a frequent introduction of novelties. IBC has recently announced its intentions to implement an array of technologies like IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, cloud computing and ultimately blockchain.
Chinese companies are also leading in terms of patents issued for blockchain technology. Only in 2017 from the 406 patent applications worldwide, 68 were filed by People’s Bank of China and 43 by Alibaba. This means that a quarter of all blockchain patents around the world last year can be associated with China.
Alibaba, the retail giant, is not stopping there. They are boosting their reputation as blockchain leaders and exploring use cases with several subsidiaries. Their solutions help fight food fraud, track international shipments and secure medical data.
One of their most exciting ventures is in finance, where Alipay constitutes a key service in China and beyond. Alibaba’s financial arm has recently released the Ant Financial Blockchain 2.0, an open platform for self-operation and decentralization.
Alibaba’s subsidiary, Lynx International, was also upgraded with a blockchain. They have implemented a solution for tracking cross-border shipping services. Lynx now boasts an immutable record of shipment information, like production, transportation, third-party verification, and customs.
Alibaba has also partnered with the Chinese government to help build a blockchain database for medical information. The new system would allow a secure and efficient record of data, which could be used to share patients’ medical data with doctors.
Looking at blockchain the rest of the world might still be blinded by skepticism. After all, the technology is barely scalable, and there is plenty of uncertainty around use cases. China instead is striding ahead in blockchain development and implementation. At this pace, they are likely to become one of the first nations to leverage massive benefits using blockchain.
While blockchain is spreading around the world, it is still not easy to gain a profound understanding of the technology. There is a lot to learn about blockchain: cryptography, coding, business cases, smart contracts, and there are new developments each day.
We here at Blockchain Flash News put together a small list of mainly free resources, which can help you grab more than the essence of blockchain technology. Our recommendations spread from a beginner’s perspective all the way to coding, to make sure you all find what you are looking for.
The technology giant IBM is a pioneer when it comes to blockchain applications for business. Besides applying the first use cases in real enterprise environments, they have also prepared an impressive selection of learning resources. Their Blockchain for Dummies workbook is a great basic guide to mastering the business application perspective. They have also created a Blockchain Foundation for Developers, a video course on Coursera, which focuses on basics for software developers, but truly anyone can grab the essence of the technology from there.
If you are looking for a basic understanding of blockchain technology you do not have to go any further. Visit the Flash Learn section on our website, which explains the essential parts of blockchain, each week with a new topic. The bite-sized articles are written for anyone who is interested in blockchain, no previous knowledge or experience required. Understand the basics of technology, look into the use cases, learn what blockchain can do with Blockchain Flash News!
University of Nicosia
The University of Nicosia was the first university to develop a Digital Currency Master’s degree, and they still number one in Bitcoin and Blockchain education. The course is entirely online, taught by esteemed experts as Andreas Antonopoulos and Antonis Polemitis. The total course takes 18 months, at a cost of 12,000 euros.
What might be even better is that they also offer a free introductory MOOC in 12 sessions. The course covers both technical introductions to blockchain technology and digital currencies, as well as economic, legal and financial aspects.
The Ivy League
Top universities are rushing to offer exclusive education for the latest disruptive piece of technology both on and offline. You can enjoy a class with Princeton Online about Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies via Coursera for free, or try a Blockchain for Business course with Cornell with a heavy pricetag.
The biggest blockchain organization Consensys has also created a great course on Coursera, both for developers and non-developers. The course covers in about 10 hours the fundamentals of blockchain, what it can do, and the use cases directly from Consensys. The program can be completed for free, but to gain a certificate for completion you would need to pay $85 US dollars.
B9 Lab Academy jump starts your career in blockchain coding. Their courses cover multiple platforms, like Ethereum, Quorum, Hyperledger Fabric, or EOS, and span through several levels of specialization. The introductory courses are free, but if you want to dive deeper, the courses are charged between 450-1450 EUR each. Regarding the fact that blockchain developers are still in very high demand, I am guessing this investment will gain a return soon.
Cryptozombies does not just simply teach you boring lines of code- they have created a gamified way to learn how to create your own DApp on the Ethereum network. It goes from zero to hero with Solidity, the coding language of Ethereum, building smart contracts, and creating your own game in the meantime. Have fun, make zombies, code blockchain!
Regardless of which course you choose, you are now taking a step into the decentralized future with these amazing courses. Don’t forget- the technology is ever evolving- stay tuned for news and updates on Blockchain Flash News.
Trading on the first bitcoin ETP is now possible on the SIX Swiss Exchange, Switzerland’s leading stock exchange. Amun Crypto, a UK fintech firm, is offering the financial product under the index HODL5.
The new index seeks to track the investment results of the top 5 cryptocurrencies ranked by market capitalization.
Currently, the first global crypto ETP is tracking four major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC).
According to Investopedia, Exchange-traded products (ETP) are a type of security that is derivatively priced and trades intra-day on a national securities exchange.
ETPs are priced so the value is derived from other investment instruments, such as a commodity, a currency, a share price or an interest rate. ETPs can also be actively managed funds, including also exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
More than half of the index is represented by Bitcoin (50.73%) while the rest will consist in Ripple (31.20%), Ethereum (14.96%), and Litecoin (3.11%).
The product is tracking an index based on the four cryptocurrencies above. VanEck will manage the index while MVIS maintains it.
Bitcoin is currently trading around $4000, a level last seen around August 2017 as the cryptocurrency enjoyed an unprecedented surge that saw it hit $20,000 in December 2017.
Hany Rashwan of Amun Crypto says the product is meant for “investors that are restricted to investing only in securities or do not want to set up custody for digital assets exposure to cryptocurrencies.”
Rashwan says the product is structured to comply with the strict regulations that govern traditional exchange-traded products.
Additionally, it will give investors who do not have access to cryptocurrency exchanges to invest in digital assets, including people who are barred from dealing with cryptocurrencies due to regulatory restrictions.
The ETP will trade under the ticker $HODL with seeding being provided by Jane Traders and Flow Traders.
While bitcoin ETFs have generated excitement in the past, their introduction has not helped push up prices as some pundits had expected. To the contrary, they have been blamed for helping drive down bitcoin values by giving an opportunity for institutional investors to short.
Switzerland is an important crypto hub in Europe hosting many cryptocurrency and blockchain startups due to its friendly regulations.