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Atomic swaps, an innovation considered competent enough to transform modern-day trading systems, take cryptocurrency or token trading to a new level by eliminating the need for trade fees while conducting a transaction that is safe and secure. A smart contract technology powered by cryptography, atomic swap helps in conducting trade while ensuring that no party involved in the trade cheats or defaults.
Atomic swaps eliminate the need for a third party firm or
escrow mediating the trade, hence saving the fees that are usually charged per
trade. Atomic swaps are highly noted for the blow they have brought about for
centralized exchanges. They are also known as cross chain atomic swaps for
facilitating trading between different cryptocurrencies.
In more precise terms, atomic swaps allow one cryptocurrency
to be traded for another, for example, some bitcoins in exchange of lite coins.
This can be carried out in a safe and secure manner without the mediation of
any third parties. Atomic swaps make use of Hash Time Lock Contracts (HTLC) to
protect the transactions occurring through it.
Hash Time Lock Contracts
Hash time lock contract, the prime attribute of atomic swap
is the one that imparts authenticity and integrity to the application. The
well-constructed algorithm ensures that both the parties involved in the
transaction hold their end of the bargain with integrity. The contract works on
the basis of multi-signature transaction system where both the parties involved
in the transaction are accountable for the successful closure of the swap
HTLC makes use of a cryptographic algorithm to ensure that the transfer or swap of cryptocurrency actually occurs only after both the parties involved have signed off. The time lock feature acts as an insurance policy, ensuring that the funds are returned to the respective parties in the event that the transaction is not completed within the specified timeframe.
The working of Atomic Swaps
Take in the scenario where A has 1 BTC but is in need of 50
LTC, while another person B has 50 LTC but is in need of 1 BTC. They arrange
for a trade using atomic swaps. To initiate the transaction they open up
payment channels for the transfer of funds to each other. Now, one of them
should act as the instigator of the transaction and create a contract address.
Let’s say, A is in urgent need of the LTC and hence acts as
the instigator and opens a contract address. Now, this contract address
functions like a safe for the tokens to be transacted. While making the
address, A also deposits his BTC in them, along with a value or secret string
that basically acts like a key. Now the cryptographic hash acts like the lock
to the safe (contract address) and the secret value acts as the key.
The facilitation of the transaction begins when A sends the
hash to B. After B receives the hash, he creates a contract address with it
which is similar to the one created by A. While doing this, B deposits his part
of transaction, which is the LTC, in the safe. The key of both the contract
addresses created by A and B are the same. So, for A to retrieve the LTC A has
to sign the transaction towards B’s contract address and vice versa.
The signing of transaction takes place when A signs B’s
contract address with the key that was used to produce. When this is done, A
can retrieve his funds and the key gets revealed to B, who can also do the
same. This completes the transaction. The insurance policy included Atomic
Swap’s HTLC, holds the transaction for some time to ensure integrity. Also, if
the procedures of transaction are not completed within a stipulated timeframe,
the transaction gets automatically aborted and the funds are released back to
Types of Atomic Swaps
Atomic Swaps can be classified into two types depending on
where the procedure takes place. They are as follows: –
· On-chain atomic swaps – here
the swapping process and transaction are executed on the blockchains of the
respective crypto currency used. As of now, this type of atomic swap is only
possible if both of the currencies makes use of the same hashing algorithm.
They should also support and be compatible with HTLC.
· Off-chain atomic swaps –
off-chain atomic swaps occur off the blockchain, at secondary layers or nodes.
At present these swaps are considered as an extension of Bitcoin Lightning
The significance of Atomic Swaps
It is indisputable that the arrival of cryptocurrency,
blockchain technology and so on have created quite a ripple in our financial
market. However, they have not been able to percolate the market to the best of
their capability. Centralized exchanges and trading are predominant than their
decentralized counterparts, despite the security and other prime features they
One of the main reasons is the fear of getting cheated. Decentralized exchanges and cryptocurrency trading are notorious for their lack of regulatory norms and laws that govern them, unlike the centralized ones. Naturally, people feel reluctant to initiate the transaction in such a riskful environment.
Atomic swaps aim to eliminate this concern of the traders.
It creates a better environment for trading that is free of risks, hacking
attacks or fund misallocation. They also help in streamlining transactions
according to the convenience of the parties involved in the transaction. Atomic
swaps are also built with the capability of wallet integration which enables
trading directly from web wallets, software, mobiles and so on.
If the recent responses are anything to go by, atomic swaps are expected to change the way an average trader goes about his business! It could bring about a high dose of efficiency, security and speed to decentralized exchanges. Off-chain atomic swaps with proper tweaks towards the right direction could help make trading exchanges automatic and not dependent on the blockchain processing times.
Want to know more
about atomic swaps? Here’s a list of some extra reading material that might
In case you
didn’t notice, Bitcoin is back. Well, it never went away really, which is
probably why it’s returned with such a vengeance. Many of the retail investors
that were burned by the savage bear market of 2018 have had time to lick their
wounds, and of course, the mysterious “institutional investor” appears to be
finally making itself known.
Although the eyes of the world have been off Bitcoin development for much of the last year and a half, there has been no shortage of innovation occurring at both the fundamental and infrastructure level. This is making many people optimistic once again about the Bitcoin price and the asset’s future in general.
What’s new in the Bitcoin
previous all-time high, various products have been launched that are tailored
directly to the institutional investor. Fidelity Investments, a money
management firm that has command of over $7.2 trillion in assets, has long been
interested in Bitcoin. The firm’s crypto asset division has just launched an
institutional-grade custody solution.
crypto community waits with bated breath for the Intercontinental Exchange’s foray
into space. They have introduced Bakkt,
a crypto trading desk and one-stop-shop for both institutional and retail
investors. These are not the only examples of such household names getting into
The fact that so
many are making their moves to enter the space or have done so already could
imply the perceived longevity of Bitcoin. Bakkt has been eyeing its launch for
months now and is making absolutely sure that every regulation in the book is
being followed to the letter. Those behind it wouldn’t be risking their
reputations if there wasn’t considerable demand for such services.
clue that Bitcoin isn’t going away anytime soon is the fact that Microsoft has
decided to build directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. The tech giant has
recently announced the development of a digital identity solution that would
drastically increase online security and remove the need to store vast
quantities of sensitive data on centralized servers. The project is called ION
and represents the first real non-monetary use of the Bitcoin network.
Just as exciting is the continued development of the Lightning Network. The micro-payments network is rapidly expanding and its capacity grows by the day. In fact, just recently BitWise opened up the largest single channel yet. They accompanied their Twitter announcement of the channel with the hashtag “#reckless?” since the network is still having kinks ironed out and the consensus is to not risk large amounts of value on it yet.
That said, the network appears to be functioning pretty well up to now. Earlier this year, the Lightning Torch successfully demonstrated its capabilities and also gave it a whole lot of publicity. Many of the most recognizable names from the cryptocurrency industry and even a former Miss Universe took a turn at making a Bitcoin payment via the network, demonstrating its efficacy at transferring value. However, it is still in its very early stages and it will be a long time before you see mainstream companies using it.
Bitcoin the Disruptor?
As we look
forward, with the sheer amount of development occurring and massive names
cosying up to Bitcoin, it seems unlikely that the digital asset is going away
anytime soon. However, that hasn’t stopped an increase in the number of calls
to enforce an outright ban on Bitcoin.
Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, Congressman Brad Sherman, and
even a left-wing Germany political party have all called for Bitcoin to be
banned in the last couple of months. Brad Sherman actually stated that he
thought that the digital currency could one day pose a threat to the hegemony
of the US. But, as of now, no serious action has been taken against Bitcoin or
other cryptocurrencies by the leading nations.
elites in Iran, Russia, China, and South Korea come to the realization that
Bitcoin is a potential disruptor of the current global power structure, then
they would probably waste no time and back a united effort to ban Bitcoin. And,
make no mistake, an entirely united, hugely costly international effort could
really stand a chance of wiping Bitcoin off the planet.
However, Sherman is, for now, a lone voice in the US Congress.
Bitcoin the Standard?
current global attitudes towards crypto assets and Bitcoin, in particular, this
“all-out-war” scenario seems unlikely. Most of the community wants to see a
more fitting end to the Bitcoin story, believing that it can become more useful
with upgrades such as the Lightning Network and ION. The users also look
forward to seeing the market volatility decrease, and Bitcoin slowly becomes a
valid medium of exchange.
Speeding this process towards stability might be some nation of the
world announcing that it has been stockpiling Bitcoin. Bulgaria famously has a vast cache of Bitcoin that were seized from a
cybercriminal network a few years ago. If it emerges that not one but two
nations have a hoard of coins, a bidding war could ensue and FOMO on the
national level would likely result in Saifedean Ammous’s vision of Bitcoin’s
future, as outlined in his book, The
Bitcoin Standard. A single Bitcoin would be worth tens of millions of
dollars and a myriad of services would be built on top of the Bitcoin
blockchain – thus forming the basis of a new digital economy.
Anyway, these are only speculations at this point, and there might still be a lot of scenarios for how Bitcoin will evolve. Whether it will become a new standard for the global economy remains to be seen.
About the Author
Mary Ann Callahan is a journalist at Cex.io and an expert on Bitcoin-related topics. She works on articles related to blockchain security, bitcoin purchase guides or bitcoin regulations in different countries.
Most leading companies across the world today makes use of computerized
supply chain management or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software for product management. With these
digital infrastructure, products can be traced right from its origin to the
However, managing supply chain is quite a complex task, given all the links
from the creation of a product to its distribution, which can involve over a
hundred stages of communication, multiple geographical locations, multitudes of
payments, invoices and the management of numerous entities involved at the
different phases of business.
Despite the high investment and complexity involved, companies have limited
visibility about where their products are at a given point of time. This is
mainly because of the analog gaps that exists between the enterprises or the
Let’s make itmore clear, when a
product is manufactured, it is recorded digitally in the supply chain software.
Now, after formalities like packaging and a dozen other procedures related to
it, the product will be send for shipping. As soon as it is marked for
shipping, a PDF document is made which is a software copy of what exactly
resembles a printout.
The box will have details such as shipping ID, its current location and
details of the person who signed for it but do not contain the details of the
product it contains, such as where it was sourced from, how it was stored and
so on. In effect, it contains a sea of data but very little information that
can be deemed useful to assess the product quality.
The lack of transparency and the increase in complexity to assure quality have forced companies to look out for an alternative system. And that’s where Blockchain based supply chain management system has gained importance. In this blog we will take a look at the issues of the present day supply chain management systems, how blockchain can help and how they are already bringing about a convincing change in the current system.
The Need for a Blockchain based System
Supply chain management is an age old practise dating back to centuries. However, with time, the face and complexity of this system has changed beyond recognition. The globalization in manufacturing industry has made the system heavy with convolution.
It is not possible for the buyers or customers to know the actual value of a product, owing to the lack of transparency in the system. Similarly, investigation of unethical or illegal activities in the current supply chain management system is extremely difficult. Another greatest shortcoming of present day system that warrants the need of Blockchain is the failure to identify and inform the requirement and coordinate the supply of the products, on a larger level.
Blockchain in Supply chain management
The blockchain technology is one of the most popular technologies today
and has the potential to facilitate different projects including tracking,
contracts or agreements, exchange, payment and so on.
Being a distributed and digital ledger, blockchain can record
transaction in blocks and these transactions can be shared across the nodes.
This makes the technology, highly transparent. The blocks are linked with each
other (the one before it and after it), ensuring security. It is also extremely
scalable and efficient without the control of a central authority.
Blockchain technology provides consensus, ensuring there are no disputes on the transactions in the chain as all entities on the chain possess the same version of the ledger. The ownership of assets is visible to the entities on the blockchain, adding the much-needed authenticityto the system. Also, data on a blockchain cannot be erased, making it trustworthy.
The Power of Blockchain-enabled Supply Chain Management System
Blockchain technology enables the incorporation of a real-time, digital ledger that helps keep live track of transactions and movement of procurements in supply chain management companies. The technology helps save time, effort and money on several fronts, increasing the efficiency of the system.
More savings and visibility in Procurement
Procurement discounts are usually negotiated by the companies, based on the quantity of purchases they drive. Large companies have numerous subsidiaries across different regions and hence it becomes difficult to keep track of the volume that is driven across. Blockchain technology will help bring this under control and provide indispensable accountability to the system.
With the ability to manage as well as track products at the ecosystem level, we can ensure better accuracy and forecasts, the system demands very less inventory to provide the same level of service.
Ending costly procure-pay gaps with Smart Contracts
Blockchain puts an end to slow processing and frauds by integrating the transactions in a digital contract which connects the enterprise with banks and logistics with enterprises.
Digital Payments and Contracts
Blockchain technology can help make the system transparent and reliable with the implementation of contracts and digital payments.
Blockchain Integration is not that complex
Blockchain integration brings aboutreliable and accurate data for analytics, more visibility for procurement and improved trust among the people in a blockchain infrastructure. The integrative technology is not necessarily prerequisite. However, the underlying processes and logic make the data synchronised. It offers a solution to the current fragmented platform.
Working Models of Blockchain in Supply chain Management
Blockchain technology allows fund transfer across the world without the
limitation or restriction from having to contact any central authority or bank,
thus simplifying global supply chain management.
Blockchain technology in supply chain management already has a few
successful examples in Tomar, the Australian vehicle manufacturer who make
payment to its suppliers withBitcoin through the technology.
Walmart (food industry) is another use case of Blockchain technology
based supply chain. The disturbingly increasing food recalls in 2018, due to E.coli
and Salmonella outbreak has forced Walmart to adopt Blockchain in their food
The Walmart Blockchain initiative in association with IBM’S Food Trust, creates a massive digital ledger to track food from the farm where it is logged onto the blockchain with a handheld device, to processing facilities and distributors, until it reaches the store shelves. This helps in tracking the food and tracing the outbreaks quickly back to its source.
According to Frank Yiannis, who is the Vice President of Food Safety at
Walmart “With the traceability of
blockchain, we can scan product and trace it back to source with precision in
seconds instead of days or weeks”.
The technology is also made use Dole, Tyson, Nestle and Unilever. BHB
Billiton which is also the largest mining firm in the world is on the path of
incorporating Blockchain technology to keep track of its activities and record
data. This will help with increasing their efficiency as well as in improving
the communication with partners.
At a time when digital innovation has managed to percolate into every
sphere of our life, security has grown as a major source of concern. From
terrorism to money laundering and data leak, security is being compromised at
The policy of KYC (Know Your Customer) was introduced as a measure to
establish identity and control financial funding for terrorism, money
laundering and other fraudulent activities. Establishing the identity of such a
massive banking population is an enormous task requiring great effort,
resources and time.
The KYC policy was introduced in the aftermath of the
9/11 terrorist attack that shook the world. Its importance has increased
following the repeated incidents of global terrorism and the growing concern of
financial frauds and laundering activities.
Although Blockchain technology is often considered in association with
cryptocurrency, the potential of technology lies far beyond the limited scope
of virtual currency. It has the capability to address and overcome a number of
problems we encounter in the numerous realms of technology.
In this blog, we intend to analyse the use of blockchain technology for simplifying KYC, its efficiency and scope. But, before getting in deep with Blockchain, let’s have a look at KYC, the need for such a framework and the challenges it present.
Identity in today’s World
Managing identity in the financial world has become a prerequisite today, what with the alarming increase in money frauds. While proving identity is easy with the help of documents like driver’s license, collection, validation and accounting of this information from the vast banking population proves for a huge challenge.
The procedures associated with verifying identity also leads to high
wait rate for people who want to newly open a bank account and so on.
What is KYC?
KYC is a policy framework introduced by the central banking system to
prevent issues such as identity theft, money laundering, terrorist funding,
identity fraud and other such fraudulent activities. Under the KYC norms,
mandatory identity proofs and address proofs are essential and verified before
conducting banking activities such as opening of an account.
The framework puts strict regulations in place to prevent misuse and
ensure security such as internal control systems and intensive evaluation of
persons before granting them money. Also, intense monitoring of all
transactions are conducted for early detection and capture of fraudulent
The Need for
As mentioned before, KYC was introduced mainly for Combating Finance of
Terrorism and Anti-Money Laundering. In addition to that they also bring
about the following benefits.
Control in anonymous
of banking activities
Challenges in KYC
KYC brings about a sense of order and security to the financial sector.
The ideology behind the framework promises to implement a flawless system that
is secure. However implementation of KYC poses certain challenges.
KYC puts forward a certain list of specification that creates a
disparity within the system, given the overall lack of standardization in the
banking system. Every bank has their own set of specifications to adhere to and
the lack of standardization makes KYC a difficult process.
Regulations and rules get changed in between adding burden to the implementation process. KYC requires customers to furnish their banking entities and people with more than one account needs to do it separately making it a rather irksome process.
Another major challenge of KYC is the cost of implementation. The hassle
of KYC has increased the costs of banking sector by 18% that is expected to
rise again if the condition continues in the present way.
Blockchain in KYC
Blockchain is an immutable distributed ledger that is shared on a public
network. Participants in the network can interact with the blockchain with the
help of a cryptographic key combination.
Introducing Blockchain in the KYC process has been met with a mixed response, with many voicing the concerns of whether blockchain is capable enough to address the issues of KYC. However, with the robustness of a decentralised system and immutable features, Blockchain is sure to improve KYC as evident from the interest of technology giants such as IBM in the project.
Although the Blockchain in KYC is often associated with the banking
sector, the scope of the application is not limited to banks alone. Blockchain
KYC has a wide range of application, including in ICO launches, to verify the
identity of buyers. Establishing identity has become one of the most important
part of ensuring security.
Hence KYC applications have percolated into almost all sectors such as
telecommunications (for buying a SIM or broad band), booking airline tickets
and a lot more.
The Blockchain KYC Process
The process of KYC verification with blockchain technology can be explained with the help of the above diagram. The customer shares his/her identification documents to KYC Blockchain application regulators which are encoded with a unique id and digital signature before being uploaded to the Blockchain. The documents are available in the blockchain for verification by the bank.
This data is accessed and verified by other businesses or banks, if authorised by the customer.
Blockchain for AML
One of the prime objectives of introducing Blockchain Technology in KYC is to reduce fraud and money laundering. An Anti-Money Laundering (AML) system powered by blockchain technology can leverage the decentralized, immutable and cryptographically secure nature, inherent in the technology to identify and prevent suspicious activity.
With the blockchain technology, the financial institutions involved in the process are added at the nodes and the smart contracts along with the network directory help record the transactions on the blockchain. Since the information are stored on the blockchain, they can be easily made available to each nodes and suspicious activity detected and highlighted to all nodes.
Current challenges encountered by Blockchain KYC
Blockchain KYC has the potential to improve the procedures of AML and KYC. However, it is not without challenges. Some of the challenges encountered by Blockchain KYC are as follows: –
The corporates do not want all the banks or people to see their data or documentation. Also, they prefer the option to be forgotten, once the association with a particular bank is over. As the Blockchain is immutable, this will be difficult to realise.
Standardisation of the processes
Standardisation of KYC domain in the same jurisdiction is simple. However, cross jurisdictional standardisation with different national and regional regulators increases the efficiency of blockchain but is challenging to accomplish.
If a bank conducts KYC check and verification on a customer and another bank uses the data, there remains a confusion regarding who should be held accountable in the event of a fraudulent transaction. Deciding on the details of reverification is challenging.
Single point of failure
Creation of a single identity blockchain or global KYC blockchain leaves it open as a target for cybercrimes.
Benefits of Blockchain KYC
Data quality – any alteration to data can be monitored
Decreased turnaround time – direct access saves time
Reduces manual work and error – eliminates the huge
amount of paperwork involved
KYC Compliance systems based on Blockchain like KYC-Chain have managed to create waves in the industry today. In addition to this, big projects such as that of IBM are in the development phase and are already offering a positive vibe. Blockchain KYC shows a lot of promise for a banking world that stands better in security and efficiency.
Blockchain in Human Resource Management will help recruiters find “diamonds in the rough”
Organizations that recruit based on verifiable credentials can find candidates who are overlooked by other organizations that focus only on traditional education and resumes. This provides a competitive edge over hiring from a limited talent pool.
Possible Implementations of Blockchain
Knowing employees have become one of the major needs of organizations today. Being the crucial bearers of knowledge, technology, and service, employees represent the core component of enterprise management. A Blockchain-based human resource management model can solve the issues concerning the authenticity of HR information and provide authentic decision support information to an organization.
With Blockchain Technology, verifying and assessing the education, skills and performance of potential recruits is simplified, enabling the HR to recruit to them to the most appropriate roles. Incorporating Blockchain technology gives people a comprehensive and trustworthy blockchain-based record for their skills, education, training and workplace performance.
A Blockchain based system manages employee mobility and cross-border payments, including tax liabilities and international expenses, with the potential of organisations to create their own corporate currencies. They also help in boosting productivity in reducing the burden of routine, data-heavy processes like VAT administration and payroll. They enhance fraud prevention and cybersecurity in HR, for both employees and employers.
Advantages in Talent Sourcing
Blockchain holds major potential in HR management, from the ability of employers and candidates to maintain and control the access to a trustworthy and comprehensive blockchain record of their skills, training, education and workplace performance. Employers will be able to transform the skills and experience of the candidates into genuine value in the employment market.
The use of analytics on the data available on Blockchain would enable companies to match individuals to different roles more effectively and accurately.
Inclusion of Blockchain in Human Resource management can make resumes and LinkedIn obsolete. Instead of an applicant writing up a description of where they’ve worked and what they’ve done, blockchain transactions will simply store all of their employment histories.
That will totally transform the way that companies recruit candidates. There will be no need for a lengthy verification process where HR offices call references to confirm employment history. They can simply pull up the public blockchain. It’s even possible that the blockchain can store performance indicators like whether the employee was promoted or the reason why they left the company.
Traditional Human Resource Management System
Human Resource Management on Blockchain
Targeting Productivity gains
The enhanced ability of an organization to match and performance and skill of people to jobs can provide an uplift to the productivity of a country. This is particularly true in the case of the UK, which lags behind many other OECD countries today.
Implementation of Blockchain technology may particularly benefit small and medium-sized enterprises. This is mainly because the burden of selecting and recruiting the right talents are especially heavy for smaller businesses. A technology that would effectively help in increasing the productivity of the recruitment process can boost their productivity immensely.
Further, the high-potential targets of blockchain applications include areas like VAT and payroll, where reducing the administrative burden on these smaller businesses would help them focus more on growing their businesses and serving customers.
Cross Border Payments and mobility
The initial steps of multinational businesses into blockchain include the creation of their own blockchain based corporate coins or currencies. These currencies can be used to transfer value across their businesses on a global level. They also allow transacting with supply chains without friction or cost of third-party reconciliation. With time, central banks are also expected to become involved, by introducing their own means of exchange – based on blockchain to support the convertibility into official currencies.
Fraud prevention, cyber security and data protection
Human Resource management in an
organisation involves a wealth of sensitive personal data and high volume financial
transactions. This increases the significance of Blockchain and its functions
in the field. The implementation of consensus in Blockchain helps in security
and negates the chances of fraud.
Cyber risks largely emerge from an underlying lack of transparency in data and systems. The introduction of a Blockchain-based management system addresses the challenges of cyber-attacks. This can be particularly helpful in smaller organisations many of which are underprepared to handle cyber threats.
Availability of Authentic Data
A credential recorded on the blockchain can’t be changed or faked. A phoney credential may look like an issued one but won’t verify against the original blockchain record. Digital credentials would remain secure, even if the company issuing them is hacked. For candidates, their records remain available, even if schools or businesses shut down. Individuals could have complete control over the data of their lives, providing access keys when they apply for new jobs. They could include degrees, certifications, courses taken, grades, employment history, salary and more.
Over the past few years, machine
learning applications have managed to enter every aspect of life: speech
recognition to social media, coding to customer service, retail to radiology,
route optimization to robotics and more. One of the major advancements that
demands mention is the role of AI in education and learning.
For the last 40 years or so, we
told computers what to do. However, with the advances in artificial
intelligence, machine learning and faster processing chips, we can now feed
giant data sets to computers and they are able to draw some inferences (though
in narrow slivers) on their own.
Artificial Intelligence is making revolutionary changes with digital learning solutions that introduce a novel approach in imparting education to students with varied capabilities and interest.
What is AI?
The word ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is hardwired to
the imagery of massive machines working in a sci-fi set up, a byproduct of the
fictitious imagery created during childhood. However, on deep diving into
science, Artificial Intelligence is an advanced form of an algorithm which
empowers machines to imitate human behaviour in real life situations.
In the present day of technological advancement, there is barely any field left untouched by Artificial Intelligence in some form or the other.
Market size of the AI Industry
According to the estimates done by the business analyst firm Gartner, the total business value of AI is to reach over $3.9 trillion in the next five years. The year 2018 alone brought the value to about $1.2 trillion which is 70% above what was collected in the year 2017. The primary source of business value for AI is expected to be drawn from customer experience with the increase in virtual agent tools that support interaction.
Some of the current major applications of Artificial
Intelligence include object identification, image recognition, detection,
classification and automated geophysical feature detection. The larger share of
revenue is presently acquired from the AI enterprise applications market. The
major drivers contributing to the growth of the market are the increasing
demand for intelligent virtual assistants, the growing big data market and the
adoption of cloud-based applications.
The ability of AI systems to process large data sets quickly and process the information in new and improved ways will open up huge business opportunities for the technology. This can be inferred from the words of Gartner research vice president John-David Lovelock “In the long run, the business value of AI will be about new revenue possibilities”.
The Growth of AI Application over the Years
The CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of AI
systems for the forecast period 2017 to 2022 is expected to be around 37.3%.
The software will be the largest and the fastest growing technology, representing
over 40% of all AI spending with a CAGR of 43.1% over a period of 5 years. Two
of the main areas of focus for these investments are deep learning/machine
learning like educational learning applications and conversational AI
applications like chatbot and personal assistants.
Hardware, including storage and servers, acquire
the second largest spending until a few years before it is overtaken by IT and
business services. Both these categories are forecasted to experience strong
growth, 30.6% and 36.4% CAGRs respectively, despite the slower growth when
compared to the overall market.
The use cases with the fastest investment growth over the period 2017 – 2022 are the intelligent processing automation, digital assistants for enterprise knowledge workers, expert shopping advisors & product recommendations and pharmaceutical research & discovery.
Areas in Education and Learning where AI can help
Education aligns the foundation for human behaviour.
The educational ecosystem is greatly influenced by digital learning solutions
equipped with AI. It brings about a revolutionary change in the way education
is imparted to students with different capabilities and interests. While the
debate regarding the appropriate screen time for children is still raging on,
machine learning and AI are all set to alter the future of education tools and
Artificial Intelligence is expected to grow by
47.5% in the US education sector from 2017 to 2021. The statistics are drawn
from the Artificial Intelligence Market in the US Education Sector report. Although
the critical presence of tutors and teachers are irreplaceable, AI will bring
about a change in their job and to the educational best practices.
Here are some of the areas in education and learning where AI can help.
Teacher and AI collaboration
With the maturation in AI in the educational field,
it is expected to fill the gaps in teaching and learning, driving efficiency
and personalization in the educational system. It leverages the best attributes
of teachers and machines, bringing about the best outcome for students.
Differentiated, individualized learning
AI-powered machines enable the customization of curriculum depending on a student’s ability to learn, which is otherwise impossible by a traditional system. It will be able to adjust learning and a level of differentiation, unlike the regular system.
Universal access for all students
AI-powered learning system makes global classrooms accessible to all, including those in another country. This can be highly helpful to those students who are unable to attend school due to an illness or want to study a different course from the one available in their school.
Automate admin tasks
AI can easily automate admin tasks such as grading tests and homework. This will provide the teacher with more time to interact directly with the students. This can help in the creation of more efficient enrolment and admission processes.
Creation of smart content
Advanced AI capabilities can be put to use in the creation of digital textbooks and learning digital interfaces, relevant to students in different grades and age groups.
Top Use Cases of AI in Education
Students are found to learn better during one on
one sessions. A teacher handling a class of students finds it impossible to
dedicate so much time to one student alone. AI-powered learning gains an advantage
in these cases. Knowji and Splashmath are some popular AI-powered adaptive
learning applications available today.
The Knowji application works on the principle of
spaced repetition. The application tracks words that the students find
difficult to remember and suggests the time to practice. Splashmath is a dream
app to learn math with a dozen games, personalized tasks and exercises.
Grading apps for teachers
AI-powered grading apps provide teachers with a
helping hand to grade assignments. Some of the popular grading apps available
today include Gradescope and Pearson Essay Assessment. Gradescope performs a fair and fast task by
dividing the answers into groups and sorting the right and wrong ones.
Pearson Essay Assessment app evaluates an essay on its ideological consistency while assessing the writing style, spelling and word choices.
Enhancing organizational process
Teaching involves a lot of organizational processes that require a lot of time and management skills. AI tools make the task easy while saving work from being lost. Some of the popular applications include Content Technologies Inc. and Hubert.ai. While Content Technologies Inc. helps teachers create summaries and personalize textbooks, Hubert.ai is a smart bot that aid students give feedback to the teachers.
The marriage of Blockchain and IoT has emerged as one of the most promising use cases for Blockchain. This fact is again underlined by the Smart Contract product line, to be launched by the Australian IoT company, LX Group. The Smart Contract products integrating the latest technologies in IoT, LTE-M and Blockchain Technology was announced at the Mobile World Congress 2019, held at Barcelona.
Fig: Versatile IoT platform from LX Group
The CatM1/NB-IoT Blockchain Tracker with condition monitoring range of systems is designed to reduce barriers to innovation for real-world smart contract developers. The newly designed systems lay the path for advanced technologies with improved devices, APIs, platforms and other commissioning tools.
Expending the power of easy integration
The LX IOT Cores is a new step forward in accelerating end to end full stack bespoke IOT solutions right from the device layers through to the end user applications. The IOT hardware engine of the system enables rapid device customisation. This is done while retaining the miniature form factor solutions that are optimised for commercial grade applications at a scale.
The most significant part of the system consists of 3 IOT Cores which can be added to, subtracted from or morphed into new circuit boards. Designed by product development professionals, the cores are built with an advanced methodology to create miniature boards, which are loaded with all the core features demanded by any application.
Fig: CatM1/NB-IoT Blockchain Tracker
LX IOT Cores are a uniquely versatile, industrial grade hardware platform running an optimized IOT OS. They power high volume IOT applications around the world, from microchips to the cloud API and beyond. The in-built crypto core support smart contract implementation for cutting edge IoT technology and supply chain applications.
The applications include a wide range of onboard sensors and Bluetooth 5 options with both indoor and outdoor location capability enabled with GPS and Wi-Fi capabilities. LX is also expecting an upgrade where Blue Node, the existing static sensing range will operate on the CatM1/NB-IoT network to support smart contract implementations.
The future prospects
The trials conducted using early prototypes of the products with major logistics partners and Tier 1 bank in an Ethereum based private Blockchain project have emerged successful. Successful trials have also been reported in supply chain applications where seventeen tonnes of almonds were constantly monitored from Australia to Germany, again in an Ethereum based project.
The IOT systems have gained major progress in the fields of condition monitoring, granular traceability, predictive maintenance and yield optimization, which have grown from being mere concepts to cornerstone business practices that are deemed necessary to stay competitive these days.
LX is found to reduce the barriers to innovation by offering the core building blocks for application developers and businesses that look to solve real-world problems across different industry verticals.
to supplying multinationals, mobile network operators and global tier 1 banks
with cutting edge IoT solutions, LX offers a full stack strategy that scales
various highly rated and custom IoT product development services.
The Constantinople upgrade for
Ethereum that was to take place on the 16th of January 2019 at block
#7080000, has been delayed again due to security vulnerabilities in one of its software
update. In view of this hard fork update that might occur soon, here’s what to
Ethereum, the leading platform for Smart Contracts is designed mainly for the development of complex DApps (Decentralized Applications). It is designed with four main updates with the ultimate goal to move from Proof of Work (PoW) to Proof of Stake (PoS) protocol and solve the problems related to mining and scalability.
The Constantinople hard
fork system upgrade
Constantinople is Ethereum’s next
hard fork system upgrade, a part of its journey to the ultimate Serenity
upgrade which implements the revolutionary Proof of Stake protocol. Although
the upgrades were planned at the time of Ethereum development, the
Constantinople upgrade was delayed due to a consensus issue.
However, on 6th
December 2018, the core developers at Ethereum voted to proceed with the
upgrade, to be implemented at block #7080000. With the average block time
clocked at 14.5 seconds approximately, the estimated date of the Constantinople
hard fork implementation was to fall on 16th January 2019. The
upgrade has been delayed yet again as security researchers identified a
potential vulnerability in one of its software upgrades.
The Ethereum Improvement Proposals
The Constantinople hard fork upgrade
incorporates five different Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) to level the
transition of protocols from Proof of Work to Proof of Stake. Once released,
they are expected to fundamentally change the Ethereum blockchain with a series
of new updates that do not provide backward compatibility.
The lack of backward compatibility
will mean that the nodes should either update synchronously with the entire
system or will continue running as a separate blockchain entity. The Ethereum
Improvement Proposals is also expected to tackle cost, functionality, speed and
miner issues. The different proposals are as detailed below.
EIP 145: Bitwise Shifting Instructions [For speed and Efficiency]
EIP 145 appends Bitwise Shifting
Instructions to the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) for improved speed and efficiency.
The instructions allow for the shifting of bits in binary information. This
enhancement provides for the execution of shifts in smart contracts at ten
times the cheaper rate.
EIP 1014: CREATE2 [For
EIP 1014, also known as CREATE2,
is developed by Vitalik Buterin to improve scalability. The CREATE2 upgrade
enhances the working of State Channels, an Ethereum scaling solution based on
off chain transactions.
EIP 1052: Smart Contract Verification [For
Speed and Energy]
EIP 1052 allows smart contracts verification
by simply pulling the hash of the other contract. Before Constantinople update,
a smart contract had to pull the complete code to verify another contract,
which took a lot of time and energy to perform.
EIP 1283: SSTORE [For
This Ethereum Improvement
Proposal, also known as Net Gas Metering for SSTORE without Dirty Maps is
developed to reduce the gas cost for SSTORE operation. The reduction in gas
cost will enable the processing of multiple transactions at a cheaper cost.
EIP 1234: Block Rewards
& Difficulty Bomb Delay
The EIP 1234 proposal is one of
the most widely discussed Constantinople upgrade. This is mainly due to the two
main components included in the proposal namely Difficulty Bomb Delay and Block
Reward Reduction, which are discussed in detail below.
Block Reward Reduction
With the implementation of Constantinople
hard fork, block reward will be reduced to 2 ETH per block from the previous 3
ETH. This is the second block reward reduction in Ethereum history. The
Byzantium hard fork conducted in 2017 reduced the block rewards from 5 ETH to 3
The reduction in rewards is a part
of the efforts to reduce Ether inflation in basic supply and demand economics. Although
the supply of Ether is not based on any pre-established limit, a reduction in
the inflation rate will help in ensuring scarcity. Ethereum is not the only
network to use this strategy. Bitcoin automatically halves its block rewards
after every 210,000 blocks to conform to its eventual 21 million Bitcoin cap.
Difficulty Bomb Delay
Difficulty Bomb was originally
included in the Ethereum network in September 2015, with the purpose of
supporting the transition from PoW to PoS. The mechanism, when activated, will
increase the energy required in mining a new block until it becomes impossible
to mine a new block. When no new blocks can be mined, the Ethereum network will
The Ethereum Improvement Proposal
1234 of Constantinople delays the implementation of this mechanism for the next
twelve month, after which it will be voted on again.
The Technical Aspects of EIP Implementation
The Constantinople upgrade is a
hard fork that will create a new, second Ethereum blockchain with the EIP
implementation. This is not expected to be a contentious hard fork and the
miners are likely to switch to the new chain. The current smart contracts on
the present Ethereum blockchain will be replicated on the new chain.
The implementation of
Constantinople upgrade is expected to bring about the following changes.
The transaction time of Ethereum
is expected to be approximately 15 seconds. The complete implementation of PoS
is likely to ensure faster transactions with increased reliability.
Cost of transaction
The cost factor mainly depends on
the quantity of transactions. However, with some of the EIP’s expected to
optimize smart contract interactions, the transaction costs are to decrease.
Number of transactions per second
The optimization of state channels
with EIP-1024 could bring about some changes in the average number of
transactions per second.
PoS instead of PoW
Constantinople upgrade is one step
towards the realization of the PoS protocol. A lot of testing and research is
going on. Eventually, the sharding and beacon chain will be added with
After the upgrade implementation,
the old ETH blockchain may hold some value till the time miners completely
switch to the new chain. However, there wouldn’t be any more planned updates
for it, which will push the original Ethereum blockchain close to $0.
As mentioned before, Constantinople
upgrade will implement the EIP 1234 which includes the implementation of block
reward reduction. This reduction of block rewards from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block
is termed as Thirdening. This reduction is a reward adjustment of -33% and
hence the name Thirdening.
The Block Reward Projections- post thirdening
From the average data collected by
Etherscan over the past year, the supply of ether increases by 20,300 Ether per
day. When the rewards are reduced to 2 ETH/block by the upgrade, there will be a
reduction of 33% ETH in the reward for every regular block mined. In short,
after the Constantinople hard fork, the total new Ether supply will reduce from
20,300 ETH/day to 13,400 ETH/day.
The Miner Response to Thirdening
A natural reaction towards the reduction
in rewards would be a decline in the number of miners in the network. However
miner response is not easily measurable. It depends on a number of factors such
as the price of electricity, hash rates, the difficulty of mining and price of
The Constantinople upgrade and thirdening
are exciting developments
for the Ethereum network. The global
community of Blockchain enthusiasts are awaiting to see what’s there in the more
planned updates for the first Ethereum blockchain, which should eventually push
the original ETH blockchain close to $0.
has emerged and so has the latest trends in digital design. Trends are not set
out of just anywhere. They evolve as a response of the changing needs and
tastes of the consumers. Staying on the same page with the design trends is
however crucial for the success of our websites!
A lot of
changes can occur in design trends in terms of algorithm updates, visuals and
best practices over a short period of time. A website that looks sleek and
modern today could become outdated in a few months’ time. The vast and
saturated online world of today, demands a creative design and an amazing user
experience to stay ahead in the competition.
expected to concentrate more on the aspect of user experience where trends in
web design will prioritize the speed, eye-catching and simple designs with
asymmetrical layouts, mobile designs and more. A good web design aims to draw
user attention and to keep the visitor on the page for longer periods of time.
The first impression
certain studies, we have less than 3 seconds to make a good impression with a
customer, when interacting with them online. We, humans, tend to be impatient
and flighty. About 50% of our users expect a website to open within two seconds
of clicking on it. They are found to abandon the site if it takes over 3
seconds to load!
As seen from
the experience of having dealt with hundreds of websites, a beautiful website
is an important component of ensuring user satisfaction. However, if the design
is data heavy, such that it takes a long time to download, you lose a lot of
revenue as people won’t wait long for your site to load.
In addition to
this, the recent Google Speed Update, which went online in July 2018 implicates
a new policy. With this update, Google has started the prioritizing of websites
which loads faster than the others. This policy is expected to be soon followed
by other search engines as well. Web designs are thus expected to focus better
on its speed during the process design.
The clean and minimalistic
minimalist designs are expected to be a trendsetter in 2019. In fact, these
designs are already preferred by designers and developers for creating quick
loading websites for desktop and mobile browsers. They are also known to hold a
high value for SEO. They satisfy a number of speed requirements that certain
search engines are beginning to require.
minimalist design does not mean that everything is reduced to 2D. It is more
about usability and minimalism. It can be thought of as more of a design aesthetic
which gets rid of clutter, focussing only on the important aspects of the
website. The use of bright colours, crisp and clean edged and lots of open
space, offers a refreshing change, distracting it from the high- resolution
image based designs.
The freshness of asymmetry
The fresh look
of broken and asymmetrical layouts are making it big in the world of design
trends. The grid system associated with these layouts help the designers
maintain consistency and alignment when adding content like headlines, images,
copy and call to actions.
layouts are growing popular probably due to their ability to impart a novelty
to web designing. They help capture the user focus to the important aspects of
the page without being distracting or sloppy. These designs are striking not
due to the presence of rote or established design patterns but for the creative
use of a visual hierarchy that directs the eye towards the focal point.
The use of
different shapes, textures, colours and dynamic imagery help the designer
direct the user’s attention in a new and engaging manner towards the content
that the users want to find. The presence of unusual placements, layering with
various textures and colours, the use of white space, creative use of
typography and the repeated use of irregular patterns enables the creation of a
sense of depth that is not usually found in grid-based layouts.
The trendy shapes
shapes lay a middle ground between the flat, minimalist design and the
controlled chaos of asymmetric design. The simple Euclidean shapes like
triangles, rectangles and hexagons are proving to be a major design trend in
2019. Shapes can easily bridge the gap between the broken and flat grids,
making them easy to integrate into a design.
shapes with bright colours are able to create interesting edges that can be
quickly loaded. They can help in the creation of dynamism with the creation of
repeating patterns formed with the help of shapes. This versatility is one of
the primary reasons why shapes have become an avoidable trend of 2019.
In addition to these, there is a whole new side of chatbots and video backgrounds that could make a remarkable transformation in graphic and web designs, this year. Some major graphics and web design trends are represented in the infographic given below.
With the new
advancements in technology laying the foundation for practical and beautiful
design patterns, the industry is set to change. Staying on top of these changes
is inevitable to keep your websites fresh and attractive.
Want to know
more about the latest design trends? Here’s a reading list for you.
The use of digital currency has witnessed a considerable increase in the last few years. The initial apathy that had clouded the crypto world has finally shifted and given way to curiosity and recognition of the currency as a brilliant investment option.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and many others have finally hit the mainstream, with more and more people getting into the trade. However, cryptocurrency built with the power of the underlying blockchain technology varies vastly from the conventional currency in almost all ways.
The Blockchain Technology
Although the blockchain technology first emerged in conjunction with Bitcoin and other digital currency, it is now used in a wider range of applications. The potential of Blockchain technology is yet to be tapped in full!
The concept of Blockchain technology had very humble beginnings in the realms of data structures and cryptography. In the 1990s, Merkle trees, a secured chain of blocks, which are basically data records connected to its previous record were created which resembled the present day blockchain.
The distributed blockchain came into existence in 2008. The blockchain allowed autonomous working without the control of a central authority, could store the data of every transaction carried out and utilised the P2P network to timestamp each transaction.
Key features of Blockchain
Transaction data storage – Blockchain stores every transaction carried out in the system in a ledger. These transactions are verified and stored as the blocks in a Blockchain.
Verification with a distributed system – each transaction is verified by P2P network of nodes.
Unalterable – once a transaction is signed, verified and added to a Blockchain, it cannot be altered.
After every slew of the transaction is carried out in a Blockchain, it is amassed into a block, which is then appended onto the Blockchain. Since there is no central authority involved in a Blockchain, the transactions are loaded into blocks by the network nodes. These network nodes are dubbed as miners.
Every time a bulk of transactions is added to the blockchain, some cryptocurrency is received as the reward. This has the potential to lead to a situation where miners create many blocks leading to a devaluation of cryptocurrency. In order to avoid this, the techniques of block creation are made tougher to conduct by making the miners solve complicated mathematical problems.
Mining is the process of creating new cryptocurrency by adding new blocks on a Blockchain. For the successful creation of a block, it must be accompanied by a hash function that fulfils certain requirements necessary for carrying out mining.
The best possible method of finding the most feasible hash would be to calculate the hash value continuously till the matching hash value is derived. On finding the right hash, a new block will be added to the blockchain and the miner who arrived at the right hash and created it is rewarded with certain units of cryptocurrency.
This means that miners are in constant competition with each other to calculate and identify the correct hash value, build a new block and to receive their pay-out of cryptocurrency. However, with the increasing blocks, the complexity of the calculations required for the hash values also increases.
The technique limits the number of blocks created. Many functions have a preset limit of the blocks to be created. Bitcoin is an ideal example with its generation to completely stop as it reaches 21 million. Beyond this limit, the generation of new blocks will not create bitcoins.
What are the requirements for mining?
Cryptocurrency mining is not as simple and easy to conduct now as before. The standard PC isn’t a viable option anymore, with the requirements of quality and quantity in hardware requirements seeing an undeniable rise, to increase the volume of mining.
From a reasonably good processor and a high-end GPU to several GPUs working in conjunction and specialised chips configured for the purpose of crypto mining, the requirements have grown. Coupled with the cost of power given the continuous running of machines, mining of cryptocurrency is a very costly affair.
Investments in cryptocurrency have grown considerably over the years after the initial reservations on the technology died down. Today, there are many options available in buying cryptocurrency. Before we get into that, let us analyse the various features that need to address before going ahead.
Cryptocurrency trade is illegal or regularised in many countries even now. Hence before you plan to buy the currency be aware of the laws governing the place.
Type of cryptocurrency
All cryptocurrencies are not available for sale in all websites. Depending on the type of cryptocurrency you would like to buy, find a website that sells the particular currency at a price.
Cryptocurrency is usually bought with credit cards, cash or even bank deposit as a payment method.
The fees involved
The fees of different website differ from one another. Hence, before selecting a website, do a comparison study of the fees before getting registered and verified at a particular exchange.
Cryptocurrency wallets are an essential addition in trading of cryptocurrency. They are similar to banks in that they help in the secure and safe storage of digital currency. While banks store money, cryptocurrency wallets stores and ensure the security of passwords that represent the digital currency.
Cryptocurrency wallets may differ depending on the cryptocurrency to be stored. For example, you may need one type of wallet to store a Litecoin while another to store a Bitcoin. With the popularity of cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology, multi-coin wallets that can store different types of currencies are now available. Though costly, they provide many safe and easy to use options to choose from.
Security is one of the prime attributes that need to be taken care of when buying a cryptocurrency wallet. This is because once the digital money is stolen it cannot be retrieved. Wallets are of different types such as:-
Online wallets – these wallets are available online and are the easiest to set up. They are also the least safe of the lot.
Software wallets – they are similar to an app that can be downloaded and used. They are safer than the online wallets.
Hardware wallets – these wallets are portable devices that can be operated by plugging into the USB of the computer. They are the safest cryptocurrency wallets.
Cryptocurrency trading has seen a significant rise recently. To initiate a cryptocurrency trade, it is essential to have two major components namely a cryptocurrency wallet, to store the cryptocurrency and a cryptocurrency exchange that is chosen wisely to trade on. This is similar to trading on the stock exchange where you need a bank account to access the stock exchange.
Before trading cryptocurrency
If you are getting into cryptocurrency trade for the first time, there are some points to be kept in mind before entering the trade. Although cryptocurrency exchanges follow the general mechanics of stock exchanges, they differ in the specifics being totally different entities. Hence it is important to learn about it on a deep level before proceeding to trade.