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Po.et’s Mainnet Launch Puts Creative Content Data on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Po.et’s Mainnet Launch Puts Creative Content Data on the Bitcoin Blockchain

Disclaimer: The parent company of Bitcoin Magazine, BTC Media, LLC, is an affiliate of Po.et.

Today, November 27, 2018, the Po.et team has taken its next step toward the verifiable web as it officially launches its proof-of-existence protocol on the Bitcoin mainnet.

According to Po.et CEO Jarrod Dicker, media is a business and journalism is a product. Po.et was founded on the premise that good journalism and a profitable business model should go hand in hand. Authentic journalism, the kind that consumers can trust, is expensive to create, hard to verify, and easy to copy.

“As of right now, there are several key issues at play in the media space, not least of which are attribution, intellectual property, content distribution and trust issues furthered by the current socio-political atmosphere,” said Dicker. “These are all areas Po.et is working to address.”

The first application developed for Po.et was Frost, a custodial wallet available for anyone to seamlessly publish content on Po.et without having to manage the private keys associated with that content. Now that Po.et is operating on the Bitcoin mainnet, with Frost, creators can start timestamping their content directly onto the Bitcoin blockchain and claiming intellectual property for their work, which is stored on IPFS.

Po.et aims to bring the creative world back to a place where content quality equates to business value, and it starts with building a verifiable web through cryptographic “claims.”

What is Po.et, and How Does It Work?   

Po.et is a decentralized protocol for content ownership, discovery and monetization in media. It works not by utilizing its own blockchain, but by harnessing the security, immutability, and decentralization of existing protocols (specifically Bitcoin and IPFS). Po.et uses these protocols to anchor and store immutable hashes of content and metadata, known as “claims.”

According to David Turner, Po.et’s head of product, claims are the “core building blocks of Po.et.” Right now, at the beginning stages of Po.et, claims store limited information about content, like who the author is, when it was published, who has reviewed it and which news outlet first published it.

Addressing the Challenges

Po.et’s core team recognizes that a better web for media cannot be built overnight. Thus, they have broken down the Po.et protocol into four high-level stages: Describe, Record, Listen, and Curate. Each of these stages represents a grouping of technologies and features that make up the protocol. Po.et’s mainnet activation today begins to address the first two stages: Describe and Record.

The Describe stage focuses on formatting claims in a way that is easily accessible and verifiable. The first kind of claim Po.et supports is called a “work claim” and is meant to represent a creative work.

For this kind of claim, the Po.et protocol uses JSON-LD serialization, or a data format specialized in linking data together, at the core of its protocol as a way to allow for integration with other existing standards. In the future, Po.et will offer more claim options, such as claims that are sufficient for describing relationships between identities and protecting intellectual property.

The Record stage is how Po.et utilizes blockchain technology to immutably reference information. The Po.et node software combines the technologies of Bitcoin and IPFS as its sources of decentralization. Specifically, it uses the Bitcoin blockchain to record hashes that reference IPFS directories. The directories Po.et uses contain claims that content creators have made, and each claim is cryptographically signed by a private key.

At mainnet, Po.et is already decentralized through trusted protocols. Future improvements include possibly allowing for other decentralized file storage protocols, especially ones that allow enterprise users to leverage existing systems.

Together, the Describe and Record stages make up the composition of successfully going to mainnet.

nutrition label“Nutrition labels” like the one above are among the many ways users might choose to display their content information in the future.

What’s Next?

The expectations of Po.et as a protocol are more than just where the information lives. It is about fostering the next generation of products, applications and communities in Web3.

As Dicker notes:

“We want to build a protocol for creativity, a place where the next generation of the web will be constructed with a focus on interoperability, reputation and ownership. By providing these core values in our protocol, applications built using this technology will enable the ethos of the better web, whether that’s through a marketplace, a wallet, the next social platform or the tools to enable a truly decentralized media economy.”

In the next few weeks, Po.et will be announcing strategic partnerships and product updates tied to new applications the core team will be building on the protocol. It will also be releasing continuous documentation for developers to continue to innovate and build applications on top of the Po.et protocol.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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New Foundation to Focus on Crypto Wallet Interoperability

New Foundation to Focus on Crypto Wallet Interoperability

Today, November 26, 2018, marks the launch of the Foundation for Interwallet Operability (FIO) and the FIO Protocol, an interwallet protocol that seeks to make the transfer of cryptos between wallets as simple and straightforward as making transfers on PayPal.

“In the crypto world payments are exponentially more complex and cumbersome,” said David Gold, CEO of Dapix, a founding member of FIO. “Crypto payments feel too risky, too scary and too difficult for members of the public. You have to use an incoherent string of characters, and you can’t confirm if funds have arrived. The average person on the street simply will never feel comfortable using crypto unless this changes.”

The FIO Protocol is intended to birth a range of features including cross-chain counterparty metadata, enabling transaction statuses within crypto wallets, the provision of a single cross-chain wallet name that’s hard to forget and more.

Gold, in an email correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, argues that “decentralized blockchain transactions” need to be easier and “less risky than fiat transactions.”

He said, “Users need to have greater confidence that their blockchain transactions are accurate before they commit to sending. This challenge can’t be solved by an individual wallet or exchange as it lies at the interface between all of them. The FIO Protocol is an industry-led, decentralized solution that will enable easy-to-use and virtually error-free transactions between any wallet or exchange.”

Gold, who spent 11 years as the managing director of tech VC firm Access Venture Partners, believes mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies will be severely limited unless it becomes easier to move them around.

To make sure crypto payments are as easy to transfer as payments on PayPal, the FIO Protocol will leverage a standardized layer of connectivity and usability features that crypto businesses such as wallet providers and exchanges can use.

The FIO Protocol will focus on three core areas. First, it will create FIO addresses: sets of human-readable, universal-wallet or centralized-exchange account names that are universally compatible with every token.

Second, it will establish enhanced FIO workflow options for transactions, including error-free, request-initiated transactions so that users can send a payment request from one wallet address to another.

Finally, the protocol will focus on FIO data functionality, enabling “the first cross token/coin metadata … the ability for a note or even a full order cart to be included with a payment or a payment request securely and privately from one wallet to another.”

Gold went further to state that the protocol is not a “closed party.” Anyone can take part in the protocol’s efforts to make the user-friendliness of transfers on the blockchain “improve drastically” so that the technology can achieve its potential.

So far, the protocol has been backed by six leading crypto wallets and exchanges, which have agreed to join the Foundation when it launches, according to a statement. These include ShapeShift, KeepKey, Coinomi and others. The startup plans to test the protocol during the first quarter of 2019 with the crypto firms that have signed up.

“Crypto payments must improve if this technology is going to expand. FIO’s approach — decentralized, cross-chain, and with financial incentives to adopt — is exciting, and we’re thrilled to support it,” said Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift.

Once launched, the protocol will offer standardized open-source APIs and SDKs that can be globally integrated into any crypto wallet or exchange easily.

According to Gold, crypto users won’t have to deal with long stringed public encryption keys when sending digital assets. The protocol won’t sit in the middle of the underlying transactions on the blockchain; rather, it would send “information and confirmations that better enable the sending of value on all other blockchains.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Price Dip Aside, Paxful Anticipates Big Week of Gift Card-to-Bitcoin Trades

Price Dip Aside, Paxful Prepares for Big Week of Gift Card-to-Bitcoin Trades

That special time of year is coming up — the time when individuals trade in their unwanted or unusable gift cards for bitcoin. And with the price of bitcoin dropping, peer-to-peer (P2P) bitcoin marketplace Paxful is making it possible to use these gift cards to “buy the dip.”

Ray Youssef, Paxful’s CEO and co-founder, explained that, over the past few years, the busiest week for Paxful is the one right after Black Friday; in fact, as time has gone by, the rate of exchange between gift cards and bitcoin has gotten higher and higher.

“We calculated the rate of increase in total gift card volume from one year to the next,” he told Bitcoin Magazine. “At that same rate, this year’s volume would be $15.3 million. This rate is approximately 271 percent. Given our current weekly gift card volumes, it seems well within the realm of possibility.”

At the time of writing, bitcoin’s price has sunk to just under $4,560. Though panic has ensued in some corners of the crypto arena, Youssef isn’t worried about the price drop and feels it’s not likely to affect business on Paxful, even if the price remains as it is or falls lower.

“The price doesn’t matter so long as there are people who use bitcoin to translate money,” he comments. “To those in developing countries and countries with declining currencies, bitcoin has been their alternative currency. It’s also good to note that since January 2018, the price of bitcoin has been declining, but Paxful’s volume is continuously rising. Bitcoin will always be the best financial alternative.”

Youssef also says that, while gift cards remain popular items amongst gift givers during the holidays, they are not always the best items for receivers, which is what makes the peer-to-peer system so important.

“Many people in developing countries have no use for these gift card credits,” he says. “There are also users who have a website or a business as an affiliate for Amazon that maybe makes 10 percent in referring. People in the developing world don’t have Amazon in their areas, but they earn all these credits. Thus, they sell their credits for BTC and then turn the BTC into whatever currency they want. This is how P2P finance and bitcoin fills the voids. We really want to spread the word on P2P finance.”

According to Paxful’s internal data, gift cards have been used to purchase over $880 million worth of bitcoin since Paxful first launched its peer-to-peer marketplace in 2015. This accounts for just shy of 64 percent of the platform’s trades. All other methods — including credit cards, debit cards, Apple Pay and Square Cash — only account for about 36 percent of bitcoin purchases (roughly $499 million worth). In total, about $1.38 billion worth of BTC has been garnered via Paxful.

The most popular gift cards used to purchase bitcoin are those issued by iTunes. These gift cards have been swapped for over $482 million worth of BTC for their owners. In second place are Amazon gift cards at $303 million, while eBay ($15.7 million), Target ($15 million) and Steam Wallet ($14 million) gift cards hold third, fourth and fifth place respectively. Other popular gift cards include Walmart ($12 million), Google Play ($5.3 million) and the PlayStation Network ($5 million).

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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AST&Science picks Midland for Micron satellites

AST&Science plans to produce as many as 100,000 tiny Micron satellites per year in this building at the Midland Air and Space Port. Credit: AST&Science

SAN FRANCISCO – Avellan Space Technology & Science announced plans Nov. 15 to begin building extremely satellites in 2019 at its new North American manufacturing plant in Midland, Texas.

AST&Science was founded in 2017 by Abel Avellan, who established and led Emerging Market Communications before selling it for $550 million in June 2016 to Global Eagle Entertainment. Avellan then served as Global Eagle president and chief strategy officer until April 2017.

AST&Science plans to invest more than $30 million in a new 7,897-square-meter manufacturing facility at the Space Port Business Park at the Midland International Air and Space Port. There, it will produce annually as many as 100,000 satellites, called Microns, that weigh approximately 200 grams and “are designed to work in concert with larger nanosatellites and microsatellites,” according to a December press release.

AST&Science and its subsidiary AST&Defense have research and development, engineering and manufacturing facilities in Maryland and Europe, as well.

In March, AST&Science announced it acquired a controlling interest in NanoAvionics, a spinoff of Lithuania’s Vilnius University. In July, AST&Science announced Cisneros, a Miami-based investment group, made “a significant investment.” The firm declined to disclose the value of its NanoAvionics investment or of the Cisneros investment.

In August 2017, NanoAvionics announced it raised 3.2 million euros ($3.7 million) for its campaign to commercialize a non-toxic monopropellant and performed a successful in-orbit test of the chemical propulsion system.

SpaceNews.com

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Solstar seeks strategic investor for WiFi in Space

Solstar employees in front of Blue Origin's New Shepard crew capsule on April 29, 2018, are (from left) Charlie Whetsel, senior programmer, Terra Shephard, electrical engineer, Brian Barnett, founder and chief executive, and Mark Matossian, chief operating officer. Credit: Blue Origin

SAN FRANCISCO — Solstar Space, the New Mexico startup planning to offer WiFi to payloads and people in space, is looking for a strategic investor.

“We are looking for a space company that understands our market and wants to help us develop it,” Brian Barnett, Solstar founder and chief executive, told SpaceNews. “Our customers are their customers and their customers want what we do.”

Solstar connected spaceflight experiments with researchers on the ground through its Schmitt Space Communicator Xperimental, named for Apollo 17 astronaut and U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt, during April and July test flights of Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital capsule.

On April 29, Solstar tweeted, “Brought to you from above the Karman Line – this tweet from Solstar’s Space Communicator on board #NewShepard! Testing WiFi capabilities in space for space entrepreneurs everywhere. #WiFiInSpace”

Since then, Solstar has raised just over $204,000 through WeFunder.com, a crowdfunding investment website, and $300,000 from other investors. The firm is seeking to raise $800,000 in its current investment round.

Solstar plans to connect researchers with payloads on the International Space Station and suborbital tourists with networks on the ground. Data will travel from payloads equipped with Solstar antennas through commercial communications satellites, Barnett said.

“We have commercial relationships with every satellite network operator on the planet,” Barnett said. “We know how to choose a commercial satellite to connect with a given spacecraft from launch site to its final orbital inclination and altitude.”

Solstar’s customers will be commercial spacecraft developers and operators, people onboard spacecraft and payloads, Barnett said. Solstar will offer something like a hotspot on spacecraft for research payloads, he added.

“We provide access for a fee to interact with payloads through internet-connected devices,” Barnett said. Solstar plans to adopt a subscription-based revenue model with customers paying by the month or by the mission.

Solstar is developing a communicator for the International Space Station and another for the small satellite market.

“Our business model is to use existing billions of dollars spent on commercial infrastructure in space and on the ground,” Barnett said. “We use existing communications satellites and ground stations.”

 

 

SpaceNews.com

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Momentus raises $8.3 million for last-mile spacecraft delivery

This is an artist's rendering of Fervoride, Momentus' space tug to move spacecraft, including telecommunications satellites and deep space missions, to their desired orbits. Credit: Momentus

SAN FRANCISCO –Space transportation startup Momentus raised $8.3 million in seed funding for its business to offer satellite operators rides from one orbit to another, the Santa Clara, California, company announced Nov. 14.

“For example, if you are flying with [India’s] Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle to some orbit, Momentus can move your satellite to a different orbit,” Mikhail Kokorich, Momentus founder and president, told SpaceNews. “We are not a propulsion company. We are a service company offering last-mile delivery.”

With the money raised, Momentus plans to demonstrate its Vigoride rocket powered by water-plasma thrusters in orbit in 2019, said Kokorich, a serial entrepreneur.

Prime Movers Lab of Jackson, Wyoming, led the investment round for Momentus, which participated in Y Combinator, a well-known startup accelerator in Mountain View, California. Also participating in the investment round were: Liquid 2 Ventures, One Way Ventures, Mountain Nazca and Y Combinator.

“Momentus has not only developed groundbreaking and efficient water-powered in-space rockets but also validated the massive market demand for their services with hundreds of millions of dollars in Letters of Intent,” Dakin Sloss, Prime Movers Lab founder and general partner, said in a statement. “We are thrilled to back this extraordinary team of seasoned entrepreneurs and space industry veterans in their impressive pace of introducing novel technology to space, which we expect will continue with the upcoming in-space demonstration in the first half of 2019.”

Momentus plans to begin offering in-space transportation in 2020 with Vigoride, a rocket to move payloads as large as 50 kilograms from low Earth orbit to geostationary transfer orbit, geostationary orbit, lunar orbit or other destinations.

In 2020, Momentus plans to begin testing its next-generation Ardoride, a rocket designed to move 180 kilograms from low Earth to lunar orbit or 250 kilograms from geostationary transfer orbit to Mars orbit.

Momentus is seeking to dramatically reduce the price of in-space transportation. “We would like to make it extremely cheap,” Kokorich said. “The ticket price for a 100- to 200-kilogram payload from Earth to low Earth orbit and low Earth orbit to Moon orbit should be below $10 million. I hope we can be way below $10 million.”

Prior to founding Momentus, Kokorich helped established satellite manufacturer Dauria Aerospace, Internet-of-Things startup Helios Wire, ExactFarming, a firm that applies modern technology to agriculture, and Astro Digital, a satellite imagery and analysis company.

SpaceNews.com

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The Innovation Challenge: Balancing Stability With Speed

Banks have traditionally been closed entities guarding their proprietary assets and frustrating Fintechs by focusing on scale and stability rather than innovation. The prevailing reaction to the emergence of Fintechs was to defend their businesses and their customer bases from the new pretenders, rather than leverage innovative ideas through collaborative ventures.

In more recent times, the balance has swung towards speed, i.e. the rapid development of apps and microservices that provide a better customer experience, whether they are developed by a bank or in collaboration with a third party. But what are the technical and cultural roadblocks within an industry like banking and can platforms and low-code potentially change the game?

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Crypto Platform Coinbase Secures $300 Million in Series E Funding Round

Coinbase Secures $300 Million in Series E Funding Round

Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has raised a fresh $300 million in a Series E financing round, bringing the company valuation to $8 billion.

Coinbase plans to use the funding to “accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies,” as it plans to remain the “entry-point into crypto” for millions of investors, according to a published blog post.

The new investment round was led by investment firm Tiger Global with Y Combinator Continuity and Andreessen Horowitz, with others participating. In August 2017, Coinbase was valued at $1.6 billion, after receiving a $100 million from a Series D round led by Institutional Venture Partners investors (IVP).

Rumors of the funding had turned up in early October with Mike Novogratz, the CEO at cryptocurrency-focused merchant bank Galaxy Digital, arguing that the rumors added legitimacy to the cryptocurrency market.

“Here’s the poster child of the crypto space worth $8 billion — that’s a real company, and Tiger’s not a flake of an investor. These are smart, savvy guys,” he had stated at a finance conference, at the time.

“We see hundreds of cryptocurrencies that could be added to our platform today, and we will lay the groundwork to support thousands in the future,” Coinbase Chief Operating Officer Asiff Hirji remarked in the post.

It will also build its infrastructure to support regulated, fiat-crypto trading across the world, such as the launch of British pound sterling (GBP) trading pairs on Coinbase Pro and Prime.

The digital asset platform also plans to focus on “utility applications” for cryptos such as the launch of its USDC stablecoin, fully collateralized by the U.S. dollar and supported by Coinbase and blockchain firm Circle.

Based on a Fortune report, Coinbase has been mostly profitable, but the slump in crypto prices has affected trading volumes on exchanges across the board. Reduced trading volumes equate to reduced fees, which has driven the company to search for alternative sources of revenue.

Flush with cash, the platform will have its eyes on the custodial fees from institutional investors whose cryptocurrencies are kept with the digital asset platform. The platform also announced the addition of a wide range of crypto assets for its custodial services in August 2018 and the launch of a suite of tools and services that institutional investors can rely on when trading crypto.

“We see Coinbase’s growth as validation that the ecosystem will only continue to grow in size, influence, and impact — ultimately ushering in a more open financial system for the world,” Hirji concluded.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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BlockFi Announces Global Expansion of Its Crypto-Backed Loan Services

BlockFi Global Expansion

Galaxy Capital–backed BlockFiis taking its loan services to the global stage.

According to a statement shared with Bitcoin Magazine, the platform is expanding its services to an international audience. This expansion will add to its offerings in 46 states of the United States, something that required “quite a bit of work,” according to CEO Zac Prince

“There were a few things we need to do, primarily in regards to lending licenses at the state level, which has gone really well. So we’re now live in 46 states in the U.S., so it felt like it was the right time to start shifting our efforts to international expansion,” he continued to say in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine..

BlockFi states that the global services are available “in accordance with U.S. international business regulations.” Prince said that the company “definitely had to do a few things on the compliance side” to get to this point, explaining that the services for businesses and retail investors are “open to any country other than countries that are on the U.S. sanctions list,” while for reasons Prince did not elaborate on, retail investors in a handful of other restricted countries will also be barred from the services.

Founded in 2017, BlockFi is backed by Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Capital to the tune of $52.5 million, and it has also attracted venture capital from ConsenSys Ventures and PJC.

The platform allows users to take out crypto-collateralized loans. Each loan has a minimum and maximum threshold of $2,000 and $10,000,000 respectively, and interest rates on these loans range from 8 to 12 percent, depending on the loan. To withdraw a loan, users can send either bitcoin, ether, litecoin or Gemini USD (GUSD) to the company, which will then issue the corresponding loan in USD.

Prince said that an expansion of this sort had been on BlockFi’s radar for some time; until recently, they merely lacked the resources and manpower to execute the vision. Notably, he said that stablecoins like GUSD have made things a little easier.

“It was largely a function of just focus and resources. We always knew that we wanted to do it. One of the things that accelerated it a bit was the dollar-backed tokens by Gemini and Circle. These make it a lot easier for us to facilitate payment, both in terms of funding the loan to international borrowers and also in terms of receiving payments — by not having to go through traditional banking rails.”

He explained that it allows them to send GUSD in the place of actual USD any day of the week if their clients want funds when banks are closed. It also eases foreign payments. Circumventing traditional banking structures, BlockFi doesn’t have to worry about remittance fees and currency conversions. For foreign individuals who want their loans in USD, he explained, a tokenized USD makes all the difference.

“With GUSD we’re able to send it faster, cheaper and 24/7. And when it gets to our clients it’s still a USD, even if tokenized,” he said.

Prince also said that BlockFi uses Gemini’s custody services for cold storage, asset management and even insurance, the last feature of which is newly FDIC-guaranteed.

BlockFi recently added support for GUSD alongside litecoin, and Prince revealed that the platform will soon integrate USD Coin (USDC), a fiat-collateralized stablecoin developed by Circle and Coinbase, and bitcoin cash, as well.

“A Way to Deliver Low-Cost Credit”

The move for global accessibility follows a surge of international interest in the platform, as BlockFi reports that in Q3 2018, 50 percent of its website visits came from outside the U.S., and one-third of its applications came from non-U.S. residents.

Coinciding with the expansion, BlockFi has outfitted its support team to accommodate Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking users. Prince further explained that these language choices are in direct response to the user attention the platform received in Q3 from Spanish- and Mandarin-speaking areas.

They’re also in response to the thriving cryptocurrency communities that overlap with the unbanked populations in countries like those in Latin America, wherein citizens have turned to crypto as a hedge against hyperinflated fiat currencies, a remittance option and private money.

“Countries like Argentina and Mexico — we’ve also seen a lot of application volume from Brazil, though they speak Portuguese — where there’s a lot of people who own crypto and where there’s a strong use case for holding assets like bitcoin we also want our service to be available in those markets,” Prince said.

He went on to state that in these countries, the interest rates for loans are often unsustainable for the average citizen. With access to services like BlockFi, however, he said they can withdraw loans at “basically the same rates as the U.S.,” something that frees up lines of credit for an otherwise loan-deprived population.

“We’re using bitcoin as a way to deliver low cost credit in markets where it hasn’t been before.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Storj Launches Version 3 of Its Decentralized Cloud Storage Platform

Storj

On October 30, 2018, Storj Labs released a public alpha for their version 3 (V3) platform –– enabling developers and companies to test their decentralized cloud storage solution. The team also shared an updated white paper featuring their latest research on decentralized and distributed systems in cloud storage.

Decentralized Cloud Storage Refresher

Decentralized cloud storage solutions like Storj enable users to securely store their data on decentralized clouds utilizing peer-to-peer networks instead of storing their information on the servers of large corporations. This model works like an Airbnb for data; users with extra hard drive space can rent out their space as a place for other users to store their information.

The decentralized cloud storage model has several benefits over centralized cloud storage:

  • “Trustless” security: Users are the only ones who have access to their private keys, and are, therefore, the only ones who can access their files. Decentralized storage providers or hackers can’t access a user’s private information. 
  • Lightning-fast networks: In centralized cloud storage models, download speeds are contingent on a centralized data center. But, because decentralized networks are shared, download speeds are shared too. The more users on the network, the faster the network. 
  • Open-market for data storage: By creating an open market for storage, decentralized storage companies can provide lower rates than those of incumbents such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google. 

Storj Public Alpha

Starting today, the Storj public alpha allows developers and companies to access and build decentralized cloud storage applications by downloading and running the V3 test network on their local hardware.

With their latest update, the Storj team aims to set themselves apart from competitor projects like Filecoin, Sia and MaidSafe, and position themselves as leaders in the decentralized cloud storage space.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Storj Co-Founder and CSO Shawn Wilkinson shared, “The biggest reason I think we are the leaders in decentralized cloud storage is because of our experience and track record in the market. We are now on the third iteration of our network, while others haven’t conducted their initial launch after several years in development. Not only is our early team experienced, we’ve also hired new individuals with some of the best experience in the industry.”

Wilkinson also noted that the Storj team hopes to drive practical adoption of decentralized cloud storage by making it simple to rewire existing cloud storage solutions with Storj’s decentralized cloud storage platform.

For example, Storj V3 is built to be Amazon S3 compatible, meaning that integrating Storj into applications that currently use centralized cloud storage generally requires changing only a few lines of code and a few minutes of time.

Storj Partners

Decentralized cloud storage could be helpful for a variety of use cases.

“Any application or company that is generating data outside of the public cloud, or has large file sizes, would be a perfect client. This is because cloud providers will often charge egress fees to transfer your data off the network. Also, because of our distributed nature, our platform is most cost effective for large files. However we work great for anyone in need of cloud storage and can lower costs for most storage use-cases,” shared Wilkinson.

Current Storj V3 partners include Couchbase, MongoDB, FileZilla, InfluxData, Kafka and Blocknify.

“We chose Storj because we shared similar values of privacy via end to end encryption and creating resilience through decentralization,” said Chris Cowles, co-founder and CEO at Blocknify, a Docusign competitor that leverages blockchain technology. “Because Storj uses S3 standard of integration, implementing Storj is familiar and easy.”

Key Storj V3 Developments

The updated Storj white paper highlights the team’s learnings from the V2 network, addresses design constraints and security deliberations, defines the Storj platform’s relationship with blockchain technology, and addresses the team’s key goals moving forward.

Scalability

While Storj V2 was only capable of smoothly scaling to 100 petabytes of data, V3 aims to handle exabytes (and more) of data storage by utilizing horizontal scaling to contend against incumbent cloud storage solutions, and it aims to update this alpha so that node operators can share their excess storage capacity with the network in early 2019.

Architecture

Functions of the Storj network have been decoupled into separate components to allow developers to make changes to parts of the system without impacting the whole. The team hopes this will lead to faster development and greater open-source contribution.

Data Uploading

When files were uploaded in Storj V2, the data would be encrypted, sharded (split into different pieces), replicated and distributed. Wilkinson explained that in V3, “Files are divided into segments, which are then divided into stripes. After, stripes are organized into erasure shares and uploaded.” Storj claims that striping enables video streaming and buffering functionality similar to the YouTube experience, even if using 4K settings.

At a high level, Erasure codes allow the receiver to recover all data from any portion of the data. For example, erasure codes are used by satellites when they transmit data because they assume some data will not reach its final destination.

Storj’s decision to utilize erasure codes to deliver file resiliency is unlike most decentralized cloud storage providers, which choose replication to deliver reliability in case storage nodes fail.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, JT Olio, Storj Labs director of engineering, explained the reasoning for Storj’s transition to erasure codes:

“Purely using erasure codes for resiliency is much more efficient in terms of the required storage capacity and bandwidth used to meet service level agreements. We found that our new architecture is able to achieve AWS-level resiliency with an expansion factor of 2-3, meaning for every gigabyte of data stored, we use 2-3 gigabytes of storage capacity on the network. Systems that use replication to achieve the same resiliency would require 10-16 gigabytes of storage capacity per gigabyte of data stored. In our preliminary tests, compared to our previous network (which predominantly used replication), we have greatly improved file durability while cutting the expansion factor in half.”

Revenue Sharing

Storj launched a program to share 10 percent of every dollar earned from clients that Storj Partners introduced to the network. The team hopes this will help open-source companies generate revenue when their users store data in the cloud.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Fidelity’s Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology SVP Joins BLOQ as COO

Fidelity Bloq

Blockchain startup Bloq has announced the appointment of former Fidelity Investments executive Hadley Stern as its first chief operating officer — the latest in a string of hires poached from a legacy financial firm by blockchain startups.

Launched in 2016 by Bitcoin core developer and former software engineer at Red Hat Jeff Garzik and venture capitalist Matthew Roszak, Bloq helps corporations build blockchain platforms. It delivers enterprise-class, blockchain solutions while supporting innovation in the blockchain and open-source ecosystem.

Roszak, co-founder and chairman of Bloq, called Stern a “fearless innovator.”

“As the shared surface area between conventional enterprises and the world of cryptocurrency expands, there is absolutely no better partner than Hadley for this role as we pursue continued, rapid growth in our business,” he added.

In correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, Stern said:

“Joining a team with such strong development, product and business experience from the earliest days of this technology breakthrough is very exciting.”

Before joining Bloq, Stern had worked in various roles for Fidelity Investments. His most recent position was as senior vice president and managing director of Fidelity Labs, leading the company’s efforts to birth Fidelity Digital Assets, among other things.

His new role at Bloq would see him help the team operationalize client engagements, “ensure consistent and quality delivery, and provide guidance” for the firm’s strategic product direction.

In a published Medium post, Stern says his role will focus on building the underlying framework for Bloq’s key markets to leverage blockchain technology.

Under Stern’s leadership, the company will build and implement blockchain-powered products and services for publicly traded companies, crypto-based platforms and blockchain startups incubating in BloqLabs.

In June 2018, Bloq announced the launch of its native cryptocurrency Metronome tokens (MTN), which operates on multiple blockchains, affording investors the convenience of moving their holdings between networks.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Civic Looks to Expand Adoption With App-to-App Developer Tool

Civic Looks to Expand Adoption With App-to-App Developer Tool

If blockchain-based identity platform Civic is to go mainstream, then making it simple for as many businesses and consumers as possible to start using its app will be key.

“Consumer adoption may take a while. Hopefully we have a hit that takes off,” Vinny Lingham, CEO and founder at Civic, said on stage at Money 20/20, in a fireside chat with Bruce Silcoff, CEO of blockchain-based ID company Shyft, and moderator James Mirfin, global head of digital identity at Refinitiv.  

To that end, the company is aiming to attract more partners with its latest solution, Civic Connect, an integration tool that will allow mobile app developers to integrate the Civic app directly into their own apps as a way to authenticate users. Civic made the announcement on October 21, 2018, during the Las Vegas event.  

Civic Connect includes two libraries: One is an Android library, the other, an iOS library. The library tools, both available on Github, allow a partner app to include a “Connect with Civic” icon in their own app with only a few lines of code.

Tapping on that icon takes a user from the partner app over to the Civic App, where the user can approve the exchange of login credentials or personal information, and then back to the partner app again.

“They are basically transitioning screens,” JP Bedoya, vice president of product and design at Civic, told Bitcoin Magazine.

“If you were logging into Wikihow, for example, one of Civic’s partners, you would just use your Civic identity and with that you will login in a matter of seconds, create an account and whatnot,” he said. “So CivicConnect is an extension of that. Now you can use that Civic identity in a seamless way from any mobile application that works with Civic,” he said.

The Civic app itself works like a digital wallet, but, instead of storing funds, it stores personally identifiable information, which you can use to log into another app without a username or password or to share know-your-customer (KYC) data, depending on what an app requires.

The library tools allow developers to add two-factor authentication (2FA), anonymous private 2FA and onboard verified users in a customized flow to streamline the experience, Civic said.

The way Bedoya sees it, “If you think of all of the millions of apps out there today and you have to create a username and password in all of them, now you can just use your Civic app.”

Private ID Verification Transactions

Civic wants to allow consumers to regain control of their identity. As Lingham explained it, in talking to Bitcoin Magazine, imagine if you handed your driver’s license to a bartender to show you were of legal drinking age, but then the bartender memorized the information, or then the Department of Motor Vehicles, the agency that issues licenses, had a way of becoming aware of that (and every) transaction you made using your driver’s license?

“It would just be freaky,” he said. “We think about it that way. How do you create a world where you have an ID without a record being tracked? And that is why the blockchain makes sense. Now the bartender can verify independently, and only you and he know the transaction occurred.”

Civic stores attestations on the Bitcoin blockchain, while ID information is encrypted and stored on a user’s own device — not on Civic’s servers. Transactions, which occur when you show your ID to another app using Civic, are handled by smart contracts on the Ethereum platform. Eventually, the project plans to move to RSK, but it is not there yet.   

The Civic project has 1 billion CVC tokens, a third of which it sold in a 2017 token sale to raise $33 million to build out its platform.

But while Civic has big plans for its future, competition in the space is stiff. Right now, Lingham explained, there are about 40 or 50 other blockchain-based identity services on the market — and “thousands” of companies trying to handle ID in a centralized fashion.    

“No good idea is born alone,” Lingham said. Nevertheless, he thinks Civic stands a good chance of coming out ahead. “The real question is how do they compete with us?” he said of his blockchain-based ID competitors. “We got here first. We have a lot of IP that has been developed and a string of patents, so we are first.” (Civic was originally founded in 2016.)

Civic has also been adding new partners, companies and entrepreneurs that need its ID services. According to Lingham, Civic has 100 partners so far. Its best-known partner is Anheuser-Busch. Partners in the crypto space include Brave, ShapeShift and 0x, and it’s been able to sign up several ICO projects that need to follow KYC before selling tokens.  

Lingham feels consumers will be drawn to Civic because of its security and privacy. “We don’t make money out of monetizing your personal information like the big guys do,” he said. “When you use Facebook, let’s be frank, they are tracking every time you use it to open an account in an app, so they can target ads at you, and Google as well.”

Of course, Facebook and Google already have a gargantuan user base, while Civic is just getting its feet wet in the ID space.

“We could take the approach, that their user base has such a big unassailable lead,” he said. “Or, we could take the approach that this is important enough that people who care will switch to an alternative, and over time we, as an industry, will provide a better solution.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Ethereum Foundation Issues $3 Million in New Grants

Ethereum Foundation Grants Program

The Ethereum Foundation has awarded a total of $2.86 million to 20 different projects in Wave IV of its Grant Program.

Announced at the beginning of 2018, the foundation began the new year with a resolution to fund promising projects that develop on Ethereum. Since the program’s launch, the foundation has committed over $14 million to 72 projects, the majority of which has gone to startups focused on scaling, with security and user experience receiving the next most in funding.

The latest wave of capital allocation keeps with the familiar theme of scalability, though it also concentrates almost equally on developer experience projects. Securing $500,000, Status’ Nimbus, an Ethereum 2.0 sharding client, is tied alongside Prysmatic Labs’ Eth 2.0 Prysm client for attracting the most funding. These two are followed by the $420,000 accrued by Spankchain, Kyokan and Connext for a collective project, originally unveiled at DevCon 4, focused on a non-custodial payment channel. To the tune of $375,000, the third largest grant was awarded to Prototypal​​ for “[front-end] state channel research and development.”

Honorable mentions include the $250,000 allocated to Finality Labs​​’ work on forward-time locked contracts (FTLC) and with a like amount given to Kyokan to develop cash and debit plugins for Plasma, an Ethereum payment channel solution in the same vein as Lightning.

For developer experience, TrueBlocks secured $120,000 to create an open source block explorer, and Gitcoin​​ received $100,000 to kickstart bounty funding on its platform.

In the original post that unveils the program, Vitalik Buterin stresses that “[these] payments are NOT intended to be sources of substantial profit to recipient organizations; they are rather intended to cover some of the costs involved, with the understanding that anyone who participates in the scheme will have access to a unique opportunity to participate in Ethereum 2.0 development.” Outside of an infusion of capital, this “unique opportunity” includes working closely with Ethereum’s core research and development team.

At the end of each grant update, the foundation provides a wish list for the projects it’s looking to fund in the future. At the top of the Wave IV list, the foundation calls for more payment/state channel solutions, Plasma development, smart contract auditing, intuitive wallet designs, key management software and privacy solutions, among others.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell’s X2 Games Acquired by Global Blockchain

Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell's X2 Games Acquired by Global Blockchain

The man who created Atari has moved on to blockchain-based gaming. Neil Bushnell’s X2 Games has been acquired by Canadian-based Global Blockchain (BLOC), a crypto investment firm, in hopes that Bushnell’s expertise will lead to another gaming industry revolution — this time with the help of blockchain technology.

The move will see the Canadian company align its existing efforts to tokenize gaming platforms with X2 Games’ expertise for game development.

BLOC will also merge sections of its media and entertainment business with those of X2 Games Corp. and create a subsidiary for its enterprise and exchange activities, to be run by BLOC’s current management and operational team.

X2 Games is a blockchain-based games publisher that builds multiplayer gaming experiences, leveraging blockchain technology to create unique gaming experiences for conventional and experimental platforms. X2 Games was created by American businessman and founder of Atari Inc. Nolan Bushnell and acclaimed digital animator Zai Ortiz, known for creating visuals for Iron Man’s J.A.R.V.I.S system holograms among others.

Bushnell, known as the “Godfather of the Video Game Industry,” is a Video Game Hall of Famer and has been included on Newsweek’s list of the “50 People Who Changed America.” Bushnell is no stranger to creating blockbuster games with unique “never-been-seen-before-designs.” In addition to launching the first Atari 2600 console into the home gaming market, Bushnell also created Chuck E. Cheese, a video game entertainment center hybrid.

With the acquisition, Blockchain Global will advise X2 Games’ team on the integration of blockchain technology in video games. Bushnell will also become co-chairman of BLOC.

Bushnell hailed the alliance saying the creativity of both companies will drive them forward, in a statement made in the release.

“Without that first charge of creativity, nothing else can take place. This acquisition by BLOC will integrate X2 Games’ innovative game development studio and intellectual property within BLOC’s portfolio of blockchain assets allowing new and revolutionary games to be developed together.”

BLOC President and CEO Shidan Gouran told Bitcoin Magazine that BLOC is passionate about integrating the blockchain into real business use cases.

“Since we began discussions with X2 more than a year ago, it was always clear that there was a synergy between our companies. Now that our company has taken on a greater gaming focus, the decision to combine forces with X2 came naturally. We’re both very excited to get moving on our first projects together, and we look forward to changing the world of video gaming in the years to come.”

Steven Nerayoff, BLOC’s chairman, said the blockchain company has been able to develop three separate companies and is positioned to “disrupt blockchain from the perspectives of mining, exchanges, and innovation.” In addition, he believes segmenting the firm’s “competencies and resources” would allow them to incorporate the strengths of new partners such as X2 Games.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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“This Isn’t How We Saw This Going”: Civil’s Token Sale Is Treading Water

“This Isn’t How We Saw This Going”: Civil’s Token Sale Is Treading Water

Despite a flurry of media attention surrounding the project, Civil, an Ethereum-based platform aiming to save journalism, can’t seem to get enough buyers for its token.

The project released a transparency report showing the figures behind its CVL token sale, which ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, October 15, 2018, and the numbers do not look good.

“This isn’t how we saw this going,” Civil founder Matthew Iles wrote on October 10. “We don’t know if it will work.”

The project needs to raise $8 million to meet its “soft cap” goal, but, so far, it has only raised $1.3 million from 680 people since September 18, 2018, when the sale started. The ICO money would have supported grants for Civil newsrooms, as well as original journalistic work. Civil has said in the past it will refund people if it can’t raise enough to meet its goal.

Most of the tokens ($1.1 million worth) were bought by ConsenSys, a blockchain venture studio run by Joseph Lubin, an Ethereum cofounder. ConsenSys purchased the tokens in two separate buys last month, the report said. The venture studio also backed Civil with $5 million in funding in October 2017. ConsenSys is the project’s sole investor to date.

Civil has a fixed supply of 100 million tokens. The project is holding on to 33 million tokens. Some of that will go to employees and advisors who contributed to the project early on. Another 33 million tokens will go to “mission-aligned partners” who joined the network at launch. (The Associated Press and Forbes count among those partners.) And the final 34 million tokens were to be sold to raise money for the project. Civil said it was hoping to close several large buyers in addition to ConsenSys to “go the distance,” but that hasn’t happened.

One of the problems is that Civil is only allowing individuals who actually plan to use the tokens on the platform to participate in the sale. Purchasers have to pass a test before they are allowed to buy CVL, and, according to some reports, the test is really hard to pass, especially for people who are unfamiliar with the crypto space. That means that the average investor is getting left out.

Regulatory action over the past year has also taken most of the air out of the ICO bubble that was so prominent in 2017, when ICOs were raising millions of dollars within minutes.

Iles said that “until the clock strikes midnight on Monday, we are still working nonstop on the goal of making our soft cap of $8 million.” Even if the ICO is a failure, Iles said the project will continue with support from ConsenSys until it can sustain itself “via commercial activity.”

Nevertheless, the project still needs to find a way to distribute its tokens. “There are a number of hoops to jump through to buy CVL and to prove you are not a speculator,” a Civil spokesperson told Bitcoin Magazine. “It’s not easy, and we think it needs to get better…” He went on to add: “What we will need to do is distribute them in a more continuous matter, without being tied to a soft cap or a set deadline.”

Civil said it will publish another update on its CVL sale on October 16, 2018, and plans to launch its initial publishing and governance platform within one week.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Circle Poised to Acquire Equity Crowdfunding Platform SeedInvest

Circle Poised to Acquire Equity Crowdfunding Platform SeedInvest

Cryptocurrency startup Circle is venturing deeper into crypto trading. The Boston-based company is now ready to buy equity crowdfunding firm SeedInvest.

If approved by regulators, the move could allow Circle to help match investors with fledgling companies trying to raise money via initial coin offerings (ICOs). It could also allow Circle to offer its own customers a wider selection of coins to trade. Circle made the announcement today, October 5, 2018. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This acquisition will accelerate our strategy of delivering a token marketplace that enables businesses and individuals to raise capital and interact with investors using open crypto rails and infrastructure,” Circle states.

SeedInvest, founded in 2012, is an online platform that links individuals with vetted startups. The company is selective: It says it only accepts about 1 percent of the startups that apply for a listing on its platform. Individuals who sign up on the platform can browse through that list and then, depending on their eligibility, invest in a company. All securities trades on SeedInvest are handled by SI Securities, a registered broker-dealer.

It is easy to see why this deal is attractive to Circle. Most of Circle’s profits currently come directly from token trades. The company has an over-the-counter crypto desk that handles roughly $4 billion in trades a month, according to Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire who recently spoke with Bitcoin Magazine. And earlier this year, Circle acquired crypto-to-crypto exchange Poloniex for a rumored $400 million with plans to turn it into a regulated exchange.

Allaire is preparing for a day when he believes assets of all kinds will be represented as digital tokens, many of them securities. As part of that, “We are trying to build a broad-based crypto finance platform company,” he said. That includes the “fundamental platforms” needed to operate any financial service along with “consumer projects” that allow end users to easily participate.

The SeedInvest acquisition could help protect ICO investors. New York-based SeedInvest is led by CEO Ryan Feit. Last year, Feit told the New York Times he was “legitimately concerned” about investors losing money on crowdfunded startups. “Investing in start-ups is really risky, and it’s very different than buying a used couch. We definitely do not think you should treat it like Craigslist,” he said.

One of the current requirements for listing a company on the SeedInvest platform is that a project has to have at least a minimum viable product or prototype. This contrasts sharply with the ICO world where it has not been uncommon for projects to raise multiple millions of dollars based on a white paper alone.

Circle already has roughly 270 employees in its offices around the globe. T, and the SeedInvest acquisition could bring onboard another 30 employees to Circle’s New York location.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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BitMEX’s New COO Angelina Kwan Joins the Crypto Space at “An Exciting Time”

Angelina Kwan

Angelina Kwan, former managing director and head of regulatory compliance for Hong Kong Exchange and Clearing, is taking on the position of COO of BitMEX, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, at a time when the challenges facing these exchanges are greater than ever.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Kwan told us:

“It is very exciting time for me to be joining the company. In the last three months, BitMEX broke the industry record for daily bitcoin trading volume twice and also launched two sophisticated financial products: ETH/USD perpetual swaps, and UPs and DOWNs (our first call and put options).”

This will be Kwan’s first experience working in the cryptocurrency world and, while BitMEX is registered in the Seychelles Islands, she is looking forward to building the company’s presence in Hong Kong, a recognized global hub for cryptocurrency innovation.

“Hong Kong is a great place to be with its fast pace of innovation, and evolution in technology and financial services. It’s a great springboard to China, the broader Asia region, and the rest of the world,” noted Kwan.

BitMEX CEO and co-founder Arthur Hayes said: “Welcoming Angelina — experienced in traditional finance and regulation — to the BitMEX team is a significant milestone not just for our company, but for the cryptocurrency industry as a whole. I believe Angelina’s decision to join us is a signal that the global markets are shifting focus to the rapidly-expanding domain of crypto-coins.”

A History of Working With Financial Services Regulators

Kwan’s significant regulatory compliance experience, including eight years with the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC), will be important as cryptocurrency businesses come under increasing scrutiny from regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S.

Kwan says she will be continuing the BitMEX practice of proactively monitoring and assessing the evolving global regulatory landscape.

“Regulatory compliance and prudent risk management is, and has always been, fundamental to the culture and practice of BitMEX globally. As such, BitMEX prohibits residents of various jurisdictions, including the U.S., from holding positions or entering into contracts on BitMEX,” said Kwan.

A recent report suggests that a majority of BitMEX’s users are in the U.S., so any SEC ruling, for example, would have a major impact. Recognizing the growing importance of regulatory compliance, Hayes said:

“Angelina’s vast experience in regulation, trading platforms, business development, restructuring, and investor and stakeholder relations will be pivotal as we continue the push towards mainstream cryptocurrency adoption and broaden our community.”

A Shared Commitment to Promoting Women in Crypto

One of the reasons Kwan chose BitMEX was the exchange’s commitment to promoting women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).

“BitMEX has made its commitment to meritocracy clear and is sending the message that women with deep backgrounds in finance and business can execute at the highest level within cryptocurrency companies,” said Kwan.

Kwan is a Hong Kong government-appointed member of the Women’s Commission and is Vice Chair of The Women’s Foundation, an NGO dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls in Hong Kong.

The Women’s Foundation, Kwan explains, offers “programs, mentorship and training to encourage women and girls to complete STEM programs so as to build a pipeline of female talent.”

But Kwan says that even these measures are not enough. “We have to get women to help and inspire each other as well as develop male allies, especially in the STEM fields, to encourage and offer opportunities for the pipeline of women to grow.”

Kwan notes that recent studies indicate that approximately 5 percent of crypto enthusiasts are women and also notes that women make up just 20 percent of the technology industry workforce.

Growing BitMEX’s Market Share

Kwan’s extensive experience working with global financial services firms in Asia and the U.S. makes her well placed to grow BitMEX.

“I will be responsible for overseeing and driving the company’s growth,” said Kwan, “while guiding BitMEX on its mission to offer advanced, innovative financial products for the global cryptocurrency industry.”

Kwan’s background includes restructuring and relisting a bankrupt financial services company, spearheading the establishment of new operations and companies, and serving on a number of boards and committees.

But Kwan told us that her most memorable accomplishments “have been joining organizations that are at the cusp of making a major breakthrough, so it’s with a sense of great excitement that I take on the challenge of driving BitMEX to new market heights.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Is Agile The Way To Go For A Fast-Growing Startup?

Most entrepreneurs think they are building something unique and new. In reality, over 90% of them fail. But you are not one of them. Right?      

This is exactly what I thought. Like most entrepreneurs, I have known failures and made mistakes. At the same time, I have been lucky enough to succeed a few times. I am writing this to help you prevent making the same mistakes.

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eCash Founder David Chaum Makes Bold Promises with Elixxir Blockchain

eCash Founder David Chaum Claims Invention of World’s Fastest Blockchain

Over 30 years after creating eCash, a predecessor of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which spawned the Cypherpunk movement of the 1980s, Dr. David Chaum is back in the public eye with a claim of having invented “the world’s fastest cryptocurrency.”

Chaum is widely regarded as the forefather of cryptocurrencies and the wider world of cryptographic security and online privacy because of his pioneering security research work in the ’80s. His academic paper, “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments,” laid the groundwork for modern cryptography used in securing blockchains and cryptocurrencies. The “private key” and “public key” framework he laid out decades ago is still the basis for how cryptocurrencies are kept secured in wallets.

Birth of Elixxir

Now he claims to have invented the first blockchain in the world with the capacity to handle all the needs of consumer-scale messaging and payments. The new platform, dubbed “Elixxir,” is reportedly able to process hundreds of thousands of confidential, quantum-resistant transactions every second.

According to Chaum, the Elixxir blockchain offers faster and cheaper messaging and payment solutions than all other existing blockchains, with the ability to scale to levels current blockchains cannot dream of. While Elixxir claims to be able to handle hundreds of thousands of concurrent transactions every second with no problem, Ethereum, by comparison, is only capable of handling about 15 transactions per second.

In correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine, Chaum said the response to Elixxir has been overwhelming.

“Since our announcement, 24 hours ago, we’ve had over 600 express interest in running nodes and thousands express interest in our community. Our team is delighted and humbled by the response, and we look forward to further growing and working with our community.”

Building on the background of eCash alongside more recent cryptographic innovations, Chaum claims that Elixxir will give users the benefit of speed and scalability on the level of non-blockchain platforms like PayPal or Visa — something which, if it can deliver, promises to be a game changer for the crypto industry regarding mass adoption.

Huge Promises

According to Chaum, Elixxir succeeds at two majors things that other blockchains generally fail at. The first is that it has changed the makeup of the digital signatures used to verify ownership of cryptocurrency tokens. In his view, modern digital signatures are too much of a computational hassle, which in turn prevents blockchain platforms from scaling or achieving anything approaching the speed of non-blockchain networks. Elixxir will use one digital signature per block for each node contributing to that block.

“There’s no way we can get speed and scalability if for every transaction a server has to do a public key operation like making a signature or checking a signature. We can cheat a little bit,” Chaum remarked at the recently concluded Consensus event in Singapore.

Elixxir effectively “cheats” by carrying out public key operations “in advance,” a framework that Chaum claims has not been attempted before, and which delivers speeds that are up to 1,000 times faster than any other blockchain in existence. This, Chaum says, is a breakthrough.

When asked if his blockchain can rival some popular networks such as Lightning, Chaum said, “Elixxir can take blockchain to a new level.

“A consumer messaging and payment app with performance, privacy and capacity that consumers are used to with today’s centralized systems. But at the same time, it can be resistant to attack even at the national adversary level.”

In addition to speed, Elixxir’s cryptography “cheating” effectively future proofs the network against the specter of quantum computer attacks at a time when there is a substantial amount of debate over whether quantum computing poses a threat to blockchains.

For now, the project remains focused on transactions and is still not ready to hit the market anytime soon. Nevertheless, Chaum believes that Elixxir could eventually grow into much more than just a cryptocurrency by becoming a fixture in online security frameworks.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Crypto Startup Reels in Twitch Executive to Spearhead Adoption Strategies

Exec Leaves Amazon-Owned Twitch to Head Marketing at Kin Crypto

Kin Ecosystem Foundation, the nonprofit governance organization for the Kin cryptocurrency, has announced the appointment of Matthew DiPietro as its chief marketing officer (CMO) today, September 18, 2018. Prior to joining Kin as its CMO, DiPietro was senior vice president of marketing at Twitch, the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers, where he drove mainstream adoption of live streaming.

Messaging app Kik was founded in 2009, and it became known as the first chat app that went viral in 2010, growing from zero to a million users within 15 days. The company also became the first chat app to add its own digital currency when it launched the KIN token early last year.

Kik believes that through its token it can bring together the areas of communications, information and commerce in a new way that will fuel how today’s generation and future ones connect.

The KIN token launched on Ethereum’s blockchain, then switched to Stellar’s, and then in a bid to eliminate transaction fees for its users, it forked Stellar to create the Kin blockchain. The KIN token recently achieved 1.2 million transactions per day.

The Kin Ecosystem Foundation is the nonprofit organization managing the development of the KIN token.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, DiPietro explained why he decided to leave Twitch for the Kin Ecosystem Foundation.

“It reminds me very much of the early days of Twitch. It’s an exciting concept with audacious goals, a talented team, and killer technology,” he commented.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive adoption of a transformative technology that can fundamentally change the relationship between consumers and developers. I’m looking forward to creating and executing a marketing strategy that helps make that happen.”

DiPietro joins Kin after spending eight years at Twitch, where he created the company’s brand and led marketing initiatives at all levels, including the creation of TwitchCon in 2015, the company’s annual convention for Twitch creators and their communities.

From being the only marketing employee at Twitch, DiPietro grew the team to over 40 people who worked on the platform’s branding, content, communications and much more. Before Twitch, DiPietro also managed marketing for Socialcam, a social, mobile video application, often called “Instagram for video,” which was later acquired for $60 million.

Kin’s appointment of a former Twitch executive follows the growing trend that sees blockchain startups poach experienced executives from traditional business sectors. Earlier this year, Ripple brought in Kahina Van Dyke, the former global director of financial services and payments partnerships at Facebook, as senior vice president of business and corporate development. Gemini, the Winklevoss twins’ cryptocurrency exchange, also hired Robert Cornish of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to serve as its first chief technology officer.

DiPietro, however, believes the real talent resides in the people making the bets on the companies, not the other way around.

“I think what we’re seeing is the first round of experienced talent coming into [the] space because we can start to see the outlines of what success looks like. There’s now enough information to start making educated bets, whereas previously it was anybody’s guess. I’m betting on Kin.”

In his new role, DiPietro will be driving marketing strategy for the Kin brand, platform and its associated products and services.

“What I hope to be able to do is to bring a level of clarity to the value proposition,” DiPietro said.

“Too many crypto projects can’t identify their customer, the customer problem, and the value proposition, and are unable to tell this story in a clear, compelling way. I want to tell that story for Kin because it’s a good one.”

DiPietro’s appointment comes on the heels of Kin’s accelerated momentum in the crypto industry, including the announcement of the Kin Developer Program and the launch of the Kinit Beta app, the first publicly available app dedicated to Kin.

The Kin Developer Program has committed nearly $3 million for qualified developers who can create relevant use cases using the Kin cryptocurrency in their apps. The program promises to reward individual developers who provide “meaningful experiences in consumer apps” with up to $140,000 in cash and Kin currency.

For Kin’s new CMO, what Twitch did in its early days is similar to what Kin is trying to do for decentralizing messaging services.

According to DiPietro, Twitch stood out for its unwavering focus on the creators. First, it created a category for them and then figured out a way to compensate them for the value they created without burdening the consumer.

“In many ways, what we’re trying to do with Kin is to make that concept scalable across platforms and consumer apps. We are laser focused on the app developer and the consumers they serve. Kin provides a viable path to building a world in which all parts of the ecosystem are compensated appropriately for the value they create,” he concluded.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Spark, a New GUI Lightning Wallet for Bitcoin, Now Available for Download

Spark, a New GUI Lightning Wallet for Bitcoin, Now Available for Download

Spark is a web-based GUI wallet designed for speed, safety and simplicity that utilizes Blockstream’s Lightning implementation c-lightning as its backend. The platform allows for easy spending and receiving of bitcoins over the Lightning Network, which is renowned for its payment speeds. Users can also run their own Bitcoin-based nodes, c-lightning nodes and Spark GUIs in a completely trustless environment.

Independent developer Nadav Ivgi is the developer behind the project. Also an ambassador at the Tel Aviv Bitcoin Embassy and the founder of Bitrated, a company that seeks to bring stronger consumer protection to blockchain applications, Ivgi developed Spark through a sponsorship from blockchain development company Blockstream.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, he says Spark is a “purely off-chain wallet that provides a simple way to send and receive Lightning payments on multiple platforms. Spark is free and open-source software released under the terms of the MIT license.”

Spark provides users with a simple and minimalistic interface, designed to make things easy even for those with minimal crypto experience. It also includes automatic self-signed certificates, along with LetsEncrypt integration and Tor hidden service (v3) support for broader safety and security.

According to Ivgi, Spark can be used in three different ways, the first being through web browsers from any desktop or mobile devices. “For this, users need to set up Spark as a web server alongside their c-lightning node, which they can then access from everywhere over the web,” he comments.

Spark can also be used via desktop apps for Linux, macOS and Windows. These apps can connect directly to the c-lightning node and don’t require a Spark server setup. Lastly, Spark can be used with an Android mobile app, which connects to the Spark server and acts as a “remote control” for a c-lightning node hosted at home or on the cloud. Though only compatible with Android, at present, Ivgi says iOS will soon be an option.

Once Spark is started, the platform generates and prints a random username and password that the customer can utilize to log into the wallet. They can then customize their credentials once this first step is completed and bind an address to the app, which will allow them to access Spark remotely in the future.

Ivgi says that LetsEncrypt and Tor allow remote clients to access their accounts while enjoying the highest level of privacy. “When configured to accept remote connections, Spark will automatically enable TLS encryption with a self-signed certificate,” he explains. “This improves security but causes browsers to display a security warning about the certificate not being “certificate authority” (CA) signed. To make getting a CA-signed certificate as easy as possible, Spark has a built-in integration with LetsEncrypt, a certificate authority that gives free certificates with an automated API. After enabling this, encryption will work with no warnings and with a green lock bar.”

CA-signed also means “self-signed;” that is, an identity certificate is signed by the same entity whose identity it certifies. Regarding Tor, Igvi describes it as “ideal” for setting up Spark at home.

“Overall, I would say that my goal was to create a user-friendly wallet UI for using Lightning in day-to-day payments with the tools to make it easy for users to host their Lightning node at home under their full control and operating it remotely,” he says. “Integration of Spark into plug-and-play hardware solutions like the Casa Lightning Node would help make that even more accessible and is something I’m very interested in seeing develop.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Afrolynk: African Tech and Entrepreneurship

I attend many tech conferences around Europe (and occasionally the World), and Africa is always underrepresented. I was delighted to receive an invite to Afrolynk, an annual event that aims to bridge the European and African entrepreneurial scenes. Entering the Microsoft offices in Berlin for the event, a different crowd greeted me from typical tech and startup events, which was an incredible sight to see.

The day started with a round of drumming to bring people into the room and began a solid day of panels and keynotes. Attendees are sharply and colorfully dressed, energetic, and the variety of languages spoken around the venue highlights the multiculturalism of the African continent.

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Origin Protocol Launches Decentralized Messaging Platform

Origin Protocol Launches Decentralized Messaging Platform

Origin Protocol, one of the early initial token offerings listed on CoinList, has announced the launch of its new decentralized messaging service. Origin’s latest offering could challenge encrypted giant Telegram, which, while not decentralized, is widely used within the cryptocurrency community.

Decentralized Options for Origin Participants

Origin Messaging was designed to meet the need for a decentralized messaging system, not only for Origin, but for the entire ecosystem. The team believes this is a core service to their marketplace. In their words:

“Messaging is [a] critical component necessary to facilitate meaningful transactions [between users].”

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Origin Co-founder Josh Fraser said the company is built on the belief that “buyers and sellers” should be able to “transact without rent-seeking middlemen.”

He continued, “When you cut out the middleman, you also remove their fees, and both the buyer and the seller are able to get a better price. We’re passionate about promoting free and transparent commerce and giving our community a stake in the network.”

The team has expressed confidence that a decentralized, encrypted, real-time service will best suit users. The Origin Messaging service was designed by leading research and development engineer Yu Pan, who is a co-founder of PayPal and a top engineer at YouTube.

Origin engineer Micah Alcorn outlined the features in Origin’s blog post. These include an open-source framework and secure, end-to-end encryption. According to him, user privacy is paramount, and no one — including Origin and the National Security Agency (NSA) — should have the ability to eavesdrop on user conversations.

The platform is also fully decentralized, built on top of OrbitDB, which is a serverless, distributed, peer-to-peer database that uses IPFS as its data storage and IPFS pubsub to automatically synchronize databases with peers. Furthermore, it is entirely free because though it leverages Ethereum’s infrastructure and signing capabilities, no messages are published to the Ethereum blockchain, which means there are no associated gas fees.

He also lists speed, auditability, ease of use and anonymity as useful features of the new platform. Interestingly, the Origin dApp is ERC-725 compatible, which means users can create non-fungible assets that are used to verify the authenticity of the message recipient’s identity.

According to Origin, “ERC-725 gives you a smart contract that you alone control. This smart contract represents your identity on the blockchain. You can attach as much identifying information to your identity smart contract as you want. You can also get attestations from other trusted third-parties like Origin that verify specific aspects of your identity and add those to your identity smart contract. You can see an example of this in action in the Origin dApp where Origin will verify information like your email address, phone number and Facebook account. After Origin verifies that you control those accounts, we will sign an attestation on your behalf that you can attach to your identity smart contract.”

Of course, users also have the option to include no identifying information at all and choose to be known as nothing but an Ethereum address.

Origin is not the first cryptocurrency project to pitch a decentralized messaging service. Obsidian, a fork of Stratis, for example, has launched its own decentralized messaging platform. Popular messaging app Telegram also had plans to decentralize its services by launching an ICO, though it took a step back from this plan in May of 2018 by canceling the public portion of its fundraising.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Civil: Reimagining the News With a Blockchain-Based Architecture

Civil: Reimagining the News With a Blockchain-Based Architecture

Civil, a blockchain-based journalism startup, promises a comprehensive solution to create a “decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism” by directly supporting content creators, fighting “fake news,” and removing advertising from the news experience. While Civil’s goal –– to flip the current journalism model on its head –– is ambitious, the team has already recruited a network of newsrooms and has secured $5 million from ConsenSys to build their product.

The State of Online News in 2018

It’s hard to verify the trustworthiness of online news in 2018. From fake news spread through social media networks such as Twitter to “deepfake” videos of President Obama circulating on YouTube, consumers must be ever vigilant when they’re looking to catch up on recent events.

And the migration of news online is accelerating, especially among younger generations. According to the Pew Research Center for Journalism and Media, as of early 2016, only 20 percent of U.S. adults and only 5 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported that they accessed news via a print medium.

As businesses, online publications generally rely on advertisement-first models, so that they can serve consumers free news in exchange for the consumers’ eyeballs on targeted ads or sponsored messages. To maximize profit, it is in the online publications’ best interest to serve as many ads as possible. This profit maximization may interfere with a user’s news-browsing experience and the impartiality of a newsroom.

Decentralizing Journalism

With its decentralized, blockchain-based protocol, Civil hopes to address the issues of fake news and advertisement-driven newsrooms by creating an ad-free economy in which journalists publish directly to readers.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Civil co-founder and CEO Matthew Iles described the platform as a “new economy underpinned by a mission-aligned, self-governance mechanism” that is designed to “behavioral-economically incentivize everyone to support journalism more effectively than current models.”

To ensure a successful ecosystem, Civil utilizes a nonprofit organization to guide development and key milestones, a constitution outlining responsible journalism, and a crowdsourced “whitelist” of credible publishers.

In the Civil economy, most transactions take place using CVL tokens. Publishers earn CVL tokens for their posts, readers pay for access with CVL tokens, and publishers must stake CVL tokens to request entry to the Civil Registry, the platform’s “whitelist” of credible sources.

It is important to note that publishers and readers can also transact in fiat currency if they prefer.

The Civil Registry

Utilizing the mechanics of a token-curated registry, the Civil Registry “whitelist” helps vet the quality of content creators and protects the integrity of the platform.

Token-curated registries allow people to stake tokens for or against an item that is proposed to be added to a decentralized list. In this way, these lists are maintained through economic incentives and the Wisdom of the Crowds principle –– the idea that large groups of people are collectively smarter than individuals.

The Civil Registry is a list that includes credible journalists if they are approved by the community. For example, if a user seeks to add a newsroom to the Civil Registry, he or she has to stake CVL tokens. Similarly, users seeking to challenge a newsroom’s standing in the Civil Registry must stake CVL tokens as well. If a user’s request to accept or deny a new newsroom to the Civil Registry is approved, he or she will keep the staked CVL tokens; however, if the request is denied, the user will lose his or her CVL tokens.

By inciting community curation, the Civil Registry could increase reader trust and help determine when “fake news” sources are unreliable.

Platform Growth

Since raising $5 million from ConsenSys, Civil has deployed $1 million in grants to entice around 100 journalists and 15 organizations to publish on its platform and has contributed £450,000 to European Journalism Center grants for emerging media organizations.

Civil has utilized grants to bootstrap a wide variety of newsrooms such as The Colorado Sun, a local, investigative outlet; Cannabis Wire, a publication covering the billion-dollar cannabis industry; and ZigZag, a podcast that features “come-to-Jesus moments and mini-stories about entrepreneurship.”

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Manoush Zomorodi, co-founder of the ZigZag Podcast alongside Jen Poyant, explained the duo’s inspiration to work with Civil, “We were both so intrigued by the idea of radically rethinking typical business models for journalism. As someone who has covered the tech industry, I was also motivated by the opportunity to be part of a potential solution to the problem.”

ZigZag wrapped up Season One of their podcast on Thursday. According to Zomorodi, since their June 2018 release, they’re close to a million downloads across 11 episodes. The team plans to cover the CLV token sale in September and release Season Two in October. As the Civil platform continues to grow, newsrooms like ZigZag will be interesting to track as case studies for this next-generation journalism model.

Growing the Civil Platform

Iles cites journalistic independence, full business model control, improved licensing and syndication, organic audience development, permanent archiving, and a network of journalism technology partners among the incentives for journalists to join the Civil platform.

While these perks and Civil’s mission to create a new model for news are potentially valuable for journalists and readers, there are many “what ifs” involved with this startup-style venture and its long-term viability.

According to Iles, Civil’s greatest challenges so far have been consumer education and product design.

“Not only are these concepts completely foreign to most people, but even when we achieve the ‘lightbulb moment’ with someone new to Civil as to why decentralization and blockchain could unlock a better way forward for the industry, they then have to step through so many complicated, confusing and daunting steps in order to even participate in this new economy for journalism.”

To achieve long-term viability, the Civil platform must lure readers of traditional “free” news sources to the Civil platform and convince them that directly paying content creators for articles is the next-generation news model. The platform will also have to invest in consistent, quality content; incentivize talented writers on traditional advertising-enabled newsrooms to convert to Civil newsrooms; and help new newsrooms market against publishing giants with larger budgets.

It’s also not clear that these advertising-free business models are sustainable. For example, Medium.com, a prominent ad-free news platform, boasts over 60 million monthly visitors. Yet, the company laid off a third of its staff in 2017 as the site struggled to grow profits and began searching for a new business model.

While the future of the journalism business model is unclear, Zomorodi echoes the Civil ethos:

“The key is removing the dependency on clicks and ad dollars and finding more sustainable ways of getting people to support the journalism they find integral to their lives. I don’t know that the tech is ready for long-term viability but that’s what [ZigZag] is documenting: the doubt, the optimism, and a new kind of relationship between techies and hacks.”

To continue scaling the platform and funding content creation, Civil will be selling CVL tokens in an ICO.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Coinberry Traders Keep Control of Keys With BRD Crypto Wallet Integration

Coinberry Traders Keep Control of Keys With BRD Crypto Wallet Integration

Cryptocurrency trading service Coinberry has partnered with BRD, a secure bitcoin wallet service, in a deal that promises to bring BRD’s Canadian users onto Coinberry’s no-fee trading platform. The deal was announced on Monday, August 20, 2018, at the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Ontario.

Toronto-based Coinberry is the first federally registered, commission-free trading platform for crypto assets in Canada, creating value for users using proprietary algorithms to source desirable crypto asset prices from trusted exchanges. BRD (formerly known as Bread Wallet), for its part, operates from its headquarters in Switzerland, providing crypto wallet services for more than $8 billion worth of assets to over 1.2 million customers in more than 150 countries around the world.

Working together under the new partnership, the plan is to integrate Coinberry’s fee-free platform with BRD’s non-custodial wallet in a deal that promises to have a positive impact on the Canadian crypto industry. With this alliance, BRD has secured a reliable partner that would enable faster payments (on-ramp) and remittances (off-ramp) into fiat.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, BRD Chief Product Officer James MacWhyte said:

“They [Coinberry] are the only solution that allows users to get bitcoin using Canadian dollars in Canada. We actually don’t have a way to do that right now. If I’m a BRD user, I don’t have a way to get coins within the platform. We want to give choice and opportunity for our users to be empowered to hold their own cryptocurrency assets. [Coinberry] provides them an easy way to buy crypto, but we don’t want to hold that crypto. That’s where BRD comes in because that’s what we provide — we’re a cryptocurrency wallet.”

BRD’s non-custodial wallet technology uses a decentralized framework to remove the centralized risk factor of a single “honeypot” that hackers can exploit to harvest data or pass it across to any centralized authority.

It allows users to quickly and seamlessly buy, deposit and withdraw bitcoin on the Coinberry platform, while keeping control of their keys at all times, which is a crucial consideration at a time when exchanges are proving to still be vulnerable to hacks.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine at the conference, Coinberry President Andrei Polikov explained the reasoning behind the partnership.

“BRD is both a pioneer and technology leader in cryptocurrency, and we are very excited to join forces. BRD’s wallet has all the functionality a crypto user could want, and we expect BRD’s community will enjoy taking advantage of Coinberry’s great rates on crypto. You should be in control, and you should be holding your assets.”

For his part, BRD Chief Strategy Officer Aaron Lasher praised the security and simplicity that the integration will create for users.

“Eventually our users will be able to just hit a toggle switch and move from their Coinberry account to their BRD wallet, not even needing to worry about private or public keys. That sort of integration is possible with trading partnerships like this.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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AMA With Origin Team Reveals Plans for Decentralized Sharing Economy

sharing

Matt Liu, Josh Fraser and former PayPal head Yu Pan want to bring the blockchain to the sharing economy. The trio is devising a platform with an emphasis on inclusive, peer-to-peer service hubs designed to decentralize the same consumer cost-friendly business models that have made companies like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft so popular in recent years.

On August 9, 2018, the three hosted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit to discuss the project known as Origin.

According to Fraser, Origin has sought to build something that would classify as a “community effort” from the very beginning. Inspired by systems like the Ethereum Project, Protocol Labs and Ox, executives aim to give individuals new ways of trading code, information and cryptocurrency.

What Does Origin Do?

Origin targets the global sharing economy by seeking to create decentralized, peer-to-peer marketplaces. Buyers and sellers can engage in transactions through a distributed open web using the Ethereum blockchain and the Interplanetary File System (IPFS). The platform is fully decentralized and claims to decrease censorship.

One of the initial questions was why Pan — who was previously involved in both Google and PayPal, some of the internet’s biggest companies — decided to work with Origin and enter the crypto field in the first place. Pan replied that it was at PayPal where he met both Fraser and Liu, who increased his interest in the ideals and strengths of digital currencies.

“It was just really exciting seeing what the field has become,” he explained. “Before this, I was working on VR, mobile streaming, kids’ activities, electronic lending and some robot stuff.”

Bigger, Better and Broader

The question served as a minor introduction. From there, the inquiries became more complicated and diverse, and centered on Origin’s later plans. One Reddit user asked about the company’s finances and potential insurance offerings. Insurance has become a top issue in the crypto space — particularly how exchanges and crypto-based ventures plan to insure and protect workers and clients alike.

According to Liu, new forms of decentralized insurance options are likely to emerge in the future, as there probably won’t be a parent company providing initial protection for such platforms. While nothing presently exists, he says that Origin is working on arbitration that utilizes crypto-economic incentives and on-demand insurance services.

One Thing Leads to Another

The discussion on insurance led to one regarding customer safety, as well as company compliance. With regulation still up in the air, many members of the public say they don’t trust cryptocurrency and call it “risky.”

One user stated that centralized platforms have “vetting systems or programs for new drivers or hosts to be initiated” and asked if these elements would still be present with a decentralized platform.”

Fraser responded that Origin will instill strong identity layers through what’s known as the ERC 725, an open identity standard built through the Ethereum network. “We’ve seen the dangers of companies having too much power from controlling user data,” he explains. “From a practical standpoint, a lot of the other features we’re wanting to build into our platform require a trustworthy identity system in place for them to work. We’re proud to be able to contribute on this important standard for the benefit of the whole community.

“Users on the Origin platform will be able to build their reputations across multiple marketplaces, and people will be able to decide for themselves who they want to trust and transact with. Trusted third parties will be able to verify parts of your identity, and then publish attestations on the blockchain on your behalf.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Crypto Startup Taps Larry King in Shared Effort to Combat Climate Change

Crypto Startup Taps Larry King in Shared Effort to Combat Climate Change

In a message on GEAR Token’s website, iconic political talk show host Larry King says that global climate change is threatening humanity’s existence and is “a potentially catastrophic issue from the combustion of fossil fuels … putting immense pressure on the environment and on our health.”

King says that “this is simply not sustainable” and “the pace of innovations and investment in green energy and renewables is not enough to help counteract the use of dirty fuels.”

King is focusing his energies as a member of GEAR’s Advisory Board, helping the small startup, still in incubation, to raise funds for the development of green mining technology to reduce energy consumption in bitcoin mining that has given bitcoin a bad rap with environmentalists.

Aware that the U.S. government is also getting a bad rap from environmentalists, GEAR is hoping to counter any doubts that global climate change is a serious issue.

The GEAR team told Bitcoin Magazine:

“We want to highlight the increasing importance of investing in green projects and startups, given the changing political landscape against efforts to prevent further global warming, such as the U.S. pulling out of the Paris climate accords.”

Indi Pathak, president of GEAR, explained:

“Our mission is to use blockchain and crypto to help and give back to the Earth through things such as building more and more tangible, real-world assets, such as hydroelectric farms, solar farms, etc. every year with GEAR GROW, while also using GEAR CAPITAL to fund and support startups working on the next big technological innovations in green energy and renewables.”

Larry King calls GEAR “the world’s first closed-loop green energy and renewables-focused token investment network helping to promote environmental sustainability.”

Linking Traditional Investment Strategies With ICOs and Tokens

GEAR hopes to be a bridge for traditional investors between traditional investment tools and the new world of ICOs and tokens.

Pathak explains:

“We want GEAR to be a way to connect and introduce standard fiat investors to crypto in a way they already understand and trust.”

“Using the team’s background in traditional finance, we’re aiming to bridge the gap between standard capital markets and current crypto investors to create an investment opportunity that is attractive to both.”

“This involves being compliant with markets through things like SEC filings, and making crypto more digestible and accessible to traditional investors through things they’re more comfortable with, like traditional PPMs and memorandums.”

Crypto Energy Use Is Growing

As discussed at a recent mining conference, the pressure on cryptocurrencies is growing as the sheer volume of energy that must be used to solve increasingly difficult equations increases.

GEAR says that the total energy consumed by the BTC network in one year could power 6,585,585 homes for that same year. One bitcoin transaction uses enough energy to power 34 homes per day.

Bitcoin mining uses the same amount of electricity as the countries of Chile and Austria and more than Switzerland, Columbia and Iceland according to a graph on GEAR’s website.

Changing ICO Regulatory Landscape

Despite current regulatory uncertainty, GEAR Token is working closely with U.S. and Canadian regulators to “be as compliant as possible, while also trying to strengthen more regulation in the space by sharing our own insights with regulators,” said Pathak.

GEAR Blockchain Inc. has filed a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the sale of GEAR tokens both inside and outside the U.S. under the Securities Act of 1933, and within Canada as a supplementary offering with the Ontario Securities Commission.

GEAR wants a more certain regulatory environment to give stability to ICOs, said Pathak.

Our view is that more regulation is needed in the space to nurture an environment for legitimate offerings and bring more trust into the space.

GEAR’s Roadshow Heads to Toronto

The GEAR team recently returned from a roadshow across Asia, after meeting with some of the largest suppliers of mining equipment.

Their next stop includes a token sale launch at the Blockchain Futurist Conference in Toronto, Canada, where King will be moderating a panel on Wednesday, August 15 entitled “Mass Influence and Adoption of Blockchain Technology,” featuring Charles Hoskinson (CEO, IOHK), Justin Wu (advisor, GEAR Blockchain), Al Burgio (Founder, DigitalBits.io), and Michael Moyal (Co-founder, Slate).

Pathak told Bitcoin Magazine:

“With Larry’s global recognizability spanning generations, he’s really helping us to make blockchain and crypto more accessible and approachable to those who are still unsure of and new to the space. Larry has also interviewed everyone from presidents to business leaders to key influencers, so has the ability to open up a lot of doors to spread the message of GEAR and our positive social impact.”

GEAR is being incubated by Canadian merchant banking group Forbes & Manhattan, founded by Stan Bharti who also serves as one of GEAR’s advisors and is also a speaker at the upcoming Futurist conference.

“Our launch and goal at Futurist is to raise awareness for both the need for a change in current mining methods,” said Pathak, “and the importance of creating an environment that helps to incubate greener blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Lightning Network Payment System “SparkSwap” Makes Its Official Debut

Lightning Network Payment System “SparkSwap” Makes Its Official Debut

A new way to trade bitcoin and digital currencies is now in the books. SparkSwap is the first crypto exchange to be built on the Lightning Network. It allows users to trade both bitcoin and altcoins in seconds without depositing assets with a third party.

In a blog post, SparkSwap founder Trey Griffith said, “You can trade between different blockchains (currently Bitcoin and Litecoin, with others coming soon), with trades settling in about a second — a transaction time comparable to some of the leading centralized cryptocurrency exchanges.

“In an industry that, at times, seems to value hype and white papers over delivered, working software, we’ve opted for the latter. Our software is in a pre-alpha state, but we’ve successfully used it to execute BTC/LTC trades on the Bitcoin and Litecoin testnets.”

SparkSwap is made up of two primary components. The first is called the Broker and is the software run by users. It interprets user actions and converts them into network actions. It also executes payment channel network swaps and manages user wallets and private keys.

The second component is known as the Relayer, which is software run by staff members. It connects brokers who wish to execute monetary swaps; provides orderbook updates; and mitigates fraud and market manipulation. The Relayer also assists users with agreeing on swap prices and executes trades over payment channel networks like the Lightning Network, which eliminates the need for third parties.

Griffith explains, “With SparkSwap, you no longer need to choose between fast settlement, liquid trading pairs, and maintaining control of your assets. Your assets are no longer exposed to theft or loss by exchanges, either from bad actors or local governments.”

Crypto enthusiasts once believed that the Lightning Network was limited strictly to bitcoin, though this isn’t necessarily the case. For the longest time, bitcoin and altcoin exchanges occurred through processes known as atomic swaps where, if one individual wanted to trade altcoins for bitcoin while another sought to trade bitcoin for altcoins, they could trade by submitting two transactions: one to the bitcoin blockchain and the other to the respective altcoin blockchain.

The bitcoin from the second individual is sent to the first, who can then claim it, granted he reveals a secret number as part of the on-chain claim-transaction. This secret number, in turn, lets the second individual claim the altcoin on its respective blockchain. This prevents fraud from either end, while ensuring each party receives their respective funds.

Even though the process worked, it was also a hassle. The Lightning Network improves on atomic swaps by connecting not two blockchains but two payment channels, which can allow multiple parties to trade back and forth without trusting one another.

The Lightning Network can also be used to send transactions across different blockchain platforms, thereby permitting currencies to change owners off-chain. The result is a trustless environment in which currencies can move about without recording the transactions on specific blockchains.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine last year, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee stated, “Previous atomic swaps that I have done were on-chain and had the on-chain limitations of slow [transactions] and high transaction fees. Off-chain atomic swaps are significantly better. They are instant, [have] low fees and better protect one’s privacy.”

Griffith claims that SparkSwap works by utilizing the same trustless processes over the Lightning Network. He also says that while there is still more work to be done, the system is ready for public use, as staff members are eager to witness the community’s reaction and improve upon the technology from there.

“We’d like to be helpful if we can,” he states.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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ShapeShift to Add Multi-Crypto Swapping Tool to Its Exchange Platform

ShapeShift to Add Multi-Crypto Swapping Tool to Its Exchange Platform

On August 8, 2018, ShapeShiftAG, the parent company of ShapeShift.io, one of the world’s largest decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges, announced its acquisition of Bitfract, a blockchain software startup based in Austin, Texas.

Bitfract’s crypto trading tool allows users to swap bitcoin for a basket of cryptocurrencies within a single transaction.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, ShapeShift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees revealed that this sort of multi-crypto trading solution has been a long-term target of ShapeShift’s internal engineering team. One thing that stood out about Bitfract for Voorhees was the “creativity and drive of the team.”

“They used our API brilliantly, and taking steps toward acquiring the company seemed like the natural course for us to take,” Voorhees added.

For his part, Bitfract CEO and co-founder Willy Ogorzaly stated:

“ShapeShift has always aligned most closely with our mission and values. When Erik asked if we wanted to join ShapeShift, the answer was immediately yes.”

Ogorzaly said they welcomed the idea of being acquired as his team had become “incredibly familiar with ShapeShift’s API” and how to leverage it as a “tool for innovation.”

Using Bitfract’s tool, users will able to diversify their crypto asset portfolios without exposing themselves to the risk factors of multiple transactions including security risks, time losses and extra transaction fees. The tool also makes it extremely easy to adopt investment positions in a wide variety of crypto assets.

It allows users the ability to choose the specific assets they want and the relevant percentage for each asset. Users send bitcoin to the destination wallet address, and their requested crypto assets are then delivered to them in a simple, seamless process.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

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Bodhi Bets on the Decentralized Prediction Marketplace

Bodhi Bets on the Decentralized Prediction Marketplace

As with brick-and-mortar industries that are slowly fading away to the globalism of the online world, so too will the traditional prediction market industry have to innovate to keep up with the sheer efficiency, reliability and security that the decentralized prediction markets promise to bring.

Augur (REP) has grabbed headlines lately with the launch of its highly anticipated prediction market earlier this month. Ethereum-based futures market DApp Gnosis (GNO) is also under development and running on the Ethereum testnet. Meanwhile, Bodhi (BOT/BOE), another decentralized application, has been operating on the Qtum mainnet since April 23, 2018.

These decentralized prediction platforms aim to disrupt the institutional futures markets by lowering the barrier to entry, allowing more people to cast predictions on a global scale and increase the mindshare of information; creating transparency in the prediction process via the blockchain ledger and smart contracts; increasing the integrity and accountability of payments; and lowering the costs to transact in the prediction markets.

Predictions can be made on just about anything: 1) the financial markets, 2) information in general, 3) insurance claims, 4) sports lotteries, or 5) anything that isn’t immoral. For instance, the financial markets would gladly welcome Michael-Burry-number-crunching predictions on what to invest in and the general information markets would benefit from open-sourced information, in which participants use their closed-source information and other resources they may have to support their prediction analysis.

How Does Bodhi Work?

Bodhi is a DApp that currently runs on the Qtum (QTUM) network, using the QRC20 token BOT and QTUM to run on the Qtum network. The team plans to include the Ethereum (ETH) user base by allowing Bodhi to run on the Ethereum network through its cross-chain implementation initiative; they have already created the ERC20 token Bodhi On Ethereum (BOE). The Bodhi Ethereum DApp is expected be released on the Ethereum network in Q4 2018, according to Bodhi Founder Xiahong Lin in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

On the Qtum platform, QTUM is used to pay for the transaction fees to operate on the Qtum network and to wager bets and the BOT is used “primarily to arbitrate against bad actors,” Lin said. In this way, both QTUM and BOT are needed to power the Bodhi DApp on the Qtum network. Similarly, when Bodhi is released on the Ethereum network, ether will be used to pay for the Ethereum network transaction fees and to wager bets and BOE will be used “mainly to arbitrate against bad actors,” according to Lin.

Although the current version only supports wagering with QTUM, the Bodhi DApp is designed to scale and allow it to use any cryptocurrency that is not a security, meaning it can eventually run on stablecoins and others. This larger scope means more people will be able to contribute their research and place a bet on that research to predict the outcome of a prediction — which should lead to better prediction results.

Bodhi uses third-party oracles to verify predictions; to further increase autonomy, when the BOT/BOE holders involved in a prediction contest the result, BOT/BOE holders can each participate in voting directly for the answer themselves. If a previous round’s result is not contested within 48 hours, it is then locked in and becomes the final result of the prediction.

However, if the prediction result is contested within the time limit, then the new round requires 10 percent more BOT/BOE than in the previous round to place a vote on the new result in the current round. The result from the previous round(s) is no longer able to be voted on in the current round. For example, consider there are four prediction results to vote on: A, B, C and D. If the previous round’s BOT/BOE holders majority vote resulted in answer A in the last round, then in the current round, any result other than A can be voted on, and it’s only in a round after the current one that prediction result A can be voted on again.

This voting process continues until the BOT/BOE holders no longer contest the result. This helps dial in the result to the correct result by requiring 10 percent more BOT/BOE than in the previous round to cast a vote. The voting process is meant to make it harder for bad actors to overpower the system and it uses “game theory as a theory of conflict resolution,” according to Lin.

The question of immoral predictions is a real concern. However, Bodhi seeks to address this by allowing BOT/BOE stakeholders to moderate the community by voting on which predictions the community deems illegal or malevolent which, in turn, should allow the stakeholders to preserve their shared interest in the platform.

The Road Map

Lin said Bodhi is developing a social media plugin to put the power of the decentralized prediction market at the fingertips of social media users, starting with the social media platform WeChat, creating a seamless integration between the centralized and the decentralized. Lin described it this way:

“User experience and user growth are the two key metrics for building a widely adopted prediction market. The Bodhi social network plugin will allow users to create a prediction market directly within a social network and easily share it with their friends to participate. Imagine that you are in a WeChat group, while you are talking about some topic, you create a prediction event with respect to that topic right away, and your friends can make predictions immediately. We are going to build a social network gadget that can associate your social network account with your Qtum/Ethereum wallet, so that it will automatically take your input within a social network and synchronize it with Bodhi’s prediction market.”

They also have “Bodhi Light” in the works: the development of a lightweight Bodhi application client version “which is meant to remove the need for the Qtum desktop wallet in [the] DApp,” Lin said.

Disclosure: The writer holds both QTUM and BOT.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Original Link

Project Management Software for Small Teams

For startups and small businesses, it’s crucial to start using special project management tools early on. However, the price of most tools is barely affordable for a new business. The good news is that a tool with all the necessary functionalities can be cost-efficient! Here is a list of free project management software tools that are great to start working on your projects with.

1. GanttProject

GanttProject allows you to organize work structure and manage projects in an easy way. Create tasks and break work down in a hierarchical tree, set deadlines, priorities, and milestones, and create dependency constraints between tasks. Set up profiles for system users with basic contact information, pay rates, and roles. Assign them work and monitor their workload.

You can export your data from the app in different formats for processing and analyzing it in other software. The app can be installed on Windows, OSX and Linux machines and works as a desktop tool without an Internet connection.

2. VivifyScrum

VivifyScrum is a Scrum and Kanban app for software development teams. It helps plan and manage development sprints, monitor work progress, and accumulates a backlog of features for future sprints. The tool is a single-page app with a clear view of all its boards. It’s cloud-based, so it is available from anywhere and doesn’t require any installation works. Its free plan includes basic features, one active sprint, one active integration, and limited disk space for file storage. The paid Premium plan unlocks advanced functionality, unlimited disk space, and any number of active sprints and external integrations.

3. actiTIME

actiTIME is a work management and time-tracking app for teams of any size. Simple and intuitive, it allows project managers to distribute teams by projects and monitor work progress, set up estimates and compare them with time their teams actually spend on work, and get valuable insights by running time and cost reports. The tool is available in the cloud and as on-premise software. The basic on-premise version for up to 5 users is free, so this option is a great choice for small teams and startups.

4. Orchard Collaboration

Orchard Collaboration is a ticketing, project management and collaboration tool targeted at website development and content management. It allows planning projects and controlling their progress, creating tickets and issues per project, and inviting customers to the projects. The system integrates with GIT and SVN servers and with third-party services for more efficient work on your projects. As for price, Orchard Collaboration is a free and open-source tool.

5. Teamweek

This tool is designed to visualize the process of project management. It allows you to create project roadmaps, get an overview of your long-term plans, and see your team’s current advancement. Set up team timelines, plan work for near future and for a longer perspective, schedule work, and share all relevant information with your team. Teamweek offers free basic plans for teams of up to 5 users, and if the team grows and advanced features are needed, it’s possible to switch to a paid plan.

6. Hubbion

Hubbion is a free project management and collaboration tool for small teams. It provides basic functionality for managing tasks, assigning work to employees, and collaborating. The tool allows for managing tasks, tracking deadlines, commenting, and sharing files. Users can add their bosses or customers to the tasks they’re performing to keep them informed on the work progress.

7. Workep

This tool is a collaboration platform that automates and centralizes G Suite to turn it into an efficient environment for project management, collaboration, and planning. Create Google Docs, sync calendar events, use Hangouts, and more – and automate work on your projects. Workep visualizes your team’s work as lists, Kanban boards, or Gantt charts, and allows project data export. The basic plan for one team of up to 10 users is free, and as the team grows, additional features in paid plans are available.

8. OpenProject

Another open-source project management tool that helps organize the entire life cycle of your projects, OpenProject‘s features include project planning, scheduling, monitoring, creating charts and reports, and many more. It also offers security and data privacy features that help you protect critical project data from unauthorized access. As paid options, cloud-hosted and enterprise editions are also available.

Original Link

Project Management Software for Small Teams

For startups and small businesses, it’s crucial to start using special project management tools early on. However, the price of most tools is barely affordable for a new business. The good news is that a tool with all the necessary functionalities can be cost-efficient! Here is a list of free project management software tools that are great to start working on your projects with.

1. GanttProject

GanttProject allows you to organize work structure and manage projects in an easy way. Create tasks and break work down in a hierarchical tree, set deadlines, priorities, and milestones, and create dependency constraints between tasks. Set up profiles for system users with basic contact information, pay rates, and roles. Assign them work and monitor their workload.

You can export your data from the app in different formats for processing and analyzing it in other software. The app can be installed on Windows, OSX and Linux machines and works as a desktop tool without an Internet connection.

2. VivifyScrum

VivifyScrum is a Scrum and Kanban app for software development teams. It helps plan and manage development sprints, monitor work progress, and accumulates a backlog of features for future sprints. The tool is a single-page app with a clear view of all its boards. It’s cloud-based, so it is available from anywhere and doesn’t require any installation works. Its free plan includes basic features, one active sprint, one active integration, and limited disk space for file storage. The paid Premium plan unlocks advanced functionality, unlimited disk space, and any number of active sprints and external integrations.

3. actiTIME

actiTIME is a work management and time-tracking app for teams of any size. Simple and intuitive, it allows project managers to distribute teams by projects and monitor work progress, set up estimates and compare them with time their teams actually spend on work, and get valuable insights by running time and cost reports. The tool is available in the cloud and as on-premise software. The basic on-premise version for up to 5 users is free, so this option is a great choice for small teams and startups.

4. Orchard Collaboration

Orchard Collaboration is a ticketing, project management and collaboration tool targeted at website development and content management. It allows planning projects and controlling their progress, creating tickets and issues per project, and inviting customers to the projects. The system integrates with GIT and SVN servers and with third-party services for more efficient work on your projects. As for price, Orchard Collaboration is a free and open-source tool.

5. Teamweek

This tool is designed to visualize the process of project management. It allows you to create project roadmaps, get an overview of your long-term plans, and see your team’s current advancement. Set up team timelines, plan work for near future and for a longer perspective, schedule work, and share all relevant information with your team. Teamweek offers free basic plans for teams of up to 5 users, and if the team grows and advanced features are needed, it’s possible to switch to a paid plan.

6. Hubbion

Hubbion is a free project management and collaboration tool for small teams. It provides basic functionality for managing tasks, assigning work to employees, and collaborating. The tool allows for managing tasks, tracking deadlines, commenting, and sharing files. Users can add their bosses or customers to the tasks they’re performing to keep them informed on the work progress.

7. Workep

This tool is a collaboration platform that automates and centralizes G Suite to turn it into an efficient environment for project management, collaboration, and planning. Create Google Docs, sync calendar events, use Hangouts, and more – and automate work on your projects. Workep visualizes your team’s work as lists, Kanban boards, or Gantt charts, and allows project data export. The basic plan for one team of up to 10 users is free, and as the team grows, additional features in paid plans are available.

8. OpenProject

Another open-source project management tool that helps organize the entire life cycle of your projects, OpenProject‘s features include project planning, scheduling, monitoring, creating charts and reports, and many more. It also offers security and data privacy features that help you protect critical project data from unauthorized access. As paid options, cloud-hosted and enterprise editions are also available.

Original Link

Project Management Software for Small Teams

For startups and small businesses, it’s crucial to start using special project management tools early on. However, the price of most tools is barely affordable for a new business. The good news is that a tool with all the necessary functionalities can be cost-efficient! Here is a list of free project management software tools that are great to start working on your projects with.

1. GanttProject

GanttProject allows you to organize work structure and manage projects in an easy way. Create tasks and break work down in a hierarchical tree, set deadlines, priorities, and milestones, and create dependency constraints between tasks. Set up profiles for system users with basic contact information, pay rates, and roles. Assign them work and monitor their workload.

You can export your data from the app in different formats for processing and analyzing it in other software. The app can be installed on Windows, OSX and Linux machines and works as a desktop tool without an Internet connection.

2. VivifyScrum

VivifyScrum is a Scrum and Kanban app for software development teams. It helps plan and manage development sprints, monitor work progress, and accumulates a backlog of features for future sprints. The tool is a single-page app with a clear view of all its boards. It’s cloud-based, so it is available from anywhere and doesn’t require any installation works. Its free plan includes basic features, one active sprint, one active integration, and limited disk space for file storage. The paid Premium plan unlocks advanced functionality, unlimited disk space, and any number of active sprints and external integrations.

3. actiTIME

actiTIME is a work management and time-tracking app for teams of any size. Simple and intuitive, it allows project managers to distribute teams by projects and monitor work progress, set up estimates and compare them with time their teams actually spend on work, and get valuable insights by running time and cost reports. The tool is available in the cloud and as on-premise software. The basic on-premise version for up to 5 users is free, so this option is a great choice for small teams and startups.

4. Orchard Collaboration

Orchard Collaboration is a ticketing, project management and collaboration tool targeted at website development and content management. It allows planning projects and controlling their progress, creating tickets and issues per project, and inviting customers to the projects. The system integrates with GIT and SVN servers and with third-party services for more efficient work on your projects. As for price, Orchard Collaboration is a free and open-source tool.

5. Teamweek

This tool is designed to visualize the process of project management. It allows you to create project roadmaps, get an overview of your long-term plans, and see your team’s current advancement. Set up team timelines, plan work for near future and for a longer perspective, schedule work, and share all relevant information with your team. Teamweek offers free basic plans for teams of up to 5 users, and if the team grows and advanced features are needed, it’s possible to switch to a paid plan.

6. Hubbion

Hubbion is a free project management and collaboration tool for small teams. It provides basic functionality for managing tasks, assigning work to employees, and collaborating. The tool allows for managing tasks, tracking deadlines, commenting, and sharing files. Users can add their bosses or customers to the tasks they’re performing to keep them informed on the work progress.

7. Workep

This tool is a collaboration platform that automates and centralizes G Suite to turn it into an efficient environment for project management, collaboration, and planning. Create Google Docs, sync calendar events, use Hangouts, and more – and automate work on your projects. Workep visualizes your team’s work as lists, Kanban boards, or Gantt charts, and allows project data export. The basic plan for one team of up to 10 users is free, and as the team grows, additional features in paid plans are available.

8. OpenProject

Another open-source project management tool that helps organize the entire life cycle of your projects, OpenProject‘s features include project planning, scheduling, monitoring, creating charts and reports, and many more. It also offers security and data privacy features that help you protect critical project data from unauthorized access. As paid options, cloud-hosted and enterprise editions are also available.

Original Link

Binance Plans to Expand Into South Korea

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is making plans to expand operations into South Korea, reports Business Korea.

Per the report, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao hinted at his company’s expansion plans while speaking at the Blockchain Partners Summit in Seoul last weekend.

While South Korea is presumed to be the third-largest crypto market after the U.S. and Japan, it hasn’t been a smooth ride for the cryptocurrency exchanges operating there. Bithumb and Coinrail were hacked earlier this year, while tax authorities have raided Coinone on tax evasion allegations.

Binance seems to be undeterred by all this, as it has been laying the groundwork for its expansion into South Korea for a while. Last year, the company added Korean language support to its site.

While there is no official data on the exchange’s user base in South Korea, its volume seems significant enough for the company as it has moved from language support into hiring top Korean executives to man critical roles in the country. Jeon Ah-rim and Choi Hyung-won were hired as local marketing manager and director of its social impact fund, Binance Lab, respectively.

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily volume is always expanding as it seeks to achieve its goal of earning $1 billion in net profit in 2018. With an operational base in Hong Kong, the company has grown so fast that it has more users worldwide than Hong Kong has citizens.

The company, which started in Beijing, has been battling regulatory issues at every turn. It moved to Hong Kong right before cryptocurrency exchanges became illegal in September 2017. It has opened offices in Tokyo, the island of Jersey, Uganda and, more recently, Malta, where it seeks to “grow its operations” in a country that is friendly toward crypto businesses.

Binance’s expansion into South Korea comes at a time when lawmakers are seeking to fast-track crypto regulations and lift the ban on ICOs.

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The New Enterprise Cloud Wars are a Security Risk

The battle to convince businesses to move everything to the cloud rages on, but the effects of innovation in one realm may very well lead to the death of innovation in another. As the large clouds—IBM, Azure, Oracle, Google—continue to fight it out and battle for domination in the cloud storage and computing space, smaller cloud companies are coming up in attempts to help large multinationals go to multiple shared public clouds in a more economical way. Not everyone has FireEye’s capability to go all in with one provider.

Today, businesses are enticed by small companies with onboarding offers they can’t refuse, especially in the lean, bootstrapped startup realm. Now, instead of running with a few clouds, companies are splitting themselves across an average of 91 cloud services, separating lines of business to take advantage of credit offers by smaller cloud companies seeking to compete with the bigger players. There’s just one problem—they’re saving money at the expense of security, and getting hacked can cost more than just data loss. A security breach can mean the end of a business and thus a killer of innovation.

The Subprime Cloud Crisis

In the traditional format of yesteryear, data and IP was hosted securely in a data center. From a security perspective, everything was copacetic, because boundaries on data centers were clearly defined. This approach slowly gave way to the hybrid cloud, where the traditional data center was augmented with the addition of a cloud like AWS. While this created a more complex security environment than before, it was still manageable. 

Nowadays, however, businesses have been enticed with sign-on deals by smaller clouds and have split their assets among numerous providers. Unfortunately, many security efforts have failed to keep pace. What we have now is essentially the subprime loan crisis of the internet security world. When a business can’t afford to pay for a single, secure cloud provider, they instead divvy up their various lines of business to separate cloud providers to buy time, especially in the beginning of a startup. Having X amount of time as a runway to get their product off the ground is pitted against the time they have before their rates go up, when their signing bonus expires. In these cases, security is an afterthought.

The Dynamic Death of Innovation

The problem here is that individual cloud providers act as if they were utility companies. Their liability is limited—read up on the responsibility gap. Cloud providers simply provide a service and security measures fall to the consumer. While several cloud infrastructures may offer all the proper tools to provide a secure system, it is still in the consumer’s domain to acquire the technical knowledge or ability to configure systems properly.

And this isn’t just a problem for small startups—it affects companies both big and small. When Verizon was breached, for example, it was through a misconfigured AWS S3 bucket. Did Amazon take the blame? Certainly not. Instead, it stated that it gave Verizon all the proper tools to secure the S3 bucket, and the company simply failed to do so.

What ends up happening is that a line of business gets compromised like this and the parent brand is harmed. People get a bad taste. And this becomes the cause of death for innovation. A startup that is attempting to take advantage of cost-savings could accidentally subject itself to security threats that, if and when breached, hacked or exposed, could doom the company.

The Invisible Solution of Visibility

The solution is not, however, to bite the bullet and pay the big bucks for a single cloud storage provider, as some bigger companies can afford to do. Rather, we need to find a way to provide a secure way for companies to spread their lines of business across multiple public clouds as they see fit. The solution lies in an easy and consistent way to provide visibility across extremely distributed data center inside a single analytics platform, and that technology already exists.

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Abra Announces New Credit Card Payment Options for Bitcoin Purchases

Bitcoin payment startup Abra has announced the addition of Visa and Mastercard payment options for buying bitcoin on its platform. The new payment option is in partnership with fintech company Simplex, per the company’s blog post.

Up until today, users who wanted to purchase cryptocurrencies were limited to a few options that included bank deposits and wire transfers. In addition to these, the company also offers a means of buying altcoins using either bitcoin or litecoin for countries where bank wires and deposit options are unavailable.

The addition of Visa and Mastercard debit/credit card options makes it cheaper and faster to purchase cryptocurrencies on the platform. The new payment options are accessible via the website and the app.

Speaking with Bitcoin Magazine, Abra CEO Bill Barhydt stated, “Today we have users from over 70 countries, but the majority of these users who are outside the U.S. could only fund their Abra wallet using bitcoin. With this launch, we can now offer a simple way for customers globally to use Abra to buy their first bitcoin using any Visa or Mastercard and then start investing in any of the other 24 cryptocurrencies we support today.”

The new payment options come with increased buy limits, faster processing times and more accessibility. Users who purchase bitcoin with their Visa or Mastercard will now be allowed to buy up to $20,000 worth of bitcoin at a time — which is a step above the $2,000 limit placed on bank deposits.

Users will also be able to store purchased bitcoin into any supported wallet. The company says processing time would be shorter, as new bitcoins should be available in digital wallets 30 minutes after purchase.

Abra is one of the few cryptocurrency platforms that hasn’t embraced KYC/AML regulations in their entirety. In an email sent to its customers last month, the company said users were not mandated to provide “any form of identification” to use its platform. Barhydt has said that Abra is able to avoid “all these complexities” because it doesn’t hold customers’ funds.

The company, however, requires American customers to submit their ID to increase funding limits via bank transfer options.

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Nick Spanos’s Zap Jolts Real Estate With Blockchain-Based Smart Contracts

New York realtors looking to avoid hiccups in their commission payouts can now turn to blockchain-based smart contracts. The first real estate commission split was brokered earlier this summer in Manhattan’s ritzy SoHo neighborhood by New York-based Bapple Realty.

Enabled through data uploaded onto the Zap platform, the seller divvied up a $3,400 commission — paid in Ethereum tokens — to pay the brokerage and the agents involved in the transaction.

Bapple itself is no stranger to blockchain technology and the use of cryptocurrencies. In 2014, the firm agreed to an $18,000 rent and commissions payment with bitcoin. With the current deal, the infusion of blockchain technology within the real estate industry becomes more solidified.

A primary requirement in implementing the blockchain-based transaction included the input of oracles: real world information uploaded into a decentralized application. This is where Zap, founded by Nick Spanos, comes into the picture.

Zap.org, a product of the Synapse Foundation, uses an Ethereum-based ERC 20 token (ZAP) to power its oracle marketplace for smart contracts.  

The opportunity to expand blockchain technology further into the real estate industry this summer came about as a Zap client and a Nordic Blockchain Association board member was looking to find a Manhattan-area apartment. At the time, Zap was conducting beta testing of its Android app for smart contracts.

“We thought this would be a good use case,” Spanos told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview.

Spanos, who also founded Bitcoin Center NYC and Blockchain Technologies Corp., explained that implementing smart contracts guarantees agents receive their agreed-upon commissions at the same time as their broker-fee payment.

“The industry needs smart contracts,” Spanos said. “In a real estate office, many people have disagreements because of informal oral agreements that are subject to people’s sometimes-selective memory. However, if their wallet is in the smart contract tied to the deal, it is fixed and immutable. You’re either in or you’re not. Trust is automated.”

Spanos added that Zap is currently testing an app that will allow real estate professionals to build and customize all types of contracts.

“It will compile them and put them on the blockchain,” Spanos said to Bitcoin Magazine. “It’s a small step in the vast potential for smart contracts, but a huge leap for the entire real estate industry.”

Real Estate: Just “One Small Use Case”

While Spanos describes Zap’s progress in the real estate industry as just “one small use case,” the organization itself continues work on expanding its marketplace to incorporate smart contract-compatible data.

“We have vendors preparing to sell every type of data feed, from political data to meteorological data, that will allow smart contracts to execute trades on futures based on anticipated crop yield.”

Spanos added, “ Zap.org recently partnered with Stox prediction markets to be a provider of consensus-verified data.”

A long-time advocate of Bitcoin and blockchains, Spanos’s enthusiasm for the technology continues to grow.

“When was the last time you heard of a technology that, when you think of any given problem, there’s a way that a single technology could be part of the solution? That’s how blockchain is the internet, reinvented,” Spanos said.

“The world has a trust protocol, where financial events can be triggered without depending on an intermediary. The trust revolution is the next revolution. The crypto economy will set the internet free from legacy holdovers in banking and government, and now, any form of exchange can be decentralized.”

In May 2018, Zap announced that it had developed a secure supply management and smart contracts DApp specifically for the oil and gas industry called EnergyLedger.

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FCA Chooses Blockchain Companies for Fourth Cohort of Regulatory Sandbox

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), responsible for conduct and relevant prudential regulation of financial services firms and financial markets in the U.K., has announced the details of the firms selected to be part of cohort 4 of its regulatory sandbox, according to an FCA post. Of the 29 firms selected, about 40 percent of them are blockchain focused.

The sandbox’s cohort 4 is a regulatory environment where firms can test innovative products, services or business models in a controlled environment with real customers. Businesses can test out their services with the aim of reducing costs of time-to-market while providing support in identifying “appropriate consumer protection safeguards” to be built into the products. This particular regulatory sandbox is a brainchild of Project Innovate, an initiative the FCA created in 2014 “to promote competition in the interest of consumers.”

Cohort 4

The FCA said it had selected 29 firms out of the 69 that applied to this most recent cohort’s regulatory sandbox. FCA Executive Director of Strategy and Competition Christopher Woolard spoke about the development which he says is “the largest sandbox cohort to date” as a “record number of applicants” met the eligibility criteria.

Of the 29 firms that have been selected for cohort 4, about a dozen of these companies use distributed ledger technology (DLT) for automating issuance of equity/debt, insurance provision and for the application of APIs; others offer services related to crypto assets.

20|30 is one of the companies accepted into cohort 4. It uses the Ethereum blockchain to help companies raise funds by issuing equity tokens. As part of the sandbox cohort, it will be able to test the issuance of equity tokens to investors using Nivaura’s integration with the London Stock Exchange Group (“LSEG”) Turquoise platform. The company seeks to demonstrate a “commercially viable model for tokenizing company equity” and to “establish equity tokens” as a means of raising capital.

“We are delighted to be included in the latest cohort of the FCA’s regulatory sandbox,” said 20|30 founder David Siegel. “This is a significant milestone for the 20|30 team. For the first time, our integration with the Turquoise platform will demonstrate a regulatory-compliant way for institutional investors to purchase equity tokens. We believe this is an important first step to building a new digital foundation for capital markets.”

Also selected by the FCA for sandbox testing, Globacap is a London-based, digital capital raising platform for SMEs and institutional investors which uses DLT to simplify and streamline the issuance process.

It seeks to bridge the gap between SMEs access to global capital while protecting the full rights of investors associated with equity and debt securities.

The company plans to run “an end-to-end capital raising on its own platform,” where it will also issue equity “as an ERC-compatible token, in its Digital Security Offering (DSO).” This trial will also “provide proof of concept” for the company’s new platform which offers SMEs a broader pool of global capital.

Co-founder of Globacap Myles Milston commented on the possibilities that abound for businesses raising capital in this way. He said, “The Innovate team at the FCA have been pivotal in this milestone, allowing us a quicker route to launch our proof of concept while having regulatory oversight.”

Other blockchain companies included in cohort 4 include BlockEx, Capexmove, Etherisc, Fineqia, Fractal, Natwest, TokenMarket, Tokencard, Universal Tokens and World Reserve Trust.

Original Link

Rocket startup sees big future in military launch

Stargate is said to be the world’s largest 3D printer. Credit: Relativity Space

Relativity Space will be one of the few domestic players in a segment of the market that is dominated by foreign firms. This could put the company in an advantageous position to compete for military contracts.

WASHINGTON — Startup CEOs generally have mixed feelings about working with the Pentagon. Tim Ellis, chief executive of rocket maker Relativity Space, most certainly does not.

Ellis predicts his company’s 3D printed rockets — at $10 million per launch and entirely produced in the United States — will be flying military satellites a few years from now.

“We won’t just be a government contractor. We have significant commercial interests, but we really think we can serve both markets,” Ellis told SpaceNews.

Using what it claims to be the world’s largest metal 3D printer, Relativity Space is developing a rocket to lift satellites of up to 1,250 kilograms to low Earth orbit. The vehicle fits in the broad category of small launchers but is significantly larger than the micro launchers that other space startups are building today.

Los Angeles-based Relativity Space will be one of the few domestic players in a payload segment of the market that is dominated by foreign firms. Ellis believes this will pu the company in an advantageous position to compete for military contracts.

A launch site in the United States will be selected later this year. The company expects to fly its Terran 1 rocket by late 2020, with a goal to start commercial launches in 2021. Terran’s 3D printed engine, named Aeon 1, is being tested at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in south Mississippi, where the company signed a 20-year lease.

Although it has no signed contracts, Relativity Space has lined up a billion dollars worth of launches in letters of intent and memoranda of understanding with commercial and government customers.

Ellis foresees the U.S. military becoming an important customer to Relativity Space. The Pentagon’s posture that views space as a battlefront favors nimble suppliers that can manufacture products fast, he said. “They need the ability to reconstitute constellations quickly. This is super important based on conversations we’re hearing at the government level.”

A voice for space startups
As a new member of the National Space Council’s users advisory group, Ellis sees himself as the voice of privately backed space startups. And at the age of 27, he is by far the youngest in the group and a representative of a new generation of space entrepreneurs. A propulsion engineer, Ellis formed Relativity Space in 2015 with fellow Blue Origin alum Jordan Noone.

Tim EllisTim Ellis

“I bring a fresh perspective to the council,” he said. Government officials and legacy companies have not fully grasped the significance of new manufacturing technologies, he said. With 3D printing and robotics, Relativity will be able to build a rocket from scratch in 60 days, compared to 12 or 18 months using traditional manufacturing methods.

To win Pentagon contracts, vendors have to satisfy government mission needs and also meet strict domestic sourcing requirements. “Our rockets are made entirely by U.S. citizens and funded by U.S. investments. That’s a little unique,” Ellis said. Some of his competitors are either funded by non-U.S. investors or have parts made in other countries. “Ours being entirely American meets some of what the government is looking for, especially the supply chain being based in America.”

Military and intelligence agencies have warned that adversaries will try to disrupt or blind U.S. satellites like GPS and communications spacecraft in geosynchronous Earth orbit. They are discussing a shift of military space capabilities to more resilient constellations of smaller satellites in lower orbits that could be repaired or replaced quickly.

“This will not be possible without 3D printing and an automated approach,” said Ellis. He noted that 3D printing has not been widely adopted yet in the space industry. “Many companies are doing components piece by piece. We are going all in, printing pretty much the entire thing. We really think that’s the future.”

And the $10 million price per launch will be attractive to the military, he said. “We talked to SMC,” Ellis said referring to the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center that oversees military space programs. The military will need launch vehicles to support payloads that are larger than cubesats but a lot smaller than traditional military spacecraft. “To get bigger telescopes and optics, our launch cost is affordable for that size,” Ellis said. “You would pay almost what you would pay for a cubesat launch.”

Ellis recognizes that there are downsides to being a Pentagon contractor, like considerable overhead costs and red tape. “But that is why we are excited to be on the National Space Council’s advisory group,” said Ellis. “By partnering with the government we are hoping to inform ways to make things more streamlined and incentivize innovative approaches that attract investors.”

The government’s slow and bureaucratic procurement system has frustrated many companies in the industry and deters startups from even trying to compete, he said. “Now that we’ve been given a pretty big microphone, it feels that in order to keep the U.S. competitive internationally that people are going to have to listen.”

The space technology that venture-funded companies are bringing to market could very well be achieved by other countries. “We just have to make sure that we’re doing stuff fast enough and incentivizing private investors,” Ellis said. And simplifying the procurement process would be one way to do that. “If you want responsive launch and you want to get the innovation, you have to make it just as easy to work for the government as working with a commercial company, that’s the vision.”

The commercial demand will grow, he said. “If those customers are easier to work with, then companies are going to prioritize working with commercial providers, they will fill up their manifest with commercial providers if the government isn’t easy to work with.”

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TaTaTu Hosts the World’s Third-Largest ICO, Earns Over $500 Million

TaTaTu Token has sold over $575 million worth of its currency through an initial coin offering (ICO), making it the third-largest coin offering, behind Telegram and EOS, respectively. Known as TTU tokens, the currency is the blockchain entertainment platform’s central unit of exchange, and all private sale proceeds will go toward funding technical development and growing the company’s customer base.

TaTaTu is a decentralized system that financially rewards users for viewing content and referring their friends and family to the platform. Users can earn TTU tokens by streaming films and related projects at no cost and by voting to choose which types of content TaTaTu should host in the future.

All projects are monetized based on the number of views they receive, and creators earn funds depending on their projects’ popularity. In addition, views and finance reporting are recorded in real-time on the TaTaTu blockchain, thereby limiting the threats of piracy.

“The industry’s response for TaTaTu has been overwhelming as the TaTaTu Token has secured one of the largest private sales of digital token,” said CEO Andrea Iervolino. “The response is further validation that our model of acquiring and producing our own content mixed with rewarding users with TTU tokens to watch that content on the platform will benefit everyone — including content holders, users, brands and advertisers.”

Among the project’s many supporters are Prince Félix of Luxembourg, cryptocurrency investment firms Lyna Capital and BlockTower Capital, and film producer Lady Monika Bacardi.

“I’ve worked and invested with Andrea for many years — dating back to his first movies over [a] decade ago, and it has been rewarding every step of the way,” Bacardi said of the company’s chief executive officer. “TaTaTu is [a] sophisticated and intuitively brilliant modeled platform that reinforces my bullish stance on the promise of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency.”

The platform has been in alpha testing since late May, but it has already attracted over 200,000 registrants. Among the company’s early projects is a film entitled The Sound of Freedom, starring Oscar winner Mira Sorvino and Jim Caviezel, who starred in 2004’s The Passion of the Christ.

Films will serve as the company’s primary staple of entertainment, though TaTaTu is looking to add sports, games and music for its users to enjoy in the future. Executives are also looking to build deals with production companies to increase TTU token usage and make it the primary digital asset for both media and entertainment ventures.

Ari Paul, managing partner at BlockTower Capital, stated, “I’m excited for projects that will spread cryptocurrency beyond the current <0.5 percent of the world that holds it. TaTaTu is a crypto driven content platform that’s likely to get major mainstream traction.”

At press time, TaTaTu had not replied to Bitcoin Magazine’s request for comment.

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Chain Accelerator Opens Its Doors to Blockchain, Crypto Startups in France

\Chain Accelerator has launched in France. It is the first startup acceleratordedicated to the blockchain that can call Europe its home. Among the organization’s chief operators are Hyperloop Transportation Technologies chairman Bibop G. Gresta, former SWIFT CEO Leonard Schrank, and Ledger president Pascal Gauthier.

The company will assist startups with initial coin offerings (ICOs), business development plans, marketing and public relations.

In a statement, co-founder Nicolas Cantu explained, “At a time when the President and the Government want to make Paris the capital of the ICOs, Chain Accelerator is positioning itself as a key player. By setting up a global and operational network in Paris, it brings together the best talent, extends the circle of contributors, and prepares for disruptions to help blockchain projects develop protocols in all sectors.”

France has been relatively mixed when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrency culture. Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy and Finance, has been particularly wary of cryptocurrencies in the past, and has called on regulators to implement strict rules when it comes to governing and controlling their activities.

In May, however, Le Maire expressed a drastic change of heart in a blog post for a French startup, writing:

“A revolution is under way, of which Bitcoin was only the precursor. The blockchain will offer unprecedented opportunities for our startups. I was a neophyte a year ago, but now I’m passionate. Let us show a lot of pedagogy with our fellow citizens to make France the first place of blockchain and crypto-active innovation in Europe.”

The integration of Chain Accelerator in France could help Paris become a major hub for blockchain development. Currently, the executive board of Chain Accelerator consists of over 30 individuals who will serve as mentors to Europe’s growing list of crypto-based startups, thus increasing the company’s potential to succeed and expand.

In addition, as blockchain technology and cryptocurrency garner more acceptance throughout the continent, more startups may arise, seeking the company’s aid.

National Assembly for Paris member Pierre Person states, “In France, as everywhere in the world, blockchain projects face many uncertainties and complexities, whether financial, legal, or technical. Yet this technology will revolutionize our daily lives. As such, it is essential today to have both a legislative framework enabling its full development and structures enabling the emergence of such projects. Our country must become a leader in the blockchain. I am convinced that Chain Accelerator — the first blockchain incubator — will contribute greatly to this.”

Despite its hard work, France will face competition with countries like the U.K. and Switzerland, which have positioned themselves as some of Europe’s primary fintech and cryptocurrency centers. According to U.K. Secretary of State for International Trade Dr. Liam Fox, the country’s fintech space has already attracted over $2.4 billion in investments in 2018 alone, while Switzerland was recently home to four of the world’s largest ICOs.

Chain Accelerator will be headquartered in Paris’s Station F, a large startup campus that opened in the summer of 2017. Station F director Roxanne Varza commented, “The blockchain universe, inherently decentralized, stands out for its global and international nature. Innovation comes from everywhere, talents are rare, the need for support is exacerbated. We are pleased to welcome Chain Accelerator.”

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Oxford Space Systems raises $8.9 million for spacecraft component business

An Oxford Space Systems deployable antenna being tested. Credit: Oxford Space Systems

WASHINGTON —  Oxford Space Systems, a British startup that hopes to compete with space industry giants Harris Corp. and Northrop Grumman in the satellite component business, has raised 6.7 million British pounds ($8.9 million) from investors.

Longwall Ventures, a U.K.-based early stage investor, led the round, with IQ Capital, Foresight Williams, OTIF, Midven and Wren Capital participating.

Since forming in 2013, Oxford Space Systems has raised a total of 10 million pounds to build spacecraft antennas, deployable booms and other structures it says are lighter and simpler than those of other suppliers.

On June 14, Oxford Space Systems moved into its new Harwell Space Cluster headquarters, gaining access to an on-campus clean room for flight hardware assembly.

Mike Lawton, CEO and founder of Oxford Space Systems, told SpaceNews his company is unaffected by the struggles other component suppliers are facing with the slowdown in orders of commercial geostationary spacecraft.

“We are actually finding it quite hard to keep up with demand,” he said, describing early customers as operators of low Earth orbit spacecraft. “We have a huge amount of interest predominately coming from the U.S. and across Europe, so we don’t see any slow down.”

Oxford Space Systems has tested a 4-meter deployable antenna, and says it can scale that product up to 14 meters in diameter.

“That’s ultimately where we are going,” Lawton said.

The company’s first products target satellites in the 50- to 150-kilogram range, he said, with the first antennas being designed for synthetic aperture radar. Those antennas are up to five meters in size, he said.

Longer term, Oxford Space Systems intends to move into production of larger antennas that would support direct-to-home television broadcasts and ultra-high-frequency military communications from multi-ton geostationary spacecraft.

Lawton said he sees Harris Corp. and Northrop Grumman as his biggest competitors in spacecraft antennas. Both those companies provide large unfurlable antennas for geostationary satellites. Harris built the antennas for Inmarsat’s first four Global Xpress satellites from Boeing; Northrop Grumman is building the unfurlable reflectors for the two Inmarsat-6 satellites Airbus is building.

Spacecraft booms and other structures have a wider supplier base that Oxford Space Systems competes within, he said.

What differentiates Oxford Space Systems, according to Lawton, is the type of flexible composite materials the company uses and a reversal of common hardware development practices. Lawton said Oxford Space Systems will prototype first, then backfill with mission analysis rather than engage in numerous design reviews ahead of hardware development.

Oxford Space Systems also builds its products “ITAR-free,” avoiding U.S.-supplied components that face export restrictions under International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Oxford Space has a boom on ALsat-Nano, a joint cubesat project of the U.K. and Algerian space agencies that launched in 2016, and another on the University of Surrey RemoveDebris mission awaiting deployment from the International Space Station in the coming weeks.

The company’s first antenna launches in 2020 on the U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s Wideband Ionospheric Sounder CubeSat Experiment that Thales Alenia Space is building.

Oxford Space Systems employs 29 people, Lawton said, and has five open positions. The company hopes to raise another 1.3 million pounds by September to close its Series A financing round.

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New Coinbase Additions: Ethereum Classic and Crypto Index Fund

Coinbase dominated headlines across the space this week with a pair of significant developments. The San Francisco–based exchange announced on Monday, June 11, its intention to add Ethereum Classic to its trading platform and then quickly followed the news on Tuesday with the official opening of a crypto index fund.  

Its addition to the exchange has revamped public interest in Ethereum Classic and sent the price of its native currency, ETC, into a dramatic state of flux.

Ethereum Classic

In May of 2016, The DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization and venture capital fund, raised a sum of $150 million for investment in smart contract projects built on the Ethereum blockchain. It was, at the time, the largest crowdfunded project ever created.

On June 18, 2016, hackers successfully exploited a weakness in the splitting function of the protocol that allowed for the extraction of ether from multiple DAO smart contracts while utilizing the same DAO tokens. The end result was a theft of 3.6 million ether that was worth roughly $70 million.

Debate arose within the Ethereum community regarding a proper response to the attack. After a failed soft fork, a vote in July concluded that a hard fork would be instituted to erase the DAO hack by placing the compromised ETH in a new smart contract that would then be used to redistribute the funds to their original owners. The decision, though approved by a super majority of 89 percent, was extremely controversial. Anti-forkers contended that although the DAO hack was unfortunate, code is law. All transactions are innately immutable and should remain free from modification or censorship, regardless of the justification.

When the hard fork was implemented on July 20, during the mining of the 1,920,000th block, some dissenters continued to support the original ledger and thus created what is now known as Ethereum Classic (ETC).

The Addition of ETC to Coinbase

On Monday, via blog and Twitter, Coinbase announced that during the coming months it intends to add support for Ethereum Classic (ETC) to its exchange platform. The currency will join bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH), litecoin (LTE) and bitcoin cash (BCH) as the fifth digital currency supported by the largest U.S.-based crypto exchange.

Since its inception in June of 2012, Coinbase has worked to distinguish itself as the most secure and legitimate of the major crypto exchanges. Despite operating in a space where rapidity of technical development is heavily valued, Coinbase has fostered a cautious approach to expansion, priding itself on a method that is both meticulous and methodical.

The integration of alternative coins into the Coinbase platform has, by industry standards, progressed at a crawling pace. The first expansion of its trading portfolio was launched in May of 2016, when it included support ether (ETH). Support for its third currency, litecoin (LTE), was not released until the following May, while its most recent addition, bitcoin cash (BCH), was only added this past December.

In each case, Coinbase has followed a systematic preparation process, a trend that will continue with the addition of Ethereum Classic. Via the Coinbase blog:

We will now begin the engineering work (Step 4) for supporting Ethereum Classic. As part of this process, customers can expect to see public-facing APIs and other signs that the asset is being added. When we reach the final testing phase of the technical integration, which we expect to occur over the next few months, we will publicly announce a launch date for trading via our blog and Twitter (Step 5).

When the final stage of technical integration is reached, Coinbase will announce the date on which its prime and pro customs can begin placing limited orders of ETC. When this resting market reaches sufficient liquidity, live trading will commence on the open platform.

The announcement also went on to reassure its GDAX customers who held ether prior to the July 2016 hard fork that they would receive Ethereum Classic credits once trading is launched. However, this distribution does not apply to the Coinbase customer interface as it did not support Ethereum at the time of the fork.

The market response has been mixed. The first five hours of trading after the announcement saw the price of ETC soar 25 percent from $12.88 to $16.11. Since this peak, the price has experienced a turbulent ride, crossing the $13.50 mark four times before settling at $13.79 at the time of writing of this article.

The Index Fund

On the heels of this news, Coinbase reported yesterday that its crypto index fund, first announced back in early March, is now open for investment. An index is “a measurement of the financial performance of a defined group of assets” while an index fund is the investment vehicle that tracks and grants returns based on that index.

In this case, the fund will be comprised of all of the assets currently supported by Coinbase, divided proportionally to their market capitalization. The current composition of the fund is as follows: Bitcoin 61.47%, Ethereum 27.17%, Bitcoin Cash 8.22% and Litecoin 3.14%. When Ethereum Classic is officially added to the platform later this year, the fund’s composition will be altered to account for ETC’s additional market cap, which as of today sits at just over $1.4 billion.

The index fund is limited to accredited U.S. residents with a required minimum stake of $250,000 and will be subject to a 2 percent annual management fee. The investment window will open on a monthly basis while the redemption window will be available quarterly requiring a 30-day notice for withdrawal.

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New Blockchain-Based Renewable Energy Pilot to Power 500,000 Homes

As the effects of climate change make their mark across the globe, people are more wary of their carbon footprints and are gradually switching to renewable energy.

Swytch, a blockchain-based energy platform will work with Energy2market GmbH (e2m), a leader in aggregated energy trading, on a pilot program which will allow it to power homes in Germany with renewable energy while rewarding users with tokens.

The large-scale pilot program aims to distribute roughly 3.5Gw of solar, wind, hydro and bio-gas energy capacity, which is enough to power over 500,000 homes.

Based in Austin, Texas, Swytch combines smart meter and blockchain technology to reward those who generate low carbon emissions. It does this through an open-source Oracle platform which acts as a distributed authority in determining how much carbon is being displaced and how many tokens should be awarded.

Co-founder and Managing Director of Swytch Evan Caron told Bitcoin Magazine his company has already started leveraging the first version of the Oracle to evaluate the assets being managed by e2m.

“We intend to move toward full-scale adoption of the Swytch protocols for full transparency and traceability of energy and environmental attributes and to reward the assets with swytch tokens,” he states.

e2m is a European leader in aggregate energy trading and provider of market access services. It specializes in managing and optimizing diverse portfolios of generators, consumers, suppliers and grid operators. With a Virtual Power Plant and its 24/7 trading team, e2m has the ability to aggregate power from decentralized generation and consumption systems and market them in real time.

e2m believes the partnership will be beneficial to both parties as it sees Swytch’s approach to tokenized incentives to be quite attractive to the energy producers and traders it serves.

Andreas Keil, CEO of Energy2market GmbH said, “Government-based incentive programs can only do so much, and a more dynamic option is needed. Additionally, some countries, like Germany, will begin phasing out their incentive programs in the next few years. We need to prepare for the future and identify new subsidy instruments and trading mechanism.”

The partnership will allow e2m to gain more insight and leverage blockchain technology while empowering businesses and individuals to be more active in their adoption of renewable energy.

Energy companies have been testing blockchain technology and how it can benefit them. Ethereum-based platform ImpactPPA is seeking to disrupt renewable energy to finance and accelerate global clean energy production. Scanergy was also launched as an energy blockchain for European prosumers. Scanergy makes smart energy trade between prosumers possible while coping with the dynamism in the demand and supply of electricity.

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Advancing Toward a Decentralized Internet in the Real World

The recently aired Season 5 of the popular HBO comedy Silicon Valley features a decentralized internet powered by end-user devices and an internal blockchain-based crypto economy. As usual, the fictional treatment in the show, which has been rightly praised for providing an entertaining but accurate portrait of contemporary tech trends, is based on real developments.

The first Decentralized Web Summit, a gathering of developers striving to make the internet open and decentralized, was held in San Francisco in June 2016. The summit was organized by Tim Berners-Lee, the “father of the web,” and Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. Blockchain technology was considered an important part of the push to decentralize the web, as shown by a high-profile workshop titled “Blockchain and the Web,” organized by MIT Media Lab and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) soon after the Decentralized Web Summit.

The Internet Archive has recently announced that the Decentralized Web Summit 2018: Global Visions/Working Code, organized by the Internet Archive and Aspiration will be held from July 31 to August 2 in San Francisco.

“Our goal is to bring the builders, policymakers and the global community members who will use the Decentralized Web together to explore the visions, values and working code needed,” reads the announcement. “What could it look like at scale? How can people around the world use and benefit from these technologies? What code is working and what is still missing? What do we need to collaborate on in the future?”

At the Decentralized Web Summit 2018, Berners-Lee will present SOLID, a modular and extensible protocol and toolbox under development at MIT. The SOLID project wants to build decentralized social applications while preserving, as much as possible, compatibility with existing W3C standards and protocols. The SOLID platform, described in the project’s Github channel, doesn’t seem to rely on blockchain technology at the moment.

Blockchain-Based Projects

In the harsh reality of underfunded community projects, many promising decentralized internet projects vanish without a trace. This is not the case for ZeroNet, a minimalist, decentralized P2P network that uses Bitcoin cryptography and BitTorrent technology. Though ZeroNet is funded by donations and the community, the project is alive and advancing steadily, if slowly.

Blockchain developer Blockstack is committing $1 million to support the development of social network decentralized applications (dApps). This recently announced initiative has its own brand-new website.

Some interesting ongoing developments toward a decentralized internet, based on Ethereum, were presented and discussed at Edcon 2018, the community Ethereum development conference, which was held in Toronto in May.

The ambitious Akasha project to build a next-generation social media network, powered by Ethereum and the InterPlanetary File System, was unveiled in May 2016. The project, started by Mihai Alisie, cofounder of Bitcoin Magazine, is currently testing a beta version with desktop and web apps. At Edcon in Toronto, Alisie argued for the need for a decentralized internet and gave updates on the Akasha project.

Another initiative presented at Edcon is Aion Network, a development project focused on scalability and interoperability in multi-tiered, decentralized “3rd generation blockchain” networks.

“The introduction of blockchain technology has provided us with the opportunity to build an equitable, censorship resistant and globally accessible internet,” Matthew Spoke, CEO of Nuco and founder of Aion Network, said in conversation with Bitcoin Magazine.

“This decentralized internet movement is comprised of multiple layers that build up the future stack of the internet. Layers such as identity, messaging, payment, data storage, registries and file storage are all being rapidly built across the blockchain ecosystem on various protocols. However, these layers in their current design lack a critical component to enable the widespread adoption of the decentralized internet — the ability to communicate value and logic between them. The future of the internet will not consist of a single winner, but an ecosystem of decentralized layers operating on and collaborating across numerous blockchain protocols.”

Spoke explained that a future “web 3.0” decentralized internet architecture needs to be an ecosystem seamlessly transferring logic and value between its parts in a decentralized way. Aion wants to be the common infrastructure that will bridge communication between decentralized layers and the development of native-cross chain applications to enable a global decentralized internet.

The future of the internet will not consist of a single winner, but an ecosystem of decentralized layers operating on and collaborating across numerous blockchain protocols.

The current “Kilimanjaro” release of the Aion platform introduces a performance optimized Ethereum Virtual Machine dubbed FastVM for faster and economical contract execution, an optimized version of the Equihash proof-of-work algorithm (Equihash2109) to increase memory requirements and diversify the active Equihash parameters, and a Token Transfer Protocol for AION tokens on Ethereum (ERC-20) to flow seamlessly and become native AION coins.

Essential elements of the web 3.0 stack, such as payments, data and file storage, and identity, are being built across various blockchain protocols.

“As these layers gain adoption or fail along with the underlying protocols they are built upon, this new stack will exist across multiple blockchains due to the specific performance, regulatory decentralization or feature requirement of the use cases being powered,” Spoke said. “To enable the widespread adoption of a decentralized internet infrastructure, connecting these disparate layers and underlying protocols together is essential.

“As an example, if a user is using an identity solution on Ethereum to manage their basic personal information (ex: name, email, birth date) and wishes to utilize a social media platform built on EOS, for the end user these layers must seamlessly integrate.”

The internet was meant to be a decentralized communication network, with many competing providers for basic services like email, hosting and applications. But some internet service providers achieved economies of scale that made it advantageous for them to own, store and control the information being communicated.

“This caused the internet to evolve into a system where centralized entities own and control large amounts of value and data, as well as the communication channels to transfer those assets,” concluded Spoke.

“By distributing the value and data on a public blockchain ledger, which is available to anyone who wants to download it, the blockchain enables a truly decentralized internet. The nature of public blockchains such as Aion requires all nodes to reach consensus and share identical ledgers, rather than decisions being made by centralized entities.”

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Crypto Exchange Huobi Quietly Opens Office in Brazil and Starts Hiring

Huobi, the third largest crypto exchange by 24-hour trading volume, is reportedly setting up an office in Brazil. According to reports in Portal du Bitcoin, representatives of Huobi were seen distributing business cards during Bitconf, a major cryptocurrency conference held in São Paulo, Brazil, on May 5-6, 2018.

The Singapore-based exchange has yet to make an an official statement on the matter, but according to Portal du Bitcoin, which broke the news on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, Huobi has already opened an office in the coworking space WeWork in São Paulo. The company also has ads on LinkedIn looking for a Digital Marketing Manager and a Chief Compliance Officer to work out of São Paulo.

Originally founded in Beijing in 2013, Huobi was, at one time, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges in China before the country placed an all-out ban on cryptocurrency trading in September 2017. Rather than shutter its business completely, Huobi began a major expansion effort, setting up offices in Singapore, South Korea and elsewhere.

Only weeks ago, Huobi announced plans to open its first Canadian office in Toronto, and earlier this year, despite regulatory uncertainty in the U.S., Huobi also revealed that it was opening a branch in San Francisco to offer crypto-to-crypto trading in the U.S. market.

The firm also attempted to make inroads into Japan. In December 2017, Huobi revealed it intended to launch a trading platform in Japan with Japan-based investment group SBI Holdings. But the deal was scrapped in March 2018 at a time when Japan’s regulators were stepping up oversight on cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

Now the exchange is headed to Brazil, as Huobi confirmed with CoinDesk. With a population of 210 million, Brazil is home to half the population of South America, representing a huge potential market for Huobi. Meanwhile, competition in the country is sparse. Currently, the biggest crypto exchanges in Brazil include Foxbit, BitcoinTrade and Mercado Bitcoin, which all trade in relatively small volumes compared to Huobi.

And, as far as cryptocurrency regulation goes, Brazil is still a “Wild West.” In December 2017, the country’s central bank and securities regulator went so far as to issue a joint warning to investors that virtual currencies had no official oversight in the country.

Cryptocurrency trading is a lucrative market, and Huobi is not the only major exchange on the move after the Chinese crackdown. In the past few months, Binance and OKEx separately announced plans to expand to the crypto-friendly island nation of Malta. Early this year, Bitfinex said it was planning to set up operations in Switzerland.

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Tari Introduces a Blockchain Protocol for Digital Assets Built on Monero

Tari, a new open-source blockchain protocol, aims to redefine the digital asset experience. Backed by institutional investors including Redpoint, Trinity Ventures, Canaan Partners, Pantera and Multicoin Capital, its founders Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni, lead maintainer of the Monero cryptocurrency; Naveen Jain, a serial entertainment industry entrepreneur; and Dan Teree, co-founder of Ticketfly, hope to simplify the management, trade, programmability and use of all digital assets.

Current State of Digital Assets

“Today, most digital assets such as event tickets, in-game items, loyalty points and virtual currencies are siloed due to restrictions that limit their use and secondary market trade,” Jain said in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

Businesses primarily enact these restrictions to control assets after their distribution, verify an asset holder’s identity and prevent fraudulent counterfeiting.

Siloed digital assets aren’t ideal for consumers or businesses. Consumers don’t enjoy “true” ownership of the digital assets they purchase or earn because they must comply with secondary market restrictions and regulations, and businesses miss out on billions of dollars generated from the secondary digital asset resales that occur on outside channels.

For example, consider a frequent Delta flyer who takes one Lufthansa flight a year and is unable to trade his or her Lufthansa miles (that are unlikely to be redeemed) for Delta miles. Or, the millions of dollars in ticket resale revenues that artists like Beyoncé miss out on after issuing tickets for their world tours. Once Beyoncé sells a $100 ticket to the original buyer, she does not participate in the secondary market resale economics when the original buyer resells his or her ticket for $500, and the secondary market scalper turns around and sells the ticket a third time for $1000 the night before the show.

Revamped Digital Assets

By leveraging blockchain technology, the Tari protocol enables consumers and business to break down walled gardens between businesses, sell and trade scarce digital assets with programmed rules, and record immutable transfer and verification of ownership.

The Tari protocol hopes to unlock additional utility for digital asset users and enable “true” digital asset ownership and control. By utilizing the Tari protocol, the aforementioned Delta flyer can perhaps trade his or her Lufthansa miles for Delta miles. And artists like Beyoncé can issue their world tour tickets with programmed rules that allow them to capture and control secondary market value. Beyoncé could hard-code rules such as: tickets can only be resold three times, Beyoncé is entitled to 10 percent of any ticket resale, and tickets are not re-sellable 24 hours before the show.

John Pleasants, former CEO of Ticketmaster and COO of Electronic Arts, thinks that the Tari protocol will open up free trade between a variety of industries.“[Tari] can help the entire live entertainment industry recover billions in lost revenue by better controlling how tickets are sold and resold. From a gaming perspective, the ability to buy and sell virtual goods on a distributed system across different platforms can greatly improve both monetization for publishers and the overall consumer experience.”

Tari Protocol: Under the Hood

According to Spagni, the Tari protocol will be built on top of Monero. Specifically, Tari will be a merged-mined sidechain of Monero. Merged-mining allows for two cryptocurrencies to be mined simultaneously based on the same algorithm. In this case, it is Monero’s proof of work algorithm that miners must solve.

The Tari token powers the Tari protocol, serves as an incentive for miners to mine Monero and for valiators to accurately validate the network’s rules.

“To give miners an incentive to merged-mine your chain, there needs to be a reward. We can’t pay them in Monero, so we need to have a native token that merged-miners receive. Tari tokens will also be used as an incentive for rule validation. Users have the opportunity to put Tari tokens in an escrow account and passively run a program that validates [protocol] rules on their computer. If they behave and validate the rules correctly, they will earn tokens and keep their escrow,” explained Spagni.

Merged-Mining with Monero

Because Tari is merged-mining, the team doesn’t have to recruit new miners. Instead, Monero mining pools can “flip a switch” (tweak their settings) and mine both Monero and Tari simultaneously. Spagni also pointed out that merged-mining with Monero’s proof of work system doesn’t incur additional electricity costs or environmental damage risks traditionally associated with proof of work, since miners aren’t burning more cycles.

Spagni also noted that, “All the proof of work chains burn less electricity than Visa. We are getting to a point where a solid proof of work chain can provide the same, if not greater, capabilities of Visa.”

Tari Community

The Tari team noted that there is no “core team” for Monero. Jain noted, “We don’t want single points of failure. We are co-founders and contributors. But, not the only contributors. There are lots of smart people within and outside the organization. We want far more external contributors than internal contributors. In fact, we want hundreds if not thousands of contributors over time.”

For reference, the Monero protocol had around 150 contributors within the last 12 months.

Potential Issues

Although Tari aims to revamp the way consumers and businesses interact with digital assets, the team has various obstacles to overcome.

Adoption

Is it favorable for businesses to allow their assets to trade on a secondary market? And will businesses amend their terms and user agreements to allow secondary market liquidity for their digital assets? For example, airline loyalty points are currently an illiquid market. Wall Street analysts have pointed out that the sale of these loyalty points can equal up to half of an airline’s yearly earnings before interest and taxes, but airlines might want loyalty points to expire unredeemed. That way, airlines can increase revenue, without having to discount travel for customers who don’t take advantage of their loyalty points.

Scalability

Because the Tari protocol intends to become the underlying protocol for the transfer of digital assets, they will need to handle “many tens of thousands of transactions per second,” according to Jain. The team plans to use lightning as the primary throughput mechanic for Tari.

Spagni explained, “We’re building a standards compliant lightning router, that will be compatible with Bitcoin, Monero and Tari. We will also achieve additional throughput by building a MimbleWimble chain. This way, transactions won’t be stored on the blockchain in their entirety, just kernels.”

The Tari protocol has yet to deploy a test network boasting any transaction capabilities, not to mention Visa-level performance.

Disclosure: The author has an investment in Tari.

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New Decentral Project Brings Gamification, Rewards to Jaxx User Experience

Canadian blockchain venture Decentral Inc. and its multi-currency digital wallet Jaxx announced the upcoming release of the new “Decentral Project,” along with some of its primary initiatives. At a lavish “United by Decentral” event held on the Cornucopia Majesty yacht, the company closed out Consensus 2018 in New York City with a series of presentations outlining their new initiatives.

In an animated video narrated by Decentral founder and CEO Anthony Di Iorio, the 2.0 version of its wallet — dubbed “Jaxx Liberty” — offers a gamified interface to assist newcomers in experiencing the blockchain arena. The redesigned Jaxx wallet will backend infrastructure to dozens of blockchains, while the module-based interface includes a portfolio, block explorers, markets, charts and graphs, and popular news sources.

Part of the interface will include a sort of “Wikipedia of decentralized tech,” which Jaxx has dubbed “Decentral Academy.” It will offer “a simplified means of explaining technologies, the projects, different coins and tokens in an objective, meaningful way.” According to the video, “projects will be explained in a non-biased fashion, terms will be defined and the masses will have a source for information in one place.”

“What Jaxx is creating is like the browser for the internet — a single place to discover and enable the blockchain journey,” Coinberry president Andrei Poliakov said to Bitcoin Magazine. “Coinberry [is] so excited to be an early exchange partner to help enable instant account setup and easy withdrawals for Canadian bitcoin and ether holders.”

Another consumer-engagement feature of Jaxx Liberty will include the Decentral Collector Cards: physical, unique, verifiable cards based on different communities in the blockchain space. They will be tied in with the platform’s gamification elements and sold in packs online to start.

Decentral Unity

The second announcement introduced Decentral Unity, the new loyalty system and coin for Jaxx Liberty and the entire Jaxx line of products. Among other uses, the Unity coin will reward users for engaging with the company’s numerous partners within the platform.

Jaxx’s incentive-based model is designed to instill confidence in its partners and encourage them to build on Jaxx Liberty. Decentral expects the project to garner as many as 10 million users per month.

“The old paradigm of unifying the world through centralization has failed,” said Justin Fisher, co-founder and CEO of VeriBlock, one of the Jaxx Liberty’s partner companies. “I believe that what Decentral is doing will ignite a revolution of empowerment and unity because they turn the old model inside out. This is a profound vision and we are excited to be a part of it.”

Here’s how the system will work. Users who engage with Decentral’s partners through the Jaxx Liberty interface will be rewarded with Unity tokens. The more they engage, the more chances they’ll have to level up and garner discounts on partner services. Users can also check their cryptocurrency balances through one streamlined portfolio and modify their interface pages with applications like avatars, charts, wallets and asset news.

Di Iorio told Bitcoin Magazine that Unity tokens are given to users as rewards for engagement with the Jaxx Liberty platform. There is no presale or token sale. They are intended to be used and have value within the platform itself.

According to a company statement, “The core objective of Decentral Project is to empower the ecosystem with unparalleled tools, enabling the masses to take control of their digital lives. We believe Jaxx Liberty is a crucial step in this journey, and we hope the platform — designed as an interactive game — will transform the way that everyday consumers interact with and secure their digital wealth. Jaxx Liberty will create wins for everyone. Our partners will have a broader network of engaged individuals, and the more users engage with our partners, the more Unity they can earn.”

The Jaxx Cube and Ice Cube

Finally, Decentral also announced its plan to release two new hardware pieces in the coming months: the Jaxx Cube and the Jaxx Ice Cube. According to Jaxx, the Cube is “your digital life in a box.” The console is designed as a complement to a home entertainment system.

“This design piece comes pre-loaded with nodes, empowering you to interact directly with a number of blockchains. With the Jaxx Cube, you’ll be able to push your own transactions and be part of the networks without having to rely on Jaxx for this.”

The Ice Cube is an offline cold storage wallet that looks like a miniature version of the Cube and will be made to work with the Cube or any other device that supports Jaxx. It is designed to be connection- and cable-free, and small enough to fit in a safe or safety deposit box.

“We’re building the decentralized world,” said Di Iorio, “all the while, doing it based on the unique guiding principles of not asking people for money, never holding or having access to customer funds and not requiring users to provide information about themselves.”

Founded in 2014, Decentral is headquartered in downtown Toronto. The company has hosted several blockchain community events over the last four years and has built several partner projects including Jaxx, which attracts over 750,000 monthly users from around the world.  

Jaxx Liberty will officially launch on July 1, 2018, while the Jaxx Unity coin will be released over the following weeks.

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