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Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

Australian Farmers Can Look to France for Blockchain Advice

As the Australian food industry passes through a rough period in 2018, blockchain endorsements in the French supply chain industry might offer some routes to recovery.

Perhaps the most significant impact of DLT has been on supply chain networks as companies discover a new took for offering customer satisfaction through a transparent and accountable transfer of goods across borders.

Both the US and Europe have locked into this in a big way with retail giants Walmart and French supermarket chain Carrefour both finding initial positivism in blockchain and its functionality. There, even the sacred turkey now travels to the Thanksgiving table via blockchain.

On the other side of the world, Australia is beginning to look at how its supply chains can be protected with the added security that DLT is providing elsewhere. The food industry there did not have a good year, exacerbated by the news that fruit contaminated by sewing needles were found in strawberry punnets in a supermarket chain, resulting in the potential loss to the industry of AUD 130m a year. Tons of unwanted fruit have been dumped due to the sudden unpopularity of supermarket fruit as a result and one customer was hospitalized.

Apart for the obvious repercussions for sales in Australia, the country has taken a double hit as the tampered Australian strawberries then landed on New Zealand’s supermarket shelves causing two retailers to put up a ban on buying strawberries from Australia.

Unsurprising then that supermarkets are now looking to blockchain with a little more immediate interest than previously. The Australian market needs to regain the trust of the public, something which can be achieved by careful monitoring of the supply chain from farm to supermarket shelves, something that was clearly breached in these incidents down under, albeit by an extreme case of mismanagement.

The French model employed by Carrefour demonstrates that DLT can offer simple solutions for producers, manufacturers, and buyers across supply chains. This system provides customers with a blockchain-based traceability program, currently limited to some poultry in the chain’s Auvergne stores. The system offers a record of the chickens’ life from egg to supermarket. Shoppers can use a smartphone to scan in a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field and farm to table.


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Enrolment Race Pushes Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Enrolment Race Pressures Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Recent reports indicate that rather than course numbers dropping due to a market down, the numbers of potential new entrants into the cryptocurrency space from other sectors are swelling. With top blockchain developers in the US pulling down salaries above USD 250,000, it is hardly surprising that the recent cryptocurrency bear market has done little to deter those considering entering the industry.

For many, the main route into the burgeoning fintech space has now become via a growing range of courses being offered by major universities and business schools around the world.

Courses are now on offer from far and wide whether it be in the Scottish Highlands, Ivy League Cornell and Stanford in New England or in sunny Cyprus. For those wanting a cultural slant on life for a short period, Saint Petersburg’s State University of Economics and Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) also both run blockchain technology courses. However, there is already a waiting list.

Professor David Yermack from NYC Stern School of Business came early to the university’s MBA program for blockchain and cryptocurrency education. His class has already doubled over the past year and as a result, he has had to move his lectures to a larger auditorium to cater for the swelling numbers at Stern.

The prestigious New York University first established its School of Accounts and Finance in 1900; Stern is one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the world. It is also a founding member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

A notable factor of the current surge to find a place on blockchain and cryptocurrency course is not the just amount of courses becoming available but the way in which some of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions have led the march towards fintech education. A recent Coinbase survey revealed that 42% of the world’s top 50 universities offer at least one course relating to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Some 22% of the universities offered more than one course, with Stanford listing ten classes and Cornell nine. The National University of Singapore ranked highest of the non-US universities with five blockchain-related courses. The US universities were far more likely to offer related courses than those abroad; just 5 of the 18 non-US institutions offered such classes.

Clearly, Ivy League universities appreciate the credentials of fintech, with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina (UNC), all making investments from their endowments into at least one crypto fund.

Finding a place at one of these and other universities won’t get easier though, particularly in the light of tech recruitment sites such as Toptal reporting a 700% increase in demand for skilled blockchain developers since the beginning of last year.


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Law Professor’s Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

Law Professor's Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

A professor from the University of Arkansas School of Law has written a paper essentially claiming that US regulators are in a state of confusion over exactly what cryptocurrency is.

The article, entitled ‘U.S. Law: Crypto is Money, Property, a Commodity, and a Security, all at the Same Time’, written by professor Carol Goforth for the Journal of Financial Transformation, has recently been published in the University of Oxford’s Business Law blog.

The article is raising eyebrows as it outlines what many some academics and lawmakers are already thinking across the US, that the SEC really doesn’t know how to proceed over cryptocurrency legislation as the commission can’t really classify it.

Goforth claims that part of the problem which prevents correct legislation is the fact that a broad definition does not cover the requirements of the four entities in US government currently dealing with cryptocurrency. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines cryptocurrency assets as property, the Department of Treasury through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “very much like money”, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as commodities, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lumps cryptocurrency assets into its “securities” basket.

Here lies the problem claims Goforth; this diverse set of contradictory definitions make a broader definition impossible, in fact as she points out cryptocurrencies also have other functions not even covered by these four definitions.

Putting aside these four bodies, jurisdictions of individual US states are also bringing in their own guidelines regarding virtual assets, adding even more uncertainty to an already confused area, claims Goforth. Registering an exchange in New York, for example, will require a different process for completing the same activity in, for example, California.

The professor explains that in view of such a diversity of cryptocurrency functions a monolithic approach to defining and therefore regulating virtual currency should be abandoned to make way for far more nuanced thinking by government agencies; an approach which examines the functionality of the crypto asset along with the requirements of the agency issuing guidelines for its use.


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Blockchain Gains IP Credence Among Chinese Legal Institutions

Blockchain Gains Credence Among Chinese Legal Institutions

Blockchain has found its way to an internet courtroom in Eastern China to get justice for writers, reports

The painstaking effort exercised in getting justice for authors whose intellectual properties are misappropriated just got easier, as explained by a judge of an internet court in China,Wang Jiangqiao. He said:

“Writers used to resort to screenshots and downloaded content as evidence, which was hard to gain legal recognition as the process was not credible enough.”

But it seems with the perks of blockchain’s immutability and timestamp actions, the credibility of the facts stored on a blockchain is much more reliable. Wang added that:

“Blockchain guarantees that data cannot be tampered [with], due to its decentralized and open distributed ledger technology. Therefore, all digital footprints stored in the judicial blockchain system, [including] authorship, time of creation, content, and evidence of infringement, have legal effect.”

More so, plaintiffs have had to suffer the high cost of legal bills when seeking justice through the traditional method as Wang observed that “notarial procedures and hiring of professional lawyers push up the costs of seeking justice”.

The media outlet also reports that 107 prominent online writers have signed contracts to produce works in a “writers’ village” in the city’s Binjiang District of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is home to many, if not most, online writers in China.

Three internet courts have been situated in three districts: Hangzhou, Beijing, and Guangzhou. While internet-related cases are a norm because of the high internet activity in the country, Hangzhou appears to be in the front lead to adopt blockchain solution in solving copyright issues, first with writers.

The first time a case was solved through evidence brought forward on the basis of blockchain happened about five months back. A Chinese defendant successfully argued his innocence in the Chinese court at Hangzhou using blockchain timestamp data, clearing his name from charges of copyright theft.

It appears that writers are not the only ones who need the services of the internet court, as China is home to over 800 million internet explorers with online businesses at the heart of the activity. Other related case types being handled by the court include contract dispute arising from online shopping, product liability dispute arising from online shopping, disputes over internet service contract, disputes arising from the financial loan contract disputes and small loan contract disputes signed and executed on the Internet.

On the traditional side of things, other real-world courts are adopting the concept of blockchain as a reliable witness to intellectual property as seen in the case of the Russian Intellectual Property (IP) court successfully using a blockchain-based solution for storing copyright data.

Even though cryptocurrencies are banned in China, its Supreme Court seems to think blockchain evidence can be seen as legally binding material in court.


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Upbeat Investors Maintain Bullish Predictions, Diversification

Upbeat Investors Maintain Bullish Predictions, Diversification

The likes of billionaire Tim Draper who is never short of making upbeat predictions regarding cryptocurrencies are not mainstream investors and are their observations are unlikely to have their desired impact on markets.

This is not to say that the next run on crypto markets could be a huge surge towards Bitcoin’s heady highs of 2017. This according to many is reliant not on input from players such as Draper and ex-hedge fund manager and CEO of Galaxy Investment Mike Novogratz, but more on historically-based theory.

Novogratz claims have done rather well from investing in cryptocurrency but the key is how much has he been able to lose. He stated in 2017 that 20% of his net worth was in Bitcoin and Ethereum, claiming that he made USD 250 million from cryptocurrency from 2016-2017.

It is worth considering then, the other 80% of his non-crypto assets. Like Tim Draper and any sensible investor, he diversified his investment portfolios early on, thereby enabling him to take the sort of hits that would be terminal for most other cryptocurrency investors.

Draper, holding an MBA from Harvard Business School, comes from a long line of banking venture capitalists and is far too canny to be totally crypto-asset dependent; another who can ride any storm with a 100% guarantee of survival.

This is obviously not the case for normal retail investors and individual traders, who take a deep breath with every dip in the market, waiting eagerly for the SEC to wake up and realize that cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

Jim Breyer, a billionaire venture capitalist, added that the world’s best computer scientists are heading to the blockchain space and this is where the future lies:

“So many of the very best computer scientists and deep learning PhD students and postdocs are working on blockchain because they have so much fundamental interest in what blockchain can mean. You don’t want to bet against the best and brightest in the world.”

Cryptocurrencies are clearly not a fad, but those warnings about not overloading one’s cryptocurrency portfolio but maintaining a sensible split between crypto and fiat remain true, at least until the market stabilizes. Billionaires are quite happy spending other people’s money. It may be more advisable to listen to Wall St which tends to be far more stoic, based on what horse racing pundits would call “form”.

The form is that over the past nine years, Bitcoin has survived five bubble-crash-build-rally cycles seeing it fall by about 85% on average and then recover to a new all-time high. From USD 19,500, Bitcoin has dropped about 82% in value and the 85% point would be at around USD 2,950.

So, another drop towards this figure shouldn’t surprise, nor should a bull run following that level. Bitcoin could still be first past the post. It’s early days.


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Dutch Province of Limburg Launches Community Crypto

Dutch Province of Limburg Launches Community Crypto

Dutch cryptocurrency platform Studio/Belfius has joined with payment platform LimbU in Limburg in the South of Holland to create its own cryptocurrency for promoting community spirit.

The initiators of the project suggest that the aim is to encourage sustainability, community support, promotion of local produce, and the creation of supply chains throughout Limburg’s 10 provincial regions.

Limburg is the southernmost of 12 provinces of the Netherlands. It is in the southeastern part of the country, stretched out from the north, touching the province of Gelderland, to the south, where it internationally borders Belgium.

The new digital currency, the “Limbu” has no fiat support but is transferable to users’ wallets throughout the province after locals complete a range of civically responsible activities such as; garbage collection, doing small repairs, giving blood, collecting clothes for charity, undergoing first aid training or composting organic waste.

The aim is to also encourage companies, public authorities, and associations to contribute through the scheme towards building a “greener, more welcoming Limburg.” The project’s member Wim Van De Putte explains:

“It was not easy finding the right partner with the required experience and expertise. But from the very outset, Studio Innovation Lab impressed us with its ability to understand this complex issue and its willingness to meet the challenge. In fact, The Studio has its own scalable platform for creating a digital currency based on the blockchain.”

As the project, Uitmuntend Limburg, grows in numbers, it plans to hand over to and widen the range and scope of activities around the province, especially as thousands of Limburgers across the 10 regions already have their wallets. Ronny Neckebroeck from The Studio commented:

“We are honored to be part of such a beautiful project. Developing the platform and payment app is a major step forward along the way towards making the LimbU project a professional and sustainable initiative. Working with Uitmuntend Limburg, we will make the LimbU a success – we are sure of it. And our experience in innovative digital solutions and blockchain makes us the ideal partner for handling the technological side of this great story.”

At the beginning of this year, The Studio also developed Pengo, an innovative service that enables individuals to send payment requests via instant messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

The Netherlands is a leader in advancing blockchain technology in Europe and often slips under the radar, but the Dutch government is no slouch when it comes to promoting the interests of companies adopting new technologies, especially when such projects benefit the entire community such as Uitmuntend Limburg. Holland is a country with a social conscience, and legislation over the years has illustrated the degree to which its population is a beneficiary of the desire shown by the government to support its society as a whole.

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Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that cryptocurrency has the potential to turn Virtual Reality into a full-time job.

Armstrong suggests that virtual spaces could create their own currencies or even make use of existing ones such as Bitcoin or Ethereum by integrating the means for users to spend crypto in the same way as they are currently using fiat.

Developers would see more time spent on such games, according to the Coinbase boss, taking it much further into the realms of Sci-fi by suggesting that players could use the virtual world to support themselves in the real world, cashing in their accrued gaming funds for “real” use, such as paying rent. He speculates:

“Perhaps we’ll see virtual bank buildings with pillars, virtual bank vaults that spin when you open them, and virtual tellers with glasses.” The exchange magnate, clearly a follower of the gaming and VR world added, “Ready Player One had a great visual of coins being collected in the game, and spilling out of characters when they were killed (leaving a big pile of loot on the ground).”

Clearly, Armstrong has seen the potential of turning VR ownership into the real thing via some of his own exchange-listed cryptocurrencies. But in reality, there’s still a long way to go – crossing the bridge from virtual into reality.

Armstrong appears to be in touch with the man on the street, if not through gaming and VR, then certainly in terms of what reality actually means for many of the world’s “have-nots” these days. This was shown by his recent personal $1 million giveaway through his charity project called GiveCrypto.

The project is a global enterprise which will give out cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their donations as cryptocurrency or exchange them for fiat. GiveCrypto wants to raise USD 10 million by the end of 2018 and grow to a fund of USD 1 billion over two years. Donations will hopefully come from wealthy donors who have amassed wealth through cryptocurrency, passing on their good fortunes to those in need of financial help. Suggested cryptocurrencies for donations are Bitcoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen has already put in an undisclosed donation into the Armstrong charity hat. This may not be all that Ripple will be putting into Coinbase’s coffers if recent news that Coinbase plans to list XRP on its exchange becomes reality…. that’s not a virtual one by the way!

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American Express Praises Ripple for Cross Border Payments

american express

According to a top American Express representative, Ripple has the potential to revolutionize cross-border transactions globally.

Speaking in Madrid recently at the Wings of Change Europe conference, Carlos Carriedo, the credit card giant’s general manager of corporate payments indicated this was one reason that blockchain integration was high on the company’s agenda for change.

Clearly, Ripple’s XRP has caught the eye as the preferred blockchain route for the company moving forward, if Carriedo’s views are a clear representation of the Amercian Express’ programme for future development of financial services around the globe. He explained why his company was looking at Ripple becoming a significant blockchain partner in the future:

“Blockchain is absolutely an option we’re looking at. Just to give you a sense, we have invested in a fintech lab based on blockchain technology, just to understand how to leverage this better…We did a test, partnering with Santander locally, and with Ripple to just do cross-border transactions…And in a matter of seconds, through this test, our clients were able to transfer funds in a very transparent and seamless way, from one part of the world to the other one.”

Ripple itself has just joined three other partners to form a European blockchain called “Blockchain for Europe” in order to bring together what it describes as “fragmented” voices in Europe into a “more unified whole” in matters of the blockchain. Such moves are sure to offer confidence to intuitional players such as American Express, in the fact that Ripple is becoming a far more representative voice for the blockchain industry as a whole, despite its Bitcoin purist detractors.

Ripple is spreading its global network. And by working with American Express, collaborating with Santander to reduce the current inefficiencies of cross-border payments it has heightened its global profile. Also, significantly Ripple has gained approval to operate in China, opening up other opportunities in the region.  By using Ripple, Santander has stated that it wants to fundamentally change cross-border payments universally by establishing a strong alliance between the two companies. AM’s Carriedo again, speaking of the future of payments:

“There is more to come. There’s still a lot of things that need to get addressed with blockchain as a technology. But it’s very promising…The future is definitely digital. Digital is the way payments will continue to be across both the consumer part of the business the commercial part of the business”.

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Fremantle in West Australia Allows Residents Trade Solar Power Using Power Ledger

Residents in Western Australia’s (WA) historical coastal port of Fremantle may soon be able to trade solar power on a blockchain based platform.

The project, brainchild of renewable energy-focused crypto startup Power Ledger, plans to include 40 participating Fremantle householders next June according to Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Finance, Energy and Aboriginal Affairs.

Once the trial is underway next year, householders can set a price at which they are willing to purchase and sell solar power for and finally carry out their transactions on a blockchain-enabled platform. Minister Wyatt explained, suggesting these households could well be the first in the world to sell their rooftop generated power back to the grid in this way:

“The trial represents an innovative solution to virtual energy trading that may have implications for energy utilities working to balance energy supply and demand all over the world.”

The trial has been enabled through a RENeW Nexus Project which has been exploring how DLT can integrate distributed energy, including water systems infrastructure in future city planning schemes. Power Ledger is already on this road after embarking on a similar project in the US  with energy supplier American PowerNet.

Aussie Crypto Startup Power Ledger Brings P2P Energy Trading to Largest US Market

— CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) November 18, 2018

The US project enabled the solar power generated on the rooftops and carports at the headquarters of American PowerNet to be distributed to the surrounding businesses using Power Ledger’s xGrid platform. American PowerNet’s president, Scott Helm explained:

“Rather than just dump our excess solar power on to the grid, we’re thrilled we can now provide clean, sustainable power to our neighbors.”

Power Ledger has been making a name for themselves in technological innovation recently following their success in winning the 2018 edition of Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) sponsored by billionaire founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson. Their winning spot resulted in the startup going on to receive financial endorsements totaling millions of dollars.

Fremantle’s nearest city, West Australian capital Perth, has also made the crypto news this week after announcing the opening of its first blockchain centre, designed to become a  supportive business environment to encourage young start-ups to stay in the region, rather than moving overseas.

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Four Major Euro Banks Collaborate to Use Corda R3 for Debt Solution

It’s been reported that four major European banks have used R3’s Corda platform to create a live transaction for their Euro Debt Solution.

The banks, Commerzbank, ING, Natixis, and Rabobank have adapted blockchain technology, according to a new Banking Tech report, by finding a solution to minimize operational costs and risks using R3. Corda is a distributed ledger platform that is the outcome of over two years of intense research and development by R3 and 80 of the world’s largest financial institutions.

The banks combined their individual strengths to develop the solution. Natixis as the issuer, Rabobank as the investor, while ING acts as both the dealer and escrow agent. Commerzbank, on the other hand, provides the pilot framework, software and distributed ledger network for the transaction which involved the issuance of a one-day maturity Euro Commercial Paper (ECP) worth EUR100,000 or more than $113,000. ING’s head of money market and central bank sales commented:

“This live trade lays the foundation for dealing ECP more efficiently and cost-effectively. It also marks the start of building an improved DLT platform that enables direct settlement and reduces operational risk and costs at the same time.”

Ripple’s XRP has become the banking system’s go-to transaction solution in the crypto sphere, but this use of the Corda platform demonstrates that Ripple has not got a complete stranglehold on the space for such payments.

R3 leads a consortium of more than 200 financial institutions in research and development of DLT usage in the financial system and other commercial sectors. Corda was designed for dealing with complex transactions and security and is expected to have many of the benefits of the blockchain. A new version of Corda was released earlier this year aimed specifically at businesses, called Corda Enterprise, it includes a blockchain applications firewall.

However, Ripple does appear to be growing from strength to strength following the company’s recent announcement that Japanese banking corporation Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFJ) Inc has struck a partnership with Brazilian bank Banco Bradesco for a new Ripple-based cross-border payments system.

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