Category Archives: education

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Small Business Boost from EU Blockchain Committee

Members of a European Parliament committee voted on Wednesday to recommend that small businesses look into blockchain payment systems. The positive news was reported recently by one of the leading crypto news sites.

The EU Commission’s Industry, Research, and Energy Committee specifically suggested non-monetary uses for the technology, specifying data controls and supply chain management in order for a more cost-effective way of making payments in order to democratize the energy market. The commission believes that small businesses could benefit from integrating blockchain technology into small business.

Eval Kaili, committee member believes that DLT is “cutting edge” commenting:

“Today the Industry Committee voted univocally in favor of a forward-looking technology that we expect to change the quality of our life, empower SMEs and improve business models in most industrial sectors … and we aspire to make EU the global leader in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The proposed model covers blockchain use in many areas:

Monitoring

Monitoring the origin of goods, offering greater certainty that, e.g., diamonds are ethically sourced, clothes are not made in sweatshops and a bottle of champagne comes from Champagne,

Democratizing

Enabling households that produce energy to exchange and consume it without the need to pay an intermediary agency, and

Recording

Creating records such as land registries, birth certificates, and business licenses, with less dependence upon lawyers, notaries and government officials.

“Citizens could use blockchains to gain full control of their own data and decide what to share, and small firms and innovative start-ups could use them to cut intermediation costs and ensure that transactions are executed efficiently the committee,” a European Sting report says.

The press release suggests that the committee called on the  EU commission to start a regulatory process for various blockchain scenarios which could be deemed “ innovation-friendly and technology neutral,” and request more funding for projects from the EU.

Kaili attended the NY Blockchain Week Consensus Conference last week and commented there that the EU was in favor of Blockchain, but that education was a major issue regarding the new technology, joking that, “we don’t have too many scientists within the European Parliament”

She calls for “harmonization, sandboxes, and regulation,” over the next few years to progress the technology towards mainstream recognition.

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Healthcare Companies on Board for Blockchain Data Sharing

Two leading firms in intelligence and blockchain technology for healthcare are developing a platform for the storage and exchange of genomic data, reports Cointelegraph.

The companies will develop a platform to automate data acquisition, utilizing smart contracts, allowing data providers to store, manage, exchange, and profit from genomic and other types of clinical data. It hopes to cater to individuals and large data providers such as biobanks, allowing them to maintain ownership of genomic data and profit from it.

Longenesis targets lab tests results as one of its main areas of focus, developing a blockchain to store and exchange  important longitudinal health data. The company foresees that its work will establish two new fields of clinical study.

Earlier in March, Nasdaq reported that one of its listed companies, Genetic Technologies Limited, had partnered with a blockchain tech firm Shivom to build a “mass genomic data analysis” platform, purporting to allow users to “donate” their DNA for clinical research in a bid to accelerate cancer detection.

Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.

New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.

In April, US healthcare giant United Health Group announced a blockchain deployment to keep records up to date, examining “how sharing data across healthcare organizations on blockchain technology can improve data accuracy, streamline administration and improve access to care”.

 

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Universities Need to Promote Crypto and Blockchain Education to Push Industry Forward

The study of cryptocurrency and blockchain at educational institutions could impact positively on the space filling skill gaps in the industry, according to a report by Bitcoinist.

The University of Nicosia, Cyprus, announced that it would offer the world’s first Masters programme in digital currency back in 2013. The postgraduate course was aimed at financial services professionals:

“The MSc in Digital Currency is designed to help financial services and business professionals, entrepreneurs, government officials and public administrators better understand the technical underpinnings of digital currency, how it will likely interact with existing monetary and financial systems, and what opportunities exist for innovation in digital currency systems.”

Bisade Asolo, writing for Bitcoinist, argues that the lack of high-level blockchain and cryptocurrency courses has caused a skill shortage within the industry, thus producing more opportunities for those already with expertise.

Professor Dan Boneh of Stanford’s Computer Security Lab suggests that “cryptocurrencies are a wonderful way to teach cryptography… a lot of people are attracted to the huge valuations in these currencies”.

There are now many opportunities for blockchain developers, but clearly not enough skilled technicians to fill these gaps. Toptal, a marketplace for hiring tech talent, recorded a 700% increase in demand for blockchain developers since January 2017. These positions can be well paid. According to Jerry Cuomo, VP of IBM’s Blockchain Technologies division, the best blockchain developers can command a salary above USD 250,000.

Such positions can only be filled by those that can display an expert knowledge of the industry. Masters degrees such as the one offered in Nicosia are scarce but an essential source of knowledge for those wanting to take the industry forward.

There are, however, some educational institutions offering courses in digital information systems, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. In the US, the Northeastern University College of Engineering in Boston and George Mason University in Virginia run courses in blockchain tech as part of other advanced educational postgraduate Science programs.  The University of Cape Town now offers a cryptocurrency and FinTech elective module as part of its wider Data Science Masters programme.

In Scotland, the University of Sterling – as part of its Financial Technology (FinTech) Masters programme, offers participants a primer to blockchain technology, which includes cryptocurrencies, decentralized applications, smart contracts, and applications and case studies.

Sao Paulo University Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV) is the most recent university to try and fill the educational gap, offering a Masters Degree in Cryptofinance as part of its program in order to “prepare students for the coming era of digital currencies”.

 

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Citigroup Advertises Jobs Requiring Bitcoin Professional Certification

Citigroup has recently advertised multiple job roles for potential employees requiring a Bitcoin Professional Certification.

The American multinational investment bank is looking to hire a VP and a senior VP with a background in Bitcoin, specifically to explore the risks associated with money laundering and cryptocurrencies. They noted that a specialist would more aware of suspicious transactions denominated in a cryptocurrency, and how to anticipate them.

The advertisements list that a Bitcoin Professional Certification is preferable.

The certification brings a level of legitimacy to cryptocurrency experts. While not necessarily validating one as a Bitcoin expert, it requires knowledge to attain it that is critical to positions such as that advertised by Citigroup.

The senior VP role at Citigroup works collaboratively with the global head of AML monitoring risk management in an analytical role, looking to identify legitimate transactions and those that look suspicious. To prevent additional money laundering occurring, this role requires a very specific area of Bitcoin expertise.

While Citigroup does not currently seem interested in incorporating cryptocurrency into their banking services, the advertisement of these positions shows at least an interest in the area. Additionally, it proves that it is increasingly focused on reducing money laundering practices.

Despite the attention of Citigroup to Bitcoin-related financial crimes, nine in ten money laundering transactions actually occur through banks and other official services, not through cryptocurrency.

If the roles at Citigroup are successfully filled by qualified candidates, it has the potential to increase the legitimacy given to the cryptocurrency industry as a whole, and potentially the Bitcoin Professional Certificate.

Requiring the Bitcoin certification is a relatively new demand in the industry, as employers from the traditional financial sector joining the field consider it more an obligation to prove expertise. It is worth keeping an eye on the certification to consider if it is a success in enabling more professionals to gain jobs in the industry.

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Brazil University to Launch Bitcoin Masters Program

Sao Paulo university Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV) has announced that it is to offer a Masters Degree in Cryptofinance as part of its program in order to “prepare students for the coming era of digital currencies”.

FGV’s new Masters’ program is a reflection of Brazil’s forward thinking approach to new developments in the financial global market. The university’s program officer, Ricardo Rochman, regards the move as an important one towards training professionals as “leaders” in Brazil’s start-up ecosystem. Rochman claims that the current market suffers from a lack of expertise and that economic and financial fundamentals need to be both researched and taught so that cryptofinance can move ahead.

The Faculty of Economics and Administration at the University of Sao Paulo (FEA-USP) is also embracing the new technologies, adding a Cryptocurrencies module to its Derivatives course. In this module, students can learn about Bitcoin and how markets react in the cryptocurrency environment. Alan de Genaro, a professor at the faculty, made the decision to run the course because future professionals “need to decipher which factors are beneficial and which are not”.

The education market, through major universities around the globe, is beginning to embrace the need for further research and teaching programs with regard to blockchain technology. New York University began offering one of the first classes on the subject in 2014. Other top Universities, such as Duke, Cornell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are now offering a range of crypto courses. Stanford and Princeton Universities also offer courses on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

In Russia, some major universities have added courses to existing programs on banking, finance and financial markets. Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) both run blockchain technology courses.

With cryptocurrency’s growing popularity, Bitcoin ‘labs’ are increasingly being introduced at universities around the world. Students enrolling for Edinburgh University‘s new course, Blockchains and Ledgers, will be required to build their own blockchain in a course aimed at fourth-year undergraduates and first-year masters students.

 

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