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Only 3% of Americans Would Use Blockchain Banking

banking, blockchain

A Foton survey has revealed that 3% of Americans are ready to use blockchain banking products or apps, given the opportunity.

The survey of 5,000 American internet users was conducted across a range of age groups. Feedback indicated that the technology was being increasingly pushed forward by the willingness of banks to implement it, despite slow growth in the numbers prepared to use such services.

Another 34% said that they would be prepared to use blockchain banking given that they were actually ready to, which currently they were not. 63% were unhappy about using blockchain banking solutions at the time of the survey

A much greater percentage of these, 34%, would be willing to use blockchain banking solutions if they felt they were currently ready – which they do not, representing 20 times the 150 people surveyed who said they would be ready to take the plunge towards changing their banking habits to employ emerging technology.

The survey points out that currently 90% of North American & European banks are exploring the blockchain, far in excess of IBM’s projections about the future of blockchain banking made in 2017 when the technology was beginning to emerge on a large scale in the financial sector. It suggests that 2019 would see the tech blossom. Some estimates put the value of blockchain in the trillions by 2030, estimates that have little chance of success if public confidence in the technology doesn’t show more willingness to adapt than the 63% of dissenters in this particular survey.

Banks will only take backstage in the years to come should a more universal trust in blockchain technology gains a much higher degree of trust around the globe, and only then can blockchain be deemed a success in the final sector. However, the banks have begun to sit up and take notice, forming 5 consortia led by HSBC and Standard Chartered, using distributed ledger technologies (DLT) to process live trade finance transactions.

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Macron’s Got Problems but Blockchain Ain’t One

Macron's Got Problems but Blockchain Ain't One

French President Emmanuel Macron is seeing his popularity wane by the day due to his planned reforms for business and industry but new technologies appear to be flourishing under the current government, regardless of current discontentment.

Blockchain, in particular, has been earmarked and the latest news of IBM’s new initiatives and investments which should bring 1,800 jobs to France won’t hurt either. Nor will IBM’s new French project with P-TECH to support the disadvantages in finding work. In fact, France is on the crest of a blockchain wave currently, despite Macron’s reforms being soundly rejected. With overturned cars burning in Paris streets it seems hard to imagine that French politicians have got anything right under the current regime.

Perhaps a hint of this shifting focus towards new technologies by a Macron government was the dabbling with taxation this year, with the government finally settling on dropping the tax on cryptocurrency to 17%… for the time being. Clearly, the government doesn’t want to stifle an industry which it is now openly promoting, suggesting that it should now benefit from an EUR 500 million  state handout.

Member of the National Assembly, Laure de La Raudière, is one of those calling for the money, who sees efficiency as an end product arguing that government should follow private industry’s lead using DLT. She says: “I draw the alarm: it’s time to invest. There are not yet established positions in the world.”

She also cited the certification of diplomas or administrative documents as potential use cases. France’s Prime Minister Édouard Philippe is another sold on blockchain although taking some criticism on the subject of allowing Bitcoin to be dispersed in tabacs around France via a ticketing system. In other areas, he’s on safer ground:

“Take the example of agribusiness. To have an interesting blockchain in terms of traceability and food security, it is necessary to bring together distributors, producers, logisticians, the industrialists… And do not let only one actor manage the network as Carrefour or Casino can do today.”

Carrefour was the first to set the blockchain clock ticking with its produce monitoring program being introduced into some of its supermarkets earlier this year, a move recently followed in Spain.

The multi-party suggestion that France should receive massive financial banking to promote blockchain has occurred according to De la Raudière because she believes that she is not alone in wanting to see France as a leader rather than a follower in Europe. She argues, “France must have a conquering philosophy on the subject with the State in the first place, both as a user and federator of projects.”

Other suggestions coming from the recent parliamentary report highlight a call for the opening of bank accounts for blockchain-centered businesses which must register with the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF), the French stock market regulator.

 

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Vitalik Buterin: Efficient Blockchain Relies on User Not Tool

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took a fresh dig at IBM in an interview at a recent conference, suggesting that the tech giant’s use of blockchain for supply chain tracking is a waste of time.

He was speaking in an interview at this year’s Devocon4 conference in Prague for Ethereum developers, which was focusing on extending Ethereum’s outreach to the next million users and improving its effectiveness for them.

The multinational tech giant IBM, in league with other companies, has been leaving a significant imprint on the retail industry lately with the use of blockchain technology in supply chain systems.

This year an IBM/Walmart project came up with a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology, which Walmart committed 100 of its suppliers to adhere to. Both have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and are eager to promote the use of new technology in sectors including business and commerce.

IBM also has patents accepted for such projects as Blockchain for Open Scientific Research which assert that blockchain can aid the process of scientific research by tracking research and development projects across institutional borders while offering “a tamper-resistant log of scientific research”. In fact, it has become challenging to cite a sector that IBM has not thoroughly explored in order to test the future potential of blockchain technology.

Ethereum’s co-founder is not so impressed, claiming marketing hype is at the center of IBM’s push to advertise its advances in DLT. He claims its blockchain supply chain achievements are off the mark and fundamentally missing the point of decentralization.

“Sometimes it is for marketing hype. Sometimes it is just people who are genuinely excited about blockchains and want the thing they are personally excited about and their job to align more with each other, which is a totally legitimate, human thing to want to do.”

Buterin suggests that lettuces on the blockchain, for example, is wrong, as the implication is that by using blockchain the consumer is being empowered by being able to track items at every step from growth to table using QR scanning. He argues that the viability of this system relies totally on the ability of the user to perform each task, for example, such as the farmer imputing the correct details on the blockchain so that customers can actually confirm the credentials of the information.

According to Buterin, blockchain technology should be regarded as a tool rather a 100% guarantee of evidence of credibility and therefore not necessarily the panacea to all life’s ills.

 

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IBM Blockchain Pursues Open Research, Security

Hot on the blockchain patenting trail, IBM’s latest patent, this time coming out of its Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, appears to signal a new pursuit of “open scientific research”.

First filed in December 2017, the patent for “Blockchain for Open Scientific Research” claims that blockchain can aid the process of scientific research by tracking research and development projects across institutional borders while offering “a tamper-resistant log of scientific research”. The patent filing outlined the work of IBM inventors Jae-wook Ahn, Maria Chang, Patrick Watson, and Ravindranath Kokku:

“The blockchain system can form a blockchain representing a research project, wherein the blockchain comprises a first block of research data and a second block of analysis data representing a log of an analysis performed on the research data. Summary blocks and correction blocks can also be added to the blockchain representing the post analysis of the research results.”

The patent clarifies the fact that “currently, there are limited platforms that allow for sharing information about scientific research and showing transparent data collection and analysis steps”, although IBM is clearly not alone in applying DLT in the general science sector.

However, as has been demonstrated by heightened levels of research in IBMs labs over the course of the past 12 months, the company has become one of the major drivers of blockchain patents in the field. Another example of its impact on blockchain development and its practical applications, which again focuses on security, is its recent collaboration with data storage solutions company Seagate.

The IBM/Seagate project is aimed at enabling manufacturers and users of hard drives to ensure their authentication via a multi-layered security protection to data storage provenance. An immutable record of a product’s life from manufacturing to decommissioning is guaranteed by utilizing both blockchain and advanced cryptographic product identification technology, according to Seagate. Mark Re, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Seagate, explained:

“By combining Seagate’s innovations in product security with IBM’s blockchain expertise, we want to prove that we can help reduce the incidence of product counterfeiting in the future.”

 

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Walmart Go Green with Blockchain-Based Produce Tracking

Walmart is flexing its DLT muscles after announcing it wants fresh produce suppliers to utilize a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology.

The company has given 100 of its suppliers fair warning that fresh produce will need to be tracked using the system developed by IBM during the next year.

Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of the new technology in sectors including business and commerce. Walmart has become a primary mover in the industry in pushing blockchain forward with numerous patents pending.

Walmart filed for two more blockchain technology patents in April, one for secure payments and another for digital shopping systems. In March, it filed for a “Smart Package” blockchain patent allowing tracking of contents and environmental conditions from point of origin to delivery. That patent states that Walmart technology will record the “key addresses” along the chain and will be used with robotic delivery methods like autonomous vehicles and drones.

The multinational’s latest patent is for a smart device that, when paired with a computing system, would receive a transaction request which, once accepted, transmits a configuration instruction for the appliance to be operated by the user via one or more nodes in the network needed for validation. The patent application details how the technology could be utilized in creating an entire smart home system, including control over energy and healthcare environments.

Of the latest move to track green produce from farm to supermarket shelf, vice president of food safety Frank Yiannas cited a conventional trial using mangoes as the shipment model, commenting, “It took them nearly seven days, as the methods of tracking today are antiquated — sometimes done with pencil and paper.” Walmart maintains that with blockchain technology, that same process will take just 2.2 seconds.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) consulted with Walmart over the question of product traceability due to an increase of foodborne illnesses, such as an E.coli outbreak that occurred this year affecting 200 people who needed to be hospitalized.

 

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South Korea Looks to Blockchain With Samsung Tech to Improve Customs Service

Electronics giant Samsung is to develop a blockchain powered platform for use by the Korean Customs Services.

The IT arm of Samsung, Samsung SDS is basing the platform on Nexledger, currently used by businesses as a way of reducing expenses in managing financial transactions and data exchange.

Along with some other 48 organizations, including shipping and insurance companies, the South Korean Customs Service has signed up for the platform in order to streamline and track exported goods passing through customs. The blockchain platform will also aid the customs service in detecting forged documentation.

Samsung is not new to the blockchain industry and appears to be on a drive towards research and development in the new technology. It is currently committed to several new projects in the industry. Samsung is joining a number of other companies in exploring the idea of using blockchain logistics to streamline global supply chains. It is reported that the tech giant has already begun developing a distributed ledger system to monitor international shipments.

The blockchain is set to help shippers, ports, customs offices and many other parties in the global supply chain by replacing paperwork with irrefutable digital records. Blockchain could provide proof of provenance for goods by tracking them globally from the point of origin, manufacture, until the retail store shelf. Import details, fees, and taxes could all be programmed into smart contracts that release payments automatically once the conditions were met.

Recently, Samsung developed Cell 3.0, a platform which combines AI tech with company knowhow, and Banksign, a blockchain-based certification system. The adoption of this new platform is an indication that Samsung may envisage blockchain having a major role to play in the future of the company.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), has announced that it will be testing a new blockchain shipment tracking system by combining a newly developed application, Legacy, and other system developed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Also, in the past month, IBM linked with Danish logistics company Maersk to launch its own blockchain shipping project, “TradeLens” involving 95 other organizations.

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China Tracks Charity Donations with Blockchain

The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) in China has commented that the government is planning to implement blockchain technology in order to track charitable donations.

The Chinese plan is very much in line with many governments and NGOs around the globe, many of whom are already utilizing the technology in the sector.

While technological innovations have been boosting capital in practically every other industry, the charity sector has fallen behind. Millennials especially just don’t seem to have confidence in an industry that has had scathing media coverage of improper practice, damaging commercial partnerships and a lack of transparency when it comes down to seeing how donations are distributed.

MCA has just released its four-year blockchain plan for charities, principally to enhance supply chain transparency in the sector, promising to integrate blockchain into charitable institutions systems by the end of the year. The ministry appears to be moving very quickly on this, suggesting that online charities will be connected to government charity databases in the oncoming months, promising to build:

“… a tamper-proof charity organization information query system and enhance the authority, transparency and public trust of information publishing and search services.”

A report conducted by independent think tank Charity Futures concluded that charities have yet to engage with blockchain with the kind of urgency required to keep up with technological advances. The study, ‘Nothing to Lose (But Your Chains)‘, was clear in pointing out that the charity sector had as yet failed to tap significantly into available blockchain technologies.

The report recommends the use of DLT by creating a transparent, end-to-end supply chain for each project. This means that all those involved – government departments, NGOs, funders, charities, local offices, delivery partners, and the individuals receiving the benefit have access up to the moment information regarding the funds or supplies donated.

Some charities and NGOs are getting it right, however. Along with IBM, both the UN and the World Food Programme (WFP) are now proactively using blockchain to record transactions.

The Chinese government has announced that it also intends to integrate blockchain into a range of social services programs.

 

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Asia on Fire with 50% Rise in Crypto and Blockchain Jobs Since 2017

The Asian blockchain jobs and employment market is booming with a 50% increase in industry roles since 2017.

UK-based specialist professional recruitment consultancy Robert Walters reports that startups and established corporations in Asia are on a recruitment drive, with many crypto industry positions now becoming more appealing to those from more conventional sectors.

Stalling cryptocurrency prices on the trading market hasn’t deterred Asian would be professionals seeking a change in direction in their careers, adding crypto exchanges and blockchain projects to their usual lists of possible employers such as IBM, Google and Amazon. Julian Hosp, co-founder of Singapore-based crypto wallet and card start-up TenX observed:

“We hardly ever hire from inside of crypto because most people inside of crypto are very inexperienced. You have very, very few people who are experienced who get into the crypto industry.”

John Mullaly, director of financial services at Robert Walters in Hong Kong agrees, suggesting that many blockchain enthusiasts lack the skills necessary to join the industry. Hosp suggests that employment interest comes in waves according to the ebb and flow of crypto prices:

“If crypto is doing well, if people are making money in crypto, we get huge inbound from people because they feel like, “I need to jump on this wave…”And then when you see crypto going down — then we see that immediately the demand of people, they’re like, “Oh no, this is a dying industry, I shouldn’t go in there.” So it’s completely emotional.”

The Asian job seeker interest was at its peak during the second half of 20017 in accordance with Bitcoin’s then rocketing price, dropping off as the flagship digital currency’s price fell in 2018. Despite this, data has shown that the interest in industry positions is still trending upwards.

As well as potential employees jumping from more conventional sectors, employers are often facilitating this, says  Justin Chow, Asia head of business development at Cumberland — the cryptocurrency division of trader DRW. Chow suggests that his company viewed hiring at its cryptocurrency division no different from hiring across all asset classes.

Indeed, Upwork, an American worldwide employment-related search engine states that:

The situation in Asia seems to mirror the US in that Bitcoin [job search] trends are much more volatile (and related to price volatility) and resulting media coverage while blockchain and cryptocurrency searches have seen a more consistent upwards trajectory.”

 

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PwC: 84% of Companies Active in Blockchain but More Trust Needed

A new report out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) illustrates the degree to which companies are now seeing blockchain as an essential business tool.

The report shows that out of companies surveyed, 84% were actively involved in blockchain technology in some way. The PwC 2018 Global Blockchain Survey included 600 company executives for 15 different regions.

Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind,” reported PwC, adding, “In reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn… As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain’s reliability, speed, security and scalability.”

Some 45% of executives said that trust was the only issue that might prevent it moving forward, along with regulatory uncertainty, and compliance and intellectual property concerns. Other research from Cowan suggests that it make take up to six years for acceptance and widespread adoption.

Bloomberg read the PwC figures from a completely different perspective, suggesting that “most companies aren’t diving into blockchain”, pointing out that out of the 600 companies surveyed, “only 15% of them have a live project and only 10% are piloting blockchain’s use”.

Bloomberg suggests that the reason that many companies haven’t leapt in wholeheartedly and adopted blockchain is down to the cost of replacing current systems. Plus companies need to be convinced that there are significant advantages over their existing systems which at this stage is difficult to prove. Graine Mcnamara of PwC explained:

“It’s a little bit stunning how stagnant it is. A lot of people took a few steps and are pausing before the bridge. They might be having a hard time articulating the ROI.”

What must be a considerable selling point to companies is the fact that major players such as Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Deloitte, JPMorgan and HSBC all have blockchain initiatives either in progress or planned for the future. It is likely that as these initiatives prove their worth the industry will take a more active interest. The interest shown by Facebook this year is likely to add to this impetus.

 

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Cryptocurrency Job Market Explodes With Almost 6 Million Using Crypto Wallets

Recent news source figures show a rapid growth in the cryptocurrency employment market. With more than 1,500 tradeable cryptocurrencies and a $320 billion-plus market cap across the space, job opportunities are increasing. Major online employment site, Indeed.com, recorded an increase of 207 percent in blockchain job listings between 2016 and 2017 — a period of just 12 months. The rising blockchain job requirements and the fact that there are now over 5.8 million cryptocurrency wallet users showcases an increased crypto-adoption among masses.

The US has become a driver for boosting the crypto employment space, particularly in California which now employs nearly 30 percent of the country’s crypto employees, another 15 percent of jobs in the US are reported to be in remote locations.

Within the field, there are many opportunities from stack developers, tech writers, content marketers, business developers, and community managers, most positions to be found in the USA which currently posts 78% of the world’s non-remote crypto job opportunities, followed by the UK with 7%.

In the US, a full stack developer is likely to earn a base salary in the region of $90K, and slightly less for blockchain developers and engineers, depending on field experience. About 10% of companies offer salaries paid in cryptocurrency, although many now offer a percentage ratio system in both fiat and crypto.

In India, with 10% of the world’s Bitcoin wallets job growths has grown exponentially as reported by Indeed India.

“In the six months to November 2017, the number of cryptocurrency and blockchain jobs posted on the Indeed website rose by 290 percent. In the same period, job searches with keywords related to cryptocurrency/blockchain also rose by 52 percent.”

IBM’s pursuit of 1,800 blockchain jobs in France is a signal of intent to expand research and development in several areas with that company, primarily focusing on blockchain technology, AI, and IoT. Multinationals are increasingly embracing the new technology, opening up numerous new job opportunities in the crypto space.

AngelList, a popular website used by startups to offer vacancies to job seekers, recently recorded doubling their crypto-related job postings in a little over three months, according to its weekly newsletter. At the time Bitcoin was trading just over $19000 per coin with 50 jobs available which rose to 100 when Bitcoin slumped and traded at $7,000, according to CryptoGlobe.

AngleList commented, “startups aren’t watching the markets.”

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