Category Archives: Ireland

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Coinbase Goes on Wall Street Hiring Spree as Part of Global Expansion

Coinbase has cut the ribbon for its new New York office with plans to expand the staff profile to 150 employees over the next 12 months.

As part of the company’s expansion plans, the current staff of 20 have been acquired from the New York Stock Exchange, Barclays, and Citigroup, which indicates the level of seriousness on its part in infiltrating the banking system. Adam White, general manager of Coinbase Institutional, explained the staffing direction the exchange was embarking on:

“We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology,” he added, “In order to do that, we need to pull from some of the best and brightest minds that have worked their whole careers in other kinds of traditional financial firms.”

With an expansion into the Irish Republic and now NYC, crypto exchange giant Coinbase is clearly on a push to amplify its influence around the globe. In its push to raise its corporate and institutional investor client base, the office is following the NYSE with its new staffing profile. According to Christine Sandler, the company’s head of institutional sales, its focus on institutional investors should sit comfortably with its retail investment trade. She commented:

“We want to partner with appropriate institutions to help the whole ecosystem grow.” She further said, “It’s not ‘institutional or retail,’ because a lot of these institutions will be distributors.”

White argues that they had expected an exodus of institutional investors when the market corrected but claims, “It was exactly the opposite.” White sees Coinbase as having the capability to “light up more countries and more fiat rails” with a new office in Tokyo planned and a move into South America. White further said: “we’re committed to not being a U.S. company.”

Coinbase has also joined a new Washington-based lobby group called the Blockchain Association who intend to convince governmental bodies to give the crypto space some well-needed regulatory leeway in a bid to foster innovation.

Along with Coinbase other leaders in the sector include Circle, Protocol Labs, and other crypto investment firms, like Polychain Capital and Digital Currency Group,

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Irish Blockchain for Women Demystifies New Technology

Blockchain Women Ireland has (BWI) been founded in the Irish Republic to further advance awareness of the blockchain sector in the country.

The idea behind the new group is to promote blockchain as a potential career for women and also keep the community up to date with educational opportunities in the industry.

Ireland currently has a forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology. Earlier this year, the National University of Ireland (NUI), authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain, approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country.

One of the findings of that study showed that only 40% of companies in Ireland had embraced blockchain technology, which the researchers felt was relatively low, despite Ireland’s 13th position on Bloomberg’s 2018 Innovation Index, with high productivity scores and advanced IT infrastructure.

The members of the new group cover a wide scope of financial representatives in the country including the Department of Finance, BNY Mellon and the Science Foundation Ireland-funded Adapt research centre for digital content technology. BWI includes two prominent women from the business sector: Mai Santamaria, a senior financial director at the Department of Finance, and Joyce O’Connor, founding president of the National College of Ireland and chairwoman of the Institute of International and European Affairs’ digital future working group.

The group also includes representatives from the cryptocurrency sector including ConsenSys. Santamaria, a senior financial director at the Department of Finance who leads a working group on blockchain, suggested that one of the aims of the BWI will be to cut through some of the hype that currently haunts the industry and offer further opportunities for women:

“The reality is that it is hard to reach out to the blockchain community, particularly if you are a woman with an interest in technology but who isn’t necessarily a coder or similar. We’re trying to establish a network that will help those who want to know more about blockchain, to demystify it and to open doors for those who may want a career in the sector.”

About 85% of Irish citizens currently know about Bitcoin according to a recent study, a major increase from less than 50% during a 2014 Amarach poll. Some 44% of Irish citizens who own cryptocurrency own Bitcoin, making it the most popular cryptocurrency in Ireland, while 30% own Litecoin and 27% own Ethereum.

 

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Coinbase CEO: Crypto-Space Population Will Grow to 1 Billion in Next 5 Years

Brian Armstrong, crypto exchange giant Coinbase’s CEO, has suggested that the number of people in the cryptocurrency ecosystem will swell to 1 billion over the next five years.

In a recent interview, Armstrong sees the current number of 40 million making such a substantial growth due to the continued development of tokens by commercial enterprises and even charities. He suggested:

“It makes sense that any company out there who has a cap table should have their own token. Every open source project, every charity, potentially every fund or these new types of decentralized organizations [and] apps, they’re all going to have their own tokens.”

He added that his own company is likely to host hundreds of tokens within a period of years, and these could possibly swell into millions over time. He maintains that regulation remains key to such a groundswell of token adoption though, suggesting it is more likely that the majority of these tokens will more than luckily be classified as securities.

The exchange has made some major changes over past weeks. They introduced crypto trading pairs for the users in the United Kingdom through the Great Britain Pound (GBP) with a goal to be the trading platform of choice for UK crypto traders, one of the cryptocurrency’s largest world markets. Last month, the San Francisco Exchange introduced a digital gift card program aimed at revamping old business models, offering European clients other ways of accessing cash for crypto.

It’s also been rumored that Coinbase may apply for a Bitcoin ETF from the SEC, joining an already expanding waiting list, though, this hasn’t been confirmed yet by the exchange.

Last week Coinbase also revealed that it is considering the Irish Republic as its next push to expand local markets around the globe. Dublin has been cited as the exchange’s next target and to that end, they have begun an employment drive in the city taking on customer support, analysts, a compliance officer, and an office manager.

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15.8 Million UK Residents Own or Are Considering Bitcoin

A recent survey by Bitcoin wallet Luno has shown the desire by UK residents for the launching of a “Bitcoin Barometer” which monitors the numbers of those currently involved in crypto.

The barometer, which was launched today, shows that an estimated 15.8 million UK residents either currently own or would consider owning cryptocurrencies in the future.

The recent survey of 2,000 UK residents by Luno indicates that over a quarter could see Bitcoin as becoming a valid currency in the future, used in the same way as traditional mainstream currencies in circulation. Some 23% wanted more information, a figure born out by previous surveys elsewhere, and a fifth of respondent said that they would like to see Bitcoin used online and in-store in retail.

Again, as other surveys have indicated, trust and understanding remain a key issue as a barrier to wider adoption in the community. Luno’s own figures reflected this with 43% of respondents admitting that they hadn’t purchased cryptocurrencies for this reason and over half called for further regulation.

Maya Kumar, company spokesman and head in the UK and Ireland, commented:

“Our survey showed that just under 2 in 5 (36%) had not purchased cryptocurrencies because they didn’t understand the concept. There are public misunderstandings around cryptocurrencies that lead to this lack of trust. We believe by making cryptocurrencies easier to understand through education and offering a user-friendly, safe platform, more people across the globe can trust, benefit from an upgrade to a better financial system.”

What came through clearly, based on the numbers, is that cryptocurrency is well established in the UK, far more so that many other nations in Europe, such as France where crypto uptake is particularly low. South Korea, Japan, and the UK currently lead the way in general cryptocurrency awareness.

Earlier this year, UK city minister John Glen suggested that regulation could be a “significant boost”  to the local cryptocurrency industry should the government be able to find an appropriate level of regulation.

 

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Universities Getting Clever with New Blockchain Courses

Despite Bitcoin’s current downturn, universities are increasingly opening up educational projects for blockchain technology reports Econotimes, with the number of universities and educational facilities running blockchain and cryptocurrency courses growing as financial markets expand and absorb more blockchain-related products.

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, has 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.

There are have been some early starters; institutions offering courses in digital information systems, the blockchain, and cryptocurrency. In the US, the Northeastern University College of Engineering in Boston and George Mason University in Virginia run courses in blockchain technology 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 program.

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

What is changing now is the way in which blockchain hard forks and other cryptocurrency specifics are taking the technology in directions which also require new specialized skills.

Professor David Yermack from NYC Stern School of Business was an early teacher of blockchain and crypto tech on the university’s MBA program suggests business schools will have to update their curricula due to the rapid rate in which the markets are moving. His current class has doubled over the past year and lessons are conducted at a larger auditorium because of the recent surge of student applications.

In the UK, Garrick Hileman, a research associate and lecturer at the University of Cambridge and the first to develop a blockchain graduate course, said other departments including finance and law are now jumping on the blockchain educational bandwagon. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see some turf wars break out over who owns the blockchain curriculum at business schools,” comments Hileman.

Blockchain training and education is needed in many sectors now and is not simply limited to IT and finance. Even cattle farming has branched into the new tech. Take Bonita Carlson of Persson cattle Ranch in Wyoming who’s trying to create a worldwide-link-of-cattle supply chain, so that electronically tagged cattle can be on an immutable ledger verifying their free-range farming credentials.

From farming to health, the need for more blockchain specialists is clearly on the rise., and it appears that universities are now catching up with the market’s surge of new uses for the burgeoning tech across all sectors.

 

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Ireland Lines Up to Become “Global Blockchain Center of Excellence” with New Initiative

IDA Ireland has announced that it wants to promote the Irish Republic as an ideal location for international businesses focused on blockchain, according to The Irish Times.

The state body is the agency responsible for the attraction and development of foreign direct investment in Ireland. Its new initiative, established by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group, an IDA Ireland-led forum, has been set up to involve companies working with blockchain technology towards promotion of the republic as a space for business for overseas companies.

Ireland currently has a forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology. Recently National University of Ireland (NUI) authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country.

One of the findings of that study showed that only 40% of companies in Ireland had embraced blockchain technology, which the researchers felt was relatively low, despite Ireland’s 13th position on Bloomberg’s 2018 Innovation Index, with high productivity scores and advanced IT infrastructure.

The latest initiative started by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group is also backed by the department of finance, Enterprise Ireland and Consensys, a company established by Joe Lubin, one of the co-founders of Ethereum.

Consensys has said that it plans to open a new Dublin-based innovation studio that is to include a development lab where engineers will build and deliver Ethereum-based blockchain platforms and products.

IDA’s chief information officer said of the new project:

“We regard blockchain as an area with huge potential and we are seeing great interest among IDA Ireland’s client base. This initiative will enhance the blockchain industry in Ireland and our position as a global blockchain centre of excellence.”

Irish based startups, AidTech and Arc-Net, have recently developed solutions built on blockchain technology and Deloitte has a dedicated blockchain laboratory in Dublin. Enterprise Ireland has also announced a new EUR 750,000 competitive start fund for companies working in blockchain and related technologies in the republic.

 

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Irish University Wants Government to Push Blockchain Into Mainstream

National University of Ireland (NUI) authors of a study on the adoption of blockchain have approached the government to promote a more widespread use of the technology in the country, reports The Irish Times.

The new study involving 20 selected Irish companies, conducted in association with the Blockchain Association of Ireland examined the factors that influenced them in their decisions to adopt blockchain. On its website,  the association described its aims as, “facilitating Irish business leaders, educators, policy-makers and citizens in learning how blockchain technology can be applied to make Ireland the World’s most blockchain literate nation.”

The study is expected to receive much interest as it’s the first of its kind in the country that has examined how blockchain could be implemented and hopes to increase blockchain awareness and adoption more broadly across the nation.

Research leader at NUI Galway, Dr Trevor Clohessy, sees the need for a national initiative to promote the new technology, particularly in the light of, as yet undecided border rules, between Ireland and the north following Brexit

“…Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”

One of the findings of the study shows that only 40 percent of companies in Ireland have embraced blockchain technology, which the researchers felt was relatively low, despite Ireland’s 13th position on Bloomberg’s 2018 Innovation Index, with high productivity scores and advanced IT infrastructure.

In recent years, Ireland has promoted itself as a hub for fintech and blockchain business. A recent report by Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) released figures which indicated that 30% of global of financial executives had plans to commit to blockchain technology within the next 18 months.

The study is proposing that the Irish government promote the new technology to extend this level of interest within the country, overcoming executives uncertainties about embracing blockchain, such as lack of business cases and in-house expertise. It was noted in the report that association with ICO’s and digital currency was perceived negatively by executives.

In terms of awareness of the technology, five out of 20 company executives interviewed had a basic level of blockchain awareness, while six had a medium level and only nine were able to demonstrate a high level of knowledge.
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