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Indonesia Knowledge-Sharing Blockchain Hub Launches in Jakarta

The Indonesia Blockchain Hub was launched in Jakarta this week, described as a center for the sharing of industry knowledge, both locally and internationally.

The centee was opened in partnership with the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), Indonesia Blockchain Association (ABI), BEKRAF and HARA, an agritech startup.

The ABI has become instrumental in promoting blockchain in the South East Asian country through accelerating understanding, utilization, advancement and technological inventiveness in relation to the fourth industrial revolution. South East Asia’s largest economy is seeing both public and private sectors investing in applying blockchain technology to address issues surrounding the storage and application of data within the country in a number of sectors.

Banks for one, are looking at DLT with more interest, as discovered by a survey published last year indicating that about 80% of financial institution executives see blockchain impacting future markets. Rico Ustahavia Frans, director of digital banking and technology at Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s second-biggest bank by assets, said it was currently looking at applying blockchain, once regulators had formulated guidelines for banking and financial institutions.

The launch of the new hub has to be a feather in Indonesia’s cap and signals its intent to become a significant player on the world stage in adopting the new technology. HARA CEO and co-founder of the hub, Regi Wahyu, sees blockchain being integrated into a range of areas of Indonesian society:

“We believe that data transparency as enabled by blockchain technology will help the bottom of the societal pyramid to improve their welfare… [which] will lead to improvement in business and economic performance. Based on HARA’s experience… there remain challenges in explaining the socio-economic impact of blockchain for business, regulators, and the society in general.”

Wahyu added that there is a need in the country for a platform which can extend blockchain knowledge in the community, one of the aims of the new hub. The Indonesia Blockchain Hub along with the IBA is now one of a growing number of bodies set up to support the dissemination of blockchain awareness in the country and share information. Another is the blockchain-focused coworking space Blockchain Space.

A number of government institutions, including the postal service, now utilize blockchain solutions across the country as its deployment spreads to different sectors of society.

 

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World Bank and Commonwealth Bank Team up with Blockchain

The World Bank and The Commonwealth Bank of Australia have combined to create an Ethereum-based Australian dollar blockchain bond.

The bond project has a target of between USD 50 million and USD 100 million for sustainability projects. The World Bank issues between USD 5060 billion a year for project funding around the world.

With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.

The World bank has three priorities in working with countries to end poverty and boost prosperity for the poorest people. It helps to create sustainable economic growth, the surest path out of poverty. It also invests in people, through access to health care, education, water and sanitation, and energy, building resilience to shocks and threats that can roll back decades of progress.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is one of the country’s big four banks and has been chosen to be responsible for the new blockchain bond after consulting with investors. Microsoft had carried out an independent review of the CBA’s blockchain platform which will run on the MS Azure cloud platform.

The World Bank sees blockchain as the ability to streamline its necessary processes simplifying the raising of funds and operational conditions. The banking giant issued its first global bond as far back as 1989 and the first electronic bond in 2000.

As for selecting both the CBA and Ethereum for the project, World Bank treasurer Arunma Oteh said that it had worked with the Australian bank for a year before it could launch the project. Ethereum was top of its list as it had “the largest and most active development community globally”.

The CBA has recently been very active in using blockchain for a number of its recent projects including a shipping project reported by Bitcoin News recently. The bank shipped 17 tons of almonds from Sunraysia to Hamburg, Germany using a newly-developed blockchain platform. The trial demonstrated the usefulness of blockchain technology in international supply chains by tracking the almonds every step of the way from packing in Australia to delivery in Germany.

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Can the Saudi Kingdom Move with the Times in a Blockchain World?

After Saudi Arabia’s first blockchain meeting, Translating Blockchain KSA 2018, the country is showing signs of incorporating new technologies to diminish the relevance of oil production.

Since 1938, the Kingdom has since become the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, controlling the world’s second-largest oil reserves with the sixth-largest gas reserves and is the only Arab country in the G20.

Also, the country still struggles with bridging the gap between history and modernity, having been projected into wealth by the discovery of oil before the Second World War. The kingdom has drawn criticism from advanced economies over various civil and social rights issues, which it intends to be based under religious laws under the absolute rule of the Saudi royal family.

This is sometimes a huge contradiction coming from a society which would rather present a more advanced and contemporary image. Saudi’s Vision 2030 is key to this change as outlined by Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz:

“The second pillar of our vision is our determination to become a global investment powerhouse. Our nation holds strong investment capabilities, which we will harness to stimulate our economy and diversify our revenues… Our country is rich in its natural resources. We are not dependent solely on oil for our energy needs… our real wealth lies in the ambition of our people and the potential of our younger generation.”

In keeping with the new Saudi direction and this new image as proposed by Saudi Vision 2030, blockchain has been seen as a pivotal technology. This has resulted in the Riyadh Municipality partnering with IMB this year to strengthen blockchain in order to streamline government services and transactions. Computerized reasoning, IoT, and blockchain are fast becoming a priority in a country which wants to advance its economy and its technological footprint, while also moving away from its reliance on oil by cultivating new business models.

Takreem El Tohamy General Manager, IBM MEA has indicated that the city of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, is already planning to incorporate DLT as a means to enhance and digitalize its current record keeping through working with computerized arrangements supplier Elm.

 

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Blockchain Media Civil to Boost Asian Output with 100 New Projects

Civil, the blockchain-based journalism organization, is about to spread itself further with a new USD 1 million fund targeting Asia.

The company built on top of blockchain has been gaining a name for itself in the world of journalism over the past year. The concept of Civil is a unique development in media, utilizing blockchain to allow both readers and journalists to combine to fund topics of interest to them or the public. Supported by CVL tokens, yet to be released, all participants will gain a speculative stake which increases in value as the company expands.

Over the past year, the company raised USD 5 million in financing from ConsenSys and then hooked up with the Colorado Sun, providing financial backing for the then newly-formed newspaper which broke away from the Denver Post after editorial disputes.

Its latest move sees Civil casting its eye on the Asian news market and, as a result, the company has raised USD 1 million to create 100 media projects there over the next three years. In order to facilitate its ambitious plans in Asia, the company has teamed with Splice, a Singapore-based media startup, which will manage the new fund.

The new project will be quite different to the company’s Colorado Sun experience as that newspaper was already newly established, whereas in Asia, Civil and Spice will be attempting to build up projects from scratch and get them off the ground.

Alan Soon, co-founder of Splice, says that there are no limitations regarding the type of media they would take on board and suggested that reporting websites. podcasts and behind the scenes tech were all up for grabs in the new Asian marketplace.

He did also point out that new beneficiaries of the fund would be under no obligation to adopt Civil’s protocol or blockchain technology although Splice itself has committed itself to do so. The advantage being that Splice will have access to the entire Civil networks’ content and licensing. Soon said:

“I’m with Civil because I really believe in their values… They want to do the right thing for this space.”

 

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NEM Strengthens Regional Foothold with Two New Blockchain Hubs in Australasia

Creators of the XEM digital currency NEM have announced that the company is to open two blockchain hubs in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian hub will be located in Brisbane at Fortitude Valley and its New Zealand counterpart will be established in Westport. NEM Foundation’s director for Australia and NZ, Jason Lee, said that both hubs will be represented by a NEM staff member in place with a role to “educate and inform the general public and businesses about the benefits and applications of blockchain”.

The Australian hub is hosted by TravelByBit which promotes the use of cryptocurrencies in Australia’s tourism industry and has become a supporter of numerous businesses which accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies for food, services and travel around the country.

Caleb Yeoh of TravelByBit, who is also a board member of Blockchain Australia, welcomes the NEM connections and sees it as another positive move towards Australia’s wider cryptocurrency “education and adoption”.

The New Zealand hub in Westport, just a 45-minute flight from New Zealand’s capital Wellington, will also include a co-working space and will provide regular educational and engagement activities as well as a NEM incubation platform.

New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Damien O’Connor is positive that such hubs demonstrate the country’s desire to be in the vanguard of promoting new technologies in the region. He stated:

“Blockchain development represents an exciting new frontier for startups in New Zealand and it’s great to see that going on in our regions with such strong international support.”

The XEM Foundation is now a feature of 47 countries around the world and the two regional hubs see themselves as key in being able to encourage local startups and to promote NEM’s Global Community Fund which currently has $ 300 million allocated to it annually.

Asian markets, primarily Japan and South Korea, will be encouraged by XEM’s new presence in Australia and New Zealand, giving the company a real foothold in Australasia.

 

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Chinese Inventors Create DLT Virtual Museum to Conserve Artefacts Digitally

China’s Tsinghua University researchers have come up with an ingenious scheme to enable the protection of country’s cultural heritage and artifacts using blockchain technology, according to Coindesk

They have filed a patent, for a system which will save digital versions of ancient artifacts on the blockchain using 3D scanning. The computing model created by a team of three inventors will be able to scan an object, to create its digital version. The resulting digitized artifact and its related information will then be stored on to a private blockchain by using the concept, called “hashing”. To give a better understanding, hashing is described by Technopedia as follows,

“Hashing is generating a value or values from a string of text using a mathematical function. It’s one way to enable security during the process of message transmission when the message is intended for a particular recipient only. A formula generates the hash, which helps to protect the security of the transmission against tampering. It is also a method of sorting key values in a database table in an efficient manner”

The team, including Tan Jiajia, a postdoctoral researcher and Lu Xiaobu, the head of the university’s Academy of Art and Design, suggest that by principally including museums, the platform has the potential to grow into a kind of shared ledger cultural heritage consortium which can be updated as necessary with participating members’ fresh archives, which could in time be visible to the public as would be artefacts in a museum.

The team’s patent reads as follows:

“Based on the unique design of blockchain for exchanging information, the digital identities of each cultural heritage can be transferred among different parties at lower costs with higher efficiency, so that we can enlarge their economic and social values.”

Now the concept has been patented by the inventors, they need to establish how to put their ideas into working practice. The inventors reported that the work that they had completed to date was based on Tencent’s Trust blockchain platform.

Investopedia describes the TrustSQL platform as a:

“…rich framework for application development and includes basic application models such as digital assets, shared books, proof certificates, stock swaps and proprietary transactions…”

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Zug: The Swiss Model of a Crypto Friendly Society

The small town of Zug just outside of Zurich with a population of under 30,000 has become known as Europe’s crypto haven as the region embraces increasingly decentralized model, writes Business Insider.

Multinationals have been attracted to the town with its low 14% cooperation tax and it now attracts pharmaceutical and medical companies such as Shire, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

The town is a home for Crypto Valley Labs, a coworking space for Switzerland’s many start-ups which was opened at the beginning of the year with 40 paying members. Startup members often use the space when in town rather than work permanently from there. The Labs are due to expand soon, taking in another two-floors due to swelling business.

A spokesperson for Shapeshift, a fintech company based in the town, was attracted to Zug back in 2014 due to its crypto friendly position at a time when governments were generally anti-crypto due to the Mt Cox collapse and the Dark Net Bitcoin connection:

“We knew that crypto was a very new thing and various regulators might view it in different ways,” he said. “We wanted to find an environment where we thought it would generally be friendly. We identified Zug, and Switzerland in general, as a place that was open to this type of innovation… “

Such views are shared by many exchanges and companies now based in Zug, but it is commonly accepted that Nikolas Nikolajsen of Credit Suisse was a main driver of Zug becoming the crypto friendly space that it has become today.

Danish-born Nikolajsen, who set up the crypto service company Bitcoin Suisse in 2013, is regarded as the town’s cryptocurrency pioneer. Current BS CEO Arthur Vayloyan maintains that “Many knowledgeable people today know their thing because they were privileged to have [Niklas] as an initiator.”

“The whole starting point was the Ethereum Foundation,” Oliver Bussmann, president of the Crypto Valley Association, told Business Insider. “They decided to set up the foundation here and that triggered the set up of a new ecosystem — law firms, tax, accounting, smart contract evolvement firms, startups, universities.”

The Crypto Valley Association was set up at the beginning of 2017 to bring all of Zug’s crypto parties in tandem, forming the name from the topography surrounding the town combined with California tech centre, Silicon Valley.

Both Shapeshift and Bitcoin Suisse were in agreement, suggesting that the Swiss model should replicated everywhere,  as Vayloyan put it:

“Zug is definitely a great place to do business because you have this network, you have the government who supports it. You sense it, you sense that there is support in the crypto sphere. They are playing it very well.”

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Japanese Village on Honchu Launches Own Cryptocurrency

The village of Nishiawakura in Japan is to launch its own cryptocurrency through a coin offering launched by the local government, making it the first of its kind in the Asian country.

Nishiawakura is a village located in Aida District, Okayama Prefecture, which is located in the southern part of Japan’s Honshu island. The prefecture is largely known for its rural landscapes, feudal castles and art museums. As of October 2016, the village has an estimated population of 1,437.

The idea of the village launching an ICO has come about so that Japan can create its own self-maintaining social environments using blockchain, so that small centers like Nishiawakura can secure its own financing resources and upfront development.

The village coin, Nishiawakura Coin (NAC) will enable villagers to become involved in municipal decision making and even voting. A village statement read:

“We plan to advance according to the revised fund settlement law…in line with the self-regulation rules on the management and finance by the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Industry Association.”

This industry association was established in April and consists of 16 government-approved crypto exchanges. The revised fund settlement law went into effect in Japan last year, legalizing crypto as a means of payment.

The village began considering the idea at the end of 2017 when it announced it had found a blockchain provider for the enterprise and that it wouldn’t be Ethereum or WAVES.

The nearest to a blockchain town outside of Japan appears to be the Swiss town of Zug although, unlike Nishiawakura, it hasn’t gone as far as creating its own cryptocurrency. The entire Zug ecosystem promotes innovation and provides opportunities that other cities and countries lack. The town uses Bitcoin as payment for city fees and Bitcoin payments up to CHF 200 (Swiss francs), immediately converting all Bitcoin payments into Swiss fiat currency to minimize risk. Its latest project is to test voting on the blockchain.

 

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Swiss Crypto Haven Zug to Pilot Blockchain Voting

Switzerland’s progressive blockchain center in Zug is going to conduct the first blockchain-based test vote later this month, reports Coinspeaker.

In 2016, Zug was the first city in the world to accept Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for certain municipality services, and also established ‘Crypto Valley’, a not-for-profit association supporting the development of blockchain and cryptography-related technologies and businesses.

One reason for Switzerland’s success as a center for blockchain and fintech, according to Swiss law firm MME, is the country’s openness to new business concepts and innovation. Marin Eckert MME partner said, “Swiss regulators are among the few that really have a deep understanding of the technology and how it works.”

Bitfinex, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, planned to leave its current base in Hong Kong and relocate its resources to Switzerland in March of this year.

The trial blockchain-powered vote will utilize Zug’s eID system voting on minor issues and the future of the ID system itself. Some of the municipal services that the public will be asked to vote on include annual fireworks displays, digital ID library lending, digital entry ID parking fees and electronic tax returns.

Owners must be in possession of a digital ID in order to place their yes/no votes which will be held on 25 June. The eID system was established in November 2017, but at this stage only includes 200 users who registered in a pilot for payment of municipal services last year.  Registered voters can get their voices heard by downloading the uPort app to smartphones and then submitting their vote electronically.

Zug is not alone in Switzerland in term of its blockchain- and cryptocurrency-friendly projects, and utility payment facilities, as it has a rival in the southern Swiss-Italian border town of Chiasso, which announced earlier this year that it planned to take Bitcoin to settle up to CHF 250 (Swiss francs equivalent to USD 265) of tax bills starting from January 2018.

 

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Gavin Brennen: 100GHz Quantum Computers Aren’t Threat to Blockchain

In May 2018, Australian physicist Gavin Brennen shared his team’s research into how quantum computing would affect blockchain. Jeffrey Tucker reported: “He began with his frustration over the headlines that swept the tech world last October and November. They were as alarmist as they were misleading.”

Scaremongering around how quantum computers will disrupt the security of blockchain technology is often exaggerated and not balanced with the possible solutions or counterplays to defend against the underdeveloped hardware left out.

Future iterations of quantum computers have the potential to reach speeds which are far greater than conventional computers, performing the calculations that blockchain is built on at a much faster rate. Quantum computers would use less energy and pose the threat of hijacking mining operations, redirecting currency and centralizing the network. With a powerful enough quantum computer, you would be able to crack the private key associated with a given public key, undermining the security of the blockchain.

Brennen and his team explored scenarios and made estimates of timeframes in which the technology would sufficiently develop to achieve this. Their research goes onto explain how current application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) hardware is performing proof of work (PoW) computations at hash rates of 14TH/s, which is one thousand times faster than the current gate speeds for quantum architectures which run at 66.7MHz (equates to 13.8GH/s). At the current difficulty level, this gives quantum computers no advantage. Future advancements in the development of quantum technology could see gate speeds of up to 100GHz. Quantum computers would then surpass current technology in its ability to solve the PoW algorithm.

Quantum computers’ future development

The development of hardware achieving these speeds, given the current progression is predicted to fall at the end of the decade, by which time advancements will have been made in ASICs similarly. Many large companies are well underway with research into quantum computing so in the next ten years technology may grow and develop around it. IBM has been making progress with its own quantum processor, with Intel getting closer to that reality as well. Scientists have been delving into silicon-laced diamonds and basic silicon as a means of manufacturing quantum architecture. Both Google and Microsoft are looking to develop cloud-based solutions and new coding languages for the technology. With a widespread availability of the technology and blockchain developing alongside the growth of this technology, it is unlikely for it to have such a detrimental impact.

Gavin also detailed several post-quantum signature schemes that help defend against quantum attacks, with at least four classes of known fixes, all of which are achievable by programmers today. A ten-year head start is ample time to improve on and further develop them into a protocol.

 

Image Source: Flickr: Steve Jurvetson – A Wafer of the Latest D-Wave Quantum Computers

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