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Blockchain Art Startup Scoops $7 Million in First Round Funding from Spotify Investor

Blockchain Art Startup Scoops  Million in First Round Funding from Spotify Investor

Blockchain art provenance chaser and registry Artory has raised over USD 7 million in a funding round, which includes an early investor in Swedish streaming platform Spotify.

2020 ventures, an early backer of Spotify, American logistics company Postmates, and luxury goods resale platform The RealReal are all backing the new project which is aimed at improving the capabilities of the platform.

The Tokenization of artworks is growing and platforms which use blockchain to register art are gaining in popularity due to the nature of the technologies capability to register information which cannot be refuted or changed. In October of 2018 prestigious auction house Christies stepped into the blockchain space when it used the technology in the sale of ‘An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection.’  Christie’s also worked with Artory to supply certification to buyers.

The Artory registry is comprehensive, containing all provenance of artwork, including past sales, valuations, and exhibitions will be in the database and accessible with the certificate. This certificate stored on the blockchain provides irrefutable proof of authenticity, which protects buyers and sellers, and can increase the value of the artwork. This is better than a typical bill of sale since the blockchain certificate for each artwork cannot be lost as it is immutably stored on a blockchain.

This aspect of blockchain is not wasted on the art world who are quick to recognize the added value in the extra level of provenance. Nanne Dekking, founder of the new project, pointed out the company “are building something that has to be vetted, accurate and easily searchable to show the depth of information behind every artwork”.

Artory is moving from strength to strength having acquired auction house database Auction Club, a subscription-only database containing sales information from more than 4,000 international auction houses.

 

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Monte Carlo and Ibiza Venues for 2019 Hodl Rally

Monte Carlo and Ibiza Venues for 2019 Hodl Rally

It’s the season for ‘Blockchain Week’, with New York Consensus 2019 coming up and Paris 2019 just having drawn to a close, but one event to look out for and getting a plug in Paris last week, is the 2019 Hodl Rally, scheduled for June.

If this sounds more like it should be a top gear event or a follow up to Paris-Dakar, that is understandable. It was described in Paris last week as “1,800 miles. 7 nights. 6 parties. 2 conferences. 100 cars. 1 superyacht party. 1 poker tournament. A fashion show. A charity gala.” Fair enough it’s a blockchain event… and its sounds pretty impressive, for those into Cannonball Runs. The Hodl Rally site tells its readers what they can expect:

We will be combining Blockchain conferences with parties, dinners, fashion show, yacht parties, club takeovers, poker tournaments, beach parties, beautiful models and lots of supercars. We will be driving across the most beautiful and diverse scenic continent; Europe, 8 cities in 8 days with a stopover in each city.”

Follow that with a 3-day visit to Barcelona for the World Crypto Convention, then a closing party at club Ibiza, and it’s starting to look like an interesting week.

It comes at a price at USD 3,897 per person, and some might argue such events are a bit of left-over from when partygoers danced till dawn with no concerns where the next Bitcoin was coming from, although to be fair a third floating blockchain conference is planned for September of this year. That one is using an entire ship reserved for a potential 2,500 cryptocurrency enthusiasts sailing the Mediterranean Sea. The cruise is organized by cryptocurrency exchange CoinsBank taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Ibiza as 100 speakers deliver presentations on current developments in the industry.

Virtue Nightingale, the organizer of the Hodl Rally set for 3oth June, says the glam is absolutely not over the top, quick to point out the Gumball 3000 costs around USD 65,000 for a ticket, and the Hodl Rally has already sold 30 tickets, mostly to crypto and blockchain enthusiasts. He pointed out:

“It brings people from different walks of life altogether as one community, participating in this event and then what you do is you take that time, that opportunity to educate and inspire people about the importance of blockchain in their day-to-day lives.”

 

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Game Creators to Introduce Biocoin to Promote Biodiversity, Taxonomy

Game Creators to Introduce Biocoin to Promote Biodiversity, Taxonomy

A private tech start-up launched in 2014 which focuses on taxonomy and the identification of different species has plans to launch its own crypto, Biocoin, to support the project.

The Australian startup launched the biodiversity video game Questagame after company co-founder Andrew Robinson and his wife Mallika listened to their children arguing in the back of the car over video games:

“They were talking about these fantasy worlds and all these monster types and shields they needed to protect themselves…Could we create a game in which you go out into the real world, and you’re learning the names of all these exciting creatures which in many ways are far more fantastical than anything you can find in a computer game?”

Which is exactly what Robinson went on to do with the co-founder of Questgame David Haynes. An idea on a drive in the country has now turned into a project based at Australian National University in Canberra, with players taking part from more than 40 countries and competitions between schools and universities.

Now Robinson is looking at cryptocurrency and how that may be incorporated into the game as a reward system. At present players joining teams pay a yearly subscription but whilst learning about biodiversity can also earn AUD 10 cents for each correctly identified creature. The revenue goes to the game’s partners World Wildlife Fund, Australian Geographic Society, Invasive Species Council, and Greenpeace.

The idea of Biocoin came about through Robinson’s awareness of blockchain and cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin being mined by solving mathematical problems on a computer. His idea is to activate the coins each time a player identifies three species as part of the game. Then on the blockchain, the coins can be exchanged for other currencies.

He sees this as far more valuable than regular cryptocurrencies which he says lack the same degree of social good, although clearly, cryptocurrencies are now beginning to demonstrate a significant power to change and empower when used for social projects in parts of the globe where access to traditional fiat is limited.

 

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Australia’s First Government-Funded Blockchain Incubator Gets One Up on State Rivals

Australia’s First Government Funded Blockchain Incubator Gets One Up On State Rivals

The first crypto lab in South Australia to receive government funding is hoped to boost the industry and catch up with other states such as New South Wales and Victoria.

The new lab due to open in September has been awarded Federal Government funding to the tune of AUD 170,00 offering 10 blockchain startups both workspace and mentoring services.

Although Australia has a forward-thinking approach to cryptocurrency in general, the government is still slow coming forward to promote the industry. Currently, under a Liberal Government the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) whose aim is to deliver world-leading digital services for the benefit of all Australians, feels that the technology needs more research before it can be described as the real deal.

South Australia is playing catch up with its state neighbors, but it is moving forward after holding the ADC Global Blockchain Summit in Adelaide last month, giving it the added credibility of holding Australia’s first international blockchain technology summit.

Adelaide crypto lab’s co-founder Yawn Rong claims that since the summit blockchain interest has “exploded”. He said that “South Australia may never be an industry leader, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be successful”. Rong was clearly happy to get one over on Sydney and Melbourne arguing:

“There are co-working spaces for blockchain in Melbourne and Sydney but there are no acceleration programs there… There are think tanks with blockchain departments, as well as university courses, but there are no specialized incubator programs in Australia that support the development of the proof of concept after their preliminary blockchain studies.”

Crypto SA’s federal government funding formed part of the Incubator Support program, which provides new and existing business incubators with grants of up to USD 500,000 to assist Australian startups to compete in international markets.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data 61 is continuing to examine blockchains capability within government and private use, claiming that Australia has the potential to lead the world in further developing the technology.

Australia’s major banks maintain cautious policies when it comes to cryptocurrencies, despite wide public interest, but many banks now permit the purchasing of cryptocurrency using credit cards.

 

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IT Sector Faces Dearth of Blockchain Professionals

IT Sector Faces Dearth of Blockchain Professionals

The latest job market report has revealed that there is still a shortage of blockchain professionals in the IT sector.

The report by management consulting firm Janco Associates shows that the IT industry is actively searching for professionals with blockchain skills, and the rewards are significant for successful applicants, with developers commanding salaries between US 119,000 to US 176,000.

Janco Associates CEO M Victor Janulaitis said that 20,600 new IT jobs had been created in the first three months of 2019 and “market is tight”, adding:

“There is a skills shortage, some projects are missing key early benchmark dates due to lack of staffing. Many blockchain and ERP positions remain unfilled and some organizations are seeing an increase in attrition rates for those positions.”

Janulaitis sees 96,000 new IT jobs being created this year with blockchain representing from 5% to 8% of them. Compared to 2018 with job opportunities for those with blockchain skills reaching 12,006, this represents a growth rate of 316%.

Software engineers now earn an average of USD 137,000, according to Mehul Patel, CEO of the job search site Hired, but even so, finding staff is a challenge. He observed, “Everyone is concerned that as they fill positions the individuals are qualified and will remain with them for some time.”

Arun Ghosh, KPMG’s US blockchain leader, says that blockchain business is booming with jobs across the board: “…from entry all the way to blockchain architect with 10 years’ experience. I can’t give out specific numbers, but suffice it to say [job listings] are in the double digits across all the regions.”

For those thinking it may be time to tap into the glut of blockchain positions and put their skills to the test, the top skills for blockchain developers include Solidity (a programming language for creating smart contracts); Ethereum, cryptocurrency development, and Node.js (a JavaScript used to write command line tools on blockchain nodes or servers).

 

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Australia Government Change Would See Labor Push Blockchain

Visa, Horowitz, Among Investors in African Lending App’s 0 Million Funding Round

A spokesman from Australia’s Labor Opposition party has stated that it will push blockchain technology if in government, despite current views that tech is overhyped.

Currently, under a Liberal Government The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) whose aim is to deliver world-leading digital services for the benefit of all Australians, feels that the technology needs more research before it can be described as the real deal.

The current Shadow Minister for Human Services and the Digital Economy, Ed Husic, disagrees with the incumbent government’s stance over blockchain technology and is disappointed after the DTA was given AUD 700,000 to investigate blockchain as part of the 2018-19 Budget.

The government’s findings through DTA chief digital officer Peter Alexander was that “for every use of blockchain you would consider today, there is a better technology — alternate databases, secure connections, standardized API engagement”.

Husic responded during the launch of a blockchain paper from the Australian Computer Society (ACS), saying that some of the anti-blockchain reports were disappointing: “There’s this line that’s starting to creep out into the public space more and more about is blockchain over-hyped.”

He went on to compare the situation regarding the adoption of blockchain to the early days of the internet when people asked, “Do we really need a webpage? Do we really need this?”. He said, “We can just rely on what we’ve been doing at the moment… we don’t need to use this technology called the internet and other people will do it first. Then we saw other people do things first and get the advantage… and then we had to play catch-up.”

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data 61 is continuing to examine blockchains capability within government and private use, claiming that Australia has the potential to lead the world in further developing the technology. Data61 CEO Adrian Turner commented:

“We’ve got high-performance computing capabilities, strong cryptography capability, strong protocol development experience — for example, wireless — we’ve got all the ingredients to actually smash it globally if we can get focused.”

 

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UN Aviation Agency President Predicts Blockchain Will Be Key Within the Industry

The president of the United Nations specialized agency for aviation has suggested that blockchain technology is set for making a huge impact on the aviation industry.

Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, speaking at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Blockchain Summit and Exhibition in Abu Dhabi claimed that with the predicted rise of global air traffic volumes, blockchain will be key.

Due to the intensification of ground, passenger, ticketing and cargo handling activities, Dr. Aliu predicted that “Blockchain has the potential to virtually exclude loss, distortion, or forgery of vital log data in all aviation sectors where certificates are issued and controlled.”

Other areas where blockchain can make an impact is on record keeping, crucial for safety within the industry, where updates of personnel licensing, aircraft maintenance, operational approvals, and cargo manifests are essential aspects of aviation. Dr. Aliu commented:

“The aviation system today relies mostly on human agents or intermediaries to assume validation activities, and so we can foresee that the integration of blockchain […] in support of a state’s aviation safety oversight system, for example, would likely require substantial adjustments to related regulations, procedures, and responsibilities.”

Another vital area where blockchain can influence systems according to the UN president would be the area of traveler identity verification.  He also added that smart contracts could be used to manage critical safety and security processes for civil aviation.

The industry has shown considerable interest in the incorporation of blockchain tech in recent years. The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is examining the potential of employing a management blockchain to enable secure, private and anonymous communication with air traffic services.

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Two South Korean Unis to Create Blockchain Campus

Two South Korean Unis to Create Blockchain Campus

South Korea has never shied away from demonstrating its pro-cryptocurrency stance, and the latest industry project in the Asian powerhouse now sees two universities combining to create a blockchain campus.

The two institutions, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and Yonsei University, have plans to test out a combined campus later this which will also involve students from both universities.

The crypto space in South Korea is booming and has become world’s third-largest crypto market, but this is mainly company driven, as South Korean legislators have largely been reticent towards any kind of progressive moment in the industry. Cryptocurrency activity is mainly unregulated as the central bank and financial regulators refuse to recognize it as a currency or financial product.

However, moves such as this demonstrate South Korean educators’ drive towards forging ahead and simply letting the government catch up with legislation. The campus blockchain-based system is scheduled to aid blockchain research through the opening of a center, organizing curriculums, and establishing a connection with entrepreneurial programs.

Another by-product of the project run by POSTECH will be to create Engram, a blockchain-based group intelligence knowledge sharing system and also a voting survey system called Voting for students. A reward system will be introduced through a cryptocurrency called Neurons which can be used at university cafeterias.

The voting system will enable immutable recording of student history and student life and the new blockchain system will enable more effective student card and certificate issuance, and donation management. POSTECH president Kim Doh-yeon was clearly encouraged by the universities’ amalgamation to create a new campus devoted to blockchain research and development:

“The blockchain technology has innovative and destructive power to create a new concept industry. It is meaningful that POSTECH and Yonsei University jointly design the future of core technology and establish educational and research foundations for future talent to prepare for the technology.”

Last year, Ripple made a donation of over USD 50 million to universities as part of a project which promotes and disseminates blockchain and cryptocurrency across the globe. There are 17 universities currently beneficiaries to Ripple’s program. Korea University, another South Korean educational institution, was the only East Asian university on the list.

 

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Dutch Company Fights Child Labor in Chocolate Industry with Blockchain

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An Amsterdam-based chocolate company has been mounting its own campaign to tackle modern slavery in the chocolate industry by using blockchain.

The company, Tony’s Chocolonely, might be a lone campaigner, but it has been setting the right tone in addressing a problem which has become common in parts of Africa such as Ghana and the Côte d’Ivoire, where cocoa beans are produced.

It’s been noted and acknowledged by the companies themselves, that even major players in the industry such as Nestlé, Hershey, and Mars contribute to the 2.3 million working in cocoa production in Ghana. Although many companies are yet to source products made under these conditions, Tony’s Chocolonely have a 13-year history in fighting against the industry’s status quo over labor conditions.

Due to competitive pricing from the end product down to the farmer who produces the beans many on the ground have taken to sourcing their labour through less than ethical means, including slavery and underaged labour, although this is not limited to this particular industry.

Four years ago, it decided that traceability could solve this problem and created Beantracker, a bean to bar blockchain tracking system which logs every facet of the end product’s manufacture and locates the processes in real time. The company’s major success has been persuading the world’s largest cocoa processor, Barry Callebaut, to develop a supply chain model based on Beantracker, which hopefully could have a knock-on effect with smaller manufacturers of chocolate products. To date, Barry Callebaut has been involved in inputting data on to the Beantracker platform.

Frans Pannekoek, working with Tony’s Chocolonely, said that the use of tech such as Accenture and blockchain was essential to make these vital changes to the industry, but having a closer relationship with bean producers could be the key to change, commenting:

“We believe that having a direct relationship with farmers through traceability is key in taking responsibility. When you [are] buying of a big pile of beans you might turn a blind eye to what is happening ‘on the other side’ of the pile.”

 

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FIO Study: 60% of Crypto Users Still Uncomfortable Making Payments

A recently published independent study claims that 60 percent of crypto users are “still scared to make a Bitcoin payment.”

The study was conducted by the Foundation for Interwallet Operability (FIO) self-described as a “decentralized, open-source blockchain protocol that makes it easier and less risky to move blockchain tokens & coins from one address to another.”

The FIO asserts that such can be put down to poor user experience and inadequate inter wallet communication; an inability to handle payment requests between wallets. It includes the fact that a large portion of the crypto wallet ecosystem doesn’t have a standard payment request system and each blockchain has a unique address format.

This is a problem that the FIO claims to have overcome, as they assert that their protocol now allows multiple address formats to be mapped to the same system, providing users the ability to own multiple FIO addresses inside a single wallet.

The FIO report released this week involved a survey of over 200 cryptocurrency holders who were asked about the regularity of their transfers and how they felt about the experience. There appeared to be a correlation between being familiar with crypto and being more confident in its use, as although 60 percent of respondents said they were uncomfortable with the process in general, “there was a statistically significant increase in users who marked ‘very comfortable’ based on the length of their time in crypto,” stated the report.

Various wallets and exchanges have now joined the FIO protocol’s initiative including Edge, BRD, Mycelium, Shapeshift, Mycrypto, Keepkey, Trust Wallet, and Coinomi. Edge wallet’s Brett Musser was complimentary, clearly seeking more simplicity for users so that user confidence can be boosted when it comes to using the blockchain:

“[Transferring] cryptocurrencies can be quite complex and intimidating to users of all stripes — But the FIO protocol is attempting to make these actions easier, rich with data, and more versatile.”

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