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Enrolment Race Pushes Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Enrolment Race Pressures Business Schools to Update Crypto Curricula

Recent reports indicate that rather than course numbers dropping due to a market down, the numbers of potential new entrants into the cryptocurrency space from other sectors are swelling. With top blockchain developers in the US pulling down salaries above USD 250,000, it is hardly surprising that the recent cryptocurrency bear market has done little to deter those considering entering the industry.

For many, the main route into the burgeoning fintech space has now become via a growing range of courses being offered by major universities and business schools around the world.

Courses are now on offer from far and wide whether it be in the Scottish Highlands, Ivy League Cornell and Stanford in New England or in sunny Cyprus. For those wanting a cultural slant on life for a short period, Saint Petersburg’s State University of Economics and Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) also both run blockchain technology courses. However, there is already a waiting list.

Professor David Yermack from NYC Stern School of Business came early to the university’s MBA program for blockchain and cryptocurrency education. His class has already doubled over the past year and as a result, he has had to move his lectures to a larger auditorium to cater for the swelling numbers at Stern.

The prestigious New York University first established its School of Accounts and Finance in 1900; Stern is one of the oldest and most prestigious business schools in the world. It is also a founding member of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

A notable factor of the current surge to find a place on blockchain and cryptocurrency course is not the just amount of courses becoming available but the way in which some of the world’s most prestigious educational institutions have led the march towards fintech education. A recent Coinbase survey revealed that 42% of the world’s top 50 universities offer at least one course relating to blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

Some 22% of the universities offered more than one course, with Stanford listing ten classes and Cornell nine. The National University of Singapore ranked highest of the non-US universities with five blockchain-related courses. The US universities were far more likely to offer related courses than those abroad; just 5 of the 18 non-US institutions offered such classes.

Clearly, Ivy League universities appreciate the credentials of fintech, with Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Stanford University, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina (UNC), all making investments from their endowments into at least one crypto fund.

Finding a place at one of these and other universities won’t get easier though, particularly in the light of tech recruitment sites such as Toptal reporting a 700% increase in demand for skilled blockchain developers since the beginning of last year.

 

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Upbeat Investors Maintain Bullish Predictions, Diversification

Upbeat Investors Maintain Bullish Predictions, Diversification

The likes of billionaire Tim Draper who is never short of making upbeat predictions regarding cryptocurrencies are not mainstream investors and are their observations are unlikely to have their desired impact on markets.

This is not to say that the next run on crypto markets could be a huge surge towards Bitcoin’s heady highs of 2017. This according to many is reliant not on input from players such as Draper and ex-hedge fund manager and CEO of Galaxy Investment Mike Novogratz, but more on historically-based theory.

Novogratz claims have done rather well from investing in cryptocurrency but the key is how much has he been able to lose. He stated in 2017 that 20% of his net worth was in Bitcoin and Ethereum, claiming that he made USD 250 million from cryptocurrency from 2016-2017.

It is worth considering then, the other 80% of his non-crypto assets. Like Tim Draper and any sensible investor, he diversified his investment portfolios early on, thereby enabling him to take the sort of hits that would be terminal for most other cryptocurrency investors.

Draper, holding an MBA from Harvard Business School, comes from a long line of banking venture capitalists and is far too canny to be totally crypto-asset dependent; another who can ride any storm with a 100% guarantee of survival.

This is obviously not the case for normal retail investors and individual traders, who take a deep breath with every dip in the market, waiting eagerly for the SEC to wake up and realize that cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

Jim Breyer, a billionaire venture capitalist, added that the world’s best computer scientists are heading to the blockchain space and this is where the future lies:

“So many of the very best computer scientists and deep learning PhD students and postdocs are working on blockchain because they have so much fundamental interest in what blockchain can mean. You don’t want to bet against the best and brightest in the world.”

Cryptocurrencies are clearly not a fad, but those warnings about not overloading one’s cryptocurrency portfolio but maintaining a sensible split between crypto and fiat remain true, at least until the market stabilizes. Billionaires are quite happy spending other people’s money. It may be more advisable to listen to Wall St which tends to be far more stoic, based on what horse racing pundits would call “form”.

The form is that over the past nine years, Bitcoin has survived five bubble-crash-build-rally cycles seeing it fall by about 85% on average and then recover to a new all-time high. From USD 19,500, Bitcoin has dropped about 82% in value and the 85% point would be at around USD 2,950.

So, another drop towards this figure shouldn’t surprise, nor should a bull run following that level. Bitcoin could still be first past the post. It’s early days.

 

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Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that cryptocurrency has the potential to turn Virtual Reality into a full-time job.

Armstrong suggests that virtual spaces could create their own currencies or even make use of existing ones such as Bitcoin or Ethereum by integrating the means for users to spend crypto in the same way as they are currently using fiat.

Developers would see more time spent on such games, according to the Coinbase boss, taking it much further into the realms of Sci-fi by suggesting that players could use the virtual world to support themselves in the real world, cashing in their accrued gaming funds for “real” use, such as paying rent. He speculates:

“Perhaps we’ll see virtual bank buildings with pillars, virtual bank vaults that spin when you open them, and virtual tellers with glasses.” The exchange magnate, clearly a follower of the gaming and VR world added, “Ready Player One had a great visual of coins being collected in the game, and spilling out of characters when they were killed (leaving a big pile of loot on the ground).”

Clearly, Armstrong has seen the potential of turning VR ownership into the real thing via some of his own exchange-listed cryptocurrencies. But in reality, there’s still a long way to go – crossing the bridge from virtual into reality.

Armstrong appears to be in touch with the man on the street, if not through gaming and VR, then certainly in terms of what reality actually means for many of the world’s “have-nots” these days. This was shown by his recent personal $1 million giveaway through his charity project called GiveCrypto.

The project is a global enterprise which will give out cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their donations as cryptocurrency or exchange them for fiat. GiveCrypto wants to raise USD 10 million by the end of 2018 and grow to a fund of USD 1 billion over two years. Donations will hopefully come from wealthy donors who have amassed wealth through cryptocurrency, passing on their good fortunes to those in need of financial help. Suggested cryptocurrencies for donations are Bitcoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen has already put in an undisclosed donation into the Armstrong charity hat. This may not be all that Ripple will be putting into Coinbase’s coffers if recent news that Coinbase plans to list XRP on its exchange becomes reality…. that’s not a virtual one by the way!

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Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia is having to reinvent itself after being the hub of Australia’s massive gold mining industry for years, and blockchain and cryptocurrency are beckoning.

Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92% of the State’s and 41% of Australia’s income from total merchandise exports in 2015-16. The state hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines.

Over the past few years mining has taken a hit, but this is nothing new to West Australians who have lived in a boom-bust economy for years. Experts say it is on the brink of another mining boom with new projects and tens of thousands of jobs to be created in the next year. FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP are set to invest billions of dollars to recruiters struggling already to keep up with demand for workers.

New game in town

The state’s capital, Perth, on the banks of the meandering Swan River, has been both the beneficiary and the victim of the state’s boom-bust economic roller coaster, most recently affected by China’s own economy and its need for minerals. A new game in town which local business has taken to is the city’s Blockchain Center, a project created in order to push new technologies such as blockchain into business and public consciousnesses. Investors in Perth have been moving away from the state’s backbone traditional investments such as real estate and mining over the past 18 months towards developing technologies.

Australia itself is becoming a blockchain and cryptocurrency trendsetter, with the newly-elected government showing a great interest in leveraging blockchain into government department systems in a number of sectors. Crypto towns have appeared, and in some areas travelling without a Bitcoin payment facility could cause problems for the keen traveller as locals try to create bitcoin communities to boost tourism.

Perth Blockchain Center will allow startups to share resources and ideas with like-minded business personnel and entrepreneurs. Sam Lee is the brains behind the venture, which he hopes will encourage business to stay in the city by offering every resource that a blockchain startup might need. He points out:

“Whether it’s a retail investor or a developer interested in implementing the technology, a blockchain center as the knowledge hub has the access required to upskill the local ecosystem to ensure better outcomes through higher quality projects.”

Lee maintains that a problem for new startups in this field is frequently that such companies are unable to access capital, often driving them overseas for a more supportive business environment. The center plans to change this situation, encouraging these young start-ups to stay in town through its knowledgeable local support.

Also in Western Australia’s capital, Perth Mint announced earlier this year that it had plans to win back investors who lost funds at the end of 2017 by creating the Mint’s own cryptocurrency backed by gold. Perth Mint is Australia’s largest exporter of gold, with about USD 18 billion in revenue from exported metals. Richard Hayes, Director of the Perth Mint commented:

“…you see this massive influx of capital and funds into Bitcoin and its derivatives because people are looking for something other than traditional forms of investment… [our own crypto] would have all the beneficial aspects of a distributed networks, namely very fast transactions which will facilitate trade. However, it will be backed and supported by precious metals. So, there is a non-virtual aspect of it that will ensure its value.”

 

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South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

South Korea Startup, New York Hospital Adopt Blockchain for Data Collection

Data collection using available new technologies continues to benefit from the application of DLT, a fact that a Manhattan hospital is discovering for itself through a new collaboration with blockchain startup Medibloc.

The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), one of the United States’ top five hospitals, cites its project as being one of the first attempts by a major healthcare institution in the country to connect with a blockchain startup in order to create a system of decentralized patient data.

Using blockchain platforms means that only authorized medical professionals can use the patient data, itself secured by sophisticated cryptography and possibly smart contract technology. This also makes it easier for data sharing among health care specialists, assisting with the digitization of healthcare data across networks.

Currently, the MGH gathers its information independently through different bodies such as insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies with no guarantee this information can be transferred securely. This could change if MGH can utilize DLT in the way that it wants to. Synho Do, director of the Laboratory of Medical Imaging and Computation, a joint venture of MGH and Harvard Medical School, commented:

“In collaboration with Medibloc, we aim to explore potentials of blockchain technology to provide secure solutions for health information exchange, integrate healthcare AI applications into the day-to-day clinical workflow, and support [a] data sharing and labeling platform for machine learning model development.”

Medibloc itself was born out of the healthcare industry with both of its founders previously working as industry professionals. As doctors, Kho and Eunsol Lee, brought notoriety to their company from industry players, and also from government officials in South Korea, giving Medibloc added credibility. The main asset the startup brings to MGH is the functionality of decentralized information, which hospitals of this size have not explored to date, still preferring to use multiple databases to store and develop data.

Medibloc had formed several Asian partnerships before its latest American project, with eight medical institutions and 14 tech giants now using their services. Plans to begin operating at MGH in the second quarter of 2019 are underway.

 

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Crypto Reading Catch Up? Now Could Be the Perfect Time

Crypto Reading Catch Up? Now Could Be the Perfect Time

With cryptocurrencies currently languishing ahead their next step major step forward as international interest continues to grow, now might be the time to grab something to read, do some research, fill a few educational gaps, and prepare for the future as the industry gathers new momentum.

Whether it be a fiction or a non-fiction read, there is plenty out there on bookshelves for the discerning reader looking to expand their crypto knowledge. Even screenplays are becoming more frequent, often attracting familiar names from stage and screen. So where to begin then?

If it’s blockchain that holds a fascination, there are two books which have undeniable popularity: “The Internet of Money” by Andreas Antonopoulos and Nathaniel Popper‘s “Digital Gold”. These two promise an insightful read examining blockchain and Bitcoin from two entirely different angles and two very different writing styles.

Antonopoulos takes the reader into the world of blockchain, examining every detail and every aspect of what the technology can offer and how it functions, including advice that an enthusiastic reader might soon find themselves passing on to others. His quote, “First they ignore us, then they laugh at us, then they fight us, then we win”, has already become an industry catchall quote among enthusiasts for explaining how blockchain technology has forged new ground, often against the predictions of detractors and the actions of legislators, to become one of this century’s more notable and significant new technologies.

Popper’s “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money” is simply a good read. Described by many as a “page-turner” and certainly written like a novel, the book examines the origins of Bitcoin and the mysteries surrounding its anonymous founder and its adherents, through the eyes of some of its central characters such as the Winklevoss twins, with the enigmatic Satoshi Nakamoto taking on the book’s pivotal role.

Another book, this time promising an all-you-need-to-know guide to crypto trading and investment, is Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar’s “Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond”. Although it a may lack the flair of Digital Gold, Cryptoassets is classed as a masterpiece in crypto writing and an all-encompassing guide for the serious investor. The book covers a framework for investigating and valuing crypto assets, practical guides to exchanges, wallets, capital market vehicles, and ICOs, and portfolio management techniques, complete with comprehensive references, charts, and tables.

“Blockchain Basics”, Saifedean Ammous‘s “The Bitcoin Standard”, “The Truth Machine”, “Mastering Bitcoin”, Sam and Alex Tapscott’s “Blockchain Revolution” and “The Age of Cryptocurrency” by Paul Vinya and Michael J Casey are others worthy of note as Christmas approaches or even possibly for revitalizing those new year’s plans for launching an ICO or simply that long-delayed cryptocurrency portfolio.

Whatever the project, these reads will move you further down the road to a greater understanding of the world’s fastest-growing financial technology.

 

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Recent Calculations Show Global Mining Energy Supply to Be Mostly Renewables Based

The UK based CoinShares has released a report detailing the origins of global energy resources used in Bitcoin mining.

The crypto assets research and investment firm, listed on Stockholm’s NASDAQ/OMX exchange, conducted the survey in answer to critics’ continued arguments that Bitcoin mining is essentially an environmentally harmful activity due to its extreme use of electricity. It was also conducted in response to an article published by University of Hawaii’s Department of Geography and Environment which called on its own research to determine that Bitcoin mining could cause the pollution limits to exceed those stipulated by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The article, written by Camila Mora, asserted that this carbon footprint calculation was achieved by multiplying Bitcoin’s 2017 estimated energy consumption and CO2 emission rates associated with countries from which mined blocks were thought to have been mined. According to Mora:

“By multiplying the electricity consumption of every block in 2017 by the electricity emissions in the country where the proof-of-work was likely to be resolved, we were able to estimate the total CO2 emissions for computing every block in 2017.”

The CoinShares news report has responded to this calculation by calling on industry insider knowledge and data available to the general public in order to put together an estimate of exactly where the energy used by the miners originate. The proposal is that 77.6% of worldwide Bitcoin mining is conducted through the use of renewable energy resources.

CoinShares accuses the University of Hawaii’s report of being inaccurate and oversimplified which lacked the regional economic and political considerations of the CoinShares analysis. The reality, according to the new report is that most of the world’s crypto mining has been conducted in China up until now, which is calculated to be about 60% of global mining, despite many countries being driven overseas due to climbing costs and the search for cooler climates.

China now has a major campaign which is aimed at drawing the country to supplying renewable energy such as solar. The Chinese program, entitled “curtailment” is largely conducted in regions where most Bitcoin mining takes place. Last year China became the world’s highest producer of solar energy. This has resulted in a glut of power which regional grids in these newly labeled areas are simply unable to deal with.

The outcome is that companies mining Bitcoin are moving to the “curtailment “ areas to lower their production costs resulting in extremely high renewable powered mining statistics: 95% of Chinese mining through renewable energy and 80% of total Chinese mining (or 48% of global mining) occurring in Sichuan.

Outside of China, Russia is at the other end of the scale with only 17% of its cryptocurrency mining conducted using renewable energy recourses. Iceland, Georgia, and the Northwestern US, on the other hand, are strong adherents to the use of renewable energy for Bitcoin mining.

Projects are currently underway in the Sahara using a 900-megawatt wind farm south of Marrakesh, and in Japan using solar power through the Kumamoto Electric Power Company

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South Korea Chooses Blockchain Voting, New Trials Planned

South Korea’s government has plans to trial an online e-voting system based on blockchain technology.

The plans were announced by the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Election Commission (NEC). The trial will be carried out by the Seoul National University’s Blockchain Society and the Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA).

Blockchain voting systems have been trialed in Switzerland recently and have attracted attention from other nations predominantly as a safeguard against fraud and vote rigging. The Japanese city of Tsukuba in the south of that country trialed a system in August using ID swipe cards, then encrypting votes using DLT in order for the public to be able to vote for different tech applications for a government website.

The city of Zug in Switzerland also recently trialed blockchain voting using an eID system to vote on municipal services such annual fireworks displays, digital ID library lending, digital entry ID parking fees, and electronic tax returns.

An Australian startup is supporting transparent voting in Indonesia, a country with a population of 261 million, with a 20-year history of miscalculating voting results. The company, Horizon State, is planning to launch a test case community-voter platform using blockchain on Sumatra which, if successful, will be utilized for both regional and national elections in the future.

South Korea’s system will use mobile and personal computers with gathered data stored on a distributed network which will also allow voters to follow the process and keep abreast of votes as they come in. Following the trial, the NEC will then decide on whether to proceed with a similar system for the country’s online elections, along with the addition of AI and IoT.

Terrestrial use of blockchain clearly isn’t enough for forward-thinking South Korea. In a new development, a South Korean satellite operator has expressed an interest in exploring how blockchain could be utilized within the satellite industry.

The company, KT Sat, boasting 50 years’ experience as South Korea’s sole operator, plans to bring blockchain and cybersecurity companies together through its new workgroup, the KT SAT Eco Alliance, in order to see where blockchain can be integrated into current satellite tech.

 

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Russia, India Seek Common Ground in Blockchain, AI Development

India and Russia have issued a joint statement indicating that both countries are to cooperate in areas such as fintech, tourism, and AI.

Further dialogues are due to take place between Russia’s minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin and National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) vice chairman Rajiv Kumar.

The published statement after the first India-Russia Strategic Economic Dialogue held in St Petersburg last week stated: “Both sides agreed to explore joint working arrangements and pilot projects in healthcare, proposed setting up of a single-window clearance.”

India has been proactive in its support of new technologies in the financial sector, despite taking a punitive stance on cryptocurrency trading largely headed by the country’s central bank. Only recently, SWIFT India and MonetaGo teamed up to form a pilot shared DLT network in order to upgrade Indian bank services, facilitating fraud prevention and security.

NITI Aayog is a policy think tank of the government of India, established with the aim to achieve Sustainable Development Goals and to enhance cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of state governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach.

The country’s prime minister Narendra Modi has made his views abundantly clear that new technologies should be implemented to improve the lives of all Indians. Last month he stated:

“New emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain, big data will help India move forward, provide employment to people and improve every Indian’s life. Industry is a process and technology is a tool. However, the ultimate goal is to change the life of the last person waiting in the queue.”

Modi also sees farming as a main beneficiary of new technology, recently commenting, “The responsibility of helping our farmers rests on the shoulders of the new generation… There is one important technology in agriculture-artificial intelligence. In the coming days, blockchain technology will also play a huge role.”

Both countries are increasingly looking towards utilizing blockchain’s potential within fintech and other sectors. Recently, Russian state-owned bank Sberbank revealed details of a partnership with major state-run power company Rosseti, which includes the promotion of emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Together, the pair plan to collaborate on a number of projects with the joint aims of advancing blockchain in Russia, and developing its own internal expertise. A press release detailing the partnerships reads that they will work on educational projects and research trials with one another.

 

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Blockchain Deployment to Give $3 Trillion Boost to Global Economy by 2030

A new World Trade Organization (WTO) report illustrates the burgeoning effect of DLT on global trade with an estimation that the technology could add USD 3 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

WTO’s findings, entitled ‘Can Blockchain revolutionize international trade?’, incorporates not only the effects of blockchain on world trade but also how other sectors such as finance, logistics and transportation, could be impacted by DLT.

This is the second of such reports regarding blockchain technology released by the WTO. Last month, Bitcoin News covered its findings on The future of world trade: How digital technologies are transforming global commerce’. In this report, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo was particularly encouraged by the potential of smaller enterprises to profit from the utilization of DLTs, commenting:

“Beyond easing trade in goods, digital technologies can facilitate services trade and enable new services to emerge. The Report predicts that the share of services trade could grow from 21% to 25% by 2030. Other effects could include, for example, blockchain helping smaller businesses to start trading by supporting them in building trust with partners around the world.”

This latest report continues to outline DLT’s disruptive and influential potential in supply chain logistics; an aspect of the technology recently criticized by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, suggesting that lower costings due to emerging technologies such as blockchain will enable smaller businesses to enter the market.

The report also touched on securing and protecting international property rights through blockchain and the building of new trade deals as a result of the efficiency, transparency and cost effectiveness of DLT. These deals could be worth up to USD 1 trillion.

The WTO does offer a note of caution going forward, suggesting that energy consumption, hacking and scalability issues need to be addressed: The report stated:

“…blockchains are highly resilient compared to traditional databases due to their decentralized and distributed nature and the use of cryptographic techniques, they are not completely immune from traditional security challenges…”

The report concludes that international trade may be transformed over the next 15 years but this can only happen with “smart standardization — and smart standardization can only happen through cooperation”.

 

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