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Oregon Pushes Ahead with “Blockchain State” Plan

With many states in the US beginning to push various blockchain projects through state legislature, Oregon state in the country’s Northwest has also made a claim to the “blockchain state” handle.

The Oregon Blockchain Venture Studio in Portland has been set up to further this aim, with a number of companies and organizations from the fields of education, business, and technology linking their know-how to push the new tech in the state.

The aim is to specifically target 20 to 30 companies in the state over three years, hosted by digital agency R/GA, while forming a partnership with two state universities, Intel and sports giant Nike. The Venture Studio will also benefit from a USD 250,000 commitment through Business Oregon and the Oregon Growth Board.

The main idea of a studio is to give local companies opportunities similar to those that venture capital might offer. Jeff Gaus of Oregon Blockchain Venture Partners suggests that the “Oregon ethos exactly maps to what is required for blockchain to work”, adding that the state could become “what Pittsburgh is to steel or Detroit is to autos or Seattle to manned flight”.

Selected investors in the studio will contribute USD 3 million a year, each receiving investment capital of USD 100,000. Potential investment dollars will also be available from studio partners.

Although other US states are pushing their own blockchain plans to elevate their profile around the nation, Business Oregon spokesman Nathan Buehler claims that no state has really staked its claim as yet. He feels that Oregon is well placed through its established hardware and software industry to “establish an advantage” over other states.

Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut has recently signed off on a law in that state that will employ a blockchain working group, in order to further study the technology and how it can be utilized in state legislation. It is reported that the governor’s intentions are to make Connecticut “a leader in blockchain technology”.

It appears as though the United States is undergoing radical changes at institutional and governmental levels; in late July, blockchain technology in public sector projects also received a guidebook from a US-based IT industry trade association called CompTIA.

 

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Farmers Worldwide Are Now Seeing Blockchain’s Real Advantages

Farmers are beginning to see the potential of new technology, including blockchain, as a solution to supply chain problems in the industry.

Although farmers are sometimes skeptical towards tech solutions coming from an industry steeped in traditional methods, more of them are taking the plunge given the obvious advantages of blockchain’s supply chain clarity and accountability.

Around the world, growers are finding success in change. From Queensland cane growers tracking the movement of sugar around Australia, to growing and tracking organic rice in Cambodia, and cocoa in Ghana, blockchain is providing farmers with a way of tracking their products from field/farm to table.

Organizations such as Olam Farming Information System offers transparency for small farmers in 21 countries around the world. With 100,000 small hold farmers now registered with OFIS across Asia, Africa, and South America, the organization has developed a system which allows easy access and information sorting for the user to get to know more about the farming communities who supply their ingredients.

In mid-2017 Af Funder calculated a potential $213 million was there to be accrued by farm management software and IoT start-ups due to rising interest within the industry. Most development in the industry has been in traceability solutions which many smaller producers have already adopted.

However, there is the potential for blockchain to operate in the farming industry on a much larger scale, such as the French supermarket giant Carrefour’s blockchain project which began tracking its chicken supply earlier this year. This provided customers with an egg to table history by using a smartphone to scan a code on the packaging to obtain details on each stage of production, including origins, earlier location, feed and where the meat was finally processed.

The potential to cut down on an illegal harvesting and shipping fraud are other advantages. A new project in Kerala in India’s deep south will now be ensuring that goods now include RFID tags and the use of IoT devices to monitor transportation and delivery, primarily of milk, vegetables, and fish. All components of the milk supply chain will be strictly monitored and recorded on the blockchain.

Projects like this are making illegal trading far more difficult; the cost of food fraud has now reached an estimated $40 billion a year according to the UN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Poll Reveals Millennial’s Rush to Crypto Still Male Dominated

The latest cryptocurrency poll has indicated that millennial women are still lagging behind in adoption of cryptocurrency.

A new survey conducted in the US with 3000 millennials, was published on September 12, 2018, by crypto finance company Circle. It revealed that currently, men invest in cryptocurrency at twice the rate of women within the millennial age bracket.

In terms of investment, 71 percent of millennials say that they have kept their investment in crypto below $1000, of which 42 percent invested under $500 and 29 percent invested between $500–$1,000. The bigger spenders or at least those investing more than $1000 represented 29 percent of the poll. 17 percent of men are planning to purchase crypto against 8 percent of women.

The gender gap which has always existed in terms of crypto investments appears not to have narrowed greatly in the US if the results of this survey give a fair indication of who’s investing between the sexes. In the UK, which has become a major crypto hub, particularly for millennials, things have improved significantly over the past year according to a recent London Blockchange poll.

Their poll conducted earlier this year showed that the number of women showing interest in investing in cryptocurrencies has gone from 6 percent to 13 percent over the last six months; almost twice the amount revealed in the US poll. A significant result of that survey revealed that women were far less likely to stress over cryptocurrency, keeping a cool head when making their crypto investments. This inference was drawn from the new Circle poll which suggested that 42 percent of millennial men were “aggressive investors” as opposed to 27 percent of women.

The figures from the Blockchange poll suggested that women in the millennials group are responsible for the increased percentage of women participants in the space, as millennials remain the dominant group worldwide in cryptocurrency investment. Another survey revealed that this group viewed Bitcoin as more trustworthy than big banks.

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World Economic Forum: Next Decade Could See Blockchain Add $1 Trillion in New Trade

A joint report led by the World Economic Forum (WEF) details how the blockchain industry has the potential to add UDS 1 trillion in new trade to the global market.

Published Thursday, ‘Trade Tech – A New Age for Trade and Supply Chain Finance‘ comes as a collaborative effort from WEF, the supply chain and transport industries, and the System Initiative on Shaping the Future of International Trade and Investment.

The paper provides an overview of trade and supply chain finance, framing the discussion with the presumption that international trade and global value chains are ”critical” in discerning the wealth of nations and easing geopolitical tensions. It continues to highlight the importance of applying ”smart tools and technologies” in order to reduce obstacles preventing small and medium-sized businesses and emerging markets from conducting trade.

One of the solutions the paper provides is a blockchain one; the forward reads “Distributed ledger and other technological innovations promise groundbreaking advances in trade and supply chain finance by reducing costs and ease of use”.

Blockchain has already become a popular method for companies to track the movements of their products, with the decentralized technology being praised for its efficiency and immutable nature.

The report discusses the lengths to which distributed ledger technology (DLT) can help close the trade finance gap of USD 1.5 trillion by bringing in new trade, citing that USD 1.1 trillion of new trade can be established because of the barriers DLT can lift. Some USD 0.9 trillion in ”traditional” trade is expected to move to DLT and utilize the improved, cheaper services.

The paper also acts as a warning for governments not to fall behind on technological innovations, reading: “With some governments already starting to make these moves, the laggards will become increasingly disadvantaged.” It suggests that eventually utilizing DLT is unavoidable.

 

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Cryptic Labs Hire Two Nobel Prize Laureate Economists

Blockchain research institute Cryptic Labs has taken on two Nobel Prize economic laureates for its economic advisory board in order to improve blockchain expertise in the company.

The roles of Dr Eric S Maskin and Sir Christopher Pissarides are cited in the Cryptic Labs press release as being dedicated to providing ”insights in incentive mechanisms, game theory and macroeconomic policies, bolstering the institute’s mission to address the lack of blockchain industry expertise in both fields”.

Dr Maskin has shared that he is particularly interested in investigating the economic value blockchain technology can bring, planning to bring his specialist background in economics and mechanism design to this particular task. Sir Pissarides has said that there is still a significant lack of information regarding the technology which is preventing a ”wholesale transition” of all transaction records on to blockchain and is dedicated to making this viable in the future.

As the number of educational institutions offering blockchain-related studies continues to grow, appointments such as these set a high standard for an industry that previously lacked much real academic expertise. Individuals entering the blockchain workforce such as these two Nobel Prize Laureates not only can improve the quality of research and progression of blockchain technology but demand mainstream institutions to, at the very least, take its impact seriously.

Cryptic Labs describes its mission as “solving fundamental security problems to advance the growth of blockchain technology“, and boasts winner of the 2015 Turing Award Dr Whitfield Diffie as its chief scientist.

Blockchain companies finding their place

As the industry streamlines, more blockchain companies are being recognized for their valuable contributions.

Blockchain-related companies featured frequently throughout LinkedIn’s top 50 US startups list; centralized cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase even managed to reach third place. Investment app featuring cryptocurrency options Robinhood landed in sixth, followed by international money transfer app Ripple at number seven.

With blockchain startups popping up further down the list also, the prevalence of the industry indicates the success and growth it experienced the past several years, and recognition from LinkedIn in this way will only benefit it further.

 

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Uzbekistan and Belarus want South Korea’s Crypto Knowledge

South Korea’s high profile status in cryptocurrency space is leading less crypto-developed nations to seek advice from them in the hope to secure valuable insight in further developing their know-how in the industry.

Both Uzbekistan and Belarus, two central European countries still in development in the space, are turning to the East for support.

Uzbekistan has recently legalized crypto trading in the country and has announced some initial regulations for both trading and mining. The new decree, “On measures to organize the activities of crypto-exchanges in Uzbekistan”, states any company providing for the purchasing of or sale of crypto assets on a platform will be recognized as a legal exchange.

The country, which is now working to create a state-owned, national coin trading platform, also wants to attract foreign exchanges, to which end authorities in the nation’s capital Tashkent have sought the support of the Korean Blockchain Business Association (KOBEA).

As part of an ongoing negotiation, the Uzbekistan Revolution 4.0 project has been formed to further develop the country’s new crypto industry, with KOBEA cooperating with Uzbekistan’s regulatory body, the National Agency for Project Management. Further plans to build a mining center and a blockchain academy and a large research complex in Tashkent are also under consideration with KOBEA on hand for technical advice.

The country is also expecting to call on South Korean cryptocurrency experts in order to begin offering specialized educational courses at universities around the country.

Belarus has no intention of behind left behind in the region. As reported by local news outlet Korea JoongAng Daily, the deputy foreign minister and ambassador of Belarus Andrei Dapkiunas told reporters that the European nation is open to investment into Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies; this includes blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Belarus recently expressed interest in strengthening economic and business ties with during a recent working visit to Seoul, particularity in the fields of fintech and blockchain technology. Diplomats from Belarus are keen to extend the cooperation between the two counties to promote new projects in the country.

 

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The Music Industry Flirts With Crypto and Reaps the Benefits

Recently, blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies have used their burgeoning popularity to pull in stars from the world of sport, not wanting to miss out on the next big thing on the block. However, musicians are some of the newbies on the front line of the new tech. Some have made more impact than others though.

Better known from his time with band Genesis, Peter Gabriel is an example of one who has no intention of dabbling. Gabriel is an ardent fundraiser for humanitarian causes and a supporter of the British Labour Party to which he has made significant donations.

His investment in the startup, Provenance, was undisclosed but clearly, it’s now contributing towards the company’s expansion of its product. Through Provenance, Gabriel’s money helps provide transparency to food transportation, basically giving the public a better idea of exactly where their food comes from and how it gets there. The Provenance blockchain-based application is predicted to be used in over 1,000 food businesses by 2025.

The ex-Genesis singer and drummer can now add his name to the list with other prominent personalities promoting ICOs over social media in the past year, such as Paris Hilton, Floyd Mayweather, and Katy Perry.

Islandic enigmatic singer Bjork wants her music out there and be purchased with crypto, to which end she hooked up last year with London based Blockpool, allowing her fans to exchange Litecoin, Dashcoin, and AudioCoin for her 2017 album Utopia.

Singer Imogen Heap commented that cryptocurrency has helped her in her recent projects too, particularly with her release of the song Tiny Human on the Ethereum blockchain in 2015, allowing people to download the song in exchange for Ether:

“People paid USD 1, or 1 ETH, which was equal to USD 1 at the time,” she said. “That was USD 200. I didn’t think anything of it and then, of course, it went massively up and I took a bit out and put it into the project, and then it went massively down. It went up to GBP 200,000.”

Senegalese singer AKON with his cryptocurrency Akoin also made the headlines amid plans to build a crypto city, but others from the music industry are getting involved in the blockchain, such as Kanye West.

Never to be outdone, rapper Kanye West tweeted happily earlier this year about blockchain and his version of a digital music service Spotify called Yeezy Sound, aimed to be a decentralized application that would incorporate cryptocurrency. That plan clearly is still in the pipeline, although the trademark applications are in.

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Rise of the Blockchain Research Lab: The Latest Trend in Crypto

Blockchain labs are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the industry for research as a backbone to a sound strategy of strong blockchain development.

In the current climate, companies are searching for solid foundations on which to build projects. Research and development projects created in the labs are beginning to offer startups this security. Labs can highlight the opportunities available and long-term potential of a given project prior to companies diving into the deep end untested.

The lab trend is growing. Cardano, for example, is one platform which has been established with a research-based approach. Blockchain development firm IOHK, led by Charles Hoskinson, launched Cardano last year using its peer-reviewed academic research driven base to consider the needs of both users and regulators. Funding will be utilized to finance research staff, PhD studentships and a virtualized blockchain environment moving into the future.

As reported last month by Bitcoin News, even the Russian military has announced its own blockchain lab, this time targeting cybercrime in the country’s military infrastructure information systems. The ministry has initiated a program to enhance cybersecurity by setting up a special unit using a unique research laboratory at the Anapa-based ERA technopark, in order to track the origins of cyber assaults. The unit will now use blockchain technology to improve the systems database security.

In June, the National Mathematics and Interdisciplinary Science Centre at the Chinese Academy of Sciences created the Big Data and Blockchain Lab, in a partnership with Beijing Tai Yun Technology Company. This new laboratory aims to explore blockchain technology with mathematics in order to make critical improvements.

Again in China, the Digital Currency Research Lab of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has announced that it is to expand its blockchain research efforts, by launching a new fintech center in Nanjing, in Jiangsu Province, with other cities yet to be announced, also located outside of the capital Beijing.

The goal of these labs is to develop programs to trial in banks and academic institutions such as PBoC’s Jiangsu branch, the Bank of Jiangsu and the University of Nanjing.

 

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New Survey Shows Mixed Sentiments in Bitcoin, Crypto Mood in the US

A recent survey from YouGov reveals widespread knowledge of cryptocurrencies in the United States, the report also shows mixed sentiments toward the technology.

Contrasting results

YouGov, an international market research and data analytics firm, gathered data from 1,202 participants at the end of August; the poll results showed an interesting disparity in knowledge of cryptocurrency and the actual adoption of it.

The poll found that 79% of Americans were familiar with at least one cryptocurrency with Bitcoin being the most prevalent among 71% of people who said they knew of it. Ethereum came in second at 13% with Litecoin and others trailing behind.

With a vast majority of respondents knowing about cryptocurrencies, a greater disparity is revealed. Of those who said they knew of Bitcoin, 87% said they had not interacted with it; this includes buying, selling and mining.

Some 49% of the Bitcoin-aware group said, “I’m glad I didn’t buy Bitcoin earlier, and I don’t plan to buy it”, while another 15% wish they had bought earlier and now feel it’s too late. In contrast, a South African poll showed that 38% of its respondents wished they had invested sooner.

Despite this, 36% of people in the YouGov poll thought that it cryptocurrencies will eventually be more widely accepted as a means to purchase goods and services legally within ten years,  while 34% disagree and don’t think this will be the case. In this group, millennials made up the majority of those who believed in crypto acceptance with 44% polling favorably.

About 25% of poll respondents think cryptocurrencies are used mostly for illegal purchases, which is a traditional but waning view. However, this skepticism does hold ground in America due to the connections found between Bitcoin and the 2016 election hacking scandal.

With regards to cryptocurrency acceptance, a positive sentiment towards cryptocurrencies is growing in the states, just over a third of those who believe in wider crypto acceptance say they have interest in primarily using crypto over the US dollar.

The article reporting the survey results writes, “However, a majority (57%) say they would not be interested in converting away from the US dollar. Millennials are almost equally split between being interested (48%) and not interested (50%).”

The bigger picture

In July, a Wells Fargo Gallup Investor and Retirement Optimism Index poll gathered data from 1,921 investors over 18 years of age with at least USD 10,000 in traditional investments. It revealed that 2% of respondents owned Bitcoin, and younger investors were keener to adopt Bitcoin should cryptocurrencies become more mainstream, a growing sentiment among millennials.

Other polls found that 50% of participants from a 2,000 person survey “would like to try out Bitcoin“, with millennials of low income being the most likely to invest. In South Korea, surveys show that cryptocurrencies are rising in popularity, and in the United Kingdom, it was reported that 3 million people have invested in Bitcoin.

 

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