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The Balance Is Shifting, but Only 20% of Those in Tech-Related Fields Are Female

New York Blockchain Week is back on 10-17 May, although it doesn’t seem like almost a year since the Lambos cruised down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, yet again the lack of female reps from the Blockchain industry highlights the fintech’s gender imbalance.

The second of such events hosted by CoinDesk and the New York City Economic Development Corporation is expecting industry stakeholder’s from over 100 countries to meet and collaborate in what has now become the de facto annual industry summit.

Industry big names such as Caitlin Long and Donna Redel will be speaking at the annual celebration of blockchain, but it would be nice to see other women pushing blockchain forward in attendance. Women at the top have long viewed diversity as the blockchain industry’s fundamental, but this doesn’t always stretch to big events such as these.

IBM’s blockchain sisters Bridget van Kralingen, Marie Wieck and Ginni Rometty showed what they could achieve in 2018.  Amber Baldet, once of JPMorgan, left Wall Street to develop her own software by founding Clovyr and get startups on the road to using blockchain technology more effectively. These are all voices the industry needs to tap into at the big events.

In 2018, Blockchain Women Ireland (BWI) was founded in the Irish Republic to further advance awareness of the blockchain sector in the country in an attempt to address the current figures which illustrate that still, only 20% of those in tech-related fields are female.

New York Blockchain Week speaker Caitlin Long is another who followed the Wall Street Exodus to blockchain, co-founding the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition which has been responsible for pushing innovative blockchain legislation forward in the state. She explains:

“The developments in Wyoming over the past year have been so positive for both the industry and Wyoming. We are paving the way for how to provide clarity to blockchain developers about what’s legal and what’s not.”

Speaker Donna Rede; professor at Fordham Law and leading advocate for the financial literacy of women runs courses in crypto and blockchain, is another leading from the top. The once chair at COMEX and one-time Managing Director and Board member at the World Economic Forum says her focus is now on educating future leaders in blockchain technology.

A recent UK government report revealed that salary imbalance between the genders when it comes to business is still slow to change. Although one in three entrepreneurs are women in the UK — a hugely improved figure — many of the companies run by women are also half the size of those with male directorship. The report goes on to indicate that accelerating female recruitment into the business over the next year could add an extra USD 25 billion to the UK economy alone.

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Could IMF’s “Learning Coin” Mean a Shift from Fear and Loathing to Acceptance?

Could IMF’s “Learning Coin” Mean A Shift From Fear and Loathing to Acceptance

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank’s recent announcement suggest that they are not quite going crypto, but are nonetheless launching a private blockchain complete with a coin. And this could have major implications for world finance.

Although the “Learning Coin” may be a new concept that the two financial giants have carefully designed to carry no monetary value, but with plenty of stored intellectual content, this could be seen as an indication that change is in the air when it comes to the financial establishment’s tolerance-come-actual-interest in cryptocurrency as 2020 approaches.

When these two agencies make a murmur, the financial establishment pricks up their ears. The intention seems clear when the IMF states that “the development of crypto-assets and distributed ledger technology is evolving rapidly, as is the amount of information (both neutral and vested) surrounding it”, without accompanying it with the usual criticism of abuse and misuse. That said, IMF chief Lagarde’s concerns are still clear. Her views indicate that it is very much about treading carefully and testing the water at this stage:

“…we don’t want innovation that would shake the system so much that we would lose the stability that is needed.”

Of course, the IMF is always ready to cast one keen protective eye across the global financial landscape, such as in the agency’s recent warnings to Malta regarding its rate of blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption, saying that unchecked proliferation carries “significant risks” for money laundering and terrorism. during a recent financial assessment carried out on the island.

Another hint that the financial establishment may be leading from the top in its softening attitudes towards cryptocurrency can be seen in its recent online poll, on its own website, asking the question asking “How do you think you will be paying for lunch in 5 years?”  — a clear attempt to measure public feelings on cryptocurrency.

This needs to be balanced with the IMF’s stance regarding state cryptocurrencies. To date, it has come down hard on countries considering the move. There is a critical view held by economists in some countries whose governments may be considering moves to adopt a national cryptocurrency, that a mass decentralization of financial power may result in the diminishing of IMF’s authority.

A warning by IMF deputy director Dong last year clearly suggests that the organization may be secretly worried at the movement towards global digital currency adoption. While admitting that cryptocurrency had an advantage over banks when it comes to speed, anonymity, and divisibility, Dong claimed then that Bitcoin’s fixed supply was a disadvantage since that would lead to deflation, which is theorized to reduce economic activity due to money hoarding. According to him, a stable monetary system must protect against deflation.

It remains to be seen how long the IMF can tread this middle path of warnings and dabblings, caught between fear and acceptance of what many in the crypto space see as the inevitable global adoption of cryptocurrency. What of its latest toe in the water; its so-called “hub for knowledge”? It could be just a possible novelty or distraction for the agencies’ Washington-based employees at first glance, but although the two giants watching over the world’s monetary control are not predicting a permanent place for blockchain anytime soon amongst the worlds banking system and even less for cryptocurrency, they are nonetheless peeking under the carpet; not quite fear and loathing, but apprehension with interest.

 

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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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Global Payments Platform Everex to Target 6 More US States

Global Payments Platform Everex to Target 6 More US States

Singapore-based payments platform Everex is to expand its US operations from New Jersey to six other US states in 2019.

With the news that Everex is now able to onboard US clients in New Jersey, the company has revealed it has no intention of stopping there, with Tennessee, California, New York, Washington, Florida and Pennsylvania all firmly in its sights over the course of this year.

With Everex, small- and medium-size businesses can securely send and receive payments to and from abroad in any currency, safeguarded by smart contract technology and what the platform claims are the best exchange rates available.

With the launch of Everex US in January of this year, COO Anna Vladi sees this as a springboard for further widening its US operations in order to replicate its successes in Asia, where the platform has been active in enabling remittances between Asian countries with minimal banking infrastructures. Vladi outlined the company’s current progress for launching its new US-based market:

“I want to be clear we do not have yet our full license, however, we can start the very important test of onboarding clients, doing crypto-crypto transactions and letting clients exchange fiat-crypto in our wallet.”

Vladi says that the overall aim of the company in 2019 as it moves into the US will be to expand into other US states through an integration with banks and third-party e-commerce providers, following through on its initial work since its January launch. The next step will be to apply for money transmitter licenses in the new jurisdictions.

On the news that the company, which utilizes the Ethereum blockchain for all its services, was now able to onboard clients in NJ, Vladi commented, “Having ability to compliantly onboard customers is the first critical step in our multi step plan, so we are well on the way!”

This positive news saw Everex (EVX) trading 2.1% higher against the USD reaching a market cap of USD 6.75 million at the end of last week.

 

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Vitalik Buterin Concedes Ethereum’s Price Does Matter

Vitalik Buterin Concedes Ethereum's Price Does Matter

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has conceded that the price of Ether (ETH) is important for the future of the ecosystem, despite past comments contradictory to this.

Speaking at the Columbia Journalism School earlier this week, Buterin admitted that in the early days of Ethereum the developers were not focused on the price of ETH. Instead, the efforts were focused on pushing forward the development of smart contracts. They even felt it gave them an edge over other cryptocurrency projects that were promoting ”lambo-ing”, as Buterin put it.

First @laurashin asks @VitalikButerin if he thinks the price of #ETH is important, and then she polls the audience. #unchained pic.twitter.com/8xNIQ0XzJc

— Columbia Blockchain (@ColumbiaCBA) March 20, 2019

Now, however, his outlook has changed. “I’m going to be really candid,” he told the full-house audience, acknowledging that the developers now see that “projects will be better if prices go up”.

ETH currently stands at around USD 135 — a 90% loss from its December 2017 peak, so it is perhaps not surprising that Buterin is concerned over funding for future Ethereum protocol development.

When the Columbia Journalism School audience was polled over whether they believed Ethereum developers were focused enough on the price of ETH, only 13% said yes. About 28% said they believed they should focus more on ETH price, while 39% said they did not care.

 

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EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

EU Parliament Member Praises Euro Stance on Blockchain, Digital Assets

Eva Kaili, a member of the European Parliament, the body which exercises the legislative function of the EU, has been speaking out about cryptocurrency and the progressive stance of EU member states towards it.

Speaking at a Ripple event in London recently, Kaili, a former television news presenter who represents the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, was telling her audience how blockchain technology’s disruption of various sectors was beginning to be understood by many EU member states.

She was highlighting the contrast between the industry now and how it was a few years ago in the early stages of its development,  indicating that this was gradually leading to a more positive reaction from EU banks and financial institutions, primarily due to recent regulation.

According to her, another reason for blockchain not being resigned to becoming just another clever idea was the growing mainstream acceptance of the technology by leaders across the world. The stance by these over the past five years has changed noticeably as more and more digital currencies reach acceptance and blockchain becomes a feature of many huge institutions’ business plans.

A major focus of many of these institutions has centered around remittances and cross border payments, which have been clearly improved through blockchain technology. One example being Ripple, the hosts of the event, who maintain that their cross-border payments are becoming both quicker and cheaper as new tech is developed.

MEP Kaili has long been a blockchain and crypto advocate in the European Parliament. In November, she spoke exclusively to Bitcoin News about the Parliament’s release of EUR 700 million for startup projects promising “great solutions” with blockchain.

 

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Google Ads Allegedly Blacklists Ethereum Keyword

Google Ads Allegedly Blacklists Ethereum Keyword

It has been reported that Google is now blacklisting keywords mentioning Ethereum on its Google Ads advertising platform. The first indication of this would-be policy buster by the internet search giant appeared in a Tweet by smart contract auditing startup Decenter before the weekend.

We are seeing a hard stop on Google Ads containing “Ethereum” as the keyword in the last two days. Is anyone else noticing the same change? Where there any new policy changes introduced @GoogleAds? #ethereum pic.twitter.com/P5XMGphdiV

— Decenter (@DecenterTeam) January 10, 2019

The current situation following Google’s initial ban on all cryptocurrency-related advertising last June was revised and updated in September 2018, allowing some businesses to advertise on its platform providing that any ads for cryptocurrency exchanges must be limited to targeting the US and Japan.

Google’s response to Decenter’s Tweet was that clearly, the ad must have been targeting countries other than the US and Japan, thereby resulting in the rejection of the Ethereum Google Ads keywords. When the startup pointed out that they were simply doing smart contract security audits and seeing errors when keying in “Ethereum development services” and “Ethereum security audits”, Google responded:

“Although we wouldn’t be able to preemptively confirm if your keyword is eligible to trigger ads, we’d recommend that you refer to the ‘Cryptocurrencies’ section of our policy on Financial products and services.”

Decenter’s Reddit post explained that the team had tested keywords such as “ethereum smart contract audits” and “eos smart contract audits” and only the EOS keyword yielded advertising as a result of the keyword search.

Reddit’s Ethereum community team came back with their response: “Any of the keywords that contain “ethereum” in our campaigns are no longer showing ads as of January 9th…”.

A Reddit user put his own case, clearly bemused by Google’s double standards: “Google has various political and economic agendas, and they are quite willing to use their various services to promote their preferences. AdSense and Youtube are notorious for this, but there have been some incidents regarding the play store as well.”

 

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Transparency in Marriage: Tying the Knot on the Blockchain

Transparency in Marriage: Tying the Knot on the Blockchain

One advantage of the blockchain is the ability to have important events stored on it for immutable posterity, safe in the knowledge that such moments become a record of history which can’t be changed.

One of life’s most memorable is the act of marriage and, as Nevada residents have discovered, tying the knot is now a tamper-free digital reality, as both births and marriages are now stored on blockchain.

Washoe County in northern Nevada has been responsible for the latest program of digitally recording marriage on the blockchain. Its digital marriage certificate program has chosen the Ethereum blockchain for the task for the sake of security and simplicity, according to Phil Dhingra of San Fransisco-based Titan Seal.

Dhingra claims that newlyweds seem happier with the services, given that they are no longer forced to wait up to ten business days for the paper certificate. The new digital version arrives in the post 24 hours after the ceremony having been written to the blockchain as “Proof of Marriage”.

As much as they would like to be, the Washoe County registrars can’t claim to be pioneers of the service in the US as, although still quite rare, marriages on the blockchain have been turning up since 2014. At a DisneyWorld Bitcoin conference at Coins of the Kingdom, David Mondrus and Joyce Bayo were the first to have their marriage recorded on a blockchain, vowing, “For better or worse, ’til death do us part, because the blockchain is forever.”

the first marriage information is linked to the original chain. Historically, the first blockchain marriage was American couple David Mondrus and Joyce Bayo on October 5, 2014. Register at the Blockchain Public Registry and hold a wedding at a private Bitcoin conference inFlorida

— Nineseals (@Nineseals2018) September 21, 2018

 

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ConsenSys, AMD to Develop W3BCloud, a Blockchain-Based Throughput Solution

ConsenSys, AMD to Develop W3BCloud, a Blockchain-Based Throughput Solution

A press release yesterday by blockchain software company ConsenSys detailed the inking of a new partnership deal with American multinational semiconductor company Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and Abu Dhabi-based investment management firm Halo Holdings, to develop an optimized blockchain-based cloud solution dubbed W3BCloud for the blockchain industry throughput.

“W3BCLOUD is focused on providing the first independent cloud computing blockchain infrastructure, combining increased transaction throughput with state-of-the-art security,” the release states. The new infrastructure is being built to handle the emerging day-in and out of blockchain workloads to provide more efficiency in the space.

The three partners will combine their resource expertise in their field of technology. ConsenSys is to provide blockchain-related insights into “efficient compute usage for blockchain transactions, security requirements, and emerging use cases,” while AMD will leverage its renowned high-end performance hardware manufacturing specialties to build the datacenters with architectures that match the specific blockchain requirements.

Founder of ConsenSys, Joe Lubin said in regards to the newly forged partnership that “bolstering the compute power of blockchain networks with AMD’s leading-edge technology will be of great benefit to the scalable adoption of emerging decentralized systems around the globe.” Lubin expressed his usual enthusiasm for blockchain scaling, touting the envisaged product as one that “will power a new infrastructure layer and enable an accelerated proliferation of blockchain technologies.”

Joerg Roskowetz, Director of Product Management – Blockchain Technology at AMD also said in the release that they are “excited to work ConsenSys” and lend their expertise and “access to high-performance hardware technologies.” They are also optimistic about the concept of the emerging technology as well as the profound use case coverage, and are willing to play their role in the partnership to build systems “capable of better scaling and proliferating decentralized networks.”

Roskowetz identified “smart identity, enterprise data centers, and health ID tracking, to licensing and supply chain management,” as possible use cases where the new technology could be of use.

Both companies have been spreading roots within blockchain space. ConsenSys has been building up its reputation among high-interest groups both within and outside the blockchain ecosystem. It recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with leading IT company SK Group to build and further develop the blockchain ecosystem.

AMD reportedly signed contracts with 7 major technology firms last year to develop eight high-end performance and enterprise-grade mining rigs. This is despite the sales report by the 2018 Q3 financials of the company that attributed blockchain’s contribution as per GPU-built mining chips as “negligible.”

 

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