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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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MIT: Blockchain Boring but Useful in 2019

MIT: Blockchain Boring but Useful in 2019

An article published by MIT Technology Review claims blockchain technology will ”start to become mundane” in 2019, but also ”more useful.”

Framing 2018 as a disappointing year for blockchain, based on the poor performance of the cryptocurrency market. The review published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology- (MIT) owned website says 2019 will become the year blockchain technology becomes normalized following the developments of major corporations in the sector.

Giving examples of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street and American retail outlet Walmart, the commentary predicts both will act as a catalyst for making 2019 ”the year that blockchain technology finally becomes normal.”

The emergence of state-backed digital currencies and smart contracts are also offered as positive indicators for the year ahead in blockchain, with the former contemplated to be the opposite of what the original cryptocurrency revolutionaries envisaged for their creations. Venezuela’s own Petro token is labeled ”either a scam or a flop,” although a more promising perspective is given to the other 15 or so central banks looking into issuing their own digital currencies.

While the article acknowledges that the hype surrounding the technology is subsiding, it appreciates that the forthcoming developments will help push it into the mainstream purview.

 

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Joe Lubin Sees “Bright Future” for Ethereum: “Sky Not Falling”

Joseph Lubin, Co-Founder of Ethereum and Founder of ConsenSys sees a “very bright” future for Ethereum.

The ConsenSys founder’s comments give some comfort to Ethereum investors after a tumultuous year on the markets, which is only just beginning to show a bullish side in the lead into Christmas. His comments were responding to criticism of a proposed final total of 60% of staff being laid off due to significant ConsenSys restructuring.

The “sky is not falling” said Lubin after staff was notified last month of “a sweeping plan to make ConsenSys more focused and competitive in an increasingly crowded field,” with the adoption of ConsenSys 2.0.

“It’s focusing, it’s adding rigor, it’s adding accountability, and it’s opening ConsenSys up more to the world,” assured Lubin, but with some home truths for investors:

“Excited as we are about ConsenSys 2.0, our first step in this direction has been a difficult one: we are streamlining several parts of the business including ConsenSys Solutions, spokes, and hub services, leading to a 13% reduction of mesh members… Projects will continue to be evaluated with rigor, as the cornerstone of ConsenSys 2.0 is technical excellence, coupled with innovative blockchain business models.”

The wave of negative responses and tweets which followed the announcement of ConsenSys 2.0 prompted an attack from the Ethereum co-founder, arguing:

“What I’ve witnessed among the chattering class the past few weeks in response to ConsenSys 2.0 is a rather typical tune: the alarmed, the eulogistic, and the gleeful.”

Lubin argued that layoffs are not necessarily the outcome of the restructuring of ConsenSys stating that in the last week the company has hired 15, and has other positions available which the company is posting opportunities for, commenting that, “Some within ConsenSys whose roles have been eliminated recently are looking to fill other roles at ConsenSys. This is a rebalancing of our activities and workforce.”

Rather than “the sky falling” Lubin asserts that Ethereum protocol development is accelerating, resulting in “the continued maturation of the token economy, which will see many exciting consumer utility tokens and tokenized security launches in the new year.”

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Binance Labs Incubator Hatches Eight New Blockchain Projects

Binance Labs Incubator Hatches Eight New Blockchain Projects

The Binance initiative to support early-stage blockchain projects has yielded results, with 8 projects emerging from the programme.

Binance Labs, the venture wing of the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance supports new blockchain startups and cryptocurrency projects through technical assistance and direct investment. Binance describes the project as an initiative to incubate, invest, and empower blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, projects, and communities.

From 500 applicants, Binance narrowed the projects down to eight, each of which received USD 500,000 in funding. The programme reports that seven projects have shipped working products and signed on users, while three of those teams have paying customers as well. The eight projects will participate in the San Francisco incubator this year.

The projects selected include SafePal, Torus, Nym and market prediction startup Deaux. Earlier this year, Binance Labs reportedly invested millions of dollars into the decentralized digital content ecosystem Contentos, a platform aiming to offer transparency and monetization of content without third-party censorship or removal of content.

The Lab’s programme is part of Binance’s commitment made earlier this year to launch a USD 1 billion “social impact fund” to aid blockchain and cryptocurrency startups. The initial concept was to contribute over USD 1 billion via 10 installments of USD 100 million each, creating both funds for further investment into blockchain related funds, and direct funding of individual projects.

The first project chosen for the funding scheme was a blockchain ride-hailing initiative co-founded by Chen Weixing, CEO of app developer Funcity. Ella Zhang, head of the exchange’s incubator programme at Binance Labs commented about the breadth of its initiative:

“We believe it’s a disruptive social experiment. Binance Labs hopes to work with more aspirational projects to explore blockchain applications and together move forward the growth of the industry,”

Zhang has also revealed that Binance Labs will launch new incubator programmes in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Singapore, and Hong Kong from March 2019, offering the same 10-week programmes. Regarding the inclusion of Buenos Aires and Lagos into the programme Zhang commented:

“Those two emerging markets have native blockchain and crypto use cases. So we hope to find teams solving local problems like payments, the instability of local currencies, or remittance problems.”

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Australian Beef Heading to Shanghai on the Blockchain

Australian Beef Heading to Shanghai on the Blockchain

An Australian logistics insurance company is to partner with blockchain platform BeefLedger on a pilot to test supply chain tracking for beef exports to Shanghai.

National Transport Insurance (NTI) has over 45 years of experience and is Australia’s biggest truck insurer. It established the internationally recognized National Truck Accident Research Centre (NTARC) which provides critical data and insight into serious heavy vehicle crashed via the Major Accident Investigation Report.

With BeefLedger, the aim is to improve food safety, export security and animal welfare in Australia via a DLT platform which will monitor and track supply chain performance. As an insurance company, NTI has acknowledged the advantages of mitigating supply chain risks and eliminating risky insurance commitments.

The final destination for the Australian beef is Shanghai, China where the meat will arrive frozen after being sent from a plant in Casino, New South Wales after receipt of cattle direct from South Australia. NTI CEO Tony Clark commented on the pilot:

“We’re excited by the prospects this presents across several streams of Australian industry: agriculture, animal welfare, transport, and logistics. While it’s early stages, we’re optimistic of the outcomes and learning, and what it potentially means for Australian suppliers, exporters, and consumers.”

Australia is currently the world’s largest beef exporter behind India and Brazil and as such, a major blockchain trial such as this could have major implications for both logistics and insurance with regard to supply chain management in the future, particularly in the way that new technologies are added on. Australia currently has 45,000 active cattle producers around the country.

BeefLedger chairman Warwick Powell stated the China effect, just has it has done in the exploration and mining of Australian minerals, is equally responsible for the spike in demand for beef products by the Chinese public as the economy increases in value. He claims that the Chinese have been increasingly cautious about maintaining ethical practices regarding the transportation of livestock:

“Research shows us that ethical standards and concerns for animal welfare, along with authenticity and proof of product origin, are amongst the top priorities for Chinese consumers. It’s also what’s driving consumer interest in Australian produce.”

Food fraud has been an issue in China including rice, also resulting in a collaborative merger this time between the Wuchang municipal government in the northeastern Heilongjiang province of China with Ant Financial and Alipay, using blockchain to monitor products after fraudulent rice sales activity in the region.

 

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South Korea’s Shinhan Bank Considers Blockchain to Mitigate Human Error in Banking

Shinhan Bank Considers Blockchain to Mitigate Human Error in Banking

South Korea’s second-largest commercial bank, Shinhan Bank, has begun working on a blockchain-based angle in reducing human errors in banking processes.

It is the latest in a string of blockchain initiatives being pursued by a growing number of financial institutions as information technology pursues tighter integration with traditional financial services.

An initial step was taken to integrate blockchain with interest rate swap – a complex financial contract – involving the exchange of fixed interest rates from a floating rate or vice versa in order to mitigate the risks of exposure to fluctuations. It appears that Shinhan Bank is the first as a local financial services firm to implement the technology adopted last month.

The bank has found a use for smart contracts in automated processing of derivative transactions, such that tasks handled by bank staff are now conducted through a computer program. The Korean Times reported that this “leaves no room for error thereby improving accuracy and reliability of work products”.

Now, the bank wants to resolve to handle financial record-keeping on the blockchain, as a ledger with immutable and accurately efficient properties. This is expected to improve the overall efficiency of banking operations.

Shinhan Bank has been investing months of research and training of its staff via its blockchain lab department, familiarizing them with blockchain and its applications.

The bank declared: “The program will be expanded after it proves to be stable. We will continue to develop new technology that can be put in place for various departments.”

Some of the departments the bank is seeking to apply the technology to include financing businesses with export or import, lending, derivatives, stocks, bonds, foreign currency exchange or remittance and pension, as well as processes “that require frequent data sharing and verification with outside bodies”.

As reported by another local media outlet about a year ago, Shinhan Bank announced that it was creating a cryptocurrency wallet service for its customers and that it was doing so to leverage the “strong security of the bank and the advantages of cryptocurrency”. It had also formed a partnership with KT platform service in August to develop blockchain technology service.

The blockchain use case in South Korea continues up the trend with expansion from fintech to other industries. Continuous developments in both cryptocurrency and blockchain-related affairs seem to be happening because of the country’s pro-industry policies and incubation support.

 

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Fremantle in West Australia Allows Residents Trade Solar Power Using Power Ledger

Residents in Western Australia’s (WA) historical coastal port of Fremantle may soon be able to trade solar power on a blockchain based platform.

The project, brainchild of renewable energy-focused crypto startup Power Ledger, plans to include 40 participating Fremantle householders next June according to Ben Wyatt, WA Minister for Finance, Energy and Aboriginal Affairs.

Once the trial is underway next year, householders can set a price at which they are willing to purchase and sell solar power for and finally carry out their transactions on a blockchain-enabled platform. Minister Wyatt explained, suggesting these households could well be the first in the world to sell their rooftop generated power back to the grid in this way:

“The trial represents an innovative solution to virtual energy trading that may have implications for energy utilities working to balance energy supply and demand all over the world.”

The trial has been enabled through a RENeW Nexus Project which has been exploring how DLT can integrate distributed energy, including water systems infrastructure in future city planning schemes. Power Ledger is already on this road after embarking on a similar project in the US  with energy supplier American PowerNet.

Aussie Crypto Startup Power Ledger Brings P2P Energy Trading to Largest US Market https://t.co/OiVpHq5eON

— CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) November 18, 2018

The US project enabled the solar power generated on the rooftops and carports at the headquarters of American PowerNet to be distributed to the surrounding businesses using Power Ledger’s xGrid platform. American PowerNet’s president, Scott Helm explained:

“Rather than just dump our excess solar power on to the grid, we’re thrilled we can now provide clean, sustainable power to our neighbors.”

Power Ledger has been making a name for themselves in technological innovation recently following their success in winning the 2018 edition of Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) sponsored by billionaire founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson. Their winning spot resulted in the startup going on to receive financial endorsements totaling millions of dollars.

Fremantle’s nearest city, West Australian capital Perth, has also made the crypto news this week after announcing the opening of its first blockchain centre, designed to become a  supportive business environ