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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 environment to encourage young start-ups to stay in the region, rather than moving overseas.

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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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GM Extends Blockchain Use Case Beyond Fintech into Driverless Cars

GM Extends Blockchain Use Case Beyond Fintech into Driverless Cars

General Motors (GM) may be among the few legacy industries who are expanding the use case of blockchain technology beyond the financial sector. This interest became clear in a patent application submitted on Thursday submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent application published on 29 November by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), details how blockchain will be applied to manage interoperable data systems for automobiles. Focused on how self-driving cars would store and share data on a distributed ledger, the company wants to extend blockchain applications beyond the current fintech usage. The document reads:

“Blockchain technology while associated with use in the financial sector has applicability to the non-financial sector and in this case, for use with autonomous and non-autonomous vehicle technologies.”

The document further explains how data stored can be shared easily among the blockchain users. More so, the blockchain-based data has an intrinsic role to play in navigation, explaining:

“It is desirable to provide locations information and densities of vehicles in regions in an online blockchain ledger for interoperable information sharing between vehicles of participants for use in navigating routes.”

In the document, there’s also a proposed use to exchange data between municipalities, local authorities, and public facilities such as the airports. The essence here is to operate a seamless, verification system among the various entities. It states explicitly that they’ll “implement a common blockchain exchange… [for] validity of permits and licenses to operate as hacks, taxis, or other for-hire services”.

More so, the taxi ticketing industry can profit from it as it can use the blockchain’s perks in storing and sharing data on the immutable ledger.

GM has been making efforts to advance blockchain in the automobile industry. It’s part of a consortium called Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) set up to create a wholesome environment for the transition of the automobile industry into the blockchain space.

 

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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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China Warns Fintech Revolution Potentially At Risk Without Rules

China Warns Fintech Revolution Potentially At Risk Without Rules

The president of a major financial investment platform has suggested that the sheer numbers of fintech companies setting up in China represents a risk to the country’s development as a major hub because of lack of controls.

Vince Zhang, President of Phoenix Finance, was speaking on Day 3 of CNBC’s East Tech West on 29 November 2018 in Guangzhou. He suggested that many of the country’s fintech firms could be unsound due to lack of strict operating checks and balances, making them unsuitable in the long term for consumers. It is estimated that there are now tens of thousands of such companies operating in mainland China.

Zhang went on to say that this factor means that China’s fintech revolution is potentially at “a very big risk” due to this lack of competent management. He stated:

“A lot of companies are not [there] in terms of their business plan, in terms of their risk management process, in terms of their overall management… A lot of these corporate control mechanisms are not in place.”

Zang maintains that China’s so named “fintech revolution” has caused the numbers of fintech firms to swell over the past two years in a surge to attract unbanked consumers. He said that although other sectors may survive, he sees the financial sector in danger of coming under increased pressure: “For anything related to financial services, [it] is pretty dangerous.”

Phoenix Finance’s president suggests that better regulation is key to solving this potential problem and feels that the issue will get the attention from government regulators next year as the risks to China’s fintech developmental plans for the future become more evident. He argued that regulation will reduce the number of companies currently operating financial services:

“Without proper risk control mechanism personnel, without proper ways of communicating with regulation, it’s potentially becoming a very big risk going forward… I would predict in 2019 it’s becoming more regulated… There will be less and less players in this field.”

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the central government’s internet censor, is drafting a policy framework which, once formulated will be used for regulating blockchain projects in the country.

The new regulation, when established, will apply specifically to both individual and institutional providers of blockchain services, whether by laptop or mobile, referring to providers as “entities or nodes”.

 

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Vitalik Buterin: Efficient Blockchain Relies on User Not Tool

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin took a fresh dig at IBM in an interview at a recent conference, suggesting that the tech giant’s use of blockchain for supply chain tracking is a waste of time.

He was speaking in an interview at this year’s Devocon4 conference in Prague for Ethereum developers, which was focusing on extending Ethereum’s outreach to the next million users and improving its effectiveness for them.

The multinational tech giant IBM, in league with other companies, has been leaving a significant imprint on the retail industry lately with the use of blockchain technology in supply chain systems.

This year an IBM/Walmart project came up with a farm-to-store tracking system based on blockchain technology, which Walmart committed 100 of its suppliers to adhere to. Both have been at the forefront of DLT since its conception and are eager to promote the use of new technology in sectors including business and commerce.

IBM also has patents accepted for such projects as Blockchain for Open Scientific Research which assert that blockchain can aid the process of scientific research by tracking research and development projects across institutional borders while offering “a tamper-resistant log of scientific research”. In fact, it has become challenging to cite a sector that IBM has not thoroughly explored in order to test the future potential of blockchain technology.

Ethereum’s co-founder is not so impressed, claiming marketing hype is at the center of IBM’s push to advertise its advances in DLT. He claims its blockchain supply chain achievements are off the mark and fundamentally missing the point of decentralization.

“Sometimes it is for marketing hype. Sometimes it is just people who are genuinely excited about blockchains and want the thing they are personally excited about and their job to align more with each other, which is a totally legitimate, human thing to want to do.”

Buterin suggests that lettuces on the blockchain, for example, is wrong, as the implication is that by using blockchain the consumer is being empowered by being able to track items at every step from growth to table using QR scanning. He argues that the viability of this system relies totally on the ability of the user to perform each task, for example, such as the farmer imputing the correct details on the blockchain so that customers can actually confirm the credentials of the information.

According to Buterin, blockchain technology should be regarded as a tool rather a 100% guarantee of evidence of credibility and therefore not necessarily the panacea to all life’s ills.

 

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Ethereum Core Devs Plan Upgrade in Secret

Ethereum core developers have reportedly met multiple times in secret to plan an as yet undisclosed upgrade to the network, hoping to provide a short-term scaling solution.

The so-called ”Ethereum 1x” upgrade was discussed on four occasions during the Devcon4 conference that took place at the end of October. On one occasion, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin and co-founder Joseph Lubin were both in attendance.

The minutes for these meetings were published on Github by an engineer of the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) Greg Colvin on 23 November, and CoinDesk claims one attendee has verified its authenticity, although they wished to remain anonymous.

They said the proposals for the upgrade were not mature enough to be shared with the public yet, while the documents indicate a clash in ideas over how to manage community feedback regarding early-stage technical proposals.

Colvin’s motivation for sharing the internal documents may have arisen from the Ethereum blockchain’s responsibility to establish a general consensus from software users before implementing any rule changes, as is the case with all public blockchains.

What changes were discussed?

While the minutes do not show any final decisions were made, the following changes were discussed:

  • A system-wide upgrade or hard fork in June 2019
  • Replacing Ethereum’s EVM that processes smart contracts
  • Introducing storage fees for smart contracts
  • Replace the EVM with an eWASM for accelerated processing

Overall, the document has a sense of urgency for which the changes must take place, with as much public feedback as possible. We should be able to hear more about the changes from the core development team themselves soon, however, as Buterin argued he is ”uncomfortable with institutional private calls and absolutely against private forum[s].”

 

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Shell, Equinor, BP to Use Blockchain for Energy Trading

Shell, Equinor and BP will be using the blockchain-based platform Vakt for energy trading, with operations on the platform to go live by the end of November 2018 in the North Sea oil fields. The purpose of using Vakt is to move energy trading from cumbersome paper contracts to digital smart contracts. Cryptocurrency will not be used for the trades but the deal recap, contract, confirmation, logistics, and invoicing will be recorded on the blockchain.

Shell is based in the Netherlands and has an annual revenue of USD 300 billion. Norway-based Equinor records annual revenues of USD 60 billion and BP USD 245 billion. Combined, these energy companies have assets of nearly USD 800 billion, approximately eight times the Bitcoin market cap.

Blockchain is known to shorten and strengthen supply chains, by providing a cryptographically secure, immutable, and transparent ledger. Inefficiencies and errors in the energy trading process will be easy to spot and correct, and fraud will be reduced due to the transparency. Overall, energy trading on the blockchain will be more reliable and efficient than with paper. It is expected that energy trading fees will drop 40% once the blockchain platform is implemented.

Vakt is a post-trade management platform that is meant to digitize the commodities trading industry. Aside from the major oil companies backing Vakt, the banks ING, Societe Generale, and ABN AMRO are on board, as well as the independent traders Koch, Mercuria, and Gunvor.

After the integration of energy trading in the North Sea oil fields in late 2018, Vakt will look to integrate barges, waterborne energy markets, and United States crude pipelines in 2019. Additionally, in 2019 Vakt expects its first licensees and shareholders, implicitly indicating the door is open for other energy trading firms to join Vakt.

 

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Taiwan Firms Laud Success of World’s First Aviation Tourism Blockchain Project

The Two Taiwanese companies who partnered to launch the world’s first aviation tourism blockchain project have praised the outcomes of their attempts so far to tokenize the travel industry.

Huafu Enterprise Holdings Limited and Far Eastern Air Transport (FAT) have published a press release outlining their successes since launching the cooperative project earlier this year.

At the end of March, Huafu Group and FAT launched a three-month public offering of its own token, Airline and Life Networking (ALLN). The aim in offering its own digital currency was to readapt its own businesses of aviation, tourism, real estate, and property management towards a more digital-based economy.  Founded in 1990, Huafu Group’s business includes construction, travel agencies, and business hotels.

The most recent press release praises the project primarily for its progress in using blockchain in the travel economy and becoming the first aviation company backed by the biggest blockchain incubator, M.O.B.C. It also notes its token ALLN is the first to partner with Southeast Asia’s biggest digital asset exchange MBAex.

The company states that ALLN is the first of its kind to work with Maxonrow, the world’s first blockchain with an instant KYC function; self-described as the first network in the world that connects societies, governments and businesses with the real economy through blockchain technology. COO of Haufu, Tseng Chin-Chih, commented:

“61 years ago, Far Eastern Air Transport became Taiwan’s first aviation company…. Now that we have Huafu’s ALLN Networking Token set into action, we are once again pioneers in the world of aviation tourism by applying blockchain technology to the real economy.”

The company was keen to point out that its ALLN token is now available as a payment tool that customers could use for booking their itineraries through a travel agent, including purchasing flights. The advantage being that, travelers would have no need to provide proof of identity when purchasing tickets, which were fully transferable. The token also enables the client with a blockchain tool to leave feedback and recommendations for other travelers.

Also, Taiwan is reportedly planning to release the initial draft of its ICO regulations early next year with an aim to simplify regulations and increase token liquidity,

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