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Boston Startup Joins Atomic Swap Pursuit for Safer Crypto Trades

Boston Startup Joins Atomic Swap Pursuit for Safer Crypto Trades

The Boston Globe has reported on startup Arwen as one of a growing number of firms seeking to make cryptocurrency exchanges more secure by adding a layer of technology that would enable users to convert one currency to another with more safety.

Two Boston companies, Highland and Underscore, helped startup Arwen get started. The new firm was founded by a Boston University computer science professor and her doctoral student. Their plan is to create an extra layer of tech to protect transactions, based on an “atomic swap”.

This would allow users to swap cryptocurrency from different blockchains, without ever needing to hand over their tokens to an exchange as the mediator, as is the case with most traditional centralized exchanges. Effectively, the exchange matches orders but is non-custodial in the sense that users still retain control over their private keys and funds.

A group venture of capital firms and startups in Boston have identified cryptocurrencies as needing further safety standards to make them more safer. One of these firms, Castle Island Ventures, raised USD 30 million to work on the projects. Castle Island has already invested in six startup companies, other local firms like General Catalyst, First Star Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Underscore VC.

“The reason we launched the fund is we think a lot of these cryptocurrencies will be investible assets,” Castle Island Ventures founder Matthew Wash commented. “It’s bordering on a joke how immature the infrastructure is — and how dangerous it is… Every time I see one of these exchanges get hacked, or the founder take off with money in some kind of scam, it’s another reminder of how immature this industry is.”

““We’re in the early days,” says Arwen CEO Sharon Goldberg. “But let’s go back to 1999 and using credit cards on the Internet. Nobody wanted to put their credit card number into a website. But you do today, because you trust the encryption. You see that little lock in your browser.”

Goldberg points out the irony of using centralized exchanges to trade decentralized currency; adding that trusting software code is one thing, but trusting a centralized exchange is something quite different.

Arwen launched a sandbox environment for demonstrating the technology last month, and the company is now talking with prospective customers, mostly outside of the US, such as in Japan where exchanges are looking to improve current crypto technology.


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Blockchain Could Become Highly Efficient Tool for Healthcare Professionals

There are frequent articles referring to blockchain and a how it can be utilized in different sectors, more recently, its implications for healthcare. With the US reportedly spending near to 20% of its GDP on healthcare, blockchain technology might be called upon sooner than later to streamline and improve services in the industry.

Forbes writer Randy Bean recently spoke to industry professionals about this trend. John Halamka, chief information officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, a Harvard University teaching hospital, was one. He has the necessary connections to discuss blockchain, having already worked on several production blockchain applications last year. He commented:

“Blockchain is not meant for storage of large data sets. Blockchain is not an analytics platform. Blockchain has very slow transactional performance. However, as a tamperproof public ledger, blockchain is ideal for proof of work. Blockchain is highly resilient.”

Halamak is also editor-in-chief of Blockchain of Healthcare Today, and he points out that it’s his job to publish “high-quality opinion pieces and research papers” about cases that really need blockchain. He said, “Just using blockchain in healthcare because it’s cool does not make sense.”

The main areas, as he sees it, where blockchain can impact healthcare. fall into three distinct areas; medical records, consent management and micropayments.

In terms of keeping medical records, what blockchain really lends to this is a sense of integrity due to the irrefutable nature of the information once generated on the blockchain. This includes clinical trials where the results will remain tamper-free and stand up under legal examination.

Consent management principally includes the sharing of data between a number of participants and those not listed on a blockchain on a particular case can be easily identified just as those permitted to view a medical file would have authorized access.

In terms of patient incentives, the blockchain can also attach awards related to a patient committing to and completing a certain medical process or term of treatment, or even rewarded for medical trials.

Another industry professional, Greg Matthews, creator of MDigitalLife, a platform for tracking digital trends in healthcare, suggests that blockchain could be really significant in terms of that way it can give medical professionals a clear view of the bigger picture of a patients health. He points out:

“Blockchain could make the biggest impact in healthcare in enabling health outcomes that take a 360° view of the patient’s genetic profile, their demographic and socioeconomic status, the behaviours that impact their health, and their response to different treatments or combinations of treatments.”

He argues that today this is not so easy using tradition data storage methods:

“This data exists today in one form or another, but can be tremendously difficult to stitch together at an individual level. Blockchain can enable “profile stitching”, and do so in such a way that the patient’s identity is protected.”


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