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Does Blockchain Have the Potential to Improve Weather Forecasts?

Does Blockchain Technology Have The Potential To Improve Weather Forecasts?

The weather impacts practically every aspect of life on this planet. Temperature forecasts are important for determining whether to wear a winter coat or athletic summer ware; fog can make the difference between good traffic and bad traffic, rain and thunderstorms can completely change someone’s outdoor plans, and so forth. Sometimes the weather can turn extreme, with hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, heat waves, floods, and arctic outbreaks. Sound weather forecasts can even save lives and protect property.

Weather forecasting has advanced greatly since the old days when literally all one could do is look at the clouds on the horizon. Today, there are satellites in space which constantly observe the weather across the planet and there are millions of instruments deployed across the world which record meteorological data. Doppler radar can tell when rain and high winds are approaching, and computer models have become so advanced that the Earth’s atmosphere can be projected several days forward with consistent accuracy.

However, weather forecasts still have room for improvement. Hurricanes and tornadoes are still difficult to predict even in the short term, as well as blizzards and flooding events. This article explores if blockchain technology can improve weather forecasts by taking a look at several firms that are experimenting with the interplay between weather and blockchain.

Storing weather and climate data blockchain

Apparently, 98% of the activity on Bitcoin SV’s blockchain is from Weather SV, an app which stores weather and climate data immutably on blockchain. In general, Bitcoin SV distinguishes itself from Bitcoin since it has much larger block sizes, 2,000 mb in comparison to Bitcoin’s 1.2 mb blocks, and it is notable that a weather app is one of the first types of applications to utilize this large amount of storage space in each block.

WeatherSV is now live!! Activate your own automated weather channels from 40,000 live stations. Store your local climate data on #BSV blockchain forever. Much more to come. Big shout out to @_unwriter, @money_button and @nchainglobal. https://t.co/anyiEOga6v

— FNQComputers (@FnqComp) April 3, 2019

Weather SV operates by activating a channel for a certain city, at which point meteorological data for that city is written immutably to the Bitcoin SV blockchain. It apparently only costs 5 Australian dollars (AUD) to activate a channel for a city, and this is enough to cover 157 days of hourly data for that city including temperature, humidity, pressure, cloud cover, and wind.

There are now 4,503 active channels on the Weather SV map, creating a worldwide live weather map that can be utilized by meteorologists for their forecasts.

More importantly, Weather SV might be one of the first times weather data has been stored in a decentralized and immutable ledger on a large scale. Currently, centralized entities like governments are trusted with storing weather data, and governments store this data in centralized databases on centralized servers. Although the government has been quite trustworthy when it comes to storing weather data up to this point in history, there are still several centralized points of failure.

Blockchains like Bitcoin SV eliminates the centralized points of failures, so even in a worst-case scenario weather and climate data would be immutably stored and accessible on the blockchain. Perhaps in the future, this decentralized storage of weather and climate data will prove to be critical.

Decentralized weather data exchanges

Another spin on merging weather with blockchain is monetizing the collection of weather data. There are numerous weather observation stations around the world, often in people’s backyards, but sometimes the data is not completely correct and not useful for forecasters. WeatherBlock aims to enhance the proliferation of accurate weather measurements by turning backyard weather stations into a way to mine cryptocurrency.

Essentially, users of WeatherBlock install a specific instrument that is calibrated with a network called BloomSky. It enhances the integrity of a weather observation network to use the same instrument, rather than many different types of weather stations. The data from the weather station is then fed into nexus, which stores the weather data and simultaneously acts as a blockchain node. Nexus connects the weather station to the internet of things (IoT), after which point the weather data can be exchanged on a decentralized market, and station operators are rewarded with the WXB token, which can then be exchanged for Bitcoin or other major cryptocurrencies.

This creates an exciting new paradigm where weather enthusiasts can earn cryptocurrency for doing what they would do anyway and simultaneously incentivizes the proliferation of a meteorological observation network that has accurate and calibrated data. This data can then be fed back into computer models and weather forecasts, and potentially improve weather forecasts.

So far, WeatherBlock has indeed proliferated, with 150,000+ users and 4 million data transmissions per day across 100+ countries.

Another blockchain-based project doing something similar is Observer. Just like with WeatherBlock, it rewards users with tokens, OBSR and ROT, for collecting meteorological data. Observer takes it one step further by allowing users to measure air pressure with their smartphone, making it possible for anyone with a smartphone to earn tokens. Unlike WeatherBlock, Observer allows any type of weather station to join the network and earn tokens, in addition to airplanes, cars, ships, and planes. It is clever that it includes measurements from vehicles that transit the land, sea, and air since that provides much higher-resolution weather data across places where weather stations cannot be installed. The one caveat of Observer is it is difficult to calibrate weather data coming from many different types of devices.

Thus, Weather SV, WeatherBlock, and Observer are proof that weather forecasting can benefit from blockchain technology. Weather SV shows how weather and climate data can be stored on a decentralized and immutable blockchain on a mass scale, which creates a decentralized weather observation platform and is an excellent way to preserve climate data. WeatherBlock and Observer have turned weather observations into a new way to earn cryptocurrency, incentivizing the proliferation of a dense and accurate meteorological observation network. This dense and accurate weather data can then be fed back into computer models to improve numerical weather forecasts.

Perhaps in the not-so-distant future, most tech-savvy people will be earning cryptocurrency from weather stations in their backyard and even from weather observations on their smartphones. Forecasts will be more accurate than ever before thanks to the blockchain-based network of high-resolution and accurate weather data. Ultimately, this merger of weather forecasting and blockchain technology may help save lives and protect property.

 

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Emerging Technologies and Digital Clothing Could Ignite a Revolution in the Fashion Industry

Blockchain technology is at the forefront of adoption by the fashion industry.

From Louis Vuitton to Gucci to Ralph Lauren, the luxury and fashion industry has made a gargantuan impact across the globe. The industry has shown a strong growth trajectory and is currently valued at a staggering USD 3000 billion. However, what remains behind the curtain is the insane amount of resources squandered by the industry every year. Believe it or not, the industry is the second largest contributor of waste pollution – most of which ends up in landfills. There is a deeper story attached to every piece of garment which challenges our morale.

The root of the problem is that many luxury brands would rather have their products dumped or burnt than having them at discounted clearance sales – all this to “preserve the prestige and the brand’s shine.” For example, in 2017, it was reportedly revealed that the Swedish multinational clothing-retail company, H&M burned approximately 60 tons of unsold clothing since 2013. In another instance, a British fashion brand, Burberry burned clothes worth USD 37 million. These statistics shed light on the appalling secret of the fashion and luxury industry.

Moreover, many a times the goods remain untracked due to inefficient infrastructure and poor data-sharing between the stakeholders. Naturally, the industry has been dipping into ground-breaking technologies and innovations to scale up sustainability and curb the radical impact it has had on the environment.

Overcoming the barriers in the fashion industry

Product wastage

As mentioned earlier, product wastage is perhaps the industry’s biggest downside. Typically, the manufacturer has to buy the raw material which is then used for production in the mills. These products reach the end-consumers through various intermediaries, during which they are prone to mismanagement.

Decentralized technologies such as blockchain are being implemented extensively by many industries to transform value chains. The whole idea is to deviate from centralization to prevent data manipulation and enhance product supply across the network. The technology also fortifies the authenticity of the high-end designer products to eliminate counterfeits.

For instance, a blockchain-based platform VeChain, made a mark in fashion to enhance product management throughout the supply chain. Last year, VeChain also partnered with a high-profile shoe artist SBTG in order to release an Adidas shoe embedded with NFC chips which would allow customers to watch a video of their shoes being manufactured by scanning the chip; all information which is stored on the VeChainThor blockchain.

In May 2019, Luxury conglomerate, Moët Hennessy – Louis Vuitton (LVMH) in a consortium with Microsoft and  ConsenSys, unveiled a blockchain-based platform, Aura, for authenticating luxury goods amid the proliferating amount of counterfeit products.

Inhumane labor

On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building of Bangladesh collapsed with 1132 casualties – all of which were laborers. Exploited garment workers in the country have caused ripples on the water since the devastating collapse. In another incident, 112 workers died in a catastrophic fire break-out in the Tazreen Fashion factory. These figures raise significant questions pertaining to the current safety standards of the garment industry.

Addressing these issues is of grave importance, in order to provide ethical work environments while safeguarding the human rights of the workers. However, achieving this can be quite a feat, given the difficulty in monitoring the globe-spanning industry and the fact that most of the consumers are ignorant about the social and environmental whereabouts of the shirts on their back. In such a case, a transparent supply chain does wonders to disclose relevant information to the consumers and to do away with the opaque and complex supply chains.

Provenance is one such startup which uses blockchain technology to educate consumers about the product – way beyond the labels. The platform has been designed to overcome the current challenges by providing an uninterrupted chain of custody.

The Fashion Revolution movement

The Rana Plaza tragedy was commemorated by a revolutionizing Twitter campaign #WhoMadeMyClothes as part of the Fashion Revolution movement which is held annually. About 3.25 million people all over the globe participated in the same during the Fashion Revolution week in 2018. The movement is aimed at realizing better standards of fashion extending to all facets of the sector. This can only be achieved by establishing a comprehensive production background associated with every product.

Fashion Revolution Week, 2019 celebrated good changes in the industry

Fashion Revolution Week, 2019. #LovedClothesLast

The Fashion Revolution Week, 2019 celebrated transition to better business models with a Twitter campaign #LovedClothesLast. Blockchain projects are now attempting to track not only ethical fashion, connecting the worker with the consumer but also environmentally friendly materials and designer products.

Digital clothing

As reported by BitcoinNews.com, the gaming industry has already led to a significant engagement of players with the virtual economy. In such a scenario, digital clothing is not far behind in terms of recognition and hype. In fact, Vogue shed light on the increasing popularity of digital clothing while indicating its potential to beat the popularity of gaming itself.

“People think that this is not a real thing, but the numbers are off the charts,”  – said Matthew Drinkwater, head of the Fashion Innovation Agency, London College of Fashion.

Recently, digital clothing shook the norms of physical clothing and took a leap closer to reality when fashion pioneers, The Fabricant, designed digital couture by coupling “2D garment pattern-cutting software and 3D design software.” According to Forbes, the garment exists uniquely as both clothing and cryptocurrency. The digital clothing is considered the second-best option – next to going naked – to sustain the planet. True or not, it does incite further exploration of the realm to bolster a digitally-hooked world.

Fashion comes closer to digitalization after the debut of this digital colthing

Image courtesy – The Fabricant

Conclusion

Highlighting the importance of transparency, Leonardo A. Bonanni, the founder of the supply chain transparency platform, Sourcemap said:

Without understanding the impacts of goods and services, we buy into systems that deplete natural resources, worsen environmental and social problems and endanger humans and ecosystems. Supply chains are conventionally held secret, limiting the stakeholders who can prevent environmental, social and health and safety problems.

The blockchain technology is paving way for sophisticated tracking methods to whichever industry it can extend its hands to. Perhaps now is the time to switch to a more reliable and efficient paradigm to endorse eco-friendly products and truly spark the fashion revolution from farm-to-closet. Educating the consumers plays an upper hand for them to make informed choices whilst putting an end – at least to an extent – to the deepest flaws of the industry.

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Decentralized Blockchain-Based VPNs Have the Potential to Increase Anonymity and Establish VPN-Based Virtual Economies

Decentralized Blockchain-Based VPNs Have The Potential To Increase Anonymity And Establish VPN-Based Virtual Economies

Internet censorship has become a severe problem in China, where a Great Firewall has been built which spies on and censors the internet usage of 340 million Chinese citizens, as explained in a previous BitcoinNews.com article. Commonly used websites like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, and the New York Times are banned in China. Beyond limiting the free flow of information, China also arrests people who post dissenting thoughts against the government, while simultaneously not allowing people to use the internet unless their identity is verified. 

Essentially, the internet is crippled in China due to government censorship. China is not the only country with internet censorship issues, indeed there are censorship issues in practically every nation on Earth to varying degrees. 

How a VPN Works

One of the most common tools used to circumvent internet censorship is a Virtual Private Network (VPN). When using the internet without a VPN, the origin and destination of data are known, and it is possible to see the data travel from point A to point B. The Mozilla Developers describe the internet with this analogyLet’s imagine that the web is a road. On one end of the road is the client, which is like your house. On the other end of the road is the server, which is a shop you want to buy something from… When you type a web address into your browser (for our analogy that’s like walking to the shop).”

A VPN encrypts data at the origin, making it so no one can read the data. Additionally, the VPN hides the origin internet protocol (IP) address, so that no one can know where the data came from. The encrypted data is sent to the VPN server, which decrypts the data and sends it across the public internet to the destination. Outside observers would think the data came from the IP address of the VPN server, and would not be able to know the real origin IP address. 

Schematic of a VPN, showing how the VPN secures users against entities and organizations that spy on internet traffic. Courtesy of Pixabay.com

Expanding the Mozilla Developer’s analogy, a VPN is basically like hiring a masked person to go to and from the store for you, and that person travels to another country in between to throw off anyone following them.

VPNs Are Fundamentally Flawed Due to Centralization

Although in an ideal world, VPNs would offer rock-solid anonymity, there are several caveats in real-life which can compromise the anonymity of VPNs. These problems generally stem from the centralized nature of VPNs, meaning a centralized entity like a corporation or an individual is in charge of each specific VPN service. 

Logging of connection and usage data is an unavoidable problem for some VPNs, especially when using a free service. If a VPN indicates that it has bandwidth limits, then it is likely logging usage data, and this usage data could end up exposing a user’s identity as well as what they are doing on the internet. 

Paying for a premium VPN service is another point where anonymity can be compromised if a credit/debit card or any other fiat payment method is used to buy a VPN, then the VPN account can be linked to an identity. Fortunately, cryptocurrency solves this problem. Paying with Bitcoin is usually enough to hide one’s identity when paying for a VPN, and even better is paying with the stealth cryptocurrency Monero. 

VPN services usually also come with a terms of service (ToS) document, which may include a privacy policy. It is critical to read this privacy policy to ensure that the VPN will not divulge information for any corporate or law enforcement reasons, or even store data in the first place.

Due to the centralized nature of a VPN, an administrator can install malware such as trojans, adware, riskware, and spyware, which can be used to collect personal data including text messages, calls, and even banking information. This obviously completely defeats the purpose of using a VPN in the first place. 

Collection of personal data, which is then sold to 3rd parties or used to display customized ads, is apparently a common practice for VPN services in desperate need of income. Once again, this defeats the purpose of using a VPN.

Apparently, VPNs sometimes leak, instantly revealing a user’s true IP address and internet usage. It is important to use a VPN kill switch, which instantly cuts off the internet if a VPN connection fails. VPN connections can fail due to slow servers, poor local connectivity, and local firewalls. This is also related to centralization, since the fewer servers a VPN uses, the more likely it is that a leak will occur.

One of the most catastrophic problems that can occur with a VPN is if the network chooses your computer to be an exit node. This can happen with free VPN services that try to build a network with user’s computers rather than having their own dedicated servers. If your computer becomes an exit node, then activity from other VPN users on the network will be traced back to your IP address. 

Can Decentralized VPNs (dVPNs) Solve the Problems of Centralized VPNs?

Considering the problems that arise from using centralized VPN services, it is no surprise that decentralized VPN (dVPN) services are being developed. The theoretical goal of a dVPN is that the network is so decentralized, while simultaneously being completely secure, that no one can compromise a user’s anonymity in any way. There would be no administrators on the network that have the power to log, upload malware, spy, etc. 

Privatix Establishes a VPN-Based Virtual Economy with Blockchain Technology

A real-life example of a company that is trying to build a dVPN is Privatix. The idea behind Privatix is that 3.5 billion people have internet in the world, and 90% of the bandwidth is already paid for but goes unused. People can sell their spare bandwidth in exchange for Privatix Tokens (PRIX), instead of just letting their bandwidth go to waste. On the flip side of the coin, VPN users pay a low fee via cryptocurrency directly to the people they are obtaining bandwidth from. 

Privatix utilizes the Ethereum blockchain and the Privatix Token is a simple ERC-20 token. A direct peer to peer marketplace for bandwidth is integrated into the Privatix platform, allowing bandwidth providers to post offers, as well as facilitating completely anonymous communication between buyers and sellers. This is perhaps the beginning of a VPN-Based virtual economy powered by blockchain technology. 

Although Privatix and Mysterium Are Branded as dVPNs, They Are Centralized and Have Severe Exit Node Issues

The reality is that Privatix is a centralized VPN at this point, albeit a popular centralized VPN with 1.5 million users. Although there is a peer to peer marketplace which utilizes blockchain technology, the actual VPN service is still administered by Privatix. 

That being said, Privatix outlines their plan for becoming a true dVPN in the future. Instead of using dedicated servers, which is a centralized point of failure, Privatix plans on having millions of users act as exit nodes. Apparently, users will rapidly switch between exit nodes, which will obfuscate the user’s identity even further. Also, users can choose to be a ‘peer’ in the network, meaning they act as an exit node, and they can then earn dVPN bandwidth instead of paying for it. 

A glaring problem with the current centralized version of Privatix, which will probably remain a problem even when the dVPN launches, is that exit nodes may have illicit activity tracked to their IP address if a Privatix VPN user does something illegal while using the exit node. Privatix says they provide exit node operators with a document that transfers responsibility to Privatix. However, this argument may not hold up in a court of law, since the exit node operator personally facilitated an illegal activity for monetary gain. 

The Mysterium Network is another project that is quite similar to Privatix. Idle bandwidth is rented out to VPN users in exchange for Mysterium Tokens (MYST), which is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain. Like Privatix, the Mysterium Network utilizes blockchain technology to establish one of the first VPN-based virtual economies. 

At this point the Mysterium network is not fully decentralized, nor has it solved the exit node problem. According to the White Paper, Mysterium will truly become decentralized in Phase 3 when it removes its central server. As for the exit node problem, the goal of Mysterium is to dissolve user data and send it deep into the network of Mysterium Nodes to achieve an end to end encryption. 

Is the Exit Node Problem Truly Solvable?

Mysterium is essentially saying that the data will be ripped apart and encrypted into unintelligible gibberish within the network, and somehow this will solve the exit node identity problem. The reality is that an IP address is required in order to use the internet, whether it be your actual IP address, the IP address of a VPN server, or the IP address of a peer on a dVPN network. Essentially, when a VPN is used for illegal activity, someone’s IP address will be associated with the illegal activity, and this is especially true when using a dVPN network where all the exit nodes represent actual people. 

It remains to be seen how the exit node problem will be solved, and indeed this is the biggest problem preventing the maturation of dVPNs. At this point, users can sell their unused bandwidth to VPN users, but is the money earned from selling that bandwidth worth the risk of being identified as an IP address that conducts illegal activity?

In summary, dVPNs would be the ideal evolution of VPN technology via providing truly anonymous and trustless services, as opposed to current VPN providers which are centralized, opening up multiple ways for a user’s identity to be compromised. Two early attempts at dVPNs are Privatix and the Mysterium Network, which are in reality centralized VPNs, but have succeeded in creating VPN-based virtual markets that are powered by blockchain technology, turning unused bandwidth into a profitable commodity. The holy grail for Privatix and Mysterium would be a resolution of the exit node problem, where users who sell bandwidth have their IP address attached to the possibly illegal activity that occurs over VPNs. At this time it is unknown how exactly the exit node problem will be resolved, but in a future where this problem is resolved, dVPNs would provide the ultimate level of internet anonymity, enhancing the flow of information and freedom across the world. 

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Can Facebook’s Latest Project Re-Invigorate the Crypto Space?

Can Facebook's Latest Project Re-Invigorate the Crypto Space_

With Facebook about to enter the cryptocurrency arena, the industry is awash with opinions about how exactly the arrival of the much-discussed coin will impact on all aspects of the digital currency market, and whether these impacts will be negative, positive or a mixture of both.

Facebook’s original vision, created by a small group of enthusiastic students, was pretty profound. They created FaceMash in July 2003 which was to morph into Facebook under the supervision of Harvard students Mark Zuckerberg and roommate Eduardo Save a year later. They put their plan for social media networking into a few words:

“Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”

Before examining whether Facebook will impact the likes of Bitcoin and its now numerous altcoin alternatives, it may be worth considering just how much impact it has had on populations around the globe, long before it decided launches into its next major reincarnation as a cryptocurrency player.

Across the globe, Facebook now has over 2.38 billion monthly active users as of 31 March 2019. Some 1.56 billion people on average log onto Facebook daily. As of 2014 On average, the Like and Share Buttons are viewed across almost 10 million websites daily. In Europe alone, over 307 million people are on Facebook, and worldwide every 60 seconds on Facebook 510,000 comments are posted, 293,000 statuses are updated, and 136,000 photos are uploaded.

These statistics are outstanding, and it is worth looking at who these users are in terms of a crypto demographic which has proven that millennials have made cryptocurrency their home when it comes to how they arrange their financial lives. The prime target audience for Facebook is Age 25 to 34, representing 29.7% of users; a demographic which also matches that of the majority of today’s crypto users. 50% of 18-24 year-olds, another prime cryptocurrency audience, log on to Facebook when they wake up each morning. One final statistic; Facebook claims that 2.7 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month and more than 2.1 billion people use at least one of the Facebook family of services every day on average.

With an estimated 1.6 billion people logging on to Facebook each day and almost twice that amount using Facebook services each month, this creates a market which Bitcoin could only dream of. The impact on Bitcoin could be profound, and in a highly positive way, as billions of users within the 18-34-year-old user group now begin to become aware of a new mode of payment; cryptocurrency. Amongst this huge demographic will be those who may have had little prior knowledge of cryptocurrency or its workings, or simply not trusted it. Facebook’s entry into the market will change that perspective, that lack of knowledge and hesitance in using crypto will change.

That is to say that the potential for millions to simply discover Bitcoin “accidentally” or now take interest due to becoming familiar with Globalcoin through their daily FB log-ins becomes a huge prospect. Altcoins can expect to gain exposure too as more eyes shift towards the crypto market, potentially boosting mass adoption of cryptocurrencies across the board.

This is highly unlikely to happen overnight, but more of a drip feed as Facebook users gradually gain confidence in using a stablecoin and begin to take an interest in the market, and particularly the potential of Bitcoin. Facebook can, therefore, become a route to the cryptocurrency market for billions, and potentially in doing so become Bitcoin’s greatest ally.

 

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Research: Banks Holding Back on DLT Due to Collective Bitcoin Distrust Psyche

blockchain, bitcoin, banking

Retail banking continues to tread with caution before adopting blockchain, and it is Bitcoin’s 2017 rise and fall scenario which drives the distrust according to a recent report.

The potential of blockchain is being missed according to an earlier report which claims that Bitcoin lost its credibility with banks after its rise and fall in 2017. The possibility of using blockchain technology for cross border payments, saving banks as much as USD 4 billion a year, is still being overlooked due to lingering concerns over Bitcoin’s stability.

That report also points to further savings of USD 9 billion annually due to blockchain implementation cutting down on fraud. However, the poor uptake of blockchain in the banking sector is not reflected elsewhere, with governments seemingly taking blockchain on board with great vigor and enthusiasm.

Another consideration for the banking community is regulation, according to a McKinsey report. Although G20 nations are currently attempting to forge agreements spanning international borders when it comes to blockchain and cryptocurrency, there is clearly still much to do, with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority still yet to release its awaited conclusive report on cryptocurrency and the SEC continuing to stall on ETFs.

The report also highlights some of the practical challenges which banks will be forced to address using DLT, particularly those of security, also citing other considerations which banks will need to address in adopting blockchain such as competitiveness:

“Banks must create large networks to achieve benefits at scale, requiring data standardization and collaboration. Finally, there is the question of whether any bank would be willing to take the lead on creating a utility that offers no competitive advantage—the so-called coopetition paradox.”

A University lecturer in Switzerland Matthias Weissl has recently suggested traditional banks are being easy prey for fintech companies, by being slow and unhelpful in crucial financial services such as settlement times, access and adoption of change. Clearly, the scope for change is there if banks can remove memories of Bitcoin’s rise and fall from traditional banking’s collective psyche and look at Blockchain for what it can offer, not its associations and origins which banks clearly distrust.

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Try Blockchain in Federal Data Strategy, Experts Urge White House

Try Blockchain in Federal Data Strategy, Experts Urge White House

Experts in open data suggest that the US federal government should get more agencies investing in blockchain using the federal data strategy, for a restricted set of use cases at least.

The federal data strategy was made public just last week and it asks agencies to adopt common standards to ensure their internal data was more accessible and usable across the government. Although experts do not see blockchain as a cure-all for the ills in government strategy, they do see that it could ease the information sharing sought by state agencies.

A recent report from the Data Foundation says:

“As the federal government moves forward in developing a federal data strategy, consideration can be given to how blockchain might enable better recognizing data as a strategic asset for government. A blockchain can bring a wider circle of participants into a project that produces open data for public use.”

Beyond the hype of blockchain, researchers say that not everything about the technology is beyond pragmatic use. For example, it does have great potential in its ability to track all changes made to a specific asset can ensure datasets and other records manipulated by many different users maintain their accuracy and reliability. They also said it worked best for standardized processes that are not changed often. And in the case of US government agencies, it certainly seemed a match.

Should state agencies work within clearly defined rules for accessing and updating data on a shared ledger, more groups could access open data projects while maintaining cooperation between trusted parties.

The report does additionally note: “Whether blockchain will ultimately prove a success in government is yet to be seen. But for now, applying blockchain for government programs and operations should be a welcome development when possible.”

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Leading Crypto News Site CCN Shuts Down

Leading Crypto News Site CCN Shuts Down

One of the top blockchain and cryptocurrency news websites, CCN yesterday announced it would be shutting down, effective immediately.

Director and founder of CCN Markets and Hawkfish AS, Jonas Borchgrevink, explained in a post on the website the difficult decision came following a 71% drop in mobile traffic overnight. This happened on 3 June, the same day Google rolled out its latest Core Update.

Borchgrevink noted that the team had reached out to Google’s Webmasters Forum to query why CCN articles were experiencing such a significant Google-listings drop, but they had received no definitive answer. Alongside a 34.6% drop experienced by CoinDesk, Borchgrevink suggested Google may be taking a crackdown on cryptocurrency, although non-crypto-related sites such as the UK’s tabloid Daily Mail has also taken a hit.

He also pointed out the website had published a number of pro-Trump op-eds, speculating that other websites to do so had been facing some form of underhanded censorship by Google, writing:

”While I won’t speculate whether or not this might have affected our site, I would certainly hope Google isn’t actively suppressing journalism.”

CCN’s daily revenue is cited to be down 90%, while revenue has been reinvested into the website and personal meaning, such losses no longer make running the website viable.

Founded in 2013, CCN claims to have held the position of the crypto-related news site with the highest amount of traffic worldwide, raking in the top 800 websites visited prior to the Google update.

 

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BitPay Downtime Leaves Customers Without Service for 2nd Day

Bitpay Goes Down Leaving Customers Without a Service

Many customers were left frustrated and annoyed as BitPay’s outage moved into a second day after being shut down for undisclosed reasons yesterday.

The (BTC) payment processing service is receiving plenty of criticism from users today as those reliant on the company for payments and salaries were left without an answer after attempting to contact Bitpay’s Support portal.

Hello, our wallet development team is working on fixing an issue which is affecting outgoing transactions from our wallet. We’re sorry for the inconvenience and we will send an update as soon as this is resolved. Thank you for your patience!

— BitPay Support (@BitPaySupport) June 5, 2019

Unlike Bitcoin itself, services such as BitPay are centralized, which rather defeats the object of using Bitcoin for transactions if it then has to be funneled through an unreliable service which can even decide to veto a transaction if it wishes. This again highlights the use of centralized transaction processors being used for decentralized currencies, begging the question, are companies such as Bitpay a good match for Bitcoin?

Currently, users are limited to using companies such as BitPay due to Bitcoin’s lack of public adoption and will in remain business only so long as cryptocurrencies display the volatility that this year has highlighted. Many users hope that as Bitcoin becomes a more trusted means of payment other means to transfer funds will be introduced that are less liable to the kind of glitches that are currently just too frequent for frequent users of Bitcoin as a payment method.

 

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SEC More Informed Than Expected at DC Blockchain Forum

SEC More Informed Than Expected at DC Blockchain Forum

The week started with the much-awaited Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) first Fintech Forum, held on 31 June in Washington DC.

Issues on the agenda were expected to be related to cryptocurrency assets and DLT with key SEC officials being joined by various legal, financial and technical experts, but what surprised experts was the degree of knowledge SEC representatives already had on a range of crypto-related topics.

Cynics have always labeled the SEC with a lack of understanding on all things crypto, therefore, maintaining a wait n see stance, particularly on matters relating to Bitcoin ETFs. The SEC’s chops were reportedly highly visible at the meeting. Joshua Ashley Klayman, managing member of Klayman LLC, a boutique law firm was, like others, surprised at the SECs acquired crypto knowledge:

“Clearly they have been listening to what those in the community – and their counsel – have been saying to them and they’ve put a lot of effort into understanding this space… It was a much higher-level discussion than the basics of blockchain.”

On the SEC side, Valerie Szczepanik, the SEC’s senior advisor for digital assets through in Ethereum smart-contract programming language when explaining a point about the need for more dialogue between the agency and developers and explained that both the SEC and developers needed “to translate between each other”. She added that both sides need to fill the educational gap when it came to understanding bot regulation and development, pointing out:

“We also learned that the federal securities laws are just as complex to computer scientists as coding smart contracts in Solidity are to regulators.”

Another attendee at the forum went away with a somewhat renewed perceptions of the SEC, Attorney Stephen Rutenberg, a shareholder at Polsinelli and a member of the firm’s Fintech and Regulation Practice, agreed that the SEC’s understanding of DLTs was “beyond what most people think”.

 

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Crypto Over Cash: US Congressional Research Service Take A Look

Crypto Over Cash_ US Congressional Research Service Take A Look

Recent research by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) in the US has revealed that there is a migration away from cash in retail transactions, adding to the possibility that alternative methods of payments including cryptocurrency could gain traction moving forward.

The May 10th report by the CRS indicates that alternative non-cash payment systems, including bitcoin or other digital assets, in the purchase of goods and services, is fast becoming the mode of settlement for the future.

The current alternative to cash, the report found, is what is it called “traditional noncash payment systems” such as credit cards and debit cards and even included mobile payments in the same category. With lawmakers around the globe now looking at inclusive legislation for cryptocurrency as a payments system it may not be too long before the CRS include crypto in this traditional non-cash category.

Amy Zirkle, interim CEO of the Electronic Transactions Association, a Washington-based trade group for the payments technology industry, had her own view of this progression away from cash:

“While cryptocurrencies may not supplant traditional payments aggressively in the near term, the value of blockchain and innovative approaches to the payments industry extends beyond fiat currency replacement,” commenting that there may be added value for using cryptocurrency and blockchain in solving cross-border payments, streamlining communication between financial institutions, and better securing data.

There is a sign that diminishing in cash’s integrity is worrying some state legislators with New Jersey, Massachusetts and Philadelphia have enacted laws that largely prohibit cashless stores and more recently the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passing legislation that requires walk-in retailers to accept cash.

A possible comforting observation by the CRS for such cash friendly state legislators is the Congressional Services comments that cryptocurrency is still a long way off being able to handle current volumes of transactions handled by cash:

“At present, the systems underlying cryptocurrencies do not appear capable of processing the number of transactions that would be required of a widely adopted, global payment system.” but that said, the CRS concludes that cryptocurrencies nevertheless “have the potential to significantly affect the usage of cash and traditional systems for payments.”

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