Tag: blockchain news

BitPay Says Alternatives Not as Compelling as the Bitcoin Blockchain

BitPay co-founders Stephen Pair and Tony Gallippi have been around Bitcoin for about as long as anyone else in the industry. The company was founded in 2011, and their actions generally indicate the future direction of the industry.

“When we started in 2011, we would be excited to get five or six transactions through BitPay in a day.” said Pair in a fireside chat with Gallippi, held during the recent Distributed: Markets 2017 conference in Atlanta.

BitPay would go on to cut deals with the likes of Microsoft, Newegg, Expedia and other major corporate customers to provide payment processing services.

Challenges for Bitcoin’s Use in Consumer Payments

While many early Bitcoin adopters claimed the P2P digital cash system was going to replace the use of credit cards and completely overthrow the banking system in 2013, things haven’t exactly panned out that way — at least not yet.

Bitcoin is currently dealing with some issues as a consumer payments platform, mainly because the system is experiencing growth at a rate faster than it can safely scale.

“We have seen an increase in customer service inquiries because of transaction confirmation delays for bitcoin purchasers,” Pair told Bitcoin Magazine in an interview. “We’re also seeing substantially higher transaction fees on our own settlement transactions.”

Recently, BitPay decided to stop covering Bitcoin network fees on invoice payments.

“This friction is making us get more creative in how we do user experience design for delayed payment states on the BitPay platform,” said Pair. “Often delays are an educational opportunity to explain how the Bitcoin network works and point people to wallets that use dynamic transaction fees. Copay and BitPay wallet users have been largely immune from transaction delays because their wallets calculate transaction fees dynamically.

“Our designers and engineers are constantly attuned to how we can make using Bitcoin intuitive,” Pair added.

The lightning network is a proposed method of dealing with the issues related to transaction delays and higher transaction fees on the Bitcoin network. The transaction caching layer would effectively enable potentially improved versions of many of the features people have associated with Bitcoin in the past, such as instant transactions at nearly no cost.

“We’re exploring all possible solutions for scalability,” Pair said. “It’s not a surprise to us that Bitcoin needs to scale — scalability is something we’ve been thinking about for years. The only surprise is that while we anticipated short-term bumps in the throughput, we thought that changes for more on-chain throughput would have happened a couple of years ago. This slow movement to increase network throughput is something we did not foresee. At some point we’re going to reach an actual scalability limit that will only be overcome through solutions like these.”

Some have wondered whether companies like BitPay may turn away from Bitcoin and toward alternative options, such as altcoins or permissioned blockchains, due to the historically high U.S.-dollar-denominated fees and general congestion on the network.

“We have carefully studied the most significant alternatives to the Bitcoin blockchain and have concluded that none of them are compelling,” Pair responded.

Bitcoin’s Use in Consumer Payments Is Still Growing

Although Pair admitted Bitcoin has some issues with scaling right now, BitPay is still seeing growth in the use of the technology among consumers.

“Bitcoin is the fastest, most secure and most cost-effective means of doing value transfer on the internet,” said Pair. “We think of ourselves as a payment innovator, and from a functional perspective, consumer payments and B2B payments are no different on the Bitcoin network and on BitPay’s platform.”

At the Distributed: Markets fireside chat, Gallippi claimed that their transaction count has more than doubled over the past year. Much of that growth, he said, has been seen in the areas of digital goods and video games. Specifically, he pointed to digital distribution platform Steam’s acceptance of bitcoin through BitPay as a source of this growth, and pointed out that there is a lot of overlap between the Bitcoin and gamer communities;

Growth for Bitcoin Outside of Consumer Payments

In addition to continued growth in the area of consumer payments, Pair noted that BitPay is also seeing growth in the use of Bitcoin for B2B money transfers.

“We’re seeing significant interest and transaction volume growth from businesses that need to transfer value to other businesses,” said Pair. “Bitcoin is a fantastic solution for these business-to-business transfers, especially when it comes to international payments, where bank transfers are still slow and inefficient.

“They’re using our platform for billing and settling internationally with a lot of their suppliers,” Pair stated during the fireside chat.

Gallippi added that there has been an uptick in the use of Bitcoin for payment disbursements.

“It’s not that easy to pay people on a regular basis to the majority of the world. Eastern Europe, Israel, Africa, India [and] the Middle East — where a lot of these apps are being [developed] — it’s very difficult to pay them,” said Gallippi, as he explained how app stores pay developers who sell apps on their store.

Gallippi noted that for the app store example or digital marketing companies, BitPay can receive one payment from the business and then disburse payments in bitcoin at all of the endpoints.

“We built that product originally because we had our own needs to pay our own employees in bitcoin,” added Pair. “We’ve got a lot of Fortune 500 companies coming to us now every day asking us to solve these kinds of payments problems.”


Written by Kyle Torpey for Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: www.bitcoinmaga….

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Moscow Eyes Blockchain Tech for Infrastructure and Security

The Moscow City Government supports the optimization of the transport infrastructure with the use of blockchain technology through the “shared registry” system when it comes to controlling land-based transportation.

Blockchain technology will help create more transparent, just and reliable models for travel fare payment and system financing.

Sources in the room told Bitcoin Magazine that in a meeting with principal blockchain experts, Maksim Liksutov, deputy mayor of Moscow and head of the Moscow City Transport Agency, stated that the city’s primary task at the moment is to establish and support a safe and reliable data transmission system both within the department as well as with suppliers. He went on to suggest that a blockchain shared registry system would be an appropriate mechanism.

Liksutov was also enthusiastic about the potential for blockchain technology to facilitate the application of biometric information techniques, especially in terms of security solutions. He noted that with its data verification abilities, blockchain technology’s distributed nature could mean easier verification for travelers, while providing widespread confirmation of identities where necessary.

“Using blockchain technology in transactions between users and machines (which requires a high level of trust and permissions) is a question of time. This technology could be used also as an unprecedented anti-terror system,” the lead coordinator of Blockchain International, Alexander Mikheev, told Bitcoin Magazine.

According to the Mayor of Moscow, Sergey Sobyanin, these steps will become a part of a wider initiative the government will take to ensure advancement of new technologies. “Such projects are only begging to be realized in various areas, and we, without a doubt, owe it to ourselves to keep, in that respect, leading the array of cities across the globe,” Sobyanin said in a televised public address.

Among the other industries that will benefit from the integration of blockchain technology are the property sector, banks, health services, electrical power systems, digital commerce and tourism. “The users will just have to input their personal data once (or the company data), after which the information will be verified in the blockchain network in all the governmental and private structures, including banks and insurance companies,” Sobyanin said.

Written by Peter Chawaga for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: www.bitcoinmaga….

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Russian Bank’s VP Says Bitcoin is the Only Successful Blockchain

Over the past couple of months, Russian politicians and banks have been changing their tune when it comes to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency solutions. On February 21 Nikita Smirnov vice president of the state-owned bank Vnesheconombank had some positive things to say about the digital currency bitcoin. In fact, Smirnov believes the Bitcoin network is the only “successful” blockchain technology.

‘A New Philosophical Concept’

Russia’s relationship with digital currencies has been confusing, to say the least. Over the past few years, a few Russian bureaucrats have perceived bitcoin use as a criminal activity. Moreover, in the past, there have also been website blockades against bitcoin domains such as BTC-e and Localbitcoins. However, it seems politicians and banks are slowly changing their minds towards the country’s relationship with bitcoin. Just recently Russia’s Deputy Finance Minister, Alexey Moiseev told the public that bitcoin was “not a threat,” and Russia’s largest bank Sberbank has also been bolstering blockchain technology.

Now one of Russia’s well-known state banks Vnesheconombank (VEB) vice president has told the regional publication Kommersant that bitcoin has many benefits. Additionally, Nikita Smirnov says that bitcoin has an indisputable network effect.

“Bitcoin is the only blockchain technology in the world that has widespread adoption,” explains Smirnov. “It has existed for several years already, people tried to hack it, but no one has succeeded. So right now, if you ask whether there’s another algorithm, which established itself as a solution to distributed consensus problem, then the answer is probably NO.”

As of the present moment, the only successful solution to that problem is Bitcoin.

‘Bitcoin Forms a Symbiotic Relationship with Humans’

Meanwhile, the Russian bank Sberbank has been researching and developing its own enterprise-grade distributed ledger prototype for quite some time. Sberbank CEO Herman Gref believes commercial blockchains will be ready in two years and the company is working with the government on this project. However, according to the VEB vice president bitcoin is really the only successful blockchain today and can be considered a positive bacteria in his opinion.

Bitcoin is kind of a philosophical concept. Compare it to a bacteria, which exists separately from humans, but is in a symbiotic relationship with humans. But the word bacteria has a negative connotation, whereas Bitcoin in many ways is a positive thing, which satisfies many necessities, involves people in the process and allows itself to exists in this way.

Vnesheconombank also works with the Russian government managing state debts and pension funds. The bank, instituted in 1922, has grown significantly over the past few years acting as a progressive “Russian Development Bank.” Smirnov’s opinion may not reflect the bank’s official stance towards bitcoin but may push the bank to research the cryptocurrency further.

“[Bitcoin] truly is a new philosophical concept, which isn’t very well understood quite yet,” Smirnov concluded in his interview.

Written by Jamie Redman for Bitcoin.com | Original article: https://news.bitcoin.co….

What do you think about the vice president of Vnesheconombanks statements? Do you agree that Bitcoin is the only successful blockchain implementation? Let us know in the comments below.

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Blockchain Education Network to Host Global Bitcoin Airdrop

BTC.com organize bitcoin airdrop

This September, blockchain hubs across North America will be giving out bitcoin to begin the next school year. Over a dozen regions including New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Boston in the United States and Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa, in Canada, are preparing their events. The giveaway, known as a Bitcoin Airdrop, has become a yearly tradition on university campuses.

The bits are to be given to students who come out to their local blockchain club’s first meeting. Students will also be introduced to concepts about bitcoin and the blockchain through their peers and a demonstration of a wallet creation and transfer.

History of the Airdrop

The first airdrop was hosted in 2014 by the MIT Bitcoin Club, after the club raised $500,000 worth of bitcoin to give to each incoming freshman. The event was then replicated in 2015 in Montreal by the McGill Cryptocurrency Club during their school’s frosh week, with donations given to the club. The Blockchain Education Network is now expanding the initiative throughout their network of regional hubs.

Why an Airdrop?

An airdrop allows people who would otherwise never have heard about bitcoin to try out using their first bits with their friends in a setting where their questions can be answered. Even if a student downloads a wallet and sells the bitcoin, they discover how easily it can be exchanged for fiat currency and would be more open to receiving bitcoin as payment at a future time.

Focus on Education

The Blockchain Education Network (BEN) believes that the blockchain revolution must happen through education. Most people are still unfamiliar with what digital currencies and the blockchain are, though almost everyone is curious when they first hear about it and want to learn more.

Bitcoin and blockchains are technologies with broad socio-economic impacts, which means that different parts of the world will have a different perspectives on it. BEN organizes as a swarm, a decentralized organizational model, to ensure that the education presented at each meeting is relatable to the region.

A Crucial Grassroots Movement for Students

BEN is comprised primarily of students aged 18-25 and the group believes that it is especially important for this demographic to be able to experiment with these technologies. The world is quickly moving into a sharing economy where people can operate remotely and companies have access to a global talent pool. Students will all enter the workforce after graduating and must be familiar with new technology.

Each year, the leadership from a university club graduates and must be replaced by the incoming class of students. Doing an airdrop at the beginning of each school year ensures a strong interest in blockchain technology and many new students joining the blockchain community in every region that participates.

In addition to the airdrop, BEN has an entire Fall 2016 initiative to bring new students into the blockchain ecosystem including a Blockchain Olympics event in October and a Blockchain Startup Gauntlet in November. BEN also hosts and promotes hackathons for students with a variety of skill sets, and assists students who are interested in attending bitcoin and blockchain conferences.

Future Implications

This initiative has become a tradition that can scale as wide as its reach. 500 students receiving bitcoin this September may not change the world; however, each year showing a new group of motivated university students how this technology works may cause a ripple effect of education that reaches farther than our expectations.

In our view, the “blockchain revolution” isn’t so far fetched. This is a technology which better maps to our worldviews after having grown up with the internet. It has taken 25 years for the internet to move from creation to our pockets. Through this historical lens, we see any current shortcomings of blockchain as an opportunity for our generation to solve.

Written by Michael Gord for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: https://bitcoinmag….

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Department of Homeland Security Awards Blockchain Tech Development Grants for Identity Management and Privacy Protection

In May, Bitcoin Magazine reported that both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and NATO have requested proposals for the development of military-related apps built on blockchain technology. In particular, DARPA wants to leverage blockchain technology to create a secure messaging service and NATO is interested in applications of blockchain technology to military logistics, procurement and finance, with a catch-all described as “other applications of interest to the military.” Previously, the U.S. Air Force worked with contractors to develop a Bitcoin payment gateway.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has awarded $1.3 million in funding to 13 small businesses for the development of new cyber security technology. Four projects will use distributed ledger technology to develop new solutions for identity management and privacy protection.

“A technology such as the blockchain, if it can be validated to be able to support the appropriate level of security and privacy, has potential applicability to multiple information sharing use cases within the homeland security enterprise,” said DHS S&T Program Manager Anil John, as reported by FCW.

The program is managed by the Cyber Security Division (CSD), established in 2011 within S&T’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency (HSARPA). The CSD develops and delivers new technologies, tools and techniques to enable the DHS to defend the U.S. against cyberattacks. Its mission includes technology transfer as well as coordination among domestic and international research partners.

The four firms below were awarded about $100,000 each in preliminary funding through the DHS S&T Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and will be eligible for further funding depending on the results produced. The DHS seems especially interested in research results that, besides enhancing homeland security, show potential for commercial exploitation.

Digital Bazaar, a developer of technology and services for internet payments, is developing a Linked Data ledger format and architecture to demonstrate how to publish identity credentials.

Respect Network Corporation, a data network provider that enables customers and companies to safely share sensitive private data over trusted private connections, is developing a decentralized registry and discovery service to integrate with the public blockchain.

Narf Industries, an information security company focused on reverse engineering, vulnerability research and tool development, is developing an identity management solution built on a permission-less blockchain, with a focus on confidentiality (with selective information disclosure), integrity, availability, non- DHS repudiation, provenance and pseudo-anonymity.

Celerity Government Solutions (doing business as Xcelerate Solutions), a provider of security, IT and management consulting services, is researching blockchain solutions to enable users to establish and maintain trusted identity transactions with public and private organizations.

In June, the S&T awarded a $199,000 contract to Factom to study possible blockchain-based advancements for the security of digital identities for the Internet of Things (IoT) — the upcoming connection and convergence of mobile devices, information technology networks, connected sensors and devices.

The project, titled “Blockchain Software to Prove Integrity of Captured Data From Border Devices,” will create an identity log that captures the identification of a device, who manufactured it, lists of available updates, known security issues and granted authorities while adding the dimension of time for added security. The goal is to limit would-be hackers’ abilities to corrupt the past records for a device, making it more difficult to spoof. It’s interesting to note that the NATO request for proposal, mentioned above, also included an IoT section, which underlines the synergy between IoT and blockchain technologies for military applications.

“IoT devices are embedded within our daily lives — from the vehicle we drive to devices we wear — it’s critical to safeguard these devices from adversaries,” said DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Dr. Reginald Brothers. “S&T is excited to engage our nation’s innovators, helping us to develop novel solutions for the Homeland Security Enterprise.”

Melissa Ho, managing director, S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, added that collaborating with the many companies that are already developing commercial solutions that can be reused to enhance homeland security is in the best interest of the DHS.

The growing interest of military agencies in distributed ledger technology and in particular, its potential for distributed, resilient and tamper-proof identity systems, is one more signal that blockchain technology is becoming mature and ready for real-world application and could bring more mainstream credibility and funding to the blockchain sector.

Written by Giulio Prisco for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: https://bitcoinmagazine…

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World Economic Forum Examines How Blockchain Can Reshape Financial Services

On August 11, 2016, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released a 300-page report entitled “The future of financial infrastructure: An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services,” exploring how the financial sector “could overcome current-state pain points through distributed ledger technology (DLT).”

The WEF has been one of the most vociferous advocates for the potential of the blockchain technology. Bitcoin Magazine reported that in 2015 the WEF predicted that blockchain technology was one of the 21 changes in technological transformations and that the tipping point for its adoption would be in 2025.

A year later, World Economic Forum repeated that “virtual currencies and their underlying technologies can provide faster and cheaper financial services and can become a powerful tool for deepening financial inclusion in the developing world.”

In this latest report, the WEF concluded that blockchain technology could have impressive ramifications but would need the collaboration of government and technological experts to succeed.

It took a year for the World Economic Forum (WEF) to research how blockchain technology could help nine financial sectors, which included global payment and foreign trading. More than 200 innovators, subject matter experts and executives from prominent institutions, such as JPMorgan Chase, Visa and MasterCard, contributed their opinions. The results was assembled in this latest report. These are some ifs most significant conclusions:

Blockchain helps by being transparent and effective

“Distributed ledger technology (blockchain) has the potential to drive simplicity and efficiency by establishing new financial services infrastructure and processes” (p.19).

The blockchain ledger can be proven enormously useful to banks and financial institutions by providing them with an unprecedented layer of transparency and trust. The operational transparency of DLT will cut down, if not eliminate, the number of disputes, minimize frauds and ensure that obligations and settlements are met. The ledger could also give companies a more secure, effective way of moving money and tracking transactions. Regulators could employ real-time monitoring of transactions, while operations could better source liquidity of assets and move money between accounts.

Blockchain merges with other transformative technologies

“Distributed ledger technology will form the foundation of next generation financial services infrastructure in conjunction with other existing and emerging technologies” (p.20)

Over the last 50 years, a number of emerging technologies have merged to transform the financial services industry of the future. These include biometrics, cloud computing, cognitive computing, quantum analytics, predictive analytics and robotics. Distributed ledger technology is one of these but the WEF cautions that blockchain should be seen as “part of the toolbox” rather than a panacea. Each industry, too, would use DLT in its own ways and for its own means, so for instance, the trading sector will likely use the ledger for real-time tracking and efficacy while payers that deal with global payments will use DLT for, among other reasons, preventing friction.

Blockchain is revolutionary

“Similar to technological advances in the past, new financial services infrastructure will transform and question traditional orthodoxies in today’s business models” (p.24)

Blockchain upends all aspects of the traditional financial services sector from standard accounting habits to lending practices. Blockchain provides its own distributed, transparent record-keeping, leverages real-time trust among market participants and balances the information flow between lenders and borrowers. It also boosts dispute resolution since it provides regulators and regulated entities with a common transparent ledger. Finally, DLT reduces the need for intermediaries because of its shared and trusted environment.

Blockchain needs collaboration to succeed

“The most impactful distributed ledger technology applications will require deep collaboration between incumbents, innovators and regulators, adding complexity and delaying implementation” (p.23)

The World Economic Forum cautions that “updating financial infrastructure through DLT will require significant time and investment.” The three imperatives are: Resolving security issues, aligning competing interests and imposing a legal, regulatory and governance framework. This sounds easier than stated since divergent company interests are involved. If, and once achieved, this would provide DLT with a standardized system and superior efficacy that would boost the financial success of all nine sectors.

Looking ahead

To date, more than 24 countries and 90 corporations use blockchain technology with many more expressing interest. The WEF notes that large banks around the world, including more than 90 central banks, have developed blockchain groups that hail its potential impact and study how to harness its technology. In fact, the report predicted that a full 80% of these banks could launch their own blockchains by 2017. Blockchain technology has “captured the imagination and wallets of the financial services ecosystem” but the WEF concluded that DLT has to resolve critical issues moving forward. These include: How to develop a roadmap to achieve market collaboration and standardized regulation, how to structure a regulated tax framework and how to implement a cost-benefit analysis to determine the financial viability of distributed ledger technology.

Article written by Leah Zitter for the Bitcoin Magazine | Original article: https://bitcoinmagazine….

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