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How Blockchain and Construction Will Build a New World

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This Article is Originally Posted on CoinCentral.com and written by SARAH ROTHRIE

blockchain and construction

When we think about industries set for disruption by blockchain, construction probably isn’t top of the list. After all, the traditional image of a building site seems far removed from crypto, coding, and hackathons. But there are potentially enormous benefits for putting blockchain and construction together.

This article will round up some of the possible use cases for blockchain in the construction industry.

Blockchain and Construction Supply Chains

A bad workman blames his tools, right? Maybe that’s a bit harsh, though. After all, the construction industry is dependent on the availability of quality supplies and tools, at the right time and in the right place. Given that the sector is highly fragmented with many different players, big and small, supply chains are a big deal.

Tools

Not as innocent as they look…

Purchase orders, delivery notes, and invoices are often still paper-based. Firms frequently don’t know if the supplies they need are in stock when they start a project, which leads to delays and incurs costs.

These aren’t even the worst consequences. UK government contract Carillion collapsed at the start of 2018, affecting the jobs of around 43,000 people as a result. Sources pointed to its poor supply chain management as being a critical factor in the collapse, through lousy credit management and a lack of visibility over projects and required supplies.

The blockchain is already proving its ability to transform supply chains, in one instance through the partnership between Walmart and IBM. Using blockchain to manage construction supply chains could create a single source of truth regarding the availability and provenance of construction supplies, as well as tracking payments.

The industry is taking notice of this use case for blockchain and construction. Recent announcementshave now confirmed that Probuild, one of Australia’s largest building firms, has partnered with US blockchain construction innovator Brickschain for managing its global supply chain. The announcement confirms that “Probuild has the vision that Blockchain, IoT and Big Data can revolutionize the construction supply chain.”

Brickschain screenshot

The Brickschain homepage

Blockchain and Construction Project Management

Construction projects rely on various parties to work together to complete a building based on pre-defined specifications. Each party expects payment based on work done. Therefore, the peer-to-peer connectivity of blockchain, combined with smart contract functionality, brings excellent opportunities to streamline construction project management.

One study into the potential of blockchain in construction project management found that “[o]n the construction site blockchain can improve the reliability and trustworthiness of construction logbooks, works performed and material quantities recorded.”

Industry publication Construction Manager (they don’t mess around with fluffy, ambiguous names in this business) also reported on the development of two prototype applications combining blockchain and construction.

TraderTransferTrust is a payment system built on blockchain that triggers payment only on the completion of work done. Physical proof of work, if you will. ConstructCoin is another project from the same development team. It aims to create a marketplace of information about the construction industry.

Reduce Litigation

The Construction Blockchain Consortium (CBC) is an industry group set up by its members to investigate the potential for how blockchain and construction could play together. While the above use cases are transformational, the CBC outlines some cultural shifts that may occur in the industry as a result of using blockchain.

The building industry has become highly litigious. The CBC highlights how using blockchain to foster a culture of collaboration and ownership could help to reduce incidences of parties suing one another for shoddy work or delays in project completion. Further, the consortium believes that a less litigious environment “should encourage a less ‘defensive’ approach to decision making and thereby encourage innovation.”

Digitized Land Acquisition and Building Rights

In their paper about the future of smart cities, McKinsey points to the current bureaucracy involved in land acquisition and building rights as a barrier to agile construction. The paper goes on to explain how digitized solutions will speed up the process of obtaining land and building approvals.

Blockchain-based land registries provide a vast improvement over today’s paper-laden processes. Blockchain allows for speedier approvals with no loss of paperwork or waiting for multi-party signatures on physical documents.

Additionally, in countries, land disputes are all too common. A permanent, unalterable record of ownership has distinct advantages in proving ownership. India is among the countries that have been trialing the use of blockchain in land registrations.

Building Inspections

Most buildings are subject to inspections at some point or another. Structures used by the public need checks to ensure adherence to safety standards. Building surveys often feature in sales of real estate, as they reveal any structural faults that may impact the valuation.

These inspections are often conducted in a fragmented way. An inspector or surveyor may have limited or no visibility of records from previous checks. This makes the process heavily dependent on the specific inspector, and errors or oversights may happen.

Building inspection

Some buildings more obviously require inspection than others.

Blockchain offers the opportunity for a piece of real estate to come with its own permanent record of past inspections. Blockchain data is immune to tampering by any party who may have an interest in ensuring structure passes muster. Similarly, blockchain could also record any structural or maintenance work undertaken on the property over its life cycle.

More Agile Planning

Currently, there is a lengthy process to procure public funds for investment in infrastructure. Governments must justify the need to spend taxpayer funds on a particular initiative. This means that new infrastructure investment can take months or even years to come to fruition.

As we move towards the smart cities of the future, increased connectivity and availability of information could significantly speed approvals for new infrastructure investment. For example, a government body may quickly build a case showing increased traffic flows in a particular area, using sensor data from a blockchain. This enables faster construction investment in road improvements, traffic calming measures or other means.

Smart cities

Smart cities will be more connected.

Final Word

Blockchain and construction may seem unlikely partners at first. However, like so many other sectors, construction depends on trust-based interactions with other parties along with solid record keeping. Therefore, assuming the industry can adapt, blockchain could provide significant value to the builders of the future.

BARTERING ISSUES SOLVED BY BLOCKCHAIN

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This Article is Originally posted on MintDice.com

While cryptocurrency is currently the center of the hype in the finance sector, most big industry players are gravitating towards its underlying technology: blockchain. Several top-tier executives like Warren Buffett have been pushing the “Blockchain not Bitcoin” mantra which other’s have adopted.

Such executives believe that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are a bubble which will burst, leaving their underpinning technology behind. The technology, which has been applied in problem-solving processes within several industries including agriculture and real estate is quickly gaining traction in the finance industry as well. It has recently been used to solve several complex payment problems, including bartering.

WHAT IS BARTERING?

Bartering involves the exchange of goods and services for other goods and services of perceived equal value. Today, money is a generally acceptable means of exchange, but before the creation of money, bartering was the primary means. People could barter exchange things like clothes for food, and services like a shoe repair in exchange for a cleaning service and so on.

This method was one of mankind’s most significant inventions, but like any other invention, it became obsolete with the arrival of a better option. However, several individuals and businesses still practice bartering to date.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF A BARTER SYSTEM?

Although the barter system is no longer commonplace, it worked efficiently when it was. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, it was a popular means of exchange due to the lack of money. It worked great for many reasons:

  • The system is easy to use. While the modern day monetary system may seem simple to a person who has used it for a long time, it is still leagues ahead of a barter system in complexity. A lot of the problems associated with today’s financial system were avoided during the bartering period.
  • Since bartering caters to the specific needs of society, there is no point in producing more or less than needed. As a result, there is never an issue of overproduction, underproduction or artificial scarcity in a barter system. It has a moderation that is difficult to recreate with the current financial industry standards.
  • A barter system focuses on the exchange between people within the same vicinity, so there is no international trade. This means that bartering helps people avoid the issues typically linked with international trade.
  • Another major advantage is that due to the nature of goods and services exchanged within the system, economic power is shared evenly. Since they cannot be stored, there is no accumulation of excess wealth. Unlike today’s system, there is no concentration of economic power among a small group.
  • The system minimizes the occurrence of waste and maximizes the use of natural resources. This is because things cannot be bought, only exchanged for items of equivalent value.
  • The barter system also promotes division of labor which leads to better results than in a system where people practice several trades without mastering any.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF A BARTER SYSTEM?

Like any system, the barter system also has its drawbacks, seen below:

  • People who want to exchange one item or service for another must find other people who are in need of what they are offering. This situation is known as a double coincidence of wants and leads to a waste of time and effort. It is also inconvenient especially when a person can’t immediately find someone whose wants coincide and may have to make several third-party exchanges in the process.
  • Although barters take place between items of equivalent value, there is no unit to determine what is equal and what is not. This creates a huge problem because irrespective of perceived worth, one unit of an item is equal to what the receiver of that item determines it to be. For example, in a typical barter exchange, one unit of strawberries can be equal to one unit of wheat depending on the receiver of the strawberries.
  • Another disadvantage of the barter system is that due to the absence of a conventional means of exchange (money), there is no divisibility. For example, a cow may be equal to the cost of 12 pairs of shoes. A person who wants to exchange a cow for just 2 pairs cannot divide it into smaller cows. In a modern financial system, dealing with such an issue would only require payment and the receiving of change.
  • Under a barter system, it is difficult for individuals and businesses to accumulate wealth because there is no system of storage. Since the items exchanged are not predetermined, the transactions within the system are random. This leads to the absence of real purchasing power and extra bartered expenses to store specific goods like food for long periods.
  • Since each item being exchanged is different, it is difficult to draft contracts concerning deferred and installment payments. It is also difficult to take loans as well as transfer wealth to someone else. This is because the quality and value of goods and services being swapped may change in the future.
  • In a barter system, it is difficult to transport goods from one place to another, as opposed to the cost of transporting money in a modern system.

HOW DOES BLOCKCHAIN SOLVE THESE ISSUES?

A blockchain is a distributed digital ledger on a peer-to-peer network, which records every transaction carried out on it. To effectively use the technology, most blockchain platforms have their own cryptocurrencies which serve as means of exchange.

By allowing traders to barter using a consensus mechanism that allocates values to specific goods and use, the network digital asset as a means of exchange, many of the issues associated with bartering can be solved. Several companies are already working on such solutions, and one prominent example is MYTC.

WHAT IS MYTC?

MYTC is a blockchain startup that is creating a decentralized platform to support trade and bartering activities. Small and medium enterprises on the platform can easily carry out barter without worrying about any of the issues associated with a typical barter system. The MYTC blockchain platform aims to give merchants the chance to automate their exchanges so that more time can be spent focusing on their businesses and sales. It will also serve as an upgrade for the outdated financial technology used by vendors.

HOW CAN MYTC BLOCKCHAIN HELP SOLVE BARTERING ISSUES?

The MYTC blockchain uses its own form of digital currency that solves the problem of double coincidence. Since all trade will be done using the company’s tokens, there is no need to conduct a manual search for an exchange partner. The tokens also serve as a common measure of value for any barters that take place.

The platform allows its users to store divisible tokens in a wallet and retains a balance which is debited. As a result, there are no divisibility restrictions. The tokens can also be transferred, and wealth can be accumulated.

MYTC tokens are also easily transported on the network and contracts can be arranged for deferred payments as participants see fit. Another advantage of the MYTC platform is that its digital currency can be used from anywhere in the world. This eliminates location barriers and promotes international trade.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like any other system, barter systems are not close to perfect. However, with digital enhancements such as blockchain technology, they can work well. MYTC is one of the companies ensuring that businesses are free to choose whether to deal with money or goods and services. This freedom to choose is part of the core principle behind decentralized systems and currencies. Hopefully, with a more efficient and cost-effective system, bartering will become widely accepted again.

Inflated Success: Cryptocurrency Exchange Trading Secrets Revealed

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This Article is Originally Posted on CoinCentral.com written by ELIZABETH GAIL

The cryptocurrency market is a high-octane playground for day Lambo dreamers and investors. It has made some super-rich, almost overnight and reduced others to the brink of bankruptcy. And of course, amid all these chaotic happenings is a rambunctious side of the industry, where questionable practices make the market tremendously murky.

The cryptocurrency market has led to the fast rise of one too many companies. Two-year-old exchanges are now trading billions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies every day, something which many traditional financial institutions have struggled to achieve for over a century.

CryptoLab_SM_InPostBanner.png

BitForex, for example, handles over $5 billion in transactions daily, while the London stock exchange, a global force that has been in existence for over two centuries still struggles to consistently match its figures. The platform also beats its more popular competitors in trade volume, despite it having contrastingly less traffic.

That said, a recent investigation carried out by Bloomberg on cryptocurrency exchange services such as Bitforex paints a rather skewed picture. It found that most crypto exchange networks with huge trade volume discrepancies allow users to abuse the system or encourage the inflation of trade volumes.

The result is that investors are unsuspecting investors are likely to be lured in by the impressive trade volumes, which give false credibility to an exchange through artificial activity. However, the reality of what’s actually going on hits clients once they try to cash out, which can turn out to be a major headache.

This is because such platforms incentivized users to carry out mirrored transactions, and so few users are actually interested in buying or selling crypto within the platform. According to Garrett Jin, BitForex’s Vice President, the exchange’s high trade volume is a result of its reward system that encourages transactions.

He revealed this via an email to Bloomberg. The exchange’s transactional mining system allegedly pays out $1.20 in digital tokens for every $1 paid in transaction fees. This promotes wash-trading, the practice of repeatedly buying and selling crypto assets to inflate activity.

According to the VP, the system is designed to reward Bitforex users to encourage them to trade among themselves. He also highlighted that the company is against all forms of market-manipulation and abuse, and said that the present reward system will end soon anyway.

Garrett highlighted the complexities of preventing wash-trading saying all it takes are users with two accounts to start trading with themselves. Exchange clients are allowed to have multiple accounts and carry out trades with whomever they choose to, hence the loophole.

Numerous other platforms also feature similar incentivized programs and they include, DOBI Trade, CoinSuper, FCoin, and CoinBene. In Bitforex’s case, it is not regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and operates in an opaque market where there are no guarantees for investors. This is according to a statement issued by MAS, which also revealed that the network may not have enough buyers and sellers, which results in significant withdrawal issues.

Hard to Clamp Down on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Practices

Wash-trading is a practice that is hard to stop because there are trades that look similar to it that are undertaken for legitimate reasons. In a recent interview with Unchained, Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ highlighted the complexities of curbing the practice as well as other market-manipulation activities.

He spoke about measures undertaken by his company to curb market-manipulation and insider-trading, and revealed that Binance requires employees who buy cryptocurrency to hold the digital funds for 30 days before selling. The company apparently discourages its employees from day-trading trading, which is not a productive endeavor anyway, according to the crypto exec.

Binance cryptocurrency exchange CEO, Changpeng Zhao (right) with Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong (left).

He also talked about the wash-trading problem affecting the market, asserting that there has never been any evidence in regard to insider-trading or market-manipulation at Binance. He also explained that there is a difference between wash-trading and manipulation.

According to the CEO, it is not easy to determine the stage at which wash-trading becomes market-manipulation, stating, ” So like conceptually yes, if Bitcoin is $6,300 on other exchanges right now and it is trading at $7,000 on others, then most likely there is some type of manipulation but how do you define that, how do you prevent that?”

Asked about his views on the recent move by ShapeShift to introduce stringent Anti Money Laundering (AML) and (Know Your Customer KYC) after being accused of indulging in market-manipulation prices, CZ declined to comment saying it is hard to judge allegations from the outside.

On the company’s move to adopt new policies following the market-manipulation claims, he said that there are many internal factors taken into consideration when making such decisions. He expressed confidence that Erik Tristan Voorhees, ShapeShift’s co-founder most likely made the best decision for his company.

INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE LAUNCHES BAKKT ECOSYSTEM

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This Article is Originally Posted on MintDice.com

Digital Asset market is worth $270 billion now. Eyeing this massive opportunity, Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), has launched the Bakkt ecosystem which will provide a marketplace for digital assets like cryptocurrencies. This ecosystem will be federally regulated to ensure full legal compliance. The Intercontinental Exchange has joined hands with big companies like Microsoft, Starbucks, and BCG to provision various services required for the success of this project. The Bakkt ecosystem is expected to incorporate federally regulated markets and warehousing along with consumer and merchant applications.

Achieving mainstreaming of leading cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is the founding imperative of Bakkt. The Intercontinental Exchange intends to transform Bitcoin into a highly trusted currency with a global usage. At present, most of the big financial institutions shun it due to various reasons. The aim to offer Bakkt is to enable significant money managers to offer Bitcoin ETFs, pension funds and mutual funds. Jeffery Sprecher is at the forefront of this project, which is expected to create a considerable influence of Wall Street on cryptocurrencies. =

ABOUT THE INTERCONTINENTAL EXCHANGE

The Intercontinental Exchange is a Fortune 500 and Fortune Future 50 organization, which was established in May 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia to revamp commodities markets. In the year 2013, The Intercontinental Exchangeachieved a substantial milestone by acquiring NYSE Euronext, the parent company of the NYSE. Currently, it is the second-largest exchange group globally and controls 23 regulated exchanges and six clearing-houses located all over the world.

The Intercontinental Exchange began with a primary focus on the energy market with products like natural gas, oil, power, jet fuel, and emissions trading. However, with gradual acquisitions of other entities, the Intercontinental Exchange has expanded into other commodities like coffee, sugar, cotton, commodity derivatives, and futures contracts as well. Moreover, they also provide trading of interest rate products and foreign exchange.

Greater price transparency, efficient trading platforms, and enhanced liquidity helped the Intercontinental Exchange in getting the required trader confidence, helping it to cement its reputation as the leading commodities exchange. It has enabled companies to trade various types of commodities without any time or space constraints, assisting them to generate more capital than any other exchange in the entire world. The Intercontinental Exchange joins various markets to let them trade and manage risks across the global commodity market.

Information services are pivotal for traders for making their investment decisions and managing risks associated with commodity markets. The Intercontinental Exchange Data Services is a subsidiary of, which was formed in the year 2003 and provides the connectivity and information services across nearly all types of asset classes. It was established considering the ever-rising demand for data exchange as various markets become more automated. The Intercontinental Exchange continues to invest in its data arm to cater to the fast transforming regulatory environment and market diversification, along with a growing need for data security and independent valuations.

BAKKT ECOSYSTEM PROS

  1. It will help in curtailing the rivalry between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies. With a financial industry giant like the Intercontinental Exchange launching a cryptocurrency ecosystem there is an increased likelihood of more institutionalized investor making investments in cryptocurrencies.
  2. Introduction of Bakkt by various established players points to the fact that traditional investors are joining the crypto bandwagon and they want to regularize this industry through enhanced participation.
  3. Currently, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, is inherently slow as every transaction is broadcast to every node on the network. However, with the introduction of Bakkt, the speed problem can be resolved to a great extent. There would be no need to broadcast all the transactions occurring inside the Bakkt ecosystem. Only the payments coming in and out of the Bakkt’s warehouse would need to be broadcast on the blockchain.
  4. Bakkt will also act as a qualified custodian for cryptocurrencies enabling various institutions to make investments in the crypto asset class. According to SEC rules, the presence of a qualified custodian is mandatory for investment advisors managing above $150 million.
  5. Financial regulators will be more comfortable with the whole crypto sector due to the involvement of the Intercontinental Exchange.
  6. Lower frictional costs associated with cryptocurrencies will allow investors to raise capital using the Bakkt ecosystem. With cryptocurrencies, there are no trustees or transfer agents. Moreover, counterparty risk is also minimal.   

BAKKT ECOSYSTEM CONS

  1. Traditional cryptocurrency supporters are staunchly against the idea of placing a large exchange in the middle of Bitcoin payment systems. They argue that the Bitcoin was created with a decentralized architecture in mind, without the need for a centralized custodian acting as the middle-man and charging a transaction fee.  The idea of creating a giant regulated crypto exchange may be a popular step in the short term, but in the long term, a decentralized peer-to-peer network is the only mechanism which will fulfill the ultimate goal of creating Bitcoin.
  2. Experts believe that Bakkt is Wall Street’s attempt to control cryptocurrencies through financialization via leverage. This tactic involves the creation of more financial claims to the coins when there are less underlying coins in actual reality. Wall Street can easily influence coin prices through derivatives markets.

HOW BAKKT WILL EVOLVE THE CRYPTOCURRENCY INDUSTRY

The Bakkt ecosystem is expected to unite several financial players together in their quest for cryptocurrency trading profits. The diversity of services in the form of custody solutions, asset-tokenization and derivatives will substantially attract consumers, merchants and institutions towards this trading platform encouraging mass crypto adoption.

It is further predicted that Bakkt will help in curtailing cryptocurrency volatility, at least for the Intercontinental Exchange customers. Several experts consider volatility as the most significant barrier to entry. This reduction will be achieved by profiting from Bitcoin volatility through hedging against Bitcoin.

Bakkt will significantly boost the number of applications which can use cryptocurrencies, through its consumer and merchant applications. The system will enable any institutional investor or company to profit from both digital assets and fiat currencies and that too with minimal volatility and regulatory hurdles.

Bakkt has scheduled to launch Bitcoin’s future contracts and warehousing solutions in November 2018 depending on CFTC’s approval. This ETF factor will lead to a heightened demand for digital assets especially when there would be a physical delivery of that asset. There are several advantages of cryptocurrency ETF. Additional security layer provided by the custodian bank saves investors from several types of risks. Moreover, crypto ETF will enable investors to easily track many different digital tokens simultaneously.

Tokenization is another feature which is expected to come from this platform. Various physical assets can be tokenized through Bakkt which can allow investors to tap untapped liquidity.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Bakkt is definitely a giant leap towards formalizing and regulating cryptocurrency trading. Due to the backing of several financial industry giants, this platform is sure to get lots of attention, both negatively and positively. However, the struggle between Wall Street champions and cryptocurrency purists should not hinder the progress of this long-awaited development.

 

Video Game Careers Accelerate to Hyperdrive with Cryptogames

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This Article is Originally Posted on CoinCentral.com and authored by WILTON THORNBURG

video game careers

Video Game Careers

Video game careers traditionally involve such areas as programming, designing, testing, and marketing. Cryptogames broaden these horizons by including players as a paid part of the game community. Let’s take a look at some of these games and how they’re helping to broaden video game careers in blockchain.

BUFF, the Naked Truth of How It Works

Imagine a world where playing games earns you currency. The BUFF project implements just such an ecosystem.

The goal BUFF seeks to achieve is to provide a gaming platform with an economic ecosystem using blockchain technology. Success in the games creates economic rewards. On this platform, you mine coins in the background while playing. These economic incentives increase loyalty to the game brands and provide you with an auxiliary way to start a part-time video game career.

video game careers imageBUFF rewards you for playing video games.

BUFF utilizes the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol to insert new blocks on the blockchain. This algorithm helps to reinforce the goal of creating a community out of the network of users. In addition, the coins you earn by playing one game qualify for use in other games on the BUFF network.

BUFF partnered with Overwolf to add functionality to their system. Overwolf software functions as an overlay to add applications to games. These applications increase the capabilities of the games and log statistics on the players.BUFF partnered with Overwolf to log statistics on players.

video game careers image

The Technology

To power video game careers, the engineers programmed BUFF as an open source project residing on GitHub. They used Javascript as the programming language and powered the system with Ark. The Ark ecosystem seeks to simplify blockchain development by creating all-in-one solutions, giving users the power to create, customize, and scale their own blockchain networks.

CryptoFights, Duking It Out

Similar to BUFF, CryptoFights utilizes blockchain technology to reward players in cryptogames. Operating on serverless gameplay, CryptoFights uses a sidechain for high-performance scalability, and it secures game assets by operating on the Ethereum blockchain. Just like the classic game Street Fighter, CryptoFights players try to find real-time strategic advantages against opponents using different weapons and armor.

video game careers imageCryptoFights implements Enjin.

Enjin Coin’s Ethereum based ERC-1155 token powers the economic ecosystem of CryptoFights. The ERC-1155 token standard uses the minimal amount of data necessary to distinguish one unique token from another and perform transactions.

Consequently, Enjin Coins enable users to purchase in-game items on a decentralized platform, and users store these coins in the Enjin Wallet. As with BUFF, CryptoFights uses the Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol.

Those Darn Cats

CryptoKitties introduced the crypto community to a new way to make money with cryptogames. Utilizing the ERC-721 token standard, CryptoKitties provides unique collectibles where collectors can prove ownership of a unique asset on the internet.

Assets gain value by their virtue of being unique with more desirable assets increasing in value through market demand.

Trading Cards

Additionally, digital trading card games are another cryptogame option. Fuel Games hopes to serve this market with Gods Unchained. The game uses ERC-721 tokens to store the trading cards on the Ethereum blockchain and guarantee that the playing cards are scarce.

video game careers imageGods Unchained stores trading cards on the Ethereum blockchain.

The cards represent creatures, spells, and weapons. You not only use the cards to play the game, but if the cards you own increase in value, you profit when you sell them. Gods Unchained somewhat mimics the gameplay of Magic The Gathering and Hearthstone.

Fuel Games previously created the Etherbots blockchain game and learned some of the pitfalls and advantages of blockchain game programming. Although decentralized ownership of assets provides a great benefit, the company learned that placing all the gameplay directly on the blockchain resulted in slow gameplay and expensive transaction costs.

Consequently, the designers of Gods Unchained removed the gameplay off-chain entirely. Based on the experience of Fuel Games, they managed to attract venture capital from a number of high-powered organizations such as Coinbase.

Final Thoughts on Video Game Careers

Traditionally, video games careers involved being a professional in the industry and designing games, programming them, or testing them, but cryptocurrency provides multiple ways to enhance video game careers through cryptogames.

With the BUFF paradigm, users make money simply by playing the games. Other approaches involve players owning digital assets and profiting from that ownership. Since the Colossal Cave adventure was programmed on a PDP-11 in 1976, games continue to occupy the forefront of technology. As an emerging technology, expect blockchain to continue to innovate game platforms.

Cryptocurrency Tool Kit for only $7

Top 5 Blockchain Stocks

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This Article is Originally Posted On MintDice.com

Stock investment has always been a fantastic way for many people to make a passive income. Approximately33% of households in the United States own taxable investment accounts. While the traditional stock market is immensely profitable, a new way to invest has emerged.

The emergence of cryptocurrency has brought about a new, rapidly-developing form of investment. Bitcoin is fast becoming a household name, due to its status as the biggest cryptocurrency by market share and the fact that although there are currently over 1000 cryptocurrencies, it was the first to emerge. Since 2009, the buzz around digital currencies has continued to grow and reached an all-time high in 2017, when Bitcoin hit its peak price of $20,000.

Many people who were early investors in the asset became instant millionaires, and this attracted even more new investors looking for a piece of the cake. But despite its image, the cryptocurrency industry is not all glitz, glam, and Lamborghinis. As much as huge profits can be made, huge losses also plague the industry. The high market volatility, theft, and scams that have come to define the industry, make it a living hell for several investors.

However, what the industry lacks in regulation and stability, it more than makes up for in profit margins. In 2017, Ethereum saw a 10,000% jump in price between January and December, while Bitcoin saw a price increase of 1,500% within the same period. Compared to the best performing traditional stock in that same year, which recorded a 142% increase, the gap in margins is wide.

Unfortunately, while the past performance of these cryptocurrencies is exciting, 2018 has been filled with negative events in the industry that have hindered its performance. From the hacks of notable exchanges like Coinrail and Bithumb to the SEC ICO investigation and rejection of a Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund by the Winklevoss brothers, it has been a sad year for cryptocurrencies. Several prominent executives including Jack Ma and George Soros have also gone on record to call Bitcoin a fraud and bubble. This has led many others to admonish the asset while simultaneously praising blockchain, the technology behind it.

In anticipation of a bubble burst in the industry, people are now looking for more stable ways to invest. One of the best available options is to invest in companies that use blockchain technology for reasonable applications. Amidst the frenzy, this guarantees long-term returns and some stability since the stock performance is driven by more than just speculation.

Not only can blockchain technology support the functions of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple, it has the potential to revolutionize marketplaces, and the way data is stored and transferred around the globe. Applied properly, and in innovative ways, blockchain may significantly change the future of money, finance and more. It may survive and thrive long after cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin cease to exist. Many different industries are looking into blockchain research and development in search of ways for better fraud prevention security, faster transmission confirmation, and potential cost savings.

According to a recent prediction, blockchain platforms will store 10% of global GDP within the next ten years. This is why it is critical to invest in the corporations with great use cases for it or large corporations that have partnered with blockchain platforms to offer one form of enterprise-facing technology or another. Identifying the companies with the most potential to generate revenue streams with the use of the technology will help investors minimize loss. Many companies employ this technology but based on application, performance, and partnerships, these are the top 5 blockchain stocks to watch:

1. NASDAQ

Nasdaq is one of the leading providers of securities trading, clearing, exchange technology, and listing services. With operations spanning across six continents and an impressive portfolio, the firm aids customers with the planning, execution, and improvement of their businesses. Using advanced financial technology solutions, Nasdaq provides these customers with the necessary insights, analytics and relevant metrics for them to successfully navigate global capital markets.

The New York-based firm currently acts as the powerhouse of over 70 marketplaces spanning across 50 countries and servicing more than 10,000 corporate clients. It also houses the world’s first electronic stock market which executes 10% of all global securities transactions. The Nasdaq platform currently lists over 3,600 companies with a combined market value of about $8.8 trillion.

Nasdaq operates at the intersection point between the finance and technology industries by helping investors with the navigation of the securities market. Known in every investment circle, Nasdaq has become an industry leader in the development of innovative securities methodologies. Apart from being the second largest stock exchange in the world, second only to the New York Stock Exchange, the firm has made waves recently for its use of blockchain technology.

NASDAQ BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS

Although the stock market and cryptocurrency market are similar in many ways, they are still far apart regarding regulations and volatility. This hasn’t stopped Nasdaq from exploring and incorporating the use of the technology in its basic applications and operations. The company was one of the first to adopt and implement blockchain technology and is currently on the forefront of blockchain’s transformative potential. With their customers in mind, Nasdaq is gradually transforming the global capital markets through significant acquisitions.

NASDAQ LINQ

In December 2015, the company announced that Chain.com, a blockchain firm and inaugural Nasdaq Linq client was able to use the Nasdaq Linq blockchain for the successful completion of a private securities transaction. The ledger also recorded the transaction accurately, marking the first blockchain application of its kind.

In the transaction, the issuer (Chain.com) was able to successfully document a record of ownership digitally on the Nasdaq Linq platform. This significantly reduced the time taken to carry out traditional clearing and settling, while eliminating the need for issuance of paper stock certificates. Apart from equity management, Nasdaq Linq provides issuers and investors the opportunity to complete and execute subscription documents online.

Chain.com is one of the most prominent providers of blockchain infrastructure and support to enterprises, especially financial institutions. The firm provides businesses with a platform for the secure issuance and management of digital assets using blockchain technology. They service customers in various markets, including banking, payments, telecommunications, capital markets, and energy markets.  Based in San Francisco, CA, Chains.com has received funding from top venture firms and investors like Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures, RRE Ventures, Visa, Citi, Nasdaq, Capital One, Fiserv and Orange.

According to former Nasdaq CEO, Bob Greifield, the company believes that the success of the transaction is a huge milestone in the advancement of the global financial sector and blockchain as a whole. He stated that this initial application of blockchain technology serves as the beginning of a process that could disrupt the core infrastructure of capital market systems. It could also proffer positive outcomes for outdated settlement and administrative functions.

Adam Ludwin, the CEO of Chain.com also expressed positive sentiments over the partnership with Nasdaq, stating that the transaction met all objectives seamlessly, drastically reducing manual ownership transfer time in the process. Blockchain technology can potentially expedite clearing and settlement from the current time standard of three days to as little as ten or fifteen minutes. This way, exposure to risk can be reduced by more than 99%, lowering systemic risks and capital costs in the process.

BLOCKCHAIN FOR MUTUAL FUNDS

Nasdaq has also made plans to roll out its blockchain-for-mutual-funds solution in Nordic countries. The solution is designed to ease the brokerage issues generally associated with mutual funds. Normally, these transactions are carried out through a third party brokerage or the fund company directly. When the transaction involves buying a foreign mutual fund, things become even more complicated for the investor. To ensure that the transaction is verified, there has to be communication between all parties involved and the presence of intermediaries complicates the process.

As a result of the old methods used to verify transactions and track fund ownership, the process is inefficient. There are often errors, especially due to the country-specific record requirements. This often causes involved parties to start over, leading to a waste of time and resources. However, with blockchain technology, Nasdaq is working to solve these issues by eliminating most third-party involvement.

Due to the distributed nature of a blockchain, depending on Nasdaq’s specifications, country-specific requirements may be overruled. Overall, the application of this ledger technology will result in a more efficient process for issuers and investors. The platform has already been deployed among the Swedish mutual fund families and will be deployed to all Nordic countries soon.

CITIGROUP PARTNERSHIP

In 2017, Nasdaq announced a collaboration with CitiGroup which involved integrating the latter firm’s business payment service with the Nasdaq blockchain platform. Citi’s bank transfer system handles transactions associated with commerce including payroll, dividend, and interest. The union of both platforms gave rise to the first enterprise blockchain transactions using the CitiConnect tool. On the joint platform, Nasdaq Linq automatically reconciles Citi payment transactions in real-time.

Nasdaq’s latest blockchain venture came in June 2018, when the firm announced the successful testing of its blockchain-based Proof-of-Concept (PoC) protocol. The Proof-of-Concept was created in a collaborative effort with ABN AMRO Clearing, Euroclear and EuroCCP. It will provide efficient round-the-clock securities collateral solutions for issues associated with making margin calls after trading hours are over. This will eliminate potential losses and make the process easier.

WHY SHOULD YOU INVEST IN NASDAQ?

Nasdaq’s adoption of blockchain technology holds promise for the future of finance. Each partnership brings a different and more creative approach to so many problems faced by stock exchanges and investors. Even if cryptocurrencies cease to exist one day, Nasdaq will probably still be around, transforming the investment landscape as it has done since 1971.

2. IBM

Despite the popularity of International Business Machines (IBM) and the long string of blockchain partnerships the firm has accumulated, it is still considered old tech in the world of investment. This misconception stems partly from the fact that in the last five years, the company has only posted one-quarter of revenue growth. In that same amount of time, IBM has lost 20% of its value even though tech shares have more than doubled in price generally.

Despite its poorly performing stock, IBM is an excellent investment in one significant aspect: blockchain technology. The tech giant has managed to establish dominance in the cryptocurrency industry through a series of bold moves, centered around enterprise payment solutions. At this rate, IBM stock could see a major change in coming years.

Just like traditional financial institutions, Wall Street has not shown much acceptance towards cryptocurrency. This is mostly due to the lack of regulation that protects investors’ funds. It is also due to the theft and general insecurity in the industry. As a result, to some extent, IBM’s blockchain developments have not been fully recognized. While the idea of immutable digital public ledgers looks good on paper, the reality poses several complications. It also brings change, which the financial industry may not be ready for.

IBM BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS

Since its decision to enter into the world of blockchain, IBM has made several significant partnerships that have sealed its place as a high roller in the industry. The firm’s foray into blockchain began with the development of a public cloud service known as IBM Blockchain which runs on the Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source platform created by the Linux Foundation.

IBM blockchain allows users to build their own blockchain networks for various applications in a safe and straightforward way. The firm’s partners have all brought their unique applications to its platform. Each one is a leading innovator with the aim of transforming the industry.

STELLAR LUMENS PARTNERSHIP

IBM announced its partnership with Stellar Lumens in October 2017. According to the announcement, the partnership is geared towards facilitating cross-border payments, especially in developing countries. At the time of the announcement, both partners along with KlickEx Group had tested the use of their technology in the South Pacific Region. Leveraging Stellar’s token, Lumens or XLM, which has a current market capitalization of over $3.6 billion, and KlickEx’s financial experience and prowess, IBM is making payments easier for South Pacific residents.

Stellar will act as the intermediary between participating banks by allowing them to convert their currency to Stellar Lumens before carrying out transactions. For example, a company in South Korea that wants to send money to another in Malaysia will convert South Korean Won to Lumens which will then be converted to Malaysian Ringgits in a few seconds, at a low cost.

The firm is currently working with twelve major banks in the region to process cross-border payments on its platform in real-time. This will make the process more efficient for all relevant stakeholders. Technically, IBM and Stellar Lumens are competitors in the blockchain space but have embraced an open-source approach which will benefit the industry in the long run.

VERDE BY VERIDIUM LABS

Veridium Labs has been a force for environmental change since it first emerged with a plan to reduce carbon footprint by making it easier to trade carbon credits. The company has already formed important partnerships with corporations like KPMG and Infinite Earth to see its mission through. However, one of its most recent partnerships is with IBM and was announced by the latter firm in May 2018.

To make the tracking and trade of carbon credits easier, Veridium Labs created its token called VERDE. Each token is embedded with a “carbon charge” which gives it an “Emissions Offset Capacity.” This functions as the digital form of a battery which carries a charge to power the token. When VERDE tokens are used in the process of conducting trades, they discharge parts of their carbon capacity. This mitigates the negative environmental impacts of products.

BATAVIA BY INTERNATIONAL BANK CONSORTIUM

IBM recently partnered with the International Bank Consortium, consisting of Bank of Montreal (BMO), CaixaBank, Erste Group, Commerzbank and UBS to create a blockchain-powered trade platform. The platform successfully concluded tests involving five live pilot transactions. Some of the transactions included textile trade between Austria and Spain as well as automobile trade between Germany and Spain.

The trade platform, known as Batavia, executes smart payments and closes trade agreements using blockchain ledger technology. The success of the pilot transactions show that the technology can potentially change commerce globally, making it a less expensive, more efficient process.

FOOD SAFETY ALLIANCE WITH WALMART & JD.COM

IBM also partnered with Walmart and  JD.com, a Chinese retailer, as well as Tsinghua University in Beijing to improve the food safety and tracking process in China. The partnership has given rise to the emergence of a Blockchain Food Safety Alliance for the food industry on a global scale. According to Walmart, blockchain can make the process of food tracking easier, while fixing the issues associated with the current supply chain in the process.

WHY INVEST IN IBM?

IBM is a staunch believer in the power of blockchain and is making significant investments to back up their belief. According to Marie Wieck, IBM general manager of blockchain initiatives, the adoption of blockchain by governments and businesses, may add an estimated $3.1 trillion of value to the global economy by 2030.

The firm has also expressed intentions to continuously pursue not just blockchain applications but those of Cloud and Artificial Intelligence technology as well. The drop in IBM stock has been attributed to the fact that many market players are focused on the long term. While this is not encouraging, there are many reasons to invest in IBM.

For now, the attention mostly focuses on the smaller blockchain startups that emerge regularly. Some of these companies provide sketchy whitepapers and promises of what they hope to achieve with their technology. On cue, investors troop in from all areas of the world to bet on such companies by participating in Initial Coin Offering (ICOs).

IBM however, is a better option than such companies because it offers the promise of long-term sustainability. If Bitcoin is indeed a bubble and the bubble bursts, most blockchain companies involving ICOs will take considerable hits and in some cases, cease to exist. On the other hand, a company with a solid tech background and years of experience like IBM will not take as much of a hit. If it does, it has a good chance of recovering. Apart from this, there are a few other reasons to add IBM stock to any investment portfolio:

  • IBM currently occupies the number one rank in blockchain according to a survey of 400 managers, executives and leading tech professionals, by Juniper Research, a digital commerce and financial technology research firm.
  • The firm was ranked first by 43% out of all the businesses either actively considering blockchain adoption or are in the process of deploying it in various forms. Microsoft was ranked second by 20%.
  • IBM is currently involved in heavy blockchain research and development initiatives, including its role in the development of Hyperledger Fabric. This technology will act as a launchpad and operation base for several business applications soon.
  • The firm has built an impressive list of Fortune-500 clients across various industries.
  • IBM beat Wall Street analysts’ earnings and revenue estimates for the fourth quarter of 2017. Operating earnings of at least $13.80 per share are expected from the company in 2018.
  • After a discouraging stagnation for 23 quarters, the company recorded a year-over-year revenue growth. New technologies showed a year-over-year growth rate of 11% and a quarterly growth rate of 17% for the quarter. This means that new technologies now constitute 46% of the company’s total sales. Cloud revenues also recorded a year-over-year growth rate of 24%, amounting to  $17billion in the last 12 months. These figures show that the company may finally be headed towards a positive growth trajectory.
  • The firm is constantly developing technologies that have excellent use cases and make adoption easier.

3. HITACHI

Being one of the biggest firms in Japan, it is not surprising that Hitachi has adopted blockchain technology. The multinational technology firm is known for its long string of enterprise solutions and its bullet trains. However, it has added blockchain to its diverse portfolio. The corporation is currently developing a financial solution that uses blockchain technology like smart contracts to make trading and payment processes more secure.

Hitachi’s foray into blockchain began in 2017 when the company became one of the founding members of Hyperledger. Its role in stabilizing Hyperledger operations, and creating the application development environment has contributed to the success of the hyperledger fabric which powers several blockchain applications including the IBM Blockchain.

HITACHI BLOCKCHAIN APPLICATIONS

Apart from its Hyperledger contributions, the company has made significant blockchain moves as far as innovation, and research and development are concerned. Currently, they are developing a solution to insure property and casualties. The solution uses blockchain technology to streamline communication in the event of an accident as well as purchase confirmations and verifications by making it easier to share information.

The company is also developing a trade solution which will manage most of the normal tasks in the trade flow. These tasks include contracts, clearing, and settlement. The platform synchronizes the status of contracts with the workflow and uses smart contracts to automate payment deposits and execution. This ensures that the tasks are performed more easily and efficiently.

Another project that the company is currently working on centers around payment traceability. Using this platform, users will be able to track the origin and destination of orders easily. It is specifically tailored to parts manufacturers and will solve a lot of supply chain problems. They aim to continue their committed research and development efforts to find and produce more use cases for blockchain technology.

WHY INVEST IN HITACHI?

Although the firm hasn’t been involved in blockchain development for as long as other companies like IBM, they’ve been actively working to close that gap. They have developed a 3-phase approach to blockchain applications as follows:

  • Development and standardization of the Blockchain: Hitachi has been working, through Hyperledger, to develop a global-standard blockchain functionality. The Hyperledger program is an international non-profit initiative for the standardization of blockchain technologies. It was established in the United States by the Linux Foundation and currently has almost 200 members in the form of various companies and organizations. The firm believes that the technology will have a high social impact and is dedicated to standardizing it, to maximize its benefits.
  • Research and development: The company is investing heavily in the research and development of more efficient functions for financial solutions. Their experience in creating such solutions is a solid foundation for the integration of blockchain technology. These functions also include security, a much-needed feature for any product within the industry. In light of recent hacks and thefts of cryptocurrency, Hitachi’s dedication to security is much needed. The company recently established the Financial Innovation Laboratory for FinTech R&D in Silicon Valley. The laboratory will serve as a base and accelerator for collaborative blockchain innovation with financial institutions.
  • Consideration of use cases for social infrastructure: Apart from financial services, Hitachi has been exploring service applications that center around other types of businesses. This way, the company hopes to leverage their expertise in a broader scope of domains and apply their use cases in a social domain. One way Hitachi is achieving this is by creating each of the blockchain prototypes discussed earlier, which use a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) testing protocol. This protocol connects different types of businesses with the use of a blockchain.

The problems that Hitachi is trying to solve, cut across almost every industry in a broader sense. The conglomerate also has more than a century of tech experience in its bag and investors can be assured that it will thrive in the long run.

4. DAIMLER AG

This German multinational automotive corporation has made a name for itself through ownership of shares in several prominent automotive companies including Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Fuso, Mercedes-AMG and Detroit Diesel amongst others. It is currently the thirteenth-largest car manufacturer in the world, selling a total of 3.3 million units in 2017 alone.

Despite its popularity for manufacturing cars, Daimler AG has also seen considerable success from Daimler Financial Services; it’s financial arm. The automotive giant is also known for its presence in the global tech industry and has made recent innovative moves within the space. One of the most recent projects the firm has embarked on involves the testing of Blockchain technology for financial purposes.

Daimler AG recently announced its partnership with Landesbank Baden-Württemberg (LBBW) to execute a financial transaction using Blockchain. Every step of the transaction including origination, allocation, distribution, and execution were facilitated by the technology. The purpose of the test was to find out more about the new technology for the purpose of creating more efficient business models.

According to the Daimler website, the company has set up a €100 million 1 year loan instrument known as a Schuldschein through Landesbank Baden-Württemberg with several major savings banks acting as lenders. Due to the success of the test, Daimler has stated intentions to integrate blockchain technology into the full spectrum of its business activities.

The product of the partnership between Daimler AG and Landesbank Baden-Württemberg, shows how various sectors interconnect where technology is concerned. The firm believes that this technology can disrupt the entire value chain including sales and marketing, customer relations, supplier management, financial services, and digital services.

WHY INVEST IN DAIMLER AG?

So far, the firm has been successful in the automotive industry. Its longevity and years of experience are a solid foundation for its adoption of Blockchain. Daimler has also been an active participant in the global technological innovation space, with an affinity for open source culture. The firm’s investors will get the chance to profit from a company that has already shown a significant history of past success and a willingness to innovate when necessary.

5. HIVE BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGIES

This is currently one of the top blockchain stocks. It is also the only corporation on this list that has direct cryptocurrency and blockchain roots. It was founded in 2017 through a partnership between Genesis Mining and Foire Group. HIVE Blockchain was created with the purpose of accelerating the development of the blockchain industry. It is currently the largest blockchain infrastructure company and covers mining operations for up to 8 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. Since its creation, the company has raised up to $115 million in funding.

Genesis Mining was founded by Marco Streng along with a team of early Bitcoin investors and is currently a global leader where mining is concerned. Mining involves a distributed network of computers that secure a Blockchain network by validating the transactions carried out on it.

So far, Genesis Mining has created several products and built their first large-scale Bitcoin mining farm in 2014. Two years later, the company established the largest Ethereum mining farm in the world. That same year, Genesis Mining launched the Logos Fund which caters to top-tier venture capitalists and has raised more than $100 million in assets to date. The company currently services more than 1 million customers and employs hundreds of staff globally.

HIVE Blockchain is working towards bridging the gap that currently exists between capital markets and Blockchain innovation. The company is achieving this through its multiple cryptocurrency mining farms. The farms, which have been placed at strategic locations, house equipment and miners who validate cryptocurrency transactions on various Blockchain networks, including Bitcoin.

They also recently announced plans to expand their mining operations and capabilities. To this effect, the company has secured an additional large-scale mining facility as well as $100 million in funding. HIVE Blockchain joined the Canadian TSX venture exchange in September 2017 and became the first publicly traded stock on a major stock exchange, which solely deals in cryptocurrency mining.

WHY INVEST IN HIVE BLOCKCHAIN?

Hive Blockchain leverages the experience of Genesis Mining Group to establish and maintain the infrastructure that users of Blockchain networks heavily benefit from. The company is currently at the forefront of global mining operations and plans to keep going. It’s plans for expansion, and it’s excellent use case are major reasons why this particular stock is one to watch.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Although the profits accrued from stock investment can be attractive, it is important to select stocks deliberately instead of rushing into it. Blockchain stocks are even tougher to predict because of the volatility of the industry and how quickly and drastically stocks can be affected by events.

However, when choosing a stock, long-term sustainability is an excellent place to start. Each of the stocks mentioned above have shown strong foundations in one sector or the other, coupled with experience and in some cases, competitive advantage. IBM has been around for a long time, just like Hitachi.

While the former has become a household name, it has seen revenue stagnation for the past few years. This means that apart from long-term sustainability, the potential to perform is something else to look out for. A good way to find out is by looking at the quality of the company’s newest products and how willing they are to innovate.

While ICOs seem like a quick way to get rich, some of them turn out to be scams. Investing in the stock of companies like Nasdaq may not bring overnight wealth, but the risk of loss is greatly minimized.

The Increasing Demand for Blockchain Bonds

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This Article is Originally Posted on CoinCentral.com and written by DELTON RHODES

World Bank Blockchain

In this article, we look at the World Bank blockchain initiative and the rising popularity of blockchain bonds. Even though this is a relatively new concept, banks and governments of all sizes are beginning to issue blockchain-based bonds and minibonds. Let’s examine these use cases and try to understand how these changes might impact the future of government fundraising.

Why Blockchain Bonds?

The first general government bonds were issued in the Netherlands in 1517. Since that time, this form of fundraising has played an integral role in public sector fundraising around the world. Traditional government bonds have served as a link between governments and citizens. Bonds of the past have usually been denominated in a given country’s own fiat currency. This, however, has already begun to change with the advent of blockchain bonds.

There are a number of reasons governments at all levels might want to use blockchain bonds over traditional bonds. For instance, utilizing blockchains can eliminate the need for third-party firms and financial institutions. In other words, blockchain technology has the potential to directly connect issuers (governments) and recipients (citizens). Now, let’s examine some relevant case studies.

World Bank Blockchain Bonds

In August 2018, The World Bank announced its plans to launch the world’s first blockchain bond. However, cryptocurrency will not be used as a form of payment. This is likely due to the fact that there isn’t a widely adopted, government-issued digital currency yet in existence.

Unfortunately, most of these options are regarded as Ponzi schemes. Therefore, fiat currency will be used. On August 10, 2018, the World Bank designated the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) as the sole arranger for a two-year bond. The organization aims to raise 50 million $AUD (the equivalent of $36 million).

Paul Snaith, manager of the World Bank’s Treasury Operations Capital Markets, has said that the institution is partnering with Microsoft in order to meet the technical demands necessary to create their software and platform. While World Bank blockchain bonds offer a promising step forward for investors, it’s important to note that anyone who purchases a bond will still follow the traditional path.

For instance, each individual purchaser still has to go through an official registration process. In addition, all cash will be transmitted separately from the blockchain through normal bond channels.

World Bank Group logo

World Bank Blockchain: The World Bank plans to become the first issuer of blockchain bonds.

BNP Paribas Minibonds

The World Bank blockchain effort to become the first global issuer of blockchain bonds is quite an accomplishment, but it isn’t the only large financial institution working on such an initiative. BNP Paribas, France’s largest bank and the 8th largest bank in the world, also has a similar program in the works. In 2016, this bank started building and testing a blockchain platform to allow private companies to issue minibonds.

BNP Paribas Securities Services, the bank’s custody arm, is actively developing a solution that can maintain records of all minibond issuances as well as ownership changes. The bank also partnered with three French companies to further its eventual goal of real-world implementation. These included two renewable energy companies as well as an investment platform called SmartAngels, which worked on creating the first pilot platform.

According to a February 2018 article, Johann Palychata, head of blockchain at BNP Paribas Securities Services’ digital transformation department, said that more improvements are needed to integrate blockchain with existing market practices and stakeholders. Palychata also cited the need for regulatory changes to make widespread adoption a reality.

There haven’t been many updates regarding the possibility of BNP Paribas’ real-world implementation of blockchain minibonds. Nonetheless, BNP Paribas is also bringing blockchain innovation to other areas of finance like asset management. In January 2018, BNP Paribas Asset Management announced that it had utilized BNP Paribas Securities Services’ blockchain technology to conduct the successful trial of blockchain-based fund distribution in Luxembourg.

BNP Paribas logo

BNP Paribas is testing a platform for blockchain minibonds.

Berkeley, California: First Blockchain Bond Municipality?

When it comes to bond issuance, most people likely first think of either international institutions like The World Bank or large banks like BNP Paribas. But local governments also have the authority and ability to issue bonds. Now, local and state governments across the globe are starting to implement a variety of blockchain solutions.

In May 2018, the city council of Berkeley, California voted to move forward on a project that would make it the first municipality to offer blockchain bonds. What makes this initiative interesting is the fact that it would lower the investment threshold for all investors. Typically, the minimum investment for municipal bonds is $5,000. In contrast, Berkeley’s program would allow people to buy bonds for much smaller amounts (i.e. $10 or $25) to support community projects.

This concept is similar to how cryptocurrency projects have reduced or even eliminated the minimum amount of funds required to participate in ICOs. Additionally, the city plans to issue the bonds in dollars. There is also the possibility that the city could create its own token, offering citizens two currency options.

Berkeley’s Vice Mayor Ben Bartlett told Bloomberg that circumventing Wall Street is one of the city’s motivating factors. If this initiative is successful, it could set a model where governments are no longer dependent on the services offered by traditional debt capital markets. For the city of Berkely, some possible initiatives include a muni-bond backed ICO for affordable housing. The city has already partnered up with a tech startup called Neighborly to make this vision a reality.

Photo of a building on the UC Berkeley campus

Located in the San Francisco Bay Area, Berkeley is a university town known for its technical innovation.

Trends and Takeaways

Blockchain bonds and minibonds can change the future of bond financing. Governments and banks haven’t been quick to utilize cryptocurrencies in bond issuance or payments, but this could be a possibility in the future.

It’s yet to be determined whether governments and financial institutions are firmly in the “blockchain but not bitcoin” camp. Regardless if fiat or crypto is used, blockchain bonds create another potential use case for decentralized technologies. Most importantly, they represent a big step forward for the adoption of blockchain technology.

Maerki Baumann, One of Two Swiss Banks Accepting Crypto

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This Article is Originally Posted on MintDice.com

For a long time, Switzerland has been a major banking center for individuals and organizations globally. The term “Swiss account” is common among banking and investment circles for good reason. In Switzerland, it is illegal for the banks to reveal the names of their account holders, according to the Banking Law of 1934.

This law protects client privacy the same way doctors protect patient data and lawyers protect client information. This feature makes the option of Swiss banking attractive to people who want full anonymity and privacy. Now, the country is gradually opening its protective doors to cryptocurrency holders.

The popularity of digital currencies has been gathering momentum among the general public, especially since the fourth quarter of 2017. Currently, the Ethereum Network alone records activity from over 1 million different wallet addresses. As more people adopt cryptocurrency, more businesses looking to take advantage of the growing user base, emerge within the field.

These businesses need a way to securely store the money (fiat and cryptocurrency) generated from these businesses. Unfortunately, banks have been skeptical and unwelcoming towards cryptocurrency so far. This skepticism is largely due to the rate of theft and cases of fraud within the industry. Banks also find it difficult to trace and verify the exact source of these funds and as a result, compliance with anti-money laundering regulations becomes more difficult.

In a world where the Swiss financial market has always been more tolerant than the banking systems in other countries, it is generally expected that Switzerland’s banks should be open to accepting cryptocurrency and the privacy it affords investors. Unfortunately, it’s not the case as these banks are just as hesitant to handle any cryptocurrency-related funds as other banks. However, some of Switzerland’s banks, like Maerki Baumann, are defying the status quo by opening their doors to crypto asset storage.

MAERKI BAUMANN

Zurich-based private bank, Maerki Baumann recently announced that it will offer its services to cryptocurrency and blockchain firms. According to the bank, due to their limited knowledge of cryptocurrency prices and volatility, they will only offer a limited number of services. The statement reads:

“Maerki Baumann closely monitors the development of these investment vehicles and the underlying regulation without our commitment to engage in this area. This concerns investments in cryptocurrencies as well as the technologies required to trade and store these instruments. We currently see cryptocurrencies as alternative investment vehicles, but we have limited experience and data (prices, volatility, trading volumes) available in our house, ”

For now, the bank will not provide cryptocurrency investment services but will act as custodian for funds generated from blockchain-related businesses. Maerki Baumann will also work to connect experts in the field with clients who are in need of their services.

Maerki Baumann is not the first Swiss bank to offer banking services to cryptocurrency startups and investors. According to Bloomberg, Falcon Private Bank, another Zurich-based bank, announced that it will accept cryptocurrency-generated funds from investors. The bank also stated its intentions to screen all potential clients to avoid money-laundering activities.

By opening its doors to cryptocurrency, Maerki Baumann is giving a chance to crypto-holding Swiss citizens who were forced to carry out their banking activities elsewhere. In the absence of a Swiss banking option, most of these investors have been safely storing their funds with other financial institutions like the Bank Frick Liechtenstein.

BANK FRICK LIECHTENSTEIN

The Bank Frick Liechtenstein currently accepts crypto-related funds and even offers investment support to clients. The Balzers-based bank was the first one in Liechtenstein to open its doors to digital currency. Originally a custodian bank for financial intermediaries, Bank Frick Liechtenstein began offering trading and secure offline storage for five leading cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash(BCH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP).

The bank carries out its secure trading once a day according to a fully regulated bank process framework with an offering aimed at its regular user-base, professional market participants and financial intermediaries. This allows them to easily invest in any of the five cryptocurrencies that the bank supports.

Trading can also be carried out with US dollar, euro, and franc deposits. The bank is a particularly attractive option for investors, not just because it was the first bank in Liechtenstein to accept cryptocurrency funds, but because it offers high-level protection against theft of crypto assets. To achieve this type of security, the bank holds all digital assets in cold wallets that have no contact with the internet.

Bank Frick also claims to subject all cryptocurrency investments to the same measures as its traditional banking activities. This means that crypto-holding clients have to pass through the same verification processes as traditional banking clients. The bank has found ways to tailor its new services to financial intermediaries who can, in turn, offer better crypto services to their customers and diversify their portfolios in the process.

Among its various services, Bank Frick also launched a basket tracker based on the top two major cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Since the launch, the bank has recorded value increases of up to 360%.

WHAT DOES CRYPTOCURRENCY ADOPTION FROM BOTH OF THESE BANKS MEAN FOR THE FUTURE?

The acceptance of cryptocurrency-related funds by Maerki Baumann is a huge step towards the evolution of the global banking system where Switzerland currently sits at the center of. This new development allows cryptocurrency investors access to top-tier banking services in a globally trusted system.

Bank Frick Liechtenstein is also creating a gateway for further acceptance of cryptocurrency within the CHF area. If clients feel protected by the banks’ policies, more customers will invest in digital assets because the security of their crypto fund is guaranteed. It may be instrumental in helping the industry achieve any of the following two things:

  • Encourage widespread global banking support for crypto-related funds: Banks exist to serve their customers and are always looking for new ways to do so. Despite the risks associated with the industry, the fact remains that there is a profitable market in cryptocurrency that the banks can find ways to benefit from. With Maerki Baumann leading the charge, banks may follow in their footsteps and work to mitigate the industrial risks.
  • As a result of a cause-effect relationship, provision of banking support as mentioned above will, in turn, encourage the emergence of more businesses. This will boost growth and increase the population of blockchain professionals who can work together to tackle the issues within the industry that hinder mainstream adoption.

In general, Switzerland is working on drafting regulations that are beneficial to both banks and investors. When these regulations are put in place, banks will be able to accept crypto accounts without the current skepticism and worry.

Due to the hesitance of Swiss banks to accept cryptocurrency, the country’s position on the ranking of ICO funds raised has dropped from second to sixth place. Currently, offshore financial centers like the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands occupy the leading positions.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While these banks are still widely unsupportive of cryptocurrency assets, the presence of proper regulations and pressure from customers who hold such assets may force a change of stance.

How Blockchain Will Combat Bias in News Reporting

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This Article is Originally Posted on CoinCentral.com written by 

Bias in News Reporting

We all know that news reporting is never truly objective. Political bias in news reporting is so well-known and entrenched that we even select our preferred news outlets based on our political views. Over recent years, it has also been increasingly evident that fake news is a problem.

However, there are far more insidious forces at work within the news media. These forces are not just at work online, and they affect even the most reputable outlets and publications. The advertising dollar funds most of the news media. Consequently, it has a scary level of influence over the news we see. Thankfully, blockchain solutions are emerging that will address this imbalance, by decentralizing the news itself.

The Problem – Advertising Pays for the Media

The Pew Research Centre reported in 2014 that advertising accounted for 58 percent of US printed news revenues. This figure does not reflect the increase in online media. The percentage of revenues generated from advertising dropped from 82 percent in 2005, when online news media was far less prevalent. Television advertising also created a significant proportion of revenues.

Advertising Times Square

Advertising is big business, and big money buys big influence

In the UK, the situation is no different. A study undertaken by Deloitte estimated that around half of UK newspaper revenues came from advertisers. Another report indicated that in Scandinavian countries, or Germany, where the state provided funding for public-service journalism, news outlets were less dependent on advertising and fared better in the age of online media. However, outlets in the UK and the US preferred not to move to a state-sponsored model. The reason? They were concerned about compromising editorial control over content.

Using that same logic, then, it stands to reason that in the US and the UK where advertisers fund the news, advertisers wield editorial control. This results in bias in news reporting which has had some startling effects over the years.

Examples of Media Bias in News Reporting

Tobacco advertising created a now-shocking bias in news reporting. Advertising of tobacco is now heavily regulated or banned in many countries because of the well-known risks that smoking causes to health.

During the 20th century, many news outlets were reluctant to publish the various studies and evidence to show that smoking causes fatal diseases. This reluctance was due to the advertising revenues they collected from the tobacco industry. Who knows how many fatal smoking-related disease cases could have been prevented if the media were truly objective?

Smoking

If the media had objectively reported the risks of smoking, would it even still be legal now?

The issue of climate change is also alleged to have been subject to bias in news reporting, in part to the significant advertising revenue generated by the automotive industry. When climate change has been reported, it has frequently not made calls for the level of substantial reforms in human behavior that are needed if we are ever to reverse climate change.

The move to a digital age has not resolved these issues. Although there is now a far more vast choice of news outlets and websites alongside digitized versions of more traditional print newspapers, most of the internet operates on ad-based publications. Using an ad-blocker makes the online experience more tolerable, but it does little to guarantee the quality of what we are reading.

The question is then, who can we trust? Advertising funds the news industry, so it’s an inevitable consequence that journalism will not remain entirely objective while publications are being supported by companies with corporate interests to protect. Decentralization creates democracy, so we turn to blockchain.

In Blockchain We Trust

Blockchain is already proving to help with the issue of fake news with the introduction of decentralized social networks. Now, blockchain is enabling decentralized, community-run media outlets that don’t rely on chasing advertising dollars to sustain themselves.

Two such projects are Civil, and DNN (Decentralized News Network) Media. Both are based on the Ethereum blockchain and have the goal of creating news outlets that are driven by journalistic integrity rather than revenues.

DNN Screenshot

With no central control over publication, members of the community manage promotion and censorship if something breaches guidelines. Network participants use their tokens to cast votes on content published on the networks. The news networks, therefore, self-govern in a similar way to Steemit.

Civil has allocated more than a million dollars in grants for on-boarding an initial group of full-time journalists. This ensures the publication of news content from day one of the platform launch.

Unlike centralized, ad-funded news, decentralized news outlets are not subject to advertiser bias. By handing control of news promotion and censorship to a decentralized blockchain community, Civil and DNN secure the news itself. In much the same way that Bitcoin and other blockchains are vulnerable to a potential 51% attack, the decentralized news would need 51% of its network to agree to promote “bad” news.

Civil and DNN are not the only players in the blockchain media space. However, they are the two that have taken the major step of allowing the submission and promotion of literally any news article to their platforms.

Other news platforms take a different approach of using blockchain for verifying content published by mass media. A decentralized network of checkers either confirm or deny news posted on the platform. Two such examples are Trive and MediaSifter. While these kinds of networks have value in calling out fake news, they don’t cover any gaps left by mainstream media.

The Value of Decentralized News Publications

Reporting what the mass media will not is why decentralization of the news publication process itself is so critical. Blockchain news publication platforms could prove essential for the removal of advertising-driven bias in news reporting. With a bias-free media, it’s possible that we may access news stories that damage corporate interests. But the job of the news should be to equip readers with facts and knowledge. Particularly when not doing so may cause more harm than good.

Thousands of Crypto Coins Dead: These are Top 5

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This article is Originally Posted on MintDice.com

 

Although digital currencies have shown a substantial amount of progress over the past few years, recent volatility in the crypto world is giving skeptics more reason to stay doubtful.

While we have seen a consistent stream of innovation with new currencies, particularly in the past 18 months, there are now more than 800 of them that have been pronounced dead. This means that the coins have no value, trading at less than 1 cent. Most commonly the failure of these coins is due to their lack of integrity — being a scam or a joke — or because the product did not materialize. Many of the obsolete cryptocurrencies are listed on the website Dead Coins, which describes itself as a “strategic partnership to clean up crypto.” Coinopsy is another site that has reported dead coins. When considering reports from both sources, the number of dead projects accumulates into the thousands, with reasons ranging from true abandonment to outright scams.

CREATING NEW TOKENS: RISKY BY NATURE

A process called an initial coin offering (ICO) can create new digital tokens. In this process, a start-up can issue a new currency that is available for purchase by investors. While the investor does not obtain an equity stake in the company, the purchased cryptocurrency can be used on the product of the company. Since the coins are cheap while holding potential for substantial returns down the line, people often buy into an ICO.

By their very nature, ICOs are highly risky. Moreover, these kinds of investments have been riddled with fraud. Just in 2018, a scam ICO called Giza was reported by CNBC. It was a fake startup that ran off with $2 million in investor money, giving plenty of fuel to skeptics to continue to doubt the legitimacy of this industry.

It is important to keep in mind that everyone expects the startups to fail. The problem is the massive amount of cash that floods into these projects before they are ready — this is the primary cause for concern. When startups receive more fuel than they can keep up with, the resulting conflagration ultimately consumes both the company and the founders, which is not helpful to the investors in return.

The conflagrations are, unfortunately, a global phenomenon. In 2017 alone, dead ICOs and scams raised $1 billion, and nearly 300 startups had been marked as questionable. The lock-ups and pricing scams within the ICO market are using greed rather than rational thinking, and are hurting the industry more than helping it. In the end, it is crucial to invest only what you can afford to lose and expect any token that you invest in to fail. Then if it succeeds, you will be pleasantly surprised, and if it fails, you will avoid devastation.

Even Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization or value, has had a tough year.

Although it hit a record high of nearly $20,000 last year, it has since decreased by nearly 70%, according to data from CoinDesk. While Bitcoin is still among the stronger of coins, many others have not been as fortunate. To note are five of the greatest failures in cryptocurrency history thus far.

THE BIGGEST CRYPTO TOKEN FAILURES

SPACEBIT

SpaceBit has long held the status of one of the most ambitious cryptocurrency projects thus far. And perhaps rightly so, as this is the company that wanted to launch several “nano-satellites” into orbit to provide a globally-accessible blockchain, which would be used for the storage of Bitcoin as well as helping unbanked regions access financial services. This announcement attracted much attention and enthusiasm from the public, gaining massive support behind them. However, the project ultimately disappeared. There was never any prototype or proof-of-concept, and eventually, all talk about SpaceBIT faded out completely. Supposedly the team behind SpaceBIT is now completely focused on a new project called BlockVerify, so SpaceBIT has been put on the shelf for good.

GEMS

Originally branded as “Gems” but now named “GetGems,” this was a social networking platform that uses cryptocurrency to pay members that view advertisements within the app. Having made grand claims in 2014 about disrupting social media, the result was somewhat disappointing with an underwhelmingly low crowdsale that year. Since then, GetGems has been overtaken by competitors, but they are still running; they have seen the most success in the country of Uzbekistan, ranking in 63rd place among apps.

DOGECOIN

Although this cryptocurrency began as a joke, it quickly evolved into a success with a passionate community behind it that became known for donating to charity with DOGE. After a successful streak, the Dogecoin collapsed. To make matters worse, founder Alex Green had disappeared with everyone’s money, shutting down the exchange. This led to the crashing of DOGE and disbandment of its community.

PAYCOIN

Launched in 2014, PayCoin grew to be one of the largest cryptocurrencies worldwide by market capitalization. The coin’s white paper presented a vision for new variations of blockchain technology that would produce a new breed of cryptocurrency. However, it quickly became evident that the coin would not live up to this vision when its founder converted PayCoin into a generic altcoin clone, which made it easier to push onto the market faster. As it lacked follow-through, people ultimately lost faith in the coin. By 2015, GAW shut down entirely and faced a federal investigation, with its founder fleeing the United States.

DAO

Taking first place in cryptocurrency failure is the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), an Ethereum-based coin. While its beginnings were met with great enthusiasm, including large purchases of the token, one incident had changed the entire course of this currency transactions. When an attacker exploited a vulnerability in the DAO smart contract, this led to a loss of more than $50 million. After information about the attack became well known, the token became abandoned by traders, throwing it into a downward spiral.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There has been intense pressure and skepticism placed on the crypto world, perpetuated by consistent news of novel scams or unsuccessful coins. However, optimism for the industry remains strong. Proponents of crypto expect regulators to learn to be more favorable towards the field, which could boost participation in the market. Similarly, there is a lot of optimism for the future of ICOs as an alternative to initial public offerings and venture capital funding. It is true that many coins have not survived, but there are also many coins that have. Every impactful innovation has its trials and tribulations, but that does not mean that it cannot evolve into a success that improves the way we live our lives.

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