Blockchains and Banks

More banks and major financial institutions are investing in blockchains.  There is potential for great progress in the industry with this type of backing.  However, with great confidence from most bank executives, there are also some that want to proceed with caution.  There are arguments that blockchain transactions are safe and effective for certain kinds of digital monetary exchanges but not for others.  Read more about this in the article below.

 

Bank Execs Want An ‘Even Playing Field’ For Industry Blockchains

(@mpmcsweeney) | Published on October 23, 2016 at 08:01 GMT
matthew-roszak-bank-blog

Ninety percent of banking executives surveyed earlier this year by professional services firm Accenture said that their institutions are investing time and money in blockchain projects.

Just 3% said that they weren’t doing so, with the last 7% telling Accenture that they were “uncertain” about their work with the tech, according to a report published today. The firm surveyed 32 bank executives in August and September.

Yet despite the high degree of interest, the survey also casts a portrait of a banking sector that is largely in a cautious test-and-see phase. Respondents expressed concern about regulation and the need for standards to help build a network effect, while also highlighting compliance and security concerns as factors holding any significant degree of investment or product development.

At the same time, respondents expressed support for shared approaches between banks in order to create what one survey-taker called “a level playing field”.

Another bank executive told Accenture in an interview:

“The lack of a universal standard could prove deleterious. There could end up being bilateral agreements and altered processes between banks, which would severely diminish any network effect.”

Respondents indicated that that applications focused on intrabank settlements and cross-borderpayments were the most attractive, with 44% of survey-takers highlighting the former as the most appealing use case.

Still, the report suggests that some banks are still figuring things out.

Accenture quoted one US bank executive who said his institution remains “bewildered” amidst its own internal investigation.

“We don’t even have enough information to have an opinion,” said another executive from Canada.

 

Image via Shutterstock

 

Article sourced from: http://www.coindesk.com/bank-execs-want-even-playing-field-industry-blockchains/

The Future of Blockchain

The next five years of blockchain developments and use could be extremely progressive and forward-moving.  Predictions have been made in a study called the Wealth ad Asset Management 2021: Preparing for Transformative Change.  Part of the growth predicted would be due to technology advances and also to likely overall growth of the industry in general.  Read more about this report in the article below.

Wealth and Asset Management Report Predicts Blockchain Use by 2021

matthew-roszak-future-blog
A new report from Roubini ThoughtLab has found that over the next five years blockchain use is set to grow by 43 percent.

Teaming up with a coalition of leading organizations from the wealth industry, Roubini ThoughtLab conducted a study, titled Wealth and Asset Management 2021: Preparing for Transformative Change.

The research looked at extensive quantitative analysis from 2,000 investors and 500 wealth firms across 10 world markets. It also looked at economic modeling and forecasting across 25 countries and expert opinions from over 40 market leaders, economists, technologists and investment specialists.

According to the report, broad based changes in the finance industry are upon us. This can be witnessed in the rise of women investors in North America and the growth of the middle class in emerging markets. At the same time, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, and real-time analytics are a few of the smart technologies that investment providers are embracing.

As a result, it is predicted that by 2021, the convergence of these smart technologies will produce a huge impact on the wealth profession, unlocking the doors of global wealth across a diverse universe of investors. However, with a fast-paced marketplace, it is important for investors to understand their customers’ needs and behaviors, and make the necessary technology changes to meet their requirements.

Bob Reynolds, President and CEO of Putnam Investments, commented in the report that ‘the business moves in cycles, and some are severe.”

Even for experienced professionals the market can be a particularly difficult place. Consider the Great Recession of 2008, which saw industry leaders having to navigate their companies through a debt crisis, a market slowdown, and a drop in oil prices.

As a consequence, economist Dr. Nouriel Roubini said in the report that “mediocre growth and low interest rates have become the new normal.”

However, while Roubini believes that a storm is looming, there are others who think that the biggest market upheaval will originate from within the industry.

“The wealth sector is going through a tremendous, fast shift,” said Dirk Klee, Chief Operating Officer of UBS. “Not because of regulation or low interest rates, but from customers and their desire for a digitally enabled experience.”

The report found that wealth service providers and investors agree that technology is revolutionizing the industry. From those surveyed 46 percent of service providers and 52 percent of investors believe that heightened competition and the growth of fintech companies are the main drivers of change over the next five years.

Watching Emerging Markets

The report found that only 11 percent of firms and 31 percent of digital leaders have systems in place for monitoring next-generation technologies. In a bid to meet customers’ needs, it’s important to stay ahead of the game by catching new trends early.

The most influential technologies to watch are the fast-growing, smart technologies that can enhance a customer’s experience and put one firm ahead of another. Technologies targeted for growth by 2021 include artificial intelligence at 128 percent, telematics at 72 percent, blockchain technology at 43 percent, and geospatial/location-based technology at 26 percent.

Alex Tapscott, Founder and CEO of Northwest Passage Ventures, states in the report that blockchain is a game changer for the wealth profession. However, speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Spiros Margaris, venture capitalist and founder of Margaris Advisory, said that he believes blockchain technology will eventually be a game changer for some industries and could be a very attractive technology for the wealth management industry by cutting out the middleman and providing faster settlements at lower costs.

“However, in my opinion, it’s over-hyped in its role as the magic bullet that will bring huge benefits and savings wherever it is applied,” he added.

Instead of blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are predicted to be more transformative for fintech by 2021. According to a Forrester Research report released earlier this month, it is these two technologies that will provide fintech companies with a bigger opportunity to grow, helping to expand customer engagement levels over the next five years.

Margaris agrees, stating that companies seeking opportunities to grow and expand will see faster results by investing in AI and IoT compared to blockchain.

“We are at the early stage where the blockchain industry is still searching to find the best use cases for a mainstream adoption,” he said.

 A Relatively New Market

Blockchain was first outlined in 2008, but as a relatively new technology it has garnered plenty of interest, particularly among financial services companies. According to the report, 45 percent of providers say that they are now exploring blockchain, while 64 percent expect to expand their use in five years.

Of course, while there is a lot of interest in blockchain, the broader picture demonstrates that experimentation characterizes most of its current use, such as happens in technology accelerators, and that more needs to be done to increase its adoption.

“The more companies, from incumbents to fintech startups, experiment with proof of concepts for blockchain implementations, however crazy or useless they might seem at first glance, the faster we will see real advances and benefits happening,” Margaris said.

While blockchain use-case breakthroughs might not happen in the next five years, Margaris is of the opinion that the likelihood of this happening will increase due to investments made in the sector and the many participants who want to benefit from a possible breakthrough.

Bitcoin Goes to Space!

One small step for Bitcoin, and one giant leap for digital currency.  Genesis Mining successfully sent a bitcoin into space!  This fun news is the first “peer-to-peer financial transaction in space”.  This means Bitcoin and Bitcoin wallet have huge potential for transactions spanning large distances and use by NASA and other space researchers.  Read about this exciting launch and watch the video on YouTube below.

Toward the Moon: Genesis Mining Sends the First Bitcoin Into Space

matthew-roszak-space-blog

Bitcoin has come a long way since it was first introduced to the cyberpunk world by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, and now for the first time, space travel history has been made with the digital currency.

Genesis Mining, a major bitcoin cloud mining company, recently conducted the first peer-to-peer financial transaction in space.

Searching for a way to increase awareness of Bitcoin, while educating people about its benefits as the standard bearer for digital currencies, Genesis Mining decided that sending bitcoin into space was the perfect way to achieve this goal.

Speaking to Bitcoin Magazine, Marco Streng, CEO and cofounder of Genesis Mining, said that the Bitcoin community started using the catchphrase “to the moon” when the growth of the digital currency was rapidly escalating. For the company, this was their way of saying that they think this ambition is still possible.

“We hope its value and the value it returns to the world will continue to grow and we believe firmly that there are no limits to its success,” Streng said.

With growing interest in private space programs and the increased possibility of space tourism, Genesis Mining decided to demonstrate how easy bitcoin is to use by sending it into space. Streng adds, however, that sending it to the moon itself is still out of reach for them for the time being.

“While we knew that sending it to the moon may prove difficult in the short term, near space was a pretty great achievement for cryptocurrency so we decided to pursue the project,” he said.

Surrounded by the lush greenery of the rolling hills and blue skies of Sheffield, England, the team released their weather balloon carrying a 3D printed bitcoin and a Bitcoin wallet. Initially, the goal was to clear 20 km, which is above the Armstrong Limit (the altitude beyond which humans cannot survive without a pressure suit), and send a bitcoin to the wallet.

In space, there are many layers. What is known as “near space” is the region of Earth’s atmosphere that is between 20 and 100 km (65,000 and 328,000 feet) above sea level. The Armstrong Limit is roughly at 20 km, but it extends up to the Kármán Line, where outer space begins and astrodynamics take over from aerodynamics for flight to be achieved.

Once the weather balloon had reached 20 km, the team at Genesis Mining sent one bitcoin to the wallet to make it official, but they wanted to see if they could reach a higher limit.

“We hoped to get over 30 km, which we did,” said Streng. “Our partners let us know that 34 km was going to be the optimal height and that is when we sent the second coin.”

For the team, sending bitcoin into space helps to increase awareness about  the digital currency and demonstrate its ease of  use.

“We believe firmly in technology being a vehicle to make our lives better. Showing that Bitcoin can be a part of the growing private space enterprise is another step in that direction,” Streng said.

Watch the video of the bitcoin launch into near space here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnSYVo_5dXM

Blockchain and Health Care

The health care industry is in huge transition right now due to the immense amounts of technology that are infiltrating this field. Blockchain is one of the largest new innovations that could revolutionize the industry. Just out this piece on just how the government plans to take advantage of this wonderful idea.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is soliciting
research papers related to blockchain applications in healthcare and
health research.

According to a notice
published in the Federal Register, HHS is seeking white papers that
explore how the technology can be leveraged for healthcare purposes. The
submission date is 29th July, with the winners set to be announced late
next month.

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The
only stipulations, the notice states, is that papers shouldn’t be
longer than 10 pages and that no more than three papers should be
submitted by any one researcher or group.

Further, the department asks that any submission “educate its audience on the technology”, explaining:

“The paper should discuss the cryptography and underlying
fundamentals of blockchain technology, examine how the use of
blockchain can advance industry interoperability needs expressed in the
Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, patient centered outcomes research
(PCOR), precision medicine, and other health care delivery needs, as
well as provide recommendations for blockchain’s implementation.”

The Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap was published last fall as part of a bid to support greater interoperability between healthcare data networks in the US.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/29om6Z8

Blockchain goes to Wall Street

Wall Street, where so much of our economy and trade is determined, has embraced more elements of Blockchain technology and Bitcoin at a recent convention in New York City. Nasdaq recently heard a speech from influential members of the Bitcoin community. Here’s what happened.

The father and son authors of the new book “Blockchain Revolution”
took to the stage this morning where Nasdaq opens and closes its market
to discuss their latest work.

Kicking off a panel discussion with several industry leaders, Don
Tapscott and Alex Tapscott took turns discussing how the management
structure of some of those very same companies could be disrupted by
distributed ledger technologies like blockchain.

The elder Tapscott set the stage for the conversation with a
point-by-point explanation of why he believes blockchains can do
to the management structure of companies what bitcoin and other
applications are doing to value exchange.

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Don Tapscott described the bigger-picture impact:

“This surely will have an impact on the firm.”

Coincidental timing

On the same day “Blockchain Revolution” hit stores, a distributed autonomous organization called TheDAO would also launch its crowdfunding campaign.
Given the leaderless, autonomous nature of the project and the
impressive capital it has raised, it was a topic of conversation at the
day’s event.

According to Tapscott, the reason The DAO was created is because its
structure provides the most efficient way for its creators to minimize
transaction cost.

Citing Nobel prize-winning economist Ronald Coase, Tapscott argued
that until now the structure that best facilitated that process was
vertically integrated, which generally speaking means a leader
overseeing other leaders who oversee entry-level employees.

But with smart-contract enabled management infrastructures,
supporters of “The DAO” argue this structure can be flipped on its axis
and managed horizontally.

As an example of the types of services that may one day be delivered
under this management structure, Tapscott invoked the business models of
some of today’s leading Silicon Valley startups.

Tapscott mentioned that blockchains could enable the creation of what he called a “super Uber” or “bAirbnb” (blockchain Airbnb).

He suggested the technology that powers The DAO could also reshape
the music industry to the point where musicians “could they be fed
first, and enable the labels to work on there behalf”.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1TjVdCD

By 2020, currency will look very different

Although Bitcoin is thought by many to be on the fringes of society and global economy, a recent study has shown that by the year 2020, one out of five businesses in the United Kingdom will be using some form of digital currency in order to complete trades. The study only covered the United Kingdom but we can assume that the global economy will reflect similar results. It’s a smart idea to get in now.

Since its introduction in 2009, Bitcoin has grown exponentially. Now,
however, it seems as though its rise in popularity is due to continue
in the the United Kingdom after a new report found that a fifth of U.K.
employees believe that their organizations will be accepting Bitcoin and
similar digital currencies as payment by 2020.

The study, Beyond Digital,
by Infomentum looked at the feedback from 1,000 office workers
examining how they believe office technology is set to evolve over the
next few years. According to the report, during the past five years
digital transformation and technological change have seen companies
rethink the way they do business, whether on or offline.

In 2014, Infomentum produced a report titled Generating Success with Generation C,
enabling businesses to understand the expectations of the connected
customer and how those expectations were making their way into the
workplace. In 2015, a report called Talking Transformation was released, looking at how CEOs could restructure their organizations before the market disrupted them.

This
latest report is aimed at helping businesses look beyond digital
transformation as it focuses on what else Generation C ? made up of
young, tech savvy consumers ? wants over the next few years, enabling
businesses to prepare their organizations for 2020 based on the analysis
and views from leading experts.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1S3jCxW

Taking the internet to the next level

IBM, one of the largest technology companies in the world, is taking a closer look at Blockchain technology and naming it the revolution that it truly is. IBM is looking for new ways to incorporate blockchain into their methods and how to help this technology move along on a more widespread kind of scale. Check this out.

The Aite Group projects the blockchain market could be valued at
$400 million by 2019. For that reason, some of the biggest names in
banking, industry and technology have entered into the space to evaluate
how this technology could change the financial world. 

IBM and
Linux, for instance, have brought together some of the brightest minds
in the industry and technology to work on blockchain technology through
the Hyperledger Project. 

The Hyperledger Project is under the
umbrella of the Linux Foundation, and seeks to incorporate findings by
blockchain projects such as Blockstream, Ripple, Digital Asset Holdings
and others in order to make blockchain technology useful for the world’s
biggest corporations. IBM has also contributed its own code to the
project. 

According to John Wolpert, IBM’s Global Blockchain
Offering Director, when IBM and Linux began working together on the
blockchain project, Linux made clear it wanted to “disrupt the
disruption,” in part with their findings, as well as the data gathered
by projects such as Ripple, Ethereum and others exploring the
blockchain.  

The Linux foundation announced its Hyperledger
project on December 17, 2015. Just one day later, 2,300 companies had
requested to join. The second-largest open source foundation in the
history of open source had only 450 inquiries.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1RLcPvL

Bitstamp could be taking off very soon

Bitstamp, a very prominent Bitcoin startup is very close to receiving its official license for European exchange. This is exciting news, as it is another step closer to legitimizing and establishing Bitcoin as the global exchange that it is designed to be. Here’s what that could mean for the Bitcoin world.

One of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges is reportedly close to
announcing a new deal with the Luxembourg government that would enable
it to launch regulated and licensed services across Europe.

According to sources, Bitstamp may have secured a payment institution (PI) or electronic money institution (EMI) license from Luxembourg regulators,
a move that the company has reportedly said would allow it to become
“the first regulated and licensed bitcoin exchange for all 28 countries
in the EU”.

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Founded
in 2013 and originally based in Slovenia, Bitstamp has long been one of
Europe’s largest bitcoin startups, offering bitcoin trading and gold
buying services to investors. The company is registered in the UK, the
US and Luxembourg, where its Bitstamp Europe SA entity is based.

Such a move would come nearly two years after Luxembourg first opened dialogue with the industry, and weeks after blockchain-based payment app provider Circle received an e-money license in the UK.

Bitstamp is currently the fourth largest exchange by total US dollar trading volume, according to data from Bitcoin Charts,
behind Bitfinex, BTC-e and Coinbase. The exchange saw just shy of 4,000
BTC traded in the last 24 hours, representing $1.6m in trades. Notably,
it does not yet offer EUR trading.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1SudBdS

New practical Blockchain resesarch

Blockchain technology, although practically available in many different
platforms currently, necessitates further research for it to fulfill its
whole potential and this is finally occurring. Pairing up with a new
prestigious Bitcoin start up, MIT has begun practical research projects
designed to help propel Blockchain technology into the present.

MIT has moved its blockchain research from the blackboard to the real
world through a partnership with distributed ledger tech startup
Ripple.

While MIT
has long been involved in supporting the bitcoin and blockchain
industries through research, the aim of this project is to develop
blockchain, financial services and other enterprise data projects, the
university said.

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Project
director David Shrier, of MIT Connection Science, said he expects this
most recent step to attract a wide range of researchers, more than
doubling in size its first six months of operation.

Shrier told CoinDesk:

“It’s one thing to develop a four node test blockchain.
It’s quite another thing to hook up to a large scale global network of
nodes.”

As part of the research, which is currently being conducted by seven
students and professors, MIT is running a validator for the Ripple
Consensus Ledger, its permissioned distributed ledger system. The
validator is a server that confirms transactions on the network on which
the XRP digital asset sits.

Going back to early 2015, MIT has been involved in blockchain tech
most directly through support of bitcoin development through its Digital
Currency Initiative (DCI). Last month, the MIT DCI helped raise $900,000
to support bitcoin developers, with donors to the fund including
venture capitalist Fred Wilson and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman

MIT’s decision to use Ripple over alternatives was in part due to
what Shrier called the startup being “very well positioned” in
finance. He added that the university is also interested in exploring
“other different flavors” of blockchain.

Laying the foundation

However, MIT’s embrace of blockchain has roots in its longstanding support of open-source projects in general.

Since 2007, MIT’s Internet Trust Consortium, which includes UBS and
NTT Japan, has been developing open-source projects dedicated to helping
people more efficiently manage their data. Last year, the consortium
was moved under Shrier’s MIT Connection Science and began publishing
blockchain-specific research.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/1MIVeTe

Why we need more than a few investors

The reason that Bitcoin has had some growing pains is because most people fear change even though they may end up liking the result of the new technology or object much more than how life was before the invention. It is in human nature to resist the unknown out of self preservation and survival instincts but it is also very primitive to do so. With Bitcoin however, some risks need to be taken as this sis one of those ideas that will transform our economy for the better. 

John Biggs is CEO of stealth bitcoin startup Freemit and a former editor at TechCrunch. His work has appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Gizmodo and Men’s Health.

In this opinion piece, Biggs argues that the bitcoin community has become complacent in its quest for financial change, standing by as institutions seek to stamp out its revolutionary impulses.

revolution

You say you want a revolution. Fine. But act like it’s coming, not like petulant nerds intent on destroying a burgeoning industry from the inside.

At this point in the bitcoin lifecycle, the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) and naysaying we’ve been hearing is mostly true. The network is abysmally slow. The use cases are half-baked and consumers will receive no implicit benefit from bitcoin over, say, swiping their Visa card.

The bitcoin 1.0 experiment is, in short, over.

But, I would argue – and you will probably agree – that bitcoin and related technologies aren’t an experiment any more than TCP/IP was an experiment or HTML was a shot in the dark. Just as the first web pages looked ugly as sin, the current state of bitcoin is in the same position.

These technologies point the way to the future, but we’re letting that future be controlled by those who will be quickest to destroy it.

Death by distraction

Transferwise, Revolut and the banks with their “blockchain-like contracts” are sucking up the oxygen necessary to go forward with a true Internet of Value.

While we dick around over block size and who is angry at whom, the powers that be are quickly and mercilessly tearing into everything that we have worked hard to build.

I have watched this industry move from “To the moon!” optimism to a world in which big banks pay lip service to [bitcoin creator] Satoshi Nakamoto even as they strip out the best parts of his work for themselves and leave the “uncertainty” to the idiots who still believe bitcoin is a currency.

At the same time, incumbent FinTech plays have gotten into bed with banks and are attempting to replicate bitcoin’s benefits through financial trickery and loss-leader tactics.

False hopes

Then, there are the bitcoin 1.0 companies, the dozens of startups that are nothing more than another crypto wallet.

They’re basically software layers that allow these companies to route around regulation by claiming to be software solutions.

Bullshit. These companies need to put up or shut up.

In short, there are banks who are working hard to steal our ideas and nervous CEOs who refuse to release real products humans can use. Old-timey bitcoin companies are clamoring for the world’s focus even as they fumble the ball when it comes to general bitcoin adoption.

Why are we letting them?

I’m all for happy cooperation between existing financial institutions and bitcoin. This is imperative to move forward.

If big banks want to hire blockchain consultants who will work on routing around the potential damage bitcoin can cause to their fee structure until enough of the old guard retire and enough intelligent blockchain users replace them, then that is just fine. The Internet of Value will be waiting for them.

But the longer they wait the longer they will spend money on Quixotic tools because they are afraid.

Old lessons

I’m reminded again and again of a story my friend Roy told me about his experience with the early web. In about 1999, he was tasked with maintaining Web filters for a South Korean company.

The filters cut out everything, from external email to porn. But they kept failing. He would come in every week and find that the filters were literally burning up – all of the porn was burning the filters. He’d order a new server, install it and a week later get another call.

After a few servers burnt out, he’d get a call every few days. Then once a day.

Seoul at that time was far ahead of the US in terms of web access, and users were watching TV, downloading data and communicating in ways that we hadn’t yet dreamed of online. And filters were needed, obviously, to keep workers from connecting with the outside world.

The filter was designed to keep the users from cyberloafing. But the filters actually just caused more downtime, frustrated more connectivity and prevented people from doing real work.

A company that filtered the Internet in 1999 was considered cautious. A company that filters the Internet today is considered dumb.

Read more at: http://www.coindesk.com/land-1000-bitcoin-wallets/