Who will win the Smart Contracts race?

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Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum is widely known as the ‘go to’ blockchain technology for smart contracts. But, this week, Ripple’s former CTO Stefan Thomas has thrown down the gauntlet to challenge the leader with a new smart contracts platform.

Thomas left Ripple in May and now he is launching Codius, an open- source project designed by Ripple and released in a beta version back in 2014. So, it isn’t exactly new, but Thomas is positioning it as the core product of his new company Coil.

Coil’s ambition is to change the way websites monetise their content.

Monetising web content is clumsy

According to Thomas, the current way in which web content is monetised is a clumsy workaround that uses adverts, paywalls and data harvesting. His concept uses an interledger. This is an open-source protocol that allows payments to be sent across different ledgers. Basically, it allows users’ browsers to make micropayments to the websites they visit.

How Codius works

How will that work, and how will it affect consumers? Codius allows the use of a “revenue disbursement contract” that will collect revenues when consumers watch a movie, for example. The collected revenue will be paid to all the parties involved in putting that movie online, but it won’t be made in “batch payments’, it will be paid out in a stream of smaller amounts. And, those people who read newspapers with a paywall will make payments via a smart contract that manages payment authorisations and the subscriptions.

Codius has already released an instruction manual for uploading Codius in an effort to get developers to start using the platform immediately, and it seems that the call has been heard.

Who is using Codius?

Telindus, the IT solutions subsidiary of the Belgian telecoms group Proximus has said it will be using Codius to “push forward novel direct e-commerce models.”

Game platforms, Unity, Zynga and Kabam also plan to use it for new gaming platforms. Josh Williams, who invested in Unity et al, and is now creating his own gaming platforms said: “Teams in games and elsewhere are building on Ethereum and running into the cost and scalability issues we’re all familiar with. Codius has great potential in addressing these concerns, and we are eager to work with it.”

Codius offers better scalability

And there is the dreaded word that Ethereum’s team will fear most: scalability. We all know that Ethereum is still working on resolving its scaling issues. It looks like Codius is offering a solution that neatly bypasses that problem. Thomas said: “The people that are reaching out to us are saying, ‘Hey, we’re experimenting on Ethereum. We’re running into scalability issues. It’s too expensive, too slow. It’s not flexible enough. We don’t like writing in this awkward language.’”

It isn’t the only challenger to take on Ethereum, but it looks like it might be one of the strongest contenders to win the race to bring smart contracts into mainstream use.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak hopes bitcoin will become a single global currency

  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said he believes bitcoin will become the single currency worldwide, something that Wozniak hopes will happen.
  • “I buy into what Jack Dorsey says, not that I necessarily believe it’s going to happen, but because I want it to be that way, that is so pure thinking,” Wozniak told CNBC.
  • Wozniak bought bitcoin when it was $700, over $6,700 less than where the cryptocurrency was trading on Monday.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently said he believes bitcoin will become the single global currency, something that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak hopes will happen.

“I buy into what Jack Dorsey says, not that I necessarily believe it’s going to happen, but because I want it to be that way, that is so pure thinking,” Wozniak told CNBC on Monday.

Wozniak bought bitcoin when it was $700, over $6,700 less than where the cryptocurrency was trading on Monday, according to data from CoinDesk.

He recently sold all but one bitcoin, saying that he only wanted to experiment with the technology and not be an investor. “The Woz,” as he is often affectionately referred to, also owns two ether, the cryptocurrency associated with the Ethereum blockchain platform.

While Wozniak said that he may not necessarily believe what Dorsey predicted, he still called bitcoin “pure.”

“Bitcoin is mathematically defined, there is a certain quantity of bitcoin, there’s a way it’s distributed… and it’s pure and there’s no human running, there’s no company running and it’s just… growing and growing… and surviving, that to me says something that is natural and nature is more important than all our human conventions,” he told CNBC.

The cryptocurrency is not actually issued by a central authority, unlike traditional currencies such as the U.S. dollar. Instead, there is a complex mathematical and cryptographic underpinning to the blockchain, the technology that underlies bitcoin. The bitcoin network is maintained by a number of players and that is why it is often referred to as decentralized.

Wozniak founded Apple with Steve Jobs in 1976 and was behind the launch of the company’s first personal computers. He spoke to CNBC at an event at the Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands, hosted by Feedzai.

There are now over 1,000 cryptocurrencies in existence, but Wozniak said that bitcoin is the only one that remains “pure” because others have had to give up some of the aspects that makes bitcoin what it is, such as decentralization.

“Only bitcoin is pure digital gold… and I totally buy into that. All the others tend to give up some of the aspects of bitcoin. For example, being totally decentralized and having no central control. That’s the first one they have to give up to try to have a business model.”

Source https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/04/apple-co-founder-steve-wozniak-hopes-bitcoin-will-become-global-currency.html

Amazon and Microsoft’s Move to Blockchain: Centralized Companies Into Decentralized Ecosystem

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Traditional centralized powerhouses like Microsoft and Amazon are almost being forced to take their domination to the decentralised world.
Bitcoin, and the idea of digital cash, has taken hold of the banking sector as banks and financial institutions start to experiment internally with blockchains and cryptocurrencies in order to be at the forefront of these technologies.

This, coupled with the fact that government organisations and even global leadership bodies such as the G20 are looking to regulate cryptocurrencies, again give more legitimacy and longevity to the industry.

The latest wave of adoption is now coming from corporations who, traditionally have come to be successful thanks to their centralized domination over different aspects of the market. Microsoft, in the world of computing, are legendary in driving the world to be digital; then there is Amazon, the pioneers of e-commerce.

These companies are in some manner getting forced towards blockchain technology as it has become apparent that this is the future, and even though it goes against their centralized values, they simply cannot miss out.

Microsoft’s entry

Microsoft has always been one of the biggest companies to give Bitcoin its dues. Back in Dec. 2014, content on the Windows and Xbox stores could be bought in Bitcoin, and this was at a time where Bitcoin’s mainstream adoption and appeal was minimal.

This of course was merely a nod towards alternative payment methods, and Microsoft being flexible to its customers wants and needs. However since then, and since blockchain has grown, Microsoft has been pushing to be in front of the innovative queue.

Microsoft has obviously identified the power of blockchain and its far reaching potential for disruptive applications in the world of enterprise business. The company is now developing blockchain applications — which are not that flashy as some of the solutions put forward by startups, but equally practical.

Microsoft is also looking to build platforms on which businesses can grow their blockchain applications upon, such as the Confidential Consortium (Coco) Framework, an Ethereum-based protocol, which falls under Microsoft Azure, the company’s cloud computing arm.

They have also announced that they are looking into plans to integrate blockchain-based decentralized IDs (DIDs) into its Microsoft Authenticator app.

The latest from the computing giant is that Azure has released its blockchain app creation service, Azure Blockchain Workbench, on May 7. Workbench aims to allow businesses looking to create bespoke blockchain apps to speed up the development process by automating infrastructure setup.

Amazon’s own efforts

Both Microsoft and Amazon have similar origins with their founders — Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos — being driven men with revolutionary ideas. Therefore it is unsurprising to see these two companies pushing to be on the forefront of a new technological wave.

Gates may be spouting some pretty negative things about Bitcoin, and Bezos may be under siege to accept the digital currency on Amazon, but despite what the two founders think of the cryptocurrency space, it is becoming clear that the future is conquering the companies.

Amazon revolutionized the e-commerce space, and is looking to at least be near to top of the pecking order when blockchain technology truly takes a hold. Just like in banking, there is a rush to get blockchain figured out and usable before the rest of the competition gets to market.

Amazon are already in a battle with IBM and Oracle with its own “blockchain-as-a-service” offering. The blockchain framework for Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric, which is allowing users to build and manage their own Blockchain-powered decentralized applications, is being developed in different forms by all three.

Essentially, users would be able to create their own blockchain applications via the Amazon Web Services (AWS) CloudFormation Templates tool to avoid time-consuming manual setups of their blockchain network.

Oracle and others also entering the space

Oracle, the world’s second-largest software company, also recently unveiled blockchain products, and will be releasing them over the next two months. Again, it was a similar cloud service built on the open-source Hyperledger Fabric project like Microsoft, and equally similar to IBM’s blockchain service, announced a year ago.

Major companies are also jumping on the blockchain bandwagon in different easy, shapes and forms. Huawei is loading its phones with a built-in Bitcoin wallet; Samsung revealed that it will use blockchain for managing its global supply chain; Spanish banking group BBVA became the first global bank to issue a loan on a blockchain, and use-cases continue to grow around the world.

Why the blockchain drive?

It was not long ago that people were calling Bitcoin a fad, a scam, and something that will not last for long. Those voices have been silenced somewhat as even banks, one of the biggest detractors of cryptocurrencies, are realising that they need to be on the forefront of this emerging technology.

The excitement is spreading, and it is creating an arms race even outside banks and the finance sector. Blockchain technology, while intrinsically attached to cryptocurrencies, also has many applications for other sectors. These applications are being explored, and evaluated.

Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Samsung, Huawei and others, all realize that with all these possibilities, it would be blind to not dive in, and quick.

AWS vice president Jeff Barr explained in a post:

“Some of the people that I talk to see blockchains as the foundation of a new monetary system and a way to facilitate international payments. Others see blockchains as a distributed ledger and immutable data source that can be applied to logistics, supply chain, land registration, crowdfunding and other use cases,. Either way, it’s clear that there are a lot of intriguing possibilities and we are working to help our customers use this technology more effectively.”

Neil Patel, advisor to Kind Ads, a decentralized ad-network that consults companies such as Amazon and Microsoft, reiterates that these major corporations almost have no choice but to embrace blockchain technology as it is being regarded quite openly as the future of technology. Patel told Cointelegraph:

“Microsoft and Amazon have no choice but to focus on blockchain because it is the future. If they don’t, they know that it will hurt their growth in the cloud computing space. Just look at Facebook, they see the value in blockchain so much that they moved around their executive team to put the ex president of PayPal on blockchain projects.”

Patel’s example above makes mention of how David Marcus, the former president of PayPal and the Facebook executive who has been running the company’s Messenger app, is now assembling a team to explore blockchain technology for the social media platform.

Contradicting ideas

Bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrencies in general all continue to split opinions. However, the voices in the detracting camps are becoming quieter, especially if they are just single voices.

Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan, called Bitcoin a fraud and spouted much vitriol about cryptocurrencies — and yet, JP Morgan is building its own blockchain, Quorum. The Head of Microsoft is in a similar situation as he says he would bet on Bitcoin collapsing while his company pushes to be a blockchain leader.

So Facebook, Google, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon are all evaluating or offering blockchain related products. I don’t think blockchain tech is going to solve world hunger or cure cancer, but if you don’t think it’s here to stay?
— Crypto Bobby (@crypto_bobby) May 8, 2018
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Many of these older viewpoints about how things were done, the centralized control of a sector and the move to monopolize a service, still reside in the likes of Gates and Dimon, but on the company floor, it is a different story.

Blockchain technology is being touted as the future, and it is not just empty words. The amount of money, time and effort being put into blockchain-based research and development by banks and corporations prove there is something more to it than a passing fad.

Source: Cointelegraph

The truth about crypto crime

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At last somebody has had the guts to stand up at an international event, in this case Money 20/20 Europe and make a statement about crypto and crime.

Former U.S. Federal Prosecutor, Mary Beth Buchanan, speaking during a panel discussion at conference held in Amsterdam, suggested, “we need to get rid of the negative connotations” that currently surround the emerging crypto industry. There will be many blockchain evangelists who will be happy to hear somebody from ‘the law’ speaking up about this, because many are tired of hearing voices in the mainstream media constantly repeating stories about the connection between crypto and crime.

Prosecutor says more fiat money is used in crime

Buchanan told the audience that it was a fact that many more crimes have been committed using fiat currencies; a fact that seems to get lost in MSM reporting. The former prosecutor told Cointelegraph: “I served 21 years at the [US] Justice Department and it’s not fair to say there is a greater amount of crime with cryptocurrencies. In fact I would strongly disagree with that… [what’s more], cryptocurrencies can be traced, unlike fiat currencies [cash].”

Tools to track crypto activities

This may seem a somewhat counterintuitive statement, given that anonymity is one of the key features of cryptocurrencies, but Buchanan told Cointelegraph, “there are now many commercially available tools that law enforcement can leverage to trace how currency has moved on a blockchain.” Two of those tools that she is talking about are Elliptic and Chainalysis. Both firms prevent, detect and investigate cryptocurrency money laundering, fraud and compliance violations. As Elliptic says: “We are the people who find truth in data.”

Given that these tools exist, it seems that law enforcement agencies need to catch up with what is available to them and understand the digital environment better as well. Buchanan certainly seems to believe this. She said: “regulators will need to “update” their practices in order to “keep pace,” as the outdated legislation introduced in the early 20th century for traditional securities is proving itself an awkward fit for 21st century innovations.”

As a matter of interest, Buchanan is now General Counsel for Kraken, one of the leading crypto exchanges, and she strongly advocates for digital currencies, describing, “cryptocurrencies as a “wonderful tool” that provides a “cost-effective” means for the transfer of value globally.”

Lay the myth to rest

Perhaps we can start to lay the myth of crypto and crime to rest now. Yes, crypto has been used for criminal activities that are estimated to have a value of about $72 billion globally. But wait, how much fiat money was used in crime? According to a Cointelegraph report, in the same year that BTC valued at $72 billion was used in crime worldwide, $100 billion in fiat was used in the U.S. alone for the purchase of drugs.

Claiming that crypto is bad because it’s primarily used for criminal activities will soon become an outdated myth if the truth is told often enough.