How the Blockchain is Being Used Beyond Bitcoin and Finance

How the Blockchain is Being Used Beyond Bitcoin and Finance

  

The clouds of misconception and skepticism around bitcoin were

so dark in the initial years that it hid the genius behind it.  In trying to understand bitcoin, it brought into the spotlight the technology that underpins it –
the blockchain.

During the World Economic Forum at Davos, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund spoke about virtual currencies and released a paper titled “Virtual Currencies and Beyond: Initial Considerations.” The paper examines virtual currencies as well as blockchain. It reads, “VC schemes and distributed ledger technologies can strengthen financial efficiency by facilitating peer-to-peer exchange while reducing transaction times and costs, especially across borders…Beyond payments systems, distributed ledger technologies have implications for a wide range of markets and financial market infrastructures as a fast, accurate and secure record keeping system, including for stock exchanges, central securities depositories, securities settlement systems or trade repositories.” While blockchain has applications beyond bitcoin, the two are intertwined. In fact, bitcoin can be called a beautiful, first application of this amazing technology.

Improving the Ledger

Throughout history, records of transactions have always been an essential part of tracking information, be it in commerce or government activities. Such recordings created ledgers, which house these records. Blockchain supports digital distributed ledgers that record and store data.  The data is ‘distributed’ across a whole network, which can be open to everyone (“unpermissioned”) or restricted in terms of participants (“permissioned”).

Blockchain’s distributed ledger has great potential of cost-saving especially for international remittances for the banking system. According to the IMF report on virtual currencies, “The costs of sending international remittances, however, are notoriously high: as of 2015, the global average cost of sending small remittances (for example US $200) is 7.7%, though this has declined from just below 10% in 2008. In contrast, the cost with Bitcoin is estimated to be about 1% (Goldman Sachs, 2014).” Banks are looking to act fast as blockchain-based remittance systems have already made a debut; in the Philippines and Kenya, such platforms offer transfers via bitcoin and back into fiat currency.

Besides cost advantages, the other area where banks are looking to benefit from blockchain is efficiency in operations. The use of this technology will help them get rid of ‘headache work’ like manual processes, middlemen, huge data entry and verifications; blockchain making all possible at a faster speed and greater accuracy. The blockchain technology is being looked at as a great invention, which has many potential uses in many other industries such as music, healthcare, diamond, real estate and more. Even governments are showing interest in the breakthrough technology.

Blockchain Moves Beyond Finance

A recent report by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser says, “distributed ledger technology provides the framework for the government to reduce fraud, corruption, error and the cost of paper-intensive processes. It has the potential to redefine the relationship between government and the citizen in terms of data sharing, transparency, and trust. It has similar possibilities for the private sector.” The diamond industry, which is highly prone to fraud, has already embraced the blockchain technology. Everledger is a permanent ledger for diamond certification and related transaction history. It provides verification for insurance companies, claimants and law enforcement. According to Everledger, “£200 million is spent by insurers each year for tackling fraud.”

Likewise, the real estate industry can benefit greatly from the blockchain technology. According to Ragnar Lifthrasir, “Putting property titles on the Bitcoin blockchain will bring the real estate industry out of its existing 18th-century technology. Title insurance is a $20 billion industry. It’s estimated that the total annual cost of fighting and resolving title fraud is $1 billion.”

The healthcare industry has shown interest in the blockchain technology and companies such as Facto, Tierion, DNA.Bits, BitHealth, and Gem are working on such projects. A tweet in October 2015, revealed a project for Philip Healthcare Group in collaboration with Tierion. The health care sector holds a lot of confidential information, like records of medical history, diseases, payments, and treatment. The blockchain not only provides a solution to the concern over the security and privacy of such sensitive data, it would help eliminate the huge costs incurred by hospitals and healthcare service providers in managing the patient and other such information.

Not far behind is the music industry, which has its own tailor-made blockchain. PeerTracks, a music streaming, and retail company is the first outfit to use the brand-new MUSE platform, in partnership with Danish exchange CCEDK and OpenLedger. OpenLedger, through its Danish registrar CCEDK, is now offering a fiat gateway – enabling anyone to buy MUSE for USD via the OPENMUSE/OPEN.USD market. On platforms using the MUSE network, such as PeerTracks, all the payments made by consumers, and income generated by artists, are in crypto-USD, so there is no confusion about how much a track costs – and no issues with crypto’s trademark volatility.

The technology is also being put to use for creation of decentralised credit rating and KYC. “Algorythmix has been named the most transformative use of blockchain in Citi Mobile Challenge APAC 2015, for “Cetas – The decentralised KYC and Credit rating framework. Cetas is a decentralised platform which enables sharing of the KYC data using blockchain.” There are many other projects working around the blockchain technology like Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT) Azure Blockchain as a Service program, and the Open Ledger Project spearheaded by IBM overseen by the not-for-profit Linux Foundation. The project involves other big names like Wells Fargo & Company (WFC), London Stock Exchange Group Plc., Accenture Plc. (ACN), Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO), Digital Asset, Intel Corporation (INTC) and many more.

The Final Word

This is just an overview of the multiple projects being worked around this innovative technology. The blockchain technology, still in its early years, has thrown down the gauntlet in front of the current systems, challenging them to overhaul.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Blockchain Mormons, ICOs, Aliens, Football: London Scene Round Up

Blockchain Mormons, ICOs, Aliens, Football: London Scene Round Up

  

Mormons seeing the light in Blockchain

Our London Correspondent Nick Ayton, the Sage of Shoreditch, reports on new promising ICOs, Mormons seeing the light in Blockchain, Satoshi run over in Picadilly, Blockchain entrepreneur abducted by aliens and CityChain 2017 which was a huge hit! In short, another exciting week in fintech capital whereby some Blockchain is apparently seen as a religion.

Proof of Donation

The Mormon church realized Proof of Donation consensus could be a blessing in disguise. Forget the West End play called “Book of Mormon” and let me introduce you to the Ledger of Mormon. Obsessed with record keeping, the church that is, it wouldn’t be long until it was adopted by one of the mainstream faiths. “The Ledger of Mormon is the perfect place to record all donations that come from our communities” mentions Donald Osmund.

“The Mormon community is funded by its community members and from other donations, with each recorded on the Blockchain as a separate transaction where all members of the Mormon church can see what others are contributing.”

“We decided to adapt the Proof of Work consensus alogorithm as on Sundays the server room got hot which made the lights dim as the donations were processed in real time. So we came up with Proof of Donation that is less labor and resource intensive.”

ICO RoundUp

Among the upcoming ICOs, I am looking forward to is Metal. Announcing the ICO its founder Marshall Hayner told me about their Proof of Payments Processed consensus that allows everyone to get rewarded for every dollar spent. Other ICOs are Aeternity delivering Lightning-based Smart Contracts that is already active, and of course Cosmos and TaaS ICOs gaining pace with the big one Storj attempting to solve the decentralized storage challenges of Blockchain that is expected anytime soon.

Satoshi in Hospital

Satoshi gets run over by a chocolate lorry delivering Easter eggs.

CT: I got a call from Vittalark Buttering who seemed very panicked on Tuesday.
Vittalark Buttering:
He is not that badly hurt you know.

CT: Who? Like I didn’t know.
VB:
Satoshi’s been run over by a chocolate duck shaped van on Picadilly.

CT: Is he Ok?
VB:
I think so, he is at the Royal Chelsea Hospital and I am on my way to see him. Apparently, he was impaled on chocolate bunnies and might not be able to eat chocolate ever again.

CT: Well that is a relief. Maybe he could design Proof of Cocoa.
But before I got an answer the line went dead and Vitallark was gone. We hope Satoshi makes a full recovery and he con continue to eat chocolate.

CityChain 17 lands at IBM Southbank

Following a successful Blockchain for Business People event to hot ticket, this week was CityChain 17 with some familiar names speaking. The event didn’t disappoint as it was produced by ‘mbn solutions’ based in Glasgow who are at the center of the Scottish Blockchain movement which has seen Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Parliament support.

Hosted by Paul Forrest (Chair) and organized by Michael Young there was a healthy dose of Hyperledger ever present but it was Gideon Greenspan CEO CoinSciences and brains behind MultiChain that for me stole the show, although Dave Birch at Consult Hyperion was the audience’s favourite delivering an amusing talk announcing “Blockchain is a religion, not a technology” soundbite. With talks from Simon Taylor, Director of Blockchain at 11:FS, Peter Bidewell at Applied Blockchain and John McLean of IBM CityChain have shown it was a well-rounded event, definitely one for your Blockchain Calendar.

Abducted Again

West Ham Football Club Fan and Blockchain entrepreneur abducted by aliens, again… CT Catches up with Billy Whizz after another alien sighting when Billy’s pork pie goes missing.

CT: So Billy what happened this time?
Billy Whizz:
As usual I had just purchased a pork pie on my way out of the ground where once again we let a 2 goal lead slip.

CT: Talk us through what happened…
BW:
It was different to last time. I had just taken a bit of my pie when I was covered in a blue light.

CT: The police?
BW:
Not it was over my head, and then I was in a misty room and it was really hot.

CT: You sure it wasn’t in the back of a Police Van?
BW:
Are you going to take this seriously or not?  When I looked down my pie had gone, and I saw some shadows at the back moving around and it sounded like they were eating my pie. Then I was back on the ground, in Upton Park Road, which is strange because West Ham doesn’t play there anymore.

CT: Did they tamper with you?
BW:
Of course not I understand Blockchain you know…

Well, Billy, there is a pattern emerging, you shouldn’t buy food after the game as it seems the aliens are hungry at this time and are tracking you.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Steams Ahead

Bitcoin Steams ahead

Bitcoin Steams Ahead

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts will have noticed that bitcoin’s price has been going up steadily over the past few days. It is always difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for this behavior. Japan’s new cryptocurrency regulation went into effect, and there is a big bitcoin marketing campaign on the /r/place subreddit. Both factors may contribute to future bitcoin price gains moving forward.

BITCOIN PRICE PREPARES FOR ANOTHER MAJOR RALLY

It is impossible to deny the recent bitcoin price gains. Over the past few days, the value per BTC has surpassed US$1,100 once again, after a few weeks of downward price momentum. Enthusiasts always believed this negative price trend was only temporary, though, as there is no reason for the bitcoin price to lose value over time.

That being said, the ongoing scalability debate hasn’t done the bitcoin price any good. Bitcoin Core and Unlimited supporters continue to “duke it out” on the internet, which generates some negative attention for the popular cryptocurrency altogether. However, it would appear even those debates are no longer sufficient to keep the bitcoin price down for an extended period of time.

It is also worth mentioning there is some positive attention on bitcoin right now. Japan recently introduced their new virtual currency regulation, which effectively removes the sales tax on bitcoin purchases. This makes bitcoin more approachable and affordable to everyday consumers in the country. Regulatory developments like these can pave a bright future for bitcoin moving forward.

Moreover, there is a dedicated bitcoin marketing campaign taking place on the /r/place subreddit. Reddit remains a key place to discuss bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Advertising on other subreddits will introduce more mainstream internet users to cryptocurrency as a whole, which can only be a positive thing in the long run. The bitcoin logo is getting some good exposure on this subreddit, that much is certain.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Author JP Buntinx

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member