Bitcoin Price Grows As Trump Takes Office Blockchain Council Created in Davos

Bitcoin Price Grows As Trump Takes Office
Blockchain Council Created in Davos

The Bitfury Group that develops Bitcoin mining hardware and operates mining farms has launched the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) in collaboration with the international law firm Covington. The announcement was made at the event held alongside the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos.

It happened just before the new United States President Donald Trump sent jitters down the spine of the world’s political and financial elite announcing at his inauguration: “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.” Trump has promised the American people “challenges” and “hardships” on the way of “getting the job done.”  The Bitcoin price took a cue from that message and immediately shot forward.

Top heads sighted

A number of technology, banking, and financial experts and thought leaders were spotted at the Davos event where the Blockchain council has been created. They include former Swedish Prime Minister and senior advisor at Covington Carl Bildt, former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik, Dr. Wei Wang, founding chairman of China Mergers & Acquisitions (CMAA), and Don Tapscott the author of the best-seller “Blockchain Revolution”, just to name a few.

The Bitfury Group is a global team of experts in technology, business, communications, security and civil society, who are all big believers in the potential of Blockchain to open new doors for global economic opportunity and prosperity. The main idea behind the Council is to bring together leading businesses, executives and government authorities to collaborate driving forward development and adoption of Blockchain technology around the globe.

A resource center and an educational forum

Valery Vavilov, the CEO of Bitfury Group, described the newly established Council as “a much-needed forum for businesses, innovators, and technologists” to join forces and facilitate the advancement of Blockchain technology. The GBBC will fulfill the role of a resource center and an educational forum to foster collaboration and partnerships across industries. It will assist companies by raising awareness of the potential of Blockchain technology and help engaging businesses interested in developing within the Blockchain space.

Covington brings to the table its broad-based experience in advising their clients in connection with policies, regulation litigation, enforcement and investigation, privacy and data security, consumer protection and transactional matters related to distributed ledger technology.  

Through advocacy and international engagement, Covington looks forward to working with the Global Blockchain Business Council to unlock the potential of Blockchain technology.”

Blockchain revolution

We saw how the Internet revolutionized many industries. We are now witnessing  Blockchain technology steadily changing our approach to commerce, communications, financial services, entertainment industries, and many other spheres. A lot has been said about the beauty of this technology and how it allows for any asset to be digitized, transferred and recorded on transparent and extremely secure ledgers.

Blockchain is marching across industries sweeping away slow, expensive and hackable intermediaries. When talking about the ways to facilitate this process, many experts often emphasize the need to increase collaboration between businesses and government authorities. Well, some are moving from words to deeds.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

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Top Hottest Cryptocurrencies Right Now

Top Hottest Cryptocurrencies Right Now

The world of cryptocurrency is full of dozens upon dozens of altcoins all fighting for their market share. Due to the overwhelming amount of coins on the market its hard to decide which coins are worth looking into and which coins are simply scams. Today we feature the top hottest cryptocurrencies on the market RIGHT NOW.

Tether

                                                    

Launched in late 2014 Tether is a cryptocurrency whose main focus is to keep a stable value. It works just like Bitcoin, but it has 2 major differences. First is the fact that each Tether (USDT) is pegged at $1 USD. If you look at Tether’s price chart you will see that it always has a value of $1. The way the currency accomplishes that is because every Tether is backed by a real US dollar. There is a trade off however for such a stable currency. If you would like to trade tether you need to provide some personal information to pass KYC / AML regulations.

The second difference is that Tether doesn’t have its own blockchain like most cryptocurrencies. Instead, it runs on the Omni Layer, which is a platform built on top of Bitcoin, allowing the issuance of digital tokens such as Tether. In a way, each Tether transaction is a Bitcoin transaction which is made through the Omni Layer. Tether’s market cap is ranked at number 21 and is at $14 million. If you are tired of the volatile crypto market and want to store some coins in a stable crypto asset, definitely look into Tether.

 Dash

                                                     

Originally released in 2014 as Darkcoin, Dash is a re-brand of the cryptocurrency. It is a privacy-centric project which was the first to use the X11 hashing algorithm, first created DarkSend, and also created the Dark Gravity Wave. This may sound like technical jargon but in short the X11 algorithm is just a modification to the SHA-256 mining algorithm that bitcoin uses. DarkSend is a feature which allows for a better obfuscation of transactions allowing for anonymous trade. Finally, the Dark Gravity Wave is a new way to adjust the mining difficulty. Unlike Bitcoin which adjusts its mining difficulty every 2016 blocks, DarkCoin uses the DGW algorithm to adjust it’s difficulty in an exponential fashion making a smoother difficulty adjustment.

In addition to the three above, there are much more features like InstantSend, Master nodes, and PrivateSend. Combine all those features with a dedicated development team and you get Dash. With a 24-hour trading volume of close to $2 million and a market cap of over $100 million Dash is definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. Currently, each dash is worth $15 and the price seems to be on an uptrend.

 Monero

                                                   

Just like Dash, Monero is also a privacy-centric crypto, launched in 2014 under the name BitMonero. Unlike DarkCoin which used similar codebase to that of Bitcoin, Monero was the first fork off a crypto-note coin – Bytecoin. In short, the main difference between bitcoin and crypto-note based altcoins is that one implementation of the blockchain is much more opaque. To be more precise, one can follow any Bitcoin transaction through its blockchain, and one can see which addresses send what amounts. However, the way crypto-note implements its blockchain makes it impossible to trace transactions through it. It is only possible to learn the approximate amount of each transaction, but the origin or the precise amount is hidden.

Monero is not just a clone of Bytecoin, the developers were able to find quite a bit of flaws in Bytecoin’s code and were able to improve on it. As with Dash, a strong development team is the key to a coin’s success. Monero is ranked number 5 by market cap which is at a whopping $166 million, and each monero is worth roughly $12. The 24-hour volume is currently close to $3 million and the price is also currently on an uptrend.

Ethereum / Ethereum Classic

                                                    

Ethereum is both a currency and a platform. Initially proposed in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, in its simplest form it is a blockchain based application development system, think of it as an IDE, just like Eclipse or Visual Studio, in the cloud. It allows the creation of smart contracts, which are agreements between two parties that are overseen by a computer program. It uses the Electrum Virtual Machine to allow for the creation of those smart contracts and requires Gas (short for “Gasoline”) in order to execute those contracts and to prevent spam on the network.

The reason why there are two currencies, Ethereum and Ethereum class is due to the DAO fork in 2016 which caused the split. The DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) was the first real attempt at creating a massive vehicle for autonomous investment capital management and received close to $50 million in funding in the form of Ether. Unfortunately, it contained a terrible bug which allowed for any user to arbitrarily withdraw any amount of ethereum from the DAO and transfer it to another child DAO. After an anonymous attacker moved over $15 million in ether to the child DAO, the community came to a disagreement when it came time to fix the problem. Some wanted to revert the malicious transactions, while others thought that the rollback was unfair since the whole point of decentralized cryptocurrencies is that you cannot reverse transactions. This was the reason for the 2 forks, Ethereum reverted the theft from the DAO, while Ethereum Classic (ETC) kept rolling along. Ethereum Classic supporters believe:

“The core value proposition of any blockchain is immutability; valid transactions can never be erased or forgotten. Individuals interacting on Ethereum Classic are governed by this reality; Code is Law.”

Both ETH and ETC have healthy trading markets which are currently at an uptrend. Ethereum’s 24-hour volume is at $12 million and it is ranked number 2 by market cap at $960 million. Ethereum Classic’s 24-hour volume is at $3 million with a market cap of $124 million.

Bitcoin

                                                  

Bitcoin needs no introduction, first created 8 years ago it has been the market leader ever since. Bitcoin’s market cap is a whopping $15 billion, more than 15 times its toughest competitor. After reaching an all-time high earlier this month and plummeting right after, it seems that the market is recovering once again as prices peak $930. As always the safest cryptocurrency to trade with is Bitcoin as even though price fluctuations may be high, they will never be as high as some of these smaller cryptos.

If you are a cryptocurrency enthusiast the above 5 markets are all worth taking a look at, think of them as mutual stocks. They are safe investments compared to what else is out there, however, one thing is for certain, out of all the cryptos Bitcoin is a must have in your portfolio. Also, make sure to check out this list for the 6 hilarious cryptocurrencies that are actually worth something.

Chuck Reynolds
Contrbutor

 

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God Is Always In Control

Five Reasons Not to Worry About Tomorrow

Written by GodLife on 17/01/2017
Series: Weekly Devotional
Tags: Worry, Control, God, Jesus
Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say.

Psalm 139:4
My husband and I took off for our routine evening walk the other day. And as we rounded the walking trail, he repeatedly had to duck to avoid smashing his head against the branches that hung low. He endured this annoyance for a while.

However, that all changed when God showed him not to worry or be anxious…

The next day, before we headed out, he grabbed the trimming clippers from the garage. Armed with this weapon that he carried rifle style, we set off for our walk. As we drew closer, he gave a gasp of surprise. The maintenance folks had taken care of the trimming.

I couldn’t suppress my laughter as he carried the clippers back home.

We all do that, don’t we? When the branches of life annoy us, we get fed up. Sometimes we become anxious because the problem persists. Maybe we lost our job and spend night and day looking for another, or maybe we make poor decisions in our finances because we’re so upset about being without enough money. Then anger flares up, wondering if God is watching. And frustrated, we ask ourselves if He’s planning to do anything about it.

But through David’s words In Psalm 139, God reminds us the he is in full control!

He’s aware of our every move. “You know when I am resting or when I am working… (Psalm 139:2)
He reads our mind. “From heaven you discover my thoughts..” (Psalm 139:2)
He follows us wherever we go. “…You notice everywhere I go.” (Psalm 139:3)
God knows our habits, quirks and flaws. “You notice everything I do…” (Psalm 139:3)
God is ahead of the game. “Before I even speak a word, you know what I will say,” (Psalm 139:4)
Remember, that God is always in full control regardless of what we allow our insecurities to let us believe.

Pray this week:

Lord, help me let go of my worries and trust You to take care of me and all of my needs. Thank you for being a gracious God who knows my thoughts from afar.

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Why a New Small Business Blockchain is Actually a Big Deal

Efforts to apply blockchain in the supply chain took an interesting turn last week.

blockchain for small business

I'm speaking, of course, about a piece of news that at first seemed pretty ordinary: a group of European banks announced they would band together to develop a blockchain-based trade finance solution.

This one, though, is unusual.

Rather than tackle large-scale global transactions that cross oceans, the project focuses on intra-European trade, and, more importantly, between small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Why is this interesting? It's not because SMEs make up the vast majority of the world's businesses (although that certainly does make for a compelling use case). Rather, it's because of what it says about the evolving nature of trade finance.

We have seen many blockchain projects take a run at the subject, and the application seems obvious. Transactions across borders generally involve significant documentation, a process that itself generates numerous errors and gross inefficiencies.

Reducing the burden associated with getting goods from one place to another has to be a good thing, right?

Let's take a look.

Starting smaller

Most of the projects to date have focused on large international corporations, which is understandable, given that over two-thirds of world trade originates with global enterprises.

Where both the pain and potential promise are most acutely felt, however, is not in conglomerates, but in SMEs. In part, it's because of their sheer number, but mainly, it's due to financial trends.

Approximately 80% of global trade is now conducted through open account transactions, not via traditional channels using letters of credit. This means that there is no bank guarantee of payment.

The buyer pays when it's time to pay – usually well after the product has been delivered.

For many large corporations, this shift reflects tighter restrictions many banks are facing on lending and guarantees, as well as a desire to improve working capital and reduce administration and financing costs.

For most SMEs, open account is their only option, since over half of SME trade finance applications are declined.

Win-win situation

In open account transactions, trust becomes a huge factor. This is an issue when initiating a new commercial relationship, especially for SMEs with patchy or non-existent credit histories.

Without going into the details of how the new platform will work, the ability to see, in real-time, the status of the transaction at each step should make trust more transparent. Accelerating the process from order to settlement will increase liquidity.

The incorporation of the management of the respective banking functions (payment, factoring, etc) aims to facilitate the procedure even further, and could increase margins for both the banks and their participating clients.

Seen from the exporting SME's point of view, the project could be a way to overcome obstacles created by the shifting sands of finance and politics. And from the banks’ point of view, not only will it help to retain and support SME customers, it is also an effective way for banks to re-intermediate themselves into the trade finance process.

Starting within the relatively "safe" confines of the European Union gives the project a chance to test the process of cross-border trade before venturing into more complicated territory.

What's next

If things go according to plan, we shouldn’t have to wait long to see how the project fares with target users. It is already a working proof-of-concept, developed last year by Belgian bank KBC.

Opening it up to six other European institutions is an obvious step toward scalability, presenting a way to test cross-border relationships within a manageable group before it's global.

The team will start to seek regulatory approval within the next few months, with a view to going "live" before the year's end.

Looking forward, the compelling advantage of lower transaction costs and stronger commercial relationships could help to partially offset the uncertainty and potential price of rising interest rates and shifting trade barriers.

It's not hard to see how projects like this could help to prepare businesses around the world for the changes ahead, and to adapt to not only current trends, but future ones as well.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


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What DTCC’s IBM Blockchain Transition ‘Reimagining’ Credit Derivatives Signifies

What DTCC's IBM Blockchain Transition
'Reimagining' Credit Derivatives Signifies

On the heels of the announcement by the U.S. Depository Trust Clearing Corporation’s (DTCC) transitioning a central part of its financial infrastructure onto a blockchain, the premier post-trade market infrastructure for the global financial services industry that processes trillions of dollars, many are wondering what it means for the blockchain market’s future.

It’s been described as a "watershed moment" for the industry in deploying distributed ledger technology (DLT) in production at this scale and a "reimagining" of credit derivatives processing by two of the IT vendor parties involved. According to Bridget Van Kralingen, Senior Vice President, IBM  Industry Platforms, it represented "one of the largest and most groundbreaking distributed ledger projects to date in the financial services industry.”

The DTCC’s Trade Information Warehouse (TIW), which currently automates the record keeping, lifecycle events and payment management for over $11 trillion of cleared and bilateral credit derivatives, is to be re-platformed by IBM, in partnership with Axoni and R3 through a DLT framework to drive further improvements in derivatives post-trade lifecycle events. It will enable DTCC and its clients to further automate and reduce the cost of derivatives processing across the industry by removing disjointed, redundant processing capabilities and associated reconciliation costs.

The solution will be deployed in a number of stages, with an “end-state vision” to establish a permission distributed ledger network (i.e. private) for derivatives – governed by industry-owned DTCC with peer nodes at participating firms. It has been developed with input from a number of the big banks including Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan and UBS as well as key market infrastructure providers, IHS Markit and Intercontinental Exchange.

Hurdle To Adoption

Eric Wiesen, a General Partner at early-stage, post-seed venture fund Bullpen Capital that invests in technology companies, says that although the “hurdle to adoption still remains high” the DTCC’s decision “validates the blockchain approach for core financial markets – not just fringe markets.” In addition, since the DTCC’s project uses neither Bitcoin nor Ethereum, one might ask what this move signals about the Public versus Private platform debate.

“The simplest answer here is that the IT environments of the financial services industry are both very complex and highly regulated,” said Wiesen, who in 2015 joined Bullpen located in Menlo Park, California, from RWE, and is currently a board member at Imgix and Yieldbot.

An early investor in Venmo, Braintree and NerdWallet, Wiesen explaining further said: “The evolution from the current methods, which range from API’s all the way back to 1980’s-style mainframe software, is one that involves both large-scale migration to new software and the migration to a largely new means of information flow, is a huge project both internally to each financial institution (FI) and to groups of counterparties.”

He added: “Add in the somewhat sketchy history of the Bitcoin blockchain and the markets where it has been deployed and you get another layer of resistance," he further noted. "Then, lastly, uncertainty about financial regulation under the Trump administration adds one more layer. It all adds up to a requirement of very high conviction and consensus to deploy.”

Blockchain Tech Adoption

Reflecting on the future adoption of Blockchain technology in the financial markets space going forward and how far developments could go, Wiesen opined: “If you view blockchain as an IT solution rather than a global force for change, the rationale for adoption makes a lot of sense. A blockchain approach strips out significant cost and speeds up transaction processing and settlement.”

He added: “These are factors that matter to many FI’s, which is why so many of them have been undertaking trials. Ultimately, it strikes me as very likely that as major players (DTCC and their partner, IBM being the latest to announce) move into production, that we’re likely to see more and more firms follow to attain the benefits of the blockchain approach.”

Costs Savings & Efficiency

Simge Alpargun, IBM, Territory Leader for Financial Services based in Istanbul, who gave a presentation last October on the Blockchain and its impact on all industries at the CoinsBank Blockchain summit in Belek, Turkey, noted: “What the Internet did for information the Blockchain will do the same for transactions.” Notwithstanding the need for “a standard”, the upshot of blockchain-based business and technology is that it reduces time and saves on costs.

In IBM’s case, as a founder in the HyperLedger Project, an open source collaboration hosted by the Linux Foundation, it has been working on standards in relation to “blockchain rules” and finding “real-life scenarios” to apply distributed ledger technology across financial services and other industries.

Alpargun referred to post-trade settlement as a prime business use case where adopting the technology can be applied to yield efficiencies alongside the transfer and sharing of high-value assets (e.g. Asset exchange). Add to that why not use the blockchain for dispute resolution. But as she also pointed out to industry movers and shakers in attendance on the Turkish riviera that one “cannot force all parties to use the same fabric.”

It was at this same event that I attended and reported on for Forbes, Nick Ayton, CEO of SmartLedger Labs and Blockchain-X, speaking in relation to Blockchain technology aimed at the capital markets and asset management, asserted that “blockchain operational models are the future”.

Ayton, who designs and implements digital and blockchain-based Business Operating Models and is currently working on a book about blockchain applications, noted that the “monopolistic tech landscape keep costs high”, identified hot spots where costs could be stripped out using DLT. For example, savings in Sales & Marketing could range from 20% to 30%, Operations (c.20%-30%) and  IT Functions at around the 15%-20% level.

Public versus Private Platforms

In addition, since the DTCC’s project uses neither Bitcoin nor Ethereum, does the news announced earlier this month on January 9 signal much or anything about the public versus private platform tech debate? “It’s hard to know where this ends up and smart people line up on each side of this question,” Wiesen remarked, whose firm Bullpen most recently launched Bullpen III, a $75 million fund that will invest in technology start-ups between their Seed and Series A financing rounds with participation from Greenspring Associates, Venture Investment Associates (VIA), Oberlin College, and other institutional and individual investors.

“But this project certainly tilts the scale more toward the private side.” That said, he also posited “whether that trend continues is hard to predict,” he observed. In terms of the collaboration with IBM, its timings and the tangible benefits, cost savings and efficiencies, Wiesen elaborated that: "In a future where they move their infrastructure from what I imagine is a complex environment of interconnected software with a ton of proprietary adapters and middleware to a blockchain, the cost savings and improvement to settlement time – currently as long as a week for some of DTCC’s trades –  will be pretty monumental to their business.”

That IBM is working with the DTCC them "lends credibility to the effort and is consistent with the industry’s view of IBM as a leader in global IT services projects" according to Wiesen, whose investing philosophy and approach is informed to some large measure by his experiences as a two-time founder, first in the 3D Graphics hardware space and later on in the enterprise software/ERP sector. The other category of player are the technology companies themselves, he pointed out. Axoni in the case of DTCC and companies like Chain, who power Visa’s new blockchain payment network (incidentally where Wiesen was once on the Board).

“I think these deployments will validate the companies that enable these new blockchains and who continue to develop and iterate on the core platforms themselves," asserted Wiesen. Under the DTCC agreement, IBM will lead the initiative, provide program management, DLT expertise and integration services as well offer the solution-as-a-service. Axoni is to provide distributed ledger infrastructure and smart contract applications, while R3 is acting as a solution advisor. The development was scheduled to begin this January and build on Axoni’s AxCore distributed ledger protocol which will be submitted to Hyperledger when the solution is anticipated to go live in 2018.

As to future developments in the blockchain space it’s a big question and I don’t have a crystal ball. Some might have been scared in the beginning, while others in finance circles have been in denial. But the progress cannot be denied. While it will no doubt lead to job losses there will be job gains too. And, as one blockchain pundit at CoinsBank’s inaugural blockchain of event put it: “We always move to a better place with technology.” That is, presumably as long as it’s safe.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

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