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Blockstream Reveals Massive Bitcoin Mining Facilities, Fidelity An Early Customer

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On Thursday, blockchain technology company Blockstream revealed details related to their massive Bitcoin mining data centers in Quebec, Canada and Adel, Georgia. The facilities account for a combined 300 megawatts worth of energy capacity, and they’re currently available for hosting enterprise-level mining activities, in addition to Blockstream’s own mining operations.

Blockstream plans to open their facilities to smaller scale miners in the future. For now, two of their active customers include Fidelity Center for Applied Technology and LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman.

The size of Blockstream’s mining facilities cannot be overstated. According to Blockstream CSO Samson Mow, the facilities would account for roughly 6 exahashes of Bitcoin mining power if used at full capacity with the latest ASIC mining hardware. This would have equated to 10% of Bitcoin’s total network hashrate less than a month ago, according to BitInfoCharts. However, the Bitcoin network hashrate recently skyrocketed to around 80 exahashes this week.

In addition to their mining centers, Blockstream will soon launch the first mining pool with a focus on putting more power back into the hands of individual miners via the BetterHash protocol.

Blockstream Concerned About Bitcoin Mining Centralization

According to a company blog post, Blockstream first got into Bitcoin mining due to concerns around the centralization of the industry back in 2017. At that time, the activation process for Segregated Witness (SegWit), which was a capacity increase and bug fix for the Bitcoin network, had become politicized by Bitcoin miners in the eyes of many Bitcoin developers and users.

Concerns related to Bitcoin mining centralization were recently discussed on a panel at the Bitcoin 2019 conference in San Francisco. Genesis Mining CEO Marco Streng explained why Bitcoin users should be more alarmed about the level of centralization in mining, while longtime Bitcoin developer Matt Corallo did his best to point out the issue may not be as bad as it seems at first glance.

Notably, Blockstream CEO Dr. Adam Back, who was cited in the original Bitcoin white paper, also spoke at the conference regarding his thoughts on the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies alongside Yugen Partners Chief Scientist Dr. Scott Stornetta, who was also cited in the Bitcoin white paper.

Putting Power Back in Miners’ Hands

In addition to pushing for the geographic decentralization of Bitcoin mining, Blockstream’s upcoming mining pool should be helpful due to its use of BetterHash. The BetterHash protocol, which was developed by the aforementioned Corallo, solves a key issue with mining centralization in that it allows individual miners to choose which transactions go into new blocks rather than the mining pool operators.

While Bitcoin mining is rather centralized in terms of mining pools, the picture looks much better in terms of the diversity of entities that are actually operating the hardware. Putting individual miners in control of transaction selection means collusion in terms of transaction censorship, blockchain reorganizations, or other types of 51% attacks on the network would be much more difficult.

Braiins also recently announced a new mining protocol, called Stratum v2, that offers a similar upgrade in terms of the decentralization of transaction selection (based on Corallo’s work).

When asked why Blockstream decided to go with BetterHash rather than Stratum v2, Blockstream CSO Samson Mow stated, “Stratum v2 seems to still be in the discussion phase, and we started with BetterHash months ago.”

Some critics may argue that implementing BetterHash while also developing large Bitcoin mining data centers may be a bit of a contradiction in terms of promoting decentralization, but Mow pushed back on this argument when reached for comment.

“I don’t believe Blockstream Mining poses centralization risks,” said Mow. “If anything, Blockstream Mining serves to decentralize the Bitcoin mining ecosystem in many ways. We’re self-mining with just a small portion of our available power, with the rest allocated to customers, and we have plans to make the hosting service available to smaller miners that otherwise would not be able to mine effectively. Also, by leveraging the BetterHash protocol in our mining pool, all of our customers can run their own full-nodes and build block templates. This means the pool cannot use their hashrate for censoring transactions or falsely signaling readiness for Bitcoin protocol upgrades – which has happened in the past as with SegWit2x.”

Even with these concerns around Bitcoin mining centralization, some U.S. lawmakers are convinced they would not be able to ban Bitcoin.

On the other hand, Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project would be much easier to manipulate, regulate, and control. That said, multiple members of the Bitcoin industry have pointed out the roundabout ways Bitcoin could benefit Facebook’s Libra.

That said, even if improvements are made to the decentralization and censorship resistance of Bitcoin from a technical level, the reality is the digital cash system still faces a serious regulatory issue in terms of its use as a payments mechanism due to the way in which the crypto asset is taxed.

Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

I’m a writer who has been following Bitcoin since 2011. I’ve worked all over the Bitcoin media space — from being editor-in-chief at Inside Bitcoins to contributing to Bitcoin Magazine on a regular basis. My work has also been featured in Business Insider, VICE Motherboard, and many other financial and tech media outlets. I’m mostly interested in the use of Bitcoin for transactions that would be censored by the traditional financial system (think darknet markets and ransomware) in addition to the use of bitcoin as an unseizable, digital store of value. Altcoins, appcoins, and ICOs don’t make much sense to me. Find all of my work at kyletorpey.com. Disclosure: I hold some bitcoin

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10 Blockchain Companies To Watch In 2019

More and more companies are sprouting in the blockchain space.

Earlier this month, arguably the biggest blockchain week in the world kicked off in New York City with CoinDesk’s Consensus event. A previous interview that covered blockchain technology led to a deeper look at the technologies, founders, and companies that are emerging in the industry.

While some of the best projects on display were infrastructure-related, like public blockchains, others were more focused on ancillary services. The teams of these innovative blockchain startups are global, cutting-edge and typically include early blockchain adopters as founders.

This list showcases 10 companies working to make blockchain more accessible, prominent and mainstream. Some you may have heard of; others are new to the scene. The companies come from all regions of the world. Each offers something unique with the potential to disrupt traditional industries as well as gain support from legitimate entities.

  1. BiKi

BiKi.com was founded in June 2018. Headquartered in Singapore, it is a leading digital asset exchange focused on the global market. It accumulated 1.1 million registered users and 100,000 daily active users in under a year. Backed by Du Jun, co-founder of Huobi, BiKi is one of the fastest-growing exchanges. It focuses on the global incremental market, with a mission to bring digital assets to the mainstream.

  1. Advanced Blockchain AG

Berlin-based, publicly listed Advanced Blockchain AG (ABAG) was started by German crypto pioneer and co-founder of peaq.io, Robert Küfner. The company is an innovator of blockchain solutions for corporations, building a DLT solution for one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. ABAG was recently selected to participate in the Silicon Valley chapter of the German Accelerator, which empowers high-potential German companies to successfully enter US markets. Further approaches using peaq.io’s proprietary DAGchain remain confidential.

  1. YottaChain

Built by leading scientists and cryptographers, YottaChain is a public blockchain that uses a unique economic model and governance structure, as well as proprietary technology, to connect global computing and storage resources. In layperson’s terms, everyday people can now tap into the power of a supercomputer and large-scale storage previously reserved for enterprises. This is done by connecting decentralized storage resources while providing de-duplication after encryption. In 2018, YottaChain was a top 20 finalist at the Founder World Championship in Silicon Valley.

  1. HeroToken

Based in Barcelona, HeroToken is the continued mission from the success story of PawnHero. Founder David Margendorff, together with a solid team of technology experts, is working on HeroToken to build the prospect of a better future for billions of unbanked and underbanked funds globally. This solution leverages the blockchain to provide a transparent loan marketplace that connects lenders with borrowers worldwide.

  1. Bitconch

With a global development team of former Google, IBM, Huawei and GE engineers, Bitconch is using a proof of reputation (POR) consensus algorithm to enable its beta network to reach 100,000 transactions per second, which is reported to be the highest performance in the blockchain environment. Bitconch established an intelligent three-dimensional node reputation system, with POW (proof of work) + POS (proof of stake) + POA (proof of activity), which contributes to an open node pool and anti-centralization. The company recently partnered with Cryptic Labs to help scale up their efforts.

  1. BREACH

BREACH was founded with one goal in mind: to ensure your digital assets. Backed by PJC, the leading early-stage venture capital firm based in Boston, BREACH is partnering with global insurers, cybersecurity experts and exchanges to offer products to safeguard user investments. With nearly $1 billion of cryptocurrency stolen from exchanges in 2018, the use case for insurance products in the blockchain industry has never been stronger.

  1. KaratGold

Based in Germany, Karatbars International GmbH is the parent company of KaratGold Coin and a robust gold-based ecosystem of cross-border blockchain solutions. Their latest product, the IMPulse K1 Smartphone, is the first phone using Voice Over Blockchain Protocol (VOPB). Currently, KaratGold allows consumers to trade or purchase gold on more than 500,000 acceptance points worldwide. With all of the recent talk about Bitcoin versus gold, this company provides the best of both worlds.

  1. BISS

Backed by Matrix Partners, ZhenFund and Metropolis VC, BISS is a membership-based crypto exchange like Costco where members can enjoy exclusive offerings. The platform is also the world’s first crypto-to-security exchange where users can seamlessly exchange tokens for securities, minimizing the downside of crypto volatility. These kinds of innovative solutions have gained a lot of attention from mainstream financial investors and institutions. This early success has helped BISS gain 300,000 monthly users in just four months.

  1. LiteLink Technologies Inc.

LiteLink is a publicly traded company developing enterprise platforms and digital wallets that use blockchain to solve problems in the logistics and payment industries. LiteLink’s flagship 1SHIFT logistics platform offers real-time transparency and tracking, which allows brokers, shippers and carriers to track shipments and settle payments without breaking stride. uBUCK Pay is a multicurrency digital wallet with a U.S. dollar–backed stable token built on Waves blockchain that supports traditional fiat and digital currencies.

  1. MetaHash

MetaHash is a self-sustained network for DApps and digital assets with a vision of creating a new internet. MetaHash also offers a set of tools for developers and solutions for enterprises. Its protocol, based on advanced data synchronization, supports over 50,000 transactions per second with three seconds of consensus time, thus solving the industry’s key speed issue. With hundreds of community-operated servers, MetaHash is rapidly nearing its goal of becoming the fastest fully decentralized blockchain.

 Joresa Blount is the founder of GoFlyy, an author and creator of Brown Girls Innovate too which provides tools and connections for women in tech. 

 

Source: 10 Blockchain Companies To Watch In 2019

Rakuten Taps Chinese Blockchain Firm for $60 Billion Authenticity Market

In 2008, at least 54,000 Chinese babies suffered after ingesting formula that had been contaminated. Demand for safe products has grown year over year, every year, since then. Companies like blockchain-centric Techrock have capitalized on this market by finding unique solutions to the authenticity problem. Techrock uses the blockchain to track every step of a product’s lifecycle and rewards consumers for verifying it through their mobile phones.

Chinese Consumers Increasingly Willing to Pay a Premium for Authentic Imported Food

In China, it is reportedly difficult to get authentic products. Some researchers have found that more than 90% of the food sold in China is faked in one way or another.

For non-food products, this isn’t such a big deal; but there are some markets where it’s life and death – such as baby formula and other food products, which can have deadly side effects. According to Techrock, which spoke to CCN about their recent partnership with Rakuten, the situation has created a market for authentic goods as large as $60 billion per year.

Techrock uses blockchain technology in two aspects of its business. On the one hand, it offers a loyalty program for customers who use the service to purchase authentic products. On the other, it creates a permanent record of a product’s authenticity.

From Supply Chain to Reward Points, Blockchain’s Role

Every product in Techrock’s store has a digital representation on the blockchain. The company has developed a reputation for delivering high-quality, authentic goods, and it’s applying the same process to its Rakuten “zone.”

Their target market is less about authentic shoes or electronics and more about health supplements and other things which people prefer not to risk. The loyalty program helps them retain customers, and using the blockchain for it, the points have no expiration date. A side effect of Techrock’s Tael loyalty program is that it introduces many people to blockchain for the first time.

Techrock recently entered a partnership with Japanese retail giant Rakuten to get authentic Japanese goods to customers. Rakuten has long had an interest in blockchain companies, but it only touches the technology in a tertiary way here.

Rakuten is looking to expand its reach in China, where it is far from the leading retailer. By contrast, Alibaba is the boss in China – but Alibaba’s eBay-style product suffers a lot of knock-off problems that the rest of the Chinese market does.

Growing Year-Over-Year

Built on Hyperledger, Techrock’s labeling technology ensures that products are real. The customer can verify this with an app on their phone, and once they do so, they earn their reward points at the same time. The rewards can be used to purchase more goods in the store, which encourages customers to keep using Techrock.

Techrock’s partnership with Rakuten means that Chinese customers don’t have to worry about fakes, and they have streamlined access to authentic, safe products. Techrock Co-Founder Alexander Busarov told CCN:

“We already sell in over 220 or 230 cities where our consumers are located. It’s all sent by the local dealer companies. We think our business will grow as the demand grows.”

China is reportedly the largest market for both food and firms that verify the safety of food. Consumers have been driven online as they continually lose trust in local vendors. Regulations and other issues make it such that local companies, like Techrock, will ultimately supply the demand.

Techrock’s partnership with Rakuten is notable because they’re the third to secure such a partnership – JD.com being one of the first – and they are built entirely on blockchain.

Source: Rakuten Taps Chinese Blockchain Firm for $60 Billion Authenticity Market

World’s Largest Business Organization Embraces Blockchain

The International Chamber of Commerce counts members from 130 countries among its ranks.Getty

From the embers of World War I emerged a new kind of organization, led by entrepreneurs, committed to ensuring the free flow of goods across the world’s war-ravaged borders.

The International Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is to streamline global business, is one of last vestiges of the League of Nations, founded in 1920 by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson to peacefully settle international disputes. By 1923, following the League’s lead, the ICC had established international courts to arbitrate business disputes, and in the aftermath of WW II, it represented global business interests at the Bretton Woods conference, which established the current monetary order.

“If goods are able to move across borders without the need to be accompanied by troops,” says John Denton, the ICC’s current secretary general, “there is a higher probability of peace and prosperity.” The Paris-based group, which represents 45 million businesses in more than 130 countries and brands itself the world’s largest business organization, is now making its boldest play in a generation.

With global borders hardening once again, this time behind border walls, broken unions and looming trade wars, Denton signed an agreement with the Singapore-based blockchain startup Perlin Net Group to explore how the technology, made popular by bitcoin for its ability to move value without banks, could help the ICC continue its mission to facilitate the free flow of goods.

“We can trace back the ICC interventions that made a big impact on the global economy in the 20th century,” says Denton, who was a fellow at the Australian Institute of International Affairs before being appointed secretary general of the ICC last year. “We think this might be one which we can look back on in 100 years and say the ICC shifted blockchain in a way that enabled the private sector to function more effectively in a sustainable way and actually create more opportunities for people.”

According to the terms of the agreement, part of which was shown to Forbes, the ICC and Perlin will create a new group, the ICC Blockchain/DLT Alliance, a reference to distributed ledger technology similar to the blockchain that powers bitcoin. The companies are exploring how Perlin’s blockchain platform, which has yet to publicly launch, could be used to shine a light on obscure supply chains and simplify cross-border trade finance.

As part of the agreement, the ICC will help Perlin recruit members to its nascent blockchain alliance, specifically by making introductions to the organization’s massive member pool, which in addition to most national chambers of commerce includes direct membership from companies like Amazon, Coca Cola, Fedex, McDonalds and PayPal. Also, as part of the agreement, Perlin will join the ICC as an official technology partner, offering free access to its blockchain platform during the early stages of the project.

Denton shared his plans with the ICC Banking Commission at its annual event in Beijing earlier this week, and the agreement, which was signed on March 20, will be formally announced at an ICC event in Singapore later today.

Unlike some early blockchain consortia, the ICC Blockchain/DLT Alliance already had projects under way when it was announced. According to the agreement, the ICC and Perlin will share the results of their first blockchain proof of concept, a collaboration with the fabric giant Asia Pacific Rayon (APR), in May at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

For that project, called “Follow Our Fibre,” APR is logging data in the blockchain at every level of its supply chain, from the trees that are harvested to the chemical treatments that turn them into the silk-like rayon substance through to the massive spools that are later sold to clothing producers.

“Globally, there is a dynamic shift in the textiles and fashion sectors calling for a more traceable and transparent supply chain,” says Cherie Tan, vice president of communications and sustainability at APR. “Follow Our Fibre will enable us to leverage powerful blockchain functionality to drive greater efficiencies.”

Other proofs of concept in the works that stand to benefit from the ICC partnership include a project with Mfused, a cannabis processor in Washington State that is using Perlin’s tech to prove the origin of its plants by recording every level of its supply chain, from when they are planted to when the cannabis is inhaled, in a shared, distributed ledger; a project with an unnamed tuna processor in Latin America; and a developing project in Africa to trace the origin of cobalt, which has a long history of being mined by unethical supply chain participants.

Assuming enough supply chains are unified on the Perlin blockchain, businesses could log digital representations of the commodities, called tokens, on the platform. This will enable the counterparties to trade directly, with bills of lading required to move freight and letters of credit, which are typically handled by banks, all tracked directly on the shared ledger.

“An interesting economic model is we could effectively launch governance around this,” says Denton. “If we’re able to tokenize this we could insert ourselves as the trusted intermediary, and there would probably be an admin charge, but not much.” A 2018 report by the ICC, the World Bank and others found that 90% of the world’s trade finance was being provided by 13 banks, something Denton thinks is evidence of a need to decentralize.

Perlin’s blockchain, like ethereum’s, is being designed to let users track and move all kinds of value and write distributed applications (dapps) that don’t rely on centralized processors. Also like ethereum, Perlin will have a native cryptocurrency, called perls, which are expected to be minted over the coming three months or so, depending on regulatory considerations.

While supply chain management is increasingly seen as ripe for disruption by blockchain, models like Perlin’s, which rely on tokens, have had difficulty gaining traction as regulators clamp down on what is required of such tokens. By contrast, models using permissioned blockchains, such as what IBM is doing with a number of industry-specific consortia, and what R3 and Hyperledger are doing more generally, are seeing broader interest.

Perlin founder Dorjee Sun positions the nascent ICC network as similar to competing consortia but for small and medium-size businesses. “This is a massive democratization effort of DLT, because now any company of the 45 million ICC members can give the benefits of DLT a try,” says Sun. “Not just massive companies that can afford IBM’s services.”

Be among the first to get important crypto and blockchain news and information with Forbes Crypto Confidential. It’s free, sign up now.

I report on how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being adopted by enterprises and the broader business community. My coverage includes the use of cryptocurrencies su

Source: World’s Largest Business Organization Embraces Blockchain

JP Morgan unveils its own cryptocurrency | Crypto Insider

J.P. Morgan might seem like the most unlikely party to create a cryptocurrency asset. Jamie Dimon, J.P. Morgan’s CEO, is known for his negativity toward bitcoin. In a September 2017 article, Fortune reported on Dimon calling BTC “a fraud.” Although, the same article included details of Dimon’s apparent positive sentiment toward blockchain technology solutions, as seen in J.P. Morgan’s previous research and projects in the field.

Source: JP Morgan unveils its own cryptocurrency | Crypto Insider

The Republic of Abkhazia regulates crypto-mining to get through the winter | Crypto Insider

The little nation of Abkhazia unrecognized lies on the East coast of the Black Sea, North of Georgia. Formerly part of Soviet Georgia, it is still not recognized as independent by the international community since its independence war in 1993. It currently homes a population of under 4 million people. In recent years, cryptocurrency mining operations have been erected in abandoned Soviet factories and in people’s home.  The troubled power-supply system is now struggling under the increasing pressure of the mining facilities.

Source: The Republic of Abkhazia regulates crypto-mining to get through the winter | Crypto Insider

Taiwan to launch blockchain-based digital ID system in 2020 – TokenPost

The government of Taiwan is planning to roll out a blockchain-powered digital identification system in 2020, local news outlet CNA reported last week. Premier William Lai announced plans to launch the new eID system at a meeting held last week. The initiative is part of the broader efforts aimed at implementing “smart government” to promote the digital transformation of the government.

Source: Taiwan to launch blockchain-based digital ID system in 2020 – TokenPost

The Best Blockchain Jobs And Careers Available Today – Bernard Marr

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Blockchain expertise captured the No. 1 position on the latest skills index by Upwork for being the hottest in the U.S. job market. This is just one of the many indicators of how high the demand is for people with blockchain skills. Blockchain may have begun in finance to support cryptocurrencies, but now blockchain technology and the solutions it can provide are being explored by industries from healthcare to insurance to manufacturing and more.

The only way companies can explore and achieve goals with blockchain is to hire those who have the skill-set to navigate this new technology. Here we’ll spotlight what blockchain technology is, who wants those with blockchain skills and some of the best blockchain jobs and careers that are available today.

What is blockchain technology?

Although blockchain technology was first developed to use with the cryptocurrency bitcoin in 2008, it is essentially a distributed database that can store any type of record. Users can only edit the parts of the blockchain they own, making it highly secure, but anyone with access to the blockchain can see it, so it is also highly transparent.

Some have described blockchain as the “internet of value”—anyone can send value anywhere the blockchain file can be accessed just like anyone can publish information that others can access on the internet no matter where they are in the world. Now that blockchain technology has expanded beyond the financial sector, many companies representing many industries are researching and exploring how adopting blockchain could help their business.

Where is the demand for blockchain skills?

Blockchain has become what the “cloud” was in the mid-2000s, poised to be the most highly talked about technology and one that offers tremendous professional opportunity. According to Upwork’s skills index, blockchain is the fastest-growing skill out of more than 5,000 on the site. Currently, demand is far outpacing supply. According to Burning Glass Technologies, there were more than 5,743 largely full-time job openings posted that required blockchain skills in the last 12 months.

Even though as a skill-set, blockchain technology is in its infancy, it’s in demand from start-ups as well as established companies such as IBM and Samsung. Organizations are exploring not only cryptopcurrencies powered by blockchain but how the distributed ledgers that are the backbone of blockchain can be applied in other areas such as supply chains, legal, contracts and more.

Blockchain research and adoption requires the leadership and skills of professionals who can build the strategy and develop the blockchain solutions. Here are a few of the hottest positions:

Blockchain Developer

Since there is virtually no industry leader who isn’t somewhat intrigued by the potential opportunities made possible through blockchain technology, blockchain developers who have the expertise to help companies develop blockchain platforms are in high demand. Blockchain development might offer the most robust career path at the moment, because until solutions are developed, all the benefits of blockchain can’t be realized. Some organizations call this role a blockchain engineer. This is a highly technical position that requires tremendous attention to detail.

Blockchain project manager

A blockchain project manager has the responsibility to connect the dots from an organization’s specific business cases for blockchain technology to blockchain experts (internal or external) who will develop the blockchain solution. This expert needs to have the traditional expertise of a project manager working in any industry plus the technological know-how to make sense of blockchain and communicate to non-technical people in the organization to provide effective updates and get resourcing.

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Blockchain designer

Now that blockchain is expanding to a variety of industries and being used not just by computer scientists but also by people who want to capitalize on its efficiencies, cost-savings and more, the user interface and design of blockchain solutions is becoming more important. Blockchain designers consider how to design a user experience that connotes trust and is appealing to an everyday user while also reflecting the very attributes that make blockchain special—no middlemen, a frictionless experience and more.

Blockchain quality engineer

Similar to quality assurance engineers in any development environment, a blockchain quality engineer has a responsibility to test and ensure all areas of quality in the blockchain development environment. The specialty of blockchain quality engineers is testing and automation and test frameworks for blockchain. They guide the test strategy for blockchain development and develop and maintain QA test standards.

Blockchain attorney or legal consultant

As organizations grapple with the implications of launching new technology, legal questions arise. Companies are increasingly looking for legal expertise on what they need to consider as they launch blockchain technologies with implications for how business and finance are handled, transactions are tracked and confirmed, as well as how identity is managed.

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, so will the professional opportunities it makes possible. Although it’s impossible to predict how it will all shake out, those with blockchain expertise will likely be in high demand for many years to come.

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