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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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Blockchain-Based Alternative Investment Firm to Be Listed on Bloomberg Terminal

Blockchain-Based Alternative Investment Firm to Be Listed on Bloomberg Terminal

A blockchain-based alternative investment provider that tokenizes commercial debt is being listed on the Bloomberg Terminal, according to a news release published on June 4.

Cadence is believed to be the first digital asset to obtain a Financial Instrument Global Identifier (FIGI), enabling professionals who use the Bloomberg Terminal to research its offering and execute trades.

The company connects investors with businesses that need to borrow money in order to plug temporary gaps in their cash flow. On its website, Cadence says the minimum investment amount is $500, giving consumers “opportunities traditionally reserved for institutions.”

Currently in private beta, Cadence claims its platform allows investors to generate passive income and hedge against market volatility. Every deal matures within a year, and the company is aiming to deliver annualized returns of more than 10%.

In the news release, Bloomberg Head of Data Standards and Strategy Richard Robinson said:

“The assignment of a FIGI to digital assets is a natural and simple example of the standard’s native utility. It is proof that FIGI can easily extend to new, even esoteric financial instruments.”

Last June, the Bloomberg Terminal started listing Huobi’s Cryptocurrency Index, which tracks the performance of the top 10 traded assets on its exchange.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

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

Blockchain in Trade Finance: Arguably the Hottest Banking Trend Right Now

In the journey to digitalizing trade, blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) have emerged as powerful technologies promising to bring tremendous new opportunities for trade finance. At the 2018 Singapore Fintech Festival, experts discussed the many opportunities that blockchain brings to the table, with Jim Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary for services at the US Department of Commerce of International Trade Administration, citing two core areas for blockchain: trade finance and supply chain. Sullivan spoke about an advisory committee for the US Secretary of Commerce that is working to evaluate different standards across the world and the feasibility of leveraging blockchain in trade finance…………

Source: Blockchain in Trade Finance: Arguably the Hottest Banking Trend Right Now

Wyoming ‘financial technology sandbox’ bill seeks to boost blockchain and fintech innovation – TokenPost

A bill has been introduced in Wyoming’s state legislature to establish financial technology sandbox in order to boost innovation in this space. Introduced last week, the “Financial Technology Sandbox Act” seeks to create a financial technology sandbox for the testing of financial products and services in the state of Wyoming.

Source: Wyoming ‘financial technology sandbox’ bill seeks to boost blockchain and fintech innovation – TokenPost

Indian media giant The Times Group invests in blockchain-based referral platform Ponder – TokenPost

Brand Capital, the strategic investment arm of BCCL Indias largest media group, has acquired a stake in Ponder, a blockchain-based referral platform.Ponder aims to simplify and make it enjoyable to make and find…

Source: Indian media giant The Times Group invests in blockchain-based referral platform Ponder – TokenPost

3 Very Important Ways Blockchain Technology Will Save Social Media Marketing

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You probably heard about the hot water Facebook is in. The eyebrows raised over the way Cambridge Analytica and Facebook used consumer data is a definite red flag for everyone on social media. However, there may be a savior for social media via blockchain technology.

Facebook is the most widely used social media network with over two billion monthly active users. The social media giant is also in trouble for mishandling millions of users’ consumer data.

 Consumer data was often collected like this . . .

The unsavory attention Facebook is getting has caused the company to make some big changes in the way it does business. These changes are ultimately causing issues for content marketers.

Changes to how data is used and privacy policies affecting marketers and businesses that leverage social media include:

  • No more Facebook Messenger chatbots (at least for the time being)
  • Stronger restrictions on Facebook data
  • Decrease in the number of organic posts for businesses
  • Decrease in the collection of mobile user data

These new policies may alter the very fabric of social media. It is also a blow to content marketers who use Facebook to target consumers via ads.

Won’t New Social Media Policies Favor Users?

The troubling news of how Facebook misused user data has caused a stir in the digital marketing space. The big question is can social media be saved? Well, chances are, people will continue to use social media.

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social channels allow people to connect with friends, family, topics, and issues they care about. This is what makes social media so powerful.

With little surprise, the changes to social media policies after the Facebook situation had severe consequences for marketers. For example, cost per thousand impressions (CPM) has skyrocketed to 77 percent as impressions drop significantly.

Problems for users are also possible. In theory, many would think that stricter user data privacy policies would return power to users. Not really.

Yes, there are benefits for consumers, but social users may also be bombarded with a slew of non-targeted ads under new policies. This could also open up consumers to more malware attacks via ads.

Is there a solution? Can social media be saved in a way that benefits both consumers and marketers? The answer to both is absolutely. Enter blockchain technology and decentralization.

How Blockchain Technology Will Save Social Media for Consumers and Marketers

The relationship between blockchain technology and social media is nothing new. In fact, much of blockchain and cryptocurrency popularity can be attributed to social media through networks and forums.

Ironically, the technology social media helped reach the masses will be the technology to save it. How? The obstacles social media is struggling with can be overcome using blockchain technology.

Blockchain technology can return control of personal data and browsing history to users while still allowing marketers to still deliver targeted ads. It is a win-win way to ensure debacles lie the one Facebook is currently recovering from will never happen again.

What is the catalyst blockchain technology serves up that social media is in desperate need of? Decentralization! Here are a few ways decentralizing social media will make the difference.

1. Transparent Open Source Social Networks

Many consumers have got a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to centralized institutions. Facebook, Twitter, and Google are networks that can be censored by the government and have algorithm biases in place to direct consumers toward the content they consume.

However, blockchain technology is all about decentralization. It will take out the centralized bias and oversight, thus returning social networks to peer-to-peer interactions. This will make social channels open source and highly transparent.

Steemit is a good example of a decentralized social platform where people can share content via peer-to-peer interactions.

2. Fraud Free Advertising and BAT

Marketers are simply not getting the ROI on ads anymore. Why? Middlemen are selling off inaccurate user data. Marketers are also not the only ones getting middleman consumer data either, so are online scammers.

This has caused a lot of fraudulent ads and malware attacks on consumers. These attacks have led to the rise of ad blockers and other online safety measures, because consumers no longer trust the ads they get.

Blockchain technology can change this. By cutting out the middlemen, users regain control of their browsing data. Marketers can then ask consumers if they would like to share their data with them in return for cryptocurrency like the Basic Attention Token (BAT).

Contrary to what many would think, BAT is good for marketers. Instead of getting inaccurate consumer data from middlemen, they no get data straight from people interested in the products and services they are delivering ads on.

This leads to better ROI for marketers, and less chance of fraud and malware attacks for online consumers.

3. Better Influencer Marketing

Cutting out the middlemen, marketers can decrease operation costs. Where can you invest this saved marketing money? Influencers. You can save on influencer marketing by cutting out middlemen here too. For instance, influencer manager or agency fees can be as high as 30 percent per ad campaign.

Using blockchain technology and its decentralized protocols, you can analyze the true value of influencers as well. From micro-influencers to celebrities, blockchain verification protocols make vetting influencers accurate and easy.

This allows marketers to pinpoint what influencers have the biggest ROI potential, and ensure that the audience they are appealing to is real and not social bots.

Building Better Social Networks with Blockchain Technology

There are plenty of upsides to decentralizing social media. Not only will user data be managed and used better, marketers can get a clearer picture of consumer behavior. This can lead to increased trust via transparency, better influencer marketing campaigns, and most importantly, increased ROI. How can blockchain technology help your social media marketing game?

By: Nick Rojas

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