Amazon Web Services, the e-commerce giant’s cloud computing arm, is having its proverbial blockchain cake and eating it, too.

In late November, AWS unveiled a new service during its re:Invent event that lets clients build their own cloud-based blockchains, using Hyperledger Fabric or ethereum as templates for such projects.

That announcement was the next step in a long-running process that has seen the cloud giant continuing to dip its toes ever-deeper into the blockchain pond. Previously, AWS showed its hand by striking partnerships with firms like bank-backed startup R3 and, later, the ConsenSys-tied Kaleido. With Amazon Managed Blockchain, AWS was clearly trying to take that one step further – but at the same time, the cloud services company isn’t making any claims that all of its clients will benefit from using blockchain.

Indeed, according to Rahul Pathak, AWS’ general manager for big data, data lakes and blockchain, conversations with its customers led Amazon to the conclusion that blockchain isn’t some kind of panacea, but is rather suited for specific business problems that many clients simply don’t encounter.

“You can imagine a large manufacturer who wants all of its partners to write on its ledger about trading items through its network,” Pathak explained. In such cases, a “blockchain network brings in an unnecessary complexity, because you don’t need the distributed trust or the consensus elements.”

Amazon’s conference saw another cloud offering – Amazon Quantum Ledger Database, or QLDB – take the stage. That offering is being marketed as a radically easier way to build cryptographically protected databases, and Amazon is betting that in some cases, customers will prefer that to any kind of blockchain solution.

“Some customers wanted an immutable ledger, but centralized trust was ok, and for that we have QLDB, and some wanted an immutable ledger, but also decentralized trust, and that’s where Amazon Managed Blockchain came into play,” Pathak explained.

Ledger selections

That sense of pragmatism – that some companies don’t need a distributed database or simply aren’t interested in blockchain – extends to the top of AWS’ ranks.

As CEO Andy Jassy said during his keynote speech at the re:Invent: “We just hadn’t seen that many blockchain examples in production or that couldn’t pretty easily be solved by a database.”

In fact, AWS is stating that blockchain is not needed for the most touted enterprise blockchain use cases. Even still, some of AWS’ clients – a list that boasts some notable enterprise-level names – are giving the blockchain platform a try.

This list includes communication giant Verizon, electronics manufacturer Philips, clearing and settlement provider DTCC, aircraft engine supplier GE Aviation, insurance companies Liberty Mutual and Guardian Life, software vendor Workday and healthcare technology provider Change Healthcare. Their logos can be seen on the Amazon Managed Blockchain website.

For these early participants, only a preview is available so far, and in case of the managed blockchain, it’s Hyperledger Fabric. Ethereum will also become available in the coming months, Pathak told CoinDesk, but the exact dates are not public.

According to Daniel Johnson, CTO and head of innovation at Guardian Life, testing the AWS’ product is part of its ongoing experiment with blockchain systems that the company has been conducting since 2015. This process has included the development of private blockchain prototypes using ethereum, Hyperledger, and some of the options available on Microsoft Azure.

As Guardian has been using other Amazon’s services for several years now, trying this one seemed logical — and more rational than joining a consortium and running their own node, Johnson told CoinDesk.

“We’d rather have a large provider and let them administer lower-level technical services. Amazon becomes a trusted third party instead of us going into a consortium where you have to worry about that person leaving or another person joining. We’d rather have a technology company that has financial stability and is really performing well, and rely on them,” Johnson said.

Addressing the security concern of vulnerable data sitting outside the company’s venue in the AWS cloud, he said that actually, such a solution is viewed by Guardian as a more secure one.

“If there is a country that wants to hack your system, Amazon has pretty extensive security measures, different controls in place, they can do it a lot better than any enterprise,” Johnson said.

If this is the thinking of other Amazon clients testing the new cloud service (the other seven firms didn’t provide detailed answers about it), and given that Amazon is now a dominant cloud service provider in the world (with 41.5 percent of the market, according to a report by Cloud Security Alliance), the product might be a formidable competition to the existing blockchain consortia, the first ones of which have recently gone live.

Inking relationships

Curiously enough, Amazon has recently partnered with a number of blockchain solutions providers, but the new products have been developed exclusively by the AWS team, Pathak told CoinDesk.

Back in 2017, Amazon hosted Corda on its marketplace, allowing customers to deploy and use dApps on the R3-developed blockchain.

In May, another partnership was announced with the ConsenSys-backed startup Kaleido, which builds enterprise blockchains on ethereum. However, both Pathak and Kaleido co-founder Sophia Lopez told CoinDesk that Kaleido wasn’t involved in the development of the ethereum part of Managed Blockchain.

“Kaleido is working with us across the number of other areas, their focus is bringing their own service to the AWS customers,” Pathak told CoinDesk. Asked if there will be competition between Amazon’s own service for building ethereum-based enterprise blockchains and Kaleido’s, he said he didn’t believe that was the case.

“It’s still very early, and there will be plenty of opportunities for customers to work with any of us or both of us,” Pathak said.

Lopez told CoinDesk that the partnership with AWS has been a productive one, helping create more than 1,500 blockchain networks with Kaleido’s service at AWS. But the Amazon’s own ethereum offering of the Managed Blockchain will be only “five to ten percent” of the solutions clients need to run a blockchain, she said.

Other necessary parts are the constellation of identity, key management, business process modeling services, smart contracts instruments and other tools around the blockchain technology itself. As Lopez said: “Clients need a lot more help.”

“So far AWS has only a template, or a script for one-time initial deployment [for ethereum],” she explained. “It’s one small step forward. They are trying to catch up with other vendors who have been offering something like this over the last year or two.”

But what about blockchain?

While the approach may be winning plaudits from enterprises, participants on the AWS subreddit recently struck skeptical tones during an AMA in late November after the twin services were launched.

A user going by the handle alsomahler noted that users won’t be able to do anything in case their transaction record gets changed: “You can’t prove that merely by using a blockchain. It’s possible for you to fork at an earlier block and included transactions in a new history of blocks. Obviously, a user could keep track of the block hashes themselves, but even then, they can’t prove it in court. Do you have mechanisms to make this more difficult?”

Another one reminded about the core principles of blockchain: “Why should we trust a centralized authority? The core virtue of distributed ledgers is the avoidance of centralized authorities. Central point of control = not trustworthy.”

To these and similar arguments, AWS’ answer was that “customers building on QLDB will trust that AWS is faithfully executing their SQL statements to update the current and history views of their data. But once the journal transactions are published, they cannot be changed even by AWS without detection.”

Pathak added that QLDB is designed for the use cases when there is a trusted authority recognized by all participants and centralization is not an issue.

“What QLDB provides is you will be able to verify that the ledger has not been changed or forked, otherwise you will be able to detect it,” he explained.

Another question is the viability of the systems that allow users to use blockchains without running nodes, making the process radically easier but opening a single point of failure as there is a centralized provider of hardware. Event public blockchains face this problem, like ethereum, in which a service called Infura handles a significant share of transactions.

Pathak says that Amazon makes efforts to guarantee the resilience of its services and “invests a lot of resources to make sure the system stays available in case of different failures.”

Another way to solve this problem for blockchain projects is to include nodes not hosted at AWS, Pathak said, suggesting that, in the end, some decentralization still might be needed.

*This post is credited to Coindesk

If you want a loan from a financial institution, you’ll probably need to sign off on a credit check – a look at your personal loan history – to go along with it. Credit checks are far from comprehensive, though. Chances are, someone with little to no loan history – or banking history, for that matter – won’t get approved, especially if that loan is large, say like a loan you need to start a business.

“A lot of the traditional models are not applicable to onboard those people into financial systems,” says Sarah Zhang, co-founder of Singapore-based Points.

Not to mention that the agencies traditionally used to run credit checks are prone to data leaks. Remember the Equifax breach last year?

“You need to have a much better infrastructure that doesn’t ask to expose people’s data,” explains Zhang.

That’s where Points – also called PTS – picks up the slack. Founded last year, the blockchain-powered startup uses AI and big data to assess factors like an individual’s occupation, bill payments, and shopping activities to calculate a credit score.

PTS raised US$8 million in seed funding this year. Contributors included Danhua Capital, Ceyuan Ventures, the Ontology Foundation, and Zhong Cheng Xin Credit Technology, China’s first nationwide credit rating agency.

Co-founders Kate Shen and Sarah Zhang / Photo credit: Points

The blockchain answer

Zhang served as chair for Beijing-based blockchain talent platform dCamp, chief operating officer and senior director of Segway Robotics, and senior product manager at Amazon. A Harvard Business School graduate, She discovered blockchain while working in Silicon Valley in 2014, while she was a growth hacker for Draper University, the entrepreneurship school founded by venture capitalist Tim Draper.

“I thought it [blockchain] was an interesting idea, but the question kept coming back to me: what is the actual use case?” Zhang tells Tech in Asia. After puzzling over how to apply blockchain for a few years, she came to the conclusion that finance was a place where she could make an impact.

PTS faces competition from a lot of fintech startups trying to close the gap left by the credit industry. In May, Singapore-based Helicap, which uses peer-to-peer lending to assist loan-seeking small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), raised US$25 million in funding in May this year. In China, Tencent tried out Tencent Credit, a credit and microloan service in January. Other blockchain startups such as Colendi, Inviou, and Bloom also focus on addressing this issue, mostly for SMEs.

PTS, however, hopes that more individuals can use its platform, including those who are unbanked outside of China, in countries like Indonesia where it hopes to expand.

Points of contention

A big leg-up that PTS has is that it doesn’t actually store customers’ data. Traditionally, banks need to upload borrower profiles as part of the vetting process. Not only does this approach takes up time and data storage space, but the stored info is also vulnerable to hacks.

PTS’ protocol is built on top of Ontology, a public blockchain project and distributed trust collaboration platform. A user can submit their information to the protocol, which will calculate a credit score based on that input as well as data from credit bureaus that PTS has partnered with. The protocol acts like a secured highway, so it only approves or denies an application based on the credit score – it does not actually store the information. This limits the chance of a security breach during the calculation process.

Data – getting and safeguarding it – remains the company’s biggest challenge. “The sheer amount of data input is huge – 80 kinds of variables from 500 million consumers,” Zhang says. Even if someone did attack the system, the blockchain encryption keeps hackers from deciphering what they’ve found.

PTS recently teamed up with smart contract platform Oasis Labs to do further research into secure computation.

“We examine where traditionally things can go wrong,” points out Zhang. The protocol has a system in place to “punish data leakers.”

“Even if the data is leaked, we can analyze and know who is in the data – it can help to track down what has actually happened,” she adds.

Key use cases

The startup’s’ product is already up and running with three different applications. PTS has a nationwide KYC partners with Teleinfo, a subsidiary of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. KYC means “know your customer,” a banking term that involves customer identity verification and anti-fraud processes. Additionally, it has a credit rating application in partnership with Zhong Cheng Xin Credit Technology, giving it access to customers from China’s major banks.

PTS has also launched Coinsta, an ecosystem application and digital management tool available on Android that’s aimed at making wealth management services accessible to users from all income levels. To participate in the cryptocurrency-related services on Coinsta, customers must pass the KYC process. They are then also encouraged to contribute their personal data to Coinsta’s digital identity management database. As incentive, users receive PTS tokens for their data that they can later exchange for coupons and other perks.

Coinsta is the first planned ecosystem of applications built on top of the PTS protocol.

Zhang and co-founder Kate Shen are working on increasing input from customers and collaborating with more partners like lending firms, which can bring more users and data to PTS. The startup is also looking to integrate with more consumer-facing apps like Coinsta that can use the PTS protocol. The founders and their 20-strong team also have their eye on expanding into Southeast Asia.

Shen assists the technical team and helps manage the business. A former country manager for Xiaomi Singapore and Malaysia, she previously served as the chair for Capital Normal University’s computer science alumni group in Beijing. She also had stints managing the search team for Hulu and working for tech giant Microsoft. Several of PTS’ core team members were formerly with for US streaming service Hulu as well.

*This post is credited to Tech in Asia

On Nov. 28, e-commerce giant Amazon announced two blockchain-related products: Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and Amazon Managed Blockchain. The company hence marked its further expansion into the field of blockchain technology, which started with blockchain-related patents and collaborations that Amazon has seemingly chose over working with cryptocurrencies, per se.

So what are those new projects and are they going to change the crypto industry?

QLDB: Cryptographic, but centralized database

As per Amazon’s website, QLDB is a ledger database designed to provide “transparent, immutable and cryptographically verifiable log of transactions,” which is overseen by “a central trusted authority.”

Thus, all changes are purportedly recorded on-chain, while the new product is also able to automatically scale to “execute 2–3X as many transactions than ledgers in common blockchain frameworks.” Indeed, Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), reportedly stated that the QLDB “will be really scalable, you’ll have a much more flexible and robust set of APIs [application program interfaces] for you to make any kind of changes or adjustments to the ledger database.”

Additionally, QLDB allegedly uses a cryptographic hash function (SHA-256) to generate a secure output file of data’s change history, serving as a proof that “validates the integrity of data changes.”

“With QLDB, your data’s change history is immutable — it cannot be altered or deleted — and using cryptography, you can easily verify that there have been no unintended modifications to your application’s data,” according to the description on Amazon’s website.

Walter Montes, co-founder of the Costa Rican Blockchain Community, told Cointelegraph that — being a centralized product — QLDB cannot be compared to decentralized solutions, although it does attempt to do so in its roadmap:

“It makes no sense to compare things like transactions per second from a centralized service to a decentralized one. There are reasons why these things are decentralized and these are not merely technical ones. Amazon seems to miss the point by comparing QLDB with a blockchain.”

Even if one attempts to compare QLDB with permissioned blockchains, which are common among industry-level corporations because of their security, there are major distinctions between the two, says Montes:

“Permissioned blockchains handle cryptography in a decentralized way, which provides properties like historical evidence […] Another relevant point is the value of the smart contracts or chaincodes, which function as agreed and signed rules on how to modify the data. At least in the public information, they only address the immutability promise, but what about the governing rules of data? Without that, they only log whatever happens, with no real proactive control.”

That technically makes QLDB a database, argues Eyal Shani, a blockchain researcher and former software engineer, as well as Aykesubir consultant:

“QLDB is a normal database from that sense, [while] a blockchain database is also an immutable ledger […] the QLDB tech is another layer of software which eases the development of ledger-like software.”

Montes also agrees that QLDB resembles a conventional database, adding that its cryptography feature still makes it inferior to blockchains in terms of safety.

“Cryptography may calm down some users but doesn’t provide the security and robustness that a blockchain provides. [It is more] like a marketing tool.”

Moreover, the fact that there is a central authority overseeing the whole process might make it less reliable among competing businesses:

“Imagine six banks of the same size trusting one of them (a competitor) to hold a ‘cryptographically linked-list’ that they can verify. They simply won’t trust it. [Instead], they’d end up creating their own data store and then checking data versions daily. Cryptography is there in part to verify things, but when you can’t even do that, it falls short.”

Why QLDB avoids decentralization?

So who are the potential users of Amazon’s QLDB solution? Perhaps those who have become skeptical of the blockchain buzzword, now that the hype has begun to settle, suggests Shani:

“Some believe in that as much as Satoshi and some don’t want to hear about decentralization, possibly because of the bad reputation it had and the excessive amount of speculators in the cryptosphere.

“It’s marketing buzz, we see it with artificial intelligence and [the] Internet of Things, too. That may continue to happen until creating a real decentralized blockchain is as easy as creating a database today.”

Therefore, with further development of blockchain comes greater adoption. It might take more time until decentralization becomes a more trusted solution among corporations looking to shield their data from tampering:

“Decentralization of trust as a concept is something that could fundamentally disrupt some industries, but it’ll take time until we get there. The public and the regulators would have to change their mindset in order for that to happen fully […] Meanwhile, the use of blockchain-like applications and tokenization of assets is already a big jump to many industries and will ease the change into blockchains in the long run.”

Amazon Managed Blockchain: Add-on to QLDB or independent blockchain solution?

Amazon Managed Blockchain, which was announced along with the QLDB, “makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks using the popular open source frameworks Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum,” but also works with QLDB itself, according to the company’s website.

Further, the product automatically scales depending on the needs of specific applications and is deployed in managing certificates, inviting new users to the network and tracing metrics, such as memory and storage resources and usage of computer, Amazon argues. AWS CEO Andy Jassy claims that this service “is going to make it much easier to use the two most popular blockchain frameworks [Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric].”

Shani questions that argument by stating that Ethereum and Hyperledger blockchains are already “easily” set up in the industry’s present circumstances. The blockchain researcher also emphasizes the vagueness of Amazon’s press release:

“Governance in distributed protocol is an important aspect, but it’s unclear in what manner Amazon achieves this. If they implemented it in a centralized manner, how different is that from QLDB?”

Montes, in turn, doesn’t believe that a managed blockchain service offering may be around for long because “it limits open scalability (in a technology that is based on network-effects) by locking it up into a single cloud provider.” However, such solutions might be useful for testing and proof-of-concept (PoC) operations, he adds.

Still, the fact that a company as large as Amazon announced new blockchain-related products might seem like a healthy sign for the industry.

“From a macro point of view, the more research and development being done around Ethereum, the more the protocol strengthens and grows into a global adoption as a standard,” Shani concludes.

*This post is credited to CoinTelegraph

Tech giant Amazon is launching a blockchain service to help clients develop blockchain networks without incurring the costs of creating their own platform.

Announced Wednesday at Amazon’s re:Invent conference, the Amazon Managed Blockchain platform “is a fully managed service that makes it easy to create and manage scalable blockchain networks.” Users can build platforms using either Hyperledger Fabric or ethereum, though the latter is not yet available.

The new platform is another aspect of Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s cloud computing subsidiary which powers a large number of websites and services, including platforms like Netflix.

“Amazon Managed Blockchain eliminates the overhead required to create the network, and automatically scales to meet the demands of thousands of applications running millions of transactions,” the service’s website says.

Further, the company announced that the blockchain platform can store data on another database product, saying:

“Managed Blockchain can replicate an immutable copy of your blockchain network activity into Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB), a fully managed ledger database. This allows you to easily analyze the network activity outside the network and gain insights into trends.”

The QLDB is not a blockchain platform, but can be used in conjunction with Amazon’s blockchain product to “maintain a complete and verifiable history of data changes.”

The service is currently in preview, meaning those interested can sign up. If approved, they will be able to create a blockchain network, at which point they can either invite other Amazon Web Services members or “create more members in your account to simulate a multi-member network,” according to an FAQ section.

*This post is credited to Coindesk

If the present cryptocurrency price drop is akin to the dot-com crash of 2000, then Lou Kerner believes Bitcoin will be the Amazon of the cryptocurrency era. The top-ranked virtual currency is currently down 77 percent from its mid-December all-time high.


‘HODLERS’ GAIN REWARDS EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS

Speaking recently to CNBC, the CryptoOracle partner said that long-term Bitcoin holders reaped massive gains every couple of years. Kerner’s comments come at a time when BTC and other cryptocurrency prices have taken a significant nosedive.

Dot Com Bubble

Kerner drew parallels between the current state of the virtual currency market and the situation with tech stocks during the internet bubble and subsequent dot-com crash. According to Kerner, Amazon, one of the largest global conglomerates today saw its share price plummet massively after the crash.

Commenting on the volatile nature of the market, Kerner said:

There was a day in 2013 when we were down 70 percent overnight. Nobody likes being down like this. But this is what investing in crypto is all about.

Seemingly echoing Kerner’s sentiments, Mati Greenspan, Senior Market Analyst at eToro published a tweet showing the percentage decline of some tech stock during the 2000 dot-com crash. Despite losing almost 99 percent of its share price after the crash, Amazon went on to become the second U.S. company to achieve unicorn status – market valuation of $1 million.

Comparing cryptocurrency to the internet bubble of the 90s is a well-worn analogy used by both enthusiasts and critics alike. The latter group usually bring up the argument to back up their bubble claims while the former uses it an indication of that cryptocurrencies are the next big thing.

BITCOIN IS THE GREATEST STORE OF VALUE

For Kerner, the current price drop is because cryptocurrency is yet to generate utility with the bulk of the trading activity being a mere speculative investment. However, the CryptoOracle partner singled out Bitcoin as having the potential to replace Gold.

According to Kerner, the top-ranked cryptocurrency is “the greatest store of value ever created.” Meanwhile, permabulls like John McAfee say the current price rout is nothing out of the ordinary. Even Fundstrat co-founder, Tom Lee recently stood by his $15,000 end-of-year forecast despite the current price decline.

*This post is credited to Bitcoinist 

Big tech is getting in on blockchain in a big way. Microsoft has launched a cloud-based blockchain development kit powered by Azure.

“This kit extends the capabilities of our blockchain developer templates and Azure Blockchain Workbench, which incorporates Azure services for key management, off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging APIs into a reference architecture that can be used to rapidly build blockchain-based applications,” Microsoft blockchain engineering lead Marc Mercuri said.

The initial release will focus on three key themes: connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks.

Among other things, Microsoft says the development kit will provide SMS and voice interfaces for tracking and supply chain solutions, integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and support for mobile clients like Android and iOS. Indeed, Microsoft calls the kit an “end-to-end” blockchain solution.

The Redmond giant pointed out that its new offering will be compatible with a number of different ledger technologies, including Ethereum and Bitcoin.

To get developers off the ground, Microsoft has also prepared a white paper on how to use the kit to deploy decentralized applications.

Big Tech hopping on the blockchain bandwagon

Microsoft is hardly the only tech giant that’s made a foray into blockchain. IBM, Google, and Amazon recently launched similar development kits for blockchain businesses.

Previously, Microsoft has showcased various blockchain pilots, including one that aimed to curb spam calls in India and another one designed to help developers get paid (launched in collaboration with accounting firm EY).

The Redmond company is also working on a blockchain-powered system to manage identities.

It’ll be interesting to see what developers will think of its new blockchain development kit – and what projects they can build with it.

*This post is credited to Thenextweb

Internet retailer Amazon’s filings for two cryptography data-storage solutions have been approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Internet retailer Amazon has been awarded two blockchain-related patents. The two patents were originally filed back in 2018 and 2015 as part of a bid to solidify Amazon’s status as a contender in the domain. The patents, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Tuesday, relate to cryptographic signatures and expandable data grids.

The first of the patents, called Signature Delegation, outlines a method for the protection of digital signatures while delegating signature authority to subordinates authorized to sign on the behalf of a central entity. The delegation of signature authority resembles the “Merkle Tree” structure — a binary data structure that facilitates the efficient verification of a large amount of data and is fundamental to blockchain technology.

The patent filing describes a method in which “the signature authority provides a key-distribution service that distributes blocks of cryptographic keys to authorized signing delegates. An authorized signing delegate contacts the key-distribution service and requests a block of cryptographic keys.”

The second patent, Extending Grids in Data Storage Systems, describes a new method for creating extendable shards in a database. Sharding refers to a type of database partitioning that divides large databases into smaller, faster parts called ‘data shards’ that are more easily managed. Such a method is potentially useful for creating considerable flexible datasets — including the ones seen in a blockchain.

The two patents awarded to Amazon tackle issues with blockchain-enabled distributed data storage that have been previously addressed and leveraged by several blockchain-based data storage startups such as Siacoin, Arweave, and FIlecoin. The patents seem to be developed as an addition to the company’s technological arsenal.

Amazon, which is currently the eighth largest company in the world by annual revenue, has heavily invested in both cloud computing as well as data storage, and has a market share that is roughly triple the size of its main competitor, Microsoft.

In addition to its blockchain, cryptography and distributed data storage-related projects, Amazon has also filed patents related to cryptocurrency-specific solutions. In April, the U.S Patent and Trademark Office approved Amazon’s filing for a data stream marketplace that would allow governments and law enforcers to track Bitcoin users.

*This post is credited to Cryptovest

Once just two percent of servers run on blockchain technology, Bank of America research analyst Kash Rangan predicts the market for blockchain technology will be worth $7 billion. Nine companies have been identified as likely to benefit significantly from the technology including Amazon and Microsoft. As reported by CNBC, Rangan didn’t put a time stamp on his predictions but also included technology giants Oracle, IBM, Salesforce, and VMware as others set to benefit.

“Many blockchain use cases have been identified, but full products/services have not yet been built out and are not used in production,” said Rangan.

The analyst says that Amazon Web Services (AWS) will benefit “from incremental cloud services demand from blockchain implementation, while improved supply chain tracking should make Amazon’s retail operations more efficient.” Rangan also predicts that blockchain will improve software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms and that blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) will emerge to the benefit of the likes of Microsoft.

Amazon – the Rumors and the Reality

As one of the largest corporations in the world and one that is known for being quick to eliminate inefficiencies, Amazon is being watched carefully for blockchain or cryptocurrency adoption. Rumors often circulate about Amazon’s ownership of certain blockchain and cryptocurrency related web domains, prompting some to believe Amazon is about to take the leap.

The reality is not known. So far, Amazon’s AWS cloud computing arm has partnered with Kaleido to offer a blockchain-based platform for clients to build their projects. Kaleido, announced in May 2018, was the first Blockchain SaaS solution on the AWS Marketplace for business.

AWS appears to be looking to partnerships to bring blockchain to its clients rather than developing technology internally. Kaleido uses Ethereum blockchain technology. Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin said in May,

“This is a heavy duty, full stack way of getting the company into blockchain solutions.”

Microsoft – Moving Data to Blockchain

Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing service has been using blockchain technology for around three years.

Matt Kerner, general manager of Microsoft Azure, revealed that Microsoft has been looking to underpin blockchain into many of its other platforms including Office 365 and SAP. The overall plan, according to reports, is for Microsoft users to move their data from these platforms to the cloud and then onto blockchain.

Potentially to this end, Microsoft Azure has added Microsoft Flow and Logic Apps which can connect applications into the Azure Blockchain Workbench for developers. Kerner says this is part of the evolution of Big Data.

“Blockchain empowers the next step – enabling a single, authentic data set shared across counterparties. This is already improving the way transactions happen,” Kerner told CoinDesk in September 2018. “We believe the same will be true with data analytics.”

The Bank of America analyst’s predictions are based firmly in fact. Amazon, Microsoft and other technology leaders like Facebook and IBM are all investigating and beginning to adopt blockchain into their technology stacks. This blockchain utilization can only grow as none of these leviathans can afford to be left behind.

*This post is credited to Unhashed 

If you are a netizen, you must have already noticed how certain ads pop up while you are surfing videos on YouTube. Most of the times, these advertisements have close connections to the products and brands you have been searching recently. However, this is not the case always! Finding fake ads of reputed brands like Mercedes-Benz and Waitrose is not uncommon at all. According to reports from The Times of London, several reputed brands have found their advertisements among objectionable and explicit content.

Why should you care about online ad fraud?
If you are an advertiser, this should be a cause of concern for you. According to a recent study, over 20% of the clicks you are getting on your ads can be from bots and tricksters. Censoring the internet and running the entire web without advertisement is impossible. In short, good content and commendable user experience require sponsorship.

Sadly, advertisers are pouring money into digital ads, but they are not receiving the returns they expect. The advent of various smart devices may have expanded the scope of viewing content, but they have done little to ensure that the content is genuine.

According to the Association of National Advertisers, entrepreneurs are wasting over $7 billion on online adverts people do not see. The experts expect the numbers to grow beyond $335.5 billion in the next two years. When companies are ready to spend billions on online advertisements, it is understandable why malicious activities are always around the corner, waiting.

We have seen the likes of Meth-bot that cost the ad industry around $5 million per day. They used bots to mimic human data, created over 250,000 individual domains. These new sites had a resemblance to big fish like ESPN and Vogue.

Digital ad fraud is a serious concern for advertisers and users, too. While the fraudsters use bots to mimic human behavior, trace cursor movements, and hack social media accounts, they fake their geo-location data to avoid detection. As a result, along with regular display ads, the premium online video advertisements are also taking a hit. Digital fraudsters are messing up analytical data, upturning the KPIs and disrupting online campaigns of many of the more reputable brands in the world.

Blockchain as a potential solution to online fraud
Is there any current technology that can prevent pixel stuffing, ad stacking, search ad frauds and affiliate ad frauds? Experts say that it’s possible. They believe that advertisers can prevent similar frauds by turning to blockchain. We are not talking about cryptocurrencies, but the decentralized open-source ledgers.

A fusion of existing ad technology and blockchain can give advertisers the power to keep an eye on each impression and eliminate the fear of fraud. Leading advertising research firms like Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Tech Lab and Data & Marketing Associations already are working on creating a blockchain solution that can help advertisers detect and prevent fraudulent activities. However, the wide variety of online ad frauds make the task of developing a uniform system difficult.

Below are the major use cases of blockchain that can be implemented to prevent online ad frauds:

Ethereum-based ready solutions – Several startups and advertising research companies have been working on blockchain systems that can stop bots and impostors. Ethereum is the best-known blockchain right after Bitcoin. Instead of a central ad server, it offers a decentralized system to advertisers to monitor the activity of their partners. Google, Amazon, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat have adopted similar history-proof, decentralized ledgers.

Blockchain counterattack – This mechanism adopted by the Ads.txt DApp allows publishers and content owners to list the authorized sellers of their inventory in a .txt file. This file is served from within the root path of their domain’s web server.

Blockchain-based exchange for traders – A combination of the financial matching engine and the latest blockchain technology allows advertisers to enable transparent transactions. It is a NASDAQ Inc. initiative that aims to provide advertisers and publishers a completely secure platform that supports buying, selling and re-trading advertising contracts.

In the digital era, online ads are an important channel for brands to use to reach out to their target audience. Ad fraud not only puts a hole in the pocket of the brands but also harms the end users, who need reliable information to make the right decisions. With the ability to impart transparency to the system and trace an online asset, blockchain can surely help reduce, if not completely stop digital fraud.

*This post is credited to isaca.org.

Companies don’t want to be left off of the blockchain bandwagon.

In a new report published by PwC on Monday, 84 percent of executives surveyed said their companies are “actively involved” with the technology.

“Everyone is talking about blockchain, and no one wants to be left behind,” according to PwC’s 2018 Global Blockchain Survey, which included 600 executives from 15 territories.

Blockchain is the technology that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. It records transactions on a public, distributed ledger and gets rid of the need for a third party in most cases. The technology is touted as faster and more secure by advocates and is being tested for everything from health records to the legal marijuana industry.

Among the PwC respondents, who were business executives with technology responsibilities, 45 percent said “trust” could be the key roadblock in blockchain’s widespread adoption.

“In reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn,” PwC said. “As with any emerging technology, challenges and doubts exist around blockchain’s reliability, speed, security and scalability.”

While high profile investors like Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon have been publicly wary of investing in cryptocurrency, they’re far more bullish on its underlying tech.

Companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook are exploring use cases for the technology. Facebook announced in May it is going through a reorganization that will include a new blockchain effort. IBM, Accenture, Deloitte, JP Morgan, and HSBC are among the other corporate names with similar initiatives.

Still, respondents mentioned regulatory uncertainty, “ability to bring the network together,” compliance concerns, and intellectual property concerns as key obstacles for blockchain adoption.

Blockchain’s potential has been compared to the internet but so has its hype. In some well-publicized cases, even adding the word “blockchain” to a public company’s name can send its shares skyrocketing in a single day.

Despite the growing interest, other research from Cowen estimated it will take 5.9 years for blockchain to gain widespread adoption.

*Post is credited to CNBC