Blockchain and other DLT technologies, either via cryptocurrencies or Smart Contracts, are often described as “trustless” technologies. They allow users to transact with one another without needing to rely on intermediaries they trust, such as banks or notaries, in order to ensure that the transaction takes place in a safe manner.

Yet, in this DLT world, the lack of trust is only limited to the wallets rather than the people themselves. If we’re going to look at e-commerce in general, sending payment via cryptocurrencies will ensure that you can irrefutably prove that the transaction took place – as everyone has the same copy of the same ledger – yet there’s no way to prove that the recipient will actually send over the goods.

It is important to highlight that this is beyond the scope of what cryptocurrencies try to achieve. Many services that have been in operation for years before cryptocurrencies came into existence, faced the same problem. Notable examples include platforms like eBay where scammers have been able to use these platforms to carry out scams in the past. While the banks or credit card companies can verify that the money has been sent, the sellers still need to be trusted that they will deliver on their promise. Similarly, the seller has no guarantee that the buyer, when asking for a refund, is truthfully going to claim that the item failed to arrive or arrived in a damaged state. These platforms have traditionally solved the problem by linking the online identity on their platform to a “score”, which buyers and sellers analyze before committing to the transaction. This is not fool-proof, but it works. Additional services like PayPal have been used to successfully further curb on abuse, but they come at a cost.

The downside with these platforms is that the reputation is centralized to that very system, meaning that your good score on one platform cannot be transferred onto another.

Credo360 uses a similar approach to create a peer-to-peer network that is solely focused on social credibility, allowing people to send transactions to strangers knowing whether they should (or should not) be trusted. It acts as what it terms to be a “digital identity card” by giving users the possibility to maintain a score reflecting their reputation and to have people they know use their credibility to vouch for them, all without divulging their personal information.

As the credibility score is stored on a blockchain, it becomes personal, portable, verifiable and private in that the users can control who can view their reputation.

According to Irakliy Khaburzaniya, CEO;

“Trust is one of the biggest problems in today’s world. The old mechanisms of ensuring trust that used to work 20 – 30 years ago are no longer working. And the new mechanisms haven’t been developed yet. We are now at the point where we have the technologies needed to build systems that can establish instant trust between people without sacrificing anyone’s privacy. One of such technologies is the blockchain, and as this technology matures, we look forward to making Credo a fully decentralized system. Our ultimate goal is to bring the security and honorable commerce of a traditionally small community to the globalized world but without sacrificing anyone’s privacy”.

Yanni Shainsky, Credo 360 CTO, said that: “Credo360’s ability to establish trust between anonymous users is a revolutionary game changer that will enable commerce to flourish on sites such as Reddit and could reinvigorate sites such as Craigslist, where distrust and rampant fraud can be status-quo. Startups building on the new paradigm of the “sharing economy model”, can leverage Credo360 in order to tap into reputations of users and providers, without having to re-invent a way of sorting out the bad apples. Imagine that one day your good behavior of paying for a ride in a stranger’s car, will translate into a smoother transaction when renting an apartment or buying concert tickets”.

Credo360 has the right company values to offer a great platform to make a safe environment for users to interact with each other for purposes of communication, sales, hires, purchases and renting. The key benefit of Credo360 is that user privacy is preserved. The platform relies on its review score to replace the need to reveal the user’s identity to prove trust within the system. With features such as an easy-to-use messenger (which can be easily integrated with existing messenger platforms such as Facebook Messenger) and efficient review score system which rewards users for giving feedback. For your transactional needs whilst maintaining a high level of privacy, it might seem a good idea to look into Credo360, especially if you have a few unwanted presents you’d like to sell, or buy, after this holiday season.

*This post is credited to Forbes

ING Group, the Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation is bullish on blockchain technology and the innovations it presents to trade and commodity finance.

The group is focusing on and looking forward to blockchain-based initiatives across several sectors including energy, crude oil, soybeans, metals and mining in 2019.

They have been exploring distributed ledger technology (DLT) on their Easy Trading Connect (ETC) platform since 2017 and found that the innovations led by blockchain are far superior to centralized models.

ING highlighted these findings regarding powerhouse programs such as Komgo and Vakt via twitter:

ING Bets on Vakt not Bakkt

As you may already know, the blockchain and cryptosphere has been overly excited about potential Bitcoin ETFs and the launch of Bakkt, a physically settled Bitcoin futures exchange from the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).

While these impending developments are worth getting excited about, ING has their eyes on other innovative blockchain initiatives surrounding trade and commodity finance. One such initiative is Vakt.

Vakt is a post trade management platform with a vision to digitize the global commodities trading industry by offering a secure and trusted ecosystem powered by blockchain. The platform has the potential to revolutionize the commodities trading market by transforming the trade life cycle and streamlining transactions.

The Vakt platform gets its backing from major energy consortiums, high profile independent traders and top tier banks. Vakt also has strategic alliances with Deloitte and Softworks and by the end of the year, they will link the platform to Komgo for commodity trade finance.

As per the company’s announcement of the launch:

Though the initial launch is limited to trade specifically in BFOET crude oil contracts, VAKT’s ambition is to extend the platform to all physically traded energy commodities. The company is building its roadmap in response to industry need but has US crude oil pipelines and Northern Europe refined product barges slated for launch in early 2019.

Other Blockchain Initiatives

ING’s program director for blockchain innovation in trade and commodity finance, Arnoud Star Busmann, said a collaboration with heavyweight leaders in the industry sector have formed an Ethereum-based blockchain for real-time settlement of physical energy transactions.

A report on the experimental trading technology said:

The experiment showed that the average time for a bank to complete its role in a transaction went from about three hours to just 25 minutes. For traders, efficiency went up by a third, with user experience evaluations far higher than expected. As the prototype uses blockchain technology and is designed for paperless trade, the risks throughout the process have also been reduced.

This Ethereum-based platform mentioned in the above quote was used in the agriculture industry in a pilot test moving soybeans from the US to China.

ING is also exploring supply chain traceability for metals and mining. The innovations and use cases for blockchain technology are endless and blockchain initiatives are really being put to the test.

Conclusion

ING is at the forefront of the blockchain revolution and is focusing on many blockchain initiatives going into 2019. Things like Bakkt and Bitcoin ETFs don’t even scratch the surface to what’s going on in the space.

Going into 2019 the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry has a lot to look forward to as businesses, governments, and individuals become comfortable with the innovations of blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies.

*This post is credited to Invest in Blockchain

Mining is an integral part of the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology narrative. However, the process of discovering, validating, and adding new blocks (mining) to the chain has the potential to do more than increasing the money supply of a particular cryptocurrency.

Moving Past Cryptocurrency Mining

Apart from being responsible for creating new tokens in a cryptocurrency blockchain that utilizes proof-of-work (PoW), mining also serves to protect the network. It is this function that is perhaps even most relevant for any examination of the positive elements of the mining process for distributed ledger technology (DLT) framework.

Essentially, miners act as gatekeepers to help keep the blockchain running smoothly. On the blockchain, all transactions are linked to one another through blocks. As another transaction, or block, is added, the chain lengthens.

To mine on the blockchain, users who lend their computing power (called miners) are presented with a puzzle to solve. Once the puzzle is solved and confirmed, the miner is rewarded with a payout (typically, some cryptocurrency or token) and a new block is added to the chain, in addition to transaction fees.

While blockchain mining has typically been associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this is just one minor example of how mining can be utilized within decentralized technology. Let’s take a closer look at blockchain mining and the benefits that it provides miners and society as a whole.

Data Democratization

When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, and with it, the first ever successful implementation of the DLT framework, the stage seemed set for the emergence of a fully decentralized digital space. Data democratization or the return of control over user data to the users themselves is a cause that has attracted the attention of many in recent times.

In theory, public blockchains are decentralized, meaning that data ownership isn’t domiciled in any central server as with the mainstream internet. Every day we spend in our digital world means we are creating data. We may not think about it consciously, but the data we generate is utilized by many companies to improve their systems, as well as their profits.

Often, though, we have no idea what is being done with our data until scandals arise, and we don’t typically see the value that can be created using this data. Those in the blockchain world have fought for the democratization of data, but up to this point, there hasn’t been a platform created with this purpose in mind.

Blockchain Mining for Positive Social Impact

Mining can be used to drive positive social engineering in the digital space. Projects like Lambda have even begun examining such use cases that utilize the transaction validation process beyond the creation of new cryptocurrency tokens.

Using Lambda as a case study, it is possible for the activities of mining nodes to cause positive changes in the global business process. Recently, Ethereum World News reported that Lambda launched the first ever blockchain open-source proof-of-space-time (PoST) protocol on GitHub. Miners handle data, and as far as a blockchain is concerned, such data amounts to a massive volume.

Nearly every industry can significantly benefit from blockchain mining, especially when used as a solid foundation for the development of services and products. So far, we have seen blockchain mining in a decentralized environment lead to advancements in the health-care, education, and finance industries, to name a few.

When done correctly, mining on the blockchain can also lead to considerable profits for miners. For some, mining has even become a full-time career. Also, it’s relatively easy to begin mining. All a user requires to become a miner is a home computer and an internet connection.

Overall, mining offers a new way of earning money, participating in a real blockchain project where the user holds tokens, and a way to give back to the community in which they’re participating by verifying information, as well as helping to advance so many industries by mining data for insights.

Many view investing in the blockchain as solely a financial endeavor. However, with all of the benefits that miners bring to the cryptocurrency world, mining can provide a higher return than purely financial investments within decentralized technology. Are you ready to start taking advantage of the benefits of mining for blockchain?

*This post is credited to Ethereum World News

Introduction

Crypto-assets have drawn much attention of late. From Bitcoin’s market volatility through regulator puzzlement over how best to regulate Bitcoin’s cousins, stories in the financial press seem as often as not to concern digital currencies, blockchain technology, or any of a bewildering array of newish topics now routinely lumped together under the barbarous rubric of ‘fintech.’

Against this backdrop one hears countless dark and countless sunny augurs. Some claim that crypto-monies will supplant ‘fiat’ money, thereby liberating us all from both government oppression and central bank ‘debasement’ of currencies. Others warn blockchain will aggravate crime and yet-further shade shadow-markets, which we’ll lose all capacity to regulate. And still others look forward to privacy utopias and revived local ‘circulation economies.’

Many a layperson who’s lacking in info-tech education might wonder now just what to make of these claims. Must one be a programmer or cryptographer before s/he can weigh-in on such heady matters?

I think the answer where most fintech’s concerned is a ‘probably not.’ Where cryptocurrency’s the subject, however, I’m sure that the answer is no. For as it happens, we have been here before.

The story of America’s money is a preview of the story we’ll soon see unfold for crypto-money. Our money’s past is, in short, our cryptos’ future.

Three Ages and Stages of Money

Dollar bills are remarkable things. They’re the same all over the United States. Take out money from a bank branch or an ATM anywhere and you’ll get the same thing for your trouble: a combination of green one dollar, five dollar, ten dollar, twenty dollar or perhaps hundred dollar notes. They’ll all look the same, and they all will be worth the same when their denominations are the same.

That is what sovereign-issued currency looks like, even when paid out by nominally ‘private’ banks. Because they all deal in national currencies, banks are not really as private as you might think. They are licensed by us, the sovereign public, to deal in our money – our Federal Reserve Notes, as our money bills call themselves.

In effect, banks are franchisees, while we the sovereign public are the franchisor and our national money is the franchised good.

You can think of the uniform value and appearance of our currency as being a bit like those golden arches you see all around if you like: They serve to let everyone know that the item’s the same irrespective of just where you are in our nation – New York, California; Florida, Alaska … They are always and everywhere the same.

And if a bank abuses the brand by, say, issuing bad loans or over-levering itself, it will risk losing its charter much as a restaurateur who sells spoiled food risks being booted from the franchise. That’s how franchises work. They are ‘quality control’ pacts, with the franchisees abiding by the terms and the franchisor administering the terms. Where our money’s concerned, we are the franchisor.

You might be tempted to think things have always been thus. Didn’t the U.S. make the dollar its money right from the start?

The answer is, ‘yes and no.’ The key feature of the dollar in the early days of our republic – until 1863 – is that it was then a mere unit of account, not a currency. Sure, the Mint minted coins, but paper money – ‘notes’ – were issued by private banking institutions. Hence the term ‘bank notes’ for paper currencies that circulated in the 19th century. America’s paper money supply was a plethora of privately issued ‘bank notes.’

Bank notes were denominated in dollar increments, but were not sovereign-issued liabilities. The banks were their own franchisors and franchisees alike, and their notes were their own liabilities – liabilities of their private issuers. Different issuers, for their part, were differently reliable. Two banks might both promise redeemability of their notes into the same quantum of something more solid – gold, for example – but might well be differently able to live up to their promises.

These differences among banks’ reliability stemmed from a variety of factors. One was that bank regulation was more technologically difficult in the 19th century, meaning that regulators could be only so effective at exercising ‘quality control’ over paper currency issuers. Another was that all banks were chartered and regulated by states rather than by our federal government, meaning that differing state competencies at regulating could bring differing values to currencies issued in different states.

The upshot of this ‘Banking Babel,’ as I call it, is that the nation’s currency supply consisted in thousands of distinct bank notes all trading at various discounts to stated par. A dollar note issued by Billy the Kid Bank or Sidewinder Bank might trade at 50% of par, for example, amounting to no more than ‘four bits,’ not a dollar. A dollar note issued by Wyatt Erp Bank or Bald Eagle Bank might, by contrast, go for 90% of par, or even full par.

Making things worse, these currencies constantly fluctuated in value, both in relation to the goods and services they could command and in relation to one another.

‘How much money’ you had in your pocket thus varied with whose notes you carried and when, even though all were denominated as dollars. Shopkeepers in consequence had to maintain regularly updated discount schedules behind their counters, instructing clerks how much to discount separate banks’ notes in determining ‘how much’ (of what) to charge buyers for goods.

If you carried multiple banks’ notes in your pockets, making purchases at the general store could take you – and the store clerk – much longer than we’re used to now. Imagine what queues would form at the ‘checkout lines’ if we did that now…

Scarce wonder that this period of U.S. banking history is called the ‘wildcat banking’ era. (Those who think this was a good idea call it the ‘free banking’ era. It was free alright – it was pretty much value-free.)

Needless to say, private banknote money didn’t make for an optimal payments system. It was good that the nation had a unit of account – the dollar – but unfortunately it still lacked an actual currency.

This all changed in 1863. By that point the nation was embroiled in civil war. The Civil War threw up two factors that made a uniform national currency possible. The first factor was that the stresses of war made a single and stable currency more clearly necessary than ever before. To prosecute the war the federal government had to be able to spend its own currency anywhere in the union where government operations were necessary. The second factor was that the southern slave states, which had always been the principal objectors to national monetary uniformity, were conveniently unrepresented in Congress during the war years – they were trying to secede, after all.

The upshot was that Congress passed the National Bank Act, signed into law by President Lincoln in 1863. The Act established, for the first time in our nation’s history, a system of federally chartered ‘National Banks,’ located all over the nation, all issuing the very same currency. The latter was named, tellingly, the ‘Greenback.’ Sound familiar?

The National Bank Act (‘NBA’) transformed our interlinked banking, financial, and monetary systems. In very short order there were federally chartered banks in every state of the Union, all of them subject to uniform regulatory standards and all of them issuing, accordingly, a uniform currency with a uniform value.

These banks could also sell U.S. Treasury securities, making of them a system of outlets for issuance of both of our federal government’s principal circulating liabilities – Greenbacks and T-Bills. In no time at all, ‘wildcat’ banknotes left circulation, with Greenbacks and T-bills – our two sovereign financial instruments – the proverbial ‘only game in town.’

The administrator of this national bank system was called, tellingly, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, or ‘OCC.’ The name is telling because ‘comptroller’ is merely archaic English for ‘controller.’ The OCC, housed in Treasury, was the ‘controller’ – the administrator – of our first truly national currency system. That, and only that, was why the OCC was founded as the nation’s first federal bank regulator.

The OCC remains to this day one of our principal federal bank regulators. It is the chartering authority for national banks, administers those banks’ portfolio-regulatory and other regimes, and has final word on whether a national bank has gone bankrupt. It has rather less to do with the national currency, however, than it had for its first fifty years.

That is because, by 1913, we as a nation had come to realize that a healthy economy needed more than a uniform currency. It also needed what is known in the discipline as an elastic currency.

An elastic currency is a currency whose supply can be adjusted to accommodate, while not over-accommodating, transaction demand. The idea is to maintain just enough money supply to accommodate desired transaction volumes, so as not needlessly to squelch desired transacting, while at the same time preventing over-issuance of the sort that can spark inflation – the classic problem of ‘too much money’ chasing ‘too few goods.’

The OCC and Treasury more generally were not well equipped, operationally or transaction-technologically speaking, to engage in what I elsewhere call the daily ‘money-modulatory’ task that an elastic currency requires. Central banks of the kind found all over the ‘developed’ world circa 1913, by contrast, were well suited to the task. The U.S. accordingly established its version of a central bank, patterned partly on European models and partly on private clearinghouse arrangements among banks, with the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.

The Federal Reserve Act (‘FRA’) established the Fed that we all know today, and transferred administration of the national money supply from the Comptroller to this new entity. This is why the ‘Greenbacks’ you now find in your pocket call themselves, not ‘Treasury Notes,’ but ‘Federal Reserve Notes.’ So we now use ‘bank notes’ as currency just as we did in the 19th century. It’s just that they’re public bank notes – ‘central’ bank notes – rather than private bank notes. They are Citizen Notes, you might say.

Now, what has this to do with crypto?, you might be asking. Well, think about it for a moment …

The Stages Go Digital

Let’s call the pre-NBA ‘wildcat banking’ era of wildly fluctuating private currencies ‘Stage 1’ of American monetary history. Let’s call the post-NBA, pre-FRA period of uniform but imperfectly elastic national currency ‘Stage 2’ of American monetary history. And let’s call the post-FRA period we’ve inhabited over the past century ‘Stage 3’ of American monetary history. Where might we situate digital currency development along this phased sequence?

I think it’s perfectly obvious that we’re at Stage 1 where digital currency’s concerned. We’re amidst, that’s to say, digital currrency’s ‘wildcat’ era. For one thing, there are many such currencies – indeed, a bewildering and seemingly all-the-time growing array of them. For another thing, they are all of them issued by private issuers, some of which seem to be more or less reputable, others of which seem to be … well, not so much. And finally, thanks to the factors just mentioned, these currencies fluctuate wildly in value, both relative to what they can purchase and relative to one another.

They’re essentially digital wildcat banknotes.

This is of course not a sustainable future for crypto. Nothing whose value is so wildly unstable can function for long as a ‘money.’ Something must change, then, before digital currency can expect a future.

What, then, might change? What might a ‘digital Stage 2,’ then ‘digital Stage 3’ look like? It seems to me that here, too, the future is obvious.

Note first that, unlike during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there is no reason that what I’ve called ‘Stage 2’ and ‘Stage 3’ can’t be reached simultaneously. The reason is that our nation came to see the necessity of a stable currency before it came to see the necessity of an elastic currency, and accordingly instituted those things pursuant to the same ‘stage chronology’ of its own learning. Now, however, we’re well familiar with both those necessities, and can accordingly move to uniformity and elasticity in the digital currency space simultaneously.

Next, note that the Fed, like other central banks worldwide, is now looking to upgrade the national payments architecture, which it administers. Distributed ledger technology (‘DLT’), which forms the backbone of the better-known digital currencies, looks to be particularly promising where such upgrading is concerned. Within the next several years, I am wagering, payments systems worldwide will be built on distributed ledgers. The U.S. will be late as we always are where payments technology is concerned, but we’ll still soon be there.

When we do, what do you suppose happens? Easy: The dollar will go digital. The Fed will issue ‘Federal Reserve “Coins”’ and their keystroke equivalents much as it issues ‘Federal Reserve “Notes”’ and their keystroke equivalents now. In this new world, there will be little more use for what I’ll call ‘Wildcat Crypto’ than there was for ‘Wildcat Currency’ after the National Bank Act of 1863. These ‘assets’ will simply fade out, retained only as means of illicitly transacting in criminal activities until caught.

This is true even of the ‘stablecoin’ products that have developed in recent months with a view to addressing the wild fluctuations problem. Most of these peg to the dollar. What need of that when the dollar itself soon goes digital?

The Digital Dollar and a Citizens’ Fed

A Fed-issued and -administered digital dollar will be every bit as uniform and elastic as the Fed-issued and administered pre-digital dollar has been. Indeed it will likely be even more easily managed thanks to the superior tracking ability afforded by DLT. It will also, I predict, be something more: Because of the speed, reliability, and tractability of distributed-ledger-tracked credits and debits, a Fed-administered payment ledger will render quite feasible something that would have been difficult until recently: what I elsewhere call ‘Citizen Central Banking.’

That’s right, we shall soon be able to ‘cut out the banks’ as proverbial ‘middlemen’ between our citizens and their central bank. All citizens will be able to maintain what I call ‘Citizen Accounts’ with the Fed. Not only will all citizens be ‘banked’ – no one ‘unbanked’ – in these circumstances, but the Fed will then have more potent monetary policy instruments at its disposal as well.

In the midst of recession or liquidity trap, for example, our central bank will no longer need supply cheap money to private banks and then hope they’ll lend it to ordinary citizens so’s to prime the consumer spending pump. Instead it can credit our Citizen Accounts directly. The ‘pushing on a string problem’ that so plagued the Fed’s QE strategies in 2009-12 will be much diminished. By the same token, when spending appears to be ‘overheating’ and inflationary pressures loom, the Fed can simply offer or raise interest payments on Citizen Accounts.

Direct central banking, in short, is apt to be far more effective even than indirect central banking has been. And the new digital dollar – still Fed-issued, still Fed-administered – will make that more feasible than it’s ever been.

Conclusion

There is of course much more to say about all of this, which I do in more scholarly as well as technical policy-pushing and program-designing work. But for present purposes the point should be clear. Money’s past is always and everywhere money’s prologue. All that changes is the technical base upon which our money systems are founded.

Insofar as the state of the art now is DLT, money itself will be DLT. But it still will be stable, and still will be elastic, if it is money. And that means it still will be sovereign – it will be ‘our’ money.

So long, then, Bitcoin, and so long, Etherium. And welcome to America, new Digital Dollar.

*This post is credited to Forbes

A new report from Forrester Research says the buzz around blockchain, a technology that creates tamper-proof records across multiple computers, is so over-hyped that some companies are dropping the word altogether.

According to Forrester, firms are ditching the b-word in favor of “DLT,” which is shorthand for distributed ledger technology—a more descriptive, if less catchy, term.

The report comes at a time when blockchain marketing is everywhere, including during the recent World Series, when IBM touted its blockchain services in TV commercials.

While blockchain is an important new technology, some firms are over-hyping its usefulness or simply repackaging existing services—a practice the report, which endorses the use of “DLT,” describes as “blockchain washing.”

“The networks that are live or under development vary greatly and frequently lack key characteristics that many regard as essential components of a blockchain,” the report states, adding the term blockchain can also carry negative “wild west connotations” of cryptocurrency.

The report, however, isn’t down on blockchain/DLT altogether, predicting that a “blockchain winter” may be looming, but that the technology is moving forward.

“On the tools and services side, we’ll witness steady but cautious progress. “Cautious” because DLT hasn’t proven to be a significant, reliable revenue stream for software and service providers, and 2019 won’t be any different,” the report says.

The fitful emergence of blockchain is similar in ways to other groundbreaking technologies like online shopping and cloud computing, both of which were the subject of unrealistic hype before later becoming mainstream.

Martha Bennett, a Forrester analyst and co-author of the report, cautioned that the parallel is not perfect as blockchain requires a level of cooperation among companies that the other technologies do not.

“There are parallels with the Internet but what’s different is that, with the Internet, a single company like Amazon or eBay can aspire to do something and create a big change. Blockchain is different because if one company says ‘I’m going to do something, it doesn’t matter. This is an eco-system play.”

The report also predicts that, in the near future, the most innovative work on blockchain will center on the tokenization of assets. Such tokenization, which doesn’t involve cryptocurrency, is already gaining traction in the real estate sector, where companies like Harbor are using distributed ledger technology to divide ownership in new ways.

As for the use of the term “blockchain,” the advocates for “DLT” face an uphill battle. A Google search for “blockchain” returns 215 million websites, while “distributed ledger technology” returns only 1.3 million.

*This post is credited to Fortune

  • OKEx has recently been named “Crypto Exchange of the Year” at Malta’s blockchain conference for contributing to the country’s blockchain scene.
  • It was awarded the prize after beating finalists Binance and BitBay.

Popular cryptocurrency exchange OKEx, which recently started setting up operations in Malta, has recently been named “Crypto Exchange of the Year,” during the Malta Blockchain Summit’s Blockchain Awards.

According to a recently published press release, the awards were organized to recognize businesses, experts, and leaders in the sector that have made an “outstanding contribution to the blockchain technology development in Malta.”

OKEx, a cryptocurrency exchange that recently delisted 58 trading pairs, received the award after it was judged by 32 industry leaders and executives “with combined experience in the blockchain industry.” Other finalists included leading exchange Binance and BitBay, which moved to Malta after facing a banking blockade in Poland.

OKEx’s head of operations Andy Cheung was quoted as saying:

These awards are particularly gratifying as they reflect a vote of confidence from industry leaders, who recognize our ongoing efforts. Like we said, we dare to innovate and will keep pushing the limits of what is possible.

Cheung added that receiving the award is “truly a testament” to the exchange’s efforts in improving the cryptocurrency ecosystem and “revolutionize our world with blockchain technology.”

The cryptocurrency exchange was founded in 2017, and has over 400 tokens listed on its platform, which also offers its users futures trading options. Earlier this year, it had to introduce new measures after its “clawback model” forced profitable traders to cover the losses on a $416 million-leveraged long position.

Malta’s cryptocurrency conference this year reportedly attracted over 5,000 attendees, and featured a Crypto Cruise, the Blockchain Awards Ceremony, an ICO Pitch, and a Hackathon. The country is seen as the “blockchain island” thanks to its forward-thinking approach when it comes to crypto and blockchain technology.

As CryptoGlobe covered, the country’s Prime Minister has called cryptocurrencies the “inevitable future of money,” and Malta has earlier this year become the first country to establish a full regulatory framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT). It has also proposed a test back in April, that would help identify when ICO-issued tokens are securities.

*This post is credited to Crypto Globe

Recent Google search data shows that more people appear to be interested in blockchain technology than digital currencies. According to Google Trends, an increasing number of users are searching for “blockchain” related topics.

In July of 2018, there were more searches for the term “blockchain” than “cryptocurrency”.

Since September, there have been more people looking for more information on blockchain than cryptocurrency. However, bitcoin (BTC) is still “king” as there are far more searches every month for the pseudonymous cryptocurrency than any other crypto-related term.

Many Uses Cases For DLT: Blockchain Internet Of Things (BIOT)

In fact, the word “Bitcoin” is searched almost 10-times more than “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency.” Before cryptocurrency prices skyrocketed during 2017, there were about the same number of Google searches for blockchain and cryptocurrency each month.

Since the past five years, there seemed to be as many people interested in cryptocurrency related news as the latest developments in the blockchain industry. As CryptoGlobe reported in late July, there will be a $254 billion market for the Blockchain Internet of Things (BIOT) by 2026 – according to Aftrek Market Research, a New York-based consulting firm.

Similar to other innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, and the internet-of-things (IoT), blockchain technology potentially has more use cases than cryptocurrency.

Buterin Explains Why Blockchain Became Popular

However, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin pointed out in September of 2017 (while speaking to AngelList CEO and co-founder, Naval Ravikant, at TechCrunch’s Disrupt San Francisco Conference), that most people did not realize that blockchain technology could be used to improve other business processes – and not be limited to being used only for implementing an “electronic cash system.”

In 2018, it seems that an increasing number of organizations and thought leaders have started to explore the potential use cases for blockchain, the digital distributed ledger on which most crypto platforms are implemented.

As CryptoGlobe covered, Jim Yong Kim, the World Bank president, said that he believes blockchain technology has “huge potential”, and his organization is looking to adopt it for its internal operations.

Kim explained that the World Bank’s researchers explored the use cases for cryptocurrency, however, the international financial institution’s management thinks that distributed ledger technology (DLT) has significantly more potential.

Kim noted that in August, the World Bank launched the very first blockchain-based bond where it “created, allocated, transferred, and managed the entire bond through” the distributed ledger.

Google Trends Only Show “Relative Popularity”

Notably, Google Trends’ analysis is not based on the actual number of searches for “blockchain” and “cryptocurrency” as it only shows the relative popularity of these words.

As Google explains: “The resulting numbers are … scaled on a range of 0 to 100 based on a topic’s proportion to all searches on all topics.”

*This post is credited to Crypto Globe

ING Bank is continuing further down the path of advanced blockchain privacy with the release of its Zero-Knowledge Set Membership (ZKSM) solution, announced this week at the Sibos banking conference.

The Netherlands-based lender had already received plaudits for adapting classical zero-knowledge proofs (a way of proving possession of a secret without revealing the secret itself) into a simpler form for use within the bank called zero-knowledge range proofs.

Zero knowledge range proofs can prove a number is within a specific range. For example, a mortgage applicant could prove that their salary sits within a certain range without revealing the exact figure. As such range proofs are computationally lighter than regular zero-knowledge proofs and run faster on a blockchain.

Also designed to scale on a blockchain architecture, zero-knowledge set membership (ZKSM) allows for alphanumeric data to be validated within a specified set. In practice, this means moving beyond numbers into other types of data, such as proving dimensions and geographic positioning.

As an example, in a know-your-customer (KYC) check, a user can be validated to be part of a group (say, an EU citizen) without disclosing the exact country that he/she lives in. If the data set formed includes all countries in the European Union, and if the private information given is the country of residence of a user, the user can prove that he/she is an EU citizen.

Since being open-sourced, the body of cryptographic work that ING is building on has been subjected to academic to peer review by the likes of MIT’s Madars Virza, one of the co-founders of zcash.

Annerie Vreugdenhil, head of wholesale banking innovation at ING, said launching ZKSM in an open-source capacity is the next step in the journey to figure out how to deal with data and privacy using distributed ledger technology (DLT).

“At ING, we are fortunate to have some of the best minds in the industry working on our programme,” said Vreugdenhil. “And we are excited that our ground-breaking solution is now ready to be implemented and tested.”

*This post is credited to CoinDesk

The Italian Banking Association (ABI) has revealed they successfully passed the initial phase of testing their blockchain-powered interbank system, Italian financial media outlet Ansa reported September 29.

By applying distributed ledger technology (DLT), the group of 14 Italian banks is planning to improve interbanking processes. Specifically, the association intends to boost the processing time of operations, increase the transparency of banking information, and enable the verification and exchange of information directly within the application.

According to local Italian source Corriere Nazionale, the application of blockchain technology will also assist in specific aspects of banking operations that usually involve a number of complex discrepancies. In this regard, blockchain deployment in the interbank system aims to address that issue by storing data on multiple nodes shared by the banks, with the implementation of smart contracts.

According to the report, the association has successfully completed 1.2 million movements on an infrastructure of 14 nodes distributed by the banks. Based on the positive results of the first stage of the test, the banks will now start applying the blockchain-powered application for the recording of daily operations.

The association had first revealed the plans to implement blockchain technology for banking operations in June of this year. The blockchain interbank initiative, called the Spunta Project, is carried out by ABI’s banking research and innovation center Abi Lab.

The Spunta Project is based on the Corda DLT platform and developed by blockchain consortium R3, with assistance from y tech firm NTT Data.

According to ABI’s website, the project is implemented by the following banks: Banca Mediolanum, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Banca Sella, BNL – Gruppo BNP Paribas, Banca Popolare di Sondrio, Banco BPM, CheBanca! – Gruppo Mediobanca, Credito Emiliano, Crédit Agricole, Credito Valtellinese, Iccrea Banca, Intesa Sanpaolo, Nexi Banca, Ubi.

Although audit and consulting firm Deloitte has recently claimed that the existing blockchain ecosystem has a number of issues — including the risks of too slow transaction speed —  blockchain applications have been introduced by some global banking institutions.

Recently, Thailand’s fourth largest bank Kasikornbank reportedly became the first bank in the country to use blockchain technology by applying the blockchain-powered Visa B2B Connect program targeting cross-border payments.

On September 20, Poland’s largest bank, PKO Bank Polski, revealed plans to launch a blockchain tool for client documents through a partnership with UK-based Coinfirm. The day after, the company tweeted an explanation of how the solution is working in practice.

*This post is credited to CoinTelegraph