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

South Korea’s “Blockchain Technology Development Strategy” Course

As the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry gains traction across the world, the concepts of this groundbreaking innovation will begin to permeate into a multitude of facets of society. Most recently, it seems that the 21st century’s most influential invention has seeped into post-secondary education in the form of university-level blockchain-centric lectures, courses, and research.

As per a report from South-Korean outlet Kinews, relayed by The Next Web’s cryptocurrency column, the South Korean Ministry of Science And Technology has just made its first steps towards crafting its “first batch of blockchain specialists.”

On Monday, the ministry’s information and communication departments divulged that it had hosted its first ever lecture on distributed ledger technologies (DLT). This is reportedly the local government’s first move to roll out a “blockchain technology development strategy” course that is backed by a supposed 100 billion Korean Won ($90 million USD) investment from forward-thinking regulators.

As per local media, the course has currently undertaken 42 students, who were selected via an amassment of applications and interviews to determine the best candidates for this fully-fledged course. Following the first lecture, students will need to work through six months of eight hour days that consist of tutelage, learning the ropes of the tech and more activities that are intended to put the 42 scholars through the wringer.

The students, located in the Walton Blockchain Research Center in Seoul, expressed their excitement for their participation in the course, noting that they were ready to be the first individuals to lead the development of the domestic blockchain industry.

After the completion of the training program, the Seoul-based course intends to put the scholars straight to work, hopefully putting the skills they learned to the test in real-life scenarios and bona fide cryptocurrency/blockchain firms. Speaking on the matter, Wang Sang Hyeong, the secretary general of the Walton Group, stated (roughly translated):

“We will provide a one-stop shop for employment and business startups, as well as education for the professional training of employees, and we will strengthen the building of a healthy block-chain ecosystem.”

As South Korea is undoubtedly one of the DLT hubs of the entire world, it didn’t come as a surprise to some that the local government would openly endorse this move with such a substantial investment.

Worldwide Interest In DLT-Related Education Surges 

Last week, Coinbase, unarguably one of the most influential cryptocurrency-focused companies in the world, released a report highlighting the current state of crypto in “higher education.” According to data gathered by the firm, over 42% of the world’s 50 foremost universities offer some sort of academically endorsed blockchain-related course. Moreover, 70% of universities offer one cryptography related class, which may relate to DLT in some way, shape or form.

Although many would never think of taking such a course or are past that stage in their lives, this figure reveals that nascent crypto industry is more far-reaching than some would originally think. As now that it has permeated into higher education, it has the potential to branch out into a variety of industries in the future.

*This post is credited to EthereumWorldNews

ASX Limited, which operates the Australian Securities Exchange, says that it is eyeing broader opportunities for a new blockchain-inspired platform set to replace one of its key systems.

The exchange operator is rolling out a new platform based on blockchain-style distributed ledger technology (DLT) to replace CHESS: The Clearing House Electronic Subregister System, which performs clearing and settlement services for the equity market.

CHESS was originally rolled out in 1994. Although the system remains stable, ASX argues that its new DLT-system will offer a range of advantages.

“If we look at CHESS today, we see that it sits centrally as the source of truth,” ASX CEO Dominic Stevens said in remarks prepared for a full year results briefing this morning.

“All day every day, participants send messages back and forth to the CHESS database to make sure they are perfectly reconciled with it. This process is prone to errors and expensive to fix. The databases of participants can also be different, meaning there are multiple versions of software essentially doing the same thing.”

With a DLT solution, instead of needing to send messages back and forth to reconcile multiple databases, market participants can connect to the system with a DLT node “that forms a perfect chain of title that cannot be altered,” the CEO said.

“Put simply, the node is part of the source of truth database held by ASX.”

In the interests of backwards-compatibility, instead of running a node participants can elect to receive messages in a similar fashion to how they do today.

Connecting via a node reduces the opportunities for errors to creep in, the CEO said. Instead of maintaining “many and disparate databases” that are “expensive to support, upgrade and maintain,” DLT participants will “have a database harmonised with ASX and with each other, meaning applications written for one participant will now work for other participants – further reducing risk, cost and complexity”.

The CHESS replacement platform is based on technology from Digital Asset Holdings (of which ASX is a part owner) and supports applications written in DAML, or Digital Asset Modeling Language.

Stevens said that means that instead of “multiple applications, in multiple versions, written in multiple languages, sitting on multiple databases” the new system will support a “standard, easy to use smart contract modelling language that sits on a harmonised database”.

“Processes and services can be built to operate multilaterally across the system – that is, between one participant and another, not just between a participant and ASX,” the CEO said.

“This means you can create multi-party automated and simplified workflows across industry participants, not just within one. This allows significant service innovation for the market.”

The potential of DLT stretches beyond just the equities market, the ASX CEO said, and could include the settlement of bonds or of “other asset classes that financial institutions still manage on legacy technology and with manual processes”.

“These represent another large potential opportunity,” he said. “And if all of these improvements were based on a common technology, this should allow our customers who span these different markets to simplify their businesses even further.

“After almost three years of intense research and development we can see the benefits of a DLT system to the financial services industry. It is also clear that it’s not just financial services, but any industry that could benefit from the availability of real-time source of truth information.”

The new platform is expected to enter production between Q4 2020 and Q1 2021.

New secondary Data centre

Stevens said ASX was planning to upgrade its secondary data centre to a “new state-of-the-art, third party facility” that will offer features equivalent to those of its key facility, the Australian Liquidity Centre. The exchange operator is also consolidating six networks into one “streamlined, high-performance network”.

“This will deliver a higher quality of service and enable these existing networks to work together and communicate seamlessly with each other,” the CEO said. “This work is at implementation stage and the consolidation of network routing to the new system is underway.”

*This post is credited to Computerworld.