To be sure, digital currency markets have had their ups and downs. A recent study by Gallup shows that only 2 percent of investors are currently purchasing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but one in four is intrigued. With major banks betting on the space, however, that math may be about to change.

Whether or not your company accepts cryptocurrency as a payment method, it would do well to pay attention to the surprising ways the business world is already using digital currency:

1. Investing in customer loyalty.

Loyalty programs have long struggled to find the right incentive structure. According to the 2017 Colloquy Loyalty Census, more than half of loyalty memberships in the U.S. are inactive. The report says approximately 30 percent of surveyed U.S. and Canadian consumers have left loyalty programs without ever redeeming a point or a mile.

Could cryptocurrencies reignite customer loyalty? Cryptocurrency gives customers want they want — cash — without the security and logistics challenges of doling out cash.

In Zurich, for example, Caffe Lattesso encourages purchasers to redeem codes found on its bottles for loyalty rewards in the form of digital coins, which can be exchanged within a few months for other digital tokens or traditional currency. EZ Rent-A-Car is following suit with a program that allows customers to exchange their loyalty points for digital coins.

2. Banking on accessory technologies.

Rather than re-invigorate their existing customer base, other entrepreneurs could look at building a new one around the cryptocurrency market. Investors may start focusing less on initial coin offerings and more on building the technological ecosystem around cryptocurrencies.

Demand is growing quickly for digital currency point-of-sale systems, for example. Although most of the demand is currently in South Korea, at least one company plans to distribute some 100,000 point-of-sale machines by 2021. Vendors that accept cryptocurrencies will also need accounting and reporting software to support the payment method.

3. Making change with ease.

But cryptocurrencies are good for more than spending money; they’re also great for giving back. Eric Tippetts, co-founder of NASGO pointed out at the United Nations’ Media for Social Change Summit, cryptocurrency’s digital nature makes set-it-and-forget-it philanthropy possible.

“Instead of voicing a commitment to philanthropy, the blockchain makes it possible to program giving into the operation itself,” Tippetts explained in a Cheddar interview. NASGO’s financial systems, he noted, direct every seventeenth revenue cycle into an account for humanitarian contributions.

Creatives, too, are using cryptocurrency to spread their message.

In the Cheddar interview, Tippetts and Jaafar Jackson, son of Jermaine Jackson and nephew of Michael Jackson, discussed plans to tokenize upcoming musical releases as a way to raise awareness, gather contributions and donate part of their earnings to humanitarian causes. Ashton Kutcher, in fact, recently donated $4 million in XRP tokens, a digital currency introduced by fintech startup Ripple, to the Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund during his appearance on DeGeneres’s show.

Far from the fad its detractors thought it would be, digital currency is become a staple of the business world sooner than anyone expected. If it can soup up tired loyalty programs, open new opportunities in software and streamline charitable giving, then what’s next? Entrepreneurs can’t buy an answer to that question — but they can build it.

*This post is credited to Entrepreneur

When historians set out to chronicle the development of cryptocurrency, one of the first chapters will profile DigiCash, the early digital currency startup which, decades before Bitcoin, almost fulfilled the dream of giving the internet a native currency. However, that project’s inventor, cryptography pioneer David Chaum, wants his name to appear in the book’s subsequent chapters as well.

Chaum, now 63, is launching a new cryptocurrency project called Elixxir, which he claims has achieved the holy grail of network decentralization, blockchain security, and transaction speed.

In a Wall Street Journal interview published earlier this year, Chaum alleged that the technological innovations in Elixxir are game changers for blockchain adoption. “These breakthroughs I’ve made change the whole game,” he told the publication. “We can actually meet the requirements to go to consumer scale.”

Specifically, Elixxir implements an inversion of the traditional blockchain model, wherein transactions are aggregated into blocks and then processed by validating nodes. Chaum said that blocks will instead be produced prior to transaction batching, allowing the network to process payments quickly, even at scale.

It remains to be seen whether the production blockchain will meet Chaum’s lofty expectations while also achieving sufficient decentralization. In the meantime, Elixxir has announced that the project has received a strategic investment from Chris Larsen, the co-founder of blockchain startup Ripple and, by virtue of his Ripple equity and remaining XRP holdings, one of the wealthiest persons in cryptocurrency.

Commenting on the project, Larsen said that he was optimistic about Elixxir’s potential as a consumer-facing network. He said, “David Chaum has been a defender of privacy in the digital world for almost forty years. I am proud to be an early backer of Elixxir and look forward to seeing this consumer-facing blockchain open the door to secure use by millions of individuals in their daily lives.”

Also providing seed funding was H&D Company Pte Ltd., an investment firm based out of Singapore.

*This post is credited to CCN

Recent statistics show that blockchain engineers are currently in high demand and they earn as high as $175,000 per annum.

Blockchain Technology Engineers in High Demand

A San Francisco-based company, Hired, revealed a statistic which showed that decentralized technology engineers were earning over $150,000 per annum. This is a premium figure when compared to the salary of a software engineer, which is around $135,000.

According to CNBC, the salaries of blockchain engineers put them on the same level as artificial intelligence experts. The San Francisco company noted, however, that compared to their counterparts in other specialized roles, these engineers earn the highest pay.

The reason for the steep rise in their salaries, is the high demand for such talent by various companies. Giant companies like IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon, currently seek the services of these engineers.

In Q4 2017, the American consulting firm included distributed technology as one of its services. After that, the company noticed that blockchain as a required skill skyrocketed to 400 percent.

Commenting on the high demand for such engineers, the CEO of Hired, Mehul Patel, said:

There’s a ton of demand for blockchain. Software engineers are in very short supply, but this is even more acute and that’s why salaries are even higher.

The CEO further said that engineers willing to venture into decentralized technology should be well grounded.

Study Blockchain-related Courses, Earn Lucrative Salaries

Blockchain technology adoption has spread to not just in companies, but also university classrooms. In the past few years, the demand for decentralized experts/engineers has caused universities to incorporate distributed technology studies in their curriculum.

One of Europe’s top universities, the University of Edinburgh, in 2017 introduced the first ever decentralized technology course in Europe. The course, known as Blockchain and Distributed Ledgers, targets undergraduates in their final year and Master’s students in their first year. The university also launched the Blockchain Technology Laboratory.

Also, schools like the University of Pennsylvania’s business school, The Wharton School and Cornell University also offer such courses to a teeming population of students.

According to a study conducted by, Coinbase in conjunction with Qriously, in Q3 2018, of the 675 American students sampled, 26 percent showed interest in taking such courses. Additionally, world top 50 universities were studied, and results showed that 42 percent offered a minimum of one class on decentralized technology.

Ripple (XRP) launched the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) in collaboration with twenty top educational institutions. The initiative involves support for academic research, technical development, blockchain innovation, among others.

*This post is credited to EthereumWorldNews

Global Market Insights’ recent report claims that the blockchain market in the Asia Pacific region has seen a significant growth thanks to the increase in the number of investments in blockchain-based companies. The report also claims that the market will hit $16 billion in the next few years, likely by 2024.

Back in 2016, the number of investments in blockchain-based startups had seen over 135 deals. These deals have brought over $545 million to the market at the time. Then in 2017, the market grew by 50% after over 185 deals were made. This event brought over $1 billion in investments.

The increase in funds signals the continuous development of new technologies, with the focus of investors remaining on the blockchain. Because of this, blockchain technology has seen a significant increase in adoption, even when it comes to other industries.

Digital ledger technology has experienced a large increase in adoption levels. This does not only include startups, but also some of the largest companies in the world. Those include players like Ripple, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Digital Asset Holding, Chain, Abra, R3, SAP, Digiledg, Earthport, Coinbase, BTL Group, Blockstream, BitSE, Bloq, Blocko, Asta Solutions, Alphapoint, and Bacoor.

Largest Focus is on Healthcare

A recent report published by Zion Market Research claims that the healthcare market has seen the largest level of adoption when it comes to the blockchain technology. The value of this technology on a global scale was over $34 million back in 2017. Today, however, the revenue expected to be generated by the end of 2024 is closer to $1415.59 million according to reports.

The blockchain technology in healthcare is divided into three segments — application, region, and end user. The segment regarding the application includes clinical data exchange and interoperability, claims settlement and billing, as well as supply chain management. When it comes to the end user segment, the technology is once again segmented into pharmaceutical companies, healthcare payers, and healthcare providers.

Blockchain technology is making data management much more efficient, while at the same time, it improved security and interoperability.

Governments’ Involvement in Blockchain Technology

According to the Global Market Insights’ report, one of the biggest reasons for such a huge interest in the blockchain technology comes from the fact that the government of the region supports it as well. Through numerous policy changes and initiatives, countries like China and Singapore are trying to understand the new technology and benefit from its use.

Singapore’s Monetary Authority has even partnered with R3 back in 2016 to explore the blockchain technology and use it for conducting inter-bank payments. Additionally, the country is exploring another potential use case for this technology, which has a goal of linking its National Trade Platform to those of other countries.

At the same time, the government of China is trying to use the blockchain for tracking charity donations. In fact, they even plan to use it to make a complete overhaul of their charity tracking system.

*This post is credited to BTC News

Cryptocurrencies surged on Friday as optimism surrounding Ripple Labs Inc.’s plans for using a digital coin spread, lifting peers that have lost more than $600 billion of value since January.

XRP, the cryptocurrency commonly referred to as Ripple, surged as much as 22 percent, taking its one-week increase to more than 75 percent. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index jumped 8.7 percent, heading for its biggest one-day gain since mid-July.

Ripple may launch a service that will use the digital currency “in the next month or so,” one of Ripple’s executives told CNBC on Monday. Called xRapid, the service lets financial companies such as payment providers speed up money transfers into emerging markets using XRP, which is an independent digital asset. A Ripple spokeswoman said Thursday that there isn’t an official commercial release timeline at this point.

Virtual currencies have struggled to gain institutional backing in part because most banks and payment companies experimenting with blockchain technology have yet to use digital coins for large-scale money transfers.

While far outperforming bigger rivals such as Bitcoin and Ether this week, XRP is still down almost 60 percent from its 2018 intraday high. It was up 15 percent to 46.4 U.S. cents as of 10 a.m. in London, according to Bloomberg composite pricing. The value of virtual currencies tracked by CoinMarketCap.com has dropped to $218 billion from about $835 billion in January.

While Ripple’s main product available today, called xCurrent, doesn’t require the use of XRP, “xRapid, on the other hand, leverages this commutation system to allow institutions to settle inter-bank transactions using the XRP digital asset,” Lucas Nuzzi, director of technology at Digital Asset Research, said in an email. “The use of XRP is mandatory with this product.”

Ripple History

XRP was released on a distributed ledger in June 2012, with 100 billion XRP created before Ripple the company was formed in September 2012. After Ripple was founded, the creators of XRP gifted a substantial amount of it to the company. Ripple owned about 60 billion XRP, with the majority of it held in escrow, as of July, according to information listed on the company’s website.

Ripple Labs is set to hold its Swell conference on Oct. 1-2 in San Francisco. The meeting will include speakers from Spain’s Banco Santander SA, Payments Canada and other financial institutions and regulators, as well as former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Ripple also added PNC Financial Services Group Inc. to its network of users. Ripple now has more than 100 clients around the world and operates in 40 countries.

*This post is credited to Bloomberg

 

LinkedIn has been keeping its finger on the pulse of the United States’ most thriving startups, and crypto organizations are showing tremendous signs of life — and growth.

The business and employment social media site released its LinkedIn Top Startups list this Thursday, September 6, 2018. Split into two articles, the list details the U.S.’s most dominant startups, weighing each company’s worth with in-house data that looks at “employee growth; jobseeker interest; member engagement with the company and its employees; and how well these startups pulled talent from [the company’s] flagship LinkedIn Top Companies list.” To be eligible, companies could be no older than seven years and must have had at least 50 employees.

Crypto Companies Take Top Spots

Interspersed between the expected ilk of general tech and software startups, cryptocurrency and blockchain companies had an impressive showing among their mainstream industry peers.

Coming in just behind Uber adversary Lyft and low-calorie ice-cream company Halo Top Creamery, respectively, Coinbase ranked third on the list. In describing the six-year-old cryptocurrency wallet and vendor, LinkedIn notes that its services house over 20 million accounts — twice the number of clients Charles Schwab has on its books. At 500 employees strong, the company hopes to double its manpower by year’s end.

Right behind number six — stock-trading service Robinhood (which, while not focused on cryptocurrencies, does offer crypto trading) — comes Ripple. With over 100 clients, the blockchain-based banking platform delivers its services to institutions like Santander, RBC and American Express. The company of 250 employees hopes to add 75 more by 2019. Slinging a bit of mud, the company boasted to LinkedIn that this dedication to expansion — along with an impressive clientele — is what distinguishes Ripple from other crypto startups that are “playing in the sandbox.”

Down the List, Crypto Still Finds Its Place

Outside of the top 10, the Winklevosses’ Gemini straddles the list’s upper and lower division at 25. LinkedIn highlights the Winklevosses’ hitherto unsuccessful attempts to list a bitcoin ETF, as well as their spearheading of an SRO (self-regulatory organization) for cryptocurrency exchanges. Among its 150 employees, the description draws attention to Robert Cornish, Gemini’s newly acquired CIO, whom it “poached” from the New York Stock Exchange.

Just below Gemini, Ethereum incubator ConsenSys tops the latter half of the rankings. Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin heads the organizational body, and its impressive staff of 965, the largest of any of the crypto companies surveyed, is spread across departments for technological development, consulting, education and investing. Earlier this year, the company partnered with Amazon to launch Kaleido, an enterprise-grade, blockchain software-as-a-service kit available on Amazon Web Services.

At 47, Axoni, a fintech firm focused on blockchain and distributed ledger technology, brings up the rear as the last crypto-related company on the list. Founded in 2013, the 50 employee company is starting to make a name for itself, as an infusion of $32 million in venture capital from market heavyweights like Goldman Sachs, Nyca Partners and Andreessen Horowitz has given the fledgling firm expectations to live up to.

A detailed version of LinkedIn’s terminology, along with qualifiers and exceptions, reads as follows:

LinkedIn measures startups based on four pillars: employment growth, engagement, job interest and attraction of top talent. Employment growth is measured as percentage headcount increase over one year, which must be a minimum of 15%. Engagement looks at non-employee views and follows of the company’s LinkedIn page as well as how many non-employees are viewing employees at that startup. Job interest counts what rate people are viewing and applying to jobs at the company, including both paid and unpaid postings. Attraction of top talent measures how many employees the startup has recruited away from LinkedIn Top Companies, as a percentage of the startup’s total workforce. Data is normalized across all eligible startups. The methodology time frame is July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018.

To be eligible, companies must be independent and privately held, have 50 or more employees, be 7 years old or younger and be headquartered in the country on whose list they appear. We exclude all staffing firms, think tanks, nonprofits, accelerators and government-owned entities.

*This post is credited to BitcoinMagazine