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Bitcoin Latest News

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

As moonshot projects in the distributed world abound, it’s not surprising to see the energy sector jumping into the fray. This comes as the heavily regulated power industry eyeballs new approaches for allowing consumers to generate and sell electricity in various locales worldwide.

It’s here that blockchain technology is increasingly being seen as a potential, low-cost means for delivering energy transactions across a distributed network without need for a centralized authority. In fact, some surmise that blockchains may one day eliminate the need for intermediaries altogether, thereby allowing a more free market approach to energy distribution.

Blockchain tech could also boost efficiency by serving as the backbone for “smart grid” systems, automatically identifying and addressing network hitches that may arise. Moreover, when tethered with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, energy devices such as those used for heating, cooling, ventilation, electric vehicles, solar installations and even batteries will be able to interact with one another, resulting in greater cost savings.

Not to be overlooked is the enhanced cybersecurity element that blockchain technology offers for an industry that has become increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Despite blockchain technology’s potential utility, industry adoption may pose a number of gritty challenges. For starters, the energy grid is fraught with complexity associated with managing the process continuum of materials management, energy generation and delivery. Moreover, prevailing recordkeeping and data management systems remain cumbersome, resulting in costly missteps when it come to energy trading and asset ownership tracking.

Global Experimentation Abounds

As the intersection between blockchain technology and the energy sector advances, experimental demonstration projects are taking shape throughout the world.

Last year, the blockchain-centric Brooklyn Microgrid project, a peer-to-peer energy market for local renewable energy generation, attracted quite a bit of media attention. The intent of the startup is to deliver solar panels to this New York borough’s rooftops, allowing local residents to purchase and offload electricity within their community. This initiative allows for a system that bypasses power companies, thereby creating a generation-and-storage ecosystem that works in a more independent and efficient manner.

In another example, Austria’s largest regional utility company, Wien Energie, in collaboration with the Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group has engaged in a blockchain trial run targeting energy trading with two other utilities. The objective? To gather a repository of knowledge about blockchain technology, assessing the viability of it and relevant business models for the industry. This pilot ran from March to May 2017 and is expected to generate a set of new commercial strategies to explore.

Additionally, the SP Group, Singapore’s energy provider, will be developing blockchain solutions in partnerships with other providers throughout the world, with the goal of lowering consumer utility costs in that nation. This initiative is also intended to create simpler mechanisms for integrating new renewable energy sources into the mix.

Andre De Castro, founder of the NY-based Blockchain of Things and Catenis Enterprise — which delivers blockchain solutions for simplifying and accelerating secure global peer-to-peer edge device messaging, digital asset control, and recording of immutable data — tells Bitcoin Magazine that blockchain technology is just the beginning foundation for advancing the energy sector. “Having a distributed database doesn’t necessarily get you a trading system or an application. So what’s really needed is an application layer on top of the blockchain, to get real-world solutions.”  

De Castro says that his company enables the creation of digital assets, more commonly known as tokens, that can be applied to energy units across endpoints to create new business models for energy markets. “Everything is moving toward more open exchanges when it comes to the energy industry. Therefore consumers will soon be able to choose their own energy providers and even resell energy to their neighbors in certain areas of the world.”

He notes one additional benefit to the advancements, namely that the global Bitcoin blockchain is incredibly secure due to the fact that transactions can be cryptographically verified, thereby protecting critical assets on the energy grid. “This addresses a major challenge that currently exists today involving utility systems where there is a reliance on centralized cloud servers. What we’ve developed at Catenis with the blockchain allows for decentralization and the elimination of central points of failure that could affect big swaths of the energy grid.”

Ultimately, De Castro sees a day where blockchain technology will foster the creation of more flexible business models for exchanging power in open markets and selling that power back to the main energy grid. He also believes that this will open up immense opportunities in the clean energy space, welcome news for the eco-friendly movement. “I believe that control mechanism allowing digital tokens to be mapped will become more common resulting in lower energy costs while making peer-to-peer exchanges more efficient.

The post Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:58 pm

Consensus 2017: IBM Thinks Blockchain Could Save Shipping Industry 'Billions'

Blockchain technology is poised to recover billions of dollars lost to coordination costs in both capital markets and the shipping industry.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:28 am

PwC Teams Up With Alibaba For Food Supply Blockchain Test

PwC Australia is partnering up with Alibaba and others on a trial that will find it seeking to provided added trust to the food supply chain.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:21 am

Consensus 2017: EU, India Governments See Path to Global Blockchain Adoption

Speakers during the opening panel of Consensus 2017 agreed that blockchain is set to go global – but differed on how the technology will get there.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:15 am

A Curious Plan to Save the Environment With the Blockchain - WIRED


A Curious Plan to Save the Environment With the Blockchain
WIRED
Magic internet money—also known as cryptocurrency—is at an all-time high. The experts who watch this stuff predict that one bitcoin (the most famous cryptocurrency) will soon be worth $2,000. The big selling point of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin is ...

and more »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 9:09 am

DCG Signs Up IBM, MasterCard And More For Enterprise Blockchain Effort

Digital Currency Group is launching a fourth subsidiary, one that finds the investment company branching out into enterprise blockchain development.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 8:59 am

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JPMorgan Partners With Zcash on Blockchain Security

JPMorgan has partnered with the makers of zcash to provide a new layer of privacy to the users of its enterprise-grade blockchain.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 7:18 am

CoinDesk Previews New 'State of Blockchain' at Consensus 2017

See a sneak preview of CoinDesk's 'State of Blockchain' from our Consensus 2017 conference.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:30 am

Government Seeks Public Views On Future Of Bitcoin - NDTV


NDTV

Government Seeks Public Views On Future Of Bitcoin
NDTV
Bitcoins were in news recently as the global ransomware attack WannaCry infected computers running on older versions of Microsoft operating systems and the cyber criminals were demanded a fee of about $300 in crypto-currencies like bitcoin for ...
Bitcoin in India: Govt Invites Citizen Comments on Virtual CurrenciesCryptoCoinsNews

all 2 news articles »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:15 am

AlphaPoint Taps into ICO Popularity With Token Launch Toolkit

Digital currency exchange software provider AlphaPoint is expanding into the market for ICOs with a white-label toolkit.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:00 am

Healthcare IT Firm Joins Hyperledger Blockchain Project, Codebases Activated

US firm Change Healthcare has joined the Linux Foundation-backed Hyperledger blockchain consortium.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:00 am

It's Happening? Blockstream Opens 'Liquid' Sidechain in Beta

Bitcoin startup Blockstream’s first sidechain, dubbed Liquid, is launching in beta on the live bitcoin network.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 6:00 am

Bitcoin 'Activists' Redecorate Bitmain's Israeli Office With Protest Signs - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin 'Activists' Redecorate Bitmain's Israeli Office With Protest Signs
CoinTelegraph
“The Israeli Bitcoin community have experience organizing similar protests against Israeli banks and corrupted officials, so it was natural for us to apply that model to Bitmain,” it said. Reactions in r/Bitcoin were less than positive, however, with ...

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 5:04 am

Bitcoin blows past $2000 and $2100 for the first time - Business Insider


Business Insider

Bitcoin blows past $2000 and $2100 for the first time
Business Insider
The rally has seemingly been sparked by news out of Japan at the beginning of April that bitcoin had become a legal payment method in the country. Along the way, Ulmart, Russia's largest online retailer, said it would begin accepting bitcoin even ...
Bitcoin hits $2000 trading high pointBBC News
Bitcoin prices are soaring under TrumpCNNMoney
New Bitcoin Price Record: Over $2000 Per CoinInvestopedia
Engadget -Fortune -CNBC -CoinDesk
all 95 news articles »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 4:50 am

Could Skandiabanken's Acceptance of Bitcoin Signal a New Fintech Reality? - CoinDesk


CoinDesk

Could Skandiabanken's Acceptance of Bitcoin Signal a New Fintech Reality?
CoinDesk
While some might see this move as one of traditional banks embracing bitcoin, really, it heralds a new shift in the evolution of cryptocurrency into the greater fintech space. Skandiabanken announced its intentions this week to let users connect a bank ...

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 3:06 am

Bitcoin Miners Agree in NY on SegWit Activation "Before September": Sources - CoinTelegraph


CoinTelegraph

Bitcoin Miners Agree in NY on SegWit Activation "Before September": Sources
CoinTelegraph
The Bitcoin price run to $2,200 could be a result of SegWit activation coming to Bitcoin sooner than September 2017. On May 21 in New York, Bitcoin miners have reached an agreement to go for SegWit, according to miners sources. It has marked a good ...
Rumour Has it SegWit Will be Activated On The Bitcoin Network SoonnewsBTC
UASF - Bitcoin's emergency plan to enact SegWitBrave New Coin

all 5 news articles »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:38 am

Peach Becomes Japan's First Airline to Accept Payment in Bitcoin ... - Bloomberg


Peach Becomes Japan's First Airline to Accept Payment in Bitcoin ...
Bloomberg
Peach Aviation Ltd. will become the first Japanese carrier to accept bitcoin as payment for airline tickets as the discount airline aims to attract more tourists from ...

and more »

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 2:01 am

Bitcoin Options Service LedgerX Raises $11.4 Million in Series B Funding

The parent company of bitcoin options exchange operator LedgerX has raised $11.4m in a Series B funding round.

Source

Posted on 22 May 2017 | 12:00 am

Consensus 2017: Smart Car Tech 'BlockBox' Wins CoinDesk Hackathon

BlockBox won CoinDesk's Consensus 2017 hackathon for its bid to make drones and smart cars safer to operate with blockchain. Black boxes have long been used to collect critical data during crashes and accidents, as explained Samuel Brooks, one of the team members, during BlockBox's presentation. But the team wanted to expand that idea to drones and […]

Source

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 7:35 pm

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Adds 86 Members to Blockchain Consortium

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance has more than tripled in size, with the group announcing 86 new members today drawn from a wide range of industries. Among the new members are South Korean telecom Samsung, pharmaceuticals giant Merck, automaker Toyota, investor communications platform Broadridge, financial markets firm DTCC, and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which […]

Source

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 5:01 pm

Deloitte Exec Departs to Launch Tokenized Blockchain Research Lab

The driver of one of Deloitte's most prominent

Source

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 3:11 pm

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns - Fortune


Fortune

IRS Probe of Bitcoin Goes Too Far, GOP Warns
Fortune
A closely-watched fight between the Internal Revenue Service and a popular bitcoin exchange took a new twist last week, as senior Republicans in Congress sent a sharply-worded letter that suggests the tax agency is overstepping its powers. The letter ...

Posted on 21 May 2017 | 3:10 pm

Securities Laws Aren't the Only Rules Token Sales Have to Consider

While much of the concern over token sales has fallen on securities laws – there's another set of regulations that could be equally impactful.

Source

Posted on 20 May 2017 | 3:55 pm

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority

It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.
Samuel Adams

In The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority, Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes how a strong enough minority with more strict preferences can end up with the majority following their preferences. He speaks of many examples  —  food preparation standards, languages and taboos.

This principle can also extend to Bitcoin and the concept of soft forks. By extending this principle, it can show that a soft fork that has strong support from a minority still may be enough to provide economic incentives to its enforcement, even if the majority is ambivalent.

Soft forks, by their nature, are a form of intolerance. Users who enforce a soft fork are intolerant of some types of transactions or blocks that miners can produce. They will reject those blocks that miners produce much as an Orthodox Jew will reject pork. In cases where the majority is ambivalent and the cost for producers is low to adhere to the stricter standards, then the result is producers keep everyone happy by following those stricter standards.

In Bitcoin’s case, many potential soft forks fall into this category. Soft forks that do not degrade the security properties of Bitcoin, that do not take away from any currently used features, do not add costs to miners, and are preferred by some, would result in profit-maximizing miners choosing to serve a wider audience by enforcing the soft fork.

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Ambivalent Majority

In the above case, if there were strong believers committed to a soft fork with stricter rules, miners face a choice  —  do they allow the chain to split or serve everyone with the new stricter rules? If they allow the chain to split, they must pick a subset of users to serve, giving them less value than if they were to serve all. This also harms the network effect, which means the sum of the two parts is now worth less than the original. Thus, as long as the minority committed to the soft fork was sufficient in size that they cannot be ignored, a profit-maximizing miner will follow them (assuming there is little to no cost of enforcement).

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Miners’ Interests

In a case where a strong-willed minority requires non-GMO, organically certified food, this may not result in the minority getting its way. The cost of production may be too high to be worth it. A theoretical soft fork that reduces the block reward by half would be a good example. A minority may feel the block reward is too high and wish that it be lowered, and only allow miners to claim 6.25 coins instead of 12.5 per block. In this case, miners would give up a significant amount of income to have to enforce it, and the loss of “business” from excluding these users may be less costly than reducing their income.

Strong-Willed Minority vs. Strong-Willed Minority

A third case is when a strong-willed majority ends up alienating another portion of the potential consumers. If a new religious sect required that all food have bacon added to it, Jews and Muslims would not tolerate this and would splinter off, even if the majority did not care either way. In this case, a split is inevitable.

In the Bitcoin case, some users may wish to have all addresses logged in a government registry to ease KYC compliance. They could demand that miners only mine blocks that adhere to these standards. This type of action would be rejected by many users who would not go along with such a plan, and in fact may even take steps to block it if it was enforced. In this case, a split would be inevitable if both factions were sufficiently intolerant of the other.

The Importance of Commitment and Stubbornness

This only works if users are absolutely committed to their rules being followed. Commitment must be absolute and unwilling to change, no matter what the majority does. The most important part of the intolerant minority is to truly be intolerant! If the cause is not worth putting your neck on the line for, it will not be successful.

Some supporters of user-activated soft forks (UASFs) have stated that they intend to enforce the UASF unless it is not widely supported or followed, and then would back off. This is the surest way to guarantee failure. If you are unwilling to follow a minority chain with an economic minority, you aren’t truly an intolerant minority. You are only one with a preference.

Guidelines for User-Activated Soft Forks for Maximizing Success

  • Take away no existing useful features (do not create a hostile minority).

  • Do not add significant costs to miners (make burden for miners as low as possible).

  • Include functionality that users are willing to fork off for.

  • Ensure there is a sufficiently sized minority willing to commit.

A sufficiently sized, committed, economic minority is enough to have a successful user-activated soft fork. While Shaolinfry said that without an economic majority behind a soft fork, it should be withdrawn, I believe that statement to be too weak. The history of intolerant minorities making changes is long enough to show otherwise.

This guest post by Alphonse Pace was originally published on Medium and is reproduced here under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: User Activated Soft Forks and the Intolerant Minority appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 8:08 pm

University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community

University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community

The blockchain industry is booming in Australia recently after the Australian Tax Office (ATO) announced changes to tax laws in the 2017–2018 budget summary by the Australian government, surrounding how digital currencies are treated in the country. In the few weeks since the announcement, active blockchain communities and events such as RegHack DownUnder have launched across the country, supported by universities and government regulators.

Australia has traditionally held strict tax laws when it comes to how they handle bitcoin and other digital currencies, defining bitcoin as a separate asset class to fiat currency and requiring that transactions involving digital currencies are taxed twice by the Australian Tax Office. The new budget summary removes any general sales tax made more than once in the supply chain using digital currency, in an attempt to “make it easier for new innovative digital currency businesses to operate in Australia” and to grow their nascent community into a global innovation hub.

The summary states, “The Government is committed to establishing Australia as a leading global financial technology (FinTech) hub and is announcing a new package that aims to position our local fintech industry as a world leader.”

This new regulatory environment has spurred growth in the community, from university campuses all the way up to the government regulators. Students have begun to launch clubs at universities across the country, and regulators and business executives have begun to take notice.

“We’re excited blockchain [technology] can finally move to our campus and Australia in a big way. There’s been a significant increase in interest from the community in the past few weeks,“ said Ryan Pousson, the regional head of the Blockchain Education Network (BEN) in Brisbane and the founder of the UQ Blockchain Club, in a statement to Bitcoin Magazine. This perspective was echoed by Jared Piper, a region head of the Blockchain Education Network in Melbourne.

Aaron Schwartz, the director of global engagement at BEN and partner at MLG Capital, told Bitcoin Magazine, “It’s super exciting to be part of a decentralized organization like BEN that is doing something unique with a swarm-style model. We are quickly spreading to countries all across the world with new chapters opening up across Australia, Colombia, Nigeria and Bangalore, just to name a few. We encourage anyone in a blockchain community around the world to reach out to get started growing their local community.”

On the weekend of May 12–14, government representatives in the energy sector and banking executives in the financial services industry came together to judge RegHack DownUnder. The brightest developers, UI/UX designers and entrepreneurs across Australia were encouraged to spend the weekend in Melbourne to develop blockchain technology solutions to solve some of the problems it faces in these two heavily regulated sectors.

In advance of the hackathon, Adam Lemmon, a blockchain expert from Toronto, flew down to Melbourne to present an overview of Ethereum development and Solidity to the community. Following the event, Lemmon said, “RegHack was an amazing experience and it was inspiring to see such a young blockchain community so excited about the technology.”

Chami Akmeemana, the organizer of RegHack DownUnder, predicts a fast growth in the community. He said to Bitcoin Magazine following the event: “It was a mammoth success. Close to 100 participants spent three days exploring tech solutions to regulatory issues. We now have 100+ blockchain enthusiasts, that I expect [will grow] to over 1000+ by the end of the year. I’m hoping to see some world-class blockchain applications coming out of Australia and I’m stoked to be part of this boost to the ecosystem.”

The regulators in Australia are on board too with this digital transformation. Igor Simunovic, a representative from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), said in a statement following the event that “the event provided opportunity for industry (including government) and freelancers/students/developers to meet, integrate and share through the problem solving required to address the Hackathon ‘problems.’ Such meeting and teamwork opportunities are rare and often bound by the [confines] of conferences or meet-ups. The process of discovering new technologies and frameworks was just a bonus.”

It is still the beginning in the growth trajectory of the blockchain community in Australia, but it is an exciting time to be part of a global movement. For example, in the few months following November’s RegHack TO, the first hackathon hosted by a securities regulator in Canada and inspired by Chami Akmeemana, the number of people attending meetups in Toronto has tripled from 200 to over 700 at the most recent blockchain meetup in Toronto. Getting the entire community on board from universities to business executives to government regulators is an important milestone for any community striving to become a blockchain hub.

The post University Student Involvement Supports Australia’s Booming Blockchain Community appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 2:32 pm

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain-based advancements in the payments industry were among the many themes explored at TRANSACT, a tech-centric, payments industry conference held on May 10–12 in Las Vegas.

A panel discussion entitled “How IoT is Revolutionizing Payments” included a brief discussion regarding the emerging intersection between the Internet of Things and blockchain technology in this industry.

On a similar trajectory as the blockchain, much attention has been given to the future of IoT, defined as an ecosystem of physical devices — from mobile phones to wearable tracking sensors — that gather and share electronic information with one another.

Research firm IHS Markit estimates that 30.7 billion IoT devices will be communicating with one another by 2021. This complements a global blockchain technology market that’s expected to grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2.3 billion by 2021 according to Market Reports Hub.

The collision between the IoT and blockchain worlds portends some important payments industry developments around the efficient tracking of device payment history, all supported by a ledger of secure data exchanges among devices, web systems and users. Further, this technological convergence also shows promise in terms of the use of smart devices that are programmed to conduct a variety of transactions such as the automatic issuance of invoices and payments.  

Dan Loomis, vice president and director of mobile product management at the business and financial software firm Intuit, is firmly entrenched in this evolving IoT/blockchain conversation through his work in creating payment experiences for businesses that operate on a global scale, and brought this expertise to the TRANSACT panel discussion.

In an exclusive interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Loomis remarked that for the small, emerging business clients he works with, cash is king. “For our team at Intuit, it all comes down to how we can help these businesses create immediate operating capital. The ability to quickly onboard clients into a payment service and to get paid quickly is really important. Their mantra is often ‘Pay me, pay me faster, and how can we as a business accept all methods of payment?’”

Loomis says that at his company and for the payments space in general, the thought of leveraging the blockchain’s immutable, permanent, auditable features is fascinating on a variety of levels. He notes that specific to Intuit, there is a lot of investigation going on into blockchain technology and how it may be applied to their payment models.

“We facilitate a lot of invoice, payable and receivable experiences for our clients. Aspirationally, being able to track these logistics in a manner that’s clear and transparent via blockchain [technology] would be very appealing. It has a high level of integrity as a technology and cannot be questioned in terms of its functionality.”

Healthcare is one vertical market that Intuit is targeting. Loomis says that in this industry there is always a trail of information that’s important to unravel and look at, from medical record information to who the patient’s service provider is. “I think that blockchain [technology] can help wrap this together and be a critical vehicle for a healthcare space that’s somewhat arcane and at the same time leading edge.”

When asked about the immense possibilities around blockchain technology and IoT in terms of it being fully leveraged at Intuit, Loomis remarked, “I have no doubt that a developer in our company ecosystem is at least thinking about this closely.”

Loomis believes that IoT and blockchain technology will emerge at Intuit when these technologies have a strong, demonstrated fit that can actually be matched with end user value. “I think market deploy in this space is one of those things we’ll see come to fruition when the time is right and it meets our customer benefit.”

The post IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 2:10 pm

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

Can identity trust be integrated with blockchain technology? The answer to that question appears to be yes, according to a recently completed proof-of-concept study conducted by Peer Ledger, a Canadian blockchain company; SAFE-BioPharma Association, the organization managing the global SAFE-BioPharma digital identity management standard; and Synchronoss, a leading provider of standards-based digital identities.

This development is believed to have significant implications for the use of distributed electronic ledgers (i.e., blockchains) for medical, pharmaceutical and other health system applications.

The purpose of the study was to demonstrate that cyber identities that comply with the SAFE-BioPharma standard may, via Peer Ledger APIs, enable blockchain identities to be de-anonymized, thereby fulfilling a requirement for double-blind clinical trials, audits and responsible supply chains. Prior to the study, identities associated with distributed electronic ledgers were entirely anonymous.

“Identity trust” means that there is trust in each cyber identity, using a process that proves the individual’s identity before linking it to the cyber credential. In general terms, it means that the credential can be trusted to represent the vetted identity of the individual one is doing business with but has never met face-to-face. This is critically important to the pharma/life sciences space because of several factors, including deterrence of hackers seeking valuable patient records and intellectual property, as well as compliance with regulations protecting patient data.

These discoveries underscore the power of blockchain technology to disrupt traditional practices for drug discovery, patient engagement and monitoring, payments and participatory healthcare delivery. Here, the technology leverages its quality as a shared, synchronized, distributed ledger of transactions, fostering security and decreasing fraud by providing a permanent record of who accessed ledgers and what activities they engaged in.  

The proof of concept demonstrated that SAFE-BioPharma-compliant digital identities can be tied back to the blockchain to assure trust in the identity of each person engaged in the transaction. Transactions can be anonymous until the end of a clinical study and “chained back” to the proven identity of the user, if needed, for regulatory or clinical purposes. Alternatively, the identities associated with each block can be known throughout the process, such as in track-and-trace applications for the medical supply chain.

Blockchain technology’s use of a group-consensus algorithm can be used to catch intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset. For example, an accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes” to prevent double invoicing. Similarly, a counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain application can prevent harmful substances and devices from entering the medical system.

Ultimately, for blockchain technology to reach its full potential in any sector, myriad systems must be interoperable. Currently, healthcare technologies rarely work in a highly synchronized way with one another, which is why pharmaceutical and other medical companies that already have powerful identity management tools are trialing a number of different blockchain-based applications.

Thus far, these apps have been unable to bridge to the systems pharma companies use to establish identity credentials for their personnel. This is the problem addressed in the proof of concept. Peer Ledger has therefore developed software that now maps a trusted identity, from the Synchronoss-implemented Verizon Universal Identity Services system to blockchain credentials.

“Every SAFE-BioPharma-compliant identity credential accurately represents the proven identity of the person using it,” explains Mollie Shields-Uehling, president and CEO of SAFE-BioPharma Association. “Teaming these credentials with anonymous blockchain ledger postings enables use cases critical for overall cybersecurity across healthcare and the life sciences.”

When asked about future applications of all of this for healthcare, Shields-Uehling and Dawn Jutla, CEO and founder of Peer Ledger, highlighted three major areas of blockchain intersection.

Blockchain and clinical trials: In order to co-partner in the discovery of cures, patients may give pharmaceutical companies direct access to their digitized healthcare records, thus improving both data used for research and the speed of patient treatment. Britain’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Mark Walport, has argued that the National Health Service, which provides healthcare for 65 million people, should use blockchain technology to improve such tasks as the sharing of health records.

Blockchain and data collection: Earlier this year, IBM Watson Health announced it would work with the FDA to develop a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology. Oncology data will be the initial focus.

Blockchain and personalized precision medicine: Blockchain technology’s cryptography will secure economical home healthcare sensor feeds. Trusted identity will be important to ensure that the right test results are associated with the right patient.

The post How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 19 May 2017 | 12:41 pm

Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking

Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking

Norwegian online bank Skandiabanken now recognizes bitcoin as a new investment class and allows its customers to access their bitcoin holdings through its online banking platform, according to a Norwegian media report.

Through an integration of the Coinbase wallet, which enables the buying and storing of cryptocurrency holdings in bitcoin, ether and litecoin, the bank’s customers now have direct access to these holdings using Skandiabanken’s online banking.

Christoffer Hernæs, head of innovation and development at Skandiabanken, said that Skandiabanken “recognize[s] cryptocurrency as an investment class” and that it has “an equal footing with other securities.”

Skandiabanken is, therefore, one of the first financial institutions to publicly acknowledge bitcoin as an alternative investment asset class at a time when the vast majority of its competitors are shunning the cryptocurrency that many believe poses a threat to the current banking business model.

Hernæs also points out that Japan has recently moved to officially recognize bitcoin as a legal payment method, and that bitcoin’s average daily volatility has decreased from 10 percent to 4 percent last year.

Bitcoin’s decrease in volatility and the sharp increase in price over the last 12 months have led to a wave of new bitcoin users around the world. In Norway, more and more individuals are now also turning their eyes toward digital currencies, Hernæs stated.

Not all banks in Norway share Skandiabanken’s enthusiasm for offering its users access to bitcoin as a new investment class. Norway’s largest bank, DNB, closed the bank account of Norges Bitcoinforening, Norway’s Bitcoin association, in September 2016, citing concerns that the association’s funds may have a connection with money laundering and terrorist financing.

Hernæs acknowledges DNB’s concern in regard to the country’s strict anti-money laundering regulations that require a stringent assessment of each banking client. However, he also said, “We recognize that this is something people want to put their money in. When we think it is right to look at new solutions we can offer, we think it is a better approach than categorically thinking that this is scary.”

The head of Norway’s Bitcoin association, Stephan Nilsson, is pleased about Skandiabanken’s new Bitcoin service: “This is very positive. These are the signals we have been waiting for from the Norwegian banking industry.”

Skandiabanken joins the ranks of the very few banks in Europe that are embracing Bitcoin. Only Germany-based Fidor Bank and Georgia-based Liberty Bank offer similar services to its customers. Fidor Bank allows German customers to buy and sell bitcoin directly through a collaboration with bitcoin.de, and Liberty Bank allows its customers to buy bitcoin through its ATM network in Georgia.

The post Norwegian Bank Grants Access to Bitcoin Investments Through Online Banking appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 17 May 2017 | 2:13 pm

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Four Quick Questions and Answers About Ransomware and Bitcoin

WannaCry

Bitcoin got caught in another media storm this week, though only in a supporting role this time around. The ongoing ransomware attack by the name of “WannaCry,” sometimes also referred to as “WannaCrypt0r,” “Wcry,” “WanaCry,” “WannaCrypt” or “Wana Decrypt0r,” infected over 230,000 computers in over 150 countries over the past couple of days, and demands that victims pay a ransom in the cryptocurrency.

So what is ransomware, and what does Bitcoin have to do with all of this?

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of computer virus that encrypts data with a secret key. Only if a payment is made, typically in bitcoin, is the decryption key provided so victims can regain access to their data — or at least that’s the promise. An infected computer is quite literally held ransom, for actual money: bitcoin.

Unfortunately, ransomware is quickly growing in scope, and fast turning into a booming business for cybercriminals. In 2015, some estimated $24 million was paid to unlock computers, according to the FBI; in 2016, it hit a dazzling $1 billion. And that’s only expected to get worse this year.

WannaCry, which started last Friday, is the biggest ransomware attack the world has seen so far. This is mostly because WannaCry is not only ransomware, but also a “worm.” This worm uses an exploit developed by the NSA that abuses a weakness in older Windows PCs, which lets it forward itself to more and more computers: over 230,000 of them at the time of writing.

WannaCry also affected several notable targets over the past week, including Spanish phone provider Telefónica, parts of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS), U.S. delivery service FedEx, German railways Deutsche Bahn, LATAM Airlines and more.

How Successful Is Ransomware?

Ransomware attacks seem to be relatively successful in general. According to research by cybersecurity firm Trustlook, for example, over one in three victims of ransomware pay up. And a survey by IBM even showed that 70 percent of businesses infected with ransomware paid the ransom.

WannaCry, however, has not been nearly as successful — or at least not yet. At the time of writing, some 40 bitcoins have been paid to the three Bitcoin addresses associated with WannaCry. At an exchange rate of $1,700, that adds up to about $68,000 in total gains for the attackers. This is perhaps a significant amount in itself, but still modest when taking into account that well over 200,000 computers have been affected, and the ransom demanded is between $300 and $600.

The damage has probably been contained, to a large extent, because it didn’t take long for a security researcher who blogs as “MalwareTech” to find an effective kill switch. He simply registered a website that was mentioned in the code of WannaCry, which disabled at least the initial version of the ransomware.

Additionally, WannaCry gave its victims a week to pay up — though the price to unlock the encrypted data does double from $300 to $600 after four days. Given that a week hasn’t passed since the first reports of infections, it’s possible there will be another surge of payments over the next week.

Why Does Ransomware Use Bitcoin?

Ransomware does not technically require bitcoin. Indeed, there are known cases of ransomware that existed decades before Bitcoin was even invented.

However, bitcoin (and similar cryptocurrencies) can make ransomware much more effective. This is mostly because Bitcoin transactions are instant, reliable, relatively anonymous, easy to verify, and irreversible. Additionally, Bitcoin payments can potentially be made programmable, so a payment automatically sends a decryption key to a victim once a payment is made — though WannaCry did not utilize this possibility.

At the same time, however, the Bitcoin blockchain is also completely transparent. This is why it’s possible to trace exactly how much has been paid to WannaCry. It also means that it may not be very easy for the attackers to convert their bitcoins into fiat currency, or even spend them. If they ever do try to move the funds without taking appropriate precautions, they could get caught. Instead they’ll have to first mix and scramble their coins, which is possible but not necessarily easy to do.

What Can You Do About Ransomware?

The main source of the ransomware problem is not so much Bitcoin, it’s insecure computers. The fact that any malware can nest itself into computers is a problem in itself. Even without ransomware, it means that files can be stolen, edited or otherwise corrupted.

The solution, therefore, is as simple as it is boring: make sure your operating system is up to date and secure. WannaCry in particular was able to affect so many computers because they were running older versions of Windows. Upgraded computers are no longer vulnerable.

Additionally, you want to make sure to never click suspicious links in emails you receive. WannaCry initially spread itself through such links.

Furthermore, you should make sure to back up your data regularly. If you have your data backed up, you should be able to simply update your computer and restore your files without having to pay anything.

And last but not least, it is not recommended that you pay the ransom. For one, you never know for sure that paying up will actually solve your problem; the attacker could simply lie or perhaps even encrypt your data again. And two, as more people pay the ransom, this trend is more likely to grow.

Though, of course, this is easier said than done. Choosing to not make a ransom payment may not be a viable option if your most valuable files are inaccessible and you don’t have them safely backed up elsewhere ...

The post Four Quick Questions and Answers About Ransomware and Bitcoin appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 May 2017 | 7:50 pm

Irish Banks to Test New Blockchain-Based Interbank Payment System

Irish

Irish lenders Allied Irish Banks, Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have teamed up with global consultancy Deloitte to work on a pilot program that will leverage blockchain technology to increase the speed and security for the country’s domestic interbank payments.

The collaborative project carries the name Project GreenPay and will use technology developed by Ulster Bank’s parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The payments platform being trialed is called Emerald. RBS’s Emerald platform, which was built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, has already been tested in the Dublin-based startup hub Dogpatch Labs, where participating banks have been conducting dummy payments among themselves to test the blockchain-based system for performance, stability and accuracy. The platform is able to acknowledge payments in less than 10 seconds while processing large transaction volumes.

The distributed ledger technology pioneered by Bitcoin allows transactions to be recorded and shared with permissioned members on a distributed ledger, enabling payments to be processed in a more secure and efficient manner.

“[The blockchain is] essentially a software that provides a way of recording transactions in a trustworthy way. It has the potential to disrupt multiple industries for the benefit of customers, and we’re determined to investigate how we can harness this for the financial sector,” said Ulster Bank’s chief administrative officer, Ciarán Coyle.  

“When we saw that RBS had that capability, we decided to use the platform in the Republic. We looked at how we could prove it at an industry level and looked at doing collaboration at an industry level,” he added.

For RBS’s Head of Innovation Engineering Richard Crook, it “made sense” for RBS’s Irish subsidiary, Ulster Bank, to adopt its Emerald payment system for the collaborative industry-wide payment network trial. “We’re delighted to support that and further prove that blockchain [technology] can be used to better serve customers,” Crook added.

David Dalton, consulting partner and financial services industry leader at Deloitte Ireland, stated that the pilot project would leverage the company’s blockchain lab in Dublin, and added: “We believe blockchain adoption will happen more quickly than anticipated and without a proactive and well-adopted strategy, banks and insurers risk being locked out of potential innovations enabled by this technology.”

No specific timeframe has been set for when the new payment system could be implemented in the Irish financial system, and there is no guarantee that it will. However, Project GreenPay is another clear signal that banks across the world are embracing blockchain technology to improve the efficiency and security of their services. It will not be long until the blockchain will become an integral part of the global financial system.

The post Irish Banks to Test New Blockchain-Based Interbank Payment System appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Posted on 16 May 2017 | 7:01 pm

CRYENGINE now accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 29 March 2017 | 1:24 am

Consulting firm EY Switzerland accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 26 November 2016 | 12:47 am

Bitcoin Trading Bots

There have been a wide variety of situations in which algorithmic trading programs have proven to be beneficial for investors. However, investors who only trade a cryptocurrency can also take advantage of bitcoin trading bots. Through bitcoin bot trading, traders can become more flexible and prompt, minimize errors and process information more rapidly. At this… Read More »

Posted on 8 November 2016 | 6:20 pm

Major Magazine Publisher to Accept Bitcoin Payments

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 12:43 pm

Microsoft accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 5:06 am

PayPal and Virtual Currency

Posted on 23 September 2014 | 9:52 pm

Wikimedia Foundation Now Accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 30 July 2014 | 3:14 pm

German Newspaper "taz" accepts Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 1:32 pm

airBaltic - World’s First Airline To Accept Bitcoin

Posted on 22 July 2014 | 11:03 am

Expedia to accept Bitcoin payments for hotel bookings

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 12:41 pm

Bitcoin Core version 0.9.1 released

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Bitcoin taxfree in Denmark

Posted on 25 March 2014 | 5:46 pm

May 22, 2017 -
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