Blockchain: A technical primer

Great info here on what blockchain is, how it works, and possible uses.

https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/topics/emerging-technologies/blockchain-technical-primer.html?id=us:2sm:3tw:4di_gl:5eng:6di&utm_content=bufferad8e2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Energy Web Foundation Launches Public, Open-source, Enterprise-grade Blockchain Tailored to the Energy Sector

Zug, Switzerland, 19 June 2019 – The Energy Web Foundation (EWF) today announced that it has launched the world’s first public, open-source, enterprise-grade blockchain tailored to the energy sector: the Energy Web Chain (EW Chain). More than 10 EWF Affiliates—including utilities, grid operators, and blockchain developers—are hosting validator nodes for the live network. In addition, EWF is currently tracking 17 decentralized applications (dApps) running on Energy Web test networks that are expected to transition to the live network over the coming weeks. This first wave of dApps focuses on making it easier for individuals and companies to buy renewable energy, enabling customer-owned devices like batteries or air conditioning units to balance the grid (and be paid for doing so), and simplifying the way electric vehicles are charged.

“We started Energy Web Foundation in 2017 with a promise: a production version of Energy Web Chain by Q2 2019. We are proud to announce that we kept our promise. Energy Web Chain is now running in production mode,” said Hervé Touati, co-founder and chief executive officer for EWF. “Our next target, to be reached latest by Q4 2019, is to fully decentralize the chain. At that point, it will no longer be ‘our’ chain; it will be the energy sector’s blockchain—the first public blockchain where blocks are validated by energy sector companies.”

“EW token holders are alongside our worldwide EWF Affiliate community, supporting a platform capable of underpinning hundreds of different dApps that can fundamentally transform the energy sector,” added Jesse Morris, chief commercial officer of EWF. “Global energy sector investment last year totaled $1.8 trillion. And the Energy Web Chain—with its 100+ network of supporting Affiliates—boasts an unprecedented pathway to blockchain solution adoption and global scale across that massive industry.”

Over ten organizations are hosting validator nodes for the Energy Web Chain. These organizations are the foundation of the Energy Web chain’s public Proof-of-Authority (PoA) network design: a publicly accessible, ethereum-based network with permissioned validators. The chain itself is public; any company, individual, or internet-connected device can transact across the network without permission. This dramatically increases network interoperability and reduces solution development cost. At the same time, the chain’s validators are permissioned—they are known energy market participants identified and affiliated with EWF, and who has in essence “staked their brand” to help stand up this energy-specific blockchain. This PoA-based design comes with three additional benefits for the energy sector: scalability, energy efficiency (which also equates to low transaction costs for energy market participants using the network), and increased regulatory compliance.

“The Energy Web is essentially a new operating system—a new digital DNA—for the electricity grid,” explained EWF’s Morris. “Other token-based energy blockchain projects are focused on delivering singular decentralized applications. By contrast, the Energy Web is a blockchain infrastructure project focused on supporting all blockchain developers looking to accelerate the global transition away from fossil fuels toward efficiency and renewables. That’s a huge and exciting distinction.”

Today’s EW Chain launch represents the latest major milestone in the Energy Web’s fast-growing ecosystem. EWF formed in early 2017 with support from co-founders Rocky Mountain Institute and Grid Singularity, as well as a cohort of ~12 initial Affiliates. By early 2018 EWF had surpassed 40 Affiliates and by early 2019 had crossed the 100-Affiliate threshold. Meanwhile, a growing list of respected utilities and grid operators have launched demonstrations, pilots, and even pre-commercial deployments on Energy Web test networks, including PJM-EIS, SP Group, Acciona, Iberdrola, Elia, and Stedin, among many others.

Like most public blockchains, the Energy Web Chain uses a native token to pay transaction costs and reward validators. But organizations are already experimenting across the Energy Web test networks and mainnet with additional uses of the token including: a) token staking to enhance data reputation and quality from internet-connected devices (e.g., electric vehicles, solar farms), b) directly using EW Tokens to pay prosumers and others for participating in the energy market, and c) decentralized finance for energy (e.g., stablecoins produced via EWT staking).

Beyond novel uses of the token, an expanding set of open-source software development toolkits (SDKs) help speed the time to commercial dApps, while the EW Link protocol allows everything from utility SCADA systems to smart meters to edge devices (e.g., inverters, EVs, thermostats) to connect to the EW Chain and transact via their digital identities. With billions of connected energy devices forecasted in the years just ahead, enabling them to easily transact on the Energy Web Chain is paramount.

“The electricity sector is on a clear pathway: more renewables, more distributed energy, more electric vehicles. According to industry forecasts, by 2030 consumers would invest more money in distribution-edge devices—solar PV, batteries, charging stations, electric vehicles, smart controls—than electric utilities would invest in power generation and electricity grids. This is a massive and unprecedented shift,” observed EWF’s Touati. “That shift will put enormous pressure on utilities to integrate all these investments and make good use of them. Customers will not want to pay twice. For that, utilities need new kinds of software technology, like the Energy Web Chain—distributed, open source, run by the industry—allowing low cost interoperability and trust between millions of devices and retailers or grid operators. Energy Web is bringing energy—if not power—back to the people.”

About Energy Web Foundation

Energy Web Foundation (EWF) is a global, member-driven nonprofit accelerating a low-carbon, customer-centric electricity system by unleashing the potential of blockchain and decentralized technologies. EWF focuses on technology integration and development, fostering market innovation, speeding adoption, and building community. 

In mid-2019, EWF launched the Energy Web Chain, the world’s first enterprise-grade, open-source blockchain platform tailored to the sector’s regulatory, operational, and market needs. EWF also fostered the world’s largest energy blockchain ecosystem, comprising utilities, grid operators, renewable energy developers, corporate energy buyers, and others.

The Energy Web has become the industry’s leading energy blockchain partner and most-respected voice of authority on energy blockchain. 

For more, visit https://energyweb.org

Coinbase Expands Cryptocurrency Visa Debit Cards Across Europe

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has expanded its Visa debit card service to six European countries, allowing customers in the region to spend their digital assets.

According to a report from CNBC on Wednesday, the Coinbase Card is now available for users in Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

With the card, customers will be able to spend their cryptocurrency assets including bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin in both online and physical stores that accept Visa.

Coinbase first rolled out a cryptocurrency Visa debit card in April, exclusively for users based in the U.K. at the time.

Zeeshan Feroz, CEO of Coinbase U.K., did not disclose how many users the firm had signed up since April but said in an interview with CNBC that it had “blew past” the initial 1,000 cards issued to customers for free.

Coinbase Cards are linked to a mobile app available on both Android and iOS devices, in which customers can select which type of cryptocurrency they would like to use to fund each spending.

That said, customers are not directly paying merchants with crypto assets. Instead, Coinbase charges a fee to help convert users’ cryptocurrencies into a fiat currency, i.e. euro in the new offering.

The firm partners with PaySafe, a U.K. payment processor, to issue the cards.

Image courtesy to Coinbase

This article originally appeared at: https://www.coindesk.com/coinbase-expands-cryptocurrency-visa-debit-cards-across-europe.

Huobi Global will launch Prime Lite and list ThunderCore on May 9, 2019

Since the launch of Huobi Prime on March 26, 2019, Huobi Global has significantly promoted the development of high-quality projects by providing an efficient listing process, innovative trading model and in-depth advisory services. Huobi Prime also offers users with trading opportunities at low cost through rigorous project review and filtration, 0 trading fees and a unique “price limit” mechanism. Ever since, Huobi Prime has become quality blockchain projects first and best choice for service platform.

In order to further improve the listing service and meet the practical needs of varieties of project teams, Huobi Global will officially launch an ultra-fast version of the Huobi Prime – Prime Lite on May 9, 2019 (GMT+8).

Prime Lite is a niche brand of Huobi Prime, projects listing through Prime Lite are still required to meet all the thresholds for our Smartchain v2.0 evaluation model, and will be able to leverage resources from Huobi’s worldwide local exchanges, Huobi Pool, Huobi Wallet, Huobi Chat as well as Huobi Eco Partners.

Compared to Huobi Prime, Prime Lite will have the following features:

1. Shorter listing cycle and more flexible listing schedule

2. Trading allocations for users are more flexible

3. To facilitate the development of HT (Huobi Token), all HT exchanged will be burnt

The first Prime Lite project will be ThunderCore (TT), and total trading allocation reserved for Prime Lite will be worth roughly 500,000 USDT. Specific project information and trading rules will be further disclosed in subsequent announcements.

This article originally appeared at: https://huobiglobal.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000243462-Huobi-Global-will-launch-Prime-Lite-and-list-ThunderCore-on-May-9-2019-.

Why is my keyboard connected to the cloud?

First cab off that rank should be input devices, because what sort of maniac thinks the advantages of a roaming cloud-based configuration outweighs the potential explosion in surface area to attack and compromise? That maniac is called Razer, and it has been connecting keyboards to its Synapse software for years.

At last week’s CES, Razer took it a step further when it announced it is adding support for users to use Alexa to control their peripherals.

“Alexa, ask Chroma to change my lighting profile to FPS mode,” Razer cheerily proclaims as an example of its upcoming functionality.

For this to work, the software that usually controls keyboard and mice settings needs to be connected to Amazon Alexa.

It’s a 2-for-1 cloud connection, because once you embrace the idea of Razer’s servers being secure, then you’ve already accepted a more risky proposition than using just Amazon.

Last month, Razer faced blowback when it launched a cryptocurrency mining application called Cortex, where users would be rewarded with its Silver funny money.

“The new app to put snoozing machines to work, solving blockchain puzzles in the background in exchange for sweet, sweet Silver,” Razer said at the time.

Enter Tavis Ormandy, security researcher for Google Project Zero and scourge of buggy software makers, who took a look at the software and was stunned.

“Holy moly, I just installed this. WHY IS CEF (chromium embedded) REMOTE DEBUGGING ENABLED AND LISTENING BY DEFAULT (!?!?!?!),” Ormandy tweeted.

“I don’t have any razer hardware to test, but they probably (like, *right now*) need to fix that.”

To Razer’s credit, the company fixed the issue within 24 hours; on the other hand, it allowed remote command execution in the first place.

Also in Razer’s favour is that it acknowledged it was responsible, which is more than can be said for Gigabyte.

On December 18, SecureAuth detailed an exchange of when it discovered that software utilities for Gigabyte and Aorus motherboards had privilege escalation vulnerabilities.

“There is ring0 memcpy-like functionality … allowing a local attacker to take complete control of the affected system,” SecureAuth said.

In trying to resolve what was clearly a serious issue, the security company could not locate a proper contact within Gigabyte, and headed over to its technical support team.

“Gigabyte is a hardware company and they are not specialized in software,” Gigabyte told SecureAuth on two different occasions in May.

In the end, SecureAuth said Gigabyte eventually responded by saying its products did not have any issues.

If a vendor with the experience and sales of Gigabyte responds by denying responsibility for its software, it doesn’t bode well for smaller players.

Gigabyte should stop distributing software as long as it keeps on throwing out the excuse that it is a hardware company.

And it is no small matter, because the utilities that the Taiwanese manufacturer puts out are built to manipulate hardware settings, and flash BIOSes.

If a bad actor was looking for a shortcut into a modern Windows system, trying to find your way in via Microsoft’s code will be time wasting when the camembert-like underbelly of a modern system is likely to be crap software from peripheral makers.

That tactic is not new, but with connectivity exploding, things are likely to get worse before it gets better, as with most things in the cyber realm. 

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for Groceries – Bitcoin News

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesKiev’s historic Bessarabsky market, an indoor marketplace located in the center of the capital city, is accepting cryptocurrencies, the public communal company that operates it announced on Facebook. Locals and visitors can now buy fresh produce with a variety of digital coins thanks to a partnership with crypto payments processor Paytomat.

Currently supported are payments in bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin core (BTC), bitcoin gold (BTG), litecoin (LTC), ethereum (ETH), nano, dash, waves, EOS, and NEM. During this initial, experimental stage customers can spend their crypto at a fruits and vegetables stand. However, a vegan street food cafe at the market is also preparing to launch crypto payments soon. Purchases are made through a QR code scan and sellers should receive the payments in fiat Ukrainian hryvnias after instant conversion.

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesThe cryptocurrency payment option will offer buyers a new experience and attract crypto enthusiasts, according to Bessarabsky market’s managing director, Nikolay Kovalchuk, quoted by the Ukrainian outlet Bykvu. He also hopes for an increase in customer loyalty that will lead to sales growth. The market, which is one of Kiev’s landmark sites, is frequented by foreign tourists as well, and for many of them crypto payments are known and convenient.

‘Babushka’ Shows How Easy It Is to Spend Crypto

The project, which has been named “Babushka” (Granny), aims to demonstrate the simplicity of using cryptocurrency in everyday life. According to Alexander Kurin, operations director at Paytomat in Ukraine, the hardest part is to convince sellers they are going to get their hryvnias after the crypto payment is processed. He told Forklog:

The main idea is a symbiosis between traditions and innovations. We chose the Bessarabsky market because it is a well-known tourist destination, and cryptocurrencies are a universal means of payment in any country.

Kiev’s Bessarabsky Market Accepts Cryptocurrencies for GroceriesPaytomat has been working to introduce cryptocurrency payments in a number of cafes, restaurants, online stores, and even clinics, schools, and beauty salons, the Ukrainian outlet notes. Businesses and merchants using its services are spread across Europe, from Ukraine and Georgia in the East to the Netherlands and Spain in the West.

The platform offers several payment solutions including POS terminal, web panel, QR code and WordPress plugin. As news.Bitcoin.com reported earlier this year, the Paytomat supports 11 cryptocurrencies and works with more than 330 restaurants and stores.

What do you think about Bessarabsky market’s initiative to introduce crypto payments in Kiev? Tell us in the comments section below.  

This article originally appeared at: https://news.bitcoin.com/kievs-bessarabsky-market-accepts-cryptocurrencies-for-groceries/.

As The Blockchain Revolution Moves Offshore, What Are The Challenges?

 

Blockchain has been widely touted as the most significant technology of the last 20 years, with the potential to revolutionise the financial services industry across a range of applications, from crypto-currencies to smart contracts, to fully automated clearing and settlements systems for payments.

Crucially, blockchain networks can operate securely without the need for any central administrator, and the technology can work for almost every type of transaction. The technology is particularly appealing as a possible replacement for existing processes, which are largely manual, labour-intensive and paper-based but require sensitive information to be transferred and stored in a secure manner, for example, know-your-customer (KYC) processes for identifying new clients. Its potential uses are almost limitless.

Offshore financial centres have a large stake here and are well placed to become attractive destinations for technology entrepreneurs looking for a neutral jurisdiction for their global operations. As the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the BVI and other offshore jurisdictions position themselves as financial technology (FinTech) hubs, there are certain regulatory risks and challenges that each jurisdiction must overcome as the new era of blockchain-based financial services gains traction.

Risks and Challenges

Financial and banking stability alongside consumer protection are the key objectives for all regulatory authorities, but, to date, many offshore authorities have issued little in the way of regulatory guidance or control principles around blockchain. Some of the main challenges facing offshore centres are:

1) Responsibility

Blockchain technology is, by its nature, a shared system, which leads to questions about which activities should be regulated, how activities should be regulated and by whom they should be regulated. As a result, organisations that make use of it will have to pay careful attention to allocating responsibilities appropriately given the absence of a central point of authority.

There are also implications where organisations engage third party service providers. Sufficient oversight of the providers’ activities will be required to fulfil regulatory obligations.

These concerns can be allayed in part by using a ‘permissioned ledger’ and putting in place a governance structure among participants to deliver proper notification to customers through an agreed mechanism. The blockchain platform could also agree a set of rules and policies to be followed by all participants and then share these with customers and regulators.

2) Security Resilience 

The strength of the security afforded by a particular form of encryption is continually under challenge. Blockchain networks will need to establish mechanisms to ensure that appropriate levels of encryption are maintained and that these include responsibilities for the safe custody of encryption keys.

Blockchain technology does, however, bring unrivalled security benefits. Hacking attacks that commonly impact large centralised intermediaries are almost impossible on the blockchain. If someone wanted to hack into a particular block, a hacker would not only need to hack into that specific block, but all of the preceding blocks going back the entire history of that chain, and they would need to do it on every ledger in the network, simultaneously.

3)   Data Protection

One of the major benefits of blockchain technology is its immutability, meaning that data stored on the chain cannot be altered or deleted. This could also create a problem, because in theory there could be no ‘right to be forgotten’ in the context of blockchain. However, personal data can be kept off blockchain ledgers altogether by replacing the data with an encrypted reference to the data a ‘hash’. These hashes or digital fingerprints prove that data did exist at a certain date, without the data itself appearing on the chain.

Encryption controls, limiting the accessibility of personal data hashed in the blockchain, is a viable solution for data protection compliance. While encrypted personal data may still qualify as ‘personal data’ under new data protection laws, as long as the holder of the data possesses the encryption key and those keys are only  made available in circumstances dictated by the individual data subject, then it is difficult to see the objection from a data protection perspective.

4)    AML Compliance

Blockchain’s ability to replace paper trails with easily auditable digital trails offers many possibilities in the reduction of financial crime. Anti-money laundering (AML) regulations generally require organisations to keep easily accessible records of customer identities and transactions. To be effective, a blockchain solution would require network adoption by a number of organisations. However, this represents one of the biggest challenges to implementing a blockchain solution in the AML space, as regulated entities are often reluctant to outsource or share their AML responsibilities with third parties, even other regulated entities. How and whether blockchain solutions will change this approach remains to be seen. The potential global economic benefits from added efficiencies inherent in blockchain-based AML solutions would be immeasurable, but at this stage it is unclear to what extent international AML standards will be adapted to embrace the opportunity for change.

A Leading Offshore Role

Given the challenges above, one way for offshore financial centres to take a leading role in the fast moving FinTech sector would be to demonstrate success with an initial, modestly aimed blockchain proposal, perhaps between a number of local banks, in a regulatory “sandbox” or similar structure under the supervision of the regulator. This would provide an opportunity to gain experience and learn from a close evaluation of blockchain technology as a business tool and secure an offshore advantage in what is an increasingly competitive field.

Appleby has a global team of lawyers with experience in this area, monitoring developments not only in the jurisdictions in which we operate, but more widely. This is a global industry and one that is here to stay. If you have any questions regarding the above, or are interested in hearing more about how we can assist, please contact a member of the Technology and Innovation Team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

 
This article originally appeared at: http://www.mondaq.com/article.asp?article_id=723382.

A Patent-Based Bull Run

A Patent-Based Bull Run

There has been something of a boom of late in cryptocurrency related patent applications filed by Big Money players. Wells Fargo, for example, applied for a patent on a system in which any type of ‘data element’ can be located, protected, and accessed by means of its tokenization.

Meanwhile, Bank of America now has 45 blockchain patents pending, adding the latest to that queue in recent days.

Those with romantic visions for a blockchain revolution may have (at best) mixed feelings about what they may see as its corporate co-optation, and the fencing in of a commons at that. Still, the boom in filings may mean good things for the prices of the more venerable currencies in the field. Bitcoins are now in the neighborhood of $7,500. That isn’t a pricey neighborhood if your mind is still focused on the December 2017 numbers, but it is a significant improvement over late June.

 

This article originally appeared at: http://mainbloq.io/a-patent-based-bull-run/.