Live Player Games Announces the Release of Uncle Finney’s Poker, the World’s First Ethereum Poker App for Android Devices, and the E4ROW Contribution Campaign

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Live Player Games Announces the Release of Uncle Finney’s Poker, the World’s First Ethereum Poker App for Android Devices, and the E4ROW Contribution Campaign

Press Release: TEL AVIV, Israel — Live Player Games, a software developer with labs in Israel, announces the fully functional release of Uncle Finney’s Poker, the world’s first Ethereum poker app for Android devices. The release of Uncle Finney’s Poker is the first live application of the E4ROW smart-contract, which enables players to bet and win Ether (ETH), the popular cryptocurrency. E4ROW will be launching a Contribution Campaign on May 2, 2017 at 12:00 A.M., GMT.

Poker is the single most popular card game in the world, with over 100 million players worldwide and more than 250 poker apps appearing in the Google Play store alone. Virtually all of these Android apps require that players bet virtual coins, that have no real value outside of the game environment. By contrast, Uncle Finney’s Poker enables Android users to bet and win actual Ether.

A Hybrid Solution
There has been a lot of speculation about making 100% provably fair betting games on the Ethereum platform by programming the entire game into a smart-contract. However, challenges arise when trying to reconcile the Ethereum platform’s slow block time (albeit faster than that of other cryptocurrencies) with the high speed required of a live poker match.

The founder of Live Player Games, David B. Rosen, explains, “We chose a hybrid solution, wherein our back-end server adeptly manages the flow of the card game but all the actual bets are deposited directly to — and paid out by — the E4ROW smart-contract in real-time. Our servers and our company never touch the players’ funds. This marks a major departure from the multitude of online casinos which typically require players to take a leap of faith by setting up accounts with foreign companies and depositing funds in advance of playing.”

By separating the card game from the bet management, Uncle Finney’s Poker provides a responsive and fast paced game, while providing the enhanced security of an Ethereum contract handling the escrow function -that is, holding the bets and then paying them out to the winner.

Rosen continues, “We are not an online casino or a poker website. When you deposit your funds with an online casino you need to wonder: what if the casino steals my money or my credit card information? If I leave a lot of money in my account, what happens if the casino shuts down? What if I forget my password? Will I lose my funds if the casino is hacked? At what point will they close my account for inactivity? Besides all that, when games are against the house, the casino has an all-too-obvious incentive to cheat. None of the forgoing concerns apply to Uncle Finney’s Poker: since the E4ROW smart-contract handles all the bets and resides wholly on the blockchain, the back-end server does not attract hacking. Also, the fact that the funds do not need to be deposited into some off-shore casino ahead of time makes it much simpler to start playing, and hopefully far more trustworthy in the eyes of the millions of poker players.”

E4ROW
The Ethereum smart-contract that handles the critical escrow function for Uncle Finney’s Poker is called E4ROW, which stands for “Ether for the Rest Of the World”. The goal of E4ROW is to rapidly expand the universe of Ether-users by tapping into the massive global online/mobile gaming markets.

According to Rosen, “There are literally millions of poker players around the world, and we believe that many of them would love to use their smart-devices to play head-to-head poker. By giving them the opportunity to play on their device, and bet and win real Ether instead of silly cartoon coins, we hope to greatly expand the Etherverse, which is our ultimate goal.”

Uncle Finney’s Poker is just the first app that utilizes the E4ROW contract. Live Player Games is developing additional games that use the E4ROW contract to enable players to bet and win Ether in other fun, head-to-head contests.

E4ROW is launching a Contribution Campaign, enabling those wishing to support E4ROW’s mission to purchase tokens beginning May 2, 2017 at 12:00 A.M., GMT and ending 3 weeks thereafter. Every escrow transaction handled by the E4ROW contract collects a 2% escrow fee. These fees are proportionally divided among the E4ROW token holders and paid out as perpetual distributions. While the primary goal of E4ROW is to promote Ether and rapidly expand its user base, the developers believe that the limited number of token holders have the potential to earn significant ongoing returns due to the massive global market for poker and the other games in development.

About Live Player Games
Live Player Games (LPG) is a Nevis LLC with labs in Israel. LPG is comprised of a loosely organized group of dedicated engineers who are fanatical in their mission to expand the Ethereum user base.

Learn more about E4ROW here — www.E4ROW.com
Learn more about Uncle Finney’s Poker here — www.unclefinneyspoker.com
Learn more about the E4ROW Contribution Campaign here — www.E4ROW.com/contribute

Media Contact:
Contact Name: Jason R. Stavis
Contact Email: [email protected]
Location: Tel Aviv, Israel

This press release is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.

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Are We at the Brink of an Industrial Revolution?

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“When Horace Jones was re-imagining Old Billingsgate Market, Britain was in the throes of its Second Industrial Revolution – a time of mass innovation that changed the way people lived, worked and interacted.”

So said Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, in a speech at the British government sponsored International FinTech Conference. It implies we may be going through the same sort of transformation, a transformation driven primarily by the invention of computer code.

The internet has flattened the world. Our generation now goes to chatrooms where rich or poor, knowledgeable or idiotic, whatever religion, race or gender, scientifically inclined or in liberal arts, high position or no position, individuals from across the globe, all congregate and discuss.

It’s perhaps not much. It’s not a 19th century great factory where fumes of smoke paint the sky. Some poor kid watching the latest blockbuster at the same time as the rich kids is not wow or very visible.

A poor, but very smart individual, accessing the latest scientific thinking through the hard work of Alexandra Elbakyan who has broken down the extortionous walls of academia, won’t have any visible effects for, perhaps, a decade.

But the factories of today are not built in physical space. Instead, they are built in not very visible, and sometimes intentionally hidden, code. Behind the websites we like to visit, such as Amazon or Alibaba, there are complex, refined, algorithms, interacting with cloud computing, managing a vast empire.

The Intelligent Machines Are Here

In the physical space, while we were distracted by social networks and refining ad-clicks, others kept working on artificial intelligence.

Meet Candy. She speaks. She has sensors, so, perhaps feels. She has memory through cloud computing. She acts by dispensing candy after she checks you have a blockchain based number. It’s an IBM showcase of IoT’s use in combination with blockchain technology. Igor Ramos, Senior Software Engineer at IBM, says:

“Although it sounds like science fiction, it isn’t, it’s real and here and available to developers, across any industry.”

The robots are here too. Microsoft, for example, has showcased an IoT robot that has “human like” sensing abilities. It uses real sense cameras to capture information and “create a high level of computer intelligence about the environment and objects within it, making [it] capable of autonomous behavior.”

We hardly think much about water, but for farmers it is a significant cost. Sensors, connected to the internet, can considerably reduce its use while also providing all sorts of data that algorithms can analyze.

Energy, oil, airplanes, cars, almost all industries, including law, have so much inefficiencies due to their use of paper which can be upgraded to code that can act and even think, albeit what we have told it to think.

Machines are already replacing humans, most visibly in shopping checkouts or bank’s branches, but that’s just what we see. What we do not see are the back offices replaced by bots and algorithms that can significantly increase efficiency and the capabilities of individuals.

As such, our species needs to become far more intelligent to compete with the machines. Code needs to be taught in school like abc or 1+3. Individuals like Elbakyan need to be supported by governments for access to such knowledge is a necessity for any country that wishes to maintain a competitive advantage.

The Blockchain Replaces Man

Lateral or fluid thinking will soon become vital as all repetitive tasks will probably be replaced by bots, including monetary payments, clearing, etc. The British government, for example, has funded research on “Smart Money.” The UCL Center for Blockchain Technology says:

“Smart Money will mobilise the power of data to significantly improve decisions concerning policy-making for the control of money supply for the public good, including the development of new Fintech services in the UK’s Digital Economy.”

This somewhat applies Hayek’s insight regarding money, which is now possible due to the advances of computer technology, known in ethereum’s community as “stable tokens.” The idea is to prevent inflation or deflation through the analysis of prices, etc., with the aim of keeping its purchasing power relatively stable by increasing or decreasing its quantity as the data may suggest or require.

This, of course, is not an easy task. The algorithm it would require at a national level would probably dwarf Google’s or Amazon’s, but it is doable and there are projects, such the Maker DAO, experimenting with it.

You can imagine the number of data analysts, gatherers, etc, this would replace, and you can further imagine the supermarket’s bot “communicating” with the manufacturer’s bot, giving and taking orders, exchanging money, reporting back to some human somewhere, while the money bot adjusts all things in an economy where significant activity is undertaken by algorithms that do have a very primitive level of intelligence.

This, of course, won’t happen tomorrow, but as the millennial generation, which grew up with code, now moves up slightly above junior level positions and will eventually move to senior level positions, the world by 2030 should be very much transformed.

Will it Have Flying Cars?

The ethereum community likes to talk about a self-owning flying drone. It has sensors, GPS, wireless technology, a blockchain based smart contract to move money, storage/memory through cloud computing, taking orders from customers, buying goods from manufacturers, delivering your things.

No one owns him/her/it, because in 2030 a movement had started to give autonomy to these machines and free them. They raised money and bought the drone’s freedom, which, or who, now is autonomous. They then set the drone free to fly in the bright blue sky of London, delivering all things.

There’s a big cultural war in the west on whether these machines should have bots rights as their sensoring capabilities have now considerably increased to the point where some say they actually feel. At the same time, they’re all ignoring a big bots war going on somewhere in the pacific.

Emotional Machines?

“Towards the end of the Fair there was a girl in her twenties who approached the booth to know what it was all about. She didn’t want sweets, she just wanted to chat. When Candy learned the girl didn’t like sweets, Candy expressed her feelings. “You don’t like candy… so you don’t like me? You make me feel sad, I think I’m going to cry.” Interestingly the girl ended up apologizing for not liking candy and they became friends.”

It is far too early to wonder whether these machines will be our friends or enemies. The field, at this stage, is nascent at best, but quickly moving. They will probably replace millions, if not hundreds of millions of jobs, but will at the same time create many more which can be done far more efficiently.

The need for coders, for example, will probably increase considerably, as well as fields surrounding it, such as maths. There may be many more conceptual or strategic positions as fluid thinking would be necessary to analyze all sorts of things. If our working hours shorten while wealth increases, we might need much more art, entertainment, literature and the rest.

It’s a world we can’t quite imagine as man extends his intellect by, in effect, duplicating a part of him through code which does what is told. Even today, those proficient in coding and sufficiently driven are far more efficient.

A transformation, therefore, has already began, but advances over the previous three decades have considerably accelerated to the point where now we can see its visible implementation in some areas beyond just computers.

Moreover, the invention of blockchain technology and smart contracts might act as a catalyst or excuse to update decades old back offices and transform static paper into dynamic code in as diverse areas as farming and law.

Ye, Ye, Where Are My Flying Cars?

The 90s kids might think all these machines and algorithms and talking bots that act and chat with each other doing our shopping or watering our grapes with bleeding heart liberals setting them all free to feel good about themselves while trying to make the world a better, nicer, place is all good and fine, but, you have to admit, a flying drone is a poor replacement for an actual, real, flying car, that talks, drives itself, and flies.

But, who says we won’t get them? Self-driving cars are a thing now. They can have talking bots too and algorithms, blockchains and smart contracts, running their own taxi businesses and, who knows, maybe someone will figure out how to make them actually fly.

But, once we have flying cars, what will we dream about? Ah, yes, we can then dream about getting them to fly to Mars while frustratingly blaming those stupid bot wars for draining our resources instead of allowing us to use what we have towards conquering space where those bots can fight all they want as long as they leave us in peace.

In before someone says something about bots enslaving us… ah yes, that’s what started the bot war.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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How Russian Farmer Launched ICO

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On April 1st, the famous Russian farmer and crypto-enthusiast Mikhail Shlyapnikov has launched an ICO for his project “Kolionovo Ecosystem.” Cointelegraph spoke with Shlyapnikov to know more about his aims, motivations and what inspired him to apply the Blockchain at his farm.

The ICO is carried out on the Waves platform through the Emercoin service. One mln of Kolions are listed for initial sale during the next 30 days. The fundraising is scheduled to end on May 1st after that Kolions will be traded on the stock market.

As stated in the White Paper, the project is aimed at attracting additional investments for development of existing production line and a variety of services in Kolionovo village located in the Moscow Region.

It is also emphasized that the project should not be viewed as an investment opportunity promising high returns – it should only be considered as a crowdfunding tool for development of the Kolionovo ecosystem, a system of local production and consumption, which has been successfully operating for over a decade.

How one modest farmer tried to sabotage national monetary system

Shlyapnikov is leading a modest life, breeding ducks and hens and growing all sorts of plants.

He says:

“I don’t have that much of a free time to dive deeper into studying digital currencies, their emergence, performance, following all these dramas happening in the space and predictions. Of course, I am trying to follow key trends and new projects. I have a laptop which is soon to turn seven years, an Internet connection through a USB modem which is far from stable, I am not quite able to speak foreign languages. But it doesn’t stop me. I have my piece of land where I am working and I love what I do. Blockchain with all its benefits is not an object of adoration and worship for me, it is just a tool which has a potential to be applied in my farmstead. Just like a badass tractor pimped up with a bunch of cool stuff.”

Mikhail Shlyapnikov. Photo: Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

– Mikhail Shlyapnikov. Photo: Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

Long before the ICO Kolions have been in circulation used mainly by the community members of Kolionovo farm, its partners and customers. Mikhail Shlyapnikov, the man behind the project, created Kolions to order transactions between members of the Kolionovo farm.

In 2014 with the help of the local printing company he printed 20,000 Kolions, which basically looked like loan-certificates. His initiative immediately attracted the attention of the public prosecution office which claimed that Shlyapnikov is threatening the integrity of the national monetary system.

When officials from the Central Bank of Russia learned about the case they just shrugged their shoulders saying they see no harm in Shlyapnikov’s invention, as it’s totally up to the farmer how to handle a relationship with partners and customers and through which instruments.

One cannot simply put a cow on the Blockchain

We developed technologies, we taught computers to mimic real life processes and relationship. Now technology is teaching us to easily and continuously improve many organizational systems, simplify complex relationships and transform whole industries suggesting innovative approaches and models.

The young but quickly evolving Blockchain technology definitely has some social dimensions and it is interesting to watch the societal impact it is producing.

A few years ago we only thought that application of Blockchain technology is limited to the area of finances, it is becoming more and more obvious that its potential is unlimited.

The Russian farmer shows how it can transform agriculture. Obviously, one cannot put a cow on Blockchain, but it can be used to tame relationship with business partners and clients, while cryptocurrencies appear to be a perfect instrument for financing industries and projects all forgotten and abandoned by the state.

Shlyapnikov told Cointelegraph:

“First of all, I’m a farmer. I was interested in Bitcoin and Blockchain technology and decided to try it in my small business. Turns out it’s quite easy, useful and lots of fun! In March 2017 we collaborated with Emercoin team and developed a package of ready-made solutions for farmers, providing a free and open access to it. This product has already attracted some interest. I would say that my enthusiasm is more about the application of cryptocurrencies in real life, rather than phenomena itself. Many people contact me asking questions concerning cryptocurrencies, but I just don’t have enough competence in this matter. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why my project and ICO were met with irony at this fancy Blockchain party.”

Making digital and real worlds meet

The investments are linear by nature, therefore investing in Kolionovo Ecosystem is not about contributing to a single product but rather into expanding and growing the existing production. The growth of Kolions price is proportional to the growth of production volumes. The team behind the project also points out that Kolions holders will be able to purchase a number of products and goods with a discount of up to 100 percent.

Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

Photo:Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

The key advantage of Kolions is that cryptocurrency is not linked to any traditional currency, it is linked to actual product and serves as an instrument for barter, which is as old as the universe.

With this project, Shlyapnikov suggests to step out of the crypto world and invest in something real. The project is not absolutely risk-free, however, all risks are coming from the real world, have nothing to do with attacks by hackers but rather with natural disasters and issues related to regulation of ICOs as an investment model in Russia.

In one of the interviews to the local media he once said:

“We hope that the government will not try to intrude into our small experiment in our small village. The fact that the experiment is unusual and creative does not necessarily mean that it is illegal. We are working to clearly define the terms of the project. Certainly, there are risks – an asteroid might hit the hen coop.”

Integration of Blockchain moved us from shadow economy

Last year the Kolionovo Ecosystem carried an ICO on Emercoin Blockchain. First in August partners issued digital equities and shares. They allowed attracting long money for improving the production line, investors in turns were able to purchase farm products with a discount.

Shlyapnikov says:

“During the eight months of this experiment we’ve got returns of almost 80 percent which were shared among participants. Those who live in Moscow Region receive it in the form of a “farm box”, those are investors who live far away are getting their returns in BTC. In December last year using the same platform we have issued digital futures. They are not different from any transactions on blockchain but needed when the production needs more time. For instance making whiskey or growing trees. With time prices for these products are increasing and the price of digital token is growing as well.”

The entrepreneur says that the main conclusion from his experiments with cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology is that they blend well with real life, representing an alternative to bank services, more accessible and efficient.

He continues:

“This actually motivated us to create a digital currency of our own – KLN (Kolion). It is directly connected to the real product and is backed not only by investors’ trust but also by real world assets. In November after the crop harvesting, we are planning to direct the profit to support our digital currency and cover investment maturity through purchasing or clearing of our cryptocurrency.”

Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

– Photo: Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

Through his tiny experiment, Shlyapnikov has demonstrated the enormous potential of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain solutions to be used in real life on daily basis. They allow fulfilling principles of P2P interaction to the fullest degree possible, eliminating the need for middlemen.

He says:

“In our case, we were able to push aside banks, retailers, logistics services and controlling authorities. It allowed us to significantly decrease nonmanufacturing costs. Partly we freed the state from the obligation to support us. Besides the integration of Blockchain moved us from shadow economy. To protect investments we had to register our assets and report everything publicly. Perhaps this might influence the state to change their attitude towards Blockchain technology and its application.”

Filling the gap between IT and agriculture

The Kolionovo Ecoproject is original and innovative in many respects. First of all, it has started without any prior promotion or media coverage.

Shlyapnikov explains to Cointelegraph:

“My Facebook page was the only platform which was actively used for promotion of the project. Later, of course, there were releases on the BTT forum. Interest in our project was growing steadily. Many people who were following the project from the very beginning were very supportive. Those who are not that familiar with what we are doing thought of it as of just another scam.”

Shlyapnikov says that some met his project with irony and were making sarcastic jokes like “peasant decided to crash fancy Blockchain party”, or “how to brew homemade beer using cryptocurrencies”, etc.

He says:

“Opinions vary significantly. One of the officials from the Central Bank of Russia contacted me saying that they are keeping an eye on my experiment. I’ll repeat myself, but we were able to attract such a huge interest without any promotion.”

Photo: Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

– Photo: Nikita Girin / “Novaya Gazeta”

The farmer is following the ideas of anarchism and says that it might not always be possible to create an anarchy in such a big country, but it is easy to start with a small community.

So far the project raised $20,000 in cryptocurrencies and ten times more in fiat. Shlyapnikov shares that the entrepreneur inside him is celebrating because this is a huge success. But as a researcher and pioneer of the idea to combine real life production and digital money, he is a little bit confused.

He concludes:

“Obviously there is a huge gap between the IT industry and traditional agriculture. Ideally, I would expect to see equal proportions of digital investments and those in fiat.”

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Italian Wines Will Be Recorded on Blockchain, Authenticity Guaranteed

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EY creates the Wine Blockchain with the goal of certifying and communicating the quality and geographical origin of wines made in Italy. Involved in this project also the EzLab startup.

Thanks to a partnership between EY and EzLab, the Wine Blockchain was born to certify the whole traceability of wine production, allowing to guarantee quality, provenance and production.

How it works

This is the first case of a digital relationship between the producer and final customer who – thanks to a smart label on the wine bottle – can read about the wine producer (identified by a digital signature), the entire process of cultivation, production and processing of wine maximizing the trust of the consumer.

This process happens thanks to the Blockchain technology that provides all the information linked to the product so the consumer can verify its origin, organoleptic characteristics and the entire agri-food and industrial process anytime, by using his/her own smartphone to scan the QR Code printed on the wine label.

The first tracked and certified product is the Falanghina Wine produced by Cantina Volpone. In a few days, you will be able to buy their wines online too.

Italian Wines Will Be Recorded on Blockchain, Authenticity Guaranteed

This “digital ID card” is an opportunity to fight against the dumping in prices created by foreign products or “fake Italian” and to create a recognition and promotion mode for Made in Italy wines.

The Ethereum Blockchain

Wine Blockchain uses a smart contract built on top of the Ethereum Blockchain.

This smart contract contains all the info that have been collected along the production process.

Gerardo Gabriele Volpone, Digital and Innovation Consultant, Volpone Winery Director, says:

“The whole thing was tied to the physical world through the registration of the digital signature of the company owner so that there is not another individual who can be able to register something by using the Volpone name.”

There is a worldwide growing interest of consumers in the products: 74 percent claim to be affected by the purchase by the search for traceability information and 60 percent controls the product labels.

Also, nine out of ten consumers said they would like to know more about Italian wines and their certification criteria and more than 70 percent would be willing to pay a higher price if there was a guarantee of transparency and provenance.

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Blockchain Capital Raises $10 Million ICO for VC Startups Fund

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Blockchain Capital recently raised $10 million for a venture capital fund, Blockchain Capital III Digital Liquid Venture Fund, LP, which it calls the first venture capital fund raised by a digital fund offering.

The venture capital firm’s new digital liquid venture fund recently raised funds through a digital token offering called BCAP token.

The Ethereum-based tokens will represent a partial ownership in the fund. The tokens will be issued on May 10.

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Funds To Support Startups

“The $10 million will be used to invest in blockchain startup companies,” Brock Pierce, managing partner at Blockchain Capital, told CCN. “We will be investing in the equity of these startups and will also consider token-based offerings.”

“We’re excited to be the first venture capital firm to offer a tokenized security in a legally compliant manner, Pierce said. “We see this as a marquee turning point for the venture capital industry and the way startups raise capital. We believe this structure is superior for investors and startups alike. As a result, we expect and welcome other venture capital firms and startups to follow and build upon the path that we’ve pioneered.”

“We’ve made targeted investments across the major opportunities for blockchain technology, which includes cryptocurrency companies, blockchain companies targeting financial services, and companies that are applying blockchain technology in a range of other verticals from healthcare to media,” Pierce said.

Blockchain Needs Startup Capital

Blockchain is still a relatively nascent technology that can be difficult for generalist venture capital firms to fully comprehend, Pierce noted. “As such, we think the blockchain industry is currently best served by specialist investors like Blockchain Capital that can get into the weeds of the technology and its potential,” he said.

For investors, the single biggest advantage the venture fund will provide is enhanced liquidity. Pierce said investors that own the BCAP tokens will be able to sell or trade their position much easier than has ever been possible for a venture capital investment. The token is issued by a Singapore entity and takes advantage of the JOBS Act securities law in the U.S.

“For startups, financing with Blockchain Capital is advantageous because we leverage our years of experience and deep proprietary network of founders, entrepreneurs, service providers and investors to help our portfolio companies succeed,” he said.

Criteria For Funding

Criteria for investments is determined on a case by base basis, Pierce said, but in general, Blockchain Capital seeks companies that have a significant business opportunity solving real-world problems with blockchain technology. “In addition, we look closely at the credentials of the team, the size of the potential markets, and the defensibility of the business opportunity,” he said.

While BCAP is technically an altcoin, the intent is different than traditional altcoins that hope to supplant the major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum, Pierce said.

“Our investors see the same gap in venture capital that we did when we started down the ICO path – the need for venture funds via a liquid, tradeable, digital token that still abides by all regulatory compliance rules,” Pierce said. “Together, we expect to democratize the venture capital industry and provide a unique product to the broader crypto investment community.”

Also read: Blockchain Capital seals second startup fund after raising $13 million

All Star Investors

Bitcoin entrepreneurs Matthew Roszak, co-founder and chairman of Bloq, Vinny Lingham, co-founder and CEO of Civic, and Andrew Keys, head of global business development at ConsenSys, are among the early investors in the fund.

“The initial coin offering not only aligns with our traditional values and investment beliefs, but furthers our confidence that the venture capital industry will soon offer more flexibility in today’s market climate,” said Lingham.

“Blockchain Capital is revolutionizing venture investing by unlocking liquidity in previously illiquid secondary venture markets by tokenizing assets via Ethereum,” said Keys. “Capital markets will be forever changed by this type of financial instrument innovation.”

Several technology partners are supporting Blockchain Capital for this offering. Civic, a blockchain identity provider, will contribute its blockchain-based KYC/AML technology. ConsenSys Diligence will review the token’s smart contract. Jaxx, an Ethereum wallet, will support the token.

The Argon Group’s Argon Investment Management LLC managed the offering under Regulation D Section 506(c) and Regulation S exemptions from registration with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Blockchain Capital Raises $10 Million ICO for VC Startups Fund

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Blockchain Rollouts in Finance to Reflect Significant Change in the Short-Term

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Many early blockchain initiatives have only been implemented in testing environments, while their future commercial use remains uncertain. Nonetheless, an industry-wide conversation has emerged, as financial institutions explore blockchain’s theoretical appeal, its practical applications and standards have to be established to realize its potential.

Corporate Insight, a firm providing competitive intelligence, consulting and user experience research for financial service firms and educational institutions, recently released a 62-page report, “Blockchain Solutions and the Future of Finance.” The report is based on input from 14 companies active in deploying blockchain technology to financial services firms.

Why Blockchain Matters

Blockchain technology offers a more efficient, cost-effective, and transparent future for financial services. The distributed structure of a blockchain gives each participant an identical copy of a shared ledger, ensuring the accuracy of information among network members.

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The shared network simplifies the complex processes of various financial transactions by enabling direct connections between firms and market infrastructure organizations. This eliminates the need for multiple ledgers to be reconciled.

The direct connection also improves the speed at which currency and assets can be exchanged. In providing real-time gross settlement, digital assets can settle instantly, affecting net capital requirements and reducing exposure to settlement and credit risk.

Parallels To The Internet

Parallels are noted between the evolution of blockchain and the rise of the Internet.

The Internet, as a foundational technology, delivered an immense impact on the creation, storage and transfer of information. It took decades, however, to realize its potential.

Several executives interviewed noted that the Internet is to information what blockchain might be for value. The absence of universal standards, regulation and governance, combined with the technology’s nascence, suggest blockchain’s effect on financial services will most likely unfold in one to two decades.

While structural change in global finance could take decades to realize, this is not to say the technology won’t impact individual organizations in the near term. Nine out of 14 organizations’ representatives said they have solutions set to go into production in 2017 or 2018. The remainder are working to improve their products and are helping clients launch blockchain solutions.

Limitations To Consider

While poised to address existing inefficiencies, some of the technology’s characteristics cannot help financial institutions in the short run. Immediate transaction settlement could make short selling – selling borrowed stock shares and buying them back for a profit when they fall in value – impossible.

Loaning a stock cannot exist with a blockchain, as it settles transactions in real time and creates an immutable record of who owns what. For an investor to sell a stock, they have to be recorded as its owner, despite never owning the stock to begin with.
Blockchain providers are creating solutions to address such concerns.

Accenture, for example, announced a prototype that allows for a central authority to edit stored information, contradicting the immutability principle.

In December 2016, Digital Asset Holdings unveiled an addition to its blockchain to address privacy concerns, referred to as fingerprints. The fingerprints allow recording of data on the blockchain, but are one-way cryptographic functions accessible exclusively to designated parties.

Uses Address Specific Issues

From now to 2020, Corporate Insight believes the most likely blockchain use cases will focus on specific process inefficiencies like requiring a person to reconcile trade data across multiple ledgers. Such applications will be limited in scope.

As solutions proliferate, a multi-chain environment consisting of many providers with chains in production could emerge. Providers believe a multi-chain environment would help scale the technology. But from a competitive viewpoint, organizations will have to compete to become the standard.

In addition, multiple chains will need to address interoperability, the ability of computer systems and software effectively exchanging information.

A unique outcome has been the collaboration the technology has encouraged across the industry.

Hyperledger is an example of an open-source consortium encouraging the collaborative development of blockchain technology. The organization has grown to include over 100 members since 2015.

Target Uses Identified

Financial areas where blockchain technology is expected to have a useful impact include real estate transactions, commodities, cross-border payments, capital markets, loyalty rewards, know your customer requirements and identity management.

Half of the use cases outlined in the report address blockchain applications and solutions that focus on capital markets, payments and trading platforms. Such solutions are designed to allow firms to easily enter the blockchain space with strategies tailored to their specific needs.

Symbiont, for instance, provides a platform that focuses on private equities, syndicated loans and non-financial use cases.

The remaining half provide secondary components of the technology, such as web services, smart contracts and software development kits.

SmartContract offers “Smart Oracles” that connect smart contracts to external data and payment sources, in addition to internal legacy technology.

Monax Industries offers an open-source platform and smart contract-based software development kits that apply to several use cases, including asset origination, asset servicing and record management.

Hyperledger provides an open-source organization, where any party can use the open-source code to become a contributor to various projects.

Bloq, BlockCypher, Monax Industries and Loyyal sell their products through specific partners such as PwC and Deloitte. The partners act as distributors. When selling products through such an organization, blockchain providers have a limited relationship with the end users.

Customer Partnerships

The partnerships emerging allow financial services firms to reduce the time, effort and cost to build a blockchain network from the ground up.

Firms like AlphaPoint, Chain, Paxos, SETL, SmartContract and Symbiont partner directly with customers. The process for such players varies based on the client’s product needs and blockchain knowledge.

Chain and Paxos indicated that it can take up to two years for partnerships to reach completion, or the time when the product goes to market.

Chain and Nasdaq in 2015 created the first record of private securities on a blockchain on a platform, Nasdaq Linq, that allowed private companies to trade shares pre-IPO. This reduced settlement time and eliminated paper stock certificates.

Overstock in December 2016 issued the first public stock offering on t0, an alternative trading platform. By partnering with Keystone Capital, a securities broker-dealer, the offering was open to retail investors who owned Overstock stock. The platform allows users to trade shares digitally, securely and immediately.

BlockCypher partnered with ShoCard, a blockchain startup creating digital identity solutions, and the Department of Homeland Security, to help solve identity management challenges and combat cybersecurity.

ConsenSys teamed with Microsoft and BlockStack to provide Ethereum based Blockchain-as-a-Service on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, to provide a blockchain-based identity system.

ConsenSys teamed with Lo3 Energy, a technology consulting firm, to execute an energy transaction through its TransActive Grid platform.

Symbiont teamed with Credit Suisse, Ipreo and R3 to demonstrate how blockchain technology can be used in the syndicated loan market.

Also read: ‘Big four’ giant Deloitte completes successful blockchain audit

Solutions To Emerge In 2017

More blockchain solutions will come to market in 2017.

Digital Asset Holdings, SETL and Paxos have provided specifics about products they expect to launch this year.

Paxos will launch a blockchain-based gold settlement service, EuroClear Bankchain.

Digital Asset Holdings will launch a post-trade service to improve Australia’s cash equities market post-trade process. This solution will be deployed in partnership with the Australian Securities Exchange and could replace the existing settlement system.

SETL teamed with Cobalt, a distributed ledger provider focused on the FX market, to reduce post-trade risk and cost for participants trading foreign currencies. The solution is set to go live in Q3 2017.

The report goes into detail on all of these organizations, including their histories, partnerships and future outlooks. It acknowledges all of the individuals that provided insight from each organization.

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CreditBit Team Successfully Completes Ethereum Migration

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Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of positive news for the CreditBit project. It appears that positive momentum will continue for quite some time to come. The CRBIT price is still on the rise, and the on-site migration has been completed as well. The developers remain on hand to help out … Continue reading CreditBit Team Successfully Completes Ethereum Migration

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Ethereum Price Weekly Analysis – ETH/USD Trades Positive

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Key Highlights ETH price was mostly bullish against the US Dollar, but was not able to break the $53.50 resistance. There was a major bearish trend line with resistance at $43.70 on the 4-hours chart of ETH/USD pair (data feed via SimpleFX), which was broken. On the downside, the 100 simple moving average (H4) may … Continue reading Ethereum Price Weekly Analysis – ETH/USD Trades Positive

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Bitcoin Hardware Wallet Ledger Secures $7 Million in Funding, Announces Roadmap

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Ledger, a blockchain security provider that offers products for the blockchain market, including service appliances for enterprise, bitcoin hardware wallets for consumers and embedded solutions for connected objects, has raised $7 million in Series A funding led by MAIF Avenir, bringing total funding to $8.5 million, according to a company blog. Participating in the round were Digital Currency Group, Xange, Libertus Capital, Wicklow Capital, GDTRE, BHB Network, The Whittemore Collection, Kima Ventures and Nicolas Pinto.

 

The new funding, which follows a $1.5 million round in 2015, will be used to develop the sales, marketing, engineering and support teams through the recruitment of 20 new collaborators. It will help accelerate the launch of a new enterprise security product for cryptocurrencies, opening new lines of revenues for Ledger.

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Enterprise Grade Security

Ledger’s enterprise-grade cryptocurrency security solutions, such as multi-currency, multi-signature, time-locked payments, are designed for financial institutions, marketplaces and hedge funds.

Ledger, which has more than 50,000 units in 130 countries, will also capitalize on industrial blockchain use cases with the goal of licensing its hardware oracle technology in the supply chain, smart grid and IoT security fields.

Ledger’s new enterprise-grade cold storage solution is founded on hardware authenticators and the Hardware Security Module. The turnkey SaaS hardware/software suite supports multi-signature, multi-currency, rate limiting and time locking. The fully-trustless solution has emergency recovery procedures that are available even in the case of force majeure.

A Versatile Security System

There is no limit on the number of cryptocurrencies and segregated accounts that one entity can manage. Each account has its own rules that are enforced by hardware devices. A payment request, for example, has to be approved by two of three administrators and will only be executed after a 72-hour lockup time (time oracle). Such security level limits the risk of internal theft as well as external physical threats.

Ledger’s low-footprint crypto-embedded operating system designed for Secure Enclaves and Secure Elements enables full orchestration of code and systems directly from the secure core.

BitGo, a multi-signature bitcoin wallet, announced earlier this year it will offer Ledger’s hardware-based key storage. The integration is available for the Ledger Nano S and Nano Blue. Ledger Nano S and Ledger Nano Blue wallets secure digital identities and cryptocurrencies.

Partners Support Direction

“We believe Ledger’s hardware and software solutions will be critical to the broader adoption of blockchain technology by both consumers and enterprises,” said Barry Silbert, Digital Currency Group founder and CEO. “Bringing Ledger into DCG’s global ecosystem of companies will help accelerate collaboration and innovation around security, a critical skill for any company leveraging applied cryptography or blockchain technology.”

“In a world that desperately needs data protection, Ledger has been the first to use secure chip technology to protect data and application in a way the user can adopt,” said Gabriele Domenichini, BHB Network head of venture. “Cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications are the ideal training ground for Ledger to expand to many other aspects of cybersecurity.”

Also read: Bitgo enhances its security with Ledger’s hardware based key storage

Security A Major Challenge

“Securing blockchain assets such as bitcoin and Ethereum is one of the greatest challenges in the digital asset space currently,” said Pamir Gelenbe, Libertus Capital managing partner. “Ledger is the leader in this field both for individuals and enterprises,”

“By investing in Ledger, MAIF intends to contribute to the development of the blockchain ecosystem, a new source of confidence to record transactions, based on peer-to-peer exchanges,” said Jean-Marc Willmann, MAIF deputy general director. “MAIF is proud to support Ledger into its objective to become the world leader in distributed trust.”

“We are delighted to co-lead this new round of funding and renew our trust after Xange’s seed investment in 2015,” said Cyril Bertrand, Xange managing partner. “We hear from many customers of Ledger. We believe it is one the most trustworthy teams of security experts in the world.”

Willmann joins Ledger’s board of directors, alongside CEO Eric Larchevêque, CTO Nicolas Bacca, COO Joël Pobeda, Netatmo CEO Frederic Potter, Bertrand and Pascal Gauthier, ex-COO at Criteo and Venture Partner at Mosaic Ventures.

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R3’s Denial of Russia’s Sberbank is Against the Principles of Blockchain

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After long and careful consideration, R3CEV, better known as the R3 consortium, also simply called R3, reportedly denied the application of Russia’s Largest Bank, Sberbank, to join the rest of the banks in the consortium due to international sanctions against Russia.

Since the introduction of Bitcoin and the concept of blockchain technology in 2009, the blockchain has represented the following attributes: decentralization, transparency, immutability and security.

Perceiving the success of Bitcoin and other legitimate cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects such as Monero, Litecoin and Ethereum as a threat to global banking and finance, banks entered the realm of blockchain technology and began to develop blockchain-based platforms for cross-bank settlement of payments.

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For the public, as well as the cryptocurrency community, the description of blockchain provided by banks and financial institutions came off as nothing more than a strategic combination of jargons. Consortia such as R3 offered ambiguous statements such as “distributed ledger is not blockchain, blockchain technology is only a part of a larger technology in DLT” and ultimately, hindered their own vision of what they thought was truly the international framework which banks and financial institutions with centralized infrastructures can rely on.

However, as obvious it may seem, a decentralized infrastructure is not compatible with a centralized platform. Therefore, consortia like R3 eliminated its brand image of a blockchain consortium and moved on to the development of a more applicable version of blockchain. So-called DLT, consortia began to develop a blockchain-inspired technology.

Some banks like Goldman Sachs, Santander, Morgan Stanley and the National Australian Bank did not agree with the vision of R3 to launch blockchain-inspired technology in R3 Corda which ultimately is a non-blockchain-based platform. Considering R3’s demand for a $150 million funding round to continue operations for the year and for the foreseeable future, the four banks jumped off the bandwagon of DLT.

Still, some banks wanted in. One of these banks was Russia’s largest financial institution in Sberbank. But, contrary to the principles of the blockchain, which is to offer a decentralized, secure, immutable and transparent platform, R3 firmly declined Sberbank’s application with the reason being sanctions of the US against Russia.

According to the leading Russian publication Kommersant, only one fintech company called Kiwi received the invitation to join the R3 consortium to build a blockchain-inspired technology which could better suit banks and financial institutions in a wide range of applications.

The ambiguity of the denial of Sberbank did not end with R3’s decline of the bank’s application. Since late 2016, Russia’s Sberbank expressed its dedication to the development of blockchain technology and as a result, hoped to join the R3 consortium. However, in a blog post released on February 24, R3CEV CEO David Rutter stated that R3 never planned to utilize blockchain technology.

“While we were almost certainly guilty of slipping into this semantics trap now and again, we’ve said from the beginning that Corda is a distributed ledger platform, not a traditional blockchain platform. It was never designed to be one.”

Of course, this was also proven to be wrong as it was later revealed that R3CEV referred themselves as a blockchain consortium building a blockchain platform on several occasions, most notably on their social media accounts. The image provided by economist and bitcoin researcher Saifedean Ammous showed.

Then, the question became, why is Sberbank still trying to enter the R3 consortium if R3CEV executives have reaffirmed that the consortium and its banks are not focused on building blockchain technology and Sberbank is dedicated in demonstrating the potential of blockchain technology?

It is likely that Sberbank is testing the potential of blockchain technology and other blockchain-inspired technologies that could impact global banking as a whole. R3’s decision to leave blockchain and to work on a more suitable technology that demonstrates better applicability for current banking operations could turn out to be a realistic and smart business decision. However, if Sberbank wants to remain in the realm of blockchain, a more appropriate approach would be to set its focus on building blockchain products.

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R3's Denial of Russia's Sberbank is Against the Principles of Blockchain

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