Inventor of token sale helps launch new one to grow Coinme bitcoin ATM network

Inventor of token sale helps launch new one to grow Coinme bitcoin ATM network

Coinme, a venture-backed cryptocurrency financial services and blockchain technology company today announced UpToken (UP), a partnership with the cryptocurrency community to accelerate deployment of the largest crypto ATM network in the world.

As the first licensed Bitcoin ATM company in the U.S., Coinme’s proven track record and human-first approach have brought thousands of people into the growing crypto community.

As history has shown, traditional economies are vulnerable to inflation, political instability, and institutional manipulation. To address these issues, Bitcoin was created in October 2008 – just weeks after the global financial collapse. Nine years later, the cryptocurrency market capitalization has passed $100 billion in value.

However, access remains the major barrier to continued growth in this industry. While there are now more than 3 million traditional ATMs in use, there are only 1,600 crypto ATMs deployed worldwide.

UpToken is a new crypto asset that will accelerate the establishment of a global network of crypto ATMs for widespread access to virtual currency. Consumers who purchase UpToken will benefit from discounted ATM fees as well as special voting rights.

The UpToken sale was designed in partnership with J.R. Willett, inventor of the first token sale, and will begin on or about October 16th, 2017.

Benefits for token holders include:

  • 1% “Cashback” – Each time a customer uses a Coinme ATM, the customer will receive 1% “cash back” in UpToken (based upon current market prices of UpToken).
  • 30% discount – Customers will receive a 30% discount on ATM transaction fees if they opt to spend their UpToken to cover the transaction fee.
  • Voting rights: Choose the next cryptocurrency – Over time, Coinme will add new cryptocurrencies to the ATM network. Elections will be held, and interested parties will use UpToken to vote.

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At last, with the launch of LEGAL tokens, SmartOne has a legal solution for the crypto community – Crypto Insider

At last, with the launch of LEGAL tokens, SmartOne has a legal solution for the crypto community – Crypto Insider

The world of crypto enterprise is booming and the vast potential of Blockchain technology is finally being realised. From global banks to bootstrapped start-ups, thousands of organisations are creating blockchain-enabled technologies and all of them are coming up against the same challenges: they are discovering that in this brave new world, it is the traditionalism of the legal sector that creates the biggest obstacles.

SmartOne, based in Lichtenstein, has been working to solve the problem of a lack of access to suitable legal services for the crypto community. The result of their work is LEGAL, a new Ethereum-based token that operates the SmartOne Protocol.

LEGAL provides discounted access to a marketplace that works for the crypto community by making legal services both easily accessible and suitable for blockchain-based businesses.

“SmartOne and the LEGAL token represent an enormous step forward for the legal sector,” said Prof. Thomas Fischer, Foundation Council President of SmartOne.

“Until the launch of LEGAL and the SmartOne marketplace, the crypto community was not being properly served by the legal profession and this was creating problems, particularly in regard to regulatory and compliance matters.”

“By creating a legal marketplace that offers services to the crypto community in a format that works for them, SmartOne is solving a problem that had the potential to stunt the growth of blockchain-based services.”

“We’re looking forward to a successful Token Generating Event in October 2017 and are very excited about the potential for SmartOne and LEGAL tokens to shape the legal profession for decades to come.”

By providing access to “crypto-friendly” legal, regulatory and compliance services, SmartOne believes that crypto enterprises will now be able to satisfy the requirements of the financial services markets. In turn, this will help them gain access to the funding they need to become successful businesses.

As SmartOne prepares for LEGAL’s token generating event, its longer term aims include the creation of an entire eco-system that will serve to promote research and development activities connected to the SmartOne protocol.

The SmartOne Foundation, LEGAL and the SmartOne Protocol

The LEGAL token lies at the heart of the SmartOne ecosystem. Its main roles are to provide memberships and serving as a license to use the SmartOne protocols, which enable token holders to access legal services, including the common regulatory requirements of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Client (KYC) processes, through blockchain technology.

The tiered membership system will provide holders of LEGAL with a range of benefits including discounted access to legal services and selected future token launches carried out by SmartOne, as well as free access to premium services such as SmartOne’s TGE analysis.

In the coming months, SmartOne will also launch a risk ratings system for crypto assets that will help facilitate the entrance of institutional investors into the blockchain market by providing a level of confidence in the security of new token launches.

Underpinning the SmartOne protocol, the LEGAL token and the SmartOne ecosystem, is the SmartOne Foundation, a charitable organisation established in Liechtenstein with the intention of serving both as a provider of legal services to TGE organizers and financial institutions, and as an umbrella organization for the promotion of R&D activities connected to the SmartOne protocol.

A highly experienced team

SmartOne and the LEGAL token have been designed and created by a highly experienced team of financial, legal and technology experts based in Zug (Switzerland) and Liechtenstein. The team’s members bring together expertise that gives them a deep understanding of the challenges faced by many crypto enterprises including the legal, regulatory and compliance issues that have, until the launch of LEGAL, proved to be such an obstacle to the successful development of the blockchain sector.

Proven track record and partners

To deliver the legal services that the crypto community needs, SmartOne has partnered with SKUANI, a successful legal services marketplace; NextLex, a developer of cloud-based process automation software for documents and contracts. NextLex simplifies complex decision-making processes and implements risk management and compliance protocols.

SmartOne is also partnered with LegalOne, Switzerland’s first digital law firm, providing robust legal opinion for the implementation and analysis of TGE’s, thereby enabling crypto enterprises to launch with solid legal foundations.

Together these businesses lay the foundations for the revolution in legal services that is promised by SmartOne’s success.

SmartOne was officially launched on 30th August 2017 at Liechtenstein’s 7th Blockchain Meetup, held in Vaduz.

About SmartOne

SmartOne’s founders include:

Prof. Thomas Fischer, MA Law HSG, MA Finance HSG, M.Psych. University of Zurich, Lawyer
CEO Swiss ALP Asset Management; lecturer in leadership psychology at FHNW.
Reto Stiffler, lic.rer.pol, University of Fribourg
Swiss licensed financial analyst and asset manager (AZEK/CIIA); blockchain analyst.
Patrick Salm, MSc Banking & Finance HSLU, BSc Business Law ZHAW, CAS Blockchain
Founder and CEO Kepler Technologies LLC
Klaus D. Stark, BA FH St. Gallen
Partner Ganten Group; Managing Partner IBO (Liechtenstein) Ltd.

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Diversity and inclusion for Bitcoin – Crypto Insider

Diversity and inclusion for Bitcoin – Crypto Insider

This is re-published from Elaine’s Idle Mind



Global Bitcoin nodes distribution

No field of technology has accomplished as much as Bitcoin when it comes to promoting diversity and inclusion. Check it out — In recent weeks, we’ve learned:

  • North Korea spun up hundreds of Bitcoin (mining?) nodes beginning in May.
  • Japanese digital services company GMO is investing $90M in a new Bitcoin mining facility.
  • Putin’s Internet ombudsman is raising $100M for a Bitcoin mining farm. It will reportedly take advantage of Russia’s excess power capacity at deeply discounted rates.

Bitcoin’s strength lies in its jurisdictional diversity. Every transaction is created equal, no matter by whom or where. China’s concentration of mining power has been one of the biggest threats to Bitcoin, but if these new developments play out, we could see multiple state-sponsored server farms jockeying for power.

The biggest benefit of diversity is that every new idea is confronted with lots of competing opinions, so no decision ever gets done. This preserves the blockchain’s doctrine of immutability and permissionless access. The most inclusive state of the network is one in which every node is divided in a Mexican standoff.

I know, I know: People like to signal virtue by bemoaning Bitcoin’s lack of gender diversity. That’s okay. Signaling serves an important evolutionary function, and I have much respect for anyone privileged enough to expend resources on such an activity.

Still, diversity-driven virtue signaling is horribly misguided. Gender diversity is of zero concern for anything but the elitest of elite Western institutions. Bitcoin and its blockchain brethren are global: No other technological advancement so effectively serves state-oppressed Venezuelans as well as Silicon Valley software engineers. That’s the power of inclusion and equality.

Featured image added by Crypto Insider from Andrew Butler on Unsplash

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This Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt the Crypto Industry in 2018

This Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt the Crypto Industry in 2018

This is where a new blockchain platform and a concept called “Proof of Pact” (PoP) conceived by blockchain experts to utilize the powerful aspects of traditional blockchain platforms, while at the same time filling gaps where the weaknesses exist.

Just out of stealth mode, Soferox, the company behind the PoP concept, started it’s ICO on September 15, 2017, having accomplished the pre-sale. So, what is Proof of Pact and How will it impact blockchain?

Can the Chain Hold the Weight?  

Blockchain technology is the newest darling technology among the industry faithful these days. Recently, blockchain tech like the code that Ethereum and Bitcoin are founded on has begun to get mainstream attention in the techno marketplace.

A new blockchain solution appears every day and in every field lately. Recent reports of partnerships between Ethereum and the Russian government in the sphere of blockchain technologies shows the tech’s potential and the powerful impact that blockchain can have. Industries like auctions are using blockchain as well, seeking to bring profound change to their respective fields. Buying and selling property, new messaging applications built on blockchain, and medical fields like dental insurance are being radically changed through blockchain.

In spite of the apparent hype, though, many blockchain developers are aware that under the apparently simple and elegant exterior of blockchain technology is a swirling storm full of holes of weakness, causing profound doubt for consumers and industry leaders alike.

Blockchain technology is akin to the first mobile phones – huge, gray, and bulky. While at the time it was clearly evident that the new mobile technology was going to change the world, phones were still heavy and cumbersome and required substantial effort to bring them safely into mainstream usage. Current blockchain platforms are in need of a reboot.

Upgrading the Chain with Soferox’s Proof of Pact (PoP)

The foundational chains for cryptocurrencies like Ethereum and others have been talked up in the mainstream media with much fanfare.

However, these blockchain technologies, while providing support for the first real acceptance of the systems involved, also have substantial weaknesses. Soferox, though, has created a platform that will disrupt these original systems.

Consider, for example, the issue of block creation.

Bitcoin uses a block generation algorithm termed Proof of Work (PoW), where miners who generate blocks are required to solve mathematical equations to create the next block on the chain and receive the fee associated with it. While functioning well to date, PoW has met with concern among governments and the public because of the substantial electrical resources consumed, often more that of some nations. What’s more, miners are sometimes required to build new empty blocks because the chain causes delay in distribution of new block parameters.

Ethereum, second largest market cap, is utilizing the PoW system as well, but core developers have recently suggested Ethereum may shift to a new protocol called Proof of Stake (PoS). PoS would require that the block maker own a substantial amount of Ethereum, which would incentivize the maker to protect the chain.

The PoS system, however, has been met with strong concern by blockchain theorists who have suggested that it may produce a monopolized blockchain where all the blocks are mined by a small group of powerful miners, destroying the decentralized structure of the blockchain.

Beyond block creation standards, perhaps the greatest debate among advocates concerns chain rigidity. Some feel that blockchain solutions do not give scaling solutions that will be more necessary as the market grows. As blockchain technology has become increasingly popular, transaction numbers have increased on the chain. The rules coded into various chains, though, cause huge debate regarding block size limits.

Soferox, however, has created a twin blockchain platform. Protocols for blockchain management are divided from transactions by creating two different chains. This model provides a means for secure and immutable transaction processing, while also creating a fluid ecosystem where protocols for managing the chain can be edited and changed without hard or soft forks and new coins (ala the Bitcoin Cash problem).

What’s more, Soferox is committed to free transaction fees and has built a new block creation system which is a combination of the PoW and the PoS named Proof of Pact (PoP) providing a great system for both users and miners.

Joining the Disruption

Soferox offers the SFX tokenis in the framework of its current ICO launched on September 15.

Without question, the PoP protocol and the Soferox twin chain platform are the newest solution for the blockchain going forward. Soferox has built a product that manages the underlying problems with blockchain solutions. As blockchain solutions continue to make advances in other fields, ventures like Soferox will be there to answer the issues.

The post This Blockchain Technology Will Disrupt the Crypto Industry in 2018 appeared first on CoinSpeaker.

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Circle pushes OTC crypto trading, launches in France and Italy and adds group payments

Circle pushes OTC crypto trading, launches in France and Italy and adds group payments

Circle, which uses blockchain technology to do zero-cost instant payments, is launching in France and Italy, and also announcing a group payments application.

In addition, the company is pushing to the fore its over-the-counter service, Circle Trading, which up until now has been “the best kept secret” in the crypto space.

Over​ ​the​ ​past​ ​four​ ​years,​ ​Circle​ ​has​ ​built​ ​a​ ​treasury​ ​and​ ​trading​ ​operation​ ​that​ ​spans​ ​crypto​ ​as well​ ​as​ ​fiat​ ​currency​ ​markets, providing​ ​lots of ​market​ ​liquidity​ ​for bitcoin,​ ​ether,​ ​XRP​ ​and​ ​other​ ​crypto​ ​assets.​ ​ ​Last​ ​month​ ​(August​ ​2017)​ ​Circle directly​ ​traded​ ​over​ ​$2bn​ ​in​ ​crypto​ ​assets.

To capitalise on this growth, Circle​ ​is​ ​actively​ ​taking​ ​on​ ​more​ ​and​ ​more​ ​trading​ ​counterparties; accredited​ ​investors​, ​institutions​ and the like. It sees a virtuous ​circle​ ​of​ ​network​ ​effects​:​ ​the​ ​crypto​ ​asset​ ​trading​ ​business​ ​bootstraps​ ​and supports​ ​the​ ​value​ ​of​ ​the​ ​underlying​ ​token-fueled​ ​protocol​ ​and​ ​network;​ ​this​ ​grows​ ​the​ ​reach​ ​of the​ ​products​ ​and​ ​services​ ​built​ ​on​ ​top​ ​of​ ​that​ ​network​ ​(such​ ​as​ ​Circle​ ​Pay) and so on. ​ ​

Jeremy Allaire, CEO Circle, said: “We have a large scale OTC trading business providing liquidity to the market and that part of Circle, which has not been well known, is something that we are talking a lot more about now.”

Circle Trading’s OTC service handles trades that are minimum hundreds of thousands of dollars transactions, as opposed to retail exchange activity. The service is focused on core cryptocurrencies: bitcoin, ether, XRP, Ethereum Classic, Z-cash, Bitcoin Cash and litecoin.

“The market for digital assets is maturing and attracting broad interest as a mainstream category for investment and wealth management. To that end, you can expect us to combine our consumer product capability with our trading capability and create something that would be really attractive to the mainstream consumer. The growth has been really dramatic; we have one of the industry’s best kept secrets and so it’s a little bit of a coming out this week for it. We will have more to say about this soon,” said Allaire.

Circle Pay is also announcing a full scale move into France and Italy, while entering what it calls “early access” in 11 more countries: Belgium,​ ​Bulgaria,​ ​Denmark,​ ​Greece,​ ​Hungary,​ ​Hungary,​ ​Iceland, Lithuania,​ ​Norway,​ ​Romania,​ ​Sweden,​ ​and​ ​Switzerland.

“We are in the process of getting into every European country, but the major launches are France and Italy which are very large markets and where social payments is still very much a wide open territory.

As far as competing payments systems are concerned, Allaire said: “There certainly are players out there who have tried to build a business just focused on a domestic person to person payment, or just focused on an international or cross border person to person payment.

“We collapse those categories all together. We dont make a distinction between a domestic payment and a cross border payment; we don’t think that idea even matters anymore.”

Circle has been very active in China where it is working to connect the proliferation of paytech and wallets with Circle in the West. Taking some inspiration from services like WeChat Pay, Circle is introducing group payments and event-based payments.

Allaire said: “Say you’re throwing a party and you need everyone to chip in $5 for snakes or beer, you create an event. If you are familiar with group payment on WeChat, it’s a similar experience – and it’s a great experience.

“Or say you’re doing a fundraiser to money for some cause, or a trip, a five aside league. We expect use by broad range of clubs, societies leagues etc.”

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Actor Jamie Foxx Promotes Crypto Exchange ICO

Actor Jamie Foxx Promotes Crypto Exchange ICO

Yet another celebrity has entered the cryptocurrency promotion fray, with Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx promoting an upcoming initial coin offering (ICO).

In a post on Twitter, Foxx promoted the token sale for Cobinhood, which is being advertised as a zero-fee cryptocurrency exchange. That sale is currently underway, according to its website, netting about 17,840 ethers (worth roughly $5.1 million at press time) to date.

The promotion suggests that the spate of celebrity endorsements for cryptocurrency-related projects isn’t slowing down anytime soon. As previously reported, celebrities such as boxing champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., socialite Paris Hilton and rap artist The Game have promoted upcoming or now-completed token sales.

To date, more than $1.8 billion has been raised through the funding model, according to data from CoinDesk’s ICO Tracker.

Image Credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].

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/r/Bitcoin: Where posts go to die – Crypto Insider

/r/Bitcoin: Where posts go to die – Crypto Insider

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Crypto Insider. Editor’s note: This post does not go into the politics of /r/Bitcoin vs /r/btc. To see varied opinions on this subject, you can start here

Remember that Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns has a knee that is hurting too much to bowl? And on his way to tell his bowling buddies (yes there is an episode where Mr Burns has bowling buddies), an attacker whacks him with a metal rod? The rod hits him in just the right spot to make him feel better, so that he can bowl in the tournament.

For a moment, I felt the same way when I went here to check a post I had placed there on Sept. 1.  Here’s what it said:

So I uh…. have been hearing so many people criticize r/bitcoin for alleged censorship that I thought I’d try and write an article about it. The issue has sort of become epic; I seem to hear about it everywhere I go. But it’s also easy to find people who hate Wal-Mart… and that’s mostly because Wal-Mart is popular. Full disclosure: Although I’m writing this for Crypto Insider, my channel receives ad purchases from But that’s not where I’ve been hearing the concerns recently… you just got a new hole torn in you on And I’m sort of disconnected from the issue by virtue of not using Reddit much. So: To what extent do you think this subreddit is overmoderated? Is there really an attempt to quash discussions about certain types of technical changes to bitcoin? Is openness/accessibility here on the rise over the last year or on the decline? Of the posts placed here over the last year, what percentage wound up being deleted by mods? More questions may follow as I think them up.

Not long after creating this I got pretty writer-blocked on the subject, couldn’t think of anything to add to all the anti-/r/Bitcoin rants I’ve heard from Free Talk Live callers and other sources. This article was about to die quietly. Like the great gonzo journalist before me, there I was…

“… alone… with this goddamn incredibly expensive car, no cash… no story for the paper.” Except I didn’t have an expensive car. Anyway, what happened next was this:

That’s how my post looked later when I was logged out, initially driving me to excitement… had I been censored? Well, this may have been more of a problem with Reddit than an an issue with /r/Bitcoin.   I tried posting to /r/btc and something similar happened… except I got a nice auto message in my inbox with suggestions for improving my posts.  I could see both posts while logged in, but neither while logged out. I still don’t know if my post on /r/Bitcoin about censorship was censored. I do know that hardly anyone saw it.

To some extent, it may just be that Reddit is just pulling a Facebook on us and trying to make us be logged in all the time.  I wonder how many false reports of censorship this may have generated against /r/Bitcoin…or /r/btc for that matter?  And shouldn’t it be easier to tell, whichever subreddit you’re on, where your post went and whether it was censored?  I can’t tell whether my posts from ten days ago are still showing on /r/Bitcoin or just on my list of outbound posts. Once posted… they are quickly buried under a barrage of new messages.

I’ve posted a total of about five messages now on /r/Bitcoin over a two-week period; none have received any comments or more than ten views; some did show up in the “new” section; some didn’t even make it that far.  I messaged the #2 and #3 moderators listed to try and find out what the status of the posts was. Neither has responded as of Sept 15, a few days after the inquiry.

They say, or they used to say, you’re not supposed to mess with anyone who writes for a paper. Nowadays… or maybe more like two years from now… they may replace, “paper” with “popular DTube channel” or “fuckton of Dash.” I’m not Hunter S. Thompson, and /r/Bitcoin can probably mess with me this way quite a bit before it starts to hurt them.  I don’t have a sense of being actively censored or persecuted… I wasn’t banned. After all this above I posted another message, a news link this time, around Sept. 16 and it did appear in their “new” section. But for what it’s worth I can add my little voice to the chorus:  /r/Bitcoin really does seem to be a place where your posts go to die.

Some folks are so pissed about their /r/Bitcoin experience they’ve been buying ads on talk radio griping about it and inviting folk to the alternate reddit, /r/btc. Additional grievances against /r/Bitcoin claim thread-content alteration and robo-banning of provocative words like “dash” and “moderator.”  I attempted to post two messages on /r/Bitcoin containing these two words. Both did appear to be automatically filtered… I never saw the posts in the list of new posts, though I stopped trying to find them after about ten minutes.  I can see the posts in my list of posts when logged in, but I don’t think anyone else ever got the chance.

John Blocke, writing on, says there’s one 459 comment thread where 146 comments disappeared.  This thread also lists over 20 words their auto-mod removes.

So far seems to be the best place to go in my experience if you want to get responses but also not get censored much. After posting there dozens of times, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them remove one of my posts, and it’s fairly rare to see a post ignored.

I’m glad there is a bitcoin subreddit that has a lot of traffic and which is important enough that people care about its level of openness.  I have to assume some or all the mods on /r/Bitcoin donate a lot of their time and probably do helpful things for Bitcoin which we’ll never hear about.  And they are presumably within their human rights to forbid or permit whatever content they wish on their own subreddit.

The feeling on /r/Bitcoin is more one of being turned into a ghost than turned into a pariah.  But I’d rather be treated as the latter. In practice, the experience was even more unpleasant than what I expected after hearing all the horror stories.

I have since deactivated my Reddit account since I saw no use for it

Featured imagae by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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Dash Rebounds, Gains Against Bitcoin in Post-China Drama Crypto Recovery

Dash Rebounds, Gains Against Bitcoin in Post-China Drama Crypto Recovery

Dash has bounced back after a rough week in the markets, gaining against Bitcoin.

Over the past week, market uncertainty resulting from China’s announcement of shutting down cryptocurrency exchanges caused the crypto markets to crash, dipping from about $145 billion combined to around $97 billion over a few days. Since then, they have recovered to about $136 billion. Dash dropped from around $326 to a low of $220, and has since recovered back to $326. During this recovery, Dash made gains against the price of Bitcoin as well. For most of the past week during the market uncertainty, Dash remained at about 0.075 BTC. Over the weekend Dash grew to 0.087 BTC, to a present value of 0.083 BTC.

China exchange regulations shook markets, which have since shifted to other pairs

A series of events transpiring in China, from the government issuing an ICO ban to its shuttering of cryptocurrency exchanges (and all the rumors in between), led to a significant downturn in the markets, shaking out almost half of cryptocurrency’s value for a moment. Since then, the markets have recovered on strong trading volume from elsewhere, particularly other Asian countries. Bitcoin’s #2 and #3 sources of trading volume are Japanese yen and Korean won trading pairs, with its top Chinese yuan pair a distant #6 with 3.41% of volume (contrasted with a combined 10.39% of volume claimed by JPY and KRW pairs).

Dash remains significantly more isolated from the effects of Chinese markets, with only 1.33% of volume coming from CNY pairs. KRW trading, meanwhile, holds an impressive first place with $16.5 million 24-hour volume, 27.61% of the market.

First stages of Evolution and conference announcements may be bullish for Dash

Good news may continue in the markets for Dash with a series of new integrations and upcoming events giving the potential to bolster the price. This weekend, the first Dash conference, funded by the masternode network, will be held in London, where the Core team has prepared a series of announcements. Over the past week, Dash has been added to both Qryptos and Finally, the Dash version of the Copay multisig wallet is entering alpha testing, with the first stages of the Evolution roadmap, including a fee reduction of one decimal point and a 2mb block size increase, being implemented this quarter.

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Marine matters: How blockchain technology is stirring the waters for the shipping trade – Crypto Insider

Marine matters: How blockchain technology is stirring the waters for the shipping trade – Crypto Insider

The world’s marine industry giants have long been regarded as conservative, set in their ways and resistant to change. Yet, if recent blockchain-related developments are anything to go by, it seems nothing could be further from the truth.

In many parts of the world, shipping is seen as an industry on the decline. However, some say, blockchain pilot schemes are now helping breathe new life into the marine trade.

But where exactly does blockchain come into the shipping equation?

Well, for a start, it could help resolve eliminate document fraud cases and potentially reduce the need for costly dispute arbitration. In an industry plagued by fake agents, fake documents and even fake goods, blockchain’s immutable ledger system has the potential to kick fraud into touch for good.

In fact, when you think about it, cargo tracking is actually a fairly intuitive use for the blockchain. Maersk, the world’s biggest container ship and supply vessel operator, claimed back in 2014 that intercontinental shipments often require “mountains” of paperwork, with “processes involving nearly 30 people and organizations,” and comprising “up to 200 different interactions.” With blockchain technology, however, Maersk says it will be able to ditch paper documentation altogether and allow all parties to participate in an immutable digital ledger system instead.

Indeed, developments like these could, in theory, allow every party involved in the process to check on the status of a shipment at any point in the process – representing a very serious upgrade in both reliability and efficiency.

All hands on deck

Last year, British cargo management specialists Marine Transport International claimed to have developed the world’s “first public blockchain solution in the global shipping industry,” in association with a London-based data science company.

Maersk has recently begun tracking freight using the technology, and its rivals are also banking on blockchain.

Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), one of South Korea’s biggest shipping powerhouses, has claimed its maiden blockchain voyage was a success. The company earlier this month sent a refrigerated container shipment from the Korean port of Busan to Qingdao, on the east coast of China. HMM says it was so pleased with its handiwork that it now plans a second blockchain-powered shipment in October, with a view to expanding its usage of the technology on routes to India and Thailand.

Indeed, HMM earlier this year joined forces with Samsung affiliate Samsung SDS and the South Korean government in a shipping logistics consortium that aims to make extensive use of blockchain technology. The government is keen to introduce a new-found efficiency into marine enterprises following a series of bailouts. And as marine enterprises make up for some 33 percent of South Korea’s export economy, ministers hope that a blockchain-powered boost will help breathe new life into the industry.

In nearby Japan, several of the country’s biggest shippers – including Nippon Yushen (one of the oldest shipping companies in the world) – have recently formed their own 14-company consortium. Its members claim they are seeking to develop a Japanese trade data sharing platform

Port of call

Government bodies are now showing signs of an eagerness to board the blockchain boat. The Danish Maritime Authority’s new blockchain-powered pilot scheme could soon revolutionize the way ship owners register their vessels with Denmark’s marine authorities, potentially digitizing the entire process. The country’s industry minister says the blockchain initiative has the potential to keep costs down and boost trust in the shipping industry.

And several port authorities, particularly in Northern Europe, have begun working on their own blockchain-powered management platforms. These include the Port of Rotterdam, the biggest shipping port in Europe. Rotterdam’s venture was launched in association with the Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology and, its project manager claims, “This involves more than just talking about possibilities – we are really going to apply the technology.”

The Port of Antwerp, in neighboring Belgium, is following suit. The port (Europe’s second largest after Rotterdam) is aware that “fifty percent of the costs of cargo transport” is taken up by paperwork, and is now trialing a blockchain platform. The project is being undertaken by tech startup T-Mining, whose CEO claims, “Our ambition is to serve our first paying customers by the end of 2017.”

And with an office in Singapore, provided by Antwerp city authorities, the port’s blockchain platform could well soon end up with a foothold in Asia, too.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Asia, thinkers in Malaysia have proposed using blockchain technology to manage smaller so-called Less Container Load (LCL) shipments in China’s ports, where small-scale cargo handling is often “complicated and inefficient.”

Full steam ahead

Many warn that it will not all be plain sailing for the shipping industry’s blockchain pioneers. Earlier this year, Ari Marjamaa, Chief Transformation Officer of logistics experts WWL, warned that blockchain would be “no silver bullet” for the shipping industry. Marjamaa said that without “open standards and industry-wide collaboration,” blockchain ventures could soon run into troubled waters.

Regardless, in the past few weeks, there have been more exciting developments. Maersk has gone on to announce a new blockchain-powered insurance platform with consultants EY, who claim the new offering is a “world-first.” Others, meanwhile, are claiming that blockchain could help shipping companies guard against ransomware and other cyber-attacks.

With the likes of Maersk, HMM and Europe’s two biggest ports already onboard, the blockchain ship seems to have already set sail for this industry – and time will soon tell us how successful these promising maiden voyages have really been.

This is part of the “Blockchain and Industry” series by Tim Alper. Want to see more? Check out:

Featured image from pexels

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Oh, the irony: Crypto enables same Ponzi-like behavior it promised to fix | VentureBeat | Commerce

Oh, the irony: Crypto enables same Ponzi-like behavior it promised to fix | VentureBeat | Commerce

The creation and rise of cryptocurrencies can be tied directly to the 2008 financial crisis. Released in 2009, Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology was viewed, and marketed, as a way to stabilize the rampant culture of speculation that plagued Wall Street, particularly with derivative and bundled offerings. But what has taken hold in the cryptocurrency market place in recent years stands in stark contrast to these early utopian promises. Instead, a new batch of nefarious investors are hijacking the technology for their own interests.

The reason blockchain was an effective counter-narrative to the 2008 financial crisis is that the technology works on the presumption that no one can really trust anyone, and the only way to prevent fraud is to make all transactions universally available on a “public ledger.” This concept taps into a libertarian model of self-policing that works around the need for government regulators and major financial institutions.

Since the launch of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies have expanded at a feverish pace. To date, there are over 3,000 variations of blockchain technologies (into which billions of dollars have been invested).

The latest trend in the cryptocurrency market are the initial coin offerings (ICOs), also commonly referred to as “token sales.” ICOs raise funds through a crowdfunding process similar to stock purchasing, where instead of being issued a traditional security, investors purchase a new crypto-coin which is frequently tied, directly or indirectly, to a potential money-making venture. While a small subgroup of tokens, called “utility tokens,” do not possess the economic features of a security, and should not be treated as such by regulators, many other tokens sold in ICOs resemble traditional stock.

These stock-like tokens must be held accountable by a regulatory authority.

I’m bullish on the long-term view of ICOs. They can eliminate the need for companies to engage outside agents to handle financial transactions and money transfers. They also allow companies to avoid exchange rates and transaction fees, as all returns can be paid out through crypto-wallets. Cryptocurrency tokens are transmitted quickly between consumers and businesses. And, by lowering or eliminating extraneous overhead costs, businesses can offer lower initial share costs and open the option of investing to more individuals and at lower initial buy-ins. Most importantly, ICOs could completely revolutionize the existing way consumers and investors perceive basic concepts of company stock, ownership, and valuation.

But like the intrepid housing market presaging the 2008 financial crisis, below the surface of flashy dollar signs is a rather jaundiced reality.

A recent report from Chainalysis, a New York-based firm that analyzes transactions and provides anti-money laundering software, revealed that not only are one out of every 10 ICOs fraudulent, but some 30,000 investors have fallen prey to ICO cybercrime, with losses totaling over $225 million.

Many ICOs are similar to Ponzi schemes. They capitalize on hype and market frenzy, pulling in as many investors as possible to increase the value of the underlying cryptocurrency. Then, just as the value rockets upwards, the initial investors cash out or trade the tokens for other cryptocurrencies, all before the floor collapses beneath them. While the lucky few profit, the last ones out are left holding worthless digital code.

Worse still, there is a fundamental information asymmetry in the crypto-sphere. The major players – those who are plugged into various coin networks and the blockchain – are able to accurately speculate, in nanoseconds, on the ups and downs of an ICO, which leads to drastic price fluctuations, and allows some to function as de facto gatekeepers. This type of pumping and dumping, not unlike hyper day trading, may be a form of insider trading and illegal. But absent regulation enforcement, they can continue this practice unabated.

There is a cruel irony here: The short-sighted, profit-driven, Gordon Gekko-types of the world, now free of the reins of traditional intermediaries and at least temporarily out of reach of government regulators, can enrich themselves on the backs of the very people who turned to ICOs because of their distrust of Wall Street. Instead of addressing these pervasive issues, the gatekeepers will instead proselytize the disruptive potential of ICOs, all the while profiting from such lip service.

The lesson from 2008 is not that regulatory authorities are bad, it’s that they need to be enforced uniformly. Absent regulators, bad actors will penetrate markets and, out of their own self interest, ruin them for everyone else.

There are some signs of hope. The SEC recently issued clarifications. Still, this largely falls short of what is necessary to curtail bad actors. What a regulator like the SEC needs to do is bring stability and integrity to ICOs. This starts by eliminating the scams upfront and ensuring transparency in all transactions. Disclosure laws must be followed; adherence to their guidelines will help democratize investing. The result is that a broader, bespoke class will be able to participate in revenue sharing streams traditionally reserved for high-wealth individuals and institutional investors.

The regulations to achieve these goals are already in place. Perhaps, due to technical and design difficulties, they lack active enforcement at the moment. But the path forward for ICOs is clear. We need a regulator like the SEC to stabilize and mature the cryptocurrency market. This will ensure that investors are no longer being duped by self-aggrandizing gatekeepers and that the benefits of cryptocurrencies can finally be unleashed to the masses.

Justin Bailey is CEO and founder of Fig.

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