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1st blockchain (un)conference του Hellenic Blockchain Hub #hbh #blockchain #unconference ‍

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Digital chain. Blockchain technology concept.

(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Australian Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) will not be pushed into using blockchain, with the agency choosing to hang back and let the hype result in standardisation so it does not end up backing the wrong implementation.

Speaking to Senate Estimates on Monday evening, acting DTA CEO Peter Alexander compared the use of blockchain with deciding what format of movie media to use.

“For government to use a technology, pick a winner, maybe the best analogy is we might choose the Betamax version of blockchain and have a number of implementations of that, when other agencies and organisations are using VHS, and then someone else will come along and use DVDs or Bluray, and in the end all we want to do is watch a movie, and we’ve chosen an implementation which isn’t going to interoperate particularly well with others,” he said.

“Standardisation is the biggest challenge in blockchain, for governments then the second consideration is really about that immutability of record, and who holds the authority over that record, so a distributed ledger model where a people would validate a transaction has some advantage, a closed ledger where an individual validates a transaction has some advantage, but each of them have pros and cons at the moment in terms of operations on public records.”

Facing questioning on whether the DTA had developed a road map to use blockchain, Alexander pointed out it was the wrong way to approach a technology.

“I think in terms of technology implementation, it’s always the wrong way to go to have a road map for technology, what we need is a road map for solving the problems of Australians and Australian businesses,” Alexander said.

The DTA reiterated its previous comments on the hyped technology, that for every use of blockchain, there is a better alternative.

“Blockchain: Interesting technology but early on in its development, it’s kind of at the top of a hype cycle,” Alexander said during a previous round of Estimates.

On Monday evening, the DTA revealed that it had spent only AU$200,000 of the AU$700,000 it was allocated in the 2018 federal budget to investigate blockchain.

“What we fundamentally found is blockchain is a really interesting technology, there’s lots of opportunity with blockchain, but fundamentally agencies should focus on the problem they are solving before they decide on a technology to solve it,” Alexander told Senate Estimates on Monday.

“They should think about the users and the user journey that they need to assist rather than choosing a technology and trying to find a solution for it.

“For most business requirements there exists a more mature technologies that are ready for use immediately that we would recommend people choosing over blockchain today.”

Alexander added his view was “completely aligned” with the US Institute for Standards and Technology and the OECD.

The DTA has been working with a number of agencies to examine blockchain’s use: The Department of Home Affairs has looked into applications in freight monitoring and using smart contracts for duties and tariffs; parts of Treasury including the ATO and ASIC have examined its use in settlements and payments; and IP Australia has run a trial into using blockchain to handle food providence.

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With hype around blockchain fading, organizations are starting to seek out use cases for the technology, according to Gartner.

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The auto giants want to take self-driving car data out of the silos and get driverless cars on the road quicker.

Read the full article here.

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Capital One acquires a Blockchain Patent geared towards the validation of content. This is Capital One’s second Blockchain patent acquisition.

Capital One has acquired its latest blockchain patent that will incorporate the content validation system. A system where devices can receive and validate information on one device and then verify on another machine. All of the validation processes on the content network and the blockchain can carry out instructions (orders) that verify that piece of content. You can find the full explanation on the USPTO website.

Capital One is a United States Bank holding corporation similar to Chase Bank, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. Capital One, however, has been an active entity when it comes down to obtained Blockchain patents. According to a USPTO filing on August 16, Capital One acquired a patent that does the following:

“Computer-implemented methods and systems are provided for blockchain-mediated user authentication”- USPTO

This is exciting news that’s accompanied by the recent JP Morgan coin adoption. Financial institutions are truly enamored by the blockchain technology that underlies the cryptocurrency world but the JP Morgan coin is proof that digital currency can also be an ally to banking institutions.

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Acre Software, a United Kingdom-based startup, announced that it has raised about $6.5 million to fund its blockchain based mortgage technology.

According to the release, this application will help with mortgages and insurance companies within the industry. This new platform uses blockchain technology to combine detailed consumer and property data. It also brings together all the components of the mortgage application process into one unchangeable “record of transactions.” The software is expected to put brokers back in control of their business while offering an easy and faster experience for consumers.

In addition, the platform seeks to eliminate corruption in the mortgage and insurance industries by harnessing the power of blockchain. By using blockchain technology, Acre has created a more secure environment for this industry. There will be a clear flow of records and faster settlement processes for customers.

Majority of Acre’s funding came from Sesame Bankhall Group (SBG) while the rest came from Aviva Ventures. SBG is an advisory firm based in the UK. It has over 10,000 advisors helping the company make about $4.5 million per year. This is not the first time SBG is involved with Acre. Reportedly, the two have an exclusive deal, the details of which were not disclosed.

While speaking on the matter Justus Brown, CEO and founder of Acre Software, said:

“Buying a house is one of the biggest financial transactions a person can make, yet the process is slow, opaque and fragmented, which is increasingly out of step with consumer expectations. We are changing this—leveling the playing field for brokers using innovative tech while putting an informed consumer at the center of the mortgage process. We are thrilled to have SBG’s distribution muscle and industry expertise, along with Aviva and SBG’s financial support at our disposal on this journey.”

John Cowan, SBG’s executive chairperson said:

“After undertaking a comprehensive 12-month review of the market, we concluded that we could no longer ignore the new competitive threats circling our profession and we had to act.”

The mortgage industry is slowly embracing blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Recently, Nexo, a crypto lending platform out of Switzerland, issued the first ever-crypto backed mortgage to Brock Pierce for a home in Amsterdam reportedly worth $1.2 million. The mortgage is backed entirely with Bitcoin Core (BTC).

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

Bitcoin Satoshi Vision (BSV) is today the only Bitcoin project that follows the original Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper, and that follows the original Satoshi protocol and design. BSV is the only public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin and will massively scale to become the world’s new money and enterprise blockchain.

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Mirroring an uptick in job openings across the IT industry, blckchain professionals remain in high demand, especially for staff and middle manager positions, according to a new job market report from Janco Associates, a management consulting firm that conducts regular industry surveys.

“With 20,600 new IT jobs created in the first three months of 2019, the market is tight,” said Janco Associates CEO M. Victor Janulaitis. “There is a skills shortage, some projects are missing key early benchmark dates due to lack of staffing. Many blockchain and ERP positions remain unfilled and some organizations are seeing an increase in attrition rates for those positions.”

it job market forecast blockchain Janco Associates

Companies that have found blockchain professionals are also experiencing higher attrition rates as consulting firms and services companies are actively recruiting IT professionals in those roles by offering higher salaries and benefits, according to Janulaitis.

Salaries for blockchain developers range from $119,000 to $176,000, according several job search sites and Janco Associates. By comparison, software engineers earn an average of $137,000, according to Mehul Patel, CEO of the job search site Hired.

“In our monthly discussions with CIOs and recruiters, we are seeing more frustration as it becomes more difficult to find qualified individuals,” he said. “Everyone is concerned that as they fill positions the individuals are qualified and will remain with them for some time.”

The IT skills shortage is not limited to blockchain and ERP professionals as programmers and business analysts of all stripes are also in high demand, Janco  said.

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More awesome ebooks for you. Packt is back for our newest bundle! Get ebooks like Blockchain By Example and Hands-On Blockchain for Python Developers, and videos like Ethereum Projects and Blockchain Real World Projects. Plus, your purchase will support Dress for Success and Action Against Hunger!

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Opportunities to earn interest on your crypto are increasing, and Dharma is the latest to enter the fray.

Announced Monday, lending startup Dharma is now open to everyone. Lenders and borrowers are matched peer-to-peer to set up crypto lending terms in a non-custodial fashion, governed by Dharma’s smart contracts.

Dharma will differentiate itself from others in the market by offering depositors a fixed rate of return on the crypto they make available to lend.

There’s a catch, though: Deposits will only earn interest when the assets are put to use by a borrower.

“We are doing fixed-term loans with fixed rates,” Nadav Hollander, Dharma CEO explained to CoinDesk, adding that the company has also worked hard to improve the user experience for all parties.

He said:

“There are a handful ways to earn interst on your crypto in a non-custodial manner, pretty much all of those require a high degree of technical knowledge.”

Originally announced as an open protocol, Dharma will pivot with this news, from a protocol to a company that’s facilitating the marketplace it created.

“We made a decision strategically as a company to go user-first rather than developer-first,” Hollander said. “With all that being said, the underlying smart contract is still primarily open source.”

Dharma has been facilitating loans already under a pilot that reached 2,500 users, Hollander said. According to a third-party explorer called Dharmalytics created by ConsenSys alum Matt Tyndall, $1.16 million in principal has been borrowed so far across 1,575 loans (as of Friday).

These users have come in under Dharma Lever, but as the startup pivots away from the protocol approach it’s retiring that name. The whole product is now just Dharma.

Brendan Forster, co-founder and COO of Dharma, said in a press release:

“We see the broader shift to blockchain-based financial services as the beginning of a much more efficient, programmable, and equitable financial system.”

How it works

It’s a lot like LendingClub, in that one person lends to another, only in this case it is all crypto.

Dharma has changed a lot since its white paper, which described a platform where outside parties would set themselves up to underwrite loans and facilitate identifying borrowers.

The firm – backed by Green Visor, Coinbase Ventures, Polychain and others – has now re-oriented itself to serve as the sole underwriter.

From a user perspective, this should not change much.

Like the other collateralized crypto lending products out there, Dharma asks that borrowers put up 150 percent of the value of their loan as collateral. Because there is much more demand to lend crypto than to borrow it, borrowers should be matched with a lender fairly quickly. Once they do, they can borrow ETH or DAI on 28-day terms with a fixed interest rate.

It’s at this moment that decentralized finance really stands out, Max Bronstein, the company’s marketing manager, told CoinDesk, because “borrowers get their principal in less than 30 seconds.”

If the value of collateral drops below 125 percent of the principal, the smart contract begins liquidating the borrower’s collateral.

In fact, that’s one of the two key risks that users face, what Hollander calls “volatility risk.” If the price moves badly against a borrower, they could be liquidated or suffer a painful margin call.

The other risk is technical: that Dharma might have made a mistake in writing its smart contracts. Here users are somewhat protected by audits and also the “wisdom of the crowd” brought to bear on open-source smart contracts.

“Those risks are all transparently understood,” Hollander said.

Sourcing supply

Currently, more borrowers are needed to make it all work.

To supply demand on the borrow side, the company is putting in a lot more business development work. Hedge funds that have partnered with Dharma early on to source borrow demand include Passport Capital, Formosa Capital, Spartan Capital and Wyre Capital.

“Although there is a lot of demand for market trading, we think that by making a much more useable interface we will be able to find more use cases,” Bronstein said.

Bronstein argues there will be demand from well-funded ICO startups with large ETH supplies and staff willing to accept DAI in lieu of dollars.

Either way, “There is much more interest in lending cryptocurrencies than there is in borrowing them,” Hollander said.

For now, Dharma is subsidizing lenders somewhat, as rates paid for borrowing are lower than the return lenders receive. Borrowers only pay 2 percent while a lender earns 4 percent on ETH and 5.5 percent on DAI, when their capital is in a loan.

This state of affairs is not unusual in this category right now, however.

“Dharma is far from the only project in the space currently subsidizing the market,” Anil Lulla, a principal at crypto data firm Delphi Digital, told CoinDesk in an email, adding:

“Even centralized options like BlockFi are offering a 6.2 percent return for anything underneath 25 BTC and 500 ETH. These projects are all competing for people’s crypto holdings and need to subsidize temporarily to attract new depositors and quickly gain market share.”

Bronstein struck a similar note.

“We think the winner of that battle will be on identity and brand,” he said. “Prices will converge.”

The DeFi stack

Borrowing and lending sound simple, but in finance, small tweaks make for completely different product lines.

With Unchained Capital and BlockFi, users put up crypto and get back fiat. With Compound, users lend and borrow in crypto, but all the rates float continuously based on real-time demand. With MakerDAO, there’s no loan term at all and an effective balloon payment whenever the user wants.

Dharma probably looks the most like the sort of financing most people are familiar with, but it’s still not quite like personal banking, Hollander emphasizes – except that it’s built to be easy for all participants to understand.

“Our approach is to build a non-custodial DeFi product … that can be used from any crypto wallet, including Coinbase,” he said.

Right now the length of all loans is 28 days. “We are working hard to allow more optionality,” Bronstein said, adding that the startup plans to add three- and six-month loan terms soon.

A few other aspects will change over time. Right now, Dharma subsidizes all of the user’s gas fees, but that may not continue forever. It also plans to eventually charge an origination fee, which will probably be the most notable illustration of its pivot from a protocol to a company.

Said Bronstein:

“We will be a very standard revenue-generating business. A normal company, making revenue off of good software.”

Dharma image via Token Summit

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Coda, a blockchain that is focused on compressing its data, has announced that it has raised more than $15 million since its original announcement. The new funding comes from several high-profile investors, including Coinbase and Paradigm. And Coda hasn’t just raised new capital—it is also hinting that users will soon be able to get involved with the platform.

Coda’s 22 KB Blockchain

Coda has a unique mission: to offer a very small blockchain with nodes that can be run anywhere. By comparison, Bitcoin’s blockchain takes up more than 200 gigabytes of space. This isn’t important if you just want to spend crypto, but it puts heavy demands on users who want to make use of the blockchain’s full set of features.

Meanwhile, Coda’s blockchain takes up just 22 kilobytes of space. This is possible because of “tiny, portable cryptographic proofs” called zk-snarks. The end result is that even the simplest systems, such as websites and mobile phones, will be able to run a Coda node. This is important because as more users run nodes, blockchains become more decentralized.

For general users, this means that Coda will support new blockchain apps that require less trust than ever before. Although countless decentralized apps already exist on EOS and Ethereum, Coda wants to improve on what is currently possible. Coda suggests, for example, that it will be able to support a maximally decentralized social network that “treats your data with privacy and respect.”

How Coda Works

Coda uses two types of nodes. Its lighter nodes are called “snarking nodes,” and they use zk-snarks to verify the Coda blockchain. This process is not very demanding, and it can be run anywhere. Coda additionally uses proof-of-stake nodes, which determine blockchain consensus and have somewhat heavier responsibilities.

By contrast, most blockchains rely heavily or exclusively on full nodes, which must store the complete history of that blockchain’s transactions. Admittedly, some blockchains do mitigate their large space requirements with a feature called “pruning.” However, Coda’s approach will allow it to maintain its small size permanently.

With last week’s announcement, Coda is coming closer to fruition. During the past year, the project has released its programming language, launched a testnet, and completed its consensus system. Over the next few months, users will also be able to run nodes and develop Coda apps—all of which suggests that a full launch is not far off.

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Blockchain company Shelterzoom announced Monday the launch of Mithra, the “world's first tokenized, industry-agnostic digital contract platform.”.

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