Blockchain Consortium R3 Launches Corda Network and Independent Governance Foundation

Enterprise blockchain software firm R3 has announced the launch of its Corda Network, which will be operated and overseen by a newly created not-for-profit organization, the Corda Network Foundation. The announcement was made in an R3 press release published on Jan. 16.

R3 has to date reportedly gathered over 300 partners from across multiple industries — both the private and public sector —  to collaborate on developing Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, as well as its business-oriented offshoot Corda Enterprise.

The Corda Network will reportedly serve as a base layer of identity and consensus for all participants, and allow for the transfer of data and digital assets between communities of nodes (business networks) and the different decentralized applications running on the Corda platform (CorDapps).

With identity verification and privacy provisions, the network will enable participants to create nested private ecosystems within their organization — or join together with commercial partners — to efficiently share data between approved parties, while retaining interoperability with the wider Corda community.

The Corda Network Foundation, whose directorial board will reportedly be elected by members of the Corda Network, is set to operate independently of R3.

The joint launch will aim to establish an international, transparently governed network that will make Corda adoption seamless and foster the secure and efficient development of new applications for Corda and Corda Enterprise.

Multiple Corda ecosystem participants are quoted in the press release as saying that the open governance system and oversight from a non-biased operator will be crucial to securing the success of the Corda Network and contribute toward its aim to provide a secure, trusted and efficient alternative to today’s siloed systems.

As reported, Corda has seen a wave of adoption news in recent months, most recently onboarding an American blockchain consortium and credit union service organization (CUSO).

In December, R3’s Corda-based Euro Debt Solution was used by a GermanFrenchDutch triad of banks to successfully complete a live commercial paper transaction; major Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings announced its partnership with R3 to boost the use of Corda in Asia; and 26 French companies and five major banks completed a Know Your Customer (KYC) test using Corda.

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Genesis Partners With Blockchain Security Firm to Provide Direct Custody Operations

Blockchain security firm BitGo has partnered with Bitcoin (BTC) over-the-counter (OTC) trading platform Genesis Global Trading. The partnership intends to allow clients to trade crypto directly from BitGo custody, according to a press release posted today, Jan. 16.

Following the recent acquisition of a crypto custodian qualification, BitGo has endeavored to improve its custodial services by protecting clients’ funds through allowing them to trade digital assets without need for withdrawals from hard storage.

The new feature enables clients of тче BitGo custody service to conduct buy and sell orders directly from the company’s cold storage with no need to manage keys or move their assets. The internal cold storage operations are provided with no additional fees, the announcement notes.

Starting from now, BitGo custody clients will be able to execute internal settlements on the same day, powered by Genesis’ high liquidity based on a big network of trading partners.

According to BitGo CEO Mike Belshe, some custodians prefer to sacrifice security by offering fast withdrawals from cold-storage, which puts them at risk of being hacked or misled by false instructions.

Genesis Global Trading, a subsidiary of the Digital Currency Group, is a major global firm providing over-the-counter crypto trading that provides deep level of liquidity to institutional investors. In May 2018, Genesis became the first New York-based company to acquire the BitLicense from the New York Department of Financial Services.

Genesis is registered with major United States financial regulators such as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Founded in 2013, California-based BitGo is a blockchain firm and a digital currency wallet that offers tools for storing more than 100 cryptocurrencies and tokens, according to the press release. In September 2018, the firm received a state trust company charter from the South Dakota Division of Banking allowing it to operate as a qualified custodian for crypto.

Earlier this week, major Swiss private investment bank Vontobel — with 110.3 billion CHF ($112.2 billion) in assets — launched a crypto custody service targeting banks and asset managers.

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Gartner’s Top 10 Tech Trends: Blockchain

January 16, 2019

Blockchain, the seventh trend on Gartner’s top 10 tech trends list, is a fairly new technology that holds major potential. Although blockchain is only in its beginning stages, businesses across all industries are delving into it.

In a nutshell, blockchain is a series of blocks linked together in a chain, with each one storing records of economic transactions. With blockchain, people can make transactions globally without any reliance on a central authority. According to Gartner, blockchain is quite promising when it comes to trust, transparency, reducing costs, improving business ecosystems and the way industries operate.

”Current blockchain technologies and concepts are immature, poorly understood and unproven in mission-critical, at-scale business operations. This is particularly so with the complex elements that support more sophisticated scenarios,” said David Cearley, vice president and Gartner Fellow. “Despite the challenges, the significant potential for disruption means CIOs and IT leaders should begin evaluating blockchain, even if they don’t aggressively adopt the technologies in the next few years.”

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Chevron, Total and Reliance join blockchain-based oil trading platform

Chevron, Total and Reliance Industries are backing a new digital platform for crude oil trading based on blockchain and launched late last year, joining a consortium of investors that includes BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Equinor as well as traders Gunvor, Mercuria and Koch Supply & Trading.

Vakt is the first blockchain trading platform for physical oil trades. Trading of physical commodities has historically been a cumbersome and lengthy process, executed through mountains of documents, including letters of credit, invoices and inspection certificates sent around the world by email, fax or post.

By putting the paperwork on a secure, real-time blockchain-based digital platform, Vakt aims to offer faster, cheaper and more secure ways of completing a commodities trade.

“Chevron is joining the Vakt consortium to stay at the forefront of the technology’s development and to help move the industry forward in the blockchain space,” said Colin Parfitt, president of supply and trading at Chevron.

With the addition of Chevron, Reliance and Total as backers, the blockchain platform would have five of the world’s top 10 largest oil and gas companies by market capitalisation as investors, said Vakt. Other investors include banks ABN Amro, ING and Société Générale.

The platform will initially handle trades in the main North Sea physical crude oil contract and is expected to be extended to all physically traded energy-related commodities.

Energy and agricultural traders have been trialling digital platforms over the past few years. Leading agricultural traders Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus as well as China’s Cofco International are working together to create a blockchain-based digital trading system.

Blockchain is an electronic information system that provides the underpinning of cryptocurrencies by recording deals in digital blocks. Encrypted digital information can be shared and corroborated. The records cannot be revised and any attempted changes are visible to all participants.

The technology will reduce the need to exchange documents, reducing the time and costs needed to complete a trade. In an earlier blockchain trial for a soyabean trade by Louis Dreyfus Commodities, the processing time was cut to a fifth of the traditional model. Traders are also able to monitor the operation’s progress in real time and verify data, while the platform will also reduce the risk of fraud.

Blockchain has also been used to track the provenance of produce in the trade of raw materials. Ford is trialling the technology to trace supplies of cobalt from a Chinese-owned mine in the Congo to the batteries in its electric cars, while De Beers is piloting a diamond tracing scheme. Cargill is operating a traceability programme for its turkeys, and trials for agricultural commodities including cocoa and coffee among various players are also ongoing.

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Why the development of next-generation blockchain platforms must be led by the community

“There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.” —  Margaret J. Wheatley

Every truly great movement begins when a group of people identify a problem, engage in dialogue and deliberation, and then act together to solve it. Ten years on from the launch of Bitcoin, it is by following this process that the most innovative blockchain projects will achieve mainstream adoption.

Third generation blockchain platforms aim to improve upon Bitcoin’s innovative technology in order to make it more commercially attractive. However, they are faced with numerous challenges.  Instead of solving these challenges by relying on a single team, sacrificing decentralization, and creating a single point of failure, the “blockchain way” to address them is to present them to a global community of bright minds. This makes community-building in the public blockchain sphere an essential component of project development. A strong and motivated community will be an important vehicle for the transition to mainstream adoption.

Adapt and achieve adoption

Community has always been extremely valuable in driving the success of blockchain projects, from contributing ideas and offering feedback, to hands-on development work and spreading of the project’s message. Community has never been as important as it is right now, as everyone in the blockchain industry is finding unique ways to enable mainstream adoption of the technology.

To successfully achieve mass adoption, it is first necessary to adapt the technology to the needs and desires of those who would use it. This means making it scalable and user-friendly and then creating unique incentives for users to use it. These will be best achieved by engaging a diverse, global community of developers, UX/UI designers, entrepreneurs and users. They should be able to express their visions for the future of a public blockchain platform with tangible means – tokens, apps, and code. Social media and digital content are becoming less relevant as vehicles of expression in a world where, thanks to blockchain technology, “putting your money/code/app where your mouth is” will become the default approach to support an opinion.

Blockchain 3.0 is about adapting to achieve sustainable adoption. Adapting existing technology to fit the needs of a diverse community is an important first step.

SEE ALSO: “2019 will be a continued reiteration of how people are using blockchain”

Community correctors

Encouraging community-led development can be a difficult task, but is absolutely invaluable to highlight and correct issues that arise with the technology. There are a number of ways to encourage community members to get involved.

First and foremost, it is absolutely essential to make the technology accessible to anyone who is interested in improving it or building on it. Having an open-source codebase that is free to access but that no one can understand is not helpful at all. To address this, documentation, guides, and tutorials must be developed and remain updated as time progresses. These can also be prepared and updated collaboratively, involving experienced community members and the team that developed the code originally. Currently, at æternity, both the developer and æpp teams are working on the foundations of these resources. The idea is to make them almost completely community-driven.

Second, it is important to make the community interact with the code and apps as frequently as possible. This could be done through code or app-related challenges or online hackathons. Incentives could vary, but tokens are usually the most preferred option. Distributing tokens to community members that have created value in the form of improved efficiency, functionality, or usability is a great way to build a healthy community. Expect a lot of these activities from æternity this year!

SEE ALSO: Blockchain evolution: New results require new models

Third, hosting meetups and empowering ambassadors are simple and effective ways to spread the word about your blockchain project and get users interested in the philosophy and technology behind it. Presenting engaging opportunities to individuals to become part of the community by contributing ideas, code, or any other kind of useful effort can also be effective.

Finally, bounties have proven to be an important community-building tool in the digital world. From bug reporting/fixing to creative contests and app ideas, bounties usually provide token-based incentives to a diverse, global crowd to do what they love and become part of a community.

One of the fundamental ideas behind Bitcoin and public blockchain projects is to identify and put to the test new methods of generating consensus on a global scale. After all, central to the mission of the technology is the empowerment of micro and macro-value creators around the world. Especially the ones who are unable to realize their full potential due to limitations imposed by major concentrations of wealth and power existing in the world today. In order to manifest this change, thorough consideration must be given to those who will ultimately use, improve, and benefit from the technology.

With new powers come new responsibilities. Cryptocurrencies and tokens are confirming the validity of this statement. Existing governance models are losing their attractiveness to citizens who are fed up with waiting years to provide feedback (voting cycles), inefficiencies, corruption, and lack of accountability. By providing modern tools that enable users to participate in the governance process directly and in real-time, one can ensure that project development will be led by a community in a transparent manner.

æternity’s governance mechanism is implemented via delegated voting, weighted by the number of tokens each account holds. It is a form of direct, liquid democracy that will give the community a voice on any relevant topic, including platform development. The æternity community will be able to formally provide its opinion on any topic using the native AE token and an easy-to-use mobile application. This is the future of decentralized governance.

SEE ALSO: The skills you need to develop to get a high-paying blockchain developer job

Potential fulfilled

For blockchain to achieve its true potential, it needs to inspire value creation in any form imaginable – ideas, visual creativity, code, content, and actions. As we begin 2019 and reach a critical point for blockchain – widespread adoption – blockchain 3.0 needs to recognize that a core team can only take a project so far. What is needed is an active community with a stake in the project that is empowered by a system of communication, collaboration, and creativity. To achieve this, it is imperative that documentation, guides, and tutorials are developed, while various activities rewarding engagement and value creation are organized. User-friendly governance tools should be made available on mobile devices and complemented by a new generation of communication tools that are private, secure, and user-friendly.

In the ten years since blockchain’s inception, we have seen several projects attempt to push their solution to the forefront and achieve mainstream adoption. Undeniably, the technology has achieved great success in this regard. But as the dawn of next generation blockchain is upon us, revolutionary ideas now need more than just conception, they need community leadership. Taking this approach will fulfill the goals that were laid out in the foundations of blockchain technology ten years ago and ensure that it reaches its full potential within the next ten. Or even sooner.

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Bitfury Enters Music Industry With Blockchain-Based Open Source Platform Launch

Blockchain and Bitcoin mining manufacturer Bitfury announced the launch of a dedicated venture to open source the music industry in a blog post on Jan. 16.

The spin-off, dubbed Bitfury Surround, aims to tackle the complex and often unfairly proportioned flows of revenue between artists, fans and middlemen using blockchain technology.

The post explains,

“The Surround platform will enable the entire music entertainment industry to streamline operations through secure transfer of copyright assets, streamlined connectivity as well as better monitoring and management systems.

Surround marks Bitfury’s ongoing expansion into various aspects beyond mining. Within the Bitcoin (BTC) ecosystem, meanwhile, this week saw the company bring off-chain payments via the Lightning Network to their first exchange environment via a partnership with Poland’s BTCBIT.

Prior to that, in December 2018, Bitfury revealed plans to launch a blockchain accelerator in Russia in conjunction with global consulting giant PwC.

“The music entertainment industry has evolved into a complex, competitive, technology-driven environment that suffers from a severe lack of transparency,” Valery Vavilov, CEO of Bitfury commented about the Surround project. Vavilov noted:

“We want to champion artists and help incentivize the growth of the entire industry through the creation of this open, blockchain-based ecosystem.”

Blockchain entities have sought to tackle music industry transparency for several years, with ideas such as a blockchain-based streaming service being revealed in 2018.

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McKinsey’s blockchain warning irks crypto hipsters • The Register

Blockchain companies are upset with management consultant McKinsey for pointing out the technology is stubbornly stuck at base camp after years of hype.

At the start of the year, McKinsey performed a reverse ferret on the much-hyped technology. Two years ago the expensive management consultant was promoting reckless abandonment.

“Ignore Bitcoin’s challenges,” we were urged, not so long ago. McKinsey itself predicted that “Blockchains have the potential to dramatically reshape the capital markets industry, with significant impact on business models, reductions in risk and savings of cost and capital.” (pdf)

But the latest report from the firm now makes for much more sober reading. Companies should only conduct a blockchain experiment if the need – a real world problem – is really there, and can’t be solved by more proven conventional technology, such as a database. There should be a clear ROI too. In most cases it’s a solution looking for a problem, the consultant advised.

“A particular concern, given the amount of money and time spent, is that little of substance has been achieved. Of the many use cases, a large number are still at the idea stage, while others are in development but with no output,” authors Matt Higginson, Marie-Claude Nadeau, and Kausik Rajgopal found.

“Despite billions of dollars of investment, and nearly as many headlines, evidence for a practical scalable use for blockchain is thin on the ground.”

McKinsey blockchain stuck

Click to enlarge

As evidence they have seen many projects stalling at phase 1, or being wound up, and startups with angel or Series A funding failing to get Series C funding. This is particularly evident in financial services, the sector which it explored it first.

“McKinsey’s work with financial services leaders over the past two years suggests those at the blockchain ‘coalface’ have begun to have doubts. In fact, as other industries have geared up, the mood music at some levels in financial services has been increasingly of caution (even as senior executives have made confident pronouncements to the contrary). The fact was that billions of dollars had been sunk but hardly any use cases made technological, commercial, and strategic sense or could be delivered at scale.”

It added that blockchain solutions required a dedicated network. The authors pointed to a few positives from the hype: the development of new protocols for collaboration between firms, for example.

Not surprisingly startups invested in the blockchain hype are sticking to their chains.

In a roundup of blockchain firms only good times lie ahead. HSBC claims to have paid out <Dr Evil voice> a staggering $250bn via the blockchain last year.

Yup, $250bn. The bank admitted that’s a very small amount of all its payments. It is progress, of sorts. ®

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More Oil Giants to Join Blockchain-Based Platform Vakt for Energy Commodity Trading

Chevron, one of largest American multinational energy corporations, and two other major energy companies have joined Vakt, a United Kingdom-based blockchain platform for energy commodity trading. Reuters reported on the development on Jan. 16.

Along with Chevron, Total, a leading French multinational integrated oil and gas company, and major Indian refiner Reliance Industries have become members of the Vakt platform.

The article stresses that the agreement is a step towards quicker and safer logistical operations. The Vakt platform, backed by JPMorgan’s Quorum blockchain technology, aims to become a digital transaction platform that would transform the oil business worldwide.

Thomas Waymel, the Total’s head of trading and shipping, underlined in a statement:

“Total has been supporting industry initiatives to digitize cargo post-trade processes for some time.”

Back last fall, the world’s leading oil companies such as BP, Shell and Equinor had agreed to unite with large banks and trading houses to establish the blockchain-driven platform Vakt for energy commodity trading, as Cointelegraph reported on Nov. 12.

Later in November, the first Vakt users were announced, among them the aforementioned BP, Equinor, Shell, as well as Gunvor and Mercuria, Cointelegraph wrote on Nov. 29.

In September of last year, a different blockchain-based platform for financing commodities trading was announced by a group of major banks and industry players, including Shell.

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A blockchain-powered DNA data marketplace will revolutionise​ precision medicine

Blockchain technology can power an open DNA data marketplace that drives a new wave of genomics research to transform precision medicine and …

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Animoca Brands Corporation Ltd signs deal to expand trading of blockchain-based digital assets

() has executed a term sheet for collaboration and an exchange of value with Exposition Holdings SEZC, the company overseeing the Worldwide Asset eXchange, or WAX.

Since its launch in July 2018, WAX has become the biggest blockchain in the world by transaction volume, with more than 5 million peer-to-peer trades of digital collectables every day.

WAX is like the Amazon or eBay of digital items and provides a ready market for item sellers and buyers.

Animoca is collaborating with WAX to drive mass-market adoption of blockchain-based collectable virtual items and to use WAX’s millions of daily transactions to expand the reach of its subsidiary Pixowl’s The Sandbox into the gamer community.

Growth in WAXtrade volume.

The Sandbox is a decentralised, community-driven platform where creators will be able to monetise digital assets and gaming experiences on the blockchain.

READ: Animoca Brands acquires Sandbox game developer Pixowl to drive blockchain technology

This is already a successful mobile franchise with 40 million installs, 70 million worlds created and 1.2 million monthly active players.

The blockchain version for mobile, PC and Mac is launching later in 2019.

Animoca will allow player-made non-fungible tokens (NFTs) generated in The Sandbox blockchain game creation platform to be bought, traded and sold on the WAX Marketplace, providing additional visibility and liquidity to their creators.

Incentivising users

The company expects that the option to sell and trade digital assets on WAX will boost The Sandbox users’ loyalty and incentivise them to generate more content, enriching the entire community and ecosystem.

Importantly, Animoca will collect a share of the revenue generated by every transaction on WAX that involves assets for The Sandbox.

READ: Animoca Brands subsidiary teams with Lympo to reward exercise

Animoca co-founder and chairman Yat Siu said: “The relationship with WAX expands the Animoca Brands network and boosts opportunities for synergy, enabling improved monetisation of our and our partners’ NFTs and other digital assets on a well-established e-commerce platform that is also the most transacted blockchain globally.”

The chairman said that Animoca’s digital items/NFTs sold on WAX would have a ready audience.

“People who create NFTs in the Sandbox can start monetising their creators and all the other NFTs we plan to sell in the future,” he added.

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