Abu Dhabi Ports Subsidiary Tests International Blockchain Pilot with Port of Antwerp

A subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports has launched an international blockchain pilot with the Port of Antwerp.

A subsidiary of the major U.A.E. seaport operator Abu Dhabi Ports has launched an international blockchain pilot with the Port of Antwerp, global shipping news agency Hellenic Shipping News reports Oct. 15.

Following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Abu Dhabi Ports subsidiary Maqta Gateway and the Port of Antwerp, the companies will run a pilot of a blockchain project called Silsal. According to the project, both entities will handle international trade documentation by deploying distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The Silsal project is expected to provide full cargo visibility, as well as to improve trade flow and supply chains between the U.A.E. and Belgium. The pilot will test the potential benefits of blockchain technology, such as exchange, identification, and verification of cargo documents and certificates between the respective ports.

According to the report, the Silsal project was first revealed in June, 2018. The project was introduced in a number of operational phases, originally targeting freight forwarders and their customers. Eventually, the project was offered to the wider the trade community.

Headquartered in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi Ports company holds, manages and operates 11 ports and terminals in the U.A.E. and Guinea. The national maritime giant reportedly contributes 3.6 percent of Abu Dhabi’s non-oil GDP growth.

The CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Mohamed Juma Al commented that the recent pilot with “world-class international partners” instends to generate “fast, reliable, and secure” operations in the industry. He also added that Abu Dhabi Ports will “continue to work towards using blockchain,” as well as other technologies in Abu Dhabi to “transform the Emirate’s trade and logistics sectors.”

On Oct. 3, one of biggest ports of Spain announced plans to build a blockchain-powered “smart port” in the city of Valencia. The new technologies such as blockchain and big data are reportedly expected to reduce costs and time spent on maintenance, as well as to optimize global resource distribution.
In mid-September, the U.K.’s major port operator Associated British Ports signed a contract with digital logistics operator Marine Transport International to work on a blockchain-powered system of port logistics. According to the plan, the use of blockchain technology is expected to reduce time spent on manual management of data, as well as data exchange.

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Brazilian Presidential Candidate Uses Blockchain to Publish Government Plan

Brazilian presidential candidate Fernando Haddad has announced his campaign will use blockchain technology to distribute his policy positions and plans for the government.

Fernando Haddad, the presidential candidate for the Brazil Workers’ Party, has published his government plan via blockchain, per an announcement published on his website Oct. 14.

According to the release, Haddad decided to use blockchain technology for disseminating information about his presidential campaign after a long-term struggle with fake news reports. As information stored on a blockchain cannot be altered or compromised, he decided to store the data on a decentralized platform.

The release also notes that Haddad used “free software” in Sao Paulo where he served as mayor from 2013–2017. The software solutions monitored various city projects, including the municipal Master Plan “with the support of users through the internet.”

Haddad is not the only presidential candidate to apply the technology. According to crypto news outlet Criptomoedas Facil, other politicians that participated in the general election; Joao Amoedo and Marina Silva, also mentioned blockchain during their campaigns.

Silva proposed to create a “digital government,” storing all public data on a decentralized platform, while Marina used decentralized ledger technology (DLT) to register donations for her campaign.

In the first round of the 2018 elections, Haddad and his vice-presidential running mate Manuela d’Avila won almost 30 percent of the overall vote, but eventually lost out to far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro, who has previously expressed fond sentiments for Brazil’s former military regime, exceeded expectations at the polls, having ran a right-wing populist platform that promised a return to “traditional” Brazilian values.  

While he won the general election with almost 47 percent of the overall vote, Bolsonaro fell short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff election against Haddad on Oct. 28.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, the Brazilian government was considering to move popular petitions — an instrument that allows citizens to vote on different social matters — to a blockchain based on the Ethereum network. Officials wanted to create a mobile app that would allow people to submit their votes via a decentralized platform.

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Bitfinex Introduces ‘New, Improved’ Fiat Deposit System Following Last Week’s Suspension

Major crypto exchange Bitfinex has introduced an “improved” fiat deposit system shortly after temporary suspension last week.

Major crypto exchange Bitfinex has introduced an “improved” fiat deposit system, shortly after temporary suspension of deposits last week, according to an official blog post Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Last week, on Oct. 11, Bitfinex temporarily halted fiat deposits in four fiat currencies – the Euro (EUR), U.S. Dollar (USD), Japanese Yen (JPY), and Pound Sterling (GBP) – without specifying a reason for suspension and claiming that fiat deposits are “expected to resume within a week.”

Yesterday, October 15, the crypto exchange posted an update on fiat deposits, explaining that Bitfinex had “temporarily paused” fiat deposits for “certain user groups […] in the face of processing complications.”

The company also stressed that all crypto and fiat withdrawals were processing without any interference.

In today’s announcement, the Bitfinex team introduced a “new, improved and increasingly resilient” fiat deposit system.

The exchange claims the new system will again enable know-your-customer (KYC)-compliant customers “from around the world” to conduct deposits in the four previously suspended fiat currencies.

According to the statement, the new system will require users to process a deposit request, which will then be reviewed within 48 hours. The deposit itself, as Bitfinex states, will be processed “within 6-10 business days.”

The blog post also states that the minimum fiat deposit amount is to remain at $10,000, with a 0.1 percent processing fee.

Founded in Hong Kong in 2012, Bitfinex is one of the oldest and most popular crypto exchanges, currently ranked in third place globally in terms of daily trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap.

The company introduced fiat operations in 2015 in a move to enable traders to “enter the digital asset space,” as mentioned in a recent blog post published prior to fiat deposit suspension.

Last week, the exchange issued an official response to a recent swathe of online rumors that it is “insolvent” or facing banking issues. Bitfinex’s rebuttal came in the wake of last week’s reports that the exchange’s banking partner had lost both Bitfinex and affiliated firm Tether — who share a CEO, Jan Ludovicus van der Velde — as clients, among other reports.

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Australian State of New South Wales Mandates Land Registry Shift to Blockchain by 2019

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales is set to complete a proof-of-concept for a blockchain land registry system by summer 2019.

The government of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is set to complete a proof-of-concept (PoC) for a blockchain-based land registry system by summer 2019, ZDNet reported October 15.

The new PoC is expected to be completed by the NSW Land Registry Services – together with Stockholm-based blockchain startup ChromaWay – by early 2019. The NSW state government is said to have given its official mandate for the Registry to shift to the new blockchain-based eConveyancing system by July.

The NSW Land Registry Services maintains the system that defines the legal ownership of both public and private land across the state, according to the report. As of the start of the new financial year, according to ZDNet, all NSW property transactions will be required, under the government’s directive, to be stored digitally, eliminating the need for paper-based Certificates of Title.

In an interview with ZDNet, Land Registry Services CEO Adam Bennett pointed to “blockchain … systems [that] are being implemented in land jurisdictions overseas,” where, he said, “they are already delivering significant benefits.” He added that NSW would be making a series of “targeted experiments” in order to test “selected use cases” for the technology.

ChromaWay’s AP strategic advisor Nicholas Delaveris told ZDNet that a blockchain system offers “an incontrovertible chain of ownership,” which can not only be more efficient than paper-based methods but provide “a more complete and comprehensive view of land rights, restrictions, and responsibilities” by increasing transparency and preventing data duplication.

According to ZDNet, the NSW government has also implemented a distributed ledger system for digital driver’s licenses, which launched this September.

As reported this spring, the Netherlands’ Land Registry is also expecting to integrate a blockchain solution into its system for national real estate data “within one to three years.”  

In March of this year, Sweden’s land-ownership authority, the Lantmäteriet, said it was poised to conduct its first blockchain-based property transaction after two years of testing, having used ChromaWay’s private blockchain to register land and properties since July 2017.

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Fifth Largest Crypto Exchange Huobi Lists Four USD-Backed Stablecoins, Following OKEx

Major crypto exchange Huobi announces the listing of four fiat-backed stablecoins just one day after a similar announcement by OKEx.

Another major crypto exchange Huobi has announced the listing of four stablecoins at once, according to an official statement Tuesday, October 16.

Starting Friday, Oct. 19, the fifth largest crypto exchange by trading volume will start accepting deposits of four USD-backed stablecoins – Paxos Standard (PAX), TrueUSD (TUSD), USDCoin (USDC), and Gemini Dollar (GUSD).

The Huobi Global team noted that the stablecoins are already available on Huobi Wallet, while the launch time and other details are set to be announced at a later time.

Huobi also stated that they will release detailed plans for over-the-counter (OTC) trading of the stablecoins on Huobi OTC “soon.”

The move from Huobi follows closely on the heels of an almost identical announcement about the listing of the same four stablecoins by the second top crypto exchange by trading volume, OKEx, yesterday, Oct. 15. OKEx has already launched deposits in the four stablecoins, with withdrawals available starting from today.

Also on Oct. 15, blockchain trust company Paxos announced it had issued about $50 million worth of its stablecoin Paxos Standard Token. The Ethereum (ETH) blockchain-based stablecoin has received regulatory approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) on September 10, together with another stablecoin Gemini Dollar that was launched by Winklevoss brothers.

Yesterday, U.S.-based cryptocurrency payment processor BitPay also launched stablecoin support, enabling merchants to receive settlements in Gemini Dollar and Circle USD Coin (USDC).

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Ethereum’s Constantinople Hard Fork Faces ‘Consensus Issue’ in Testing

Recently tested Ethereum hard fork Constantinople has reportedly caused a “consensus issue” on a testnet, which will delay its launch.

An alleged “consensus issue” in the testing of a planned hard fork of Ethereum, called Constantinople, has caused a testnet to be “not usable,” according to a tweet from Ethereum blockchain infrastructure firm Infura October 13.

Infura’s tweet also advises developers to use other testing networks while the Ethereum developer community is “investigating” the issue.

As reported by multiple Ethereum developers the hard fork became active on the Ropsten testnet Oct. 13 at block 4,230,000.

However, the testing reportedly caused a “consensus issue on ropsten,” which led Ethereum developer Afri Schoedon to state in a thread of tweets following the test that there would be “no constantinople in 2018,” adding “we have to investigate.”

As a clarification following the strong statement, Schoedon noted Oct. 14 that at the most recent Ethereum core developers call, developers had agreed they would “not be able to activate Constantinople this year if there are any major issues on Ropsten.” He also added that the next scheduled call on the topic would be Friday, Oct. 19, telling the community to “stay tuned” until then.

The Constantinople hard fork is a system-wide Ethereum update designed to increase the network’s efficiency.

Earlier this year, Ethereum developer Piper Merriam opened an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) suggesting the idea of a possible Ethereum hard fork to invalidate ASIC miners, which are regarded as highly centralizing.

At press time, Ethereum is trading at $197, down about 1.5 percent over the past 24 hours.

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Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini: “99 Percent of Cryptocurrencies are Worth Zero”

An interview with Mr. Roubini about “buggy” smart contracts, Ethereum being a scam, why he might want to give the industry another try

The interview has been edited and condensed.

Nouriel Roubini is a New York-based economist that famously predicted the 2008 financial crisis when only a few considered there might be a threat to the existing course of events at the time.

A Harvard alumnus and now a professor at NYU Stern School of Business, Mr. Roubini has always been critical of the crypto and blockchain industry. Oct.11, 2018 he testified at the Congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., warning U.S. senators about “the mother or father of all scams and bubbles,” — crypto.

We met with Mr. Roubini during BlockShow Americas in Las Vegas and talked about why he doesn’t believe in smart contracts, thinks Ethereum is a scam, and the fact that he might want to give the industry another try.

On being “against” the crypto industry

“I’m not against [it], I’m open to any type of innovation, but I’m an expert on financial crises and asset bubbles. And I became famous [by] predicting the global financial crisis  — the burst of that bubble.

I can see a bubble when there is one — and to me, this entire space has been the mother and the father of all financial bubbles and now it’s [going to] burst

Last year, almost everybody I knew was asking me every other day, “Should I buy Bitcoin?”
And the price of Bitcoin doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and went to $20,000. And when that bubble burst, it collapsed — collapsed from $20,000 down to $6,000 today (at the time of the interview).

If you bought it at the peak, you lost 70 percent of your value. And it’s typical of all these financial bubbles: They go up until they collapse. And Bitcoin is actually the best [example], because the average cryptocurrency has lost, in the last nine months, more than 90 percent of their value.

I spoke about the bubble existing and this bubble going bust. And guess what? In the last year, [it] has gone bust. So I think I’ve been vindicated and proven right.

Bitcoin could go to the moon or zero, I’m not going to make a penny either way because I’m neither short or long.

And I’m just an academic that speaks his mind. And I saw a big bubble, and I think that it’s fair as an intellectual to discuss these things and then figure out what’s going wrong.”

To watch the interview go here:

On future price movement and Ethereum being a “scam”

“An academic study suggests that 81 percent of all ICOs were a scam to begin with; 11 percent of them have failed or have died; and of the remaining eight percent that is traded on exchanges, the top 10 have lost on average, in the last year, 95 percent of their value — more than Bitcoin.

So, there was a bubble — and everybody was riding the bubble, everybody was issuing an ICO, raising money — but now it’s gone bust.

I think that they’ve lost already 95 percent of their value and they could lose another 95 percent.

I would say 99 percent of cryptocurrencies are worth zero. Just because some people believe in something alternative to fiat currencies — alternative to gold — then, like collectibles, some people are going to hold some Bitcoin. Bitcoin is not going to disappear. But, you know, Ethereum is a bubble and it’s a bit of a scam — it’s worth nothing — XRP, all the other ones, they’re all going bust.”

Catherine Ross: Why do you think Ethereum is a scam?

It’s a scam because the technology. They talk about smart contracts — there’s nothing about them that is smart, they’re all buggy. They’re not real contracts because you have to enforce certain contracts, you cannot have just the code.

They’ve tried things that have failed: Their DAO was a failure.

You know, there’s a lot of people [who] talk about their DApps or their distributed apps. 75 percent of those apps are what? CryptoKitties, Ponzi schemes and other pyramid schemes, and other casino games, like Las Vegas. So, after a decade, what does Ethereum have to show us? CryptoKitties and Ponzi schemes? And that’s what they’re doing? They’re not doing anything that is of any use to anybody.

CR: But if a smart contract is a technology, — and you said “it’s buggy” — technology can be buggy and it can be fixed. Don’t you think we need more time to see the technology rise and smart contracts working better?

NR: I don’t believe, first of all, in smart contracts. By definition, any contract has to be enforced by lawyers — [there is nothing that is enforced] by itself. So, the idea that you put everything in a code in a contract is silly to begin with. And, you know, a typical other program has less than one percent of bugs in its code, and a typical smart contract has 10 percent of its code  is buggy [sic].

I mean, this is the reality where we are in now.

And by the way, the broader question about cryptocurrency is that they are not scalable, and there’s no system that makes them scalable; they’re not decentralized because the entire system is [becoming] centralized; and they are not secure because there are so many ways to hack them.

So, it doesn’t have any functions [it] should have: It’s not scalable, it’s not secure, it’s not decentralized. So, what is it worth for? With Bitcoin, you can do five transactions per second; with Visa, you can do 25,000 transactions per second.

They’ve [the blockchain community] been saying for a decade, “We are going to resolve it with proof-of-stake rather than proof-of-work.” It has not worked yet. And even if there was something scalable, it’s going to be centralized and therefore is not secure. So, there’s a fundamental flaw in the technology.

At least financial systems that we know are centralized, yes, but they’re secure and they’re scalable.  

They’ve been talking about fixing it, but Vitalik Buterin, who is the creator of Ethereum, said you cannot have a blockchain system that has three characteristic of the same time: being scalable, decentralized, and secure.

On trusting financial system

CR: Even after the 2008 global financial crisis, you still believe in the traditional financial banking banking system?

Traditional financial systems are centralized —  and there’s nothing wrong with institutional centralizing in my view. They [the blockchain community] criticize it, saying “We want it decentralized.”

But I prefer a centralized system with a trusted authority — but at least they’re secure and scalable.

There’s a lot of talk about decentralization: Miners are centralized as an oligopoly, coders are centralized, exchanges are centralized — as 99 percent of all transactions occur on a centralized exchange — and there’s a massive concentration of wealth. This is worse than North Korea in terms of income and wealth inequality.

The reality is just the opposite: It’s a totally centralized system.

[At the same time] there are many problems with the traditional financial systems. And I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the financial system. And I believe that there are ways to [democratize] finance and [to] make it more efficient, but this is not based on blockchain.

There is a revolution in financial services: It’s called fintech and it has zero to do with cryptocurrency and  blockchain.

Interview

It’s based on AI, machine learning, Internet of Things and big data. It’s revolutionizing payment system, insurance, credit allocation, capital market functions, and asset management.

Take, for example, payment systems: There [are] already plenty of digital payment systems — that do billions of transactions a day, and are used by billions of people around the world — that are not based on blockchain. In China, you have AliPay and WeChat Pay; in India, you have all these UPI systems; in Africa, you have M-Pesa; in the United States, you have Venmo, PayPal, Square — and so on, and so on. These are useful transactions.

With these models, you can do millions of transactions — and there are billions of transactions done by billions of people today. They are digital payment systems based on [the] traditional financial institution and fintech. They have nothing to do with blockchain. We don’t need blockchain, we don’t need crypto to [democratize] finance.

There is already a revolution: there’s going to be much more competition, there’ll be much more access. If you are a poor farmer in Kenya today, you are using M-Pesa. On your little smartphone, you can make transactions, you can borrow and lend, you can buy and sell your goods and services, you have a whole slew of financial services without the brick-and-mortar bank. And all these things are available to billions of poor people in Africa. What [do] they have to do with blockchain or crypto? Nothing, zero. So, there is a revolution and it has nothing to do with blockchain.

CR: The entire philosophy of the industry was to create a transparent system and create a new world from a financial system that you can trust, a financial system that thinks about a user, a client. So you think it failed to do what it was supposed to do?

NR: Of course, it completely failed: After 10 years, there is no killer app; the crypto assets are going bust; they’ve lost 99 percent of their value; all these experiments have led not a single corporation or single financial institution using this technology; and there is no reason why they want to use this technology. And why would you want [to]?

Why would I want to trust somebody in Russia or China to verify my transactions? It’s not safe. Why would I want to do it? There are central banks, there are corporations, there are institutions that have been existing forever that are based on trust — on the reputation. And I know what I’m dealing with.

I’d rather have those institutions verify my transaction rather than somebody in China who can manipulate everything I am doing. Why should I trust somebody while I don’t even know what the name is, who they are, what they do.

CR: So, you would rather trust a bank? How can you be sure that your money is safe?

NR: We have security laws. If a bank manipulates, there’ve been hundreds of billions of dollars in fines on the banks and their misbehavior — people ended up in jail. There are lots of problems with the traditional financial system: Blockchain and cryptocurrency do not resolve this problem. Fintech resolves it, but fintech has nothing to do with blockchain or cryptocurrencies.

I’m the first one who criticized the financial system, I’ve been writing about financial crises, I’ve been criticizing [the] banking system. I don’t believe that crypto or blockchain resolves any, any of the problems of our existing financial system, [and they] don’t resolve anything.

It’s just something for a bunch of self-serving people speaking about decentralization, speaking about freedom, speaking about [the] democratization of finance — and there is no democratization of finance, there is no more access to financial services through crypto or blockchain. There are other alternatives that exist out there, like M-Pesa, that are giving power and giving democratization of finance to billions of people in Africa. Those things have nothing to do with blockchain. I believe in those things.

I don’t believe in blockchain.

CR: I see your point of view, but just to be clear, the banking system has been around for centuries, right? So, maybe you should give the crypto industry and blockchain industries a try?

NR: No. I’m not giving it a try. I’m gonna give a try to financial innovation that changes the financial system.

All those things [mentioned above] —  they are revolutionizing finance, they are leading to competition, they are forcing the banking system to innovate or not survive, and they are changing the world. But they have nothing to do with blockchain. Why should I give the benefit of the doubt to something that has not provided any application which is used by anybody. I don’t believe in it and the proof is in the pudding.

CR: My last question is, have you ever tried trading cryptocurrency?

NR: I haven’t tried it. Some people say, “Oh, you are critical of crypto because you are shorting Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies.” I have zero position — I have no long position, no short position.

I may be right or may be wrong, but crypto could go to the moon to go to zero; I’m not going to make a penny out of it. I’m an intellectual. I’m an academic. I have no conflicts of interest.

My only thing is my own academic reputation. If I’m proven wrong, my reputation is going to be negatively affected. But I’m not going to make a penny. And therefore, I’m not going to take a position one way or another because if I take a position, I have a financial interest to talk down or up a particular cryptocurrency; and that’s not my interest.

I’m an intellectual and I’m not going to make money —  one way or another — out of it.

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Why Mastercard’s Multi-Blockchain Might Be a New Step in the Patent Race

What is a ‘subnet’ and how the financial services giant is going to partition a blockchain.

On October 9, American financial services giant Mastercard was granted a patent for a method to partition a blockchain so that it can store multiple transaction types and formats. The filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) reveals the details of the new system — not the first of the kind for Mastercard.

Why would you need to partition a blockchain?

Simply put, different blockchains store their transactions in different blocks — say, Bitcoin (BTC) uses one kind of system to record data on its blockchain, while Ethereum (ETH) opts for alternative metrics.

Now, imagine a company that wants to use blockchain technology to store different kinds of data or use multiple cryptocurrencies for their business. It will have to run multiple blockchains, because, as per the recent patent’s filing, the transaction records are “often required to be of the same format and include the same types, and sometimes even sizes, of data.” Consequently, this company will also have to be able to afford all the extra resources and computing power involved.

This problem might be caused by varying degrees of permissioned or open access of blockchains. On the one hand, there are non-permissioned blockchains that allow anyone to view record or be part of it — just like the aforementioned BTC and ETH with their public ledgers. On the other hand, they can also be permissioned — those require special permissions to read, access, and write information on them. They are more common among industry-level corporations, for whom security, identity and role definition are crucial.

Mastercard’s new patent claims the inflexibility of blockchains in terms of data formatting restricts the usage of permissions on permissioned blockchains:

“[…] an entity may want to operate a permissioned blockchain, where varying levels of permissions may be used for participation in the blockchain, such as by limiting the nodes that may add new blocks to the blockchain. However, because all transactions in a traditional blockchain are formatted similarly, the permissions may not be extended to access to the actual transactions in the blockchain … The patent authors say their partitioned blockchain could bypass such limitations and provide ‘enhanced usage of permissions’.

So how would that work?

Mastercard’s new system aims to expand blockchain’s utility by allowing blocks to receive data from “a plurality of subnets”.

“Subnets” are proposed partitions, which would be internally consistent but would interact in a wider, single system: “a subnet may have rules about data in a transaction record, the organization of the data, the size of each data value, and the hashing algorithms used in the formulation of the subnet’s merkle root.” Therefore, subnets would be able to receive information from different computing devices and allow to add data of any kind and size without following a standardized data format. However, the amount of subnets is limited, as the proposed system supports a maximum of three.

Not a first for Mastercard: ambitious plans for blockchain

Mastercard first applied for the above mentioned patent back in July 2016 — it is a time consuming process. The patent office publishes applications up to 18 months after they are filed, and it can take years to decide whether to grant patent protection.

However, the grant for a partitioned blockchain is just one of many for Mastercard. Its first blockchain-related patent was approved in November 2017 titled “method and system for instantaneous payment using recorded guarantees”. Since then, the company has come a long way in terms of studying the technology: according to IRP Daily’s August report titled “2018 Top 100 Global Blockchain Patent Enterprise Ranking”, the American credit giant is the third largest with a hefty 80 patent filings, surpassed only by Alibaba and IBM, which makes it a key participant of the potentially forthcoming patent war in the field of blockchain.

Just last month, USPTO published Mastercard’s series of three similarly-written patent applications, where the company argued that the distributed ledger technology (DLT) could significantly simplify business-to-business (B2B) transactions, noting that “21st century B2B collaboration sits on an unwieldy, unconnected and largely unchanged mid-20th century B2B payments platform”. Blockchain, in turn, as the patent authors argued, would store data in a system that is easily accessible by involved firms and is highly-resistant to forging.

Previously in July 2018, Mastercard filed a patent for consumer protection and payment transactions based on DLT. In it, the company described the form of a public blockchain-based method for linking assets between blockchain and fiat currency accounts.

Securing blockchain-related patents does not necessarily mean that the company will go on to create those new systems — whilst blockchain remains a relatively new field, some players just want to stake their claim before taking action. For instance, Bank of America — another top patent applicant — so far have prioritized having a registered technology over actually using it.

In 2016, Catherine Bessant, chief operations and technology officer at Bank of America, told CNBC that having blockchain-related patents is “very important … to reserve our spot even before we know what the commercial application might be.” Notably, those endeavors didn’t prevent the company from calling Bitcoin ‘troubling’ and uplifting its decision to ban customers from purchasing crypto.

The notable activity of Mastercard towards blockchain is backed by the ambitious statements, highlighting the company’s fundamental interest to the technology. In September, Ken Moore, the executive vice president and head of Mastercard Labs, told The Irish Times — on of the biggest Irish daily newspapers —the company’s Dublin-based unit was going “beyond the hype that surrounds new technologies such as blockchain to develop real, grounded services and products” that would be introduced the wider group. “This is not exploratory work for us,” he added, following Mastercard’s announcement that it plans to create 175 new jobs in Dublin with “new roles including blockchain specialists, data scientists and cloud infrastructure specialists”.

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Christie’s Auction House Leads Art World in Blockchain Tech

Christie’s recently announced the introduction of a system for recording art transactions on blockchain. The decision is just the latest example of how the tech is catching on inside of the art world. Leading auction house Christie’s announced a new system utilizing blockchain to encrypt the registration of art transactions for a November sale. The company is planning to sell a variety of major artworks from one of the most extensive privately-held collections of American art

The post Christie’s Auction House Leads Art World in Blockchain Tech appeared first on Bitcoinist.com.

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The European Blockchain Partnership Finds Europe Getting Serious About Distributed Ledger Technology

Why the European Blockchain Partnership proves Europe is getting serious about distributed ledger technology.

On April 10, 2018, 21 EU member states and Norway signed up to create the European Blockchain Partnership. Including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Ireland, they committed themselves to “cooperate in the establishment of a European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) that will support the delivery of cross-border digital public services, with the highest standards of security and privacy.”

Since April, a further five nations have joined the Partnership, with Italy becoming the latest to do so after it signed the Partnership’s Declaration in September. As a member, it has committed itself to helping to identify, by the end of 2018, “an initial set of cross-border digital public sector services that could be deployed through the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure.”

By bringing distributed ledger technology (DLT) to European infrastructure, the Partnership hopes to make cross-border services – such as those related to logistics and regulatory reporting – safer and more efficient. However, progress towards this goal has so far been slow and piecemeal, with the Partnership’s members having had only three meetings since April. Nonetheless, it retains ambitious aims, with the European Commission telling Cointelegraph that it wants the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) to become an international “gold standard” for large-scale DLTs.

Still deciding

So far, the Partnership’s mission is vaguely defined. While there was already agreement in April that it would work towards developing cross-border, blockchain-based public services, there is still no actual agreement on what particular services to hone in on and develop. The European Commission’s head of Digital Innovation and Blockchain, Pēteris Zilgalvis explains:

“The Partnership’s mission is defined in the Joint Declaration and it is on that mandate that we have to deliver before the end of the year. In the Joint Declaration the signatories committed to working together and with the European Commission in order to develop an EBSI that can support the delivery of cross-border digital public services in Europe. So the description of what this services’ infrastructure [EBSI] could look like is what we are currently working on.”

In other words, the Partnership’s membership is currently at the very early stage of negotiating just what kind of blockchain-based public services to develop. However, as Zilgalvis explained to Cointelegraph, it expects to have agreed on all the fundamental details by the end of the year, so that these can be used as the basis for actually building and rolling out distributed cross-border technologies.

“As stated in the Joint Declaration, by end of 2018 the Partnership must provide a set of use cases of cross-border digital public services that could be deployed through the EBSI, a set of functional and technical specifications for the EBSI and finally, a governance model describing how the EBSI will be managed.”

A global reference for blockchain

The Partnership and its members will therefore be busy for the rest of 2018, although it has only three more meetings left to hammer out the all-important details, having already had three meetings so far. According to Finland‘s representative to the Partnership, Kimmo Mäkinen, a senior advisor at the Department of Public Sector Digitalization, the most recent meeting took place on September 17. “This was the third meeting,” he tells Cointelegraph. “The main topic was to discuss about the most prominent cross-border blockchain use-cases that had been proposed by member states and by the commission.”

As for whether the Partnership will successfully decide on all the necessary parameters before the start of 2019, Mäkinen doesn’t offer confirmation. “We will have three monthly meetings by the end of this year during which we will have to agree not only on use-cases but also technical/functional requirements and governance model for European blockchain infrastructure,” he says, his use of “not only” implying that the Partnership has a more-than sizeable workload to get through before Christmas.

Still, even though three meetings and no particular end-product hardly counts as an impressive achievement, these meetings were positive for the Partnership. More importantly, they’ve revealed a strong commitment among its members towards developing blockchain technologies, as explained by Pēteris Zilgalvis:

“At these meetings we found that the Partners were extremely supportive of collective efforts to establish strong EU leadership in distributed ledger technology, drawing on the Digital Single Market framework, and that EBSI could play a very important role in achieving this objective.”

Indeed, it would appear that the European Blockchain Partnership is being used by the European Commission as a vehicle for the EU becoming a global leader on DLT.

“In the longer term, we would like EBSI to become a global reference when it comes to trusted blockchain infrastructures,” admits Zilgalvis, “a ‘gold standard’ infrastructure that is governed through a transparent multi-stakeholder organisation, meets the most advanced cybersecurity and energy efficiency standards, is scalable to accommodate different use cases, is highly-performant in terms of speed and throughput, ensures the continuity of services on the long term, integrates eIDAS (electronic IDentification, Authentication and trust Services) and supports full compliance with the EU requirements on data protection (General Data Protection Regulation) and network information security.”

So even if the Partnership hasn’t really achieved anything concrete yet, its significance lies in the fact that it represents a massive vote of confidence in blockchain technology. By committing to it, and by aiming to build “highly-performant” blockchain tech, the Partnership’s 27 member nations have effectively declared that they believe DLT is here to stay and that it has genuine applicability to a range of areas.

Separately, each member is for their own purposes interested in blockchain tech from a variety of different perspectives, further testifying to blockchain’s growing status as a promising new solution to a range of problems. “Finland is interested and curious of new possibilities that are to be presented by blockchain technology,” acknowledges Kimmo Mäkinen, “in order to boost cross-border services for example in matters related to document authenticity, data exchange and identity management.”

Implementation mode in 2019?

Of course, while there’s little doubt that the Partnership’s signatories are completely serious about DLT, there still remains the unavoidable question of when, exactly, it will produce and begin introducing the platforms it was set up to build. Well, despite there not being anything absolutely definite on this front, Pēteris Zilgalvis states that we may begin seeing actual output as early as next year:

“These deliverables [functional and technical specifications, governance model] will be addressed to the political representatives who signed the Declaration, and if approved, the Partnership could move into implementation mode in 2019.”

Once again, this time frame is ambitious. But even if certain differences of opinion may need to be ironed out between members before implementation can begin, the target of 2019 shows just how confident the European Commission is that the Partnership’s member states are on the same page with regards to blockchain, which is further indicated by them signing its Declaration in the first place. If the Partnership does indeed follow through with its plans and implements blockchain-based cross-border infrastructure, this will only have positive ramifications and knock-on effects for wider blockchain adoption elsewhere. All of which means that the future of blockchain adoption in Europe looks increasingly bright.

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