Indian Internet ‘Blockchain Committee’ Attracts Reps From Zebpay, MasterCard, Microsoft

India is getting a dedicated group for exploring blockchain expansion courtesy of the Internet and Mobile Association of India.

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) is forming a dedicated focus group for blockchain exploration made up of both big business and cryptocurrency players, Indian daily newspaper Economic Times reported Monday, Oct. 15.

Confirmed in a tweet Tuesday, the IAMAI, whose remit is to “expand and enhance” the online and mobile sector, will use its “Blockchain Committee” to “identify opportunities and challenges and work with government, industry and startups” to develop a blockchain “ecosystem.”

The move comes amid testing times for cryptocurrency in India, with the country’s supreme court still deliberating on the legality of the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) cryptocurrency banking ban it instigated in July.

Commenting on the plans, Tina Singh, chair of the newly-founded Blockchain Committee, said the technology was nonetheless “undoubtedly the technology of the future,” noting:

“The IAMAI Blockchain Committee will focus on creating dialogue between all stakeholders; curate and create content to aid skill development and move towards creating a participative economy with the usage of blockchain.”

Participants in the committee include major Indian cryptocurrency exchange ZebPay, itself a conspicuous victim of the central bank’s ban, having halted its exchange offering altogether late last month.

Other parties include representatives from MasterCard, Microsoft and IBM.

The RBI itself is also “researching” blockchain, sources reported in August, as part of an assessment process in which it would “check what can be adopted and what cannot.”

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Bank of America: Blockchain Market Could Hit $7 Bln, Will Give Boost to Amazon, Microsoft

The Bank of America has estimated that blockchain could be a $7 billion market and provide a major boost to corporate giants such as Microsoft and Amazon.

The Bank of America (BoA) has estimated that blockchain could be a $7 billion market and provide a major boost to corporate giants such as Microsoft and Amazon, CNBC reports Oct. 2.

While BoA’s analysts refrained from putting “a time stamp” on the industry becoming a major, multi-billion dollar addressable market, they reportedly based their estimates on a ballpark figure that two percent of corporate servers would be used to run blockchain at a cost of $5,500 annually.

BoA research analyst Kash Rangan told CNBC that the technology is well-suited to some of the world’s largest corporations, noting for example that:

“Amazon will benefit from incremental cloud services demand from Blockchain implementation, while improved supply chain tracking should make Amazon’s retail operations more efficient.”

Rangan emphasized, however, that while many potential use cases for blockchain have been widely recognized, “full products/services have not yet been built out and are not used in production,” leaving the technology’s capacity to generate real-world capital still unproven.

Rangan added that the innovation of distributed ledger systems could take so-called “software as a service” (SaaS) models to the next level by implementing “blockchain as a service” (BaaS). Rangan chose Microsoft’s popular blockchain-based Azure platform as a salient example, stating:

“BaaS on Azure offers services such as smart contracts and other third party apps, and should benefit as use of blockchain on Azure increases.”

Among other high-profile beneficiaries poised to benefit from blockchain, BoA included Oracle, IBM, Salesforce.com, and VMware, as well as major players from the real estate and mortgage industries such such as Redfin, Zillow, and Lendingtree.  

Notably, many of the firms recognized by BoA have already made major forays into the blockchain space.

Fresh data published late August revealed that IBM is vying with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for the top spot on a new list ranking global entities by the number of blockchain-related patents they have filed to date. This summer, tech giant IBM closed a seminal five-year $740 million deal with the Australian government to use blockchain to improve data security and automation across federal departments.

Microsoft, for its part, first announced the launch of its Ethereum-based Azure cloud computing platform as early as 2015, and continues to improve on the product. Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud platform this spring introduced a framework for Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric that allows users to build and manage their own blockchain-powered decentralized applications (DApps).

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Deloitte Outlines Five Major Obstacles to Blockchain’s Mainstream Adoption

Deloitte has outlined five major areas where blockchain needs to develop to achieve widespread adoption.

“Big Four” audit and consulting firm Deloitte has outlined five basic areas of development for blockchain technology in order achieve widespread adoption, according to a study published September 28.

According to Deloitte, in order to be adopted by enterprises on a mass scale, blockchain technology should overcome five major obstacles – the possibility of time-consuming operations, lack of standardization, high costs and complexity blockchain applications, regulatory uncertainty, as well as the absence of collaboration between blockchain-related firms.

Identifying the area that needs the most development, Deloitte singled out the problem of possible operational delays on a distributed ledger network. The company emphasized that slow transaction speed is one of the main reasons for many players to avoid considering blockchain as a technology that can be applied in “large-scale applications.”

Another major obstacle for blockchain on the path to widespread adoption is lack of standardization. Deloitte pointed out that the lack of standardization prevents technology disruptors from interact with each other. The consulting giant cites the fact that there are over 6,500 active blockchain projects on GitHub, with most of them based on different protocols, consensuses, privacy measures, as well as written in different coding languages.

Among the remaining areas for development, Deloitte listed the necessity to reduce both costs and complexity of network operations, the importance of innovation-supporting regulation, as well as the crucial role of collaboration between blockchain-related firms.

In terms of costs and complexity of the emerging technology, Deloitte referred to major technology giants such as Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft that have reportedly delivered less complicated implementations of blockchain by using cloud technology, as well as contributed to improving the costs of operations on blockchain.

Among the most complex issues around blockchain regulation, the company highlighted the difficulty of regulating smart contracts, which do not necessarily fit into existing frameworks.

The report’s final point stresses the importance of cooperation between blockchain-related firms in order to push forward the new deployments of the technology, as well as to provide better education in the sphere. The company says the increasing number of blockchain consortia, such as R3, is a “bullish sign,” because the “value of a blockchain network increases with the number of users.”

Last month, Cointelegraph published an interview with Jeremy Gardner, founder of Blockchain Education Network and co-founder of blockchain prediction platform Augur. In the interview, the industry expert claimed that in order to achieve mass adoption, those developing in the industry must “include the people who have the most benefit” from blockchain technology – namely the world’s disenfranchised – commenting that “we haven’t done a great job doing that, yet.”

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EU Antitrust Regulators to Rule on Microsoft Acquisition of GitHub by Mid-October

E.U. antitrust regulators will decide whether to clear Microsoft’s acquisition of hosting service GitHub by October 19.

Software giant Microsoft has requested European Union (E.U.) approval of its $7.5 billion acquisition of web-based hosting service GitHub, Reuters reported September 17. According to Reuters, Microsoft filed the request last Friday, and the decision will be made by October 19.

GitHub is an open-source coding website, a repository which hosts developers’ source code projects in a number of different programming languages and keeps track of any changes made. In 2017, the GitHub community reportedly reached 24 million developers, working with 67 million repositories.

With the acquisition, the company is looking to strengthen its cloud computing arm against American electronic commerce company Amazon. If the E.U. competition agency finds serious concerns regarding the acquisition, it can initiate a full-scale investigation.

Many users from the crypto community expressed concern that, following the acquisition, Microsoft would issue undue discretion regarding what was allowed to be posted on GitHub, with some suggesting a move to GitLab. Bitcoin core developer Wladimir Van der Laan tweeted:

In response to GitHub users apprehension that the portal would eventually favor Microsoft products, Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella reportedly said that GitHub will continue to operate as an open platform that deals with all public clouds.

Last month, Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure introduced a proof-of-authority (PoA) algorithm on its Ethereum (ETH) blockchain product, which will allow a “more efficient” way of building decentralized applications (DApps) for private or consortium networks, where “all consensus participants are known and reputable.”

In May, Amazon’s cloud computing arm Amazon Web Services (AWS) partnered with ConsenSys’ blockchain startup Kaleido to bring simplified blockchain cloud platforms to its clients. Kaleido is an ETH blockchain-based business cloud that provides businesses with ready-made blockchain applications.

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Cryptocurrency Mining Malware Detections Up Almost 500 Percent in 2018: Report

The tool that exploits Microsoft vulnerabilities to enable widespread crypto extortion has let malware proliferate this year, says a new report.

Leaked code targeting Microsoft Systems which hackers allegedly stole from the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) sparked a fivefold increase in cryptocurrency mining malware infections, Bloomberg reports Wednesday, September 19, citing a new cryptojacking report.

Eternal Blue, the tool which can exploit vulnerabilities in Microsoft software, is behind the now-infamous global cyberattacks WannaCry and NotPetya, which continue to cause disruption since they first surfaced in 2017. Bloomberg notes that Eternal Blue was allegedly stolen from the NSA in 2017 by a hacking group called the Shadow Brokers.

Hackers have since been using the tool in order to gain access to computers in order to covertly mine for cryptocurrency, with detections up 459 percent this year, according to the report from the Cyber Threat Alliance (CTA).

“Combined threat intelligence from CTA members show that this rapid growth shows no signs of slowing down, even with recent decreases in cryptocurrency value,” the company writes in a preface to its most recent report, stating:

“Because this threat is relatively new, many people do not understand it, its potential significance, or what to do about it.”

Cointelegraph has often reported on the emergence of crypto mining malware infecting user devices such as PCs and smartphones. Rather than Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH), it is privacy-focused altcoins such as Monero which are hackers’ preferred target, the report notes.

The uptick, CTA says, comes as such operations are becoming more “sophisticated.”

“Analysts have observed successful and widespread attackers ‘living off the land,’ or employing legitimate functionality to download and execute miners that would be more difficult for an observer or antivirus to detect,” the preface continues, highlighting the Monero mining campaign Smominru as an example.

The NSA did not respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment on the findings upon publication.

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Blockchain’s Popularity Among Large Enterprises Soared 11% This Year, Survey Finds

New research from fintech analysts Juniper House has found that blockchain’s traction with large enterprises has risen by 11 percent this year.

New research from fintech analysts Juniper House has found that blockchain’s traction with large enterprises has risen by 11 percent this year, according to a press release published September 11.

Juniper’s Blockchain Enterprise Survey: Deployments, Benefits & Attitudes (Second Edition) found that 65 percent of responding large enterprises – defined as those who employ a minimum of 10,000 staff – are “considering or actively engaged” in blockchain deployment, up 11 percent from the corresponding 54 percent figure last year.

Further data analysis shows that nearly a quarter of firms have moved beyond blockchain proofs-of-concept onto trials and commercial rollouts. The potential scope of the technology’s application has also expanded, with only 15 percent of firms’ proposed blockchain applications relating to payments – as compared with 34 percent last year.

The press release notes there has been “significant” interest in fields across logistics, authentication and smart contracts.

Even as Ethereum (ETH) has taken a battering on the spot markets recently, Juniper’s findings also reveal that nearly half of responding firms are planning to harness the platform’s token standardization potential to launch their proprietary dApps (Distributed Applications) on the Ethereum blockchain.

Among firms that had already invested over $100,000 in blockchain indicated they planned to spend “at least” the same sum in the coming year. Juniper noted that this demonstrates “largely positive” initial feedback on investment in the technology, sufficient for firms to bolster their existing commitments to pursuing its development.

Juniper research co-author James Moar is however quoted as pointing towards potential challenges posed by integrating blockchain into legacy systems:

“The findings illustrate the need for companies to engage in a prolonged period of parallel running new systems alongside the old, to iron out any issues that might arise.”

Interestingly, among the incumbent tech giants, IBM was found to be the most popular company for blockchain solutions – 65 percent of respondents named it as their “go-to” choice – outstripping rival firm Microsoft by almost 10 times, which scored 7 percent and was ranked second.

A major recent survey by “Big Four” auditor Deloitte found that among businesses faced with implementing legacy-constrained blockchain solutions, 74 percent of all the respondents to the survey said their executive team believes there is a “compelling business case” for their deployment.

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Microsoft’s Search Engine Bing Says It Will Ban Crypto-Related Ads By July 2018

Microsoft’s search engine Bing announced it will remove crypto ads from its network by July 2018 to protect customers from ‘bad actors’.

Microsoft-powered search engine Bing has joined other internet giants in announcing it will ban cryptocurrency-related advertisements on its network by July 2018, according to an official blog post today, May 15.

According to the statement, the main reason for the company’s decision to ban “advertising for cryptocurrency” and “cryptocurrency related products” is the current unregulated status of cryptocurrencies, which allegedly increases risk for Bing’s users:

“Because cryptocurrency and related products are not regulated, we have found them to present a possible elevated risk to our users with the potential for bad actors to participate in predatory behaviors, or otherwise scam consumers.”

As the report further says, Bing Ads tool plans to fully implement the ban worldwide between June until early July.

Bing’s crypto ads ban is the latest move in a search engine and social media crypto-boycott, initiated by Facebook in late January of this year. Google announced an analogous crypto ad ban in mid-March, and Twitter confirmed its own ban soon after.

Last week, multiple mainstream media outlets reported that Facebook is reportedly “exploring” the launch of its own cryptocurrency.

Earlier in April, the co-founder of LinkedIn told Cointelegraph that the recent crypto ad bans are, in his opinion, most likely “temporary” and due to the current absence of clear crypto market regulations.

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