Stellar Announces Partnership Grant Program for Blockchain Development

Stellar Announces Partnership Grant Program for Blockchain Development

Stellar has announced a new initiative called the Stellar Partnership Grant Program. The program aims to “promote the development of high-impact projects in the Stellar ecosystem,” Stellar explained in a statement.

Jed McCaleb, Stellar co-founder and CTO, told Bitcoin Magazine, “Our overarching mission is to use the Stellar network to increase financial access globally and in particular to the more than 2.5 billion unbanked people in emerging markets across the world. The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) works mainly with licensed and regulated partners, such as banks, fintech startups and remittance companies. However, the Stellar protocol is a foundational and open technology usable by anyone.”

As for the partnership program, itself, Stellar will be accepting proposals from “leading organizations that are interested in building upon Stellar’s technology to improve the financial landscape and promote financial inclusion,” Stellar stated. Stellar will then grant select partners up to $2,000,000 USD per grant. This sum will be paid in Stellar Lumens coin, XLM, “ensuring the recipients are co-beneficiaries of network growth.”

As for who the program’s target will be, McCaleb said, “We are currently working with corporate entities like Deloitte and ICICI Bank, but with our partnership grant program, we’re really excited about tech-forward money transfer operators, and more generally, tech-forward non-bank financial institutions.”

“We’re looking to bring on quality long-term global partners that provide low-cost financial services, such as banking, micro-payments, and cross border payments and remittances to underserved markets that have large remittance flows,” McCaleb said. “These partners will be oriented around using the Stellar network as an integral part of their payment structure.”

Stellar has a history of encouraging development on its platform. The Stellar Build Challenge has been actively seeking out and funding new developments using their technology including wallets, ICOs, remittance applications, and much more. So far it has held four Build Challenges and awarded prizes to dozens of projects. Submissions for the final Build Challenge of 2017 are due on November 15.

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BNP Paribas and BNY Mellon Team Up with the Chamber of Digital Commerce

BNP Paribas and BNY Mellon team up with CDC

The Chamber of Digital Commerce (CDC) has announced they are adding two major international banks, BNP Paribas and BNY Mellon, to the Chamber’s Executive Committee.

The CDC is the world’s leading blockchain trade association. Through education and advocacy, it aims to develop a legal environment that fosters growth, innovation and investment in blockchain technology. Other members on the Chamber’s Executive Committee include IBM, Microsoft and BitGo.

The CDC and its Executive Committee members have a mutualistic relationship. In a recent conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Perianne Boring, Founder & President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, explained, “Executive Committee members play an active role in helping set the priorities of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. The Chamber oversees a number of working groups and initiatives that are working to promote the acceptance and use of digital assets and blockchain based technology. We strongly encourage all of our Executive Committee members to participate in as many of these valuable opportunities as are consistent with their interest.”

BNP Paribas has a widespread international presence. Based in Europe, BNP Paribas has operations in 74 different countries. It specializes in three main aspects of banking: Domestic Markets, International Financial Services, and Corporate & Institutional Banking.

Sadia Halim, Managing Director at BNP Paribas, said in a recent statement, “Blockchain technology has the potential to change the way banks work. It presents many advantages such as more transparency, traceability and security for our clients. BNP Paribas continues to explore various possibilities with the blockchain technology and other innovative tools and looks forward to working closely with the Chamber and its members.”

BNY Mellon, the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, provides financial services for institutions, corporations and individual investors in 35 countries. Recently, BNY Mellon created BDS 360, a test system that creates a backup record of brokerage transactions and is powered by blockchain technology.

Alex Batlin, Global Head of Emerging Business & Technology and Global Blockchain Lead of BNY Mellon, said in a statement about the addition to the committee, “Blockchain technology is the future of the transactions in the financial industry. Active innovation in these early stages is crucial to identifying and creating the most effective and beneficial implementations. BNY Mellon is proud to be a vocal advocate for distributed ledger technology and we look forward to collaborating with the Chamber.”

The CDC is gaining even more momentum as a large presence in the blockchain technology and digital asset field. “BNP Paribas and BNY Mellon are new and valued relationships,” said Boring. “There are other major banks in the process of joining the Chamber’s Executive Committee as well. We see this high level participation as a sure sign of the value and accelerating pace of adoption of the blockchain, especially in the financial sector.”

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Coin Center to Congress: Give Blockchain Developers “Safe Harbor”

Coin Center goes to congress

Coin Center was invited to present testimony on Thursday to both the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection and the House Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance. They explained to both subcommittees the role that digital assets play in the world, what the future of the sector may look like, and how regulators could interact with the sector in a way that protects both the consumers and the innovators and encourages businesses in the industry to reside in America.

Peter Van Valkenburgh, director of research at Coin Center, spoke to the House Subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection. He explained to the subcommittee the revolutionary role blockchain technology is playing in the world around us. “Just as the PC democratized computing, and the web democratized news and entertainment, open blockchain networks are democratizing financial services.”

Van Valkenburgh, however, drew a stark contrast between the regulatory safe harbors given to early internet innovators, specifically the Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and what little is being done to protect blockchain technology innovators today.

“Both laws created safe harbors for infrastructure-building businesses,” noted Van Valkenburgh. The laws protected the creators of the internet’s infrastructure from third-party liability stemming from the users of that infrastructure.

In a conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, Van Valkenburgh gave the example of Google. Google isn’t liable for a user who illegally downloads pirated material from a website whose link popped up on their search engine. This is because of the aforementioned Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provided a safe harbor and allowed Google to continue to build the infrastructure of the internet (in this case, a search engine) free from crushing copyright liabilities.

A similar distinction should be drawn when it comes to regulating innovators in blockchain technology, Van Valkenburgh noted in the conversation. There are two main entities innovating in the space: custodians who hold the valuable digital assets for consumers, and developers who are building the infrastructure of blockchain technology, but who don’t hold consumer funds. “These very different entities,” said Van Valkenburgh, “should be regulated in very different ways.”

An example of a “custodian” would be Coinbase, who regularly holds a consumer’s bitcoin, ether or other digital assets. An infrastructure developer would be more like a software wallet developer, who simply creates a tool with which a consumer can interact with the blockchain, safekeep their own digital assets and send transactions. The wallet developers themselves don’t exercise any control over their users’ digital assets.

The infrastructure developers, Van Valkenburgh points out, should not then be regulated as money transmitters who must get licensed state by state before starting their business. Their role is just to create portals and pipelines through which the transactions can flow, not to direct or control the transactions themselves. If the developer were found to be misleading the consumer with his/her software product, then ex-post-regulatory punishment may be appropriate, but again, there should not have to be a permission process that precedes these developers’ endeavors.

When it comes to the custodial financial services, much of the regulation, and therefore protection for innovators, is at the state level. This makes it complicated for innovators to be based in the U.S. because of the plethora of different regulators in the space. Each regulator has the ability to affect how an innovator in blockchain technology operates.

Van Valkenburgh said in his statement to the subcommittee, “In order to reestablish the U.S. as a leader we need to rationalize the chaos of financial services regulation, starting with state-by-state money transmission licensing.”

These custodial services, the ones holding a consumer’s value, should be regulated, argues Van Valkenburgh, but they should not have to repeat a licensing process 50 or more times over. Because of that costly barrier to entry, someone innovating in the space today would be best-advised to leave the U.S. and start their business in a country with simpler regulatory structures. We must regulate at the federal level if we want a simpler licensing process.

Bitcoin and Terrorist Financing

On the same day, Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, joined a panel to discuss with the United States House of Representatives Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance any national security implications of these financial innovations.

Brito explained to the subcommittee, “[Bitcoin] is open to bad actors who take advantage of it. Criminals certainly use it today, and we have begun to see some nascent interest from terrorist groups. According to a recent report on the potential of terrorist use of digital currencies by the Center for a New American Security, however, ‘Currently there is no more than anecdotal evidence that terrorist groups have used virtual currencies to support themselves.’”

Brito views the infancy of interest by these bad groups as an opportunity to get in front of the problem. “This means there is time to develop an appropriate response to the possibility; a reasoned response that targets the threat while preserving the freedom to innovate.”

The main take-home message from this meeting, however, was that, as Van Valkenburgh explained in his conversation with Bitcoin Magazine, there doesn’t actually appear to be much use of digital currency in the funding of terrorism. In fact, it is a bit unwieldy for terrorists to use because of the public nature of the distributed ledger. However, this shouldn’t stop the U.S. from developing solutions to curb the use of digital currencies by terrorists.

What Coin Center wanted these subcommittees to understand, at the end of the day, is that digital currency is here to stay. It cannot be destroyed. The technology is neither bad nor good, but instead is a new tool at the disposal of anyone with a computer. To ignore the technology is to allow other countries to take the lead in adopting and incorporating it, and gaining the benefits of it in the process.

Beginning the process of effectively and sensibly regulating digital currency is a must if the government wants to derive any benefits from its existence and prevalence.

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Bcoin Protocol Gets Major Development Funding With New Agreement

Purse Introduces New Bcoin Protocol Agreement

Purse has announced a new agreement with Bitmain Technologies, F2Pool, Bitcoin.com and Bixin that will allocate millions of dollars to its bcoin protocol development.

When working with Bitcoin, decentralization is king. Purse CEO Andrew Lee, through bcoin, extends that logic to the Bitcoin protocol itself.

“For Bitcoin to take off, we need multiple implementations with even market share,” Lee explains in a Medium post. “Decentralizing protocol development will lead to multiple clients, diverse communities, more developers, better security and more innovation.”

So what is bcoin? Put simply, Bitcoin was written in C++ coding language, which has a steep learning curve and remains a bit out of reach for many developers. Bcoin helps to solve that problem by re-implementing Bitcoin in Javascript, a much more widely used language. This opens the door for more innovation in Bitcoin because more developers will be able to create apps and protocol improvements in Javascript instead of the more complex C++. In October of 2016, Purse announced that it would be running its online market service on top of bcoin.

An important feature of this new agreement is that the participants will gain no equity in any of the projects that arise from the funding. “Bitmain, Bitcoin.com, Bixin and F2Pool donated funds for a non-equity stake to specifically help with supporting the development of multiple implementations. Similar companies also donated to Parity (who is working on a Rust implementation of Bitcoin). The more client diversity Bitcoin has, the better,” explained Steven McKie, head of Growth & Product Content at Purse, in correspondence with Bitcoin Magazine. “Bcoin remains an independent project.”

As for how the funding will be allocated, McKie explains, “The funding will help directly with onboarding and training new developers to commit to the bcoin full-node implementation, open-source project.”

The timing of this announcement is important as it comes almost immediately after the announcement of the 2MBHF + SegWitSF agreement. According to McKie, “Bcoin will work to implement support for the 2MBHF + SegWitSF proposal into the codebase as we stated in our support for the proposal.” This funding agreement will go a long way toward helping that initiative.

“Bcoin is built for modularity and for developers to quickly be able to start utilizing Bitcoin’s robust global network and start hacking together useful tools and applications. Our full node is built on a stack that is attractive to as many developers as possible (node.js). Bcoin has support for all of Bitcoin’s latest features; it’s secure and production-tested by companies like Purse, BitPay, Bixin, Ripio and Bitwala — with more to come.”

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EEA Adds New Members to Boost Future Ethereum Innovation

Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Expansion Announcement

The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) has announced that 86 new members have joined the initiative that aims to bolster innovation around the Ethereum blockchain. The EEA, founded by corporate giants such as Microsoft, Intel and BP, views the Ethereum blockchain as a potential treasure trove of innovative opportunity.

Ethereum cryptocurrency founder Vitalik Buterin has praised the EEA, saying, “The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance project can play an important role in standardizing approaches for privacy, permissioning and providing alternative consensus algorithms to improve its usability in enterprise settings, and the resources the project and its members are contributing should accelerate the advancement of the Ethereum ecosystem generally.”

There are some more big names jumping into the alliance, joining Santander, ConsenSys and BlockApps. Some new members include Deloitte, Samsung SDS and the National Bank of Canada: all looking to build, promote and support Ethereum-based technology.

Deloitte is not new to Ethereum. Eric Piscini, Deloitte’s Global Blockchain Financial Services leader, said in a statement, “We have been investing on the Ethereum platform for a while. We are excited to actively contribute to the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and drive blockchain adoption globally.”

Kwang Woo Song, vice president of Distributed Ledger Technology Business Group at Samsung SDS, stated, “As a company whose key focus and experience is in delivering solutions for enterprise business, joining the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance was a clear decision for us. Ethereum is one of the fastest growing blockchain technologies, with potential to provide exceptional benefit to enterprises.”

“The enthusiasm around EEA is remarkable,” said Julio Faura, the chairman of EEA. “Our new members come from varying industries such as pharma, mobile, banking, automotive, management consulting and hardware, as well as the startup community driving innovation. It’s great to see everyone come together and build the next generation of our economy on Ethereum blockchain solutions.”

Companies joining the EEA in this announcement include names like Elevondata Labs Inc., Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Hashed Health, Gem and Ledger. The collaborative efforts that may arise among the membership could lead to giant leaps in the Ethereum blockchain technology and a groundswell of supportive infrastructure that should solidify Ethereum as a staple in the blockchain marketplace.

There is amazing potential for Ethereum and smart contracts in healthcare. Hashed Health is excited to work with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance on defining and developing enterprise-grade solutions that can safely and securely handle the complexities of the evolving healthcare marketplace. – John Bass, Founder & CEO, Hashed Health

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