Lampix, an augmented reality (AR) startup, is building the world’s first blockchain-based “image mining” network. The company has embarked on the ambitious mission of developing one of the largest image databases.The database, which will be availabl…
London-based startup Colony is building an infrastructure based on the Ethereum blockchain that aims to revamp the way organizations and companies work and collaborate, promising to make human resources and project management more open, fair and efficient.
Think of Colony as the merger of Trello and Upwork, but running on a blockchain. Colony essentially brings the organization and human capital together onto a decentralized and transparent platform, and adds a monetary system that rewards freelancers and contributors alike based on their contributions to the success of the organization.
“Colony brings about a new ‘Nature of the Firm’ by significantly reducing both the transaction costs of the market exchange mechanism for labor, and trust required for people to work together,” Jack du Rose, co-founder of Colony, told Bitcoin Magazine.
“We see Colony as infrastructure for the organizations of the future. We believe infrastructure should be reliable and impartial; one organization should not be reliant on the existence or permission of another to operate.”
Instead of being managed by fallible individuals, “colonies” running on the platform harness the wisdom of the crowd to make sure that things get done by the right people and at the right time.
Each colony has its own token that represents a share of the ownership of the organization. Smart contracts are programmed to distribute ownership tokens according to the value each individual contributes. Contributors can later trade their tokens on the open market for cash.
Colony also comes with a reputation system that allows people to review and grade others’ contributed work. This system allows companies to choose the best candidates while enabling freelancers and experts to build influence and demonstrate their skills.
Colony: The “People Layer for the Decentralized Protocol Stack”
While Colony is building a reference client for its platform, the team very much thinks of the Colony protocol as infrastructure upon which other developers will build applications.
The Colony protocol, which is built as open-source smart contracts on the Ethereum network, is designed to enable developers to integrate decentralized and self-regulating division of labor, decision-making and financial management into their applications.
Du Rose described it as “the people layer for the decentralized protocol stack” and said he expects many companies and products to be built based on the software.
In the future, he hopes to see the protocol being integrated into a variety of applications. It can be used, for instance, to form the basis of a decentralized ride-sharing service, to handle claims in an insurance decentralized app or to provide the framework by which a merchants’ guild coordinates in a virtual world, he said.
Colony released its beta in February of this year. The Colony Beta allows teams to create their own “collaboration network” and combines task management with payments and tracking features.
These features include automated cryptocurrency payments; USD, GBP and EUR payments with Stripe; integrations with popular tools including Slack, Xero and GitHub; a reputation system and a voting system.
Du Rose said that the team’s immediate focus is to continue to build out the network and client library, and “get them in the hands of as many people as possible.”
He said that an ongoing part of Colony’s medium- and long-term goals is focused on polishing the platform and improving the software in order to increase blockchain adoption, “not just for developers building on top of the Colony Protocol, but for the Ethereum developer community as a whole.”
He continued, “We see many challenges to usability in [the] blockchain space, and we don’t believe we’re going to achieve mainstream adoption of blockchain technology until we are able to offer the same quality of experience as centralized services provide.”
Companies and organizations around the world are beginning to explore the use of blockchain technology in project management. Russian government–owned development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) is reportedly looking to launch a prototype for such a platform.
Speaking to Sputnik at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in May, the bank’s chairman, Sergey Gorkov, said:
“When we started to think about how to manage projects efficiently, we realized that there is no platform. Everything that we had became obsolete. We realized that the blockchain is a good fundamental and qualitative platform for the future. […] We have established a qualification center and a pilot project was launched. We are launching the first prototype in terms of project management this fall.”
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The infographic below breaks down the hows and whys, covering areas such as bitcoin usage, favorite alternative cryptocurrencies, bitcoin as an investment and its favorability compared to gold, user engagement, and payments with bitcoin.
Read a more thorough analysis of this infographic in Survey: Malaysians Warm Up to Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin Still on Top
The post Infographic: The Rise of Cryptocurrencies in Malaysia appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Investors in Malaysia are increasingly turning to digital currencies as these have become popular investment opportunities. While bitcoin remains the clear favorite, investors are also looking at other cryptocurrencies as well, including ether, according to a new survey conducted by Bitcoin startup Luno.
As part of a trend that signals rising awareness and adoption of alternative cryptocurrencies, 47.4 percent of Malaysian cryptocurrency investors have bought bitcoins and other “altcoins,” against 52.6 percent who have only bought bitcoins. Among the most popular altcoins, ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network, is the top winner with 56.4 percent of altcoin investors having bought the asset. Litecoin (7.4 percent), Ripple (6.5 percent) and Dogecoin (6.5 percent) also rank among the most sought-after coins.
“We’ve done this survey in a few other countries as well, so a lot of trends were similar across countries. Most of the results point to the fact that bitcoin adoption and usage is increasing everywhere,” Mriganka Pattnaik, Countries Associate at Luno, told Bitcoin Magazine.
Luno, which offers storage, exchange and transaction services, operates across Southeast Asia, as well as in Nigeria, South Africa and the U.K. In Malaysia, the company has over 100,000 verified customers.
Among the main reasons for buying bitcoins, Malaysian investors cited investment (44.7 percent) as the key motivation, followed by speed, affordability and convenience (16.3 percent), and trading/speculation (15.1 percent).
Investors are somewhat confident in bitcoin as an investment tool, with 48.8 percent responding that they trusted the digital currency, against 19.7 percent who said they didn’t.
Interestingly, over 55 percent of respondents said they checked the bitcoin price throughout the day, which “shows a high level of engagement with people who trade in bitcoin and is a positive sign for it,” said Pattnaik.
In Malaysia, a major drawback to bitcoin adoption is the lack of regulation surrounding digital currencies. Nearly 90 percent of investors said they would buy more bitcoins if the government passed some sort of laws around it, indicating that “regulation, when it arrives, will be a major boost for bitcoin and ensure that bitcoin trading reaches a new high,” said Pattnaik.
The sentiment is likely attributable to the surge of scams and Ponzi schemes that have recently emerged across Asia.
“There are several Bitcoin high-yield investment programs (HYIP), multi-level marketing (MLM) or Ponzi schemes that seem to have negatively affected customers in Malaysia, like MMM Global or BitKingdom,” said Pattnaik. “Customers lose their money investing in schemes that promise very high returns and they harbor a misconception about Bitcoin.”
Earlier this year, Indian police in Mumbai arrested 18 individuals associated with OneCoin, a massive Ponzi scheme promoted as a “cryptocurrency with a blockchain.” The scheme involved investing money in a “cryptocurrency” called OneCoin wherein participants were promised absurd returns.
The investigation recovered 245.7 million INR ($3.66 million) in nine bank accounts, but a further 750 million INR ($11.16 million) was transferred out before authorities were able to seize it.
Similarly, the UFun billion-dollar Ponzi scheme managed to lure over 14,000 investors from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and China before Thai and Chinese authorities began a crackdown on the people behind the scam.
UFun made money by persuading people to contribute to various investment plans as well as purchase so-called UTokens, a new “cryptocurrency” that promised unrealistic profits.
One such scheme that’s currently active across Southeast Asia, and particularly in Malaysia and Vietnam, is BitKingdom. Dubbed the “Malaysian MMM Global Ponzi clone,” BitKingdom solicits investment in bitcoin on the promise of a 120 percent return on investment after 20 days. A referral commission of 10 percent is paid when personally recruited affiliates invest funds.
Schemes like these have “tarnished the reputation of the Bitcoin industry as a whole,” said Pattnaik.
While the Malaysian government has so far remained silent on the subject of bitcoin and digital currency regulation, Luno continues to stay in regular contact with Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the country’s central bank and financial regulator. Pattnaik said that his company has delivered numerous training sessions and workshops to the authority on the subject.
“BNM has done a great job so far in taking the initiative to learn more about the [Bitcoin] industry and stop/prevent scams,” he said. “With regards to policy, [regulating bitcoin is] not a very easy thing to do. I can’t comment on when or how BNM will regulate the industry, but they are always in touch with us around this and we are more than happy to provide them with inputs.”
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Hyperledger, the open-source, cross-industry collaborative effort focusing on blockchain technology, has advanced the status of its Sawtooth and Iroha blockchain frameworks from “Incubation” to “Active” status.
The green light was given by Hyperledger’s 12-member Technical Steering Committee (TSC), chaired by Christopher Ferris, CTO of Open Technology at IBM. It followed an extensive review period during which each project was evaluated based on exit criteria that include legal compliance, community support, test coverage and continuous integration support, documentation, code reviews and more.
Ray George, senior director of PR at the Linux Foundation, told Bitcoin Magazine that “there is no difference [between Incubation and Active status] when it comes to how the projects are expected to run and how the TSC works with them to ensure a healthy community continues to be built.
“The most tangible difference is how this is presented to the public — not as projects whose communities are still finding their bearings, but as communities ready for new contributors and whose users can depend upon those communities persisting for the long term.”
Hyperledger Iroha, which was initially proposed by Soramitsu, Hitachi, NTT DATA and Colu, is a business blockchain framework inspired by Hyperledger Fabric. It was designed to be simple and easy to incorporate into infrastructural projects requiring distributed ledger technology, and aims to provide a development environment where C++, web and mobile application developers can contribute to the Hyperledger Project.
The modular platform allows organizations to build, deploy and run complex distributed ledgers, and includes a novel consensus algorithm, Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET), which targets large distributed validator populations with minimal resource consumption.
Sawtooth and Iroha follow Hyperledger Fabric, the first project to graduate in March 2017. These projects, alongside five others, all fall under the Hyperledger organization umbrella, which focuses on bringing together software developer communities to develop open-source blockchain and smart contract related technologies.
Projects currently in Incubation include Hyperledger Cello, a blockchain module toolkit; Hyperledger Composer, a set of collaboration tools for building blockchain business networks; and Hyperledger Explorer, a blockchain explorer for viewing, invoking, deploying or querying blocks, transactions and associated data.
Hyperledger’s Membership Expands
The news of Sawtooth and Iroha moving out of Incubation broke on Monday at Consensus 2017, a major blockchain-focused event taking place this week in New York, during which Hyperledger also announced the addition of eight new members, bringing its total membership to 142.
New members joining the Hyperledger Project include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Schroder Investment Management, AlphaPoint and Change Healthcare, one of America’s largest healthcare IT companies and the first healthcare organization to join at the top membership level.
Change Healthcare’s CTO, Aaron Symanski, will be joining the Hyperledger Governing Board, chaired by Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset, and consisting of representatives from 20 members of the Hyperledger membership.
“Blockchain [technology] is a promising and exciting new technology for secure online transactions,” said Symanski. “But it is crucial that healthcare leaders step up to champion innovation to help take blockchain [technology] from its early implementations to tomorrow’s healthcare IT solutions.”
In October 2016, Hyperledger kicked off a Healthcare Working Group to advance blockchain development in the healthcare industry. The group now has more than 425 technologists and executives representing the likes of Accenture, Gem, Hashed Health and IBM.
Another company that has joined the Hyperledger Project is FZG360 Network Co. Ltd., a leading real-estate portal and trading platform in China, which aims to “enhance the application of [blockchain technology] to a higher maturity level,” particularly in the area of real estate.
Hyperledger was founded in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation and counts among its members leading firms representing various industries including blockchain technology, finance, healthcare, the Internet of Things, aeronautics and real estate, among several others.
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Digital currency trading has exploded on eToro, an online trading and investing community. The platform, which currently supports bitcoin and ether trading, has reported significant increase in both the number of users trading digital currencies and the volume of digital currencies traded on the platform.
Over the last 12 months, eToro has seen a 4x growth in traders accessing the digital currency market. Volume of bitcoin and ether traded has skyrocketed 4,500 percent.
Mati Greenspan, senior market analyst at eToro, told Bitcoin Magazine that as digital currencies are becoming increasingly mainstream, the company expects a significant pickup in trading and would consider introducing new digital currencies on eToro, “though nothing is currently set in stone.”
“We are constantly reviewing our offer for traders and responding to demand on the platform,” he said.
For Greenspan, the rapid growth in the adoption and price of digital currencies “only marks the first steps on the long journey to establishing cryptocurrencies as a dominant force in forex trading.”
Bitcoin Price Hits All-Time Highs
Bitcoin price has risen over 18 percent this week. The digital currency is currently trading at an all-time high of $1,800 USD/BTC.
“The Bitcoin landmarks are coming thick and fast now. Crossing the $1,500 mark for the first time is an important moment for the asset. The rise of bitcoin this year has been remarkable,” said Greenspan.
Optimism in the market comes from recent news from Japan that over ten companies are planning to open digital currency exchanges in the country amid surging demand from investors and a favorable regulatory landscape.
“It seems that the tipping point for Bitcoin will come from Japan,” Greenspan said. “The Japanese government is actively trying to devalue the yen in order to discourage people from saving money. On the other hand, they’ve just made bitcoin a legal currency for savings and transactions. If you lived in Japan, what portion of your savings would you choose to invest in bitcoin?
“These kinds of real-world applications and incentives provide the scope for continued rises in the price of bitcoin. Expect more landmark moments to follow.”
In April, Japan passed a new law recognizing bitcoin as a legal method of payment. Bitcoin exchanges are now required to obtain a special license, and must comply with anti-money laundering/know-your-customer requirements. Starting in July, Japan’s consumption tax will no longer apply to purchases of digital currencies.
Optimism was also encouraged by renewed hope that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could approve the bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposed by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.
The SEC is currently reviewing its earlier decision to reject the bitcoin ETF. The proposal involves listing the ETF on the Bats BZX exchange, one of the largest U.S. equities market operator.
Bats filed a notice of petition to review the SEC decision, which was accepted on April 24.
“The recent debate over whether to introduce a bitcoin ETF, for example, is the sort of news that will continue to put previously mysterious cryptocurrencies on the map among traders,” said Greenspan.
Trader sentiments toward both Bitcoin and Ethereum have remained consistently bullish on eToro. Bitcoin has seen 15 consecutive months of over 80 percent of bitcoin traders buying the asset, whilst sentiments toward Ethereum have been even higher with well over 90 percent of ether traders buying the asset since its launch on the eToro platform in March this year.
The price of ether rose 566 percent in the past three months, surging from $15 per ether in March to cross the $100 mark last week.
eToro is a social trading and multi-asset brokerage company with offices in Cyprus, Israel and the U.K. Serving over 4.5 million users, eToro provides a marketplace for people to trade contracts for differences (CFDs) in currencies, stocks, commodities, indices and ETFs.
Its patented CopyTrader technology allows users to copy the trading strategies of the platform’s most successful traders.
eToro launched bitcoin trading in early 2014.
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