Blockchain-Based Remittance Companies Win at RemTECH Awards Ceremony

RemTech Awards

The global remittance industry’s blockchain-based startups got a boost recently at the Remittance Technology (RemTECH) awards held at the United Nations in New York, from June 16 to 18 as part of the UN Global Forum on Remittances, Investment and Development.

Of the 11 award-winning remittance companies, five startups built on the blockchain were winners. The entries were judged on price, speed, the onboarding of enterprise clients (for white label solutions) and seamless delivery.

The aim of the RemTECH awards is to showcase the most innovative and outstanding ideas, models and projects designed to improve remittance services worldwide by improving transparency, speed, cost and reliability for companies and end-users that send and receive remittances.

Hugo Cuevas-Mohr, Director of the RemTECH Awards, told Bitcoin Magazine:

“Even though large money transfer companies still don’t see the importance of the breakthroughs of blockchain-based and Bitcoin remittance startups, the RemTECH Judging Panel was impressed by some of the solutions presented by companies like Bitso and Everex, just to name two of them.”

“The Awards gave new blockchain startups a chance to shine in the spotlight of the United Nations Forum where the public and private sector met to discuss the challenges of the remittance industry. At IMTC (International Money Transfer Conferences) we are striving to create this dialog of incumbents and fintech firms to work together and create win-win partnerships. It’s not easy but it is happening,” added Cuevas-Mohr.

Bitcoin and blockchain services AirPocket, Bitso, Everex, Moneytis and Trulioo took home the following awards:

Remittances and Financial Inclusion: AirPocket

AirPocket, built on the Bitcoin blockchain, serves Latin America with tens of thousands of payout locations and is supported by the top banks in each country.

Pioneering Spirit: Bitso

Mexican bitcoin exchange Bitso, which raised $2.5 million last September, has been working with Canadian payments startup Paycase to create a new remittance corridor between the two countries and send funds from bank accounts in Canada to Mexico.

Most Innovative Service: Moneytis

Bitcoin blockchain-based Moneytis aims to offer the lowest possible fees to help empower unbanked groups in the developing world. They also have a notification service that monitors all exchange rates in real-time and sends alerts when a significant change happens.

Potential for Growth: Trulioo

Trulioo is a Canadian blockchain-based financial technology company that in addition to remittance services, offers identity verification services for businesses and organizations worldwide using government and private databases.

Service Originality: Everex

Everex was the only Ethereum-based platform nominated. In addition to its contributions to remittance services, Everex has also developed a system for placing national currencies on the blockchain. By doing so, Everex allows people living in cash-based societies to earn a public financial reputation.

“The judges knew about Ethereum, and were excited by the ongoing experiments taking place on the network by individual users, small businesses and multinational corporations,” said Alexi Lane, CEO of Everex, in a statement. “This technology will transform the remittance industry and increase financial inclusion everywhere.”

Greta Geankoplis, a blockchain systems developer and IMTC (International Money Transfer & Payments Conferences) advisor, co-chaired the judges panel. She told Bitcoin Magazine:

“Blockchain (and some Bitcoin specifically) platform-based companies competed shoulder to shoulder with older technology for delivering cross-border value to diverse customers in widely varying environments.

But this is just the beginning. Blockchain platforms in the $700 billion remittance industry holds the promise of leveraging many other needed services in the fastest growing markets: mobile based, micro insurance, loans, education, and remote healthcare to name a few.”

Other blockchain-based companies that were nominated for a RemTECH award included Bitex, Cashaa, DigitalX and OKLink.

The post Blockchain-Based Remittance Companies Win at RemTECH Awards Ceremony appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Continue reading…

 

Samson Mow Introduces Liquid Networks at Blockchain Forum in Canada

Samson Mow Introduces Liquid Networks' at Blockchain Forum in Canada

Blockstream’s Samson Mow and Paycase’s Joseph Weinberg unveiled the Liquid network yesterday at the Blockchain Association of Canada’s Government Forum in Ottawa, as a step forward in the ongoing Bitcoin scaling debate.

The Liquid network is a federated sidechain designed to provide new features and benefits to exchanges, users, and businesses by leveraging a sidechain which will process transactions more quickly and efficiently than the main Bitcoin blockchain.

Sidechains like Liquid Networks offer automated real-time audit, a secure open protocol, and unforgeable secure tokens, all of which can be used over the open internet.

Samson Mow, Chief Strategy Officer with Blockstream told Bitcoin Magazine:

“There’s a preference from some people to scale on-chain with block size increases, but that’s a technical dead-end. Scaling off-chain with sidechains means leveraging proven technology that’s already available, and will be far superior to static blocksize increases for trivial on-chain scaling gains.”

Mow explained:

“Sidechains allow for new innovations in security models and features, plus the added benefit of faster and more cost efficient transactions – if more businesses were utilizing sidechains for use cases involving recurring transactions, they would take some pressure off the main Bitcoin blockchain.”

He noted that there are strong indications that cryptographic federations and sidechains in general are a good solution to better distribute networks that currently hold the potential for centralized systemic risk.

“In the case of Liquid, it will also improve bitcoin interchange liquidity, and accelerate trading and security for a large percent of today’s global and currency-paired BTC trading,” added Mow.

Mow explained that Liquid Networks or “Liquid” represents a point-to-point sidechain that provides near-instant, secure transfer of assets (bitcoin initially), all while user and exchange environments remain separate from the movement of the underlying value.

Paycase CEO Joseph Weinberg told the audience that they have been working with users, enterprises, financial institutions and others on solutions that leverage strong federations.

Weinberg told Bitcoin Magazine:

“Sidechains become even more interesting when you have multiple sidechains from an interoperability perspective. As you tokenize the world, you see this marketplace of all assets being liquefied and then rapidly traversed, similar to how currents move liquid water around the world.

“It’s this frictionless flow and interoperability that our economy here in Canada and our geo-political and economic partners around the world are really well positioned to adopt and champion into the mainstream.”

Samson Mow Introduces Liquid Networks' at Blockchain Forum in Canada

Strong Federations and Sidechains

In order to function, a Liquid Network requires explicit trust of a group of parties, governance guarantees whereby you have rule adherence and a network of many participants responsible for network consensus.

While accelerating trading in bitcoin, this system will build an infrastructure that leads to a “trustless” exchange for users.

Best use cases include cryptographic assets, central bank currency issuance, land titles/registries, credit issuance and settlement between large institutions.

Mow noted that what Lightning Networks can do for smaller transactions, the Liquid Network can do for larger transactions between companies and exchanges.

Currently, Liquid Beta participants include Bitso, Bitfinex, Bitt, BTCC, Coins.ph, Streami, Paycase, The Rock Trading, Unocoin and Zaif. Discussions continue with other partners.

Bank of Canada Is Interested in Liquid Networks

While in Ottawa, Mow and Weinberg met with representatives from the central Bank of Canada. Weinberg told us:

“We met with the Bank of Canada and had some great discussions with them about blockchain technology, and use cases and systems like Paycase’s cross-border transaction platform Traverse and Blockstream’s Elements platform.

“There is a sense that the media misrepresented the Bank’s recent comments on the Jasper experiment, which was actually a well-balanced and accurate assessment of the technologies they’ve trialed to date. I think they’re still very much interested in evaluating blockchain technology.”

Weinberg added: “We are also working on other sidechain initiatives that leverage strong federations and confidential assets via the elements project both in Canada and globally that require multi-participant governance guarantees and explicit trust.”

He added that they are excited going forward, not just about Liquid Networks but the whole interoperation and weaving of different technology stacks in the ecosystem to enable new use cases and leverage all the great layers of the blockchain stack that are being built around the world.

The post Samson Mow Introduces Liquid Networks at Blockchain Forum in Canada appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Continue reading…

 

Netki’s Digital ID Service Tackles Global Compliance Challenges

Netki Digital ID Tackles Compliance

Netki, the New York–based software startup, wants to make blockchain technology more user friendly by launching its new universal Netki Digital ID service, so that anyone can access services on blockchains without re-validating their ID at every stop. The Netki Digital ID will be both KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) verified, allowing users to access a variety of blockchain businesses including financial institutions like banks, exchanges and healthcare services.

Netki wants their ID to work on any blockchain, public or private, around the world and to provide automated onboarding and validation of new customers, as well as easy sharing of digital identities.

The company’s goal is to create a digital identity certificate that uses a standard recognized by governments everywhere as legally validated, to process transactions anywhere in the world. Pricing will be based on the number of certificates and the complexity of validations.

The Digital ID uses a new peer-to-peer payment protocol (BIP 75) that allows senders, receivers and their financial partners to exchange all four identities via a private encrypted channel.

According to Netki’s announcement, the Netki Digital ID service will allow for the easy capture of an individual’s documents and biometrics via their smartphone, along with multiple levels of automated and manual verification, including database checks, machine learning and biometric analysis.

International Compliance: A “Herculean Task”

Netki IDs are already in use in the U.S. and Europe on the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains, and the company is hoping to expand its service both to new jurisdictions around the world and on new blockchain networks.

Netki’s CEO and Co-Founder Justin Newton talked to Bitcoin Magazine about the process of expanding its ID service, despite the challenge of many different legal requirements in an international regulatory environment.

The regulatory landscape is changing around the world at a rapid pace. With this in mind we designed our tools and protocols to be flexible in the case of differing, new or expanding regulatory requirements.

“As we work on each new use case, we work with the customer’s risk and compliance team to determine what requirements are appropriate for their needs.”

Newton told us their team spends time in each new jurisdiction consulting with local regulators before offering their service.

Amber D. Scott, whose company Outlier Solutions  works with blockchain startups on compliance and security issues, admires the spirit and sheer scope of Netki’s undertaking but recognizes that it is a herculean task to have any ID be compliant in every jurisdiction.

She recommends that companies planning to implement any new identification solutions should thoroughly research the requirements of the jurisdictions they are operating in, to ensure “that a solution meets those requirements in their entirety.”

Scott added, “We spend a lot of time with our clients conducting this type of testing, and very few solutions pass the tests.”

Michael Perklin, an internationally recognized security expert who oversees security for ShapeShift, acknowledges that verifying users can be time-consuming and expensive, and agrees that something like a universal ID would make this process easier.

“Many people complain that there are 20+ different identity standards and it seems that Netki is proposing a 21st. It seems like a great idea in theory but its success would depend on the community adopting the Netki ID as the industry standard as opposed to another service like uPort.”

UPort offers a mobile app that allows users to create self-sovereign credentials that would allow them to process transactions on blockchains.

Newton told us that while uPort is focusing on a business model, Netki has open-sourced their protocol. Another important difference between the two companies is that uPort stores private information on the blockchain while Netki stores information off-chain. That being said, Netki is currently partnering with uPort on several projects.

Caribbean Service Bitt Is the Test Case

Netki chose the Caribbean region to test its new service, partnering with fintech company Bitt, which provides a mobile wallet and payment services to anywhere in the world.

Newton told us:

“In terms of the project that we are working on with Bitt, we believe that one of the greatest promises of blockchain [technology] is around financial inclusion. The Caribbean region has far greater mobile phone penetration than banking penetration, and most banking is effectively controlled overseas,” he said.

By creating a locally run and focused alternative, they can lower the cost of remittance, spur inter-island trade and service many people currently excluded from banking and online finance.

Empowering Individuals Over Institutions

Netki’s founders believe that blockchain technology is the game-changer that will take society to the next level, allowing more democratization and levelling of existing silos.

Newton believes that blockchain technology is a means of empowering individuals and changing the way society interacts with each other; however, without easy access for the majority of people, universal adoption will remain a dream.

As part of simplifying and making blockchain technology more user friendly, Netki already offers a wallet-naming service for $9.99 per year, which allows users to register their unwieldy wallet address of letters and numbers to a simple name, making for easier transactions for both users and businesses.

Newton is excited about the future possibilities of blockchain technology for decentralization and democratization, saying:

“For the first time, using the standards we implemented at Bitt, and more broadly with BIP 75, regulated entities such as banks can operate on public networks like bitcoin and ethereum while still meeting their risk and compliance requirements.  With the recent institutional interest, and positive government movement around digital currency, these tools couldn’t come at a better time to enable the ecosystem to really step up to the next level in terms of both usage and opportunity.”

Netki is partnering with IBM in the Hyperledger Project and with PwC Australia in its Vulcan Project.

Investors in Netki incluse O’Reilly, AlphaTech Ventures, Colle Capital, Digital Currency Group, Plug and Play, the Husseine Group, Bitfinex and Base Ventures.

The post Netki’s Digital ID Service Tackles Global Compliance Challenges appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Continue reading…