ShapeShift Introduces Prism’s Trustless Crypto Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

A ShapeShift Into the World of Trustless Asset Portfolios

“ShapeShift” is a concept describing the ability to change form or identity to adapt to changing conditions. It is also the name of a Swiss-based company that created the world’s first trustless asset portfolio for acquiring digital assets without counterparty risk.

Launched today at the blockchain summit Consensus 2017 held in New York, the cutting-edge platform known as Prism seeks to usher in a new age for investors with a thirst for cryptocurrencies.

The Prism announcement comes on the heels of record-setting growth within the cryptocurrency market, with bitcoin among others advancing to new all-time price highs. Momentum has been further buoyed by a blockchain industry that is already experiencing an incredible diversity of projects, from tokenized venture capital funds to blockchain-based casinos to global distributed computing systems. Prism is the first live platform that enables investors to create their own funds focused on investments in crypto-assets.

This new development is the brainchild of Erik Voorhees, long-time champion of and entrepreneur in the Bitcoin space. ShapeShift, the company he founded in 2013, raised $10.4m during its Series A from leading German VCs in March 2017 to jumpstart this new venture.

Built entirely on Ethereum-based smart contracts, Prism will enable investors to curate portfolios, known as “Prisms,” of digital assets known as “Prisms,” such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Dash, Monero and Golem. Within minutes, an investor can set up a crypto portfolio — absent of third-party intermediaries — and gain exposure to a wide swath of blockchain tokens. Moreover, they can secure their investments without having to establish a unique wallet for each asset.

With Prism, users will create their portfolios by funding it with ether (the native token of the Ethereum blockchain network). The total amount of ether is divided among whichever assets they decide on, in percentages they elect to allocate to each asset. When the investor is ready to finalize their Prism portfolio, they will be prompted to send a zero-ETH transaction to a provided Ethereum address, signaling the smart contract to close the portfolio.

The beta period for Prism will likely extend for at least six months after the launch, with new features being added over time.

Prism’s approach and philosophy offers an ideal complement to ShapeShift and its established reputation for securing over a million secure transactions for customers since 2014. ShapeShift’s policy of not holding any customer assets or private personal information keeps users safe from identity or financial theft — a critical improvement in digital exchange technology.

ShapeShift is now leveraging their proven model of simplicity and security to cultivate Prism. With this latest development, the complex functionality of a diversified crypto portfolio is distilled down into a simple interface allowing users to buy, rebalance and settle their assets. All of this can be executed by a user with nothing more than their Ethereum wallet.

Prism enables investors to gain secure, transparent exposure to digital assets in a way that has never before been possible. The days of leaving funds at an exchange ‘because it’s easier’ are over. – Erik Voorhees, CEO and founder of ShapeShift and Prism

Voorhees goes on to assert that Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, will demonstrate a new normal for financial security. “Prism takes us one step closer to a world of truly borderless finance. We suspect it will kickstart a vast horizon of financial experimentation upon smart contracts.”

Raine Revere, lead engineer for the Prism project, says that ShapeShift’s focus on simplicity and security was a perfect fit for the design of Prism. “Part of the joy of engineering is seeing how all the pieces will fit together and then systematically carrying out that vision in order to build a working product. That link between vision and functional product is what makes software engineering so special. The vision of Prism was clear from the beginning, allowing this creative process to proceed uninhibited.”

“Gone are the days of trusting a 3rd party with one’s wealth,” said Voorhees in a statement. “Prism’s digital asset portfolios, built entirely on non-custodial smart contracts, demonstrates a new standard in financial security.”

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Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

Blockchain Technology Fuels Global Advancements in the Energy Sector

As moonshot projects in the distributed world abound, it’s not surprising to see the energy sector jumping into the fray. This comes as the heavily regulated power industry eyeballs new approaches for allowing consumers to generate and sell electricity in various locales worldwide.

It’s here that blockchain technology is increasingly being seen as a potential, low-cost means for delivering energy transactions across a distributed network without need for a centralized authority. In fact, some surmise that blockchains may one day eliminate the need for intermediaries altogether, thereby allowing a more free market approach to energy distribution.

Blockchain tech could also boost efficiency by serving as the backbone for “smart grid” systems, automatically identifying and addressing network hitches that may arise. Moreover, when tethered with the Internet of Things (IoT) movement, energy devices such as those used for heating, cooling, ventilation, electric vehicles, solar installations and even batteries will be able to interact with one another, resulting in greater cost savings.

Not to be overlooked is the enhanced cybersecurity element that blockchain technology offers for an industry that has become increasingly susceptible to cyberattacks.

Despite blockchain technology’s potential utility, industry adoption may pose a number of gritty challenges. For starters, the energy grid is fraught with complexity associated with managing the process continuum of materials management, energy generation and delivery. Moreover, prevailing recordkeeping and data management systems remain cumbersome, resulting in costly missteps when it come to energy trading and asset ownership tracking.

Global Experimentation Abounds

As the intersection between blockchain technology and the energy sector advances, experimental demonstration projects are taking shape throughout the world.

Last year, the blockchain-centric Brooklyn Microgrid project, a peer-to-peer energy market for local renewable energy generation, attracted quite a bit of media attention. The intent of the startup is to deliver solar panels to this New York borough’s rooftops, allowing local residents to purchase and offload electricity within their community. This initiative allows for a system that bypasses power companies, thereby creating a generation-and-storage ecosystem that works in a more independent and efficient manner.

In another example, Austria’s largest regional utility company, Wien Energie, in collaboration with the Canadian blockchain startup BTL Group has engaged in a blockchain trial run targeting energy trading with two other utilities. The objective? To gather a repository of knowledge about blockchain technology, assessing the viability of it and relevant business models for the industry. This pilot ran from March to May 2017 and is expected to generate a set of new commercial strategies to explore.

Additionally, the SP Group, Singapore’s energy provider, will be developing blockchain solutions in partnerships with other providers throughout the world, with the goal of lowering consumer utility costs in that nation. This initiative is also intended to create simpler mechanisms for integrating new renewable energy sources into the mix.

Andre De Castro, founder of the NY-based Blockchain of Things and Catenis Enterprise — which delivers blockchain solutions for simplifying and accelerating secure global peer-to-peer edge device messaging, digital asset control, and recording of immutable data — tells Bitcoin Magazine that blockchain technology is just the beginning foundation for advancing the energy sector. “Having a distributed database doesn’t necessarily get you a trading system or an application. So what’s really needed is an application layer on top of the blockchain, to get real-world solutions.”  

De Castro says that his company enables the creation of digital assets, more commonly known as tokens, that can be applied to energy units across endpoints to create new business models for energy markets. “Everything is moving toward more open exchanges when it comes to the energy industry. Therefore consumers will soon be able to choose their own energy providers and even resell energy to their neighbors in certain areas of the world.”

He notes one additional benefit to the advancements, namely that the global Bitcoin blockchain is incredibly secure due to the fact that transactions can be cryptographically verified, thereby protecting critical assets on the energy grid. “This addresses a major challenge that currently exists today involving utility systems where there is a reliance on centralized cloud servers. What we’ve developed at Catenis with the blockchain allows for decentralization and the elimination of central points of failure that could affect big swaths of the energy grid.”

Ultimately, De Castro sees a day where blockchain technology will foster the creation of more flexible business models for exchanging power in open markets and selling that power back to the main energy grid. He also believes that this will open up immense opportunities in the clean energy space, welcome news for the eco-friendly movement. “I believe that control mechanism allowing digital tokens to be mapped will become more common resulting in lower energy costs while making peer-to-peer exchanges more efficient.

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IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

IoT and Blockchain Technology Collide in the Payments Industry

The Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain-based advancements in the payments industry were among the many themes explored at TRANSACT, a tech-centric, payments industry conference held on May 10–12 in Las Vegas.

A panel discussion entitled “How IoT is Revolutionizing Payments” included a brief discussion regarding the emerging intersection between the Internet of Things and blockchain technology in this industry.

On a similar trajectory as the blockchain, much attention has been given to the future of IoT, defined as an ecosystem of physical devices — from mobile phones to wearable tracking sensors — that gather and share electronic information with one another.

Research firm IHS Markit estimates that 30.7 billion IoT devices will be communicating with one another by 2021. This complements a global blockchain technology market that’s expected to grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2.3 billion by 2021 according to Market Reports Hub.

The collision between the IoT and blockchain worlds portends some important payments industry developments around the efficient tracking of device payment history, all supported by a ledger of secure data exchanges among devices, web systems and users. Further, this technological convergence also shows promise in terms of the use of smart devices that are programmed to conduct a variety of transactions such as the automatic issuance of invoices and payments.  

Dan Loomis, vice president and director of mobile product management at the business and financial software firm Intuit, is firmly entrenched in this evolving IoT/blockchain conversation through his work in creating payment experiences for businesses that operate on a global scale, and brought this expertise to the TRANSACT panel discussion.

In an exclusive interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Loomis remarked that for the small, emerging business clients he works with, cash is king. “For our team at Intuit, it all comes down to how we can help these businesses create immediate operating capital. The ability to quickly onboard clients into a payment service and to get paid quickly is really important. Their mantra is often ‘Pay me, pay me faster, and how can we as a business accept all methods of payment?’”

Loomis says that at his company and for the payments space in general, the thought of leveraging the blockchain’s immutable, permanent, auditable features is fascinating on a variety of levels. He notes that specific to Intuit, there is a lot of investigation going on into blockchain technology and how it may be applied to their payment models.

“We facilitate a lot of invoice, payable and receivable experiences for our clients. Aspirationally, being able to track these logistics in a manner that’s clear and transparent via blockchain [technology] would be very appealing. It has a high level of integrity as a technology and cannot be questioned in terms of its functionality.”

Healthcare is one vertical market that Intuit is targeting. Loomis says that in this industry there is always a trail of information that’s important to unravel and look at, from medical record information to who the patient’s service provider is. “I think that blockchain [technology] can help wrap this together and be a critical vehicle for a healthcare space that’s somewhat arcane and at the same time leading edge.”

When asked about the immense possibilities around blockchain technology and IoT in terms of it being fully leveraged at Intuit, Loomis remarked, “I have no doubt that a developer in our company ecosystem is at least thinking about this closely.”

Loomis believes that IoT and blockchain technology will emerge at Intuit when these technologies have a strong, demonstrated fit that can actually be matched with end user value. “I think market deploy in this space is one of those things we’ll see come to fruition when the time is right and it meets our customer benefit.”

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How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

How Blockchain Identity Trust Is Fostering New Applications in Healthcare

Can identity trust be integrated with blockchain technology? The answer to that question appears to be yes, according to a recently completed proof-of-concept study conducted by Peer Ledger, a Canadian blockchain company; SAFE-BioPharma Association, the organization managing the global SAFE-BioPharma digital identity management standard; and Synchronoss, a leading provider of standards-based digital identities.

This development is believed to have significant implications for the use of distributed electronic ledgers (i.e., blockchains) for medical, pharmaceutical and other health system applications.

The purpose of the study was to demonstrate that cyber identities that comply with the SAFE-BioPharma standard may, via Peer Ledger APIs, enable blockchain identities to be de-anonymized, thereby fulfilling a requirement for double-blind clinical trials, audits and responsible supply chains. Prior to the study, identities associated with distributed electronic ledgers were entirely anonymous.

“Identity trust” means that there is trust in each cyber identity, using a process that proves the individual’s identity before linking it to the cyber credential. In general terms, it means that the credential can be trusted to represent the vetted identity of the individual one is doing business with but has never met face-to-face. This is critically important to the pharma/life sciences space because of several factors, including deterrence of hackers seeking valuable patient records and intellectual property, as well as compliance with regulations protecting patient data.

These discoveries underscore the power of blockchain technology to disrupt traditional practices for drug discovery, patient engagement and monitoring, payments and participatory healthcare delivery. Here, the technology leverages its quality as a shared, synchronized, distributed ledger of transactions, fostering security and decreasing fraud by providing a permanent record of who accessed ledgers and what activities they engaged in.  

The proof of concept demonstrated that SAFE-BioPharma-compliant digital identities can be tied back to the blockchain to assure trust in the identity of each person engaged in the transaction. Transactions can be anonymous until the end of a clinical study and “chained back” to the proven identity of the user, if needed, for regulatory or clinical purposes. Alternatively, the identities associated with each block can be known throughout the process, such as in track-and-trace applications for the medical supply chain.

Blockchain technology’s use of a group-consensus algorithm can be used to catch intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset. For example, an accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes” to prevent double invoicing. Similarly, a counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain application can prevent harmful substances and devices from entering the medical system.

Ultimately, for blockchain technology to reach its full potential in any sector, myriad systems must be interoperable. Currently, healthcare technologies rarely work in a highly synchronized way with one another, which is why pharmaceutical and other medical companies that already have powerful identity management tools are trialing a number of different blockchain-based applications.

Thus far, these apps have been unable to bridge to the systems pharma companies use to establish identity credentials for their personnel. This is the problem addressed in the proof of concept. Peer Ledger has therefore developed software that now maps a trusted identity, from the Synchronoss-implemented Verizon Universal Identity Services system to blockchain credentials.

“Every SAFE-BioPharma-compliant identity credential accurately represents the proven identity of the person using it,” explains Mollie Shields-Uehling, president and CEO of SAFE-BioPharma Association. “Teaming these credentials with anonymous blockchain ledger postings enables use cases critical for overall cybersecurity across healthcare and the life sciences.”

When asked about future applications of all of this for healthcare, Shields-Uehling and Dawn Jutla, CEO and founder of Peer Ledger, highlighted three major areas of blockchain intersection.

Blockchain and clinical trials: In order to co-partner in the discovery of cures, patients may give pharmaceutical companies direct access to their digitized healthcare records, thus improving both data used for research and the speed of patient treatment. Britain’s Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Mark Walport, has argued that the National Health Service, which provides healthcare for 65 million people, should use blockchain technology to improve such tasks as the sharing of health records.

Blockchain and data collection: Earlier this year, IBM Watson Health announced it would work with the FDA to develop a secure, efficient and scalable exchange of health data using blockchain technology. Oncology data will be the initial focus.

Blockchain and personalized precision medicine: Blockchain technology’s cryptography will secure economical home healthcare sensor feeds. Trusted identity will be important to ensure that the right test results are associated with the right patient.

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How Five States Are Approaching Bitcoin Regulation

How 5 States Are Approaching Bitcoin Regulation

Cryptocurrency should be regulated. Cryptocurrency should not be regulated. Cryptocurrency can’t be regulated. These are all common refrains emanating from the media these days. Now lawmakers across the United States and around the world are at a crossroads as to what is next in terms of this regulatory space.

Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency present a monumental challenge for legislators, requiring a broad understanding of blockchain technology, especially in terms of its impact on tech innovation. Amid assertions that the U.S. is falling behind in terms of Bitcoin regulation, it could be argued that the regulatory picture is becoming clearer in 2017.

Bitcoin Magazine asked Pawel Kuskowski, CEO and co-founder of Coinfirm, and Joe Ciccolo,  president of the Illinois-based Bitcoin compliance firm BitAML, to offer some commentary about the regulatory activity taking place in five U.S. states — Washington, Illinois, Hawaii, California and Florida — and what the regulatory landscape may look like in the days ahead.

Washington

Legislators in Washington state are building momentum around new rules for businesses offering digital currency services. Senate Bill 5013 provides a definition of virtual currency along with disclosure requirements of certain information to consumers. It also would require online currency exchanges within that state to maintain a surety bond. Finally, it offers definitional and clarifying changes for how money transmitters and currency exchangers are regulated under the Uniform Money Services Act.

At the time of this writing, this bill, which was introduced in January, had passed both chambers of the state’s legislature, clearing it to be sent to Governor Jay Inslee for signature. While there is no clear indication as to Governor Inslee’s intentions, broad support of the bill seems to suggest that it may pass.

There has already been a bit of fallout, however, as some cryptocurrency-centric startups are now thinking twice about operating in the state, with several firms having pulled out in the past year, noting the increasingly challenging regulatory environment. These include digital currency exchanges Bitfinex, Bitstamp and Poloniex, the latter of which has exited Washington.

“The State of Washington also appears to have applied a relatively heavy cybersecurity component, including broad and sweeping audits of data and other systems,” says Ciccolo. “Cybersecurity is a hot-button issue that continues to remain in the headlines. Bitcoin companies are wary of a regulatory interpretation of cybersecurity fitness, especially given the nascent stage of Bitcoin and the ongoing knowledge gap as it pertains to the crypto space. For some national players, it seemed the obvious and safe choice was to simply exit the state altogether.”

Illinois  

In November of 2016, Secretary Bryan A. Schneider of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced a new initiative with implications for cryptocurrencies in that state. This “Digital Currency Regulatory Guidance” is Illinois’s attempt to provide regulatory clarity on digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and Zcash. The proposed guidance provides IDFPR’s interpretation of Illinois’s Transmitters of Money Act (TOMA) related to various activities tied to digital currencies.

Says Ciccolo: “The IDFPR and Secretary Schneider continue to deliver on the state’s promise of encouraging and supporting innovation in FinTech, Bitcoin and blockchain [technology]. What we’re doing in Illinois is quite possibly unprecedented in the area of financial regulation. Our state regulators are listening and thoughtfully engaging with industry while considering the impact of any laws and regulations. I’m very optimistic about the continued growth of financial innovation in the Land of Lincoln, and Chicago as a center for the new era of financial services.”

Hawaii

In a highly publicized move, prominent Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange Coinbase announced that it was forced to cease supporting customers in the State of Hawaii due to what it called “impractical” and “untenable” regulatory policies surrounding Bitcoin in that state. In September of 2016, Coinbase was first notified of a policy that demanded that they and any other other cryptocurrency operators hold case reserves equivalent to the values being held for customers.

This development came as Hawaii was exploring a bill that would establish a working group for examining the potential role of digital currencies and blockchain technology in advancing tourism in that state. According to the bill’s text contained in House Bill 1481: “Digital currencies such as bitcoin have broad benefits for Hawaii. A large portion of Hawaii’s tourism market comes from Asia where the use of bitcoin as a virtual currency is expanding.”

Leaders at Coinbase said they were “heartened” that the bill had been introduced and that they would look forward to working with regulators. In the meantime, Ciccolo remarked: “Given its commitment to compliance and strong resources, the exit of Coinbase suggests few if any stand a chance in the Aloha State. Indeed, the case reserve requirement is overly burdensome and quite frankly utterly impractical. Since Coinbase holds a BitLicense, could it be said that Hawaii is more inhospitable to Bitcoin than New York? Let’s hope not.”

California

California’s Assembly Bill 1123, a version of New York’s infamous BitLicense, has been proposed. It reads:

“This bill would enact the Virtual Currency Act. The bill would prohibit a person from engaging in any virtual currency business, as defined, in this state unless the person is licensed by the Commissioner of Business Oversight or is exempt from the licensure requirement, as provided.”

Says Kuskowski, CEO and co-founder of Coinfirm:

“In relation to this particular proposed bill in California, any bill with strong similarities to New York’s BitLicense is obviously not the direction to go in, as we saw the effects of that particular regulation result in New York’s loss of prominence as a crypto hub. But with California’s unique position as the technology innovation and startup capital of the world, this would have an even more catastrophic effect than the N.Y. version.”

Kuskowski goes on to say that the costly fees and bureaucratic administration associated with this legislation would likely hinder innovators and startups from applying or even operating in the state. Moreover, he says it would provide another segmented regulatory structure that limits the national and global growth of companies operating in the space.

If there is any place in the world where this could have the largest negative effect it would be California.

Florida

Florida House Bill 1379 recently passed, clarifying what virtual currency is and prohibiting its use in laundering criminal proceeds. The term “virtual currency” was added to the definition of “monetary instruments” under Florida’s Money Laundering Act. The legislation is currently with Florida’s governor and is expected to be signed soon. Ever since a Miami judge dismissed a criminal case involving Bitcoin, policymakers have been intent on establishing guidelines to curb cryptocurrency use.

Says Kuskowski: “In relation to what’s been going on in Florida, a lot of regulators, especially local ones, tend to be more in the crowd profiled earlier that catches headlines, and they go a bit far. But there needs to be a balanced approach from the other side as well. People need to realize that a clear regulatory environment allows companies and creators in the space to make concrete strategic decisions that they [otherwise] can’t when the regulatory environment isn’t clear; it just has to be done properly. Once there is a clear regulation in place, businesses have the confidence to make certain strategic decisions and further grow.”

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Stellar’s Global Payment Platform Lightyear Launches From Stealth

Stellar Launches Lightyear

Lightyear, the brainchild of Stellar co-founder and CTO Jed McCaleb along with ex-Palantir executive Brit Yonge, launched out of stealth on May 11th. Part of the Stellar network open financial protocol, Lightyear aims to revolutionize the world of cross-border, cross-currency and cross-asset transactions by creating a universal global payment network.

The pair is hoping to play a disruptive role in the global payments space with Lightyear by aggressively pursuing a global mission of creating an open and public financial infrastructure, enabling greater access for individuals, lowering costs for banks and increasing revenue for businesses.

According to a research study by McKinsey & Company, the global payments industry will generate an estimated $2.2 trillion in revenue by 2020. This represents a $400 billion increase over 2015 ($1.8 trillion) with an average growth rate of 5 percent.

The fuel behind Lightyear, Stellar, is backed by Stripe, the Bitcoin API that powers commerce for businesses of all sizes. Stellar counts some of the biggest names in fintech, such as Keith Rabois, previously EVP of Paypal and COO of Square, and Greg Brockman, previously CTO of Stripe, as board members.

Stellar’s open financial protocol allows for the settlement of transactions almost in real-time (3-5 seconds), for fractions of a cent, all in a secure and safe network. Stellar’s network has been integrated by startups, tech companies and financial institutions in more than 55 countries.

Over the past year, there’s been a surge of interest from partners in the Asia-Pacific region — including remittance companies such as Coin.ph, the Chinese tech giant LeEco and major banks, such as the Indian multinational bank and financial services company ICICI — to integrate with the Stellar network for support of cross-border payments. Given this demand, it became evident that a new organizational model for the seamless exchange between currencies was required for Stellar’s global partner activities.

The creation of Lightyear now will allow Stellar.org to keep its efforts targeted at its primary mission of managing the open source project and overseeing the foundation’s lumen distribution program. Lightyear will focus on a wider swath of activities, including supporting global partner integrations, as well as marketing and distribution activities on the Stellar network. In the coming months, Lightyear.io will unveil its service and product offerings.

Prior to his work in creating Stellar, McCaleb previously launched eDonkey2000, which became one of the largest file-sharing networks of its time. He later created the first digital currency exchange, Mt. Gox, followed by Ripple.

In a phone interview with Bitcoin Magazine, he expressed excitement about the opportunity to collaborate with his friend and colleague Brit Yonge in launching Lightyear.

A driving inspiration behind their work, he says, is the broken nature of the world’s financial infrastructure: one that leaves all too many people without resources to live freely.

While payments work OK in the U.S. and Europe, there is a lot more friction in places like Nigeria where more than half the people don’t have bank accounts and have to pay outrageous fees for moving their money around. It just makes sense to want start in places like that. 

His partner, Yonge, echoed that sentiment. “We want to see the world of payments and sending money become as easy and free as sending an email. Jed has already basically created a way to drastically reduce the price of payments through Stellar,” Yonge told Bitcoin Magazine. “Think about the potential implications of this when the poorest people in the world are getting the worst end of the stick in terms of monetary transactions.”  

McCaleb was optimistic about overcoming regulatory hurdles tied to Stellar and Lightyear: “We’ve been quite surprised that the regulators have been fairly positive. In some ways that’s not surprising because for many of the players in this space, the regulatory story doesn’t really change.”

He says that because Stellar is simply connecting existing financial institutions to each other, it actually makes compliance easier for the institutions because everything is tracked and is very obvious on the blockchain. “It doesn’t circumvent these regulatory controls. So they are pretty much OK with it.”  

McCaleb notes that correspondence banks are often a bottleneck in terms of the flow of money from institutions to end users. Stellar and Lightyear simply want to makes the system better and more efficient.

“Today when you want to send money from, say, Uruguay to Brazil, it has to actually go through the U.S. first because of the way the correspondence banking system is set up. This inefficiency creates a lot of frustration for people because it makes the process more expensive and slower. So we continue to forge forward in our efforts to change how all of that is done, so that money and assets can go from country A to country B without having to go through some sort of intermediary.”

Prior to joining Lightyear, Brit Yonge was head of Asia for Palantir Technologies. There, he oversaw the company’s engagements within the financial sector where his team delivered solutions for anti-money laundering, trade finance and cybersecurity.

In his brief time with Lightyear thus far, Yonge has participated in talks with some central bankers who, he says, are still getting comfortable with the new technological approaches being proposed.

“This is a very new idea, maybe not in computing where we have a lot of technologies that are distributed,” said Yonge. “But it certainly is a new idea in finance in terms of the use of a distributed ledger. A lot of these conversations, therefore, involve a great deal of education, and the tone — given the potentially disruptive nature of this change — has not been adversarial at all. In fact to the contrary, the parties that we’ve talked to have been very positive, respectful and eager to learn about what we’re doing.”

“For us it’s all about the creation of a universal payment network.  I think would be really good for the world because we all make payments.”  – Jed McCaleb

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Blockchain Commercialization: Real World Applications Get Real

Blockchain Commercialization: Hype or Real World Application?

As blockchain technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, questions remain about whether it will hit the mark in terms of commercial value. Despite a number of promising use cases in the financial industry as well as clear application for sectors like healthcare, utilities and transportation, among many others, blockchain’s potential is a long way from being fully realized.

EY (formerly Ernst & Young), a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services believes that the time is ripe for blockchain to move deep into the world of commercialized solutions. In support of this endeavor, it recently announced the launch of EY Ops Chain, a set of applications and services that support efforts on the part of organizations to boost the commercial integration of blockchain technology across diverse industries — not just finance.

Developed jointly by EY and a host of other industry collaborators, EY Ops works integratively with EY’s broad swath of consulting, tax and audit expertise to bring real world solutions to the enterprise and supply chain management space.

Through the use of EY Ops, supply chain systems can be simplified and seamlessly integrated into digital contracts, inventory systems, logistics protocols, pricing, inventory and payments. This can lead to enhanced forecast accuracy and performance outcomes while ensuring a reduction of working capital requirements. Through this new development, EY will begin with offering financial services and supply chain management solutions across a number of different industries, including oil and gas, media and entertainment and automotive, among others.

Advancing Blockchain Technology

As further indication of EY’s investment in blockchain technology, the organization also recently launched its Blockchain Lab in New York, coalescing financial services work with blockchain solutions in a single locale centered in New York’s Union Square. This lab is the third for EY, joining their two other key blockchain centers in London and Trivandrum, part of EY’s global research ecosystem, EY wavespace™.

To fuel the launch of EY Ops Chain, EY is pouring money into research while attracting top talent in areas like cryptography, physics, math and software development — all with the goal of building momentum around the mature and scalable design of blockchain services. These professionals will be charged with assisting clients in applying blockchain and distributed ledger technology amid a rapidly evolving blockchain environment.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Paul Brody, EY’s Global Innovation Leader, said that EY is strongly invested in putting blockchain technology to work in the commercial realm. “We believe that while most companies are much more focused on being part of large scale ecosystems, their IT capabilities haven’t kept up. Using blockchains, EY can give companies visibility to supply chains, billing and payments across their ecosystem in a way that’s far more reliable and accurate than in the past. We think we can have a significant impact on working capital and operating costs as well as time-to-market.”

Multi-enterprise collaboration, said Brody, is at the heart of EY’s vision for taking blockchains into the enterprise.  He noted that historically, companies have managed collaboration by sending messages to each other on a one-to-one basis resulting in many islands of information. “Blockchain and supply chain management are an especially good fit because of the distributed and multi-party nature of the business. With blockchain, we can get universal visibility and synchronization of data without having to compromise on security and privacy.”

Putting the Blockchain to Work

Brody says that EY is currently working with a manufacturing company that has been struggling to manage its complex procurement process with multiple contract manufacturers and suppliers. At present, he says, the company’s collaborations on everything from pricing to purchase orders is managed on a point-to-point basis using emailed Excel spreadsheets. However, with the new blockchain solution, notes Brody, every supplier and participant in the network will maintain a single integrated view of purchasing, payments and pricing.

“The cost savings just from reduced auditing will pay for the entire investment, but the real gains come from [the integration of] suppliers to payments and invoicing and operations. Our client will have accurate system-wide visibility to inventory and need significantly less working capital to run the network when this system goes to full production,” said Brody.

Looking Ahead

“Supply chain management, procurement and order to cash processes are probably the hottest areas right now outside of finance,” said Brody. “Related to that, we think there will be a big push around tax, audit and cybersecurity as enterprises embrace the immutable and distributed nature of blockchain technology.”

Even in the short term, Brody expects that many companies will embrace private blockchains to replace point-to-point EDI and XML systems in the supply chain. In the days ahead, he points to three significant evolutions: “First, we believe there will be a move toward operating work involving billing and payments to drive gains in working capital. Second, we see an extension of the private networks in both directions — further back across multiple tiers of the supply chain and forward to customers. Finally, we believe that companies will gradually migrate from proprietary private blockchains to public networks where they can capture the full network effects of the technology.” 

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Blockchain Commercialization: Real World Applications Get Real

Blockchain Commercialization: Hype or Real World Application?

As blockchain technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, questions remain about whether it will hit the mark in terms of commercial value. Despite a number of promising use cases in the financial industry as well as clear application for sectors like healthcare, utilities and transportation, among many others, blockchain’s potential is a long way from being fully realized.

EY (formerly Ernst & Young), a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services believes that the time is ripe for blockchain to move deep into the world of commercialized solutions. In support of this endeavor, it recently announced the launch of EY Ops Chain, a set of applications and services that support efforts on the part of organizations to boost the commercial integration of blockchain technology across diverse industries — not just finance.

Developed jointly by EY and a host of other industry collaborators, EY Ops works integratively with EY’s broad swath of consulting, tax and audit expertise to bring real world solutions to the enterprise and supply chain management space.

Through the use of EY Ops, supply chain systems can be simplified and seamlessly integrated into digital contracts, inventory systems, logistics protocols, pricing, inventory and payments. This can lead to enhanced forecast accuracy and performance outcomes while ensuring a reduction of working capital requirements. Through this new development, EY will begin with offering financial services and supply chain management solutions across a number of different industries, including oil and gas, media and entertainment and automotive, among others.

Advancing Blockchain Technology

As further indication of EY’s investment in blockchain technology, the organization also recently launched its Blockchain Lab in New York, coalescing financial services work with blockchain solutions in a single locale centered in New York’s Union Square. This lab is the third for EY, joining their two other key blockchain centers in London and Trivandrum, part of EY’s global research ecosystem, EY wavespace™.

To fuel the launch of EY Ops Chain, EY is pouring money into research while attracting top talent in areas like cryptography, physics, math and software development — all with the goal of building momentum around the mature and scalable design of blockchain services. These professionals will be charged with assisting clients in applying blockchain and distributed ledger technology amid a rapidly evolving blockchain environment.

In an interview with Bitcoin Magazine, Paul Brody, EY’s Global Innovation Leader, said that EY is strongly invested in putting blockchain technology to work in the commercial realm. “We believe that while most companies are much more focused on being part of large scale ecosystems, their IT capabilities haven’t kept up. Using blockchains, EY can give companies visibility to supply chains, billing and payments across their ecosystem in a way that’s far more reliable and accurate than in the past. We think we can have a significant impact on working capital and operating costs as well as time-to-market.”

Multi-enterprise collaboration, said Brody, is at the heart of EY’s vision for taking blockchains into the enterprise.  He noted that historically, companies have managed collaboration by sending messages to each other on a one-to-one basis resulting in many islands of information. “Blockchain and supply chain management are an especially good fit because of the distributed and multi-party nature of the business. With blockchain, we can get universal visibility and synchronization of data without having to compromise on security and privacy.”

Putting the Blockchain to Work

Brody says that EY is currently working with a manufacturing company that has been struggling to manage its complex procurement process with multiple contract manufacturers and suppliers. At present, he says, the company’s collaborations on everything from pricing to purchase orders is managed on a point-to-point basis using emailed Excel spreadsheets. However, with the new blockchain solution, notes Brody, every supplier and participant in the network will maintain a single integrated view of purchasing, payments and pricing.

“The cost savings just from reduced auditing will pay for the entire investment, but the real gains come from [the integration of] suppliers to payments and invoicing and operations. Our client will have accurate system-wide visibility to inventory and need significantly less working capital to run the network when this system goes to full production,” said Brody.

Looking Ahead

“Supply chain management, procurement and order to cash processes are probably the hottest areas right now outside of finance,” said Brody. “Related to that, we think there will be a big push around tax, audit and cybersecurity as enterprises embrace the immutable and distributed nature of blockchain technology.”

Even in the short term, Brody expects that many companies will embrace private blockchains to replace point-to-point EDI and XML systems in the supply chain. In the days ahead, he points to three significant evolutions: “First, we believe there will be a move toward operating work involving billing and payments to drive gains in working capital. Second, we see an extension of the private networks in both directions — further back across multiple tiers of the supply chain and forward to customers. Finally, we believe that companies will gradually migrate from proprietary private blockchains to public networks where they can capture the full network effects of the technology.” 

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