China Shuts Down Blockchain News Accounts on WeChat

In a fresh crackdown on cryptocurrency-related activities, China has blocked several blockchain-related news accounts on WeChat, one of its top social apps.

WeChat Crypto Accounts Shuttered

In 2017, China had imposed a ban on ICOs because of their unregulated nature and the scams associated with them. The recent ban has been imposed due to the accounts’ non-compliance with “national interests” and “public orders”, as the concerned accounts were found to be publishing information on Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrency trading.

The ban includes the accounts of some of the biggest cryptocurrency platforms of the country such as Jinse Caijing, Shenlian Caijing, Huobi News according to reports though their sites and apps are still functioning. These company’s leveraged WeChat’s large user base of over a billion members to reach out to their own niche audience segment. Their revenue models included sponsored content about upcoming ICO projects. The information offered on these accounts was crucial for blockchain enthusiasts and cryptocurrency investors who were looking to remain updated on blockchain projects and cryptocurrency price movements.

In May WeChat had suspended a third-party blockchain app which allowed users to create contract agreements and a unique social media ID using blockchain to ensure the authenticity and reliability of their identities and content.

China big on blockchain, but not on cryptocurrencies

Though the government is not supportive of ICOs and cryptocurrencies because of its concerns of financial stability and security, the country has been actively exploring blockchain technology for its implementation across various industries and processes.

In 2017, the country imposed a blanket ban on ICOs and cryptocurrencies, after having issued several warnings to cryptocurrency exchanges. According to reports, the ban has not proven to be very effective and ICOs are still going strong.

Chinese investors are still investing in crypto assets with the help of various cryptocurrency exchanges operating illegally in the country. Some of the exchanges have moved out of the country for now to circumvent regulations, but are continuing to provide their services to overseas and home country investors. ICOs are also continuing to proliferate, defying the imposed regulations. China’s Central Bank, however, feels that the cryptocurrency ban has been successful as recent data suggests that the Chinese Yuan now accounts for less than 1% of all crypto trades.

Blockchain exploration in the country is in full swing, as the government and major companies are looking to implement it across various processes and leverage the efficiency gains offered by it. WeChat has been testing blockchain for inducing efficiency and accuracy in employee expense reimbursement. China Aerospace is reportedly developing a blockchain invoice system to augment its existing electronic invoice system and enable enhanced traceability and accuracy of records.

Zheshang Bank, one of the largest commercial banks of China, reported that it has completed a blockchain-powered issuance of securities worth $66 million, becoming one of the first institutions in the country to utilize blockchain for such an issuance.

sources: newsbtc

How governments are using blockchain technology

There has been a fundamental shift in thinking about blockchain technology in the past year, and blockchain-related innovations are already providing solutions to longstanding problems.

Public sector agencies in particular are exploring its potential, according to Katrina Donaghy, co-founder and co-CEO of Civic Ledger, which focuses on civic applications of the technology.

“In Australia, we are still in a development stage, with government, industry, banks, academia and business exploring blockchain technology through proof of concepts,” she says.

“There is still a long way to go but we are moving from questions such as ‘what is blockchain technology?’ to ‘how can we start exploring its potential?’.”

The federal government is sending positive messages about blockchain technology. Standards Australia is the Secretariat for the International Standards Organization’s international technical committee for blockchain standards, and is looking at standards, definitions, rules, and other elements of the technology. This will provide a clear decision framework on issues such as governance, jurisdiction and interoperability of the technology.

“This role by Standards Australia will, I believe, be very significant in the long term,” Donaghy says.

“Another critical step is that the Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency is taking a lead with exploring blockchain uses in government. In our experience, their digital marketplace is very useful for Australian start-ups looking to secure government as their first customer.”

Donaghy also notes that the Australian Digital Commerce Association is working with government on behalf of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, assisting with the design of policy, guidelines and legislative changes to encourage innovation in the area.

Solving problems with blockchain

In developing and adapting blockchain technology, Donaghy makes comparisons with the early days of the internet, when no one really knew what to do with it. It was sometimes seen as a solution looking for a problem.

Within a remarkably short period, however, the internet became a central part of both business and social life. She believes blockchain technology will follow a similar path.

“Like the internet, we did solve the problems of scale, improving its use and imagining new applications,” she says.

“There are thousands of very smart people around the world working on building the blockchain infrastructure, most of which is done through open data protocols.”

Donaghy argues that blockchain has a special role to play in public administration as governments look for ways to modernise their services along digital lines.

Blockchain provides a neutral place for a transaction to occur, creating what Donaghy calls “a shared truth” of data.

This is crucial when governments take the role of the authenticator of data and, through rules, determine the allocation of resources and benefits.

She says a change of thinking will be required. Blockchain is not owned or governed by a central authority, and the data is decentralised and distributed across thousands of computers.

Government agencies are inherently centralised, so change management in relation to issues of control and the future of work will have to take place as the technology is being explored.

Peer-to-peer blockchain platforms

Donaghy points to a project that her company delivered for the Australian Government. The key issue was how to improve information in the Australian water industry to increase participation and confidence in water trading.

Civic Ledger developed Water Ledger, based on the public blockchain, Ethereum. The blockchain-enabled platform provides a means to verify all water trades and update state registries in real time to prove that a water trade has happened, as well as showing the location of the trade.

A crucial part of the system is the “tokenisation” of a physical asset: megalitres of water.

“It showed how blockchain technology could address very complex problems involving many participants and a large number of rules – in fact, over 15,000 rules,” says Donaghy.

“Water Ledger has become a key success story and is a case study of a peer-to-peer exchange platform that increases the transparency of activities across borders and jurisdictions.”

Civic Ledger has developed similar solutions for other agencies, including IP Australia and the City of Melbourne.

The company recently won the FinTech Australia award for Australia’s Emerging Fintech Organisation of the Year for 2018, which Donaghy sees as an important step forward.

“To be recognised by our peers and industry is a tremendous honour but we also see it as a signal to government, industry and business that blockchain technology is a real opportunity to redesign economies and societies that are inclusive and democratic,” she says.

“The award sends a message to other start-ups who are building blockchain applications or infrastructure that this is an area where there are opportunities to succeed.”

  • Key points about blockchain
  • There are opportunities for blockchain start-ups in government procurement.
  • Blockchain is very suitable for commerce which has many participants and complex rules.
  • The real-time nature of blockchain enables transparency and accountability.
  • The decentralised nature of blockchain will require changes in thinking, particularly within centralised organisations.

sources: intheblack

Ethereum Based Project, Priceless Aims To Add Value To Value of Humanity

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese activist and artist has partnered with an artist, Kevin Abosch to create a project called Priceless to maintain their relationship with cryptocurrency.

Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist and activist who spends time and effort to bring the world’s attention to stories and topics of human rights violations. He is the son of the Chinese poet Ai Qing and is interested in the technology of blockchain and is therefore partnering up with Kevin Abosch on the same.

Abosch on the other hand, is an Irish conceptual artist and photographer who currently lives in New York City. He is known for his photography, illustrations, sculpture and film. His interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency through Priceless is not new. Rather, in January, he created 10,000,000 virtual pieces of art that contained crypto tokens built on the Ethereum Blockchain.

He also had his blood drawn which he used to make 100 physical artworks imprinted with a 42 alphanumeric blockchain address that that corresponded to the creation of his virtual works. Abosch named the crypto tokens IAMA tokens which refers to the entire brand of ‘I AM A COIN’.

Furthermore, in February, his virtual artwork ‘Forever Rose’ that contains one ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain was sold to 10 art collectors for USD$1 million. All this and more are making him the king of crypto in the art world.

Together, Abosch and Weiwei have created two tokens to show the world how the society perceives value. One of these tokens is highly unattainable while the other is open and available to all, meaning anyone can own a fraction of it.

Weiwei expressed his views on blockchain,

For me, [blockchain] is not about the technology, but an opportunity to set up a new system that could dismantle the old system, or at least offer a new possibility for communication.

It was further explained by Weiwei,

It’s not about a potential for creating art, but,rather, to question the existing system and the potential to create a new system outside of the establishment.

Abosch further commented,

From the moment we’re born, people try to ascribe value to us — ‘Oh, that boy is so full of potential, or oh, that girl is worthless’ — it’s something society does to us and it’s something we do to ourselves … Our project is just another thing to engage people in the hope that they will spend a little bit more time reflecting on the perversity of how most of us ascribe value to things.

Wallet addresses that contain the nominal amount of the PRCLS tokens have been printed on paper and are sold to buyers. Each token is meant to represent ‘priceless moments’ between the artists which is to further demonstrate how  a token can represent value such as human life and human interaction. An example of such a ‘priceless moment’ is ‘Walking In A Carefree Manner Down Schönhauser Allee.’

Ai further commented on blockchain by stating that it is an opportunity for change by bringing down the old system to, at least offer a new possibility for communication.

This project clearly brings together Weiwei’s love for human rights and Abosch’s interest and expertise in the cryptocurrency industry.



Artist Ai Weiwei Uses Ethereum to Make Art About ‘Value’

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has partnered on a new art project that utilizes a pair of newly-minted ethereum-based tokens.

Motherboard reported Friday that Ai – well-known for his criticism of China’s Communist government as well as his art installations and photos – is working with Irish conceptual artist Kevin Abosch.

Together, Ai and Abosch have created two new tokens, freely distributable, in an effort to (as they describe it) illustrate how worth is perceived and imbued within modern society. And it’s an area that Abosch has already been working in – bridging the worlds of art and cryptocurrency through his work – as the New York Times previously reported.

The project, dubbed PRICELESS (ticker symbol: PRCLS), involves twin tokens, one of which is made publicly available to the extent that, in theory, every person on the planet could own a fraction. The other token, according to Motherboard, is locked away and inaccessible to anyone.

“It’s not about a potential for creating art, but, rather, to question the existing system and the potential to create a new system outside of the established one,” Ai told Motherboard.

As Abosch said to the publication:

Wallet addresses holding nominal amounts of the PRCLS token have already been printed on paper and sold to buyers, with each wallet address representing different “priceless moments” shared between Ai and Abosch, illustrating how the token can represent value.

Ai revealed in an interview with Motherboard that, for him, blockchain represents “an opportunity to set up a new system that could dismantle the old system, or at least offer a new possibility for communication.”


sources: coindesk

Reality Shares Will Join Increasingly Crowded Bitcoin Hedge Fund Arena, Says Source

California-based asset manager Reality Shares has become the latest competitor in the Bitcoinhedge fund space, an anonymous source told Business Insider August 15.

Reality Shares, which became known in the cryptocurrency space this year after launching the first Chinese blockchain ETF in June, has reportedly already attracted $25 million for the fund.

Capped at $100 million, the multi-strategy fund would “be a mix of arbitrage, venture, and directional strategies,” the unnamed person “familiar with the firm’s plan” told the publication.

The 2018 bear market in cryptocurrencies has made life difficult for hedge fund operators, which number over 360 as of August.

As Cointelegraph reported previously, industry commentators have raised concerns that continued market suppression would lead to the closure of over 10 percent of said hedge funds by next year.

“People are able to leverage good returns last year to try to raise money this year, but this year is going to be different,” fund investor Rick Marini told Bloomberg about the downturn in April.

Venture capitalist Spencer Bogart meanwhile told CNBC in late June that hedge fund activity could in fact “artificially” lower Bitcoin prices.

Should Reality Shares raise the full $100 million amount, its fund would rival the only 28 that have passed the figure.


Blockchain-based social network Minds moves to ethereum

Blockchain-based social network Minds has announced that it has migrating its platform to the ethereum network.

After almost four months on its Rinkeby test network, the startup will be moving to ethereum for its full live launch. The company claims to provide a censorship-resistant, accessible social network for users, especially those in potentially authoritarian nations.

The platform also claims roughly 1.25 million registered users, about 75% of whom have already earned test tokens. These users will be eligible to receive the platform’s live token via a free “airdrop” distribution as a result.

The CEO Bill Ottman said that the team had engineered a “hybrid on-chain, off-chain model” to ensure that the system can handle the volume Minds is seeing and to provide a simple user experience for crypto newcomers. The on-chain and off-chain model will also help the platform handle large user volumes without congesting the ethereum network, according to the company.

Users can pay tokens to ensure a greater number of people see their posts, or earn tokens by interacting with content. Users can also use it to pay creators directly and subscribe to premium content.



Blockchain, Once Seen as a Corporate Cure-All, Suffers Slowdown

Corporate America’s love affair with all things blockchain may be cooling.

A number of software projects based on the distributed ledger technology will be wound down this year, according toForrester Research Inc. And some companies pushing ahead with pilot tests are scaling back their ambitions and timelines. In 90 percent of cases, the experiments will never become part of a company’s operations, the firm estimates.

Even Nasdaq Inc., a high-profile champion of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, hasn’t moved as quickly as hoped. The exchange operator, which talked in 2016 about deploying blockchain for voting in shareholder meetings and private-company stock issuance, isn’t using the technology in any widely deployed projects yet.

“The expectation was we’d quickly find use cases,” Magnus Haglind, Nasdaq’s senior vice president and head of product management for market technology, said in an interview. “But introducing new technologies requires broad collaboration with industry participants, and it all takes time.”

Betting on Blockchain

So far, IBM and Microsoft have grabbed more than half of blockchain spending

Source: WinterGreen Research Inc. report from earlier this year

Note: Figures shown are percent of total dollar sales

Blockchain is designed to provide a tamper-proof digital ledger — a groundbreaking means of tracking products, payments and customers. But the much-ballyhooed technology has proven difficult to adopt in real-life situations. As companies try to ramp up projects across their businesses, they’re hitting problems with performance, oversight and operations.

Hype Versus Reality

“The disconnect between the hype and the reality is significant — I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Rajesh Kandaswamy, an analyst at Gartner Inc. “In terms of actual production use, it’s very rare.”

That could be bad news for makers of blockchain software and services, which include International Business Machines Corp. and Microsoft Corp. They’re aiming to make billions on cloud services that help run supply chains, send and receive payments, and interact with customers. Now their projections — and investors’ expectations — may need to be tempered.

“Blockchain is supposed to be an important future revenue stream for IBM, Microsoft and others in equipment sales, cloud services and consulting,” said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. “If it materializes more slowly, analysts will have to make downward revisions.”

IBM, which has more than 1,500 employees working on blockchain, said it’s still seeing strong demand. But growing competition could affect how much it can charge clients, according to Jerry Cuomo, vice president of blockchain technologies at IBM.

Microsoft also remains upbeat. “We see tremendous momentum and progress in the enterprise blockchain marketplace,” the company said in a statement. “We remain committed to developing cutting-edge technology and working side-by-side with industry leaders to ensure business of all types realize this value.”

So far, IBM and Microsoft have grabbed 51 percent of the more than $700 million market for blockchain products and services, WinterGreen Research Inc. estimated earlier this year.

For a large swath of companies, blockchain remains an exotic fruit. Only 1 percent of chief information officers said they had any kind of blockchain adoption in their organizations, and only 8 percent said they were in short-term planning or active experimentation with the technology, according to a Gartner study. Nearly 80 percent of CIOs said they had no interest in the technology.

‘No Delay’

Many companies that previously announced blockchain rollouts have changed plans. ASX Ltd., which operates Australia’s primary national stock exchange, now expects to have a blockchain-based clearing and settlement system at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. Two years ago, the company was aiming for a commercial blockchain platform within 18 months. An exchange spokesman said “there’s been no delay,” as the company hadn’t announced the exact launch date until recently.

Another early advocate, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd., said in 2016 that it would deploy blockchain to track rock and fluid samples in early 2017. But it currently doesn’t “have a blockchain project/experiment in progress,” according to spokeswoman Judy Dane.

But there could be more of an uptick next year, according to blockchain-backing organizations.

“It’s not on a steep ramp-up curve at all,” said Ron Resnick, executive director of Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, comprised of about 600 members such as Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. “I don’t expect that to happen this year. They are still testing the waters.”

Seeking Standards

One reason behind the delays: Most blockchain vendors don’t offer compatible software. Companies are worried about being beholden to one vendor — an issue the EEA group hopes to resolve by setting standards.

The organization will launch its certification testing program for blockchain software in mid-2019, Resnick said. Rival industry effort Hyperledger, which represents companies such as IBM, Airbus SE and American Express Co., is preparing to connect its blockchain software to a popular platform called Kubernetes.

Most blockchains also can’t yet handle a large volume of transactions — a must-have for major corporations. And they only shine in certain types of use cases, typically where companies collaborate on projects. But because different businesses have to share the same blockchain, it can be a challenge to agree on technology and how to adopt it.

Many companies also are simply worried about being the first to deploy new technology — and the first to run into problems.

“They want to see other people fail first — they don’t wanna be a guinea pig,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of Hyperledger. “It’s just the nature of enterprise software.”