blockchain

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At a gathering at the Microsoft headquarters in Beijing on Thursday, with about 200 people in attendance, Antshares, the first open-source blockchain platform developed in China, announced a complete rebranding of its blockchain solution, as well as a number of other developments detailing their ambitious plans forward.

One of the revelations was the platform’s new name and brand, NEO, which in Greek means newness, novelty and youth. The developers also highlighted the strengths of their advanced smart contract code, which will support decentralized commerce, digital identities and the digitization of many different assets. This rebranding of Antshares represents a new direction for the development of China’s blockchain community.

Currently, holders of ANS can now automatically generate Antcoins (ANC) in their Antshares wallets, which will be used as gas on the platform. The ANS asset symbol will become NEO in the 3rd quarter of 2017; meanwhile, the NEO team is working on new clients and a UI for the new NEO brand.

Throughout the day, there were presentations from participants including Microsoft representatives, NEO platform developers, and founders of partner platforms. Among the select attendees were several major potential investors, industry experts and blockchain enthusiasts, as well as members of the Chinese financial and mainstream media, including CCTV.

Presenters at the conference included: 

Da Hongfei, founder of NEO

After announcing NEO’s new brand and strategy, Da Hongfei elaborated on the future of blockchain technology, where every asset will be digitized and programmable with smart contracts. Calling for the transparency and openness of data, he introduced concepts of the “Smart Economy” and new smart contract system, and announced that he is building a new multi-chain protocol for interoperability.

Da Hongfei’s top revelations at the conference were that:

  • NEO is collaborating with certificate authorities in China to map real-world assets using smart contracts;

  • NEO has received a new patent for cross-chain distributed interoperability;

  • NEO’s recent new startup partners include Bancor, Agrello, Coindash, Nest Fund, and Binance, with more partner announcements to come.

Erik Zhang, Core Developer of NEO

In his presentation, Erik Zhang discussed the evolution of Smart Contracts 2.0, and explained the main differences between NEO and Ethereum. One big contrast of these competing platforms is their programming languages. Ethereum requires developers to learn to program with Solidity. Neo, on the other hand, will support almost all programming languages via a compiler, including those on Microsoft.net, Java, Kotlin, Go and Python, greatly lowering the difficulty for developers to write smart contracts. By making its programming languages more inclusive, NEO hopes to attract a larger community of developers. Zhang also explained the mechanics of the NEO Virtual Machine, its execution engine and interoperability.  

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Slide Of The NEO Virtual Machine

Tony Tao, CEO of NEO and Founder of Nest Fund

Based on the concept of Ethereum’s The DAO, a blockchain-based investment fund, Tony Tao is about to release a whitepaper for a similar project. Called Nest Fund, and built on NEO’s blockchain, this fund will make improvements on the failures of The DAO. By offering a global bounty reward for any hacker who finds bugs, Nest will be audited by a worldwide peer review, and will then release its token for decentralized investing.

Srikanth Raju, Microsoft’s G.M of Developer Experience and Evangelism for the Greater China Region 

According to Mr. Raju, blockchain technology will lead us into a new digital age, displacing traditional businesses and middlemen throughout many industries. He said that Onchain (the company that founded NEO) is “one of the top 50 startup companies in China”, and offered his support for their endeavors going forward.

 Mr. Han Feng, Tsinghua University I-Center 

Fostering innovation and entrepreneurship at the top university in China, Tsinghua University’s I-Center focuses on the large-scale integration of technology resources. Speaking for the university’s growing interest in supporting blockchain technology, Mr. Han Feng said that current systems of commerce are “outdated and insecure,” and that the internet is ready for an upgrade to a blockchain-based operating system. Calling for a fully-automated, blockchain-based, decentralized economy, he said we can expect a digital revolution in the years to come. This will include digital currency, decentralized storage, secure smart contract codes, IoT, AI, and many more innovations.

 Chen Cheng Qiang, founder and CEO of Innospace

Located in Shanghai, Innospace is a business incubation company, with office spaces, meeting spaces, cafes and living spaces. At today’s conference, Innospace CEO Chen Cheng Qiang announced a ¥200 million CNY ($29.3 million USD) incubation fund, a collaboration between his company and the NEO blockchain team. Plans for the fund include the establishment of a new blockchain space in Shanghai, combining working spaces, startup incubation and acceleration services. According to Mr. Qiang, his company plans to provide the most successful entrepreneurship acceleration services in China.

 Alex Norta, founder of Agrello

Coming all the way from Estonia, Alex Norta announced that his startup Agrello will be partnering with NEO to develop smart contracts for automation, self-execution, accuracy and transparency. Powered by AI, Agrello will be a platform for non-programmers to create their own legally binding blockchain-based smart contracts. Use cases for Agrello’s tech include renting and sharing, freelance contracting, orchestrating production flows, and reducing administration costs for multinational corporations.

Adam Efrima, CEO of Coindash

With offices in Israel and Shanghai, Coindash will be a social trading platform for crypto assets, offering portfolio management tools for digital asset investors. Features of the platform will include portfolio statistics and management tools, investment automation, an ICO dashboard, and insights into other traders’ successful investing strategies. In the upcoming development of Nest Fund, a blockchain-based smart fund by the developers of NEO, Coindash will offer advisory and prediction tools for Nest’s modern investors.

Mr. Zhao Chang Peng, CEO of Binance 

The former CTO of OkCoin, Mr. Zhao Chang Peng is starting his own digital asset exchange, hoping to compete with platforms like Poloniex. Calling his new platform Binance, this new exchange will only deal in coin-to-coin transactions, avoiding fiat pairs and therefore avoiding Chinese regulations. In order to maintain a standard in mature digital assets, Binance will only list coins that meet its strict criteria. With a launch planned for later this year, the platform’s first traded assets will be bitcoin, ether and NEO. 


From the looks, sounds, and energy of the event, NEO has built up some strong momentum going forward. They have one the top blockchain development teams in all of China, with 50 million ANS ($325 million) to support their funding needs and a growing list of partners now aligning by their side. While it may take some time to steal the spotlight from Ethereum, we are sure to see more from this platform in the months to come.  

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BlockchainThe popular online bitcoin wallet, Blockchain.info, has announced the completion of a successful series B funding round by raising $40 million. The company started its services back in 2011 and aims to continue making digital currencies easier to use for everyday people. Also Read: State of Montana Funds Bitcoin Mine to Bolster Local Jobs Blockchain Raises

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StatusA decentralized messaging app called Status — built on the Ethereum blockchain— raises over $60 million dollars during its initial coin offering campaign. However, as soon as the sale started the network became congested, and the Status team was unable to immediately provide everyone with their promised tokens.  Also read: Bitstamp Initiates Litecoin Trading Function as the Currency’s Price

The post Status ICO Generates Over $60 Million, Fails to Deliver, Triggers Ethereum Network Overload appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Ripple LabsDuring this week’s Bitcoin.com podcast our host, Richard Jacobs, sits down with Stefan Thomas, CTO of Ripple Labs to discuss his company’s “real-time gross settlement protocol” Ripple (XRP). Also read: New Bitcoin.com Podcast Episode with Charlie Shrem and Anthony Di Iorio of Jaxx Currently, traditional settlement times for international bank transfers can cost a lot of

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This is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release. Thanks to blockchain technology and the rise of cryptocurrencies, investment scenarios

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libertariansA May 30th article in the Atlantic declared, “Cryptocurrency Might be a Path to Authoritarianism. Extreme libertarians built blockchain to decentralize government and corporate power. It could consolidate their control instead.”  Also read: SEC Eyes Initial Coin Offerings for Regulatory Oversight The article distorts important points but it raises a valid concern. Namely, bitcoin and the

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Nimiq Delivers the World's First Browser-Based Blockchain Technology to Enable Mass AdoptionThis is a paid press release, which contains forward looking statements, and should be treated as advertising or promotional material. Bitcoin.com does not endorse nor support this product/service. Bitcoin.com is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy or quality within the press release. Have you ever tried to tell someone about bitcoin and blockchain

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Op Ed: Three Technical Requirements to Connect Blockchains Without a Token

In my last post, I was talking about how connecting all blockchains is the final stepping stone for mass-crypto adoption. Here I want to outline the technical building blocks with which this idea can be implemented.

Since I see a lot of downsides to having one large uber-blockchain connecting all others, I will focus on a token-LESS solution. This would have several advantages:

  • No need for an additional token.

  • Users can “remain” on their blockchain.

  • No need to trust a centralized third party.

There are a couple of downsides to such an approach however. Since there is no uber-blockchain or a centralized party ensuring the connection, there needs to be enough liquidity between two blockchains to be connected. If I want to transfer funds from the Ethereum to the Bitcoin blockchain, for example, I need someone who, at the same time, wants to go from bitcoin to ether. For these two large blockchains, you will always find someone willing to go in either direction, but what about from Ethereum to a smaller blockchain or a small blockchain to another small blockchain? While I will be laying out a way on how that could even be solved, I want to stress that liquidity is the key economic factor in such a cryptographically secure multi-asset network.

Basic Building Blocks

Let’s look at the three very basic building blocks that are needed to connect any two blockchains:

  1. Multisignature feature (Multisig);

  2. Hashing functionality; and

  3. Time-lock functionality

Let’s work through each of these three and combine them into a larger single picture.

1. Multisig is an old and well-trusted concept that can be compared to a shared checkbook with multiple required signatories. A multisig transaction allows for the enforcement of arbitrary joint signature rules. In the case of a cryptographically secure, off-chain, multi-asset, instant transaction network (COMIT) one would use 2-of-2 multisig transactions for which both signers have to sign a transaction to become valid and be accepted by the network (an example of this will follow right after). This means a multisig transaction established between two parties needs to be signed by both so that its outcome becomes valid and can be accepted by the network.

In the picture below, a transaction was created with 1 BTC as input; however, in order to get it out, both parties (Alice and Bob) have to sign the transaction:

 

2. Hash functions are standard cryptographic concepts. These are one-way functions to convert arbitrary data (in our case a secret “s”) into a unique hash “h.” This hash h can then be shared safely without anyone being able to compute the secret s used to create it. This allows us to build a hash-lock transaction which will only unlock the funds with the knowledge of the secret s. In order to route across different blockchains, we need the same cryptographic hash function available in the smart contracting language of each blockchain participating on such a route.

In the picture below, someone put 1 BTC into a contract, but Alice can only take it out once she has the secret (which she normally would get from Bob).

3. Time-lock is a simple requirement for funds to be locked up until a future date. Blockchains are found to have two different time-locks: relative and absolute. Absolute time-locks will lock a transaction output until a fixed point in time in the future, whereas relative time-locks will lock a transaction output relative to an event or a point in time. That is to say, a relative time-lock rather defines a time span than a specific point in time. Time-locks are a requirement for trustless payment channels, and relative time-locks are recommended as they allow for indefinitely open payment channels.

In the example below, someone put 1 BTC in, but in order for Alice to get it out, she has to wait a predefined time. 

Putting It Together 

If we go ahead and combine these three building blocks, we get something called HTLCs (Hashed Time-Lock Contracts) whose states can be updated on a multisig basis. HTLCs combine the concept of a time-lock for refund purposes with a hash-lock. If the recipient can provide the secret s for the hash-lock before the expiry of the time-lock, he will be able to retrieve the funds. Otherwise, the sender can safely reclaim the funds. In case one party wants to update the HTLCs state, he needs the other party’s approval (signature). This is how the multisig function comes into play.

In the example below, Alice put 1 BTC into the contract with Bob. Bob can either take the 1 BTC out if he gets the hash from Alice within a predefined time, or Alice will get the funds back automatically after that predefined time has past.

Two HTLCs can be coupled with each other resulting in something called atomic transactions. To do so, the recipient first generates a secret s and computes its hash h. Subsequently, the recipient will share this hash h with a sender who in turn creates the first conditional transaction, i.e., its output is (hash-)locked by h. This output can only be redeemed with the knowledge of the secret s.

In layman’s terms, this would mean that if Bob wants to send Alice 1 BTC and wants ETH in return, they could open two payment channels (one with BTC and the other with ETH) and couple them with a hash h. Bob sends Alice BTC as long as she sends him ETH. In case either one backs out, the original amounts would just be returned.

The Full Route 

Now we can stack an arbitrary amount of transactions onto each other as every node in this chain can safely use the same hash to create a transaction which is also conditional on knowing the secret s. This hash is initially shared with the sender, who will then subsequently send a conditional payment to the first node requiring knowledge of the secret s to redeem it. Each node in the route can then safely forward the transaction while adding the same condition to the transaction redemption. Through the use of HTLCs we can guarantee that either all of the transactions via this route get fulfilled or all payment channel transactions will be unredeemable. No trust has to be put in any of the nodes in the middle of the route. In the end, you have a chain of transactions which all depend on the same secret to be fulfilled. When the receiver takes the last transaction and uses the secret to redeem the money, every other node will see the secret that was used and can then fulfill their own incoming transaction.

After the secret s has been shared across the route, every payment channel will then settle the transaction back into the channel. This is done by updating the payment channel’s state to the final balances and then invalidating the HTLC transactions by revealing the invalidation key k to the payment channel counterparty, which will eventually make the transaction complete.

The time-lock mechanism is used as a refund mechanism in case of an intermittent routing failure. The time-locks need to be stacked from receiver to sender to make sure no one is able to cheat by having a shorter period than someone after him/her and thereby being able to pull out first.

Conclusion 

These transactions can span within the same blockchain, but can also go cross-chain as long as you find someone who is willing to transact on both blockchains. This is where the concept of liquidity and routing comes in. To go back to the beginning where we thought about connecting two low-liquidity blockchains we see now, that we actually don’t necessarily transact between those two directly. By using stacked payment channels one after the other, money could flow from one low liquidity chain to a high liquidity chain and then to the final low liquidity chain. 

This concept connects payment channels to a large network that is now:

  • Cryptographically-secure (relies on cryptographic standards),

  • Off-chain (like the Lightning- or Raiden-Network) ,

  • Multi-Asset (cross-chain),

  • Instant (no need for a transaction to settle on the blockchain as updates only happen between the parties until it gets broadcasted)

  • A Transaction Network, such as COMIT.

In the next blog post, I will talk about the concept of liquidity and Liquidity Providers (LP) and also on how routing through such a network could work.


This is a guest post by Dr. Julian Hosp, the co-founder of TenX and co-author of the whitepapers of TenX and COMIT. The views expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine.

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E&Y Report: How the Wealth Management Industry Could Benefit from the Blockchain

Blockchain technology has morphed from a popular buzzword to a technology that is in the process of revamping a wide range of operational and business processes within the financial service industry. A segment of the financial industry that could benefit greatly from the implementation of the distributed ledger technology is the wealth and asset management sector.

The global accountancy firm Ernst & Young published a report on the benefits of blockchain technology for the wealth and asset management industry titled ‘Blockchain Innovation in Wealth and Asset Management.’ The report states that the implementation of blockchain technology would likely result in reduced operational expenses, elimination of redundant yet time consuming functions and more opportunities to better the client experience. More specifically, using blockchain technology in important areas such as the client onboarding process, the creation of model portfolios, the settling and clearing of trades and compliance processes related to AML regulations can all be improved by implementing distributed ledger technology-based solutions in the wealth management industry.

Blockchain Use Cases in Wealth Management

In this report, Ernst & Young highlights two use cases as examples of the benefits of the blockchain.

Firstly, blockchain technology can be applied to digitize and streamline the customer onboarding and profiling process. Strict regulatory requirements require wealth managers to collect information such as proof of identification, marital status, residency, sources of wealth and political ties from new potential clients. This can be a cumbersome, long-winded and, therefore, costly process.

If, instead, high net-worth individuals’ data were to be stored on a distributed ledger to which permissioned parties could gain access with the individual’s approval, then this would greatly reduce the time and cost of onboarding a new customer. Furthermore, due to the immutability and auditability of the blockchain, an audit trail could easily be kept for each client.

Secondly, the blockchain could facilitate the creation of portfolios and the communication of portfolio changes to clients. Currently, wealth managers use a variety of different platforms to create and maintain portfolios and most of these platforms do not enable direct communication with the client.

Hence, by developing and implementing a blockchain solution that allows wealth managers to create and manage portfolios according to clients’ stored investment constraints that also allows for direct communication with regarding portfolio changes, the entire investment process would be made substantially more efficient and client relationships could be deepened due to an increase in direct communication between the wealth manager and its clients.

There Will Be Hurdles for Adoption but First-Movers Will Benefit

The report also highlights the challenges of adoption that the technology is likely to encounter. Scalability, interoperability with legacy systems, security and accordance with technology standards were the largest issues raised by the firms polled by Ernst & Young.

In addition, wealth and asset management funds do not exist in a bubble and are usually interconnected with other firms. Therefore, a wide-scale adoption would likely take a long time, considering there would have to be a consensus as to what type of blockchain solutions the whole financial industry chooses to adopt. Due to these factors, most firms are currently only willing to test blockchain technology on a small scale before considering a broader adoption of the tech.

Ernst & Young, however, believes that firms that are the first to adopt blockchain technology will reap the lion’s share of its benefits. As the success of financial blockchain solutions depends on its participants, E&Y encourages firms to begin the innovation process early as first-movers are likely to benefit the most.

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SECThe Securities and Exchange Commission is looking hard at Initial Coin Offerings. This information comes after SEC recently piped up, saying ICO’s need to protect their investors. The regulation agency may be getting more aggressive because cryptocurrencies are growing more visible and valuable. Regulators are especially concerned with “ICO’s. The reason is they lack transparency and oversight.  Also read: Remitano Expands Bitcoin Remittance Services

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