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  1. Security Settles on Ethereum in First-of-a-Kind Blockchain Transaction In a first-of-a-kind transaction happening Friday, all it takes to switch from the old world of centralized clearing houses to the frontier of decentralized blockchains was to press a button. A company called Marex is issuing two separate structured notes. Both notes were created using ResonanceX, an investing platform built by Guillaume Chatain, a former managing director at JPMorgan Chase. The first note will be settled the old-fashioned way, on Clearstream, the European clearing house. But the second, otherwise identical note will be registered, cleared and settled on the public ethereum blockchain. All the issuer has to do to change this parameter is select a different option from the drop-down menu on ResonanceX's dashboard. The parallel issuance will test the idea, on an apples-to-apples basis, that blockchain offers a less expensive way to clear and settle financial instruments. And if that proves true, ResonanceX will allow future issuers to pick one over the other as easily as if they were changing an order on Amazon. At stake is more than just the business model of Clearstream, but of centralized clearing houses around the the world. Read More https://www.coindesk.com/security-settles-ethereum-first-kind-blockchain-transaction/
  2. Stateless Rohingya to get digital IDs with blockchain Stateless Rohingya who fled Myanmar are set to receive digital identity cards using blockchain technology in a pilot project seeking to help them access services like banking and education. The first 1,000 people to benefit from the project in 2018 will be members of the diaspora in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, decades-old safe havens for the Rohingya, who are the world’s biggest stateless minority. “They are disenfranchised,” Kyri Andreou, co-founder of The Rohingya Project, which is organizing the initiative, said at its launch in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. “They are shut out. One of the key aspects is because of the lack of identification.” More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims - who are denied citizenship in Buddhist-majority Myanmar - have fled to Bangladesh since August after attacks by insurgents triggered a response by Myanmar’s army and Buddhist vigilantes. The Rohingya Project estimates there are 4 million Rohingya around the world, the majority living outside their ancestral land since Myanmar excluded them from the country’s recognized ethnic groups in 1982, effectively rendering them stateless. Blockchain, the technology behind the bitcoin currency, will be used to issue individual digital IDs to people once they have taken a test to verify that they are genuine Rohingya. It aims to improve the stateless Rohinygas’ access to public services, such as hospitals, which is often difficult, as well as restoring their dignity, the project’s founders said. “We are trying to put a smile on the Rohingya’s face who has been crying for decades,” said another co-founder Muhammad Noor, a Rohingya who first came to Malaysia in 2000. “This is a ray of hope.” Blockchain is a digital shared record of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet, without the need of a centralized authority. It has gained popularity among humanitarians in recent years, with charities using it to transfer money cheaply and disburse aid to refugees. The U.N. refugee agency said in November that the Rohingya are the biggest minority among an estimated 10 million people worldwide who are stateless, a status that deprives them of an identity, rights, and often jobs. Source https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-tech/stateless-rohingya-to-get-digital-ids-with-blockchain-idUSKBN1EE1VA
  3. What Is Bitcoin, Blockchain's Future in the Music Industry? "Blockchain technology is coming like a tsunami," says Dot Blockchain CEO Benji Rogers. "Every business in this space needs to start thinking about a Blockchain strategy." A specter is haunting the music business -- the specter of Bitcoin. To be more specific, it's the Fear of Missing Out on Bitcoin, which is only natural given the digital currency's climb from a value of about $1,000 to more than $19,000, before it settled at about $15,000. Suddenly, a business that has spent the last decade making it more convenient to pay for its products is experimenting with digital cryptocurrencies that are technologically innovative, mathematically secure and actually fairly inconvenient to use. What is to be done? In November, Bjork began selling her album in Bitcoin and three other digital currencies. (The first major artist to accept Bitcoin seems to be -- go figure -- 50 Cent.) Ghostface Killah got involved in issuing his own cryptocurrency, which seems uncomfortably close to the Chappelle's Show's "Wu-Tang Financial skit that shows the hip-hop group offering investment advice. In early December, a team involved with the cryptocurrency Monero announced Project Coral Reef, which allows consumers to buy merchandise from Mariah Carey, G-Eazy, Fall Out Boy and other artists who have deals with Global Merchandising Services. Now the DJ Gareth Emery plans to release, sell, and pay royalties for music using both digital currency and the blockchain technology that it often runs on. Digital cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could be transformative and they're rising in value so fast that they're impossible to ignore. (Even J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon turned around.) At the same time, the only person I know who has ever actually bought anything with Bitcoin is my former neighbor in Berlin, who ordered LSD by mail from the online Silk Road marketplace for illegal drugs. It's not clear how much this will help the music business, however, since rising Bitcoin transaction fees are making the currency so impractical that even a bitcoin conference stopped accepting them. As cool as cryptocurrencies are, it's still not clear what problem they solve. Consider Monero, which offers users even more privacy than Bitcoin by obscuring the identities of payers. That has potential and it makes sense for businesses to accept whatever currency their customers want to use. "It's what we want to do," says Christopher Drinkwater, Global Merchandising Services' head of e-commerce. "Make things as easy as possible." The customer is always right and Drinkwater says purchases made with Monero are increasing. Once the novelty wears off, though, isn't it just easier to buy things with a credit card? Sure, anyone who's embarrassed about their love for the Backstreet Boys can now buy a T-shirt in secret. Wearing it will still be a giveaway, though. So far in the music business, there are more serious discussions about the blockchain technology that Bitcoin is built on, since it can store information on a database that's distributed widely online -- and thus both open to read and impossible to alter in secret. "The blockchain is real," Dimon said recently. Dot Blockchain Media wants to use this to replace the industry's many, old, incomplete rights-holder databases with a music file format that contains rights information along with recordings. Theoretically, at least, this would solve the problem of streaming services not being able to identify or find the rights owners for the songs they use. Which some say has the potential to change the business. Theoretically. "Blockchain technology is coming like a tsunami," says Dot Blockchain CEO Benji Rogers. (Why are digital technologies always compared to destructive weather events?) "Every business in this space needs to start thinking about a Blockchain strategy." Some have. In April, ASCAP joined with SACEM and PRS for Music in a venture to explore the potential of the technology to track rights ownership. "The same real-time update and tracking capabilities that make blockchain attractive to the financial industry also make it an attractive option for the music industry, where accurate, real-time ownership data will grease the wheels for the money to flow to songwriters and copyright owners with less overhead," says ASCAP CEO Elizabeth Matthews. "It is not a panacea to solve the music industry's problems, but we see potential in the future as one of many data initiatives the industry should be exploring." Read More https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/8094097/what-is-bitcoin-blockchain-technology-future-music
  4. ZigZag: Alpha release Today officially announcing alpha version of ZigZag, a crypto assets exchange platform based on the Lightning Network. ZigZag enables 10 second asset exchanges with no user registration required, and avoids the typical high blockchain fees by leveraging the power of payment channels. http://zigzag.bitlum.io/
  5. IBM and Comcast back a blockchain accelerator IBM and Comcast Ventures, the telco giant's VC arm, have announced that they will provide support services and funding, respectively, for MState, a new accelerator and investment fund for startups developing blockchain solutions for large enterprises. MState will invest between $25,000 and $50,000 in up to six early-stage startups over the next half-year. Galvanize, a US-based coding school and venture fund, and Boldstart Ventures, a VC firm, will also provide technical and financial support. The accelerator will look for startups that aim to solve problems for enterprises across multiple industries, including financial services. MState aims to help blockchain technology startups achieve a network effect for their solutions. MState's backers point out that blockchain technology solutions targeted at enterprises — for example, to streamline supply chain finance — need to build up global client bases and achieve scale to succeed. The accelerator will help them with this by introducing successful applicants to Fortune 500 enterprises and providing access to a network of 30 advisors to aid with marketing strategy, product development, and finances. Applications will be reviewed by a panel of VCs and blockchain experts, and winners will be revealed in February. Applicants with working prototypes are preferred, MState's organizers say. MState also wants to help large incumbents get off the blockchain starting blocks.Despite research showing that circa 60% of large enterprises, including financial institutions (FIs), express interest in leveraging blockchain technology, many feel there is too much choice and don't know which solutions to look at, say MState's backers. By selecting only the most promising blockchain solutions, it will narrow down the possibilities for such firms. Given how long it has so far taken FIs to even build blockchain technology prototypes, never mind bring such prototypes into production, it seems undoubted that incumbents need help to make any breakthroughs on this front. However, it's not clear whether MState's model will be a right fit for FIs. The first factor to consider is that the accelerator may struggle to find metrics by which to gauge blockchain technology solutions’ value and viability, given the lack of such products in a live environment, and hence anything concrete to measure their performance against. Second, that Comcast is supplying funding for the program strongly suggests it would have at last partial ownership of any solutions developed by accelerator participants, which could make FIs — which typically like to be in control of the solutions they implement — reluctant to adopt them. As such, FIs considering tapping into any products emerging from accelerators, may want to consider looking instead to programs that are specific to the financial services industry. Source http://www.businessinsider.com/ibm-and-comcast-back-a-blockchain-accelerator-2018-1
  6. Are We Moving Towards Distributed Blockchain Economies? Are distributed blockchain economies where technology is taking us now? We seem to be heading in that direction, but there is something which has not been sufficiently discussed. One of the underpinnings of government and the modern nation-state is a national currency and central bank. The blockchain and cryptocurrencies directly challenge this, and because the police force and military are directly aligned with the government, and are how the government exerts its authority domestically and internationally when force is necessary, removing them would have dire consequences. The current discussion has not discussed these repercussions enough, and right now the discussion is all about only investment and algorithms. This is a kind of near-sightedness which borders on total blindness. I believe that part of the reason the Chinese government, and more Asian governments, are moving against cryptocurrency exchanges is because they see how these are direct threats to governments and undermine their authority, at least in their current forms. If they are unleashed in their current forms, law and order would break down, and governments would fall. I would be the first to say that the nation-state, in its current form, is far from perfect. However, it still maintains public order, and enforces laws that the vast majority of the public subscribe to. Right now, we are going through a phase where the techno-anarchists propose anything incorporating new technology, regardless of the effects it may have, must be good. They ignore facts like higher suicide rates among youth, because they feel more isolated, not more connected, because of mobile technology. They promote the view that any technology works to the good of society, while suppressing any discussions about what those effects may be. They promote the view that algorithms can be trusted, ignoring the fact that algorithms are written by people with their own very real prejudices. This is the same view that earlier proponents of the coal and oil industries promoted: we should use these fossil fuels, and ignore any detrimental extraneous effects may have, because they are too far away into the future for us to worry about them. We are now in the future, and global warming is a problem. Until the crypto-currency advocates provide a clear vision and roadmap of what is going to replace the nation-state and its legal system, I am going to take things very carefully, and with a good healthy dose of skepticism. Read More https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/09/are-we-moving-towards-distributed-blockchain-economies/#7c6d3ddb982d

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