How-mobile-phones-are-transforming-Africa

When the pseudonymous person (or persons) by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin’s whitepaper in 2008, the main idea behind it was to put power back into the hands of the people.

It read: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”

Published during the 2008 global financial crisis, when trust in the banking sector was at an all-time low, bitcoin struck a chord with those in the know. Ten years later and bitcoin remains the number one digital currency despite an influx of altcoins entering the market during that time.

Not only that, but it’s providing a gateway to financial access for the world’s unbanked populations.

According to the Global Findex 2017 report from the World Bank, there are still 1.7 billion unbanked adults worldwide. Two-thirds of them, though, own a mobile phone. In an age where everything is becoming digital, it is these devices that are helping people without access to traditional finance gain the services they need. Additionally, it could help to expand on payment histories, boosting the chances of obtaining credit and insurance.

So, as the crypto market settles into what has been dubbed a “crypto winter,” what are the major projects helping to bank the unbanked?

Paxful

paxful

Founded in 2015 by Ray Youssef and Arthur Schaback, Paxful is a peer-to-peer bitcoin marketplace. 

Headquartered in Delaware, with offices in New York, Hong Kong, Tallinn, and Manila, Paxful’s mission is to connect buyers with sellers with more than 300 payment methods to choose from.

Formerly known as EasyBitz, Paxful removes the need for a user to own a bank account to use the site. Differentiating itself from its competitors, the P2P marketplace focuses on gift cards as one of the accepted payment methods on the site.

For the unbanked population in Africa, these are extremely valuable. So much so, that Africa is Paxful’s top market, which saw an average of 17,351 trades per day in 2018. Not only that, but gift cards were among the top three payment methods by traded volume last year.

In first place was iTunes gift cards making up $282 million, followed by Amazon gift cards at $166 million. Bank transfers were in third place, amounting to $49 million.

Notably, though, even though the price of bitcoin dropped last year by over 70%, African users weren’t deterred. In fact, trading volume rose on the platform to an average of $21 million a week compared to $8.5 million in 2017.

With Youssef having known what it’s like to be homeless during the early days of EasyBitz, before crypto helped him back on his feet, he knows what it’s like for people who struggle. That’s why they are refusing to leave the unbanked behind as they know bitcoin provides the ideal financial alternative and Paxful is helping them.

BitPesa

bitpesa

Founded in 2013 by Elizabeth Rossiello, who is also the company’s CEO, BitPesa is a digital foreign exchange and payment platform.

With its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, the platform is aiming to make it easier to send money into and out of Africa. It also has operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.

It’s also covered by more than 85 countries, has over 23,000 users, and has completed in excess of 560,000 transactions.

At the moment, traditional financial processes are required where money is converted from the local currency into U.S. dollars, passing through several banks before it’s converted back into its destination money.

Yet, BitPesa simply accepts the money from a person’s bank account, moving it directly to the destination account. No middleman, no conversion fees, and all done in a few steps. With its ability to send fast and easy payments across Africa, BitPesa is helping to change how business is done on the continent.

More recently, it set up a remittance corridor with Japan in partnership with SBI Remit, Japan’s biggest remittance service provider, and a subsidiary of SBI Group, a Japanese internet financial services company.

Humaniq

Humaniq Discover the Unbanked

Pitching itself as a “new generation financial services with its own cryptocurrency,” HMQ, Humaniq is aiming to remove poverty from millions of people living in emerging economies.

Founded in 2016 by Alex Fork, London-based Humaniq is working at delivering a new financial platform with a focus on financial inclusion. Based on the latest advancements in blockchain technology, mobile, AI, and biometrics, the platform is delivering economic empowerment and community building to the world’s unbanked population.

Through the use of a smartphone, all a person needs to be verified is their face and voice designed to reduce fraud. It also means that formal identification and an email isn’t required, two things many unbanked people lack.

According to its whitepaper, the smartphone is also needed to make and receive payments while the camera enables users to earn their first coins worth $20 in an e-wallet to be spent as the user sees fit.

Through the platform, Humaniq is working at reversing the trends where the difference in income is widening by bringing people out of poverty. It is doing this by giving its users simple tasks to complete, enabling them to earn tokens in the process. Some of these include inviting friends to join the platform, making transactions or sending chat messages. Each of these sees a user being paid for services, helping them to achieve milestones.

With more than 500,000 users having joined Humaniq since its founding in countries such as Albania, Belize, Botswana, Kenya, Mexico, Sudan, Uganda, Venezuela, and Zambia, to name a few, the platform is steadily opening up the doors of financial inclusion.

Nebeus

nebeus

London-based Nebeus is a crypto platform that has two goals: to provide a service for the world’s unbanked and to create a smart financial future for companies and individuals who are “disillusioned by traditional banking services,” according to its website.

Founded in 2014, with the P2P exchange platform launching at the end of 2017, Nebeus is working at delivering a significant impact on developing countries by creating a bridge that connects them to financial services.

It does this by offering a range of services: its Nebeus card, a wallet, a crypto vault, a crypto-collateral loan, and an over-the-counter (OTC) exchange. And in March last year, it announced that residents in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda now had access to its full suite of services.

According to the World Bank, worldwide, 55% of unbanked women are unlikely to have a bank account. Without access to a bank account they can’t save, apply for loans, buy a home or receive benefit payments from the government.

With Nebeus’ crypto-collateral loan it is aiming to change how people can access money with the use of crypto. The benefits, according to the platform, are that there are no credit checks, low-interest rates, and the person gets to keep their crypto.

Using the loan calculator, a person enters the amount of crypto they want to put down in bitcoin or ethereum and chooses the number of months they want to make repayments over. These can either be done in a one-month to 24-month period.

The amount they can borrow is provided in either British pounds, euros or US dollars. After the repayment of the loan has been completed, the amount of crypto pledged to begin with is returned to the user’s wallet.

Banking the Unbanked

These are just a few of the platforms available, but they show the steps and effort being taken to get many of the world’s unbanked population financially included.

Traditional finance is something that billions of people take advantage of every day. To not be able to open a bank account or put money into a savings account would seem strange. After all, where else would we put it?

Yet, for so many more this is a reality they have to live with. And it’s thanks to the platforms mentioned in this article that are changing how we access finance. It’s no longer a case of opening a bank account. Instead, there are now new ways of being financially independent, which are steadily becoming the norm.

Soon, it may be a case of: you still have a bank account?

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blockchain charity donations

To round out the year, we asked our Block Explorer writers to tell us what they’re most excited about for blockchain and crypto in 2019. In this piece, Rebecca Campbell explores the potential for blockchain to bring transparency to charitable giving.

As 2018 draws to a close, a look back at the last 12 months has been anything but smooth for the cryptocurrency market.

This time last year, bitcoin was trading within touching distance of $20,000 and the bulls were loving it. Fast-forward to December 2018 and bitcoin has fallen roughly 80%. So, as the market slowly turns away from 2018 and looks ahead to 2019, what is it that I’m most excited about the space for the New Year?

Blockchain Brings Transparency to Charity 

Throughout 2018, the use of the blockchain in the supply chain industry has demonstrated the potential the technology has in improving services.

Whether it’s within art, food, humanitarian, fashion or healthcare, knowing what is happening from start to finish can change how we view things, delivering a greater level of transparency, and with it trust.

For me, I’m particularly interested in seeing how the blockchain can change how we give money to charities. 

Blockchain in Supply Chains

Millions of people around the world donate to charity, but for many, the question of how the money is spent and who it’s helping often remains unanswered.

Trust and confidence in the charity sector remains low, according to a Trust in Charities 2018 report by Populus, a UK market research company, and the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

It notes that trust and confidence had dropped to 5.5 out of 10, declining from 5.7 when the report was last conducted in 2016. This drop in faith follows the scandal surrounding Oxfam earlier this year, in which Oxfam was banned from Haiti after its workers were accused of sexual misconduct.

Trust in charities
Trust in charities has declined precipitously over the last few years, according to Populus report.

Blockchain Startups Bring Transparency to Charity Donations

In a bid to improve how we view charity donations, there are already several platforms available, which are working at bringing about transparency to the donation process.

One of which is London-based Alice, a social funding and impact management platform built on the Ethereum blockchain.

Launched in 2017, the platform’s first pilot was in partnership with St. Mungo’s a UK-based homeless charity. The aim of which was to find homes for 15 homeless people on the streets of London.

Alice blockchain charity
Alice’s pilot project to help the homeless in London

Raising $103,000 in Bitcoin

Another platform that is delivering transparency to how we donate is Italian startup Helperbit, a natural disaster management platform whose goal is to bring transparency to the charity and insurance sectors, giving people back the power.

To date, Helperbit has received 354 donations, amounting to nearly $109,000 in bitcoin from 1,298 users, with 12 different projects currently ongoing. One project is raising money for toys that can be built or adapted for children with disabilities. Another project is raising money for a clean water project in Nigeria.

California-based BitGive Foundation is another platform that is making waves within the crypto and blockchain giving space.

Founded in 2013, the first Bitcoin non-profit organization has been working for the last five years at boosting transparency within the donation industry. Last October, BitGive went live with its beta version of GiveTrack, a blockchain-based donation platform that enables donors to transfer, track, and deliver a permanent record of transactions across the globe from start to finish.

BitGive projects
BitGive projects from 2013 – 2016

Earlier this month, the organization launched GiveTrack 1.0 which lets donors track how their funds are used in real time. BitGive also announced its support for four new non-profit organizations: Code to Inspire, Desafio Levantemos Chile, América Solidaria and Run for Water.

Donors Know Exactly Where Their Money Is Going

Through the GiveTrack platform, it’s aiming to give donors a higher level of confidence, knowing that the money they are donating is going to those who need it the most as well as how the funds are spent.

These are just a few of the charity platforms that are using blockchain to improve the donation supply chain. And as we move toward 2019, I’m excited to see what else these organizations have in store and how they can further improve the charity sector.

With confidence and trust at an all-time low for the charity sector, blockchain-based platforms, such as those mentioned, are paving the way to how more people around the world may donate in the future.

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bitcoin hacks

“People should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else.”

That was Ross Ulbricht’s vision when he launched the Silk Road, but it soon turned from a utopian ideal to the world’s most notorious dark-web marketplace. What emerged was an “anonymous amazon.com” attracting drug dealers across the planet, all transacting in bitcoin.

It drew mainstream media attention to bitcoin and cryptocurrency, but ultimately the website was shut down, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of Ross Ulbricht, a 34-year-old now serving a double life sentence plus 40 years without parole.

But this story is not straightforward. It’s a story of drugs, aliases, corruption, conspiracy, and the dark web.

Outlined below are the many twists and turns on the road to justice (or injustice). Rebecca Campbell reports:

The Beginnings of Silk Road

Launched in February 2011, the Silk Road website, created by American Ross Ulbricht, was envisioned to be a “free-market economic experiment” that focused on user anonymity. 

Using two key pieces of technology, bitcoin and Tor – a network of computers that makes it impossible to trace by routing internet traffic through servers by anonymizing IP addresses, Ulbricht believed that “people should have the right to buy and sell whatever they wanted so long as they weren’t hurting anyone else.”

ross ulbricht silk road
Ross Ulbricht: the founder of Silk Road

However, while counterfeits, weapons, pedophilia and anything that could be used to defraud or harm others were prohibited, what could be listed for sale was left open to interpretation. 

As time went on many vendors began to realize that Silk Road was a safe haven for the sale of drugs. Of course, while Ulbricht may have envisioned an open market platform driven by the community, it wasn’t long before it started to gain the attention of the media.

“The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable”

In June 2011, shortly after it was launched, an article was published on Gawker. Titled The Underground Website Where You Can Buy Any Drug Imaginable, the exclusive report detailed how Silk Road enabled people to buy drugs of any kind – cannabis, weed, hash, ecstasy – and that it was like Amazon, “if Amazon sold mind-altering chemicals.” 

Silk Road marketplace screenshot
A screen capture of the Silk Road website before it was shut down

At the time, however, while many embraced Silk Road and what it stood for, others believed that it would tarnish the emerging cryptocurrency, bitcoin, attracting the attention of the federal authorities.

Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before an American politician called for federal authorities to shut down Silk Road. Not long after the Gawker article was published, Senator Charles Schumer called for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Department of Justice to shut the site down now that it had become public knowledge.

At the time, Schumer said in a report to NBC New York: “It’s a certifiable one-stop shop for illegal drugs that represents the most brazen attempt to peddle drugs online that we have ever seen. It’s more brazen than anything else by lightyears.”

He also added that “I’d bet my bottom dollar in this instance [an investigation] is underway.”

Who is Dread Pirate Roberts?

The person operating the site did so under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts, named after a character in the 1973 novel The Princess Bride. 

The name is often used to refer to Ross Ulbricht, but that’s not entirely accurate. There’s good evidence to suggest that Ulbricht handed over the site to someone else, and that person is the Dread Pirate Roberts.

Ross Ulbricht
Ross Ulbricht: Ulbricht reportedly sold the Silk Road website to someone else, the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts

Ulbricht Reportedly Sells Silk Road

With the website growing, Ulbricht initially turned to Richard Bates, a college friend, who had studied computer science and was working for PayPal and eBay. According to a court transcript filed in 2015, Bates offered help with the site but distanced himself over concerns with law enforcement.

Over time, Ulbricht turned to an anonymous person he met through the site who eventually took control of it. 

This person then operated under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts (DPR).

In a 2013 Q&A interview with Forbes, Dread Pirate Roberts confirmed that he was not the original owner, confirming that Ross Ulbricht had sold the site.

DPR spoke about how the torch was passed to him from Ulbricht and that Ulbricht was fairly compensated for the site. The interviewee mentioned that he had discovered a major vulnerability in Silk Road and that while Ulbricht ignored him at first, DPR eventually got his trust.

Back in 2011, Ulbricht is reported to have told Bates that he had sold the website to someone and that it was no longer in his hands to shut down.

In was in 2012, that Dread Pirate Roberts first announced his screen name on the site, which, would become the main point of interest for the authorities.

If Not Ulbricht, Who Else Could Be Dread Pirate Roberts?

French-born Mark Karpeles, former-owner of the now-defunct Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange, was, at one time, a suspect in connection with Silk Road.

Karpeles ran a DNS registrar and a web hosting company during the time the Silk Road launched, and it was this connection that aroused suspicion.

Investigator Jared Der-Yeghiayan, who went undercover to help bring down Silk Road, discovered that www.silkroadmarket.org was registered to a domain name server (DNS) called XTA.net. 

He then discovered that this DNS was registered with Mutum Sigillum, a company owned and operated by Mark Karpeles. 

Mark Karpeles suspect in Silk Road case
Mark Karpeles: at one time, a suspect in the Silk Road case

In a report dated 6th July 2012, Der-Yeghiayan claimed: 

“I believe since KARPELES has used his [email addresses redacted] to register with a few internet companies that he may have received record of registering, paying for or owning certain aspects of the www.silkroadmarket.org website.”

Mark Karpeles has denied the accusation and the judge in the investigation asked the jury to ignore it because it was based on Der-Yeghiayan “beliefs” rather than hard evidence.

Investigators Went “Rogue”

The case was supposed to be kept as quiet as possible, in order to make sure suspects were not aware of the investigation.

However, information was ultimately leaked to two Baltimore agents – DEA agent Carl Mark Force and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges.

Bridges then went “rogue,” according to court documents.

As part of their rogue investigation, Bridges and Force hijacked a number of Silk Road accounts and arrested one Silk Road administrator named Curtis Green. At the same time, around $350,000 disappeared from Silk Road vendors, tracing back to Green’s account.

Dread Pirate Roberts heard about the missing money, and turned to another Silk Road colleague, “Nob.” But “Nob” had also been hijacked by Carl Force.

It’s alleged that DPR asked Nob to track Green down and retrieve the stolen money. Green was still in custody at this time, but Force played along, and even pretended to kill him.

In the end, the rogue pair were discovered. Force was sentenced to 6 ½ years. Bridges was initially sentenced to nearly six years in prison; however, in 2017 he was sentenced to an additional two years after admitting to a new crime.

Ross Ulbricht on trial for Silk Road case
Ross Ulbricht in courtroom sketch during Silk Road trial. Credit: STRINGER/Reuters

Conspiracy?

As Der-Yeghiayan continued to pursue Karpeles, who he believed to be Dread Pirate Roberts, another Silk Road account by the name “notwonderful” was reportedly feeding DPR inside information about the investigation.

According to the defense, this insider information gave Dread Pirate Roberts enough time to get get a plan in place that “incriminated Mr. Ulbricht falsely.”

In other words, they claim Ross Ulbricht was set up by the new Dread Pirate Roberts.

Connecting Ross Ulbricht to Silk Road…

It wasn’t long before the government then apprehended Ulbricht. Yet, it had to provide an explanation as to why Ross was DPR. 

An IRS agent, Gary Alford, found a forum post on bitcointalk.org by a user named Altoid. It was posted in January 2011 and read:

“Has anyone seen Silk Road yet? It’s kind of like an anonymous Amazon.com.”

Alford then tracked everything written by Altoid and eventually found a post where he revealed an email address. Altoid asked for programming advice and gave the address: [email protected]

ross ulbricht altoid post on bitcointalk forum

Of course, with Ulbricht’s email and a plausible explanation linking him to Silk Road, it was only a matter of time before the authorities found him.

The Arrest of Ross Ulbricht – October 2013

Ross Ulbricht was arrested in a San Francisco library while logged in to Silk Road as the Dread Pirate Roberts admin. He was unknowingly talking to an undercover agent at the time.

Why was Ulbricht logged in as DPR even though he had allegedly sold Silk Road and moved on? The defense claims that someone convinced him to briefly get involved again. DPR then gave him access to all accounts, files, software, and records. 

When he was arrested on 1st October 2013, all this information was on his laptop, including a bitcoin wallet containing 144,000 bitcoins.

Dread Pirate Roberts Logs On Again, While Ulbricht is Locked Up…

Notably, at the time of Ulbricht’s solitary confinement, it was reported that someone accessed DPR’s Silk Road account before it was eventually taken down. 

According to Motherboard, “the logical conclusion is that someone else had access to the account that was said to belong to the mastermind of the massive Dark Web drug bazaar.”

It confirmed what many believed: Ross Ulbricht might have started Silk Road, but he wasn’t the only one operating as Dread Pirate Roberts.

Ulbricht Appears in Court

Ross’s first courtroom appearance was in front of Judge Kevin Fox, who ultimately denied his Eighth Amendment right to bail. On the 4th February 2014, Ulbricht was indicted. In another case in front of Judge Katherine Forrest, who had been recommended to the bench by Schumer, she said in her ruling that Ulbricht was acting as a “sort of godfather.”

Ross Ulbricht in court Silk Road trial
Ross Ulbricht stands trial. Credit: Wall Street Journal

At one stage during the trials, Ulbricht’s defense lawyer was to call Andreas Antonopoulos, a best-selling author and someone with the technical expertise to explain complex matters, and Steven Bellovin, Computer Science professor at Columbia University and leading expert on computer networking and internet security. However, the court precluded these two experts.

Yet, Judge Forrest was more flexible with the prosecuting side.

Two Life Sentences, with No Possibility of Bail

Before his sentencing, one hundred people who knew Ulbricht wrote to Forrest asking for her to apply the shortest sentence. In a court transcript, it said: “The district court was confused by the letters which showed Mr. Ulbricht to be a different man than the one [Forrest] thought him to be.”

Ultimately, though, Forrest gave Ulbricht two life sentences plus 40 years in prison without the possibility of parole for non-violent charges. In this case, it was not in her power to give him the death penalty.

Following the verdict, even Curtis Green tweeted: “Ross Ulbricht got a raw deal. There is so much more to the Silk Road story than people know, and I can’t yet talk about. I don’t believe Ross is dangerous or that it’s in his character to order a hit on anyone. He should never have gotten that horrible sentence.”

Seven weeks after Ulbricht’s trial, Force and Bridges were indicted for corruption. Compared to Ulbricht’s sentence, though, they got off lightly. 

An appeal was filed to a Second Circuit panel consisting of Judges Jon Newman, Gerard Lynch, and Christopher Droney in 2016. However, the Second Circuit judges decided in 2017 to deny Ulbricht’s appeal.

Last December, a petition was filed to the Supreme Court by Williams and Connolly LLP, led by Kannon Shanmugam, who was representing Ulbricht. It was arguing questions on constitutional law, focusing on the impact of the Fourth and Sixth Amendments. The petition was supported by 21 groups. On 28th June 2018, the petition was denied.

The Fight Continues

Silk Road remains a complicated story that has more twists and turns in it than a cheap garden hose. 

Corruption, deception, and intrigue are wrapped up in this case. Yet, despite the truth coming out about several of those involved in the investigation, the sentence against Ulbricht still stands.

After five years in prison and unable to communicate with the outside world, Ulbricht is speaking through his family at the @RealRossU Twitter account that was set up in June 2018. The first tweet went out in July. There is also the FreeRoss.org website that has been set up by “friends, family and supporters who are working to free Ross Ulbricht from a barbaric, double life sentence for all non-violent charges.”

A petition, which was launched by his mum, Lyn Ulbricht, has received over 100,000 signatures. The goal is to hit 150,000 as his family seeks clemency for him.

His next hope of clemency lies with the President of the United States.

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Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are proving to be the investment of the day, with over $9 billion so far raised in the first six months of 2018.

Despite a drop in cryptocurrency prices, interest in ICOs doesn’t appear to be waning. Figures from CoinSchedule indicates that within the first half of the year, more than $9.6 billion has been invested into this form of fundraising. March saw the highest amount raised, coming in at $3.8 billion from 59 ICOs.

When it comes to the top-ranked ICOs, in terms of return on investment (ROI) against the U.S. dollar, which ones make it in the top 10.

The following is in no way an endorsement of ICOs, and potential investors should always conduct their own research before investing their money.

This handy infographic by ico_analysis details what those top 10 ICOs of 2018 are.

Credits

Back in February Credits launched its public crowdsale, hitting its hard cap of $22 million within 17 hours. As an open blockchain platform with smart contracts and an internal cryptocurrency, Credits is reported to have fast transactions up to one million per second and unlimited scalability of the network.

Matrix Chain

The Matrix Chain is also a blockchain platform that supports smart contracts as well as machine learning services. Its public sale launched in mid-January, with a fundraising goal of $12 million. Rated as the next generation blockchain that leverages AI with the blockchain, Owen Tao, CEO of MATRIX, claims it’s a ‘game changer in blockchain technology.’

Switcheo

Built on the NEO blockchain, Switcheo is a decentralized exchange (DEX) that allows for trustless exchange of NEP-5 tokens. It launched its public crowdsale in March with a hard cap of $8 million. It aims to be the first multi-chain DEX for cross-chain token exchange.

Nucleus Vision

Nucleus is an end-to-end technology solution that captures and provides previously inaccessible data to retailers and other ‘brick-and-mortar’ businesses. It achieves this through its proprietary blockchain and real-time sensor technology. In January it reached its hard cap target of $40 million from the backing of prominent blockchain-focused investment companies. It also canceled its public ICO due to rising ethereum prices, deciding instead to list its token directly on exchanges.

Bluzelle

This data service brings together a sharing and token economy. The platform enables people to rent out their unused computer storage space while developers pay to use it with a token. Bluzelle’s token sale ended in January with a target of $19 million.

Zebi

Zebi is a blockchain service that is aiming to become the blockchain network of India. In February, it reached its ICO goal for 30 percent of the token total. It aims to provide individuals, businesses, data requestors, and data providers with a platform to exchange information.

Tomocoin

This is a blockchain infrastructure for the Internet of Value, where people can trade assets, such as stocks, votes, and securities, securely. It will connect to Tomocoin and Ethereum to support cross-chain protocols. Its ICO ended in March with a target of $8 million for 40 percent of token total reached.

Holochain

Holochain is a cloud storage solution provider that is aiming to deliver a decentralized hosting ecosystem. Its token sale ended in April where it had a target of $20 million.

Zilliqa

This is a new blockchain platform that is designed to scale in an open, permissionless distributed network securely. A core feature of it is sharding, which enables it to scale and is a problem it is attempting to solve in the industry. Its public sale was at the beginning of the year with a hard cap of $22 million to raise.

Ontology

Built on the NEO blockchain, Ontology is a network that connects ‘distributed identity verification, data exchange, data collaboration, procedure protocols, communities, attestation, and various industry-specific modules.’ Unlike conventional ICO sales, Ontology didn’t have one, but instead only airdropped to subscribers in March. Distributed by the NEO Council, 20 million ONT tokens were sent to the community.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Blockchain

A joint survey by PwC and VeChain has found that most enterprises prefer to setup their own in-house research and development (R&D) teams to investigate the blockchain.

The survey, 2018 Market Survey Report for (Non-Financial) Application of Blockchain in Chain, was conducted between November and December 2017, taking the form of online questionnaires and focus group discussions.

The research found that among the companies that have already introduced the blockchain, 53.3 percent have setup in-house blockchain technology R&D teams. Those who corporate with blockchain startups was at 30 percent; corporation with well-known large businesses was at 13.3 percent; and investing in or acquiring external blockchain startups was at 3.3 percent.

The authors of the study, Chun Yin Cheung from PwC and Kevin Feng from VeChain, wrote:

When it comes to technologies that have impact on the underlying architecture of the business model, an enterprise usually prefers to build a R&D of its own. On the one hand, in-house R&D team can facilitate system maintenance, information security and cost reduction. On the other hand, enterprises prefer to keep the underlying architecture of the business model under their control.

According to the findings, it also found that management plays a significant role in driving the technology to maturity. This accounted for 35.1 percent, followed by a lack of industry standards at 18.9 percent of the findings. Notably, 10.1 percent indicated that it was down to having no budget that was preventing them from implementing the technology.

Yet, when it comes to the application that best applies to the distributed ledger, security traceability was the most recognized at 85.70 percent.

Most respondents believe the core features of blockchain technology are tamper-resistance and distributed system. Obviously, security traceability becomes one of the fields most demonstrating the features of blockchain technology, the authors wrote.

Second and third to that were distributed data storage and identity authentication, which came in at 68.40 percent and 63.90 percent, respectively. Out of the 10 listed applications that best apply to the technology, market forecasting was last at 15.80 percent.

With the distributed ledger now being used across a wide range of industries it is showing its potential to change the way systems work. The findings show the fields were it has a promising future are logistics, government, and the medical field at 63.3 percent, 47 percent, and 44.4 percent.

With respondents mainly clients from PwC and VeChain, they received more than 130 questionnaires while two focus groups engaged over 40 respondents. Respondents were from around 20 industries, involving more than 10 functional departments.

Featured image from Shutterstock.