women in blockchain

There are numerous speculations about the lack of women in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. As the New York Times reported earlier this year, the industry has so far been dominated by “blockchain bros,” with women accounting for just four-to-six percent of blockchain investors.

However, there are women out there making a real change, offering a living example that gender doesn’t matter as long as you bring value to the table. 

As Silicon Valley entrepreneur Brit Morin explained, “We have an opportunity to rebuild the financial systems. Women want to be part of that.”

Block Explorer proudly presents the most important women in blockchain: 

1. Kathleen Breitman (@breitwoman)

 Who: Breitman is one of the co-founders of Tezos, a self-governed automatically updated blockchain. The project raised $232 million of funding becoming the third-largest Initial Coin Offering (ICO) in 2017 and the tenth-largest in history (according to data from CoinSchedule). 

Even though the project went through the process of harsh legal scrutiny, the team was able to make it work, launching the fully operational protocol back in September. 

Why follow: Her tweets are a balanced mix of personal thoughts, heads up about important people and events in the field and funny jokes, delivered in a very calm manner. 

What does she say?

2. Neha Narula (@neha)

Who: Narula was a Google engineer and part of the team in charge of relaunching Digg, the news aggregator. Now, Narula is a director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab. It’s a pioneer in industry research, focused on cryptocurrencies, related technologies and solving the major issues standing in the way of mass adoption including privacy, security, and scaling.

Why follow: She is responsible for many amazing things in blockchain development right now, including creating a demo for a crypto-powered vending machine that allows the buyer to pay for goods with multiple coins. You don’t want to miss it! 

What does she say?

3. Galia Benartzi(@galiabenartzi)

 Who: Benartzi co-founded Bancor, the protocol for smart tokens, one of the most successful token sales to date. Getting back to CoinSchedule and their stats, Bancor was the fifth-largest token sale in 2017 and the 12th largest in history, at the time of publishing. 

Benartzi is currently in charge of Bancor’s business development, and that’s one hell of a mission. 

Why follow: Galia mostly retweets Bancor’s whereabouts and given that the project is working to rethink the future of money and digital assets – it’s a lot. Also, she shares her interviews and talks at the major events. It’s nice to be in the loop if you’re eager to attend blockchain events featuring ladies on the panels.

What does she say?

4. Preethi Kasireddy (@iam_preethi)

 Who: Preethi used to work as a blockchain engineer at Coinbase. And before that as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and partner at Andreessen Horowitz investment firm. Her recent venture is a project called TruStory, a social network of experts helping to identify what is real and what isn’t, focused on crypto-related news. She also holds 1:1 sessions with women who want to get involved in blockchain and crypto. 

Why follow: As a person who believes there’s no point in accumulating knowledge if you are not eager to share it, Kasireddy is indeed a goldmine of blockchain theoretical or practical information. All delivered in an easy to digest manner with lots of personality and character.

Her “aha” moment? Realizing that: “One of the biggest potentials of crypto was going to be its ability to break down some of the entrenched, ineffective, and corrupt systems we have in place today and re-imagine them from the ground up. To do things more openly, fairly, and effectively. All along, I had been approaching crypto as just a technological breakthrough. But I realized that it doesn’t stop at the technology, it merely starts there — it’s a movement. A revolution.”

What does she say? 

5. Meltem Demirors (@Melt_Dem)

Who: According to her Twitter profile, Demirors teaches at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Oxford University. She has a prominent corporate background as an analyst at Dow Chemical and Tradax Energy and as a consultant at Deloitte.

Starting from 2015 she was deeply involved in Digital Currency Group, one of the most active investors in the industry (its portfolio counts over 100 companies). Currently, she is chief strategy officer at investment management company, CoinShares. So she really knows her stuff. 

Why follow: Meltem has a UNIQUE point of view on what’s going on in the industry right now and where it might take us soon on the macroeconomic level. And she doesn’t hesitate to share it.

Her “aha” moment? “Sending a bitcoin transaction in 2013. Truly magical. Truly life-changing. When I really understood why this mattered.”

What does she say?

6. Linda Xie (@ljxie)

 Who: Linda accumulated many years of corporate risk management experience at AIG, and in product management at Coinbase. Later she moved on to advising 0x, a project building a protocol for decentralized exchanges, and doing her own thing as the managing director and co-founder at Scalar capital, an investment management firm. 

Why follow: Xie is super insightful on many levels: from how to explain the blockchain and cryptocurrencies to a muggle to sharing worthy thoughts and findings from fellow blockchainers. All delivered in a very warm and personal tone, it’s like reading from a friend. 

What does she say? 

7. Amy Wan (@amyywan)

Who: Amy has a solid legal background established while working for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Later on, she moved to the crowdfunding space (and even helped to raise $23.6 million to a real estate platform in series A). The boom of Initial Coin Offerings got her attention and led to her writing the Bloomberg Law practice guide to ICOs. At the moment her main venture is Sagewise, where along with her team she is building a product aiming to resolve disputes on blockchain efficiently. 

Why follow: Knowledgeable and forceful, but yet feminine, Wan shares her legal insights on security token offerings, decentralization and dispute arbitration on the blockchain. 

What does she say?

8. Taylor Monahan (@tayvano_)

 Who: The woman who founded probably one of the most-used Ethereum wallets out there, MyEtherWallet, and later MyCrypto. 

 Why follow: Monahan tweets her opinions on major industry events and her own product updates, all well-seasoned with humor and irony. 

What does she say?

9. Joyce Kim (@joyce)

 Who: Joyce went a long way from being a legal clerk to counseling startups and then becoming a company founder herself. Here entrepreneurial journey includes Soompi.com, one of the largest online communities for Korean pop fans, Simple Honey Inc., mobile e-commerce app based on “wish list” shopping, that was acquired by OpenCoin Inc. in 2013. 

Later she co-founded Stellar, an open platform trying to make financial products accessible for all, and worked there as an executive director. Since 2017 she is on her own again as a managing partner at SparkChain Capital, series A fund, investing in blockchain companies from around the world.

Why follow: Kim doesn’t tweet a lot, but we hope it will change. She is very passionate not only about the blockchain but also about long-term impact it might have on the disruption of some currently dysfunctional institutions. Also, she talks a lot about crypto founders and a token’s evaluation from the traditional “venture” perspective, and it might get you thinking.  

What does she say?

10. Dovey Wan (@DoveyWan)

 Who:  Founding Partner of Primitive Ventures, a crypto asset investment fund, known for contributing to Zcash, Sia, Kyber Network, and many other stealth-mode projects in the field. 

She’s also a voting member for token listings at Huobi Global, giving her voice for or against the candidates applied to be listed on Huobi Pro (currently ranks number six amongst the largest crypto exchanges based on trading volume) and Hadax exchanges.  

 Why follow: Dovey’s tweets are gold. It’s a never-ending flow of fresh tech-related ideas, witty thoughts on the most debated events in the industry, along with funny pics of the casual things she encounters during her trips. 

What does she say?

Do you think we left someone behind? Go ahead and share your favorite blockchain female in the comment section below. Learned something new in this article? Subscribe to the Block Explorer newsletter.

Good morning, folks. It’s one of those mornings where you’re almost nervous to look at the markets. After a crypto bloodbath where bitcoin suffered an 11% freefall and bitcoin cash ripped itself in two, it’s like peering outside after a hurricane.

As the dust settles, two cryptocurrencies have bounced back stronger than others: Stellar Lumens (XLM) and Ripple (XRP).

Stellar (XLM) +5%

Stellar 24 hour chart
Stellar XLM 24-hour price chart. Credit: CoinMarketCap

Stellar (XLM) is up more than 5% over the last 24 hours. After “flippening” EOS earlier this week, XLM has strengthened its position ahead of EOS as the fifth-largest cryptocurrency.

The price movement is supported by the recent decision to airdrop $125 million worth of XLM tokens to blockchain.com wallets. Stellar has also announced its integration with Kik, a mobile messaging service which is moving from Ethereum to Stellar to launch its own cryptocurrency.

Coingate, a payment gateway, has also announced support for Stellar, allowing people to use XLM as a payment method on e-commerce stores.

Ripple (XRP) + 3%

Ripple XRP daily chart
Ripple XRP 24-hour price chart. Credit: CoinMarketCap

Among a sea of red, Ripple’s XRP token is pushing 3% higher this morning, having overtaken ethereum as the second-largest cryptocurrency.

There’s no major catalyst for the price movement other than the news that Coinbase will support XRP in its custody service. We should point out this does not mean XRP will be tradable on the Coinbase platform.

Elsewhere on the markets, IOTA is holding up well (+3%), alongside 0x (+7) following its addition to the Coinbase roster. Dogecoin (+6%) is also rising after it was reported that Dogecoin is used twice as much as Bitcoin Cash for transactions.

All prices are correct at time of publishing.

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stellar overtakes EOS

On the back of a storming price surge, Stellar Lumens (XLM) has overtaken EOS as the fifth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. XLM is the token associated with Stellar – a cross-border payments project built on blockchain technology.

XLM has soared 16% in the last seven days to hit a market capitalization of almost $5.4 billion. It has now surpassed the market cap of EOS which dipped below $5 billion.

How Stellar Overtook EOS

Stellar is riding a wave of optimism over the last week, culminating in the news that Blockchain.com will facilitate a $125 million XLM airdrop to new wallet holders.

Blockchain.com, one of the world’s most popular crypto wallets, will gift new users a small amount of XLM in a bid to increase user adoption.

It’s reportedly the largest cryptocurrency airdrop in history, marking a new level of crypto marketing.

Speaking of the airdrop, Stellar founder Jed McCaleb said:

“We believe that airdrops are central to creating a more inclusive digital economy. Giving away lumens [XLM] for free is an invitation to communities to design the services they need. Our hope is to eventually have global citizens own and use lumens, in both developing and developed economies. By working with Blockchain to increase the availability and active use of lumens on the network, leveraging their almost 30m wallets, we will increase the network’s utility by many orders of magnitude.”

Gaining on Ripple XRP?

Stellar is often seen as a competitor to Ripple in the sense that it facilitates super-fast, cross-border transactions. While Ripple is working closely with banks, Stellar has partnered with IBM and aims to bring international money payments to the developing world.

Founder Jed McCaleb was instrumental in the early development of Ripple before leaving to begin work on Stellar.

Overtaking EOS marks a powerful step in the Stellar journey and places it within touching distance of its rival.

Will XLM maintain its position as fifth-largest cryptocurrency? We’ll keep you updated.

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New York skyline Wall Street blockchain and finance

Blockchain technology is often referred to as one of the most disruptive developments of the 21st century. From medical records to artificial intelligence, the list of potential use cases is endless. In particular, the finance sector is one of the best fits for this technology.

Blockchain has several key advantages. It is secure, transparent, and immutable (meaning it cannot be edited and transactions cannot be reversed). That makes it the perfect way to store data and funds, and open doors to the world of big money.

With the debut of smart contracts (contracts that execute automatically when certain criteria are met), the blockchain world got a massive step closer towards wider adoption. These features are sending ripples through the financial world in the following ways:

Blockchain and Banking

Banks have been working on blockchain technology for several years. In fact, there are various international blockchain consortia, consisting of institutions like HSBC and Santander. The groups are trying to advance the $17 trillion trade finance industry by adopting blockchain solutions. Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan is building its own blockchain services on the Ethereum network.

blockchain banks consortia - a list of all banks and logos involved in blockchain
Image credit: Business Insider

A decentralized, digital system has the potential to weaken fraud attempts, improve document turnaround times, and streamline accounting for businesses. Moreover, by working with smart contracts, the consortia aims to progress in cross-border trading and to enhance the supply chain industry.

At this point in time, the third-most-valuable cryptocurrency is Ripple’s XRP, which has announced more than 100 partnerships with major banking institutions around the world. Most of the banks are using Ripple’s blockchain solution called xCurrent. However, at least three companies are now using Ripple’s cryptocurrency service, xRapid, to settle cross-border payments.

Initial pilots reveal that blockchain solutions can reduce international payment times from days to minutes (and at a 40-70% discount in fees).

Blockchain and the Stock Market

Wall Street is one of the best places for the implementation of blockchain technology, and the conversation is ramping up around “security tokens.” Security tokens are issued by companies, much like stocks and bonds, but on a blockchain.

It has benefits for shareholders and the company itself.

Shareholders, for example, can take advantage of increased transparency and simplified stock market duties, like dividends and voting. Companies may also add extra features to their security tokens, which might be access to products, discounts or memberships.

For the company, issuing stock on a blockchain improves liquidity, distribution, control and investor relations. Companies that issue security tokens will also benefit from customizable trading settings, automated whitelisting processes and the tracking of their investors.

Wall Street stock exchange

Several big institutions have expressed interest in issuing tokenized securities. The most popular supporters are Overstock’s subsidiary tZero, cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase, Binance, and OKEx, as well as the main stock exchanges in Switzerland and Malta.

Additionally, there has already been a successful attempt to issue corporate stock on the blockchain.

Blockchain and Real Estate

The real estate sector is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, but there are many ways it can be improved. Real estate agents, as well as private investors, usually face high costs for bureaucracy and notaries. They are also flooded with tremendous waves of paperwork. Blockchain and smart contracts would undoubtedly save time and wealth by cutting out intermediaries. It also provides a secure and reliable place to store data.

The tokenization of assets would drastically reduce the time needed to trade property. And it would allow us to easily divide the ownership of property among multiple investors. As a consequence, investing in property may become available to everyone around the globe, and not just wealthy individuals.

blockchain real estate

Blockchain adoption in real estate is already a real thing. In February this year, the US state Illinois announced an initiative for real estate transfers supported by blockchain technology. The government’s goal was to experiment with blockchain, which could potentially save millions of dollars and provide enormous value.

Blockchain and the Insurance Business

Insurance corporations represent another industry primed for the introduction of blockchain technology. On the one hand, there are lots of people in the world that can’t live without insurance for health or property. But dealing with insurance companies is extremely time-consuming, especially when trying to claim refunds.

Meanwhile, most businesses in this sector are confronted with several issues in terms of verifications, data collection, and auditing policies.

One of the world’s largest insurance companies, People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC), has teamed up with the blockchain startup VeChain to address these problems. According to VeChain, its native blockchain VeChainThor “provides enterprises with the tools, securities, and governance to properly control their assets while collaborating across multiple verticals, industries, and even countries.”

S&P 100 enterprise MetLife is also wading into the blockchain space. With their Singapore based innovation center LumenLab, the insurance company is actively experimenting with smart contracts on a private blockchain.

In their sandbox project Vitana, the customer connects electronic medical records with their smartphone to issue a policy in a matter of minutes. In addition, a smart contract triggers an automatic payout upon diagnosis, without the need to make a claim.

Blockchain and Cross-Border Payments

Everyone who has ever made an international wire transfer has experienced the huge effort and time it requires to do so. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain are perfectly poised to fix this issue. Projects like Ripple and Stellar are already building an ecosystem to transfer value across borders, yet these digital assets still face serious obstacles before a wide adoption is in sight.

cryptocurrency cross-border payments

To become a viable form of money, currencies need to store value fairly well. Most cryptocurrencies do not fulfill these requirements due to their extreme volatility. However, many people depend on a currency with a relatively stable value. Tether’s USDT is probably the most popular stable cryptocurrency at the moment. Unfortunately, this does not solve the problem of fiat currencies, as the token is pegged to the US dollar and controlled by a centralized power.

Consequently, many projects are working on an alternative, more suitable, method of creating a stable coin. One of the main ideas is to back a cryptocurrency with all kinds of assets, including precious metals, stocks, property, and other cryptocurrencies. Stable coins and tokens are still in a very early stage of development, but the potential to substitute all fiat currencies is real if a project eventually succeeds.

A handful of international governments, such as Russia and China, are currently exploring the potentials of having their own cryptocurrency. The South American nation Venezuela announced its official cryptocurrency petro, which was created after the hyperinflation of the bolivar this year. The petro is based on NEM’s blockchain and backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves. However, many critics denounced the project for its lack of transparency and decentralization, which are originally the fundamentals of a blockchain currency.

Obstacles for Blockchain Adoption in Finance

There are still some hurdles standing in the way of worldwide acceptance. Not least the problems of scalability, speed, and decentralization. Applications that include micro-transactions or high-frequency trading, like decentralized exchanges, are particularly in need of a fast, scalable and secure blockchain architecture.

There are hopes for improvement. New concepts are being developed, like “proof-of-stake”, where block validations are conducted through owning stakes instead of computation power. Sharding is another alternative, where the blockchain history is split into multiple sections and computed in parallel.

A decentralized network is also required to maintain extraordinary security standards. A blockchain is generally referred to as a secure place to store funds and data. Yet, we occasionally observe serious security issues like 51% attacks, which happened at least half a dozen times to prominent cryptocurrencies in the last year.

In other cases, the chains of major cryptocurrencies face problems when consensus nodes go offline all of a sudden. The fear of quantum computer attacks is something every digital currency has to deal with.

Apart from the blockchain itself, there are also many incidents where smart contracts have been reported as wrong. In order to convince massive enterprises to adopt the technology, blockchain constructions are required to provide a predictable and trustless experience.

There’s one more problem. Blockchain and cryptocurrency communities are split as to whether the technology should offer full anonymity or explicit transparency. The dilemma is a stumbling block for convincing big institutions and governmental authorities. The vast majority of governments around the globe are not in high spirits about privacy coins. Tax bureaus and other regulatory entities demand insight into transaction histories.

However, most companies and institutions refuse to use cryptocurrencies as long as the histories of their accounts are public to everyone. In order to find a fitting solution, several international universities are collaborating in the “Accountable Privacy” initiative. With its project Abelian, the initiative is proposing a concept of privacy, where the user determines the transparency level of his transactions.

We are still in the experimental phase of blockchain in the financial world. But as we can see above, there is phenomenal scope for this technology to transform the way we do business. Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.

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keybase

“No more big ugly addresses”

Blockchain project Stellar and cryptography startup Keybase have inked a partnership designed to fund the development of projects that will make cryptocurrencies more user-friendly.

On Thursday, the Stellar Foundation announced that it had signed a deal with Keybase, whose aim is to simplify the user experience in end-to-end encrypted applications by improving public key infrastructure (PKI).

The company, which was founded in 2014 by the co-founders of OKCupid, allows users to link their social media accounts to cryptographic keys, which can then be used for communication, code signing, or any number of other applications. Using the Keybase application, other users can then easily verify that a public key — or cryptocurrency address — belongs to a specific individual.

Stellar and Keybase believe that, eventually, they will be able to build out functionality that allows users to store cryptocurrency wallets on multiple devices and execute transactions without passing around “big ugly addresses” — or storing their funds with third-party custodians.

As Stellar explained in its announcement:

“We see a future where, say, I can send my friend 100XLM, and, via Keybase, I can send it to her by knowing only her Twitter or Reddit handle. I won’t need some long string of digits as a key, just a human-readable username that I already know. In short, I can interact with her financially in the same way I interact with her socially.”

“The end product,” Stellar added, ” would be like a global, decentralized Venmo, where you can send around every asset under the sun, not just your local currency—that’s where money is heading, and we want to get Stellar started along the path.”

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Keybase hinted that the project will release “something big involving Stellar” later in the year and will integrate “certain Stellar features directly into Keybase’s apps.”

However, the company assured users that it would continue to support bitcoin and zcash address verification.

Featured Image from Pixabay