Blockchain in Energy Sector: IOTA to Offer Decentralization, Scalability, No Transaction Fees

  

With motor vehicles becoming an ever increasing luxury around the world,

pollution levels are increasing but the Blockchain could help to reduce the transportation industry’s contribution to global warming that promises a cleaner and energy efficient future. In an article written in December by Carsten Stöcker, Senior Manager in the Machine Economy Innovation Lighthouse Lead at German energy firm, Innogy SE and Thomas Birr, Senior Vice-President of Innovation & Business Transformation at Innogy SE, the future of transport will change through ‘Blockchain-enabled secure peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions that eliminate or minimize the need for centralized authorities such as banks or ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft.’

Blockchain and energy transactions

Through the Blockchain, trip charges will be deducted from the passenger’s Blockchain-enabled digital wallets or charged to their credit card, with payment going straight to the vehicle owner. As noted by Stöcker and Birr, Blockchain-enabled mobility transactions mean that consumers and providers can take part in the transportation system, setting the terms, conditions, and pricing they choose.

“Automotive OEMs want to collaborate with us in order to participate in building a Special Purpose Decentral Platform for Mobility Transactions,” said Stöcker, speaking to Cointelegraph. “We are also now engaging with many owners of EV charging assets around the world in order to bring charging poles to one Blockchain platform.” Yet, while the Blockchain can have a significant impact on how energy transactions are conducted, there are issues with it, such as scalability, transaction costs and offline transactions, that limit its effectiveness. The IOTA Tangle is attempting to fix this by addressing many of the shortcomings with today’s Blockchain technology by delivering secure, practical and scalable applications.

Transferring value without any fees

The IOTA is a digital currency with the goal of establishing itself as fuel for efficient machine-to-machine and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. Instead of using a regular Blockchain, the IOTA uses its IOTA Tangle, which validates transactions in a Directed Acyclic Graph structure (DAG). This is a revolutionary new blockless distributed ledger, that is scalable, lightweight and makes it possible to transfer value without any fees. Stöcker, who is also an IOTA Foundation member, which was founded by David Sønstebø, said that instead of achieving consensus through an expensive mechanism, which can lead to centralization, those within the IOTA network are active in the validation of transactions and consensus.

“When a device makes a transaction and broadcasts the transaction to the network, by protocol or ‘by default’ it has to validate two previous transactions,” he said. “So, it’s a real peer-to-peer network by machines for machines.” He adds that this new concept has immediate advantages: decentralization, scalability and no transaction fees. With all IOTA tokens pre-mined, no mining is required. Not only that, but given the fact that 2779530283277761 IOTA were created, this enables transactions with a little value attached to them. For instance, micro-transactions, which can be beneficial within the energy industry.

Deploying the IOTA in the real world

Of course, in order to deploy the IOTA in the real world, adoption needs to be achieved in a development friendly ecosystem, which is being undertaken in its IOTA Development Roadmap. With the IOTA Tangle designed less rigorously, it means transactions can be made in an offline environment, which copies the IoT, where devices use different networking protocols such as Lemonbeat, Bluetooth LE, LPWAN, or ZigBee. “As such, IOTA is the first permissionless distributed ledger that achieves scalability, making Machine-to-Machine payments for the IoT possible,” said Stöcker.

Chuck Reynolds
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Tips to Creating a Successful Content-Marketing Campaign

The phrase “content marketing” is all over the web these days.

Content has become a conglomeration of many things: webinars, blog posts, videos, social network shares and more. It sounds like a great idea. If done right, a well-executed digital campaign will yield considerable benefits for both established businesses and entrepreneurs. Such a strategy has the power to position a business as a topical authority and establish the owners and executives as experts.

The devil, as they say, is in the details. Implementing such a campaign isn’t as easy as it seems and takes a bit more effort than pressing a button. Depending on your business goals, time needs to be spent aligning your company’s brand’s online persona with your customers’ needs. Once posted, content that’s shared requires interaction on your part. Interact directly with your community by saying something meaningful to stimulate continued conversation. Content marketing can be a boon for your brand. Be sure to follow these tested truths when planning your campaign:

Know your audience and keep the content relevant. 

Each social network has a unique identity and audience, so take some time to research the demographics of the social marketing platforms you use to share. All sites are not the same. Some skew highly to men (Google+) and others are more popular with women (Pinterest). Check the current information on the sites to determine where to share your content to the to best effect.

Whether you market to businesses or consumers, you no doubt have a grasp of their interests. Blogs are still a great way to build an engaged community around your brand and interests. An example of a blog that successfully uses content marketing is SavvySeller.co. This is a community site offering helpful advice for online sellers while displaying ads for its parent company, World Lister. Check what your customers are sharing on social media. By making your blog posts relevant to readers, they may pass along your content as well and become your advocate, awarding you with free, yet most valuable, marketing.

Beware of constant self-reference. 

Repetitive self-reference will not stimulate engagement. The days of broadcast advertising are long past, and without giving your message a twist, broadcasting will do nothing but discourage readers. Rather, use stories to illustrate the benefits your business has to offer. Direct your message to the reader and be sure to personalize it by using the word “you.” In this way, your posts directly address (and pique the interest) of your community. Keep the promotional content to no more than a 1-to-7 ratio. As social scientist Dan Zarrella says, “Stop talking about yourself.” Instead, “start talking as yourself.”

Share what works

When creating content for your business, consider your own time schedule and talents. Sitting down to write a white paper may be painful for many people, and small businesses may not have the time or resources to produce one. If you are more comfortable communicating your messages in another format, for example, why not try sharing the following:

Short-form articles (like this one)

Infographics or small sharable graphics are easily produced on a platform such as Canva

Photographs of products in action that you can share on Instagram 

Short product demonstrations or instructional videos (try to keep them under two minutes)

Other related business content

Also, consider sharing content about things you are passionate about. By posting ideas and subjects that are personally relevant to you (the business owner), you project your humanity to your online influence.

Consider curating.

 A growing trend is content aggregation which is deriving content directly from others’ RSS feeds and automatically turning them into shares. Aggregating is not curating. In contrast, curating content requires a human being to find, read and qualify digital content that is relevant to your audience. Curating may sound like a lot of work, but it may take as little as 30 minutes a day. If you (or another member of your staff) regularly read digital content that relates to your business, finding articles to share is a simple proposition.

Even the owners of niche businesses can find articles that might resonate with their audience. If you curate and share content from others, your audience will look to you as a reliable source for information on a specific topic. A secondary benefit of sharing third-party content is that you build relationships by broadening the conversation with others within your industry.

Measure once and then again.

 Track the comments and responses to your pieces. When you share links on social media platforms, use the many free metrics tools to decipher which of your posts were on track. By on track, I mean were they read? Shared? Acted upon? If a platform or content type isn’t working for you, be sure to put effort into the ones that are. Know that your content marketing will build with time and continuity, and social content may not translate into sales immediately. Set up a plan in advance and have reasonable expectations. You are brand building for the long haul.

Chuck Reynolds
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Ways to make your inbound marketing stand out

Experts in content creation and digital strategy discuss the best methods and channels to attract new customers.

  

Marketing IT Bullseye

Converting leads and contacts into customers continues to be the top marketing priority for many companies, according to HubSpot research,. And organizations that focus on inbound – e.g. using content marketing, social media and SEO to attract customers — (vs. outbound) marketing are more likely to be effective. Here are a few things your business can do to make your inbound marketing efforts more effective – and convert more prospects into customers.

Know who your target audience is – and where they get their information

“You must define your audience before you even get started, creating the fundamental inbound marketing ‘buyer persona,’” says Ryan Malone, founder & CEO, SmartBug Media. Personas should factor in demographics – gender, age, education, location – and include things like the customer’s likes and dislikes, where they shop, where they work and who they buy for (family, friends, coworkers).

Once you’ve identified and defined your ideal customer, use that buyer persona to guide your strategy, “from the keywords [you] choose, to the website experience, the blogs you write to the social media sites you use for promotion,” he says. “Many organizations mistakenly try to be everything to everyone; however, to truly see inbound success, you must focus on attracting the right audience first and foremost."

Plan ahead

“SMBs need to look at the big picture and strategically plan content long term,” says Jamie Domenici, vice president of SMB marketing, Salesforce. “This allows your business to capitalize on… seasons, holidays or events [that are relevant to your business and target audience].” For example, Valentine’s Day is a holiday no florist, chocolatier or jeweler would want to miss. And “having an editorial calendar ensures the business can prepare interesting and insightful content well in advance.”

Develop an SEO strategy

“Search optimized blogging is one of the best ways for small and medium sized businesses to improve inbound marketing,” says Lauren Fairbanks, CEO, S/G Content Marketing. Just “make sure you focus on the right keywords that match your customer's pain points and work on creating content around those.”

“The best (and free) place to start with this is AdWords Keyword [Planner],” says Amy Nedoss, marketing strategy director at SocialRaise. “Find low-competition and high-volume search terms. Then align your content with [them]. That way the content is highly targeted and has a better chance of being found [by your target audience].”Fight enemies smarter and faster with an open, unified ecosystem for a resilient defense.

“Another trick to improve SEO is to revive your old content,” says Tim Jernigan, marketing analyst, Badger Maps. “If your existing posts don’t receive traffic anymore, you can revamp them with infographics [or] images. You can even combine a few blogs to make a PDF guide [or white paper] and post [with a new title].”

Create a company blog and fill it with useful content

“The secret to a successful inbound marketing strategy is to consistently provide quality content that is interesting and helpful to current and prospective customers. At the heart of this strategy is the humble blog,” says Domenici.

“Company blogs drive inbound traffic to your website, and can also give your business credibility within your industry,” she says. “Customers favor companies that offer valuable knowledge rather than ones that are too self-promotional, so be sure to identify common customer pain points and provide easy-to-follow solutions. Extend the reach of your blog by sharing posts across your social networks to engage with customers where they are.”

Send fewer emails but with better content

“A big theme we’re seeing this year is sending less email better, which is something we’re really leaning into at HubSpot,” says Jon Dick, vice president of marketing, HubSpot. “As people’s inboxes become more and more crowded, many marketers have resorted to increasing their email volume to get the same number of opens. But this approach is backwards.”Sending fewer but more relevant emails “will actually get you more opens and better engagement in today’s environment,” he says. The key is to “focus on adding… value and investing in good content that shows, not tells, your message.” If you do this, “the few emails you do send will get good engagement.”

Include graphics and/or photos in messaging

“Humans are more receptive to visual content,” points out Domenici. So “incorporating visual elements [in your messaging] is a sure-fire way for your small business to increase the draw of your inbound marketing strategy. Readers will often become disengaged with ‘how-to’ blog posts that are text heavy, but adding graphics can help illustrate step-by-step instructions in a clearer way. Video tutorials are also a great way to easily provide a solution to a common problem and can easily be shared through different channels.”

Interact with consumers through podcasts and videos

“Nothing showcases the personality of a brand better than utilizing the latest digital media channels,” says Mark Nardone, executive vice president, PAN Communications. “Brainstorm podcast topics that will open up discussions around industry trends and best practices. This will garner interest from consumers and influencers and position your brand as a thought leader and resource for your target audience.” And don’t leave out video.

“With a 5x higher recall than the written word, video is the most engaging media format and most effective in assisting conversions,” says Kent Lewis, founder & president, Anvil Media. “Video production costs have decreased dramatically. And live streaming (on platforms like Facebook), 360-degree video, augmented and virtual reality… and drones [have] all make video capture and viewing more dramatic and immersive. If your brand isn't doubling down on video as a key element for inbound marketing, you will miss the bus.” 

Tap social media influencers

“It’s imperative that brands use social media to develop an influencer repertoire to share news… and establish a brand image,” says Nardone. Social media “influencers play a crucial part in inbound marketing practices by acting as brand So after you have created your buyer personas, find out which social media platforms they are using and who are the influencers in your category or industry. Follow and interact with them to establish a connection. Then reach out to them about promoting your brand.

Try Facebook Lead Ads

“If you aren't using Facebook Lead Ads, you're missing out in a big way,” says Michael Mignogna, CEO, Minyona. “Prior to Facebook Lead Ads, when advertising on Facebook, you had to create an ad that pointed to a landing page on a website outside of Facebook and then hope the user felt like taking the desired action.

“With Lead Ads, an advertiser can offer a free download of an ebook, for example, and because it all happens inside of Facebook, the information the advertiser wants to capture is auto populated so the user can simply click ‘download,’” he explains. “We use this for several clients, and… we are able to bring them dozens of new inbound leads per week that automatically get opted into an email nurturing campaign.”

Share content on LinkedIn Pulse

Post blogs and articles you’ve written on LinkedIn Pulse. “It won't hurt SEO in terms of duplicate content, and it will help you reach many more people with minimal additional effort,” says Maddy Osman, founder & SEO content strategist, The Blogsmith. “LinkedIn has some of the best reach on any social platform, and as more people engage with your LinkedIn Pulse post, it will reach their networks as well. It's a great way to use your existing network to reach more people and funnel them to your website.”

Don’t offer up all your content for free

“The majority of your content should be freely available on your company blog, but some of it should be only available for download if people enter their contact details into a lead generation form,” says Brett Langlois, SEO & content team lead, Pure SEO. “This will allow you to capture their details and enter them into your sales funnel.”

Invest in marketing automation

“The most successful inbound marketers have the right tools to amplify their efforts,” says Tommy Burns, marketing specialist, Matrix Marketing Group. “There's only so much you can do alone, and marketing automation can free up valuable time to be directed where it's needed most. Increased inbound results offset any cost.”

Be patient and persistent

“Inbound marketing is a long game,” says Julie Graff, social content liaison, Pole Position Marketing. “While you can get some quick wins (particularly with pay-per-click advertising and some SEO tactics), it's going to take some time to see real growth. Don't pull the plug because you don't see results right away. Your goal should be long-term, sustainable growth. This takes patience, time and an ongoing strategy. When you do see results, you're not done. You need to keep going. Digital growth results stop when you stop investing time in them.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Bitcoin & Other Cryptocurrencies Shaping Future Economy, Capitalism Morphing

  

Bitcoin & Other Cryptocurrencies Shaping Future Economy, Capitalism Morphing

Money has shaped our modern economy. We have gone from using grain and cattle and even salt as currency to using metal tokens (coins) and paper. However, paper has the habit of sticking and it has been around ever since the Chinese introduced it during the Tang dynasty. We have grown comfortable using paper currency and no one can deny that it has had its usefulness. Now we are approaching another era in which bits are playing the same role that paper did. Digital currencies are no longer something that will happen way into the future, they are here. How will the advent of digital currencies like Bitcoin, Monero, Ethereum and etc affect the future shape of the economy?

Is it the end of Capitalism?

Ed Finn wrote an article in the Guardian asking, “Do digital currencies spell the end of Capitalism?” Finn’s article covered the DAO issue and how Ethereum community dealt with the hack. He examines the very nature of digital currency and ponders the questions surrounding ‘programmable money.’

In the end, he succinctly concludes:

“If what counts, and how we count, is measured in processor cycles instead of human exchange, it will change the rules of the economy as surely as driverless vehicles will change transportation. What we value is fundamentally a question of belief, and it’s increasingly unclear what we believe in more: billfolds or bits?”

So what will change if we move to digital currencies, surely these currencies change the nature of money as they are not issued by a central monetary authority or backed by the promise of the sovereigns.

These currencies are an organism of their own kind. They open the doors to people issuing their own tokens and creating their own monetary policies. This could radically change the financial system as individuals could potentially fund their own enterprises with their own currencies. They also remove the vagaries of the interest rate cycles associated with government issued money and break the nexus between big businesses and the government.

The era of financial empowerment

Digital currencies have opened doors which were firmly shut. These currencies hold the promise of distribution of wealth like never before. Not only have they brought in the technology to transfer money in a blink of an eye at minimal costs around the world, they have also brought access to ‘money’ for people who never had it before.

As Dominik Zynis of the WINGS Foundation says:

“Digital currencies will allow anyone, be it person or community, to be included in the economy by self regulated credit expansion enabling trade people who previously lacked access to requisite mediums of exchange.”

Creating trust among people

At the moment people have no choice but to trust the sovereign’s money. It is after all, a promissory note. Digital currencies put the trust fact squarely among the public. People who choose to use a particular digital currency, do so because they recognize it as money. Not because they were told to use it as money. The use of digital money or programmable money opens the doors for applications like smart contracts. Smart contracts within digital money can revolutionize the way ‘deals’ are done. Escrow can be inbuilt so that a transaction is only completed when certain parameters are met. This removes the need for having intermediaries in financial transactions, property transactions etc.

Capitalism is about to morph

The present economic system that we live in has reached its peak potential. We need a new era of economics if we are to develop further. In an era where the planetary resources are increasingly dwindling, we need a system that places less emphasis on profit and more on developing human resources. Virtual currencies or digital currencies can usher in an era of entrepreneurship and development. They can also transform how we do business today and remove regulatory bottlenecks out of the system. While capitalism might not come to an end immediately due to ‘programmable money’, it is certainly about to evolve into something different. No one can deny though that we are at the crossroads.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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The Most Promising Cryptocurrencies To Buy In 2017

  

                        The Most Promising Cryptocurrencies To Buy In 2017

The year 2017 kicked start with a booming bullish wave that pushed the price of bitcoin and many altcoins up to unprecedented levels. Bitcoin recorded its all-time high a few weeks ago, as it exceeded the $1300 price level for the first time ever since the genesis block was mined. This rise in the market capital of bitcoin, ethereum, monero and others was fueled by uncertainty towards the fiat economy secondary to Trump’s winning of the US Presidential elections, Brexit and the unrest in the Middle East.Throughout this article, we will point out the most promising cryptocurrencies that have the potential to grow massively and hence, can represent good investment opportunities in 2017.

Ethereum:

Ethereum is a unique cryptocurrency that presents a distributed computing platform that features the “smart contract” functionality. Many crypto-enthusiasts think that ethereum is undervalued at the moment and others believe that its real value is even greater than that of bitcoin. Ethereum is by far the most promising coin to invest in this year. During the past couple of months, ethereum has been witnessing a bullish wave that led to more than %300 rise in its price in March. Even more, ethereum has recorded last March its all-time high of $54. In my opinion, ethereum has the potential to be worth more than $100 by the end of this year.

Monero:

Monero is one of the most promising altcoins that will definitely witness enormous gains in 2017. Apart from most other cryptocurrencies, Monero’s transactions are anonymous, thanks to its CryptoNote protocol that relies on ring signatures. Similarly to ethereum, monero’s price spiked, recording more than 100% gains during the past few weeks. Interestingly enough, monero has also recorded, in the later half of last March, its all-time high of $25. Monero has the potential to grow to over $50, especially after AlphaBay, one of the major darknet marketplace, has chosen to add monero as a payment method late in 2016. Oasis, another darknet marketplace, also started to accept monero payments, and more markets are expected to do so too, during 2017, which will take the price of monero to the moon.

DASH:

DASH currently represents the third biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Similarly to monero, DASH’s transactions are anonymous via a unique coin mixing service known as “PrivateSend”. The year started with a bullish wave that has been controlling DASH’s market since then.  The bullish wave climaxed later in March by scoring DASH’s price all time high of around $116. DASH was the second cryptocurrency to be added as an accepted payment method on darknet’s marketplaces. It has the potential to grow to over $200 this year, especially that DASH is by far the cryptocurrency with highest anonymity levels.

Other Coins:

There are other coins that hold great potential for growth in 2017. Augur is a promising altcoin as it is presenting a new concept for decentralized market predictions. STEEM also holds enormous potential as it is by far the most successful decentralized social network. MaidSafeCoin’s price can also skyrocket during the upcoming months as it is supporting a new concept of crowd-sourced internet. GameCredits also hold great potential for growth during 2017, especially that it is introducing a new concept for online gaming markets.

Chuck Reynolds
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80% of all Bitcoins Will Have Been Mined In a year From now

The World Bitcoin Mining

is in for quite a reality shock in about a year from now. As most people are well aware of, the amount of bitcoins being mined every day is much compared to a few years ago. What is even more intriguing is how the vast majority of BTC has been mined already. In January of 2018, 80% of all 21 million BTC will be mined and brought into circulation. A significant milestone that should not be overlooked by any means.

Inching Closer To 80% Of All Bitcoins

It is quite interesting to think about how far bitcoin has come since its inception. With a  hard limit of 21 million BTC to be generated by 2140, a lot of people assume there are still a lot of coins to be mined for the next few years. While that is true up to a certain extent, we are getting closer to 80% of the finite supply being brought into circulation already. Said milestone will take place roughly 365 days from now.

It remains a bit unclear as to what this will mean for the price per individual BTC, though. Asa mining becomes more difficult and less profitable unless continuous new investments take place, the price per existing bitcoin should go up in value. Moreover, with “only” 4.2 million coins to be generated after January 2018 = over the course of nearly 122 years – the demand for bitcoin should increase as well. However, neither of these factors are a given, as the cryptocurrency market does not operate like more traditional models.

At the same time, the 80% milestone could force some miners to shut down their operations. We have seen some major mining difficulty spikes over the past few weeks, and that trend will continue for quite some time. A higher mining difficulty requires more hash power and electricity to mine the same amount of bitcoin. For a lot of miners, January 2018 may become a good time to call it quits once and for all.

Should that happen, however, things will become even more intriguing. If there were fewer miners, it is expected the mining hardware manufacturers will take an even larger stake in the bitcoin mining process. Companies such as Bitmain and Bitfury have brought a lot of mining hardware online over the past few years. With more energy-efficient hardware still being developed, it is not unlikely a certain degree of centralization will occur in the mining world.

One of the lingering questions being asked aloud is whether or not we will ever see 100% of bitcoin’s entire supply be mined, to begin with. The final 5% could prove to be challenging, as the trade-off between costs and earnings will make it seem far less attractive to do so. It will take a very long time to mine the 21st million BTC, that much is already a given at this point. In fact, most people alive today in the bitcoin world will never that happen.

The coming year could become a very important one for Bitcoin as a whole. Albeit there are no guarantees or certainties, once 80% of the supply is mined, things will change eventually. Whether that will be in positive or negative fashion, remains unknown at this point. We live in very exciting times, especially when one has grown fond of the concept of bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Bitcoin Price Growth, Global Adoption Depend on Japan’s Confidence in Bitcoin

  

Bitcoin Price Growth, Global Adoption Depend on Japan’s Confidence in Bitcoin

As long as Japan does not fail in what seems to be an effort that is making Bitcoin bigger, the world's top digital currency would always be a success. One latest example is the adoption of the AML/KYC rules for Bitcoin exchanges in the country. Like China, Japan is now impacting meaningfully on the Bitcoin market whenever the third largest economy in the world comes out with a move that causes a change.

Bitcoin price affected

With the recent development in which Japan recognized Bitcoin as a legal method of payment starting Saturday, April 1, the Bitcoin price has seen a steady climb over the $1100 range by the start of Monday. The recovery from the dip where the Bitcoin price had been over a week ago when the deadlock over the scalability issue had heightened has been attributed to a growth in Bitcoin demand from Japanese consumers after the government passed a law which basically says officially that Bitcoin users will not be taxed directly.

Rather, it brings up the issue of AML/KYC which caused a heated debate. Some users are in favor of it preferring exchanges operating legally so that they can be law-abiding, pay taxes on behalf of users and guarantee some form of protection for users’ money.

New law

Japan’s new law has been on debate for months following the collapse of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange. The law’s passing brings Bitcoin exchanges under Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer rules as it is the case in China. The exercise in verification will expectedly increase trust in Bitcoin and probably forestall a recurrence of the Mt. Gox case.

Coincheck's Kagayaki Kawabata told Cointelegraph:

"While market cap and usage of cryptocurrency is scaling significantly in past few years, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are something that can't be ignored. The Mt. Gox incident took place in Tokyo. This experience I think has made Japan decided to regulate them in order to protect the customers. I think other countries will follow Japan if this new regulation works out."

Tax issues

The AML/KYC process will also serve as a link between the government and Bitcoin which is what many people believe is still missing for the ecosystem to grow into a regulated market. For Bitsquare's Ken Shishido, the development is a result of years of industry effort in lobbying policy makers and not necessarily the government taking a proactive approach nor wanting to make Bitcoin bigger and better.

Tax implication is not finalized yet but it is a huge deal that consumption tax is now officially exempted, he adds. From China to Japan and other countries, it is now clearer that governments are on the way of recognizing Bitcoin as a financial instrument. But to make the digital currency go mainstream everyday users need to support it as a common practice.

Why Japan Matters

Japan does not seem at all worried by the general attitude of some countries to digital currencies like Bitcoin. The country’s level of confidence in Bitcoin is overwhelming despite the negative history it has had with the digital currency. Based on this level of trust and interest in the currency, the success of the ongoing experimentation will help show how possible legislations can work with Bitcoin.

It will go a very long way to draw other countries that are still skeptical about Bitcoin into the fold as well be a good form of advertisement to the wider global community – especially governments. The legality of the state is always a boost for the justification of Bitcoin. For a big economy like Japan to trust Bitcoin as a payment method speaks volumes. It is a sign that it could be a significant tool that could bring advantages over sentiments that point to negativity.

Shishido says:

“Not sure other developed countries will follow suite anytime soon but maybe countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia, Switzerland and etc. If some countries do recognize it as a legal tender, it will be a game changer. Japan’s legal status is “currency-like property with consumption tax exemption. If one country recognizes it as a legal tender, all United Nations country will need to acknowledge, too.”

One other factor to note about Japan's impact on the Bitcoin price is that when it happens, the price increase tends to be usually real – it would correct at some point but not to its initial take-off point. Relatedly, one of the countries picking up on a similar move is Mexico which is working on the first draft of a fintech law that will make its central bank define the regulation that will apply to digital assets such as Bitcoin based on two criteria: widespread adoption of the public and the protocols, rules and mechanisms that allow their generation, identification, division and control.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed at Global Summit by Assocham

  

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed
at Global Summit by Assocham

 

After the demonetization of 85 percent of the circulating currency in India in November 2016, ASSOCHAM organized the first global summit on Blockchain technology. Now it is all set to hold the second global summit on Blockchain technology with a focus on opportunities and challenges for the Indian economy. ASSOCHAM is a ‘chamber of chambers’ in India having been in existence since 1920 and having in its fold more than 400 industry chambers. The mission of ASSOCHAM is to ‘articulate the genuine, legitimate needs and interests of its members.’ They are also thought of as promoters of new business models.

Going beyond just a nascent technology

While the Blockchain has made a major impact in the world and its potential has been realized and is being released around the globe, in India the situation is still one of considering Blockchain as a nascent technology. The Second Global Summit which will be held in Bangalore on Friday, 21st April 2017 will focus on opportunities and challenges associated with Blockchain technology and explore the future prospects in India. The key discussion areas for the summit are the impact of Blockchain technology on banks, insurance, and financial institutions, legal perspectives and regulation from Bitcoin to Blockchain, applications of Bitcoin and Blockchain and criminal activity, security and data in the Blockchain.

It is expected that a wide variety of people from different backgrounds will attend the summit including company management, telecom and IT sector workers, security and legal heads, Bitcoin exchanges, regulators, bankers, fund managers and etc. Important representatives of the Indian government are expected to be present including Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and IT. PP Chaudhary, the Minister of State Law and Justice and Electronics and IT, Dr. A.S. Ramasastri, Director for Development and Research in Banking Technology and others.

Negative news can be countered by information

In recent days there has been a lot of controversy regarding the status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. This is the result of misconceptions and misunderstanding of what Blockchain and Bitcoin are all about. We talked with Santosh Parashar, joint director and Head-Corporate Affairs and Capital Market Division of ASSOCHAM about the legality of Bitcoin and how this summit could help address these issues.

He says:

“I absolutely agree that in recent days there has been a lot of news about the legality of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. Indeed, this is happening due to the lack of related know-how at different levels in the economy. A few illegal transactions that recently came into notice cannot be ignored with reference to Bitcoin and its legality in India. In our first summit organized in March 2017, nearly all such possible negatives related to Bitcoin were addressed. They were not a fairy tale but based on worldwide experiences that may or may not happen in India. Simultaneously, the investments and transactions in Bitcoin are not altogether ceasing to an end due to any such fear of legal status in India.”

Santosh further adds about learning from other countries and the role the summit is supposed to play, “The options available for India to choose from are – learning by practice, learning by mistakes or learning through others. To what extent, the cost of particular learning is affordable should be a subject matter of utmost priority. Certain countries like the US, China, and Japan which had banned Bitcoin earlier and now following the trend of acceptability must have learned through mistakes. This has to be taken care of by the investors as well as the government and regulators in India because it is a matter of economic significance. In the absence of any such legal tender of Bitcoin in India, ultimately opportunity cost is foregone as there is a loss of taxes to the government. Therefore, this summit is expected to address the legal issues, applications, and implication of Blockchain Technology in the light of recent global developments happening.”

India can become a Fintech Hub

India has been known as an IT hub for more than a decade now. The contributions of India’s IT sector can’t be downplayed as the country is the world’s largest sourcing destination for Information technology (IT) industry and accounts for 67 percent of the $124-130 bln market according to ibef. The industry also gives employment to close to 10 mln people. India can capitalize on its IT experience and recreate a similar success story in the Financial Technology (fintech) sector as well. The need though is for a better understanding of the possibilities that reside in this area and for changing perceptions in New Delhi.

The need for a conducive environment

Demonetization was followed by a push for a Cashless India where all the transactions are done digitally. In fact, if India truly does want to go digital, it will have to rely on the emergent fintech sector and try to embrace digital currencies and Blockchain technology.

Santosh points out:

“The traditional technology models used in the financial sector and sub-sectors for operations are becoming inoperative at the same cost. Hence the new cost effective and efficient technology has much scope to become handy. Fintech has gained substantial attention of traditional players in the Indian financial system. However, the participants of the fintech ecosystem require having a conducive environment of collaboration and dynamism. To build a robust fintech ecosystem, the proper mix of innovative and technical skills, CapEx, government policies and regulatory framework could drive fintech as a key enabler.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

How To Invest In The Blockchain
Without Buying Bitcoin

Blockchain Technology’s potential to change the Status Quo

Not a day goes by without a media mention about blockchain technology’s potential to change the status quo of how data will be recorded, stored and transferred in the future. As blockchain is booming, investors are taking note and looking at opportunities where they could benefit. Investing in bitcoin, the digital currency built on the blockchain is considered too risky by many investors and, at the same time, doesn’t actually offer exposure to developments of new blockchain applications and the growth of this technology. Fortunately for investors, however, there are ways to invest in the blockchain boom don’t involve buying bitcoin.

Blockchain Startup Stocks

Firstly, investors can purchase blockchain startup stocks. Currently, there are several publicly traded stocks in blockchain companies trading on global exchanges. The first blockchain stock that started trading in the U.S. is that of the company BTCS Inc., which provides an online bitcoin shop and a range of blockchain solutions, according to its website. Another prominent North American stock is the Vancouver-based blockchain consultancy service provider BTL Group, which has recently launched its own smart contract platform called interbit. Its stock is trading on the Toronto stock exchange.

Outside of North America, there are listed blockchain stocks in the U.K. and in Australia. In the U.K., the London-based blockchain technology investment and development company Coinsilium is listed on the ICAP Securities and Derivatives Exchange (ISDX) and was the world’s first initial public offering by a blockchain startup. On the Australian Stock Exchange, there is the blockchain startup DigitalX. DigitalX provides two blockchain-based services: a global peer-to-peer remittance service called Air Pocket and a software solution to provide bitcoin liquidity to institutional investors called DigitalX Direct.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Alternatively, investors can purchase shares in blockchain startups during early-stage funding rounds through online crowdfunding platforms. Young blockchain startups regularly choose the route of online crowdfunding to secure funds to develop their products or service. The crowdfunding platform BnkToTheFuture, for example, allows investors to place funds into a range of Bitcoin and blockchain startups. Notable blockchain startups that have raised funds through BnkToTheFuture’s platform have included the prominent African remittance startup BitPesa and the multi-currency mobile bitcoin wallet Shapeshift.

Invest in New Blockchain Projects’ Initial Coin Offerings

The third option for investors would be to invest in initial coin offerings (ICOs) of new blockchain projects. ICOs are a new, innovative way of raising capital that involves blockchain projects issuing their own digital currencies or tokens to early backers during a crowd sale. As this new form of crowdfunding is still entirely unregulated there is substantially more risk involved than investing in blockchain stocks or in traditional crowdfunding campaigns, but the returns of successful ICOs have been excellent.

When it comes to investing in ICOs, the key is to select blockchain projects that will have real-life applications and are managed by a team of experienced blockchain developers. Some projects may even have financial backing from leading Bitcoin investors. That is usually also a good sign. Unfortunately, the more the ICO market grows, the more fraudulent activity also occurs. Hence, it is vital to conduct thorough due diligence on each ICO before investing in the crowd sale to avoid falling victim to a scam.

As blockchain technology will likely become the standard to securely record, store and transfer data in many industries over the next ten years, it might be wise to start looking into the investment opportunities in this space, despite the potential risk involved in these investments.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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IBM Ramps Up China Blockchain Work With Supply Chain Trial

ibm in China

IBM advanced its status as a blockchain leader Tuesday with the launch of a supply chain platform designed to streamline flows among buyers, sellers, and financiers in the pharmaceuticals space. The Yijian Blockchain Technology Application System – built in a partnership between IBM and Hejia, a Chinese supply chain management company – seeks to eliminate some of the financing problems faced by the country’s pharmaceutical retailers. Specifically, it targets the country’s underdeveloped credit evaluation system, which it argues can make it difficult to raise short-term working capital.

The platform is designed to bring greater transparency into supply chain networks by tracking the flow of drugs, encrypting trading records and offering an easier means of authenticating transactions. The end goal is to reduce the time small retailers must wait to be paid after delivering medicine to hospitals – which currently can be as high as 60 to 90 days. Overall, Ramesh Gopinath, vice president of Blockchain Solutions at IBM, said that the use case offers an ideal example of how the company’s enterprise blockchain platform can smooth multi-party transaction processes.

He told CoinDesk:

“Blockchain is perfect for the kind of flow that happens between three parties. It’s not a random thing, we see a pattern of this appearing again and again.”

Initially, the Yijian system will be implemented on a test basis by one pharmaceutical retailer, one hospital, and one bank, but plans are in place to expand in July to create a farther-reaching network. Leng Tianhui, board chairman of Hejia, emphasized in statements that he expects the platform to be adopted far beyond just the pharmaceuticals sector in China.

Eyes on China

Yet, the Yijian platform’s launch also strengthens IBM’s positioning in China – it has now rolled out five different solutions in the world’s second-largest economy in the last 12 months. In March, the technology giant announced the creation of a green asset management platform designed to help companies develop, manage and trade carbon assets more efficiently under China’s carbon emissions quota scheme. Further, in January, it teamed up with the Postal Savings Bank of China to launch a blockchain asset custody system.

As far back as 2016, this strategy could already be observed, as IBM partnered with UnionPay – China’s largest payment credit card processor – to roll out a blockchain platform facilitating the exchange of user loyalty points in September. It also launched a pilot in conjunction Walmart to move China’s pork industry supply chain on to a blockchain in October. Still, Gopinath said that IBM’s focus on China is a function of the availability of pertinent use cases and local partners.

“I wouldn’t calculate this as ‘OK, we have a concerted effort to do something in China’,” he said, adding:

“It’s more like there are all these classic, what I would call, great uses cases starting up in different places.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

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