Justin Sun acquired BitTorrent for $140 million

File-sharing pioneer BitTorrent has been acquired by blockchain entrepreneur Justin Sun, the founder of TRON for $140 million dollars according to Tech Crunch.

The rumours have been circulating that the two firms were in negotiations last month, with BitTorrent long been seeking a buyer of its popular software used by 170 million active users.

The news was broke yesterday by Variety magazines who reported that BitTorrent and Justin Sun closed the deal, but no price was released.

The deal has not been officially signed off by the shareholders as of yet and allegedly some are disputing the terms, although due to the length of time BitTorrent has been seeking a buyer its unlikely that it will harm the acquisition.

What remains unclear is how Justin Sun will utilise BitTorrent and whether its going to be integrated into TRON, but it’s assumed that TRX, the digital cryptocurrency will be used to power the file-sharing app rewarding users for partaking in various activities similar to how Upfiring aims to utilise the blockchain for P2P file sharing. Neither of the companies have official announced what is planned.

The total market cap of the TRX cryptocurrency is currently at roughly $5 billion, of which $1.65 billion is held by Sun’s Tron Foundation.

The future is looking brighter for TRON.

Source: Tech Crunch

John McAfee challenges SEC over cryptocurrencies

Love him, or hate him, there is very little doubt that John McAfee always keeps things interesting.

The eccentric founder of McAfee Associates is rarely far away from the headlines and that’s not about to change any time soon, with the businessman announcing plans to make a run for the Whitehouse in 2020.

The security expert’s decision to run for the presidency can only be good news for the cryptocurrency community, as McAfee has repeatedly shown himself to be a proponent of digitalised money.

In one of his most recent showings of support, McAfee challenged the SEC to a debate on the subject, which he would like to be aired on national television. He made this challenge after the SEC chairman Jay Clayton’s comments on the regulations currently in place on cryptocurrencies.

Earlier this week McAfee took to Twitter to call out Clayton.

McAfee’s reaction was partially prompted by the SEC Chairman’s recent classification of all initial coin offerings as securities.

He commented on this via his Twitter, writing: “The head of the SEC declared today that all ICOs are securities. While I STRONGLY disagree, and believe that the majority of ICOs do not meet the Suprene Court Howey Test for securities, I will submit, for now, to their rules and will not work with future ICOs.. But, I’ll be back.”

The worry of McAfee and other cryptocurrency supporters is that the SEC will move toward strict regulatory measures. McAfee has never been shy in his view on this, stating that he believes that money should be separated from the state as the tools are now available for this to be possible.

McAfee also believes that a discussion over the subject on CNN could help him further prove his point, stating:

“I challenge the SEC to debate me on CNN. I debated the FBI two years ago when they they overstepped their bounds. You, the SEC, have overstepped your bounds. I ripped the FBI a new asshole on CNN. I welcome the opportunity to RIP the SEC a new asshole.”

It’s not clear which way this will go as of yet, but McAfee doesn’t look like he’s going to back down any time soon.

Edgar Allan Poe inspires creatives’ blockchain start-up

There aren’t many blockchain start-ups that can say that they take their inspiration from a nineteenth century poet, but Qravity certainly can.

Inspired by the tiny amount that Edgar Allan Poe was paid for his writing output, Austrian producer and composer, David Brandstaetter, set-up the blockchain start-up Qravity.

The idea behind it is to give artists and content creators their just reward.

He discussed this inspiration, with The Drum reporting him as stating the following: “Poe’s work, especially The Raven and Annabel Lee, has always inspired me. He not only wrote some of the most famous poems of all time, he also established the foundations of the detective story and science fiction!”

Copyright infringement and fair payment are just some of the hurdles today’s creators have to face in order to get fair payment and Poe’s story of underpayment got the Austrian thinking about this.

Brandstaetter has a long history in the world of creativity, working for the likes of Sony and Rockstar Games, so he understands what it takes to make it in the fiercely competitive creative industries.
Thus, he founded Qravity in 2016 with the goal of helping others bring their content to the market.

In a world where opportunists exist at every corner, Qravity uses blockchain to keep all transactions transparent. It also uses smart contracts which keep immutable and transparent records of projects within its system.

He added: “In July 2017, we had a unique collaboration and communication tool for creative teams. Qravity also tracks tasks in such a way that creative members receive stakes in the content they help make. For example, a person who writes lyrics for a song gets a share, say five percent, of the song’s revenue. Every time someone buys that song, the lyricist gets five percent of that payment.”

Digital tokens that are called QPT are how creatives keep track of their records. Revenue is distributed based on how many QPT they hold relating to their content.

Payment is then given in the form of Qravity’s cryptocurrency, QCO.

For instance, if a drummer has a ten percent stake in the song he penned, a 1 QCO song earns him 0.10 QCO, which he can then trade on crypto exchanges, or spend in the Qravity marketplace.

Investors pile-in for blockchain streaming start-up

How we watch our favourite television shows and sporting events is changing and up until now, this hasn’t been great news for television networks.

That is because these networks haven’t been making much money off that process, but VideoCoin might just change all that.

When networks stream to televisions, one signal can hit many different viewers, but with internet viewing it is simply one signal to one device.

Thus, the overall people per signal drops. VideoCoin plans to help broadcasters send video streams to unused tech infrastructure that have extra capacity which will help with processing.

The immersive video start-up, Live Planet, is also involved in this project as strategic partners. There are also plenty of other high profile investors on-board, including the likes of Anthony Di lorio, who is a co-founder of Ethereum and Akamai co-founder Randal Kaplan.

In fact, their entire $50 million initial coin offering (IC0) has already been sold through private investment. If you want to get involved, then we’ve some bad news; there is no plan for a public sale.

That being said, there are reports that there will be an airdrop to supporters over the next few weeks.

Halsey Minor, who is a co-founder of CNET is already on-board too and he sees this investment as a no-brainer.

He said: “What we’re building is the next-generation infrastructure for how you do video processing and distributed services.”

He also added that this is the ideal use for this technology, stating: “The one use case the blockchain that’s going to work first is the commodification of hardware. It’s perfect for it.”

Blockchain being tested on UK National Archives

Every day there is another story about an organisation reaping the rewards of blockchain technology, however there aren’t many with the reputation of the UK government.

Thus, the news that the government are investigating the use of blockchain for record sharing within The National Archives could be a massive boost for advocates of the technology.

The Archives is renowned for being a standard setter in its area, so it is hoped that this research will give a wider understanding of blockchain technology to Archives and Memory Institutions (AMIs) throughout the world.

The research, which is entitled Archangel, is a collaborative project and involves the likes of the University of Surrey and the Open Data Institute.

It is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with the key idea being to check how useful blockchain can be for managing extensive archives.

Alex Green, who is the Archives’ digital preservation services manager, wrote a blog about the research this week.

In it, he wrote the following: “How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously?”

“How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record? To address these questions, Archangel is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record”

He added: “Specifically, the project is investigating how blockchain might be used to achieve this.”

Distributed ledger technology will “collect robust digital signatures derived from digitized physical, and born-digital content.”

The research is expected to take around a year and a half.

How does a commission-free smartphone trading service sound? Revolut might have the answer

There aren’t too many app-based challenger banks that are as diverse as Revolut.

You’d be hard pushed to find another one that offers accounts, international money transfers that aren’t expensive and an option to both buy and sell cryptocurrencies.

Now, it is adding another tool to its arsenal; a commission-free share trading platform, which will allow customers to invest in companies without having to pay huge fees. It is also letting users buy other instruments, such as exchange traded fund (ETFs).

For those of you familiar with the US market, Revolut’s model is similar to the Robinhood app, but for the European market.

In a statement released by Nik Storonsky, who is the Founder and CEO of the company, Revolut has vowed to shake up the world of investments in a similar fashion to how they did with banking.

The statement read: “Brokers are charging people as much as £5.00 per trade and the user interfaces are typically clunky, slow and confusing for consumers. The pain points are clear for us and the room for improvement is massive.”

Smartphone investing without commission and brokerage fees is an idea which could change the entire investment landscape within Europe, so it’s hardly surprising that this development is being monitored with a watchful eye.

No official date has been set for this new option, but the organisation is thought to be in the advance stages of development.

Can blockchain change the art world? Andy Warhol auction might just do that

Fraud has always been a problem in the art industry, but it is a problem that may have a readymade solution.

Those within the industry are looking for that solution and in that search, they have arrived with an obvious, yet brilliant, answer – blockchain technology.

Transactions using this process empower buyers, as they can trace their goods and their histories.

There is a gallery in London that intends to take advantage of that, when they auction off a portion of Andy Warhol’s ’ 14 Small Electric Cars’ for cryptocurrency.

The auction, which is taking place on June 20th, is coming to the world via Dadiani Fine Art in London’s Mayfair.

There will be 49 percent of the work on sale in cryptocurrencies, in an auction which is being hosted by both the Dadiani Syndicate and Maecenas Fine Art.

How much will it get?

A report in Forbes has estimated that the piece is worth in the region of $5.6 million (around 730 Bitcoin).

This marks just another stage in the relationship between crypto, blockchain and art. Earlier this year, Art Stage Singapore sold four paintings for cryptocurrency and several other galleries are considering moving to this sort of process.

Jess Houlgrave, the cofounder of blockchain identity company Codex Protocol, reckons that the number of fraudulent art pieces on the market could be as high as 40 percent. Thus, blockchain technology could be the very mode which will help clean up this market.

How will the price be decided?

A smart contract running on the Ethereum blockchain will determine the final price of the works.

The high profile nature of this auction could help change how buyers and sellers interact in the artworld.

The fact that every transaction is both traceable and immutable on blockchain makes it an ideal solution to transactions of a high value and a sensitive nature.

Centralization broke the internet; It’s time to fix it

There are plenty of reasons not to like the internet today.

It starts with how we access it. Depending on where you are, internet connections can be unreliable, slow, and even pricey. There’s much disparity in the speed and pricing of the packages offered by internet service providers (ISPs) all over the world. ISPs can be quite restricting too. Monthly bandwidth caps are forcing us to prioritize what to access online.

This then leads us to the issue of net neutrality. ISPs are lobbying against an open internet claiming that they should have the right to set prices depending on the type of content or data that we access. This is at odds with our right to freely use (within lawful bounds) a utility we’re paying for.

Governments are also exerting their influence over the internet placing laws and regulations that allow them to censor and surveil our online activities. Private corporations also figure into this discussion as well. It seems that we’ve virtually forfeited our data to these companies when we agreed to their terms and conditions to use their services.

Then there’s the general profusion of bad products, bad content, and bad behavior. The list can go on.

The big question is, how can we fix it?

Centralization ruined it

Centralization has got a lot to do with these issues. The internet used to be highly decentralized operating essentially as a large peer-to-peer network. This changed when large telco companies took over the infrastructure in the effort to commercialize internet access.

Today’s tech giants eventually rose to prominence by providing most of the popularly used services and applications. They now happen to figure into almost every aspect of internet use. Google knows what questions we need answered. Facebook knows who and what we like.  Amazon, being our go-to store, knows our home addresses, payment information, and purchases.

Unless you’ve been living completely off the grid, these companies are bound to have your in-depth profile. What’s even scary is that such data can be used to manipulate us as revealed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Having only a small group of entities dictate what we can and can’t do on the internet isn’t a good thing. These companies can impose policies that are designed for them to profit from our participation in a not-so-equitable manner. They can also stifle competition due to their size and influence.

A centralized service also serves as a single point of failure, that when exploited, could lead to disastrous outcomes. For example, DNS service provider Dyn plays a major role in the today’s infrastructure. An outage caused by a cyberattack to its services back in 2016 took down popular applications like Twitter and Netflix. This disrupted the online activities of millions of users.

How about decentralization?

There is now growing interest in transitioning away from centralized approaches as more users become aware of these downsides. The vision of decentralization is lessen the hold of these few entities over the internet and give back power and control to users.

It’s even quite fortunate that blockchain and crypto activities have gained much acceptance over the past year. These technologies offer the means to make a decentralized internet viable. Through blockchain and smart contracts, it is now possible to build and deploy decentralized applications (dapps) and platforms founded on transparent and immutable rules designed to be fair to its users.

These platforms are making headway in their development.

Projects like Skycoin even seek to disrupt the internet infrastructure segment by coming up with Skyminer – a custom-built hardware that is designed to support a crypto-driven internet ecosystem. The device essentially functions as a cost-effective but high-performing server with secure routing and networking capabilities. The device is also planned to be able to broadcast using a wireless antenna which will allow owners to function as ISPs and share their bandwidth to others creating a real peer-to-peer infrastructure.

Moreover, these efforts are making use of crypto currencies to power their respective economies. This way, they become self-sustaining. Peers fairly pay each other directly using crypto currencies without the involvement of intermediaries. Prices are market-driven and not dictated by big corporations.

The community that these platforms create also become a self-policing body that could democratically decide on matters. They are also responsible for encouraging positive behavior and punishing poor products and services and malicious actions.

Fixing the internet

We’ve been letting the internet be under the control of just a few entities for far too long. What we need to fix is for ordinary users like us to regain control and create an internet that’s truly neutral. It does call for us to step away from centralized approaches. Fortunately, decentralization offers the means for us to do so.

Decentralized platforms allow us to participate in fair and equitable markets. The crypto currency economies ensure that platforms are self-sustaining. These platforms also provide the opportunity for us to get back ownership of our personal data.

These technologies may still be in relative infancy but with exciting and ambitious projects that even seek to disrupt not only services and applications but the underlying infrastructure, a decentralized internet might be in our future. This way, we get to enjoy an internet that’s truly for the people and by the people.

Blockchain tech could power Boris Johnson’s fight to end illegal wildlife trade

Let’s be honest about things; not all the ideas that Boris Johnson supports are good ones… yes, we are looking at you ‘Brexit’.

However, every now and again he does stumble across something that could be described as innovative.

The idea to have the UK’s best tech minds battle illegal wildlife trade may actually be one of those ideas. The Foreign Secretary has called on tech whizzes to help win the battle against illegal poaching and fight the hunting of endangered animals.

He said: “I want to make sure we’re using all the great talent we have available to us to fight this problem, so I’m calling on our finest technological brains to help us in the battle to save some of the world’s most endangered species.”

The current plan is to host a series of workshops to demonstrate how technology, such as blockchain, can be used in these scenarios.

According to the official UK Government website, the goals of these workshops are to “bring experts and conservationists together to deliver technological solutions to combat poaching, make it easier to identify illegal wildlife products at borders or to spot animals in danger in the field.”

The first one of these workshops has already happened, with more planned in the near future. The first event brought together industry giants, such as Google and Amazon, to hear the challenges being faced in this area.

One of the leading names in the industry, TechUK’s CEO Julian David, was also in attendance and believes that the transparency of blockchain could be a key tool in the battle for conservation.

He said: “Whether it is blockchain to support supply chain transparency and assurance or drones, satellites and the internet of things-enabled solutions to monitor activity in national parks and areas of high scientific interest, new tech is revolutionising conservation across the world.”

Boris Johnson added that a recent trip to the Amazon has made his solidified his decision to follow through with this plan.

He added: “I’ve just come back from the Amazon, one of Earth’s natural wonders, where both animals and people are suffering at the hands of criminals who are committing horrible wildlife crimes. What I saw has only sharpened my determination to combat the blight of the illegal wildlife trade.”

Hybrid Blockchain: The Best of Both Chains

A Google search with the words ‘hybrid blockchain’ yields roughly 756,000 search results. This isn’t many, when compared to ‘public blockchain’s’ 40 million search results or ‘private blockchain’s’ 30 million.

This article will provide an introduction to hybrid blockchain and highlight why it may become the blockchain of choice for governments, financial institutions and larger multinational organizations.

As a starting point, it is important to acknowledge that one of the core elements that make up blockchain actually came from a hybrid solution for digital time stamping of documents – decentralised hash verification.

Public Blockchains Decentralised Verification + Timestamping – The Genesis

I recently attended the Blockchain Economy World Tour in Sydney where Dr W.Scott Stornetta, presented his ‘aha’ moment in developing digital timestamping, one of the core components of bitcoin.

For those of you not familiar with Digital Time Stamping, it was developed back in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W.Scott Stornetta, who is the Chief Scientist for First Digital Capital. Their work on digital time stamping was referenced three times in Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper on Bitcoin:

In Scott’s presentation he referred to his ‘aha’ moment as “letting the world become your witness”. He went on to explain that if you are not sure who to trust in a centralised controlled environment then the best protection would be to invite the public at large to verify that this transaction took place.

This decentralised public verification and timestamping of a generated hash is one of the core components of bitcoin and blockchain.

Another key observation regarding Dr. Stornetta’s work is that public verification was used to publicly verify a hash that was generated on a private network. It was 1991, and his work pre-dated the development of blockchain.

Satoshi Nakamoto incorporated decentralised public verification into a decentralised currency, bitcoin. Subsequently, most of the blockchains that have followed bitcoin have also focused on building atop of a public blockchain.

This raises the question:

Does a hash need to be generated on the public blockchain, or can it be generated on a private blockchain while using a public counterpart exclusively for verification?

Enter Hybrid Blockchain.

Hybrid blockchain offers the benefits of both public blockchain and private blockchain.

Firstly, hybrid blockchain consists of the public blockchain (that all participants are a part of) and a private network (also referred to as a permissioned network) that restricts participation to those invited by a centralised body.

Secondly, this private network generates the record (hash) of transactions which is stored and verified on the public blockchain.

The benefits of the private blockchain include faster transaction speeds, privacy of the data/ content and a centralised control over providing access to the blockchain.

Hybrid provides an enterprise-ready blockchain solution that is much better suited to highly regulated enterprises and governments as it enables them to have the flexibility and control over what data is kept private versus shared on a public ledger. Coupled with the operational needs of faster transaction times, security and auditability features that are not suited to public blockchains.

Large enterprises want the benefits that blockchain can deliver without the associated risks of a public blockchain. Especially as blockchain is still nascent and evolving.

This enterprise-need for a suitable blockchain solution has resulted in creation of several private-public blockchain focused projects including R3 Consortium, Hyperledger and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.

In a Fortune article published in February, 2017, we can already see acknowledgement of the benefits of embracing a hybrid blockchain by Bank of New York Mellon.

“That interconnection of public and private chains actually creates a very strong network,” Batlin said on a call with Fortune. “Each chain strengthens the other at an exponential level.” Alex Batlin, blockchain lead at Bank of New York Mellon

 

Current Hybrid Blockchains:

XinFin [ XDCE ]

Launched in 2017, XinFin completed their ICO in March, 2018 after successfully launching their first dApp, TradeFinex — a global trade and finance platform.

XinFin is the first hybrid blockchain and currently the only hybrid blockchain. It is built on both Ethereum, a public blockchain, and Quorum, a private blockchain. Quorum is an enterprise-focused version of Ethereum developed by J.P. Morgan of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.

Their hybrid network runs on a delegated proof-of-stake consensus (DPOS) between trusted master nodes with both smart contracts and IoT atop of the protocol. This allows real time data to be uploaded on blockchain.

It is still early days for XinFin yet they have completed over a dozen pilots across supply chain logistics, aviation, HR, payroll, international trade and finance settlements.

Ramco Systems, a global $1 billion enterprise software company, partnered with XinFin to provide their hybrid blockchain solutions for their clients to implement a supply chain logistic blockchain.

Ripple [ XRP ] Are they heading in the direction of hybrid blockchain?

Launched in 2012, Ripple is currently ranked 3rd by market cap on Coinmarketcap website with $30B valuation.

Ripple’s focus is to connect banks, payment providers and digital asset exchanges to process and provide liquidity for payments via RippleNet, a private blockchain variant.

Stefan Thomas, CTO Ripple & co-creator of Interledger payment protocol, published an article on Dec 26th 2017 in “The Death of The ICO” (and 4 other predictions). One of his five predictions was ‘The Birth of Hybrid Blockchains”:

“Until now we’ve seen a proliferation of both public blockchains like bitcoin and private blockchains like Hyperledger Fabric. Going forward, I think we’ll start to see the rise of hybrid blockchains, which combine the best of both worlds.”

In July the same year, Shivdeep Dhaliwal published an article in from his email communications with Marcus Treacher, Ripples Global Head of Strategic Accounts.

“Banks Need ‘Hybrid Approach to Blockchain Technology’: Ripple’s Marcus Treacher”,

Are Stefan Thomas and Marcus Treacher’s predictions of hybrid blockchains a hint that Ripple may offering a hybrid blockchain solution to their clients in the near future?

Dr W. Scott Stornetta’s work from 1991–1997 predated blockchain and is based on the premise that a generated hash from a private network needs decentralised public verification. This by definition is hybrid blockchain.
Private networks provide the first small step for enterprise to embrace blockchain technology. Hybrid provides them the next step without losing the benefits of private networks.

Stefan Thomas’ predictions for hybrid blockchain adoption are becoming a reality.