Volkswagen and IOTA work together in autonomous car initiative

Are autonomous cars the future of vehicles?

That’s a question we don’t quite have the answer for just yet, but some big names are certainly paying attention to this area.

For instance, Volkswagen and IOTA are working alongside each other on a proof-of-concept protocol which will use IOTA’s Tangle system.

In fact, on second thoughts, many experts think that the answer to our original question is a definitive ‘yes.’
These experts expect there to be over 200 million ‘smart’ vehicles on the road by 2020, so it seems like autonomous cars might be the ‘present’, never mind the future.

This protocol was presented at the Cebit 2018 Expo in Germany earlier this month. The proof of concept has been designed to allow Volkswagen transfer software updates to their connected cars.

The technology behind Tangle is slightly different to blockchain; instead of ‘blocks’ and ‘mining’, a directed acrylic graph (DAG) is used as part of a foundation. Thus, its chains work all at once and topologically.

The German car manufacture plans on using TANGLE to wirelessly and securely work with data from its autonomous car line.

There are several reports circulating suggesting that IOTA has joined up with MOBI (Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative) and many experts expect them to join up with other big names in the motor industry too.

IOTA is quite busy at the moment, as they are also planning to launch a Tangle-powered digital identification system.

MIOTA is currently trading at around $1.20.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Britain’s Crypto task force meets for the first time

Earlier this year Philip Hammond, the UK’s Finance Minister announced the formation of a special task force with a key goal in mind, to ensure Britain remains at the cutting edge of the digital revolution by harnessing the potential benefits of the underlying technology that powers cryptocurrencies.

Her Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury) has announced that the first meeting of the Cryptoassets Taskforce took place today on 21st of May 2018, subsequently agreeing on various objectives. These included the potential benefits and challenges of the application of distributed ledger technology in financial services, and assessing what, if any, regulation is required in response.

The Taskforce will consider existing analysis by the government and regulators and will also seek external views from trade bodies, academics, consumer groups and investor representatives. It is unclear as to whether businesses in the blockchain sector are to be consulted, although this would make sense as they have years of experience working in this rapidly growing environment.

Senior leaders from the UK government and other the financial regulators were present, including Katharine Braddick, Director General of Financial Services at HM Treasury, Andrew Bailey, Chief Executive of the FCA, and Dave Ramsden, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.

Andrew Bailey, FCA Chief Executive said:

“Cryptoassets have been an area of increasing interest for markets and regulators globally including the FCA. We look forward to working with our counterparts at the Bank of England and the Treasury as part of the taskforce to develop thinking and policy on cryptoassets.”

Dave Ramsden, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England said:

“The technologies that underpin cryptoassets have the potential to deliver benefits both to the financial system and to the economy it serves. This taskforce will enable us to work closely with the Treasury and the FCA to explore how the opportunities posed by these technologies can be realised, while also tackling the risks arising from cryptoassets.”

A roundtable will be hosted by the Cryptoassets Taskforce in July with a report set to be published later this year.

Although somewhat supportive the UK government has been concerned with cryptocurrencies and their possible links with criminals and terrorists that use the technology for money laundering,.British Prime Minister Theresa May shared her concerns on the subject when speaking at the World Economic Forum in January 2018.

Britain’s remains a global fintech powerhouse and today’s meeting is an re-assuring sign of continued prowess. The technology sector alone enjoyed a record year in 2017, with 1.3 billion pounds invested and over half the funding from outside of the UK.

The City of London Corporation and Innovate Finance also launched a FinTech Strategy Group earlier this year.

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Gibraltar leads on ICO regulation

Gibraltar has been in the spotlight in recent months following the jurisdiction’s milestone DLT regulations. The DLT regulations, which came into force on 1st January 2018, received a warm reception by many in the FinTech space. Other jurisdictions are now keen to address the blockchain technology that is disrupting traditional industries and businesses. They, too, see they need for regulation, and are looking to Gibraltar for inspiration.

In a speech on Friday 2nd March 2018, The Bank of England’s Governor, Mark Carney, stated it was time to “regulate elements of the crypto-asset ecosystem to combat illicit activities”. Gibraltar’s proactive approach has clearly placed the jurisdiction in a unique position as one of only a few jurisdictions to have some form of regulation for this growing industry.

It looks as though Gibraltar will continue to remain in the spotlight as the jurisdiction looks to address concerns surrounding the increasing number of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) that are funding blockchain based startups. It has been widely reported in recent weeks that Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar and the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) are preparing to release a draft of the world’s first token regulations.

During a presentation at the Gibraltar International FinTech Forum 2018, otherwise known as the Gibfin conference, which took place between 28th February and 1st May 2018, the GFSC provided attendees with more information about the activities that the forthcoming token regulations aim to regulate. The token regulations will regulate the following activities conducted in or from Gibraltar:

  1. the promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens;
  2. the operation of secondary market platforms trading in tokens; and
  3. the provision of investment advice and ancillary services relating to tokens.

Promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens

Tokens that are not considered securities, such as utility and access tokens, will be caught by the new token regulations but gifts, donations, virtual currencies (i.e. Bitcoin) and central-bank digital currencies will not.

The FSC clarified that they will not expand the interpretation of what is considered a security in Gibraltar and also have no intention of defining token categories, or the functionality of tokens, either pre or post ICOs. The intention is to ensure that token sale participants’ are presented, in advance, with all relevant information to enable them to make an informed decision.

To be captured by these regulations, the activities will need to be carried out in or from Gibraltar and will include activities:

  • which purport to be or imply that they are made from Gibraltar;
  • are intended to come to the attention of, or be accessed by, any person in Gibraltar;
  • are conducted by overseas subsidiaries of Gibraltar-registered legal persons (in such cases, the Gibraltar person will be liable); or

are conducted by overseas agents and proxies acting on behalf of Gibraltar-registered legal persons, or on behalf of natural persons ordinarily resident in Gibraltar (in such cases, the Gibraltar person will be liable).

It is anticipated that Gibraltar-based token issuing companies will be required to comply with some form of disclosure rules that are yet to be announced. It is expected that the proposed regulations will require adequate, accurate and balanced disclosure of the relevant information to enable potential token sale participants to make an informed decision.

Additionally, token issuing companies will be obliged to collect know-your-customer (KYC) information on their token sale participants in order to comply with financial crime provisions in Gibraltar.

Additionally, entities that wish to conduct an ICO from Gibraltar will need to be sponsored by firms that the GFSC has authorised to perform such a function. Authorised sponsors will possess the appropriate knowledge and experience and will be responsible for ensuring compliance with the part of the regulations. Authorised sponsors will be regulated by the GFSC.

In order to encourage best practice for token sales conducted in or from Gibraltar, authorised sponsors will be required to have codes of practice in place that token sale entities will be required to comply with. Codes of practice may set out such matters as the method for storing, applying and distributing sale proceeds. Codes of practice will require approval from the GFSC and the regulator will establish and maintain a public register of authorised sponsors and their respective past and present codes of practice.

The GFSC will not however regulate:

  • Technology;
  • Tokens, smart contracts, or their functionality;
  • Individual public token offerings; or
  • Persons involved in the promotion, sale or distribution of tokens.

Secondary market conduct

Secondary market platforms, operated in or from Gibraltar, dealing in tokenised assets (including virtual currencies) and their derivatives will be caught by the token regulations. The GFSC aims to:

  • ensure organised trading takes place on regulated platforms;
  • establish transparency and oversight of secondary markets;
  • enhance investor protection;
  • impose conduct of business standards; and
  • encourage competition.

The proposed regulations will set out requirements for:

  • disclosure to the public of data on trading activity;
  • disclosure of transaction data to GFSC; and
  • specific supervisory actions concerning tokens and positions on token derivatives.

This second area of focus will be modelled, so far as is appropriate, proportionate and relevant, on market platform provisions under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and Markets in Financial Instruments and Amending Regulation, otherwise known as MiFID II and MiFIR, which came into effect in January 2018.

It is proposed that the GFSC will authorise and supervise secondary token market operators, and establish and maintain a public register of such operators.

Investment Advice

The provision of advice on investments in tokens, virtual currencies and central bank-issued digital currencies will be covered by the token regulations, including:

generic advice (setting out fairly and in a neutral manner the facts relating to token investments and services);
product-related advice (setting out in a selective and judgmental manner the advantages and disadvantages of a particular token investment and service); and
personal recommendation (based on the particular needs and circumstances of the individual investor).

The regulations will seek to ensure that such advice is fair, transparent and professional. This third area of focus will be similar to the investment advice provisions in MiFID II.

It is proposed that GFSC will authorise and supervise token investment service providers, and establish and maintain a public register of such providers

Watch this space

We are expecting to receive a draft of the much anticipated token regulations in the coming weeks. However, we understand that the draft will only likely include the first area of focus concerning the promotion, sale and distribution of digital tokens with the remaining two elements of the token regulations to follow later this year.

While we are eagerly anticipating the release of the draft regulations, which will mark another significant milestone for Gibraltar, the jurisdiction is not resting on its laurels. Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has presented a progressive bill before its parliament to amend the scope of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2015, the jurisdiction’s main legislative instrument concerning anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing provisions. The intention is to bring:

“undertakings that receive, whether on their own account or on behalf of another person, proceeds in any form from the sale of tokenised digital assets involving the use of distributed ledger technology or a similar means of recording a digital representation of an asset.”

within the scope of anti-money lauding and counter-terrorist financing provisions.

These developments are further evidence of Gibraltar’s continued effort to make the jurisdiction crypto friendly and provide safe environment for both business and consumers.

 

Hassans International Law Firm is the largest law firm in Gibraltar and a driving force behind Gibraltar’s crypto boom. It enjoys consistently high rankings in leading legal directories and this year has once again been ranked Band 1 by Chambers & Partners. The Hassans’ FinTech team consists of 12 experienced practitioners co-led by partners Anthony Provasoli and Vikram Nagrani.

 

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The Unique Industries that Blockchain Technology Will Forever Change

Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University professor and economist, recently made a bold but frequently repeated prediction about bitcoin–it’s going down. According to Rogoff, “bitcoin will be worth a tiny fraction of what it is now if we’re headed out 10 years from now … $100 [is] a lot more likely than $100,000 ten years from now.” The accomplished academic, who once served as the chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), went on to say, “Basically, if you take away the possibility of money laundering and tax evasion, its actual uses as a transaction vehicle are very small.”

Time will tell whether or not Rogoff’s bearish prediction is correct. Nevertheless, to Rogoff’s sure dismay, blockchain technology is here to stay. The nascent technology has already disrupted dozens of industries, and undoubtedly, many more are in line. From banking and financial services to supply chain management, blockchains are revolutionizing the way businesses and industry leaders are conducting their operations. Here are three industries that will forever be changed because of blockchain technology.

Blockchain Technology and the Travel Industry

One specialized travel platform, Cool Cousin, has a well-received iOS app that lets local residents give tips and create travel guides on where visitors should go in their hometowns in exchange for money. Vacationers and tourists can explore new areas through Cool Cousin guides developed by city natives. Cousins, as they’re affectionately called, have the responsibility of offering digital tours and pointing out the best local restaurants, businesses, and attractions. What’s more, Cool Cousin is developing blockchain solutions to their app.

The platform’s blockchain implementation is centered on smart contract integration. Smart contracts will both establish and enforce interaction between the platform participants, thereby implementing a system of checks and balances. This will keep the platform truly decentralized. Smart contracts will also be the mechanism that facilitates transactions between cousins and travelers, creating trust between all parties. Cool Cousin will eventually operate using the CUZ coin, its native crypto token. CUZ will remove the need for third parties and allow rapid cross border transactions and international payments to take place. Visitors can save on travel expenses while cousins will benefit from higher profits because they will transact in a peer-to-peer, decentralized manner.

How the Sports Industry is Getting a Blockchain Boost

Another company, Jetcoin, is partnering together athletes and their fans to incentivize success in the sports industry. Through the platform, fans can earn money and directly participate in emerging athletes’ careers. The platform works like as follows. First, an athlete releases a portion of his or her IP rights to the Jetcoin Institute. Second, the Jetcoin Institute, with its expert panel, creates a career plan along with a corresponding budget. Third, the Jetcoin Institute releases the rights in the form of Jetcoin smart contracts, which can be purchased with Jetcoins on the platform. Finally, as the athlete follows the plan and begins to secure revenues, a portion of his or her earnings are distributed back to the smart contract holders. Jetcoins can either be exchanged for another crypto or fiat currency, or used on the platform to purchase tickets to events, VIP access, and other perks.

Data Sharing and Security Meets Blockchain Technology

The world is increasingly dependent on data. But, as history has often shown, data isn’t always as secure as it needs to be, nor is it always easy to share in a safe manner. In response to these issues, Tierion uses the power of blockchain technology to verify data sharing, files, and processes. Their API and other platform tools can be used by companies and organizations to anchor a timestamped proof of data on the blockchain. The platform is particularly helpful for companies that mus share and store large amounts of data, as the platform uses blockchains to create immutable records and verifiable audit trails. The platform is also extremely easy to use and integrates with existing web, desktop, and mobile applications.

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Want to understand how blockchain ticks? Qtum might be one place to start!

Cryptocurrency investors are becoming more discerning, as they more and more appreciate the need to avail themselves of greater understanding of how a particular project’s blockchain works.

As investors learn and explore more deeply the technological issues, they are likely to come across Qtum, a project that is doing something with blockchain that adds value by its team setting by answering the question: how do we blockchain business-friendly?

On first sight, Qtum’s provenance in a fork from Bitcoin might trigger a weary “oh not another one” response from the newly inquisitive investor. That would probably be a mistake.

A good starting point for assessing a blockchain’s worth is the value differential it brings to the table compared to the Bitcoin benchmark for good reason. Bitcoin may have been getting a bad rap for transaction times and high fees and the supposed inefficiency of its proof-of-work consensus mechanism, but in security and adoption it remains way ahead of all comers. From the view, then, there is a reason why Bitcoin is a good starting point for those like Qtum trying to build a blockchain that is enterprise-ready.

Bitcoin has been around for nine years and it has never been hacked and never had any down time. Ok, but what about those early design decisions in the protocol that could be holding back wider adoption, such as its inability to run smart contracts, in addition to the scaling issues.

And, sure Ethereum is built for smart contracts and decentralised applications but it too has scaling issues and high costs associated with executing code.

Qtum has come up with three innovative contributions to the problem of how to get the good stuff from Bitcoin and Ethereum without carrying the not-so-good stuff baggage: its Account Abstraction Layer, which means you can run Ethereum smart contracts on bitcoin core; a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism that is more than a theoretical construct and is now a living, breathing network of thousands of nodes; and lastly a governance system that is both robust and flexible so software upgrades can take place with a minimum of fuss.

Let’s consider those three features of the Qtum blockchain in turn.

Bringing Ethereum contract to bitcoin core

The first is the critical one from which much else flows. Ethereum is sometimes referred to as a second-generation blockchain because instead of just a transactional layer it can also run applications. However, in so doing Ethereum abandoned an important part of the bitcoin approach to handling transactions, known as Unspent Transaction Outputs (UTXO) model. It is a more complex way of handling transactions than Ethereum’s account/balance system. But that’s not the only reason it was rejected be those who built Ethereum – it wasn’t stateful. That’s was seen as a problem because a stateful computing program keeps track of interactions, a critical feature in a framework running applications.

However, bitcoin’s UTXO model doesn’t applications and instead does one thing – handles payment transactions and stateless is not necessary because all transactions must come from a previous transaction and every time a transaction is sent a UTXO is created at the associated address.

A user’s bitcoin wallet “balance” is not represented by a single number but by several UTXOs, each with its own transactional data including the amount being sent or received. User A might have two UTXOs, one with 3 BTC, the other 4. User A wants to send 6 BTC to User B. To do so they would have to send both UTXOs and receive back the “unspent” or “unconsumed” 1 BTC change.

One of the features of bitcoin’s UTXO model is it allows for verification of whether a transaction has been included in a block without having to download the entire block; it is known as Simplified Payment Verification (SPV).

Qtum keeps the benefits of UTXO by extending the Bitcoin Script language so that Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) smart contracts can run in a UTXO environment. Qtum calls this method for transporting code the Account Abstraction Layer. It is this breakthrough that enables not just Bitcoin but many other related UTXO blockchains to work with EVM smart contracts, from Litecoin to ZCash.

And Qtum is not stopping there. Work is well advanced on its X86 virtual machine which aims to hugely expand the instruction set available to EVM smart contracts, making code much more performant, that’s to say more efficient.

Mobile-first is a smart move

This first and perhaps most important innovation bestows upon the Qtum blockchain the ability to execute contracts on smartphones. There’s no need to download the 30GB Ethereum blockchain in order to implement a full node on a mobile device. With half of all traffic on the internet originating from a smartphone, running on mobile is no longer optional for many businesses. Qtum is also scalable, therefore when we start thinking about Internet-of-Things devices interacting with a blockchain, Qtum’s mobile-first design decisions are even more important.

This brings us to the second major innovation – the proof of stake (PoS) mechanism that instead of depending on costly proof-of-work (PoW) methods, nodes have to own Qtum tokens and there is no mining. That in itself might not be news, but that having 3,400 nodes up and running in 50 countries around the globe is, because the proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Bitcoin’s PoW might be considered by some to be costly and inefficient but it is very secure.

PoS represents something of a trade-off between security and efficiency and the key to success will be in getting such mechanisms working in the real world and finding the right balance on security and efficiency. In that light, Qtum’s efforts to date are no mean feat – there, as yet, have been no on-chain failures. Contrast that with the Ethereum community’s progress, where there has been much talk about implementing PoS but it is still far away from happening.

On Qtum’s blockchain even the smallest of nodes – holding just 10 Qtum – are able to “book the world ledger”, by-passing the centralisation dangers emergent on the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks. Also, Qtum’s PoS rewards nodes that stake their coins for the longest period of time, which enhances security.

Good governance matters

Lastly, the third innovation is in governance matters. A cursory glance at the ideological infighting that has crippled software development on the Bitcoin network, this is an issue of increasing importance. Qtum has thought about on-chain governance from the get-go, and which has come to fruition in its distributed governance infrastructure. In it, parameters of properties such as blocksize, gas price, gas limit can be easily adjusted, dispensing with the need for incessant forking.

The ultimate governance arbiter is the Judgement Committee of the Qtum Foundation, elected from the community of token holders, so there can be no log-jams as seen in bitcoin core development.

It’s worth investors taking some time out to read up on Qtum. Perhaps there are problems yet to arise and there are certainly other platforms with equally robust, albeit different, blockchain technology, but on current form Qtum is in contention as a blockchain that could be one of the winners.

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