Walmart Seeks Blockchain-Based Patent To Help Customers Resell Products

Blockchain technology just got a major boost to becoming commonplace in the U.S. One of world’s largest retail chains, Walmart

Blockchain technology just got a major boost to becoming commonplace in the U.S.

One of world’s largest retail chains, Walmart has filed a patent for a blockchain-based marketplace for reselling purchased products. The patent was filed May 17 with the  US Patent and Trademark Office.

“The application describes a service that would record a customer’s purchases in a blockchain ledger, thus allowing the customer to resell the items on a sales platform using the record of purchase,” Coin Telegraph reported.

According to the patent notes, when customers look to get rid of unused or unneeded items, they are often “left to their own devices to arrange for a subsequent resale.”

What Walmart proposes is a system that will offer “additional support to greatly ease and facilitate their later reselling of items.” The interface for this proposed system could be point-of-sale, browser-based, or a mobile device among other options. In short, the blockchain marketplace will help customers resell Walmart products they no longer want.

With this, Walmart will keep track of customer purchases.

“According to CoinDesk, the patent details a blockchain ledger that can track items that stores sell to particular customers. The system would allow a customer to register an item after it’s been purchased and then choose a price for resale, with the system acting like a digital marketplace,” PYMTS.com reported.

“By one approach, the transfer from the seller to the courier may require signatures from both the sender and the courier using their respective private keys,” the company wrote. “The new transaction may be broadcasted and verified by the sender, the courier, the buyer and/or other nodes on the system before being added to the distributed delivery record blockchain. When the package is transferred from the courier to the buyer, the courier may use the courier’s private key to authorize the transfer of the digital asset representing the physical asset from the courier to the buyer and update the delivery record with the new transaction.”

This isn’t the first blockchain patent the company has filed for. “In the beginning of March, a Walmart filed a different patent for a ‘Smart Package’ delivery system that uses a blockchain-based tool for tracking package contents, environmental conditions, and locations,” Coin Telegraph reported.  Also, at the end of April, the vice president of Walmart’s Food Safety and Health announced Walmart would be using blockchain tech in its live food business. This he said would improve contamination management and overall transparency.

Walmart is using IBM’s blockchain technology to ensure food safety. Walmart tracks its produce from the farm to the store shelf to confirm items have not been contaminated or are within their sell-by date. Transport company Maersk has established a joint venture with IBM to develop a global trade platform for the blockchain system to help companies reduce costs and eliminate inefficiencies with how items are being shipped, IEEE reported.

As of 2017, Walmart operated about 6,363 international stores.

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US Bitcoin Digital Wallet Plans To Launch Blockchain Incubation Hub In Nigeria

Paxful is launching a blockchain incubation hub in Lagos. Photo – TechCity U.S. Bitcoin marketplace and digital wallet, Paxful is

Paxful is launching a blockchain incubation hub in Lagos. Photo - TechCity

blockchain incubation hub
Paxful is launching a blockchain incubation hub in Lagos. Photo – TechCity

U.S. Bitcoin marketplace and digital wallet, Paxful is planning to establish a blockchain incubation hub in Lagos, Nigeria.

Paxful intends to show its commitment to the African market by investing in the blockchain incubation hub, which will launch in the next few months, according to Techcity.

The peer-to-peer marketplace will set the incubator up as a co-working space which will offer networking and advice for initial coin offerings, corporate blockchain training and mentorship for Nigerian developers working with blockchain.

The company has over 1.7 active million monthly users on its platform, with these users able to purchase, sell or accept bitcoin, while its global wallet enables funds to be exchanged, with over 300 different payment methods available, including Amazon Pay and PayPal.

Blockchain technology is showing signs of steady growth across the continent, with Africans embracing the technology and the solutions that it promises to modern-day challenges.

As blockchain technology enables a continuously growing list of records to be linked and secured using cryptography, the applications for this tech may solve a number of economic and political issues that are currently experienced in Africa.

A blockchain incubation hub in Lagos

Paxful CEO Ray Youssef explained the company’s focus on Africa and their efforts to support blockchain entrepreneurs across the continent.

“Paxful is committed to fostering economic growth in Africa and helping the unbanked and underbanked gain access to the opportunities they have been denied for so long,” Youssef said, according to BitcoinMagazine.

“The incubator is simply a starting point to help driven entrepreneurs in an industry that has shattered boundaries all over the world,” he added.

Nigeria has been selected as the base for its African blockchain incubation hub due to the popularity of Paxful in the country, but also because of Nigeria’s successful startup culture.

Ahead of the incubator launching in Lagos, the company has hired its first African executive to oversee the hub’s day-to-day operations and recruit the necessary staff, according to ITWebAfrica.

Chuta Chimezie has been appointed as Paxful’s Regional Director of Africa, and in addition to his work in running the incubation hub, he will work to improve brand awareness and create educational content.

Prior to joining Paxful, Chimezie founded the Blockchain Nigeria User Group, a selection of advocates and entrepreneurs working to increase the adoption of these emerging technologies in Nigeria.

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10 Things You Need To Know About Dapps

Experts predicted that 2018 would be the year for Dapps — decentralized applications — in the crypto and blockchain tech space.

Experts predicted that 2018 would be the year for Dapps — decentralized applications — in the crypto and blockchain tech space.

The term is so new that no one seems sure exactly how to spell or pronounce it. Is it Dapp? dapp? DApp? D-App?

“Dapps are all about the new internet, where apps are decentralized and users own their data,” tweeted Ryan Shea, who this week announced the launch of app.co, marketed as the first universal app store for DApps.

Since the Dapp concept of decentralized applications is still in its infancy, so are efforts to define it — or at least to come up with a single universally accepted definition. However, there are noticeable common features of DApps, according to Blockgeeks.

1. To be a Dapp, an app must be all these

  1. Open Source – Source code of app is available to all.
  2. Decentralized – Uses a blockchain-like cryptographic technology.
  3. Incentive – App has crypto-tokens/digital assets for fueling itself.
  4. Algorithm/Protocol – Generates tokens and has an inbuilt consensus mechanism.

2. Dapps are often defined by what they’re not

Here’s a definition from Coinsutra: Dapps (decentralized applications) are a new breed of applications that are not owned by anyone, can’t be shut down, and can’t have downtime. The blockchain is the technology underlying Dapps. Bitcoin, which has decentralized all aspects of money, is an example of a Dapp.

3. What a world running on Dapps could look like

To imagine a world running on decentralized applications — Dapps — it helps to imagine a world where …

… your car is transporting passengers and making money for you while you’re at work, according to Blockgeeks. “Imagine having your computer utilizing its spare capacity to serve businesses and people across the globe. Imagine being paid for browsing the web and taking ownership of your, arguably invaluable, attention. Imagine the world like that — a world running on decentralized applications (Dapps). These distributed, resilient, transparent and incentivized applications will prove themselves to the world by remapping the technological landscape.”

4. Growth prospect for Dapps

Ryan Shea is the co-founder of Blockstack. He says he’s helping to build the new internet where apps are decentralized and users own their data. Shea announced this week the launch of app.co, which he describes as the first universal app store for Dapps. Users can find apps on Ethereum, Blockstack, IPFS, Steem, EOS and more. Responses by twitter followers have been mostly positive — “Great news” and “wonderful” to “very necessary part of the ecosystem” and “Can help w/ that :).” There were also suggestions on how to improve the product, along with some skepticism, and questions:

5. The right way to spell and pronounce Dapp is not settled yet

Is it dApp? DApp? D-App? Dapp? dapp? Who gets to decide? Wikipedia lists them all, but not much else. I’ve seen them spelled several different ways in Medium articles. StateOfTheApp turned the D in Dapp into a kind of dappy dollar sign, like this: ÐApp

“Dapps is pronounced in the same way that Email is, where the “D” in Dapps means ‘decentralized’ (i.e. D-Apps),” according to Coinsutra. Um. Wait, what?

Many of the more popular Dapps were built on the Ethereum blockchain

Part of the reason why it’s hard to define DApps is explained in this Medium post:

“It is correct to say Bitcoin is a Dapp, albeit not a sophisticated one as it requires a lot of protocol layering in order to offer robust Dapp functionalities. Also, Ethereum can also be classified as a Dapp, although this would be a gross oversimplification of what it truly is. Ethereum is more of a platform that allows developers to build their own Dapps. As a result, many of the more popular Dapps like Augur, Golem, and Aragon were built on the Ethereum network.”

6. How Dapps could impact the world

Dapps in 2018 could begin offering the world improved data ownership rights, IoT integration and enhanced digital security, according to FundYourselfNow, a platform that lets project creators/promoters raise funds using crypto without needing technical knowledge:

“Improved data ownership rights: Dapps will create an environment where ownership of data will be transferred back from internet corporations to the hands of those who actually create and post them. Instead of data monetization being the exclusive preserve of the big internet companies, the average user of the internet will be able to make money from his/her internet usage.

IoT integration: Blockchains have no central servers and data transfer requires connection to the nearest peer node. With such a fast and efficient protocol, DApps will play a leading role in the actualisation of the IoT.

Enhanced digital security: The blockchain is theoretically immutable and as it grows in size, this immutability becomes even (more) secured. DApps will provide the building blocks for a safer, more secure internet where user data is protected from hackers and digital spies.” (Medium)

7. Top Ethereum Dapps and tokens by market capitalization

From NewGenApps:

1. EOS

By market capitalization, EOS is the most powerful Ethereum-based token – roughly $6 billion. EOS is a platform that can be used by developers to create scalable Dapps. It is similar to the Ethereum blockchain, only a lot better. Like Ethereum it also uses smart contracts for running and hosting decentralized apps and is based on the Ethereum token.

2. VeChain Thor (VET and THOR)

VeChain aims to create a trustless and transparent supply chain management solution for industries. Vechain manufactures smart chips that can be used to track the item and automatically maintain its record in the blockchain. Using this, consumers can ensure the authenticity of the item while manufacturers can manage transit and distribution. VeChain was rebranded as VeChain Thor on Feb. 26, 2018. With this change, the company aims to shift from a logistics solution to a dapp platform.

3. Tron (TRX)
Tron is a decentralized content platform that aims to remove intermediaries in the consumption and distribution of content. Currently, the distribution of content is largely dependent on centralized platforms like Apple, Google, Facebook, Alibaba etc. Using TRX (Tron’s currency) users can directly connect to content creators and consume content.

4. OmiseGo (OMG)
OmiseGo is a white-label payment and banking platform that uses smart contracts and ERC-20 token (Ethereum code standard). The vision of OmiseGo is “Unbank the Banked”. With this platform, they’ll offer decentralized banking services across the globe without the need for a bank account. The pre-sale of OmiseGo’s token held in July 2017 was successful enough – raising $60 million – that the company didn’t actually go for an ICO.

5. ICON (ICX)
The ICON project aims to connect distinct blockchains without them having to go through a centralized system. The Korean blockchain startup uses a unique “loopchain” concept that allows the connected blockchain to maintain their individual affairs to themselves and vote on matters affecting the entire ICON community of blockchains.

8. Ethereum is the leading Dapp platform

There are 1,485 Dapps, according to StateOfTheDapps, a registry of Dapp projects.

9. Main difference between traditional app and Dapp development

The biggest difference between Dapp development and traditional app development is the level of rigor by which code must be scrutinized before it’s pushed to production, writes Richard Chen, a blockchain analyst at 1confirmation:

“dApp development is actually more like hardware development than software development in that respect,” Chen writes:

In hardware development, rigorous testing and prototyping needs to be done before the product is offered to the public. A hardware recall costs lots of money, takes a long time to fix, and tarnishes the reputation of the manufacturer. Likewise, in dApp development, a smart contract can’t be changed once it’s launched on the mainnet. A bug in the smart contract loses users’ funds and tarnishes the reputation of the dApp developers.

Traditional app development, in contrast, tends to emphasize fast iteration cycles as best practice. As a developer, you want to build a minimum viable product, get people testing the product, and release updated versions as quickly as possible. Traditional apps like Facebook have the motto of “move fast and break things,” which isn’t exactly the best motto for dApp development.”

10. The Dapp development process

This is the Dapp development process, according to BlockChainHub:

  • Whitepaper & Prototype
    A whitepaper is published describing the dApp and its features. This whitepaper can outline the idea for Dapp development but also entail a working prototype.
  • Token Sale
    Initial tokens sale is set up
  • ICO – Initial Coin Offering
    The ownership stake of the dApp is spread
  • Implementation & Launch
    Funds are invested into building the dApp and deploying it.

 

Dapps
Dapp illustration: Maria Kuznetsov

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How Will Blockchain Change The Economy?

How will blockchain change the economy? This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered

How will blockchain change the economy?

This question originally appeared on Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answers by Revett Eldred, Morton Gelt, Walter Bril, Carl Leitz, Paul Sutton and Sam Radocchia.

Revett Eldred, blockhead.

Answered March 3

I think blockchain is a little like the laser. When the laser was invented it was a physical breakthrough, an amazing invention that was touted as having the potential to transform the world in many ways.

But it quickly became the technology for which nobody could think of a use. It disappeared from public interest for some years.

But now the laser is ubiquitous. Police use it to measure speed, DVD readers use it to count the little ‘on’ pits etched into the surface of the disc, the rain sensor for your car’s windshield wipers uses it, and the list goes on.

Blockchain will be the same. While its fans tout its ability to enable smart contracts, the poor shmucks who have to implement those contracts beg to differ. When some bright young programmer decides to get rich with an instant ICO on Ethereum, he joins the 1,500 other wannabe coins out there vying for attention and investment dollars. And so it goes on.

Meanwhile other people and companies are quietly testing real-world applications and variations on the current blockchain architectures. In time, new applications will appear, one by one, with 99 percent of people not even knowing they have anything to do with blockchains.

Will they “transform the global economy”? Perhaps, but it will be subtle and it will occur over a 20 year period.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, could have a significant impact if it doesn’t just fizzle and go away. Every modern national government relies on its ability to control currency. If Bitcoin starts to seriously threaten that, you can bank on anti-Bitcoin legislation and you can bank on the backlash that will follow and you will probably see some kind of economic transformation. But that will be because of Bitcoin, not because of its underlying technology except insofar as it is the technology that enables the app.

Chicken. Egg.

Morton Gelt, Founder of Decentralized AI Startup (2017-present)

Answered Dec. 10

It enables tokenization of the world economy, where any asset (real estate, commodities) could be tokenized and sold as an investment to anybody in the world. Removes intermediates from the majority of trades and asset transfers. Provides a platform for anybody anywhere in the world to invest, trade, purchase, borrow, pool money in, etc…

Most important smart contracts provide the way to automate many functions on modern intermediaries (banks, insurances). As for niches:

Blockchain enables:

  • Anonymous instant money transfers, thus competes with banks and such bus as western union
  • Optimize and capitalize real estate transactions
  • Investments
  • A new way of raising money via ICOs or private placements.
  • Businesses to better incentivize its customers.
  • To reduce fraud in advertising.
  • Adds better ways to provide loans and deal with debt.

Walter Bril, studied Introduction to Digital Currencies & Blockchain Technology at University of Nicosia (2016)

Answered March 10

As technology merely amplifies current (thought) models, I believe that our neoclassic-influenced economy will be no exception.

I therefore expect that blockchain will not change immediately the way we currently look at economy; it will actually enforce existing and old models.

Specifically, regarding blockchain, a business should therefore not ask: How can blockchain help me to make better profit? But instead: Why do I exist and do I add sustainable value to our world?

Neoclassic economists hate this last question as it is influenced by moral philosophy.

On the other hand, when more and more people start to grasp this, blockchain might become the single biggest change driver in the economy ever.

Carl Leitz

Answered March 8

Blockchain has many uses and utility to do many things.

Financially it can facilitate the creation of fake value. Digital currency is using blockchain as a virtual printer to create fake value or money in digital form.

Blockchain can enhance the persistence and redundancy of stored data. Fake Value is useless without real value.

VALUE equals NATURE which sustains all LIFE.

The utility of blockchain lies in the storing and retrieving of data securely.

Data as in the case of digital records is fake value as opposed to life enabling real value.

Data has utility but doesn’t sustain life as does real value.

Paul Sutton, Stock Trader, electrical engineer

Answered Dec. 10

Not in the ways you probably imagine, that is, in endeavors such as Bitcoin. Rather, it will find its way into areas that we can’t even imagine.

Sam Radocchia, Co-Founder at Chronicled (2015-present)

Answered Feb. 8

Think of how the sharing economy has exploded in the past decade. If you’ve taken an Uber to the airport or rented an Airbnb, you’ve been a part of it.

We’re even at a point where renting out personal items is a viable business model. For example, Omni Storage stores items you’re not using—just like a normal storage company—but they also rent your items out to people. Skis, guitar, winter jacket. It’s all available for rent (with the owner’s permission) via an app.

We all hold onto certain possessions, because we plan to use them eventually. Or so we tell ourselves. Why not make some money off of our stuff instead of letting it go unused?

That question is at the heart of the sharing economy, and we’re going to be hearing a lot more about businesses like Omni in the next few years.

This is what it can look like if blockchain is involved.

Changing Value

Futuristic sharing concepts will only work if many other considerations are taken care of. Each item has to be documented, proven authentic, assigned a current value, and even insured. And blockchain can be extremely useful here.

Say I register a guitar on blockchain. In theory, I would be able to access information about where it is, as well as its current worth and condition.

This isn’t as far-fetched as you may think. Seven years ago, a friend of mine sent me a business plan for a platform that allows people to rent out their art. It’s funny to look back on that now, because we’re actually at the point where a concept like that is possible. And renting or leasing is just a part of it.

Imagine the entire art economy on top of blockchain, where individuals could own fractions of a work.

We have the ability to attach microchips to items and register them on blockchain, making it feasible that someone could rent an expensive piece of art and keep it in their office for a few years. It just means assigning the rights values. Take it a step farther and once we have that link between the physical asset and the digital tokenized representation of that art, buyers and sellers can invest in a small percentage of the art. 100 owners. One Michaelangelo.

Shifting Responsibility

With this system of renting comes an inevitable question: What if something happens to your stuff?

Renting out a guitar you pluck on once a year sounds like a good deal, but what if it gets broken or lost? You’d need insurance on it first to have peace of mind.

We actually thought about this at Chronicled a couple years ago. We were talking to some people who had built a platform for filmmakers to lease out their film equipment. But film equipment is very expensive—a lens could cost $10,000. And getting insurance isn’t always a simple process.

So, we built a proof of concept that allowed people to authenticate high value assets, place a microchip on them, and register them on blockchain. That was the link between the record of its authenticity and the data about its condition. Through the mobile app, you could quickly purchase insurance on it.

To buy insurance on an item this fast, you need to have available data on what it is, what it costs, and what condition it’s in. But if that was all collected and stored on a blockchain network, you could build a platform to quickly grab this data and add insurance accordingly.

Letting Go Of Ownership

If this type of radical sharing economy were to emerge, it would constitute a major shift in the way we view ownership and material possessions. And the storage facility concept is a great model for easing people into that thought process. You’ve already taken the first step by saying, “This isn’t important enough for me to keep in my home.”

When something sits idle for a long period of time, it becomes an underutilized asset. It makes sense to rent out items you own that simply sit in storage, costing you money.

Will a future sharing economy like this start moving us away from a consumer-based, materialistic mindset? Is it possible for people to be so accustomed to sharing that they change their attitude about ownership? Is it possible for tokenization and fractional ownership of possessions, art, real estate enabled by said tokenization to lead to a new concept of consumerism?

Maybe. Western society isn’t really built that way, so it would be a monumental change in how we view possessions. But it’s not impossible to make that adjustment.

Adjusting Our Attitudes

It is possible to change your view on material ownership. I know firsthand. When I first moved to San Francisco, my apartment complex was robbed by a maintenance worker. He took jewelry I inherited from my grandmother. They ended up catching the guy, but I never got the jewelry back. And after that robbery, I no longer had any possessions I cared much about.

That event makes it easier for me to accept the notion of the sharing economy. I don’t mind putting items in storage and letting other people rent them out, because I don’t feel attached to objects.

I’m sure some people don’t see things that way, but there are plenty of people who feel the same as I do. That’s why I’m interested to see how far we can take the sharing economy in the coming years and how blockchain can help make it a secure, seamless system.

Read more at Quora, the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

blockchain
Illustration by Dan Page

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Why Africa’s Accelerator Programs Are Going Niche

Barclays Accelerator and Techstars have run a number of fintech-focused accelerator programs. Photo – Appsafrica Accelerator programs for African tech

Barclays Accelerator and Techstars have run a number of fintech-focused accelerator programs. Photo - Appsafrica

accelerator programs
Barclays Accelerator and Techstars have run a number of fintech-focused accelerator programs. Photo – Appsafrica

Accelerator programs for African tech startups are common these days, with companies benefiting from training and mentorship from Cairo to Cape Town.

These programs are run by a variety of organisations ranging from investment funds to incubators, and, increasingly, corporations looking to tap into the startup space.

In theory, the value of accelerators is undeniable, offering startups access to vital infrastructure, training and connections with mentors and investors. Yet the number of tech startups that have graduated from these programs is still relatively small compared to the huge impact of global favourites such as 500 Startups and Y Combinator.

African accelerators are in a state of evolution. Initially programs, run by the likes of the now-defunct 88mph in Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria, had a general focus. Increasingly, accelerators launching these days focus on niche verticals.

One such program is Digital Health Cape Town (DHCT), which recently selected its first cohort of ed-tech startups. It is just one of a number of accelerators across the continent that has chosen to deep dive into one space to offer more focused assistance.

DHCT’s chief executive officer, Siraaj Adams, says the benefits to startups of a narrower focus include access to sector specific potential clients, and one-on-one mentoring by industry experts rather than generalists.

Such programs allow startups to gain better guidance and more knowledge of a rapidly evolving sector than if they were part of a general accelerator that also included companies in spaces like e-commerce and fintech.

“The e-health space is endless, based on the rate of technology and the day and age we live in. The pace of technology makes this area a constantly evolving sector to improve systems, data, medical procedures, devices and access to healthcare, to name a few,” Adams said.

“Healthcare is now getting the attention it needs to anchor itself in the base of patient-centric models. Entrepreneurs need the support, empowerment and funding from both government and private sector to make the difference and a reality in the healthcare arena.”

German pharmaceutical firm Merck also runs an e-health accelerator in Nairobi, but it is not just in healthcare that accelerators are focusing on a specific niche. John Karanja runs the Nairobi-based blockchain and digital currency accelerator BitHub Africa.

He says the focus on blockchain – as opposed to fintech in general – allows his community to specialise and gain expertise collectively in one key disruptive area that he feels will be critical for the growth of jobs and the economy in general.

Karanja says there is a clear trend across the continent in this regard.

“I think we are seeing more hubs focusing on sectors. This is great as it leads to specialisation and the addressing of key challenges facing different sectors and societal groups. However, there should be an exchange of Ideas through more collaboration to enhance cross-learning through shared experiences,” he said.

Back in Cape Town, Barclays (now Absa) has been running a host of programmes from its Rise incubator, all of which have specific focuses. Ecosystem manager Camilla Swart says the hub has found being niche in terms of fintech – Barclays has partnered with Techstars to run two fintech accelerators from the space – has reaped rewards.

“Networking and collaboration is far more seamless because of the common ground,” she said.

“Being niche means we can focus on the specific challenges facing the entrepreneurs in that niche. The peer interaction is a vital part of these accelerators – the support you get from each other helps drive success. Being able to spend time with peers who have had similar experiences and challenges means you support each other differently –  ‘you get it’, there is a different empathy and also a different lens on the strengths of the group.”

Rise has even gone niche in terms of gender, recently launching the second edition of its program for female founders.

“Last year we saw the benefits to the entrepreneurs and so we are repeating the program, but this year with a bit more of a framework or structure, and additional value-adds like the financial modelling and planning tools,” Swart said.

“The beauty of this year’s program is that one of the graduates of last year, Antoinette Prophy, is actually running the program for us – that’s a result! And we are thrilled to have her expertise and passion driving things.”

Tom Jackson is co-founder of Disrupt Africa, a news and research company focused on the African tech startup ecosystem.

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Kenya Looks To Blockchain To End Land Grabbing

(Photo: Africatime) Kenya sees itself as a technology giant in Africa and has embraced the nickname “Silicon Savannah” – now

blackchain

Blockchain
(Photo: Africatime)

Kenya sees itself as a technology giant in Africa and has embraced the nickname “Silicon Savannah” – now it has set up a special team to look into how to take advantage of the latest technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and blockchain.

“We missed the internet wave, caught up with mobile technology… blockchain is the next wave – and we must be part of it,” the team’s chairman, Bitange Ndemo, told the BBC.

From BBC. Story by Dickens Olewe.

A blockchain is a shared database with a provable, auditable and verifiable record of all changes. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the use of computer systems to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence.

Information Minister Joseph Mucheru, the man who the team will report to, says that, among other uses, blockchain could help organize land records stored by the government, which are a constant source of frustration for people who want to buy, sell or verify information about land.

Possessing a title deed in Kenya does not necessarily guarantee ownership because fraudsters in cahoots with land officials have been known to change land records.

Read more at BBC.

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10 Ways Blockchain will Disrupt the E-Commerce Industry

A Brief Look at Blockchain Technology Blockchain is basically a ledger; a distributed one. All transactions that occurred on that

A Brief Look at Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is basically a ledger; a distributed one. All transactions that occurred on that particular Blockchain are recorded and then stored on the ledger in a form of block data. Once the ledger successfully stores a transaction, it can be removed. This means that with each transaction, the longer the chain of data blocks become.

One of the implications of this is that the complete history of transactions from the recent ones to the first entry is available for verification always. A complex cryptography protects all the data recorded in the distributed ledger and when you possess the key, you can easily unwrap it but without it, the security is impossible to crack.

What makes Blockchains very secure is its distributed nature. Each node in the network possesses the exact copy of the ledger and the entire network constantly checks it. If one of the nodes in that network has a ledger that is different from that of others in the network, there will be a notification and that divergent node will be flagged and then kicked out from the network.

How Blockchains Really Work

A Blockchain network is generally based on Nodes which are electronic devices. A client is used to connect the devices to the Blockchain and it performs tasks such as validating as well as relaying transactions. When a new node connects to the network, the whole copy of the network’s Blockchain automatically gets downloaded in it.

Each node in the Blockchain is an “administrator” and connects to the network voluntarily. This means the Blockchain network is decentralized.

It is true that Blockchain will undoubtedly disrupt the e-commerce industry. Before explaining the various ways that would happen, it is important to first know the common challenges facing E-commerce. Here are some of the major problems:

  1. Trust: Sellers and buyers use intermediaries due to the fact that they may not have enough trust in the other party, but the intermediary can be trusted to assure a transaction is faithfully completed. However, this trust is costly as intermediaries usually charge the seller or buyer a fee in order to maintain their ledger.
  2. Slow Transactions: The supply chain of e-commerce involves various parties with shipping rate and negotiated commissions. Additionally, there is still tendering, ordering, tracking shipment, delivery confirmation as well as costs and chargeback settlement. All these will complicate the entire transaction process and it can cause delay for weeks, and months sometimes.
  3. Frauds: One of the biggest problems e-commerce companies face is substandard or counterfeit products. This is mainly because of the difficulty in selecting and regulating vendors which ends up diminishing the image of the brand.
  4. Other Costs: e-commerce presently supports several payment methods such as bank transfers, Debit/Credit card, mobile wallets, Cash on Delivery etc. However, during the payment process, each step draws a free from the sellers/buyers.

How Blockchain Will Disrupt E-Commerce

Payments

When performing international transactions, there are often frustrations and problems. Although there are solutions such as PayPal, some of the problems encountered are still not covered.

Request Network is a company that is currently trying to provide a currency and country-agnostic solution. This platform is Blockchain-based and it aspires to provide a decentralized platform that facilitates transactions to make it fast, easy and secure for B2C, B2B, and C2C interactions.

This platform is also geared towards providing automated and easy methods for invoices, auditing, and accounting. With Blockchain technology, the platform will be able to disrupt the ecommerce industry for financial transactions efficiently by providing top quality security standards, easy user experience, and low costs/fees for executing transactions.

The fees for using PayPal are high when comparing it to major cryptocurrencies and some other issues. They recently split with eBay, a very valuable partner, and this highlights one of these disadvantages. The reason eBay gave for the slip is the high cost of transactions for sellers and limited options for payment for buyers.

Here are the reasons why Cryptocurrencies is projected to be better than the present digital wallet services:

  1. Unmatched low fees for instantaneous transactions.
  2. Anyone can participate because it is country-agnostic.
  3. There’s no third party that requires financially sensitive and personal information.

The Decentralized Marketplace

Both the cryptography and network provides great security. This shows that Blockchain technology is secure, so businesses and individuals can directly transact and interact with one another without any need for an intermediary.

Although they may need to pay some minor fees for the network the Blockchain uses to validate transactions and secure the network. The seller and buyer don’t have to pay fees to an intermediary/marketplace company.

E-commerce will now be conducted on platforms that are based on Blockchain applications. Generally, blockchains are decentralized, so there is no company or central party that dictates the rules and makes decisions on how users will interact/transact with each other. The users (both businesses and individuals), will determine the way the platform will function and develop. The Blockchain will constantly be upgraded by the developers that created it but the upgrade can only be done if the community agrees.

Supply Chains

Blockchain technology makes the visualizations of supply chains incorruptible. Although this is not yet well established because Blockchain still needs mass adoption. Once this occurs, you will be able to directly see the whole chain of events/history of a product with just a click or tap.

The Blockchain will be able to directly show if the product is fair-trade, authentic, organic, or contains chemicals.

Secure Data

The current method of storing data has a major flaw – data are stored in one central place and are controlled completely by a single, central party. This makes it vulnerable to cybercriminals as they are always looking to steal large databases. The costs of Cybersecurity are too high and there is also less flexibility.

The decentralization of Blockchain also implies that data storage is decentralized. It is possible for cybercriminals to hack individuals, but they’ll get the information of only the individual part they hack. It is virtually impossible to hack a whole Blockchain.

Implementing this technology in e-commerce will help save loads of investments.

Management Systems

A Blockchain can provide an efficient, fraud-proof and secure backup system which can be used by any company. The tasks you can use Blockchain applications for are:

  • Logistics
  • Accounting
  • Budgeting
  • Inventory Control
  • Payroll System

In order to properly automate managerial processes, you can add limits, thresholds and time stamps to your Blockchain applications.

Smart Contracts and Intellectual Protection

Ecommerce companies that sell to other individuals and businesses can create contracts regularly. Blockchain applications can be used to set up various kinds of contracts which many customers can implement.

Also, mobile apps and websites often need to secure original content. Blockchain can be used to register this content thereby providing a great proof of ownership.

Interested in investing in cryptocurrencies? Here are great Bitcoin alternatives.

Authenticity of Products

One of the Blockchain applications is that it can capture the whole history and touch point of a product. This will make it easier to know if a certain product is authentic.

This is usually applied by merchants who sell luxury goods and unique merchandise like art.

Loyalty Programs

The main functions of Loyalty programs are (a) Accrual of Loyalty points (b) Redemption of loyalty points. Blockchain can be used to facilitate a good contract that will help manage both functions.

Additionally, by utilizing an established cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, you can use Blockchain to easily redeem loyalty points.

Identity Management

Blockchain can be used to effectively eliminate identity theft. Blockchain assigns each user a unique code and it is often used for identity verification. This capability has been adopted already by many financial services organizations.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is also another strategy used by investors and merchants to raise money. Through cryptocurrencies, Blockchain has really made the Crowdfunding process easier and more secure.

Related Topics

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The Negative Impact Of Having All-Women Panels At Blockchain And Cryptocurrency Conferences

 “Recently, I was at a summit where there was a ‘Pink Room’ — a place designed specifically for women. This

all-women panels

 “Recently, I was at a summit where there was a ‘Pink Room’ — a place designed specifically for women. This was a rather offensive, yet telling sign of the industry. We should be using emerging industries like blockchain to end the stigmas of gender in technology, not to bolster it,” Anastasia Shvetsova, managing partner at M&A PR agency, told me.

Shvetsova, who has been specializing in public relations for the tech industry for seven years, has seen her fair share of gender-exclusive “themes” at technology conferences. From all-women discussion panels, to pink conference rooms designed specifically for women, gender exclusivity for women at tech conferences has become a common trend.

Yet while some women in the tech space highly encourage “all women in tech” panels, others are starting to express differing opinions, especially those females innovating in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.

The Negative Impact Of “All Women” Panels

Arianna Simpson, managing director at Autonomous Partners, has participated in a number of panels at blockchain conferences and has also been a part of all-women panels in the past. Yet moving forward, Simpson has expressed that she will no longer participate on all-women panels that are focused on gender.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – JANUARY 27, 2018: The World Blockchain and Cryptocurrensy Summit organised by the International Decentralized Association of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain (IDACB) takes place at Moscow’s World Trade Centre. Sergei Fadeichev/TASS (Photo by Sergei FadeichevTASS via Getty Images)

“I think women face many of the same challenges as men do in the tech space. For instance, I run a crypto investment fund, and ultimately how I am assessed comes down to the numbers — not gender. Most of my biggest challenges would be similar if I were a man. If the market is down 70%, it doesn’t care whether you’re a man or a woman,” Simpson told me.

Since both women and men are confronted with the same barriers in the general tech space, Simpson believes there is no logical reason for separating female and male speakers during blockchain and cryptocurrency panels.

I don’t like the idea of conference organizers combining all the women on a panel just to show that they are making an effort in the realm of diversity. What really gets me is that the majority of the time the women on these gender-specific panels aren’t talking about the most important topics. This isn’t the right approach. There are women who are experts on literally every subject on crypto and outside of that, so I think that bringing those highly qualified women on to the main panels is what should be happening, rather than saying, ‘look, we have a women in blockchain panel,’ taking place at this specific time, Simpson explained.

While some women – and men – may disagree with Simpson, she makes a valid point. As an example, many of the blockchain conferences I’ve recently attended do include all-women panels, yet during these sessions, the speakers tend to focus greatly on the role women play in the space. In turn, this creates a kind of barrier between female and male positions in cryptocurrency, blockchain and the overall tech sector. While these panels do raise awareness for gender diversity, they also group women into certain categories in terms of the roles that they contribute to.

“I don’t think it’s especially beneficial to raise awareness for diversity by performing a ‘feel good’ action and having an all-women panel where the speakers just discuss what it is like to be a woman in the space. This doesn’t move things forward. We should be bringing very qualified women into all the main conversations,” Simpson said.

Samantha Stein, director of special projects at TechCrunch, echoes Simpson’s opinion and even warns about the consequences of featuring all women panels at tech conferences.

“It’s one thing to create a safe space for gendered experiences or to explore the gender dimension of a conversation, but it’s dangerous to create women-only panels in separate spaces that are not achieving those objectives as a means to highlight the inclusion of female speakers, Stein told me. When the panels end up solely being about women in an industry speaking about industry topics, it can lead to exclusion from the main conversations, which is where the issue lies. This directly goes against the entire principle of wanting an equal platform for both men and women.

Are ‘All-Women Panels’ A Fading Trend?

The opinions offered by Shvetsova, Simpson and Stein may not appeal to everyone, yet some conference organizers are starting to pay attention to the remarks from these women.

BlockShow Europe takes place in Berlin May 28-29. The event expects to draw in 3,000 attendees and will feature 80 influential speakers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. A majority of the conference organizers are women and they have collectively decided not to feature any all-women panels during the event this year.

“BlockShow has no specific panels for women, something that you see in many other conferences. Our conference will treat everyone as equals. Amazing speakers and thought leaders will have an equal platform to talk about the things in cryptocurrency and blockchain that they understand best, without any needless inclusion or exclusion,” Anna Sergius, deputy director of Blockshow, told me.

While BlockShow serves as one example of a major blockchain/cryptocurrency conference eliminating all-women panels, this could become a trend moving forward. After all, cryptocurrency and blockchain are still new forms of technology, which means there are greater chances for early innovation. As more women in this space come forward to express the need for gender neutrality, upcoming blockchain events could very well be the first tech conferences to look beyond gender and more on pure innovation. In other words, we could start to see less all-women panels at upcoming blockchain and cryptocurrency events.

You can follow Rachel Wolfson on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay up to date on the latest cryptocurrency happenings.

The post appeared first on Moguldom.

Blockpass in £600k Collaboration to Building the World’s first Advanced Blockchain Identity Laboratory

  The Blockpass Identity Lab, a pioneering new research facility, will explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal

 

The Blockpass Identity Lab, a pioneering new research facility, will explore ways in which blockchain technology can protect personal data from online scammers and cyber criminals.

The laboratory will be built at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus as part of a £600,000 collaboration between the university and Hong Kong-based Blockpass.

A blockchain is a growing list of records or blocks, which is secured using cryptography and is resistant to modification; the technology is currently being used by Blockpass to develop an identity verification platform.

The research collaboration with the university will see the creation of the Blockpass Identity Lab. The initial three-year collaboration also includes funding for research staff, PhD studentships and a virtualised blockchain environment.

A series of data breach scandals at companies like Yahoo, Uber and Equifax highlighted the risks of centralising the storage of personal user data. Blockpass is using blockchain to develop alternatives which allow users to retain control of their identity, with only they deciding who can access their sensitive personal data.

Blockpass Chief Marketing Officer Dr Hans Lombardo said: “We continue to see identity management at the forefront of blockchain and cryptography discussions as the price of consumer data abuses becomes clearer and more pertinent.

“The creation of this lab in conjunction with Edinburgh Napier University will provide a space where further research and innovation can lead that discussion to newer and more advanced grounds.”

A key focus of the lab will be to create world-leading knowledge and innovation around citizen-focused systems which enshrine the right to privacy.

Professor Bill Buchanan of Edinburgh Napier’s School of Computing, the Director of the Lab, said: “The world is changing and cryptography is now being used to fix many of the problems we have created on the internet. It can now help create a better society, with the citizen at its core.

“We aim to contribute to the building of a new world, based on blockchain. Whether it is health and well-being, or the changing of our public services, it is likely to be blockchain methods that will provide the foundation for the future”.

Dr Sally Smith, Dean of the University’s School of Computing, said: “This is another step forward in the advancement of our research and innovation, and builds on a strong track record of success.

“This collaboration builds a foundation for the future, and supports the development of advanced skills in blockchain research.”


Disruptive Trends To Watch In Digital Culture In Mid-Q2 2018

As we move even into Q2 of 2018, cultural trend analysis will become even more important to everyone because we

disruptive trends to watch in digital culture

As we move even into Q2 of 2018, cultural trend analysis will become even more important to everyone because we are in the midst of major value and sentiment paradigm shifts.

Connecting will be paramount. To do so will require understanding the mindset, motivations, fears, and goals of society.

Here are my picks for key areas and insights that I will be tracking this year and breaking down via periodic updates.

Celebrities

Celebrities now wield power over social media stocks with a single post, from Kylie Jenner’s yawn over Snapchat to Rihanna’s more recent swipe at the social network giant. Business outlets remark about the negative impact reactions such notables have on the stock. Celebrities will be the megaphone for many cultural trends that will catch some in their ivory towers off guard.

Your play: Consider whether what celebrities say is actually true or not. Keep an ear to the ground so that you see simply what celebs who have a large megaphone amplify, not what they create or define. Watch for new ways companies may try to create ambassadors to develop greater outreach and relations from tech companies, and particularly social media giants.

disruptive trends to watch in digital culture
Instagram Yara Shahidi

State of race

While few acknowledge it, an African-American female — Naomi Wadler — and Latina Emma Gonzalez stole the show at the recent March For Our Lives rally for gun control in Washington, D.C., bringing true voice to the voiceless. We are entering a time of new power and influence where the emboldened overturn the reigns of power of old via provocation and innovation. I spoke about this and other trends to watch at a recent conference.

Your play: Watch for Gen Z — an even bigger and more diverse demo then millennials — to fully complete the repositioning of culture. Prep now by studying their values in an organic way.

Millennial mashup

TF, AF. The shortening of such colloquial emphasis is growing even more among this demographic. Between this and an interplay of emojis, under-the-radar speak is indicative of influencers.

Your play: Either grab a translator or become more deeply entrenched in the actual demo itself, but whatever you do, don’t apply to advertisements and the like because the power will fade before it sees the light of day. That’s how fast the world is moving.

Next in tech

Saw the Obama fake video? If not you are missing state-of-the-art AI that is only the tip of the iceberg for what is to come. This is known as “deep fakes.“ AI will be the next technology to be even more deeply scrutinized. Fake videos enabled by AI will begin to create unsettling situations and questions as more are released into the culture.

Your play: Arm your own videos with blockchain. When watching videos created by others, take with a grain of salt until several have a proven their validity.

Politics

Two words for you: Cambridge Analytica.

Your play: Watch for additional concerns as the fallout from this Facebook scandal creates untold ripple effects.

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