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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

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A group of technology advisors to US President Barack Obama heard from representatives from the bitcoin and blockchain industry earlier this month.

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SAFE Crossroads Podcast #33, David Irvine Speaks

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In this Episode

David Irvine, Founder and lead developer of MaidSafe has faced a huge workload over the last couple of years, moving the SAFE Network towards launch. So much so that he hasn't recorded an in-depth interview in over two years. That changed today.

In this episode he finally speaks--quite a lot, actually. Our two hour interview covers much of what has been going forward with the SAFE Network, the technical barriers, some of the huge breakthroughs, the community, and a lot more.

Most of the second half of the interview deals with matters relating to a blog post being published at about the same time as this podcast (linked below), making full community disclosure about planned actions to reinforce capital availability to accelerate development and community outreach, a likely source of lively discussion on the SAFE Network Forum.

Aside from all the wonderful data, perspectives and strategy disclosures, the interview is a great dose of David Irvine in person.

Magic Word

Listen for the magic word, and submit it to your LetsTalkBitcoin.com account to claim a share of this week's listener award distribution of LTBcoin. Listeners now have a full week from the release date to submit a magic word. The magic word for this episode must be submitted by 12 noon Pacific Time on June 7, 2016.

Music

Music for this episode: Arrival, and "Magic Words" are original pieces composed and performed by Nicholas Koteskey of Two Faced Heroes

Links

MaidSafe Blog post re MaidSafeCoins usage

SAFE Network Release Cycle

Stable Droplet Network

Forum post with links about Datachains



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Intel to Develop Blockchain Projects at New Innovation Lab in Israel

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Tech giant Intel has opened a development lab in Tel Aviv focused on financial technologies like the blockchain.

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Microsoft has partnered with two startups to build an identity platform aimed to integrating with both the bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.

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Japan’s Trade Ministry: Government Should Promote Blockchain Use Cases

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Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has released the results of a survey on blockchain technology.

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Many have speculated that the recent increase in the price of bitcoin ($542 USD on Bitfinex at time of publication) can be traced to China, where Bitcoin trading has doubled on some exchanges in the last four days as Chinese investors respond to a recent currency devaluation, and look for ways to avoid the government’s stringent capital controls.

China’s economy has been flatlining for some time now. That and the strengthening U.S. dollar prompted the People's Bank of China to devalue the yuan by 0.45 percent last Friday to its lowest level since February 2011.

New Interest in Bitcoin

Huobi and OKCoin, the two largest Chinese exchanges, that now account for some 92 percent of Bitcoin global trading by (self-reported) volume, both reported almost double the usual trading volume over the past weekend.

OKCoin’s Jack Liu, Chief Strategy Officer, confirmed the surge in trading volume and told Bitcoin Magazine:

"After two long years, Bitcoin’s price crossed back across the USD $500 mark led by OKCoin's CNY exchange - the largest digital asset trading platform in the world. The price first reached $500 on May 28, and was followed later on by OKCoin's USD exchange and other global platforms such as Coinbase”.

 Huobi’s CEO Leon Li said that trading volume on their exchange has doubled in the last few days as investors look for a safe haven:

“We do think that China's economic situation has certain influence to the price. Totally, RMB has been on the trend of depreciation for a long time, and the domestic stock market has been weak since last September. More and more Chinese investors and their hot money need a new investment market, and a convenient alternative investment like Bitcoin is easy to be accepted by the traders.”

Bobby Lee, CEO of BTCC exchange told Bitcoin Magazine:

"BTCC has seen very high trading volumes this past weekend. In fact, on our Pro Exchange, we saw record volumes on Friday, the highest ever since our launch last October. This recent rally was indeed led by the China market, which gives credit to the theory that people were predicting today's yuan devaluation."

Jack Liu believes that China’s economic situation is in for a long period of flat or stagnant growth.

 “We believe with the Chinese economy is entering into a “L-shaped” recovery rather than a "U-shaped" one; the dearth of mainstream, prudent investment choices has made Bitcoin a relatively attractive choice.”

However Huobi’s Leon Li told us that he sees more than just these short-term economic factors in explaining the growing popularity of Bitcoin:

“The policy environment has been more and more tolerant worldwide, and blockchain technology has been acknowledged by academic and traditional financial institutions. Even People's Bank of China (China's central bank) is discussing blockchain. In the long term, when the price returns to rationality, it would vibrate by those fundamentals.” 

Bitcoin Halving in July Seen as a Possible Cause of Price Increase

Both Jack Liu and Leon Li see the upcoming halving as a significant factor in the increase in the price of Bitcoin.  Liu told us:

“This is especially in light of the fact that the Bitcoin supply will be halved in just over a month, adding to deflationary supply pressures and increasing the digital asset's investment value in the short, and long term.”

Bitcoin Continuing a Steady Increase in Price and Market Capitalization

As noted in this recent Bitcoin Magazine article about the price of Bitcoin, the digital currency is showing a steady and almost methodical ascent, with moderate increases in both price and market capitalization.

It appears that China’s bad fortune is good for Bitcoin, although Jack Liu notes that economic uncertainty is not just limited to China. He told us:

“It was not a surprise to see the upturn. After all, the whole world is facing slower growth and low to negative interest rates, not just China. "

The post Bitcoin Price Soars as Chinese Investors Look for Safe Haven From Devaluation and Capital Controls appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.



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Micropayments have long been one of the most anticipated use cases for bitcoin, but similar tech may be coming soon to Ethereum.

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Smart Dubai Director Sees Blockchain as Key to Connected Cities

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The head of the Dubai government's Smart Dubai initiative spoke on how she believes blockchain can help drive the city’s modernization efforts today.

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Monday, 30 May 2016

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EB133 - Pascal and Julien Hamonic: Applying the Mechanisms of Thermoregulation to Cryptocurrencies

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One of the problems often cited when talking about cryptocurrencies is their level of volatility compared to traditional fiat currencies. This makes most cryptocurrencies a poor instrument for storing value, and introduces complexities when making purchases in fiat amounts. Stable cryptocurrencies include mechanisms which allow them to stay pegged to fiat currencies like the US Dollar or Euro. They present a number of advantages, and, in addition to taking the headache out of making purchases, can be used by cryptocurrency traders who need a stable unit of account for hedging their assets.

We talk to brothers Pascal and Julien Hamonic, Core Members of the Nu team about the NuBit stable cryptocurrency. Similarly to the mechanisms that keep our body temperature stable, NuBits relies upon the introduction of new coins into circulation when demand increases, and for coins to be taken out of circulation when demand drops. Shareholders (NuShareholder) vote on these measures as the network relies on custodians who bring liquidity into the market in exchange for dividends, and on speculators who ""park"" coins in exchange for potential returns when demand increases again.

Topics we discuss in this episode:

  • What is NuBits and what is the goal it is trying to achieve
  • The different components of Nu (NuBits, NuShares)
  • The economic mechanisms behind the $1.00 USD peg
  • Who are the different participants in the network (NuBits users, NuShareholders, custodians)
  • The important role of custodians in providing liquidity to the network
  • The consensus model used in Nu
  • The initial allocation of NuBits and NuShares
  • The governance mechanisms in Nu

Links mentioned in this episode:

Sponsors:

  • Hide.me: Protect your privacy and personal data with a free VPN account at Hide.me/epicenter.

Show notes

YouTube

SoundCloud

Epicenter Bitcoin is hosted by Brian Fabian Crain, S?Ć’bastien Couture & Meher Roy.



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Dubai's Global Blockchain Council Unveils First Pilot Projects

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Ernst & Young has announced it will auction $12.9m worth of bitcoin confiscated from a former Silk Road user.

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ABN Amro managing director Karin Kersten discusses her firm's blockchain strategy and use cases.

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London Workshop Explores Benefits and Challenges of Blockchain for Identity

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The Identity & KYC conference in London hosted a workshop on using blockchain technology to improve know-your-customer processes earlier this week.

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Bitcoin prices hit a more than 20-month high this weekend as the digital currency broke the $500 barrier to reap big gains.

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IDEO coLAB member Dan Elitzer explores a framework for digital identity using blockchain and other technologies.

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Steven Malby of the Commonwealth Secretariat explores the challenges in bringing legal identity to the more than 1 billion people lacking recognition.

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Blockchain Technology Will Profoundly Change the Derivatives Industry

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Editor's note: This is a guest post by Matt O’Brien.

As the hype and pessimism around blockchain technology converge toward reality over the next several years, one certainty emerging among Wall Street and Main Street traders is that advancements in platform technology will profoundly change how commonly used securities known as derivative contracts will be traded. The distributed ledgers inconceivable just a couple of years ago are on the precipice of ushering in a new era of innovative financial engineering and precision in risk management.

Wall Street firms are beginning to tinker with blockchain and smart contract technology that will allow buyers, sellers and central clearing houses of derivative trades to share information, such as KYC (Know Your Customer), in real time across various distributed ledger platforms unleashing incredible efficiencies.

Last month it was reported that Barclays tested a blockchain platform called Corda, developed by the bank consortium R3. Electronic documents that served as derivative contracts were pre-populated with standardized values, which, one day, will allow the contracts to be hashed out between counterparties, traded on an exchange across multiple banks and then cleared and settled instantaneously.  

Derivative contracts are financial instruments that derive their value from some underlying asset, such as stocks, bonds, commodities or even interest rates. Derivative contracts have become increasingly fundamental in effectively managing financial risk and creating synthetic exposures to asset classes. For example, airlines use future contracts, a form of derivative, to hedge against fluctuating oil prices. Hedge funds use options, another form of derivatives, to speculate in questionable company stock without baring the cost of purchasing a large number of shares. Derivative contracts typically have shelf lives of 30-day increments.

Industry leaders expect distributed ledger infrastructure to foster new approaches to financial engineering, enabling financiers to customize derivatives consisting of individual cash flows to meet precise needs in terms of timing and credit risk. According to a report produced by Oliver Wyman, a management consulting firm, blockchain-enabled derivative contracts could be financed by issuers selling their own instruments that match the cash flows they expect to achieve, “in essence creating swaps without the need for balance sheet intermediation.” Traditional swap agreements are traded over the counter.

Smart derivative contracts will spell out each party’s obligation such as margin agreements and swap conditions. Traditionally, financial exchanges have required clearing houses to provide a guarantee to the winning party of the derivative contract in case the loser does not pay. The clearing house is able to provide this guarantee by requiring both parties to make cash deposits during the pre-trade phase.

While one of the original goals of blockchain technology is to remove the need for central governing bodies, industry analysts reason traders will continue to novate derivative trades via a Counterparty Clearing House (CCP) in order for dealers to net their exposures and monitor the financial well-being of counterparties (ensuring problems like double-spending are eliminated). Blockchain vendors, such as kompany.com, can supply banks with customer and company information for due diligence. On May 12, at an industry conference, kompany.com announced its development of electronic ledgers with original and authoritative company information and that it is moving information on 100 million firms onto a blockchain for KYC and Know Your Bank documentation.

In the age of blockchain, dealers will post collateral to the clearing house in the form of initial and variation margin by escrowing cash on a distributed cash ledger or by allocating assets held on other asset ledgers to a distributed collateral ledger. Smart derivative contracts that bind both seller and buyer will be stored on a distributed derivative ledger along with information from the cash and asset ledgers. This will lead to efficiencies for calculating derivative positions and obligations.

“The smart contract can automatically compute exposures by referencing agreed external data sources (e.g. S&P 500, NASDAQ) that recalculate variation margin. Interoperable derivative and collateral ledgers would automatically allow the contract to call additional collateral units on asset ledgers to support these needs. At maturity, a final net obligation is computed by the smart contract, and a payment instruction automatically generated in the cash ledger, closing out the deal,” theh authors of the report state. With regard to the settlement of funds, presently the interbank transfer system entails a three to five day process that includes the Automated Clearing House and Federal Reserve as clearing agent. This represents a significant opportunity cost that parties can recapture with a real-time system.

Proponents of blockchain technology see the improvement in funds settlement and counterparty risk assessment as shortening the liquidity cycle for various derivative positions, allowing financiers to inject liquidity into the system for other transactions much more quickly. “In order to maintain liquidity levels firms have to overcompensate where the money has to be tied up for some time before the next transaction,” said Derick Smith, Cofounder and CEO of Chainreactor. “Transaction time will improve and risk assessment will improve. Most other players will get to see who they are providing liquidity for.”

Industry executives figure cost savings can come from eliminating redundant IT systems and trading and risk management overhead. The finance industry currently spends roughly $150 billion annually on IT and operations expenditures in addition to $100 billion on post-trade and securities servicing fees.

Some media outlets have reported that many Wall Street firms have increased capital budget allocations to blockchain technology initiatives. JPMorgan plans to increase its overall technology spending to approximately $9.4 billion this year while allocating about 40 percent of that budget to new investments and technologies, up from 30 percent.

While private blockchain systems continue to develop they remain closed to the trading public. A public blockchain currently available on the web is Ether Opt, which is a decentralized options exchange built on Ethereum. The website claims that options traded on its platform are vanilla call and put options priced in an Ether/USD exchange rate. Cryptocurrency exchanges Poloniex and Coindesk provide pricing information. The open-source platform is produced by Etherboost, which is a producer of decentralized autonomous organizations governed by smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. According to Etherboost’s website developers also created Ethvertise, an ad market, SzaboDice, a dice game, and Pokereth, a poker game.

In early April, Etherboost programmers blogged that “the first Etheropt expiration was successful. The transaction. … represents the first decentralized options expiration in the history of mankind.”

Phone calls seeking comment for Bitcoin Magazine were not returned before publication.

Despite all the fervor around blockchain and smart contract technology, many challenges still exist. Some experts estimate the new systems will be fully implemented within a decade. The well documented challenge of scalability continues to hamper progress. “Looking at Bitcoin from an architectural perspective it can at this point handle only seven transactions per second,” said Mr. Smith. “The issue is verifiability of each transaction where people have to wait for the global network to verify it.”

CME Group literature states exchange-listed derivative contracts volume averaged 15.6 million per day in 2015. The CME is the largest exchange of derivative contracts in the world. Mr. Smith added that the public blockchain platform Ethereum with its programmable transaction functionality will, in time, overcome scalability issues.

Drafting contract, system, and regulatory compliance standards across multiple smart contracts and blockchains is also a challenge. Anthony Di lorio, CEO and Founder of Decentral and Kryptokit, said he foresees banks grouping into consortiums, such as R3, to standardize private blockchain and smart contract systems. “They are the ones facilitating participation from outside parties,” hence it is only reasonable that banks set the standards.

Officials with CME Group did not respond when reached for comment, however, they referred Bitcoin Magazine to a May 2 press release about the exchange’s latest initiative in collaboration with Crypto Facilities, a digital assets trading platform, for launching the Bitcoin Reference Rate and Real-Time Index.

Regarding digital currencies, the token unit of the Ethereum platform is ether, which is used to pay for computational services on the Ethereum network. Financial firms see the digital currency as a challenge because it is perceived as lacking stability. Fiat currency would prove problematic because blockchain technology treats it as another asset class on a distributed ledger. The authors of the Oliver Wyman report suggest banks create specific digital currencies for interbank use or use existing accounts at banks where participants deposit liquidity for trading in segregated accounts.

Photo Liz Bustamante / Flickr(CC)

The post Blockchain Technology Will Profoundly Change the Derivatives Industry appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.



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Bitcoin Price Hits Six-Month High Amid 5% Surge

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Bitcoin prices surged more than 5% in the early hours of 27th May, to reach a more than six-month high.

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Why the Global Economy Needs Open Blockchain Assets to Fight Negative Interest Rates

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The world economy is in a fascinating period. It is an encouraging time for those hopeful about Bitcoin and other open blockchain-based systems, but many high-level decision-makers still must be persuaded of this technology's global impact.

The United States seems to be doing fine in the aftermath of 2008’s Great Recession. Despite technological change causing some workforce pain, the U.S. economy is doing well.

But other parts of the world are still feeling some nasty economic aftereffects. Some might say this is due to colorful central banking policies. One of these policies is negative interest rates imposed by various central banks around the world.

The idea of negative interest rate policy becoming normal is concerning, as this could set a dangerous precedent for the global economy. At the same time, it provides an opportunity for alternatives to thrive. Negative interest rates could actually influence enormous growth for cryptographically backed open blockchain assets.

Negative Interest Rate Problems

Sweden, Switzerland and Japan are among countries currently enforcing negative interest rate policies. Negative interest rates, which essentially charge savers a fee to put their money in a bank, are set to induce borrowing to stimulate a sagging economy. They are also a reason for central banks to print more cash, popularly known as quantitative easing.

Over time, negative interest rate policy results in bank holdings being worth less. Therefore, it is arguable that this is not really a solution, but a stopgap until something else comes along. Some have described this policy as medicine for a “weak patient.” This refers to the concept that negative interest rates can’t heal what has already been broken for too long.

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Europe has become a popular place for negative interest rates.

Negative interest rate policy forces people to look for alternatives and creates a need for services that can reflect growth rather than contraction. Retail banking relies on everyone storing cash in bank accounts, but in a negative interest rate world, people are better off borrowing money than they are saving.

In the standard fractional reserve environment, banks rely on savings to lend. Yet holding cash, for most people, is actually more lucrative in a negative interest rate environment. Even when factoring in inflation, there is long-term value in holding cash rather than putting it in a bank imposing a negative interest rate. But physical cash can be tough to hold because of security and storage issues.

Many countries believe negative interest rates are a benefit to their economies. The common mindset is that these policies are staving off even more economic problems. Distributed blockchain-based assets are clearly an attractive option in this scenario.

Choices Over Traditional Assets

As an early stage technology, Bitcoin and open blockchain are in growth mode. This is especially true since it’s not clear what long-term impact negative interest rates will have on banking. People seeking financial alternatives should be aware that there are options over traditional assets.

Bitcoin is no longer the only viable open digital currency option, with platforms such as Ethereum also offering a promising choice. With impressive performance metrics and many developers working on Ethereum projects, that choice benefits everyone. The back-end of open blockchain tech is looking more promising than ever.

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Ethereum, with 14-second block times, is an attractive alternative to BTC.

The price of Bitcoin has been performing well as a store of value. Ethereum’s price performance in 2016 has been remarkable, and the fiat-to-open-blockchain exchange infrastructure around the world continues to improve.

Because of these factors, there has never been a better time to invest in and use cryptographically backed open assets. Companies such as Circle, Abra and Lawnmower are making it easier to use borderless forms of money. These startups offer a solid premise: open banking, done entirely on a digital device.

Open digital assets could provide a salvo from economic problems like negative interest rates. They can be an alternative to less transparent cash-based systems. However, there is still work to be done. This growing ecosystem still requires understanding by influential leaders to achieve widespread success.

Championing Bitcoin and Blockchain

Given the growth of Bitcoin and blockchain, new application platforms will emerge from these technologies. Global economic conditions resulting in negative interest rates certainly provide some motivation for this. But there are still obstacles to overcome for open blockchain platforms to succeed.

In Steve Case’s new book, The Third Wave, the AOL cofounder discusses today’s era of technology. In the “third wave,” current technological entrepreneurs must work to champion Bitcoin and blockchain to global leaders. This is similar to the work Case had to do at AOL in the 1990s, where he fought hard to convince regulators that the Internet would become an enormous economic opportunity.

Today, entrepreneurs must educate about the importance of Bitcoin and open blockchain. This means promoting it as an engine of economic growth and financial inclusion.

The challenge today is convincing others that this open technology is needed in economic systems. That will take dedication to developing inventive applications to solve global economic problems.

Transparency, combined with tools such as programmable agreements, ranks among the most exciting characteristics of open blockchain assets. As such, these assets should be considered highly impactful to the future of the global economy. In the case of negative interest rate policies, it is obvious that new solutions to economic problems are necessary.

Bitcoin, Ethereum and other open blockchain systems now exist to help make that happen.

The post Why the Global Economy Needs Open Blockchain Assets to Fight Negative Interest Rates appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.



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Bitcoin Price Surges to a Year-High Beyond $475


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US Congress Reps Receive Blockchain Briefing at Capitol Hill Event

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More than 15 members of Congress met with representatives of the blockchain technology industry this week in Washington, DC.

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IBM: Government and Blockchain Sector Should Work Together to Enhance National Security

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IBM Vice President for Blockchain Technologies Jerry Cuomo recently testified before the Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity on how the blockchain can benefit transactions, eWeek reports.

Cuomo is persuaded that the technology could potentially cause a tectonic shift in the way financial systems are secured and that government, technology companies and industries should work together to advance blockchain technology to enhance national security. 

The Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity, announced in April, is tasked with making detailed recommendations on actions that can be taken over the next decade to enhance cybersecurity awareness and protections throughout the private sector and at all levels of government, to protect privacy, to ensure public safety and economic and national security, and to empower Americans to take better control of their digital security. Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, is the commission’s vice-chair.

President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13718 to establish the commission in February. The executive order tasked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide the commission with such expertise, services, funds, facilities, staff, equipment and other support services necessary to carry out its mission.

“The Commission will make detailed short-term and long-term recommendations to strengthen cybersecurity in both the public and private sectors, while protecting privacy, ensuring public safety and economic and national security, fostering discovery and development of new technical solutions, and bolstering partnerships between federal, state and local government and the private sector in the development, promotion and use of cybersecurity technologies, policies and best practices,” notes the official commission websiteat NIST.

The commission held an open meeting on May 16 in New York City. Cuomo’s statement, which appears in the Panelist Statements document issued by the commission, is republished in the IBM Think blog with the title “Blockchain: Securing the Financial Systems of the Future.”

Cuomo noted that 80 years ago a public-private partnership between the U.S. government and IBM created the Social Security system, which was the most advanced financial system of the time. “Today, as financial transactions become increasingly digital and networked, government and industry must once again combine forces to make the financial systems of the future more efficient, effective and secure than those of the past,” he said.

A similar partnership between government and industry, centered on innovative applications of distributed ledger technology, could enhance national security. Cuomo is persuaded that the government has a key role to play in funding blockchain research and providing official identity certification services for the emergent blockchain economy. In particular, according to the IBM executive, the NIST should define standards for interoperability, privacy and security, and government agencies should become early adopters of blockchain applications.

Cuomo identifies four key priority areas for government-supported developments in distributed ledger technology for national security: a new identity management system able to provide robust proof of identity; automatic systems able to track changes made to data and verify data provenance with time stamps and annotations; secure transaction processing; and a blockchain-based system to securely and confidentially share intelligence on cyber-threats and cyber-terrorism.

“We need to create a new social compact, where business, with input from government, architects the future of financial services,” concluded Cuomo. “We at IBM look forward to working with our partners in government, industry and academia to get this done.”

Of course, Cuomo defended IBM’s positions on current distributed ledger issues and development prospects. After bashing the “public enemy” Bitcoin for its openness, anarchy and potential for anonymity, Cuomo defended the “permissioned blockchain” approach favored by IBM and other major industry players.

“Blockchain came to prominence because it’s the core technology underlying the infamous Bitcoin cryptocurrency, but, while Bitcoin is an anonymous network, industries and government agencies are exploring the use of blockchain in networks where the participants are known,” said Cuomo. “We call this a ‘permissioned blockchain.’”

IBM is a premier member of Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort started in December to establish, build and sustain an open ‒ but “permissioned” ‒ non-Bitcoin blockchain. In February, Bitcoin Magazine reported that IBM is making tens of thousands of lines of code available to the Hyperledger Project. In April, IBM announced new cloud services based on the company’s Hyperledger code and Bluemix, IBM’s cloud Platform as a Service (PaaS).

“IBM is playing a central role in the development of a permissioned blockchain,” said Cuomo. “We’re a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s open-source Hyperledger Project, where we’re helping to build the foundational elements of business-ready blockchain architecture with a focus on privacy, confidentiality and auditability.  We have joined consortia that are developing industry-specific blockchain implementations. And we’re pioneering the use of blockchain in our own operations.”

The post IBM: Government and Blockchain Sector Should Work Together to Enhance National Security appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.



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BunkerChain Labs Takes on Fraud in Online Gaming Using the Blockchain

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In a bid to provide the online gaming industry with a transparent and provably fair wagering platform, ex-military nuclear bunker and data center operation BunkerChain Labs has reactivated the “War Games” protocol built entirely on the blockchain.

For more than 50 years, the nuclear bunker where BunkerChain Labs operates was used by the Canadian Department of Defense to conduct frequent war games exercises to determine survivability scenarios for nuclear, chemical and biological warfare. It was during the Cold War that a lack of transparency led to a breakdown of trust between countries, and one of the objectives of these games was to find ways to ensure that too much power was never given to any one individual or group.

The new project by BunkerChain Labs, codenamed “Peerplays,” uses a high-speed program called Graphene to automatically connect players from around the world, enabling online gaming and wagering that is highly resistant to cheating.

Two years in the making, the project began with delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS), a decentralized autonomous cooperative organization (DAC or DAO) supporting protocol that was developed by Invictus Innovations, Inc., which later became Cryptonomex, for BitShares in the spring of 2014. A year later, a modified and improved version of the DPoS Graphene was released under the MIT free software license, with some of the Peerplays team taking part in its development.

“The Peerplays team began to design and implement a platform that combines Graphene with a set of smart contracts that enables users to wager and compete in provably fair games, which are hosted directly on the blockchain,” said Michael P. Maloney, Peerplays communications manager, in an interview with Bitcoin Magazine.

It was in the fall of 2015 that Neil Haran, the Peerplays project lead, approached BunkerChain Labs, to discuss the possibility of using blockchain technology to build a transparent and provably fair wagering platform that would eliminate the ability for unchecked “superpowers” to control and manipulate the games.

“Today, the online gaming industry is plagued with accusations of cheating by players and system administrators, but nothing can really be done about it as long as games lack transparency and continue to be hosted by private companies on private servers,” said Maloney.

In order to solve this issue, BunkerChain Labs, took the idea to the developers who helped create Graphene, and who began to design and implement a blockchain-based platform to solve the problem before going public on May 9.

Built on a custom blockchain, Peerplays is possible because of third-party services known as “gateways.”

“Gateways issue tokens backed by Bitcoin onto the Peerplays decentralized exchange, and players can then purchase or redeem these tokens like exchanging money for chips at a casino,” said Maloney. “Right now there are many reputable companies that operate gateways on existing decentralized exchanges like BitShares and NXT.”

Unlike the supercomputer called WOPR in the 1983 hit movie, “War Games,” which mistook a computer game for real-life and almost set off a global thermonuclear war, Peerplays is programmed to remain neutral. As Peerplays is a decentralized network, with no single gaming company gaining an advantage or monopoly over it, it seeks to be a major disruptor to the online gaming industry. However, it’s not limited to on-chain games.

“In fact anyone can plug their website into the blockchain API and Peerplays will manage tournaments and process wagers for third-party games,” said Maloney. “This will help tournament hosting companies to reduce their costs while minimizing the liabilities and risks involved with managing the infrastructure required to operate a centralized gaming and wagering platform.”

Unlike war in the real world, the peer-to-peer war games enabled by Peerplays will ensure that the winner can’t go back and rewrite the official record of what took place, as it is completely open-source and 100 percent transparent. Not only that, but Peerplays will be the first blockchain-based platform that allows users to schedule tournaments, wager funds and play games 100 percent on-chain.

“Anyone in the world with Internet access will be able to use Peerplays to wager and compete, while all their funds are held safely out of reach of any third party,” said Maloney. “Peerplays’ provably fair gaming could help reduce the estimated tens of millions of dollars that fair players lose to cheaters each year.”

The post BunkerChain Labs Takes on Fraud in Online Gaming Using the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.



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Santander UK to Launch Ripple-Powered Payments App in 2016

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The UK arm of Spanish banking group Santander has developed a new payments app in partnership with distributed ledger startup Ripple.

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Blockchain Entrepreneurs, Musicians Test Ideas at Berlin Music Festival

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A group of musicians, entrepreneurs and blockchain advocates is set to gather at a festival in Germany later this week.

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