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Blockchain and Monetization of Content

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The Promise of Ethereum

Ethereum, the leading blockchain platform, and catalyst for a growing number of decentralized applications and blockchain-based platforms has proven over the past 12 months that it is far from a fad. This immutable, unhackable, distributed database of digital assets is everything the Internet always wanted to be: a fair and public way to store and transfer information. This is a platform for truth and it’s a platform for trust.

In the music industry, the protection of rights and distribution of earnings within the music industry is a key consideration. Removing the ability for piracy and allowing listeners to download music stored on the blockchain, paying for the music with cryptocurrency would be one of the paradigm shifts. It would also mean that the right people get paid.

This challenge of monetizing content is also prevalent in the broadcast content industry. Ethereum Blockchain with smart contracts makes for a perfect solution.

Pain Points for Content Creators

The industry has not changed in over 80 years. Today, it continues to be a largely offline and extensive process, involving multiple dis-jointed parties – the creators, the owners, the distributors, the increasing array of formats (eg. mobile, free-to-air TV, cable, OTT, cinemas, etc) and then there is a global consumer base with differing interests and language preferences.

The whole ecosystem today is highly fragmented and content creators are challenged to optimally monetize their content. Compounding the monetization challenge is the fact that content creators also face extremely high costs of distribution. Because the value chain is a cumbersome process for content to reach end viewers; typically 30% to 40% of the value of the content is being lost to cost of distribution via third-party commissions and fees. Hosting a conference booth and meeting events with champagne in the South of France at the Cannes Film Festival is no cheap affair.

To give some context on the potential value of a piece of content, let’s take well-known franchises like “Game of Thrones” or the “F1 Series”.   These projects can be sold in 193+ countries via free-to-air, cable, satellite and streaming mobile platforms, that is, it can potentially be sold 600 different ways once you factor language and territorial configurations.

An “A” list project can potentially earn millions of dollars via such a syndication, however, a lesser known title is lucky to be sold in 10 countries and monetized in 10 ways. Hence the potential to optimize the value of this content is at least 50 times more for the content creator if they can easily monetize their content across the various permutations.

The chief pain points of content sellers are:

  • Rights are tied up for the long-term (average 2-5 years) in distributor exclusivity contracts
  • Distributor fees are significant; averaging 35% of the value of the content
  • Rights are typically sold in bulk with other content which limits differentiation for content creators
  • The multiplicity of currencies and the vagaries of the fluctuating exchange rates
  • Content ages very fast and becomes less attractive to distributors to market

Such problems, which appear daunting are actually very easy to address, provided you have a global platform and a globally trusted ledger. Enter Ethereum Blockchain.   

Pain Points for Content Buyers

Content buyers purchase rights to play the content on their own networks and channels, such as Netflix and cable TV channels like Sony. The buyers also face a host of problems:

  • The content discovery process is fragmented and manual
  • Delayed verifiability of the rights
  • Limited by distributor’s rights options
  • Bundled rights instead of customized selection

As we can see, these problems can also be solved by implementing a global platform and a globally trusted ledger. Thus, Blockchain is not an add-on, but a natural solution to the problems faced by the content rights industry.

Existing Solutions

There are companies operating traditional marketplaces for trading content rights today; like RightsTrade (2011), TRX (2015) and AllRites (2015). With the advent of the blockchain, we are starting to observe the emergence of companies like Hubii Network, LiveTree, and AllRites exploring the use of blockchain to democratize content.

In the case of AllRites, the company was established by media professionals with decades of experience in the industry. Being intimate with the distribution challenges, they are proponents of blockchain and are moving their existing marketplace onto the Ethereum Blockchain.

But they are not stopping there, the AllRites vision is to create an integrated B2B and B2C ecosystem to holistically support the overall industry. Built on Blockchain technology, the AllRites ecosystem will drive trade efficiencies between content producers and buyers globally, facilitate funding of creative ideas and offer direct streaming to end-customers. Two associated B2C platforms will complement their existing marketplace – RiteFund and RiteStream. For consumers, these platforms allow individuals to directly support and benefit from creative concepts that they believe in.

With RiteFund, the platform facilitates content creators to list their projects and allows prospective contributors to help get a project of their choice off the ground, like Kickstarter, but with infinitely more transparency in rights management and benefits sharing thanks to smart contracts.

RiteStream is for content owners with unsold rights to optimally monetize their content via direct streaming to a global viewership base. The smart contracts seamlessly manage viewers, rights availability and revenue sharing in the backend. For example, an OTT player, like iFlix, may purchase rights to showcase a piece of content in only 30 countries, with RiteStream that same piece of content can potentially be monetized in the remaining 163 countries by direct streaming, if viewers are interested in that content. View RiteStream like the “Spotify” of TV, Movies and Sports content.

For esoteric sports like, Extreme Sailing – they have ardent fans globally but such a sport is very niche and unlikely to garner support from mainstream broadcasters. With RiteFund, fans of Extreme Sailing can directly support creative talent who are also passionate about their sport and who are creating great content about it. These same creative talents can now monetize their content by streaming it directly to the Extreme Sailing fans globally via RiteStream.

Blockchain Technology Deployed

The team at AllRites believe that if the content itself can be reliably audited, the management of its rights becomes a much simpler exercise. Thanks to the Ethereum Blockchain, each ID can be a smart contract that manages the identity and purchase history of the rights belonging to one piece of content at an individual level. Thus, the rights can be sliced and diced in multiple ways and the buyers can buy only those rights which they need. The smart contract tied to each content piece records the transaction history of that content piece individually in a transparent and immutable manner.

While the content rights can be viewed by all prospective buyers, the sellers can be assured of optimal monetization due to the plethora of ways in which the rights have been divided into.

The ID tied to the content can be managed by creating a non-fungible token. It could be similar to the EIP721 protocol that was famously used by CryptoKitties. Thus, the sale and purchase of content rights can be recorded on individual non fungible tokens without affecting the entire ecosystem.

A global fungible token that adheres to the ERC20 standards can take care of the sale and purchase aspects of the deal. To ensure trust, AllRites will be storing the content as decentralized encrypted files which can be unlocked only by a private key.

On successful completion of a sale, the seller sends the private key to the buyer while the buyer transfers the payment tokens to the seller. As an added layer of security, the key and the tokens corresponding to the bid made on the content rights can be placed in an escrow. Once the sale is finalized, a smart contract takes over and governs the transfer of the private key and the tokens to the new owners in an automated manner.

Regarding the case of content creators with unsold content, the RiteStream platform caters to them. Here, the platform becomes the universal global distributor of the rights that went unsold and streams it directly to the viewers in exchange for tokens. In this case, content creators get a platform like YouTube, but with an infinitely better monetization potential.

It has also been seen that content creators, despite having amazing ideas, often struggle to get their plans off the ground due to lack of funding. Consumers are robbed of potential gems. In the music world, its analogues with the likes of Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen being discovered via YouTube.

With Ethereum, smart contracts can be implemented which facilitate the transfer of funds from fans and supporters directly to the content creators in an easy and trackable manner. Once the content is created, it is uploaded onto the AllRites Marketplace where content rights can be transacted. After subtracting for platform fees, all proceeds can be seamlessly transferred back to the fans/supporters corresponding to the ratio in which they were contributed.

Conclusion

Using blockchain and smart contracts makes the business of content rights deal making and distribution a lot less complicated and instantaneously verifiable. Blockchain takes care of the globally trusted ledger needs, the smart contracts take care of transactions by automating them.

This translates to tremendous efficiency gains for both content buyers and sellers. And, for owners of content, the age-old challenge of optimally monetizing their content is solved.

The added bonus is that in this new decentralized and immutable ecosystem driven by blockchain, consumers can finally have a direct say in what content they want to support and watch.

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Zhiyuan Hui, the World’s Largest Volunteer Platform, Announces Blockchain Dapp Based on everiToken

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Blockchain Solutions

Hangzhou, China, January 12 — Zhiyuan Hui, the world’s largest volunteer service platform, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with everiToken. The Chinese non-profit will build a volunteer service application based on the everiToken blockchain.

As of December 2018, Zhiyuan Hui has over 71 million registered users and serves more than 430,000 non-profit organizations. Volunteers have worked over 100 million service hours through the platform, which is valued at over $500 million by the “China Volunteer Service Economic Value Measurement Report” issued by the United Nations.

One of the biggest challenges of operating such a large platform is verifying the authenticity of volunteer hours and service. In order to prevent fraud or data alteration, Zhiyuan Hui has partnered with everiToken to develop a blockchain-based volunteer tracking platform built on the everiToken public chain.

The new open public welfare ledger transparently records volunteer activity and service duration, issuing points called Yi Coin to nearly one million volunteers per day and guaranteeing authenticity through a decentralized blockchain ledger. All volunteer data is stored on-chain, which prevents tampering, and can be instantly verified through evtscan, ensuring transparency, reliability, and security.

Zhiyuan Hui’s new platform will be among the first to realize Edgar Cahn’s “time bank” concept, enabling volunteers to accurately record their hours and receive a Yi Coin reward for their volunteering contributions when they most need it. everiToken safe contracts, everiPass, and everiPay will help volunteers receive, store, and spend Yi Coin points.

Governments, enterprises, non-profit organizations, and other foundations can distribute Yi Coins to volunteers in return for their contributions, while volunteers can use Yi Coin to buy goods from select vending machines and convenience stores. Currently, volunteers can already use Yi Coin to buy basic goods, like food, electronics, and hygiene products, in nearly 100 unmanned retail locations with everiPass.

Further, the everiToken-based system provides audit trails for various stakeholders with access rights, including governments and funders, eliminating the possibility of fraud for the various poverty alleviation projects and government foundation subsidy programs managed by Zhiyuan Hui.

Token-customized public chain everiToken is a market leader in tokenization and token economy infrastructure. everiToken’s payment solution, everiPay, delivers best in class speed (up to 10,000 transactions per second), transaction confirmation times (as fast as 1 second), and fees as low as $0.00006 per transaction. The company’s newly developed “Safe Contract” greatly simplifies smart contract development by enabling users to call token-related APIs. everiToken raised over $10 million in an ongoing private funding round from several high-profile crypto funds, including Asian market leader Fenbushi Capital.

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Tangem Raises $15M from SBI for the Industrial Adoption of Blockchain-enabled Smart Cards

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Tron project

Tangem, the producer of blockchain smart card wallets, raises US$15M from SBI Crypto Investment Ltd. for a breakthrough in mass adoption of blockchain technology.

Tangem pioneered in making crypto currencies look like cash and easy to use as cash, and now attracts additional investment to accelerate the deployment of its technology in other industries where the secure storage and circulation of blockchain assets has the highest potential:

  • Cryptocurrencies and stable coins
  • ICO / TAO token distribution
  • Ticketing
  • Anti-counterfeit
  • Digital identity
  • Retail loyalty and promotions

“We take the next big step on our mission to bring blockchain to people’s everyday life,” says Andrey Kurennykh, co-founder of Tangem. “In 2018, our technology was proven by the markets after we launched the mass production of Tangem cards for crypto currencies and tokens. With this additional investment in 2019, we will be able to extend our product offering in other industries and provide better support to companies which embrace the idea of physical distribution of blockchain assets”.

SBI Crypto Investment Ltd. is a digital asset venture investment company wholly owned by SBI Holdings Inc. ( “SBI”, HQ in Tokyo, Japan, Representative Director, President & CEO Mr. Yoshitaka Kitao), SBI has built an internet-based financial ecosystem and is expanding their existing partnerships and investments to digital asset-related venture companies to strengthen their technological supremacy.

“The Tangem hardware wallet, which is highly secure and affordable, is an important tool to promote mass adoption of digital assets and blockchain. We believe utilizing Tangem will help stipulate the demand for other blockchain services provided by SBI,” said Yoshitaka Kitao, Representative Director, President & CEO of SBI Holdings Inc.

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Sixteen Leading Global Fintechs join Spring Labs’ Founding Industry Program

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Austrian Government

Spring Labs, which is developing the Spring Protocol, a network designed to transform how information and data are shared globally, announces today that industry leaders at the intersection of finance and technology SoFi, OnDeck Capital, Avant, GreenSky, Funding Circle, BlueVine, Fundation, Upgrade, Fundbox, and Better Mortgage, among others, have joined the Spring Founding Industry Partners (SFIP) Program to help further combat fraud and enhance their ID verification capabilities, effectively lowering the cost and increasing the security of issuing financial products.  SFIP participants, in aggregate, have helped fund more than $100 billion in consumer or small business loans since inception.  This announcement follows the recent news that Gary Cohn, former Director of the U.S. National Economic Council and former President and Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs, has joined Spring Labs as an advisor.

The Spring Founding Industry Partners (“SFIP”) Program is comprised of financial services institutions and data furnishers that have partnered with Spring Labs to collaborate on the research, development, and implementation of the Spring Protocol prior to its public launch.  Program participants are collectively focused on creating a secure and regulatorily compliant way to leverage data to solve pressing problems related to ID verification and fraud within their respective sectors.

As an ever-increasing amount of financial transactions move online, new types of mission-critical fraud and ID verification solutions based on information sharing must be developed,” stated Noah Breslow, CEO of OnDeck Capital.  “We believe the team at Spring Labs has the right background to galvanize industry leaders around the creation of a new and innovative network.

The Spring Protocol differs from existing data exchange solutions in that it enables network participants to exchange information without sharing underlying data, effectively decoupling data ownership from data value.  This unprecedented approach to information sharing leverages advanced cryptography and blockchain technology.  The Spring Protocol mitigates the need for data aggregators and allows network participants to exchange information securely and anonymously in a peer-to-peer fashion.

For financial institutions, the Spring Protocol is intended to reduce the risk of data breaches by eliminating the need for data replication.  The Protocol also should cut the cost of issuing financial products by reducing intermediation costs in data sourcing and by allowing institutions to gain access to new types of valuable data that were too competitively-sensitive to share through existing channels.

For consumers, the Spring Protocol should reduce the likelihood your data is compromised as part of a hack, by reducing the replication of data as part of standard ID verification and fraud mitigation processes, effectively improving transparency and security for consumers.  “Thin File” or “Credit Invisible” consumers might also benefit greatly from the Spring Protocol, as improved security means that broader array of institutions are willing to share identification data to build the profiles of underrepresented consumers in the global credit ecosystem.

“We are extremely excited about the initial partners and this is an incredible opportunity to expand the development of the Spring Network,” says John Sun, President and Chief Product Officer of Spring Labs. “We have plans to include other verticals in the near future, and look forward to announcing those partnerships in the coming months.”

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Blockchain Revolution Global Announces Inaugural Enterprise Blockchain Awards

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crypto

Blockchain Revolution Global (BRG) — the collaborative partnership between Blockchain Research Institute (BRI), the world’s leading think-tank for blockchain and MCI Group, one of the global leaders on building community — is pleased to unveil the inaugural Enterprise Blockchain Awards (EBAs) recognizing excellence in enterprise blockchain.  Presented by The Tapscott Group, the EBAs will bring together the brightest and best of the international enterprise blockchain community to celebrate both achievements and opportunities.  The call for entries runs January 10 – February 28, 2019 at www.blockchainrevolutionglobal.com/ebawards.  An independent judging panel will be chaired by renowned MITlecturer and retired IBM executive, Irving Wladawsky-Berger.  Winners will be announced at the inaugural Blockchain Awards Gala on April 24 during the Blockchain Revolution Global Congress held in Toronto, Canada at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on April 24 – 25, 2019.

“The innovation happening in the enterprise blockchain space is truly transformative,” says Don Tapscott, CEO of the Tapscott Group and Executive Chairman and co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute.  “With the Enterprise Blockchain Awards, we will recognize and celebrate those companies and individuals at the leading edge of the enterprise blockchain revolution.”

EBA awards and categories
Awards will be given for the categories of Enterprise Blockchain Transformation: recognizing companies that are using blockchain to transform their industries based on a commitment to drive innovation; Innovative Entrepreneurship in Blockchain: recognizing a start-up that provides innovative blockchain solutions to support enterprises in the journey to transform their businesses; New Frontier in Enterprise Blockchain Research: recognizing a researcher/academic who leverages blockchain technology to push boundaries of new business models, and Blockchain Leadership: honouring an executive who has championed blockchain for their industry.

“The Enterprise Blockchain Awards will recognize organizations and individuals that are uniquely committed to blockchain innovation,” adds Dr. Wladawsky-Berger, who is also a research director at the Blockchain Research Institute.  “It is an honor to be leading the judging panel for the inaugural awards.”

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Top Executives Launch Blockchain-Powered Video Game Publishing Company

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Blockchain in Agriculture

Top former executives from Playstation, Take 2/Rockstar and Guitar Hero today announced the creation of Planet Digital Partners Inc., a video game publisher funded by a Security Token Offering. With the launch of its Rocket Token (RKT™), Planet Digital will democratize game funding for investors, publishers and developers and provide distribution for its portfolio of games – including Cabela’s ‘The Hunt,’ Cooking Mama, and Bass Pro ‘The Strike.’

The company’s leadership team and board of directors include:

  • Steve Grossman, CEO: Video game investor and publisher of over 40 games, executive producer of the award-winning Nintendo World Championships.
  • Chris Deering, Advisor: Former president of Sony PlayStation Europe, credited as one of the main marketers of PlayStation game consoles.
  • Kelly Sumner, Board of directors member: Former CEO of Take-Two/Rockstar, publisher of ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and former CEO of RedOctane, publisher of the world famous ‘Guitar Hero.’

The Planet Digital games will be available on all major platforms including PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mobile. 2019 launch titles represent a sales history of more than $300 million.

“Security Token Offerings represent a unique path to democratize investment and allow investors to participate in profit on the ground floor compared to public stocks,” said Steve Grossman, CEO of Planet Digital. “We’re thrilled to bring blockchain to our games and deliver compelling new experiences to gamers that were previously impossible.”

The video game industry represents a $135 billion business and is projected to exceed $180 billion globally by 2022 (Newzoo). Blockchain is expected to be one of the biggest disruptors to the gaming space and Planet Digital games take full advantage of blockchain, delivering compelling new experiences to energize gamers.

“We get most excited about working with veteran management teams that are applying blockchain to innovate in their industry,” said Alan McGlade, co-founder and COO of seriesOne, a Planet Digital partner and broker. “Planet Digital defines that category.”

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Corda Network Launches With New Governing Foundation

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Corda Network

R3 has launched Corda Network, the underlying, open shared blockchain network linking participants using Corda. Corda Network will be operated and managed by a new independent not-for-profit organisation, the Corda Network Foundation.

Corda Network provides a common layer of identity and consensus for participants on Corda and Corda Enterprise. It is an open shared infrastructure, which enables compatibility between participants on the network.

Corda Network allows for the transfer of data and digital assets between communities of nodes (business networks) and different CorDapps. Participants can therefore create private ecosystems within their organisation, or with trusted commercial partners, while remaining interoperable with the wider Corda community where appropriate. Relevant information can be shared between applications and organisations, creating efficiencies and avoiding duplication. Corda Network also includes identity verification and privacy services to ensure that participants can operate on the network safely.

It provides a global and openly governed network enabling low-friction onboarding of participants to Corda as well as helping developers quickly, securely, and economically develop new applications for Corda and Corda Enterprise.

Governance and the work encouraging adoption of Corda Network will be transitioned over to the new Corda Network Foundation. The Foundation’s board will be comprised of directors drawn from participants on the Network and elected by members of Corda Network. It will operate independently of R3 and its decision making will be transparent and available to all network members.

David E. Rutter, CEO of R3

“Corda’s mission has always been to find a way for enterprises to benefit from blockchain’s promise of open, frictionless sharing and global interoperability. The launch of Corda Network and the Corda Network Foundation illustrates this aim perfectly. Participants will be able to build their systems to suit their exact needs and ensure the security of their data, while still benefiting from the advantages of a universal network.

“Applications on Corda are seeing wide adoption throughout industries. Corda Network is the next step in bringing these networks together to make these applications even more efficient and effective.”

Sylvain de Crom, Chief Product Officer, B3i

“The true value in Corda Network lies in improving the fluidity of transactions and the transfer of assets, data and finance in a secure and efficient manner.

“We are very pleased to see the successful launch of the Corda Network in which we have been involved in active testing. Interoperability of blockchain-based software is at the core of what we are building in B3i. The potential for this to cascade throughout, not just insurance, but banking, supply chain and other industries is extremely important for global commerce.”

Manuel Sevilla, Chief Digital Officer at Capgemini Business Services, Capgemini

“The governance system is inherent to the success of Corda Network. Involving many customers and esteemed partners illustrates the quality of the overall governance design and we are extremely proud having been invited to the Trust Root Ceremony at R3 headquarters.”

Frederic Dalibard, Head of Digital for Corporate & Investment Banking at Natixis

“The creation of the Corda Network Foundation and Corda Network underpins the vision R3 and its members have had since day one.

“This open ecosystem is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the financial industry – and beyond – profoundly while maintaining an open and diverse market landscape. The launch of Corda Network is a wonderful signal for the entire Corda community and CorDapp developers that they will be able to bring their application to a truly open platform, supported by a non-biased operator.”

Paula da Silva, Head of transactions services, SEB

“SEB is constantly investigating and adopting new technological solutions with the potential to benefit our customers. Naturally, we have been interested in blockchain’s promise of enabling global connectivity and availability of trusted, secure and efficient transactions for everyone. We are therefore pleased to be part of the Corda Network announcement, which is a key step to bridge the current siloes of closed networks and to deliver on this promise.”

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Bitfury Group Announces Blockchain-Based Music Entertainment Division

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Music

The Bitfury Group launched Bitfury Surround, a music entertainment division that will design blockchain solutions to address challenges faced by artists and other stakeholders in the music industry.

Bitfury Surround’s first initiative will be to create an open-source music platform secured by the Bitcoin Blockchain. The open-source platform, named SURROUND, will encourage collaboration, foster fresh applications and promote innovation within the industry.

The SURROUND platform will enable the entire music entertainment industry to streamline operations through secure transfer of copyright assets, streamlined connectivity as well as better monitoring and management systems. To do so, the platform will create a fully interoperable digital ecosystem for sharing and monetizing intellectual property and enhance economic opportunity by providing transparent management functions and trusted data.

“The music entertainment industry has evolved into a complex, competitive, technology-driven environment that suffers from a severe lack of transparency,” said Valery Vavilov, CEO of Bitfury. “We want to champion artists and help incentivize the growth of the entire industry through the creation of this open, blockchain-based ecosystem.”

The SURROUND platform will provide and maintain an integrated layer that secures crucial factors to help grow the music entertainment ecosystem, including:

  • Service legal agreement (SLA) capabilities
  • Interoperability and auditability
  • Secure asset movement across the blockchain
  • Payment rails
  • Immutable and trusted data
  • Anchoring and decentralized timestamping
  • Tools for an open economy (unified APIs, smart-contract management, peer-to-peer structure)
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Collaborative ownership of assets

To begin, Bitfury will build solutions to address many challenges the industry faces today, such as:

  • The value gap between the creative industry and the platform economy
  • Legally binding digital copyright registration
  • A lack of trusted and consolidated data globally
  • Fraud (i.e. secondary markets, unauthorized usage, data tampering)
  • Administrative inefficiency
  • Non-transparent management of agreements
  • Slow cash flow and unclear money allocation
  • Global collection of usage value
  • Speed of innovation
  • Economic and political challenges (i.e. emerging markets, currency volatility, instability, regulation)

With SURROUND, existing and upcoming stakeholders — such as artists, labels, publishers, collecting societies, streaming services, consumers and developers — can seamlessly interact and directly benefit from efficiency gains through blockchain technology.

The SURROUND ecosystem will be built on Bitfury’s Exonum open-source blockchain platform, creating a transparent environment for all parties and fostering trust and cooperation on all levels. Establishing this open ecosystem, co-created by the music entertainment industry, will enable exchange on a level playing field and increase the value for all stakeholders.

To incentivize participation, SURROUND will be set up as a cooperative, enabling participants to build new businesses and close the existing value gap. Value and market cap allocation will happen through the actual performance of participants.

The Bitfury Surround business division will be based in Europe, with its initial footprint projected to be in Amsterdam and Berlin. Other operations are set for Los Angeles, Tokyo, Seoul and Moscow.

Stefan Schulz, a 20-year music and entertainment industry veteran, business development executive at Vivendi, will serve as the music division’s Chief Executive Officer. Schulz said Bitfury Surround will strengthen the rights of artists, giving them and their business partners power and incentives to develop new content and innovative solutions. The division will also significantly improve their leverage regarding distribution and value attribution in the music economy.

“Music is perhaps the most powerful currency in today’s world driven by emotions, globalization and volatility in consumer behavior. Yet, the overall value of the music market is lower than in the late 1990s. Blockchain technology, complemented by Artificial Intelligence, will reverse this dramatic development and enable an age of exponential and sustainable growth in the whole industry,” said Schulz, who also has served as founding member and executive vice president of Universal Music Digital.

“The SURROUND ecosystem will foster transparency and trust, save administrative costs and improve a secure and transparent flow of content from artists to consumers on the blockchain, making efficiency gains available to all market participants fairly,” he added. “Only a true market leader such as Bitfury, dedicated to making the world a better place, can have the boldness to enter such a meaningful marketplace with an open-source and cooperative platform.”

“It will help empower individual stakeholders and open the market to infinite new business models and collaborations, while enhancing the protection of intellectual property rights,” he added. “Most importantly, it will create a sustainable environment that fairly compensates artists and stakeholders.”

About The Bitfury Group

The Bitfury Group is the world’s leading full-service blockchain technology company. Bitfury® is building solutions for the future, with the most significant technologies of the millennium. Our mission is to make the world more transparent and trusted by innovating at every level of technology — hardware, security, and software — to put trust back into the equation. Founded in 2011, Bitfury is the leading security and infrastructure provider for the Bitcoin Blockchain. In addition to securing the Bitcoin Blockchain, Bitfury also designs and produces innovative hardware that keeps cryptocurrencies and blockchains secure, including custom semiconductor chips and mobile datacenters. Bitfury is also a software provider for the some of the world’s most cutting-edge applications through its private blockchain framework, Exonum (TM) , its advanced analytics platform Crystal (TM) Blockchain, and its specialized engineering team for the open-source Lightning Network, Lightning Peach.

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Authenteq Raises $5 Million for Blockchain Identity Verification

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Authenteq, creator of the blockchain identity verification technology Trollteq, has raised $5 million in funding and is now touting its 60-second identity verification process.

The funding for the Reykjavik, Iceland-based company was led by Draper Associates and Capital300. The company said it completed its funding round in two weeks.

Authenteq CEO Kari Thor Runarsson said the company is talking with additional investors about a second closing of the Series A financing, which is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks.

“The reason we decided to do two closings is we were introduced to an investor (Capital300) with a startup mindset of getting things done and felt it was a great challenge to try to finish all due diligence and paperwork in two weeks after the term sheet was approved,” Runarsson said, in a statement. “It was sort of a field test for us to see if they really were as agile and dynamic as they claimed to be during our discussions. We were honestly surprised how smoothly it went, despite a very thorough due diligence and legal process.”

Authenteq publicly launched its service in late 2018, and it signed up a dozen clients in the first months. A typical customer needs to comply with KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regulations, meaning companies in the financial industry, as well as online marketplaces and professional services.

“Having forward-thinking investors such as Tim Draper continue his support of Authenteq after backing the company in the seed round and a convertible note shows his interest and dedication to the space,” said Runarsson. “And having investors like Capital300 who show the entrepreneurial spirit of getting stuff done in record time really gives us confidence that we have picked the right investors for our continued growth.”

Draper is known for his investments in Skype, Tesla, SpaceX, Baidu, Coinbase, Robinhood, and Twitch.

“I believe that Authenteq is the beginning of the solution to true and pure identity, which may eliminate many of the security concerns in the market today. Their product is simple and elegant,” Draper said, in a statement.

Authenteq’s AI-driven automatic identity verification process uses a proprietary passive liveness detection to make sure whoever is signing up for the service is doing so in real time. The company then issues an eID for the user, located on the user’s mobile phone and private blockchain. In less than 60 seconds, a user is verified with government-grade facial recognition algorithms, and the photo ID documents are authenticated.

The market for mobile identity verification is currently estimated at $10 billion and is expected to double in the next four to five years, according to consulting firm McKinsey.

Authenteq differentiates itself from other players in the space with its eID, which gives the user complete control and ownership over their online identity. Authenteq’s plan is to introduce various disruptive services for the largely untapped market.

The company has 22 employees working in its Berlin and Reykjavik offices, and the new funding will be used in part to fill a range of new positions.

Authenteq believes its identity management service can help curb the scourge of internet trolls. Trolling has become endemic across platforms ranging from Twitter and Facebook to online news sites, and these haters have made many previously family friendly and socially responsible websites into havens for online abuse. No matter how many troll accounts are deleted by the provider, they still return under a new name or handle and continue their vile behavior, threats, and harassment.

With Trollteq, once a user is banned, they are gone for good and cannot re-register under a false name or identity. It requires buy-in from platforms that allow some degree of anonymity or privacy, as Trollteq uses Authenteq’s identity management system, which requires people to verify that they are human.

You first have to use your smartphone to capture your image, selfie-style. Then you take a picture of your valid driver’s license or some other form of sovereign identification. Authenteq verifies that the images are of you and that the ID card is legitimate. Then it associates you with a login account that you are creating, without giving away your identity.

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BitTorrent Unveils Token to Enhance World’s Largest Decentralized P2P Protocol

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TRON

BitTorrent announced a token that aims to expand upon its vision of a decentralized internet. The new token, also called BitTorrent (BTT), will be issued by BitTorrent Foundation, established in Singapore and will enable users to exchange tokens to improve network speed. By providing users with the ability to use BTT tokens for faster downloads, the company aims to accelerate the overall speed of torrents. “BitTorrent token is the first in a series of steps to support a decentralized internet,” said Justin Sun, founder of TRON and CEO of BitTorrent. “In one giant leap, the BitTorrent client can introduce blockchain to hundreds of millions of users around the world and empower a new generation of content creators with the tools to distribute their content directly to others on the web.”

BitTorrent token, which features native TRC-10 compatibility, will be exclusively available to non-U.S. accounts on Binance Launchpad, the token sale platform by leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

“We created Launchpad to help entrepreneurs launch their best projects and bring more use cases to the industry,” said Changpeng Zhao (‘CZ’), Binance CEO and Founder. “BitTorrent is a decentralized project by nature, with a large user base, that is now adding a new token economy to their use case. Through Launchpad, BitTorrent will have greater access to resources across the Binance ecosystem. This will be a case study for existing projects.”

Launchpad helps transformative blockchain startups raise funds needed to develop their products and provides them with Binance’s advisory resources and access to its ecosystem as part of the company’s larger mission in aiding cryptocurrency adoption.

BitTorrent token will first be implemented into the Windows-based µTorrent Classic client, BitTorrent, Inc.’s most popular application. BitTorrent token-enabled µTorrent Classic clients will be 100% compatible with other clients that support the BitTorrent protocol, and users who wish to opt out will be able to do so in the product’s settings. More information about the token mechanism can be found on the official white papers.

TRON and BitTorrent plan to provide more details about BitTorrent token and Project Atlas products at niTROn Summit on January 17-18 in San Francisco.

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Blockchain

How and Where can Blockchain Help?

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The Defense Logistics Agency Troop Support provided approximately 41,000 power poles, 88.1 million meals and 1,264 generators in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the 2017 hurricane season. Responding to three major hurricanes was a record undertaking for DLA, and the mission was a success.

But could the use of blockchain technology improve DLA’s support even more?

That was the question posed during a two-day presentation hosted by Troop Support’s Continuous Process Improvement office from Dec. 3-4 in Philadelphia. CPI leaders, by direction of the Commander, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Simerly, reviewed Troop Support’s processes during their response to Hurricane Maria and recovery operations in Puerto Rico, and presented how blockchain capabilities could have improved efforts.

“We think there’s a lot of potential [in blockchain],” CPI management analyst Elijah Londo said. “Where do we want to be as an organization in shaping and influencing where the [Department of Defense] goes with blockchain?”

CPI Process Compliance Director Daniel Keenaghan described blockchain as a digital, decentralized “distributed ledger” where identical copies of data is stored across multiple servers.

Changes to the data, or “blocks”, such as updates to ordering and delivery tracking information key to DLA’s logistics processes, are linked in a “chain” that builds trust through peer-user validation within the chain. Changes are immediately viewable by all peers with access to the block of data, improving transparency and auditability of agency transactions.

Currently, processes are tracked through systems and databases that are centrally managed by one agency or another. Visibility can be challenging at times, and stakeholders have to synchronize data to make sure they are all tracking accurate, up-to-date information.

To help answer whether blockchain could have helped, Construction and Equipment deputy director Marko Graham used a process map of C&E’s actions linking FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, Troop Support and industry partners – key stakeholders who would be peer users in a blockchain scenario – to review where this technology might improve associated logistics processes.

Graham shared some challenging points in the process and how C&E worked through them, such as the efforts that went into the maintenance of an internal spreadsheet that tracked requirements sourced through multiple vendors as items were purchased and delivered.

Then, he discussed these points using blockchain capabilities such as transaction processing and in-transit visibility of shipments to evaluate the process improvements.

“This is where I can see where blockchain would have been a big help,” Graham said. “Flowing [materiel specifications and tracking data] from the manufacturer buying the raw materials to…getting the transportation and getting it on the barges.”

According to Londo, the potential of blockchain technology exists.

“The potential is absolutely enormous,” Londo said. “Talk about blockchain, [and] you’ll hear experts comparing it to transforming trust or transactions in the same way the internet changed communication. Other agencies and countries are also looking into this technology.”

Keenaghan invited one of those agency representatives to share his experience.

Craig Fischer, program manager with the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Innovation and Transformation Office, provided lessons learned from a blockchain pilot he conducted for equipment accountability, an application useful to any government agency.

Keenaghan also shared that the United Arab Emirates has set a goal to have 50 percent of government transactions processed via blockchain technology by 2021.

It’s still a while until the technology can be put to use at DLA.

“We’re researching the technology,” Londo said. “[We’re] getting as smart as we can about what it is, what industry is saying about it, what the future might look like, how it applies to supply chains and how other industries are using it. We’re doing our due diligence.”

Simerly’s plan is to take the research as it applies to the hurricane response, a use case so to speak, and provide information for DLA to justify and apply research and development efforts with blockchain.

A restoration of power to Puerto Rico is a mission success, but advances in technology offer potential improvements to what Keenaghan says is “already amazing work.”

That’s what the CPI office is after through their evaluation and coordination with government and industry partners, such as the U.S. Transportation Command and Maersk, a large shipping company, who are already experimenting with blockchain technology.

“There’s really no shortage of players out there,” Londo said. “At the very least, it’s a collaboration and knowledge share. And at its best, it’s actual partnerships and pilot opportunities.”

This CPI office hosted the event under the Troop Support Campaign of Learning.

The CoL sets conditions to understand key challenges and conditions of the future sustainment environment. Through readings and events, in partnership with the military, industry and academia, the CoL provides an avenue of disciplined, deliberate learning and dialogue to facilitate understanding and promote recommendations for future supply chain solutions.

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