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IBM Joins Decentralized ‘Yellow Pages’ for Blockchain Projects

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Blockchain Projects

IBM has joined a decentralized cross-blockchain registry initiative which it states is a Yellow Pages analogue for blockchain projects, according to an announcement September 13.

The initiative called Unbounded Registry will be led by blockchain startup HACERA, and is designed to provide “a decentralized means to register, look up, join and transact across a variety of blockchain solutions, built to interoperate with all of today’s distributed ledger technologies.”

The project will reportedly address major issues in the field, including reserved naming for blockchain projects, the discoverability of blockchain networks and applications, and a catalogue of domain-specific functions and services.

Other members of the registry include Intel, Chinese tech giant Huawei, Batavia, Hitachi, and the Australian Blockchain Association.

IBM is known for its openness to the study and application of blockchain technology across various fields. Earlier this month, the tech giant revealed a Stellar-based “near-real-time” blockchain payment network called Blockchain World Wire (BWW). The solution is developed to facilitate international settlements between banks.

In August, IBM and Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk jointly launched their global blockchain-enabled shipping solution. The platform is reportedly able to track critical data about each shipment in a supply chain in real time, generating a distributed, immutable record on the fly.

In June, IBM iX, the business and tech consulting wing of IBM, in partnership with software supplier Mediaocean, launched a blockchain-powered tracker for digital media transactions to “clean things up” in the media buying industry.

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Blockchain

New York University Offers Major in Blockchain Technology

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New York University
New York University

New York University (NYU) has reportedly become the “first” university in the U.S. to offer students a major in blockchain technology, CBS New York reported September 18. The program will reportedly be provided by the NYU Stern School of Business, which was also a pioneer in offering undergraduate courses in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Professor Andrew Hinkes commented on the new program:

“We hope to establish a groundwork so that the students can understand what’s really happening under the hood, so that they can understand both the legal and the business implications, and prepare them to go out and tackle this new market.”

According to associate professor Kathleen Derose, the educational establishment is expecting large companies to partner within the training program, while “the startups in [fintech] will likely invent the new cool stuff.” Following the increasing number of students interested in the new offer, NYU reportedly doubled its course offerings this school year.

Adam White from cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase said that students “see the development, the birth of a new industry,” adding that “in many ways, we look at things like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) and blockchain as the internet 3.0.”

Last month, Coinbase released a study, showing that 42 percent of the world’s top 50 universities have at least one class on cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Of the 172 classes reviewed in the study, 15 percent were offered by economics, finance, law and business departments, while 4 percent were in social science departments. The study found that blockchain and crypto-related courses are most popular in the U.S. among other countries.

U.S. students’ interest in crypto is reflected not only in educational programs, but in investing in digital currency as well. As a study conducted by Student Loan Report in March shows, 21.2 percent of college students used loan money to fund a crypto investment, hoping that the upward price volatility in crypto would help pay their debts faster.

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Tradeshift CEO Prudent on Blockchain Supply Chain Potential

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Digital invoicing startup Tradeshift CEO Christian Lanng countered “hype” over blockchain’s role in supply chains Wednesday, September 19, telling CNBC the technology “wasn’t ready yet.”

In an interview at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China, Lanng highlighted the use cases for blockchain in areas such as identity and certifications, but argued supply chains were too much of a challenge for the technology in its current state.

“If you want to have authenticity, if you want to know where it is sourced, that it is done in a responsible way […] [blockchain] is a great technology to manage that kind of flow and be sure of the integrity,” he told the network, adding:

“The problem is just it’s not a high-performance technology.”

For Lanng, however, the optimism is premature. “Whenever people say blockchain, I think what they’re really saying is they would like to connect things digitally,” he continued, noting:

“I don’t think blockchain is a mature enough technology yet to carry that … I also want to be a little bit cautious for some of the hype.”

Lanng also highlighted cost hurdles and the difficulty of creating an “at scale” blockchain deployment.

The innovation has nonetheless already seen some success, as a joint shipping supply chain product from IBM and Maersk received heavy praise from logistics partner CEVA as a “big step forward” in August.

More recently, UK’s leading port operator, Associated British Ports (ABP), signed an agreement with digital logistics enabler Marine Transport International to develop blockchain use for port logistics.

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PNC Bank Becomes Latest to Adopt Ripple’s xCurrent

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PNC Bank
PNC Bank

American banking giant PNC has joined the growing number of financial institutions using payments products from blockchain startup Ripple. The bank’s Treasury Management division will begin accepting cross-border transactions using the firm’s xCurrent product, Ripple’s senior vice president, Asheesh Birla, told CoinDesk Wednesday.

One of the top-10 largest banks by assets held in the U.S., PNC has already successfully concluded a pilot phase and proof-of-concept for the payment rail, and will immediately begin using xCurrent in a production environment. For now, Treasury Management will only be accepting inbound transactions using the product. Birla said:

“I think the important thing is this is not a test. Ripple only signs production clients, so they are taking this product into production. There’s no pilot, there’s no proof-of-concept – that’s already been done. They’ve committed to [transactions] with other customers.”

Ripple’s SVP believes that small U.S. businesses signed onto RippleNet – the umbrella term for the firm’s several payment networks – would especially benefit from banking with PNC as a result of the new integration.

“Providing instant payments instead of waiting two to three days, that sounds like a short time, [but] that’s two to three days without access to capital. Having that is a real game-changer,” he said.

PNC apparently already has customers lined up to work with xCurrent initially, although Birla was not at liberty to provide any details on those firms. While the bank will start by using xCurrent, Birla hopes to ultimately help them begin working with Ripple’s xRapid platform as well, he said.

“With PNC, the idea is to get a few corridors lit up with xCurrent … When they’re ready to start talking about emerging markets, we’ll introduce them to xRapid. We’re working to get them started with xCurrent so it’s not a completely new feature to move to xRapid,” he explained.

More broadly, Ripple announced Wednesday that it has clients in 40 countries across six different continents now, having opened new payment corridors to parts of East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.

Birla said it is “exciting” to see Ripple’s efforts begin to be be implemented, particularly in emerging and under-served markets.

The executive also addressed reports suggesting Ripple’s xRapid product would be launched in the next month or so.

“We haven’t officially announced a timeline. I think we’re really excited about xRapid, I personally am really excited about how our customers in the pilot phase of xRapid like the experience,” Birla said.

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Loyalty Live: Blockchain & Loyalty Rewards Conference

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Chicago
Chicago

Loyalty Live is the first conference in the world focused on bridging the gap between loyalty rewards and blockchain technology.​ ​The conference will bring together corporate executives and the MarTech community with blockchain companies and influencers – bringing some of the biggest names from both sides to help simplify and better educate each other on these multi-billion dollar industries. Get to know the technology behind the products and meet the brilliant minds to better understand and build trust in this new world.

Loyalty programs are on the rise for a wide variety of key industries. They are a crucial and strategic investment for many types of organizations, however consumers experience significant friction prohibiting the use of their legacy points. Many programs lack liquidity and about a third of points are never used. Even if the end consumer doesn’t know it yet, they already hold digital currency in their pockets. Blockchain technology is the next natural step for turning these points into cryptocurrency and advancing a digital points economy. It has the power to add security and liquidity to points programs with the tokenization of digital assets.

Loyalty Live supports the convergence of these two industries – bringing together the biggest names and thought leaders from both worlds, for knowledge exchange and education. Attendees will be at the centre of this exciting evolution of the Loyalty and Rewards industry and the discussions on integrating blockchain solutions for all horizontals in the sector.

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The event will demystify blockchain for enterprise, with intro bootcamp sessions and expert panels. Learn how to leverage the technology to improve points systems, operate programs at low cost and high security, develop a liquid value ecosystem, acquire more users, and increase value for existing customers.

Get to know the technology that’s changing the world and meet the brilliant minds taking it mainstream. Expect topics to cover: why blockchain is the remedy to loyalty challenges, merging blockchain with existing business systems, tracking systems, lowering transaction fees, improving points liquidity and redemption, reducing consumer friction, and eliminating fraud.

Start Time:​ Tuesday, October 16 @ 7:00 pm
End Time: ​Thursday, October 18 @ 11:30 pm
Location:​ JW Marriott Chicago
Expected Attendees: ​600 – 800 people
Expected Speakers: ​50
Organized by: ​Untraceable

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Blockchain Shift: Groundbreaking Event to Debut in Miami

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Miami

Miami will host the first-annual Blockchain Shift conference, bringing together leaders from industry, technology, finance and the arts to celebrate the potential of distributed ledgers, crypto currencies and the democratization of finance. The event will take place from October 11th – 12th, 2018, at Mana Wynwood (318 NW 23rd St, Miami). Blockchain Shift has already confirmed the participation of key sponsors such as IBM, seriesOne and tZERO; as well as an array of A-list speakers including U.S. elected officials, City Mayors, federal regulators, billionaire technologists and internationally-renowned celebrities.

“The ground is shifting beneath our feet, as technology advancements have disrupted virtually every sector of society,” said Dan Viola, attorney, entrepreneur and Founder of Blockchain Shift. “Our event will celebrate these advancements, while bridging the gap between a crypto crowd and more advanced legacy industries that are beginning to understand blockchain is here to stay.”

The event agenda will feature a main stage for keynote addresses, panel discussions and fireside chats; with topics ranging from Crypto Hedge Funds, Crypto Broker-Dealers, Banking and Blockchain, Blockchain Solutions for Wall Street, Real Estate and Art, combined with a current look at SEC, FINRA and FinCen regulations. A second stage for STOs to present to accredited investors and receive general marketing and legal feedback. Finally, an exhibitor space will serve as a place for engagement, networking and learning with unique lounge-style seating that will be equipped with Bloomberg terminals and a live television broadcast so that attendees can stay abreast of the markets and not miss the presentations on the main stage.

A sampling of confirmed speakers includes Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Alchemist Co-Founder Steve Neyaroff, Jalak Jobanputra of Future/Perfect Ventures, Jon Najarian of Investitute.com, Paul Brodsky of Pantera Capital, Chris Ferris of IBM’s Digital Business Group, Anthony Scaramucci of Skybridge, Nick Spanos of Blockchain Technologies, the Mayor of Miami – Francis Suarez and of the Mayor of Coral Gables – Raul Valdes-Fauli.

Although the event has just been publicly announced, it has already made great strides with key attendees and partnerships. Current partners include IBM, tZERO, Alchemist, seriesOne, Americas Execution, LLC, AV Yachts, Security Token Partners, BitGo, CoinBoost, Securitize, Ledger, Cohen & Co., Harneys, Empire Asset Management Company, Joseph Gunnar & Co, and Shutts.

A portion of the event proceeds will go toward funding the Florida Blockchain Foundation, a new 501c3 organization aimed to create a crypto-friendly state and hub for the Americas, by stimulating high-paying jobs, increasing the tax base and ultimately fostering a more equitable economic landscape for all. The organization will focus on advocacy, promotion and education across our state.

“This event will serve as a catalyst to put Miami on the blockchain map,” said Alex Lopatine, Managing Partner of Park Capital and Executive Chairman of Blockchain Shift. “We believe quality content and having fun should not be mutually-exclusive, and that’s what Miami is all about. The gorgeous weather, interesting people, favorable tax rates and friendly political climate are the perfect ingredients to make our city a Crypto Hub, and Blockchain Shift aims to celebrate this bright future.”

Blockchain Shift will place an equal emphasis on quality of experience, with curated sponsor events, yacht excursions, curated food trucks, networking opportunities and Night Shift, an unparalleled event featuring top-shelf spirits, internationally-renowned DJs and VIP bottle service. Furthermore, the event will provide much-needed white glove approach, offering a concierge app, accepting crypto for tickets and sponsorships, delivering badges pre-registered to the hotel and preventing inconveniences such as long lines.

To learn more, purchase tickets, or explore our sponsorship opportunities, visit BlockchainShift.io

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Blockchain Needs to Target Manufacturing Industry

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Jack Ma
Jack Ma

At World AI Conference 2018, Jack Ma, the co-founder and chairman of $414 billion e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, stated that artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and Internet of Things (IoT) can all become meaningless if they fail to target the manufacturing industry.

“AI, Blockchain and IoT will be meaningless tech unless they can promote the transformation of the manufacturing industry, and the evolution of the society towards a greener and more inclusive direction,” Ma said.

The speech Ma provided at World AI Conference was not exclusive to blockchain technology but rather three technologies which most major conglomerates and governments consider to be the building blocks of the fourth industrial revolution.

The manufacturing industry of China alone is valued at around $3.1 trillion, with the US and other major economies operating multi-trillion dollar manufacturing sectors as well.

Over the past decade, especially in the past three years, the industry of smart manufacturing has grown exponentially, as conglomerates have begun to explore various innovative ways to cut back costs and improve the efficiency of the manufacturing process with emerging technologies.

As such, the manufacturing process of most hardware and machineries have drastically changed in recent years, with companies moving towards automation and the usage of robotics to eliminate manual errors and speed up existing operations.

Since the emergence of the concept of applying decentralized systems to a variety of industries in early 2016, many blockchain consortia and development firms have established their focus on utilizing the blockchain to rebuild supply chains.

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The $1 Billion Tezos Blockchain Is Officially Launching Monday

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Tezos

Announced today, the Tezos Foundation will officially launch the protocol on Monday, at which point the platform, whose token supply is today valued at more than $1 billion, will no longer be in beta, meaning it will be fully operational and run by its community.

Still, the designation is admittedly a semantic one. Tezos launched a mainnet, or live blockchain version of its software at the end of June, and since then its XTZ tokens have been tradeable.

While the blockchain was being used as intended throughout that time – with the number of network participants and staked tokens on the rise – technically the blockchain could have been paused for maintenance at any time.

According to knowledgeable sources, the only outage that occurred on the network happened in mid-July when blocks weren’t properly validating for approximately an hour. The problem was addressed, and the blockchain has been running smoothly since.

When it first launched, only the Tezos Foundation validated transactions on the network, but on July 20 the foundation opened up to third-party validators.

Jesperson recently published a large update on the Foundation blog, detailing business updates such as auditing and grantmaking, as well as speaking to some of the turmoil that preceded his tenure.

He wrote, “The turnaround was complex, occurred at high velocity and had us all intensely focused on success. To its credit, the entire team worked through the turmoil and produced exceptional work.”

The previous president of the foundation, Johann Gevers, stepped down in February, after a tenure in which many viewed him as stifling the launch of a protocol that set a record for the largest initial coin offering (ICO) of all time up that point – $232 million in July 2017.

Since Jesperson took over, along with a completely new board, the foundation has partnered with major auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers; actively funded academics, community members and entrepreneurs with interest in contributing to the ecosystem and set up the first set of validation nodes on which to launch the network.

Most recently, it announced funding for TezTech, a Tezos focused software shop with several projects underway, including a trustless scaling and custody solution, as well as APIs and software libraries.

The market capitalization for xtz currently hovers around $882 million, according to CoinMarketCap, with roughly $3 million in trading over the last 24 hours.

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Unblock Community Conference in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong

On September 9-10 Iskander.events hold an Unblock Community conference in Hong Kong. The event took place in Cyberport – one of the most renowned digital and fintech innovation hubs of Asia, backed by HKSAR Government. Speakers and guests of the Unblock Community have taken on a challenge of defining the value of the community and reimagining the way how blockchain companies should manage their communities.

Iskander.events invited international experts from both traditional industries community management (such as Richard Millington, Anuj Adhiya and Paras Pundir) and the leading crypto communities (Bancor, Cindicator,, country-level blokchain Associations) to share their experience and discuss the issues of managing communities on crypto market.

During two content-rich conference days more then 30 speakers have shared their experience, delivering valuable insights and strategies through presentations and panel discussions. Key takeaways from the conference are:
Cutting edge blockchain projects and crypto industry all in all still have something to learn from the traditional community management. General strategic frameworks and tools can be successfully extrapolated in the blockchain industry.

Despite the ongoing buzz around “community value”, very few companies actually know how to strategically work with and grow the community. Companies need to re-evaluate it’s approach to the community management and redefine the values they share with the communities.
Ironically, to create a proper decentralized network, businesses need to learn how to build structured and loyal community.

Complementing the main schedule of the conference, Iskander.events has organized P2P sessions, where verified projects had a chance to have a personal meetings with selected investors. In total 12 projects and 15 investors have participated in the P2P sessions. The investors list included Mae Wang, Artem Gurin, representatives of Skypathcapital, Click Ventures, Hamon Investment Group, Nexchange, J.Rotbart&co, Diamond capital and others.

Additionally, Iskander.events team sees education as one of it’s important missions and all the speakers presentations will be shared on Youtube channel as well.

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Blockchain Could Boost Trade Finance by $1 Trillion

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Blockchain is able to fill in much of the $1.5 trillion-dollar supply-demand gap in global trade finance by easing financing for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in emerging markets, new research says.

Jointly conducted and released by the World Economic Forum and Bain & Company, the research indicates that, by deploying blockchain, global businesses can generate an extra $1 trillion in trade finance that would otherwise be missed out on.

According to an Asian Development Bank calculation, the global trade finance gap is currently at $1.5 trillion and is estimated to grow to $2.4 trillion by 2025. The research further explains that this issue largely arises from limited access to credit and loans for SMEs that are looking to expand their businesses.

The researchers argue, however, that this missing funding can be reduced by $1 trillion if blockchain “is used more broadly,” since distributed networks are able to share business records across financial institutions along the supply chain and bring transparency to businesses’ credibility.

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Minister to Give Force of Law to Malta Blockchain Acts

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MFSA
Malta

On the 11th of September, Mr Joseph Cuschieri, CEO of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) announced that Malta’s three blockchain Acts will come into force as of the 1st November 2018. The Acts have already been unanimously approved by Parliament, however, they will officially start regulating the industry on 1st November 2018. Over the summer, the MFSA has also published various consultation papers to provide further instruction to issuers of ICOs, cryptocurrency exchanges, technology companies and other service providers in the industry.

What does this mean for operators?

As of the 1st November, prospective licensees and issuers will officially start operating under the new Virtual Financial Assets Act. Until then, VFA Service Providers (including cryptocurrency exchanges, as well as issuers of ICOs may commence offering their services in an unregulated manner which does not constitute a breach of law. VFA service providers will subsequently have a year from this date to comply with the laws and applicable regulations as issued by the MFSA. On the other hand, Issuers which have commenced their launch post 18th October, 2018 as well as those who have applied for admissibility to trade their VFAs will have three months to become compliant and register their whitepaper.

Malta establishing itself as the Blockchain Island

Malta has been pushing towards officially becoming the centre of excellence in blockchain, crypto and ICOs. In fact, as the Blockchain Island of the World, it was the first to regulate the area through the introduction of three acts: The Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act, the Innovative Technology Arrangements and Services Act and the Virtual Financial Assets Act.

Chetcuti Cauchi Advocates is establishing itself as a leading law firm within the Fintech industry, where senior partner Dr Priscilla Mifsud Parker, as well as head of corporate and financial services, Mr Steve Muscat Azzopardi, have also begun actively advising and assisting clients who wish to set-up shop in Malta, with the hope that Malta will truly become the official Blockchain Island.

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