A blockchain, originally block chain, is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.
Blockchains are secure by design and are an example of a distributed computing system with high Byzantine fault tolerance. Decentralized consensus has therefore been achieved with a blockchain. This makes blockchains potentially suitable for the recording of events, medical records, and other records management activities, such as identity management, transaction processing, documenting provenance, food traceability or voting.
The first blockchain was conceptualized in 2008 by a person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto and implemented in 2009 as a core component of bitcoin where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions. The invention of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency to solve the double spending problem without the need of a trusted authority or central server. The bitcoin design has been the inspiration for other applications.
The first work on a cryptographically secured chain of blocks was described in 1991 by Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta. In 1992, Bayer, Haber and Stornetta incorporated Merkle trees to the design, which improved its efficiency by allowing several documents to be collected into one block.
The first blockchain was conceptualised by a person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. It was implemented the following year as a core component of the digital currency bitcoin, where it serves as the public ledger for all transactions on the network. By using a blockchain, bitcoin became the first digital currency to solve the double spending problem without requiring a trusted administrator and has been the inspiration for many additional applications.
In August 2014, the bitcoin blockchain file size, containing records of all transactions that have occurred on the network, reached 20GB (gigabytes). In January 2015, the size had grown to almost 30GB, and from January 2016 to January 2017, the bitcoin blockchain grew from 50GB to 100GB in size. The words block and chain were used separately in Satoshi Nakamoto’s original paper, but were eventually popularized as a single word, blockchain, by 2016.
The term blockchain 2.0 refers to new applications of the distributed blockchain database, first emerging in 2014. The Economist described one implementation of this second-generation programmable blockchain as coming with “a programming language that allows users to write more sophisticated smart contracts, thus creating invoices that pay themselves when a shipment arrives or share certificates which automatically send their owners dividends if profits reach a certain level”. Blockchain 2.0 technologies go beyond transactions and enable “exchange of value without powerful intermediaries acting as arbiters of money and information”. They are expected to enable excluded people to enter the global economy, protect the privacy of participants, allow people to “monetize their own information”, and provide the capability to ensure creators are compensated for their intellectual property. Second-generation blockchain technology makes it possible to store an individual’s “persistent digital ID and persona” and are providing an avenue to help solve the problem of social inequality by “potentially changing the way wealth is distributed”. As of 2016, blockchain 2.0 implementations continue to require an off-chain oracle to access any “external data or events based on time or market conditions [that need] to interact with the blockchain”.
In 2016, the central securities depository of the Russian Federation (NSD) announced a pilot project, based on the Nxt blockchain 2.0 platform, that would explore the use of blockchain-based automated voting systems. IBM opened a blockchain innovation research center in Singapore in July 2016. A working group for the World Economic Forum met in November 2016 to discuss the development of governance models related to blockchain. According to Accenture, an application of the diffusion of innovations theory suggests that blockchains attained a 13.5% adoption rate within financial services in 2016, therefore reaching the early adopters phase. Industry trade groups joined to create the Global Blockchain Forum in 2016, an initiative of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.
A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the collusion of the network. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions inexpensively. A blockchain database is managed autonomously using a peer-to-peer network and a distributed timestamping server. They are authenticated by mass collaboration powered by collective self-interests. The result is a robust workflow where participants’ uncertainty regarding data security is marginal. The use of a blockchain removes the characteristic of infinite reproducibility from a digital asset. It confirms that each unit of value was transferred only once, solving the long-standing problem of double spending. Blockchains have been described as a value-exchange protocol. This blockchain-based exchange of value can be completed more quickly, more safely and more cheaply than with traditional systems. A blockchain can assign title rights because it provides a record that compels offer and acceptance.
Blocks hold batches of valid transactions that are hashed and encoded into a Merkle tree. Each block includes the hash of the prior block in the blockchain, linking the two. The linked blocks form a chain. This iterative process confirms the integrity of the previous block, all the way back to the original genesis block.
Sometimes separate blocks can be produced concurrently, creating a temporary fork. In addition to a secure hash-based history, any blockchain has a specified algorithm for scoring different versions of the history so that one with a higher value can be selected over others. Blocks not selected for inclusion in the chain are called orphan blocks. Peers supporting the database have different versions of the history from time to time. They only keep the highest-scoring version of the database known to them. Whenever a peer receives a higher-scoring version (usually the old version with a single new block added) they extend or overwrite their own database and retransmit the improvement to their peers. There is never an absolute guarantee that any particular entry will remain in the best version of the history forever. Because blockchains are typically built to add the score of new blocks onto old blocks and because there are incentives to work only on extending with new blocks rather than overwriting old blocks, the probability of an entry becoming superseded goes down exponentially as more blocks are built on top of it, eventually becoming very low. For example, in a blockchain using the proof-of-work system, the chain with the most cumulative proof-of-work is always considered the valid one by the network. There are a number of methods that can be used to demonstrate a sufficient level of computation. Within a blockchain the computation is carried out redundantly rather than in the traditional segregated and parallel manner.
Banks Collaborate Using Blockchain Technology
Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology has been an avenue for individuals, organizations and corporations to make money, create value and reduce the cost of carrying out transactions. Banks have not welcomed the idea as it seems to threaten their very existence. The technology which at a glance seems to eliminate them as middlemen and connect the buyers with their sellers directly is eventually tending towards that direction.
However, some banks don’t share the same sentiments and have begun to make effort to find ways to collaborate with the technology to drive economic growth and provide value to its customers.
Such is the case of some Banks in Thailand, collaborating together to achieve a successful blockchain-powered cross-border funds transfer from its country to Singapore. The effort which involved various multinationals including Japanese Mitsubishi Corporation, independent group company and Japan’s largest bank MUFG – which operates independently, and Singapore-based banking giant Standard Chartered.
Thailands bank of Ayudhya revealed in an announcement, the successful pilot testing regarding international remittance from a local bank account to a Standard Charted account in Singapore using its own Blockchain. It was stated that the transaction was made possible with the blockchain technology. In the statement, Krungsri head of digital banking and innovation Thakorn Piyapan said:
“[T]he technology-based transaction helps enhance their subsidiaries’ financial liquidity toward greater flexibility and efficiency.”
The transaction was conducted under the guidelines of the Bank of Thailand’s regulatory sandbox, thereby putting them in the clear of violating any regulations. Krungsri, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MUFG, is the latest Thai bank to successfully try blockchain technology for remittance ahead of adoption.
Nearly a year ago, Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) collaborated with Japan’s SBI Remit to launch a retail remittance bank service powered by Ripple’s blockchain tech. With nearly 50,000 Thai nationals living and working in Japan, the remittance corridor between the two countries sees approximately $250 million in transfers each year.
This achievement is a big foot and a boost in the propagation of the gospel of blockchain and cryptocurrency around the world. Foretelling the widespread adoption of this technology by banks. This foot is expected to repeat itself again
Ekasi To Launch World’s First Crypto-Enabled Mall
Cryptocurrency is becoming the word in the mouth of the average youth in Africa. As the knowledge of the technology is spread pretty fast, cryptocurrency and blockchain startup companies and smart young Africans are beginning to devise means to create a system that offers value using this same blockchain technology.
South African-based blockchain startup Ekasi Bucks is planning to launch arguably the world’s first crypto-mall and on-demand transport services for small towns in Soweto, Soshanguve and Mabopane.
This launch comes as no surprise to cryptocurrency enthusiast as the company tried raising about R50 million through an ICO with the intention to fund its project. However, the ICO was only able to raise R500,000 which is nowhere compared to their initial target.
According to the president and co-founder of Ekasi Buck, it was the company’s initial plan to actually raise funds to buy a landed property to build an actual shopping mall. The only available alternative was to go digital; thereby creating the mall online.
CRYPTOCURRENCY ONLINE MALL
The mall will digitalize online sales, which will enable local township businesses transact via the online platform and in exchange receive Ekasi Bucks token. The past six weeks have seen Ekasi Bucks run campaigns to create awareness and recruit vendors to the crypto-mall with 800 township entrepreneurs having so far submitted their applications to sell products such as clothing or food from local restaurants that will be delivered.
The goal is to allow local residents shop from their own townships and also their homes” said Kgwadi
The co-founder of Ekasi Bucks believes that given an opportunity, township residents will easily buy from their local retailers. According to him: “It’s not a matter of products and markups — people just don’t know where to find the product.”
TAXI DEMAND SERVICES.
This startup plans on launching an on-demand taxi services which would be similar to that of Taxify and Uber, of which customers would be allowed to make payments for their fares using Ekasi Buck. To start, Ekasi Bucks plans to source for their token users from their already existing rewards programme that they have been managing since 2016. The programme is active across South Africa and has more than 20,000 card users and 4,000 merchants.
20 applications have already been submitted by intending drivers on the platform, which comes after the company ran facebook adverts for the service. The initial batch of the vetted drivers will become the first pilot for the on-demand taxi service, said Kgwadi. He went on to say that for each token transacted, Ekasi Bucks will charge a ten percent commission to the drivers, which makes their rates significantly lower compared to the fee charges that Uber (15 percent to 20 percent) and Taxify (30 percent) debit from their drivers. In addition, the startup has partnered with Lion of Africa to provide white labelled life cover insurance to its drivers who will be part of the on-demand taxi service.
Beer Vending Machine Verifies Your ID On The Blockchain
Imagine a vending machine that is hooked up to the blockchain and verifies the age of its customers before selling beer to them? San Francisco crypto startup, Civic teamed up with Anheuser-Busch InBev to create this blockchain beer vending machine.
The prototype of this vending machine which can query blockchain-based records to verify the customer’s age will be on display at Consensus 2018. The machine could also be easily adapted for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as Civic confirmed. So, visitors to the convention can stop and have a free beer from the machine to check out its ability.
Decentralized identity and KYC verification seem to be a huge market the vending machine is expected to be the beginning of what is to be expected from this market. Titus Capilnean explains, “We’ve been thinking about practical ways of bringing crypto technology to a more mainstream audience, and how can we go so so niche that it’s so easy to understand for a regular individual. Proof of age seemed like the best low-hanging fruit.
Civic demonstrates how blockchain technology will eventually enable age-restricted products to move into the production of blockchain vending machine market. Titus affirms, “It’s not limited to just beer, it could be for any kind of age-restricted product. Unmanned entrance to casinos, and then for the vending machines, we can see this going into concerts, ballgames, venues, conferences.”
Civic announced in June last year that it sold $33 million-worth of its CVC tokens to investors ahead of an initial coin offering (ICO) and currently the value of the network according to CoinMarketCap is $113 million. There is, however, one question that needs to be asked, how will the machine verify the identity if I use stolen identification?
What do you think about this beer vending machine? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.
Image source: menshealth
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African Partnership Deal To Provide Software Solutions
Blockchain Academy is partnering with Yellowtail to provide blockchain software solutions. In an announcement, the partnership deal is geared towards helping small businesses and organizations incorporate the blockchain technology into their systems thereby creating better service solutions.
Blockchain Academy, which is situated in Cape Town South Africa provides training and consultancy service on blockchain technology for companies and organisations that want to train their staff on this new technology. Managing Director of Blockchain Academy, Sonya Kuhnel in a speech
“Yellowtail Software provides quality, sophisticated software solutions to its clients. We are happy to be collaborating with them to assist our clients in applying blockchain technology into their current systems and to actually build these systems for them. They are on the forefront of developing blockchain solutions in South Africa and they have a great track record of delivering solutions.”
Yellowtail which is also a software company based in Cape Town focuses on blockchain technology, fintech and retail software solutions. The objective of the partnership is to establish how the blockchain technology can be used to improve business processes and how well the clients can benefit maximally while defining future strategies.
“We are passionate about crafting software solutions for business needs. At the cutting edge today, we find the distributed ledger technology, called blockchain, enabling a paradigm shift and revolutionising how business is conducted, from exchange of assets and value to disintermediating control and establishing trust. This paradigm shift is not easy to understand and apply. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Blockchain Academy, which is one of the leading blockchain training providers in South Africa. Together, we will lead business and technical decision-makers through a hands-on discovery journey of what blockchain technology is about and how they should embrace it in their business. From education to ideation, to practical software solutions.” Yellowtail Software’s Managing Director, Kornelis Miske, said.
Let’s hear your opinion about the partnership. How effective will this partnership be? Leave your comments in the section below.
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