Welcome to this edition of the Distributed Infrastructure and Cryptocurrency global newsletter. This week, the blockchain sets its sights on connecting people through a peer-to-peer marketplace, Goldman sets its sights on implementing a Bitcoin trading operation, the CDC looks to integrate blockchain solutions to help share data during potential health pandemics, and DNV GL is enhancing the process of issuing certificates that attest to ships’ safety and environmental standards.
Focus on Distributed Infrastructure (DI) and Cryptocurrency Market Value of Top Coins (As of October 16th, 2017):
Company officials at Goldman Sachs have indicated that the bank is considering launching a new cryptocurrency trading operation. Despite Jamie Dimon’s recent statements calling bitcoin a “fraud”, Goldman Sachs’ clients remain interested in digital currencies, and Goldman would like to explore how to best serve them. Fraud or not, the cryptocurrency space is continuing to build interest from clients, and the banks that start early could have the opportunity to lead the cryptocurrency market.
Why it matters? Goldman is not the only investment bank to take an interest in crypto-currencies. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has called cryptocurrencies “more than just a fad”, and industry participants anticipate a huge increase in the number of new cryptocurrency services and business lines as the market continues to build and institutionalize.
As China bans Initial Coins Offerings (ICOs) and shuts down
cryptocurrency trading, cryptocurrency activity in Japan and South Korea takes off. Japan has given 11 exchanges a license to handle crytpocurrency, including their main exchange, bitFlyer, which has also become the largest exchange in the world. That, along with their interest in blockchain, lead Japan to introduce their new national cryptocurrency project, J Cash. In South Korea, since Samsung joined the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA), trading has become a frenzy. Even after a recent ICO ban, South Koreans continued to trade heavily.
Why it matters? Whereas China tried to regulate cryptocurrency by banning ICOs and trading, Japan wants to regulate trading by working with their exchanges, learning about blockchain, and developing their own currency. Governments taking this open approach have progressed innovation and gained spotlight by showing cooperation in trying to understand and regulate this new technology.
For the past several months, Jim Nasr, a chief software architect at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has led the development of several proofs of concept based on blockchain technology to solve the complicated problem of sharing public health data. Currently, sharing public health data is a complicated data-management challenge that involves strict privacy and compliance standards. Nasr and team are planning on developing real-world applications by next year that are geared towards improving public health surveillance by more efficiently managing data during a crisis or better tracking opioid abuse.
Why it matters? The CDC, state and local health departments, and other organizations must routinely share public health data in order to control the spread of a range of infectious diseases. However, a complex mix of data usage agreements, government privacy rules, and manual processes causes the process of sharing data tedious. A blockchain-enabled solution can give the CDC a method of storing and sharing data much faster while complying with security and privacy laws.
EY has teamed up with Microsoft, A.P. Moller–Maersk Group, and Guardtime to create a distributed ledger to help firms such as Maersk comply with insurance regulation. The blockchain platform The distributed ledger will be used to track shipment information and capture potential risks and liability. EY is working closely with Guardtime to develop this blockchain platform on the cloud using Microsoft Azure. While the platform can be applied to m
any industries, EY is focusing on marine insurance due to the high level of administrative burdens and paperwork involved in the industry. For example, contracts are signed multiple times and are transferred physically across the globe, which leads to high costs and inefficiencies.
Why it matters? This project is a great example of the role that consultants play to drive blockchain adoption. It also proves that there is a sense of readiness in the industry to adopt blockchain in a variety of use cases.
Startup of the Week
OpenBazaar connects people through a peer-to-peer network that provides access to an online marketplace. By allowing users to buy and sell to each other without a middleman, OpenBazaar enables transactions to occur throughout the network instead of depending on one central database. With no central organization running the marketplace, there are no mandatory transaction fees to pay, and trades are more privatized. OpenBazaar allows users to spend their various cryptocurrencies when paying for transactions and sellers to receive payment in Bitcoin. OpenBazaar makes it so that trades that occur are secure by using cryptocurrency which relinquishes the need to share more personal information that could get stolen. OpenBazaar creates a community marketplace that allows users to buy and sell as they choose without being charged transaction fees that other marketplaces would otherwise place on a sale.
How it works:
By downloading the OpenBazaar client on their computer, users will join the network and become a part of what makes OpenBazaar safe for the distributed marketplace to use. Once on the network, buyers and sellers can begin putting their products and merchandise up for sale to each other. The buyer and seller agree on the listed price and they get placed in an escrow contract, with the seller only receiving the payment when they verify they have sent the product. When disputes occur, OpenBazaar allows a third party observer to determine when the escrow is released and will only release the funds when the buyer and seller agree on a way to deal with the transaction. OpenBazaar 1.0 has been released to the public.
Founder(s): Dionysis Zindros, Brian Hoffman, Washington Sanchez, Samuel Patterson
Funding raised: $4.3 million
Select investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Digital Currency Group, Union Square Ventures