Author: Rebecca Asseh

Sony’s digital rights management system is blockchain-powered

Electronic giant Sony has announced that it has developed a blockchain-based rights management system for digital content.

The new digital rights management (DRM) system builds on Sony and Sony Global Education’s platform for authenticating, sharing and rights management of educational data, according to the company. The new DRM system adds functionality for processing rights-related information, and will support digital contents such as ebooks, music, films, audio, games, scientific data, medical data, video, and VR content, among others.

Content rights, according to the Japanese firm, still rely on conventional methods and a more effective means of proof of ownership was needed. This led Sony to file for a patent in April for a system that utilizes the blockchain in storing users’ digital rights data.

The company also revealed that the new DRM framework is built on a prior blockchain system they produced in collaboration with IBM last December. The system began by storing educational data such as degrees, diplomas, tests and other similar products.

Sony described some of the functionality of the system in a statement saying, “[It is] specialized for managing rights-related information of written works, with features for demonstrating the date and time that electronic data was created, leveraging the properties of blockchains to record verifiable information in a difficult to falsify way, and identifying previously recorded works, allowing participants to share and verify when a piece of electronic data was created and by whom.”

Although Sony has yet to name the project or the type of blockchain it would utilize, it is already considering commercialising the system. Also, Sony Group has a lot of plans for its future in the blockchain space. The firm reveals that it is also “considering innovative ways to make use of blockchain technology for information management and data distribution in a host of different fields.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Blockchain-powered HTC smartphone making its debut on Oct. 22

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC has announced that its blockchain-powered smartphone, ‘Exodus,’ is ready for launch. The Exodus team released two teaser videos of the smartphone ahead of the launch on October 22.

HTC first revealed in May that it was working on a device that would support decentralized applications (DApps). It will also feature a universal wallet and have a “built-in secure hardware enclave.” The official HTC site is already taking registrations to determine the demand of the HTC Exodus before its formal launch.

Although the teasers do not reveal the specifications of the phone or when it will be available for purchase, we have an inkling to what the phone looks like and its launch date.

https://www.htcexodus.com/images/phone-components_desktop.png

On its website, the Exodus team said, “With over two decades of experience manufacturing the world’s leading smartphones, and shipping over 100 million phones, we believe we can help reshape the Internet with the HTC Exodus. Join us and together we will make decentralization a reality.” HTC also has plans to create its own native blockchain network with all Exodus units acting as nodes to allow cryptocurrency trading among users of the phone.

According to reports, the HTC Exodus will be adopting the technology of Social Key Recovery. This means users do not have to worry about the loss of their digital assets if the phone is lost or being handled by someone else. HTC claims that the Social Key Recovery technology originated from the algorithm of Shamir’s Secret Sharing, which was invented by Adi Shamir, a world-renowned Israeli cryptographer. The algorithm can disassemble a series of complicated messages into different blocks which can be put back together to obtain the message again.

The company previously indicated that the Exodus would likely come with a price tag of $1,000, the same price as Sirin Lab’s blockchain-powered phone, Finney.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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3 more ICOs shut down by North Dakota securities watchdog

A North Dakota security watchdog is keeping tight reins on initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the U.S. state. Last Thursday, the commissioner of the North Dakota Securities Department (NDSD), Karen Tyler, issued a cease and desist order against three firms that were discovered to be involved in promoting fraudulent securities and illegal business practices related to ICOs in the state. The North Dakota financial regulator carried out an investigation, Operation Cryptosweep, to identify ICOs and cryptocurrency-related investments that pose a risk to North Dakota investors.

The investigation revealed that the companies involved—Crystal Token, Advertiza Holdings (Pty) Ltd., and Life Cross Coin aka LifecrosscoinGmbH—were selling securities without obtaining a license. Also, the companies were accused of using fraudulent statements on their websites whereby they all claimed to give high returns without any proof of how they would achieve them. Crystal Token was not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and so the firm could not offer securities in the state, according to the NDSD. Equally, Advertiza claimed to offer securities which promised high returns through its virtual currency called “Tizacoin” (TIZA), while Cross Coin was found to have used a Berlin IP address that was already linked to ransomware and trojans. Generally, the investigation found out that the firms could be harmful to investors, according to the state regulator.

This was not the first time the department took action against ICOs in the state. Last month, the NDSD issued cease-and-desist orders against three other companies: BitConnect, Magma Foundation and the Pension Rewards Platform. Tyler said about the orders, “The continued exploitation of the cryptocurrency ecosystem by financial criminals is a significant threat to Main Street investors.”

The commissioner noted, “In formulaic fashion, financial criminals are cashing in on the hype and excitement around blockchain, crypto assets, and ICOs – investors should be exceedingly cautious when considering a related investment.”

Regulators are putting up more frameworks to protect investors. The SEC has announced that it will sue crypto companies offering pump-and-dump schemes, as well as ICO projects who have false SEC approvals.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Christie’s art auction will be recorded on blockchain

Starting this fall, art auctions will be taking the blockchain route as Christie’s is turning to the technology to encrypt the registration of its art transactions.

The London-based art auction house announced last week that it will be partnering with Artory, a blockchain-based digital registry for the art industry. The duo will be piloting encrypted storage of auction transactions and will begin the test with artwork pieces from An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection, from Christie’s upcoming November sale of artworks.

The 20th-century Modernist American art collection is estimated to bring in as much as $300 million. The collection will be unveiled at the Rockefeller Center, New York, from November 4. The Artory blockchain platform will provide an encrypted and secure certification of the sale to the successful bidder. Each buyer will also get access to the encrypted information about the artwork they purchased.

Richard Entrup, chief information officer at Christie’s, explained: “Our pilot collaboration with Artory is a first among the major global auction houses, and reflects growing interest within our industry to explore the benefits of secure digital registry via blockchain technology.”

The blockchain technology has been catching up to the complicated industries in the world. Nanne Dekking, CEO of Artory, explained the need for adopting new technologies, saying, “We are delighted to work with Christie’s on this industry-leading collaboration. As long-standing participants and business leaders within the global art market, the Artory team innately understands the needs of today’s art collectors and the broader desire within the industry to embrace new technologies that will help the marketplace evolve.”

The collaboration between Christie’s and Artory is seen as a much-needed development in the art industry. The art industry has been plagued with stolen, forged or misrepresented artworks. Recording the art purchases on the blockchain will help curb instances of stolen artworks. The Blockchain Art Collective (BAC) has been working towards presenting a tamper-proof seal to pieces of art to let others know that the information of that particular artwork had been registered on the blockchain. Hopefully, this will inspire trust and more confidence in the art industry.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Carrefour joins IBM Food Trust blockchain network

IBM has announced the commercial launch of its Food Trust blockchain network, with European supermarket giant Carrefour as its first major client.

After 18 months in testing, the Food Trust network is now available. So far, the ledger has been able to process 3 million transactions. Small to medium enterprises (SME) can buy a subscription to use the Food Trust, with prices ranging from $100 to $10,000 per month, depending on the size of the business.

IBM is working towards making food safe through a more transparent and efficient global food system. This is why the trust is focusing on reducing food waste, ensuring a more collaborative and transparent supply chain and optimizing the food supply. Participating retailers, food industry providers, service and technology providers can utilise IBM Food Trust APIs as well as hardware and software, and can also write transaction data directly on the blockchain network. With the Food Trust, companies in the food industry can run their businesses more effectively and provide safer food at lower costs.

Before switching to IBM, Carrefour had worked on its own blockchain for more than a year with its internal engineer teams. Now, Carrefour aims to spread IBM’s Food Trust blockchain solution to all its 1,200 stores in 33 countries by 2022.

Aside from Carrefour, other organizations joining the IBM Food Trust also include cooperative Topco Associates LLC, retailer-owned cooperative Wakefern, and suppliers like BeefChain, Dennick Fruit Source, Scoular, and Smithfield. Walmart, meanwhile, has been an early proponent of IBM’s blockchain technology and has announced that it will begin acquiring the use of the trust to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information.

Senior vice president of IBM Global Industries, Clients, Platforms and Blockchain, Bridget van Kralingen, explains what the Food Trust system aims to achieve. She says, “The currency of trust today is transparency and achieving it in the area of food safety happens when responsibility is shared.” She stated that the Food Trust project has shown that the blockchain can improve transparency and enhance food traceability, adding, “Ultimately that provides business benefits for participants and a better and safer product for consumers.”

Besides the Food Trust, IBM has another project up its sleeves. IBM will be focusing on shipping and global trade in a collaborative effort with Maersk. The two are working together on a flagship platform dubbed TradeLens. For now, Maersk is the only carrier onboard TradeLens; however, plans are ongoing to scale the platform. Ramesh Gopinath, vice president of IBM’s blockchain solutions, explained, “IBM Food Trust is making this big announcement; similarly, TradeLens will also have a commercial availability announcement. And at that point, I can guarantee you it will be in the same shape we are in here.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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First central bank-backed crypto exchange in Persian Gulf to launch in 2019

Middle East is about to get its first central bank-licensed cryptocurrency exchange, courtesy of Rain Financial. After spending a year in the Bahrain regulatory sandbox, where projects are monitored before they receive licenses, Rain is ready to launch in early 2019.

Rain Financial has already opened its public waiting list, CoinDesk reported. The company aims to offer an institutional platform similar to Coinbase Pro as well as a brokerage for retail crypto investors. The exchange was co-founded by Abdullah Almoaiqel, a blockchain consultant from Saudi, and Yehia Badawy, an Egyptian investor, along with their business partners Joseph Dallago and AJ Nelson.

Rain Financial will be the first cryptocurrency exchange of its kind in the Persian Gulf. The crypto market is not very popular in the region and only a few residents participate officially. Despite Dubai being a pioneer in blockchain-based smart city applications, there’s still a shadow of doubt hanging over cryptocurrency. However, Badawy noted that a lot of crypto investors in the region are waiting for the right regulations and partners to be put in place before investing. He told the crypto news outlet,

“We are here to fill this demand, with institutional-grade infrastructure.”

According to the Rain co-founder, the crypto exchange has spent months educating regulators about the standards it aims to follow such as the know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money-laundering (AML) standards applied by Western exchanges. The sandbox environment also allowed Rain to explain to the Central Bank of Bahrain how it would operate and how it aims to limit damages should something go wrong. Also, the exchange has teamed up with several banks, ensuring that it can support all local Gulf currencies.

Crypto experts believe that the chances of Rain’s platform succeeding are quite high. Khalid Saad, CEO of Bahrain Fintech Bay, told CoinDesk that Rain has a potential of becoming the first officially regulated crypto exchange in the region, noting that the startup is “the most advanced and the closest to graduating” from the regulatory sandbox.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Mayor reveals $108M plan for blockchain smart city in Seoul

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is planning to invest KRW123.3 billion ($108 million) to turn the South Korean capital into a blockchain-powered smart city, CoinDesk reported.

During his visit to Zurich, Park revealed his five-year Blockchain Urban Plan, which will cover 14 public services in five major areas—election voting, labour welfare, vehicle history management, donation management, and certification issuance.

According to the official, the technology can be utilized to protect part-time workers who are not covered by employment insurance. Park revealed his blockchain smart city plans several months after winning his re-election bid in June. It would be recalled that during the election campaign, Park made a commitment to support blockchain startups via the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and Mapo Seoul Startup Hub. He also promised to increase support for blockchain development in Seoul by developing the city’s Mapo district as a centre for blockchain incubation.

Park pointed the complexities the blockchain would solve for the metropolitan city, saying, “There are about 1.15 million people in Seoul who receive various welfare funds, like basic pensions, welfare support for those with disabilities and more. The paperwork can be complicated because one needs to submit information about one’s background and identification to various governmental agencies to receive welfare support.”

However, Park is confident that blockchain technology would pave the way for individuals to share their data securely and with less paperwork.

Seoul’s blockchain blueprint is also in line with the plans of the South Korean government. Earlier in June, the South Korean Ministry of ICT had announced that it would invest $9 million following years to lead blockchain adoption in six major public services. Park also revealed that his administration will spend an additional KRW60 billion ($53 million) by 2021 in building two complexes that will house 200 blockchain startups at the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and Mapo Seoul Startup Hub.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Energy-stealing crypto miner faces jail time in China

A man in China has been ordered to spend three years and six months behind bars over charges of mining cryptocurrency using stolen power from a local train station, local news outlets reported.

Authorities said Xu Xinghua, of Datong in China’s northern province of Shanxi, successfully mined 3.2 BTC—worth an estimated 120,000 yuan or $17,400)—as of April. His crypto mining operations, which involved 50 crypto miners and three electric fans, were allegedly powered by electricity stolen from one of the factories at the Kouquan Railway. Xu reportedly ran up an electricity bill of 104,000 yuan ($15,000), according to reports.

The Datong Railway Transport Court confiscated Xu’s mining rigs and also ordered him to pay the 100,000 yuan ($14,500) fine, cnBeta  reported. Xu was sentenced for his “miner theft case” last September 13.

Xu is the latest crypto-related case to have faced the wrath of the Chinese government, which has been relentlessly after crypto miners who it claims have been or are looking into illicitly using the country’s power supply. Recently, reports surfaced that China’s internet finance regulator, the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation, has ordered local governments to “guide” crypto mining operations into making an “orderly exit” from the business. This comes on the heels of reports that the Chinese government is looking at limiting electricity supply to crypto miners.

The regulations, however, have yet to stop illegal crypto mining operations in China. In April, six people were reported to have stolen electricity from their local power grid to mine cryptocurrency. Two months later, a man was arrested in Anhui province on charges of stealing power of 150MW and running a bill of 6,000 yuan ($930) daily. According to reports, the man’s mining operation included 200 computers, which he used to mine BTC and ETH.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Israel Securities Authority’s ‘Yael’ messenger now on blockchain

As part of its effort to improve security, the Israel Securities Authority has embedded blockchain technology in its messaging system, called Yael, The Times of Israel reported.

Taldor, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, developed the blockchain integration about three months ago. The ISA will now be able to prevent fraud and insiders trading and verify the authenticity and provenance of messages through the immutable blockchain.

By integrating the government messaging system with the blockchain tech, according to the ISA, ensures “the credibility of the information relayed to supervised bodies.” With blockchain, the messages’ authenticity are verified, thus preventing fraud and even from being edited or deleted.

The regulatory body also has plans to integrate blockchain to two other systems: Magna, an archive of reports of organisations supervised by ISA, and an online shareholder voting platform developed by the ISA that allows investors to participate in meetings wherever they are.

Natan Hershkovitz, director of the agency’s Information Systems Department explained, “Implementing blockchain technology in the ISA’s information systems makes it one of the global leading authorities in securing the information provided to the public.”

Israel’s interest in the blockchain technology is not new; the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Israel have been working together on a state-sponsored cryptocurrency as far back as February. In March, however, the ISA banned companies that primarily invested or mine cryptos from listing on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. This was done in a bid to protect investors, with the ISA promising that it would evaluate new tokens on use case basis.

According to Hershkovitz, “We are seeing a growing trend in the world in general and in the financial sector in particular of implementing innovative and groundbreaking technology.” He also explained that integrating the blockchain technology into the information systems of the ISA places it as “one of the world’s leading authorities in terms of the security and reliability of information that it passes to the public.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Air France-KLM turns to blockchain for help cutting customer cost

Air France-KLM is taking its customers’ interest to heart and seeking for a means to reduce cost. This time, the world’s fifth largest airline has partnered with blockchain-based travel booking firm Winding Tree as part of its effort to explore ways the blockchain could aid in cutting out the middle men and cutting down customers’ costs.

In a statement, Air France-KLM said it is looking for ways to provide “a more advantageous travel offer for customers”; however, it did not reveal the specifics of the partnership.

Sonia Barrière, EVP for strategy and innovation at Air France-KLM, explained that the company is making a move to integrate its services with blockchain technology to provide a more personalized—not to mention better—customer experience. She noted, “With blockchain technology, we aim to revolutionize exchanges within the travel industry for our customers, companies and startups.”

Air France-KLM is taking a cue from German flag carrier, Lufthansa, which has been in partnership with Winding Tree since 2017. Early this year, Lufthansa launched the “Aviation Blockchain Challenge” in partnership with the software giant SAP.This created an avenue for applicants to pitch ideas on how the blockchain can improve travel experience and operations. Aside from Lufthansa, other airlines in contract with Winding Tree include Air New Zealand, Swiss Air, Austria and Brussels Airlines, and Eurowings.

Iris Taguet, Air France-KLM’s head of blockchain program, explained that the airline had been experimenting with integrating its services with the blockchain since 2017. Taguet outlined that Air France-KLM is not just working in house, but also exploring external blockchain technology partners to experiment at the proof-of-concept level. The European airline is also working on integrating artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things.

Barrière revealed that Air France-KLM is dedicated to startups and will support the developments of Winding Tree’s B2B platform through testing and giving feedback on the technology. Pedro Anderson, co-founder and CEO of Winding Tree, listed some of the proposed hackathons that Air France-KLM and other partners will be testing, noting, “We’re not building ‘copycat’ solutions for each and every airline. Instead, we’re creating one open source solution on which everyone is working together.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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