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Bitcoin payment processor BitPay has released a wallet app for storing and spending bitcoin. The app marries BitPay’s experience in merchant payments with its tools for consumer bitcoin payments, providing new possibilities for bitcoin adoption and use.

Consumers and merchants worldwide have turned to bitcoin as an internet-friendly alternative to credit cards. Bitcoin provides a fast and secure way to transfer funds worldwide. It also offers a store of value or portfolio asset.

Security Marries Ease Of Use
Security and ease of use have rarely been combined in bitcoin’s early applications. Non-technical users have often been locked out of practical ways to use bitcoin. The BitPay app provides such an opportunity without compromising security or usability.
BitPay app users can convert bitcoin into dollars using the BitPay Visa Prepaid Debit Card and buy or sell bitcoin on exchanges. These integrations offer bitcoin users a way to bridge their traditional and digital finances without leaving BitPay.

User Keeps Control Of Funds
Most services offering such features require users to store bitcoin in company-managed accounts that are vulnerable to security breaches. BitPay app users, however, keep full control of their funds at all times with multi-device authentication, device-based private keys and simple fund backup flows. An onboarding flow and user education make secure storage of bitcoin accessible to bitcoin beginners.

“This app allows us to innovate within the bitcoin payment experience and bring new users and companies into the bitcoin ecosystem,” said Stephen Pair, BitPay CEO. “The BitPay app represents an important part of our continued work as a bitcoin payments leader.”

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MAS headquarters in Singapore.

Prominent enterprise blockchain startup R3 has collaborated with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to launch an exclusive blockchain lab in the country.

According to a press release, the ‘R3 Asia Lab’ will be the supported by the MAS – Singapore’s central bank and financial regulatory authority, to enable a collaborative effort between competing banks and financial institutions that focuses on blockchain-based solutions.

Furthermore, the R3 Asia Lab will also “accommodate visiting specialist DLT (distributed ledger technology) technologists, innovators and business leaders.” Picking Singapore as its base in Asia, R3’s move can be seen as the New York-based startup’s expansion effort to widen its presence in the continent.
In a statement, Sopnendu Mohanty, chief Fintech officer at Singapore’s central bank said:

Quote:The practical spin-offs from fundamental research in distributed ledgers and blockchains are beginning to be realized.

“MAS is pleased to collaborate with the financial industry through broad, international consortia such as R3,” he further stated, “to create and conduct rigorous experiments that will inform and encourage adoption of these advances.”

R3 added that the new lab will house a number of senior staff members of its own supported by business and technology experts. Furthermore, representatives of its member banks, of which there are over 70 across the world, will also participate under the common roof of the lab.

The laboratory will be based in Lattice80, the world’s biggest Fintech-exclusive space which, incidentally, opened its doors today (November 10). A 30,000-square-foot space, Lattice80 is located in Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD) and came to be realized with the help of the MAS.

A Fintech Destination
While companies like R3 and IBM continue to flock to Singapore for developing blockchain solutions, the country’s monetary authority is cementing Singapore’s status as a leading global Fintech hub.

Among several Fintech initiatives, the central bank recently partnered the Indian government, collaborating to develop blockchain solutions in the public sector. Within days, the MAS also revealed a partnership with South Korea for a similar endeavor.

The technology-forward country has also notably taken a bitcoin-friendly stance, with the cryptocurrency deemed “a sign of the future” by Singapore’s Prime Minister late last year.

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Last year Microsoft, ConsenSys, and BlockApps partnered together to offer the public a Blockchain as a Service (BaaS). Now BlockApps CEO Victor Wong has announced the BaaS protocol is now available for consumers based in China.

BlockApps Introduces China’s Blockchain as a Service

[img=156x0][/img]BlockApps Strato is a full-stack enterprise technology platform that enables users to create industry specific blockchain protocols. Founded in February 2015, the startup has built an application that provides customized distributed ledgers using the Ethereum blockchain.

BlockApps is compiled in the programming language Haskell and has been available on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. BlockApps CEO & founder Victor Wong recently revealed they will now introduce the Block Apps technology to China. The move to provide China a BaaS was bolstered by the joint effort of Microsoft and 21vianet.    

“Until very recently, one major market has always been missing, and that changes today.— Now for the first time, Chinese developers will be able to access the same tools as blockchain developers around the world. But that’s not all. It won’t only be on Microsoft Azure. It will be on all major Chinese clouds, from Tencent Cloud, Aliyun Cloud, to Wancloud,” said Wong.
Building a Vast Array of Blockchain Concepts

BlockApps wants programmers to quickly build a blockchain environment in minutes. This includes building a customized blockchain with the user’s specifications. BlockApps users have the turing-complete Ethereum protocol at their disposal as well as the ability to deploy smart contracts. Additionally, users can form their own consortium with other Strato nodes or the public Ethereum blockchain.

BlockApps CEO also detailed that over 1,000 projects have been built using a BaaS protocol. Fortune 500 companies and startups have been creating platforms that are changing finance, insurance, the supply chain, healthcare and more, added Wong. So far these projects have stemmed from fourteen different countries, and now China will be added to the list.
Fenbushi Capital and Wanxiang to Help Bolster BaaS in China

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BlockApps CEO Victor Wong

BlockApps now gives Chinese residents the ability to create, using these BaaS protocols. The company has been scaling its efforts and recently enabled Strato to those using OpenShift, Red Hat’s container application platform. In order to expand further in China, the startup is partnering with firms that are advocating these emerging technologies in the region.   

“In order to fuel our expansion globally, and in China, we wanted to work with the best. And so we worked with investors from Hong Kong, China, and the US led by Fenbushi Capital and the Wanxiang Group,” said Wong. “This has already led to us landing projects in China, including pilot production systems from Minsheng Insurance, Wanxiang Smart City, and Qianhai Smart City.”

BlockApps explains that by expanding into China with its scalable Ethereum compliant platform enterprises and startups can develop early Proof of Concepts (PoCs). These PoCs can then eventually scale into production-grade systems. BlockApps believes China will be a huge market for the BaaS solutions.   
“Now for the first time, we believe with a China BaaS, that China will become the largest blockchain market service in the world,” Wong explains.

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Across the United States, cannabis operations are now becoming common. However, cannabis business owners from fully-legalized states such as Washington and Colorado are having a hard time cashing in on their frowned-upon weed businesses. According to Motherboard, one Colorado hemp farmer is turning to bitcoin and teaching others how to leverage the decentralized currency.

Legal Cannabis Businesses Still Experience Discrimination

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Cannabis is legal in a couple of states now, but it’s not the “easy money” everyone thinks. In fact, in Colorado, many businesses have had a hard time dealing with large sums of cash, credit card services and PayPal. For more than a year now, merchants have been looking for a way to deposit significant amounts of money. However, the banking industry under the U.S. Federal Reserve wants nothing to do with cannabis money, because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.

Groups of people in Colorado have even tried to form their own marijuana credit union, but bureaucrats squashedthe effort. Furthermore, indirectly-related merchants are seeing their accounts frozen or shut down for dealing with cannabis-related sales. PayPal and credit card companies are infamous for censoring products and services they don’t approve of.

According to a recent Motherboard report, cannabis business owners are either opting out from using banks or lying about their operations. The article detailed that many business operators keep activities secret, but eventually these merchants are getting caught. One such person is Tim Cullen, owner of the Colorado Harvest Grow Op. When Wells Fargo figured out Cullen’s funds paid for cannabis operations, the banks shut his account down. The bank also closed the accounts of family members related to Cullen.
Bitcoin to the Rescue

Another cultivator who also had monetary issues is 38-year old Veronica Carpio, who works in the hemp farming business. Carpio, the first female dispensary owner in Colorado, has turned to bitcoin to escape the ongoing censorship. After using PayPal for her business operations, the payments processor closed her account and froze her money for six months. Carpio told Motherboard her situation during the CryptoCannabis Conference in Denver stating:

I had my PayPal account for many years for selling my hemp products and then they just decided to red flag.—Then it was a spiral after that, and everything got frozen—Amazon, Etsy. It’s kind of ironic because we want to do legitimate business, but we are forced to lie.

After realizing that PayPal could stunt her business operations, Carpio said she began to study blockchain technology and Bitcoin. Following this, she integrated Bitcoin into her operations using Mycelium for processing transactions. Carpio said it was easy to use Mycelium’s software and integrate Bitcoin into her shop’s infrastructure, but getting people to use the digital currency was a little harder.

The Creation of 1620 Solutions

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Veronica Carpio Hemp Farmer Turning To Bitcoin

After discovering Bitcoin’s censorship-resistant features, Carpio said it was still difficult for old school hemp farmers to understand. Some people had the notion that bitcoin was “illegal, imaginary and really doesn’t work,” Carpio told Motherboard. So Caprio took things further by co-founding an educational resource 1620 Solutions. The consulting operation details the many benefits of cryptocurrency such as no bank accounts required, no third parties, lower processing fees, and more. The platform has come up with a step-by-step solution for cannabis operations to integrate bitcoin.

Carpio’s co-founder Edgar Hamm, a biodynamic hemp farmer, believes 1620 Solutions is an excellent alternative to the cannabis banking problem. “If we’re going to move toward a future that is actually sustainable then we need to move towards things like bitcoin. It moves everything back to local,” Hamm explained.

With bitcoin, the future is bright because it offers a system that doesn’t judge businesses by their operations. The network runs 24/7 without a government, corporation, or boardroom controlling its transactions. Bitcoin is the peer-to-peer solution for the cannabis banking problem that takes the money out of the hands of central banks and bureaucrats. Thanks to individuals like Veronica Carpio, Edgar Hamm, and educational sources like 1620 Solutions, cannabis farmers can evolve their business operations and maintain their livelihood

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Leading PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) executive Seamus Cushley says $1.4 billion has been invested in blockchain startups so far this year. Cushley, director of fintech and digital at EMEA, will discuss blockchain’s evolution on November 8 at PwC’s Business Forum in Dublin.

Blockchain Is Becoming Popular Amongst All Sectors Within The Economy

[img=164x0][/img]According to a discussion with SiliconRepublic Cushley, the head of PwC’s blockchain lab in Belfast, says the blockchain phenomenon is growing. Distributed ledger prototypes and startups have created a wide range of applications that cover finance, healthcare, clearinghouse settlement, supply chain monitoring and more. Cushley will also discuss blockchain’s risks and benefits at the Business Forum event.

“Right now, organizations are studying how blockchain ledgers can be used to securely manage exchanges in everything from medical records, land registry holdings, digital identity and governments to even the sale of diamonds,” Cushley stated. “But when it comes to actual production, nothing at scale has happened yet as the banks are still investigating how they can best employ the technology.”

$1.4 Billion in Blockchain Investments Over Nine Months

Cushley explained banks will most likely use blockchain in the future. He says currently, people are on a journey of “fringe experimentation” with blockchain tech. Legacy institutions will shift from fear to respecting the experiment and some incumbents are in “the latter phase of that journey.”

There has been $1.4bn in blockchain investments in the last nine months which will give you a sense of the investment by mainstay brands.

“The challenge now is when, and not if, these technologies will start to take effect,” said the PwC executive. “But when blockchain comes to pass, the average man or woman on the street won’t know they are even using it.”

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Seamus Cushley

There have definitely been many investments in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space. This year’s notable funding rounds included Unocoin’s recent $1.5ml injection, Ripple Labs collecting $55ml, Circle Financial pulling in $60ml from Chinese investors, and more. Participating companies injecting large sums of funds into these startups include Wanxiang Holdings, Fenbushi Capital, Boost VC, the Digital Currency Group, Pantera Capital, Blockchain Capital, plus several more venture capitalists and legacy institutions.

PwC’s Own Blockchain Experimentation  

According to Cushley’s statements to SiliconRepublic, PwC has been working on ten proof of concepts. The London-headquartered multinational financial management network is also focused on blockchain solutions. Cushley explained the Bank of England tested one such prototype for digital asset assurance.
PwC also has its own investments in the blockchain space, plus a strategic partnership with Blockstream. Back in January Haskell S. Garfinkel, PWC’s fintech co-leader, said “For our clients, understanding new world applications of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, adapting it to myriad uses, and using it optimally are critical to improving financial security, efficiency, and compliance.”

The past nine months has seen a stream of funds targeting blockchain innovation. PwC is following this phenomenon as well as participating in its promotion. With $1.4 billion being funneled into digital currency and blockchain applications worldwide, the future looks promising.

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Recent events in the competitive Dota 2 community have raised questions about the integrity of eSports gaming organizations and how they treat their players, with a popular gamer claiming his team managers cheated him and other teammates out of hard-earned money.

This revelation is a nod to the concept of trust, and the ongoing discussion in the technology community on how best to remove the need for trusted third-parties from all aspects of sports, business and security.

One eSports startup, FirstBlood, believes the answer lies within the blockchain.

Dishonesty and Deception: How Do We Increase Transparency in eSports?

Team Secret rocked the eSports world in October when former Dota 2 team member Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao published a blog post accusing the organization of actions that led to team members not receiving money earned from tournaments and a live-streaming deal.

According to the post, the team’s managers did not provide players with contracts, and never followed through on promises of a US $12-15 thousand monthly salary after securing a streaming deal with PandaTV, a Chinese livestreaming website. Instead, Mao wrote that he received $8,000 for 3 months and nothing else, while the managers took 50 percent of the PandaTV money.

Mao also claimed that his Dota 2 team didn’t receive the full amount of its tournament winnings, with team managers secretly taking 10 percent of that money as well.
In total, according to Mao, Team Secret still owes him over $50,000, and owes a teammate a much larger sum of $182,000.
On top of the money, Mao claimed that Team Secret promised other items to the Dota 2 team, including new Nvidia GTX 1080 graphics cards, none of which allegedly ever came to fruition.

Thus far, Team Secret has not moved to confirm or deny the allegations. However, the organization did publish a post on October 18 that, while not explicitly mentioning the scandal, alluded to accusations of its poor treatment of players.

“We’re determined to provide our players with the care and support that they deserve,” the post stated, “whilst enabling them to share in the financial rewards from participating in some of the world’s largest tournaments.”
“There’s obviously a cost in providing that support.”

FirstBlood: Decentralize Trust, Do Away With Dishonesty

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FirstBlood Technologies head of business development Marco Cuesta said his company’s new platform solves the problems caused by dishonest gaming organizations through its decentralized platform.

Based on the Ethereum blockchain, FirstBlood’s platform removes the task of distributing match winnings from centralized team administrations and hands the responsibility to automated smart contracts.

“Our Witness Node Software automatically verifies game data,” Cuesta said, adding, it can integrate into any game title or platform as long as there is an API to support transmission of game data.

Once the system verifies match results, the money is automatically distributed to the winning individual or team — team managers don’t have a chance to sneak tournament money into their own pockets.  

And if teams or players disagree with the automated results, or try to lie about who won a match, FirstBlood has a decentralized method of dispute resolution, which they say rivals the efficiency of GameBattles.

“Our [dispute resolution system] is another first for the eSports industry,” Cuesta said.
Mao himself, in his blog post, expressed an industry-wide demand for such a product when he recalled discussions he had with a teammate about other eSports organizations exploiting their players.

FirstBlood’s platform will initially support League of Legends — a close cousin to Mao’s Dota 2 wheelhouse.
While the platform won’t be able to keep team managers honest when it comes to non-tournament income, players have a chance to secure a large portion of their eSports revenue on the blockchain.
The Road Ahead

FirstBlood’s sale was a success, kicking off in late September to a one-day haul of over US $5.5 million in a matter of minutes.
Following the sale, the FirstBlood team got back to work on the matchmaking system, preparing for an alpha launch this December as part of a semi-private test phase.
To participate in the alpha, individuals must sign up on FirstBlood’s Slack channel and its official site. Alpha testers will get to compete with each other on a TestNet version of the platform, on a to-be-determined PC game.  

The team told EconoTimes that the platform’s MainNet is expected to launch during the beta phase, the start date for which has not yet been disclosed.
Looking to the horizon at FirstBlood’s full launch and subsequent progression, Cuesta said it may consider adding console titles to the platform, but will focus on PC games in the short-term.

“This [PC] market has been developing for a while and there’s more of a culture around it as well,” Cuesta told EconoTimes. “But the option always exists for us to put on console games.”

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A “case study event” in Hong Kong this month will look at blockchain’s potential to solve problems in the global freight shipping industry. The November 24 event, titled “Chain of Shipping,” will take place as part of Hong Kong Maritime Industry Week.

Shipping: Paper and Digital Threats to a Massive Industry

[img=300x0][/img]The shipping industry still relies heavily on paper documentation. As a result, it suffers from quality control issues, document fraud and expensive dispute arbitration. Even as various segments of the industry become digitized and accessible online, it faces the new threat of cyber-attacks.

There’s a lot at stake: Even last decade, liner freight made up two-thirds of all global trade. Additionally, it employed 13.5 million people and moved $4 trillion worth of goods in 2007 alone.

Hong Kong-based blockchain and Internet of Things (IoT) startup Chain of Things is hosting the November event. Additionally, it has endorsement from government tech accelerators Hong Kong Cyberport and the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.

Chain of Things director Hans Lombardo told that running the shipping industry on blockchain-based contracts could save huge amounts of money.

“Fraudulent shipping document costs the shipping industry billions in losses. It is difficult to know exact numbers on fraud because it is so widespread. One of the problems is that 80 percent of shipping documentation like ‘bills of lading’ is still in paper form.”

Fraud cases typically involve cargo theft and mislabeling of contents for the purposes of deceiving buyers or smuggling illegal goods.

Combining Smart Contracts With IoT Technology

Chain of Things wants to combat such misdeeds by combining smart contracts and IoT sensor devices. The company will discuss its case study plan at one session of the Hong Kong shipping event.

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It will look at ways to install sensor devices in containers or ships, which will “collect data on the conditions of shipments and share that data in real-time to relevant parties and inform the smart contract, called a ‘Smart Bill of Lading.'”

These two technologies working in tandem would detect issues with cargo from early in a shipment. Moreover, the contracts could even self-execute to refund a damaged party without the need for litigation or any human intervention.

Chain of Things says it’s aware not all problems are so straightforward, so intends its case study event in part to discuss how useful its solutions could be. The conversation it starts could also bring forth other ways to make shipping more efficient and transparent.

Next Steps, and Choosing a Platform

From there, the company will begin to work on its next steps — including the best blockchain platform for purpose.
“We are currently using an Ethereum private node on Microsoft’s Azure for experimentation,” Lombardo added. “The case study is examining whether this will be suitable as private or public blockchain system.”

Chain of Things hopes to attract both technologists and shipping/logistics industry participants to its one-day event. There, session speakers will explain each other’s relevant issues and terminology.

Other partners of the Chain of Things’ event also include: Women’s International Shipping & Trade Association (WISTA), Young Professionals in Shipping Network (YPSN), Jen Advisors, Bolero, PwC and the Infiniti Lab. Event registrations are here.

Can smart contracts and IoT save billions for the shipping industry? What’s the best platform? Let’s hear your opinions.

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[Image: bitcoin_com_developments_fe-640x480.jpg] has been steadily expanding our resources to spread adoption and to tell the world the many benefits of a decentralized cryptocurrency. Now we’ve decided to kick it up a notch by adding a variety of new features to our portal. aims to be the go-to premier destination for all things Bitcoin.

Introducing Widgets & Tools

Our dedicated Bitcoin portal covers a broad array of tools and materials for people to grasp the evolving cryptocurrency industry. We have created multiple sections of the site that keep people informed of the price per BTC, the latest news headlines, and a forum to discuss this emerging technology. Now to keep up with the pace of this ever-changing ecosystem we’ve launched our widgets service.

A few examples of embeddable widgets

The new widget service allows anyone to embed informative widgets on their website. Our widgets are pretty cool and can be customized by size and color. The widgets include a price widget, price and graph, price and news, forum threads, and even a widget dedicated to our mining pool which displays our hash power.
Additionally, we’ve decided to ramp up our tools section which also offers a variety of useful Bitcoin-related applications. Tools include a price converter, paper wallet generator, faucet, and verifier to validate messages using the Bitcoin blockchain. We are pretty excited to introduce these new widgets and tools so our visitors have the best resources to navigate the Bitcoin landscape.

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Bitcoinocracy Platform Joins

Last year an open source experiment called Bitcoinocracy was launched to create a transparent voting system. The project focuses on determining truth backed by monetary value and transparency. has just acquired Bitcoinocracy, and we have rebranded the project to Users simply sign a statement with a non-empty Bitcoin address and express their opinions.

For instance, a user can assert that they believe a certain development should take place within the Bitcoin code. After submitting, the user will see if the economy supports the statement, and the results are verifiable with blockchain signatures. With this feature, offers a free and transparent voting mechanism to facilitate decentralized decision-making in the Bitcoin ecosystem.

“Despite the fact that the holders of over 100,000 BTC left cryptographically verifiable signatures to express their views at Bitcoinocracy, the project was in a dormant state until Roger Ver contacted me. I am happy that it will be actively developed and used to better serve the community, I am sure it is in good hands now,” said Bitcoinocracy founder Arsen Gasparyan.
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Continuing to Bolster the Bitcoin Environment

The people who work for are very passionate about this growing landscape of technological innovation. Our team of news reporters, our store, and our website developers are very pleased with what we have created. Our primary intentions are to provide the best possible experience for cryptocurrency enthusiasts both new and old. will continue to be a premier portal that encompasses the entire Bitcoin environment. Make sure you tell all your friends and family members where to go when it comes to Bitcoin resources, because we have them. And if there is something Bitcoin-related you think our website needs, let us know. We are always interested in feedback.

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Unocoin, one of India’s leading Bitcoin companies, has just unveiled its first Application Programming Interface (API) release. The company is providing the API to help curate the cryptocurrency market within India.

Unocoin Releases Application Programming Interface for Startups and Entrepreneurs

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Unocoin co-founder and CEO, Sathvik Vishwanath
Unocoin has been expanding its operations following a $1.5 million funding round — an Indian national record. The company said it released its API so companies can take advantage of its services set. Unocoin’s API provides the ability for individuals to create bitcoin wallets, buy and sell, retrieve real-time or historical price information, and more.

The company says it is experiencing “unprecedented growth”, hiring more than thirty employees and servicing over 100,000 customers. It has rigorously tested the API among its Indian clientele. Furthermore, the API has been an integral asset to businesses such as Paycase, a Canadian remittance service. Unocoin co-founder and CEO, Sathvik Vishwanath stated during the announcement:

Our API is the engine powering our mobile apps, through which customers will be able to store and spend bitcoin on the go, and also be able to buy bitcoin with just a click of a button.
“We’ve been excited to develop a robust API for use by companies around the world. Our API is best described as an on-ramp for firms looking for a simple way to gain entry into one of the world’s fastest growing and largest potential markets,” Vishwanath added. “Our team has been working non-stop prior to and during our Pre-Series A round to provide the most reliable, full-featured API, but one that, most importantly, is incredibly easy to adopt.”

Unocoin’s API Enables Efficient and Low-Cost Transactions from Canada to India  
Paycase is utilizing Unocoin’s API
Unocoin said the custom API can plug into any company’s software worldwide. This allows users to tap directly into the Indian Bitcoin market and remittance industry, which is estimated to be worth $100 billion USD. India is considered the world capital of remittance, with a significantly large gold and IT economy. In order to assist Unocoin’s fast and low-cost cross-border transactions, the firm is working with Blockstream’s Liquid network. Paycase is currently utilizing the network and Unocoin API to enable quicker transactions from Canada to India.
Paycase says users have experimented with its “protocol-agnostic transfer routing system” across twenty countries worldwide. It says that the protocol is significantly more efficient than the traditional SWIFT network. According to Paycase, over the course of six months in beta, the platform completed $50,000 worth of micro-transactions from Canada to the Philippines. The average cost was 60-80% lower than incumbent remittance businesses.

“Our work with Unocoin shows both company’s long-term dedication to one another, in strategically partnering to take bitcoin and Blockchain powered remittances and cross-border transfer to the mass market,” said Paycase Co-founder and CEO Joseph Weinberg. “We have worked together from Canada and India to establish the technical, regulatory, and business logic needed to enable Canadian dollar to Indian rupee money transfer with bitcoin efficiencies in place. With the API, experience, and infrastructure in place, we can now scale this model beyond our current corridors and into the promising Indian market.”
Non-Stop Commitment Towards Growth and Expansion
Since Unocoin’s Pre-Series A round led by Blume Ventures, the Digital Currency Group, Boost VC, BankToTheFuture and many others, the startup aims to progress further. The firm recently released its iOS application and an Android version is on the way. Additionally, the company launched a merchant point-of-sale (POS) platform and has also made solid partnerships with NETKI, Blockstream, and
Bitcoin growth in India has been quite vast, according to the Hindustantimes. Other operations such as Zebpay and Coinsecure are also making headway in the region. Unocoin hopes its latest API release helps companies and developers worldwide to tap this fertile Indian Bitcoin economy.

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The Australian-based online travel service Webjet provides customers with airline tickets, car rentals, and insurance packages. Recently the company announced a partnership with Microsoft that aims to provide a blockchain solution to improve the travel industry.

Webjet & Microsoft Build Blockchain Proof-of-Concept

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The travel company Webjet revealed it has built a blockchain proof-of-concept (PoC) with the multinational technology company Microsoft. The companies claim the platform could “transform” the travel industry and hotel booking process. Webjet manages thousands of daily bookings, and hopes blockchain technology can add “efficiencies” to traditional methods.   

Webjet and Microsoft say the PoC is the first of its kind in the travel industry. The firms say this technology has the potential to create a “new industry standard” and possibly inspire other companies. Moreover, they claim the project will streamline payments, remove counterparty risk, boost data security, and resolve certain friction points in the travel sector.

“Globally, hotel room wholesaling is a hundred-billion-dollar marketplace. Every day there are millions of transactions taking place and a single hotel stay could involve five or more transactions in the distribution chain,” explained Webjet managing director John Guscic.
“The marketplace can be prone to data discrepancies due to the volume of bookings passing through multiple systems. Between five and 10 percent of bookings can be impacted or, in other words, up to 10 billion dollars’ worth of transactions.”

The Three Stages of Webjet’s Blockchain Solution

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The Webjet PoC was built using the Microsoft Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) Azure platform. It is being deployed in three stages. The first will be testing the PoC model between Sun hotels and Lots of Hotels brands. Secondly, Webjet will trial the blockchain’s automation and process thousands of transactions weekly. Following this, the third phase will be allowing Sun hotels and Lots of Hotels to test with other companies within the travel industry.
“By working with Webjet to use our digital platform, together we have created an innovative blockchain solution in Australia that has the potential to not only transform the travel industry but many other industries as well,” explained Microsoft Azure CTO, Mark Russinovich.

The blockchain PoC between the two companies utilizes smart contracts to resolve issues created by data mismatches. Developers have found the platform can “create shared, independent, trustworthy documents.” Additionally, the application is said to ensure customers satisfaction with significantly reduced reconciliation costs and errors. Guscic said the prototype eliminates transaction errors by using a protocol based on an “indisputable record of truth.”

Removing Intermediaries and Improving Travel Supply Chain Efficiency

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John Guscic, Managing Director at Webjet

Webjet has been working on the project for six months and believes the PoC can eliminate many errors in the travel booking supply chain. John Guscic told The Australian Financial Review a distributed ledger process could remove many of the unnecessary intermediaries who pass information. “The dirty secret of the global hotel industry is that roughly one in 25 transactions globally end up with breakage where someone provides a service and doesn’t get paid for it, which is an enormous number,” said Guscic.

Many industry sectors globally continue to test blockchain technology. The travel industry is just one of the many markets experimenting with these innovative protocols. Webjet believes, with Microsoft partnership, it can build a platform that evolves travel booking for the better.
Webjet said that as it tested the prototype it quickly realized the technology doesn’t just benefit the company. The application can also give perks to industry partners and improve the efficiency of the entire travel supply chain.     

What do you think about Webjet and Microsoft building a travel industry-related blockchain? Let us know in the comments below.

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India is now the second biggest user of’s ‘Bitcoin Amazon’ as sweeping changes take effect over the country’s currency, the rupee.
Also read: India’s Law Enforcement Probes Dark Net Markets

Cash Removals ‘Strengthening the Common Man’

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PM Narendra Modi

In a televised speech, Prime inister Narendra Modi declared this week that larger-denomination rupee bills, specifically 500 ($7.50) and 1000 ($15) rupees, would no longer be legal tender as of November 8.

“This step will strengthen the hands of the common man in the fight against corruption, black money and fake currency,” he said.
India has long suffered from the effects of corruption, particularly at government level. Modi has attributed the economy’s ill health specifically to this so-called “black money.”

“The five hundred and thousand rupee notes hoarded by anti-national and anti-social elements will become just worthless pieces of paper. The rights and the interests of honest, hard-working people will be fully protected,” he continued.

The decision came as a surprise to many, with the notes losing their official value just hours after Modi made the announcement. Holders of the notes have until December 30 to cash them in at banks or post offices “without limit.”

Modi also recapped on additional moves to monitor banking transactions and international partnerships aimed at cracking down on corrupt money transfers. As a largely cash-based society, however, it is unclear how the sudden reshaping will affect India’s swathes of unbanked people.
“Secrecy was essential for this action,” Modi explained.
India Racing Up BTC Charts

The nature of Indian commerce at non-official level, dealing in cash and mobile-based micropayments, has made it fertile ground for Bitcoin startups.
Kenya is often referred to as the African success story due to its leapfrogging traditional banking penetration. Likewise, India is already showing huge potential for bitcoin to empower citizens. previously reported on local exchange Coinsecure’s pioneering real-time app, which seeks to cater to bitcoin holders of all levels, as well as efforts by Unocoin to offer Amazon purchases to unbanked shoppers.
Now, Unocoin partner reports that India holds second place in the number of users making bitcoin purchases through its Amazon discount service.
“We’re happy to see India at #2,” the company tweeted Tuesday.

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Meanwhile, in line with many markets around the world, India witnessed increased bitcoin trading ahead of the US election.
“There is uncertainty over who will win the election and what impact they will have. It is definitely going to increase the value of bitcoin, with chances that the figure may cross $850,” one Mumbai portfolio manager told local news resource The Economic Times in the lead-up to the vote.
Rupee trading on Localbitcoins has also showed steady growth over the past year.
What do you think about India’s monetary policy change? Are you there and using Bitcoin? Let us know your perspective in the comments section below.

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A blockchain is precisely designed to solve the problem that arises when the sharing economy attempts to expand its  system for recording and enforcing who owns what when the thing being owned is granular and fast-moving, a programmer, blockchain expert and widely known economics blogger, has told The Guardian.

Steve Randy Waldman says blockchain is a different way of keeping track of a normative set of information, making the storage of information in multiple copies and distributed across all the nodes of a network instead of in one central location – the county records office, say, or Airbnb’s database.
Uber and Airbnb are two of the few “sharing” startups that have hit it big. They represent the sharing economy which made it possible for smartphones to give consumers seeking new ways to save and workers looking for new ways to earn new ways to transact. They disrupted the slow ownership system under capitalism’s core requirements in a stable property regime. Ownership of real estate is recorded by a county records office; owned cars recorded by a state agency. These involve a lot of paperwork and labor on its own. Enforcing ownership requires more paperwork and labor.

Yet, the high fixed costs of the traditional property regime presents the sharing economy with certain challenges. As a result, sharing companies end up keeping necessary information themselves: a database at Airbnb or Zipcar holds the record of rentals instead of the government. These databases require plenty of labor of their own to build and maintain.

There comes the smart contract which gives blockchain the power to not only record property rights but enforce them. Once deployed, a dozen lines of computer code can fulfill the same role as the county records office, the courts and the police. Waldman explains: You can have “the function of a trusted bureaucracy without the expense of putting together a trusted bureaucracy.” You can also cut out the middleman who extracts a fee for coordinating the transaction: theoretically, your home rental could now involve only the homeowner and the renter, bypassing Airbnb.

Blockchain is viewed as capable of helping to democratize the sharing economy by making it cheaper to create and operate a platform. It could enable what a company such as Uber does to coordinate a transaction be performed by self-executing smart contracts while others could be performed at lower cost by a variety of small competing providers.

This might make it easier for workers to form cooperatives that have the capacity to compete against the VC-backed behemoths that dominate the sharing economy which could result in something resembling the “socialized Uber” proposed by economist Mike Konzcal: a viable worker-owned alternative, run for the benefit of the people who actually perform the work and not for a handful of rich investors.

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Bitcoin blockchain-centric P2P Fintech firm Circle has now added support for bitcoin buying and selling in several European countries beyond the UK.

Six months after bitcoin exchange and services firm Circle saw an electronic money license granted by the British government, the company is pushing on to other countries in Europe.

Users from sixteen countries including the likes of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain will now be able to link their Euro-based credit and debit cards. Notably, there are no fees for buying bitcoin with debit cards, making Circle stand out in a growing list of global digital currency exchanges extending support to Europe.

Furthermore, 9 out of the 16 countries will enable its users to hold Euros, as well as bitcoin, in their Circle accounts. A complete list of supported countries can be found here.

The feature comes during the days following the European Central Bank pushed for tighter controls on bitcoin across the European Union, urging its members to explicitly state that the cryptocurrency cannot be considered a legal currency, or money.

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The European Central Bank isn’t thrilled about Bitcoin.

Earlier this year in April 2016, Circle was granted an electronic money license by Financial Conduct Authority, Britain’s primary financial regulator. The official license was in itself a milestone for the bitcoin industry. With it, US-based Circle enabled US and UK consumers to transmit value in sterling pound or U.S. dollars, over the bitcoin blockchain.

Incidentally, Circle was also the first bitcoin company to receive the state of New York’sfirst-ever BitLicense, in November 2015. The well-funded Fintech startup continues to advocate for the development of public blockchains over the frenzied rush among the financial industry to develop private, permissioned blockchain solutions.
In an earlier blog, Circle’s co-founders stated:

Quote:We’d be thrilled if everyone in the world enjoyed Circle, but people benefit most if Circle is part of an open global network of value exchange with thousands of other software providers, online services, and financial institutions who are connecting to and innovating on public blockchains.

Circle’s global expansion plan received a boost in mid-2016, when the bitcoin startup completed a $60 million round of funding in China.

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Indian bitcoin exchange Coinsecure has launched a mobile app that facilitates real-time bitcoin trading on-to-go in a country that is seeing an increasing number of adopters of the cryptocurrency.

Indian bitcoin users on Android will now be able to trade and exchange bitcoin on-the-go via a mobile application. The application also displays live order books, facilitating users to place their bids and asks, check pending orders and withdraw or deposit funds among other features.

The app will remain easy to navigate for bitcoin beginners, despite seeing traders as its target, the exchange adds. The launch of the bitcoin trading app in a growing tech-savvy economy like India is a no-brainer, with Coinsecure founder and CEO Mohit Kalra adding:

Quote:With over 190 million smartphone users in India, putting a technology so disruptive like Bitcoin in their hands is a win-win situation.

In a significant and recent move, Coinsecure formed a partnership with global remittance platform OKLink – a spinoff of major Chinese bitcoin exchange OkCoin. The move is seen to take a slice of the massive Indian remittance market. With 72 billion in remittances received in 2015, India is the largest receiver of remittance in the world. The partnership is expected to bring faster cross-border remittance solutions over a blockchain platform. Besides being quicker and more efficient, the partnership is expected to bring down remittance costs from the industry average of 3%-5% to 0.5%.

There is also a notable increase in competition among bitcoin exchanges and wallet services in the country. Late September saw bitcoin exchange Unocoin raise a record $1.5 million in funding through a number of regional and international investors. Within a fortnight, Indian bitcoin wallet Zebpay hinted that it was looking to raise $5 million in funding by the end of 2016.
The heightened interest and publicity for Indian bitcoin exchanges comes during the weeks leading up to the biggest annual shopping binge in India, in preparation for the Hindu festival of Diwali. E-commerce giants like Amazon India and Flipkart are investing billions for a slice of the burgeoning online sales market in the country. Morgan Stanley predicts the Indian online shopping industry to reach sales of $100 billion by 2020, which leaves plenty of room for bitcoin companies to play their part in pushing a country with theworld’s largest youth population toward bitcoin adoption.

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Blockchain technology provides information sharing with high transparency and reliability, without management by a specific trusted organization. Financial trading applications, however, have operational issues related to safely executing trades, such as key management. Document management applications bring issues in creating a system that limits which people are allowed to reference information recorded in the blockchain.

Fujitsu Laboratories of America, Inc. and Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. have developed blockchain-based technologies to securely handle confidential data among multiple organizations.

Fujitsu: Two Technologies
Fujitsu Laboratories has developed two technologies: a transaction restriction technology based on pre-established policies that restrict trading, and a document encryption technology that allows only parties holding multiple distributed keys to access information recorded in the distributed ledger.

With transaction restriction technology, operations that prevent the misuse of keys become possible, allowing the safer use of the blockchain.

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Encryption over blockchain.
With document encryption technology, it is possible to create a workflow in which documents are acknowledged by collective decision making or among specified organizations, or where they can be restored when keys are lost. The application of these security technologies will allow Fujitsu Laboratories to take blockchain’s application beyond finance to more areas, such as document management, supply chain and logistics.

Blockchain technology offers high reliability and tran
sparency by continually preserving transaction records by multiple computers that verify and record data, making it virtually impossible to alter.

Transparency Versus Privacy
In a blockchain, each user needs a digital key to execute exchanges or transactions. If the key is lost, it is impossible to transfer funds. If a key is stolen, the funds in an account can be stolen.
To enable transparency, it is sometimes necessary to publicize a transaction between organizations, while keeping transaction’s details secret and shared only among the parties involved. The fact that blockchain records are shared with all users presents a challenge in how to protect the confidentiality of information.

Transaction Restriction
Fujitsu Laboratories has created a technology that restricts transactions based on pre-established policies, like restricting users to specific stores when executing transactions. The technology ties policies to keys used in activities such as capital transfers. It ensures that transactions violating policy requirements are not added to the blockchain as a result of verification failures at computers participating in the blockchain. This makes it possible to minimize damage even if a key is stolen.
Document Encryption
Because blockchain content is public, the technology is not suited to store documents which contain confidential information.
Fujitsu Laboratories has applied a proprietary sharing-based key management system that documents encryption. Different portions of a key are held by multiple users. Once a certain number of pieces are gathered, a key can be created.
This document encryption technology can control who sees the documents. The confidential portions of the contracts are not visible to ordinary users. The document can only be read when the parties involved, holding portions of the key, work together.

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Fujitsu Laboratories has developed such a prototype system on the Hyperledger, an open source blockchain platform.
Fujitsu Laboratories is conducting trials for applying blockchain technology to finance and other areas as a cloud platform that can securely manage confidential information and personal data among organizations. The company aims to commercialize this technology beginning in fiscal 2017.

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