When Worlds Collide: Blockchain and Master Data Management

Master Data Management (MDM) is an approach to the management of golden records that has been around over a decade only to find a growth spurt lately as some organizations are exceeding pain thresholds in the management of common data. Blockchain has a slightly shorter history, coming aboard with bitcoin, but also is seeing its revolution these days as data gets distributed far and wide and trust has taken center stage in business relationships.  
Volumes could be written about each on its own, and given that most organizations still have a way to go with each discipline, that might be appropriate. However, good ideas wait for no one and today’s idea is MDM on Blockchain.
Thinking back over our MDM implementations over the years, it is easy to see the data distribution network becoming wider. As a matter of fact, master data distribution is usually the most time-intensive and unwieldy part of an MDM implementation anymore. The blockchain removes overhead, costs and unreliability from authenticated peer-to-peer network partner transactions involving data exchange. It can support one of the big challenges of MDM with governed, bi-directional synchronization of master data between the blockchain and enterprise MDM.
Another core MDM challenge is arriving at the “single version of the truth”. It’s elusive even with MDM because everyone must tacitly agree to the process used to instantiate the data in the first place. While many MDM practitioners go to great lengths to utilize the data rules from a data governance process, it is still a process subject to criticism. The consensus that blockchain can achieve is a governance proxy for that elusive “single version of the truth” by achieving group consensus for trust as well as full lineage of data.
Blockchain enables the major components and tackles the major challenges in MDM.
Blockchain provides a distributed database, as opposed to a centralized hub, that can store data that is certified, and for perpetuity. By storing timestamped and linked blocks, the blockchain is unalterable and permanent. Though not for low latency transactions yet, transactions involving master data, such as financial settlements, are ideal for blockchain and can be sped up by an order of magnitude since blockchain removes the grist in a normal process.
Blockchain uses pre-defined rules that act as gatekeepers of data quality and governs the way in which data is utilized. Blockchains can be deployed publicly (like bitcoin) or internally (like an implementation of Hyperledger). There could be a blockchain per subject area (like customer or product) in the implementation. MDM will begin by utilizing these internal blockchain networks, also known as Distributed Ledger Technology, though utilization of public blockchains are inevitable.
A shared master data ledger beyond company boundaries can, for example, contain common and agreed master data including public company information and common contract clauses with only counterparties able to see the content and destination of the communication.
Hyperledger is quickly becoming the standard for open source blockchain. Hyperledger is hosted by The Linux Foundation. IBM, with the Hyperledger Fabric, is establishing the framework for blockchain in the enterprise. Supporting master data management with a programmable interface for confidential transactions over a permissioned network is becoming a key inflection point for blockchain and Hyperledger.
Data management is about right data at the right time and master data is fundamental to great data management, which is why centralized approaches like the discipline of master data management has taken center stage. MDM can utilize the blockchain for distribution and governance and blockchain can clearly utilize the great master data produced by MDM. Blockchain data needs data governance like any data. This data actually needs it more given its importance on the network.
MDM and blockchain are going to be intertwined now. It enables the key components of establishing and distributing the single version of the truth of data. Blockchain enables trusted, governed data. It integrates this data across broad networks. It prevents duplication and provides data lineage.
It will start in MDM in niches that demand these traits such as financial, insurance and government data. You can get to know the customer better with native fuzzy search and matching in the blockchain. You can track provenance, ownership, relationship and lineage of assets, do trade/channel finance and post-trade reconciliation/settlement.
Blockchain is now a disruption vector for MDM. MDM vendors need to be at least blockchain-aware today, creating the ability for blockchain integration in the near future, such as what IBM InfoSphere Master Data Management is doing this year. Others will lose ground.

Expectation Versus Reality: Are boardrooms blocking digital revolutions?

There’s a heck of a lot of new technology available in the market. From artificial intelligence to blockchain, companies are inundated with new tools and solutions that promise to revolutionize aspects of their business they didn’t even know could be (or needed to be) improved. For executives facing intense pressure to keep up with the latest technology trends to remain competitive, figuring out what the true value is, versus more noise, is a daunting task. And unfortunately, this is leaving many companies to decide to stick with the status quo – so they’re falling behind.
A new survey by Gartner found that 91 percent of companies still haven’t reached a “transformational” level of maturity in data and analytics, despite this having been the number one priority for CIOs in recent years. As most businesses have not yet been able to fully implement and reap ROI for data analytics, which is the foundation of popular technologies like AI and machine learning, it’s clear these new tools still have a long way to go before they exit the ‘hype’ cycle and enter into operational reality.
But while the board may evangelize these major technology initiatives, what they need to realize is that these major digital disruptions are a long term strategy that require ongoing thought, planning and incremental tech investments. Simply having an end-goal to make AI a reality in your business to reap the many benefits it presents won’t necessarily get you there. Today, there are smaller tech trends that are fully operational and promise to bridge to the future. One such example is automation.
While not as sexy or media worthy as AI in grabbing business news headlines, software robots today can perform a lot of the repetitive and time consuming business tasks across departments with faster speed, accuracy, and ROI –  directly benefiting the bottom line.
But any business automation roll out has to start from the top. It requires careful planning and backing from the board in order for the c-suite to correctly navigate the changes it brings – operationally, culturally and technologically.
Here are three ways that the boardroom can break out of old habits and bring on the digital revolution.
Remove the bottlenecks
It’s clear that automation is at or near the top of the priority list, and the C-suite is beginning to reflect this.  According to a survey by KPMG, 25 percent of enterprises worldwide now have a Chief Digital Officer to lead this change.
However, the CDO has a long road ahead of them. A recent survey revealed that in 74 percent of organizations, automation is only being implemented by the IT department. Unfortunately, that’s a recipe for failure. On average, 25 percent of technology projects fail, and many more show little return on investment or need significant alteration to be successful. Often, it’s because IT projects are simply that: IT projects.
Automation isn’t just an IT function; it’s a function of the entire business, which means that a top-down leadership approach is critical to success. For IT leaders, getting C-suite buy-in from the very beginning not only establishes overarching business goals, it cements the project scope and removes potential bottlenecks or silos.
Be a champion
As the technology revolution continues, more and more business leaders are finding themselves boasting a new title: digital champion. A recent survey found that 68 percent of executives believe their CEOs are “digital champions,” up from 33 percent just ten years ago. It is clear organizations have come a long way, but there’s still a ways to go.
Today, those in senior positions must take the lead in the robotic revolution, and not just on the project scope. To spur true change, leaders must foster a culture that not only understands automation technology, but openly accepts it as necessary to carry out business functions. When business leaders evangelize the benefits on both an executive and employee level from the very beginning, it removes the fear of the unknown, allowing for open dialogue and communication across all departments.
Fan it out
With recent news reporting that a one third of jobs will be automated by 2030, a common concern for the human workforce is that robots are coming to steal their jobs. However, that’s simply not the case. Automation isn’t a threat; it’s an enabler. And, for employees who are mired in manual work, it will be a breath of fresh air. With effective leadership, employees can recognize the opportunity and shift attitudes towards incoming technology.
As the need for automation increases, business leaders can’t make decisions in a vacuum. Instead of simply swapping humans for robots, the C-suite must solicit feedback from the employees who will be affected by automation and look for ways to retrain or repurpose roles and duties. By focusing on the high-level strategic activities that require empathy and communication and giving them a say in designing new responsibilities, employees can bring real value to the business while feeling safe and secure in the midst of change.  
The business world is transforming, and technology is driving business objectives faster than ever before. There are a number of benefits to implementing automation, but it’s up to the C-suite to design a plan that allows the business to maximize return on investment. As with any new deployment, success starts in the boardroom.
by Dennis Walsh, President, Americas & APAC, Redwood Software

Dennis Walsh is responsible for operations of Redwood Software in North America, LATAM, South America as well as Asia Pacific. Walsh combines his business background and years in the software and services industry to successfully solve some of the most challenging IT and business automation issues.

How Regulation Will Unlock A New Crypto-Boom

Regulation is quickly becoming a hot topic in the crypto-world.
The unregulated, “Wild West” environment of the crypto market left investors wide open to fraudsters, scammers, and shady firms out to make a quick buck.
The technology of blockchain and Bitcoin is here to stay. But to bring value to investors, it’s going to need tighter rules and more responsible companies with their eyes on the future.
The crypto market, worth $450 billion, won’t disappear overnight. The next step will be figuring out how to establish rules, expectations and regulations for making the market work smoothly.
And one company is positioned to meet that need: Hashchain Technology Inc. (TSX:KASH.V; OTC:HSSHF)
This is a blockchain company that can do it all: mine coins, diversify investment in a variety of different crypto-currencies, and navigate the crypto marketplace.
But KASH is going a step further: it’s working on proprietary methods and new technologies to make compliance with new regulations easier.
At a time when state agencies are cracking down on the free-for-all within the crypto world, KASH is set to making earnings from crypto-currencies regulation.
Here’s five reasons to take a strong look at Hashchain Technology Inc.:
#1 Order to Chaos
Last year, Bitcoin and blockchain was on everyone’s mind. The value of crypto-currencies was shooting through the roof, and everyone wanted in on the action.
Major papers ran multiple stories trying to explain what cryptos were, how the blockchain worked to facilitate crypto transactions without middle-men, and investors were offered dozens of opportunities to buy into new cryptos through initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Now, the view is a bit different.
Governments, banks and investors are all worried that the frenzy over Bitcoin and other cryptos was fed by fraud.
South Korea and China began considering bans on crypto mining, which is immensely energy-intensive and difficult to monitor. South Korea specifically wants to start licensing crypto-currency exchanges to bring trading under closer surveillance, in order to prevent fraud.
Authorities in the U.S. are worried about crypto-currencies being used to launder money, and want investors to start ponying up their taxes.
The crypto-currency Bitcoin has been accused of acting as a Ponzi scheme. Coinbase, the popular crypto market hub, has even been subpoenaed by the IRS to get information on its customers.
Both political parties have now called for tighter crypto regulations.
While a full ban on mining isn’t being seriously considered, it’s certain that the crypto marketplace is going to come under greater control in the coming months and years.
#2 The KASH Way
Hashchain Technology Inc is ready.
The company sees regulation of crypto-currency as the logical next step for the industry, and it’s taking steps to meet the new business conditions.
The company, which began as a crypto-currency miner, has acquired the assets of Node40, a blockchain technology and accounting software firm, for $8 million and stock consideration. The acquisition indicates KASH (TSX:KASH.V; OTC:HSSHF) is diversifying beyond its mining strategy.
The Node40 software, called Balance, reports transactions from major crypto-currency exchanges. Individuals on the blockchain trigger taxable events when they buy and sell crypto, but until now, no one was charting these events in a way that ensured regulatory transparency. The potential for fraud was huge.
With Balance at its disposal, KASH is providing tools to investors and regulators to account for transactions, providing up-to-date information on the crypto marketplace.
“The acquisition of the NODE40 Business,” said CEO Patrick Gray in the company’s press release, “is an important next step of creating a global blockchain technology company.”
Regulation is the company’s “niche,” and it’s what makes KASH “different from everyone else,” Gray told Oilprice.com.
#3 Mining for Crypto Gold
Outside of its new approach to crypto regulation compliance, KASH (TSX:KASH.V; OTC:HSSHF) is a mining company with a fresh approach to the crypto marketplace.
The company currently has 870 rigs, with further acquisitions set to bring KASH to a total of 8.4 MW of crypto-currency mining capacity by the end of Q2 of this year.
What does it mean to “mine” bitcoin? Well, companies like KASH use massive amounts of computer processing power to verify bitcoin transactions, and gets paid in  new “coins” which can then be bought and sold on the crypto market.
Even with the booms and busts in the price of Bitcoin, the profits from crypto mining can be immense.
Where gold mining only yielded an 11 percent return last year, investment in certain crypto-currencies can yield returns as high as 20,000 percent.
And KASH doesn’t put its eggs all in one basket. The company plans to diversify its crypto-mining operation, from the major coins like Bitcoin, Dash and Ethereum to a host of smaller coins, which have the potential to bring significant returns.
That means that KASH can profit from the market, regardless of the ups and downs, and as mining difficulty increases for any particular crypto, the company plans to maximize profits by shifting its mining power to different types of crypto-coins.
When KASH scales up from its humble beginnings, it has plans to be one of the biggest crypto mines in the business. And its close appreciation of regulation means it’ll be in an excellent position to work with government agencies who may start cracking down on the more undisciplined crypto firms.
With a small market cap, KASH could be set expand quickly.
#4 Quality Leadership
Hashchain Technology Inc. (TSX:KASH.V; OTC:HSSHF)has a solid leadership team that will guide it through the transition in the crypto marketplace.
CEO Patrick Gray has already achieved tech success: his first start-up was sold to Xerox for $220 million. He was a recipient of Business Review’s “40 Under 40” award and he’s raised millions in start-up capital from investors.
Behind Gray, who provides the strategic vision for the company, there’s CTO Sean Ryan, co-founder of NODE40 and a blockchain expert. CCO George E. Kveton is a “lifelong dealmaker” with 20 years of experience in Fortune 500 companies. He’s signed deals in Israel, China and Silicon Valley.
The team at KASH aren’t the millennial millionaires who caught the media’s attention when Bitcoin took off last year – these are professional tech innovators, blockchain specialists and crypto-currency insiders who are taking the crypto revolution to the next stage, and are doing so in a responsible way.
#5 The Next Stage in Currency Evolution
While the price of Bitcoin may have dipped, the crypto-currency revolution has only just begun.
Investors learned that crypto-currencies are super volatile, prone to dramatic booms and busts, and offer plenty of opportunity for fraud.
But that hasn’t stopped innovators from continuing to develop the market. Branded corporate coins are starting to take off, and blockchain technology has been introduced in real estate, banking and shipping.
There are signs that even Wall Street is taking crypto-currencies more seriously. The price of Bitcoin, which sank below $6,000, has now jumped back above $10,000, suggesting that interest is still very strong.
Regulation won’t kill cryptos. Instead, it will make them more reliable and more secure from fraud.
KASH (TSX:KASH.V; OTC:HSSHF) is ready to take advantage of the need for order in the crypto market.
The company’s acquisition of Node40 means it’s positioning itself on the forefront of the regulatory swing in the crypto market, and the company’s mining vision truly sets it aside from the competition.
KASH is prepared for the next phase, and investors should take notice.
Other companies looking to revolutionize their industries:
 
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Forward-Looking Information
Certain disclosure in this release, including statements regarding the performance of the Company’s current and ordered Rigs, and expectations regarding future operations may constitute forward-looking statements. These include that KASH will dramatically increase operations,  that the 5,000 Rigs will be successfully ordered and delivered, the 5,000 Rigs will perform as expected by management and the timing, installation and performance of KASH’s current and ordered Rigs will be consistent with management’s expectations; that mining capacity will increase to 8.7 MW; that KASH will utilize its committed Montana facility space and increase capacity to mine 20 MW;  that KASH will hold a diverse portfolio of cryptocurrencies through mining and otherwise; and that KASH’s software can become part of a regulatory push for regulation of cryptocurrencies.  The forward-looking statements in this release are subject to numerous risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause future results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such risk factors may include, among others, the risk that the 5,000 Rigs will not be successfully ordered or delivered from the manufacturer or, if delivered, not when expected by management, and the risk that the Company’s current and ordered Rigs will not perform as expected by management or that expected capacity is not achieved; that KASH may not earn cryptocurrencies through mining and may not be able to purchase them;  risks related to changes in cryptocurrency prices, and the profitability of mining them; that cryptocurrencies will not increase in use as expected; the under-estimation of personnel and operating costs; that KASH will not receive required regulatory approvals for building new facilities, using power, or other aspects of its business; that cryptocurrency regulators don’t accept KASH’s accounting and other solutions; the availability of necessary financing; permitting of businesses that KASH intends to invest in; general global markets and economic conditions; uninsurable risks; risks associated with currency and cryptocurrency fluctuations; risks associated with competition offering better or cheaper solutions, attracting away employees or using tactics to drive out competition; risks associated with changes in the financial auditing and corporate governance standards applicable to cryptocurrencies; risks related to potential conflicts of interest; the reliance on key personnel; capitalization and liquidity risks including the risk that the financings necessary to fund continued development of KASH’s business plan may not be available on satisfactory terms, or at all; the risk of dilution through the issuance of additional common shares of KASH; the risk of litigation; the risk that KASH’s management and advisors may not contribute as much as expected to the company’s success; the risk and the risk that cyber-crime may severely damage the value of any or all of KASH’s investments. There may be many other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.
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The Next Stage Of The Crypto-Boom

Cryptocurrencies have officially returned to a full-blown-frenzy.
Everyone is trying to get a piece of the crypto-pie. Corporate coins, government coins, and even commodity coins are flooding the market on every level, and investors are scrambling to sift through the madness.
But not all coins are created equal. Knowing which cryptocurrency is worth the investment can be tricky.
Adding to the confusion are companies making big promises to investors with no more than a whitepaper and a dream.
Assets are important in this race. It doesn’t matter if a company is planning to build a billion-dollar crypto-mine or wants to build a portfolio of hundreds of cryptocurrencies – if they have nothing, there’s no reason to invest.
Savvy investors are looking to companies with skin in the game, companies like HashChain Technologies (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF).
Not only does HashChain already have mining rigs, they’re building up an array of assets within the space, beginning with the acquisition of Node40 which is poised to revolutionize the sector.
And the best part? Investors can gain exposure to HashChain’s stunning array of assets with a single call to their stock broker.
But HashChain’s promise doesn’t stop there…
Here are 5 reasons HashChain Technologies (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF) is poised to take over the crypto-world.
#1 – Cryptos Have Huge Upside Potential

Over the past year, cryptocurrencies have seen incredible gains, with the sector averaging 20,000 percent price increases.
The mind-blowing growth of the crypto-sector has minted its share of millionaires, even leading Forbes to publish the very first “Crypto-Rich List.”

Despite media claims suggesting that the bubble has burst, cryptocurrencies still have tremendous upside potential, and HashChain (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF knows it.
Cryptographically secure, transparent, and globally available, cryptocurrencies are poised to give cash a run for its money.
Even governments are racing to get in on the action. Arizona is already preparing to accept tax payments in bitcoin, and other states are sure to follow suit.
But right now, there are so many cryptocurrencies drowning the market, it is difficult for investors to gain their bearings. It’s true – the cryptocurrency does matter. Each coin serves its own purpose, runs on its own technology, and ultimately, these factors will determine a coin’s value and impact on markets.
That’s where HashChain (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF) comes in.
In addition to mining DASH, bitcoin and bitcoin cash, three of the markets’ most innovative and top performing coins, HashChain is carefully considering other coins to pursue in the future. And with the mind-blowing gains seen in 2017, investors can expect the potential exposure to these expertly chosen cryptos to pay off.
#2 – Mining that Matters
2017 was certainly a good year to be a cryptocurrency miner. Profits hit the $2-billion mark for bitcoin miners at beginning of 2017, but by the end of the year, during the surge in prices across the board, total profits generated soared to $50-billion. That’s a 2500 percent increase in profitability is just one year.
Investing in a crypto-miner is a lot like investing in traditional miners, except crypto-miners have a much larger profit potential.
Gold mining, for example, only returns an average 11 percent, while cryptocurrencies are seeing huge returns, averaging 20,000 percent.
Currently, HashChain (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF)  is operating 100 dash mining rigs in their Vancouver location, which enjoys cheap and environmentally sustainable electricity from nearby hydropower dams, and another 770-brand new bitcoin mining rigs are being set up at this very moment.
But HashChain’s ambitions don’t stop there.
Using cash on hand and profits generated from mining, HashChain is planning an aggressive expansion strategy, aiming to grow into a 40MW operation, consisting of approximately 26,500 mining rigs by the end of the first quarter 2019. And, in the process, begin mining other hand-selected cryptocurrencies, as well.
What’s the point of mining other currencies if Dash and bitcoin are performing so strongly, you might ask?
Over time, mining difficulty increases, leading to smaller profits and less return on investments.
HashChain is looking towards the future. Understanding that both the popularity of coins and the profitability of coins could change at any time, they are looking to avoid the inevitable before it becomes necessary. Not only do they aim to dodge the bitcoin bullet but capitalize on the potential growth of up and coming cryptos.
This could make HashChain one of the largest and most diverse crypto-miners on the planet.
HashChain Technologies, according to CEO Patrick Gray, gives investors the opportunity to profit from a volatile market, “that they can’t take advantage of themselves.”
In addition to HashChain’s huge mining operation, they will be running a Dash masternode. These masternodes are essential in the Dash ecosystem. They perform specialized transactions like InstantSend and PrivateSend, which set Dash aside from other cryptocurrencies.
Most importantly, the masternodes earn 45 percent of each block reward split between all nodes, providing the owner of the masternode a 7 percent yearly return on investment – a steady source of income for the owner.
#3 – Wall Street Exposure
As the cryptocurrency craze reaches a full-blown frenzy, Wall Street has definitely taken notice. Institutional investors, however, have favored more traditional platforms over investing directly in cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain pivots and cryptocurrency adoption by listed companies have proven to be huge investor magnets, with some companies surging by nearly 400 percent after adding “blockchain” to their name.
And these aren’t all small companies.
Retail giant Overstock.com saw a 30 percent boost in share prices after announcing an ICO for one of its blockchain subsidiaries, and Kodak, a household name in the United States, saw its share price nearly triple after announcing the KodakCoin.
The most surprising, and maybe even humorous pivot, however, was Long Island Iced Tea’s name change. After renaming itself to Long Blockchain and announcing the potential acquisition of new blockchain projects, its share prices soared by 183 percent.
New crypto and blockchain companies are exploding onto the market, as well. OTC listed First Bitcoin Capital saw an insane increase of 6000 percent YTD before trading was temporarily suspended by the SEC.
It’s clear that investors have been infected by the Fear Of Missing Out – but they’re still not quite sold on the loosely regulated nature of cryptocurrencies.
That’s why HashChain (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF)  is poised to garner a lot of attention in the coming months.
With plans to build a diverse mining ecosystem, HashChain will allow investors to gain exposure to the growing crypto-space without getting burned if one currency takes a nosedive.
#4 – Bringing Order to the Crypto-Space
In a recent report, it was revealed that almost no one is paying taxes on cryptocurrency earnings.
It’s estimated that over 7 percent of the population in the United States has made taxable gains on their cryptocurrency holdings, yet only 0.04 percent of U.S. tax filers actually reported any earnings or losses to the Internal Revenue Service. And it’s almost understandable.
The process to calculate cryptocurrency earnings is beyond difficult. With cryptos reaching all-time-highs in late 2017, followed almost immediately by 50-80 percent losses the very next month, would-be taxpayers simply do not know what they owe.
Even tax professionals are struggling to keep up.
But, HashChain (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF) is already looking toward the future.
With its recent acquisition of the assets of Node40, a blockchain solutions company, HashChain is at a particular advantage in the space. Node40 offers the most sophisticated crypto-tax software on the market.
In such a complicated sector, it can be hard for investors to track their gains and losses, but with Node40’s software, users simply enter their blockchain addresses and the program does the work for them.
The software tracks, adds value to, and totals each cryptocurrency transaction on a user’s blockchain, which will dramatically simplify the entire process.
With this revolutionary software, HashChain has a leg up on its competition.
This acquisition not only puts HashChain ahead of the pack, it brings regulation into the hands of the crypto marketplace rather than from pressure from governments.
#5 – The Crypto Dream Team
HashChain Technologies (TSX:KASH.V, OTCMKTS:HSSHF) is special. They have some of the brightest minds in the game, and with years of experience in the sector and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of deals under their belt, it is fair to say that the team is battle tested.
Patrick Gray, the CEO of HashChain, is a computer whiz who has mastered the art of the deal. Primarily involved in the tech industry, Gray knows the space through and through.
Patrick’s very first startup successfully sold for over $200-million, and that was just the beginning. Since then, he has been involved in a number of high-profile deals, and with his extensive tech know-how, investors would follow him to the end of the earth.
Sean Ryan is another expert in the field. As CTO of both HashChain and Node40, he is widely regarded as an industry leader in the development of blockchain infrastructure services and cryptocurrency accounting. Under Ryan’s technical guidance, HashChain is prepared to scale significantly to meet the demands of the growing blockchain industry.
HashChain’s Chief Strategy Officer, Perry Woodin is a cryptocurrency guru. As a Dash board member, one of the top cryptocurrencies in the market, Woodin is as connected as they come.
Not only that, he has changed the way people invest in and profit from blockchain-based networks.
As the founder of Node40, Woodin created an entirely new way to incentivize network participation that is set to revolutionize the entire sector. His experience in data management, and his app development expertise makes him a prized asset in HashChain’s already stacked arsenal.
With this tech dream team, the possibilities are endless.
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Forward-Looking Information
Certain disclosure in this release, including statements regarding the performance of the Company’s current and ordered Rigs, and expectations regarding future operations may constitute forward-looking statements. These include that KASH will dramatically increase operations,  that the 5,000 Rigs will be successfully ordered and delivered, the 5,000 Rigs will perform as expected by management and the timing, installation and performance of KASH’s current and ordered Rigs will be consistent with management’s expectations; that mining capacity will increase to 8.7 MW; that KASH will utilize its committed Montana facility space and increase capacity to mine 20 MW;  that KASH will hold a diverse portfolio of cryptocurrencies through mining and otherwise; and that KASH’s software can become part of a regulatory push for regulation of cryptocurrencies.  The forward-looking statements in this release are subject to numerous risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause future results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in such forward-looking statements. Such risk factors may include, among others, the risk that the 5,000 Rigs will not be successfully ordered or delivered from the manufacturer or, if delivered, not when expected by management, and the risk that the Company’s current and ordered Rigs will not perform as expected by management or that expected capacity is not achieved; that KASH may not earn cryptocurrencies through mining and may not be able to purchase them;  risks related to changes in cryptocurrency prices, and the profitability of mining them; that cryptocurrencies will not increase in use as expected; the under-estimation of personnel and operating costs; that KASH will not receive required regulatory approvals for building new facilities, using power, or other aspects of its business; that cryptocurrency regulators don’t accept KASH’s accounting and other solutions; the availability of necessary financing; permitting of businesses that KASH intends to invest in; general global markets and economic conditions; uninsurable risks; risks associated with currency and cryptocurrency fluctuations; risks associated with competition offering better or cheaper solutions, attracting away employees or using tactics to drive out competition; risks associated with changes in the financial auditing and corporate governance standards applicable to cryptocurrencies; risks related to potential conflicts of interest; the reliance on key personnel; capitalization and liquidity risks including the risk that the financings necessary to fund continued development of KASH’s business plan may not be available on satisfactory terms, or at all; the risk of dilution through the issuance of additional common shares of KASH; the risk of litigation; the risk that KASH’s management and advisors may not contribute as much as expected to the company’s success; the risk and the risk that cyber-crime may severely damage the value of any or all of KASH’s investments. There may be many other factors that cause results not to be as anticipated, estimated or intended. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information.
 
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Can Blockchain ‘transform’ healthcare? Simple answer: no.

We’d all love to see technology improve patient care, reduce diagnosis and therapy times and otherwise help us live longer, wouldn’t we? So could distributed ledger technology Blockchain hold the key? In a recent article on PoliticsHome, Member of Parliament John Mann highlighted a couple of areas where Blockchain might offer “transformative potential” to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS):

“By enabling ambulance workers, paramedics, and A&E staff instant access to medical records updated in real-time, medical care could be carefully targeted to a person’s specific needs. The ability to upload results of scans, blood samples and test results and have them accessed by the next practitioner near-instantly, without the risk of error offers the chance to improve survival rates in emergency care and improve care standards across our health service,” he wrote.

While the Rt. Hon. Mr Mann (or his advisors) may be correct in principle, he is falling into an age-old trap by issuing this kind of statement without caveat. While it is a powerful tool (as I noted in my 2018 predictions), it isn’t true that Blockchain enables anything, any more than a chisel enables a sculptor to sculpt. Sure, it could help, but it needs to be in the right hands and used in the right way.

Of course, some might say, this point should be taken as read. If that were the case however, we would not see repeated money being thrown at technology as a singular solution to otherwise insurmountable problems, in healthcare and beyond. And then failing to deliver, to general wailing and gnashing of teeth.

To continue the sculptor analogy, if the poor fellow is asked to deliver the thing in impossible timescales, designed by committee and with conflicting expectations of what it will look like, the result will probably be a mess. As sculpture, so technology, whatever the chisel manufacturers or IT vendors might have us think.

A massively complex organisation seemingly ruled (depending on who you ask) by metrics, efficiency, litigation prevention and so on will see such criteria impact any solution — either by design, or in consequence. I’m not critiquing the NHS here, just observing that IT will always take a subordinate role to its context. It’s the same in the US or any other country.

Perhaps Blockchain could help, but so could any number of technologies — if used in the right way. Indeed, you could take the above quote and inert it into any data management capability or service from the past four decades, or indeed, mobile, IoT and so on, and it would still make sense. Indeed, as healthcare writer Dan Munro notes on HealthStandards.com,

“The technical reality is that all of the features of a blockchain – except double spending – can easily be created with other tools that are readily available – and cheap – without actually being a “blockchain.” ”

While I’m well aware of both the many potential uses of blockchain in healthcare and the dangers of simply being one of “those armed with spears” (according to my old colleague and healthcare author Jody Ranck), the horse needs to be put before the cart: tech will not, by itself, solve any problems for anyone. This is more than a glib riposte to a quote taken out of context. For Blockchain to work in the way Mr Mann suggests, it would have to be rolled out widely, across a health service. Flagging up technologies is easy, but delivering transformation is astonishingly hard: our representatives need to understand, accept and design this in from the outset, for any “transformative potential” to be achieved.

(Jon was CTO of healthcare startup MedicalPath2Safety)

Does Survival of Cryptocurrency Technology Depend on Human Emotion?

Some technologies continue to exist even if their creators set them aside in favor of something else. A stone wheel remains a stone wheel, regardless of whether you use it. A printing press in a museum still operates precisely as designed, even though it’s been bucked in favor of digital printers. And combustion engines will still run on gasoline, even when the day comes that no one cares to use one anymore.
But this kind of staying power is not the case with the technology that underpins cryptocurrency: blockchain. If people stop caring about a given cryptocurrency, the blockchain that runs it will eventually die out.
How is this possible?
First, let’s review what a blockchain is and how it works. Despite its futuristic-sounding name, it’s actually a simple thing: a digital ledger maintained by a special kind of computer. Traditionally, a ledger is a piece of paper on which changes of ownership are recorded by hand. An ancient ledger might read that I have one sheep and you have three sheep. If either of us buys or sells a sheep, the ledger is updated accordingly. It tracks our account balances, so to speak.
As opposed to sheep, a blockchain records changes in ownership of its “base token.” A blockchain’s base token is also called its “cryptocurrency.” The Bitcoin network’s base token is a bitcoin, the Ethereum network’s base token is an Ether, and the Dash network’s base token is a Dash.
The people who run the specialized computers that execute account balance updates on the blockchain are called “miners.” If they own a competitive number of computers as compared to other miners in the network, they’re likely to win the right of entering an update to the blockchain. Making this update results in the creation of new base tokens — and the miner gets to keep them as his “pay.”
It’s these people who will make or break the future of cryptocurrency technology.
From the giant warehouses of mining computers in China to the little flash drive miner sticking out of your friend’s laptop, all mining efforts are focused on one thing and one thing only: turning a profit. For this reason, miners program their machines to only contribute effort to the cryptocurrency they estimate will bring the most profit — the network with the least mining competition and the highest payout. This is where human emotion begins to play a part.
Because none of us can predict the future, we’re left to make decisions based on how we feel. For example, no American can know for certain that a dollar will be worth anything tomorrow, but we feel pretty confident that it will be, so we choose to work in exchange for dollars today. If every dollar-holder in the world decided to sell all their dollars for something else tomorrow, however, the infrastructure that runs the dollar — that is, the partnership between the Federal Reserve and U.S. Government — would die.
So it is with a blockchain. Whereas all dollar-holders cast an implicit vote in favor of the humans running the U.S. Government and the Federal Reserve, the holders of any cryptocurrency similarly cast a “yes” vote to the humans who make up that network’s infrastructure – its miners.
A dollar collapse tomorrow is exceedingly unlikely due to the gargantuan demand for dollars at this time. The same cannot be said for each of the more than 1,000 (yes, more than 1,000) cryptocurrencies that can be bought and sold using online exchanges today. Some of these cryptocurrencies have a mere five, six or seven-digit market capitalization, which could feasibly be wiped out tomorrow by a mere whiff of bad news — the creation of a bad feeling. And still, other cryptocurrencies have fewer than 20 miners, meaning that on a bad day, the said blockchain is less than 20 peoples’ feelings away from extinction. Does that seem far-fetched? Here’s a list of hundreds of dead blockchains.
Some have called the advent of cryptocurrency the “Wild West” of money, and they would be correct. And like the Wild West, crypto country is rife with two things: opportunity and risk. It is unreasonable to believe that over 1,000 cryptocurrencies will survive in the long-term. Why? Because miners will eventually begin to coalesce around just the most profitable blockchains – the networks whose base tokens they feel will either retain their value or increase. In other words, miners will eventually want to be paid in the base tokens that shed the title of “cryptocurrency” and organically take on the more familiar one of “money.”
Cryptocurrency technology — that is, blockchain technology — may or may not win out in the long run. But, if there’s one thing society cannot function without, it’s money. Across the world, human emotion appears to be moving in favor of the transparency offered by blockchains. If this trend continues, it is almost certain that at least one cryptocurrency will see phenomenal adoption in the years to come. Which one will it be? The answer to that question is still far from settled. This Wild West has only just been discovered, and everyone’s still trying to work out how they feel about it.
Guest post by Amanda B. Johnson of Dash

Five 2018 Predictions — on GDPR, Robot Cars, AI, 5G and Blockchain

Predictions are like buses, none for ages and then several come along at once. Also like buses, they are slower than you would like and only take you part of the way. Also like buses, they are brightly coloured and full of chatter that you would rather not have in your morning commute. They are sometimes cold, and may have the remains of somebody else’s take-out happy meal in the corner of the seat. Also like buses, they are an analogy that should not be taken too far, less they lose the point. Like buses.

With this in mind, here’s my technology predictions for 2018. I’ve been very lucky to work across a number of verticals over the past couple of years, including public and private transport, retail, finance, government and healthcare — while I can’t name check every project, I’m nonetheless grateful for the experience and knowledge this has brought, which I feed into the below. I’d also like to thank my podcaster co-host Simon Townsend for allowing me to test many of these ideas.

Finally, one prediction I can’t make is whether this list will cause any feedback or debate — nonetheless, I would welcome any comments you might have, and I will endeavour to address them.

1. GDPR will be a costly, inadequate mess

Don’t get me wrong, GDPR is a really good idea. As a lawyer said to me a couple of weeks ago, it is a combination of the the UK data protection act, plus the best practices that have evolved around it, now put into law at a European level with a large fine associated. The regulations are also likely to become the basis for other countries — if you are going to trade with Europe, you might as well set it as the baseline, goes the thinking. All well and good so far.

Meanwhile, it’s an incredible, expensive (and necessary, if you’re a consumer that cares about your data rights) mountain to climb for any organisation that processes or stores your data. The deadline for compliance is May 25th, which is about as likely to be hit as I am going to finally get myself the 6-pack I wanted when I was 25.

No doubt GDPR will one day be achieved, but the fact is that it is already out of date. Notions of data aggregation and potentially toxic combinations (for example, combining credit and social records to show whether or not someone is eligible for insurance) are not just likely, but unavoidable: ‘compliant’ organisations will still be in no better place to protect the interests of their customers than currently.

The challenges, risks and sheer inadequacy of GDPR can be summed up by a single tweet sent by otherwise unknown traveller — “If anyone has a boyfriend called Ben on the Bournemouth – Manchester train right now, he’s just told his friends he’s cheating on you. Dump his ass x.” Whoever sender “@emilyshepss” or indeed, “Ben” might be, the consequences to the privacy of either cannot be handled by any data legislation currently in force.

2. Artificial Intelligence will create silos of smartness

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a logical consequence of how we apply algorithms to data. It’s as inevitable as maths, as the ability our own brains have to evaluate and draw conclusions. It’s also subject to a great deal of hype and speculation, much of which tends to follow that old, flawed futurist assumption: that a current trend maps a linear course leading to an inevitable conclusion. But the future is not linear. Technological matters are subject to the laws of unintended consequences and of unexpected complexity: that is, the future does not follow a linear path, and every time we create something new, it causes new situations which are beyond its ability to deal with.

So, yes, what we call AI will change (and already is changing) the world. Moore’s, and associated laws are making previously impossible computations now possible, and indeed, they will become the expectation. Machine learning systems are fundamental to the idea of self-driving cars, for example; meanwhile voice, image recognition and so on are having their day. However these are still a long way from any notion of intelligence, artificial or otherwise.

So, yes, absolutely look at how algorithms can deliver real-time analysis, self-learning rules and so on. But look beyond the AI label, at what a product or service can actually do. You can read Gigaom’s research report on where AI can make a difference to the enterprise, here.

In most cases, there will be a question of scope: a system that can save you money on heating by ‘learning’ the nature of your home or data centre, has got to be a good thing for example. Over time we shall see these create new types of complexity, as we look to integrate individual silos of smartness (and their massive data sets) — my prediction is that such integration work will keep us busy for the next year or so, even as learning systems continue to evolve.

3. 5G will become just another expectation

Strip away the techno-babble around 5G and we have a very fast wireless networking protocol designed to handle many more devices than currently — it does this, in principle, by operating at higher frequencies, across shorter distances than current mobile masts (so we’ll need more of them, albeit in smaller boxes). Nobody quite knows how the global roll-out of 5G will take place — questions like who should pay for it will pervade, even though things are clearer than they were. And so on and so on.

But when all’s said and done, it will set the baseline for whatever people use it for, i.e. everything they possibly can. Think 4K video calls, in fact 4K everything, and it’s already not hard to see how anything less than 5G will come as a disappointment. Meanwhile every device under the sun will be looking to connect to every other, exchanging as much data as it possibly can. The technology world is a strange one, with massive expectations being imposed on each layer of the stack without any real sense of needing to take responsibility.

We’ve seen it before. The inefficient software practices of 1990’s Microsoft drove the need for processor upgrades and led Intel to a healthy profit, illustrating the vested interests of the industry to make the networking and hardware platforms faster and better. We all gain as a result, if ‘gain’ can be measured in terms of being able to see your gran in high definition on a wall screen from the other side of the world. But after the hype, 5G will become just another standard release, a way marker on the road to techno-utopia.

On the upside, it may lead to a simpler networking infrastructure. More of a hope than a prediction would be the general adoption of some kind of mesh integration between Wifi and 5G, taking away the handoff pain for both people, and devices, that move around. There will always be a place for multiple standards (such as the energy-efficient Zigbee for IoT) but 5G’s physical architecture, coupled with software standards like NFV, may offer a better starting point than the current, proprietary-mast-based model.

4. Attitudes to autonomous vehicles will normalize

The good news is, car manufacturers saw this coming. They are already planning for that inevitable moment, when public perception goes from, “Who’d want robot cars?” to “Why would I want to own a car?” It’s a familiar phenomenon, an almost 1984-level of doublethink where people go from one mindset to another seemingly overnight, without noticing and in some cases, seemingly disparaging the characters they once were.  We saw it with personal computers, with mobile phones, with flat screen TVs — in the latter case, the the world went from “nah, thats never going to happen” to recycling sites being inundated with perfectly usable screens (and a wave of people getting huge cast-off tellies).

And so, we will see over the next year or so, self-driving vehicles hit our roads. What drives this phenomenon is simple: we know, deep down, that robot cars are safer — not because they are inevitably, inherently safe, but because human drivers are inevitably, inherently dangerous. And autonomous vehicles will get safer still. And are able to pick us up at 3 in the morning and take us home.

The consequences will be fascinating to watch. First that attention will increasingly turn to brands — after all, if you are going to go for a drive, you might as well do so in comfort, right? We can also expect to see a far more varied range of wheeled transport (and otherwise — what’s wrong with the notion of flying unicorn deliveries?) — indeed, with hybrid forms, the very notion of roads is called into question.

There will be data, privacy, security and safety ramifications that need to be dealt with — consider the current ethical debate between leaving young people without taxis late at night, versus the possible consequences of sharing a robot Uber with a potential molester. And I must recall a very interesting conversation with my son, about who would get third or fourth dibs at the autonomous vehicle ferrying drunken revellers (who are not always the cleanliest of souls) to their beds.

Above all, business models will move from physical to virtual, from products to services. The industry knows this, variously calling vehicles ‘tin boxes on wheels’ while investing in car sharing, delivery and other service-based models. Of course (as Apple and others have shown), good engineering continues to command a premium even in the service-based economy: competition will come from Tesla as much as Uber, or whatever replaces its self-sabotaging approach to world domination.

Such changes will take time but in the short term, we can fully expect a mindset shift from the general populace.

5. When Bitcoins collapse, blockchains will pervade

The concept that “money doesn’t actually exist” can be difficult to get across, particularly as it makes such a difference to the lives of, well, everybody. Money can buy health, comfort and a good meal; it can also deliver representations of wealth, from high street bling to mediterranean gin palaces. Of course money exists, I’m holding some in my hand, says anyone who wants to argue against the point.

Yet, still, it doesn’t. It is a mathematical construct originally construed to simplify the exchange of value, to offer persistence to an otherwise transitory notion. From a situation where you’d have to prove whether you gave the chap some fish before he’d give you that wood he offered, you can just take the cash and buy wood wherever you choose. It’s not an accident of speech that pound notes still say, “I promise to pay the bearer on demand…”

While original currencies may have been teeth or shells (happy days if you happened to live near a beach), they moved to metals in order to bring some stability in a rather dodgy market. Forgery remains an enormous problem in part because we maintain a belief that money exists, even though it doesn’t. That dodgy-looking coin still spends, once it is part of the system.

And so to the inexorable rise of Bitcoin, which has emerged from nowhere to become a global currency — in much the same way as the dodgy coin, it is accepted simply because people agree to use it in a transaction. Bitcoin has a chequered reputation, probably unfairly given that our traditional dollars and cents are just as likely to be used for gun-running or drug dealing as any virtual dosh. It’s also a bubble that looks highly likely to burst, and soon — no doubt some pundits will take that as a proof point of the demise of cryptocurrency.

Their certainty may be premature. Not only will Bitcoin itself pervade (albeit at a lower valuation), but the genie is already out of the bottle as banks and others experiment with the economic models made possible by “distributed ledger” architectures such as The Blockchain, i.e. the one supporting Bitcoin. Such models are a work in progress: the idea that a single such ledger can manage all the transactions in the world (financial and otherwise) is clearly flawed.

But blockchains, in general, hold a key as they deal with that single most important reason why currency existed in the first place — to prove a promise. This principle holds in areas way beyond money, or indeed, value exchange — food and pharmaceutical, art and music can all benefit from knowing what was agreed or planned, and how it took place. Architectures will evolve (for example with sidechains) but the blockchain principle can apply wherever the risk of fraud could also exist, which is just about everywhere.

6. The world will keep on turning

There we have it. I could have added other things — for example, there’s a high chance that we will see another major security breach and/or leak; augmented reality will have a stab at the mainstream; and so on. I’d also love to see a return to data and facts on the world’s political stage, rather than the current tub-thumping and playing fast and loose with the truth. I’m keen to see breakthroughs in healthcare from IoT, I also expect some major use of technology that hadn’t been considered arrive, enter the mainstream and become the norm — if I knew what it was, I’d be a very rich man. Even if money doesn’t exist.

Truth is, and despite the daily dose of disappointment that comes with reading the news, these are exciting times to be alive. 2018 promises to be a year as full of innovation as previous years, with all the blessings and curses that it brings. As Isaac Asimov once wrote, “An atom-blaster is a good weapon, but it can point both ways.”

On that, and with all it brings, it only remains to wish the best of the season, and of 2018 to you and yours. All the best!

 
Photo credit: Birmingham Mail

Is re-regulation, not deregulation the answer to the financial world’s continuing woes?

The amount of financial regulation in the world continues to increase, creating an ever-growing burden on banks and other financial institutions. Banks only have themselves to blame, goes the pervading view, creating exploitative situations such as sub-prime mortgages and credit swaps, thus collapsing the bond of trust they maintained with their customers.

But the reality is that we all suffer under the cosh of increased bureaucracy and cost, with no real benefit other than (we hope) reducing the risk to ourselves of being exploited, or indeed, of the 2008 financial crisis from happening again. In part the collapse of global finance was caused through direct exploitation, but a bigger crime was how financial organisations demonstrated their institutional incompetence.

They had one job — to support and protect the dollars and cents of their customers — but organisations from Lehman Brothers to RBS showed not only their ineffectiveness against corrupted behaviours, but also their poor grasp of shared risk. Above all, and even with the caveats of how complex the situation became, our smart-suited financiers proved themselves to be really crap at maths.

The result was the undermining of global confidence. “2008 saw the collapse of trust and legitimacy,” said Anne Leslie-Bini of consulting firm BearingPoint, at a recent analyst event in Paris. “Governments, central banks and trusted financial intermediaries found themselves brutally exposed, meaning the public lost faith in the very institutions that are meant to represent, protect and further their interests.”

We are still dealing with the consequences, one being more power in the hands of the regulators — whose systems were also proved to be ineffective, but who no doubt feel the are doing the right thing by creating more. The result is a continued flood of regulations — nearly ten times as many publications being released per year compared to pre-1994 levels. “There is no end in sight,” continued Anne.

Of course regulators will have the best intentions, but the effect is to stymie financial institutions without necessarily dealing with the potential for rogue trading, product mis-selling or other, yet to emerge financial malpractice or imploding bubble. It reinforces the notion that working within a regulation is by definition ethical — the “I did nothing wrong” school of thought.

At the same time however, we are not seeing any regrowth of trust. Precisely the opposite could be said to be true, in this environment of fake news and political spin. We live in a context of post-truth where nobody knows who to trust, which can be exploited by both the untrustworthy and those looking to gain from promoting distrust. Such a situation ultimately serves nobody.

We are neither willing nor likely to go back to that rose-tinted world where the default behaviour was blind trust in our institutions and elders, as computers and the economics of big business have put paid to that. All the same we need a rethink in how we develop and deliver regulation, one which aligns with how the world is today rather than trying to follow a historical, institution-based model.

According to Anne Leslie-Bini, this is the opportunity presented by regulatory technology (RegTech) — we can fight like with like, creating regulations according to the same principles as the technologies used by institutions. So for example, rather than expecting banks to produce monthly reports, access to banking data should be available in real-time, via APIs.

Such ideas can be taken much further, however. If we are in the platform economy for example, regulation can, and should be built into the platform. Just as “Data should come out of the pipe clean,” as Cisco’s Charlie Giancarlo once pointed out, so should it be expected that the virtual money coursing around our networks is correctly sourced and with traceable provenance (using Blockchain, for example).

Thinking beyond technology, a third pillar is to consider how business practice is changing and to expect regulation to follow suit. So, if agility, scalability, co-creation and customer experience are key levers for driving business value, so should we expect agile, scalable regulation and so on. Co-creation of regulations is a model already tested and being proven by regulators and financial organisations in Austria.

Such thinking is a long way from the expectation of sheep-like compliance with laws conjured up by some inaccessible people in a distant corner of the globe. “As long as we are operating in a system where we have to constrain behaviours that act contrary to the common good, regulation will always be playing catch-up.,” says Anne.

The future is not about de-regulation but re-regulation, delivering models that enable our very necessary institutions to fit how the world works today. Regulation should not be based on building ever-higher walls around our financial institutions but aimed towards striking a balance, to deliver the right levels of protection for citizens and businesses within a framework of ethics that increases, rather than undermines trust.

[Disclaimer: BearingPoint is a client]

Blockchain, its new rival, and their future in the enterprise

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are already starting to shake up the financial services industry. They have also got entrepreneurs thinking about other applications for the blockchain technology that underlies them, including ones that address various processes inside non-financial companies such as contracts, audits and shipping. The digital signatures that certify each transaction and the distributed, write-only online ledger that constitute the core of the blockchain tech have the potential to offer even more security in these and other areas than more traditional approaches used by businesses.
Blockchain isn’t the only game in town either. The Linux Foundation recently revealed that it is leading an open source effort to develop an alternative to bitcoin’s underlying tech. The initiative, which has been dubbed the Open Ledger Project, is being supported by a coalition of leading financial services and tech companies, including Wells Fargo, State Street, the London Stock Exchange Group, Cisco, Intel, VMware and IBM. IBM, which has been a driving force behind the project, is reportedly contributing many thousands of lines of code to it as well as considerable developer resources.
The new kid on the block will have some catching up to do with blockchain, which is already being employed in some innovative ways. Nasdaq OMX, the parent company of the NASDAQ stock exchange, wants to use the tech to oversee trades in the stock of private firms and the Securities and Exchange Commission recently approved a plan by Overstock.com that involves the online retailer issuing stock using blockchain technology. Startups such as Digital Asset Holdings and Coinbase are also looking to profit from growing interest in digital tracking and trading using the new approach.
The firms that gain traction here will get plenty of attention. Investment banking firm Magister Advisors thinks that financial institutions will be spending a total of over $1 billion on blockchain-related projects in 2017. And finance is just one industry where the new technology could drive significant change. In the music world, startups such as PeerTracks and Bittunes are aiming to use it to revolutionize the way music is bought and shared. And in the art world, Verisart is harnessing the blockchain to improve the way art is secured and verified.
Looking at enterprise markets, there is a huge opportunity to apply blockchain technology or other variants in any place that involves swaps, trades or exchanges. One of the most obvious applications is in contractual situations where there is a need for proof that various parties are committed to a transaction. Companies such as Block Notary and Bitproof are developing ways to bind digital signatures into the blockchain and some firms are also experimenting with the technology to create escrow contracts that hold money on account until mutual agreement is recorded.
Another area where I expect to see more activity using blockchain technology is in auditing. Deloitte is one of a number of professional services firms that is experimenting with distributed digital ledgers. Here, transactions can be posted into a blockchain, which would apply a timestamp and act as a repository. Typically, auditors only choose a sample from a set of transactions to check; but using the new approach, it may well be possible to verify a much broader range of transactions securely and cost-effectively. There are a lot of regulatory issues still to be ironed out, but the opportunity to provide certainty with significantly less friction is a compelling one.
There is also a big opportunity to use the technology to improve shipping and supply chain management. An example of a startup here is Thingchain, which is applying a bitcoin-inspired cryptosystem to multiple use cases, including proving the provenance of goods and who owns them.
Many companies are still learning about the potential of blockchain technologies, so it may be some time before we see broad adoption beyond finance. But the potential is significant—and not only in the areas that I’ve outlined above. Entrepreneurs are already exploring enterprise applications that cover everything from patent registration to recording the results of boardroom votes. Expect to see more and more businesses joining the blockchain gang in 2016 and beyond.
Martin Giles is a partner at Wing Venture Capital (@Wing_VC). He was previously a journalist with The Economist.

Fighting for Their Financial Freedom: Millennials Reinventing FinTech

One of the more enlightening sessions at this year’s Money 20/20 payment industry conference (9,000+ attendees) featured new findings from a Foundation Capital survey on Millennials and Financial Services. The survey found that U.S. Millennials as a generalized group (those born between 1984 to 1997) are financially stuck – they have bank accounts, but are swimming in student debt and thus have no money to spend on investments and the extras after food and rent. Not surprisingly, most Millennials do not believe that what savings they have – mandatory Social Security contributions – will actually materialize for them in retirement.
And as indicated by such emerging social constructs as the post-college group house, Millennials are essentially stuck in the bottom tiers of the needs pyramid — not only can’t they save for big purchases, but they are also postponing milestone life events such as getting a place of one’s own, marriage and family.
Ergo you could say that millennials – even more so than the capitalist generation before them (i.e. the wolves of Wall Street) – are obsessed with money. And how it holds them back.
At the same time, Millennials are very facile with their mobile financial apps and rely heavily on them for financial information, services and purchase decisioning. They may have big brand bank accounts, but to them the brick and mortar branch, the ATM, even physical money– are becoming less relevant.
All the above lays the groundwork for continued massive disruption in financial services as Millennials fixate and act on their [lack of] money obsession and the status quo education and financial systems that have literally left them living in their parents’ basements.
And thus driven by the financially disenfranchised (but still optimistic) Millennials, a new FinTech Renaissance is emerging. From alternative methods of lending like SoFi ($1 billion capital raised in Sept. 2015 to help consumers refinance their student loans) to services focused on helping consumers to understand and take control of their credit scores (Credit Karma raised $175 million in June 2015), to bitcoin and other cryptocurrency technology that represent a new payment rail and partial replacement for fiat ($1 billion+ investment in 2015 with blockchain development companies like Chain raising $30 million), Millennials are taking down – or at least making less relevant — the traditional financial power structure one sector at a time.
Over the course of the next year, we’ll take a look at some of the emerging financial services disruptors and trends coming out of Y-Combinator and other incubators and launchpads such as Draper FinTech Connection and Plug and Play’s Fintech Accelerator.