Is Hashgraph The Solution To The Scaling Problems Faced By Bitcoin And Ethereum?

First published in CryptoCoin.News

As Bitcoin and Ethereum continue to struggle with their scaling problems, an abundance of alternative high-throughput distributed ledgers are springing up, including EOS, IOTA, and many more.

Hashgraph, developed by Swirlds, and hyped as one of the leading candidates to replace blockchain, has steadily being making ground in Dublin, albeit through a circuitous route.

Conor O’Higgins, Public Relations Officer for Hashgraph in Dublin, had worked with Hashgraph co-founder Andrew Masanto back in 2008 in the world of digital marketing. They were not to meet again until O’Higgins visited Burning Man this year and bumped into his old friend.

Burning Man is a hotbed of new thinking, and Masanto could not wait to introduce O’Higgins to the founder of Hashgraph, Dr Leemon Baird.

“I’d used Bitcoin to pay for Burning Man, and was neck-deep in crypto, but I’d never heard of Hashgraph before,” says O’Higgins. “Andrew was eager for me to meet Leemon in San Francisco.”

O’Higgins spent a day in San Francisco with the Hashgraph team, and was blown away by Dr Baird and the technology. He signed up there and then.

O’Higgins is now masterminding the first Dublin meetup for Hashgraph enthusiasts, and is in talks with Trinity College as the venue for the launch pad.

“What really attracts me to Hashgraph is how it is leapfrogging over the issues in the blockchain,” says O’Higgins.

“Speed is a big issue for Bitcoin,” he says. “We know we have 7 transactions per second with Bitcoin, but Visa does closer to 100,000. And with Hashgraph we are looking at 250,000 plus. It’s game changing, because it opens up new applications, real-time applications like games, for which you’d never consider using a blockchain.”

Hashgraph is fairer too, employing the Gossip about Gossip protocol to achieve consensus.  No miner can decide to select one transaction to go ahead of another in a block. Hashgraph is a graph, not a chain of blocks, so transactions can be added on the fly without the need for ordering, or re-ordering, by anyone.

Proof of Hashgraph’s popularity in the real world is testified to by its selection by the US National Credit Union Association and Mountain West Credit Union Association, over IBM’s Hyperledger technology, to serve as the distributed ledger platform for the 6,000 credit unions of North America.

“We will be holding a Hashgraph meetup in Dublin by the end of the year to address interest,” says O’Higgins.

Ireland Launches Crypto Coast Initiative For Blockchain Developers

First published in Cryptocoin.News

Reuben Godfrey, co-founder of the Blockchain Association of Ireland, used a talk at the Monaco Growth Forum in London last night to launch a major new crypto initiative in Ireland. His new project, Crypto Coast Ireland, is a play to attract blockchain commerce and development not just to Dublin, but down the East Coast of Ireland.

His message was that companies and crypto-centric entities can available of the same attractions offered in Dublin – but stretch further outside the high-cost city centre.

‘Ireland is a known destination for software development,’ Godfrey said. ‘Last year again we claimed the place of the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. We are known as the heart of ICT in Europe. It is no mistake that nine out of the top ten ICT companies in the world are located in Ireland.’

The attraction of Ireland to ICT companies remains the same; highly skilled work force, English as a native language, proximity to both US and the rest of Europe, and attractive corporate rates. The predominance of global technology companies, including Google, Facebook and Twitter, means the workforce is technology ready and already upskilled. In addition, the deep recession that affected Ireland, as indeed the rest of the world, did not impact on its burgeoning IT industry

Godfrey maintains that on Ireland’s Crypto Coast Blockchain is booming. ‘The rate of innovation and investment in this fast moving new technology is phenomenal with many comparing the upsurge in interest with early 1990s dot.com fever,’ he says.

Godfrey’s vision is to take this growth and move down Ireland’s East Coast – it’s new Crypto Coast. ‘With existing infrastructure and modern work practices there is no need for start-ups in this area to compete for space in an already congested Dublin city-centre. Indeed, many start-ups focus more on work life balance and community,’ argues Godfrey.

Blockchain start-ups have been attracted to Ireland to set-up their businesses. ‘The Crypto Coast  project aims to attract high potential blockchain start-ups to the coastal towns along the coast of Wicklow/Wexford in Ireland’s South East and foster a global crypto community,’ he says.

Godfrey is already in talks with various government and industry bodies to support this inspiring initiative. In addition, he is also gathering a team of top influencers to help carry through his vision.

Visit the Crypto Coast site here 

What have the pope, weapons of mass destruction and student protests have in common?

First published in CryptoCoin.News

 

 

 

 

 

Angel Versetti, CEO of Ambrosus featured, and helping to demonstrate what have the pope, weapons of mass destruction and student protests have in common?

Why is he in the news? CEO of newly formed Ambrosus, a blockchain ecosystem to assure quality of products, and having signed a partnership with INS Ecosystem

Most bizarre thing he has done? Lectured the Pope on blockchain in the Vatican

Most unusual job?  Versetti’s first job in the UN was at the Department of Weapons of Mass Destruction, where he used satellite imagery and intelligence to find out where Americans and Russians were hiding their nuclear warheads

Low tolerance of? Stupidity and Hypocrisy

Interview:

It’s not every day that a Russian-born, half Italian, Swiss resident quotes an Irish writer in interview.  Oscar Wilde to be exact and the quote is about common sense being remarkably uncommon.

Angel Versetti uses the quote as a throwaway line in relation to madness that surrounds ICOs. ‘The ICO industry is a bit of a circus,’ he says. ‘Blockchain is an amazing technology but the early emphasis on changing the world has been overtaken by money.’

It might seem ironic that an entrepreneur in the blockchain is talking down the craziness of ICOs but he has a point. Versetti does not suffer fools gladly. Deeply embedded in the traditional world with his background in the UN, he manages to straddle the new world of blockchain and has applied the distributed technologies to many of his projects. He admits that while technology can move fast, it is often politics and institutions that hold projects back.

Despite his youth (25), Versetti has already a colourful academic career which includes studying in Cambridge in the UK, being kicked out of the college through residency issues, getting a scholarship to re-enter and still not satisfying rules to be allowed to rejoin, even as a registered asylum seeker, before going on to organise student protests against UK government budget cuts. While the rules remained in force he caught the attention of SciencePo in France where he was offered a full scholarship. Ironically, his new alma mater went on to outperform Cambridge in world ranking in Politics and International Relations so he has no regrets there.

Working in the UN across a range of different organisations, Versetti has the global view of an international orphan. He has numerous accolades against his name, youngest published author in the UN, best actor at university and has extensive television experience.

He worked on different committees and organisations in the UN including the World Resources Forum where he investigated the factors affecting the distribution of resources and the challenges facing effective distribution. It was this area that he presented to the Vatican and the pope, with 48 other youth leaders from around the world, looking at the innovations possible to remedy resource inequality and inefficiency.

Founding Ambrosus this year seems a logical extension of his earlier work in the UN.

‘Í was fortunate to have some great experience in the UN,’ he explains. I took that early R&D, especially in food and sustainability, and launched Ambrosus on July 21. I was also fortunate to meet up with fellow stakeholder and co-founder Stefen Meyer. We had a lot in place even as we launched Ambrosus.’’

Ambrosus combines high-tech sensors, blockchain protocol and smart contracts to build Supply Chain 2.0: which it claims is the first publicly verifiable and community-driven system to assure the quality, safety and origins of food & medicine.

‘The sensor technology formed part of the R&D with different projects previously. ‘We were looking at converting sensors into oracles, allowing them to speak directly to the blockchain. Sensors inherently have limited memory and processing power and we needed them to be more intelligent.’

If Versetti is fascinated by blockchain, he is riveted by AI. ‘They will converge but my money is not for about a decade,’ he says. ‘Anyone claiming to have AI-powered blockchain (or vice versa) today is selling snake oil. Both technologies, despite all the big hype, have a long way to go.’ Mr Wilde would have been proud of his common sense.

Versetti is concentring on the life-essential products (food, chemicals and pharma) with Ambrosus. ‘This is where our intellectual capital lies. We have experience working with regulators in this area, using technology to provide true, accurate and fast provenance,’ he says. ‘Human audits are labour intensive and subject to error. Blockchain technology can radically change all that.

Ambrosus is a partner in the UN 10YFP Sustainable Food Systems, a programme on sustainable food production and consumption, where Versetti garnered much of his research. ‘Sometimes trade barriers are erected using fallacious points, such as quality over price. However, blockchain has the ability to not only safely record food safety and provenance; its immutable nature can be used as a point of proof. In the world of food production this is very important.’

Connecting with the INS Ecosystem, which seeks to decentralise grocery purchases by connecting food manufacturers directly with consumers, Ambrosus will provide the quality assurance part.

‘We are not retailers,’ says Versetti. ‘However, part of the INS philosophy is to allow consumers choose food that is good for them as well as good for the planet.  Our experience in food chain and quality assurance ideally positions us here. We will fulfil part of the loyalty programme between manufacturer and consumer.

‘We can monitor the carbon footprint of the food – how far it has travelled and by what method. We can monitor if the producer uses harmful pesticides and we can also address proof of process – where manufacturers offset production energy costs by using renewables. It’s one thing to throw up a windmill to tick boxes, it’s another to actual use it.’

Versetti’s work ties in very nicely with his worldview. ‘As a child growing up I questioned everything,’ he says. ‘Í still do. My smart friends suggest that I am something of a nihilist but in reality I see good in lots of philosophies, I’m just not ready to subscribe to only one of them.’

Perhaps that is the perfect worldview for someone providing quality assurance – all food is considered guilty until proven innocent on the blockchain.

 

Peter Fedchenkov, Disrupting The Global Grocery Marketplace, INS Ecosystem ICO Launches Dec 4th

First Published in CryptoCoin,News.com 

Despite a very handsome CV littered with impressive names including Harvard Business School, Goldman Sachs and Baring Vostock Capital Partners, Peter Fedchenkov, founder of the INS Ecosystem, insists he is a grocer at heart and that the grocery trade is in his genes.

His grandfather had a wholesale grocery business when, just after the collapse of the USSR in 1993, his retail distribution channels disappeared, As a result his grandfather was forced into selling groceries directly to consumers at small market stalls, Then he discovered the approach of placing ads in regional newspapers to sell goods directly to his customers; thereby creating an early mail-order grocery business where he no longer relied on the middle man.

Four years ago Fedchenkov put his education and genes into practice, and co-founded Instamart in Moscow – an upgraded internet of things approach to his grandfather’s business. Today Instamart is the largest online grocery delivery business in Russia, with 100,000 orders processed every day.

Instamart possesses no stock, warehouses or fleet but picks fresh produce to order from a number of key grocery outlets and ships it to the customer the same day. Compared to the UK where online food orders account for 5% of total food purchases, Russia consumers only order online 0.02 % of the total retail food market. It would appear there is room for growth.

Next up, Fedchenkov set his sights on global grocery dominance, this time co-founding the INS Ecosystem which bills itself as the first decentralised, global ecosystem directly connecting grocery manufacturers and consumers.

According to the website, the INS Ecosystem is a scalable, blockchain-based platform that enables consumers to buy groceries conveniently and directly from manufacturers at lower prices.

Its ICO begins on December 4th with the hard cap set at 60k Eth, which as Fedchekov acknowledges the rising market has changed the target from $18 million to $24 million in recent weeks.

The global grocery business is estimated to be worth $8.5 trillion. Retailers, on average mark-up manufactured goods by 50% and what is even more telling, the retail market is controlled by a very small number of corporations. In the UK alone 4 major multiples control more than 75% of the entire retail outlets.

‘’This market is ripe for decentralisation,’ says Fedchenkov. ‘Whenever I speak with a manufacturing company they are all keen to get to customers directly. There is a real appetite to cut out the middleman.’

Fedchenkov sees the demand for disintermediation for a number of reasons. ‘Manufacturers can see a drop in bricks and mortar traffic. Increasingly people are buying online and manufacturers want to take that away from middlemen retailers,’ he says.

‘Secondly there is question of consumer data. Currently retailers hold that information and use it for their own promotions or loyalty programmes. It is not fed back to the manufacturers and retailers can even use this data to replace branded goods with their own, reducing the manufacturers’ market share.

‘Finally, our research shows us that manufacturers spend a huge proportion of their budgets on advertising that never reaches the end consumer. In fact, statistics show they spend as much on trade marketing as it costs to produce the food in the first place. We want to help manufacturers reach their customers directly, reduce this wasted spend, and benefit directly from the consumer feedback.’

Blockchain technology is a crucial part of the INS Ecosystem model. On November 21, INS announced a partnership with Ambrosus, a blockchain-based ecosystem for the supplychain. Given that the INS Ecosystem is a platform and will not hold stock, it has to be able to provide transparency and provenance for the food supplied. Fedchenkov argues that the underpinning technology and assurance provided by Ambrosus will be much more rigorous than existing traditional audit trails.

‘The data captured by blockchain is immutable and transparent. It is perfect for recording high volume, low margin transactions. This is a good fit.’

FedchenKov also maintains that traditional supply chain validation can take days to confirm an audit trail, whereas data held on the blockchain can be validated within minutes. ‘Ít is safer all round,’ he says.

The INS Ecosystem will partner with third party fleet operations to fulfil distribution. Asked if it has the potential to replace multiples and then become a monster in its own right, Fedchenkov says it is not possible.

‘For example, each manufacturer will develop their own loyalty programme with their customers using smart contracts so that when customer behaviour reaches certain agreed targets or sets of actions, rewards are automatically released. They, the manufacturer, will know their own customer, not us.’

In terms of revenue, Fedchenkov will impose a straight levy of 1% based on volume for manufacturers and the same on third party fleet operators. He is sanguine about the use of the INS token as currency. ‘No, I expect people to buy their groceries in fiat currencies,’ he says. ‘However, rewards will be denominated in our token creating a value and liquidity as people use the token generated in the Ecosystem to buy more food or redeem rewards.’

So far, seven of the top 20 global FMCG manufacturers, including Reckitt Benckiser, Valio, FrieslandCampa, Capebe and Borjorni, have lent their names to the project and have expressed interest in joining the platform.  It would appear to be a win win for manufacturers as well as consumers – providing lower costs and greater choice.

Fedchenkov is feeling optimistic at this stage. A mixture of traditional marketing and blockchain marketing has produced results so far. A feature in the UK Telegraph brought in five new multinational manufactures. Now it’s just a question if the ICO traders are as excited as well.

 

What do dogs, shoe shiners, taxi drivers and now gang members have in common?

It used to be the dogs in the street. Then it was the shoe shiners. Joe Kennedy famously said that when his shoe shiner gave him stock market tips, then it was time to quit the market. After that it was taxi drivers with the Troika taken to task when Irish journalist Vincent Browne questioned just what Klaus Masuch’s taxi driver understood.

What the classic video here of the banker, Vincent Browne and the taxi driver

Now the traditional media are conflating Bitcoin with money laundering and the darknet. It’s an easy jump to make. Pick something you don’t understand, demonise it and then blame it for all sorts of seedy stuff – without any evidence.

Today it happened in the Irish Times, Ireland’s paper of record. A major drug sting in Amsterdam resulted in eight arrests, three of which are Irish nationals and known to the local Irish police as gang members. The paper detailed the swag found which included Bitcoin Mining equipment. The article ran the mining equipment as the main headline and then went on to say that Bitcoin could be used for money laundering. No mention of the cash and its use in money laundering.

So, if gangland members are mining Bitcoin, then maybe it is time to quit the markets – lol

Dashing Over Bitcoin, Why Dash Gained 40% In Value, Fernando Gutierrez Explains

Original post on CryptoCoin.News

Last week the cancellation of the Hard Fork in Bitcoin had the markets jumping and in particular the altcoins gained a lot of ground (60% in some cases) before things levelled off. Dash was one of the alt coins to be so positively affected and while it jumped all over the place it settled back to a comfortable gain of a net 40% to lie at the $430 mark. Given its gain in value since the start of the month this might be argued to be a function of more than just the cancellation of the SegWit2x or at least the head of legal at Dash, Fernando Gutierrez would argue as such.

Based in Spain, Gutierrez has been involved with Dash for three years. The first non-developer to be appointed to the board, Gutierrez is genuinely cryto-curious, a specialisation from general curiosity before.

‘My wife is relieved,’ laughs Gutierrez. ‘Previously my curiosity led me to online learning constantly. I was doing all-nighters taking online courses on everything from sociology to physics. Now I am just concentrating on cryptocurrency.’

Gutierrez is self-deprecating as he is also a fully-qualified lawyer, economist and owner of a number of successful business across gaming, video and health service – a true renaissance man.

Gutierrez argues that while the hard fork naturally impacting the markets, the surge in price for Dash was inexorable. ‘The same weekend we begun trading on Asian exchanges which pushed our price,’ he says on the phone from Spain. ‘And coupled with the release of new software, Version 12.2, we had a lot of good things to talk about, not least the fact that the very schism that divided Bitcoin was being addressed by our upgrades; notably the extension of the size of our Block to 2Mg. It was a natural flight to our coin.’

The argument of Dash being a safe haven must be tempered by its somewhat unruly past and in particular it’s first launch day where 2 million coins were mined creating a dubious instamine. The founder claims that the community did not wish to see a relaunch and mining has continued at a more sedate pace where on average 3k coins are mined daily. Despite this start, Dash has set up to tackle the payments industry and operates a number of separate technologies which separates and arguably improves on the core Bitcoin structure.

Most notable is the two tier structure. Miners mine new blocks and are paid a percentage (originally at 80% and now to 45%), while Masternodes are used for payments  – Private Send, InstantSend and governance of the eco system. To become a Masternode requires the holding of 1000 Dash coins, an expensive business at today’s prices, and anyone cashing in and going below that volume automatically loses their vote. Skin in the game is the rationale behind that. 10% of fees go back into Dash to pay for full time developers. This is key according to Gutierrez.

‘We can afford to pay developers and that is another reason to favour Dash over Bitcoin and other coins,’ he says.

Gutierrez feels that the cancellation of 2x signals strongly that Bitcoin is abandoning the payment model. ‘Slowed transactions and higher fees can only mean one thing – Bitcoin is going full-on for the storied value model,’ he argues. ‘They are not properly addressing the horrible user experience. The Lighting Network is being touted as a solution but that is not in place as yet.  In the short term, Bitcoin cannot compete in its current form as a payments carrier.’

The crisis of the size of the Bitcoin blockchain has ironically already been addressed by Dash – it has already increased its blocksize to that of 2Mgs and promised faster, cheaper transactions as a result.

Gutierrez is pretty confident about the future of Dash. V 12.2 has brought a lot of new features to the market – ‘We don’t do fake news,’ he says, ‘we only announce when we have features locked down,’ – and Evolution is planned for mid 2018.

‘We are very excited about Evolution,’ he says. ‘We have a number of key features that are going to make Dash very engaging – DAPI and DashDrive in particular. DAPI or Distributed APIs mean we can connect randomly to any cluster of servers. This will increase speed and security. While DashDrive means we can simplify the process of payments, work outside the blockchain and swap in usernames for long private keys. Having a username on the DashDrive means we can also offer password recovery.

‘And we are launching a HD Wallet on DashDrive making it easier again,’ says Gutierrez. ‘We know that the average Dash or alt coin holder is not a deep techie. They don’t want to be bothered by security and keys and keeping everything up to date. They want to use their digital wallet in much the same way as their physical one. We are building that on user experience to simplify, speed up and lower the costs of using Dash.’

All up Gutierrez’s argument that Dash’s appreciation of value is less to do with the cancellation of the hard fork and more to do with their concerted development seems to hold water. ‘We can’t ignore Bitcoin, when it rallies, alt coins surge in its slipstream,’ he says. ‘But we are doing things for ourselves. We are building value for ourselves as well and we’re not just piggy-backing on a trend.’

Hashgraph – can it give Blockchain a run for its money?

Ken Anderson, admin of the official Hashgraph Telegram Dev Group as well as CTO for Irish ICO Mingo, believes that Hashgraph has the potential to either eliminate or upgrade the many issues facing the Blockchain.

‘It makes sense that the next step is not another public Blockchain, but a new distributed ledger technology,’ he says. ‘Development is all about improving technology, not getting a piggy back just for the sake of it.’

Maybe it is his background as an ex-Military Intelligence Specialist in the US Army that makes Anderson somewhat fearless when it comes to evaluating new technology. ‘I’m committed to vetting Hashgraph,’ he says.

Anderson and his developers in Mingo have been given permission to go inside the technology but it will be several months before he will commit to his final verdict on the new distributed ledger.

So what is Hashgraph and why might it have the potential to overthrow Blockchain?  Firstly, it should be noted that the Hashgraph platform, which is a distributed ledger developed by Swirlds, is currently a private ledger, does not have an ICO planned nor does it have a cryptocurrency.

It does however, take some pretty big swipes at the problematic issues facing Blockchain.

‘If you asked me to say why Hashgraph is looking so good, I’d have to say it is because it addresses issues such as speed, size and fairness before we even look at the core elements of Hashgraph which is also provable, Byzantine, ACID compliant, efficient, inexpensive, timestamped, DoS resistant, and optionally non-permissioned,’ says Anderson.

Hashgraph claims it is much faster than Bitcoin. Bitcoin can only handle 7 transactions per second compared with Visa which can handle 100,000 transactions. Theoretically Hashgraph can handle 250,000 in the same time and maybe more if the bandwidth is sufficiently wide. Bandwidth is the defining factor unlike Blockchain which needs to increase its size to increase transactions which only adds complexity.

Then there is the issue of Proof of Work (POW) in Blockchain. Originally conceived as a consensual and fair way of allocating rewards to miners there are difficulties.  In Bitcoin, miners can control the order of transactions – often on arbitrary terms. Given that Bitcoin can never 100% guarantee confirm a transaction, despite the more blocks moving towards consensus, this creates an inherent, albeit random, bias in the system. It also one of the main reasons mining is so expensive.

Hashgraph on the other hand operates a consensus time stamp approach which means no miner can sideline another and all blocks are accepted in the chain, purely on a timed basis.

In Hashgraph once an event happens everyone on the network knows this. In addition, since there is full disclosure on the network then old blocks can be consigned to history and discarded if wanted. This shrinks the amount of storage from Bitcoin’s current 60GB to a fraction of a single gigabyte. That would even fit on a typical smartphone.

Much of the problems in Blockchain development and future direction also lies in the difficulty by which consensus is achieved – it is not a given but only a growing probability which can lend itself to hard forks and slow reactions to changes.

Hashgraph on the other hand uses the Byzantine fault tolerant protocol. This means no one individual can stop a decision, nor can a decision be reversed by an individual. To maintain this progress Hashgraph also uses Gossip about Gossip protocol. This protocol is well known in the programming community where nodes exchange information to every other node randomly, no one is left hanging and every bit of information – or gossip – is shared on the chain.  Therefore how each node will vote is known in the chain as well as what each node knows and when it got that information is time stamped. If there is an affair in the village then everyone knows about it. This is one village not to plan adultery if you want to stay married.

Currently Hashgraph is a private distributed ledger so it will take people like Anderson to evaluate its claims. If they are right – and it is faster, safer, fairer, cheaper and better as claimed – then it looks likely Hashgraph will give Blockchain a run for its money.