By Ainsley Harris March 15, 2018
As cryptocurrencies went mainstream in 2017, one company rocketed to the top of the charts: Coinbase, a wallet and trading operation that now boasts over 13 million users. Coinbase was the first startup to make buying, selling, and storing bitcoin as simple as mobile banking with traditional fiat currency. As you might imagine, competitors–hungry for a taste of Coinbase’s reported $1 billion in 2017 revenue–have started circling.
Robinhood, a broker-dealer with 4 million users, and Square, a payments company that operates a digital wallet called Cash App, were the first challengers to make a move. Starting in late January, both companies began introducing bitcoin trading for retail investors in select states. To undercut Coinbase’s fees, which can approach 4%, they decided to charge no commission. But in their eagerness to go to market, both companies also decided to rely on partners for their trading infrastructure.
Over the long term, that lack of infrastructure will put Robinhood and Square at a disadvantage, says Jeremy Allaire, founder and CEO of Circle. Circle, in contrast, operates an over-the-counter trading desk for institutional investors as well as a trading app for retail investors, which launched earlier this week. The institutional trading venue, which is similar to Coinbase’s GDAX, gives Circle greater control over pricing and liquidity across the full ecosystem.
More at: Why Circle Could Become Coinbase’s Biggest Rival – Fast Company
By BLOOMBERG March 15, 2018
A version of the technology that’s meant to make cryptocurrency payments faster and cheaper went live Thursday.
The software, called Lightning Network, can now be used for Bitcoin payments after more than a year in which thousands of developers tested it. Lightning Labs, one of the firms developing the technology, released this initial version, which is compatible with networks being developed by other groups, such as Blockstream and Acinq.
Bitcoin has become digital gold — or a viable investment alternative — to many, but it has been harder for it to fulfill its original purpose of becoming digital money, as transaction fees have skyrocketed to as high as $50, while confirmation times took as long as a week at their peak. Enthusiasts say the Lightning Network will solve these problems with fees at a fraction of a cent and instantaneous transactions.
The Lightning Network rolls out, another technology meant to speed up transactions, Segregated Witness, gains traction, with the number of transactions using it doubling to more than 30 percent of total Bitcoin transactions in the past month. Bitcoin transaction fees have plummeted in part thanks to this, but the total number of transactions has also declined. Lightning Network is also meant to help lower fees on the main Bitcoin network.
More at: Lightning Network Will Allow People to Pay With Bitcoin Easier – Fortune
By Cloudleaf (sponsored content) March 15, 2018
Global competitive markets are eclipsing local economies and jurisdictions by forcing supply chain ecosystems to evolve. Enterprises are following suit and digitally transforming their businesses in order to broaden their reach on the world-stage.
Editor’s Note: The following article is brought to you by Cloudleaf in partnership with the Supply Chain Network.
Global competitive markets are eclipsing local economies, time-zones and jurisdictions by forcing supply chain ecosystems to evolve. Enterprises are following suit and digitally transforming their businesses in order to broaden their reach on the world-stage. These globally integrated supply chains have the potential to facilitate cooperative stakeholder relationships and help enterprises quickly source materials from a wider network of suppliers at lower cost. Tomorrow’s supply chains represent catalysts of innovation that enable unique technology solutions to deal with the complexities of running highly autonomous, perpetual operations in discrete and process manufacturing.
However, coming down from the 30k foot view, the realities on the ground can be quite different. In the global economy, many enterprises continue to struggle with maintaining transactional security, product quality, and keeping counterfeit materials out of their supply chains. And on the front lines, operation managers are under more pressure than ever before to keep products flowing, stay productive, and cut costs; all while working within an ever expanding ecosystem of supplier inputs and distributor outputs. So any interruption in the flow of goods, and the materials that go into them, is enough to keep operation managers up at night. Inaccurate inventory levels, down equipment or misplaced assets have the potential to set off a cascade of failures that ripple through the supply chain, increasing costs and introducing valuable opportunities for the competition.
More at: Blockchain is the New Supply Chain – Supply & Demand Chain Executive (sponsored content)
Source: Accenture March 16, 2018
A consortium comprising AB InBev, Accenture, APL, Kuehne + Nagel and a European customs organization has successfully tested a blockchain solution that can eliminate the need for printed shipping documents and save the freight and logistics industry hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
The consortium tested a solution where documents are no longer exchanged physically or digitally but instead, the relevant data is shared and distributed using blockchain technology under single ownership principles determined by the type of information. Through a detailed review of the current documentation processes, the group examined a re-allocation of information ownership, accountability and risk enabled by the trust and security blockchain technology offers.
More at: Accenture completes trial of ocean-going blockchain platform – Finextra – Press Release
By Ray Li March 16, 2018
The increasing complexity and opaque supply chain system has allowed for a thriving counterfeit market. A report issued by the International Chamber of Commerce predicts the counterfeiting market could reach $2.3trn by 2022 from the previous $1.7trn in 2015, with goods ranging from automotive supplies to chemicals and pesticides, consumer electronics, electrical components, food, drink and agricultural products.
In addition to a thriving counterfeit market, there has been a continuous lack of transparency across multi-billion dollar corporations to disclose risks associated with their products, as well as accurately source their supplies. For example, in June 2017, Takata, once a titan in the auto parts industry, declared bankruptcy and is estimated to owe $33bn to their suppliers, a scandal that could be traced back to around 2000 when Takata’s executives were aware of dangerous defects with its airbags’ years and falsified test reports to automakers. The recalls have affected nineteen automakers to date and it is estimated that it will take until 2023 before all vehicles are removed from the roads.
How Blockchain Technology Can Address Such Issues
VeChain, a blockchain-enabled product management platform, aims to address the current issue, helping businesses by ensuring a full 360-degree view of their supply chain, with all segments securely recorded and stored in a distributed ledger. The project has been around since 2015 and is being implemented across various industries including luxury goods, automotive, agriculture, logistics, food/drugs and governments. In short, the blockchain technology will establish a trust-free sharing business collaboration model to address the fragmented flow of information across the whole supply chain where various parties will ensure the security of the data is efficient.
More at: How Companies Are Using Blockchain to Increase Supply Chain Transparency – The Market Mogul
By Wolfie Zhao March 16, 2018
Cryptocurrencies were not brought up for criticism at an annual Chinese consumer protection event, despite rumors to the effect.
Multiple sources had shared rumors with CoinDesk in early March that major policy changes would be announced on Mar. 15 night during a national TV program to curb cryptocurrency activities in China, such as trading and disguised initial coin offerings (ICOs).
The annual show is hosted by China Central Television, the country’s official broadcast mouthpiece, in celebration of the World Consumer Rights Day, during which questionable company conducts are exposed for the sake of public safety.
It is further co-hosted by major Chinese government agencies including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Ministry of Public Security, Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate.
The rumors had suggested that the program would expose initial coin offerings that still exist in China, some of which may operate so that certain people with access to ICOs would act as agents to invest on behalf of other Chinese investors.
More at: Crypto Escapes Scrutiny at China’s Annual Consumer Protection TV Show – CoinDesk
By Joe McKendrick, Contributor March 15, 2018
There’s so much more to blockchain than cryptocurrency. Blockchain may eventually reach into every corner of the business, providing online, “smart contracts” that bind and assure any type of transaction, from exchange of goods to services rendered to employee records.
The money is beginning to flow in this direction. Worldwide spending on blockchain solutions is forecast to reach $2.1 billion this year, more than double the $945 million spent in 2017, according to estimates from IDC. The consultancy expects blockchain spending to grow at a clip of more than 80 percent a year, reaching $9.7 billion a year in 2021.
Moving up with blockchain
What’s all this money going to be spent on? Intelligent supply chains may be a big piece of it. Just recently, IBM and Maersk launched a blockchain-enabled shipping platform, essentially, an “end-to-end shipping solution that will give all parties involved in global trade a single view of where cargo is and allow authorities to give electronic approval for its movement,” as described by Computerworld’s Lucas Mearian.
More at: Blockchain Is A Potential ‘Truth Machine’ For The World’s Transactions – Forbes Tech #CuttingEdge