By Sandra Upson January 19, 2018
IN 2014, JOSEPH Poon and Thaddeus Dryja were bitcoin-obsessed engineers hanging out at pizza-fueled meetups in San Francisco. Their conversation often turned to the central problem of bitcoin: How to make it more useful? The bitcoin network’s design effectively limits it to handling three to seven transactions per second, compared with tens of thousands per second for Visa. Poon and Dryja recognized that for bitcoin to reach its full potential, it needed a major fix.
The pair had an idea, one whose elements were already in the air at the time. On the weekends they met in unofficial coworking spaces to hammer out a paper describing their vision. Six months later, they revealed their work at a San Francisco bitcoin meetup. They called it the Lightning Network, a system that can be grafted onto a cryptocurrency’s blockchain. With this extra layer of code in place, they believed, bitcoin could support far more transactions and make them almost-instant, reliable and cheap, while remaining free of banks and other institutions. In other words, it promised to fulfill the cryptocurrency dream originally set out by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.
As word of their paper spread, blockchain enthusiasts started hashing out its technical details in blogs and on social media. Around the world, engineers began trying to turn the ideas in Poon and Dryja’s paper into working code. “It was the second most exciting paper I had read in the blockchain era,” says Rusty Russell, a developer at Blockstream, a blockchain technology company. “The first was Satoshi’s.”
More at: The Lightning Network Could Make Bitcoin Faster—and Cheaper – Wired
By David Pimentel January 19, 2018
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is seeking for proposals on how blockchain technology can help improve its operations.
VA is a federal cabinet-level agency that provides near-comprehensive healthcare services to eligible military veterans at VA medical centers and outpatient clinics located throughout the country. It offers several non-healthcare benefits including disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation, education assistance, home loans, and life insurance. It also provides burial and memorial benefits to eligible veterans and family members at 135 national cemeteries.
During the AFCEA Bethesda’s 10th Annual Health IT Day, VA chief technology officer Charles Worthington said the agency’s approach to blockchain is to take a step back and look at the problem the department wants to solve.
“We really would be looking to industry to surface use cases for us,” said Worthington. “I think we’re going to be coming to industry with problems we have, and if you think blockchain is an appropriate solution, bring it to us.”
More at: Blockchain Solution Proposals Sought By Department of Veterans Affairs – BlockTribune
By Mike Orcutt January 18, 2018
Close examination reveals how power is being consolidated across their networks.
In cryptocurrency circles, calling something “centralized” is an insult. The epithet stems from Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto’s revelation: a monetary system doesn’t need a central authority, like a government, to work. That’s such a potent idea that it’s morphed into a battle among crypto-enthusiasts between good—that is, “decentralized”— currencies and evil ones, or anything with a whiff of “centralization,” that are assumed to threaten the utopian view of cryptocurrencies as the vehicle for a new financial world order.
Do these arguments hold any water? Emin Gün Sirer, a cryptocurrency expert at Cornell University, says in many cases the jury’s still out—mainly because no one’s bothered to take a hard look at how decentralized these networks actually are.
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“We don’t have any real metrics yet.” he says. His group aims to help change that with newly published results from a two-year-long study focused on Bitcoin and Ethereum, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency networks.
More at: Bitcoin and Ethereum Have a Hidden Power Structure, and It’s Just Been Revealed – MIT Technology Review
By Clare Dickinson January 18, 2018
Intercontinental Exchange has launched a data feed for bitcoin and other virtual currencies, as the world biggest financial institutions start to build a professional framework for trading the volatile assets.
ICE Data Services has teamed up with Blockstream — which provides blockchain technology, a type of distributed ledger that backs virtual currencies — to offer the real-time feed from 15 trading venues.
It will include leading cryptocurrencies measured against the US dollar and other major currencies, according to a statement from ICE, the owner of the New York Stock Exchange.
Lynn Martin, the president and chief operating officer of ICE Data Services, said: “With the broad array of cryptocurrencies and exchanges, and given the price variances between exchanges, it’s critical that investors have a comprehensive source of pricing information.”
The move by ICE comes shortly after two of its rivals, CME Group and Cboe Global Markets, launched trading in futures contracts. And this week Goldman Sachs’s chief financial officer R. Martin Chavez said on the bank’s earnings call that it is aiming to offer clearing in the contracts after receiving requests from clients.
More at: US exchange giant launches cryptocurrency data feed – Financial News
By Jessie Willms, Bitcoin Magazine January 17, 2018
Brian Behlendorf is confident that 2018 will be a peak year, not only for Hyperledger – the international consortium of companies and organizations developing open source, permissioned blockchain technology – but also for blockchain technology in general as businesses and governments recognize the potential power of distributed ledgers and smart contracts.
“2018 will be the year that Hyperledger and blockchain come into their own. Projects demonstrating real world solutions, like Change Healthcare , that will enable healthcare systems to better and more efficiently process claims and payments, will launch this year.”
Hyperledger, founded in 2015, incubates and promotes blockchain technologies for business, including distributed ledgers, client libraries, graphical interfaces and smart contract engines.
members include leading companies in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and technology development.
More at: Hyperledger’s Behlendorf: 2018 Will Bring Breakthrough Blockchain Developments – Nasdaq.com
By Zacks Equity Research January 17, 2018
Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.68 trillion in 2018, a 4.5% increase from the $3.53 billion recorded in 2017, as per a recent report by the information technology research and advisory firm, Gartner Inc. IT . This will represent back-to-back the second year-over-year growth in spending on information technology after witnessing two consecutive years of decline. Notably, in 2015 and 2016, worldwide spending declined 5.5% and 0.6%, respectively.
Per the predictions of the research firm, the turnaround in global IT spending, which started last year, will keep its momentum alive at least till the next year. Gartner forecasts this spending to reach $3.78 trillion in 2019, representing year-over-year growth of 2.7% from the current-year level. If this happens, overall IT spending will cross the previous highest mark of $3.71 trillion reached in 2014.
More at: Global IT Spending Rebound is Here to Stay Per Gartner – Nasdaq.com