All about Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Digital Transformation

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Dr. AMK, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. Dr. AMK

    Dr. AMK Notebook Evangelist

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    Blockchain.jpeg
    Blockchain – Maybe you’ve heard of it, or maybe you have no clue on what it is. Either way, this post to shed some light on the data structure that’s disrupting the world of financial services and beyond. By reading this post, you’ll learn about what blockchain is, where it came from, and what types exist.


    First Things First – What is it?

    To put it simply, blockchain is a way to store data. But unlike many forms of data storage, blockchain is highly secure and practically tamperproof. This is due to how the data is organized. Consider the following to understand blockchain and how it works:

    • When money transaction data is collected together, it becomes a block.

    • A blockchain is comprised of many such blocks.

    • To create a new block in a blockchain, take the hash function from the previous block in the chain and include it in your new block.

    • If you create an even newer block, take the hash function from the previous “new” block and add it to the newer one.

    [​IMG]
    This is a continuous process, and makes changing any piece of data alter the state of the entire chain. Using blockchain technology makes a ledger of data that cannot be tampered with, or at least isn’t computationally viable to tamper with. This creates a history of data you can always trust.


    Where did it come from?

    No one can talk about blockchain without mentioning the famous Bitcoin whitepaper by Satoshi Nakamoto (Download link below), the pseudonym of an unknown individual or possibly even a group of people. The paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, is what gave rise to the blockchain concept. Nakamoto wanted to pitch the idea of sending electronic cash without going through a financial institution. To that end, Nakamoto wanted to increase the trustworthiness of the data, in order to help prevent errors such as double spending and fraud. While only mentioning “chain of blocks”, that paper breathed life into the technology we know today.


    Two Kinds of Blockchain

    Blockchain technology falls into one of two categories – public or private. Public blockchain, such as BitCoin or Etherium, has no official owner, making it a platform where users can come and go as they please. In addition, anyone can utilize it with new blocks at any point in time, as long as they catch up on the data history preceding their new block. On the other hand, private blockchain is run by third parties, and requires special permission by the platform managers to use. Here is a diagram that outlines the differences between public (permissionless) and private (permissioned) blockchains:

    [​IMG]
    Even so, these two categories are not exclusive. You don’t have to write an application so that it runs within the public blockchain; you can take software toolkits and run it privately, as well. This allows for easy data sharing between both private and public blockchains. This makes consensus key to blockchain success, as more than one company could share a blockchain. For instance, one company may be able to share data with another company, but both can always trust the data they receive. This is especially true since the data can’t be altered once imputed into the original chain.


    Which blockchain platform should you choose?

    Not all blockchains are created equal, as many run differently from each other. Some allow you to execute code, while others may not, for instance. There are a growing number of platforms, and their creators are constantly making it easier for enterprises to gain access to them.

    In our next blog, we’ll talk about why businesses should take notice of blockchain and consider utilizing it to their benefit. Look forward to it!


    Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System - Satoshi Nakamoto (Paper)
    Blockchain Fundamentals: Introduction: (Video)
    BlockChain Technology - Beyond Bitcoin (Paper)

    Without blockchain, bitcoin couldn't exist. Here's how it works
     
  2. Dr. AMK

    Dr. AMK Notebook Evangelist

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    U.S. company plans funds that double bitcoin price moves
    NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. fund managers are ramping up efforts to tap into the fever surrounding digital assets, and the latest planned bitcoin products could deliver some head-turning and stomach-churning price movements if they come to market.

    A Bitcoin logo is seen on a cryptocurrency ATM in Santa Monica, California, U.S., January 4, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
    The new idea is to build “leveraged” and “inverse” funds that would rise - or fall - twice as fast as the price of bitcoin on a given day.

    Direxion Asset Management LLC plans to list such products on Intercontinental Exchange Inc’s NYSE Arca exchange if U.S. securities regulators give the nod, according to a filing by the exchange this week.

    In the filing, the exchange said the listing “will enhance competition among market participants, to the benefit of investors and the marketplace.”

    Bitcoin is a virtual asset that can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government.

    Bitcoin is one of the wildest trades in the market today, delivering sharp gains and losses that defy explanation. Trading has been expensive and difficult, with brokerages offering limited access and specialist websites like Coinbase reporting regular outages. Top voices on markets from economist Robert Shiller to JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon have warned people off buying bitcoin.

    Yet asset managers have been racing to design more than 10 proposals for bitcoin funds that are currently before U.S. regulators.

    New ETFs could make access to bitcoin easier and, in the case of the Direxion product, mean bigger stakes for investors, with a 25 percent gain or loss on one day doubled to 50 percent.

    So far the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has declined or put on hold all the proposals.

    A spokesman representing Direxion declined to comment on the latest filing as did a representative from NYSE.

    Bitcoin gained nearly 12 percent on Friday to $16,928 on the Bitstamp exchange.

     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  3. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Microsoft Halts Bitcoin Transactions Because It's An "Unstable Currency"
    Catalin Cimpanu January 7, 2018 07:20 AM
    https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/ne...ransactions-because-its-an-unstable-currency/

    "Microsoft has stopped supporting Bitcoin as a payment method for Microsoft products, Bleeping Computer has learned.

    A Microsoft support staffer has told us the move is temporary and cited the unstable state of the Bitcoin currency. Microsoft added support for Bitcoin in 2014, and has previously temporarily stopped supporting Bitcoin in the past [1, 2]."

    "The move and reasons are similar to Steam's decision to stop supporting Bitcoin transactions at the start of December 2017.

    Steam cited "high fees and volatility" as the reason it stopped supporting Bitcoin payments.

    Transactions fees have skyrocketed from a few cents a few years back to tens of dollars, making Bitcoin almost unusable for microtransactions, where some users end up paying a large percentage of the transaction total as a transaction fee.

    For companies like Microsoft and Steam, Bitcoin's volatile price is also an issue because sudden and unforeseeable price drops may incur huge losses."
     
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    In my personal opinion, the theories, propaganda and arguments about the independence of the Betcoin are just myths to mislead and deceive people.
    The United States controls most of the world's economies, fought many wars for that, and even controls oil-producing countries force them to sell by $$dollar$$ in all its transactions at all, with no exceptions.

    It is not logical at all, no one with a minimum economics understanding can be convinced that they will allow another currency to appear suddenly and pose a clear threat to the $USD$. Something is happening offstage.


    Just a thought, Correct me if I'm wrong...
     
  7. hmscott

    hmscott Notebook Nobel Laureate

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    Bitcoin’s Fantasy
    By James P. Freeman | December 31, 2017, 22:24 EST
    http://newbostonpost.com/2017/12/31/bitcoins-fantasy/

    "No stable currency — digital or fiat — rises by nearly 2,000 percent in a twelve-month period. But that is exactly what bitcoin, the supersonically hyped, so-called digital currency, did in 2017.

    It opened 2017 at $997.69 in January then peaked at $19,343.04 in mid-December. And, within a 24-hour period, on the last trading day of the year, Ripple, another digital currency, rose by a staggering 30 percent. For delirious speculators — as sound financiers fully comprehend — cryptocurrency is kryptonite. Buyer and seller, beware. And government too.

    Today, there are 1,370 recognized (and mostly unregulated) crypto-currencies traded over one hundred exchanges with a total market capitalization (total market value) having appreciated to over $604 billion. Japan accounts for between a third and half of all global bitcoin trade, making it today’s biggest player. Bitcoin represents over 41 percent of the crypto market, making it the largest and most popular digital currency. At least today.

    When it first began “trading” in July 2010 — if that is the right description — it was listed for six cents, according to Coindesk, an information services company for the digital asset and blockchain technology community. But you can now buy a sandwich at Subway or book a trip with expedia.com using bitcoin.

    Sensibly, there is more debate about bitcoin than actual commerce.
    Conceptually, digital currency or digital cash probably began in the late 1980s. But it wasn’t until October 31, 2008 — amid the global financial meltdown and The Great Recession — that a white paper written by still-unknown author or authors, under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, gave the world cryptocurrency’s intellectual underpinning. But it lacked sensible financial underpinning. And still does.

    Nonetheless, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” hatched a simple idea: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” Crucially, without Internet technologies and other decentralizing innovations, bitcoin and its dueling alternatives (“alt-coins”) do not function. They are simply protocols. They are not currencies.

    What the world needs now is not love. Instead, it needed, Nakamoto believed, “an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.” A digital string of bits and bytes that supplants human nature. Well.

    What emerged are mathematical formulas masquerading as currencies with no intrinsic value and no physical form."
    "In early 2009, the first bitcoin software was released, employing what is called “blockchain technology.” This allows digital information to be distributed but not copied. Through a web of computers these transactions (“broadcasts”) are ultimately validated and verified and then placed on a cloud ledger. Once verified, a given transaction is combined with other transactions to create a new block of data for the ledger. New blocks are added to the existing blocks in a way that is purportedly permanent and unalterable. All anonymously. And, supposedly, all securely. (Last year, hackers stole bitcoins worth (then) $65 million after attacking a major digital currency exchange (DCE).) In case of trouble you can’t call Interpol. Or Superman.

    Theoretically, anything can be digitized, programmed, and monitored. And there are obvious practical benefits in the new technology like verifying contracts and other records. But suddenly, like a blue-bolt of lightning appearing on a clear crisp day, without rhyme or reason, currencies were created out of these technical applications. Now, millions of people have created billions of dollars. Out of nothing. How fitting for the Millennial Generation. The Insta Generation. Instagram. Instacash.

    (Shouldn’t readers of this column and others be issued NBPostcoins, after, say, 100 clicks?)

    Indeed, out of this irrational exuberance (emphasis on the irrational), bitcoin.com claims that bitcoin is considered the “people’s money” born out of a “complex monetary system,” and based on “valid consent.” It relies upon the “consensus of math.” Furthermore, this nouveau financial utopia is “a stark contrast to the untrustworthy banking system we know of today.” Hence, bitcoin’s fantasy.

    Some, with molten irony, call cryptocurrency the “next-gen gold.” The reasons for that analogy are two-fold: Bitcoins are virtually mined (in a computing resource-intensive process; nearly 10 U.S. households can be powered for one day by the electricity consumed for a single bitcoin transaction); and, as the U.S. dollar replaced gold as the de-facto world’s reserve currency, some predict, likewise, a cryptocurrency will replace the U.S. dollar as the new reserve currency. Last month, Jeff Currie, global head of commodities research at Goldman Sachs, decried the hostility to Bitcoin, saying it’s “not much different than gold.”

    Mining bitcoin is difficult and intentional, using hard drives, not hardhats. Only 21 million bitcoins can be mined. Approximately 80 percent are already in “circulation.” And barring any unforeseen problems, the last coin to be mined will be in 2140. Then again, what could possibly go wrong with a new all-digital highly unregulated decentralized speculative global currency, where one must be conversant in mempools and satoshis?

    Many believe bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

    New York University professor of corporate finance Aswath Damodaran last October argued in a blogpost that bitcoin is not an asset but was, in fact, “a currency, and as such, you cannot value it or invest in it. You can only price it and trade it.” (He also calls it “Gold for Millennials.”)

    And tech investor James Altucher recently told CNBC, “This is the greatest tectonic shift in money and wealth that we will see in our lifetimes.” Bitcoin, he says, “solves the problem of infinite money printing, forgery, double-spending and anonymity.” But Altucher also acknowledges that 98 percent of cryptocurrencies are scams.
    There are, fortunately, healthy skeptics regarding the remaining two percent. The adults in the room (digital safe space?) come from academia, financial services, and the government. Their thoughts are telling and cautionary.

    One is Nobel Laureate and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz. Last month on Bloomberg TV he said bitcoin “ought to be outlawed.” Additionally, “bitcoin is successful only because of its potential for circumvention, lack of oversight.” Perhaps more damning, Stiglitz concluded, “It doesn’t serve any socially useful purpose.” And when asked if this phenomenon is “smoke and mirrors,” his reply was swift: “precisely.” He did speak, though, of the benefits of a “digital economy.”

    The most outspoken critic is JPMorganChase chief executive officer Jamie Dimon. In September he called bitcoin “a fraud.” He also takes exception with this kind of non-fiat cryptocurrency, but he thinks a dollar-based cryptocurrency is workable. Recently, he said of cryptocurrency, “Governments are going to crush it one day.” In a statement earlier this month, Dimon said he was open-minded about the uses of cryptocurrencies “if properly controlled and regulated.”

    Because of its latent anonymity, criminals can use bitcoin to effect drug trade and other illicit activity (ransomware and money laundering) without having such activity easily traced back to them. As Dimon alluded, it is surprising that there is not greater government oversight with respect to control over and, more importantly, taxation of cryptocurrencies.

    Adding a whiff of greater legitimacy to the whole enterprise, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest futures exchange, launched its own bitcoin futures contract on December 17. Next June, Goldman Sachs expects to open a trading desk that would “make markets” in the cryptocurrencies.

    Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan (he coined the phrase “irrational exuberance”) said in early December that bitcoin is “not a rational currency.” He likened bitcoin to the U.S. “Continental Currency,” introduced in 1775. It became worthless by 1782.

    Just before bitcoin hit its all-time high, current Fed chair Janet Yellen, at a press conference in Washington, cited the financial stability risks from it as “limited.” Thus far, the U.S. banking system does not have “significant exposure” to any potential “threats” from bitcoin, she said. Notably, Yellen said that bitcoin is a “highly speculative asset” and underscored that it “doesn’t constitute legal tender.” Currently, bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies are not subject to regulation by the central bank. Last January, Yellen, like many not stricken by the mania, did recognize blockchain as an “important technology.”

    As for bitcoin in 2018, it might become the third massive asset bubble, after the dot com and housing bubbles, to burst in this young, disruptive century."
     
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  8. Dr. AMK

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    Digital transformation: online guide to digital business transformation
    Digital transformation is the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind.

    While digital transformation is predominantly used in a business context, it also impacts other organizations such as governments, public sector agencies and organizations which are involved in tackling societal challenges such as pollution and aging populations by leveraging one or more of these existing and emerging technologies. In some countries, such as Japan, digital transformation even aims to impact all aspects of life with the country’s Society 5.0 initiative, which goes far beyond the limited Industry 4.0 vision in other countries.

    [​IMG]

    In the scope of this digital transformation overview, we mainly look at the business dimension. The mentioned development of new competencies revolves around the capacities to be more agile, people-oriented, innovative, customer-centric, streamlined, efficient and able to induce/leverage opportunities to change the status quo and tap into new information- and service-driven revenues. Digital transformation efforts and strategies are often more urgent and present in markets with a high degree of commoditization.
     
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  10. Dr. AMK

    Dr. AMK Notebook Evangelist

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    Top 10 Trends For Digital Transformation In 2018
    [​IMG]
    Even though we haven’t quite hit the final quarter of 2017, you could say it’s been an eventful year in digital transformation. Just as I predicted last year at this time, user experience (UX), big data, smart machines — and of course, change itself—have proven big players in the business landscape this year. As we round the bend to 2018, we get a sense of what’s ahead in the digital transformation—barring any unexpected disruptions, of course.

    1-4. The IoT Will Push Us To The Edge — Literally (IoT, Analytics, Edge, 5G)

    One thing I noticed in putting this list together is that the IoT kept popping up, repeatedly. This is why it has found its way to the top. Gartner estimates more than 8.4 billion "Things" are on the internet today, up more than 30% from just one year ago. However, IoT alone is just the start. It isn't so much about the things, but rather what we do with these things once they are connected and supplying us data. Three of the main trends I see — the analytics revolution, edge computing, and 5G cell processing—are all driven by the IoT at their core. In fact, IDC predicts that up to 40% of all compute will happen at the edge in just the next couple of years. This is why trends 1-4 all rest with IoT.

    • Analytics (2): If you’re maxing out on data and analytics in 2017, just wait. The mass amount of information being created by the IoT has the power to revolutionize everything from manufacturing and healthcare to the layout and functioning of entire cities — allowing them to work more efficiently and profitably than ever before. One company, for instance, found that it was able to reduce the cost of managing its fleet of 180,000 trucks from 15 cents per mile to just 3 cents. That same kind of efficiency can be exercised in almost every industry, from retail to city planning. Tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM, SAS and SAP are all heavily investing in Analytics, more specifically IoT Analytics as they are seeing the power of this combination in driving new business insights across a vast array of industries and applications.

    • Edge Computing (3): If you think you’ve already been pushed to the edge when it comes to digital transformation, look out: you haven’t seen anything yet. Just when many companies are finally beginning to move toward cloud computing, edge computing — driven by the sheer volume and speed of information produced by the IoT—is jumping to the forefront of the business scene. Industry leaders such as Cisco and HPE have made huge hardware, software and service bets on this movement, which I look at as strong validation of this trend. As smart drones, autonomous vehicles, and other AI-powered smart devices seek to connect and communicate instantly via the IoT, the matter of sending data “all the way” to the cloud will become highly impractical. Many of these devices will need real-time response and processing, making edge computing the only viable option. For those of you who have just jumped into the cloud generation: don’t fret. Though edge will continue to be the go-to choice for processing real-time data, it’s likely that the most important and relevant data will still head cloud-ward.

    5G (4): Just as the amount of data produced by the IoT will force data to the edge, it will also force mobile providers to move faster than ever — toward 5G. The level of hyper-connectivity expected by users today leaves little room not to move forward on the 5G path, but don’t get too excited. The move to 5G won’t happen overnight, and it will likely be patchy at best throughout the coming year. This year we are seeing Gigabit LTE (the stepping stone between current LTE and 5G) making leaps with devices from Samsung and Sony leading the way. Today much of the Gigabit LTE movement is being powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon technology, but others will certainly seek to become involved in this rapid growth market for mobile.

    5. Blockchain Finds Its Way
    While its more popular cousin Bitcoin continues to blow away stock market analysts, Blockchain may finally find its place in 2018. Gartner shows that as of February this year, blockchain was the second top search term on its website, increasing 400% in just 12 months. To me, it’s no surprise. While the financial industry will be the first to begin utilizing this amazing tool, numerous others — from healthcare to entertainment to hospitality — will not be far behind. Granted, the move to blockchain will not come overnight either — just 20% of trade finance globally will use it by 2020. But once it finds its sea legs — most likely this year — there will literally be no turning back.

    6. AI Goes From Newbie To Mainstream
    “Yeah, yeah, I know — artificial intelligence.” That’s likely the response you’ll get when talking about AI in 2018. With everyone from toddlers to seniors using Alexa, Siri, and customer service chatbots, it’s no wonder AI may soon begin to feel like old news—at least to mainstream users. On the business side, however, so much power remains in AI — in everything from customer service and robotics to analytics and marketing. Companies will continue to use AI to surprise, connect, and communicate with their customers in ways they may not even appreciate or realize. This includes faster, cheaper, and smarter automation of everything from emails and content generation to industrial manufacturing. I believe we are still only at the beginning here, but we have seen the likes of IBM Watson, SAP Leonardo, Salesforce Einstein and other major software companies all launching embedded AI right into their platforms. This is a sign of what is to come.

    [​IMG]Futurum Research
    7. VR Goes From Hero To Zero
    Poor VR. Just yesterday, tons of us were getting excited about buying our first set of VR headsets — and out of nowhere, AR has pushed it out of the way. Why? At least for now, it’s simply cheaper and easier to use, especially in a professional context. By using 3-D visualization, companies can better train, pitch, and envision new products — without the same expense of VR. This isn’t to say VR won’t have its day. Just not in 2018.

    8. Failure As A Service?
    Just as we saw the as-a-Service market continue to grow with software, infrastructure, and — just about everything else — failure will soon be a service on the aaS menu. The reason: failing fast is one of the most important elements of success in today’s quick-moving digital transformation environment. Failure-as-a-Service (FaaS) will provide visualization, rapid prototyping, and other fast fail methods that will help companies strategize fast for greater success. It’s a bit speculative to say it will be called “Failure-as-a-service,” but the ability to more quickly recognize when something isn’t working and move on will be a key differentiator between the winners and losers of digital transformation.

    9. Culture Remains a Hurdle
    Bad news: If your company is battling culture issues in digital transformation, they will struggle even harder in 2018. As the pace of change continues to increase — and the number of new technologies continue to grow — it will become even more imperative that companies move fast while moving forward toward growth. Companies that don’t embrace agility, or fail to knock down silos, will have an even more difficult time next year. You often hear that a leopard can’t change its spots, well culture isn’t that permanent and successful transformation are nearly impossible in a resistant culture.

    10. Digital Transformation Becomes a Must
    Last, whereas digital transformation may once have been just a buzzword in some (lagging) boardrooms in 2017, 2018 will force many companies to realize DX is no joke. It’s an imperative in today’s business market. Disruption will continue to be an increasingly common occurrence in the next few years, and companies unable or unprepared for those changes will quickly fall to the bottom of the pack.

    Indeed, if there is one thing that’s clear in digital transformation, it’s that all the technologies above are working together to push one another forward, creating a swell of change that simply cannot be resisted. The strength of the whole is already too strong to fight against. The companies that succeed — and survive — 2018 will be the ones that learn to go with the flow. This isn't to say there aren't other trends. No doubt security is heating back up as consumer privacy is at stake, but people continue to forgo privacy and security for experiences; this likely won't change even though it seems that it should. So what other trends do you see out there? Let's keep the conversation going below as we know Digital Transformation will stay hot in the year to come.
     
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