Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and Digital IDs

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The city of Zug, home of the Swiss Crypto Valley, will invite its residents to take part in an experimental blockchain-based vote. They are expected to share opinions on several questions of local importance, including the fireworks display during the annual Lakeside Festival and the use of digital IDs to borrow books and pay parking fees. This and other fintech and crypto-related stories from the Alpine nation and other corners of Europe are featured in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief.   

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Tuesday: POT Saves World, Coinbase Pumps ETC, Binance Wants EUR

Zug Experiments with Blockchain-Based Vote

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAuthorities in the Swiss city of Zug plan to ask local residents to participate in a consultative blockchain-based vote this month utilizing the city’s electronic ID system. They will be able to vote via their smartphones by downloading and installing an app. The experimental vote will be held between June 25 and July 1. Citizens will be asked if they are in favor of setting alight fireworks during the annual Lakeside Festival, and whether they think digital IDs should be used to borrow books from the library, pay parking fees, and for identification on regular referendums.

According to Swissinfo, the results of the vote will be non-binding. Nevertheless, the initiative, which aims to test whether blockchain can be used on a broader scale, highlights again the positive attitude of Swiss authorities towards cryptocurrencies and the underlying technology. The canton of Zug, dubbed Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, has become home to many fintech startups and even established crypto companies like the Chinese giant Bitmain, which has opened an office there.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsFor some time now, Zug has been accepting cryptocurrency payments for municipal services, including company registrations using bitcoin and ether. The city introduced its eID system to provide citizens with digital access to council services. The pilot phase of the project started last fall. The system is based on blockchain technology.

New Swiss Body to Simplify Capital Markets

In another example of Switzerland’s serious approach to fintech innovations, leading representatives of the country’s financial, technological, academic and legal sectors have recently formed the new Capital Markets and Technology Association (CMTA) to facilitate the use of blockchain in financial markets. In a press release, they noted that “the blockchain technology has the potential to reduce the complexity of the capital markets system and lower the barrier of entry for startups.”

According to CMTA’s founders, the lack of legal certainty is slowing and can potentially compromise development in the field. They hope to facilitate access to funding for new businesses by defining a set of industry-supported open standards. These should ultimately contribute to value creation throughout the economy said Jacques Iffland, CMTA’s chair and partner at Lenz & Staehelin, the largest Swiss law firm.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

Swissquote Bank Ltd, a leader in online banking, and Temenos, which specializes in banking software, are also behind the initiative. CMTA promises to work to create toolkits that can be used by new or established companies, businesses and startups to access funding and raise capital securely and efficiently, using new technologies and leveraging digitalization. The association is based in Geneva.

Irish Blockchain Startup Delivering Aid to Refugees Raises €1m

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDsAn Irish startup, using blockchain to facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid, has raised an estimated €1 million from investors, according to industry sources quoted by The Irish Times. The Dublin-based Aid:tech is working in refugee camps, often in hotspots like the Middle East. On Wednesday, Enterprise Ireland and SGInnovate, the venture capital arm of the Singaporean development authority, announced simultaneous investments in the Irish company. This is the first time both state-backed organizations have allocated funds to support a blockchain business, the Irish daily notes. Amsterdam-based Blue Parasol Investments and Tin Fu Fund, a closed private equity fund managed by Shenzhen Capital Group, also took part in the funding round.

Aid:tech aims to increase transparency in the distribution of aid, welfare, remittances, donations, and healthcare services through digitizing their delivery using blockchain technology on its platform. According to the company, only a fraction of the estimated €306 billion (~$360 billion) transferred each year by non-governmental aid organizations is currently delivered via transparent systems which, the startup claims, are extremely expensive to administer. The blockchain technology employed by the Irish firm would allow all international aid to be accounted for, including the distribution of medicine, food and other essentials, the publication details.

Government-Backed Platform to Promote Ireland as a Blockchain Hub

In an attempt to highlight Ireland’s capabilities in the blockchain ecosystem, authorities in Dublin have launched a new government-backed platform. Blockchain Ireland, founded in partnership with a young company called Consensys, aims to create conditions for greater cooperation between startups working in the sector, both on national and international level. The platform was launched by the Irish Blockchain Expert Group and backed by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Department of Finance, leading members of the country’s blockchain industry and representatives from a number of academic institutions.

Bitcoin in Brief Wednesday: Zug Tests Blockchain to Decide on Fireworks and IDs

The online platform is a source of useful information about the Irish blockchain ecosystem. It will be used to promote the country as a blockchain hub by highlighting the Irish technology sector and business environment which turn Ireland into an ideal location for blockchain-enabled business, Silicon Republic reports. The services it will be offering include providing information on setting up a new company and support for blockchain projects in Ireland. Its activities, however, will stretch beyond Irish borders. Blockchain Ireland will be working to develop the European and international blockchain ecosystem as well.

What are your thoughts on today’s topics in Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Bitpanda Offers New Coins, Microsoft Dips Data Center in the Sea

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Bitpanda Offers New Coins, Microsoft Dips Data Center in the Sea

In today’s Bitcoin in Brief we cover a recent announcement by a leading European crypto exchange – Bitpanda is adding two new coins, IOTA and Komodo. While on the Old Continent, Microsoft has immersed a whole data center off the coast of Scotland. And in Japan, a startup uses artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain technology to create a “virtual human agent.”

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Thursday: New Tech and a Quick Way to Make a Fortune in Crypto

Bitpanda Lists IOTA and Komodo

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Bitpanda Offers New Coins, Microsoft Dips Data Center in the SeaBitpanda, one of Europe’s established cryptocurrency exchanges, is adding two new coins – IOTA (MIOTA) and Komodo (KMD). The announcement comes after the successful launch of Bitpanda 2.0 and the team is promising new listings on a regular basis. Initially, both cryptocurrencies will be offered through a trade only, buy and sell option.

“Our Integration Team has been working hard the past few months and we are now happy to announce that Komodo will be added on June 12, 2018 to the Bitpanda platform, and IOTA will follow on June 14, 2018. To speed things further up, we will offer new cryptocurrencies on a regular basis to our users,” Bitpanda said.

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Bitpanda Offers New Coins, Microsoft Dips Data Center in the SeaThe trading platform noted that the integration of IOTA comes in response to popular demand within the Bitpanda community. The listing has been confirmed by the IOTA team, too. Bitpanda and the IOTA Foundation are working closely to set up an IOTA wallet on the exchange, which will be supporting withdrawal and send functions.

Komodo, which is also among Bitpanda’s partners, will be one of the platforms for the Pantos meta token (PAN). The project aims to provide instant transfers between supported blockchains. The exchange plans to offer KMD wallet in the near future.

Microsoft Experiments with an Underwater Data Center

One of Microsoft’s data centers is now operating at about 100 ft (~30 m) below the surface of the North Sea, not far from the British Orkney Islands. Project Natick is powered by renewable energy generated by wind, solar, and tidal installations which meet completely the energy needs of the archipelago situated close to the Scottish shore.

The data center is made up of 864 servers in a container that sits on the sea bottom about 14 miles (~22 km) from the coast. Its electricity is supplied through an undersea cable using the green energy produced on the islands. The data center is designed to fit into a standard shipping container and can be easily relocated. May be that’s an idea crypto miners should consider.

Natick is a pilot project and Microsoft will operate the data center for a period of 12 months, Quartz reported. The company says bringing data centers close to hubs of computing power benefits customers by cutting down the back-and-forth between users and servers. The software giant points out that nearly half the world’s population lives within 120 miles (~150 km) of the ocean.

Another strong argument in favor of the project is the opportunity to bring cooling costs down, as deep sea waters maintain lower temperatures which help the cooling of the hardware. “It’s our belief that this type of data center could lead to reduced costs and simpler structures that incorporate fewer materials, requiring less maintenance and electricity,” a Microsoft representative commented.

Initially, the servers will be put through a series of tests aimed at evaluating power consumption, humidity, noise creation, and temperature levels. On the second stage, customers will be allowed to use the data center. If the project is successful, Microsoft plans to keep operating the servers and continue to provide access to users.

Tokyo Company Creates Virtual Human Using AI, AR and Blockchain

A Japanese startup called Cougar is working on a project to create a “Virtual Human Agent” (VHA). The company is using artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR) and blockchain technology to realize the project. According to CEO Atsushi Ishii, this is the first tech combination of this kind.

A video released by Cougar shows how the VHA can momentarily jump from one device to another, from a PC to a smartphone in this case, when asked to do so. “That’s a nice chair,” the female character also says, demonstrating her abilities to use AI-driven image recognition to assess the surroundings.

Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Bitpanda Offers New Coins, Microsoft Dips Data Center in the Sea

Couger is a small business, with fewer than 15 employees, according to a report by the Nikkei Asian Review. Its team of engineers is involved in game consoles development. The company, however, has pans in many other fields, including robotics and the internet of things. Its management dreams of creating “a world where devices act autonomously,” an ambition which requires the confluence of multiple technologies.

The Tokyo-based startup has been working on a gateway called Connectome, promising to design a “smart space” by seamlessly linking different devices and technologies. The project should pave the way for more innovations. The Virtual Human Agent has been created as part of the effort to develop Connectome.

Couger stresses the importance of linking two technologies in particular – artificial intelligence and blockchain, the distributed ledger underpinning cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. AI learns by combing through huge volumes of data, identifying patterns and assessing new information. Couger wants to store the learning records on a blockchain. Knowing what data has been used to teach the AI would allow developers to trust its judgments.

What are your thoughts on the topics in today’s edition of Bitcoin in Brief? Let us know in the comments below.


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Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Crypto Hiring and Blockchain Welfare, From Down Under

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Crypto Hiring and Blockchain Welfare, From Down Under

Instant crypto-denominated salaries and blockchain-based social security payments feature in Saturday’s Bitcoin in Brief. Reports about these promising developments in the labor market and the public sector come from Australia. Also, the Slovak tax authority intends to use blockchain technology for more efficient tax collection.  

Also read: Bitcoin in Brief Friday: Luxury Jets, Cheap Air Tickets Now Offered for Bitcoin Cash

Crypto-Based Hiring Platform Supports Instant Pay Option

A new employment service offers to cut out banks and pay workers in real-time using cryptocurrency. Another feature will rate employees using a blockchain-based reputation and review process, designed to ensure that higher quality work gets paid better. The “Pay As You Go” system has been launched recently in Australia.

Sergei Sergienko, the entrepreneur behind the project, claims that instant salary payments are possible with cryptos, tokens, and thanks to the underlying technology – blockchain. His “global job platform” Laborx is developed to do exactly that – pay employees while they are working, so that everyone can start spending on the way home.

“The way for people to be remunerated is based on pre-Industrial Revolution kind of wages – you spend the time in the factory, and you get paid,” he said, quoted by Business Insider Australia. “If you look around, everything else has changed. And it’s really, really weird that the way people get paid for their services, for their time, for their work, has not gone through any revolution of sorts,” Sergienko noted.

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Crypto Hiring and Blockchain Welfare, From Down Under

The businessman, who owns a successful labor hire, staffing and training company called the Edway Group, believes that the revolution comes in the form of the “Labour-Hour Tokens” (LHT) and the hiring ecosystem of Laborx, which is now live in beta version. Using it, companies can hire anyone – from top experts from around the world, to local fruit pickers – and pay them instantly with cryptocurrency. “A fair hour’s pay for a fair hour’s work” has been promised.

Laborx also features a tokenized reputation system. Its developers say that it combines dozens of candidate data points and stores the information on a blockchain. The platform is said to ensure job seekers get their best market rate, while also eliminating payment delays and disputes. “If your reviews are consistently good, you can charge more per hour for your services. And the person who hires you knows you’re worth it,” Sergei Sergienko explains. Other cryptocurrency projects to be trialing this model include time-based “knowledge transfer” service Whenhub, founded by Dilbert creator Scott Adams.

Distributed Ledger to Be Used For Welfare Delivery

While the private sector has been developing a crypto-hiring platform, Australian authorities have been planning to employ blockchain technology to improve the welfare payments delivery in the country. The intentions were made public recently by the Digital Transformation Agency, a government body tasked with the digitization of public services and government institutions. The project to put social security payments on blockchain will pilot the wider implementation of the technology.

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Crypto Hiring and Blockchain Welfare, From Down Under“Our plan is to look for use cases across the Commonwealth with an initial focus on the welfare payment delivery system. Then, working with our digital service standard, we’ll conduct user research with a view to having a prototype by the end of next financial year,” said DTA’s acting CEO Randall Brugeaud during the Cebit Australia conference in Sidney last week.

Recently, The DTA received AU$700,000 from the 2018-19 budget to probe the implementation of distributed ledger technologies in the public sector. Brugeaud commented that the funds will give his agency an opportunity to explore innovative ways to securely and efficiently deliver government services using blockchain.

Slovak Tax Authority Eyes Blockchain for Efficient Collection

The Financial Administration of Slovakia aims to become a pioneer in blockchain technology implementation. The tax authority in Bratislava intends to use it to streamline its processes and procedures. The main objective is to make tax collection more efficient, the president of Finančná Správa, František Imrecze told Hospodárske Noviny.

Bitcoin in Brief Saturday: Crypto Hiring and Blockchain Welfare, From Down UnderThe technology, which underpins most cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, will be implemented in Slovakia’s taxation system to initially process about 2 percent of all tax payments, the publication details. The use of blockchain technologies is expected to increase the trust of taxpayers and protect their personal data. Authorities also hope to increase the transparency of tax collection, reduce red tape and minimize costs, Imrecze explained.

Members of the local crypto community and the non-government sector are not sure about the prospects of the project. According to Martin Lindák, analyst with the liberal think-tank F. A. Hayek Foundation, the transparency and security of blockchain applications are there only when they are decentralized. A blockchain lacking this key feature would be just an overpriced database for the public administration, Lindák warned in conversation with the newspaper.

Do you think crypto and blockchain technologies can be successfully implemented in public services and labor relations? Tell us in the comments section below.


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