Unibright, the unified framework for blockchain based business integration, whose token is now being listed on QRYPTOS Exchange, has teamed up with Lufthansa, Microsoft, and NEM to boost blockchain adoption on the mass market.
Companies from various industries see the future in blockchain. Whilst the new technology is on everyone’s lips, Unibright offers a unified framework bringing blockchain and smart contracts to mainstream usage.
With Unibright’s “no-coding-needed” approach, smart contracts are generated, deployed and updated automatically based on visual definitions. This unifying approach cares about the whole life-cycle of ...
Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), owner of arguably the most important stock exchange in the world, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), is introducing a new company, Bakkt. The idea is to weave bitcoin into 401(k)s, credit cards, and retail. The project is getting a lot of hype due in large measure to two very powerful backers: Microsoft and Starbucks. Is this the mainstreaming ecosystem enthusiasts have been urging?
NYSE Wants Bitcoin in 401(k)s, Credit Cards, Retail Stores
ICE’s digital assets head, turned CEO of the new project Bakkt, Kelly Loeffler, explained in a company blog, “Formed by Intercontinental Exchange — an operator of global exchanges, clearing houses, data and listings services — Bakkt will work with companies that include BCG, Starbucks, Microsoft and others, to create an open ecosystem that supports growing needs in the ~$270 billion digital asset marketplace.”
ICE quietly owns and operates two dozen regulated markets and exchanges, from the United States and Canada to Europe. It also holds clearing houses in the Netherlands, Singapore, greater Europe, the US, and Canada as well. It has revenues well in excess of $5.5 billion. It’s also the parent company for the NYSE, an exchange with great prestige among traditional finance: the NYSE is 226 years old, and is easily the globe’s biggest exchange by market cap, some $21.3 trillion as of last summer.
Ms. Loeffler told Fortune how for over a year ICE built Bakkt in secrecy. The company name is a twist on asset backed securities, Bakkt, which by design is to engender trust. And trust is everything in the legacy marketplace, but it has a decidedly different meaning in the cryptocurrency world. Trust on Wall Street usually means regulations, and lots of them.
Indeed, by late Fall this year, Bakkt hopes to have a fully federally regulated space for all things bitcoin. Fortune notes how “ICE aims to transform Bitcoin into a trusted global currency with broad usage.” That’s an interesting admission for enthusiasts wondering what Wall Street is ultimately up to with this enormous announcement and marketing/public relations campaign. Trust in the Bitcoin ecosystem is established through mathematics, voluntary adoption, by completely bypassing third party fragility, frictions, and gatekeepers for which legacy finance is famous.
Speculation and Coffee
“By combining regulated infrastructure with institutional and consumer applications,” Ms. Loeffler continues, “we’ll apply our track record of bringing transparency and trust to previously unregulated markets. In this way, we intend to play a key role in boosting institutional, merchant and consumer participation in digital assets.” Investment, also according to Fortune, includes Boston Consulting Group, Fortress Investment Group, Eagle Seven, and Susquehanna International Group in addition to better known brands Starbucks and Microsoft.
No doubt, ICE’s endorsement of Bitcoin lends a great deal of credence for other Wall Street investors to start exploring the cryptosphere. A futures market appears immediately in the works. Ms. Loeffler’s blog post details, “As an initial component of the Bakkt offering, Intercontinental Exchange’s U.S.-based futures exchange and clearing house plan to launch a 1-day physically delivered Bitcoin contract along with physical warehousing in November 2018, subject to CFTC review and approval. These regulated venues will establish new protocols for managing the specific security and settlement requirements of digital currencies. In addition, the clearing house plans to create a separate guarantee fund that will be funded by Bakkt.”
Fortune believes the bigger move Bakkt is proposing involves everyday retail ventures. “Using Bitcoin to streamline and disrupt the world of retail payments,” the magazine stressed, “by moving consumers from swiping credit cards to scanning their Bitcoin apps. The market opportunity is gigantic: Consumers worldwide are paying lofty credit card or online-shopping fees on $25 trillion a year in annual purchases.” Both Microsoft customers and Starbucks customers are very familiar with digital, smartphone related transactions. Transitioning over to bitcoin, with institutional blessing, should be a snap, ICE is assuming. Starbucks’ Vice President of Partnerships and Payments, Maria Smith, was quoted in the press release, noting, “As the flagship retailer, Starbucks will play a pivotal role in developing practical, trusted, and regulated applications for consumers to convert their digital assets into U.S. dollars for use at Starbucks.” That also appears to fly directly in the face of Bitcoin’s ultimate point. To nearly everyone familiar with its power, bitcoin as a currency is an end in-and-of-itself, it is the value, and was meant to leave fiat — not to be simply a keen transfer mechanism to government paper. Nevertheless, Bakkt’s CEO, Ms. Loeffler, concludes, “We’re excited about the opportunity to help unlock the transformative potential of digital assets across global markets. Bakkt is preparing for launch in upcoming weeks, and we look forward to keeping you updated.”
Is bringing Wall Street into crypto a good thing? Let us know in the comments section below.
Images via Pixabay, ICE, NYSE.
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Announced this morning is some pretty major news that Bitcoin bulls have been waiting for; Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) – the trading giant that owns the New York Stock Exchange – has a goal of breaking Bitcoin into mainstream currency and it plans to do this by forming a new company called Bakkt.
Bakkt is soon to be launched by Wall Streets major player, but it also joins forces with some of America’s biggest companies including Microsoft and Starbucks.
What’s Going On?
This morning ICE announced that its new company is expected to launch in ...
If you have been following the mainstream financial press, and even some cryptocurrency news sources, you could not have missed the hype around the so called “Blockchain”. It feels like every day another established company claims to be testing using the technology to disrupt its own industry. In reality, however, it seems that the overwhelming majority of these pilots will never materialize.
Forrester Research Inc. (NASDAQ:FORR), the global advisory company, has determined that 90% of corporate blockchain pilots, usually announced with much fanfare, will never actually materialize into a service or product to hit the market. Companies are reportedly experiencing difficulties handling performance, oversight and operations, as well as failing to agree on a common system among competitors, thus resulting in extended timelines and greatly reduced expectations.
“Blockchain is supposed to be an important future revenue stream for IBM, Microsoft and others in equipment sales, cloud services and consulting,” Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates is cited by Bloomberg. “If it materializes more slowly, analysts will have to make downward revisions.”
And according to a Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT) study, only 1% of chief information officers report their companies have any kind of blockchain adoption, and almost 80% said they had no interest in the idea to begin with. “The disconnect between the hype and the reality is significant – I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Gartner analyst Rajesh Kandaswamy. “In terms of actual production use, it’s very rare.”
Example Test Cases
The report cites a number of long promised blockchain solutions that have so far not come to pass. ASX Ltd., the Australian stock exchange, pushed back its blockchain-based clearing and settlement system to 2020/2021, that was originally planned to be released about six months ago already. BHP Billiton Ltd., which planned to monitor rock and fluid samples on a blockchain by early 2017, now doesn’t even “have a blockchain project/experiment in progress.”
Progress is hard to notice even at the company that thinks of itself as in charge of legitimizing the field in the eyes of US regulators and big banks, Nasdaq Inc. The stock exchange group, that wanted to have shareholder voting on a blockchain back in 2016, has not deployed the service in any meaningful way. “The expectation was we’d quickly find use cases,” Magnus Haglind, Nasdaq’s senior vice president and head of product management for market technology, said. “But introducing new technologies requires broad collaboration with industry participants, and it all takes time.”
Does the idea of a private corporate blockchain even make sense to begin with? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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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.”
Bitpanda, 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.
The 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.
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.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Microsoft Bought GitHub: Even from a company as technologically advanced as Microsoft, the announcement that it acquired GitHub on the morning of June 4th took a lot of people by surprise. In the past, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, has critiqued the crypto sector, which is why many are skeptical of this purchase. It’s not that Microsoft is a bad company, it’s that many are worried about the effect this acquisition will have. Specifically, on virtual currencies like Monero (XMR).
In this article, you will see where this fear originated from.