Microsoft Azure Blockchain Development Kit Launches

Microsoft Azure Blockchain Development Kit Launches to Improve Workbench Capabilities
By
Bitcoin Exchange Guide News Team

November 16, 2018

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Microsoft is renowned the world over for enabling the PC revolution. They have, arguably, changed the landscape of business and daily lives by bringing computers to an affordability level that they are now ubiquitous. The company has for decades been working towards lowering barriers to development with tools and integrated offerings. They have now released a serverless blockchain-powered development kit, as announced yesterday on the 15th of November.

This initial release of the Azure Blockchain Development Kit looks to extend the capabilities of the blockchain developer templates and Azure Blockchain Workbench. The end goal, being able to afford a reference architecture that can be deployed to quickly build blockchain-based applications while incorporating off-chain identity and data, monitoring, and messaging APIs.
What Is The Main Focus

The announcement details the core focus on 3 primary aspects, these are: connecting interfaces, integrating data and systems, and deploying smart contracts and blockchain networks. Mike Ward, the Head of Product Management said,
“We are committed to ensuring developers can deploy CorDapps quickly, securely and easily. The Azure Blockchain Development Kit will give our enterprise customers tools to integrate with the applications, software, and devices that people use every day like Outlook, Alexa, SMS, and web UX. The blockchain is moving out of the labs and into everyday business applications.”
Connecting Interfaces

Only a solution that enables differing user interfaces to integrate with the blockchain can be a viable end to end blockchain solution. To this end, multiple factors come into play. Therefore different use cases for a vast variety of solutions have been factored in. For examples, SMS and voice interfaces, Mobile client devices, Bots and assistants and Web clients. These can be utilized in conjunction with each other, seamlessly. With these interfaces, individuals and organisations will be able to connect to a blockchain.

Integrating Data And Systems

To enable a suitable end to end blockchain solution, smart contracts are needed in order to facilitate multi-party processes. These require integration with data, software, and media that live “off chain”. Microsoft has identified a few areas for integration. Documents and Media don’t usually belong in any chain but are often involved in business processes. Logic Apps will be used to enable the hashing of files and file related metadata, while also including smart contracts for files and a file registry to store those hashes on a chain.
Further, the importance of smart contract interactions is elevated by the fact that enterprise integration is messy. Thus there are hundreds of connectors available in Logic Apps and Flow. Microsoft’s new kit includes workbench integration cases for Legacy applications and protocols, data, Software as a Service (SaaS), registries and Logic App Connectors for Blockchain
Deploying Smart Contracts And Blockchain Networks

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As more people become aware of the blockchain technology and its possibilities, businesses have been looking to get more information about smart contracts and blockchain projects. There are fundamental questions in relation to business logic, data schema, unit testing and debugging that is all pervasive. This has been recognized and addressed as well. In a blog post, Microsft says “While there are some nuances to the approach, the good news is that just like other types of solution development, this model can readily be addressed in a DevOps model.” They have introduced “DevOps for Blockchain Smart Contracts,” a whitepaper that details using the development kit for blockchain-based apps in a multitude of scenarios.

Earlier in the year, Azure had introduced a proof-of-authority (PoA) algorithm on its Ethereum (ETH) blockchain product, as a way to help develop decentralized applications (DApps)

A Platform For The Future

The Azure Blockchain Development Kit, the multinational hopes, will be a great stride forward in enabling development of ” end to end blockchain applications accessible, fast, and affordable to anyone with an idea.” With Microsoft’s increasing interest and investment compounded with the wealth of knowledge they bring, this should be a robust platform for developers
Solutions such as these are encouraging for any industry let alone a budding one. It is another example of the expanding influence of the cryptosphere and is encouraging to see an industry leader looking to associate, listen and look for solutions to help build the future.

DeepBrain Chain’s Silicon Valley Lab Receives Strategic Investments from European-American Giant and Gobi Venture Capital

DeepBrain Chain’s Silicon Valley Lab Receives Strategic Investments from European-American Giant and Gobi Venture Capital

Today we are extremely pleased to announce some major news. DeepBrain Chain’s Silicon Valley lab has received strategic investments from both an undisclosed European-American giant and Gobi Venture Capital. The investments will be put to use to assist the on-going development of DeepBrain Chain and our incubated killer AI app, VisionX.

Expect further details soon.
Yours sincerely, DeepBrain Chain

DeepBrain Chain is working towards building the infrastructure for the next generation of the internet. Through the use of distributed ledger technology and blockchain’s decentralized trust-less mechanism, DeepBrain Chain will provide a global network of AI computing and storage nodes. Sharing AI computing power globally will allow AI companies to save up to 70% on costs while protecting their data privacy. DeepBrain Chain’s Silicon Valley lab has incubated an AI industry chain project — VisionX. VisionX aims to build a cross-industry high-performance AI collaboration platform. It has the biggest database for surface defect image recognition in the world. Through their one-stop-shop of AI services, VisionX can save companies up to 30% on costs as compared to competitors.

Sony Develops Blockchain-Based Rights Management System for Digital Content

Sony Develops Blockchain-Based Rights Management System for Digital Content
BLOCKCHAIN NEWS OCTOBER 16, 2018 11:58 CET

Sony Corporation has announced the launch of a blockchain-based digital rights management system.

In a statement released on its website, the company revealed that the new framework is built on a prior system for authenticating, sharing, and managing rights to educational data previously developed by Sony and Sony Global Education.

In April, CCN reported that Sony filed an application for a patent to store users’ digital rights data on the blockchain. In its patent application, Sony warned that “conventional solutions may not be very reliable and rely on one unique point of failure which could lead to the loss of all the acquired content.”

Blockchain-Enhanced Rights Management

Having recognised the gap in the digital rights management process that blockchain technology can solve, Sony then put into action its plan to develop a suitable system for digital content using blockchain technology. To this end the company filed an application for a patent to store users’ digital rights data on the blockchain on April 26 this year.

An excerpt from the statement reads:
“Today, advances in technologies for digital content creation allow anyone to broadcast and share content, but the rights management of that content is still carried out conventionally by industry organizations or the creators themselves, necessitating a more efficient way of managing and demonstrating ownership of copyright-related information for written works.”

In addition to the functionality of the earlier management system it is based on, this system also provides digital rights management for several new types of content including electronic textbooks and other educational content, music, films, audio, games, scientific data, medical data, VR content, and e-books.

In the statement Sony said:
“[It is] specialized for managing rights-related information of written works, with features for demonstrating the date and time that electronic data was created, leveraging the properties of blockchains to record verifiable information in a difficult to falsify way, and identifying previously recorded works, allowing participants to share and verify when a piece of electronic data was created and by whom.”

In so doing, Sony hopes to become a thought leader in the use of blockchain technology in the educational field through Sony Global Education and in data dispersal and management through Sony Group. The company also intends to continue to explore possible commercial avenues by piggybacking on the blockchain’s technological and commercial advancements.

Ultimately Sony says, the goal is to open up a new world of opportunities for blockchain technology in education and data and information management.

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) China division is partnering with public blockchain project Qtum

NEWS
Anna Baydakova
Oct 17, 2018 at 12:00 UTC | Updated Oct 17, 2018 at 19:08 UTC

Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) China division is partnering with public blockchain project Qtum

The partnership sees the on-demand cloud computing giant working with a cryptocurrency project with a $325 million market capitalization, making it the 29th largest cryptocurrency, to develop blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) solutions for enterprises and developers.

Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, the partnership will allow AWS users to develop and launch smart contracts “quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively” using an Amazon Machine Image (AMI), according to a press release issued by the Qtum team.

Simon Wang, head of territory business development at AWS China, confirmed the partnership, telling CoinDesk in an email: “Qtum are now an AWS technology partner and one of the partner network members.”

Based in Singapore, Qtum, which raised $1 million last January from investors including Anthony Di Iorio, OKCoin CEO Star Xu, BitFund founder Xiaolai Li and Fenbushi partner Bo Shen, launched its public blockchain a year ago.
Qtum’s AMI was listed on the Amazon Web Services marketplace in July, and since then, the group behind the cryptocurrency has been moving toward a broader technological partnership, Qtum’s marketing director, John Scianna, told CoinDesk.

The two companies have been discussing this since April, he added.

Members of the Amazon Partner Network, according to the company’s website, receive business, technical, sales, and marketing resources to help expand their businesses and support their customers. In case of Qtum, the startup and AWS will work together to get feedback from customers about the use cases most in demand and provide guidance to those clients that don’t have much software development resources themselves, Mike Palencia, Qtum’s chief information officer, told CoinDesk.

“We are going to work together [with Amazon] to contact different customers and clients. We’re looking into use cases, and the best way to do it is to have a contact with companies who have those use cases,” Palencia said. “Some clients have their own ideas and their own developers, and some of them want more support from us, want to talk to us directly.”

https://www.coindesk.com/amazon-web-services-china-partnering-blockchain-qtum/

Harvard, Stanford, & MIT Have All Invested in Cryptocurrency Funds

Breaking: Harvard, Stanford, & MIT Have All Invested in Cryptocurrency Funds

At least five more university endowments have invested in cryptocurrency funds, suggesting that the “herd” of institutional investors is finally beginning to place at least a small bet on the nascent asset class.

As first reported by The Information, a cadre of major educational institutions including Harvard University, Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and the University of North Carolina have each invested in at least one cryptocurrency fund through their respective endowments.

Citing an unnamed source familiar with the investments, the publication reported that these five university endowments have invested tens of millions of dollars in these funds, which in turn invest in both physical cryptocurrencies and equity in cryptocurrency companies.

CCN previously reported that Yale University, which controls the second-largest university endowment next to Harvard, had allocated a portion of its $29.4 billion in assets into two cryptocurrency funds operated by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Paradigm.

Even with these investments, the six universities that are now said to have invested in crypto funds still have very little exposure to this asset class. Nevertheless, the fact that they are engaging with the market at all could help legitimize the space.

As The Information journalist Jon Victor explained:

“A move by endowments into funds that will directly bet on cryptocurrencies signals a major shift in investor sentiment toward the asset class, in the same way that institutions over the past decade became more willing to invest in private tech companies. Backing from such closely watched institutions could help validate cryptocurrencies, which are still considered too risky by many institutional investors.”

Cryptocurrency investors and analysts such as Mike Novogratz had long predicted that a “herd” of institutional investors would power the next bitcoin bull market. Ari Paul, a cryptocurrency fund manager and a former portfolio manager at the University of Chicago’s endowment, said in April that he believed that a number of institutions were interested in investing in cryptocurrency but were waiting for major names such as Yale to make the first move so that they would have an “excuse” to do so themselves.

Notably, though institutional investors are generally viewed as having a more sober view of cryptoassets than retail investors, a recent survey by Wall Street strategy firm Fundstrat found that institutions that have already invested in cryptocurrency are actually more optimistic about bitcoin’s near-term prospects than retail investors.

AUTHOR
Josiah Wilmoth

Josiah is an assistant editor at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com

‘Big Four’ Auditor PwC Has 400 Crypto Specialists on Staff

Mainstream: ‘Big Four’ Auditor PwC Has 400 Crypto Specialists on Staff

The bigger the business or industry, the more financial services and specialization it requires. As the crypto industry grows up and more firms establish themselves, important services such as auditing and tax consultancy become increasingly necessary. Traditional auditing and consulting firms are answering the call by hiring crypto specialists in droves.

According to an article in the Financial Times, some of the biggest auditing firms in the world like EY and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have taken on hundreds of new clients involved in cryptocurrencies in the recent past, and as a result PwC, in particular, has brought on as many as 400 blockchain experts in an effort to successfully serve these clients and their unique needs. Ralph Weinberger, who leads their global network assurance methodology group, told FT:

“We are devoting significant resources to how we might provide audit services in not just cryptocurrency, but blockchain.”

The regulatory atmosphere surrounding cryptocurrencies and blockchain assets has hardly even begun to shape. In many regions around the world, there is no regulation at all, meaning that companies doing business there are often operating under a shroud of uncertainty. In countries like the US, regulations can be confusing and have yet to fully realize themselves, so much so that the IRS was recently told to be much clearer in how it handles cryptocurrencies.

Major auditing firms are hiring hundreds of blockchain and cryptocurrency specialists.
The job of companies like PwC is to help companies be in compliance and properly meet their tax obligations. Crypto exchanges and mining outfits are not the only companies which can benefit from the blockchain experts at auditing firms – virtually any company that exposes itself to crypto at all will need some form of guidance as regards the tax situation. Even simply accepting bitcoin as a payment form can be confusing for traditional companies used to transacting strictly in fiat currencies.

PwC appears to desperately want to lead the way, likely recognizing the potential size of the blockchain industry moving forward. They have an entire subsection of their site devoted to it, in which they explain that they’re ready to help.

“PwC sees enormous potential for blockchain in financial services. We’ve developed the strategic and implementation capabilities necessary to help financial institutions, technology companies and startups take advantage of this transformative technology. Our global team of experienced business, technology and regulatory leaders can help you identify how blockchain can benefit your organization and how to rapidly move these initiatives forward.”

There are few, if any, large native crypto tax or auditing consulting firms. One that comes to mind is Libra, who recently completed funding, but the question remains as to whether they will be able to serve crypto clients in quite the same, complete manner of PricewaterhouseCoopers and other traditional firms who are modernizing with an eye toward cryptos.

AUTHOR
P. H. Madore

P. H. Madore can most often be found solving a problem that involves small children, electronics, or both. He has written for CCN since 2014. Visit http://pay.phm.link to contact him or contribute to his gadget fund.

The Blockchain and the Final Newsletter

Executive Summary

This is my final newsletter. While it was a worthwhile personal effort to invest my time in preparing a monthly document on the markets and the economy for interested readers, the number of paid subscribers just did not rise to the level to make this business endeavor a profitable one. So with a bit of regret, I write this with the lasting belief that there were one or two nuggets within my words that helped make a positive difference in the investment selections and actions you may have undertaken over the past year.
The year 2017 has been a memorable one. From a markets perspective it defies logic for this seasoned investor. I began buying and selling stocks in the early 1980’s. The ebbs and flows I have seen during the past 35 or so years have included some incredible changes. They have been invaluable lessons for me, an education that was self-taught and borne of a simple passion to solve the puzzles of the equity markets, and to do so profitably. While the journey has been wild, I have been fortunate enough to achieve the peace of mind that comes with doing what you are most happy with in life and to have done so profitably.

I initially planned to write a comprehensive final report that covered in detail the market and economic factors that help me form a perspective on what the future may hold. After pondering this for quite a while, I changed my mind. Why did I do so? Because, the substance of what I would have written would convey the same over-riding view that I have expressed before; we are in a dangerous and highly over-valued market, a perspective that is supported by fact and history. You should know that if there are elements of the market or the economy that you would like me to write about and share with you directly, please know I would be happy to write to you individually to ensure my last newsletter ultimately meets with your expectations, even if in more than one communication.

So, what am I going to write about that I believe is meaningful and worthy of a final sharing of the ideas that run through this mind? Clearly, it is about the Blockchain and the phenomena known as Crypto-Currencies. I believe we are at an inflection point in history, and the substance of that perspective deserves to be the headline and the entire theme of this closing missive. I hope you enjoy it!

Tom

Excerpt from October 4, 2017 Connolly Financial Advisors Economic and Market Report

Inflation and Money

One consistent theme that is being seen in every report I read, other than what the OECD data shows, is that prices are rising across industries on almost all raw materials. I know for me it is very true in my personal life. For example, my home insurance renewal invoice arrived this month. The annual premium was 16.4% higher than last year. I did not change the policy or file any claims, it was simply a pure price increase. In other areas of my home life, I see property taxes, broadband services, varied subscription based services, and food all rising more than 5% year-over-year. Inflation is alive and well. A single slice of pizza cost me $3.50 last week. New home prices are now greater than they were in 2007. With rising prices evident and more anticipated, I must ask, where is the income growth to meet the rising expense growth? From my vantage point, U.S. household incomes have just recovered to the level that existed in the year 2000. Leverage and Central Bank Quantitative easing have fueled price increases, but the flow-through to incomes is generally lagging, and with the CBs reducing their monetary accommodation, a large and unknown outcome exists, which is what happens when the historic monetary stimulus is no longer there as a support after trillions of dollars have been pumped into the world economies. Present expectations for the Federal Reserve tightening are focusing on a reduction of reinvestment in debt assets over the next twelve months to the tune of $300 billion; split $180 billion in treasury securities and $120 billion in Mortgage Backed Securities.

Continuing with the comments on the Fed, a look at the money supply growth and the velocity of money show tightening that the market has ignored. Consider the downward trajectory of M2 money supply growth over time and the recent inability to break above 2% growth for the past 52 weeks as measured in quarterly change: