Lightning Network Updates, BitTorrent Is Back & Crypto Themed Artwork Movement

Off the Blocks, Vol 52, Jan 29, 2019

This newsletter is our weekly roundup of some of the significant blockchain news, that provides an overview of the rapidly changing blockchain landscape to help you map your blockchain strategy and be aware of regulatory announcements globally.

Evolving Tech, Business Models and Regulations

Blockchain was a priority at the Word Economic Forum, Davos, 2019. Healthcare was of particular interest from its potential in fighting counterfeit drugs to speeding up insurance payments. Collaborations that might have been unlikely just a few years ago are being fostered across borders. For example, Metlife showcased Vitana, an automated insurance product targeting those who develop gestational diabetes - a condition that is said to affect 20% of pregnant women in Singapore.

[Vitana’s] smart blockchain-enabled insurance system will know as soon as you're eligible for a claim, and automatically issues you a payout. The Vitana app also sits on your phone and underwrites on your device, keeping your personal and sensitive health data private and secure. 

The bulk of electronic health records in Singapore are tied up in manual, centralized data silos. Residents with insurance coverage personally pay for their treatment and file a claim later. With Vitana, a smart contract automatically pays the policy holder in case they are diagnosed with GD. This information is available with the EMR provider and no additional patient data is aggregated on Metlife servers. This is the kind of business model innovations that are enabled by blockchain technology.

What is even more remarkable is that Vitana was developed under the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s blockchain regulatory sandbox. Singapore has long understood that blockchain is an important technology and has created an environment for structured experimentation of blockchain solutions. Instead of blanket regulatory enforcement, the sandbox approach allows MAS to monitor the impact of the technology in a contained environment. This is a fantastic way to understand and determine the regulatory implications for managing risk and enhancing efficiency for all stakeholders.

Government policies and industrial regulations follow technology innovations and not the other way around. The technology is evolving at a rapid rate and interest for adoption remains high. Indeed in a recent survey by the Global Blockchain Business Council, 33% of investors believed businesses would need to find a head of blockchain on their boards within the next five years. There is a strong case to be made for a new Chief Blockchain Officer (CBO) responsible for a clear strategy for implementing blockchain and transforming their organizations. Business leaders can no longer underestimate the radically disruptive and ambitious nature of blockchain solutions.

Circling back, the WEF also appointed Elizabeth Rossiello, founder of BitPesa, Elizabeth Rossiello, to serve as one of two co-chairs of the Global Council on Blockchain (GCB) to help build a framework that brings together technology, business and regulatory aspects to drive adoption.

Whether we like it or not, governments are some of the most successful distribution platforms. If we can find a way to use government to actually deploy and use blockchain technology, we’re going to move a long way towards adoption.

- Sheila Warren, head of blockchain at the WEF

Image Source: The Future of Financial Infrastructure, WEF

Now for some significant news form the world this week:

  1. Bitfury Launches Suite of Lightning Network Business Products: Lightning Network is growing at a rapid pace and the the Bitfury Group just released a product bundle designed to make the Lightning Network easier for vendors and consumers to use. The product list includes an open-source Lightning Network-enabled bitcoin wallet, a hardware terminal and e-commerce software for merchants and payment processors to accept Lightning Network payments, a suite of developer tools, and a public Lightning Network node to help bitcoin users open and create payment channels. [… Medium]

  2. BitTorrent: Raising $7M in less than 15 minutes: Remember BitTorrent, the P2P file sharing service? It is back in the crypto world. The BitTorrent token (BTT) sale on the Binance Launchpad platform netted $7.1 million dollars with the sale of 50 billion tokens in under 15 minutes. BTT is based on a Tron TRC-10 token. BitTorrent Speed, the system which will integrate the Tron-based BTT token into the popular µTorrent Windows client, will purportedly launch by summer. [… CoinTelegraph]

    [The BitTorrent token will be used to] transact in computing resources shared between BitTorrent clients and any other participating service requesters and service providers.

  3. Gartner’s Blockchain Spectrum: Gartner created the Blockchain Spectrum to examine the phased evolution of blockchain solutions and how this path aligns to the anticipated value businesses can derive. The Blockchain Spectrum is made up of four archetypes broken down by offerings and characteristics, some of which won’t fully develop for years. Each of these phases offers opportunities and risks, but CIOs should begin experimenting at some level. [… Gartner]

    The Gartner Blockchain Spectrum explores the four phases of blockchain evolution
  4. MIT, Stanford and others to build blockchain payments network to rival VisaNet: Seven major universities are working together to develop a digital currency network that solves blockchain's scalability and performance problems before public confidence in the technology erodes. Funded by a Swiss-based non-profit organization, the cryptocurrency application, called Unit-e, and its blockchain-based payment system is expected to launch in the second half of this year; if successful, it would surpass even mainstream financial networks like Visa's VisaNet in transactional capability. [… Computerworld]

    Unit-e cryptocurrency aims to achieve transaction "confirmation latencies on the order of 15 seconds for on-chain transactions, and 2 to 4 seconds for off-chain transactions,

  5. A Hong Kong Dollar-Pegged Stablecoin: Hong Kong-based money transfer platform Bitspark has launched what is reportedly the first stablecoin pegged to the Hong Kong dollar (HKD. Bitspark, which has positioned itself as a platform where stablecoins form the medium of value transfer, launched the Sparkdex.HKD stablecoin as a feature on its SparkDEX decentralized exchange. [… CoinTelegraph]

    Until now, US Dollar stablecoins have dominated the market but there are other national currencies in the world, like the Hong Kong Dollar. this will lead the way for much-needed diversity among other currencies within the stablecoin sector.

The Final Word | Blockchain Technology Has Inspired An Entire Crypto-Themed Artwork Movement

Blockchain’s  impact on the billion-dollar art market was evident during the recent Art Basel Miami Beach event, which showcased nearly a dozen different panels on art and blockchain. Many of these discussions took place in venues surrounded by crypto-themed artwork from various artists.

We’ve been talking about 'art meets blockchain' for about five years now. When it’s starting to become a topic of conversation at Art Basel, that means it’s now at that point where enough artists are thinking about it. We’re going to see some extraordinary use cases emerge that will lead to big things. Christie’s has been looking into it, as have many respectable auction houses, and there are companies like Codex who are building a decentralized asset registry on fine art and collectibles

- Brock Pierce, entrepreneur and blockchain community leader

About Proteum
Proteum is a global blockchain advisory firm that works with public, private and start-up companies to help them transition into the world of blockchains and decentralized applications. We help companies strategically build their ecosystem and unique capabilities so that they can own and control their future. Let's put blockchains to work for your business. |  | Twitter: @proteumio | Telegram