Team teamwork business join hand together concept Power of volunteer charity work Stack of people hand

Blockchains in Charity – An improvement?

Over the years, decentralized systems have been used several times for charity funding. A large number of charities and fundraising foundations have started to implement blockchain technology for their donations. Usually, those are the two main networks of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, Bitcoin and Ethereum. The charities belong to various and significantly different sectors of society. Many of them are trying to solve issues regarding food, education, and humanitarian crises.

Blockchain Implementations

There are a couple of organizations worth mentioning when speaking about blockchain use cases for Charity. The list includes organizations such as The World Food Programme, the Red Cross, Wikimedia, EFF, Save the Children, or Alice, which all have participated in various blockchain-based projects.

Most notably, technologically advanced organizations like Alice have used the Ethereum platform to facilitate donations in the past. It is a platform where everyone can start a fundraiser for a charitable cause. It is easy to host your own project, and foster cryptocurrency donations to solve the issue. Additionally, they offer an excellent feedback platform that helps donors to trace the impact of their contribution, giving them an edge over other fundraising platforms. Also, the World Food Programme (WFP), which started as an experimental project in 2017, has been able to raise funds for over 10,000 Syrian refugees using cryptocurrencies. These funds are used to provide food and essential social amenities for the refugees.

Arguments for Blockchain Charity

Blockchain charity prevents a whole lot of problems associated with fundraising. When funds are raised in a conventional way, sometimes money goes missing in transaction fees or organisation costs, before it reaches its destination. Blockchains cancel this risk, as transactions are traceable and organized. They offer safe, transparent, and remote transactions. The main worry about charitable giving is often the negative influence of organisation fees. Many administrators and middlemen involved with charity foundations might take “their share” or be outright involved in corruption. As such, they are not dedicated to the safety and management of fallible human beings.

In the event of a theft, blockchains would provide the necessary information that something is going wrong. These worries can hang on the shoulders of blockchain technology. Blockchain-based charity helps to cut out all excesses, and produces the maximum benefit for the people that are in need of help. Last year in March, Britain’s Start Network teamed up with the social enterprise startup Disberse to use blockchain technology for charitable purposes. The network comprises of about 42 leading aid agencies such as Oxfam, Care International and Save the Children.

Disberse is a fund management platform owned by the British, that aims for transparent and efficient financial aid. The agency allows donors, governments, and NGOs to transfer and trace funds using distributed ledger technology. It helps them by providing detailed information for auditing, reporting and compliance trials. Recently, The English Heritage Organisation, a UK-based charity that oversees the care for historic sites, saw the great features that blockchains had to offer and implemented them to develop new ways of interacting with donors. The charity partnered with Giftcoin to allow donors the tracking of payments from the time they were made to when the funds are being spent.

Decentralisation of technology has proven itself to be efficient. It can help catering to war refugees, help provide support for natural disaster survivors around the world, or be used to send the less privileged to school by giving and raising funds via blockchain payments. The application of blockchains for charity purposes has brought grand innovation schemes to the technology as it allows donations for charity to become traceable and comprehensible, thereby making the whole system protected and fool-proof.

Featured Image via BigStock.

Authored By Zoran Spirkovski

First published: June 2, 2018 on https://www.crypto-news.net

 

 

Steve Woz

Only one Decade Between Us and a Blockchain World: Steve Wozniak

Blockchain Next best IT Revolution

Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, have gained a lot of popularity over the last year, with hopes of reaching new highs soaring, as well as them getting attention by various technology entrepreneurs and enthusiasts during many different events happening around the world. The ‘We Are Developers’ World conference in Vienna, Austria was one of this events. The conference attracted over 8,000 visitors from 70 countries, all of them people wanting to see the world move into its next phase of technological evolution.

During this event, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (often referred to by the nickname “Woz”) commented in his opening speech on cryptocurrencies, saying that “blockchain is the next major IT revolution that is about to happen.” He also emphasized that it is a great technology capable of sharpening the future of the technology sector.

Before, last October at the “Money 20/20” Conference in Las Vegas, the Apple co-founder endorsed cryptocurrencies by saying, that Bitcoin was better and more stable than gold and the US dollar. This statement was sure the most captivating headline in the technology sphere at the tail end of last year.

Woz, at the Vienna Conference, also added, that blockchain technology was not yet suitable for all applications, but if being refined, there was a possibility of reaching its full potential in the next decade. He then quoted Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Twitter – who predicted two months ago “bitcoin will become the world’s single currency.

Earlier this year, at the Global Business Summit in February, Woz mentioned, he still believed that bitcoin was a currency that was not manipulated by the government, that it’s mathematical, pure and cannot be altered. He then later realized that level of purity requires the sacrifice of a level of security.

Featured Image via WikiMedia.

Authored By Zoran Spirkovski

First Published: May 28, 2018

 

Amber-Baldet-to-leave-JPMorgan

Ex-JP Morgan Blockchain Lead Hints at Stealth Startup Vision

Everyone is waiting for Amber Baldet‘s big reveal.

Since leaving her role as the blockchain lead at JP Morgan last month, Baldet has been tight-lipped on the new company she plans to launch. Still, her presentation at Ethereal Summit Friday, hosted by ethereum startup incubator ConsenSys, hinted at what the new endeavor might entail.

There, Baldet criticized the tribalism that can occur between builders of open blockchain networks and institutions, stressing the importance of hybrid technologies that can deploy verifiable, open-source code resistant to single points of failure but that can be adjusted should exceptions happen.

Hybrid blockchains have been on the minds of many executives at major enterprises of late, and Baldet’s interest comes after the two largest public protocols have been embroiled, if not trapped, in online feuds.

As such, she framed permissioned blockchains as perhaps offering a well-intentioned contrast to a model that’s seen no shortage of critiques over the years.

Baldet said:

“You can change the rules of the game without fighting on Twitter for two years. So, choices matter.”

Elsewhere, Baldet echoed much the same narrative of inclusion that the Ethereal Summit seemed to illustrate, while touching on the need for a better security models and poking fun at bitcoin’s strategy for its security model and its emphasis on inclusion through node ownership.

In this way, Baldet framed herself as an entrepreneur who wants to forge a path toward a “pragmatic internet of value.”

“In other words, something that works,” she said.

Privacy is pivotal

And to create that internet of value, Baldet believes the question of privacy is perhaps the most crucial.

“Fundamental strong encryption is a requirement for these systems,” Baldet said, adding that such cryptography should be open source and intensely vetted.

While permissioned blockchains are often criticized for their management by central authorities, Baldet said, public blockchains tend to put the onus on the individual, and as such, aren’t perfect solutions for users.

Though bitcoin is ideal as a peer-to-peer, censorship-resistant payment network, she also suggested that builders of other blockchains might need to seek alternative strategies concurrent with their visions.

“Just because you have solved your problem set doesn’t mean you have solved the problems of everything else in the world,” she continued.

Building a system that has properties of both public and private blockchains, she seemed to stress, could prove beneficial for all parties.

Speaking to CoinDesk after her presentation, Baldet elaborated on this idea, stating that the ability to implement privacy solutions is one of the more interesting aspects of permissioned options.

She said:

“You can create privacy boundaries and it’s okay to have some things that are permissioned, because they’re things that at no point should be accessible to the entire public.”

‘More dumb coordination’

Baldet didn’t exactly state what such infrastructures would look like, but in conversation to CoinDesk, she hinted that it’s unlikely to be achieved through options like interoperability protocols.

While interoperability is often cited as integral to blockchain adoption, Baldet said that forging connections between protocols could open up creating security vulnerabilities.

“A less optimal outcome would be to have a bunch of different public networks that all have different security and privacy models and completely agnostic interoperability between them,” Baldet said.

Because such a model relies too heavily on the security of these connections, it could risk harming the protocols to which they are attached.

Instead, she believes blockchains should be used for simple attestations that something has occurred, with the cryptographic hashes giving a compressed, yet computationally-verifiable sequence of what happened.

Speaking at the Summit, Baldet gave the example of zero-knowledge cryptography, such as that used by privacy-centric cryptocurrency zcash, to illustrate this point.

Baldet concluded:

“We need to dumb down what it is on blockchain – fewer smart contracts and more dumb coordination.”

Amber Baldet at Ethereal 2018 image via CoinDesk

Authored by: Rachel Rose O’Leary

First published:  12.05.2018 on Coindesk.com

 

Lightning bolts

What is the Lightning Network?

Last updated: 21 March, 2018

Hailed as one of the most potent solutions to cryptocurrency scaling currently under development, the lightning network effectively creates a layer on top of bitcoin, enabling fast and cheap transactions which can net settle to the bitcoin blockchain.

Proposed by Thaddeus Dryja and Joseph Poon in a 2015 white paper, the idea is based on a network that sits on top of the bitcoin blockchain, and eventually settles on it. The network is comprised of user-generated channels that send payments back and forth in a secure and trust-less fashion (trust-less means that you don’t need to trust or even know your counterparty).

Say, for instance, that I wanted to pay you for each minute of video that I watched. We would open up a lightning channel, and as the minutes rolled by, periodic payments would be made from my wallet to yours. When I’m done watching, we would close the channel to settle the net amount on the bitcoin blockchain.

Because the transactions are just between me and you and don’t need to be broadcast to the whole network, they are almost instantaneous. And because there are no miners that need incentivizing, transaction fees are low or even non-existent.

How it works

First, two parties who wish to transact with each other set up a multisig wallet (which requires more than one signature to enact a transaction). This wallet holds some amount of bitcoin. The wallet address is then saved to the bitcoin blockchain. This sets up the payment channel.

The two parties can now conduct an unlimited number of transactions without ever touching the information stored on the blockchain. With each transaction, both parties sign an updated balance sheet to always reflect how much of the bitcoin stored in the wallet belongs to each.

When the two parties have done transacting, they close out the channel, and the resulting balance is registered on the blockchain. In the event of a dispute, both parties can use the most recently signed balance sheet to recover their share of the wallet.

It is useful to note that it is not necessary to set up a direct channel to transact on lightning – you can send payments to someone via channels with people that you are connected with. The network automatically finds the shortest route.

Development of the technology got a significant boost with the adoption of SegWit on the bitcoin and litecoin networks. Without the upgrade’s transaction malleability fix, transactions on the lightning network would have been too risky to be practical.

Without the security of the blockchain behind it, the lightning network will not be as secure, which implies that it will largely be used for small or even micro transactions which carry a lower risk. Larger transfers that require decentralized security are more likely to be done on the original layer.

Where are we now?

Although it was originally designed for bitcoin, the technology is currently being developed for a range of cryptocurrencies, such as litecoin, stellar, zcash, ether and ripple. Litecoin plans to launch its version at the same time as bitcoin’s.

In December 2017, startups behind the three most active lightning implementations (ACINQ, Blockstream and Lightning Labs) revealed test results, including live transactions, proving that their software is now interoperable.

Furthermore, version 1 of the lightning specifications, which set out the rules of the network, has been published. This will encourage the development of other implementations and applications.

However, the network is not yet ready for launch. Engineers have yet to release software with which real users can make transactions. Apps supporting lightning as a payment method are already cropping up, but so far they’re not easy to use.

That has not stopped some of those working on projects from testing lightning transactions on the bitcoin network. Lightning developers discourage this, however – not only does it act as a distraction to developers, but it also puts users’ funds at risk.

Given the complexity of the code, and the need for rigorous testing (we are talking about payments, after all), developers are urging patience. In addition, lightning can’t be implemented at scale until SegWit is more widely extended – so, while some believe that there is enough SegWit support to run the network on mainnet now, others predict that a usable lightning network could be at least a year away.

In March 2018, California startup Lightning Labs announced the launch of a beta version of its software, making available what investors and project leads say is the first thoroughly tested version of the tech to date. It is still early days, however – transaction sizes are limited, and the release is aimed at developers and “advanced users”.

Authored by Noelle Acheson. Lightning image via BBC -Earth – watch-a-lightning-bolt-creep-through-the-sky-in-slow-motion