Out-of-the-Box Blockchain Use Cases

Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, provides insights into how blockchain technology is changing the world. 

The nineteenth-century saw the discovery of electricity and soon enough it was put to use in practically all fields of life: from light bulbs to electrocution. Who would have guessed the upcoming events a century ago? 

The decade before us saw the growth of blockchain: another technology carrying the potential to change the world. And as it is with all the great inventions, blockchain offers qualities that can be put to use in several ways.

We have so far witnessed blockchain supporting the future form of finance: cryptocurrencies, which is very impressive. However, there is always room for more: here are 10 unusual blockchain use cases which would prove the worth of our beloved technology ten times over. 

1. The Infallible Watchman

There was a time when people used to hide their gold coins for fear they would be stolen: very long ago. Today, the threat is not the loss of treasures, rather, something more dreadful: identity theft. 

 Identity theft can be defined as the ‘deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name, and perhaps to the other person’s disadvantage or loss’. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2014, around 17.6 million identities were stolen in America: these are not the statistics which could be overlooked. 

 Coming to blockchain, we know that it is a decentralized technology and it is next to impossible to hack into it. Due to this property, blockchain can secure digital IDs and also eliminate the nuisance of multiple passwords and bulky paperwork. Thus, it plays the role of an infallible watchman, protecting all of one’s private data.

Watch for Expanse’s own answer to identity management on the blockchain in the form of our Universal Know Your Customer ULYC) application currently in development.

 2. Revolutionizing the Gaming Industry

Apart from casinos, which have already stepped into creating digital wallets and even currencies for their customers, blockchain can be used generally in the gaming industry. 

 Many games have emerged which have been created by using the blockchain technology to produce digital and analog gaming experiences. A few examples of such gaming include BitPainting, CryptoKitties, and Chimaera. 

 3. Tool for Humanitarian Efforts

Yes, blockchain can be used for humanitarian purposes as well. One of the best examples of this use case is the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Building Blocks. The project was established in the year 2016; its major aim being using decentralized digital ledger technology for making cash transfers.

By January 2018, the program assisted more than 100,000 Syrians who had taken refuge in Pakistan and Jordan. It further aims at providing assistance to all the 500,000 WFP-supported refugees living in Jordan. 

 4. Solar Power Pool

In a recent use case, Siemens has partnered with a startup by the name of LO3 Energy using an application called Brooklyn Microgrid. The collaboration’s service is aimed at enabling the citizens of Brooklyn who own solar panels to transfer energy to others who need it. The entire transaction completely lies in the hands of consumers and the people who own the solar panels. 

 5. Selling and Buying Cannabis

Cannabis is an intoxicant. However, its health benefits have been known to people for years. For this very reason, cannabis trade is gaining acceleration in many parts of the world. 

There are two main benefits that blockchain could bring to the cannabis trade: transparency and anonymity. In the United States, cannabis trade recorded $9 billion in sales in the year 2017 with an estimated growth of $21 billion by 2021. These are ridiculously huge amounts and a cashless solution like blockchain can provide security to the business owners. Transactions can be tracked with greater ease and more transparency and accountability: something which traditional banking does not offer. 

6. Healthcare

Blockchain has a promising use case to offer the healthcare sector as well. There are several examples to prove this right, the first being that of Gem, a startup working with the Centre for Disease Control to store the data of a disease outbreak on the blockchain which could lead to effective measures for relief and response. 

 More examples include MedRec and SimplyVital Health. The first is a project taken up by MIT which deals with blockchain electronic medical records. The second keeps an eye on the progress of a patient after he/she is discharged and also provides decentralized health records of patients.

 7. Elections

Elections in nations face many problems in the present times. The biggest of these problems is that of voter frauds and dead voting. Also, it is necessary for a voter to be present physically during voting. This could lead to a decrease in the overall voter turnout because in many cases the voters might not be able to make an appearance physically. 

 Online voting has been avoided until now owing to security reasons. Blockchain, with security next to impossible to break, provides just the right way. Since hacking it is not possible, the votes can be registered on the blockchain. Moreover, it would also eliminate the problem of voter fraud by providing transparent records of the voters, which again could not be tampered with. 

Expanse’s VoteLock is an example of assisting the democratic ideology. 

 8. Deeds and Title Records

Title records are mostly maintained as paperwork. There are two problems this creates: first of all, having such massive records on paper is quite cumbersome. Secondly, the records thus maintained are vulnerable to fraudulent activities and can be tampered with. 

 The blockchain technology, decentralized, transparent and 100% secure could provide a valuable aid to the process of notarization. 

 Ubiquity is an enterprise which aids title companies, notaries and resellers.

 9. Music

With the help of blockchain, music artists can remove middlemen and can directly sell their music to their fans. Both Bitcoin and Ethereum support micropayments which can lay the base for a novel artist and fan relationship. 

 Several platforms are already working to reap the benefits of blockchain technology in the world of music. Examples include the Ethereum-based platform Choon and UJO. 

 10. Marriage

The last use case mentioned here is the most surprising and the most interesting of all. 

To combat the social bias for same-sex marriages, Swedish company Björn Borg has created Marriage Unblocked, a platform where couples can propose and marry on the blockchain irrespective of their sexual orientation. The records are anonymous and if one wants, one can obtain a certificate for the marriage too! The first traditional marriage recorded on the blockchain took place in Orlando, Florida Sunday, August 5, 2014 during a Bitcoin conference at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

 Parting Thoughts

This list is non-exhaustive. However, the few use cases which have been mentioned here all point out to the potential of changing the world for the better, a feature the blockchain technology carries in itself.

How the Beauty Industry is Making the World Beautiful with Blockchain

Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, provides insights into how blockchain technology is transforming the beauty industry. 

“Makeup is not a mask that covers up your beauty; it’s a weapon that helps you express who you are from the inside.”
Michelle Phan

From the dawn of time, vanity and its never-ending need have gone hand in hand. From the age of Cleopatra to the Victorian era, beauty secrets have a way of passing down from one generation to the next. Fast forward a few decades, this sprawling industry is now valued at over $532 billion.

The last 10 years witnessed an exponential spurt in the beauty domain. YouTube, with its ever-expanding user-base, has aided tremendously in this rapid spurt. The year 2018 recorded about 169 billion views on beauty related content. “Beauty Gurus” have now become self-made millionaires, thanks to wide consumerism.

Needless to say, modern advancements in technology have dominated and engineered various sectors of our society with the beauty industry proving to be its new playground. 

Innovation and Retail

The beauty scene today has changed dramatically. With the advent of technology, mankind has brought the art of vanity literally to your fingertips. From customized skincare to personalized beauty solutions from the experts, everything is within your reach.

The growth of direct-to-consumer beauty brands that manufacture and send their products directly to buyers and consumers without the hassle of middlemen has revolutionized the market. Direct-to-consumer companies sell their products at relatively lower prices than your traditional brands allowing for greater transparency in marketing, management, and distribution of the products. These brands cater specifically to the needs and want of the customer.

Consumers today don’t have the patience for traditionalistic “one size fits all” requiem. The reality is different now. What works for one will not work for the other. New age beauty brands like Glossier, Milk Makeup, The Ordinary, and Mario Badescu have hit the spot/ nail with their modern marketing approach. For instance, Mario Badescu, in just 6 months, outranked age-old brands like Clean and Clear and Clinique to grab the number 2 spot for teen girls’ favorite skincare brand as reported in Piper Jaffrey’s semiannual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey. 

Glossier, launched by Emily Weiss, has taken a more personalized stance in the market. The brand, through its campaigns, has specifically focused on the au naturel stance, celebrating the customer’s natural beauty. It is all about bringing the best in you forward. Glossier lets your beauty do the talking as it should be. 

How Blockchain is Helping Transform the Beauty Industry 

Blockchain technology has cemented itself in every sector of our growing society. From healthcare, education, finance to even governance, the rise of blockchain doesn’t seem to stop. In the beauty sector, blockchain technology has been incorporated by various beauty brands. Let’s see a couple of industry examples.

Jolyy: Online booking beauty platform, Jolyy came into the market in 2016 with its efficient booking strategies for websites across Europe. The first version of the booking platform was well received by consumers leading the company to now focus on upgrading the platform using blockchain technology.

With the aid of blockchain, Jolyy plans on increasing user efficiency to initiate faster payments and cutting down on commission costs. The upgraded platform would be based on the Origin Protocol, using the Ethereum blockchain network. The decentralized platform would enable users to book various beauty appointments at the click of a button, and finding the lowest prices for beauty treatments, opening days and hours.

Consumers and clients would now be able to interact directly with enterprises and businesses without the inconvenience of a middleman. Jolyy has also come up with the company’s native token, JOY, for its users to process cashless payments and to check-in rewards. 

COSMEE: Cosmee, a blockchain-based beauty platform launched by Cosmochain, provides the perfect amalgamation of modern technology and age-old tried and tested methods. Cosmee believes in rewarding both the user and the companies on its platform.

Members of Cosmee would typically be rewarded for creating beauty content using products of the companies mentioned. Users are rewarded in Cosmo Coin (COSM), the site’s native token, according to the level of their interaction within the community. Users can pitch in their ideas, write blogs, create videos or just “like” and “comment” on various posts.

Cosmee is currently the first company to incorporate a “token reward” system for users and enterprises alike. The more active one is in the Cosmee world, the more reward one gets. The company with this initiative plans to get rid of the “influencer only” ideology adopted by social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram.

The Cosmee team is currently in its initial stages of platform development and is solely focused on preparing a solid user base and maximizing customer satisfaction by providing for transparency between the consumer and the buyer.

Blockchain Proving to be a Hand of Gold for the Beauty Sector?

Digitization has truly transformed the game for enterprises, both large and small. Companies are constantly on the lookout for more efficient techniques to expand their resources and provide the best online user experience. Brands not only make use of websites but have also incorporated various innovatory methods like chatbots and virtual reality sections where the users can get a free trial run while sitting in the comfort of their homes.

The adoption of blockchain technology would enable companies in the future to entertain consumers’ honest reviews regarding various products. Making use of this data, companies would be able to hone their marketing and digitization strategies in a coherent and well-structured way. The focus could then be driven to increase profit and revenue while subsequently decreasing marketing and product development costs. Blockchain technology isn’t limited only to its marketing tactics, the technology provides for increased digital connectivity between users and medical professionals alike.

The beauty industry is estimated to grow up to $750 billion by the year 2024. According to EDITED’s retail data platform, UK’s H&M increased their beauty section by 94.8%. Beauty newsletters and mentions in emails also saw a dramatic rise by about 58% in the US from 2017-18 and up to 24% in the UK. From advancements in skincare to technological influences, blockchain is proving itself to be the gateway of the future.

Blockchain and IoT—Two Innovations Merging into a Revolution

Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, provides insights into the ongoing technological revolution that is underway via the Internet. 

Ever since humans have occupied the earth, centuries have been marked by inventions and innovations which have brought sweeping changes in the way we live and think. Going back to history, the fire was the first tool humankind used to arm, civilize and better its lifestyle. Since then, the wheels of science and technology have never stopped. Electricity was discovered, wireless communication was established, man invented televisions, airplanes, rockets, satellites, and the internet.

The last of these, as we have seen, is a technological revolution of the kind never witnessed before. It has changed the face of the earth and everything on it— it has seeped in our daily lives through and through. Today, we use it not only to the end of staying connected with the rest of the world but also for managing our tasks which previously involved cumbersome methods and processes. Coming to the latest, there are two technological innovations which have dominated our decade— the Blockchain and Internet of Things.

What is the Blockchain?

Simply defined, blockchain is a digital database containing information (such as records of financial transactions) that can be simultaneously used and shared within a large decentralized, publicly accessible network.

It is clear, even from this definition that decentralization is at the heart of this technology. This contains in itself the notion that blockchain is essentially, a peer-to-peer platform. It does not have central control over it and hence it cannot be manipulated. It naturally follows that the possibility of the presence of any third party is eliminated. Since it is a distributed ledger technology and encrypted from end to end, the data it holds cannot be tampered with.

Moreover, data can only be added to the blockchain in a time-sequential order. This attribute seals the fact that any data contained in the blockchain is rendered immutable. All of these characteristics go on to establish how successful an ally blockchain could prove to be to the Internet of Things.

What is the Internet of Things?

By definition, again, IoT is a computing concept that describes the idea of everyday physical objects being connected to the internet and being able to identify themselves to other devices. 

Now, it is to be made note of that traditional IoT systems are based on a centralized architecture. The devices thus connected send the information to the cloud (internet), which in its turn processes the data analytically and then sends it back to the IoT devices. IoT contains in itself the potential to connect billions of devices; which would inevitably come under the umbrella of a centralized system.

It is clear, therefore, that the present-day IoT systems are far from perfect. Devices share a lot of critical and important information to the internet. This makes it very vulnerable to hackers and thus poses significant data privacy and security risks. The most infamous of IoT attacks include Mirai botnet, which, in 2016, infected a huge number of IoT devices, taking down Etsy, GitHub, Netflix, Shopify, SoundCloud, Spotify, Twitter, and a number of other important websites; and the Brickerbot attack which simply killed the devices.

Moreover, based on a centralized network, IoT also runs the risk of single point failures when one nuance can damage the entire existing network.

These are the areas where the IoT is still struggling and this is exactly where blockchain can come to its aid.

Two Innovations Merging into a Revolution

It is commonly said that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This age-old adage cannot be more suitable for anything than the combination of blockchain and the Internet of Things. Indeed, the advantages of such a merger are many:

  • To begin with, blockchain is an encrypted ledger technology, which means that the data which is contained in it could be trusted by all the parties involved. It would be next to impossible to tamper with the information stored on a blockchain.
  • Smart contracts, a feature of some blockchain platforms like Ethereum, allows the creation of agreements which are executed only when certain conditions are met. This would not only make transactions easier and cheaper by the elimination of third parties but would also ensure that no individual can use the data for personal benefits. Cryptographic sharing of information shall cross out the risks of security breaches.
  • Blockchain shall lead to the betterment of the overall IoT security environment. It is to be noted that most of the data IoT deals with is very private and contains details of the lives of ordinary people. This data is made useful by getting shared with other machines and services. However, this also implies that it is prone to hackers which in turn means that individual privacy is put at risk. Blockchain shall provide a robust security system which shall be difficult to penetrate.
  • Lastly, blockchain shall help eliminate single-point failures which IoT runs the risk of. This would ensure that the IoT machinery runs without hindrance, hence making it more efficient.

Existing Blockchain-IoT Platforms

Steps have already been taken in the direction of merging the blockchain technology with IoT. Many platforms have emerged which understand the importance of such a combination:

  • HDAC: The Hyundai Digital Asset Company is making use of blockchain technology to enhance communication and data storage on the IoT devices.
  • Walton Chain: Walton Chain combines RFID and the blockchain for making IoT more efficient.
  • IOTA: IOTA is famously the first-ever platform to integrate blockchain into the Internet of Things.

These are just a few platforms which have adopted the revolutionary idea of combining blockchain and IoT. Other names that surface on this list include VeChain, Ambrosus, Power Ledger and Helium.

Parting Words

The applications of blockchain technology are enormous. The technology is akin to the discovery of electricity that fired up all the innovations that run on it. It is currently beyond our comprehension as to how blockchain technology may fire up other innovations. It is clear how blockchain could transform IoT and the combination can create something more secure, more efficient and more useful than the existing order.

Can Blockchain Win World Peace?

Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, weighs in on the daunting impact Blockchain technology is positioning to have on the new world order. 

Every century has witnessed the development of a new technology which has changed the face of the world— from thermal power to electricity to the modern web. The technology of this century, which promises such revolutionary change is blockchain. It carries in itself the potential to impact and improve almost all the essential sectors which constitute a nation.

Perhaps the most vital and also the most unexplored territory which blockchain technology can influence is the peace at our borders. There are two sides to this. One is the changes that this technology can bring about in commerce and trade, which would eventually harbor world peace. The other is what blockchain can do as a technology other than its direct economic role.

‘Commerce as an Obstacle to War’

Thomas Watson, the former CEO of IBM, was of the opinion that commerce could be used to prevent nations from going to war against each other. He believed that financial interests and peace were mutually inclusive. So much so that he even had the slogan ‘World Peace Through World Trade’ written on IBM’s New World Headquarters in New York City.

In the present scenario, blockchain offers a solution— decentralization— which forms one of the core principles of the technology. This means the complete removal of a ‘middle-man’ or a ‘broker’ which includes any entity like a bank, a financial institution, or a government.

The global economic front is burning with trade wars. USA, China, Russia, and Iran are some of the key players. However, the entire global population bears the brunt of it when such economic policies result in inflation and other such crisis within countries which severely affects the buying power of the consumers.

At such times it is fair enough to assert that a need to replace fiat currencies with cryptocurrencies is felt deeply. While on the one hand, it can come as economic salvation for the general masses; on the other, it would give one less reason to the nations for initiating a war.

‘And the World Will be as One’

The USA has since long witnessed illegal immigration. According to data, in 2016, the total number of unauthorized immigrants amounted to 10.7 million, which constituted about 4% of the entire American population. Most of these unauthorized immigrants come from Mexico (about 52%); but data reveals that a considerable number of people get into the U.S. from Central America, South America, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, and Canada as well.

Moreover, the problem of illegal immigration is not only limited to the U.S., as countries like Canada, India, and the European nations face similar issues. While in some states, the unauthorized immigrants become, over a span of time, part of its economy; in other countries, they live either in deplorable conditions or are held in detention camps for years.

In such a situation, blockchain seems to be a better answer than a wall.

Blockchain technology can be used to maintain a digital record of the citizens in a country to keep a check on illegal infiltration at its borders. Digital currencies can further act as a tool for completely eradicating black money flow across the borders, stop the violence in these sensitive regions, and facilitate the fight against terrorism.

Other than this, blockchain technology can be utilized for various humanitarian causes. A perfect example is the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Building Blocks. This project was established in 2016, and it aimed to use decentralized digital ledger technology for making cash transfers. By January 2018, more than 100,000 Syrians who had taken refuge in Pakistan and Jordan availed WFP’s assistance. The blockchain-assisted project aims to provide provisions to all the 500,000 WFP-supported refugees in Jordan.

This is just one example. There are many other purposes which blockchain can serve. One worth mentioning is the conduction of fair elections by eliminating ‘death votes’ and other electoral fraud with the help of ledger technology for creating an infallible voting record system.

Parting Words: Understanding What Limits Blockchain Technology

The adage that everything can be good or bad depending on the intention with which it is used can be applied here too. While blockchain can have many humanitarian and progressive uses, it can also become a tool for oppression if used unchecked.

It is fair to conclude here that blockchain technology can not only give a leap to our economy but can also be used for establishing peace and order in the world when used by right hands for humanitarian and progressive goals. After all, what we choose to do with something as mundane as a stone- make a wall or a bridge- makes all the difference.

Gander Release Progress

As we reported last month, Expanse Founder and CEO, Christopher Franko, defined the specifications for Gander v3. The specs include a slew of enhancements and new features. So as not to have Gander offline for any length of time, we’ve taken the approach of adding enhancements as we can. Today Asim outlined the following Gander additions since the last newsletter article, all of which will be live by the end of this week:

  • User can use our public API to get decoded information of transactions, blocks and uncles.
  • Contract input decoding script is in place and been tested right now, so in future you can view decoded contract input so they can be understandable.
  • Team is doing research on Block Reorg as per the directions by Chris for the remaining task of Gander.
  • All new graphs so anyone can view what’s happening on the network.

Doing Business in China

Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, interviewed Alex Zhao, Expanse Ambassador and Business Development Director in China, on doing business in China, in regard to crypto and blockchain.

China, the most populous country in the world, is fast becoming an economic behemoth that by its sheer population can sustain awe-inspiring growth numbers. There is no sector in global economy that hasn’t been touched by the Chinese and the crypto market is no different. I spoke to Alex Zhao, our Business Development Manager in China.

JR – Every culture regards money a bit differently. The traditional values of what money means and the principles governing the earning of money are different for different people around the world. What’s the general culture regarding money in China and how do Chinese regard money?

AZ – China has had an ancient civilization that dates back centuries. Chinese people have a very strong traditional culture revolving around money, like most other civilizations. They are unabashed in their pursuit of earning money. They live by the adage “Like money, like to earn money, like to save money.” The pursuit of wealth is an integral part of Chinese life. And this has percolated quite strongly in today’s generation. Doing business and making a lot of money have become prime aspirations of many young people. We realize that money is what makes the world go round and we love to earn enough money to help realize our dreams. This culture hasn’t changed much. In fact, with the continuous enrichment of material life, people pursue money more strongly.

JR – What does a young Chinese aspire today? What has been the impact of an open, connected  world on the youth?

AZ – Young people today pursue economic independence through the Internet. Today, information is power and it is playing a vital role in shaping public perception to everything around us. The youth of today is, contrary to popular perception, very interested in what’s going around the world. Because those events will eventually shape their future by influencing their surroundings. Young people today have a very open mind, unlike any previous generations. At present, the attention spectrum of the youth, especially the teenagers, is very wide, and the traditional media can no longer meet so many interest points. The large capacity of network information satisfies the needs of teenagers to the greatest extent, and provides the most abundant information resources for teenagers. But there is also a bitter side to this. The Internet, which empowers, also makes many teenagers indulge in the virtual world and makes them lose touch with reality, and also makes many teenagers neglect their studies. Different from real social life, teenagers are confronted with a virtual world on the Internet, which not only meets their needs of possessing all kinds of information as soon as possible, but also produces dissatisfaction with reality. But that, I guess, is true for every technology that has ever appeared on the face of this planet.

JR – Let’s talk about crypto. When and how did interest in crypto began in China? How has it expanded? What is the current scenario among general people?

AZ – Bitcoin entered China around 2012. The  initial reaction of most people – the community was very small back then – was that it was a fraud, a pyramid scheme. Not a lot people accepted it. But in 2013, HUOBI and OKEX launched their services and this brought greater attention to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. In 2015, I believe, after the launch of Ethereum, interest in crypto really took off. Then came the ICO craze of 2017 and many people literally made millions during that time. This was like fuel to the fire and more people started buying crypto assets. Now, I believe, the crypto market in China is more mature.

JR – With stringent governmental regulations, how do crypto enthusiasts in China find a way to be associated with this industry?

AZ – While there is a ban on ICOs in China, people still trade on exchanges like HUOBI and OKEX. These exchanges moved to other, crypto-friendly nations after the Chinese governmental crackdowns. The crypto community is pretty proactive here in China. They have a keen eye on the global markets and watch the prices and track news.

JR – What future do you see/wish to see for crypto in China? If you were to advise your government on crypto, what would it be?

AZ – The Chinese government has accepted the limitless capabilities of the blockchain technology now. There have been much news about governmental initiatives and support for blockchain technology. In November 2017, the Ministry of Public Security filed a patent application for a system based on blockchain that timestamps and stores data submitted to the cloud space to provide a more transparent and tamper-proof data preservation process. On April 9, 2018, China’s first ten-billion-scale blockchain industrial park was officially opened in Hangzhou, and the Xiongan Global Blockchain Innovation Fund was led and funded by Hangzhou Municipal Government. The credit asset securitization project of the central government Bond Registration and Clearing Co. Ltd., based on blockchain technology is seen an important innovation in the exploration of blockchain technology in the field of asset securitization. I believe the Chinese government needs to review cryptocurrencies seriously and create a clear regulatory landscape governing its trading, taxation and the legalities surrounding crypto-based ventures. So although a blockchain-based venture has a better chance of being welcomed in China, cryptocurrencies are still a no-no. But you never know!

A Peek into the World of Cryptocurrency Miners

Here’s an article submitted by Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor.

Cryptocurrency transactions on the blockchain are similar to an intricately woven web. Since millions of transactions occur regularly around the world, the blockchain becomes a jumbled-up platform of inputted and outputted info. The first question which probably arises in the mind of a newbie to crypto is who manages this haphazard pool of extensive information regarding all the transactions? Who indeed.

Crypto Mining and Miners

Before unmasking the unnamed guardians of this particular task, one should first divulge in the actual process of transactions and their completions. The term coined for this process is ‘Mining.’ The procedure of mining comprises of verification and addition of various cryptocurrency transactions to the blockchain ledger.

It is conducted by professionals known as ‘Miners’ who are responsible for the authentication of information regarding a transaction and then uploading it to the blockchain platform. The process isn’t as easy as it sounds though since it involves solving complex mathematical algorithms and equations in order to get the transaction data. The task is, even more, trying due to the fact that crypto miners compete with each other, and the first one to achieve a solution is the one to collect the data regarding that particular transaction.

Since solving complex mathematical problems while competing with professionals isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, surely there must be some benefits that the miners receive for all this brainstorming. In fact, miners get paid simultaneously with their service. When miners break through a complex equation and then update the transaction data on the blockchain, they receive a set amount of crypto coins for the same. Through this, the miners earn digital currency with every transaction they process.

Equipment and Tactics

Crypto miners are not just all brains; there are some tools and tactics required for mining. There are particular hardware available, such as ASICs (Bitcoin Mining Hardware) which are high-specialization computers for the mining of that particular digital currency. Apart from unique equipment, miners also have the option to join a ‘Mining Pool.’

A mining pool can be considered as a local or native group of miners. By joining a pool, miners can pool in their resources, thereby increasing their chances of receiving blocks for disintegration and thus, can earn more money.

The kind of CPU or GPU utilized by the miners is also a crucial factor in mining. Apart from that, the most basic aspect that mining involves is the amount of electricity the task consumes. Hence most hardware utilized for mining are located at a place with low electricity cost.

This Coin, or That?

The process aside, how do the miners actually decide which coin to mine? There is a high probability of suffering losses while dealing in crypto, and the field of mining isn’t any different. Hence, the miners have to go through a basic checklist to decide whether a coin is advantageous for mining or not:

  • 1. Reliability of the Coin – Whether the coin is authentic or not is the first and foremost thing that a miner should confirm.
  • 2. The Price of the Coin – Does the coin which the miner has selected have a decent price and is it going to pay an amount worth the mining?
  • 3. Transactions Availability – The miner must choose a coin whose transactions are readily available.
  • 4. Competition in Mining – The miner should make sure that the assistance pay received for the transactions of the chosen currency is considerable as compared to the competition for the same.

Mining for Beginners

If one is planning to delve into crypto mining, then the best option is to first let someone else mine the coins. This type of mining is referred to as cloud mining and can be done on a contractual basis. Firms offering mining services for a year or more are in abundance, and the only requirement is to sign up an account on the party’s website. It is also an excellent way to earn a side income in the form of crypto coins.

If one wishes to indulge further, then they would need to set up an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC or mining rig) hardware device which is exclusively developed for the process of mining cryptocurrencies. The next step is to download software for advanced mining and join a mining pool in order to receive not only rewards but support as well from fellow group members.

This brings us to the question of how profitable is it to mine EXP. Mining Expanse (EXP) has a high probability of receiving considerable benefits due to high transaction percentage of this coin. EXP has already seen an ATH of close to $10, and with a great community of developers and enthusiasts as well as many exciting projects in the pipeline, EXP may soon see its glory days. Those interested in mining EXP can join a mining pool.

The Digipool Expanse pool, for example, offers many benefits to members, such as:

  • 1. 0.5% fee
  • 2. PPLNS 3000
  • 3. 30 minutes payouts
  • 4. Nicehash support
  • 5. Support via Discord
  • 6. Dedicated and reliable hardware

Conclusion: Is there a Future in Mining?

Although there are inevitable ups and downs in crypto mining, it is still an evergreen process. All the currencies, be it Bitcoin or other altcoins are required to be mined for the completion of a transaction. There is a burgeoning concept of pre-mined currencies, but even if such options appear in the market, the traditional aspect of mining will remain since it prevents any frauds from occurring. Mining is getting a bit expensive due to hiking electricity rates at mining farms, such as in rural China, but it isn’t a business which would be off the market anytime soon.

Expanse Cited as “Most Secure Blockchain in the Space”

Last month the Bittrex Exchange and its affiliated sites took Expanse offline for maintenance. Much to our dismay, we learned that Expanse was hit with a 51% reorg attack through no fault of its own.

A 51% attack is when an attacker controls 51% of the total hashrate and uses that power to rewrite recent transaction history. Note that here was no loss to Expanse-holders, and the chain was secured and back up within a few days.

As annoying as the downtime was, many good things evolved from dealing with the issue:

  • Many new people joined the Expanse Discord community, now with 2255 members.
  • Numerous ongoing lively and interesting conversations were sparked in regard to the future and potential of Expanse. The channel was literally buzzing 24 hours per day.
  • Members who had been away for awhile returned to voice support and encouragement.
  • Updates were put into place making it impossible for Expanse to suffer another 51% attack.
  • We implemented PirlGuard, further securing the platform from threats.
  • A few days after the maintenance, someone tried to hit Expanse with an 80% attack and left empty-handed, reinforcing the security of our platform. The code is that strong.
  • Our lead developer, Christopher Franko, conceived of a completely new, never-before-used mining algorithm that is completely unique to Expanse. It is called Frankomoto, and we plan to release it in the May timeframe.

Focusing on the positives of the situation, Expanse is taking steps forward. One of our community members cited Expanse as easily becoming the most “secure platform n the space.”

“Frankomoto will make Expanse more secure and more unique, taking us a nice step away from ETH in a positive way,” said Franko. “It will increase the finality of Expanse transactions, while keeping GPU mining relevant.”

Are We Witnessing the Death of the Bank?

Here’s an article submitted by Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, that discusses his views about the future of banking.

If what we are witnessing continues, banks will slowly, and almost painfully, go down the path of extinction. I am not saying that banking will come to an end; I am only referring to the paraphernalia surrounding the banking system, especially the bank. Banks today have become vestiges of the traditional financial system and create more burden than value for the system.

Banks made hay, while the sun shined…

The previous generation, and a couple before it, witnessed the great banking revolution where, under the mandate of global financial institutions like the World Bank, banks endeavored to reach out to the smallest common denominator of the globe. The poorest, most impoverished, individual on the planet was approached systematically and brought within the financial mainstream. However, even after almost two decades inside the 21st Century and the traditional financial system has brought only 75% of the world’s population under the financial mainstream. Almost 1 in every 4 individuals do not have access to banks even today. However, let us pursue this line of thought later. Meanwhile, let us understand the problems plaguing the banks of today, with regards the present generation.

…but are they relevant anymore?

The “Millenials” are an extremely tech-savvy generation. The explosion of technological advancements, especially in internet and telephony have made the world a very small place. Even Baby Boomers and Gen X have caught on to the gadget-driven frenzy that is life as we see it today. These tech-savvy people are extremely picky in what they want and how they want it. Add to this the inherent curiosity of trying out new things and the impatience that has become the hallmark of these individuals and you have a recipe for either disaster or a revolution.

People today literally live their lives digitally. They wouldn’t want to get stranded on an island without their gadgets and a wi-fi connection. In such a scenario, the bank seems more like a vestige of the past, a mammoth trapped in the process of evolution to find itself among well-dressed humans in the middle of Times Square on a busy Monday morning. In a frenzied world a trip to the bank can seriously slow things down.

The services of banks today presents a classic case of expectations and frustration. While people want all banking services at their fingertips, the inability of banks to do so gives rise to frustration. And this frustration has been channelized by entrepreneurs to create revolutions and disruption in the financial sector. The marriage of finance and technology, also called fintech, has birthed technologies that aim to make banking as people want. But all this comes with a heavy price. The death of the “bank.” Banks – the structure, infrastructure and its countless employees – are simply untenable. Once the touchpoints to the financial system, they are now on their way to become redundant because touchpoints have shifted from banks to mobile apps.

Today’s generation wants banking to support their lifestyle and this new equation has no place for the bank. To say that banks have been innocent bystanders in their extinction by greater forces would be wrong. Banks themselves have played a major role in their own destruction. This brings us to our earlier discussion on unbanked people of the world.

Banks still haven’t reached 2 billion people

While banks had a clear mandate to bring all the people in the world under the financial mainstream, why do we still have 25% of the world’s population out of it? The reason behind this is the inability (?) of banks to serve such a large “risky” population. If an individual has a bank account, he will demand for a loan. A bank cannot give this individual a loan, because it is not sure if he can repay it. Such an individual does not have a credit history. But how can the individual have a credit history if he hasn’t been offered a loan and the eventual chance to repay it? It’s a vicious cycle and a classic case of what comes first – the egg or the hen.

This makes them prone to extinction

If banks want to continue existing, they have to get their act together. In my opinion, the question is not whether they would keep existing. Even by some miracle they do, they will not thrive, because the present generation is looking at players outside traditional finance to serve their needs. And these players are not only doing that, they are doing it with élan and exuberance, unlike banks.

But is there a way?

One way by which banks can stay relevant is by understanding their customers better. And the best way to do so is through leveraging information about their likes, dislikes, dreams, ambitions and aspirations. All of this can be obtained through their digital footprint. A curious piece of information says that more than half of the world’s unbanked population has access to mobile phones, even smartphones. And as we know, that a person’s smartphone knows him better than even himself. Using social media and other service-oriented sites can extract a lot of information about a person. While we can debate the legality and ethics of how the data is collected and used some other time, we can however appreciate the vital nature of this data and its importance in knowing the customer better so that a business or service provider can customize offerings to suit the lifestyle of the individual.

Parting words

Banking, as an institution, can stay relevant only if it leverages the information – Big Data – provided by their customers and also by getting access to such data from third parties. Banks however will slowly vanish to pave the way for a completely digital banking experience.         

Why is the Traditional Financial System Afraid of Cryptocurrencies?

Here’s another thought-provoking blog submitted by Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” Mahatma Gandhi said these famous words to describe how his unique strategy of non-violence that fired a nationalist movement, was perceived by the oppressive British Rule in India. He, however, had ultimate faith in his vision that eventually became instrumental in freeing India from the clutches of the British Raj that ruled over the Indian subcontinent for close to two centuries.

Are cryptocurrencies the present day David?

Time and again, these very words have been instrumental in defining a newcomer underdog that marches forward to challenge the monopolistic institutions, whether in culture, society or even in global economy. Today, the world is poised as it watches another such David take on the mighty Goliath. After centuries of financial hegemony, banks seem to have found their match in cryptocurrencies.

It was the very audacity with which banks, colluding with governments, behaved with peoples’ money, that fuelled the innovation we know today as Bitcoin. It was invented as a novel electronic peer-to-peer system of payment that would require no intermediaries, would be immutable, required no trust and had a decentralized, unregulated currency at its heart. Today, while the world is going gaga over the limitless opportunities and capabilities of cryptocurrencies, banks are losing sleep over the dwindling prospects of their own future.

Banks have played their part in demeriting crypto

While the world was coming to terms with the concept of cryptocurrencies, the banks were busy ignoring it, thinking that it was just a passing fad. However, when the price of Bitcoin started rising since the beginning of 2017 and exploded at the end of that year, banks and other financial institutions laughed cynically. It was a bubble waiting to burst, they said.

Spokespersons of reputed financial institutions around the world stuck their necks out to speak ill about cryptocurrencies, its various features and even the underlying technology. Yves Mersch, member of the European Central Bank’s executive board talked about the fact that bitcoin transactions took several hours to complete. “At these speeds, if you bought a bunch of tulips with bitcoin, they may well have wilted by the time the transaction was confirmed,” he said at an event in London. Mr. Mersch, however, conveniently forgot to mention how the current cross border transactions took 3-5 days to complete.

Augustin Carstens, head of the Bank for International Settlements described bitcoin as “a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster.” Mr. Carstens probably forgot to mention that the traditional banking system was the biggest Ponzi scheme in human history.

Nouriel Roubini, American economist, has become notorious for being the biggest critic of the crypto phenomenon. He has called cryptocurrencies “the mother of all bubbles” favoured by “charlatans and swindlers.” He has said that the fundamental value of bitcoin is zero. Mr. Roubini seems to have forgotten that same is the case with the United States Dollar.

JP Morgan boss Jamie Dimon has called bitcoin a fraud “that would ultimately blow up.” A few months later, news surfaced that JP Morgan was considering a bitcoin futures product. Now this is hypocrisy of the worst kind.

In a news that came as a slap on the face of traditional financial institutions, the Polish central bank was found secretly funding anti-cryptocurrency campaigns on social media. It had paid famous polish Youtuber Marcin Dubiel more than $27,000 to create fake videos to discredit cryptocurrencies.

The Bank of Russia has called cryptocurrency a pyramid scheme. China has brought a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies. The Reserve Bank of India has asked all of the Indian banks to stop providing services to people who deal in cryptocurrencies, effectively sabotaging the people’s collective attempt to trade in a novel asset type.

But cryptocurrencies are ready for a long, drawn-out battle

We have seen the financial institutions’ attempts to laugh it out and now they trying to fight it out by choking off what is slowly becoming a mass movement. However, what banks do not realize is that the more they try to discourage people, the more people will see for what they truly are. The bank’s cynicism of cryptocurrencies is, ironically, adding fuel to the fire.

There is good reason for financial institutions to fear cryptocurrencies and some banks have been candid enough to admit it. the Bank of America recently said that cryptocurrencies posed a competitive threat to their business.

Why are banks afraid of crypto?

While banks have been harping about the risks of cryptocurrency being used for money laundering and other criminal activities, this submission is completely unfounded. Each transaction is immutably recorded on the blockchain that is accessible by public. Every account has been verified on a cryptocurrency exchange and if the law requires, the exchange can share all of the account details with the authorities. So where is the question of laundering money through cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies cut down the role of intermediaries and that’s where banks feel threatened. If people start saving in crypto, banks won’t have money to play around with. If people start buying things with crypto, banks won’t make money on debit and credit card fees.

Most importantly, cryptocurrencies are immune to the kind of manipulation you see with fiat currency. Look at the market crash of 2008 and you’ll realize what we’re talking about. It was a classic case of banks manipulating a system that was never transparent in the first place. Also, banks lend more than they have through a neat system called “fractional reserves.” But with crypto, there is no leveraging. Either you have it in your wallet, or you don’t.

Fiat money is prone to inflation. The banks and the government can print as much money as they wish thereby decreasing the value of existing circulating money. Bitcoin, on the other hand is capped at 21 million, so there is no risk of devaluation.

Finally, the state cannot steal your crypto assets. So, isn’t your fiat money safe in banks? Well, if that is what you believe, look at what Cyprus did during its 2013 financial crisis. All account holders who had 100,000 or more euros in their accounts had to lose a sizeable amount of their savings to save the Cypriot economy. You, however, don’t hold crypto in a bank. You hold it in your personal wallet and have access to them every moment of the day.

Parting thoughts

This is a battle that may well determine the future of money itself. For centuries we have been forced to use a medium for payment that has lost much of its backing and isn’t even worth the paper on which it is printed. It’s value is further undermined by the banks who hold them and the governments who print them. We, the people, are held at the mercy of traditional finance to revere a currency that has lost much of its value and charm.

The time is ripe for a revolution and cryptocurrencies are leading the charge. Financial institutions are fighting to survive and it looks like they are losing this all-important battle.