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.

EXPEX Plan Announced

As promised, Expanse is moving forward with a plan to launch a decentralized exchange, EXPEX.

The date for launching EXPEX, Expanse’s much anticipated decentralized exchange (DEX), is within sight. The team is projecting that trading will begin third quarter 2019, while a campaign to sign up coins to list on the exchange will begin as early as next week.

“Powered by Expanse.Tech™ and inspired by our commitment to freedom, security and anonymity, we are determined to bring you the trading platform you’ve been waiting for,” said Christopher Franko, Expanse Founder and CEO. “EXPEX will set the standard for the decentralized crypto movement.”

EXPEX will be embedded in and operate within the Expanse wallet, Luna. This creates an infrastructure where Expanse provides the tools and trading environment.  EXPEX does not rely on a third party service to hold customers’ funds, but instead traders are in control of their assets and trade peer-to-peer. Recent FINCen guidance clarified that this approach eliminates the need to qualify as a money transmitter. https://www.systems.cs.cornell.edu/docs/fincen-cvc-guidance-final.pdf

It is not too early for users to create their Luna wallets. The Luna Wallet enhancements to accommodate EXPEX will occur over the next few weeks―well before trading begins. Go to https://expanse.tech/downloads/ to get started.

Expanse’s PEX token, airdropped to LAB and EXP holders last August, serves as  the EXPEX native token asset on the Expanse blockchain.

EXPEX acts independently within the Expanse Luna Wallet at the discretion of the user. There is no charge to use it and there are no trading fees.

The Expanse blockchain, a standard for security and stability, introduced the EXPEX prototype last year, anticipating that regulations would soon clarify a path forward. Here are samples of the feedback posted about the trial version tested in December:

“This is genius. Tokenlab mints the coins, but don’t stop there. List your newly-minted coin on EXPEX, usually a start-up project’s biggest challenge.”

“Embedding EXPEX in the Luna wallet is an elegant approach and easy access for trading. Its appeal will be off the charts.”

When Can We Expect EXPEX? The nuts and bolts are in place and tested. The website, EXPEX.io, will soon have a countdown to trading day and provide other pertinent information. Check back often. In the meantime, the team is blazing through tasks like solidifying the branding and identifying enhancements that result in presenting a top notch entry into the decentralized crypto-to-crypto trading space.

Special Technology Issue

This Expanse Newsletter focuses on all of the technology in the Expanse ecosystem. Over the past few weeks, we have completed and delivered awesome enhancements and solidified plans touching all of our products. None of this would be possible without assistance from our amazing community members. Whether its participating in beta-testing or offering suggestions in Discord discussions, our community keeps us on our toes!

I would also attribute much of our progress to all of our team members, whether they live in Pakistan, India, Guatemala, China or the US. Special thanks to @Farwah, @Maryum, and @Hamza who work day and night to make it all happen. You guys rock!

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.”

New Project Management Office

In an effort to achieve more efficiency and tighter monitoring of projects, Expanse has opened a project management offices (PMO). Farwah Aizaz will run the PMO, reporting to Chris Franko. .

In this new role, Farwah is responsible for setting, maintaining and ensuring standards are in place for project management across the organization. Under Chris’ direction, she will establish and monitor best practices, project statuses and direction. Key to the role is facilitating effective communication between teams about projects across the organization.

“Now that Expanse has staff in six countries, keeping up with everything going on across time zones and in several languages has been a significant challenge,” said Christopher Franko, Expanse Founder. “We have high hopes that the PMO will help us be more efficient and transparent across projects.”

Exchange Listing Update

Expanse has partnered with Cryptofacil, the largest cryptocurrency exchange based in Latin America. Cryptofacil launched in early March 2019 using cutting-edge trading platform technology from one of the global leaders in the Blockchain industry, Bittrex. Crytofacil currently lists over 260 digital currencies, including EXP. Read more here: https://www.einpresswire.com/article/479147576/expanse-partners-with-cryptofacil-for-exchange-listing

On the Drawing Board

Among the ideation underway at Expanse are two new product opportunities. Here’s a preliminary glimpse at ideas in discussion that could take us further toward our goal of a Borderless society:

  • Integrate Expanse into  the Samsung Pay crypto wallet – Industry sources indicate that Samsung Pay, a widely utilized digital payments application with over 10 million active users, is behind the Galaxy S10’s cryptocurrency wallet.
  • Yangbucks – U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang is running on a platform that endorses a Universal Basic Income (UBI). Expanse, along with UKYC,  can provide the infrastructure that ensures that every human receives $1000 USD per month in Yangbucks just for being.human.

How Expanse UKYC™ Mitigates the Risks of Personal Data Breaches on Crypto Exchanges

Here’s an article submitted by Jitendra Rathod, newsletter contributing editor, that discusses the challenges of the current KYC processes at crypto exchanges and how UKYC can help.

Cryptocurrencies have already hijacked the debate about the Fintech sector because of their unconventional and disruptive approaches to finance, which is also why they have been able to make their mark. Initially, at the inception of cryptocurrencies, the users’ anonymity had been at the heart of the technology and all the systems.

The anonymity was not merely a decision to set itself apart from the conventional financial systems; it was a well thought out ethical decision. The aim of this was to include the under-banked into the financial system.

However, this did not work out too well for the crypto community; and soon cryptocurrencies were alleged to be mediums of money laundering and tax evasion. They were also charged with facilitating funding for illegal activities of various kinds. It soon became clear that in order to be able to maintain the legitimacy of the cryptocurrencies, the community will have to compromise some of its fundamental principles.

This lack of transparency of the crypto-based transactions led the regulatory authorities in several countries to tighten the rules regarding the joining and usage of crypto-based services. The exchanges thus now have to acquire information from the users in accordance with the KYC (Know Your Customer), and AML (Anti Money Laundering) norms set by the regulators of the respective countries of function. It is in this respect that different services are coming up to cater to the needs of the crypto industry.

Challenges with KYC/AML

While this provided the much-needed transparency to the cryptocurrency transactions, it also saw some resistance from within the community. One significant complaint against the KYC norms is the question of privacy. This question is, in fact, multifaceted.

Firstly crypto transactions are based on blockchains, that is to say, they are based on public ledgers. As a result, each transaction is added to the master ledger. When the thread of the transaction is traced to the source and matched with the real life identity of the individual, it reveals sensitive transaction information. Initially the real life identity of an individual could not have been located but with KYC it is possible to reveal the identity of a person owning an account.

In simple terms, before KYC there was complete anonymity for the addresses on the ledger, but with KYC a simple breach of trust can reveal all sensitive transaction details. Thus, uploading specific sensitive information, like address, name, and sex to name a few can significantly put the privacy of the users at risk.

The second risk related to privacy is that the user uploading his or her information on the crypto exchanges risks losing data to hacking attacks. While thousands of users are on these platforms, it becomes the responsibility of the exchanges to manage and secure these data, which are highly valuable. For a user using many platforms it becomes even more risky, to upload such data over several platforms.

Moreover, the process of seeking and managing such vast amounts of data is expensive and time-consuming. On average, a traditional onboarding process in the brick and mortar financial institutions in general takes between 10 days to 2 weeks. Now, even though crypto exchange platforms are far swifter and efficient in this task, it is still somewhat of a hassle for them to deal with such huge amounts of data. Thus, not only is this a cumbersome activity for the user, but the exchanges themselves find these norms to be a burden. They often realize that such regulations are making their functioning a challenge.

The exchanges which continue to function from the highly regulated regions find it increasingly difficult to focus on their core operations and have to channelize a large chunk of their resources towards the management of such data. This reduces the quality of the products.

Problems with Existing KYC Processes

There are two major problems with the existing KYC processes on the various crypto platforms:

  1. Different KYC for different exchange platforms: currently, every exchange has its own KYC process. As a result, in order to join different platforms the user has to undergo the verification process over and over again. So if a person holds accounts in 10 different exchanges, he/she has to submit physical or scanned copies of documents at all these places.
  2. Risk to safety:Since, the user has no way of knowing how his/her personal information is being used or handled, there is a serious risk to privacy. She has no option but to trust that this data (her photo, a photo of her passport, for instance) will be safe in the hands of the exchange and will be used only for the purpose it is intended.

UKYC: The Expanse Solution

The Universal Know Your Customer module created by Expanse as part of the Tokenlab ecosystem, is one of its kind, for it can be used for all those platforms wherever it is necessary to validate the identity of the users. The user has to fulfill all the KYC requirements on this platform in the beginning, i.e., at the time of signing up.

Once the KYC requirements have been fulfilled, the user gets a personal profile. On this platform, each user’s profile is given a badge in the form of a barcode. It is a single unified badge which is valid for all the platforms and exchanges requiring KYC.

The bar code can be scanned every time the user needs to provide the KYC. The information remains stored at one point and can be accessed by different kinds of firms, thereby saving the user from the hassle of repeated KYC verifications. Moreover, as the profile information is in the form of a barcode, the user can secure anonymity to some extent.

Conclusion

In this day and age of discussions about the safety of personal data and providing the same data over and over again, UKYC comes across as a kind of savior. It also reduces the processing time of the data, and makes the process more accountable to the user, who now knows where her data is being stored. In this way, UKYC is an efficient approach to KYC. It can also have a significant effect in providing stability to the unregulated, or poorly regulated, crypto market.

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.