Značka: Technology

Hiring top crypto talent can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be

Building a career or constructing a team in decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto relies on finding talent, skills and the right attitude anywhere, in anyone. While this is no different than other industries, what makes ours unique are the much-needed, specialized skill sets combined with finding a good culture fit in an international and remote setting.Despite recent turbulence in markets, crypto companies continue building and growing. The increased energy and legitimacy in the industry over the years has many people wanting to make the switch from Web2 to Web3. This requires recruiters to sift through hundreds of applicants every month, but how do you find the right people who are enthusiastic about the ethos of the industry and excited to build impactful technology? Here are a few recruiting strategies that can help and a couple of things to avoid.Hire for attitudeNo matter the industry, the right attitude can go a long way. Work in crypto and DeFi is often international, remote, fast-moving and non-traditional. Its nature is decentralized, so work environments tend to be the same.We lean into hiring people who are kind, team-oriented, self-directed, energetic, innovative and deal with mistakes and challenges in the right way. But how do you identify those habits and the right attitude in someone during the hiring process?There are a few ways to do this. Ask them what they value. What do they find important in terms of culture, teamwork and others’ attitudes?To drive at these responses, it can help to ask the candidate the same question in a few different ways and then measure for sincerity. If they keep coming back to topics or statements that feel genuine, then they probably are. If they haven’t thought of what values and cultural elements they look for in their next team, that could be a red flag.It is also helpful to dig into how candidates plan to succeed in a remote and international setting. (Our team has people in nearly a dozen different countries around the world.) How have they managed with diverse time zones? What is their attitude around being flexible for other teammates’ work/life boundaries? We’ve learned that successful remote work requires people with attitudes that embrace flexibility and understand how to self-direct with asynchronous communication.Related: How to get a job in the metaverse and Web3Maintain a deeply thorough interview processWe’ve been told many times that our interview process is one of the most deliberate and in-depth recruiting processes candidates have experienced. It’s common for a candidate to speak to up to four current members of the team during the interview process. It’s not meant to be grueling; it’s meant to be explorative, transparent and helpful — to both sides.This process is by design. Several conversations, practice scenarios, exercises and touchpoints that involve several current team members create more opportunities to get to know each other. The more you talk, the more you can identify strengths, weaknesses, motivations and attitudes. Formal education hasn’t yet caught up to crypto, so it’s challenging to assess educational and professional experience the same way you can in some traditional industries. This process needs to give people equal opportunity to showcase their skillsets, culture fit and talents.Our experience building a remote, global team has proven that hiring requires transparency and respect. The process is a two-way street. You’re choosing each other. If the candidate ends up choosing another role because your process is too involved or lengthy, then so be it. Related: Bear market: Some crypto firms cut jobs, while others aim for sustainable growthIt’s important to maintain these intentional, strategic and thorough processes consistently. Hiring the wrong person carries a larger cost than hiring the right person, slowly.Don’t hire out of desperationWhile the industry feels like it’s in constant flux and growth can happen suddenly and quickly, resist the urge to hire for the sake of growth alone. It’s tempting to lower your hiring bar when talent is hard to find, but success emerges when you keep expectations high. As mentioned above, a thorough process of interviewing and recruiting will pay off down the road by securing the right people for the right reasons. Having a position vacant is better than having the wrong person in the position for a brief time.Pursue diversity (in all its forms)Crypto and DeFi are improving from a diversity perspective, but it still has a long way to go, particularly in science-, technology-, engineering- and mathematics-based roles. Any visit to a crypto or DeFi event or conference shows that participation is heavily weighted toward white men. This is holding back our organizations, communities and industry.Teams that are more diverse are stronger. Teams with more women, more people of color, more people of various geographic or national backgrounds and sexual or gender orientations will achieve more innovation, understanding, productivity and longevity. A diverse team will cultivate a diverse ecosystem of ideas and achievements.This requires developing strong cultures and policies that are inclusive, supportive, professional and open-minded and practice zero tolerance for prejudice or discrimination in both organizational and community behavior.The benefit of having a remote-first company is that you can hire anyone, anywhere. So, take advantage of that but be sensitive to how your team and industry may be felt and experienced by others with their own unique experiences.Related: New industry, new rules: Building the metaverse without biasTo achieve this, start with policies and philosophies that are inviting and inclusive. Then you need to think outside the box to find diverse candidate pools. For example, look forwomen-led decentralized autonomous organizations, hackathons or Twitter communities, and be a champion where you can for underrepresented groups in the industry. If you can’t find them, help to build them.Don’t shy away from people who are unfamiliar with cryptoCrypto and DeFi are obviously highly complicated industries that require specialized skill sets. But that doesn’t mean organizations should restrict themselves to recruits who are already familiar with crypto or active in it.There are plenty of highly skilled Web2 people involving themselves in crypto as their hobby. Search for meaningful contributors, self-starters and those willing to learn. That’s what this industry is all about. With the right attitude and ethos, blockchain and crypto knowledge can be learned. Seek to embrace things such as paired programming, internal learning sessions and frequent performance reviews to continually develop talent.While early weeks and months can and will feel overwhelming to non-crypto recruits, people with the right attitude and objectives will learn, especially if they are being mentored and guided by a welcoming, understanding and strategic team. Patience is a virtue. (Engaging with non-crypto folks will also nurture diversity.)The industry has grown so fast over the last five years that the talent pool criteria will have to expand, or else we will run out of options, especially in the bear market that we now find ourselves in.This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.Melissa Quinn is the chief operating officer of Risk Labs, the foundation and team behind Uma, Across and Outcome.Finance. Melissa comes from a background in human resources and shifted into the operations side of crypto and DeFi in 2017. Since then, she has helped to build and lead teams through various market cycles. Melissa joined Risk Labs in late 2020 and has guided the team as it tripled in size in a short period of time without compromising on culture, values, diversity and collaboration.

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Ashanti aims to bring women to Web3, says “owning is important” at NFT music meetup

The billion-dollar music industry is undergoing a major transition as artists begin to understand the potential of owning their work through nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Ashanti, the multi-platinum-selling singer, actress and co-founder of EQ Exchange — a women-led Web3 platform — recently shed light on this during a Cotton Candy Records meetup that took place on June 20 in New York. Speaking on a panel alongside Janice Taylor, founder and CEO of EQ Exchange, Ashanti went into detail about how important ownership is for creators today. Drawing from personal experience, Ashanti said:“It is incredibly important to continue the narrative that owning is the way to go. Who wants to wake up and pour their heart, blood, sweat and tears into a project and have someone else next to you reap all the benefits while you do all the work? That was the way my contract was set up years ago, but now I have the right 20 years later to go in and re-record and own new masters of my first album.”Kayley Hamilton moderated a panel with Ashanti and CEO of EQ Exchange, Janice Taylor, at a music NFT meetup presented by Cotton Candy Records.  Photo Credit: @darnopolisWhy owning is important for creatorsAshanti told Cointelegraph that the process of creating an album prior to Web3 and the launch of music NFTs was very “disheartening,” noting that an artist would sign a record deal and create an album that would then sell for about $15. “Out of that amount, an artist would only receive about $0.38, which was on the high-end,” the R&B legend said. Once Ashanti began to realize that this was a common process, she started looking into alternative ways to own her intellectual property. On March 25, 2022, almost 20 years after her debut album was released, Ashanti formed a partnership with EQ Exchange, making her the first Black female artist to co-found a Web3 company. Following this, Ashanti released an NFT collection with EQ Exchange on April 6, 2022, which launched on the artist’s 20-year anniversary of her first album titled Ashanti. According to Taylor, Ashanti sold her first five NFTs in minutes. While impressive, Ashanti noted that the underlying message behind music NFTs is “that owning your work is so important.”In addition to ownership, Ashanti explained that her NFT collection is meant to benefit her fans in a number of ways. “Fans will receive exclusive rights to hear my music first, meaning they get to own the music as well. They will also receive percentages of royalties for new records, along with tickets to shows, vacations and access to limited merchandise drops,” she said. Women in Web3 aim to inspireAshanti further remarked that she aims for her NFT collection and role in the Web3 space to inspire greater female involvement. This is incredibly important, as the media company EWG Unlimited and The Female Quotient recently found that men continue to dominate Web3. According to the report, only 16% of creators in Web3 identify as women, which has led to inherent male bias. This in mind, Ashanti said:“I never thought in a million years I’d be in the Web3 space. But, diving into this sector as an independent artist was necessary. The Cotton Candy Records meetup is the first crypto-focused event I’ve spoken at, and I hope to do more of these to continue to inspire other female creators and women of color to become involved.”Ashanti with CEO of EQ Exchange, Janice Taylor, at a music NFT meetup presented by Cotton Candy Records. Photo Credit: @darnopolisTaylor added that education and events are critical for bringing more women into the Web3 space, noting that she was initially told to hire a crypto-native male co-founder for EQ Exchange in order to appear “legitimate.” “Some of my first investors told me this because they thought it would help me appear as if I understood the crypto industry better, even though I am a three-time tech founder.” Fortunately, Taylor ignored this comment and brought Ashanti on as EQ Exchnage’s co-founder. “I specifically wanted a woman and a woman of color to be my partner because that’s the message that needs to be heard here,” she said. Recent: Integrating blockchain-based digital IDs into daily lifeEchoing Taylor, Sarah Omolewu, founder of Access Abu Dhabi — a program designed to encourage women and minorities to enter UAE’s business ecosystem — told Cointelegraph that joining the crypto community offers an opportunity for women to build new career paths regardless of their age or financial status. She said:“Women in America weren’t able to receive credit from a bank until 1974 when the Equal Credit Act was passed. Fast forward to 2022 and less than 2% of venture funding goes to women-led businesses. Web3 could become the equalizer that changes this narrative by getting women involved at the very beginning of blockchain technology, a space where currently 93–95% of all cryptocurrency users are male.”Although women still make up the minority of Web3 users, Omolewu explained that Access Abu Dhabi recently partnered with Unstoppable Domains — a platform that grants ownership of NFT domains — to provide all nationalities of women living in Abu Dhabi free blockchain domains. “Partnering with Unstoppable Domains to provide for the first time ever a gifting of free blockchain domains to all women in the country is the first step in our longer-term goal of disrupting this space for women in the region,” she remarked. Access Abu Dhabi founder Sarah Omolewu moderates a panel session with supermodel turned businesswoman Tyra Banks and Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Acting Director-General of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office. Source: Sarah OmolewuAdding context to this, Sandy Carter, senior vice president of Unstoppable Domains, told Cointelegraph that Unstoppable Domains represents a user’s digital identity, making it easy for non-crypto natives to enter Web3. “For example, users don’t have to enter a complicated wallet address to send and receive crypto transactions, as they can just use their NFT domain.” According to the Unstoppable Domains website, Coinbase Wallet, ShapeShift and other crypto wallets are supported applications. “We have over 300 partnerships. In fact, Paris Hilton recently changed her Twitter handle to ParisHilton.NFT,” Carter added. Paris Hilton’s twitter handle. Source: TwitterNow is the time for women to enter Web3Even with the benefits of music NFTs and encouragement from influencers, women may still find it challenging, or intimidating, to enter the Web3 sector. However, Carter advised that women should get started sooner rather than later, pointing out that the space is still very early. “I like to say that we are in a dial-up phase of Web3 — we are recrafting what the internet is and we need diverse voices now.” Recent: How to start a career in crypto? A beginner’s guide for 2022In terms of financial inclusion, Taylor added that EQ Exchange is helping provide a sustainable financial system that allows artists — particularly women — to thrive. Although the platform was established in March of this year, Taylor shared that other women creators are already planning to launch NFT collections. For example, Monifah, the recording artist, actress and producer, told Cointelegraph that she will be launching an NFT collection with EQ Exchange in July 2023, to mark the 25-year anniversary of her single Touch It.Monifah also mentioned that she believes music NFTs are the future of the industry, noting that artists should do their own research and get involved now. “I think it would be crazy if I did something in a traditional way at this point. I would tell artists to really focus more on Web3 and figuring out how to command this space,” she said. Yet Monifah also shared that she still finds Web3 to be challenging. “I am still navigating the Web3 space, but it’s exciting. I want to help introduce the younger generation to Web3.”

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Layer-1 blockchains: How crypto winter could slow the challenge to Ethereum

Given Ethereum’s dominance coupled with the current crypto bear market, it remains questionable if L1s will flourish. This was recently highlighted in a Chainalsys blog post entitled “New layer 1 blockchains are expanding the DeFi ecosystem, but no ETH killers yet.” Ethan McMahon, an economist at Chainalysis, told Cointelegraph that Chainalysis published this report to raise awareness for the current L1 ecosystem:While Ethereum allowed decentralized finance (DeFi) to flourish in 2020, a number of layer-1 blockchains (L1s) have since been developed to address the challenges associated with the network. For instance, as Ethereum’s proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism and high gas fees continue to impact transaction speed and scalability within its ecosystem, L1s like Algorand, BNB Chain, Avalanche and others aim to solve these problems.“Chain comparison is important because it seems as if most crypto services are only offered on Ethereum, but this isn’t true. There are a few different blockchains with competitive offerings that have advantages Ethereum doesn’t provide.” In order to demonstrate this, McMahon explained that Chainalysis gathered data from different blockchains to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the networks. For example, the post points out that with gas fees running high on Ethereum, many developers have chosen to build decentralized applications (DApps) on Algorand. Binance Smart Chain, or BNB Chain, is also recognized for its capability to support new tokens and DApps without the high gas fees of Ethereum. “It’s interesting to see that people are paying exuberant gas fees on Ethereum’s network. Our findings show that transactions less than $1,000 result in a significant amount of money spent on gas fees,” McMahon said. Source: ChainalysisBased on Chainalysis’s overall findings, however, the post concludes that none of the L1-blockchains analyzed have been successful in solving all challenges associated with the Ethereum network. This also raises the question if L1s will survive long-term. For instance, the current crypto winter may slow down investments in these ecosystems. In addition, the merge of Ethereum 2.0 — which is set to take place this year but may be pushed to 2023 — could lead to improvements in the Ethereum ecosystem that may impact alternative L1 uses. L1 developments to drive adoption In order to determine how L1s will advance, it’s important to take a closer look at recent developments within the various ecosystems mentioned by Chainalysis. For example, the report categorizes Algorand as a top-10 L1 blockchain by market capitalization, stating:“During Q3 2021, Algorand saw its transaction volume grow 65%, while Bitcoin and Ethereum saw volumes drop 37% and 45% respectively. This may have reflected Algorand’s growing hype — having launched in April 2019, Algorand was a relatively new blockchain, and reached an all-time price high in September 2021.”Findings also show that 10% of Algorand’s transaction volume comes from retail investors, compared with 5% for Bitcoin (BTC) and 8% for Ether (ETH). Given this, the report notes that this could signify Algorand’s success in enabling a high volume of smaller transactions. Source: ChainalysisStaci Warden, CEO of the Algorand Foundation — the organization behind Algorand’s monetary supply economics, governance and ecosystem — told Cointelegraph that Algorand uses a Pure proof-of-stake (PPoS) consensus mechanism, allowing the network to specifically solve problems that require scale. “The most fundamental difference between Algorand and other L1s is the network’s ability to deliver financial inclusion to the two billion people in the world that don’t have access to modern financial systems,” she said. Warden elaborated that Algorand’s PPoS consensus mechanism enables this due to its low staking requirements. According to the Chainalysis post, only 1 Algorand (ALGO) token is needed to stake on the network. Warden also pointed out that Algorand is very focused on decentralized finance (DeFi) development, noting that the network is capable of settling about 1,200 transactions per second, with gas fees equating to .001 ALGO. Recent: Integrating blockchain-based digital IDs into daily life“These requirements are necessary for networks to scale,” said Warden. In comparison, the Chainalysis report mentions that Ethereum can only handle roughly 15 transactions per second. Yet, it’s been noted that Eth2 aims to increase this considerably to about 150,000 once upgrades are completed. In order to stay competitive, Warden shared that Algorand is in the process of rolling out a new feature that would allow the network to settle transactions in 2.5 seconds, compared with the 4.5 seconds it currently takes. Moreover, as multichain networks become more important, Algorand plans to deliver “state proofs” that will allow users to move tokens from one chain to another. “Algorand could end up being a router for all transactions across chains, since it can handle fast transactions, with little carbon footprint for sub-penny fees,” explained Warden. While state proofs and other developments won’t be rolled out immediately, it’s notable that FIFA recently announced that it will use Algorand to develop its digital asset strategy. “FIFA is building their own wallet on Algorand and creating an NFT marketplace that can accomodate secondary ticket sales,” added Warden. BNB Chain is also mentioned in the Chainalysis report and is praised for its capability to support new tokens and DApps without high gas fees. In fact, DappRadar found there to be more L2 projects built on BNB Chain than any other blockchain. Gwendolyn Regina, investment director of BNB Chain, told Cointelegraph that the goal behind the network is to help builders create DApps that scale for massive crypto adoption. She said:“This year, BNB Smart Chain will have 30 times the computing power of Ethereum and will also work on decentralized storage solutions. As a result, blockchain technology will be increasingly integrated into real-world applications.” According to Regina, the key focus areas for BNB Chain’s 2022 roadmap include decentralization, faster transaction speed, multichain integration and an increased focus on supporting developers and sustainability. Specifically speaking, Regina shared that the BNB Chain community recently released plans for further decentralization via the BEP-131 proposal, which will introduce candidate validators to BNB Smart Chain. “This proposal would increase the number of BNB Smart Chain Mainnet validators from 21 to 41, providing more decentralization and incentives for validators to constantly innovate their hardware and infrastructure,” she said. While this may create more decentralization, there has been criticism regarding whether or not DeFi is decentralized following Solend’s spontaneous governance proposal related to one of the whale wallets at risk of liquidation. Decentralization aside, it’s notable that BNB Beacon Chain — a blockchain developed by Binance and its community that implements a decentralized exchange for digital assets — recently became open-sourced. “BNB Beacon Chain is now accessible for developers to build on,” said Regina. She further explained that the benefits of the BNB Beacon Chain are broad, noting its high-speed order book based decentralized exchange to ensure quick transactions. “Harnessing native secure cross-chain support will open doors for blockchain interoperability, meaning users can seamlessly navigate the chains they use,” she remarked. In addition to Algorand and BNB Chain, Avalanche was mentioned in Chainalysis’s findings. According to the report, Avalanche specializes in customizability, scalability and interoperability. John Wu, president of Ava Labs — the lead developer of the Avalanche blockchain — told Cointelegraph that the network specifically aims to solve a number of problems within Web3 ecosystems. He said:“Avalanche has the fastest time to finality in the industry at about 500 milliseconds to 2 seconds. This means that all cross-chain and subnet transactions are immortalized in a blink. Financial institutions building DeFi products and Web3 gaming studios developing AAA shooters and RPGs need near-instant finality. It is a precondition to success. Without it, their apps cannot work.” To Wu’s point, finality is extremely important as more institutions enter the DeFi sector. In fact, Avalanche’s quick finality time could be much greater in comparison with Eth2 finality time, which some believe may never reach under 15 minutes. Ethereum currently processes 15–30 transactions per second with over one-minute finality.Wu added that regardless of market conditions, the Avalanche community will continue to build. For example, Wu shared that subnets — a set of validators working together to achieve consensus on the state of a set of blockchains — will open new doors for DeFi. For example, he mentioned that a subnet’s ability to incorporate Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and circumvent the bottlenecking that might occur on a chain shared with third-party applications appeals to institutions. “The first Subnet engineered specifically for institutional DeFi is in production right now,” he said. Survival of the fittest? Although L1 blockchains are advancing, the Chainalysis report still notes the possibility of Ethereum becoming the “dominant player” due to market conditions and expected upgrades to the network. For instance, Raul Jordan, one of the core devs working on the Eth2 merge, told Cointelegraph that soon anyone in the world will be able to run an ETH node, which demonstrates the true power of decentralization.It’s critical that we give power to people all over the world, especially in developing countries, to run full nodes on consumer software. Full nodes preserve the security of the protocol by enforcing its rules #ethereum https://t.co/UVucpOQnzM— rauljordan.eth (@rauljordaneth) April 21, 2022Alex Tapscott, author and co-founder of the Toronto-based Blockchain Research Institute, further told Cointelegraph that there are two reasons to question the longevity of L1s:“First, bear markets generally see a drop in interest for crypto-native applications, so if gas fees drop on their own on Ethereum, why use a newer or less proven chain when you can use Ethereum? Second, the merge to proof-of-stake will improve Ethereum’s performance, so even if demand returns, it may be able to handle new growth.”However, Tapscott added that he believes any decreasing interest in L1s will be short-lived. “Long term, there will be surging demand for block space, with some developers and users willing to trade off between security (Ethereum) for speed and convenience. Also, I think many alternative L1s for all their potential are still pretty early stage tech, and as they mature they will become more reliable, useful and broadly adopted.” Recent: How to start a career in crypto? A beginner’s guide for 2022Tapscott further pointed out that “L1s were initially successful not because they attracted investor capital, but because they drove user adoption and interest.” And, if history has taught the crypto space anything, it would be that bear markets are a perfect time for projects to build. “A bear market would be a fantastic way to assess and support projects that actually make a difference in the blockchain ecosystem as long as innovative teams keep emerging to solve real-world problems using blockchain technology,” Regina pointed out. On the other hand, a number of projects also tend to fail in bear markets. Warden commented that there will indeed be fallout for several L1 blockchains: “Crypto winter is a time when every component of the crypto ecosystem is going to be questioned and tire-kicked, and not just DApps, but all aspects of crypto infrastructure, including L1s.” However, Warden added that projects that can scale and handle transactions will continue to accelerate, posing a challenge to Ethereum: “Businesses or projects that are building for long-term utility and real-world adoption will accelerate and garner attention during this period.”

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Integrating blockchain-based digital IDs into daily life

The last 13 years have seen blockchain technology evolve into numerous use cases — finance, data, logistics and security, among others. However, the idea of using blockchain’s immutable capabilities to ID humans got new life when Changpeng “CZ” Zhao visited the island country of Palau to kick off its digital residency program. The blockchain identity management market is estimated to grow by $3.58 billion in the span of five years from 2021 to 2025. Key factors include the rising demand for digitalization and privacy-respecting identity solutions. As a result, a myriad of solutions breached the market serving this need in the form of nonfungible tokens (NFT), distributed ledger technology (DLT) and barebone blockchain technology.Considering the plethora of use cases that blockchain can serve on a day-to-day basis, numerous government organizations began experimenting with the technology — weighing heavily on central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and verifiable and immutable user identity. Problems with traditional IDsCorrectly identifying — or ID-ing — an individual has always been paramount to governments to ensure targeted delivery of services and allowances, among other requirements, which holds true to this day. However, ongoing advancements in technology empowered the general public with tools to create IDs visually identical to the original. Given blockchain’s capability to store immutable records, authorities see the technology as a fighting chance against fraud related to ID theft and fakes. With traditional paper-based IDs comes the difficulty of confirming their legitimacy across different systems. History has shown how people successfully use fake ID cards to claim unauthorized access to a myriad of benefits. However, technological advancements such as blockchain have provided authorities with the opportunity to issue verifiable certificates and IDs while ensuring scalability, speed and security of the identity management system.Efforts on this front saw the rise of a new ecosystem comprising various blockchain-based digital ID offerings. For example, Shubham Gupta, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, recently spearheaded the launch of a Polygon-based system for issuing verifiable caste certificates on behalf of the government of Maharashtra. Speaking to Cointelegraph, he said, “if identity management systems have to be rated on a scale of 0 to 1 based on decentralization and individual control, traditional centralized ID systems will be on the far left and fully self-hosted, public blockchain-based IDs on the extreme right.”Forms of blockchain-based digital IDsWhile blockchain technology can and has been used as-is for maintaining immutable records over the internet, innovations spanning over the last decade resulted in the birth of sub ecosystems around the use of blockchain technology. “The idea of blockchain-based digital IDs has been floating around for quite a while but came into the limelight with the recent NFT boom,” blockchain adviser and Bundlesbets.com CEO Brenda Gentry told Cointelegraph.An Italian electronic identity document.While NFTs were first marketed as a tool to represent real-world objects including intellectual and physical assets, the technology found itself well-suited for a variety of applications. Recently, government organizations have begun testing NFTs for ID-ing citizens as means to reduce operational costs.“Wide-scale implementation of blockchain-based digital IDs — like issuance of national identity cards such as passports and driving licenses — takes time but I strongly believe that is the destination that the world should move toward,” Gentry added. In addition to helping authenticate people, blockchain technology discourages counterfeiting, tampering or identity theft attempts. Citing the involvement of luxury brands and artists that promoted the use of NFTs to authenticate the legitimacy and ownership of a product or art, Gentry opined that “luxury items can be checked for their authenticity on-chain which completely eliminates the chance of owning a counterfeit product.”Recent: Uganda’s gold discovery: What it could mean for cryptoNeil Martis, the co-founder and project lead of LegitDoc, which is known in the space for delivering numerous blockchain-based certificates and ID solutions to the state governments of India, envisions a greater adoption of public blockchain-based ledgers over the next decade. Web3-native decentralized IDs will play an incremental role in identifying users and authenticating them to participate in different types of Web3 native transactions.Benefits of blockchain-based digital IDsWhile blockchain’s elevator pitch is heavily inclined toward immutability, the technology boasts multiple advantages over traditional software and paper-based systems. The opinions regarding the benefits of blockchain boil down to the control over personal information.Self-sovereignty stands as one of the biggest benefits of blockchain-based digital IDs, according to Martis. This means that blockchain empowers users to share partial or selective information with their service providers instead of handing over their complete identity.With blockchain-based IDs eradicating the misuse of information, experts envision the birth of a truly trustless system without the involvement of third parties. Gentry, too, reiterated verifiability, traceability and uniqueness as some of the major benefits brought about by blockchain, as she highlighted that blockchain IDs cannot be duplicated because it’s on the distributed ledger. “All the Digital ID can be verified on the blockchain and can be traced back to the owners’ account which can also be used for Know Your Customer,” she added.Limitations of blockchain-based digital IDsMainstream acceptance of blockchain-based digital IDs will ultimately have to mean overcoming the most pressing challenges that threaten to hinder its adoption. Some of the roadblocks that stand out in the current landscape include a lack of education among the masses and a supportive regulatory environment.On the education front, Gentry has noticed a fast-changing scenario brought about by mainstream discussions and widespread adoption of the technology. However, the creation of pro-crypto regulations will need greater intervention from industry players to help countries and institutions get onboarded onto the blockchain network. Martis concurred with Gentry’s thoughts on regulations as he highlighted that blockchain IDs, no matter how decentralized, will need attestation or recognition by the issuing authorities. He added: “if the issuing authorities don’t recognize the validity of the blockchain IDs, then the same cannot be used for availing a majority of public services. This in my opinion is the biggest limitation.”Blockchain of choice for ID-ing peopleGiven that a majority of real-world identity systems are under the purview of governments and sovereigns, Martis envisions greater adoption of permissioned distributed ledger networks for issuing Identities that require government services. Gentry noted that choosing the perfect blockchain for IDing people or goods will require weighing the unique advantages and limitations of the various blockchain ecosystems. While highlighting the existing concerns such as Ethereum’s gas fees or Solana’s infamous outages, the blockchain advisor suggested that Binance’s BNB Chain is the perfect choice of blockchain because of its high transactions per second and low latency and fees.Recent: Bitcoin payments make a lot of sense for SMEs but the risks still remainSpeaking from personal experience, Gupta shared that Indian state governments tend to choose a middle ground wherein instead of a single authority fully in control of citizen identities, a group of independent departments will share a common distributed ledger that hosts citizen identities, anchored periodically on a public blockchain. The Maharashtra government is currently working to deploy a scalable blockchain-based ID system for a tribal population of 1.2 million. Martis explains that the IDs created will be used by various departments to perform analytics and identify the right beneficiaries for various national schemes.Regardless of the challenges that slow down blockchain adoption across business verticals, the advantages of the technology make its dominance inevitable. Government organizations and private entities have amped up efforts in uncovering futureproof fintech solutions via blockchain innovations. Blockchain disruptions that are well-positioned to go mainstream in addition to identity management include localized CBDCs, supply chain solutions and cross-border settlements. Decentralized identities or DIDs (decentralized identifiers) have yet to see wide-scale implementation. According to Martis, they should be settled or issued by highly decentralized public blockchains that are outside state control, adding that “Bitcoin and Ethereum stand out as the obvious choices in this regard.” 

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Can Metaverse technology enhance human-AI efficiency?

Conversational AI systems in the metaverse resemble human-to-human communication. Voice assistant AI has found its way to the metaverses of the new era, powering use cases like lifestyle assistance and personalized recommendations. For instance, rather than driving to a travel agency’s office or talking to their overburdened customer service, users can hop on the metaverse and take a tour of multiple awe-inspiring locations with the assistance of an AI-powered bot. An AI concierge in a metaverse is a personified machine that delivers unique recommendations based on the avatar’s preferences. Take into account the amount of data available on every person and you know the potential of this use case. Natural language processing in the metaverse makes it more personal than the real world. Voice AI can interpret avatar requests in a language that is more human and natural while factoring in individual tastes and preferences.  Speech technology has become more contextual and personalized, making the metaverse interface smarter in the process. For instance, Kai, the first AI concierge on Meetkai, has made voice assistance as easy as talking with a friend. Request a recipe for “steak” by saying, “Hey Kai, can you find me a nice recipe?” And you’ll receive the most delectable beef steak recipe in the world in seconds.

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What is StrongBlock (STRONG) and how does it work?

The digital financial environment continues to develop almost every second, which is no surprise to those in the crypto sector. Among such technological advancements, a new project called StrongBlock has popularized the concept of the node as a service (NaaS) on the blockchain. NaaS is an alternative to running entire blockchain nodes on your own; it provides developer infrastructure and tools for setting up and managing blockchain nodes.Connected blockchain nodes relay, transmit and store decentralized blockchain data. But, what is a blockchain node? A node, also known as a Full Node, is a device that stores the blockchain’s whole transaction history. But, who is behind the creation of the StrongBlock ecosystem?The StrongBlock team includes CEO David Moss and chief technology officer Brian Abramson, who are enterprise software and blockchain veterans. Corey Lederer, chief product officer, is also among the StrongBlock founders’ team and has extensive experience in managing technology products.Related: Dangers of hosting your own Ethereum 2.0 node, explainedStrongBlock sees the blockchain as the way of the future, but unless you’re well-versed with this technological breakthrough, it can be a risky place to enter. As a result, StrongBlocks’ objective is to make it easier for anyone to support and participate in blockchains.This article will deep dive into the NaaS concept and explore what makes StrongBlock unique, how to make money through StrongBlock and how to buy the STRONG token.StrongBlock explainedStrongBlock is a blockchain platform aimed at revolutionizing the way blockchain networks operate. The reason for its simplification is the simple NaaS tool, which allows users who aren’t well-versed in blockchain to build a blockchain-compliant node quickly while compensating them for running it.Before StrongBlock’s NaaS, running Ethereum nodes required an extensive understanding of blockchain as well as the ability to code and a server capable of running the node throughout the day. In summary, diving into nodes before StrongBlock required either a lot of effort or a high level of knowledge to make it simple.In addition, rewards were reserved for miners that solved complex mathematical problems, whereas no such monetary rewards were distributed to nodes. There is no way to assess the performance of nodes. To address the above issues, StrongBlock automated all of the processes, allowing everyone to participate in the blockchain revolution. Users can create a node in seconds using the StrongBlock platform. They can also add their node to obtain daily STRONG token rewards. STRONG is StrongBlock’s governance token, which developers use to enable token holders to contribute to determining the protocol’s future.What are Strong nodes?A Strong node is a node that supports the Ethereum network. It rewards node operators a “Node Universal Basic Income” (NUBI) based on the number of Ethereum blocks they contribute to the network’s upkeep. However, the number of nodes, token price, node revenue and nonfungible token (NFT) ownership are all factors that influence rewards; they are variable and not guaranteed.Related: Nonfungible tokens: How to get started using NFTsStrong nodes are run as a service; therefore, they do not require hardware and this allows anyone, even non-technical people, to build a blockchain-compliant node in seconds and get paid for running it.How does StrongBlock work?The StrongBlock protocol is designed to give NUBI continually. NUBI rewards are currently paid in STRONG, and in the future, the company will be paying them as NFTs. The protocol is then governed by those who have obtained STRONG in this manner. Potential reward shortfalls can be rectified by the community in a variety of ways as the protocol grows.The rewards are measured based on ongoing contributions per node, burning STRONG for NFTs, renewal fees, lowering NUBI and creating different NUBI classes. Furthermore, there are two methods for using nodes within the StrongBlock protocol. Bringing your own Node (BYoN) offers additional flexibility and the ability to further personalize your node, whereas StrongBlock NaaS is faster and easier to set up.Both approaches offer the same base NUBI incentives, but future additions may give BYoN nodes more opportunities than NaaS nodes. Also, the monthly fee for NaaS is $14.95 (paid in ETH), whereas it varies in the case of BYoN.What is a STRONG token?The STRONG token (now referred to as STRNGR) is an Ethereum-based ERC-20 token that runs on the Ethereum network. The coin is a governance token that will eventually lead to StrongBlock’s decentralized system.While the team generated 10 million STRONG tokens, they burned roughly 95% to develop a correct tokenomics for the system. The system continues to burn extra STRONG tokens with each new node deployed to maintain a deflationary token supply.How to launch a blockchain node using StrongBlockTo launch a blockchain node using StrongBlock, ensure that you have a digital wallet. StrongBlock’s NaaS platform is compatible with MetaMask and does not support multisig wallets. To cover the transaction’s gas fees, you’ll need to buy some ETH. Connect your wallet to your preferred crypto exchange and purchase 10 STRNGR tokens. MetaMask can be downloaded as a browser extension from the MetaMask website. Customers can choose Chrome, Brave, or Firefox browsers.Check the gas fees by connecting your wallet containing 10 STRNGR to the app.strongblock.com website. The Etherscan Gas Tracker can be used to check gas fees, which vary based on the crypto-economy.Setting up or launching a node costs 10 STRONG tokens plus gas fees. Each node is then rewarded with 0.091 STRONG tokens, which can serve as a source of passive income. To create blockchain nodes using StrongBlock, follow the steps below:You’ll be able to pay node fees, see your accrued awards, and claim rewards after your node is created. The first monthly node fee is included when you create your node. After that, you’ll have to manually pay the node charge every 30 days. However, the node fee payment structure has a 90-day prepaid restriction.If you are not able to see the created node, check for the approved, pending or canceled transactions to speed up the process.What are the tax implications of StrongBlock?Because of the nature of StrongBlock and the impossibility of selling the asset, Ethereum node services cannot be classified as an asset in the crypto and tax worlds; instead, they will be classified as an expense.As a result, when you buy StrongBlock, the first purchase will be considered a business expense, and everything you earn from it will be considered a taxable income or earning. The taxable rate will depend upon the country of your residence and can be determined by your present income level. To understand your taxable obligations, you may consider reading Cointelegraph’s guide to filing cryptocurrency taxes in the US, UK, and Germany.Is StrongBlock a good investment?If you are a blockchain lover, you may find StrongBlock a promising project with which to launch Ethereum nodes and earn passive income. However, considering the sky-high gas fees and crypto market volatility, you should always conduct due diligence before putting money into any project.That said, if you think that your financial objectives, the organization’s vision and the return on investment are aligned, then you may become an active participant in the project and get rewarded with STRONG tokens. Nonetheless, do not forget the risk exposure you are willing to take.The platform intends to support other protocols like Ethereum’s consensus layer upgrade (previously ETH 2.0) soon. It also plans to introduce features such as NFT gamification and a marketplace, which may encourage blockchain enthusiasts to participate in the blockchain revolution led by StrongBlock.

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How blockchain can open up energy markets: EU DLT expert explains

Aside from the buzzing neologism of Web3, there is a bit less catchy but hardly less important concept of Industry 4.0, which includes the new and revolutionary drivers of the next generation’s industrial landscape. And, especially when it comes to the energy sector, blockchain lies at the heart of these technologies. The authors of a recently published EUBlockchain Observatory report “Blockchain Applications in the Energy Sector” are convinced that distributed ledger technology (DLT) could become a key enabler technology and has a very high potential to influence or even disrupt the energy sector. This comes as a no surprise, given the five D’s of the Digital Green Shift: deregulation, decarbonization, decentralization, digitization and democratization. The report highlights the major directions for blockchain in the sector and supplements them with the actual case studies and insights from energy market stakeholders such as Volkswagen, Elia Group, Energy Web Foundation and others. Cointelegraph spoke to one of the report’s co-authors, commercial director of Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region at Energy Web and a member of EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, Ioannis Vlachos. Vlachos elaborated on the most intriguing parts and concepts of the document, such as the granularity criterium, the importance of self-sovereign identity and the possible role of DLT in developing the non-electric energy sources consumption. Cointelegraph: The report notes that, to this day, no blockchain/DLT solution has been widely adopted by energy system stakeholders. Why do you think this is? Could you try to answer it?Ioannis Vlachos: The main barrier to the wide adoption of blockchain solutions by the energy system stakeholders is related to the way that energy markets are currently structured. The regulatory requirement, in most countries worldwide, for small-scale flexibility assets such as residential batteries, electric vehicles, heat pumps and others makes it possible to participate in energy markets only via their representation by an aggregator.Considering a more direct market design where flexible assets, irrespectively of their capacity, can directly bid into an energy market will minimize their marginal costs and will promote and foster the participation of small-scale distributed energy resources (DERs) in energy markets. This need for the direct participation of assets in markets was identified and considered to be an overarching principle in the joint report “Roadmap on the Evolution of the Regulatory Framework for Distributed Flexibility” by Entso-E and the European Associations representing distribution system operators published in June 2021, where “access to all markets for all assets either directly or aggregated” is recommended.Blockchain technology, via the concept of decentralized identifiers (DIDs) and verifiable credentials (VCs), provides the necessary tools to allow this direct access of small-scale DERs into energy markets.CT: How could blockchain be used to track the non-electric energy sources, such as biofuels?IV: Blockchain technology provides the means to create a trusted ecosystem of actors, where all information exchanged between assets, systems and actors can be independently verified by means of DIDs and VCs. This is extremely important to provide the required audit trails in non-electric energy supply chains such as natural gas, green hydrogen and others.Recently, Shell, together with Accenture, American Express Global Business Travel with the support of Energy Web as the blockchain solution provider, announced Avelia, one of the world’s first blockchain-powered digital book-and-claim solutions for scaling sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).Recent: Lummis-Gillibrand crypto bill comprehensive but still creates divisionThe report claims that the application of blockchain in the energy sector is likely to be further explored and advanced. What are the premises for such an optimistic conclusion? This conclusion is mainly drawn on the premise that despite the highly regulated energy environment, we have recently seen a large number of projects in the broader energy sector that use blockchain technology. They do this by either implementing use cases outside of the existing regulatory framework such as Shell’s SAF project or with the support of the national regulators and market operators such as projects EDGE and Symphony in Australia. The EDGE and Symphony projects are supported by state government agencies, the Australia Energy Market Operato and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and implement an innovative approach to the integration of consumer-owned DERs to enable their participation in a future energy market based on a decentralized approach. In both projects, Energy Web’s decentralized blockchain-based digital infrastructure is used by assigning digital identities to participants and thus facilitating the secure and efficient exchange and validation of market participant data.Recent: Celsius’ crisis exposes problems of low liquidity in bear marketsMoreover, we cannot neglect the fact that blockchain technologies are referenced within the European Union action plan for digitalizing the energy sector, focusing on enhancing the uptake of digital technologies.IV: The concept of granularity refers to the need to increase the frequency of data that will allow the traceability of energy commodities. Especially in the case of electricity, moving from a monthly or annual matching of energy consumption with renewable electricity being produced in a specific location to a more granular (e.g., hourly) is considered to be the best practice since it minimizes energy greenwashing. In this respect, Energy Web, with the collaboration of Elia, SP Group, and Shell, developed and released an open-source toolkit for simplifying 24/7 clean energy procurement.CT: Could you explain the concept of granularity, which sets the demand for blockchain in the energy sector?CT: The report mentions a self-sovereign identity, defining it as “a growing paradigm that promotes individual control over identity data rather than relying on external authorities.” It’s easy to imagine this kind of paradigm with personal data online, but what importance does it have for energy production and consumption?IV: The importance of self-sovereign identities (SSI) for energy production and consumption stems from the fact that prosumer’s energy data can be considered as private data [Prosumer is a term combining consumer and producer roles by one individual or entity.] Especially in the setting of the European Union and under the light of the General Data Protection Regulation, the granularity (sampling frequency) of smart metering data can be highly associated with the privacy of data. Moreover, given the fact that new business models are emerging that utilize prosumer energy data to facilitate the provision of energy efficiency and management services, empowering the prosumer via the concept of SSI to consent for the distribution, processing and storage of their energy data is more of a necessity rather than a luxury.

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Uniswap acquires NFT marketplace aggregator Genie to further ‘universal ownership’ goals

Decentralized exchange Uniswap announced the acquisition of the NFT marketplace aggregator Genie on June 21st. Uniswap said this move is part of its mission to unlock universal ownership and exchange on its platform.Uniswap is now integrating NFTs into its product line beginning with the Uniswap web app and later integrations are said to include developer APIs and widgets. This isn’t the first time Uniswap has worked with NFTs. In the spring of 2019 it launched Unisocks which offered NFT liquidity pools backed by real-world assets. Uniswap said in the announcement, “We’re excited to bring what we’ve learned building DeFi products to NFTs.” In August Uniswap said it planned to airdrop USDC to historical Genie users in an effort to share the value of this acquisition and integration. Uniswap launched the first instance of NFT liquidity pools, called Unisocks, in the spring of 2019. They also view NFTs as “an important gateway to web3” rather than “a separate ecosystem from ERC20s.”Genie is known as the first NFT marketplace aggregator providing a means to discover, buy, and sell NFTs across various marketplaces. The company allows users to “batch buy NFTs across all major marketplaces in a single transaction and save up to 40% on gas fees.”Some metaverse-related endeavors and companies continue to make progress despite recent market instability. GameFi and game-related NFTs for instance have shown signs of forward movement and growth recently. New, experimental NFT approaches have still been released showing positive sentiment for NFT, GameFi, and metaverse aspects of the crypto and Web3 industries.

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Crypto's uses and misuses: Binance-Reuters quarrel raises questions

Crypto exchange Binance has courted controversy almost from its 2017 beginnings, and five years later, the dustups continue. On June 6, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission was reported to be investigating whether Binance Holdings broke U.S. securities rules in launching its digital tokens. Meanwhile, on the same day, Reuters published a scathing 4,700-word “special report” titled “How crypto giant Binance became a hub for hackers, fraudsters and drug traffickers.”Binance almost immediately retorted to Reuters with a blog post of its own, warning about “authors and pundits who cherry pick data, rely on conveniently unverifiable ‘leaks’ from regulators, and feed into the cult of crypto paranoia for fame or financial gain.” For good measure, it published “Our Email Exchange With Reuters” — an extensive list of questions that it had received from Reuters reporters Angus Berwick and Tom Wilson for their special report, along with responses from Binance spokesperson Patrick Hillman.All in all, the donnybrook between two heavyweights from different industries raised some questions not only about Binance — the crypto sector’s largest exchange — but also the global industry, including to what extent is money laundering a crypto sector problem and what does it mean if one of the industry’s top providers is in constant hot water with regulators and investigative journalists? Maybe Binance is being unfairly targeted, but if not, are all cryptocurrency and blockchain players tarred now by the actions of one renegade player? It’s worth recounting that after the report was published, other parties seized upon its findings. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, for instance, asked in an opinion column what cryptocurrencies as a class were really good for:“OK, criminals seem to find crypto useful; a recent Reuters investigation found that over the past five years the crypto exchange Binance has laundered at least $2.35 billion in illicit funds. But where are the legitimate applications?”Does crypto have a money laundering problem?The $2.35 billion “stemming from hacks, investment frauds and illegal drug sales” from 2017 to 2021 that Reuters identified sounds like a lot of money — but is it really, at least in the context of a $1 trillion industry?Analytics firm Chainalysis looked at all crypto transactions in 2021 and found that only 0.15% involved illicit addresses “despite the raw value of illicit transaction volume reaching its highest level ever.” Moreover, the amount of money laundered globally in one year — not just in the crypto sector — is 2–5% of global GDP, somewhere between $800 billion and $2 trillion, according to the United Nations, which dwarfs cryptoverse activity.Still, maybe that’s not the point. “Let us not forget that, since the early days of Bitcoin, crypto, per se, has had the reputation of being an instrument for money laundering — and rightly so,” Markus Hammer, an attorney and principal at Hammer Execution consulting firm, told Cointelegraph. That is no longer the case. The industry has cleaned up its act remarkably well, in Hammer’s view, with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures arguably even more effective now than those in the traditional financial world. Nonetheless, there’s no getting around the fact that “the crypto reputation was a negative one in that sense from the beginning.”Perception matters, and in that regard, Binance hasn’t really helped on the regulatory front. The sometimes-stateless exchange was clearly not an “early adopter” in the compliance sphere, though Hammer wouldn’t go so far as to say Binance hurt the industry’s reputation in any lasting way. It attracted attention, yes, because of its misbehavior, but maybe also because of its size — regulators may have been looking for a big crypto exchange to make an example. Recent: Blockchain’s potential: How AI can change the decentralized ledgerRegarding money laundering, the crypto industry’s “numbers are not large,” Merav Ozair, fintech faculty member at Rutgers Business School, told Cointelegraph, “but we don’t want them to grow either.” Binance is the industry’s largest exchange, “and we want them to have better compliance.” It troubles her that Binance has been one of the last major crypto exchanges to embrace Know Your Customer (KYC) and AML regulations globally — as an industry leader they should be one of the first to set an example. Is Binance responsible for indirect deposits?Binance, for its part, denies it has a money-laundering problem. A pointed disagreement emerged in the published email exchange between Binance and the Reuters journalists on the actual nature of money laundering and the extent to which Binance was being blamed for indirect deposits.“Throughout the questions posed to Binance, Reuters has conflated direct and indirect exposure,” Binance complained to the Reuters journalists, offering up a hypothetical scenario that used a darknet drugs-selling website, Hydra, as an example: “A known Hydra vendor sells something on Hydra and receives 1 BTC to their wallet. They then send this BTC to someone else for any reason, not necessarily illicit. That person then transfers some of that BTC to someone else, who doesn’t know its history. This third person then deposits some of that to their Binance account. Binance now has indirect exposure to Hydra.”Binance contends that it has no KYC/AML responsibilities with regard to Hydra. It can’t control indirect deposits. “This is absolutely true,” Alireza Siadat, partner at law firm Annerton, told Cointelegraph. “The current KYC requirements require the obligated person to run a KYC and an identification when the user is opening an account.” The terms and conditions ask the user only to use the account for his own purposes and not on behalf of third persons. “But, the law is not asking to verify whether the person who opened the account is the same one using the account and doing the transaction.” Still, an exchange might do more, suggested Ozair. Illicit funds may come to an exchange indirectly, from Person A to Person B, C and D, and yes, the exchange is responsible for checking out Person D who is actually opening the new account — and not A, B and C. But, it should still keep its antennae attuned when dealing with person D. Is that person coming from a suspicious region or an IP address known to be associated with bad actors? Is a crypto mixer potentially involved? “There are ways to understand,” said Ozair. The privacy coin conundrumA sizable slice of the considerable email exchange between Binance and Reuters was devoted to a single cryptocurrency, Monero (XMR), a so-called privacy coin that Binance has supported on its exchange since 2017. It’s the view of many law enforcement agencies that the almost-total anonymity offered by Monero and other privacy coins makes them useful for money laundering, and for that reason some countries have banned them and other crypto exchanges won’t support them. Monero can’t be traded on Coinbase or Gemini, for example.Reuters, for its part, scoured darknet forums for evidence that these fears were justified and found that “over 20 users wrote about buying Monero on Binance to purchase illegal drugs,” according to its report. And, it included one user who wrote that “XMR is essential to anyone buying drugs on the Dark web.” A diagram of ring signatures used in privacy coins like Monero. Source: StackExchangeReuters asked Binance a half-dozen written questions mentioning Monero specifically. Binance chose not to answer most of these specifically, but did reply more generally that “There are many legitimate reasons why users require privacy — for example when NGOs and opposition groups in authoritarian regimes are denied safe access to funds.” It also added elsewhere that it, Binance, stood “against anyone who uses crypto, blockchain technology, or cash to buy or sell illegal drugs.”The privacy question is one that crypto exchanges continue to struggle with. According to Ozair, there’s always a fine line between maintaining privacy and enabling illicit transactions, “and the ecosystem is working hard to account for it,” while Hammer noted in passing that “the continued acceptance of Binance to accept privacy coins like Monero speaks for itself.” It should be emphasized that the Reuters’s XMR findings were anecdotal, not definitive proof of wrongdoing. Incremental improvement?Elsewhere, some see evidence that Binance is finally getting serious about compliance. “Over the past 8 months, Binance has increased its efforts to become AML compliant on a global level,” Siadat told Cointelegrph. “In France, Binance just recently successfully registered as a digital assets service provider.” This is an AML registration, also known as virtual asset service provider registration, he explained, where an applicant must demonstrate full transparency with regard to its corporate structure and thorough compliance with AML requirements. “Binance is also currently aiming to become fully regulated in Germany,” added Siadat, who believes the exchange deliberately chose jurisdictions with strong regulatory environments like France and Germany “to demonstrate to the global regulators that it is prepared to comply with FATF recommendations and global AML rules.”It has been adding staff too. In August 2021, it hired former United States Treasury criminal investigator Greg Monahan as its global money laundering reporting officer, while in May, it brought on Joshua Eaton, a former California federal prosecutor, as its first deputy general counsel. Hammer noted that the company’s problem might be more fundamental, though: Its platform and business model, as originally devised, were meant to bypass the incumbent finance industry. “They overlooked, though, that their platform was still clearly centralized, providing fiat-ramps inter alia.” These fiat ramps meant that regulatory oversight was bound to come “sooner or later.” Changing such infrastructure, business model and corporate culture in a short period of time will be very difficult to do, he said, “even with deep pockets” and the hiring of a team of experts.Where are the rightful use cases?What about economist Krugman’s larger question with regard to cryptocurrencies? “Where are the legitimate applications?” Is it fair to ask such a question a dozen or so years after Bitcoin’s appearance?“I cannot understand why some respected economists make sweeping and misleading statements about the lack of legitimate applications of cryptocurrencies,” Carol Alexander, professor of finance at the University of Sussex, told Cointelegraph. After all:“Ether is essential for the functioning of Ethereum, as DOT is to Polkadot and SOL is to Solana, etc. These layer-1 blockchains already underpin the proper functioning of our internet and without them, vast swathes of the global economy would simply collapse.”“Nonfungible tokens are also here to stay,” she added, and many will serve useful public purposes. “Recording ownership of real assets like paintings and music as smart contracts on public blockchains actually prevents fraud and allows artists to get proper royalties. Smart contracts also stop black markets for concert and sports tickets completely, and the token economy allows start-ups to have better access to crowdfunding now than ever before.”Recent: Regulations and exchange delistings put future of private cryptocurrencies in doubtCritics like Krugman “do not understand the logic behind the distributed ledger technology and blockchain,” tools that provide trust and full transparency if used correctly, said Siadat, adding: “In fact, the Financial Action Task Force recommended using DLT for digital identities and then using digital Identities for KYC purposes. Once a digital identity is verified by the blockchain, institutions may use/leverage existing KYC information without running their own KYC.”Meanwhile, Bitcoin (BTC) remains a “highly effective P2P payment system, which grants payment services to the unbanked population,” added Hammer, a sentiment that Ozair shared. “We need to go back to the roots, where it started,” said Ozair, referring to Satoshi Nakamoto’s original white paper that heralded in the crypto age. What Satoshi was proposing was just a digital payments network — “a system run by people for people.” Perhaps that should serve as a touchpoint now.

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Swiss luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer introduces NFT-enabled smartwatch

Watchmaker TAG Heuer has partnered with the well-known nonfungible token (NFT) community surrounding Bored Ape Yacht Club and CLONE-X to create a smartwatch that displays NFTs and connects to crypto wallets such as MetaMask and Ledger Live.The company says that the functionality of the TAG Heuer Connected Calibre E4 will be straightforward, with NFTs being transferred to it via a paired smartphone. The device is set to support static and animated NFT artwork, and multiple NFTs can be transferred to the watch at a time. TAG Heuer stated that NFT artwork can be resized and placed within three available designs within the watch.Current capabilities of the smartwatch and how it handles NFT artwork and display are outlined in a blog post from TAG Heuer:“Some NFTs are still images, and some are animated GIFs. TAG Heuer’s watch face will support these formats in crisp detail, with animations looping infinitely.” The smartwatch will also possess the ability to connect to the blockchain and verify NFTs owned by the wearer. TAG Heuer describes the feature in their announcement saying, “Verified NFTs are displayed in a hexagon with a cloud of particles gravitating around the image.”This new NFT functionality is set to be available as a free update to all Tag Heuer Calibre E4 owners through Apple’s App Store and Google Play. TAG Heuer continues to grow in the Web3 space utilizing a team of in-house developers for blockchain-related projects. Back in May, TAG Heuer partnered with BitPay to begin accepting payments in Bitcoin (BTC) and eleven other cryptocurrencies including several US dollar-pegged stablecoins. NFT watches aren’t a completely new idea with Bulgari, Jacob & Co, and others jumping into the market in recent months.NFTs exploded into mainstream media in 2021 with individual sales reaching into the tens of millions. Despite recent overall market conditions and cascading NFT prices, sales reportedly remain steady.

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Blockchain's potential: How AI can change the decentralized ledger

One reason is that blockchain’s use of a decentralized ledger offers insight into the workings of AI systems and the provenance of the data these platforms may be using. As a result, transactions can be facilitated with a high level of trust while maintaining solid data integrity. Not only that, but the use of blockchain systems to store and distribute AI-centric operational models can help in the creation of an audit trail, which in turn allows for enhanced data security.Furthermore, the combination of AI and blockchain, at least on paper, seems to be extremely potent, one that is capable of improving virtually every industry within which it is implemented. For example, the combination has the potential to enhance today’s existing food supply chain logistics, healthcare record-sharing ecosystems, media royalty distribution platforms and financial security systems.That said, while there are a lot of projects out there touting the use of these technologies, what benefits do they realistically offer, especially since many AI experts believe that the technology is still in its relative infancy? There are many firms that are marketing the use of AI as part of their current offerings, giving rise to the blatant question: What exactly is going on here?With the cryptocurrency market continuing to grow from strength to strength over the last couple of years, the idea of artificial intelligence (AI) making its way into the realm of crypto/blockchain technology has continued to garner an increasing amount of mainstream interest across the globe. Are AI and blockchain a good match?To gain a broader and deeper understanding of the subject, Cointelegraph spoke with Arunkumar Krishnakumar, chief growth officer at Bullieverse — an open-world 3D metaverse gaming platform that utilizes aspects of AI tech. In his opinion, both blockchain and AI address different aspects of a dataset’s overall lifecycle.Kismet, a robot experiment in affective computing and AI. While blockchain primarily deals with things like data integrity and immutability — making sure that information data that sits on a blockchain is of high quality — AI uses data that is stored efficiently to provide meaningful and timely insights that researchers, analysts and developers can act on. Krishnakumar added:“AI can help us to not just make the right decisions through a specific situation, but it can also provide predictive heads-up as it gets more trained and intelligent. However, blockchain as a framework is quite capable of being an information highway, provided scalability and throughput aspects are addressed as this technology matures.”When asked whether AI is too nascent a technology to have any sort of impact on the real world, he stated that like most tech paradigms including AI, quantum computing and even blockchain, these ideas are still in their early stages of adoption. He likened the situation to the Web2 boom of the 90s, where people are only now beginning to realize the need for high-quality data to train an engine. Recent: The crypto industry must do more to promote encryption, says Meltem DemirorsFurthermore, he highlighted that there are already several everyday use cases for AI that most people take for granted in their everyday lives. “We have AI algorithms that talk to us on our phones and home automation systems that track social sentiment, predict cyberattacks, etc.,” Krishnakumar stated. Ahmed Ismail, CEO and president of Fluid — an AI quant-based financial platform — pointed out that there are many instances of AI benefitting blockchain. A perfect example of this combination, per Ismail, are crypto liquidity aggregators that use a subset of AI and machine learning to conduct deep data analysis, provide price predictions and offer optimized trading strategies to identify current/future market phenomena, adding:“The combination can help users capitalize on the best opportunities. What this really translates into is an ultra-low latency and ultra-low-cost solution to fragmented liquidity — a multitrillion-dollar problem that plagues the virtual assets market today.”On a more holistic note, Ismail pointed out that every technology has to go through a cycle of evolution and maturity. To this point, he highlighted that even when the banking and finance sectors began adopting digital assets, there were major concerns across the board about whether these assets had progressed enough to be successfully implemented. “AI and its subsets bring tremendous advantages to the crypto industry but should be ethically promoted with a long-term vision at its core,” he closed out by saying.More work may be needed According to Humayun Sheikh, CEO of Fetch.ai — a blockchain project aimed at introducing AI to the cryptocurrency economy — as Web3 and blockchain technologies move forward, AI will be a crucial element required to bring new value to businesses, adding:“Decentralized AI can remove intermediaries in today’s digital economy and connect businesses to consumers directly. It can also provide access to large volumes of data from within and outside of the organization, which when analyzed using AI scale can provide more actionable insights, manage data usage and model sharing, and create a trustworthy and transparent data economy.”In terms of the gap that exists between AI and its apparent lack of use cases, Sheikh believes that the dichotomy does not hold true since there are already many use cases for everyone to see. Fetch.ai, for example, has been building systems for deploying AI and blockchain within supply chain ecosystems, parking automation frameworks, decentralized finance (DeFi) and more. Fetch is also planning on releasing consumer-friendly AI applications starting in the United States in the near term.However, Krishnakumar believes that more needs to be done when it comes to making AI more data efficient so as to really serve the world at scale. To this point, he noted that with the advent of quantum computing, AI could scale heights like never seen before, adding:Recent: Consensus 2022: Web3, unpacking regulations, and optimism for crypto’s future“This can, for instance, bring down the time taken for drug discovery from 12 years to a couple of years could be on the cards. Modeling nitrogen fixation and industrializing it to reduce carbon emissions in fertilizer factories is another example. Modeling protein folding and providing customized medication for cancer is another use case that could be achieved.”Does blockchain need AI to succeed? Chung Dao, CEO and co-founder of Oraichain — a smart contract and decentralized app platform — believes that blockchain technology is more than what most people like to believe it is, which is a closed world of financial transactions without any connection to real-world assets and events. He told Cointelegraph:“AI must come to help blockchain recognize real world utility, expand its applicability and enable intelligent decision-making. Both technologies are in their early stages, but not ‘very early.’ There are many successful AI solutions that recognize patterns better than humans, and there are no doubt many advantages of automation in a wide range of businesses.”Dao noted that there’s already a robust infrastructure for AI ready to be implemented atop existing blockchain technologies, one that can enhance “trust, identification and decentralization” across the space. In this regard, Oraichain has a whole ecosystem dedicated to this: The project utilizes an oracle mechanism that integrates AI into smart contracts as well as harnessing the power of an AI-centric data management system and marketplace.Therefore, as we move into a future driven by the principles of decentralization, it stands to reason that futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence will continue to gain more ground within the global crypto landscape over the coming months and years.

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Ankr partners with Optimism to provide a fast and reliable RPC service for users

Ankr, a company that provides one-click node deployment and Web3 infrastructure, has announced that it will become a remote procedure call provider for Optimism.Optimism is an open-source Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that focuses on speed and efficient transactions across the network. It has caught the eyes of many in recent months, including Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin.This is a great example of why I’m so proud of @optimismPBC for adding non-token governance (the Citizen House).Optimism explicitly has goals *other* than just “make OP go up”, and the only way to do that long-term is with explicit representation of non-token-holder interests. pic.twitter.com/vofVVx53mC— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) June 3, 2022Ankr has assisted many industry leaders such as Solana and Avalanche by running their blockchains faster, allowing for better Web3 experiences across the globe. Matthew Slipper, Head of Engineering at OP Labs:“Adding Ankr as an infrastructure provider helped fulfil the desires of our community members who want to build with robust and reliable services. Apps and integrations choose to build in our ecosystem because they feel aligned with our values and appreciate the breadth of tooling and technical options available to them.”This partnership will allow dApp developers from all parts of the world access to Optimism’s public and premium RPCs. “We love what Optimism is building for the future of Ethereum. Ankr is happy to do our part to provide a fast and reliable RPC service for their users,” said Greg Gopman, the Chief Marketing Officer at Ankr.Ankr also said that it will incentivize independent Optimism node operators to add their nodes to the load balancer in return for ANKR tokens.Back in November 2021, Ankr Network co-founder and CEO Chandler Song wrote about multichain technology as a necessity for the future of DeFi products. At the time, he said that projects that support multiple chains gain larger audiences and increase their liquidity:“This means that at a minimum, your DeFi product needs to support Ethereum and a “niche” blockchain — there are established leaders for trading, staking, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and more. And the more chains with which you can interact, the better.”

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