Newsletter #10: Digital signatures • Banning dark patterns • BitClout controversy

Newsletter #10: Digital signatures • Banning dark patterns • BitClout controversy

TruBlo Newsletter #10

March 29, 2021

TruBlo Project Update

Open Call #1 is closed. If you found out too late, no worries: The next call will start in May 2021. The date will be published via the website, in this newsletter and on social media. Follow us on Twitter.

Updates this week:


Pandemic boosts the market for digital signatures

Software for digital identities and digital signatures is in high demand. What has changed?

“The conversations five to six years ago were all about: ‘Is this legal? Is it legally binding?’” Ashley Still, the general manager of digital media at Adobe, told Protocol. “The conversations today are: ‘How does this fit into my overall infrastructure?”, via Protocol

Three examples:


“DocuSign, the industry leader, just reported a 57% increase in sales over the past year to $431 million. Adobe Sign had triple-digit year-over-year user growth in June, July, August and September last year, and high double-digit growth in the other months.”


“The key to Notarize’s growth is more than just its core stamp and sign function. It’s the platform’s ability to navigate regulatory compliance… Trust is key as Notarize continues to onboard major companies like Adobe, Zillow, and Transamerica, and experience skyrocketing growth over the past year in financial services (up 324%), auto insurance (up 219%) and real estate (up 835%).”

Jumio (the company just raised $150 million)

“I think the big thing is that the foundation of the internet is identity, not anonymity,” said CEO Robert Prigge in an interview, who said the trend of digital transformation has spurred that change. “It’s been a big shift over the last couple of years. People wanted to originally hide behind anonymity, but now identify is the keystone. Whether it’s online banking or social networks, you need to be able to establish trust remotely.” LINK

Identity over anonymity. Is that the future? It is worth thinking a bit more about this statement.

California bans “dark patterns”

Have you ever tried to unsubscribe from a digital service and found it difficult? Likely it was not your fault at all, but a “dark pattern” on the website.

“Dark patterns are tricks used in websites and apps that make you do things that you didn’t mean to, like buying or signing up for something.”

California recently banned the use of such patterns. In Europe, such practices often violate GDPR or are an attempt to trick users into giving up their privacy.

The term was coined in 2010 by Harry Brignull, an expert in user experience. He created a website with examples and a “Hall of Shame”.

The challenge: There is quite a number of such layout tricks.

Three examples:

  • Indicating a high demand for an item or limited availability (“Only three left in stock”).
  • Forced enrollment: Before being able to enter a website, the user must provide private information.
  • Making it difficult or impossible to cancel a subscription or to delete an account. This practice is described as a “roach hotel”.

A 2019 study found that one in ten e-commerce websites uses such practices. LINK


BitClout: Controversy from the start

The idea was to create a social network that could not be censored and where people could follow prominent figures. So far it did not go well.

“When new crypto projects launch, the response is usually relentless cheerleading from Crypto Twitter. That wasn’t the case with BitClout. As details of the project began trickling out, including its decision to add people’s image without permission, a backlash swelled.” LINK

Facebook has 35.000 people tackling misinformation

Just an indicator of how big the problem of false content and fake accounts is.

“Facebook Inc said on Monday it took down 1.3 billion fake accounts between October and December 2020 and that it had over 35,000 people working on tackling misinformation on its platform. The company also removed more than 12 million pieces of content about COVID-19 and vaccines that global health experts flagged as misinformation”. LINK

Twitter is asking: Should presidents be allowed to tweet?

The company started a survey in 14 languages to get opinions from around the world. The questionnaire is open until April 12, 2021. LINK


Blockchain-based COVID passport now live in the state of New York

”The pass will be used to confirm an individual’s recent negative PCR or antigen test result or proof of vaccination to help fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues.”

The technology is provided by IBM.


Chainalysis doubles valuation to $2 billion

Chainanalysis announced new funding of $100 million last week. This means the value of the company has doubled in four months. Clear sign more transparency and an overview of the crypto markets are in demand.

Founded in 2014, Chainalysis helps governments and private sector companies detect and prevent the use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in illicit activities like money laundering with its investigations and compliance software. The New York-based company competes with Ciphertrace, which is based in California, as well as London-headquartered firm Elliptic. LINK

Blockchain 3.0 in China

In the past decade, China’s blockchain market has undergone two periods of development. In blockchain 1.0, pioneering firms primarily focused on digital currency applications; in blockchain 2.0, visionary enterprises and vendors began to gain business value by piloting blockchain technologies. Since the second half of 2019, the prioritization of enterprise customers, the technology progress made by tech leaders, and the government’s pragmatic measures have been driving the Chinese market into the age of blockchain 3.0. It is when blockchain adoption gains momentum in all major verticals.”

Some optimism here. China wants to get ahead. But it is easy to imagine serious disruptions, which then might result in a rollback.

But the separation of blockchain adoption into three phases is helpful and could be applied to judge development in other world regions, too. LINK

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Newsletter #9: Tech Trends Report 2021 • Two banks, two approaches • AI for privacy • Free book: Token economy

Newsletter #9: Tech Trends Report 2021 • Two banks, two approaches • AI for privacy • Free book: Token economy

March 19, 2021

Thank You!

Today at 17:00 (on March 19, 2021) is the deadline for the TruBlo open call #1.

The consortium wants to express gratitude for:

  • Strong support by the other European NGI (Next generation internet) projects
  • The F6S platform for helping to manage the open call
  • Great participation by many smart people from all over Europe.

What will happen now? A group of independent reviewers will start to evaluate. A total of ten projects will receive funding. We will keep you updated with this newsletter and on our website.

Updates this week:


Tech Trends 2021

The Future Today Institute published its annual “Tech Trends Report”. For the 2021 edition the team analyzed over 500 technology and science trends. There is hardly a better, bias-free source to understand where technology is heading. The report is entirely free. To make it easier to digest this year’s edition it is published in 12 separate, smaller reports.

Direct links:

2021 Tech Trends Summary: A quick overview. Good pointers to decide whether to go deeper into any of the topical reports.

2021 Tech Trends Report: Blockchain and Fintech – Covering the future of blockchain, cryptocurrencies + fintech. Plus use cases and applications.

2021 Tech Trends Report: New Realities – Synthetic content and media, deepfakes, algorithmic content generation, streaming, AR/DR/VR/MR and journalism.

2021 Tech Trends Report: Privacy and Security – Covering privacy and security. Plus a list of major breaches and a glossary for execs.

2021 FTI Tech Trends: Overview and all reports On this page you will find all twelve reports with download links.

Opinion: Why linking to news articles is not the problem

Written by Cory Doctorow, science fiction author, co-editor of “Boing Boing” and an influential voice on the internet.

He thinks publishers fighting search engines over snippets and trying to get paid for this are missing the larger point. The big pot of gold is elsewhere.

As summarized by TechMeme:

Publishers should focus on how Google and Facebook steal via ad fraud and price-rigging rather than on the nonsense idea that snippets and referrals are crimes”.


Two banks, two approaches

What is the future of digital services, specifically for banking, money transfers, savings?

Firstly: “TechCrunch” about Kuda.

  • Kuda is a start-up, a “neo-bank” currently operating in Nigeria, with strongly growing number of users. In the future, the company aims to bring reliable mobile banking to people across the whole African continent.
  • Why it matters: The article is interesting, as it describes how Kuda operates and what it offers specifically. In short: Kuda is focused on making things easier for people when handling money. It is a reminder that in large parts of the access to banking is not a given. Note that the word “blockchain” is not even mentioned. LINK
  • In contrast, follow the link to another banking article, this time about the strategy of Goldman Sachs and how they try to connect to the world of crypto. There is a striking contrast here.LINK

If you find the time, read both texts and compare.

Contents, a marketing technology company from Milan, raises €5 million

As an indicator how automatic, AI-driven analysis advances.

Contents uses AI tech to analyse data, with a particular focus on trend discovery and creates multilingual content aimed at end-users as well as search engines. A SaaS platform (Software as a Service, sic), Contents provides content creation and distribution tools including the aforementioned trend analysis, along with automatic content generation without human intervention via natural language generation (NLG). To date, Contents counts 100,000 users around the globe, and processes over 3 billion data points per month, with 3 million e-commerce outlets monitored per hour. LINK

Opinion: Why and how artificial intelligence (AI) could be a strong weapon to protect privacy

Surprising, but interesting: Using AI to create a “silhouette” of a person to secure privacy.

“Instead of using someone’s personal data, companies can train AI models to anonymize the information and create what’s called differential privacy datasets,” said Francesco DiCerbo, research lead for AI privacy at SAP Security Research. “We can add random noise to the details about single individuals while preserving the overall statistical properties of the population. Think of it as seeing the silhouette of a person you can’t identify.”



Book: Token Economy

This links to a great book to learn why about tokens are important.

“Tokens are for the Web3 what websites were for the WWW in the 1990s. While it has become easy to create a token with just a few lines of code, the understanding of how to apply these tokens is still vague.”

This work by Shermin Voshmgir has evolved over several years. She provides not simply a write-up of recent trends, but a much deeper view of what tokens are and how we can use them in the future.

“Token Economy: How the Web3 reinvents the internet” is available in print or as a free to use wiki on GitHub. LINK

Five skills that you need to become a blockchain developer

The short version:

  • Cryptography
  • Smart Contracts
  • Data Structures
  • Blockchain Architecture
  • Web Development


Related: 7 free courses to learn blockchain in 2021

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Open Call #1: Slides and video recording of the webinar

Open Call #1: Slides and video recording of the webinar

Below please find a video recording and – as a separate file – the presentation used in the webinar. The goal was to inform participants in the call about important aspects. The topics covered ranged from how to apply to what TruBlo offers in terms of support for selected projects. The event took place on February 24, 2021.

Video Recording


[embeddoc url=”” download=”all” viewer=”google”]

Get in touch

We understand that even though there are documents and this presentation some questions might still be open. In such cases: Get in touch via e-mail or Twitter or LinkedIn, there are different ways. We will get back to you and aim to support your application.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash




(Via Worldline, press release )

Madrid, 16 February, 2021 – Worldline [Euronext: WLN], the European market leader in payment and transaction services, will lead the “TruBlo” (Trusted Blockchain) project in the context of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative, a project that is dedicated to foster a vibrant Open Internet movement that links research, policy, and society for the benefit of society.

The TruBlo project aims to nurture and facilitate research on blockchain technology which will lead to more reliable blockchain-based solutions and applications, that will contribute to ensuring the exchange of trustworthy and reliable content on social networks and media. TruBlo will last three years and each of the projects that it will support if they reach completion, will last a maximum of 15 months.

Three open calls for proposals will be launched as part of the TruBlo project. The first opened on 18 January 2021 and will close on 19 March (link to apply). Target participants are researchers, innovators and developers either as natural person(s) or from academia as well as from high tech companies, to develop research or pilot projects focusing on the following usage scenarios:

  • Trust and reputation models on blockchains. This focus area targets innovative applications, technologies, technical approaches and methodologies that increase the levels of trust in blockchain-based information exchange, with emphasis on user-generated content on the Internet and social media, considering also data from IoT infrastructures.
  • Proof-of-validity and proof-of-location. This focus area is on innovative mechanisms to increase transparency and trustworthiness of user-generated genuine content. The users, as being part of a blockchain, can apply additional verification mechanisms to increase transparency, validity and a high level of trustworthiness, such as Proof- of-Location and Proof-of Validity.
  • It is estimated that up to 450 proposals will be assessed in three calls for proposals, of which 45 will be partially financed and 9 carried through to completion.

Toni Paradell, R&D manager at Worldline Iberia & Group coordinator for the TruBlo project, said:“Generating trust in technologies is key to driving the new digital society, and there is no doubt that the TruBlo project will result in researchers, academics and businesses developing new blockchain solutions to ensure the exchange of reliable content on social networks and in the media. The 9 projects that are implemented will be key to creating trust models that power the exchange of content generated by individuals from any device. This is fundamental if we are to make the technologies part of our lives and increase our ability to drive an agile, effective and secure digital transformation environment”.

For more information about TruBlo, visit the project website at:

ABOUT Worldline

Worldline [Euronext: WLN] is the European leader in the payments and transactional services industry and #4 player worldwide. With its global reach and its commitment to innovation, Worldline is the technology partner of choice for merchants, banks and third-party acquirers as well as public transport operators, government agencies and industrial companies in all sectors. Powered by over 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries, Worldline provides its clients with sustainable, trusted and secure solutions across the payment value chain, fostering their business growth wherever they are. Services offered by Worldline in the areas of Merchant Services; Terminals, Solutions & Services; Financial Services and Mobility & e-Transactional Services include domestic and cross-border commercial acquiring, both in-store and online, highly-secure payment transaction processing, a broad portfolio of payment terminals as well as e-ticketing and digital services in the industrial environment. In 2019 Worldline generated a proforma revenue of 5.3 billion euros.


The TruBlo project is implemented by a consortium of six European partners with different profiles and capacities. The consortium is composed of the Technological University of Athens, experts in blockchain technology; ATC, a company specialized in the development of technologies for detecting and fighting fake news; Deustche Welle, the German public international broadcasting company, delivering their services in 30 languages; F6S, the world’s largest startup and SME community; and ALASTRIA, a Spanish provider of Blockchain infrastructure. The TruBlo project is co-financed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (contract No. 957228).