TruBlo Newsletter #20

TruBlo Newsletter #20

TruBlo Project Update

This week was kick-off week. The TruBlo consortium met representatives of all ten projects selected for funding in Open Call #1. All teams will receive funding, as well as technical and business support, in the next six months.

* Alastria offers a scalable infrastructure to initiate, test, launch and scale blockchain projects.
* ATC, ICCS/NTUA (and partially Deutsche Welle) will provide business model support.

Links to all 10 open call #1 projects:
  • BlockTrust – Reputation management for science.
  • FogBlock4Trust – A fog assisted, blockchain based credential management solution.
  • FAKE – To evaluate news items producers as well as content generated by users.
  • CONTOUR Trusted content for tourism market purposes.
  • LedgeAIR – Reliable data from aircraft, combined with blockchain storage for trust.
  • ShoppEX – A better, trustable shopping experience – by enabling more information about products and production background
  • TRUSTMEDICOS – Creating trust in healthcare info in social networks.
  • TSC – Truth Seekers Chain
  • Trust and Reputation – Focus is on the circular economy and reliable info about recycled items.
  • NPRO  NPRO aims to improve the quality of reputational information in high-trust service markets.

Updates this week


#TRUST


Worldcoin wants to distribute digital money to everyone, based on biometric scanning

Worldcoin is a new US startup, with financial backing from VC firm A16z and Coinbase. Among the founders is Sam Altman, the former head of YCombinator, a very successful incubation platform – which is why the project gets considerable attention. The idea of Worldcoin is to work towards global financial inclusion, to provide digital financial services to everyone. For identification, the company has developed its own hardware, a camera-like device to scan the iris of a user.

LINK


German identity service ID Now buys French competitor

For onboarding, many services and subscriptions demand a digital verification process. As a result, platforms offering digital identification services are in demand. This now leads to consolidation in the market. Example: German startup [IDnow](https://www.idnow.io) will acquire the French platform [ARIADNEXT](https://www.ariadnext.com) for €50m ($59m). The motivation is to be present in more markets with an extended number of services, eventually in one combined platform.

LINK


How blockchain could help to bring trust to used car sales

Buying a used car today is riddled with uncertainties: Paper records do not reliable tell about repairs, hidden accidents or even total mileage. In Germany, it is a known problem that it is relatively easy to reduce the mileage of a luxury car by 20K or even 30k kilometres, then asking a higher price. Storing vehicle information on a blockchain could solve this problem.

LINK


#CONTENT


Neeva, a new search engine, promises ad-free search but will need a subscription

How would a search results page look without any advertising? This is the question Neeva will explore as a business. The venture was founded by two ex-Google executives with deep knowledge about the search engine market. The company is readying for a July launch, but won’t be available in all world regions, at least at the start. It is currently possible to line up for early access. Neeva will allow a free try-out period of three months and plans to then charge $4.95 per month. The new search offering has secured $77.5 million in funding.

More background


Global spending for mobile apps reached a new record of $65 billion, in the first six months of 2021

Across all smartphone platforms, this represents an increase of 24%, compared to last year, says a release of preliminary data from Sensor Tower.

  • Spending on the **App Store by Apple** is projected to reach $41.5 billion for the first half-year of 2021. This number includes in-app purchases, subscriptions, premium apps and games.
  • In relation, this is about 1.8 times the amount spent on the rival **Google Play** platform, which is estimated to reach $23.4 billion.

Link


Social token platform Coinvise receives $2.5 million VC money

The platform enables users to “create, earn and collect” social tokens. Social tokens are a recurring topic, there is a hope for better interactions plus the idea to monetize fan groups for music, movies or other creative areas. No clear winner yet, but interesting. Note that besides Coinvise there are a number of competitors in this field – check them out by opening the links below.

It is an interesting field. For example, music bands can create communities with their fans. Or, in a wider context, positive actions and the support of others could be rewarded.

LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Combining green smart contracts and ‘oracles’ could help to reach climate goals.

The energy consumption of blockchain has been discussed extensively this year. Tesla first said they would accept Bitcoin as payment, then retracted that offer weeks later because of concerns about the environmental issues, specifically of energy-intensive Bitcoin mining.

Others pointed out: The existing global banking system uses a lot of energy, too. In part, because extensive IT systems are needed to channel money from one country to another and so on. Gold mining, too, leaves a huge footprint.

This is the article linked below is worth reading: It argues that the combination of “green” smart contracts with a nascent technology called ‘oracles’ could evolve into a tool to reduce energy consumption and help to reach climate goals. The big promise here is a new level of efficiency. Reaching higher trust and transparency of production chains is a key motivation.

LINK


Banks look at blockchain to save costs with bonds

Handling long term debt in bonds results in costs. Using blockchain data storage and smart contracts could result in considerable costs savings. This is why banks are increasingly interested in this scenario. The European investment bank used Ethereum for a €100m bond in April 2021.

LINK


Coinbase receives a licence from German regulator BAFIN

Germany passed a new law in November 2019, demanding a licence for custody services in the crypto market. Now, Coinbase has received the first such licence, allowing the company to keep operating in the country.

BAFIN Press Release (in German)

LINK


Russia testing digital ruble with 12 banks

Both in China and in Russia, authorities are in step-by-step processes to test digital currencies. In Russia a current test involves 12 banks, one motivation is to check whether the banking systems can handle the move to digital.

LINK

TruBlo Newsletter #17

TruBlo Newsletter #17

TruBlo Newsletter #16: Governments in US, Russian and India putting pressure on social networks. Plus: Updates on Bitcoin energy use

TruBlo Newsletter #16: Governments in US, Russian and India putting pressure on social networks. Plus: Updates on Bitcoin energy use

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

TruBlo Newsletter #15: 96% of iPhone users opt-out of tracking • Fake reviews scam on Amazon exposed • Why Govcoins could transform banking

TruBlo Newsletter #15: 96% of iPhone users opt-out of tracking • Fake reviews scam on Amazon exposed • Why Govcoins could transform banking

TruBlo Newsletter #14: Policies and actions needed to fight ransomware • Documentary: Degrees of uncertainty • EU vs. Apple over App Store fees • Blockchain land registry in Rwanda

TruBlo Newsletter #14: Policies and actions needed to fight ransomware • Documentary: Degrees of uncertainty • EU vs. Apple over App Store fees • Blockchain land registry in Rwanda

TruBlo Project Update

We are getting closer to NGI Forum 2021 on May 18-19, 2021. Please join us for presentations and discussions. Register NGI Forum 2021


Updates this week:

TRUST


Don’t ignore ransomware

The way this happens: Attackers hack the IT system of a company, a police force or a even hospital. Then the only way to regain access to the system is by paying huge amounts of money.

Despite being a thread for some time, the situation around ransomware has not improved. There is a lack of policies and actions for the active prevention of this threat.

From an interview in The New York Times:

What is the United States doing to stop or slow ransomware? We’re not trying very hard. The United States is the most targeted country by cybercriminals and nation-states, but we’re not acting like it. We’re mostly outlining guidelines for companies and government agencies to prevent ransomware attacks and hoping for the best. It’s not working.

LINK($)

Related: How the US United States Lost to Hackers LINK ($)


Newsmax, a conservative news channel, posts an apology

The news outlet had accused an employee of Dominion Voting Systems of manipulating results in the 2020 US presidential election. The person received a wave of insulting messages, including death threats. Now the news outlet published an apology.

LINK


Degrees of Uncertainty: Documentary

How sure are scientists about global warming? Why are they coming to current conclusions and predictions?

“Degrees of uncertainty” is a data-driven documentary by Neil Halloran. The video educates about certainty and uncertainty occurring around complex issues.

LINK


CONTENT


EU vs. Apple: App store sales fee results in antitrust

The key point is that a competing music service like Spotify has no alternative as to paying a fee of 30% on all transactions, if it wants to offer a music subscription using devices by Apple, such as iPhones, iPads or computers.

From The Guardian:

“By setting strict rules on the App store that disadvantage competing music streaming services, Apple deprives users of cheaper music streaming choices and distorts competition,” Margrethe Vestager said. “This is done by charging high commission fees on each transaction in the App Store for rivals and by forbidding them from informing their customers of alternative subscription options.”

This is the first step of an EU antitrust investigation. It is likely to take years until this issue will go through the courts.

LINK


Microsoft planning to reduce fees to 12 per cent

Confidential documents submitted in the ongoing Apple vs. Epic Games case reveal that Microsoft has been planning to cut Microsoft Store on Xbox fees to just 12 per cent.

Microsoft reducing the Microsoft Store on Xbox cut for games to just 12 per cent could be a big deal as this would mean that game developers would get 88 per cent of the revenue share. All other major stores take a 30 per cent cut on game sales, including Sony’s PlayStation Store and Nintendo’s online store.

LINK


Clubhouse popular in the Middle East

The social networking app is booming in authoritarian countries, where users are speaking freely about otherwise taboo topics.

LINK($)


NewsBreak app successful with local news

Protocol reports about NewsBreak, a popular news aggregation app that uses Artificial Intelligence to find and display local news for users:

News Break has succeeded using tactics imported from China, where news delivered via algorithm — a practice pioneered by ByteDance’s Toutiao — has flourished.

An “interest-based engine” powered by AI selects articles readers are likely to enjoy based on past engagement.

Content aggregators like News Break aren’t just winning in the U.S. market. Opera News, owned by Beijing Kunlun Tech, and Scooper News, developed by Shenzhen-based Transsion Holdings, have both made significant inroads into Africa and Europe.

LINK


BLOCKCHAIN


Medici Land Governance partners with Rwanda

Medici Land Governance(MLG) has partnered with the Government of Rwanda to pilot a project that aims to make land transfers a paperless process. For the pilot, MLG has built a land transaction platform on blockchain called Ubutaka, which will be integrated with Rwanda’s existing land registry infrastructure.

Inefficient and inaccurate land registry systems are a common challenge in many developing countries. The loss of paperwork often prevents landowners from proving ownership, making people hesitant to invest in developing properties. Additionally, the lack of standardization and auditing in land management leaves the door open to corruption and fraud.

MLG already has projects in Mexico and Liberia.

LINK


Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway is highly critical of Bitcoin

“I don’t welcome a currency that’s so useful to kidnappers and extortionists and so forth, nor do I like shuffling out a few extra billions and billions of dollars to somebody who just invented a new financial product out of thin air.”

LINK


Blockchain technology simplifying cross-border payments

From the World Economic Forum:

It’s no secret that the cross-border payments landscape using traditional rails is fraught with fees, hurdles and delay.

Individual senders incur outsized fees for the billions of dollars sent in personal remittances every year.

Part of the problem is that systems are not interoperable. To send money to different corners of the world without blockchain, a whole patchwork has been haphazardly knitted together over the decades to achieve some semblance of financial interoperability between financial institutions, correspondent banks and money transfer operators along the value chain.

LINK


Thank You for reading.

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This was issue #14 of TruBlo NEWSLETTER • Trustable content on future blockchains.
Subscribe to the newsletter here.

TruBlo is an EU funded research project. Contact: info@trublo.eu

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

TruBlo Newsletter #13: Apple Privacy Transparency coming • How Substack tries to lure well-known journalists • A look at the slander industry • Profiles of blockchain platforms

TruBlo Newsletter #13: Apple Privacy Transparency coming • How Substack tries to lure well-known journalists • A look at the slander industry • Profiles of blockchain platforms

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