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Blockchain in Healthcare: Bridging Trust in response to COVID-19

Blockchain in Healthcare: Bridging Trust in response to COVID-19
Link to our article: https://block.co/blockchain-in-healthcare/
There’s never been a better time to provide proof-of-health solutions in the healthcare system globally. While it’s difficult to comprehend the significance of the role that technology may offer in such difficult times, essentially it can be nailed down to its basic concept of simplifying work and coordinating activities, which could have helped avoid the worst crisis people have experienced in their lifetime. If the healthcare system would adopt technological innovations in the early stages, it could have benefited and saved many lives.
Although the healthcare system has traditionally been slow in embracing the latest digital solutions, just like many other industries, we’ve observed in a previous article how the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies on a global scale in several industries, including healthcare.
The latest webcast brought to the audience by Block.co hosted some high profile experts from the industry. They illustrated how blockchain especially, together with other technologies such as IoT, and AI could in the future help elevate prompt responses, and provide more secure and efficient storage of data, something that has been missed in the recent pandemic.
Ahmed Abdulla from Digipharm, Dr. Alice Loveys from EY, and Dimitrios Neocleous from VeChain were hosted by Georgina Kyriakoudes, one of the first in the world to hold an MSc in Digital Currency, founder of Dcentric.Health and creator of the permissioned blockchain ecosystem app called Aria, which aims to transform the patient healthcare experience by giving individuals full control of their medical records.
Blockchain’s benefits in healthcare are primarily identified by efficiency, specifically on the transfer of data, facilitation of goods transport via the supply chain, prevention of counterfeit medicines sale, secure storage, and exchange of data around ID management. The impressive projects all the webcast guests have developed in the industry enable just these features, from the digitization of patient records to storage and exchange of medical data as well as easier processing of funds.
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Ahmed Abdulla founded Digipharm with the idea of issuing tokens to allow patients to be in control of their medical records at all times. Moreover, tokens are issued to be paid for anonymously sharing personal medical data to help research; pay for healthcare based on how it has improved quality of life.
We have experienced a disparity in Covid-19 tests costs around the world. For instance, getting tested in Cyprus costs around €60 while in the US it may add up to a few thousand dollars. This is due to the way countries arrange payment setups from payers to providers. Blockchain empowers people to take ownership of their records and funds while providing transparency of processes. This is where blockchain can be robust, by increasing transparency and allowing the patient to secure money transfer and hold their own records”, stated Ahmed.
His work as blockchain advisor at the UN Economic Commission for Europe is helping set up standards for the blockchain ecosystem, namely how the system should be used safely, and in a way that benefits all stakeholders.
“I lead the blockchain and healthcare team at the UN center for trade facilitation and e-business where we developed a blockchain and trade facilitation white paper; the second phase will soon provide an advanced technology advisory board to advise private or public stakeholders on what’s the best technology to use. It might not always be blockchain, hence we first understand and then advise if the tech is right for them or not. Blockchain is clunky, expensive, and not always proper for the organization we work with”, continued the blockchain expert.
Most people may prefer public and permissionless blockchain because it has major advantages over a private and permissioned one. Transparency stands out for the way the ledger is shared and for due diligence becoming unnecessary as a result. This means costs are also cheaper, in the range of 100% lower. On the other hand, a public decentralized blockchain has a major disadvantage since no legal framework is laid out. This means uncertainty as there is still a grey area in the legal field that might create confusion.
Dimitrios Neocleous is Ecosystem Manager at VeChain Tech and directly supported digital and technological solutions provider I-DANTE with the creation of the E-NewHealthLife and the E-HCert for the Mediterranean Hospital of Cyprus. Both apps give patients control over their health records, improve medical data sharing, and increase hospital operational efficiencies by simplifying the process of visiting a hospital.
E-NewHealthLife is a complex ecosystem solution that starts from a patient’s visit to an emergency room. A card with the reason for a patient’s visit is issued; it gets time-stamped; the patient is sent to the waiting room; once the patient’s turn comes and the medical check is completed, the card is scanned and the visit is closed. Patients can digitally access all diagnoses that took place anytime at the hospital.
“The platform produces a digital health passport, which is an encrypted non-fungible card that patients can use to identify themselves automatically when registering at the hospital’s emergency room. The passport is stored within a mobile app called E-HCert, which keeps track of each patient’s medical data and can be shared as needed”, announced Dimitrios.
E-HCert App is a Covid-19 lab test electronic wallet and pushes up the results of a patient who’s been tested for COVID. It has been proven to be very successful so far; currently, 2000 people who transited through the Larnaca airport in Cyprus have downloaded the app. With time-stamped records, it’s able to provide data such as the day and time when the sample was collected, it offers immutability, security, and integrity of data.
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“Covid-19 showed a deficiency in healthcare. The spread of the virus could have been prevented if we had digitization of processes and transparency of data through blockchain, and transfer of data through an authorized share of records. An open permissionless decentralized blockchain helps bring ownership of medical records back to the patient, and that is not possible in a centralized system”, continued the VeChain representative.
Dr. Alice Loveys is EY ‘s healthcare blockchain leader in the US and has been at the forefront of emerging healthcare technologies for her entire career including being a pioneer in electronic health record adoption, health information exchange, and privacy and security.
She believes that “blockchain technology is like a plumbing system that brings clean and transparent trusted data that can be used. It’s not proper for a track and trace system as it invades privacy unless there is the consent from patients, in that case, blockchain transparent share of data would be extremely useful for medical research and testing”.
One problem we experienced during the crisis is the confusion that arose with divulged information and the frustration that comes with it. People do not understand anymore which information can be trusted; at first, it looked like COVID-19 symptoms were not dangerous, then it came out that they actually were. Masks were not useful at the beginning, then they suddenly became necessary.
“Blockchain could have prevented lockdown and economic crisis through data management in that a much faster response would have been provided to tackle misinformation because blockchain can help manage data from different sources”, continues Dr. Loveys. “Moreover, it’s a great way to protect the database. Instead of moving any private sensitive medical data through the more traditional digital systems, blockchain simply allows us to send an algorithm, encrypted data that safeguards the information. It’s not a great use as a database as it does not scale, therefore we would not be able to store information for billions of people in it. But for the data that is in the blockchain, using algorithms, makes it very convenient and secure”.
Another topic discussed during the webcast was the GDPR compliance for blockchain. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was created before blockchain therefore it doesn’t account for decentralized technologies. Generally speaking, it all comes down to how the technology is used and what kind of data is incorporated in it. Timestamping data without invading anyone’s privacy, or timestamp of consented data, should determine no issue at all. This is what privacy by design stands for, taking human values into account in a well-defined manner throughout the whole process.
Block.co, powered by the University of Nicosia, is establishing itself as a global leader in the issuance of digital immutable and secure certificates timestamped on the Bitcoin blockchain. In the field of healthcare, it could include medical records, prescription issuance, insurance disputes, supply chain documentation, and any type of verifiable certificate that requires authenticity at its core.
For more info, contact Block.co directly or email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
Tel +357 70007828
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Blockchain in Healthcare – Webcast Q&A

Blockchain in Healthcare – Webcast Q&A
On our website, you can find the original article: https://block.co/webcastqa-blockchain-in-healthcare/
Block.co third webcast ” Blockchain in Healthcare: Bridging Trust in response to COVID-19“ received amazing feedback! We gathered some of the best experts in the field, Georgina Kyriakoudes, Ahmed Abdulla, Dimitri Neocleous, Dr. Alice Loveys to share their experience in the industry and discuss with us the latest updates in the sphere of Healthcare! In its third series of webcasts, Block.co gathered 253 people watching the event from 59 different countries, for a 90-minute webcast where guests answered participants’ questions.
Below is a list of the questions that were made and were not answered due to time constraints during the Blockchain in Healthcare webcast. Please note that the below information is only for educational purposes!
Question 1: I like what Dimitrios was saying regarding ownership and transfer. Health and social care have invested much in Information Management systems and processes. Transfer between NHS and social care is a typical block. Can you elaborate on how the blockchain sits across that – leapfrogs yet goes with the grain of what is already there in terms of shared records protocols, the exponentially growing types of professionals, pharmacists, careers, etc. that need early access to these records for better decision making.
Block.co Team Answer: Blockchain technology has the potential to improve healthcare, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem, while providing security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. Blockchain could provide a new model for health information exchanges and transform electronic medical records to be more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. While it is not a cure, this new, Blockchain in Healthcare rapidly evolving field provides a sandbox for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.
Healthcare systems around the world are preparing road maps that define critical policy and technical components needed for nationwide interoperability, including:
  • Ubiquitous, secure network infrastructure
  • Verifiable identity and authentication of all participants
  • Consistent illustration of authorization to access electronic health data, and several other requirements.
However, current technologies don’t totally address these necessities, and as a result, they face limitations associated with security, privacy, and full ecosystem interoperability.
Blockchain technology creates distinctive opportunities to scale back complexity, improve trustless collaboration, and create secure and immutable data. National Healthcare Systems need to track this rapidly evolving field to identify trends and sense the areas where government support may be needed for the technology to realize its full potential in health care. To form blockchain’s future, they ought to take into account mapping and gathering the blockchain ecosystem, establishing a blockchain framework to coordinate early-adopters, and supporting a pool for dialogue and discovery.
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Question 2: What about the “compatibility” of blockchain solutions in healthcare with GDPR and/or other regulations about personal data protection.
Block.co Team Answer: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe’s new framework for data protection laws, has a vital impact on healthcare organizations. During this more and more patient-centric world where global healthcare organizations collect a large set of data on patients to produce improved health outcomes, this increased regulation has an even larger impact.
GDPR presents challenges across all industries and includes language that has a special impact on healthcare. The regulation defines “personal” data as “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.” On top of this definition, GDPR contains three extra, important definitions that pertain to health data:
  1. “Data concerning health” is defined by the GDPR as “personal data related to the physical or mental health of a natural person, including the provision of health care services, which reveal information about his or her health status.”
  2. “Genetic data” is outlined by the GDPR as “personal data relating to inherited or acquired genetic characteristics of a natural person which give unique information about the physiology or the health of that natural person and which result, in particular, from an analysis of a biological sample from the natural person in question.”
  3. “Biometric data” is “personal data resulting from specific technical processing relating to the physical, physiological, or behavioral characteristics of a natural person, which allows or confirms the unique identification of that natural person, such as facial images or dactyloscopic data.”
As described in Article 6 of GDPR, processing of personal data is considered lawful if: (1) the data subject has given consent; (2) it is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is a party; (3) it is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation; (4) it is necessary to protect the vital interest of the data subject or another natural person; (5) it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest; (6) it is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or third party.
However, healthcare organizations that usually manage health data, have an added responsibility to take care of “data concerning health,” “genetic data,” and “biometric data” to a higher standard of protection than personal data, in general. GDPR prohibits the processing of these forms of health data unless one of the three conditions below would apply as per Article 9.
a. The data subject must have given “explicit consent.”
b. “Processing is necessary for the purposes of preventive or occupational medicine, for the assessment of the working capacity of the employee, medical diagnosis, the provision of health or social care or treatment or the management of health or social care systems and services …”
c. “Processing is necessary for reasons of public interest in the area of public health, such as protecting against serious cross-border threats to health or ensuring high standards of quality and safety of health care and of medicinal products or medical devices …”
Consent VS Explicit Consent – If one pays attention, there’s a difference in the GDPR’s health data use conditions (calls for “explicit consent”) and the general definition (calls for “consent”). Thus, there’s an ongoing debate as to what constitutes the difference between “unambiguous” and “explicit” consent. Despite the debate and the final legal clarifications, there is no doubt that in the purposes of the healthcare the “explicit consent” must have the strongest agreement form listing in detail the use(s) of data and covering the cases of data transfers and storage.
Question 3: How can we use blockchain technology by the government in Africanflavored government, say by Ministry of health to have patient autonomy of medical records that can be accessed by any government hospital irrespective of the ailment and record printed by the previous hospital and doctor, such as referral cases without having to open a new file in the referred hospital.
Block.co Team Answer: Perhaps that would be an ideal implementation of the Block.co solution issuing a digital certificate of medical examination on an Open Public Blockchain such as the Bitcoin blockchain, that would be decentralized in nature, easy to validate online without any special wallets, and would be provided by the patient on-demand, to refer to treatments received in other hospitals or areas. But this would require that the practitioner is aware and can use the open-source code or use Block.co services to issue these certificates. Alternatively, there could be the use of a wallet to store these medical credentials to be submitted on demand to health practitioners. Moreover, there would need to be an alignment of regulation in the matter as decentralized repositories are not recognized at the moment.

Question 4: Is there any data breach threat in the blockchain using a poorly protected private key at communication?
Block.co Team Answer: Millions of health care records have already been breached, and in attempts to combat this issue, solutions often result in the inaccessibility of health records. Health providers often send information to other providers, and this often ends up in mishandling of data, losing records, or passing on inaccurate and old data. In some cases, only one copy of an updated health record exists, and this may result in the loss of information. Health records often contain personal information such as names, social security numbers, and home addresses. When it comes to Blockchain in Healthcare, a poorly protected private key is always a factor to consider. A private key allows us to sign a transaction and spend funds residing in an address (public key) by providing ownership with the signature. It is a unique string of information that represents proof of identification inside the blockchain, which includes the right to access and control the participant’s wallet. It must be kept secret, as it is effectively a personal password. In the case that that private key is poorly protected, there is always a data breach threat.
Question 5: The medical record of a patient is owned by the patient. What happens if a doctor accesses the record without the consent of the patient? Using the smart contract, could there be a governing body, say a legal system that can call the doctor to order?
Block.co Team Answer: Rather than having each physical and electronic copies of records, blockchains may enable the shift to electronic health records (EHR). When looking at Blockchain in Healthcare, medical records on the blockchain would be within the management of the patient rather than a third party, through the patients’ private and public keys. Patients may then control access to their health records, making transferring information less cumbersome. Because blockchain ledgers are immutable, health information may not be deleted or tampered with. Blockchain transactions would be accompanied by a timestamp, permitting those with access to maintain updated information. The doctor would not be able to access the record without the consent of the patient. A patient would need to sign the transaction in a smart contract in order to transfer patient details to the doctor.
Question 6: So, how are private data protected when the patient is simply notified that unauthorized access just took place on her medical record? and, how are the negative results of this breach rectified towards the patient?
Block.co Team Answer: The patient would be notified to sign a transaction enabling access to the party requesting access to the specific medical record. In other cases, there could be a multi-signature wallet requiring multiple transactions in the cases where the patient may need assistance, for example, when underage or when not in a healthy state of mind, or being non-responsive or in critical condition. The patient needs to be responsible for his own data and be empowered through awareness and know-how of this technology. With great power, comes also great responsibility, although it is yet a challenge to enable computer illiterate people to interact with this technology.
Question 7: Can the same record of a patient still be shared with private hospitals and say another government/private hospital abroad on the same blockchain?
Block.co Team Answer: Depending on whether the information is on a public blockchain or a private blockchain. When on a private blockchain, they will need to be granted permission to access the blockchain accordingly.
Question 8: No one has directly spoken about ownership where a large research institution/ consortium is working with the data – it is not solely the person who has said so…
Block.co Team Answer: Indeed, it is solely not the person who has a say so. Technology may be used in both evil and good ways and it is still the obligation and responsibility of people within governments to ensure human liberties and rights are preserved when utilizing such powerful technologies such as blockchain and sometimes the combination of blockchain with AI, IoT, and biometrics. Blockchain in Healthcare, in the same way, that it can empower individuals and increase their standard of living and prosperity, at the same time, it can also empower corrupt governments with alternative agendas and totalitarian states. Block.co believes it is most important for people to be educated around the matter and be able to form a voice and movement to safeguard their human liberties and rights, hence our continuous effort on discussing these matters with our community and providing education, powered by the pioneers in the space, the University of Nicosia.
We would like to thank everyone for attending our webcast and hoping to interact with you in future webinars. If you would like to watch the webinar again, then click here!
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Benefits of Blockchain Technology in the Banking Industry

Benefits of Blockchain Technology in the Banking Industry
Link to original article: https://block.co/benefits-of-blockchain-technology-in-the-banking-industry/
The rapidly growing interest around blockchain is creating an increased amount of use cases across multiple industries, and a high demand for adoption by many governments. Banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry is predicted to be drastically transformed by this disruptive technology. According to Allied Market Research 2019, the blockchain value in the BFSI market reached $277.1 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $22.46 billion by 2026. Blockchain technology has the potential to solve the pain points of the current banking systems and operations including security, transparency, trust, privacy, programmability, and performance.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is the technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, that was proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, as a response to the failing financial system during the crisis. It is often associated and confused with Bitcoin, but the scope of the technology is much wider. It is also important to differentiate between the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and blockchain, as the terms often used interchangeably. All blockchains are DLT, but not all DLTs are blockchains. DLT is simply a decentralized database managed on a peer-to-peer basis.
“Blockchain is a type of DLT, a subcategory of a more broad definition, much like how the word ‘car’ falls under the umbrella term ‘vehicles’ and ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ falls under ‘geniuses’.”
In essence, blockchain is a continuous sequential chain of records (‘blocks’) that are chronologically linked together with the aid of cryptography, to ensure immutability. These records are immutable, as any change to the information recorded in a particular block is stored in a new block. Moreover, the use of modern encryption algorithms enables the security of all the records from copying or editing by other users of the system. Blockchain can be programmed to record not only financial transactions as cryptocurrency but almost anything of value (Deloitte Insights, 2019).

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How Blockchain Can Improve Banking Industry?
The modern banking system is not perfect and commercial banks have not changed a lot to their servicing structure since the 1970s (Haycock & Richmond, 2015). Running a bank still requires large numbers of the workforce, reliance on quite outdated systems, bloated structures with high probabilities of human error, and manual work. There are several aspects, which could be improved by the application of blockchain technology in banking operations:
1) Security Enhancement
In the UK the overall value of the financial fraud losses (e.g. payment cards, remote banking, cheques) equaled £844.8 million in 2018. The situation is even worse in the US — $170 billion average yearly losses in the financial sector. According to KPMG’s Global Banking Fraud Survey 2019 the total volume, number, and value of the fraudulent activities are drastically increasing every year.
The nature of banking operations dictates the need for centralized systems, which proved to be vulnerable and subject to cyber and hack attacks. Now, the blockchain is immutable as it operates on the principles of decentralization and transparency, and all the network participants get an identical copy of the distributed ledger of transactions. Thus, if applied in banking, blockchain can increase the validity and security of the financial transactions, eliminate the need for third-party authentication, and solve the issue of a single point of failure and hacks.
Moreover, since each transaction on the blockchain has its unique fingerprint (hash) it can be easily traced and verified. Such functionality makes blockchain a great tool to combat money laundering and reduce fraudulent or illegal transactions (Guo & Liang, 2016).
2) Improving Financial Transactions Efficiency
As we mentioned previously, the utilization of obsolete mechanisms and operational systems slows down the performance of banking institutions and provides ground for human error, delays, and system failures. All these inefficiencies could be solved by applying blockchain technology. Take for example the time-consuming bilateral exchange. The process of data reconciliation needed for it could be simplified, as on the blockchain, it is inherently part of a transaction (IBM, 2016).
Blockchain and its decentralized nature eliminate intermediaries in banking operations, which significantly cuts transaction costs and boosts efficiency (Cocco et al., 2017). Blockchain does not require intermediaries, enables cross-border transfers and micro-payments, while drastically decreasing operational costs. Such transactions in the traditional banking environment are expensive (from 1% of the amount), and constitute a huge expense on a global scale. In cryptocurrency networks, transfers may range from a few minutes down to milliseconds, and the transaction fees are decided by the market forces, meaning users have the option to set their transaction fees (Deloitte, 2017).
3) Workflow Simplification
Blockchain can simplify the current complex workflow in banking institutions. As any operation can be traced, the ability to automate processes significantly reduces costs and the need for manual work. Moreover, it is impossible to make retroactive changes on the blockchain. This guarantees data immutability and excludes the human factor, thus the probability of error, data tampering, or even leakage. Using blockchain in banking operations will digitize and automate tons of manual work, greatly boost the productivity of the financial institutions and eliminate the probability of mistakes, delays, and errors.
4) Enhanced KYC & AML
Some financial institutions find it difficult to deal with problems related to policies such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC). Numerous organizations are not able to solve these problems, due to the rapidly escalating costs. The adoption of the blockchain technology will enable the creation of a system where all clients’ information may be stored safely, making the independent verification an easy process or even automated securely. In this way, both AML and KYC processes will become simpler and easier, as all involved organizations will share the same system and the information will be updated in real-time, perhaps through the use of Digital Identities. In addition to this, blockchain technology will assist the organizations to minimize their administrative costs and reduce the workload.

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5) Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are an innovative development of blockchain technology which enables for time and resources saving, as they do not require a third-party interaction. Traditional contracts do not differ a lot from smart contracts, however, their key benefit is that obligations are automatically enforced and cannot be avoided by anyone.
When smart contracts are integrated with blockchain technology, we enjoy benefits such as security, automation, immutability, and transparency. The integration of smart contracts in the financial sector will provide opportunities for transparent auditing and real-time remittances. Traditional contracts are paper-based and require financial institutions to invest money in paperwork and maintain records. These records can be easily manipulated as they are on paper. Smart contracts offer bank tools for bookkeeping based on blockchain. Smart contracts have already been applied to the financial industry to gain greater automation.
6) Decentralized Finance
Another application of blockchain is Decentralized Finance, also known as DeFi. This application is at an early stage but its disruptiveness enables millions of people across the world to have access to financial services. DeFi refers to decentralized applications, financial smart contracts, digital assets as well as protocols popular as DApps, which are built on public blockchains such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The aim of DeFi is the creation of a decentralized financial system that will not depend on the traditional banking system.
Decentralized Finance offers numerous benefits to the users as it eliminates middlemen, enables everyone who does not has access to financial services to enter the global economy as it is a permission-less technology, and enables innovation with the combination of DeFi products. Besides, the use of decentralized finance increases the symmetry of information and democratizes financial services in this sense. The evolution of DeFi over the years means that most people around the world are only limited by their imagination when considering how to gain benefits from the financial ecosystem. However, there are still many complexities that need addressing to further expand the full extent of the possibilities of DeFi.
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Webcast Insights — Blockchain for the Educational Industry: Remote Learning, Social Distancing, and the Certification Case

Webcast Insights — Blockchain for the Educational Industry: Remote Learning, Social Distancing, and the Certification Case
Every industry is typically disrupted by technology. From financial to legal services, retail to manufacturing, they all experience an economic and systematic impact due to innovation at some point. With a global edu-tech market expected to grow to $93.76 billion by the end of 2020, education is no exception to the rule.
Along with blockchain, technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Augmented and Virtual reality, Machine Learning, and Data Forecasting, will all play a major role in the educational system of the future.
Recently, South Korea’s Suseong University announced a plan to create a blockchain and AI campus in Daegu, an indication that the world is rapidly changing due to the global Covid-19 crisis and that a blockchain and AI-based society could be materializing quickly.
In addition to smart working, smart cities, and everything else that can be identified as a technology-driven system, smart classrooms are also not too far-off from being accepted as a new standard, and blockchain will help develop that new model by facilitating transactions, issuance of documentation and enhancing online security.
In a previous article, Block.co had already illustrated the benefits of blockchain technology for universities and all academic institutions. Cost-saving and anti-fraud support are only a couple of the advantages offered by the innovative solution.
A few months on, since that article, blockchain and other disruptive technologies have acquired a completely new significance in light of the current Covid-19 emergency. Remote working and learning have forced a re-evaluation of the existing technologies that turned out to be essential in easing the transition to a new performing method.
In most cases, due to the urgency, institutions were under pressure to accelerate their remote working adoption process at the same time as facing all the difficulties and major issues presented by critical situations. Those who were already using advanced digital tools like blockchain and Artificial Intelligence instead turned out to be better prepared and in many cases even more productive than in the pre-covid era.

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Professor George Giaglis, Executive Director of the Institute For the Future at the University of Nicosia declared during the last Block.co webcast that “In order for a technology to be highly effective, an organization needs to invest in the right people first or the tech is wasted and useless. At the University of Nicosia, we were well prepared and our people were educated to cope easily with the new Covid-19 working from home situation. This helped them being even more productive since they did not have to spend any time adapting to a new working model”
In 2015, the University of Nicosia became the first to use blockchain to issue verified academic credentials on the Bitcoin blockchain. Professor Giaglis believes that blockchain for universities represents a basket of different technologies, all converging together to build a future with no limits. In particular, the way blockchain can and will be combined with AI or IoT.
Academic institutions that adopted blockchain early opened opportunities to commercial markets too, since any type of certification that requires tamper-proof against fraud finds a great help in the blockchain.
Similarly, the British University of Dubai was an early adopter of disruptive technologies and found it easy to adjust to the new working model. As explained by the other prominent guest of the webcast, Dr. Maria Papadaki, Managing Director at the BUiD Dubai Center for Risk and Innovation, “Remote working is here to stay because we have the digital tools that allow it”.
Yet, she also highlighted a different perspective: “Yes, it’s here to stay but not here to take the human being out of the system. We need to find a balance between what technology can offer in terms of improving our learning or working experiences and the everlasting need for the personal exchange of feelings and energy. We do not have to encourage a distance between students and professors, employers, and their staff, by allowing digital technology to overtake all aspects of relationships”.
Blockchain has helped both universities tackle fraud issues as well as certify students digitally on the bitcoin network, thus avoiding physical presence and even direct contact with the institution. In the coronavirus era, this turned out to be vital.
Decentralizing finance was the first original intent of blockchain, therefore it should not come as a surprise that also academic institutions might want to try that route. Tokenization via blockchain is an experimental use that academic institutions are attempting to facilitate payments. Smart contracts can be used to assign a reputation to users based on feedback from others, who will be initially verified by a blockchain-based ID system. Another model conceives blockchain to tokenize talent in a private tutoring environment. They are all experiments at present but give us the idea of what future directions might be for universities.
In this regard, Prof. George Giaglis reminds us that central banks will likely issue their own digital currencies in the next two years. This means that also all other digital currencies and tokens already in existence will be legitimized as a result.
One essential aspect of the adoption process of technologies like blockchain will certainly be a desirable collaboration between universities. Dr. Maria Papadaki has always been an advocate of creating a network between academic institutions in order to share and obtain the best results by technology. “BUiD is working closely with UNIC, Block.co, and the Dubai Blockchain center. It is a way of showing our commitment to both Emirates Blockchain strategy and Dubai Strategy to make Dubai the happiest city on Earth.”

https://preview.redd.it/1eom25u6ch451.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=5a9ee8b783e390bfdea3e63f908ce86212fd4ee9
There’s plenty of space for further technological innovation in the industry and one of the issues that will have to be resolved in the future is the possibility to mimic remote examinations.
During the Block.co webcast, Prof. George Giaglis launched a challenge to developers who would like to take the entrepreneurial way and could assist in building an application or software that will make remote examinations possible and trustworthy.
If anyone is interested in taking up the challenge, the University of Nicosia and Block.co would like to hear from them!
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Restoring Trust in Credentials through Blockchain Technology

Restoring Trust in Credentials through Blockchain Technology
The story of Block.co can be traced back to 2014, when the University of Nicosia (UNIC) in Cyprus identified a need for secure and self-verifiable credentials on the blockchain.
A growing market in forged credentials and the vulnerability of certification documents in the face of man-made and natural disasters meant a solution was increasingly necessary.
Given UNIC’s early immersion in the blockchain world with the launching in 2014 of the first Master’s degree globally in Digital Currencies and Blockchain technology, it was clear to them that blockchain technology was best suited to fulfill that role. Why? “We had to find a solution with certificates that would be vendor-independent and without a central point of potential attack/hacking, and that would outlive the issuing institution itself,” explains Block.co CEO, Alexis Nicolaou.
So, in 2014 UNIC became the first university globally to experiment with the deployment of blockchain in the issuance of academic certificates. They were confident there was no safer or more secure application than that of blockchain technology and particularly no safer blockchain than the Bitcoin blockchain.
It quickly became clear that it was not solely academia that could benefit from the reliable credential authentication that blockchain technology offered. Block.co was born with the objective of taking the initial learning and expanding the product beyond education to other industries as well as government — indeed to any organization or sector that issued certificates whose authenticity and immutability they wanted to secure.
“Look at the potential of blockchain in the shipping sector for example,” says Nicolaou. “Imagine you’re a shipping company and you employ a crane operator that stacks up the containers on the deck. The certificate he is furnishing however is a fake and he is not qualified to do the job. During the journey, the ship gets into rough seas and an accident happens, with the containers going overboard. There would be millions in damages that could have been avoided had there been an easy way for the company to verify the authenticity of that certificate.”
Powered by Industry Recognition and Community
Block.co leverages product innovation and cutting-edge cross-collaboration through a partnership with the Institute for the Future (IFF) and UNIC.
The former is a vibrant think tank of leading blockchain experts dedicated to preparing the C-suite for the game-changing technology which is swiftly shaping our world. It boasts more than 40 faculty and staff working exclusively on research and deployment of Blockchain, AI, Data Forecasting.

https://preview.redd.it/bd1de6wiah451.jpg?width=800&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b19cc0ef5808bbb170ea65267a6c4e29431c592b
The award-winning university cultivates international cooperation and knowledge exchange through multiple EU and domestic research projects and membership of industry consortia. Engaging peers with its leading blockchain conference, Decentralized, and a network of international student-led chapters, it fosters a fertile community which Block.co both contributes to and taps.
To learn more about Block.co and how its solution can help your organization, click here.
For more info, contact [Block.co](mailto:Block.co) directly or email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
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Webcast Insights -Blockchain for the Legal Industry: How Is the Coronavirus Crisis Making Adoption More Imminent?

Webcast Insights -Blockchain for the Legal Industry: How Is the Coronavirus Crisis Making Adoption More Imminent?
Notoriously, the legal industry has always been slow at following technology innovations and adjusting to up to date digitally performed processes. By tracing the different steps of the legal industry evolution, we find that Kleroterion was a sophisticated innovative system used in ancient Athens that allowed citizens to participate in the lawmaking process by a random selection of jurors, as a way to circumvent manipulation and corruption of the system. Modern justice systems, established in the 17th and 18th centuries, provided regulations for the new industrial and economic development. However, with the start of the 21st century, they began to show their limits mostly within their structure built on papers.
The advent of the internet further highlighted these cracks, even though there have been signs more recently that times may be mature for disruptive technologies to finally enter the legal space too. The EU and its member states like Estonia, along with the US, Australia, China, have been pioneers in developing advanced Information Technology systems that led to the creation of an e-justice structure. They paved the way to other countries to embrace Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things, which are now identified as the best technologies enabling a more efficient, secure, and faster legal system worldwide. In Estonia, e-filing was first considered back in 2005 and since then it’s been developed to become a central point for the exchange of information between authorities, from the police to prosecution offices, courts, prisons, tax and customs board, lawyers and citizens. Thus saving money and time by reducing the entanglements of bureaucracy.

https://preview.redd.it/9h56sgdb4zw41.jpg?width=5616&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=7c637d271f0fe52b0d0cf752417956e8a713754f
In Canada, the cases of British Columbia and Ontario set as examples for exploring the electronic documentation system as opposed to paper, already back in 1996. Initially, it brought to little implementation due to the high costs, scaling, and complexity of the matter at the time. It was only in 2009 that Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General approved $10 million in funding to create a system intended to permit enhanced functionality such as e-document management, court scheduling, financial and automated workflow capabilities, and the introduction of online services to the public.
British Columbia’s case was more straightforward than Ontario. In the early 2000s, the Canadian Court Administrative Technology Suite drafted a program to integrate a system of connection of e-documents between law offices, the registry, the judicial, and the courtroom. It would include e-Courtrooms, provided they had implemented e-court files and links to the civil and criminal court information systems.
In the last couple of years, along with electronic improvements to the legal system, countries have looked at ways to use blockchain smart contracts in disputes, ownership of intellectual property, and any time of the agreement, to save money and time while offering more reliable and secure processes.
In the first webcast around blockchain technology, its impact on the world and the benefits it may bring to society, Block.co CEO Alexis Nicolaou discussed the legal industry and its reaction to the current coronavirus crisis with two prominent guests, legal practitioners Christiana Aristidou and Yiannos Georgiades.
Both members of the Cyprus Bar Association (and the Cyprus Blockchain Association), Christiana Aristidou has her own legal practice as Christiana Aristodou LLC, she is the Co-founder and Vice President of the Cyprus Blockchain Association, an International Business and Technology Lawyer and an ISO/TC 307 Blockchain Committee National Delegate. Yiannos Georgiades is a Commercial and Corporate Lawyer, also the founding partner of Georgiades & Associates. Yiannos is also a member of the Law Society in the UK as a European Registered Lawyer and President of the Cyprus Chapter of the European Court of Arbitration and Mediation for commercial disputes (CEAM).
Christiana was first introduced to Bitcoin while studying for a degree in technology law at the Queen’s Mary University of London in 2009. “The white paper was given to us by our professors for study,” recalls Christiana. “The fact that it had just been invented made me more curious about it. When Ethereum and its smart contracts were launched in 2014, I realized the tech could have a real disruptive nature, especially with regards to trust. As lawyers, we base legal services on trust. Then, you can imagine how relevant this tech had become for me”.
Nowadays, blockchain is in 2020 top tech trends and the first of LinkedIn’s most in-demand hard skills for 2020. “Compound annual spending growth for blockchain is established in the range of 62% during the years from 2018 to 2023, led by the banking industry followed by manufacturing, process manufacturing, and professional services -continues Christiana- Why these industries? Because they are distinctively transactional industries and blockchain, of course, disrupts transactional businesses”.
“In relation to the current Covid-19 situation, the first semester of 2020 has revealed a strong increase in the use of the technology, therefore it may have contributed to its adoption but its growth this year was already predicted, regardless of the crisis ”.
Coronavirus has promoted the necessity for companies to further investigate digital work to satisfy future demand for a remote working style.
How could the judicial system become more efficient with the adoption of advanced technologies?
Yiannos believes that “Due to the current restrictions everyone rushed to use the existing technology. Those who already used it did not have a problem in adapting, the others just realized how important and urgent it has become to be more digitized.
Introducing e-justice in our lives will reduce costs, time, it will safeguard security, establish transparency, and the authenticity of transactions. We can also reduce the disputes by introducing e-justice together with blockchain through smart contracts”.

https://preview.redd.it/bjqkmor7bg451.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=0552b631a7f23351a2ab5be5fcaa43380406242e
In line with the progress made within the EU e-justice system, Cyprus Minister of Justice, Mr. George Savvides, wants to introduce e-justice in the frame of other reforms, supported by Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation Mr. Kyriakos Kokkinos.
Meanwhile, in China, three provinces have introduced blockchain within their judicial system highlighting the reduction of the carbon footprint as one of the benefits since physically traveling to the courts would be avoided.
China is a pioneer in the introduction of e-justice combined with blockchain. Some courts developed their own platforms and introduced the first internet court as an incubator to develop and implement it in the normal physical courts and using blockchain as a way to authenticate documents was so useful during the coronavirus crisis” — continues Yiannos.
Yiannos is also co-founder of the Metropole Alliance, the European association of lawyers.
“There is a strong collaboration among members to promote e-justice via education. Every member country can influence their own local authorities to implement e-justice as fast as possible. The EU has committed to speed adoption of the technologies for over a decade and as the world becomes more digitized, now is the time to implement them in the legal system also. Validation of documentation through blockchain would make processes faster and would be a real benefit for justice”.
Christiana believes that remote work is here to stay, it’s one of the crucial steps to business digital transformation and needs to be implemented strategically and seen as a part of a whole plan.
“Home office and cloud are not enough, we need to make sure that all systems allow us to stay connected in remote and not remote with instant communication, and be able to track work progress continuously. The ability to develop new leadership skills becomes another factor in times like these. Leaders should further improve the way they relate to their teams, they need to be able to identify talents, technical skills, the personalities of teams, they’re all important aspects of our projects.
Lawyers should also start learning how technologies like blockchain, AI, and IoT can improve our services. My advice is to partner with companies like Block.co because it helped me serve my clients more securely and efficiently. Before blockchain and Block.co, registering intellectual property was a lengthy, tedious, and tiresome process. Witnesses were needed, declarations of every movement were required and legal documentation ended up being kept in a fireproof safe corner of the office. I don’t do that anymore because Block.co simply gives me a hash and that way the intellectual property and the copyright owner are protected forever on the blockchain”.

https://preview.redd.it/oc3lajgfbg451.jpg?width=700&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=cdcd37d7df906102b7daaa4a020ef8f89223eeb1
Yiannos reinforces the concept: “As a company, we are doing well due to another crisis that made me wiser. A few years ago we were victims of electronic fraud when our emails were hacked and attackers asked for money from our clients. One client alerted us whereas another did not and paid the money to the hackers. So I decided to improve our security and look at ways to tackle the issue digitally. We were also victims of a ransomware attack but it turned out to make me more aware and educated about security. That was the time I learned about bitcoin as those hackers wanted some BTC to unlock our server”.
While full implementation of blockchain in the legal system is still regarded with skepticism by many lawyers that believe it will take some of their work away, Yiannos reckons it will actually be an opportunity to access new and increased streams of revenues. “Lawyers can easily generate money by learning how to transform normal contracts and codify them into smart contracts” while Christiana points out that “In a blockchain-based future, enabled by the Internet of Value, lawyers will be service providers on a programmable society infrastructure”.
Don’t miss Block.co next webcast regarding Blockchain in Education: Remote Learning, Social Distancing, and the Certification Case. Professor George Giaglis and Dr. Maria Papadaki join forces to discuss the quickly changing education industry, and the measures taken towards remote learning, social distancing, and blockchain. Join us for a free 60-minute session, moderated by Catalina Castro (Tech con Catalina), a specialist in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and open blockchains, with two highly distinguished experts in the educational industry ecosystem.
To register, click here.
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How to securely verify documents in remote working conditions?

How to securely verify documents in remote working conditions?
In the current Coronavirus crisis, one aspect of our lives that has certainly experienced a colossal escalation in recent weeks is smart (or agile) working, basically working from home. Due to the sudden and rapidly changing conditions brought in by the recent crisis, organizations face the dilemma of leaving productive forces at home on sick leave or holidays or experiment with the new working culture necessary for their survival. How can blockchain aid to securely verify documents during the Coronavirus crisis and remote working conditions?
Before the Coronavirus crisis, it is estimated that in the US 5% (around 8 Million people) worked from home. Similarly, in the EU, 5.2% of workers aged between 16 and 64 normally worked from home with the Netherlands leading the way with 14% of its working population adopting a smart working concept. In more recent weeks, since lock-downs and social distancing have affected most countries in the EU and the USA, we can estimate the figure to be in the millions and, if the dramatic COVID-19 situation persists, in the hundreds of millions.
In this scenario, are private companies and public institutions ready for the epic changes that current times require? For sure, this exponential growth and sudden necessity might have taken many organizations by surprise, to such an extent that empowering their staff to work from home might have been a real challenge. This is particularly true for medium and small size companies that might have not had the time and resources to adapt easily.
Big companies like Google and Twitter had already embraced themselves to a work-from-home culture even in the pre-Covid-19 era and could therefore more easily adapt to this emergency. They have strong security systems and have proven to be fully prepared for such a working environment. With new habits and behaviors, inevitably new questions and issues arise.

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In the case of a new smart working society, companies face real challenges starting from protecting their data when staff brings system networks and databases to their homes. While nowadays it is easy to arrange a team that works remotely and organize online meetings and video conferences, however, the security and protection of sensitive data is still a major challenge.
Could blockchain technology help companies that rely heavily on on-premise network security protocols, to avoid hacking and compromising their in-house security systems?
We noted in our previous blog post how secure the Bitcoin blockchain is and how nearly impossible it is to be attacked and hacked. This pandemic outbreak will necessarily force companies to invest more on in-house system securities to avoid a breach of data and blockchain security might just be what smaller and bigger sized companies need. Keeping in mind that cryptography is a core feature of blockchain making every system more secure by default, different types of blockchains might be used to serve different purposes.
While open, public and permissionless blockchains are ideal for the security and the decentralization of data that are managed by a peer-to-peer network, private companies and organizations that require more control on their employees might resort to private and permissioned blockchains to allow access to only specific and selected staff to perform tasks and operations. On the contrary, an open, public blockchain would enable transparency of operations and enable participants to read and verify information without anyone’s permission.
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Bitcoin’s Security and Hash Rate Explained

Bitcoin’s Security and Hash Rate Explained
As the Bitcoin hash rate reaches new all-time highs, there’s never been a better time to discuss blockchain security and its relation to the hashing power and the Proof of Work (PoW) that feed the network. The Bitcoin system is based on a form of decentralized trust, heavily relying on cryptography. This makes its blockchain highly secure and able to be used for financial transactions and other operations requiring a trustless ledger.
Far from popular belief, cryptography dates back to thousands of years ago. The same root of the word encryption — crypt — comes from the Greek word ‘kryptos’, meaning hidden or secret. Indeed, humans have always wanted to keep some information private. The Assyrians, the Chinese, the Romans, and the Greeks, they all tried over the centuries to conceal some information like trade deals or manufacturing secrets by using symbols or ciphers carved in stone or leather. In 1900 BC, Egyptians used hieroglyphics and experts often refer to them as the first example of cryptography.
Back to our days, Bitcoin uses cryptographic technologies such as:
  1. Cryptographic hash functions (i.e. SHA-256 and RIPEMD-160)
  2. Public Key Cryptography (i.e. ECDSA — the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm)
While Public Key Cryptography, bitcoin addresses, and digital signatures are used to provide ownership of bitcoins, the SHA-256 hash function is used to verify data and block integrity and to establish the chronological order of the blockchain. A cryptographic hash function is a mathematical function that verifies the integrity of data by transforming it into a unique unidentifiable code.
Here is a graphic example to make things more clear:

– Extract from the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Digital Currencies at the University of Nicosia.
Furthermore, hash functions are used as part of the PoW algorithm, which is a prominent part of the Bitcoin mining algorithm and this is what is of more interest to understand the security of the network. Mining creates new bitcoins in each block, almost like a central bank printing new money and creates trust by ensuring that transactions are confirmed only when enough computational power is devoted to the block that contains them. More blocks mean more computation, which means more trust.
With PoW, miners compete against each other to complete transactions on the network and get rewarded. Basically they need to solve a complicated mathematical puzzle and a possibility to easily prove the solution. The more hashing power, the higher the chance to resolve the puzzle and therefore perform the proof of work. In more simple words, bitcoins exist thanks to a peer to peer network that helps validate transactions in the ledger and provides enough trust to avoid that a third party is involved in the process. It also exists because miners give it life by resolving that computational puzzle, through the mining reward incentive they are receiving.
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Mitch McConnell's Brother-in-Law One of the Masterminds of Trump-Russia

Jim Breyer, Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law, Facilitates Russia’s Takeover of Facebook through Yuri Milner
In 2005 Jim Breyer, a partner at Accel Partners, invested $1 million of his own money into Facebook and gained a seat on the board (1).
In Feb 2009 Jim Breyer visited Russia with a number of other Silicone Valley investors. While there, Yuri Milner, a Russian tech entrepreneur who founded DST with close ties to the Kremlin, hosted a dinner to cap the entire event (2). As one Moscow source put it:
DST has the backing of the big boys at the top in the Kremlin, which is why it will go from strength to strength (5)
Milner found out Breyer liked Impressionist art and took him to Russian’s Hermitage Museum to view Matisse paintings otherwise closed off to the public. Three months later Yuri Milner’s DST invested into Facebook at a bloated value. (2)
Mr Milner dismissed suggestions that at a valuation of $10bn he overpaid for his stake in Facebook, especially given that the social networking site has yet to prove it has turned to profit. (3)
it’s seen as a desperate and rather vulgar deal on the one hand—Milner buying a small stake in Facebook, valuing the entire company at $10 billion—and, on the other, Facebook debasing itself by taking Russian money. Russian money! In fact, it seems rather like a desperate deal for both parties (in the midst of the banking crisis, Facebook has only two other bidders for this round—and none from the top VC tier) (4)
By the end of 2009, DST would own 10% of Facebook. Later revealed by the Paradise Papers, DST’s investments into Facebook were financed by the Russian government through state-owned Gazprom. That’s right, in 2009 Russia owned 10% of Facebook. (6)
Soon after, the two continued to work together on other investments. Breyer introduced Milner to Groupon, and Milner helped Breyer’s Accel invest into Spotify (7). In 2010 an Accel representative joined a gaggle of Silicon Valley investors to Russia and signed a letter promising to invest into the country (8).
  1. http://fortune.com/2011/01/11/timeline-where-facebook-got-its-funding/
  2. http://fortune.com/2010/10/04/facebooks-friend-in-russia/
  3. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/7753692/Facebook-is-just-the-first-step-say-Russians.html
  4. https://www.wired.com/2011/10/mf_milne
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/jan/04/facebook-dst-goldman-sachs
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/05/russia-funded-facebook-twitter-investments-kushner-investor
  7. https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/dst-global-hoping-to-grow-across-asia-puts-down-roots/
  8. http://www.ambarclub.org/executive-education/
Jim Breyer and Rupert Murdoch
Then in Nov 2010 Jim Breyer invested into Artsy.net, run by Rupert Murdoch’s then-wife, Wendi Deng, and Russia oligarch Roman Abramovich’s then-wife, Dasha Zhukova. Jared Kushner’s brother, Josh, also invested in the fledgling company (1).
At the time Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation had a joint venture with the Russian mob-linked oligarch Boris Berezovsky, called LogoVaz News Corporation, that invested in Russian media (4). It was Berezovsky’s protege close to Putin, Roman Abramovich, who tied Berezovsky to the mob.
According to the Mirror Online, Abramovich paid Berezovsky tens, and even hundreds, of millions every year for "krysha", or mafia protection. (5)
In June 2011, Rupert Murdoch ended his foray into social media by selling Myspace to Justin Timberlake (2) and elected Jim Breyer to the board of News Corp (3).
  1. https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-cadre-and-how-to-invest-in-its-real-estate-deals-2016-6
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myspace
  3. https://web.archive.org/web/19990428071733/http://www.newscorp.com:80/
  4. https://www.bloomberg.com/profiles/companies/156126Z:RU-logovaz-news-corp
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Abramovich
Jim Breyer invests in Wickr with Erik Prince
In 2012 Breyer invested in a encrypted messenger app, Wickr. Other investors include Gilman Louie and Erik Prince. To understand the connection, we need to go back to 1987. Breyer, newly hired to Accel Partners, made his first investment with Louie’s video game company that owned the rights to the Soviet Union’s first video game export, Tetris (1).
Louie went off to become the founding CEO of the CIA-backed In-Q-Tel which invested in Palantir. Palantir’s founder, Peter Thiel, sat on the board of Facebook with Breyer (2)(3). On the board of In-Q-Tel is Buzzy Krongard (7), the man who helped Erik Prince’s Blackwater receive their first CIA contract, who also joined the board of Blackwater in 2007 (6).
Around that same time, 2012-2013, Prince met Vincent Tchenguiz, founder of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL (8), and was introduced to Cyrus Behbehani of Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (9). Cyrus Behbehani sat on the board of RusAl with Christophe Charlier, who is also Chairman of the board at Renaissance Capital (10), an early investor of DST (11).
  1. https://wickr.com/wickr-raises-30m-series-b-led-by-jim-breye
  2. https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/CIA-Asks-Silicon-Valley-s-Help-Executive-to-2904775.php
  3. https://www.iqt.org/palantir-technologies/
  4. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/palantir-defense-contracts-lobbyists-226969
  5. https://feraljundi.com/tag/reflex-responses-management-consultancy-llc/
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/17/us/17brothers.html
  7. https://www.marketscreener.com/business-leaders/A-Krongard-006WHL-E/biography/
  8. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/revealed-erik-prince-had-business-ties-with-netanyahus-disgraced-chief-of-staff-1.5627887
  9. https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/a-fresh-look-at-erik-princes-house-intelligence-committee-testimony-and-emails-with-christophe-6603f06c6568
  10. https://medium.com/@wsiegelman/a-fresh-look-at-erik-princes-house-intelligence-committee-testimony-and-emails-with-christophe-6603f06c6568
  11. https://www.vccircle.com/all-you-wanted-know-about-digital-sky-technologies/
Jim Breyer and Yuri Milner invest in Prismatic
That same year, 2012, Jim Breyer invested in Prismatic, a news aggregate app, with Yuri Milner.
Prismatic’s technology works by crawling Facebook, Twitter and the web (“anything with a URL”) to find news stories. It then uses machine learning to categorize them by Topic and Publication. Prismatic users follow these Topics and Publications, as well as Individuals and the algorithm then uses these preferences and user-activity signals to present a relevant Newsfeed. (1)
Sounds like the beginning of what could be a propaganda dissemination tool. That goes in-line with Yuri Milner’s vision of Social Media. Milner’s theory:
“Zuckerberg’s Law”: Every 12 to 18 months the amount of information being shared between people on the web doubles... Over time people will bypass more general websites such as Google in favor of sites built atop social networks where they can rely on friends’ opinions to figure out where to get the best fall handbag, how to change a smoke detector, or whether to vacation in Istanbul or Rome. “You will pick your network, and the network will filter everything for you,” Milner explained. (2)
So how does Milner intend to utilize the data gathered through social media? Let’s see what Milner did to Russia’s top social media site, VK:
In January 2014, Durov sold his 12 percent stake to Ivan Tavrin, the CEO of major Russian mobile operator Megafon, whose second-largest shareholder is Alisher Usmanov, one of Russia’s most powerful oligarchs, a man who has long been lobbying to take over VK.
Then, in April 2014, Durov stated he had sold his stake in the company and became a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis back in February after "coming under increasing pressure" from the Russian Federal Security Service to hand over personal details of users who were members of a VK group dedicated to the Euromaidan protest movement in Ukraine. (3)
The Euromaidan protest ousted the Russian-backed president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Paul Manafort had worked to install. (4)
  1. https://techcrunch.com/2012/12/05/prismatic/
  2. http://fortune.com/2010/10/04/facebooks-friend-in-russia/
  3. https://cointelegraph.com/news/what-ban-russias-vkcom-is-mining-bitcoin
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Yanukovych
Facebook talks US Elections with Russia
In Oct 2012 Zuckerberg traveled to Moscow and met Dmitry Medvedev where they had a very interesting conversation:
Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Medvedev talked about Facebook’s role in politics, though only jokingly in reference to its importance in the American presidential campaign, according to Mr. Medvedev’s press office. (1)
While there he also visited Victor Vekselberg's Skolkovo, who’s currently under investigation by Mueller for donations to Trump (2).
As Obama’s effort to reboot diplomatic relations [with Russia] sputtered, federal officials began raising alarms about the Skolkovo Foundation’s ties to Putin.
“The foundation may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research, development facilities and dual-use technologies” (3)
And took time to teach Russian's how to hack Facebook friend data, the same hack used by Cambridge Analytica, Donald Trump’s campaign data firm.
In a 2012 video, Facebook's Simon Cross shows the Moscow crowd how they can "get a ton of other information" on Facebook users and their friends. "We now have an access token, so now let's make the same request again and see what happens," Cross explains (YouTube). "We've got a little bit more data, but now we can start doing really interesting stuff. We can get my friends. We can get some more information about one of my friends. Here's Connor, who you'll meet later. Say 'hello,' Connor. He's waving. And we can also get a ton of other information as well." (4)
Facebook later hired the individual who hacked Facebook and sold the data to Cambridge Analytica (5).
A month after that visit, Putin propaganda mouth-piece Konstantin Rykov, claims he began helping with Trump’s presidential aspirations (6). Days later, Trump registered “Make America Great Again” (7). The following year, Russia's Troll Factory, the Internet Research Agency, was created as was Cambridge Analytica.
  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/02/technology/zuckerberg-meets-with-medvedev-in-key-market.html
  2. https://www.adweek.com/digital/zuckerberg-russia-skolkovo/
  3. https://apnews.com/5e533f93afae4a4fa5c2f7fe80ad72ac/Sanctioned-Russian-oligarch-linked-to-Cohen-has-vast-US-ties
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heTPmGb6jdc&feature=youtu.be&t=11m54s
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/ma18/facebook-cambridge-analytica-joseph-chancellor-gsr
  6. https://washingtonmonthly.com/2017/11/24/a-trumprussia-confession-in-plain-sight/
  7. https://trademarks.justia.com/857/83/make-america-great-85783371.html
Andrei Shleifer and Len Blavatnik
Len Blavatnik, a US-Russian oligarch currently under investigation by Mueller, graduated from Harvard in 1989 and quickly formed Renova-Invest with Viktor Vekselberg, another oligarch under Mueller’s investigation (7)(8). Since then Blavatnik has maintained close ties to the university.
In 1992, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Andrei Shleifer led a consortium of Harvard professors to assist Russia’s vice-president, Antaoly Chubais, with the privatization of Russia’s state-run assets. Scandal broke when it was revealed Shleifer, through Blavatnik’s company and with Blavatnik’s guidance, invested in the very companies he worked to privatize. (6)
Years later, Shleifer continued to fund loans to Blavatnik for Russian ventures through his hedge fund, managed by his wife, Nancy Zimmerman (9), and created the Russian Recovery Fund which bought $230 million of Russian debt from Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management (10), who’s seed fun, Tiger Global, later invested in Milner’s DST.
Len Blavatnik and Viktor Vekselberg are major investors in Rusal (11).
Schleifer is still a professor at Harvard.
  1. http://harry-lewis.blogspot.com/2014/01/some-russian-money-flows-back-to-harvard.html
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Blavatnik#cite_note-Yenikeyeff-7
  3. https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/investigators-follow-flow-money-trump-wealthy-donors-russian/story?id=50100024
  4. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/01/20/the-billionaires-playlist
  5. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cafc/16-1718/16-1718-2017-03-14.html
  6. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/tangled-rusal-ownership-thwarts-easy-end-to-sanctions-quicktake
Breyer and Harvard
On April 2013, two months after Breyer was elected to the board of Harvard (1), Len Blavatnik, donated $50 million to the school (2) and joined the Board of Dean’s Advisors (3)(4) and Harvard’s Global Advisory Council (6) alongside Breyer. The next month Breyer announced plans to step down from the board of Facebook with an intention of focusing on his latest Harvard appointment (5).
In 2016 Len Blavatnik donated over $7 million to GOP candidates, including $2.5 million to Mitch McConnell himself (7).
  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/02/breyer_elected/
  2. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/04/blavatnik_accelerator_donation/
  3. https://www.accessindustries.com/about/academic-boards-committees/
  4. https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/21/delivering-alpha-2017-jim-breyer.html
  5. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2013/04/27/facebook-board-member-jim-breyer-stepping-down/
  6. http://docplayer.net/54127503-Harvard-global-advisory-council.html
  7. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2017/08/03/tangled-web-connects-russian-oligarch-money-gop-campaigns
Breyer invests in Russian Companies
In 2014 Breyer’s Accel Partners invested in Russian hotel booking site, Ostrovok, along with Yuri Milner, Esther Dyson (1), Mark Pincus, and Peter Thiel (2).
Accel Partners also invested in Avito.ru in 2012 (3) and KupiVIP.ru in 2011 (4).
  1. https://techcrunch.com/2014/06/18/ostrovok-raises-new-12m-series-c-round-to-expand-outside-russia/
  2. http://idcee.org/participants/companies/ostrovok/
  3. http://www.ewdn.com/2012/05/02/avito-ru-secures-75-million-investment-from-accel-partners-and-baring-vostok/
  4. http://www.ewdn.com/2011/04/14/leading-private-shopping-club-kupivip-ru-completes-55-m-funding/
Jim Breyer, Blackstone Group, and Saudi Arabia
In 2011 Schwarzman was named to the board of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (2), headed by Kirill Dimitriev.
In June 2016, during Trump’s presidential campaign, Jim Breyer met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin-Salman, or MBS (8). The next month Breyer joined the board of Blackstone Group (1) alongside Stephen Schwarzman and Jacob Rothschild (3). In the past Blackstone Group had loaned Kushner Companies a combined $400 million over multiple projects (7). In the 2018 election cycle, Schwzarman donated $5 million to the pro-McConnell superPAC, Senate Majority PAC (13).
Jacob’s brother, Nat, is business partners with both Oleg Deripaska (4), Rupert Murdoch, and Dick Cheney (5). Nat is also a major investor in Glencore, one of the purchasers of Rosneft stock detailed in the Steele Dossier (6), and RusAl.
In January 2017, Breyer’s business partner at Wickr, Erik Prince, was introduced to Dimitriev by MBS’s emissary, George Nader, and the Crown Prince of the UAE (10).
On October 22, 2018, three weeks after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, when most American investors were spooked away from Saudi Arabia, Jim Breyer showed up at an MBS-hosted Saudi business summit alongside Kirill Dimitriev of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (9). That same day, MBS pledged $20 billion for Blackstone Group's new infrastructure fund (11) to fund Elaine Chao's $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan (12). Elaine Chao, Mitch McConnells wife and Jim Breyer's sister-in-law, is Trump's Secretary of Transportation.
  1. https://www.blackstone.com/media/press-releases/article/jim-breyer-to-join-blackstone-s-board-of-directors
  2. https://rdif.ru/Eng_fullNews/53/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Rothschild,_4th_Baron_Rothschild
  4. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/3236166/Muddy-waters-over-Oleg-Deripaska-Nat-Rothschild-and-George-Osborne.html
  5. https://www.nationofchange.org/2017/01/15/cheney-rothschild-fox-news-murdoch-drill-oil-syria-violating-international-law/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathaniel_Philip_Rothschild
  7. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-26/the-kushners-the-saudis-and-blackstone-behind-the-recent-deals
  8. https://www.thetrustedinsight.com/investment-news/saudi-prince-mohammed-met-with-20-silicon-valley-innovators-in-tech-summit-20160628142/
  9. https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-moelis-saudi-arabia-20181023-story.html
  10. https://www.vox.com/2018/3/7/17088908/erik-prince-trump-russia-seychelles-mueller
  11. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-22/how-blackstone-landed-20-billion-from-saudis-for-infrastructure
  12. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-22/how-blackstone-landed-20-billion-from-saudis-for-infrastructure
  13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2018/07/20/big-money-is-flowing-into-the-2018-fight-for-the-senate/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f59ac6f2ebe5
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Parallels between two disruptive technologies: Internet & Blockchain – Part II

Parallels between two disruptive technologies: Internet & Blockchain – Part II
In part two of this blog, we will explore the parallels between the technologies in capitals and start-ups, in the decentralization of the blockchain as the main aspect that will revolutionize the Internet and in education. To read up on the first blog post, please follow this link.
Initial Start-Ups and Capitals
For more than 20 years the Internet was narrowed down to the usage of a few tech-savvy that knew how to navigate it. It’s only in 1993-94 that it became mainstream when Marc Andreessen created the Mosaic) browser while studying at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and brought the Internet to the general public allowing them to navigate the web comfortably with a positive user-friendly experience.
For the first time, users could establish an active presence over the internet by loading their own documents, photos, sounds, video clips, and hypertext “links” to other documents. Navigation of the internet started to have meaning. Later on, Marc Andreessen was on the team that created Netscape, the Internet browser that reached 38 million users in eighteen months and IPO’d in record time, breaking records as far as company growth while becoming the first dot-com company. Silicon Valley and Wall Street jumped on the rapid success of Netscape and started the “Internet Big