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Hacking the Social Welfare Protocol

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Ripple offers banks a new way to settle international transactions in fractions of the usual time and cost. Australia plans to re-launch its stock market using blockchain technology. Bitcoin continues its meteoric climb in price as the CBOE releases futures trading. 2017 has witnessed a marked rise in blockchain technologies grabbing the headlines, but the more fascinating use cases may be quietly developing in the background.
What do a woman struggling to open a bank account in the Congo, refugees crowding a makeshift camp, and a forest slowly eroding to logging all have in common? They may be the next beneficiaries of blockchain technology.
Silicon Valley technologists are often maligned for creating “the internet of stuff your mom won’t do for you anymore,” and known (sometimes rightly) for focusing on lucrative solutions to first-world problems. The community that has grown around bitcoin sometimes fits eagerly into that mold.
And yet, away from the spotlight, small communities of te…

The next revolution will be reclaiming your digital identity

Originally @ TechCrunch

An identity is a difficult thing to lose. I found this out the hard way when my passport was stolen while backpacking through Asia and Africa earlier this year. The bureaucratic process to get a new passport gave me a glimpse at how broken our system of identity management is today. Fortunately, technology is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift in the field of identity. Blockchain will create a major revolutionary transformation in this area — but many questions of how still remain unanswered. Companies, governments and NGOs are beginning to tackle this question in ways that hint at the profound impact this will have on how we live our lives. Their promise is that our identities will be consolidated so that we have complete control over who accesses that information. This will protect us from increasingly sophisticated fraud and theft. It also will create unprecedented access for the “bottom of the pyramid” who are still off the grid. Imagine crossing any border,…

China’s ICO ban makes more sense in light of its history with fintech

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Originally @ TechCrunch

In today’s neverending world of blockchain news, much press has been given over the last week to the recent Chinese regulatory response banning ICO’s.
On Monday, the People’s Bank of China announced that it was implementing a freeze on fundraising through ICO’s on Chinese exchanges. (Here is the original announcement, for Mandarin speakers.) The move by China’s central bank, which is roughly equivalent to the Fed in the US, looks at first blush to be a blunt response to a nuanced issue. However, given the specific context of finance and fintech in China, the regulatory ban may be more reasonable - and unsurprising - than it would appear.
Many in the US have chided the PBOC for its apparent overreaction. AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant called the policy a “huge gift to Silicon Valley and its resident financiers.” VC Fred Wilson penned a thoughtful post comparing China’s approach to that of the SEC in the US, opining that “We needed a cooling off period and if C…