Telegram to Award Devs $400K in TON Blockchain Smart Contracts Contest

Global messaging app Telegram announced a coding competition for building smart contracts for the Telegram Open Network (TON) Blockchain.

5 types of smart contracts

The contest includes three parts with a prize fund for all included tasks ranging from $200,000 to $400,000, according to an announcement posted on the Telegram Contests channel on Sept. 24. The contest will end on Oct. 15.

The primary part of the competition is the task to build one or more smart contracts, using the tools provided in the TON Blockchain distribution, as described in the attached TON Contest document

The two other optional tasks include improvements suggestions for TON Virtual Machine and FunC and TON Blockchain bug bounty contest, the company said.

According to the competition’s details, Telegram expects smart contract developers to implement at least one of the five smart contracts, including multi-signature wallet, two types of simple TON DNS Resolver smart contracts, a synchronous two-party payment channel, and an asynchronous two-party payment channel.

Larger prize for exploiting a bug

Meanwhile, participants of TON Blockchain bug bounty contest should submit a description and a suggested scenario for its exploit, Telegram explained.

If the developers manage to actually exploit this bug in the TON Blockchain by stealing some funds from the wallet of another person, they will be awarded a larger prize of up to $200,000 in addition to the $200,000 prize fund distributed among smart contract developers.

The contest announcement comes amid the expected launch of Telegram’s digital token, Gram, in October, as previously reported. Meanwhile, Telegram officially released the TON testnet explorer and node software on Sept. 6.

Source Cointelegraph

Overstock’s VC Arm Puts $2M Into Blockchain-Based ID Systems Startup

Overstock’s venture capital arm Medici Ventures has made a $2 million investment into Salt Lake City-based Evernym, a startup that develops blockchain-based self-sovereign identity networks.

Per a Sept. 26 press release, Medici invested $2 million into Evernym through participation in the company’s Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE), closed on September 4, 2020. This allows Medici to convert its share in the SAFE to preferred stock in Evernym’s future priced round of equity financing.

Development of digital credentials

Evernym is planning to allocate the money for further development of its products such as creation of a decentralized ecosystem of digital credentials and blockchain-based self-sovereign identity networks. Commenting on the matter, president of Medici Ventures and recently appointed CEO, Jonathan Johnson said:

“Evernym’s platform allows every person, organization, and connected thing to have an independent identity. Evernym fills out Medici Ventures’ identity pillar within our keiretsu and will help advance our government-as-a-service technology stack for civilization.”

Industry players and ID systems

Other major industry stakeholders are also exploring blockchain-based identity systems. Recently, ConsenSys-backed identity management protocol uPort entered a partnership with Onfido and PwC to develop blockchain-based identity management in the United Kingdom’s financial sector.

Catalonia’s government unveiled IdentiCAT, a decentralized identity system. Citizens using IdentiCAT will reportedly be able to choose what data they are willing to share with the government, and request it to store a portion of it and share it with third parties.

In an interview with Cointelegraph, Alastair Johnson, CEO of e-commerce and ID platform Nuggets, said that by placing users at the forefront of the process, blockchain ID systems can both empower individuals and cut costs for governmental bodies:

“A blockchain ID system, conversely, adopts a user-centric approach, eliminating central points of failure by empowering individuals with self-sovereign possession over their own data. A blockchain ID system would not require government bodies to store or share personal information in order for individuals to access services.”

Source Cointelegraph

Ant Financial Partners with Monsanto Owner on Agricultural Blockchain

Alipay operator Ant Financial has partnered with pharmaceutical giant Bayer Crop Science, Monsanto’s owner, to develop a blockchain solution for the food and crop industry.

Letter of intent

Enterprise blockchain news outlet Ledger Insights reported on the partnership on Sept. 26, also noting that the two firms signed a letter of intent to develop their solution to increase traceability and transparency. Per the report, the initiative was announced at this week’s Apsara Conference in Hangzhou, China.

Ant Financial also reportedly informed the public that it intends to extend its partnership with Hyperledger to work on interoperability, standards and blockchain applications. According to the report’s author, the firm’s Blockchain as a Service (BaaS) offering supports both its own platform and Hyperledger’s Fabric.

Monsanto to use blockchain?

Bayer, while being best known as a pharmaceutical giant, also acquired United States-based agrochemical company Monsanto for $63 million last year. An Ant Financial representative better illustrated the scope of the initiative:

“[The aim of the partnership is to] create comprehensive, blockchain-based solutions designed to bring greater transparency to improve food safety and the efficiency of agricultural supply chains.”

According to the report, agriculture “is now one of over 40 applications of Ant’s blockchain technology” and the firm also has initiatives in supply chain finance and rice traceability among others.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, Ant Financial is also launching a blockchain-enabled backend-as-a-service platform.

Source Cointelegraph

StrongSalt Raises $3M in Seed Round to Develop Encryption Platform-as-a-Service

Advisory firm Valley Capital Partners has invested $3 million into encryption platform-as-a-service StrongSalt.

Per a Sept. 26 press release, StrongSalt raised $3 million from Valley Capital Partners in a seed round to further develop its encryption platform designed for developers and enterprises. The startup aims to build an encrypted ecosystem, allowing individuals to keep personal data private and to defend against theft and fraud.

StrongSalt claims to be the first firm that provides an application programming interface (API) platform for developers to make existing applications and workflows privacy-enabled. The company plans to release its encryption API platform in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Industry’s interest in keeping data private

Today, Cointelegraph also reported that Overstock’s venture capital arm Medici Ventures made a $2 million investment into a startup to further creation of a decentralized ecosystem of digital credentials and blockchain-based self-sovereign identity networks.

Recently, leading communications and technology company Verizon was awarded a patent for using virtual subscriber identity modules (vSIMs) for customers’ devices. According to the filing, the company’s blockchain encryption technology ensures more security and the existence of only one copy of the vSIM on one device at a time.

Experts’ opinion on blockchain in data protection

In a dedicated analysis for Cointelegraph, Oleksii Konashevych wrote that a digital ID is necessary for certain activities on a federal level: registering a company, declaring taxes, voting, etc. At these moments, the ID must be verified with an acceptable level of certainty, which will be provided by blockchain and the infrastructure of trust service providers.

Speaking about personal data protection, Timothy Paolini, board member, NYU Blockchain, told Cointelegraph:

“Blockchains are built around the principles of decentralization, removing the single point of failure risk (think Equifax servers) and cutting out unnecessary third parties by establishing a more direct, peer-to-peer network. This also maintains your privacy and control of your data from third-party apps as data rests at the protocol instead of the application layer.”

Source Cointelegraph

Neo Becomes .NET Foundation’s First Blockchain Member

Neo, a decentralized open source blockchain application platform, announced that it became the first-ever blockchain member of Microsoft’s .NET Foundation.

In the press release published on Sept. 24, the platform stated that during the .NET Conference 2019 Neo “joined the .NET Foundation, the Microsoft-created, globally leading open-source foundation,” adding:

“Based on their shared open-source heritage, NEO and the .NET Foundation will further empower millions of developers to build the foundation for next-gen Internet. This partnership comes after NEO’s release of Blockchain Toolkit for .NET and NEO Express in September.”

Per the announcement, Neo shared a preview of its Blockchain Toolkit during the conference, which included various apps such as Smart contract debugger, Neo Express, Visual DevTracker and others.

Big Neo update coming

As Cointelegraph reported previously, Neo, the 21st-biggest coin by its market capitalization, will have a major upgrade to Neo 3.0 in the second quarter of 2020. The upgraded version is expected to be launched as a new blockchain network, where users will need to swap their existing tokens for new ones.

According to Neo co-founder and core developer Erik Zhang, the update is necessary because a number of architectural improvements to Neo’s performance are not compatible with its current blockchain.

Cointelegraph Analytics notes that the current version of the Neo blockchain is only receiving bug fixes and has the simplest set of features, while the Neo 3.0 upgrade will have a number of improvements.

Those improvements will include cheaper transactions and deployment of smart contracts and a faster blockchain powered by a unified transaction model.

Source Cointelegraph

Open-Source Network’s Partnerships to Deliver ‘Next-Gen Internet’

An open-source network says it is cultivating exciting partnerships that will help build the next generation of the internet — as well as creating solutions to tackle the current roadblocks to mass adoption of blockchain.

Neo says its goal is to bring digital identities, digital assets and smart contracts in one place, leading to the creation of a smart economy. A big milestone is looming for the project as the finishing touches are added to the third iteration of its blockchain network — and as reported by Cointelegraph back in August, a detailed roadmap has been outlined as Neo vies to fuel growth in its ecosystem.

The company has also announced that it has joined the .NET Foundation — a Microsoft-created initiative — as its first-ever blockchain project. It is hoped that the collaboration will deliver a “developer-friendly blockchain infrastructure for .NET developers,” contribute to mass adoption, and help Neo realize its vision of providing a next-gen internet for all.

Partnerships already delivering results

The project recently unveiled its EcoBoost program, an initiative designed to provide marketing, wallet integration, liquidity, security audits and a payment gateway to crypto startups that align well with its vision. Given how Neo already boasts millions of community members, which includes a global network of experts, as well as the capacity to offer comprehensive support to developers, the scheme has already proven to be a compelling proposition — attracting the involvement of more than 100 participants.

Some of these partnerships have already been paying dividends. Earlier in September, Neo and Celer Network formally kicked off their collaboration — a venture that has been described as “win-win” for both parties. While Neo stands to benefit from Celer’s technology, which will “significantly expand the scalability and usability of its decentralized applications,” Celer has the opportunity to tap into Neo’s “diverse dApps ecosystem.”

Another tie-up has also been formalized with MixMarvel, a blockchain-powered game publishing platform that’s in operation around the world. Together, both parties are going to launch Ground Hunter by the end of this year — a title that has the ambition of becoming one of the blockchain market’s debut large-scale first-person shooter games. One of the biggest hurdles that Neo and MixMarvel alike are determined to tackle is how many blockchain games have struggled to unlock mass adoption — with user experience and gameplay so far failing to surpass what’s offered by mainstream titles.

Elsewhere, there has been great buzz surrounding CryptoFast, a racing game that’s based on the Neo network. Here, players have the freedom to build and customize cars before putting them through their paces in races. Assets are stored as nonfungible tokens that can be viewed in a specially created wallet. Game functionality has also been decentralized in an interesting twist, meaning that the community can engage in decision-making through votes.

New chain arrives in 2020

Neo says that its new chain is scheduled to be completed by the second quarter of next year, and freshly developed features will be gradually released for testing as soon as they are finalized.

Co-founder and core developer Erik Zhang has been clear about his ambitions for the future of Neo 3 — and says he wants to deliver the possibility of allowing major companies to run large-scale applications on blockchain technology.

Back in April 2019, he said: “In the future, we’d like to see applications such as YouTube, Alipay, and gaming giants like Tencent and Blizzard run on blockchain, and Neo 3 will allow these big organizations to do that.”

Innovations in the smart contract space are also in the pipeline for when Neo 3 launches, with the open-source project aiming to significantly reduce the costs associated with their deployment and execution. This, when coupled with a feature enabling smart contracts to access internet resources natively as they are being executed, are tipped to be the unique selling points that Neo will be banking on to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Source Cointelegraph

Ex-UBS Head Wants His Crypto Bank to Tap $220B Cryptocurrency Market

Peter Wuffli, the former CEO of Switzerland’s largest bank UBS and director at Swiss crypto bank Sygnum, wants to tap the “$220 billion market of institutions and private individuals who already own cryptocurrencies.”

Local news outlet SwissInfo reported on Sept. 26 that Wuffli has shown excitement concerning the potential of crypto assets. In an interview, he told the outlet:

“The most immediate opportunity is the existing $220 billion market of institutions and private individuals who already own cryptocurrencies. Thousands of clients have contacted us for a one-stop-shop for asset custody, loans and trading cryptocurrencies seamlessly with fiat currencies.”

Asset tokenization is the next frontier

Wuffli noted that he believes the tokenization of assets such as company shares, real estate, art or commodities is the next frontier in the industry. However, he also admits that there are still many unanswered questions, and many of them are regulatory in nature.

Wuffli also praised the potential of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), pointing out the opportunity he sees in securitizing shares and building smart contract-based share registers. He foresees such a system providing a great deal of simplification:

“You can do away with spreadsheets and combining systems to pay dividends, do capital increases and trade on the secondary market. And trading could take place without long settlement times and counterparty risk.”

Yes to DLT, no to corporate currencies

Still, he claimed that — on a deeper, philosophical level — DLT is about market democratization. He said that he believes that “the longer-term potential is to create a more open, broader and easier cross-border access to assets.” 

Still, he also voiced a skeptical stance towards Facebook’s Libra stablecoin. While Wuffli admitted that he does not know about Facebook’s plans in detail and that he cannot really comment on the project, he voiced concern over the idea of corporate currencies in general. He adds that nation-states will not allow such assets to threaten their monopoly on currencies, saying:

“However, I do believe that the regulation of financial services and control over currencies are essential tasks of the state and that currencies cannot be decoupled from sovereign states. As soon as someone tries to challenge the sovereign monopoly on currencies they will not allow it, and for good reason. Besides, I don’t think people will treat private currencies like that without the power of a country and a political system behind it.”

As Cointelegraph reported in August, Sygnum received a banking and securities dealer license alongside Swiss crypto-specialized entity SEBA. Wuffli noted:

“One thing missing from my CV is that I have never been involved in the creation of a new bank. I am a curious person and I love new things, it’s energizing.”

Source Cointelegraph

Unilever Says Its Blockchain Ad-Buying Pilot Saved the Company Money

According to a report published on Sept. 26, executive vice-president for global media at Unilever Luis Di Como told advertisement news outlet Campaign that using blockchain has helped the company save money.

The consumer packaged goods giant said there was no leakage in its media investments made as part of the pilot project. The system reportedly allows for more efficient ad reconciliation in a “process by which advertisers ensure contracted agreements are actually delivered.”

Unilever has been collaborating with computing giant IBM on the project in question for the past 18 months. It is estimated that Unilever saved two to three percent using the blockchain platform. 

Unilever to scale up blockchain program

Following the test, Unilever wants to scale the system and create a consortium with ad software firm Mediaocean. Di Como commented on the development:

“This is not going for the latest shiny tool. […] We are going through our rules and our principles to build trust again and having full transparency across all of our operations. [It is not a] cost-cutting exercise. […] It’s about finding better ways of doing things and releasing capacity to invest more in strategy, communications and media investment.”

As Cointelegraph reported, IBM iX has first partnered with software supplier Mediaocean to launch a blockchain-powered tracker for digital media transactions in June.

Source Cointelegraph

Lloyds Bank Partners With Blockchain Platform to Streamline Trade Finance

Lloyds Bank is partnering with blockchain platform Komgo to streamline its commercial banking division.

Blockchain to streamline international trade process

On Sept. 25, United Kingdom financial news outlet FStech reported that Lloyds Bank, one of the “Big Four” clearing banks in the U.K., said that it would use Komgo’s platform “to enable quicker international commodity trade finance,” adding:

“Komgo’s DLT platform digitises and streamlines the commodity trade finance process, enabling businesses to quickly and automatically exchange data and associated documents across a wide range of solutions – from letters of credit and KYC management to receivables discounting – in a digital, secure and decentralised way.”

The Komgo platform relies on blockchain technology to optimize financing processes, fight fraud and increase trade efficiencies. The platform is backed by 15 bank and commodities investors, which include ING, ABM Amro, and oil giant Shell. 

Gwynne Master, managing director for Lloyds Bank commercial banking, described the international trade process as cumbersome and time consuming, adding:

“The process of trading a single commodity can take over 100 days, involves many players, considerable paperwork, and risk. Trade is particularly onerous for our commodities clients, where faster turnaround times and a streamlined channel are key requirements.”

Master added that Lloyds Bank decided to work with Komgo to speed up the international trade process for its corporate customers, by “significantly streamlining and digitising the process.” 

Crypto is drawing the attention of big-name banks

In related news, Cointelegraph reported that Peter Wuffli — the former CEO of major Swiss multinational investment bank UBS — said large banks such as UBS and Credit Suisse are paying more attention to crypto assets and industry developments, adding:

“From what we hear, interest has clearly picked up since the licenses were granted. Bank executives are asking their middle management to figure out whether this is just another fintech fad that comes and goes, or whether it is really transformational.”

Source Cointelegraph

EOS Parent Firm Opens Up Headquarters in Washington DC

EOS parent company is opening its fourth global site located in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region.

Creating 170 jobs over the next three years

On Sept. 23, LLC announced that it is opening new headquarters for its United States operations arm in Arlington, Virginia.

The office will purportedly create 170 high-skilled jobs over a period of three years. CEO Brendan Blumer said:

“Its proximity to the nation’s capital positions us close to the policy innovation around digital assets and distributed ledger technology in the U.S. This expansion opens up important new avenues of talent expansions for us at a time when there is rapidly increasing demand for blockchain-based technologies.”

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam recently said that would invest $10 million into the Arlington area. He also expressed hope that the new headquarters will improve Virginia’s reputation with the IT sector.

According to the governor, is eligible to receive a Major Business Facility Job Tax Credit for new, full-time jobs created, and was approved a $600,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Arlington County with the project. announces new social media platform Voice

Cointelegraph reported in June that announced the launch of Voice, a blockchain-based social media platform.

Although details about Voice have been sparse, that month saw the company pay a whopping $30 million in cash to purchase its new domain name:

Source Cointelegraph