Dubai – the Blockchain Oasis of the UAE: From Public to Private Sector

In some countries around the world, governments have had a stifling effect on the adoption of blockchain technology. Conversely, the government of the UAE and Dubai have been the driving force behind the promotion of blockchain use in the country.

2018 has seen some significant developments on this front but the foundations had been laid a couple of years ago.

Across the private and public sectors, there has been a push to incorporate this new tech to overhaul current systems. This includes as plans to launch a cryptocurrency that will be used by citizens and governmental departments.

EmCash

The first proposal for an official Dubai cryptocurrency called emCash came about in October 2017. The cryptocurrency is touted to be used for payments for governmental and nongovernmental services – and is pegged to the UAE Dirham.

Consumers could well be using emCash in the next few months after the government signed a deal with a number of parties to setup point of sale payments for the cryptocurrency.

The partnership was announced on October 9, which includes emCredit, a subsidiary of the Dubai Department of Economic Development, blockchain payment provider Pundi X and its partner Ebooc Fintech & Loyalty Labs LLC.

Ebooc will be responsible for providing point of sale terminals in retail outlets, while Pundi X is expected to create 100,000 point of sale units over the next three years.

Regulations – ICOs lead to cautious approach

The Central Bank of the UAE began working on legislation at the beginning of 2017 to address the use of cryptocurrencies in the country.

This culminated in a report by Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority in October 2017, which released its findings on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies – classing them as securities and commodities respectively.

A swathe of apathy towards ICOs, with bans in countries like China, happened around the same time last year. This had a slight ripple effect, as other institutions and regulatory bodies put out warnings to investors centred on the associated risks of investing in ICOs. This saw UAE Central Bank Governor Mubarak Rashid al-Mansouri caution citizens against the use of cryptocurrencies – amid fears of volatility and criminal uses.

This was primarily due to the corresponding drop in value of various cryptocurrencies following China’s ban, as Al-Mansouri said in a speech at the Islamic Financial Services Board Summit:

“The risks of trading in digital currencies have clearly appeared when the prices of digital currency fell sharply after some countries announced a ban on using initial coin offerings.”

The negative stigma around ICOs seemed to continue into the new year, amid an overall decline in the crypto markets following all time highs in December. In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) led the way with no-nonsense attitude towards ICOs in February 2018.

The UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) also cautioned local investors about the inherent risks associated with ICOs. Given that they are not regulated in the country, investors had no means of legal protection against fraud.

In an effort to address these concerns, it is understood that the UAE in nearing the completion of a draft of regulations for ICOs in the country. This was reported in September 2018, and is led by the UAE SCA.

Dubai – A Smart blockchain city

In 2016, the foundations were laid for Dubai to uncover startup companies that could help drive the way for the city to become blockchain-powered by 2020.

The UAE government founded the Smart Dubai initiative in 2013, an ambitious project looking to provide cutting edge technological innovations across the country, from technology to governmental processes.

A central part of the initiative is to improve government efficiency by using blockchain technology, in the hopes of making Dubai a global leader in the space. This includes a transition to digital systems which will see visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals move away from traditional paper documentation.

According to Smart Dubai, blockchain technology could redistribute up to 25 million hours of economic productivity by removing the need for paper document processing. The project also promised to benefit the tourism industry in Dubai as international travellers will have fast-tracked entry with pre-approved passport, visas, and security clearances.

Moving around the city will also be improved with approved drivers licenses and car rental, wireless connectivity as well as pre-authenticated temporary digital wallets.

An official Blockchain Strategy was launched in October 2016, in association with Seed Fund 1776, looking for companies building blockchain-based applications across a broad range of industries. In 2017 Dubai won the City Project award for its blockchain strategy, awarded by the Smart City Expo and World Congress in Barcelona.

In conjunction with the Smart Dubai initiative, in April 2018 UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid eventually launched the broader UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021. At the time Sheikh Mohammed said that the project could save the UAE government up to $3 billion annually on document circulation, and drastically improve the quality of life and efficiency:

“The adoption of this technology will reflect on the quality of life in the UAE and will enhance happiness levels for citizens. 50 percent of government transactions on the federal level will be conducted using Blockchain technology by 2021. This technology will save time, effort, and resources and enable individuals to conduct most of their transactions in a timely manner that suits their lifestyle and work.”

Cointelegraph spoke with Muhammed Arafath, executive director at Apla Blockchain, platform helping integrate blockchain technology into government operations in a number of countries including India and the UAE, to get a first hand perspective on the current crypto climate in Dubai:

“Considering the vision which the Dubai government has set on being the ‘blockchain capital’ and the commitment for having most if not all of the government applications on Blockchain by 2020, Dubai is one of the most pro-blockchain governments in the region.”

Over the past two months, the UAE and Dubai have made significant progress in realizing some of the goals outlined in the Smart Dubai initiative.

Partnering with the Dubai Department of Finance, a blockchain-powered payment system was officially launched in September 2018. The Payment Reconciliation and Settlement (PRS) system aims to allow government entities like the Dubai Police, Roads and Transport Authority, and Dubai Health Authority to transact in real-time, providing a transparent system for intergovernmental processes..

According to local media outlet Zawya, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and the Knowledge and Human Development Authority have already been using the PRS system.

The tourism sector in Dubai is also expected to benefit from blockchain technology. In March 2018, plans for a virtual business-to-business tourism-specific marketplace using blockchain were unveiled. The Dubai Tourism Blockchain Marketplace will reportedly provide tourists with a platform that features real-time, transparent pricing of Dubai’s hotels availability.

From roads to the judicial system

Blockchain technology is also being leveraged to improve other areas of life in Dubai, from the streets of the city to its courts.

Thus, in February 2018 the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced plans to launch a blockchain-based system in 2020 that would track the lifecycle of vehicles in the country.

According to media outlet Arabian Business, RTA chairman and executive director Mattar Al Tayer says the initiative should benefit almost every single player in the industry:

“The platform benefits many stakeholders including car manufacturers, dealers, regulators, insurance companies, buyers, sellers and even garages, providing transparency and trust in vehicle transactions, preventing disputes and lowering the cost of services. It tracks ownership, sale, and accident history to create smart, more efficient systems for supply chains.”

In July, Dubai International Financial Center Courts announced a formal partnership with Smart Dubai in order to set up a ‘Court of the Blockchain’ to facilitate improvements in the judicial system. The move would eventually create a blockchain-powered judiciary to help verify court judgements for cross-border enforcement.

Ambitious programs to lead the way

Countries like Malta and the UAE seem to be leading the way in terms of blockchain adoption. Having recognized the many benefits of the technology, strides have been made to actively get out ahead of other countries.

A seemingly important factor is the balance between accepting this new technology while providing the necessary frameworks to ensure investors are protected.

The UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021 is a clear indication of the efforts being made by the country to foster the development of blockchain to improve its own governance and the quality of life for people in the region.

This positive and proactive attitude towards the industry is proving a point, as Arafath told Cointelegraph:

“Dubai is clearly leading the region by example on the adoption of blockchain and crypto.”

As Dubai and the UAE continue to explore and develop technology with the use of blockchain technology, as well as provide a guideline for the use of ICOs and cryptocurrencies, the outlook in the region seems positive.

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Public Chain ASCH Receives $7.5 Million USD Investment from Bitmain


This is a paid-for submitted press release. CCN does not endorse, nor is responsible for any material included below and isn’t responsible for any damages or losses connected with any products or services mentioned in the press release. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the press release.

Hong Kong: August 1st, 2018

During the Bitcoin Cash Anniversary Global Summit on August 1st, Hantao Qian, CTO of public chain company ASCH, announced that recently ASCH has received 50 million RMB ($7.5 million USD) investment from Bitmain, the world’s biggest crypto company. ASCH accomplished cross-chain operation for BTC and BCH two months ago, which means both BTC and BCH can be used on ASCH’s mainnet.

Everything Is Now in Place

Bitmain founder Jihan Wu said of the investment deal:

“I have always admired ASCH’s solid technology and geek culture. Soon after ASCH’s accomplishment of cross-chain technology, Bitmain decided to invest in ASCH. We will soon start cooperations in aspects of R&D, community building and overseas marketing. Our collaboration will greatly expand the usage of BCH and accelerate its growth”.

There are at least a dozen active projects on ASCH’s platform, which include BlockDino, a digital dinosaur pet game, Koumei Cottage, a prediction market place, and Dream World, a VR game developed based on real world geography.

ASCH also strives to “reform” traditional industries with blockchain technology. It recently made its first step with Fangjinsuo, a loan consulting service provider which can potentially bring 3 million loan agents in China. Fangjinsuo has completed its DApp development on ASCH and begun private beta testing.

ASCH’s Two-Year Effort

ASCH’s founder Qingfeng Shan said of Bitmain’s investment:

“I really appreciate the investment from Bitmain, the world renowned enterprise with a strong blockchain ecosystem. The investment is a recognition of ASCH team’s efforts of past two years, and the cooperation will definitely boost our strengths in R&D and marketing. We will strengthen our cooperation in all aspects, and look forward to a bright future together.”

About ASCH

ASCH, founded in 2016, is a public chain platform based on cross-chain technology and multi-chain architecture.

Its mainnet has been running smoothly and safely for two years, with the token XAS listed on exchanges including OKEx, Kucoin, and Bit-z.

ASCH is a technology-driven project excelling in security, efficiency, flexibility, and cost. By providing an easy-to-use SDK and API and providing interoperability, ASCH is committed to lowering the barrier for developing a DApp (decentralized app) and building a solid foundation for the blockchain ecosystem.

About Bitmain

Bitmain, both the biggest bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer and Bitcoin mining pool around the globe, recently managed to close a Series B funding round and has a current $12 billion USD valuation. It is the largest blockchain company in the history of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, with its equipment powering over 38 percent of the Bitcoin blockchain’s hashpower.

For more information about ASCH, please visit its homepage and online communities below:

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Japanese Public Company Offering Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETH

Finance

A Japanese company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange is offering loans secured by three cryptocurrencies: BTC, BCH, and ETH. Clients can borrow up to 300 million yen (~$2.7 million) at varying interest rates. The company has also established a subsidiary overseas for its crypto business.

Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space

Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETH

Japanese Public Company Offering Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETHA Japanese company listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange has begun accepting applications for cryptocurrency-secured loans. Samurai & J Partners Co. Ltd. (TYO:4764) recently launched a loan program called Samurai Crypto Loan through its subsidiary, Samurai Asset Finance (Samurai).

The company explains that loans will be offered to crypto owners with BTC, BCH, or ETH as collateral. Customers will have access to funds in Japanese yen without having to liquidate their crypto positions. In Japan, liquidating cryptocurrencies could incur taxes of up to 55%, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.

Japanese Public Company Offering Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETH

Customers can borrow between 20 million yen (~US$179,000) and 300 million yen (~$2.7 million) for one year, with extensions. Interest rates for these loans range from 7.0% to 15.0%, including commissions and extension fees, Samurai details. The delinquency charge is 20% annually.

Japanese Public Company Offering Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETHFounded in 1996, Samurai & J Partners, formerly known as Digital Design Co. Ltd., engages in the information service business globally. Samurai Asset Finance was established last year. In addition to crypto-secured loans, the company offers loans backed by real estate, securities, deposits, credits, movable properties, foreign currencies, memberships, and precious metals.

ICO Plan and Competition

Japanese Public Company Offering Loans Secured by BTC, BCH, ETHSamurai first proposed to enter the crypto-secured lending business in May. The proposal was presented to and subsequently approved by its board of directors. The company has also established an overseas subsidiary to launch an initial coin offering (ICO). “We will conduct an ICO and expand our business scope,” Samurai announced at the time.

Recently another Japanese company, Abic Corporation, announced a loan program secured by BTC. Abic’s loan terms range from 2 million yen (~US$18,260) to 1 billion yen (~$9.13 million) with annual interest rates ranging from 2.98% to 15.0%. Customers can borrow for a period of one month to five years; the delinquency charge is 20% annually.

Last week, crypto financial services platform Libra Credit partnered with Binance Labs, the investment arm of Binance, to “lend fiat and crypto denominated assets to users who pledge BNB [binance coin] as collateral,” the firm detailed.

What do you think of Samurai offering loans secured by BTC, BCH, and ETH? Let us know in the comments section below.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Samurai & J Partners.


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Nebulas in the Top Three of MIIT’s Public Blockchain Evaluation List

Today (Beijing Time, July 20, 2018), the China Center for Information Industry Development (CCID) Institute of Blockchain Research under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published their third phase evaluation of the public blockchain projects.

Nebulas ranked 3rd on the index with a total score of 108.8.

The CCID Research Institute mainly evaluates the three dimensions of a blockchain, including: technology, application, and innovation. It judges 31 of the world’s most influential public blockchain projects by these traits.

According to CCID’s third evaluation, Nebulas stands out in the core indexes mentioned above and its application index also ranks 3rd worldwide.

Compared with the second phase evaluation, Nebulas has made important progress this time — from the sixth place to third place, highlighting the public chain feature of Nebulas. Some insiders believe that there are several reasons behind Nebulas’ progress, among which their technical advantage plays a vital role. As the next generation of public blockchain which aims at a continuously improving ecosystem, Nebulas embraces the unique value measurement system, the future-oriented incentive and consensus mechanism, as well as self-evolving ability to avoid hard forks. Nebulas mainnet (Eagle Nebula 1.0) is the only public chain using LLVM technology. In addition, Nebulas owns a more stable and secure systemwith the transaction ability of 2000 transactions per second (TPS).

CCID Blockchain Research Institute believes that a public chain and DApp (decentralized application) structure will be an important business form in the future. In the current evaluation model, public chains with the smart contract function will receive higher scores. Compared with the second evaluation, DApp quantity has been added in the application index. Nebulas, thanks to the two-month Nebulas Incentive Program, has more than 6000 DApps running on its mainnet, which surpasses Ethereum, and more quality DApps continue emerging. All these factors make Nebulas the third place in this evaluation.

With the rapid growth of blockchain, China is now paying more and more attention to technical innovation within the blockchain industry, and the government continues to release favorable policies as well.

CCID Global Public Chain Technology Evaluation of MIIT is the world’s first blockchain evaluation index released by a professional organization. The release of the evaluation index provides an authoritative dynamic reference for the blockchain industry, and is also conductive in guiding the orderly growth of blockchain.

According to the information previously released, the current public chain technology evaluation will not accept social applications. The evaluation object will be selected by the Public Chain Technology Evaluation Team. It is expected that an application channel will be provided by August and it will accept applications from the public chain projects.

Nebulas will continue to build on this achievement and continue to work hard to build a sustainable and healthy public chain ecosystem.

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Chinese City Starts a $1.5 Billion Fund to Promote Public Blockchain Projects


Nanjing, Jiangsu’s capital, is committed to investing in public blockchain projects and overall token economy. The capital of this Chinese province put together a 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) fund in a blockchain investment fund.

A Beijing-based alliance, Zhongguancun Blockchain Industry Alliance, is teaming up with Nanjing City to launch this blockchain investment fund of $1.5 billion. The alliance, formed by government research institutes and blockchain companies, revealed the bold initiative at the first Industrial Public Chain Summit (IPCS). Among the high-level government official attendees, there was the Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Luo Qun.

Finally Ready to Embrace the Sector?

China has had a somewhat interesting approach to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology over the years. Just less than a year ago, China banned all ICOs and recently reaffirmed its stance by pledging to go after the so-called foreign ICOs.

However, earlier this year the country ranked several existing cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin didn’t even make it to the top 10, — and it has recently registered an increase of 454% in companies including ‘blockchain’ in its name.

Now a Chinese official authority is working alongside a blockchain alliance to develop the local token economy and public blockchain projects. While the country might have been extremist at the beginning, it certainly is changing its approach to the cryptocurrency world.

Two Projects Have Been Selected For The Blockchain Fund

The UDAP Foundation and TokenX Community are reportedly the first recipients of the fund. UDAP is aiming to build a decentralized asset platform in which users can tokenize assets, and TokenX Community’s goal remains a mystery, at this point.

Not only is Nanjing City planning on fund blockchain projects, it’s also planning on having these companies moving their location to its territory. China is already the world leader in the number of blockchain-related patents filled — 225 last year, followed by the U.S. with 91.

The Convergence of Blockchain Technology With Industries

The Chairman of Zhongguancun Blockchain Industry Alliance, Yuandao, believes as industries adopt blockchain technology and more chains are created, more technological breakthroughs will come along, too.

At the event, the Deputy Chairman of Tsinghua University’s Internet Industry Research Center, Wang Xiaohui, agreed that merging blockchain technology with industries, among consensus, global cooperation, and autonomy, will be the pillars of a healthy and successful token economy.

Nanjing city skyscape image from Shutterstock.

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GXChain Ranked Top 4 in Global Public Blockchain Technology Assessment Index (GPBTAI)


This is a paid-for submitted press release. CCN does not endorse, nor is responsible for any material included below and isn’t responsible for any damages or losses connected with any products or services mentioned in the press release. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned in the press release.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Published Its Global Public Blockchain Technology Assessment Index (GPBTAI), GXChain Was Placed Fourth in The World, with a total score of 108.3. GXChain was highly regarded by senior evaluation specialists. 

Unlike most industry awards and assessments, GPBTAI led by MIIT is highly professional and valuable. GPBTAI is managed by China’s Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID), the research institute under MIIT, which dedicates to scientifically evaluate the development level of global public blockchain technology, accurately grasp the innovation trend of blockchain technology, and undertake the exploration and establishment of national public blockchain industry standards. At present, CCID does not accept applications from the public for projects to be included in its assessment list. Instead, CCID’s core team selects all eligible public blockchain projects to be considered based on its strict inclusion criteria. GXChain also received the attention of many popular overseas media, such as NASDAQ, as it became CCID’s 3rd monthly lucky winner last week.

CCID’s GPBTAI is managed by lots of renowned scholars. CCID’s core team brings together first-line scholars and technical experts in the field of blockchain which have rich experience in practice and project assessment, including professor Shoucheng Zhang of Stanford University, professor Zhong Chen of Peking University, professor Ke Xu of Tsinghua University, CTO Jiang Li of Microsoft China, CTO Jing Wang of bubi and vice president Guohua Gan of taiyiyun. In the previous, CCID’s core team assessed several famous public blockchains including Ethereum, EOS, Cardano, and Bitshares. Every monthly GPBTAI was reported by Reuters, Daily Mail, CNBC, Yahoo Finance, NASDAQ and Coindesk, which has become a significant reference standard.

GXChain got a high score of 108.3 and was in fourth place for CCID’s GPBTAI ranking, and all of these was due to the advantages in technology, applicability, and innovation of the project.

GXChain started its business in the past two years with the fast-developing trend and dedicated with the innovation of blockchain underlying protocol and technical applicability. CCID’s marking criteria reflects that GXChain has dominate advantages in technology, applicability, and innovation.

For technical strength, it is developed on basis of Graphene and DPoS consensus mechanism. Meanwhile, GXChain developed BaaS, G-ID and other abundant services which support smart contract and project commercialization. It is expected that after the launch of GXChain virtual machine – GVM in September, its technology score and overall ranking will improve further.

Regarding applicability, GXChain has already commercialized. The transaction amount of To B product -decentralized data marketplace has exceeded 50 million CNY and To C product – Blockcity has 1.89 million real-name verified users.

In terms of innovation, GXChain has 13 software copyright, such as the combination of asymmetric encryption technology and DES, side chain storage, the independently developed configuration module and data structuring control algorithm. GXChain has long since open its public blockchain code and DApp code.

The rapid prosperity of GXChain ecosystem also confirms its expanding influence and attraction. At present, GXS LABS has already received over 3000 applications from third-party developers and launched three DApps which have been used by over a thousand users. Keep the development threshold to a minimum and deploy more applications can improve GXChain’s applicability score. Besides followed by developers, 11 venture capitals including ZHEN FUND, INBlockchain, LFENBUSHI capital and YUANDAO capital appreciated the value of the GXChain ecosystem and invested last week.

Globally, the blockchain industry, which was a bubble in 2017, is gradually becoming rational. For those mere passers-by on the stage of history, they were destined to stagnate or even bury in oblivion. Whereas for those dedicated to underlying technology and ecosystem expansion, they will shine like gold. For investors and practitioners, technology, commercialization and public blockchain ecosystem expansion are the valuable things. Resources will also be refocused to excellent projects, this is also the faith and persistence of GXChain.

GXChain was included CCID’s GPBTAI this time and was highly regarded by senior evaluation specialists. This is not only the recognition of GXChain technology and ecosystem by colleagues and experts but also powerful support for its global influence. GXChain is going to foster more valuable and novel DApps and deliver a better data ecosystem in the future.

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