Parity Releases Substrate 2.0 to Build Custom, Scalable Blockchains Interoperable with Polkadot

Substrate has achieved a major milestone; the blockchain framework has released version 2.0, which is also compatible with Polkadot, which, along with Kusama, is already running the latest version.

Polkadot (DOT), built on Substrate, is currently the 6th largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $3.74 billion, currently trading at $4.40.

Polkadot blockchain developer, Parity Technologies announced the launch of the second version of its blockchain building kit on Wednesday. This blockchain framework basically allows you to create and customize the blockchain “precisely” for your application or business. The new release provides the developers with additional tools to do just that.

With an aim to develop a Web 3.0, Substrate acts as a tooling kit for developers making their own blockchains that are interoperable with Ethereum’s co-founder Gavin Woods’ Polkadot.

The new release comes with 70 composable “modules” called “pallets” to play with various design ideas. These pallets, which can be developed using FRAME, help add basic and extended functionality.

“Substrate 2.0 comes with many new pallets that will help you quickly and easily build and deploy your blockchain runtime with the right properties for you and your network.”

Version 2.0 also includes modules for getting off-chain data on the blockchain. This new feature called off-chain workers communicates with the main chain to keep all network participants up to date and remove the massive data sets and intensive processes. Parity states,

“Substrate 2.0 comes with a suite of pallets to make data integration much more efficient for blockchains that depend on existing and/or real-world data.”

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Author: AnTy

Bureau Of Fiscal Service Revisits Blockchain Technology Development To Streamline Grants

The Bureau of Fiscal Service, BFS, is focusing its energies on innovative technologies such as blockchain technology in a bid to enhance the government’s fiscal policies and “streamline its financial processes.” BFS will launch two projects – Digital End-to-End Efficiency (DEEE) and Blockchain for Grants – in a re-imagining strategy on how federal governments carry out day to day businesses.

According to the release, the Blockchain for Grants project was started back in 2017, aiming to create digital solutions to ease the tokenization, redeeming and transfer of grant payments from the government.

Blockchain technology offers a transparent, public, and secure platform to enhance the disbursement of grants by reducing the financial costs and setting up better internal controls. According to the statement, the blockchain for grants project “will focus on evaluating the functional and legal implications of using blockchain technology for helping grant payments.”

Fiscal Service Supervisory Program Manager Craig Fischer said,

“By tokenizing relevant grant award information and combining it with grant payment information on the blockchain, we attain new payment transparency that we couldn’t reach previously without significant and burdensome reporting.”

The BFS office has launched both innovative projects for a six-month period.

The latest blockchain interest from the Bureau of Fiscal Service follows a blockchain-based initiative to track office tools across the country.

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Author: Lujan Odera

VISA Execs Focus on Crypto And Blockchain Development As Its The Future Of Payments

Two of Visa’s largest executives in charge of crypto payments and blockchain technology gave a detailed interview on the overall crypto ecosystem. The interview of the pair, by Forbes, touched on how the company is structuring its business on the crypto and blockchain front to integrate innovative solutions to current payment problems.

The executives also highlighted the impact of the central bank’s digital currencies (CBDCs), stablecoins such as Libra, and the future of digital payments, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain in Visa’s strategy.

Visa Executives share firm’s visions in crypto and blockchain

As SVP global head of fintech at Visa, Terry Angelos handles a distributed network of groups building solutions on blockchain and deals with clients in the crypto space. Cuy Sheffield’s role as the senior director in charge of crypto at Visa speaks on the way Visa’s fintech clients in the crypto and blockchain space can leverage existing products.

Visa has been making partnerships across the globe – recently partnering with Coinbase exchange, which saw the crypto exchange become the first Visa cards issuer. The partnership has since made waves across the crypto universe. Other recent partnerships include;

Responding on the number of crypto and blockchain clients Visa has so far, Terry said,

“So far, we have onboarded about 25 companies from around the world that are at various stages of development. Given this diversity, our engagement with them can go down a few different paths. First, there are very large and established companies like Coinbase, which we simply treat as strategic fintech clients.”

Further clarifying the distinction between how they rank their clients, Terry explained crypto companies as those that work with “assets that are natively issued onto a blockchain.” On the other hand, digital currencies are defined as “tokenized versions of fiat, such as what Coinbase and Circle are doing with USDC.”

A clear look on CBDCs from Visa

On the subject of the development of central bank digital currencies, Sheffield said Visa is ‘closely working with some of them in the development of a CBDC”. He stated for CBDCs to gain global traction, the assets must-have utility and should be acceptable by merchants,

“We think there’s a big opportunity for Visa to leverage our existing network and assets and expertise to add value to both central banks as they think about CBDCs, as well as to other private sector entities that are exploring these privately issued stable coins.”

Read More: CBDC’s Are The Future Of Money & Payment Ecosystems: Visa’s Head Of Crypto

Visa also led the founding team of the Libra Association before quitting a year ago, claiming they are concentrating on their payment projects. Cuy further explained that Visa is currently not looking for a consortium (recently joined Chamber of Digital Commerce) after leaving the Libra Association. He added,

“I doubt that we would join any exclusively.”

On his closing remarks, Terry highlighted that Visa is focusing on launching offline digital currency payment solutions in the future. He remarked, “One area that we’ve spent time on as well is offline digital currency payments,” he remarked.

“When central banks think about CBDCs, one of the potential features that they are paying attention to is offline payments.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Blockchain Capital Becomes the 27th Member to Join the Facebook-Backed Libra Association

  • Blockchain Capital, an investment company that was among the first ones to finance crypto-based projects, has joined Libra Association, the governance body spearheading the Facebook-led Libra blockchain project.

In a press statement shared with Bitcoin Exchange Guide, Libra Association stated that one of the giant venture capital firms in the industry has become its latest member. The association further added that Blockchain Capital will advise on various aspects in regards to its payment system.

Blockchain capital is also set to offer its various experts as well as different industry figures for use by the association, Libra’s chief of policy and communication Dante Disparte stated.

The Libra Association now has 30 members who are working together to design a “more equitable payment system” with Libra.

Blockchain Capital’s co-founder and managing partner, Bart Stephens stated that his company believes that modern technology can be used to enhance financial access in the world. He said:

“Leveraging blockchain technology to improve financial access and promote innovation has been at the core of Blockchain Capital’s portfolio strategy.”

Blockchain Capital was started in 2013 and has so far invested in more than 80 companies within the blockchain and crypto industry inclusive of Ripple and Coinbase.

The Libra Association was started in June 2018 following Facebook’s release of a white paper for its intended stablecoin project dubbed Libra. At that time, the association included various global firms as founding members such as Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Uber, Andreessen Horowitz as well as Coinbase. However, most of them have departed the association following regulatory pressure and scrutiny from the authorities.

Libra Association has added various firms this year such as Shopify and Checkout.com in efforts to revitalize the association. However, the firm is still miles away from its target of 100 members.

The association which is based in Switzerland has also been active in appointing top executives and on Thursday, the firm announced the appointment of ex HSBC CEO as the chief of its operating firm, Libra Networks LLC. The association had also previously announced the appointment of Stuart Levey, HSBC’s ex legal officer as its CEO.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

AVA Labs to Launch Its Avalanche (AVAX) Blockchain Mainnet On September 21st

  • AVA Labs announces the launch of its mainnet Avalanche blockchain will take place on September 21.
  • The mainnet aims to challenge Ethereum 2.0, providing lower latency and higher throughput.
  • Avalanche mainnet targets the surging world of DeFi products.

AVA Labs, a blockchain development firm, announced it would release its Avalanche blockchain mainnet on September 21. Emin Gün Sirer, the founder of AVA Labs and a computer science professor at Cornell, termed the mainnet “a new beginning for blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and decentralized applications.” Adding,

“Monday will mark the beginning of a new era for cryptocurrencies, blockchains, and decentralized applications.”

“Avalanche is the first major breakthrough in our space since Satoshi’s leap forward, and we intend to follow in their footsteps to have the same, defining impact as we stand on the cusp of a new decade.”

According to a statement from the team, Avalanche blockchain mainnet will launch this coming Monday, aiming to provide newly-bred solutions for decentralized finance (DeFi), crypto, and blockchains in general. On the launch of the mainnet, Avalanche’s native token, AVAX, will be distributed to rightful owners, Emin said.

AVAX will be distributed to the early owners of AVA, including those who participated in the private and public sales of the token, developers who were awarded grants from AVA Labs, and those who earned commissions.

Avalanche’s mainnet launch follows 16 months of intense development since the blockchain exited its stealth mode. According to the statement, Avalanche is the first-ever smart contracts platform that delivers sub-second verification and finality of transactions to challenge the upcoming Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum’s forthcoming main update.

Notwithstanding, Avalanche will also support all projects on the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and provide EVM development kits. This aims to enable “millions of independent validators to participate as full, block-producing nodes,” the statement further reads.

The launch of Avalanche also brings with it solutions to the burgeoning DeFi ecosystem that has been plagued by over-congestion and high fees on ETH. In a statement obtained by BEG, AVA Labs co-founder and chief operating officer, Kevin Sekniqi, said the development team has always looked for solutions to the DeFi ecosystem with Avalanche to solve the scalability problems.

“There’s no known limit to the number of full, block-producing validators who can participate in Avalanche consensus without losing performance. We’ve tested upwards of 2,000 of these full validating nodes without any drop-off in performance or downtime,” Kevin said.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Polkadot (DOT) Integrates Bluzelle’s Decentralized Data Oracles To Boost DeFi App Development

  • Bluzelle, a distributed oracle platform, announced a partnership with the blockchain research and development firm, Web3 Foundation (W3F), to integrate its decentralized data oracle on Polkadot.
  • This blockchain will offer developers the ability to build cross-chain applications.

According to a release on Medium, Bluzelle aims to bring “distributed storage capabilities” to projects building dApps on Polkadot ranging from decentralized finance dApps to gaming applications. The partnership between the two blockchain firms aims at directly taking up market share on the burgeoning DeFi apps market.

Polkadot’s founder, Gavin Wood (also the founder of W3F), said the partnership with Bluzelle would help in the quick transition of apps to the Web3 phase by leveraging the decentralized storage and trusted data oracles provided by the latter firm.

Polkadot is steadily improving cross-chain interaction between dApps in a bid to switch the web to Web3 standard entirely. In August, the Polkadot team announced the launch of its first parachain implementation testnet, Rococo, removing the need for relay chains. The Bluzelle integration will enhance development on Polkadot-based parachains by offering an architecture that “aligns with that of Polkadot” and “retains access to a reliable data network.”

Additionally, the oracles will provide DeFi projects with historical price data allowing the statistical analysis of token prices. Smart contracts rely on historical on-chain data to keep the market prices in check; hence projects using the decentralized oracles on Polkadot will be resilient to data manipulation attacks.

Bluzelle will be made available to all projects building on Polkadot’s Substrate framework.

Bluzelle is a delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) blockchain-powered by Cosmos, claiming to handle over 10,000 transactions per second (TPS). Such infrastructure is a crucial feature to the growing DeFi market to provide scalability and cheap transaction fees – something that the current DeFi-leading platform, Ethereum, is suffering from. Pavel Bains, CEO of Bluzelle, said the consensus infrastructure would remain on Cosmos and further stating the embryonic stage of Polkadot’s integration:

“At this time, there is not anything built to show. It’s early stages. We are working with a number of DOT projects already.”

In February, BEG reported Polkadot’s integration of decentralized data oracle, Chainlink, becoming the first blockchain outside Ethereum to integrate the latter.

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Author: Lujan Odera

French Multinational Bank to Launch a Digital Euro Pilot Using Tezos Blockchain

Blockchain firm Tezos has been selected to spearhead the French central bank’s digital currency pilot program, one of a kind in Europe.

Societe Generale – Forge, a tech startup founded by French investment bank giant Societe Generale, has opted for Tezos to spearhead the central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot program.

The French central bank Banque de France selected Societe Generale – Forge in July after a successful review of applicants in development of a CBDC to ease interbank settlements. France is carrying out an experiment to become the first European country to launch a digital Euro.

Tezos is a peer-to-peer public blockchain that has features such as on-chain governance, capacity to verify smart contracts as well as consensus algorithm that is primed on proof of stake. The blockchain platform comes with a vibrant ecosystem inclusive of research and development offshoot dubbed Nomadic Labs that is located in Paris and will play a vital role for the CBDC piloting. Nomadic Labs President, Michel Mauny explained about the deal:

“The Tezos project, strengthened by its technical capabilities, its adaptability, and its strong community, is already present in various projects, both in France and abroad. We are especially pleased to see this technology selected by Societe Generale – Forge, and to reaffirm, once again, that the quality and expertise of our engineering is rewarded.”

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Banque de France’s governor, in December last year said that he was optimistic that France will be the inaugural European country to offer digital currency. The governor explained that the central bank is exploring how technology can be leveraged in enhancement of the financial markets more so when it comes to interbank regulations.

Although France seems to be on the forefront in development of a CBDC, other European countries such as Italy, Netherlands and Lithuania are also exploring the idea of CBDC. Additionally, the European Central Bank is also working on trials although details remain scanty.

Currently, Tezos is only one of the handful public blockchain platforms participating in development of a CBDC that could culminate to a digital euro.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Aelf Releases an “Upgraded & Simplified SUSHI” Called SashimiSwap; Deposits Hitting Over $300M

Decentralized cloud computing blockchain network Aelf has launched the upgraded and simplified version of SushiSwap. A clone of Uniswap, the one-week-old SushiSwap, has experienced tons of drama and activity.

SashimiSwap has also managed to amass deposits of over $300 million.

The latest Automated Market Maker (AMM), which is “not” a fork of SushiSwap, will provide the Uniswap liquidity providers (LP) the ability to earn SASHIMI tokens by staking their Uniswap LP tokens on its platform.

Advertised as a “fairer and more transparent” platform, it won’t distribute funding to its founding team, as happened in SushiSwap, resulting in its original creator to cash it all out and then return it after public outcry.

SashimiSwap will be charging its users a 0.3% transaction fee, out of which 0.25% will go to LPs. And once the Aelf mainnet is launched, the remaining 0.5% will be transferred to a SASHIMI DAO contract.

The latest product saw the “seldom” discussed ELF suddenly come on radar and experience “an 18-month high in address activity,” as per Santiment.

This resulted in the price of Aelf token (ELF) jumping more than 190%, the day following the announcement. But since then, it has lost 50% of its value and is currently trading at $0.14 in the red.

The same is the case for SASHIMI, which hit its all-time high on Friday at $6.20 only to dump 95% to $0.37, as per CoinGecko.

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Author: AnTy

Web3 Foundation Awards Grant to Swisscom Blockchain To Secure Polkadot PoS Network

Swisscom Blockchain, the blockchain tech arm of Swiss telco giant, Swisscom, received a grant from Web 3 Foundation to build guard operators for Polkadot’s and Kusama’s nodes and validators.

In a blog post released on Wednesday, Swisscom Blockchain’s Kubernetes Operator will enhance the robustness of both chains making them, “less prone to attacks on network participants.” This aims to strengthen the trustworthiness of network participants on the blockchain platforms.

According to the statement released, the Kubernetes Operator aims at protecting network participants on a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain, Polkadot and Kusama, in case the network goes down or is compromised.

PoS consensus mechanism introduces a concept of slashing, which happens when a node validator does not function correctly or tries to cheat the system. For example, if a node operator modifies the system updates without community approval, they are at risk of getting ‘slashed’ – lose all their staked coins.

This brings about a challenging prospect to PoS blockchains hence the need for Kubernetes Operator to monitor the availability and behavior of these node operators.

The operator is a set of tools that enable the deployment and monitoring of node validators and network participants for high availability; Swisscom Blockchain AG makes it easier for network validators on Polkadot and Kusama to interact easily with public Blockchain networks through a network of “highly secured sentry nodes.”

Swisscom Blockchain received an undisclosed Wave 5 grant from the Web 3 Foundation through the General Grants Program. According to Jorge Alvarado Flores, Head of Technology at Swisscom Blockchain, the grant will allow the telco to set up, “an open-source repository that other startups and enterprises can use to setup/manage their infrastructure in an automated way” in tandem with “high-security protocol resources hosted in the enterprise.”

Web 3 Foundation also offers grants through the Open Grants program.

Dieter Fishbein, Head of Ecosystem Development at Web3 Foundation, has a hopeful wish that the solutions provided by Swisscom Blockchain will reduce the cases of “validator unresponsiveness.” In his statement, he stated,

“Providing Kusama and Polkadot with a Kubernetes Operator contributes to a more robust network, helping validators ensure high availability in their operations, and reducing the chances of validators getting slashed for unresponsiveness.”

Polkadot is an interoperable layer 1 blockchain that “connects several chains together in a single network, allowing them to exchange data securely and process transactions in parallel.” Kusama, which runs on a similar codebase to Polkadot, enables users and development teams to deploy their projects faster on Polkadot.

Flores further commented on the partnership stating his hopes for a better and more secure future for Polkadot. He said,

“Looking ahead, we are hopeful that our contributions to the Web3 Foundation on the automated deployment of sentry and validator nodes will be useful for other enterprises to engage in the Polkadot ecosystem.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

Switzerland Passes Blockchain Legislation Unanimously; Will Take Effect Early 2021

  • Switzerland has finally approved legislation for blockchain and digital assets, making it one of the major financial hubs to have a formal regulatory reference point for the upcoming crypto market.
  • The country’s parliamentarians voted unanimously for the ‘Blockchain Act’ that had been passed earlier in summer.

According to a report by the international unit of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, SWI, this legislation on DLT’s and blockchain is likely to come into effect at the beginning of 2021. The milestone will open up doors for Swiss crypto-savvy investors to participate in the latest tech, including decentralized finance (DeFi); companies will also be able to tokenize shares within the law amongst other assets.

These new blockchain-oriented laws for Swiss crypto companies define several events and the probable course to follow, should such situations arise. Given the new dynamics underpinning crypto ecosystems, some underlying laws on bankruptcy and security trading have been amended to accommodate the digital assets.

The legislation goes to the extent of providing clarity on trading security tokens as well as due diligence procedures by service providers. The clarifying is an effort to curb money laundering and terror financing activities that appear to be thriving in crypto networks. Speaking to Decrypt, Urs Bolt, a leading Swiss FinTech influencer, noted that the new laws would be a big boost for the country’s burgeoning crypto space. He commented,

“Overall, it will create one of the most favorable regulatory environments in the world. It will allow the financial center to lead in the digital asset space and hopefully attract new business into CryptoValley.”

Interestingly, this latest legal advancement comes just after Switzerland’s Canton of Zug decided to accept tax payments in crypto. The town, which has earned a nickname ‘Crypto Valley’ due to the high blockchain and crypto activity, said that residents can now pay their taxes in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) via QR codes; the initiative will roll out in Q1, 2021.

It is quite noteworthy that Switzerland joins its neighbors Malta and Liechtenstein, which had already enacted comprehensive legislation for blockchain-related tech. However, the country’s position on a CBDC remains unclear despite global hype and China’s debut of its digital yuan.

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Author: Edwin Munyui