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Google Adds Ethereum Blockchain Dataset to Its Big Data Analytics Platform

The Google Cloud team has officially made the Ethereum (ETH) dataset available in BigQuery, the company’s big data warehouse for analytics, according to a post published on Google’s official blog August 29.

The Ethereum blockchain data is posted in the dataset and updated on a daily basis. As the team explains, the tool was created to help make business decisions, prioritize improvements to the Ethereum architecture itself (for example, to prepare updates), and balance sheet adjustments, e.g. how quickly a wallet can be rebalanced.

As Google explains, the Ethereum blockchain contains APIs for random functions such as checking transaction status, looking up wallet-transaction associations, and checking wallet balances. Still, the API endpoints cannot be easily reached. For that reason, BigQuery’s OLAP features help aggregate such types of data and and visualize it.

Ethereum transfers and transactions costs in 2018

Screenshot of Ethereum transfers and transactions costs in 2018. Source: BigQuery

Furthermore, the software based on Google Cloud synchronizes the Ethereum blockchain to computers running Parity — a UK-based provider of infrastructure software for interacting with the Ethereum network, which performs a daily extraction of data from the Ethereum blockchain ledger and stores date-partitioned data to BigQuery for exploration.

Google also shows some examples of the uses of the new tool. One of them relates to CryptoKitties — a game based on the Ethereum blockchain that is the most popular ERC-721 smart contract by transaction count. BigQuery collects data on accounts that own at least 10 CryptoKitties (a color on the graphics indicates owner) and their mascots’ reproductive fitness (size).

CryptoKitties infographic of owners and CryptoKitties’ reproductive fitness

Screenshot of CryptoKitties infographic of owners and CryptoKitties’ reproductive fitness. Source: BigQuery

Google has already expanded into blockchain-based tools and services this year. In February, the company created a similar tool for the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to visualize transactions, detect anomalies, and extract necessary data from the blockchain ledger.

As Cointelegraph wrote in July, Google also partnered with two blockchain-focused firms, Digital Asset and BlockApps, to offer new distributed ledger technology (DLT) solutions on Google’s Cloud Platform.

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New Ripple-Based Decentralized Exchange Launches in San Francisco

A new Ripple (XRP)-based decentralized crypto marketplace, DCEX, has now opened registration for retail and institutional accounts, according to a press release published July 30.

The new San Francisco-based platform runs on technology developed by blockchain firm AlphaPoint, and will initially offer 15 crypto-crypto trading pairs, all against Ripple as a base currency. These include Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), EOS (EOS), IOTA (MIOTA), and ZCash (ZEC), among others, with further altcoins to be listed in the future.

DCEX will also reportedly make all of the assets included in the Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index (BGCI) — which tracks the top ten “most liquid” crypto assets and presents itself as an “institutional benchmark” for the crypto market — available in one location for investors.

According to the press release, DCEX believes that using XRP as a base currency will allow for “high-speed transfers” that can help investors to better take advantage of “price inefficiencies” in their arbitrage among currency pairs on different exchanges.

The marketplace claims in the release that its network will facilitate “up to one million transactions per second,” and will also enable participants to connect to APIs to facilitate “high frequency” crypto trading strategies, as well as to margin trade.

DCEX, reportedly registered with FINCEN, is taking “initial steps” towards becoming a fully compliant and regulated operator under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and other regulatory agencies, the press release notes.

As a Cointelegraph analysis outlined this spring, decentralized exchanges (DEXs) are gaining traction in the cryptosphere, both on ideological grounds and due to perceptions that centralized platforms are more vulnerable to thefts, such as the industry record-breaking hack of $532 mln in NEM from Coincheck earlier this year.

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Huobi Strategic Partner HBUS Launches API for Large-Scale US Traders

HBUS, the U.S. “strategic partner” of Chinese cryptocurrency exchange Huobi, confirmed the release of its API for “experienced traders” in some U.S. states, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph.

HBUS highlighted that the API was geared to high-volume users who required live pricing data and other tools. In addition to price tracking, the API will also offer historical price data, support for margin trade customization support, setting buy and sell limits, and retrieving trade history.

Due to the difference in regulation across the U.S. HBUS noted that residents of Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Hawaii, Vermont, and Washington would be unable to use its services.

The move marks the latest in Huobi’s continued expansion this month, which in addition to launching HBUS has included the release of a separate platform geared to the Australian market.

Fellow Chinese operator OKEx and Hong Kong’s Binance have also recently made international commitments. Earlier this week, OKEx announced a partnership with the Malta Stock Exchange to create a new institutional grade security-tokens trading platform, and Binance revealed plans to back a decentralized, tokenized bank also in Malta.

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Binance has a Binance Coin (BNB) Rebate for You from the Syscoin (SYS) Incident 2 Weeks Ago

Almost 2 weeks ago, the popular cryptocurrency exchange known as Binance, halted trading for close to 12 hours after its internal risk management system noted irregular trades with respect to Syscoin (SYS). What had happened is that the value of one SYS had been artificiality pumped by a number of API based traders or bots to levels of 96 BTC.  Evidence of this can be seen in the tweet below that had noted the incident.

Binance implemented the following as part of risk mitigation measures and an action plan following the incident.

  1. Removed all existing API keys and requested API users to recreate them. The exchange further cautioned users to keep their API keys safe as well as not providing access to third-party service providers
  2. Non-regular traders on Binance are cautioned against creating API keys
  3. Rollback of irregular trades
  4. Any user negatively affected by choosing to trade the rising SYS price is requested to open a support ticket. There will also be free trading between 2018/07/05 – 2018/07/14 for the said users
  5. For all other users, Binance will offer a 70% rebate on trading fees paid between 2018/07/05 – 2018/07/14. The rebate will be given and calculated in BNB using the closing price on 2018/07/14
  6. To protect the future interests of all users, Binance will create a Secure Asset Fund for Users (SAFU). Starting from 2018/07/14, we will allocate 10% of all trading fees received into SAFU to offer protection to our users and their funds in extreme cases. This fund will be stored in a separate cold wallet

It is with the 5th action plan by the exchange that they wish to inform users that they have distributed the Binance Coin (BNB) rebate as promised.

In the announcement just an hour ago, the team at Binance stated that:

Fellow Binancians,

Binance has completed the distribution of BNB as part of the trading fee rebate (2018/07/05 to 2018/07/14) stated in the announcement linked below. You can login and check that the BNB has been credited to your account.

Thanks for your support!

Binance Team

Regular crypto-traders on the exchange have already reported seeing an increment in their holdings due to the rebate.

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Keeping Up With Crypto Market Now Easier, Auto-Trading Will Soon Be Possible

The cryptocurrency market is hard to keep up with. With thousands of altcoins circulating, it can be difficult to evaluate which ones are worth investing in, and it is even harder to follow their constant fluctuations. If this exponentially growing and ever-changing market can be disturbing even to experienced traders, it is natural for new investors to feel lost in this complex environment.

As the market grew into this crypto fever that we are now witnessing, several platforms that monitor the performance of different currencies have been created. It is not uncommon to see cryptocurrency investors constantly checking their phones for news on their favorite currency or token. But even though you can find a lot of the information condensed in the same space, it is still very overwhelming to assimilate it all and discern what is relevant and what isn’t. This is particularly true for someone who has no experience in trading.

The bot that does your homework

Well, fear not, for monitoring the crypto market has just been made a lot easier. CryptoPing, a bot that signals unusual actions on the market, has improved the services available for subscribers. Although it has been out there for a while, CryptoPing has now been enhanced in order to provide new data such as price/volume percentage increase. It also allows filtering assets by whitelists, blacklists, premine, and ICO or no ICO. CryptoPing also cross-references information from several currency trading platforms.

The new features also include signal reception delivered through an API, a system available only for subscribers who submit an API usage application. This allows downloading of a CSV that has your history into an account with the same data displayed in the dashboard.

The service also allows experienced traders to publish their trading insights so that new traders can follow their steps. The social trading system is only available to subscribers and allows users to become public traders, who are then ranked according to the performance of their signals.

Although CryptoPing is also available for free, non-subscribers are not able to follow other traders. Additionally, they only receive signals after all subscribers have received theirs, but users with free-tier accounts can now customize exchanges. For now, CryptoPing just cross references information from different trading platforms, but it is also developing the ability to analyse any news and social media posts. This unusual feature will help to predict alterations in prices even for assets which may not have been listed yet on any exchange platform.

Into auto-trading

The ultimate goal is for CryptoPing to evolve into an investing app. It will allow users to invest according to the filtered bot signals by adding users’ API keys, which will allow to trade directly through the app. Its second stage will feature an auto-trading option, designed to achieve “steady profits” for its users, as is specified in the company’s white paper.

Security is obviously an important issue when trading functionality is enabled. To guard against the possibility of accounts being hacked, CryptoPing servers will not hold any API keys. Instead, these keys will be stored on user’s devices.

The subscription is paid for in Ping, a token created specifically for this purpose, and it costs the Ping equivalent to $20. Ping is currently available on Tidex, YoBit and Waves DEX. From Dec. 20, 2017 until March 20, 2018 the company is offering the possibility of activating a free 30-day subscription for subscribers who maintain 100 PING in their account.

Inês Linhares Dias

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.

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Gates Foundation Launches Blockchain-based Mobile Payments Solution

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has launched the Mojaloop open-source payments software to provide an interoperability layer between financial institutions, payment providers, and other companies offering payment services to the poor and unbanked people around the world.

The mobile payments system employs the Interledger technology that was developed by distributed ledger technology (DLT) startup Ripple.

According to the foundation’s deputy director of financial services for the poor, Kosta Peric, the new software is aimed at resolving the issues with respect to the interoperability of digital payments. He also issued an invitation to players in the banking and payments industries to test the system.

“Interoperability of digital payments has been the toughest hurdle for the financial services industry to overcome. With Mojaloop, our technology partners have finally achieved a solution that can apply to any service, and we invite banks and the payments industry to explore and test this tool.”

Other partnerst

Aside from Ripple, the foundation was also supported by several financial technology companies in developing the software. The application was developed under the group’s Level One Project, which is an umbrella program for the foundation’s work with the unbanked, poor people that allowed it to explore disruptive technologies such as Blockchain.

Under the project, several mobile phone technology providers, namely, Huawei, Ericsson, Mahindra Comviva, and Telepin, have contributed to the development of an open application programming interface (API) to speed the pace of integrations of digital payments services providers.

The Gates Foundation’s works on Blockchain

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been exploring ways to use the Blockchain technology under the Level One Project since 2015. Among the initiatives is the possible use of the technology to bridge or link the disconnected financial systems.

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Bitcoin in the Browser: Google, Apple and More to Adopt Crypto-Compatible API

Developers at some of the top tech companies have created a browser API that could soon make it easier to buy goods and services online with cryptocurrency.

The work, started by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) with the help of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Apple and Mozilla, is a tangible step forward for a currency-agnostic web payment standard first conceived in 2013. Equally, as bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies gain more momentum, the launch signifies the growing recognition of cryptocurrency as a payments technology.

Indeed, the W3C has gotten more interested in blockchain technologies over the years, hosting its first ever blockchain workshop in June last year. But while participants were left with interest in standardizing and democratizing the technology’s use, no formal work was decided upon then. That, however, has changed.

Announced on Thursday, the API is currently being implemented in browsers including Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Edge, Apple’s Webkit, Mozilla’s Firefox, the Samsung Internet Browser and Facebook’s in-app browser. When activated, the Payment Request API will allow new payment types, including bitcoin, ether any any other available cryptocurrency (as well as more traditional online payment methods) to be stored directly in the browser.

Consumers will then be able to choose from a drop-down menu of available payment methods supported, a kind of expansion on the auto-fill feature already widely enabled at checkout.

And with that, Ian Jacobs, head of the W3C’s payments activity, said now’s a good time for developers to start writing code for payment methods they’d like to see available.

In an exclusive interview, Jacobs told CoinDesk:

“This is a great opportunity for people to start writing blockchain-based payment method descriptions and to try to test the API. That’s sort of the period that we’re in, the test and interoperability development phase.”

A stable state

The API, and the W3C’s call for the “broad implementation” of it, is based on what the group sees as a way to offer consumers more payment options and merchants a more secure online checkout.

As part of that growth, the WebKit browser engine that powers Safari and Apple’s App store earlier this month moved the status of its work from “under consideration” to “in development,” though other more advanced stages still lie ahead.

“The specification has matured enough within the W3C process that we’ve moved from draft state to stable state,” said Jacobs, who added:

“And that means, now we know what the API is going to do, and we are building test suites and working on browser interoperability so the implementations are secure and they behave the same way.”

The W3C’s standardization efforts are notoriously slow moving, with work advancing from community groups to interest groups to working groups, all of which can take years. This is one of the reasons cryptocurrency entrepreneurs have been hesitant to join the group’s ranks, even though the Tim Berners-Lee created consortium has quite the reputation.

Not so fast

But, the process ahead isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Jacobs compared the next steps to matchmaking, where merchants will need to integrate the API and pick which payment methods they want to accept. At this stage, customers will need to download the browser extension and signal what payment methods they use.

In other words, merchants need to build websites that acknowledge the new payment methods, while users need to have wallets that “speak the protocol that were writing,” Jacobs said. “That’s how the ecosystem pieces together the merchant-side and the user-side.”

The W3C is already working with third-party payments apps to integrate both cryptocurrency and non-credit card forms of payment into the API in a way that can be interpreted by merchants and consumers.

“So, for example, you might identify a particular bitcoin payment method with a URL, and then people can distribute payment apps that declare their support for that payment method,” Jacobs said.

The Web Payment Working Group’s next face-to-face meeting on the browser-based API is scheduled for November 6 and 7, with a demo scheduled to take place on October 23 to show how Airbnb, Google and Mastercard are using the API.

Jacobs, optimistic about the recent step forward, concluded:

“You will begin to see early adopters of the API using it and you will see an increase in browser support over time that I’m hoping by the middle of next year it’s widely deployed.”

Bitcoin on phone image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [email protected].

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Fintech means Blockchain? Is there anything else?

Blockchain technology is just about the first thing that comes to mind whenever a discussion centers on the topic of fintech innovations. The tendency to synonymize fintech with Blockchain isn’t entirely faulty, especially considering that even the World Economic Forum, in a 2016 report, said that Blockchain technology will fundamentally change the way financial institutions around the world operate.

While Blockchain technology is most likely going to alter the financial services landscape, it would be specious to attach the concept of fintech exclusively to Blockchain. Other technologies, artificial intelligence for instance, also have the potential to change financial services as we know them. This piece looks at a number of other innovations that are disrupting or can disrupt the financial services landscape.

Artificial Intelligence

Put simply, artificial intelligence has to do with the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that are usually performed by humans — in many cases more efficiently than the latter.

AIImage: cdn.pymnts

Financial services firms have been deploying artificial intelligence to improve the way they do business for a number of decades. Although it’s now mainstream, the first Automated Teller Machine, or ATM, only came around in the 1960s. Until then, the withdrawal process was entirely manual. I bring up this example to point out that artificial intelligence in the financial space isn’t a new concept. It’s been around for decades. I also want to point out that it’s the advancement of artificial intelligence that’s disrupting the financial space — just like it has disrupted it over the last few decades. That said, here’s how the advancement of artificial intelligence is currently disrupting the financial services landscape.

Deep learning. Deep learning is a subset of artificial intelligence. The concept of deep learning is quite complex, but we can think of it simply as a concept in which a computer system looks into datasets to learn patterns gradually and in the end, uses what it has learned to take, or not take action, or offer quick insights in presented situations.

These days, deep learning is being employed in the portfolio management space to obtain real-time transaction analysis for stronger portfolio management. Chipmaker NVIDIA also said that financial institutions have been investing in deep learning to manage risks and detect fraud through the analysis of large amounts and contrasting kinds of data. In addition, hedge funds have been investing to teach computers, through deep learning, how to imitate traders so they could perform trading activities, perhaps more efficiently, someday. Deep learning also holds significant promise in the insurance space ranging from customer experience, underwriting and even claims processing.

There’s machine learning, which you can think of as deep learning’s older cousin, that’s disrupting the financial services space. While employed in the insurance and banking industries, it’s most consumer-facing application has been in wealth management space, where it’s employed to build robo-advisors that help retail investors manage their portfolio. The businesses of wealth management startups Betterment and Wealthfront are partly based on robo-advisors.

Application Programming Interface

Application Programming Interface, or API, simply refers a set of routines and protocols for the building of software applications and it determines how software components interact.

The use of API to improve financial services delivery is being discussed within the industry. At the 2016 Apigee FinTech API Summit, experts pointed at the possible ways that the use of API would disrupt the financial services business.

API
Image: i.pinimg

The adoptions of APIs could help speed product design and delivery for financial institutions. Peter Wannemacher, an analyst at Forrester with specialization in digital strategy and the financial services industry, said the growing “mobile mindset” would pressurize financial institutions to up their game at identifying “mobile moments.” Mobile moments are ones that a mobile phone user pulls out their device to achieve a result. Considering that there is no one financial institution that can gather all information to truly identify mobile moments, Wannemacher predicted that APIs would be at the center of things.

API also presents an opportunity for institutions to share data with other institutions without exposing important operational secrets. Startup personal finance company SoFi’s adoption of Quovo’s wealth management API illustrates a good example of how API offers the opportunity for the unification of data, without necessarily having to share or merge operational systems. Quovo’s Authentication API allows SoFi to pull all of a customer’s information from their accounts to deliver better services.

Digital identity

One of the major obstacles for the complete digitization of finance is identity. The mainstream financial system can do almost nothing without establishing the identity of a customer or user, and that is a problem with fintech innovators. The majority of fintech innovators are looking to offer complete digital products, but identity challenges break the digital flow by forcing innovators to employ physical channels, such as photographs of drivers’ licenses. In essence, if we’re ever going to have purely digital offerings, there needs to be a simple but reliable means of establishing identity digitally. Blockchain technology has already been tipped to have the potential of solving identity issues in the digital world.

secureidnews
Image: secureidnews

So far, social media has been helpful in establishing digital identity, but many experts don’t deem social media foolproof. There’s been video-based identity management technologies, which take a few seconds video of a user and use algorithms to compare it to provided user photos. According to a 2016 World Economic Forum report, for fintech to actualize its full potential, there’s a need for more digital identity innovations.

Samsung has improved the digital identity conversation by patenting vein identification sensor smartwatches, which would read a user’s vein structure to help authenticate payments. The sensor could also detect pulse rate, which, like vein structure, is unique to individuals.

Bottom line

Regardless of how important Blockchain technology might be to the future of finance, we need to be realistic –  it cannot solve all challenges facing the financial services landscape alone. Different innovations need to be able to work together in other to achieve greater results. Blockchain is only a part of fintech and not a synonym for fintech.