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Blythe Masters Looks Beyond Finance for Next Wave of Blockchain Growth

To hear Blythe Masters tell it, the time has come for Digital Asset (DA) to spread its wings and fly.

The distributed ledger technology (DLT) company she founded in 2014 is entering a new phase, heralded by, among other things, a partnership with Google Cloud to simplify and proliferate the tech.

To date, DA’s strategy has stood out among the big enterprise blockchain players for its laser-like focus. Instead of spending a lot of time on consortiums, proofs-of-concept and the like, the New York-based company concentrated on landing the one big fish.

It achieved that goal late last year when the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) officially hired DA to replace its creaky Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS), a multi-year project that’s currently underway.

Now, having earned the rare distinction of a bona fide production customer, Masters’ startup wants to foster an ecosystem around its Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML), which is about to become available with a software development kit (SDK) via Google Cloud.

“Having spent three and a half years in the design-and-build phase, this is the ‘open up and educate’ phase and [the time to] build a community of channel partners and developers,” Masters told CoinDesk.

This, in turn, will open a vast range of opportunities for DA, she said – both within the financial services industry where Masters spent most of her career and outside it.

“The application of this technology is by no means limited to the world’s biggest market infrastructures,” the former JPMorgan Chase executive said, adding:

“It goes well throughout financial services, well beyond capital markets and beyond financial services into all the other industries that have a vested interest in improving the efficiency of their workflow orchestration.”

According to Masters, there is “a lot of pent-up demand” for DA’s technology which the cloud-based DAML SDK can start to meet and a “potential addressable market that is almost unmeasurable.”

To give a sense of the breadth of this market, Masters rattled off a litany of new pastures for DA, including: healthcare and insurance claims; digital media rights; royalty streams; real estate; lending and collateral management within capital markets, derivatives post-trade, securities post-trade, reference data, supply chain, crypto wallet custody of assets and more.

However, Masters was careful to qualify this, acknowledging the fatigue felt in many corners following the blockchain hype of a few years ago.

“I think there was some fair criticism that blockchain was a technology solution looking for a problem to solve,” she said. “But our approach has very much been to work with customers to identify the problem first and sometimes not to recommend a DLT solution.”

‘Web-paced innovation’

The DA team recently returned from San Francisco, where Masters and Shaul Kfir, DA’s CTO, gave a talk on DLT partnerships at the Google Cloud Next conference.

The primary aim of the Google Cloud partnership is to make it easier for developers to deploy DA’s tech, which Masters describes as “a mission to unleash web-paced innovation across multiple industries.”

This means abstracting away the underlying complexity of the cryptography, the data architecture, the blockchain or DLT state engine, said Masters.

The Google Cloud-DA partnership appears to run deep as well as wide. To help drive the DAML platform-as-a-service (PaaS) program, DA has also welcomed former Google engineering executive AG Gangadhar to its board.

And adding to the symbiosis, Google Cloud has joined DA’s developer program private beta, giving Google Cloud developers access to DAML.

The DLT space has garnered extraordinary enthusiasm and Google’s developers and its customers are no less curious and motivated in this space than any others,” said Masters.

It’s now clear Google is getting serious about blockchain following candid comments last month from co-founder Sergey Brin that the search giant was playing catch up with the blockchain trend.

Google would not comment on the partnership or DLT generally, but an insider close to the DA-Google Cloud partnership confirmed to CoinDesk, “All of Google has access to the DAML SDK, and this includes Alphabet,” Google’s holding company, which has portfolio companies in a wide range of industries.

But not every influential figure in Mountain View is a blockchain convert. CoinDesk asked Google’s chief internet evangelist, Vint Cerf, if he thought tokens could perhaps be used to incentivize users and align them with the goals of tech platforms.

Cerf, who was not commenting on the DA partnership but on cryptocurrency generally, replied in a curt email: “Not clear yet. It could just turn into a speculation like tulip bulbs and bitcoin.”

Still, Masters said DA and Google share a common approach to solving engineering problems and “a focus on empowerment of enterprise customers, particularly in the workflow orchestration space that we have in common. So that is where the enthusiasm is coming from.”

Maverick Masters

To be sure, DA is far from alone among enterprise blockchain vendors in trying to expanding its ecosystem.

For instance, IBM and Hyperledger are hard at work exploring what they can do with partnerships. Meanwhile, a recent announcement from banking blockchain consortium R3 talked up the potential for its Corda platform to be interoperable across a wide range of industries.

There has also been an increase in blockchain-as-a-service announcements of late. BlockApps Strato has also been welcomed onto Google Cloud, while Amazon Cloud Services (AWS) recently cemented a partnership with ethereum design studio Consensys in the form of the Kaleido project.

But Masters pointed out that DA has always charted its own course, adding that the company’s strategy remains unchanged.

“It’s where we always intended to focus,” she said, referring to the new priority on building a developer ecosystem. “We just didn’t approach it via the same avenue necessarily as everyone else.”

Aside from ASX, other customers DA has publicly disclosed it is working with are the U.S. clearing and settlement giant DTCC and Dutch megabank ABN Amro.

Another thing enterprise blockchain watchers seem to be interested in is a possible amalgamation between private or permissioned DLTs and public chains, with their fluidity of tokenized assets.  

Asked for her opinion on the nascent token economy and where it might bleed into the enterprise world, Masters said she is “not ruling out tokens by any means.”

She agreed there is lots of good research and development work being done on this, but said the institutional use of enterprise tokens requires enterprise-grade command-and-control infrastructure.

“It won’t be until the kind of controls you routinely expect around transactions and post-trade processing of a stock or bond today can also be produced for the transaction of a tokenized instrument – whether it’s a stock or a bond or a cryptocurrency – that we will see widespread enterprise adoption of tokenized instruments that rely on public chain technologies.”

Ever the hard-headed businessperson, Masters would not be drawn on the merits or otherwise of one DLT architecture versus another, but answered categorically all the same when she said:

What I believe in is our technology. I don’t mix philosophy or religion with technology. I believe in solving business problems using tech in a cost-effective and safe manner.”

Blythe Masters mage via CoinDesk archives 

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Google Cloud Inks Deal With Blythe Masters' Blockchain Startup

Digital Asset announced Monday that it teaming up with Google Cloud to provide a set of tools and services for solutions architects wanting to develop blockchain applications without having to code them from scratch.

Through the partnership, Digital Asset will provide both software tools and support to developers entering the space, according to a press release.

Google Cloud has also joined Digital Asset’s developer program private beta, letting Google Cloud developers access the Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML) software development kit (SDK).

Digital Asset further plans to grow its DAML platform-as-a-service (PaaS) program through the collaboration, by providing a “fully-managed solution” to aid developers trying to test or launch blockchain applications. The service will be available to developers through Google Cloud’s application marketplace.

Digital Asset chief executive Blythe Masters said in a statement that the collaboration will make it easier for developers exploring the technology:

“We’re partnering with Google Cloud to provide developers with a full stack solution so they can unleash the potential for web-paced innovation in blockchain. This will reduce the technical barriers to DLT application development by delivering our advanced distributed ledger platform and modelling language to Google Cloud.”

Similarly, Google Cloud Financial Services Platform head Leonard Law said the technology giant was “delighted to innovate” alongside Digital Asset.

“DLT has great potential to benefit customers not just in the financial services industry, but across many industries, and we’re excited to bring these developer tools to Google Cloud,” he added.

Google Cloud image via Shutterstock

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Capital Markets Blockchains Are Finally Getting Go-Live Dates

If minimum viable products (MVPs) have so far proved elusive for companies building blockchain solutions for capital markets, Consensus 2018 marked a notable change in the narrative.

Assembled in New York this week, a handful were even confident enough to give firm timetables for production. For those tired of blue-sky talk, it was refreshing to hear large-scale financial infrastructure projects discussed openly and frankly, in clear terms of where they are and when we can expect to see things going live.

“We are now starting to see at Consensus, examples of where financial services are taking this technology into production with real timelines that they have committed to,” Chris Church, the head of business development at Digital Asset, said.

He told CoinDesk:

“I think that’s a very important proof point for the industry.”

Indeed, DA, a blockchain startup founded by former JP Morgan executive Blythe Masters, has itself been making headway with its overhaul of the Australian Securities Exchange’s (ASX) Clearing House Electronic Sub-register System (CHESS).

Underscoring the seriousness of the undertaking, ASX recently produced an 87-page progress report. Roll-out is targeted for late 2020 or early 2021.

“A lot of people have talked about hype and reality,” Church said. But with the ASX’s commitment, at the end of last year, to replace CHESS with DA’s technology, “we now have evidence that a systemically consequential, highly regulated, national market infrastructure has made the decision to take this technology  to put it into production for their marketplace.”

Church stressed that this project is not simply “adding something on,” but rather, taking out a chunk of the CHESS system and replacing it.

Looking ahead, Church said that DA is now working with a bunch of other financial market infrastructure providers, including exchange groups in all three major regions – Europe, North America and Asia/Pacific.

Though he wouldn’t name names, Church indicated that these conversations were not about doing more proofs-of-concept.

“A science experiment is not what we are interested in,” he said.

In the weeds 

But DA isn’t the only company that’s actually finally getting somewhere with DLT for financial market rails.

For example, the re-platforming of the DTCC’s trade information warehouse is one of the highest profile financial infrastructure blockchain projects bitten off by anyone. Robert Palatnick, DTCC’s chief technology architect, confirmed that coding is expected to finish at the end of this quarter; what will follow and take until year-end, is a complex process of integration, testing and data migration.

Palatnick told CoinDesk:

“It’s exciting, but we are currently in the weeds and learning new and interesting things about working with this nascent technology as we progress.”

He went on to explain that changing to a blockchain isn’t a “magical flip of a switch.” It involves a migration of all the data that is currently in the legacy system into the blockchain before anything can go live.

The enormity of such a project may not be obvious to those unfamiliar with the creaky plumbing of the capital markets.

“It’s hard to explain how you connect to legacy systems, for example, if you don’t have legacy systems,” Palatnick said. “We don’t have any benchmarks to compare to when it comes to blockchain, so while this is unchartered territory, we continue to be pleased with our progress.”

In the third quarter of this year, DTCC expects user acceptance and the migration process to start in earnest, with an expectation of going live in next year’s first quarter.

“We are comfortable we can meet that schedule,” said Palatnick.

Drilling down a little, the very first phase involves running the ledger nodes inside of DTCC’s environment. So firms will not be running nodes themselves in the first instance until the whole challenge of managing those nodes is understood.

At the completion of phase one, DTCC will have nodes set up internally for every firm that it knows will run one, plus some general nodes that will take care of supporting the transactions and processing for the firms that do not wish to support a node of their own.

For this project, DTCC has taken a multi-vendor approach. Ethereum-inspired startup Axoni is providing the technology, with IBM helping to manage the project, and R3 providing best practice guidance on areas like selecting the right data models.

‘Changing a whole industry’

Meanwhile, in Europe, a blockchain project involving the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and a growing contingent of buy-side firms is now scheduled to go live in January 2019. Professional services firm KPMG picked the clearing and settlement of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on the Luxembourg exchange as a use case for blockchain – which, it turns out, is a very big deal.

Luxembourg is the largest fund management hub outside of the U.S. The jurisdiction holds many trillions of dollars worth of assets under management.

“This is not just about changing the Luxembourg exchange – it’s about changing a whole industry,” Eamonn Maguire, a managing director in charge of advisory banking services at KPMG, told CoinDesk. “The primary netting point, if you will, for funds trading in Europe is Luxembourg.”

Explaining the impetus for such a change, Maguire pointed out that the charging of commissions for the distribution of funds is going to end under the European Union’s second Markets in Financial Infrastructure Directive (MiFID II). The hit to revenue means costs must be cut somewhere. 

As part of its response, Luxembourg is embracing a newer “fintech” approach using apps and mobile devices for direct-to-consumer distribution.

But combining this front-end revamp with blockchains in the back office will mean a roughly 60% reduction in costs for the exchange, said Maguire.

The KPMG-led project includes banks like BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole and others, as well as over 400 asset managers. The technology used is ethereum-based Quorum, the popular open-source project run by JP Morgan.

KPMG found that Quorum in this private deployment was achieving a throughput of 800 transactions per second, and that would need to be ramped up for production, especially considering Luxembourg’s direct-to-consumer funds-picking model.

Maguire is proud of the magnitude of the project, which started out as a kind of garage idea inside KPMG. He concluded:

“There are different strategies. Sometimes people go for something that’s easier or smaller – but we are not doing that.”

Light at end of tunnel image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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ASX Exchange Targets 2020 for DLT Settlement System Launch

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is moving closer to replacing its CHESS clearing and settlement system with a distributed ledger-based alternative.

Details about the system’s progression toward production launch were included in an 87-page consultation paper published Friday, which included a timeline for when the switch will be made as well as descriptions of the types of functions it will and won’t support.

ASX is targeting a rollout date sometime in the quarter of 2020 or the first quarter of 2021. But before then, ASX – by way of the consultation paper – is seeking early feedback on its plans as they exist today.

“Depending on the extent of consultation feedback received, ASX expects to provide a final functional scope and implementation roadmap in late July 2018,” the firm explained in the opening of the report.

ASX has been exploring the use of distributed ledger technology (DLT) since 2015. It announced in December that it would become the first major stock exchange in the world to use DLT for post-trade settlement, using technology developed in partnership with Digital Asset, a blockchain startup led by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters. ASX also owns a stake in Digital Asset.

ASX’s embrace of DLT is a notable one, coming at the end of a years-long research period. Speaking at the Synchronize conference in New York City earlier this month, CLS Group CEO David Puth said ASX’s move is “going to establish standards by itself” by providing an example for enterprise blockchain implementations across the sector.

ASX deputy CEO Peter Hiom, who was on stage with Puth, suggested that the decision to launch a DLT-based system would help demystify the technology for others in the industry:

“You’re not entering the fourth dimension,” he remarked.

You can read the ASX’s full consultation paper below:

Chess Replacement New Scope and Implementation Plan by CoinDesk on Scribd

Image Credit: Adwo / Shutterstock.com

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Blythe Masters: Business Blockchain Won't Be 'Winner-Takes-All'

Speaking to an audience in New York City on Thursday, Digital Asset CEO Blythe Masters and R3 founder and CEO David Rutter worked hard to cast their projects not as applications but as entire ecosystems for developers to build apps of their own.

Rutter and Masters took the stage during the first session of the Synchronize 2018 event. For Masters and Digital Asset, the fireside chat was an opportunity to showcase a new developer program built around the startup’s smart contract scripting language, DAML (which stands for Digital Asset Markup Language).

“The reality,” Masters said, “is that not all smart contracts are created equal, and some are not entirely smart.” She added that “simply building guardrails” is a powerful tool to prevent catastrophes arising from poorly coded smart contracts.

Masters was alluding to the hack and subsequent collapse of The DAO, the ethereum-based funding vehicle that fell apart in 2016 following a debilitating code exploit.

Indeed, both chief executives spoke about the need for outside input – and development – for their respective platforms.

Rutter said that “we aspire to be the internet for finance and if you want to do that you’re not going to do it with 175 people and $120 million,” and Masters, on the question of interoperability, said “we need cooperation” in order to connect the different types of technology platforms being created. 

“I don’t think it’s going to be a winner-takes-all outcome,” she went on to say.

In addition to security and reliability, the discussion focused on confidentiality.

“When you’re talking about markets where trillions of dollars are traded every day,” Rutter said, confidentiality is incredibly important. R3’s Corda platform and Digital Asset, he continued, “are going to create innovation in financial services for the first time in our lives.”

For both platforms, however, the most important thing is cultivating a community of developers to build on top of the base-level ledger.

“We don’t think the proprietary vertical stack is the way to go,” said Rutter, adding that firms that pursue that outcome “will pay the price.”

Image by David Floyd for CoinDesk

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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Digital Asset Taps Former JP Morgan Exec for ASX Project

Fintech startup Digital Asset has hired a former JP Morgan Chase executive to work on a blockchain-based clearing and settlement system it is developing for the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).

Stewart Cowan, formerly the bank’s Asia-Pacific regional head of trading services, will join the firm as a senior product manager, Global Capital reported on Thursday. The startup, which is headed by former JPMorgan executive Blythe Masters, struck a deal with ASX in late 2017 to rebuild its CHESS post-trade settlement system.

ASX came to the decision after building proofs-of-concept and conducting trials over the course of two years, as previously reported.

The securities exchange has also previously invested in Digital Asset, which has long been considered a leader in the enterprise blockchain space.

More broadly, Cowan is the former JPMorgan executive to leave for a blockchain venture.

Amber Baldet, who led the development of the company’s permissioned blockchain platform Quorum, announced her plans to depart and start a new project of her own earlier this month. Details about this venture are scarce.

Baldet’s departure came just weeks after rumors that the banking giant was considering spinning Quorum off into its own independent entity first surfaced. It remains unclear what will happen to the blockchain branch going forward.

Businessman image via Shutterstock

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Blythe Masters' Next Move? Get FIs Hooked On Blockchain SDKs

Blockchain startup Digital Asset has revealed a new project aimed at streamlining the way systemically important financial infrastructures access its technology.

Led by former JP Morgan global commodities boss Blythe Masters, the startup is in the process of packaging its custom smart contract language DAML into easy-to-use software development kits (SDKs) for customers.

Already an active ingredient it its existing partnerships (such as its work with the Australian Securities Exchange), the creation of the SDKs stands to accelerate the rate new financial infrastructure providers can build with the technology, Masters says.

An early version of the kits are now being explored by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), a Digital Asset investor, and Masters told CoinDesk that “tens” of other companies are building with the technology.

As the number of enterprise-grade blockchain platforms grows, the advent of tools to simplify development could not only prove to give competing platforms an edge but a new way to generate revenue.

Masters said:

“We’ve taken that same tooling, which our developers use, packaged it into something called a software developers kit, and are making that available to customers, progressively, more of them over time.”

DTCC collaboration

To get things started, Digital Asset is working with the DTCC to both refine the SDKs and teach the financial infrastructure provider how to use the technology.

As revealed on stage for the first time last week, DTCC chief architect, Rob Palatnick, described the technology as a way to “construct smart contracts very cleanly,” and with a wide range of potential use cases.

“Now we’re figuring out all the different business opportunities within the DTCC in support of the industry, where it might be best applied,” said Palatnick at the DTCC Fintech Symposium.

For her part, Masters described the latest DTCC collaboration as “a training process,” one wherein they learned how to use the SDK and are now building example applications. Going forward, Digital Asset expects to learn from other early SDK tests so as to make it easier for other platform providers to interoperate with ASX and each other.

As the SDKs are “polished” through the DTCC work and the other unnamed projects, Master’s expects to open up access even further.

“Once that beta version is enhanced to the first release stage, which will be very soon, we will be opening that up to more customers,” she said.

Connecting the world

Stepping back, Digital Asset’s work is also part of an industry-wide effort to make enterprise blockchain solutions interoperable.

While Digital Asset has still not contributed its own work to the Hyperledger blockchain consortium, Masters serves as chair of the organization that is seeing increaasing interoparability between its members.

In addition, one of Digital Asset’s largest competitors, distributed ledger consortium, R3, has open-sourced its own Corda platform and is preparing to make a number of live releases this year.

While Masters wouldn’t discuss details about ongoing projects to help move more of the financial infrastructure to this nascent network of interoperable blockchains, she hinted at the potential benefits of doing so.

“Today, CHESS and Austraclear are two totally distinct systems, different interfaces, and the opportunity would be for there to essentially be one,” said Masters, adding:

“Whether it’s two instances of the same technology or a single instance of the technology that handles both, remains to be seen.”

Image via Michael del Castillo for CoinDesk

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Evan Luthra: Digital Assets Investment is Not For Everyone

Serial Innovator and Angel Investor Evan Luthra told Cointelegraph that digital assets are by far the best investment class. He makes this assertion because of the outsized returns compared to traditional asset classes. However, Luthra notes that it is a sort of investing that is generally not for everyone. The high-risk appetite necessary is only shared by a very small group of investors who tend to be young, successful, ambitious and have access to lots of capital without huge responsibilities.

Cointelegraph talked to Luthra about his resilient attitude towards innovation, his Blockchain interests and the investment opportunities that are emerging in the industry.

Cointelegraph: You are popular for the works you have been involved in over the years in the IT industry. Can you please highlight a few of those and your motivation behind these works?

Serial entrepreneur

Evan Luthra: I have been a serial entrepreneur for a long time and embarked on my first digital endeavor at 12-years-old by curating technology-related news, and I garnered a notable quarter of a million readers in doing so.

I then began developing mobile apps at the advent of mobile app popularity. Always being on leading edge of new trends and innovations, I become a true innovator and recognized name in the world of startups. Then I started various technology companies and managed products used by millions of people.

I have extensive knowledge and experience in mobile apps and my company has developed and delivered mobile apps for major Fortune 500 companies. My strategy follows a simple, but proven formula: conceptualize, innovate, execute.

More recently I am heavily involved in the crypto industry working with companies such as GazeCoin.io, Hashgraph.com and others. I have been regarded as a Blockchain expert and pioneer by the world’s leading organizations and publications.

Technological disruption

I believe in using technology to disrupt existing industries and have companies in a diverse set of industries from food tech, fintech, marijuana, travel, nightlife, food and beverage, lifestyle, social, AI, VR, AR, MR, entertainment, fashion and more.

I have been a featured speaker at different universities and conferences around the globe and mostly speak about Blockchain, apps, entrepreneurship and trending tech topics. I have spoken for TEDx, United Nations, Google, Nielsen and have done guest lectures at Delhi University, Washington State University, San Francisco State University and more.

CT: The emergence of Blockchain technology is influencing the trend of developments in various fields, causing some major disruption. What is your opinion about this developing trend?

EL: The underlying technology under Bitcoin – Blockchain is very impressive and is going to change the world.  With a focus on decentralization, Blockchain wants to give power back to the people. We saw how apps came and changed the world in a big way and now we can’t imagine a world without all our apps – with Blockchain we are looking at a future of decentralized apps.

Blockchain is slowly taking over every facet of our lives and entering all kinds of industries. It is not just an industry by itself but is disrupting all other industries. Blockchain has a viable application and utility in nearly all industries. That’s why we have seen over 2,000 ICOs [each] month trying to fix problems in all kinds of [industries]. These range from banking, financial services, insurance, logistics companies, retail giants and governments. Everyone seems to be in a race to implement it first. The early adopters are going to have a huge competitive advantage.

Bitcoin is just one application of Blockchain [technology], but the overall potential is huge. With Bitcoin, we have seen what’s possible, and now with time we will see how Blockchain disrupts all other industries. I believe this is going to be more than Internet 2.0. Since Blockchain is already a validated technology, it would be interesting to see its impact at scale.

Power of decentralization

CT: Have you picked up any particular interest within the Blockchain ecosystem yet?

EL: My major interest lies in the transparency and power decentralization that Blockchain is going to introduce. Industries like adtech or fintech – which are laced with fraud – would highly benefit [from the benefits] Blockchain provides.

I am already involved in multiple facets of the industry from investing in decentralized ledger companies to working with governments from UAE, Dominican Republic, Fiji and others helping them implement e-governance using Blockchain.

[One of my companies] focuses on investing in and executing ICOs for a variety of companies with our strong team of Blockchain engineers and strategists. Having already helped raise over $50 mln over three different ICOs, we are on track to raise another $100 mln in the next 12 months for our partners.

CT: There’s been a lot of opinions about Bitcoin, Blockchain and cryptocurrencies regarding their present state of development and future projections. What is your opinion about the industry?

EL: I am a firm believer in the idea of decentralization and Blockchain is going to grow by leaps and bounds. The recent growth has been phenomenal, nothing like anyone has seen before. Although it would take a few years before things get rational, especially the prices of cryptocurrencies, with Wall Street expressing interest in Bitcoin, it is a clear statement that Bitcoin is here to stay.

I am very bullish on the industry in general and I am building and investing in many companies in the space. We are launching our own ICOs to putting up Bitcoin ATMs to promote the growth of cryptocurrencies. I know Bitcoin (and many other cryptos) and Blockchain is here to stay and I believe in five years Blockchain will be running a large part of our world and Blockchain based solutions would have replaced older models of operating businesses.

Digital assets a great idea – for some

CT: What do you say about investors who are moving into digital assets…. Smart move or dumb move?

EL: It depends on the investors and what risk appetite they have. A dumb move for an old retiree who is looking to invest his life savings may be the smart move for a young person who can take bigger risks.

If you look for minimal returns and very low risk, digital assets are probably the wrong choice.

Having my investment grow 20x in under 18 months, I am all about digital investments! If you want fast growth and are willing to take higher risk, there is no better asset class then digital investments.

For someone like me who is OK with taking very high risk – digital assets are by far the best investment class considering the returns are unmatched by traditional asset classes.

There is a reason why the five biggest companies in recent years are all technology companies because there is huge potential to grow big very fast.

Extreme risk, potentially huge reward

Early stage startup Investing has always offered great multiples from 3x to even 50x in a few years and now with cryptocurrencies the market moves so fast that with the right bets you could 2-3x your money in 24 hours. But you have to remember with high reward comes risk and you can also lose your whole investment very fast.

This sort of investing is generally not for everyone and the high-risk appetite is only shared by a very small group of investors who tend to be young, successful, ambitious and have access to lots of capital without huge responsibilities. I personally have seen my investments return me 500 percent in 24 hours but then again I also lose on over 50 percent of my investments!

I alway suggest people to do value-investing, so invest in assets/companies/coins you think will create value and hope for the best. Read and understand as much information as possible and make calculated decisions and be willing to lose your full investment.

CT: Do you have any more comments?

EL: With the pace the technology world is changing its possible to make lots of money really fast. There has never been a better time to be alive and to make a positive difference while making lots of money doing it.

Lower barriers to entry

The technology industry has very low barriers to entry and everyone can find opportunities, come up with solutions and launch a business. You could come up with an idea, partner with the right people, build a good product and launch it to the whole world all while sitting on your couch. And now with the advent of ICOs, you could even raise money really fast for your products!

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Bitcoin Takes All? Enterprise Blockchains Need Time, Too

Marc Hochstein is the managing editor of CoinDesk and the former editor-in-chief of American Banker. The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers.


Last week I described how bitcoin, as a deflationary currency, encourages delayed gratification. Now there’s evidence that bitcoin’s straight-laced twin, enterprise blockchain technology, requires such an attitude as well.

Overshadowed by the bitcoin price action, the enterprise use case  – and one of its most prominent evangelists – scored a major advance last week. But it was a hard-won victory.

After two years of exploration, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) decided to replace its decades-old post-trade settlement system with a distributed ledger from Digital Asset, the startup led by former JPMorgan Chase executive Blythe Masters.

That’s right, replace. This is not another pilot or a proof of concept or a sandbox, it’s real production.

Masters called the agreement “precedent-setting,” and it’ll be interesting to see what else her company does with its $115 million war chest after this prolonged and successful courtship.

But the achievement is all the more impressive considering that the ASX was publicly skeptical about the technology throughout the testing process.

Plan B

So skeptical that the exchange had a contingency plan in place, in case it decided Digital Asset’s technology wasn’t suitable.

It probably didn’t help that just months after the partnership with DA was announced, the ASX CEO who had championed blockchain resigned (even though the exchange quickly reaffirmed its commitment to exploring the tech’s possibilities.)

And it almost certainly didn’t help when, about a year into the process, stakeholders started to express disillusionment about blockchain in the Australian financial press.

Despite all these hurdles, Masters’ team won over the ASX.

“We believe that using DLT … will enable our customers to develop new services and reduce their costs, and it will put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets,” Dominic Stevens, managing director and CEO of the ASX, said in announcing the final decision.

Believe. That’s a strong word, one you hear often in bitcoin, but seldom in enterprise blockchain.

Too big to bungle

And perhaps rightly so.

Financial market infrastructure is, to use the parlance of regulators, “systemically important” – too big and too interconnected with the rest of the economy to bet on a buzzword. The careful, deliberate approach ASX took with DA before closing the deal last week was appropriate. If anything, it’s remarkable it took only two years to get this far.

But that, in turn, means others watching and participating in the space are going to have to exercise patience as well. This is not the kind of technology where you can “move fast and break things,” as Facebook famously encourages its employees to do.

Bitcoin’s resurgence this year has embarrassed the know-it-alls who wrote it off two years ago, confidently declaring that the blockchain, not the currency, would take off.

But DA’s big win shows it was also premature to declare commercial blockchains over, as many bitcoiners were understandably tempted to do this year.

Wristwatch image via Shutterstock.

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ASX Says Yes: Stock Exchange to Use DLT to Settle Trades

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced that it will replace its CHESS post-trade settlement system using technology developed by blockchain startup Digital Asset.

After two years of building proofs of concept, working with potential users and testing the implementation, the much-anticipated decision represents a key milestone, as ASX is set to become the first mainstream exchange in the world migrate one of its core services to a blockchain-based system.

Dominic Stevens, managing director and CEO of ASX, said in a statement:

“We believe that using DLT to replace CHESS will enable our customers to develop new services and reduce their costs, and it will put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets. While we have a lot more work still to do, today’s announcement is a major milestone on that journey.”

The platform developed by Digital Asset uses the technology in order to allow the mutualization of financial market data and processes across multiple market participants. It does this while maintaining confidentiality and scalability – both critical for market infrastructures.

ASX also announced that the firm has taken up its pro-rata right to participate in Digital Asset’s recently announced Series B financing. With this, the total amount raised by Digital Asset to date is over $115 million.

ASX image via Shutterstock 

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