Blockstack Joins the Growing Number of Fintech Companies That Use the Blockchain to Streamline Mainstream Finance

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Blockstack Joins the Growing Number of Fintech Companies That Use the Blockchain to Streamline Mainstream Finance
blockstack

Blockstack, a San Francisco-based firm, is adapting the technology of Bitcoin for mainstream finance, including clearing and settlement. A small group of banks have started beta testing Blockstack’s technology, Bloomberg Business reports.

The startup, run by former Google Inc. and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. employees, is jumping into the competition to use digital-currency technology to tackle financial companies’ slow, antiquated back-office operations.

“We’re not trying to destroy banking or financial services as they are today,” said Peter Shiau, Blockstack’s co-founder and chief operating officer, who previously worked at Standard Chartered Bank in product innovation. “We see what we’re building as technology that can help improve the back-office infrastructure that financial institutions are using.”

Blockstack’s team also includes Philip Harris, a former Nasdaq executive, as an adviser, and chief executive officer and founder Miron Cuperman, who used to work as a senior security engineer at Google.

According to the company’s website, Blockstack is a licensable software package to enable financial institutions and other enterprises to build sophisticated blockchain 2.0 applications on their own private blockchain.

Blockstack.io is a hosted version of Blockstack to allow anyone to start building applications on a fully-featured private blockchain. Available in private beta, Blockstack.io gives financial institutions a stack of inter-operable components to build on, including a private, hosted blockchain, a colored coin issuer for representing assets, a framework for smart contracts using oracles and multi-signature transactions, and the ability to plug in external open source components.

“The initial benefit of a private blockchain is simple: a financial institution can accelerate their learning about blockchain technology and prototype blockchain-based applications quickly and easily,” states the Blockstack product and service announcement. “The ultimate benefit of a private blockchain is that it gives enterprises a choice of infrastructure: whether to run an application on a public blockchain or run on a private blockchain with a group of known counter-parties.”

Blockstack includes critical functionality for financial services: managing time-dependent financial transactions like coupon payments for bonds, ensuring complex compliance requirements from multiple groups in an organization, and scaling up the infrastructure to handle millions of transactions at low latency.

The Blockstack platform is designed to work with technologies designed for Bitcoin Core. As improvements are made to Bitcoin, they can be rolled in Blockstack so that it stays current with the latest technology.

“When you have this private blockchain that’s shared by a number of financial institutions, all you’re doing is just keeping records of the transactions and who owns what,” Shiau said. “What’s nice about the blockchain is you can do that in real time. There are no fees involved.”

Blockstack joins a growing number of fintech companies that want to use or adapt the blockchain technology of Bitcoin to enhance the efficiency and lower the cost of traditional banking and financial systems. Other companies developing ways to use the blockchain to streamline mainstream finance are Nasdaq, which recently partnered with startup Chain to implement the blockchain technology in its Nasdaq Private Market, and Blythe Masters’ Digital Asset Holdings, which uses distributed ledgers to track and settle both digital and mainstream financial assets in a fast and secure environment.

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Filament Develops Ad-Hoc Mesh Networks of Smart Sensors Operating on the Blockchain
chips

Filament, a technology platform company focused on Internet of Things (IoT) applications and long-range wireless sensor networks for industrial settings, is developing ad-hoc mesh networks of smart sensors for industrial applications, operating on the blockchain.

Announced at the O’Reilly Solid Conference, Filament‘s wireless sensor devices, or Taps, can cover industrial areas with low-power autonomous mesh networks for data collection and asset monitoring. Taps have built-in environmental sensors, a USB port for other sensors or devices, and are equipped with hardware cryptographic chips and long-range radios for secure accessibility and communication across large geographic areas. Taps can talk directly to each other at distances of up to 10 miles and have a battery life of up to 20 years.

“We believe that all economic elements, digital and physical, old and new, must be fundamentally autonomous and distributed in order to maximize their potential,” said Jabber/XMPP creator Jeremie Miller, now CTO of Filament.

Taps operates in a decentralized way without a central network authority. Designed to generate ad-hoc mesh networks in the absence of cellular or Wi-Fi networks, Taps will be able to process bitcoin payments and enforce digital smart contracts. The company is leveraging existing blockchain technologies to create an open platform for Distributed Sensor Transactions (DIST). The Filament platform builds on the blockchain (Bitcoin and Ethereum for transactions), Telehash (private communication), JOSE (smart contracts), TMesh (low-power mesh networking), and BitTorrent (firmware and remote management updates.)

Two DIST components have been created by Miller. TMesh and Telehash, a lightweight interoperable protocol with strong encryption to enable mesh networking across multiple transports and platforms, are available on Gitbub as open source software.

“Blanket a factory in sensors, or control the streetlights of an entire city – our standalone networks span miles and last for years, all without Wi-Fi or cellular,” says the Filament website. “We’ve combined end-to-end encryption (telehash) with private-key crypto hardware to provide ultra-secure, decentralized communications between millions of devices. By enabling operations on the Blockchain, we’ve made it possible to generate new, recurring sources of revenue by selling access to your devices or data.”

Before the conference, O’Reilly Radar noted that Filament and IBM are exploring how specially designed decentralized ledgers can be used to enable devices to communicate service needs and other information among their owners and vendors for household, commercial and industrial purposes.  IBM is building a similar proof-of-concept system for the next generation of the IoT, dubbed Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT).

Filament, after raising a $5 million Series A Round led by Bullpen Capital, started to ship an early version of its hardware and to provide services to pilot customers. It lists many possible applications for Taps networks in industrial sectors where risk and operational efficiency is critical to success. Applications range from locating thousands of bicycles across an urban bike-sharing service to monitoring weather and soil conditions across large farms, or avoiding collisions between vehicles on remote worksites.

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