BTC.sx Rebrands as Magnr, Introduces Bitcoin Savings Accounts

Bitcoin Magazine
BTC.sx Rebrands as Magnr, Introduces Bitcoin Savings Accounts
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According to BitcoinRichList.com there are over $750 million worth of bitcoin sitting idle. Magnr, a company dedicated to providing Cryptocurrency Financial Services, is trying to change this by allowing the first-ever blockchain-based “savings accounts.” Magnr currently operates across two verticals: trading and saving.

“Magnr allows users to independently verify the safety of their deposit on the blockchain’s public ledger,” says CEO Joe Lee. “Additionally, the interest payout is calculated from blockchain data. This lets users verify they are being paid the correct amounts. This is the first time that savings accounts have received a fintech makeover.”

Magnr was created from the founding team of BTC.sx. It is a new, rebranded version of the BTC.sx trading platform. BTC.sx Bitcoin Trading Platform has brokered more than 60,000 trades since the introduction of its leveraged trading service in 2013.

Magnr generates interest from traders, which is partly paid out as interest to savers.

“One of blockchain’s greatest innovations is its immutable ledger,” says Lee. “When developing our interest-bearing product, we asked ourselves on a technical level how we could rely on the blockchain as an external database as much as possible. To calculate interest payable, we take the timestamp from each client deposit directly off the blockchain. At the end of each month, this allows us to pro-rata interest calculations to whole 24-hour periods on the realtime transaction record that is the blockchain.”

The Magnr platform doesn’t require a settlement period or a wait time for them to receive funds as payments to client accounts can happen in real-time. This also allows for the saver to check the on public blockchain for payments made to his or her Magnr account.

The Magnr team is founded by investment banking veterans. Joe Lee, formerly of Barclays Bank and Macquarie Group, first discovered Bitcoin in 2011. Joe began trading bitcoin and turned $100 into $200,000. This profit was then used alongside seed-funding to start BTC.sx. Colin Kwan, COO, worked at the senior management level at UBS and Deutsche Bank. He ensures the company’s products have institutional-grade quality and compliance.

“Our team is currently focused on product refinements and back-office operations,” says Lee. “Experience from the banks and investment banks we used to work with has taught us the value of building out a solid back-office operation as a matter of importance. We find that client trust starts with prioritization of the fiduciary responsibility we have when handling our client bitcoins. As we seek to engage with institutions and regulators worldwide to push the adoption of digital currencies, a well-managed operation speaks loudly for itself. This shows proof that business can be built in a trustworthy way using blockchain as its core rails.”

“Fintech startups have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionize banking,” Lee said. “We are very excited to be pioneering digital currency savings accounts. This is transparency in modern finance, redefined.”

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Ascribe Raises $2 Million to Encode Artistic Copyrights on the Blockchain
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Ascribe, a platform which enables artists to record their intellectual properties on the Bitcoin blockchain has raised US $2 million in a seed funding round from investors including Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, Earlybird Venture Capital, Freelands Ventures, and other angel investors.

With the new financing, Ascribe aims to improve its platform to make it more efficient for artists to record ownership of their works, to onboard new developers to build on their API that helps marketplaces and platforms to display the registered artwork, and to increase awareness of their platform.

Using the Bitcoin blockchain, Ascribe allows artists to create records of permanent and unchangeable copyright and ownership of their artwork that can be verified and tracked instantly. Since the data and copyright cannot be changed once it is registered on the blockchain, artists will be able to defend their works without the need to spend money on the traditional process of hiring lawyers to create legal documents.

While traditional forms of copyrights and patents are difficult to track and usually take days or even weeks to sell or transfer, Ascribe allows its users to sell their ownership securely and cost-free through the bitcoin blockchain.

Since the platform allows users to embed images and texts on the blockchain, artists also may register copyrights for physical art such as sculpture, by simply uploading images of the work with follow-up descriptions.

Copyrights to the artworks registered on Ascribe will be available to public like a torrent file, which can be downloaded and used freely. However, the distributor or the user in this case, will always have full authority over the artwork, and will always possess the power to deny or grant access to their works.

According to the company, more than 600 artists have already signed up for access, and over 2,600 works of art have been registered. Several marketplaces and platforms are also using Ascribe’s API to display the copyrights to the artwork.

Ascribe is currently in progress of designing a machine learning technology which will be able to search through the web to classify copied works without watermarks.

Encrypting Unique Data on the Blockchain

Ascribe is using the function of the Bitcoin blockchain to encode additional information in transactions. On May 6, rock band 22HERTZ encrypted the copyrights to their album on the Bitcoin blockchain, using a function of the blockchain called OP_RETURN, which is a standardized function of the Bitcoin blockchain that allows data to be passed onto a transaction.

In this case, a user defined sequence of up to 40 bytes can be stored in the blockchain, which is enough to store encrypted texts of links to images, songs and long texts.

While storing information and data on the blockchain has been criticized as being inefficient, the transparency of the blockchain makes it extremely easy for artists to track their copyrights and ownerships to their works instantly.

 

Image via Ascribe

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Blockchain Technology: The Key to Secure Online Voting
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Originally designed to democratize power within the financial system, Bitcoin’s blockchain technology is now playing a role in the area of democracy itself.

Despite receiving much attention, online voting adoption has yet to take off meaningfully worldwide, amid concerns that existing platforms are vulnerable to fraud, corruption and sabotage. Last year a team accredited to observe the 2013 municipal elections in Estonia – the only country to run Internet voting on a wide scale – revealed that they observed election officials downloading key software over insecure Internet connections, typing PINs and passwords in view of cameras, and preparing election software on insecure PCs.

Norway also canceled trials of e-voting systems in local and national elections, concluding that voters’ fears about their votes becoming public could undermine democratic processes.

There are,­­ however, increasing examples of political organizations and technology startups experimenting with secure digital voting systems based on the use of Bitcoin’s blockchain technology. Last year Denmark’s Liberal Alliance became the first political party to vote using a blockchain-based system for its internal elections. Similar systems have since been adopted in Norway and Spain and the movement is gathering momentum in the United States.

“There is a common misconception that voting cannot be done online in a secure way. However, the introduction of blockchain technology is changing the conversation,” Adam Ernest, CEO of Virginia-based FollowMyVote – an organization committed to developing an online open source, transparent voting platform – explains.

Just as Bitcoin users make transactions by sending the digital currency to the recipient’s digital wallet, blockchain voting systems involve creating wallets for each candidate or option in an election. All voters are then allocated a digital “coin” that represents one vote, which they can cast by sending their “coin” to the wallet of their choice.

As in a bitcoin transaction, the entire process is recorded in the blockchain public ledger, meaning that unlike most current elections, a voter can verify that his or her vote was actually counted.

While the lack of anonymity in the Bitcoin system is a drawback for adoption in voting platforms, the use of anonymizing software can help ensure that voters’ identities are not revealed.

The New York-based V-Initiative is working on delivering open-source, fraud-proof, fully anonymous digital voting solutions based on the blockchain and uses zero-knowledge proof cryptography allied with IP masking software such as the “TOR” program to safeguard voter anonymity.

For many digital voting advocates, the end goal is “liquid democracy” – a combination of direct and indirect democracy whereby all citizens have the potential to vote on every issue but can dynamically delegate some or all of these votes to others that they feel are better qualified to vote.

Ernest notes that this concept is gaining much traction in countries such as Norway, Iceland and Germany. FollowMyVote, in partnership with BitShares and Cryptonomex, Inc., is working on a voting platform that is integrated directly with the BitShares 2.0 Smartchain that supports this use case.

Despite the positive reception in parts of Europe, Ernest is quick to point out that a number of obstacles remain along the road toward a fully digital democratic system.

“Pushing for provably honest elections in the U.S. and abroad, we have a tremendous amount of money and influence stacked against us,” he said.

As a result, FollowMyVote is changing its approach. Instead of trying to lobby election officials or legislators whom they feel have no incentive to improve the voting process in the U.S., it is preparing to launch an educational marketing campaign targeted directly at the voter in an attempt to get them to lobby the government.

Ernest says he is confident that once voters are better informed about the benefits of a blockchain-based online voting system – from convenience and cost-effectiveness to security and transparency – governments will have little choice but to adopt these systems.

“I firmly believe that in the future, voting will be done from our smartphones and our votes will be stored securely on the blockchain,” he said.

 

Photo London elections – e-count scanners / photopin

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