Written by Jonny Fry
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The increasing interest and popularity of blockchain and the digital assets this technology creates have highlighted its various impacts. Both innovations are gradually becoming the mainstay for many industries and, due to the steady growth and multiple security factors they encompass, many corporate sectors have grown receptive to their offerings.

Companies such as Amazon and IBM oracle have introduced enterprise-grade blockchain systems that are scalable and secure. In the last few years, significant use-cases of blockchain and digital assets in many sectors have emerged, and the automotive industry is certainly not excluded.
Porsche and blockchain

Source: Porsche

In February 2022, Porsche became the first auto manufacturer to successfully use blockchain technology in its cars, with Oliver Döring, Porsche’s financial strategist, announcing: “We can use blockchain to transfer data more quickly and securely, giving our customers more peace of mind in the future, whether they are charging, parking or need to give a third party, such as a parcel delivery agent, temporary access to the vehicle. We translate the innovative technology into direct benefits for the customer.” However, many other carmakers are exploring ways to integrate this game-changing technology into their vehicles. They are all aiming to take advantage of its potential to dramatically change how information or data is stored and used, subsequently enhancing transparency and security and improving transactions. Below is a selection of ways in which car makers are able to use blockchain technology:

making user-friendly cars
Blockchains could be useful in helping drivers to unlock their vehicles; that is, the vehicle could be added to a blockchain, allowing the driver to communicate with it directly via an app. This would greatly speed up the vehicle's response time since instructions would no longer need to go through third-party servers. The integration could also enable car owners to grant others temporary access to their vehicles. The vehicle could be remotely unlocked via the app, granting a third-party or friend access into the vehicle. 

improving autonomous driving systems 
Blockchain is a decentralised database of records that could improve autonomous driving systems. As a self-driving vehicle navigates the vicinity, the blockchain would record data about the journey which could range from information about regional weather conditions to general traffic patterns. Blockchain is able to share the data whereby allowing other vehicles in the network to then access this information. A blockchain-powered platform could give other vehicles access to other vehicles' data, which would be an essential part of the infrastructure required to enable level-five autonomous driving - Oculus believes this could be possible by as soon as 2030. In agreement with this, Toyota had already teamed up with MIT Media Lab back in 2017 to work out ways in which to use blockchain to speed up autonomous vehicle technology.

ensuring materials are ethically sourced 
Two-thirds of the world's cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Roughly 20% of this comes from artisanal unregulated mines that often exploit child labour, with about 400,000 children spending their days in these mines working for low wages under extremely dangerous conditions. Harnessing blockchain's ability to track supply-chains, a London-based blockchain start-up called Circulor aims to track cobalt from the time it leaves a mine until it reaches a manufacturer. The company is already testing the process using ‘clean’ cobalt from countries such as Canada and Australia. Furthermore, the company could refuse...


On Tuesday

Written by Jonny Fry
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Over the last few years, the use of cryptocurrencies has seen growing adoption globally and some regions, such as Latin America, have turned to virtual money in the form of cryptos as an alternative option following the fall in government-regulated currencies. Between 2019 and 2021, the use of cryptocurrencies in Latin America rose by 1,370%. About the same time, El Salvador approved Bitcoin as an official legal tender, becoming the first country to do so.

Furthermore, the swift developments in crypto and digital assets have been sparking start-ups in the region. Last year, the value of crypto firms in Latin America increased almost tenfold from $68 million to $650 million. However, due to their volatility and the potential for criminal use, caution abounds over the proliferation of digital assets. For instance, the recent price falls in cryptocurrency values is being greatly felt by some countries in Latin America, with El Salvador having reportedly lost almost $40 million with crypto since the September 2021 adoption.
Overview of blockchain in some Latin American countries 
Due to the instability of the peso - the basic monetary unit of several Latin American countries which is experiencing year-over-year inflation of over 55% - there is need for an alternative. Cryptocurrency, by providing better chances, appeals to the Argentines who had once been looking to keep their assets in dollars or euros. In 2021, the crypto flow in Argentina reached $103 billion. There was a 340% rise in the number of companies paying their employees partly in crypto, thereby making Argentina the country with the highest percentage of crypto-paid workers. However, as crypto has grown in popularity the mining process has become more expensive, with local governments having raised energy taxes due to mining being highly energy-consuming. The country is also hesitating on introducing major cryptocurrency regulations due to the central bank expressing concerns about crypto's vulnerabilities despite growing adoption. 

Brazil, being Latin America’s largest economy, has been valued at $27.6 billion per year as of April 2022. The first cryptocurrency unicorn in Latin America, Mercado Bitcoin, is based in Brazil and its valuation increased to over $2 billion in 2021. According to the 2022 Global State of Crypto Report, Brazil, followed by Venezuela, has the highest percentage of its population owning crypto in Latin America and Brazil’s Congress has been planning to develop a regulatory framework. On April 26th 2022, the Brazilian Senate passed a bill governing virtual assets. The bill comprises of provisions that both define virtual assets and create rules for day-to-day usage. It also puts in place penalties for fraud.

Cuba has only recently rolled out internet connection for mobile phone users and already has about 100,000 citizens using some form of cryptocurrency. Compared to the 11 million citizens living in the country, this is not so high - however, this is only within a few months. Virtual currencies are popular in Cuba for remittance payments but, in November 2020, the then-US president banned the use of Western Union, which was the main company facilitating remittances to Cuba. In April 2022, after having allowed crypto for personal use in 2021, Cuba’s central bank approved licensing of some cryptocurrency service providers. Due to cryptocurrency’s anonymity and independence from national or multinational oversight, US restrictions could be boycotted. Venezuelans and Nicaraguans have likewise enlisted cryptocurrency to circumvent US sanctions.

El Salvador
El Salvador is the first country to adopt Bitcoin as an official legal tender. President Nayib Bukele framed his country as a pioneer and...


Last Thursday

Written by Jonny Fry
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In 2020, the number of electric cars exceeded 10 million
(a rise of 43% compared to 2019),with the following parts of the world showing the biggest growth in new registrations of electric cars:

Europe 1.4million 
China 1.2million 
USA 295 000 

Environmentalists, such as Greta Thunberg, have always highlighted the dangers of climate change and Thunberg did this again at Glastonbury where she spoke about “governments creating loopholes to protect firms whose emissions cause climate change.  These firms are not the only ones that cause climate change. A quarter of the C02 that is emitted into the atmosphere can be linked to transportation, and a good percentage of world transportation revolves around road transport i.e., cars”. The BBC highlights, too, that “cars, buses and motorbikes - account for nearly three-quarters of the greenhouse gas emissions that come from transport.” But at this point in civilisation, is it impossible to do without cars since they are a fundamental aspect of our everyday lives? Indeed, some governments and organisations have envisioned a new way of riding without ‘poking’ at the earth. The idea of electric vehicles (EVs) has come to life and the industry is constantly morphing to remain true to its objectives. EVs are out to replace the internal combustion engines in the strive to reduce emission of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxide, etc.
Electric car sales 2010 to 2021 globally

Source: IEA
Markets and Markets project that the global EV industry is expected to rise from 8.151million vehicles to 39.208million vehicles from 2022 to 2030, which equates to a CAGR of 21.7%. On the list of things driving the industry forward is governmental support through tax rebates and subsidies (compelling manufacturers to make EVs) and increased demand for low-emission vehicles. Unsurprisingly, the EV industry comes with its challenges but blockchain technology has found its place as a solution to some of these problems, including:

vehicle verification
The growth of the industry creates an inner market for the sales of used EVs. Before buyers decide to purchase a used EV, there is a plethora of information required to be completed such as safety devices in the car, miles clocked, servicing information, etc. Blockchain can be used to create, in effect, a digital ID for such EVs therefore enabling buyers to quickly verify any information they are given by the sellers. Meanwhile, blockchain technology and services company, BlockchainXdev, is building a vehicle ID since research from FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) claims that 15% of vehicles circulating in Europe were subject to mileage frauds in 2018.

high production costs
Pre and post the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of raw materials has risen and higher production costs have not been helped by an increase in transport overheads and general supply chain challenges. Blockchain-powered platforms can be used to track and trace materials that are being transported for production and generally improve supply chain efficiencies. 

few charging stations
EV enthusiasts are reticent about buying EVs due to concerns about the availability or lack of charging points when embarking on a long journey even though, in the UK alone, apps such as ZapMap now list over 400,000 EV charging points. One-way blockchain technology is tackling this problem is by facilitating power trading between charging ports and those who need it. Examples of...


Last Tuesday

Written by Jonny Fry
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In the past, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) would have seemed to be out of step with the UK government. Earlier this year, Rushi Sunak, the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer and now aspiring replacement Prime Minister commented on this when he stated: “It is my ambition to make the UK a global hub for crypto asset technology…”  furthermore adding, “the Treasury has confirmed its intention to recognise stablecoins, digital assets pegged to the price of real world assets, as a valid form of currency.


Source: Twitter
Meanwhile, Nikolay Storonsky, CEO of Revolut, has been frustrated by the FCA “for its tardiness in dishing out a UK banking licence for the firm”. Storonsky has complained that UK regulators were slower to grant regulatory approval compared to other jurisdictions: “I definitely see the process is slower compared to other regulators,” he stated, adding, “I’ll give you an example - so we applied for 48 licences across the globe and we received 44, and three of the licences that we haven’t received are actually in the UK.” Storonsky is not alone, with 80% of firms having applied to the FCA to be on the crypto register now having withdrawn their applications. It seems to many that the Bank of England and FCA have been dragging their feet. The FCA, whilst not regulating crypto assets, keeps reminding the public of the risks and volatility of this assets class (and correctly so). The FCA defines crypto assets to be: “Cryptoassets are cryptographically secured digital representations of value or contractual rights that use some type of distributed ledger technology (DLT) and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically”. This could be interpreted as denoting that firms dealing or issuing NFTs would potentially need to register with the FCA, since NFTs would appear to meet the FCA definition. Meanwhile, the Bank of England is calling for more regulation correctly, arguing that “technology cannot remove all financial risk”. Yet behind the scenes there could, indeed, be more going on than some realise - the stakes are high and furthermore, as the UK economy faces the spectre of stagflation and rising interest rates, the embracing of blockchain technology and the digital assets that they can create could hold some powerful benefits for the country. Estimates suggest that the value of the UK’s goods and services could expand by as much as £41.5bn by 2025 and create a further 678,000 jobs. There are certainly plenty of jobs for those looking to work in the digital asset sector already - the UK is ranked second only to the US with almost 1,000 jobs for people to work on crypto projects being advertised. 

Back in April 2021, when announcing that it was going to allow omnibus accounts, the Bank of England’s explanation of these new accounts was that: “an operator of a payment system can hold funds in the omnibus account to fund their participants’ balances with central bank money. This will allow them to offer innovative payment services while having the security of central bank money settlement.” In addition to this, HMRC issued a consultation paper on 5th July 2022 “ to consider if costs could be reduced for taxpayers who participate in DeFi, and could tax treatment might be more aligned with the transactions' fundamental economics thus making tax collection more efficient?” The UK government does seem to be listening to those engaged in digital assets and supporting Sunak’s wishes as it has issued its Financial Services Bill as recently as on 20th July 2022. Included in this...


2 Weeks Ago

Written by Jonny Fry
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According to PwC, 60% of the hundred largest law firms in the UK have been increasing the amount of money they spend on technology, with e-signature, document storage and virtual data rooms being the three biggest areas of development.

Technology where legal firms are investing

Source: PwC

As PwC has reported: “Tech needs now cost the partners almost as much as half of what a firm’s premises cost. This just shows how central tech is now to the functioning of law firms.” Law firms rank Improve use of technology as their top priority for business support. Furthermore, blockchain software technology company, ConsenSys, believes: “Lawyers can leverage blockchain technology to streamline and simplify their transactional work, digitally sign and immutably store legal agreements”. Back in 2017, the 26th PwC annual Law Firms’ Survey revealed that 70% of surveyed law firms would utilise smart contracts for transactional legal services, 41% would use blockchain for transactional legal services, 21% for legal support and 31% for high-value legal services.

Benefits of blockchain technology in the legal sector
accessibility - by leveraging blockchain technology, lawyers can streamline and simplify their transactional work, and digitally sign and permanently store legal agreements. With the use of smart contracts, scripted texts and automated contract management, the time spent preparing, personalising and maintaining standard law documents is reduced. This is cost-saving for both the legal industry and the customers.

transparency - blockchain-based contracts have baked-in compliance thereby providing no room for ambiguity. Being a distributed ledger technology, blockchains create a shared ledger which is accessible by all relevant parties.

automation - according to CLIO’s Legal Tends Report 2018, lawyers spend about 48% of their time on administrative work. Utilising pre-designed smart contracts will automate non-billable administrative tasks and transactional work whereby offering greater efficiency in legal proceedings.
cost reduction - automating manual tasks significantly reduces the time spent on drafting and amending legal documents. Since clients pay the documentation cost, introducing smart contracts will cause a reduction in transaction costs for both parties.

efficiency - blockchain can streamline and automate many processes in the legal industry without losing any of the judicial authority. Also, cost and friction can be reduced by optimising administrative and critical tasks.

data integrity - legal documents are vulnerable to ill-intentioned hackers who seek to steal, destroy or manipulate critical information. However, to preserve data integrity, data can be stored in decentralised locations. If there is an alteration of evidence the associated hash value will not match, making it obvious that a change has occurred. Also, given that data is held on a blockchain in a cryptograph manner and on multiple servers, the use of blockchain-powered platforms offers improved cyber security and potentially better disaster recovery properties. 

Different uses for blockchain technology in the legal sector 
document management system (DMS) - DMS is specialised software for storing, accessing and managing files. This first step towards digitised documentation was created to simplify and accelerate office processes. It has great security with customisable access rights, data backup, and maintains regulatory compliances by simplifying data classification. DocFlow is just one example of a blockchain-powered DMS platform available for lawyers to improve the ability to track documentation, be more trustworthy and accelerate the whole document management process.  Although DMS has several advantages in the legal industry, some drawbacks have necessitated the...

Written by Jonny Fry
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Blockchain funds arguably come in two formats. Firstly, there are funds/vehicles that invest in assets to do with blockchain which would include cryptocurrencies or companies involved in using blockchain in some manner - these types of funds include hedge funds, private equity funds, ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), ETPs (Exchange Traded Products), etc.

The second type of blockchain funds are mutual funds - the type that you, as a reader, have historically invested your savings and pension funds into but are using blockchain technology to create digital/tokenised funds. These digital funds will employ the same fund managers but, instead of only being able to be bought or sold once a day, will enable investors to potentially trade 24/7 and have independent market makers to price the funds - as opposed to the price being set by the asset management firm.

Historically, there are very few blockchain-mutual funds as mutual funds mainly because, for retail mutual funds specifically, they have to hold the majority of their portfolio in those assets which are quoted on recognised exchanges. This means investments such as shares in unquoted blockchain start-ups or cryptos are generally not allowed for traditional mutual funds. Whilst there are quoted specialist companies, e.g. Kasei Holdings *(which invests in a portfolio of cryptos), there are also a variety of other ways to offer exposure to blockchain-related assets, including blockchain ETFs. These are typically ETFs which own shares in companies that use or develop blockchains and will often have no exposure to cryptocurrencies. For example, Walmart uses a blockchain-powered platform to create an automated system for managing invoices and payments for its logistics partners, and Saudi Aramco which invested $5million into Vakt, itself helping to make the petrochemical industry supply chains more efficient using blockchain technology. Furthermore, ETFs can be broken down into the following categories:

companies that own cryptocurrency - MicroStrategy and Tesla

crypto exchanges and crypto miners - Coinbase is a cryptocurrency exchange and Riot Blockchain, Core Scientific and Marathon Digital are all Bitcoin mining companies

financial services firms - Galaxy Digital Holdings (a crypto asset manager), and Société Générale, HSBC and BNP Paribas are all working on blockchain-powered platforms

tech companies - NVIDIA (a microchip manufacturer) and Advanced Micro Devices supply hardware to support blockchain systems 

Launching in 2018, the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK), with its focus on blockchain technology, was the first blockchain ETF approved by the SEC and invests in companies developing and utilising blockchain technologies. Forbes has compiled a list of other blockchain ETFs one can invest in.
Increasingly, the asset management industry and service providers (i.e. custodians and administrators) are looking to create a digital version of a standard mutual fund. BNY Mellon, which is one of the leading fund administrators and providers of custody services, has been a strong advocate of how blockchain technology is going to impact the asset management industry: “Blockchain’s ability to lend transparency and speed to once cumbersome and opaque workflows can revolutionize the way custody banks serve their clients…. Real-time knowledge of incoming trades would be particularly helpful for fund managers during times of extreme market volatility. If money managers have immediate transparency into the creation and redemption of funds, they would be able to react to the market more quickly”.

Digital/tokenised mutual funds

Source: Tokeny

As reported in the FT, Timothy Spangler from the law firm, Dechert, believes: "A mutual fund...


3 Weeks Ago

Written by Jonny Fry
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Mental health is increasingly becoming the subject of conversations taking place in many different industries. This was particularly brought to light during the COVID-19 pandemic when most company employees were obliged to work from home and highlighted the varied mental health challenges people face in a cross section of jobs and age groups across the world.

Ever since governments and organisations started to make provisions for the mental health of their employees and citizens there is an expectation for employers and authorities to take a strong stance on mental health issues. Both blockchain technology and the metaverse have a variety of ways in which they can potentially support the mental health sector and offer some insight as to how workers will be able to embrace the ongoing digitisation that we face at home, at work and in our day-to-day lives.

Deloitte 2022 Global Health Care Outlook

Source: Deloitte
The global mental health industry is estimated to be US$527 billion by 2030, although the size of this sector is potentially much larger as many mental health issues still remain unreported. Furthermore, to some extent mental health still has a certain stigma attached to it, although there is now increasing awareness and sensitisation as regards the approach and treatment of mental health illnesses. Tragically, the COVID-19 pandemic caused rates of suicide around the world to spike and, at the time, the National Library of Medicine published a report Suicide Risk and Prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic
 explained how preventing suicide needed urgent attention. In the US, the National Institute of Mental Health has estimated that 1 in 5 adults lives with a mental illness. Only half of these people have received treatment for their illness. 

Author and alternative medicine advocate, Deepak Chopra, has recently launched his "Never Alone Initiative - Worldwide Alliance” which is a partnership between the Chopra Foundation and Hedera Hashgraph. The Deepak Chopra Foundation itself is a not-for-profit organisation and has selected Hedera Hashgraph for its distributed ledger technology to meet some of the challenges around supporting mental and emotional well-being. Chopra hopes to create emotional support and a support system for everyone and anyone who is experiencing mental health services. "Never Alone" is designed to create a community of transparent and vibrant participants in health, wellness, and mental health. The blockchain-powered platform is designed to allow medical practitioners and mental health and wellness experts to load information to a database that cannot be altered or tampered with but can be accessed globally.

Source: BusinessNews
Meanwhile, TAGO, a UK-based tech firm has turned to tokenising mental health. Its objective is to help its users find professional mental health counsellors and experts easily whilst also earning through their "talk to earn" model in which both users and consultants converse. Tago has also created its own metaverse, Tagoverse, with its Tago token being utilised to govern the community. Holders of the token can attend courses, participate in spiritual events, exchange spiritual items, and engage in the staking program to earn more voting rights and premium access. Users/members of the platform are never left stranded as they can always talk with Tagosol, the world's first NFT mental health AI assistant. It is designed to help users find answers to their mental health problems, relax, earn rewards and help control their emotions.

Another company using tokens to help mental health challenges is the US firm, FiveBalance, with...


4 Weeks Ago

Written by Jonny Fry
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The first Decentralised Finance DeFi project back in 2015 was MakerDAO, which enabled smart contracts to be used to lock up Ethereum tokens and generate Dai, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar. Fast forward to now - DeFi has $38billion of assets in this sector and in the last 180 days generated over $4billion of revenue.

So, not tiny, but compared to other financial markets, not that significant. Therefore, after seven years the question remains, is DeFi to remain merely a niche sector or can it, indeed, realise its potential and really challenge traditional financial markets? Smart contracts are very much a key driver in the DeFi sector, with IBM defining them as: “Digital contracts stored on a blockchain that are automatically executed when predetermined terms and conditions are met”. Linking with this, decentralised apps (dApps) are applications which use smart contracts and offer the ability to offer many of the services that historically banks have offered - making payments, lending, saving and buying and selling of assets. 

Meanwhile, tokenisation is steadily becoming more prevalent as a natural extension of TradFi for existing asset classes such as equities, debt instruments, commodities, real estate and even national currencies in the form of stablecoins and CBDCs. However, as our lives (including the provision of financial services) become ever more digital, physical national jurisdictions potentially become less relevant - yet local laws and regulations will still need to be adhered to. Digital markets will increasingly need to be globally coordinated if safeguards and investor protection are to remain in place. Therefore, surely there will be the need for consensus as to what actually needs to be regulated, and why:
the protection of consumers? 
for market stability?
to maintain confidence in the markets?
to encourage innovation?  

DeFi opportunities
DeFi is inclusive: provided you have a digital wallet and have access to the internet, you are able to use DeFi and not have to rely on banks and other money transfer firms.

Transactions are transparent: DeFi offers the ability to monitor actions in real-time including the repayment of loans, alterations in interest rates and releasing collateral. As there is greater transparency, users ought to have more confidence and trust.

Smart contracts: it is possible to automate many traditional risk management and compliance monitoring functions.

Data is held cryptographically and decentralised: blockchain-powered platforms hold data securely, and permission as to how and when access to data can be pre-programmed before a DeFi transaction is entered into. Since data is decentralised, it has built-in disaster recovery credentials and offers enhanced levels of security from cyber-attacks.

Disintermediation: DeFi use of blockchain means there is only one ledger/database that the various parties can have access to and, being digital, it is possible to send and receive payments faster and cheaper (especially when dealing on a multi-jurisdictional basis) without having to engage with several intermediaries. This generates cost savings and efficiencies in terms of transactions and reporting.

 DeFi challenges
Change: DeFi technology is new and regulators and institutions are cautious of change since this could impact on investors, potentially resulting in fines and compensation as well as damaged reputations. Furthermore, many of the systems and procedures are yet to be fully tested although the recent collapse in crypto prices has, for some DeFi platforms, been a baptism of fire.

Regulation, or lack of: Swarm Markets in Germany was the first licensed DeFi platform globally. There is minimal, if any,...


A Month Ago

Written by Jonny Fry
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Blockchain technology is impacting many industries and society as a whole. There is a growing number of jobs now available for those who possess blockchain skills and, as the chart below indicates, the compensation rates are attractive and global in nature. Now, more than ever, the demand for blockchain jobs has grown.

In a survey carried out by LinkedIn, blockchain-related jobs were the most sought after in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Austria. This growth is not being recorded in other traditional businesses/industries but, interestingly, different industries are looking at ways to inculcate blockchain technology into their normal workflows. Companies such as J.P Morgan, Wells Fargo and other firms on Wall Street currently have preferences for employees who have knowledge and experience in cryptocurrencies, or the technology that powers them - i.e. blockchain. Likewise, with growing evidence of an impending recession in many jurisdictions, there will undoubtedly be on-going pressure to reduce costs and look for new ways in which to be more efficient. So, we could well see even greater demand for those with blockchain skills and knowledge.
Compensations for blockchain engineers 

Source: re-iterates the huge growth for those with blockchain skills - even when compared to other jobs in the IT sector. Indeed, in an article from Julian Messner at Robert Walters (a leading global recruitment company), recently said: “Across all sectors, there is a strong demand for blockchain IT professionals who are able to leverage their technical expertise to improve operations and drive business objectives. This will require developers to have both expertise in blockchain – already a niche skill set – as well as familiarity with the industry they are developing applications for. For example, in fintech, blockchain product owners, backend or front-end developers, and UX/UI designers are required to have some level of experience with e-wallet and online payment gateway solutions as well – making it hard for companies to find skilled candidates. The shortage of skilled talent has seen inflated salaries, with blockchain professionals commanding 30% higher salaries compared to other IT professionals.”

Advantageous to this is that opportunities in and around blockchain are varied and span many industries and insomuch as the blockchain industry is considered a technical one, there are also plenty of non-technical jobs available to all.

Blockchain vs other developer roles

Below are some of the job opportunities in the space and what they entail:
There is a massive demand for the right people to create blockchain-powered applications and the required architecture. If interested in such a role, programming languages such as Python, C++ and Javascript will be useful.

Quality engineer
The quality engineer is responsible for making sure every aspect of a blockchain-powered service or product meets agreed quality control standards. Blockchain quality engineers ensure projects are ready before they are released to external clients, and then are charged with ongoing quality checks. A mix of technological skills and strong communication skills are key characteristics that employers will be looking for. 

Legal and/or compliance roles 
There is a huge demand for staff in legal and compliance roles who have an understanding of blockchain technology. The rules and regulations around the use of blockchain and the digital assets that they create are still being formulated in many jurisdictions. However, as we see organisations embracing blockchains and using smart contracts, legal and compliance staff will be required to have...

Written by Jonny Fry
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As technology becomes more accessible, business models around video games evolve. In the late seventies and early eighties, games were played on arcade machines in local shopping centres. These days, games are played on smartphones and computers. Whichever platform, there are business models that suit each player. In the evolution of the gaming world, different models have been created.

Pay-to-play was the first model involving gamers having to pay to play games without any earning opportunity. The second model involves free-to-play (self-explanatory), whilst the third and latest model is the play-to-earn (P2E) ecosystem. 

The play-to-earn (P2E), or sometimes called play-to-pay, business model (a recent innovation in the gaming industry) offers gamers ownership over in-game assets and thus allows them to increase their value by actively playing the game. It provides users with the opportunity to not only add value, but exchange and/ or sell the assets they have earnt/played for to other gamers. Players are creating value for other players and the developers by participating in the in-game economy and, in turn, they are rewarded with in-game assets. These assets may be anything - NFTs, cryptocurrencies or in-game resources that are tokenised on a blockchain. Most P2E games have native tokens for in-game purchases and trading between players and they derive value through the use of their tokens. Axie Infinity, a leading example of P2E games, counts on players making a hefty upfront investment in Axies (the game-specific NFTs).The in-game assets earned from playing can then be traded at an appreciated price with other gamers. 

Whether or not you earn from playing, or the amount that you earn, depends on the length of time you invest in the game, the game's popularity, and the demand for the in-game assets or tokens from other gamers.

How the play-to-earn model stands out
asset ownership - play-to-earn gaming platforms, unlike the traditional game, use NFTs which are owned by the users. Gamers can mint and customise NFTs. They can also be transferred to NFT marketplaces for sale or converted to cryptocurrencies or fiat currency. NFTs, used in navigating through the game, can come in the form of avatars, land, pets, etc.

decentralisation - play-to-earn ecosystems typically operate under a decentralised governance framework, allowing their users to participate in crucial decision-making processes.

earning opportunities - aside from offering players interesting gameplay, play-to-earn gaming platforms make earning opportunities available for players. Gamers can collect in-game assets whilst they carry out different tasks, depending on the gameplay.

Is the business model sustainable?
The sustainability of the business model depends on many factors. Indeed, problems linked with this concept exist since the appeal of earning money could dilute the gaming experience. One of the identified risks is a game's ability to continue growing the economy it intends to build. According to Adrian Kolody, a DeFi startup founder, the only way a play-to-earn model can be sustainable is by making sure the game's users are of high quality. This may not be true for all cases. For instance, Axie Infinity was recently reported to be going through a difficult time - Axie is tied to crypto markets and players get Smooth Love Potion (SLP) tokens for each game they win and, in larger tournaments, can earn another cryptocurrency, Axie Infinity Shards (AXS). The company, as of October 2021, had raised more than $160 million from investors and Sky Mavis reported that Axie Infinity crossed 2...

Written by Jonny Fry
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Since the end of March, the price of Bitcoin has been slowly dropping. In May, however, the situation became worse; Bitcoin dropped further than it had in the preceding month, immediately causing the catastrophic failure of Terra, a cryptocurrency project which was once valued at
more than $50bn.

This week, Bitcoin fell below $21,000 for the first time in over 12 months. The cryptocurrency is down more than 68% from its all-time high, close to $68,990, back in November 2021. Likewise, Ethereum is down 63% from the historic highs set in the same month. In both cases, over 50% of the decline occurred this year. Experts have warned that things could continue to deteriorate, although the current situation doesn’t yet match the severity of the 2018 crash (in which Bitcoin lost 80% of its value). Nonetheless, investors are at a crossroads. Many, following the old investment adage ‘buy the dip’, are looking for a piece of the volatile crypto market in the hope that this is a temporary downturn rather than a long-term bear market. Furthermore, some investors, in a bid to be careful, have asked the critical question: “Should I buy the dip?"

Is it time to buy the dip?
So, back in November 2021, Bitcoin was trading at around $69,000 but, suddenly, it slipped to around $55,000. It was called 'dip' and, unsurprisingly, many investors jumped to 'buy the dip'. A month or so later and Bitcoin fell to around $45,000. Here was another chance to buy the dip, and many investors took that chance. Again it dipped, this time to around $33,000, and once again the hopefuls bought the dip. Currently, Bitcoin is trading at around $23,000. The principle of buying the dip is based on an assumption that these price drops are temporary aberrations, correcting themselves over time. The buyers hope to exploit these dips by buying at a relative discount and reaping the rewards when prices rise again. It has happened many times before and it can happen again. However, cryptocurrency markets are notoriously volatile; hence buying crypto at any price - dip or no dip - is risky. Although prices could return to previous levels, on the other hand, they could leave your investment underwater by falling even further. 

Total market cap: from over $3trillion to $1trillion

Source: Coingecko

If the past is prologue, then the current crypto crash could bounce back as it did last year when prices fell to similar levels before returning to pre-dip levels. But of course, there is a possibility that they might not. Worthy of note is, that every kind of investment has past performance which is no guarantee of future results. Whether or not to buy the dip cannot be answered in one word. You may have to ask yourself questions before taking either step. What amount of money can I afford to lose, since any investment has its inherent risk? How long am I prepared to wait if the price does not rebound in the short term? Do I set a stop loss - i.e. if the price falls by another 25%, do I stay invested or leave an order with an exchange to sell?

Why is crypto crashing?
The specific reason for the current dip is yet to be agreed on. There are, however, speculations. The decline has been attributed...

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Bear markets for assets are nothing new and unfortunately neither are the crashes that inevitably follow them. Three of the better-known crashes were: the Dutch Tulipmania (1634-1638); the South Sea Bubble (1720); and the Bull Market of the Roaring Twenties (1924-1929). Of these, arguably the Dutch Tulipmania was a bubble because tulips have never been treated as an investment, whereas equities such as today’s crypto markets have fallen - only to rise again as confidence returns. In more recent times, equity markets have seen asset prices fall sharply on a number of occasions:

1972 - 1974: UK 74%
1987 Black Monday: DOW Jones 22% in a day
2000 - 2002: NASDAQ 75%
2007 - 2009: NASDAQ 56.8%

The reasons for falling asset prices often have their roots in what the ex-chairman of the US fed, Alan Greenspan, called “irrational exuberance.” Interestingly, if we look at what Greenspan said in his speech back in December 1996, it may well help to offer some guidance for the current predicament crypto and equity investors now find themselves in - that is, “erratic money, (i.e., wide variations in the quantity of money relative to the demand for money), distorts market price signals and the allocation of resources. Rational economic calculations, especially those affecting investment decisions, become more difficult when the future value of money is uncertain. Inflation and deflation that follow from erratic money undermine both economic and social order”. Well, we have certainly witnessed a lot of money being created, and arguably this has propped up asset prices as interest rates were crushed and companies and individuals went on a credit binge and asset prices inflated. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 35%+ of all US$ ever printed by the U.S. government was printed in 10 months in 2020. 


The US was not alone as we saw the world’s central bankers enter into aggressive monetary easing (create cash and buy bonds so reduce interest rates) which had actually started before COVID-19 gripped the world with fear. With all this cash ‘sloshing’ and uber-low interest rates around, it is no surprise that equities, bonds, property and crypto prices increased in value as ‘erratic money’ fuelled an attitude of ‘risk on’ i.e., investors looked for higher risk opportunities which helps to also explain some of the heady valuations of tech stock and cryptocurrencies. The trouble is, is that asset prices are driven also by something incredibly intangible, i.e. sentiment, and once this fickle driver turns it is very hard to regain it in the short term. Having said this, a recent Bank of America survey has found: “Ninety-one percent of 1,013 people the bank surveyed in early June said they expect to buy crypto in the next six months. That is the same percentage as those who actually bought in the past six months.”

Furthermore, one of the challenges cryptocurrencies face is that many of them cannot be assessed using traditional valuations methods. Most of the organisations which have created and issued cryptos generate little income, let alone are profitable, but hold a promise that they will gain mass adoption and one day will be profitable. The crypto market has indeed seen some very large price increases and Bitcoin (still today at over $20,000) has been a staggering investment for those who have held it for 5 years, let alone 10 years. But there are many holders of cryptocurrencies which will be substantially worth less due to their ICO or DeFi or NFT holdings. However, there is an expression - ‘reversion to mean’ - and, given the almost parabolic rise in...

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As reported by Reuters: “Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) firms have created one of the fastest-growing segments in consumer finance, with transaction volumes hitting $120 billion in 2021 up from just $33 billion in 2019, according to GlobalData.” However, stiff competition, rising interest rates and weaker consumer spending are creating challenging headwinds for BNPL. Klarna, which was Europe’s biggest FinTech firm has seen profits fall and is now laying off staff as it faces bad debts and strong competition from firms such as Afterpay.

BNPL has effectively enabled consumers to have free credit by purchasing goods, agreeing to pay for them over the following 3 or 4 months, but paying no interest. Mercator Advisory Group reports that more than 50% of US consumers have used a BNPL option in the past 12 to 14 months. Juniper research estimates that by 2026, the BNPL sector could be worth more than $1trillion with the number of users growing from 340 million to over 1.5billion. Even Apple is offering BNPL features on its new iPhone app and some are proposing that could this also lead to the tech giant (with over 507 million customers using Apple Pay) to be looking to start offering some form of crypto?

Having seen how digital assets and blockchain technology are ingressing into most businesses, it ought to come as no surprise to see that BNPL platforms are also enabling their customers to use crypto: Affirm, Zip in Australia, Klarna, XRPayNet are using their blockchain to create an app that offers BNPL functionality. Furthermore, @Pay is merging blockchain and crypto technologies with the BNPL concept and generating cost savings using smart contracts. @Pay has stated that: “they wish to be a key participant offering DeFi e-commerce and instore solutions to shopper and merchants”. Adam Mazzafero at @Pay believes: “BNPL based on blockchain is the only viable alternative if these companies are to prosper. Being DeFi-based means significant cost savings to traditional BNPL products, a robust ecosystem for shoppers and merchants, all within an ecosystem rewarding financial responsibility.”

A growing interest in BNPL, coupled with using a new method of payment in the form of cryptos and a technology that is able to automate process thus reducing costs whilst generating greater transparency for all, is a powerful combination. So, it is easy to see why there is considerable interest from the BNPL platforms in digital assets and the technology that powers them. As to how potential regulation around cryptos impacts these plans, or indeed the lack of profitability among the BNPL platforms - only time will tell if BNPL and the use of these digital assets are here to stay.

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Terraforms labs launched Terra in 2018, with Terra being an open-source blockchain payment platform for an algorithmic stablecoin - a cryptocurrency that automatically tracks the price of currencies or other assets. The Terra blockchain was designed to enable users to instantly spend, save, trade or exchange Terra stablecoins.

The Terra protocol creates stablecoins pegged to each other and consists of two cryptocurrency tokens - Terra and Luna - which can be exchanged for each other. This is the burn and mint equilibrium. Algorithmic stablecoin, Luna, is a cryptocurrency and rather than use a dollar to back its stablecoin, Terra used its native coin, UST, which was meant to be stable, whilst Luna was meant to absorb its volatility.
So, how does Terra’s algorithm work? 
More Luna is generated to purchase as much UST needed to keep it at a 1$ value. If the price of Luna goes back to normal (i.e., $1) the excess Luna is burnt. In essence, an algorithm is needed to manage the underlying token. The algorithm is constantly buying or selling to maintain the balance and so keep Terra at $1. Luna was designed to absorb the price volatility of UST, since more selling pressure for UST decreases the price of Luna.

Image credit: Bitnovo
What happened, it is believed, is that the Terra project grew too fast. This could be attributed to the high annual percentage yield (APY) of 20% , the return being offered to those who wanted to Yield Farm (where the owner of a crypto agrees to lend or borrow crypto on a DeFi platform and is paid/pays a APY based on the value of the crypto lent/borrowed). This was one of the highest in the space, and many people rushed in to take advantage of the high APY. The protocol also allowed for instant withdrawal, unlike some yield farming protocols which require lenders to lock up their crypto holdings for a set period of time. Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of FTX, said: “Terra was a case of “mass enthusiasm” and “excitement” with bad marketing.”

The trouble is, that whilst Terra wasn’t a Ponzi scheme it turnouts it had several loopholes that arbitragers and investors were quick to exploit. But Terra was not shrouded in anonymity as most Ponzi projects are. Furthermore, arbitragers usually take advantage of the native coin being above a dollar to make a profit - for instance, if Luna is $1.05, they could buy $100 worth which becomes $105 Luna, then sell 100 Luna for 100 UST, whereby making a $5 profit. This is a low-risk investment for most arbitragers and can also be done on the flipside. All the while they are doing this, the algorithm keeps trying to make it a stablecoin. So, what happens when many arbitragers start exploiting the market to make gains? Well, it looks like a Ponzi….. 

The second moving part is the Anchor protocol, the primary lending/protocol for the Terra ecosystem. Roughly 70% of UST in circulation is sitting in Anchor and this makes Anchor a significant stakeholder. But Anchor gave anchor tokens to borrowers as an incentive, and the amounts they get can be more than what they pay in interest. Both Anchor and Luna noticed the slack and moved to nullify them. Anchor topped up its yield reserve to $450 million. Luna upped...

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In 1992, Neal Stephenson, a sci-fi writer, introduced the metaverse concept in his novel, Snow Crash. The characters in the novel become avatars and work in a 3D virtual reality, called the metaverse. Subsequently, after this concept appeared, efforts and research were carried out to turn this metaverse into reality.

The applications of the metaverse are already being seen in several fields such as the gaming sector, entertainment, socialising, work, commerce, the healthcare system, and many more. The global value of the education sector is expected to be over $10trillion by 2030 and the EdTech market size alone is thought to be likely worth $318billion by 2030. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that those developing the metaverse are exploring a manner of ways in which it can be used in the education sector as a new way to teach people on a global basis. 

Global education and training sector
What is the metaverse? 
A more comprehensive description considers the metaverse as the next generation mobile-computing platform which will take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and an ever-increasing connectivity to create online environments which are more immersive, experiential and interactive than what currently exists.

The metaverse as an educational tool 
When it comes to education, learning and training, there is more need for innovation. Schools and education centres do more than simply training; they actively shape and prepare young people for the future - something which goes beyond the workplace, lecture theatres, classrooms, and colleges. The metaverse has many established uses in the digital age but when it comes to education, there are speculations as to how the metaverse will significantly improve the sector, offering a new more immersive way of teaching and sharing knowledge using a wide range of one’s senses in a more memorable manner.

How can the metaverse change education? 
Among the 4 existing types of metaverse - augmented reality, lifelogging, mirror world and virtual reality - virtual reality is the most diverse and actively used technology for educational purposes. Regardless of their real-life geographic locations, teachers and students can meet up in a virtual space through a virtual reality headset. Using the metaverse in this manner presents endless possibilities and a remarkable potential impact on education - for example, a group of students scattered around the world (but with a common interest in learning history) and a teacher based in Nigeria who travels the world looking at and researching historical places. Although this sounds like an impossible classroom, with metaverse the teacher could ‘virtually’ meet with the students - irrespective of the different locations - and show them around ruins and castles. A more interesting feature of the metaverse is its ability to create a highly immersive 3D environment. This exciting feature helps not only in teaching but it improves assimilation, since it provides a serene and virtual academic environment creating the impression as if you were actually in a different place.

Although teaching and learning via the metaverse seem like an impracticable concept, it is already in use. Roblox is a Singapore-based firm using the metaverse to help make education global, interactive and memorable. It allows people to build and share their virtual worlds akin to Minecraft and Fortnite. This concept was originally for creation purposes for the firm’s 40 million users; however, the feature has been...

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Non-Fungible Tokens or NFTs as they are popularly known, are being implemented in different ways by organisations depending on what their strategic goals are. For big brands such as Taco Bells, MacDonalds, Pizza Hut, Lamborghini, or KFC with its ‘finger lickin good’ collection, NFTs have been used as a way to market themselves and stay ahead of the competition. For many start-ups, scientists, film makers and entrepreneurs who are trying to raise capital for their projects, NFTs have been used as an alternative way to raise capital.

Conventionally, capital has been raised by issuing equity in a business and thus the owners have to give away a percentage of their shares. Alternatively, the company borrows money, typically from a bank, or issues a debt instrument, which is bought by a third party. NFTs now offer an alternative source of capital and at the same time can help build a cohort of people that are more engaged and are already or wish to be part of a community that supports/believes in the organisation that is issuing the NFTs. According to Dusan Kovacic, Chief Investment Officer at Rockaway Blockchain Fund, investments in NFTs last year soared 12,878% compared to 2020, reaching a total of $4.8bn.
A Hollywood film, called Zero Contact, starring Anthony Hopkins, has turned to NFTs to help raise the finance to create the film. 

Source: YouTube

Also in the entertainment sector musicians have used NFTs such as the band the  Kings of Leon who sold three different tokens: 
one with their new album, 
one for live show perks such as front row tickets for life, 
third contains exclusive audio visual art.

NFTs have been used by other owners of intellectual property (IP) to raise capital by creating digital versions of their IP. However, it is not just works of art but it could also include an organisation’s brand/ image rights as seen by the UK Premier Football league which is looking to sell over £430million of NFTs. 

Diamonds NFTs


Even jewellery gemstones are being packaged and sold as NFTs. This potentially makes the ownership of diamonds and other precious gems more available globally, and as the metaverse grows in popularity no doubt some avatars will we to ‘show off their bling’ as they wander around virtual lands. There is then no reason why people will not want to trade these digital NFTs in the same way people trade physical gems. 

This new model of raising capital using NFTs is beneficial to both the business and owners of IP as well as investors. For the seller of NFTs, it gives them the opportunity to raise capital without potentially relinquishing equity in their company. For NFT buyers it enables them to own a unique digital representation of an asset which may appreciate in value and or can be sold at a future date as well as potentially giving the buyer other benefits such as access to see a movie, concert, football match etc.

There is also another benefit for the creators of NFTs and that is to create an ongoing stream of income, similar to the royalty revenues enjoyed by musicians and the film industry. If the NFT is constructed in the right way every time the NFT is traded the original issuer of the NFT can earn a percentage of all future sales. Unlike selling a picture or a gemstone at an auction or to a dealer where the seller receives a one-off amount of money an NFT can be programmed to generate income on every subsequent sale of the NFT.

As with many investments, the financial success...

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Amongst the many industries hoping to find solutions using blockchain technology is the agriculture industry. That is not to say it is a smooth ride once blockchain-powered platforms are adopted. Rather, it is a journey the agriculture industry needs to in order take advantage of the benefits this technology can offer.

At present, the limitations of blockchain in agriculture are considerable. Of all the necessities of life, food is arguably the most important and safeguarding this is the food industry - an amalgam of government and private players. The use of blockchain technology in the agriculture market globally is expected to grow from $128.87 million in 2020 to $886.18 million in 2025, at a CAGR of 47.1%. Blockchain-powered platforms are being implemented in agriculture so as to improve efficiency and transparency and bring benefits for customers, suppliers and retailers alike.

Information being asked about the food supply chain 

Source: Consumer Preferences for Traceable Food
The technology is being further utilised in a variety of ways so as to help meet the challenges around food wastage, which the UN estimates to be as much as “14% of food [is] wasted p.a. from harvest to retailer” with complex and often international supply chains - and fraud. Of the many ways that blockchain technology is being used in the agriculture sector, here are just a few examples.

agricultural insurance - (Blockchain Climate Risk Crop Insurance). Smart contracts can help assess agricultural insurance claims, making the claim process simpler, fairer and quicker. Insurance frauds and false claims will also be alleviated with the use of smart contracts as they are immutable; no party will be able to change the policies to their advantage. It is estimated that claims can be paid in a week, as opposed to months, and the cost of insurance could be reduced by as much as 30%.

agricultural supply chains and sustainability - (SAP and Unilever Green Tokens). The transparency blockchain can bring to agriculture is unparalleled, bringing greater clarity and trust in what can be complex global supply chains. Because there is greater transparency and knowledge, retailers and consumers can have access to where goods come from and the sustainability of supply. Environmental sustainability is an increasing demand from retailers and consumers and having transparency and  greater clarity as to foods sustainability could well enable farmers that use a blockchain the ability to charge higher prices, so increase their profit margins

food safety - (IBM’s Food Trust). By digitising information about transactions regarding food growers, processors, shippers, retailers, regulators and consumers, all are able to access one database and have greater confidence in the food supply. This is vital in the event of an issue when food needs to be withdrawn due to a potential health/infection concern. 

provenance - (Agriledger in Hati). If a blockchain is implemented with Internet of Things (IoT) in agriculture, it hugely increases the traceability problem presently pervading the industry. Due to the current framework in the industry, fake agricultural products enter the system and, because they are untraceable, put consumers at risk. Over 40% of people claim: “where their food comes from will be an important issue for them”. Historically, food producers have been remote from the consumer and often earnt a relatively small percentage of the final selling price paid by the end consumer. However, by using blockchain technology food producers...


2 Months Ago

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Two years on from the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on countries around the world are still palpable. Many industries and areas of society have been impacted, not least within the philanthropic and charitable sectors, which are trying to use Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) to help raise money for worthy causes post the pandemic.

Blockchain technology and the NFTs that it can create is proving to be just what the industry needs by helping charities evolve into a digital or hybrid service-type establishment. This way, charities become accessible to people, potentially on a global basis. NFTs are bringing new people to the industry as the lines between social justice, activism and philanthropy are becoming blurred. Young donors are linking their donations with social actions and real outcomes which, in turn, leads to greater engagement. NFTs help them to materialise their support for those causes benefiting from their donations.

Source: Academy.moralis

There are, however, inevitable challenges the charity sector needs to address, such as donors being asked to settle with a subscription-type model. Also, the lack of accountability. Whilst some charities only spend 5% of donations on administration and overheads, other charities take as much as 40%  The lack of transparency and, in many cases, poor accountability can be a veritable barrier and reason why more money and/or time is not given to charities. The recent information regarding that a $6million house in Malibu California by the charity Black Lives Matter has raised questions as to the use of the charity’s funds. Questions concerning the accountability of charities and their movements are starting to take the centre stage. If unanswered, the patronage enjoyed by the industry will run the risk of diminishing since people rightly want to ensure their donations are used for the right purposes. 

Unlike many traditional methods, NFTs offer the potential to make transactions can happen with almost immediate effect and at a lower cost (even on a global basis). This is particularly relevant when charities are raising money in the event of global natural disasters or in war-torn zones, which are often thousands of miles from the donors themselves. Given that blockchain transactions can be available for all participants to see on the blockchain, the cost of keeping participants updated is practically inexistent. By using smart contracts, it is possible to ensure that donations are released once pre agreed targets/objectives have been achieved. All transactions and funds are both visible and traceable when using NFTs, whereby helping donors and stakeholders to renew their trust in charities. 

However, challenges do exist when using blockchain technology. One of these is, that certain blockchains have high transaction fees whilst others can utilise a large amount of energy to process transactions due to the way they operate; damaging for the environment since they have a high carbon footprint. These climate change issues are demanding for those wishing to support good causes but are unable to due to the lofty prices of some of the transaction fees. Although different blockchains are striving to address these issues, they remain a potential barrier to using certain blockchains. According to Citigroup: “The global value of philanthropy (i.e., donated time and money) is $2.3trillion p.a., or just under 3% of global GDP”. Without doubt NFTs can help the industry and, given the size of the philanthropic sector, the impact could be significant to those...

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The increasing interest and popularity of blockchain and digital assets has brought their various impacts to light. They have the potential to assist both a green transition and address Environmental Social and corporate Governance (ESG) concerns. ESG measurements aim to establish an evaluation of companies’ social and environmental responsibilities and credentials and this renders it very useful in assisting socially responsible investors to make their choice as to where to invest. The importance of ESG in determining the value of a company is becoming increasingly evident. Recently, the value of global ESG assets was estimated to exceed $53 trillion by 2025. Firms involved in ESG ratings provide corporate social credit scores which rank companies’ negative effects on the world - for instance, pollution and modern slavery.

Blockchain technology is helping to improve ESG credentials, in part given its ability to maintain a decentralised database of records which are tamper-resistant in nature. Therefore, it works as an assurance of accuracy and transparency of information. In effect, blockchain-powered platforms can act as a skeleton, interacting with other technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT), so as to transfer the data of smart infrastructure or devices to the blockchain network, satisfying both transparency and privacy. Furthermore, via the use of smart contracts, it becomes possible to verify the consistency between the final ESG report and the raw data that has been used to create the report. As mandatory corporate and sustainability reporting becomes more commonplace, accurate and verified documentation to support transparency becomes crucial. Therefore, blockchain technology can help with compliance of ESG standards in two major areas: reporting of data and supply chain transparency.

Reporting of data
Access to accurate, standardised information is key. Blockchain-enabled reporting tools give companies a chance to collect verifiable data and produce trustworthy reports that demonstrate their ESG credentials. Blockchain enables data standardisation, whilst also providing the platform needed to support data transparency. The automation of data collection from IoT allows various devices to communicate with each other and therefore share data and information without the need for human intervention. Utilising blockchain technology offers assurance that all the data transferred between devices is genuine and properly encrypted to prevent any alteration without authorisation. An example of this would be the use of a blockchain-powered platform to monitor the carbon footprint of a global group of independent organisations. According to a report from the EU: “Blockchain technologies can transform individual efforts of companies into a networked effort. And it can clearly pinpoint the contributions individual actors make to reduce their carbon footprint. The spirit of competition and market-based incentives create a win-win situation for all. Clean technology start-ups play a critical role in this process. They develop blockchain-enabled platforms that bring together all stakeholders, including companies, government and citizens”.

Supply chain transparency
An essential part of achieving viable goals is by improving supply chain sustainability. Blockchain technology offers the potential to transform supply chain management. Using distributed ledger technology, it provides a digital system and database to record the transactions along the supply chain, whereby bringing transparency, efficiency, traceability and reliability to supply chain management. Blockchain platforms, using IoT, can automate data collection across different points of a company’s supply chain. The relevant data does not have to be checked from potentially error-prone suppliers so companies can therefore have greater knowledge and potentially control over their environmental impact. This automation and real-time availability of information can help companies detect issues faster and also reliably trace the problem back to the source. Blockchains can play a role in terms of responsible and ethical sourcing. The transparency it offers is crucial in tracking the materials and goods from source to end-use and helps ensure security for all participants by allowing them to access the records of transactions at any time. An example of this has been...

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In 2022, the retail industry is projected to be worth in excess of $25 trillion worldwide. Over time, different tools have arisen to help the retail sector expand, and one that has been deployed very effectively is that of loyalty programs where we are seeing an increasing use of blockchain technology being employed.

Source: Allied Market Research
At the heart of every thriving business are loyal consumers. Those businesses which have mastered how to preserve the loyalty of their customers have the potential to stand head and shoulders above their competition. Blockchain technology has helped many businesses retain many more customers by creating more transparent and engaging loyalty programs. Historically, retailers have often rewarded their customers based on the value of their purchase. These rewards usually require the customer to use the rewards within certain time periods (‘use it or lose it’). Invariably the rewards are restricted and can therefore only be used with the retailer which is tied to their businesses. Interestingly, Deloitte is working on an interoperable loyalty reward program aimed at addressing these challenges. 

Some blockchain start-ups are already changing what retailing means on the basis of the technology, including:
Furthermore, there are many popular companies already embracing blockchain applications in their global supply chain, such as Alibaba, Walmart, Nestle and Carrefour and, as the image below shows, a number of other larger retailers in various jurisdictions are also using blockchain technology.

Examples of how Blockchain technology is being used in the retail sector

Source: 101
Meanwhile, the re-sale market of second-hand goods is huge with eBay generating $10bn in the last year. One of the problems faced by this section of the retail industry includes actors looking to take advantage of unsuspecting customers. Blockchain-powered platforms can address this through immutability of ownership and proof of original supply/material source. The sale of tickets for shows and concerts often results in fans over-paying or even buying fraudulent tickets from touts. An example though, when using smart contracts built on the Ethereum blockchain is Aventus Protocol, which allows rights holders to define rules of sales across the supply chain. The use of blockchain technology ensures these rules are followed by all those engaged in the re-selling of tickets. As a result, no one can excessively inflate the prices of tickets, and a ticket’s provenance is much simpler to track and trace.

It is important to note that the global economy loses about $5.38 trillion annually to fraud. With blockchain’s immutable ledger, fraud cases can actually be reduced. In order to avoid purchasing fraudulent goods, companies using blockchain-powered platforms can ensure the authenticity of products. Tracr, a blockchain solution by diamond company, De Beers, creates a digital asset (similar to an NFT) for every mined diamond owned by the company. From their source the diamonds can be tracked throughout the supply chain, and trade of conflicts (very common in the trade) can be avoided between a company and its buyers. The overall implementation of blockchain technology has benefited retail supply chains by dramatically improving transparency and trust in what can be very complex global supply chains. A report from DLA Piper and FTI Consulting has explored how the use of blockchain technology “is already being used to make significant improvements to supply chain management”. Indeed, the cost associated with administrative tasks can certainly be reduced with the use of...

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The holiday industry employs more people than any other industry globally and, as reported in City.AM: “According to World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) data, the sector’s contribution to the global economy could reach up to $8.6 trillion in 2022”. So, with the summer holidays looming large, together with giving up our staycations and journeying off to far flung places around the world after over two years of pandemic lockdowns, you may not realise it but blockchain technology is changing the travel industry. 

As with many other sectors, the harnessing of blockchain technology is improving and transforming the holiday and travel industry. Blockchains are being used to build decentralised platforms which help solve some of the holiday industry’s challenges and provide alternative processes and procedures to using traditional travel agencies. As blockchain-powered platforms become more accepted and widely adopted, blockchains are set to alter the way holidays are booked and the way in which holiday rentals are managed. As with so many other industries, blockchain technology can bring greater transparency and security in the travel industry by storing data in a decentralised form. This means data is held using cryptographic security protocols and can enable those booking travel and/or those offering accommodation (as well as agents, airlines, car rental firms etc.) access to travel bookings and plans 24/7. This short YouTube offers an array of different ways blockchain technology can be used in this industry.  

Source: YouTube
When booking a holiday, more often than not personal and confidential information about a traveller - such as passports details, credit card numbers, etc - are passed between various companies. Blockchain technology enables such data to be accessible more securely on a permissioned basis. Blockchains can utilise smart contracts to ensure payments are made using digital currencies in a fast, secure and most cost-effective manner in pre-agreed time, thereby improving the level of trust amongst the various parties.

Different ways blockchain technology is being used in the travel sector

Source: Researchgate
Uses of blockchain 
tracking luggage - over the course of the journey, travellers' luggage may change hands multiple times. Using a decentralised database makes sharing and tracking data between companies easier. Blockchain technology can bring transparency to track and trace the movement of luggage.

payments - there is a demand for new forms of payments and alternative ways to purchase travel. Being able to use cryptocurrencies is surely advantageous; they make simple, fast, secure and traceable payments possible. Also, they have lower processing fees than traditional currencies - especially for international payments. 

identification services - checking in at airports and ports consumes both time and energy. With the great advancement in technology over the last few years, it would be expected that such conventional but important processes to have improved - yet we still have to wait in-line to have our IDs checked and scanned. Identification services are fundamental for the travel industry, and a way to ensure it is problem-free is by adopting blockchains to store information. Blockchain technology can drastically reduce both check-in times and queues in airports (as well as those long delays when renting a car) by replacing the need to share paper-based documents such as ID cards, passports and driving licenses with something digital - such as fingerprint or retina scanning - whereby making it securer, easier and faster. 

improving loyalty schemes - to strengthen the interest and commitment of customers most travel companies run customer loyalty schemes. Blockchains can help to simplify loyalty programs, thereby allowing customers to access information more easily as regards their loyalty points. Tokens...

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NFTs symbolise a cultural shift towards a creator-economy and represent your rights to something. An explanation for ‘non-fungible’ can be likened to painting a picture that would not be the same as a picture someone else might paint since the two differ from a rights’ perspective. Yes, you can take a screenshot and copy it, but the digital signature that says “it's mine” cannot be copied. Powerful, because digital ownership is a fundamental concept in this new metaverse-driven world. 

‘Atomic swaps’ (a Peer2 Peer transaction) can present a challenge since they make the traditional centralised markets and exchanges redundant because, by using digital assets, we can trade Peer2Peer. An owner of a digital asset (NFT) can bypass traditional exchanges and, in effect, deal direct. For example, you send me a text: “Can I buy your digital painting if I send you 2 Ethereum tokens?”. You transfer the NFT in question (using a blockchain) to my nominated digital wallet whilst, in return, I transfer the 2 Ethereum tokens. All this can take place in a few seconds and, because it is entirely digital, it creates a fingerprint that can be used to prove the authenticity of the transaction having taken place and that it has also been stored on a blockchain to prove who owns what. 

Thus, it is easy to see how such digital transfers of rights and digital assets are able to happen 24/7 and makes national boundaries potentially less relevant as buyers and sellers can truly trade globally. However, the lack of centralisation is juxtaposed to the current centralised (almost command and control) structures that we have historically developed in many financial markets and other industries. Typically, regulators and governments prefer to have the ability to hold an entity responsible or accountable in the event that there is a failure or a problem (should one party in a transaction wish to seek redress - for example, compensation). If a transaction has been made via a centralised - typically regulated - marketplace which, in turn, only allows members/regulated entities to trade on it, then a regulator of the marketplace is in theory able to:

protect investors 
maintain confidence in the marketplace. 

These two fundamental reasons are why many financial regulators have been established. But if digital assets are to be traded in a decentralised manner this can present real challenges for regulators. Or does it? Afterall, if every transaction creates a digital footprint and is recorded on a blockchain it is possible that regulators could employ smart contracts to monitor decentralised transactions and have access to the monitoring of transactions (which is typically required in the event there is a problem). 

The popularity of NFTs (whilst not as intense as it was in the summer of 2021) is still considerable and is being driven by global brands such as the UK Premier Football League, which has announced it will be offering NFTs to its global fan base. As the table below indicates, the interest grew substantially last year and we are now seeing a very active market in terms of people trading NFTs in the secondary markets.

The growth of the NFT market over the last year


A return to self-regulation?
As ever, history is a powerful teacher. Or, as Marie-Antoinette (ex-queen of France) once said: “Nothing is new but what has been forgotten." It was only back in 1986 that we witnessed centuries of self-regulation being swept aside, with the UK creating the Securities and Investment Board (SIB) and the establishment of self-regulating organisations...

Written by Jonny Fry
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The High Court in the UK * has recently ruled that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) should be treated as legal property, which is likely to have a number of implications. In a court case in 2020, the court had ruled to "treat Bitcoin as ‘property'". Therefore, whilst English courts had given a degree of clarity for cryptos, this had not been the case until now for NFTs.

The fact that NFTs have been ruled a ‘property’ removes a number of uncertainties which have possibly held back those reputable owners of intellectual property, or IP (museums, art galleries, firms in the music and film industry etc), from commercialising the existing IP they own by issuing NFTs. This NFT ruling also provides greater certainty for regulated financial institutions looking to invest clients’ assets into NFTs, supporting legal agreements around the handling of NFTs, such as insurance, custody etc. 

As Lavinia Osbourne, whose company brought this case to court, announced: “As this case, and the increasing number of hacks and scams in the NFT space shows, digital wallets and smart contracts aren’t infallible. Now that NFTs are legally recognised as property, NFT holders will finally be able to regain some control when things go wrong.” Furthermore, Racheal Muldoon, the barrister who helped obtain this ruling, said: “This case sets an important precedent in recognising that NFTs are property under the law of England and Wales, capable of being the subject of interim injunctions. It is a further example of the High Court leading the way internationally by assisting cryptoasset holders to secure the return of their digital assets”. So, will we subsequently see a reduction in insurance premiums? Ben Davis, a specialist insurance broker focusing on digital assets at Superscript, has reported: "This is a big step in the right direction for insurers to start looking at covering theft of NFTs as with more regulatory clarity comes more peace of mind for insurers." 

Undoubtedly, NFTs are now being used for a wide variety of purposes. Some will have very little, if any, value and could be as simple as a ticket to an event. Other NFTs have been used to sell digital art, with the most expensive to date being Pak's, 'The Merge', selling for $91.8m. It was bought by 28,983 collectors. Gaining greater legal clarity around the treatment of NFTs ought to provide comfort for all those engaged in them although, given the copious ways that NFTs are being used, this will no doubt give rise to further court cases and potentially even greater scrutiny from regulators in various jurisdictions. The adoption of digital assets continues to rise in Europe, as can be seen from the recent survey carried out by Coinbase, which found: “Consumer cryptocurrency ownership levels in the UK are second only to the Netherlands (47%) in Europe; ahead of Spain (26%), Italy (25%), Germany (24%) and France (17%). Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) remain the most owned cryptocurrencies at 75% and 52%, respectively”. Without doubt digital assets are popular, and the recent NFT ruling will help to support the interest in this way of owning assets.

*If you would like a copy of the legal announcement, please contact us.


3 Months Ago

Written by Jonny Fry
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Blockchain is designed to manage electronic data transparency and accountability. It is described as a digital ledger technology or a spreadsheet duplicated thousands of times and stored in a distributed network across multiple locations. Blockchain's ubiquity is becoming evident with time.

The technology that powers cryptocurrencies is proving that it is able to be harnessed to meet many other challenges in a wide variety of industries including the medical industry. One of the greatest challenges facing the medical sector is fraud, which is prevalent in many ways: in drug trials;
manufacturing of fake drugs and the use of poor quality or the wrong ingredients;
allowing unqualified staff to perform procedures and examinations; 
invoicing medically unnecessary services; 
billing for services not performed; 
charging for branded drugs and using simple generic medication instead;
charging for more drugs than were used.

Source: Science Direct
According to the Fortune Business Insights publication: “The global fraud detection and prevention market is exhibited to grow from USD 30.65 billion in 2022 to USD 129.17 billion in 2029, exhibiting a CAGR of 22.8%”. Such levels of fraud lead to a lack of trust in the healthcare industry and are often a result of an absence of transparency. And this is what the use of blockchain-powered platforms is able to alleviate. Alongside being a catalyst for the utmost accountability, the use of Blockchain technology can ensure that data is more secure, accurate, and tamper-resistant in nature whereby making it almost impossible to mimic, falsify or manipulate data.

Application of blockchain in the medical industry
The uses of Blockchain technology in the medical sector are many and varied and it uses to tackle fraud is just but one. Other such examples are:

safety and transparency - ensuring a simple and easy exchange of data among providers of medical solutions can contribute to diagnostic precision, productive therapies and cost-effective ecosystems. Blockchain enables different health organisations to connect and exchange information on a commonly distributed ledger for better safety and transparency whilst still maintaining integrity and confidentiality. 

health record keeping - in most cases, patients’ data exists in silos that are not connected. For instance, your primary care physician has access to some of your medical data but not to data that specialists such as an endocrinologist, general surgeon or obstetrician can access, and vice versa. This hinders treatment and can impede the care management of a patient. Blockchain technology could solve this problem by making available an application that enables connecting to existing medical record (EMR) systems from different healthcare providers. Whenever a piece of new information is lodged into any of the EMRs, the blockchain would receive encrypted data regarding the information. This unifies all details and provides the patient and health providers with historical access, thereby making it easy and possible for healthcare providers to obtain a complete view of the patient's health status at any point in time.

digital identity - it is claimed that: “Stolen health information is 20 to 50 times more valuable on the black market than financial data. This stolen data is used for medical identity theft, an insidious crime that can lead to devastating consequences for individuals and billions of dollars lost industry-wide”. Blockchains can enable a transparent, auditable means for individuals (using their peculiar credentials and encryption key) to allow other parties to access their personal...