Blockchain founders raised $822m by Q2 – with enterprises focused on open source

According to the latest State of Blockchains report fromOutlier Ventures, blockchain startups raised $822 million by Q2 – but theecosystem continues to lag behind the 2017 and early 2018 peak.

$822m was raised across 279 deals over the second quarter of2019, with more than half of them being seed stage deals indicating continuedfresh talent into the space.

Yet while the numbers may be lower, the scope is much moreadvanced – particularly with how enterprises are associating with thetechnology.

The report explores case studies which will be familiar toreaders of this publication. Last month The Blockreportedthat retailer Target had posted a job advert for a blockchain engineer, withthe right candidate being able to contribute to ConsenSource, a certificateregistry blockchain application based on Hyperledger Sawtooth. The company’sinterest in blockchain has been noted, working with agribusiness providerCargill on a Hyperledger-built project around the supply chain.

Target was cited, alongside EY and Western Union, asorganisations embracing open philosophies. Blockchains for provenance continueto be the largest enterprise use case, the report says, with ‘a direct impact onretail customers.’ Plenty of other retailers have been involved in recentprojects, fromCarrefour, who announced positive results, to more regular work fromWalmart.

IEOs (initial exchange offerings) were also cited as havinghad a particular impact – ‘indicating an interest from the retail market instill backing new token-based projects’.

“Unlike the hubris of 2017, the nature of tokens that areseeing traction today have better-defined ecosystems associated with them, tradinginfrastructure has evolved substantially and regulatory compliance has becomeeasier for institutional giants,” the report noted. “With this in context – it issafe to suggest winter is finally over and we may witness a full-blown summeraround Bitcoin’s halvening next year.”

Outlier Ventures has also launched a new project with 18organisations which aims to enable a new open data economy built on decentralisation.The initial members are varied and interesting, including T-Mobile, SAP and JaguarLand Rover, and represent a key stakeholder across its particular industry tocreate an open, decentralised web.

“The last 25-year computing cycle has been dominated by theplatform and the cloud, with obscene value creation for a handful ofcorporations. However, there is a growing awareness about the trade-offs of thecloud platform and a developed understanding of the benefits of decentralisedtechnology, unlocking a new truly peer-to-peer value exchange,” said JamieBurke, founder of Outlier Ventures in a statement.

“The Alliance is the first manifestation of acounter-narrative and a signal of the paradigm shift that’s about to come.”

The Block spoke with Burke at the Blockchain Expo Global event in London around the data and platform monopolies which exist today. Take a look at what he said below:

Interested in hearing more in person? Find out more at the Blockchain Expo World Series, Global, Europe and North America.

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Integrating new business technologies has its challenges

Q&A with Greg Skerry, solutions architect at Altoros

Kepler Finance talked to Greg Skerry – Enterprise Blockchain Solutions Architect at Altoros about implementing high-end technologies in businesses, most prominent use cases and challenges they faced.

1. What technology solutions in your product line obtained the greatest number of use cases among small and medium businesses?

Within the permissioned blockchain space, we find the frameworks under the Hyperledger project (particularly Hyperledger Fabric) are well-suited to handle the needs of a wide range of business scenarios and use-cases. The modular design and configurable nature of Hyperledger Fabric gives it perhaps the widest adaptability.

2. What kind of challenges do these solutions solve for your clients?

We’re seeing blockchain solutions used to tackle a range of enterprise challenges, from increasing efficiency and transparency of back-office functions to supporting new-to-market platforms and services. Some of the notable industry verticals utilizing permissioned blockchain continue to be areas such as supply chain and trade finance.

3. What business operations are the most applicable for distributed ledger and artificial intelligence?

Using the supply chain example as a jumping off point, it is frequently going to be operations involving multiple, unrelated parties, that currently struggle to find a reliable, efficient and uncontested source-of-truth. Managing pooled or collective data today with traditional technologies generally means one of two things: (a) lots of costly (in time and capital) verifications and redundancies across multiple systems and/or (b) centralized data systems controlled by a single party involved, disenfranchising partners and just as often leading to costly disputes. DLT offers a high potential return in these fact-patterns.

4. What do businesses need to be aware of and what challenges can they face while implementing an emerging technology like blockchain and artificial intelligence?

Really at the end of the day, it’s an interesting tension between the appeal of decentralized ownership, versus the cost and effort associated with taking on that data ownership. There is a range of approaches and design patterns that can be used to strike the right balance of hands-on and hands-off management of blockchain nodes in production. It’s just a classic question of how much ownership you want to turn over for the sake of convenience.

5. Implementing high-end technologies impacts the legacy system of any company. What major upgrade of the legacy systems have your clients had to go through? What were the main challenges and how were they solved?

As counterintuitive as it might be, blockchain is not all that disruptive to most legacy systems, in the sense that it really can’t be layered on top of centralized paradigms and so it will be deployed in parallel the vast majority of the time. Likewise from an integration perspective blockchain doesn’t necessarily mean upgrades to legacy systems. The most common patch we see deployed is the creation of interfaces (APIs) between legacy and blockchain networks prototypes, in order for them to communicate and sync. For clients that might have antiquated or no existing cloud infrastructure, then sometimes there is some required ramp-up effort just to provide an environment to host blockchain nodes.

6. What would you say is the most disruptive and revolutionary project you have worked on for a client? What were the main struggles and major outcomes?

We’re currently working with a global retailer to implement blockchain infrastructure across its order management system, touching its entire network of suppliers and purchasing customers. Seeing the potential to greatly reduce processing time and errors, while increasing transparency across a global supply-chain is inspiring.

7. What clients have benefited the most from your solution (ROI growth, cost reduction, etc)? Could you describe the most prominent cases?

While quickly reiterating that Altoros is a professional services model, generally, the clients that have benefited most from adopting blockchain technology have been in that common fact-pattern (operating within a fragmented supply-chain with multiple other participants, and suffering from required redundancy and inefficiency of verification amongst themselves, or being dependent on a single influential participant with a monopoly on the data infrastructure of the space). When blockchain is successfully implemented, we see those redundancies removed, and costs associated with settlements, verification and disputes drop off dramatically. Relative to many centralized data technologies, blockchain is also better self-maintaining over a long horizon.

8. What areas do you think are the most applicable for the combination of these technologies?

So I’ll quickly caveat being an unapologetic skeptic of ‘buzzword mashups’, and when I hear blockchain and AI together, I do generally probe as to what the motivation and driving business need is to combine these technologies. With that said, blockchain is, by nature, a very promising large scale and widely available data store, so the use of AI in this sphere is very likely to continue and increase over time, for that reason alone.

If we consider blockchain as part of any general data pipeline, then there are varying scenarios inbound and outbound. Inbound: being an immutable database, the old adage garbage-in-garbage-out is as pertinent as ever. AI algorithms can be used to apply data cleaning and other filters to ensure what ends up on-chain is as clean, light and error-free as possible. Outbound: again, if we consider blockchain to be a wide (even global) and open data store, then the AI analytics applications are fairly uncapped. Getting clinical and other health data available on blockchain, for example, might mean unprecedented opportunities for analytical breakthroughs, driven by AI.

Again, it’s not that there’s an inherent link between blockchain and AI as technologies per se, but perhaps just more that each advances the end goals of the other. It’s a good example of this humorous pattern we’ve noted within the blockchain space; that frequently its power is really in its ability to consolidate everyone into a single (decentralized) framework. Takes the mind an extra second to process sometimes.

9. According to your practice, what kind of consulting do you usually provide your clients with? What are the typical piece of knowledge and expertise that the average client lacks in terms of blockchain technology adoption?

Altoros enjoys a depth of expertise in a wide range of cutting-edge technologies, allowing us to bring value to clients in multiple domains. e.g. our team has just recently released cited research around zero-knowledge-proofs and their application in blockchain. We’re also a long-standing leader in cloud infrastructure technology (e.g. being a cloud foundry leading member), and have both R&D and deployment teams advancing the applications of TensorFlow and other AI technologies.

For blockchain, clients are frequently attempting to sort out the pros and cons of various (rapidly evolving) technology options. We help them determine, for example, whether blockchain is the right solution at all (sometimes it is not); whether open-chain technologies (e.g. Ethereum, EOS, etc) make the most sense, versus permissioned options like Hyperledger and Corda; and moving into design and deployment, we assist with infrastructure heavy-lifting and automation, leveraging our expertise with tools like k8s, etc.

Source: Kepler Finance.

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Hyperledger Fabric Observes 7-Fold Increase In Transaction Speed After Update

The new update of Hyperledger Fabric has been re-engineered to support almost seven times more transactions per second (TPS), according to a news release from Canada’s University of Waterloo on May 2.

The researchers have incorporated a new series of optimizations, that has purportedly increased the volume of data that the blockchain can process. Earlier, it maxed out around 3,000 TPS, the release claims that the network has managed to achieve 20,000 TPS. The Hyperledger Fabric is currently employed by financial institutions, IT giants and engineering companies

The development was focused on improving “end-to-end transaction throughput” by redesigning Fabric’s ordering service, transaction service and data management layer. That will make the blockchain is more practical for “fast-paced sectors such as e-commerce.” Christian Gorenflo, one of the university’s’ Ph.D. candidates, explained:

“Our modifications are completely under-the-hood. Fabric’s application programming interfaces and modularity stay intact, so existing applications work just as before.”

Professor Lukasz Golab adds that researchers are looking into collaboration with major Fabric contributors who want to adopt their optimizations in future releases. As per Golab, the reception so far as very positive.

Further, Professor Srinivasan Keshav elaborates that the team is now driven to pursue further optimizations, i.e. taking Hyperledger Fabric’s capacity to 50,000 TPS. The Hyperledger community has been growing in leaps and bounds.

Intel partnered with the ecosystem in February to launch a commercial package designed for businesses that want to launch their own blockchain quickly and efficiently. IBM is using its Hyperledger-based blockchain platform to improve supply chain management in the mining industry and ensure commodities such as cobalt are sourced responsibly.

Read more: Intercontinental Exchange Smarty Stocked Up Cryptos During ‘Crypto Winter’

Image Source – Hyperledger Twitter


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