OmiseGO (OMG): The Payment Token

OmiseGO (OMG) is an e-Wallet, smart contract platform, and the ERC20 token issued by Omise, a venture-backed payment services company similar to Stripe. Their ultimate goal is be a “preeminent high-value exchange and settlement platform.” After establishing their payment network, founders Jun Hasegawa and Donnie Harinsut created OmiseGO. The OMG blockchain operates on proof-of-stake, and the native currency is the ERC20 OMG token. There are exactly 140,245,398 OMG tokens in existence, and all but 38 million are currently circulating. The founders capped the OMG token supply and will not create any more.

Although new services like Paypal and Venmo create pressure for a more competitive network, the same centralized counterparty risks apply. Also, most legacy networks are typically unwilling to allow interchangeability across providers, instead protecting their network with a “winner take all” mindset.

OMG wants to build a fully decentralized peer-to-peer system to enable “asset agnostic” value exchange in real time on an Ethereum-based blockchain. (This means any decentralized or fiat currency pairs or ERC-20 tokens)

Omise vs OmiseGo

It is important to understand the difference between Omise (the parent company) and OmiseGO. Omise is a payment enabler that integrates with online and offline retail platforms, comparable to a Stripe or Paypal for the Japanese and SE Asian markets. Major ecommerce platforms including WooCommerce and OpenCart have also integrated with Omise.

Not only is Omise’s API publically available, but it’s also PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliant. In combination with its ability to support SWIFT, these are important tools for enabling cryptocurrencies to stay compliant with financial regulations. OmiseGO will eventually attempt to succeed SWIFT as a way to change currencies between all platforms, both traditional and crypto-related.

Omise has a mobile wallet in use similar to Apple Pay, as well as a Facebook chatbot that enables payments. Sending payments in increasingly informal manners (sms, messenger) will continue to gain traction, particularly in underserved areas. With a bevy of large clients including McDonalds, Allianz, Bose, and more, Omise has considerable support in its endeavours.

Because of its integration with the Omise platform, OmiseGO has received mcuh support from the media. It is this integration that will eventually allow users to exchange currencies freely between all cryptos, fiat currencies, and even 3rd-party tokens on their DEX (decentralised exchange). OmiseGO appears to have an advantage in providing liquidity over other coins and tokens due to VC backing.

OMG IRL

OMG and Omise are different from most cryptocurrencies dedicated to disrupting global banking. Given its parent company’s strong position in the online payment ecosystem, OMG is following the banking industry trend of providing flexible banking to the unserved and underserved. To increase speed, OmiseGO will eventually adopt Plasma for Ethereum.

The World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion database estimates that more than 2 billion people around the world are currently unbanked. This means that they not only lack a bank account, but they also have no access to a financial institution. 9 million are unbanked with a further 24.5 million underbanked even in the United States. Although Omise is relatively unknown in the US, it is expanding from Thailand to tap into Japan, China, and other SE Asian markets. Together, these points all mean that OmiseGo has a strong placement in the cryptocurrency arena.

Summary

OmiseGO is an ERC20 token that is wants to provide financial services to SE Asia’s unbanked population. The OMG blockchain will supplement the existing Omise payment and mobile wallet infrastructure. Eventually it will utilise Ethereum’s Plasma Network for rapid transactions and PoS verification. Thailand’s Central Bank and Ministry of Finance, as well as prominent Asian VC’s, all back OmiseGO. The Ethereum founders are also consulting on the project, so clearly OmiseGO is a project to keep on your radar!

OmiseGO Website

Hong Kong’s Banking Sector to Get a Blockchain Platform by September

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the region’s currency board and central bank, is set to launch a live blockchain-based trading platform in September. The banking project is backed by HSBC, Bank of China, ANZ, DBS Bank, Bank of East Asia, and the Hang Seng Bank.

According to Reuters, Howard Lee, HKMA’s deputy chief executive, has hailed it as the largest multi-bank blockchain project of its kind in Hong Kong, and the result of the institution’s 2017 resolve to develop a proof-of-concept (POC) financial system.

He also revealed plans to link up other trading platforms to the network to provide greater coverage and facilitate cross-border trades.

The technology is being developed by Ping An OneConnect with Deloitte as the official project consultant. The platform is built using a permission-based Hyperledger Fabric 1.1. system.

Acceptance tests are ongoing with the first product set to support open account financing, enable banking institutions and companies to submit financial orders and invoices, and provide financing.

In 2017, when testing began, the main objective was to develop an application that would be based on distributed ledger technology.

It would reduce risks associated with fraudulent trades and provide greater transparency within the banking industry, as well as detect duplicate financing.

According to HSBC’s head of growth and innovation, Vivek Ramachandran, the latest announcement is a testament to how blockchain technology can help counter banking inefficiencies.

Last year, Singapore and Hong Kong made a blockchain oriented deal to open up trade between the two regions, and the new platform is set to realize this objective.

The Hong Kong, Singapore Blockchain Deal

In October last year, Hong Kong and Singapore’s central banks, HKMA and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), respectively, outlined plans to link up trading networks via a blockchain platform to overcome errors and fraud, as well as strengthen trade.

According to Norman Chan, head of HKMA, the new technology would replace the inefficient paper-based system.

Letters of credit, for example, have been a major hurdle facing trade between the two Asian nations.

Their purpose is to reduce the risk of fraud between exporters and importers but involves a lot of bureaucracy and paperwork, leading to a significant loss of time.

The letters are, however, responsible for guaranteeing an immense $2 trillion worth of trade transactions. As such, a change in the platform would have far-reaching effects.

Market players expect that the new blockchain platform will validate a greater number of transactions between traders more effectively.


This story was written by Elizabeth Gail, and was originally published on coincentral.com. For more news, cryptocurrency resources, and information about XCH4NGE, please visit our Hub.

Schnorr Signatures: Bitcoin’s Latest Upgrade

No one can challenge the breakout growth of Bitcoin. With an estimated 200M users and an almost 150% price increase year on year, the cryptocurrency is the standard bearer for the markets. But is Bitcoin a victim of its own success? In order to remedy questions surrounding network scaling, the community is set to implement Schnorr signatures.

The question of scalability has long been a point of contention between BTC and BCH fans, and one developer thinks that they have the answer. Pieter Wuille, one of the largest contributers to Bitcoin’s software, has proposed introducing a cryptographic measure called “Schnorr signatures”. Wuille is also behind the adoption of Segregated Witness (or SegWit), which raised tensions within the community to a fever pitch in August of 2017.

The controversy was mainly due to a split in opinion over the method of scaling. Some are ‘originalists’, meaning they want to preserve the key characteristics of Bitcoin by minimizing trust in others and ensuring conservative scaling. Others prioritise new users, focusing on user onboarding, low fees, and acceptable security. Despite this, most stakeholders actually agree on the necessary actions to allow reliable scaling; the point of contention is the timing and order of these actions.

From this dispute arose SegWit, which promised to fix a bug preventing scalability innovation. After a year of testing the upgrade has acquired support from developers, users, miners, and businesses, and will be implemented. This implementation in turn allows for Schnorr Signatures, one of the scalability innovations that was previously prevented.

So How Do Schnorr Signatures Work?

In every bitcoin transaction, signature data is required to confirm the transaction. By necessity, these signatures require space within the blockchain. When one address is receiving transactions from multiple addresses, each transaction requires its own signature even if there is just one sender.

Schnorr Signatures

The more signatures that need to be put on the blockchain, the greater the transaction size and therefore the miner fee for verifying. But why should we waste valuable blockspace on copies of the same signature? If all transactions from one source were signed with a single signature, that would reduce fees and increase transaction volume. This is exactly what Schnorr signatures do- they could provide a 25% reduction in storage and bandwidth.

Schnorr Signatures

Schnorr also offers increased privacy as to your transaction security measures. For some safety-conscious users, multiple signatures on a transaction (multi-sig) is a way to increase security. But as with any good security system, you don’t want potential attackers to know this. Don’t worry; Schnorr signatures make your multi-sigs look just like any normal transaction.

Preventing Spam Attacks

While saving blockspace is a major rationale for Schnorr, there’s another increasingly important benefit; preventing spam attacks on the Bitcoin network. In May of 2017, the network saw an enormous spike in transactions initiated by spammers pushing their development agenda. By including as many as a dozen different signatures in each transaction, spammers managed to raise the cost of transactions for weeks. You can see an example of this attack in block #470824.

The ideological motivation behind this attack only makes the weakness more troubling. Happily, Schnorr is here to help. With multiple signatures condensed into one, the price of such an attack by will rise by orders of magnitude. If the attacker does not utilize Schnorr, those that do will still benefit from smaller transaction sizes.

With Schnorr on its way to being implemented, the future for Bitcoin is bright indeed. Increased security, a more robust network, and a userbase that only seems to grow are all positive signs; let’s just hope there isn’t as much arguing this time.

 

How Cryptocurrencies Can Fight Global Poverty

Cryptocurrency. Even the word sounds complicated, and media coverage does nothing to dispell that image. Those involved in the industry know that far from being a restricted and technical product, crypto can be an instrument of social change to combat poverty. Over 2 billion people are classified as unbanked or underbanked, which means they lack access to basic financial services. These people also tend to distrust financial institutions. Lack of access to checking accounts and emergency loans leaves them vulnerable to predatory lending practices. These practices include loan sharking, and often involve extortionate interest rates, condemning victims to further financial instability.

There are also large numbers of people who do not have an established identity in the form of a credit or banking history. This is often due to an absence of consistent employment, especially in countries where a cash-centric informal economy remains strong. In Brasil for example, roughly 51% of the population is part of the informal cash economy. While this may help them avoid taxes, it also means that decades of advances in the finance industry has excluded the impoverished. People have effectively been left behind by globalisation because of where they live.

The Poverty Leapfrog

Poverty Leapfrog

In order to connect these people, one must first determine how to grant access to modern services using existing infrastructure. Computers and cellphones for personal use were widely available decades before the first smartphone was released. Compare this to developing nations, and you notice that there was no smooth transition. These communities may never have owned personal computers or cell phones, skipping them entirely and going directly to cheap smartphones.

Pre-2007, huge swathes of Kenya’s population were financially excluded due to low rural penetration. M-Pesa, a mobile payment system, saw an opportunity. Traditional banking is of little use to people who live day-to-day and mainly use cash for their expenses. Although most people in Kenya didn’t own a landline, the adoption of cheap Android smartphones allowed the proliferation of mobile payments. Users also did not have to carry cash on them, a relief in countries with high rates of violence or hyperinflationary currency. Circa 2016, 26.7 million had registered with mobile money transfer services (a whopping 61.3% of the entire population).

China’s population saw a similar boom in mobile payments due to the restrictive regulations of their government. Businesses forced to innovate to avoid constraints have turned the strictures into opportunities. Companies like WeChat and Alipay, now global names, entered the fintech space by creating closed e-payment systems. China now makes trillions of dollars in mobile payments every year, overshadowing countries with superior infrastructure. Users of mobile payments can do everything from making insurance payments to paying their restaurant bill using QR codes, much more advanced than mobile payment infrastructure in the U.S.

Blockchain: A Gateway Technology

Blockchain technology promises a similar leap in access to financial services. The same smartphones grant a gateway for mobile blockchain solutions. Banks can use handset data for credit scoring, and cryptocurrencies can enable direct payments without a third party.

Possibly one of the most important benefits of the blockchain is the potential to bolster transparency and contain corruption. The world loses an estimated 2 trillion dollars a year to corruption. Blockchain systems will introduce a secure record of financial transactions on a tamper-proof distributed ledger, thereby preventing fraud or theft. Japan and Sweden are already beginning test projects, the performance of which could spread the tech to other countries.

Finally, expect to see a huge proliferation of small and micro business loans. Helping small businesses grow is key to aiding and growing underserved, poverty-line areas. Not only do they provide an income stream for business owners, but they also provide services to the community. Money spent on these services also stays within the community, growing the local economy.

While blockchain is certainly making waves as an investment for huge businesses and wealthy investors, the number of use cases for global aid efforts continues to grow. From theft-proof donations to financial fraud prevention and transparency in kleptocratic governments, it’s clear that the biggest benefits will be seen in poverty-stricken developing countries. Ironically for an industry where the most outspoken names are mainly westerners, the dream of a national crypto-economy being espoused may first come to pass in Africa or South America.

 

Blockchain in Government: Making Operations More Efficient

Blockchain in Government: An Unlikely Match?

At the surface, blockchain in government operations doesn’t appear to be a likely match. There’s a common perception that technology and governments are competing against one another. This is likely due to the fact that cryptocurrencies, for example, reduce or even eliminate the need for centralized institutions.

Even though competition between blockchain projects and government institutions could be an issue to watch out for, looking only at this possibility doesn’t show the bigger picture. In reality, we’re beginning to see many nations trend towards greater utilization of blockchain technology for many reasons.

National Cryptocurrencies

Beginning in 2017, a number of nations began to consider implementing their own national cryptocurrencies. The Venezuelan Petro, Russian Cryptoruble, and Estonian Estcoin are all examples of governments utilizing blockchain to create cryptocurrencies. But as of June 2018, we haven’t seen much progress from these digital currencies.

For example, the Venezuelan Petro was ruled unconstitutional by the Venezuelan National Assembly in March 2018. And many governments throughout the world have criticized this project. While Estcoin appeared to be a bit more promising, Estonia has since called off (or at least scaled back) plans of launching its national cryptocurrency after criticism from the European Central Bank.

Even though the implementation of national cryptocurrencies seen thus far hasn’t seemed to work, many people view the creation of these projects as inevitable in the long-term, which will bring more efficiency and transparency to national economies.

Better Voting Systems

Election fraud continues to be a major issue for governments around the world. Voting machine hacks and intentional voting miscounts from groups in power have led to rampant distrust amongst voters. Blockchain-based voting systems have the potential to solve these issues and gain widespread adoption.

Since votes on the blockchain are immutable and can be tracked in real-time, governments have the potential to determine election winners in a more efficient manner. Blockchain’s public structure also eliminates the possibility of election tampering. Follow My Vote and Polys are a few examples of blockchain projects working on such technologies.

It’s still unknown when we will see these systems implemented in nations like the US. However, some predict that 2019 or 2020 is a likely possibility.

Blockchain in Government

Blockchain improves voting systems.

Identity Management

Identity management is another example of an outdated system that benefits from new technological innovations. It’s still unknown how exactly to create official government-approved digital identities. But, a combination of blockchain and biometric technology (i.e. facial recognition or retina scans) could be part of the answer.

Currently, billions of people throughout the world are reliant upon national identity numbers (i.e. social security numbers in the US) to verify identity. However, these systems have rampant problems with fraud. Additionally, physical identity cards are limited in their uses for remote identity verification. Oftentimes, identity management requires in-person verification, which can lead to long waiting times at government offices, polling places, and many other locations.

Estonia is one nation aiming to change the future of identity management. Although Estonia has scaled back plans on implementing blockchain to create a national cryptocurrency, the government still has plans to use blockchain to create an improved identity management system. The government planned to use Estcoin as a part of Estonia’s e-residency, a program that simplifies the process for foreigners looking to establish residency in the country.

In this example, identity management with blockchain makes it easier for e-residents to sign official documents and set up companies remotely. Other governments around the world could use this example to transform their identity management systems and reduce barriers to voter participation, government-provided benefits, and more.

Taxes

While many governments are starting to tax cryptocurrency earnings, blockchain technology itself could also make taxation systems more efficient. The time it takes to process tax-related information could be reduced drastically from weeks or months to a matter of seconds. There are several factors that make this possible. One example, smart contracts could replace the current manually-executed intra-firm agreements.

Governments could also create blockchain-based taxation systems that automatically check for Missing Trader Intra–Community (MTIC) fraud, commonly known as ‘carousel fraud’, across EU member states. MTIC accounts for billions of Euros in lost tax revenue every year. By creating a digital ledger for all traded goods and services, governments can create a system for verified transactions, tying all the information in one, immutable chain.

Blockchain reduces or even eliminates the need for manual verification, allowing businesses to optimize their operations while also ensuring governments don’t lose potential tax revenue in the process. For employees, blockchain-based taxation also means that tax returns are processed much quicker.

blockchain taxes

Blockchain improves tax collection efficiency.

Blockchain in Government: The Future

In the early years of blockchain, many governments have been skeptical and even somewhat resistant to the public’s adoption. Nonetheless, we are beginning to see more interest as well as implementations of blockchain initiatives led by governments around the world. It appears that the sentiment towards blockchain is beginning to change.

As we continue to see blockchain advancements and a greater demand for innovation in government, the adoption of blockchain could soon move from a technology that’s “good to have” to one that’s necessary. Blockchain in government has the potential to give real meaning to overly-used political buzzwords like “transparency” and create noticeable improvements in efficiency overall.

Article by Delton Rhodes. This article was originally published on Coincentral

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