by Eliot Harkin
Stories this week focused on grassroots efforts to encourage bitcoin and blockchain adoption around the world. From college campuses of North America to the unbanked masses of India, companies and organizations are making significant efforts to empower people and give them a way to participate meaningfully in fintech and the economy.
Compiled from stories by Joseph Young, Nuno Menezes, Michael Scott, Diana Ngo, Christie Harkin & James Ryan Moreau
Hosted by the Blockchain Education Network (BEN), Blockchain Madness will commence March 15th. Three schools in the United States and three in Canada will compete against each other in a spirited blockchain event. As a global ecosystem of students and young professionals, BEN is the catalyst behind a grassroots movement that supports blockchain education through campus events, hackathons, and other activities. It also provides educational resources and support for students seeking to start a new BEN chapter at their school or campus.
In an interview with BTCMANAGER, Nicholas Abouzeid, Operations Director and Officer with BEN notes that BEN’s recent rebrand reflects a renewed effort to attract a broader scope of student interest. The goal he says is to cast a wider net, capturing the attention of kids in high school, colleges and universities, as well as dropouts who are working on startups and recent college grads who are seeing greater involvement in the high-stakes blockchain movement.
For the full interview, click here.
The UK’s central bank is working with researchers at University College of London (UCL) on a centrally controlled digital currency based on Bitcoin, according to a report from the MIT Technology Review. The cryptocurrency framework, dubbed RSCoin, allows central banks to maintain complete control over the monetary supply, but relies on a distributed set of authorities to prevent double-spending. Similarly to Bitcoin, RSCoin uses cryptography to combat counterfeiting, and transactions are verified by computers prior to being added into a digital ledger. Researchers say that RSCoin provides many benefits over existing (non-crypto) currencies. These benefits include a transparent transaction ledger, a distributed system for maintaining it, and a globally visible monetary supply. So far, RSCoin has been tested using 30 different computers inside Amazon’s cloud computing platform, with more research plans in the works.
In what has been revealed to be a scam, the London Bitcoin Forum seems to have swindled a fair number of people in what was originally billed as “Bringing together 900 attendees, more than 60 expert speakers and 20+ media partners for a prestigious two-day event at the QEII Centre in London.” In their handsomely designed website, the London Bitcoin Forum appeared to have an exciting lineup of speakers and a hefty number of attendees who were slated to attend. The list of sponsors and media partners was also impressive, including Cisco, Barclays and Wired.com. However upon further inspection of the web layout, many of the links to more information about logistics and actual benefits of the conference were dead, while others just re-directed to the conference homepage. While the event’s Google+ page is no longer available, currently the Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Pinterest accounts, while likely flagged, are still activated, without any posting activity since March 5th. The QEII Centre in London denies any knowledge of The London Bitcoin Forum having ever been scheduled.
MazaCoin is the Official Sovereign National Currency of the nearly 47,000 member nation, traditionally known as the Oglala Lakota. A community situated on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, it’s the eighth-largest Indian reservation in the U.S. Harris, a Cheyenne with Oglala Sioux heritage who resides in Rapid City, strongly believes that MazaCoin is a vital key to building a store of wealth for all Native Americans, a people who have long faced extreme poverty and marginalization.
In an interview with BTCMANAGER, Payu Harris talks about the need for MazaCoin, its history, and it’s future prospects.
Coinsecure has added another user-friendly feature to its popular wallet: Netki’s Wallet Name Service. Now customers can create personalized wallet names to use instead of a 32-character public wallet address.
Twenty years ago, Netki‘s founder, Justin Newton, was among the early Internet pioneers who contributed to its infrastructure and helped to drive its mainstream adoption. A revolutionary development for the Internet was the implementation of the Domain Name System (DNS). Websites became accessible through easy-to-remember domain name addresses rather than numeric IP addresses. Netki’s Wallet Name Service removes the same point of friction for bitcoin addresses, converting a complicated 32-character public wallet address to something that looks more memorable, like yourname.yourcompany.me.
Raising awareness of bitcoin and promoting its adoption in India’s rapidly expanding ecosystem is a key part of Coinsecure’s mandate. Bitcoin serves as a solution to numerous payment pain points in India, as many individuals struggle to obtain credit and debit cards, and are frequently barred from making international payments.
Uphold, a firm that offers a free currency transfer and exchange service powered by blockchain technology, has started the year 2016 with some bullish updates, announcing a series of partnerships and a recent designation as one of the “Red Hot” fintech companies by IDG. Uphold, formerly Bitreserve, changed its brand in October 2015 to dissociate itself from the perception of being a bitcoin-focused company. Instead, it opted for a more generalized brand to reach a broader audience and fulfill a wider purpose so as to provide everyone with access to affordable financial services, and most particularly those deemed “unbankable.” Throughout 2015, its first full year of operations, Uphold had seen a 2,070 percent increase in transaction volume. During that year, Uphold transacted some US$700.4 million, making it the fastest growing fintech money platform in the world. Today, the company serves over 33,000 users from 174 countries.