Hyperledger Fabric Cluster with Kubernetes

Setting up Hyperledger fabric cluster on Kubernetes

About Hyperledger Fabric

Hyperledger Fabric is a permissioned blockchain implementation and one of the Hyperledger projects hosted by The Linux Foundation.

Over the past year, many organizations are adopting it for distributed ledger needs in their use cases.

Why Kubernetes for Hyperledger Fabric?

This is a question that usually comes up in our minds while thinking about the architecture of our fabric-based application. ‘Why is there even a need to set it up on a Kubernetes cluster? Why can’t we simply go with the basic docker image setup on a regular server instance?’

Kubernetes seems ideal for deploying and managing the Fabric components for several reasons:

  1. Fabric deals with containers. Kubernetes manages containers like a Pro: Fabric components are packaged into docker containers and even the chaincode (the smart contracts) creates a container dynamically. Here, Kubernetes can simplify managing containers in a cluster as it is a very popular and easy to use Container Orchestration.
  2. High Availability automated: Replication controller in Kubernetes helps in providing high availability of crucial Fabric components like ordering service and fabric peers. So, if one container goes down, Kubernetes automatically creates another. In effect, this gives us ZERO DOWNTIME for our fabric containers.

About this tutorial

Before moving forward, we assume that you’ve read about Kubernetes, Helm and Hyperledger Fabric in general or are familiar with the terminologies.

While there are resources available on the internet as well as Fabric’s official documentation for the initial limited setup for the fabric ecosystem, there are hardly any that explains how exactly to setup the Hyperledger fabric cluster using Kubernetes according to your needs.

This tutorial would walk you through a step by step procedure of setting up a dynamic cluster on Kubernetes for any number of organizations and with any number of peers per organization. We would be creating a repository with helm charts with a python script to setup the cluster. If you want to skip the nitty-gritty and get to the setup, here is the link to the repository.

Cluster Architecture

We would be having organization specific pods in the cluster and there would be a dedicated volume for each peer pod storing their certs further giving them runtime writable space.

 

Kubernet cluster

Each of the peer pods has their dedicated volume claims (PVC) in which their respective MSP and TLS certificates are present. Please note that for each organization, we can run our own application’s instance of having the business logic.

The extra app would be able to communicate with the peer pods PVC. It would also have access to a shared NFS server. The NFS would also store network-config.yaml files that are needed to install and instantiate chaincode in fabric peers via nodeSDK.

Alternatively, you can use CLI pods to install and instantiate the chaincode as well.

The best part is that we can follow either of the above-mentioned approaches to deploy our business logic using the python script.

Initial Setup

  •        The first step is to Install kubectl command line tool and helm server
  •        Create a kubernetes cluster. Here’s the link to setup a cluster in gCloud.
  •        Point kubectl in your machine to newly created cluster and initialize helm tiller

Configuration Tools

We would need cryptogen and configtxgen tools primarily to create the channel artifacts and certificates for us. You would also need Python 2.7+ version installed in your machine.

Spinning up the Magic

Clone the repository
to get all the helm charts and python script that sets up the cluster for us.

Step 1:

Here we utilize the crypto-config.yaml file to setup our cluster requirements. This is the same file which is used by cryptogen tool to create peers’ and orderers’ certificates We can modify this file to specify how many organizations we need, and how many peers are required in each organization. We may also specify our own unique application running for each organization by passing it in ExtraPods field. A typical example of the content of the crypto-config file having two organizations can be found in the link below:

crypto-config.yaml Example

 

 

As you may notice, we have added ExtraPods field to run extra application pod in each org namespace.

Step 2:

Next step would be to modify the configtx.yaml file in the same fashion. You can find a sample file with two organizations and a channel configuration in the link below:

configtx.yaml Example

 

Step 3:

Use the command make fiber-up to setup the fabric components in our cluster. This command will invoke the init_orderers.py and init_peers.py scripts that would generate the pods according to the modified files.

The script does the following tasks in chronological order:

  1. Create crypto-config folder having the peer and orderer certificates using cryptogen tool
  2. Create channel-artifact folder having the genesis-block for the fabric
  3. Spin up the Persistent volume claims (PVC) for orderer pods and copy the required certificates for pods in their respective PVC via a test pod
  4. Deletes the test pod and create Ordering Pods
  5. Spin up the Persistent volume claims (PVC) for all peer pods and copy the required certificates for pods in their respective PVC
  6. Deletes the test pod and initialize Peer pods for all organizations

Step 4(Optional):

A: Updating crypto-config.yaml and adding helm chart for your app

– Setting up the Extra Pods that you need to run per organization. You can mention these in ‘ExtraPods’ field for each PeerOrgs in crypto-config.yaml.

– A sample entry to have a simple app would look like this:

 

– In the Chart field, you need to pass the path of the helm chart of your app. You can also pass values to override in the helm chart in Values field.

 B: Setting up NFS storage

– If your extra apps would be interacting with Fabric components using the SDK, your apps would need network-config.yaml files which store the channel information and peer public certs path.

NOTE: If your extra app doesn’t need nodeSDK or network-config.yaml, you can skip Step 4.B

– To add the NFS server, we must first add a persistent disk to your project. To add a disk from cloud SDK, run the command:

 gcloud compute disks create –size=10GB –zone=us-east1-b nfs-disk

You can also go in gcloud console and create it using UI dashboard.

– In the file /public-certs-pvc/public-certs-nfs-service.yaml , update the value of gcePersistentDisk.pdName to the name of your persistent disk.

– Run the command  make nfs-up  to create the shared NFS storage and generate the network-config.yaml files for each organization.

C: Setting up Extra App Pods

– Check if all the fiber pods are up by command: kubectl get po –namespace=peers

– Once all the pods are Running run command: make extras-up run command

Testing the chaincode

The script automatically creates a default channel between two organization and joins all the peer pods in the channel. After that, you can install a chaincode in two ways:

  1. Via your Extra app pods using nodeSDK
  2. By using CLI pod for each organization.

Here is how you can do it using CLI pods:

  1. Install the chaincode

– Enter the bash of Org 1 CLI pod:

 

 In the terminal, install chaincode on both the org peer pods. The commands to install it in one peer is given below:

 

– Do the same for Peer1 in ORG_1_CLI_POD

– Repeat the same steps in ORG_2_CLI_POD as well.

  1. Instantiate the chaincode

– Enter the bash of one of the Org CLI pod and instantiate chaincode by following command

 

 

  1. Query the chaincode

– From the other ORG_CLI_POD, query the instantiated chaincode

 

 

If all goes well, you should see the passed value of the key

Bringing the Cluster down

If we want to bring down the cluster we setup, we can simply run   make down  Alternatively, if you wish to remove or recreate only a portion of our cluster, make use of the following commands:

make peer-down : to tear down only the peer pods and other organizational pods

make orderer-down : to tear down only orderer pods and namespace.

For more details about these commands, check the Makefile in the repository.

Caveats and Challenges

Kubernetes cluster comes with a handful of challenges that we have answered in our approach. We believe that it is important to go through these in order to understand the internal working of our script:

  1. Dynamic number of peers in every organization

A simple cluster with 2 Organizations and 1 Peer per organization sounds good for starting up with HLF network. However, in a production environment, you might have a dynamic number of organizations involved. Each organization may decide to have a different number of peer pods and each of them might have different instances of our application running alongside.

To handle this dynamicity, we use the crypto-config.yaml file which is also used by cryptogen tool to create certificates. Out python script parses the peer organization hierarchy and creates dynamic namespaces and pods according to it.

  1. Pre-populating Volume claims in Kubernetes
    1. For Peer pod to be up and running successfully, there are few certificates that should be pre-populated in its volumes. Same goes for orderer service pods. They require the genesis-block in their volumes before the Pods start.
    2. While it is quite achievable in usual docker volumes, it is not the same in Kubernetes PVC. The reason lies in a Kubernetes cluster, the volume is not in a single instance, instead, it is spread across different servers (Node in terms of Kubernetes). A file a.txt is present in any PVC, then we can’t be sure of its actual storage location in the cluster.
    3. This creates a challenge to pre-populate the PVC before a pod is up. We do this by the following method:
      • First, we create our PVC with a test pod attached to it.
      • Then we copy the required certs by using kubectl cp command.
      • Then we delete the test pod and bring up the target Peer pod.

 

NOTE:

·        Init Container is the ideal way to pre-populate the files in Kubernetes. But it doesn’t work in our case as we have existing files (certificates) in our local that we need to copy into PVC and can’t be hardcoded in the deployment.yaml

·        HostPath is a type of PVC that resides in only a single server cluster, but since our cluster can expand across servers, it should not be used here.

  1. Chaincode Dynamic container creation and recognition:

When a peer in Fabric instantiates a chaincode, it creates a Docker container in which the chaincode runs. The Docker API endpoint it invokes to create the container is Unix:///var/run/docker.sock.

This mechanism works well as long as the peer container and the chaincode container is managed by the same Docker engine. However, in Kubernetes, the chaincode container is created by the peer without notifying Kubernetes. Hence the chaincode and peer pods cannot connect with each other which results in failure when instantiating the chaincode.

To work around this problem, we have to pass the following environment variable in our peer and orderer pods:

CORE_VM_ENDPOINT: “Unix:///host/var/run/docker.sock”

CORE_VM_DOCKER_HOSTCONFIG_NETWORKMODE: “bridge”

GODEBUG: “netdns=go”

This environment variables would make sure that the container created outside the Kubernetes flow are also recognized by peer pods.

  1. Writable Disk Space for Extra Pods

Any Extra Pod using NodeSDK to interact with Fabric component would require a writable space that would be accessible to it. Since an organization may have many of such extra pods running, they would all need the same shared space to write files into.

Gcloud Persistent volumes don’t support ReadWriteMany class, i.e. Gcloud only encourages PVC to be writable by a single pod (ReadWriteOnce), or be readable to multiple pods (ReadOnlyMany). To overcome this challenge, we set up an independent NFS server and pod mounted on top of a gcloud Persistent Disk. As a result, each organization’s pods would have access to a specific sub-directory in the Network File System.

  1. Network-config.yaml file for Pods using NodeSDK

Any Extra Pod using NodeSDK to interact with Fabric component requires a network-config.yaml file that has info about the channel and the certificates required for it. Our solution currently generates a network-config.yaml file for a two-organization channel for each of the organization and populates it in the NFS. Each network-config file goes in the respective organization’s subfolder.

End Result and Conclusion

The end result is expected to be a properly working Hyperledger Use Case Setup on the Kubernetes cluster.

  • The unique point of this cluster is no component’s Kubernetes setup was hardcoded in the Kubernetes deployment, but was dynamically created as per each organization’s requirement.
  • Using the repository code by following this approach, we can setup a Hyperledger fabric use case in minutes by compiling the requirements in crypto-config.yaml

In the end, we would like to conclude by pointing out a few improvements that can be added to the discussed architecture.

In the big level project, each organization might have a different cluster for their resources. In this case, we would like to go ahead with Intercluster communication methods in Kubernetes like Federation service. We will be publishing a blog explaining that architecture shortly.

Your feedback and pull requests are welcome on the Github Repository.

Hyperledger v/s Ethereum

A comparison probably can be made between Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric (one amongst the many Hyper ledger project).

The most fundamental difference between Ethereum and Hyperledger is the way they are designed and their target audience. Ethereum with it’s EVM, smart contract and public block chain is mostly targeted towards applications that are distributed in nature and are for mass consumption. A look at ethereum dapps (distributed applications) seem to hint the same: https://dapps.ethercasts.com/.

On the other hand, Fabric has a very modular architecture and provides a lot of flexibility in terms of what you want to use and what you don’t. It’s pretty much ala carte and is targeted at businesses wanting to streamline their process by leveraging blockchain technology.

For example, it is not possible in ethereum to have a transaction visible to someone, but not visible to others (a requirement that is very common in business). Fabric allows this and much more.

Another major difference is the consensus algortihm used in Ethereum v/s Fabric. Ethereum uses PoW (Proof of work), whereas Fabric allows one to choose between No-op (no consensus needed) and PBFT (Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance). PoW is known to be energy sucker and could really impact the practicality of using Ethereum in the long run. However, one must mention that Ethereum too is trying to move towards proof of stake in it’s next release Casper.

Ethereum has a built in cryptocurrency (eth) and thus can be a very good match for applications that need this inbuilt. However, this could also be a disadvantage as there are several use cases where the cryptocurrency is not really needed.

This is not to say that Ethereum can not be deployed as a private block chain for a business. The fact that it has a really matured ecosystem and makes the development of smart contract and business logic really simple is a huge plus. Also, at the moment it is easier to find ethereum dapps developer than fabric developer. Fabric on the other hand is pretty new on the block and just warming up.

To conclude, we feel that in future most enterprise apps would get tilted towards Fabric, whereas Ethereum would continue to be a hotbed for dapps that are more B2C.

10 ways to implement Ethereum Smart Contract for your business

Ethereum platform is popular for creation of smart contracts. Ethereum smart contracts are basically programs that are designed to be executed just the way they were envisioned by their creators.Entrepreneurs are keen to introduce Ethereum smart contract development in their businesses.

Smart contracts act as autonomous agents and Ethereum supports diverse computational instructions and is ‘Turing-complete’.

Ethereum is a preferred language for smart contract development as :
Gives users the freedom to create arbitrary ownership rules.
For building decentralized applications acts as an alternative protocol.

Coding in Ethereum Smart Contracts
Ethereum Virtual Machine Code (EVM Code) consists of a series of bytes. Each byte represents an operation. It can be considered a stack based bytecode language. The execution of code is an infinite loop and output can also be a byte array of data.

Functionality of Ethereum Smart Contracts
Function as information unit.
Utility provider to other contracts.
User agreement manager.
Act as ‘Multi Signature Accounts’ so that financial transactions are carried out after consensus is obtained.
Deterministic Exchange Mechanisms.

Why implementing Ethereum Smart Contracts in your business could be a good idea?
Ethereum smart contracts will run the global business in future, they are the gen-next contracts. Switching to smart contracts can help your business immensely.

  1. Elimination of third party to validate the authenticity of your contract
  2. Security from third party manipulation of contract terms..
  3. Immutability.
  4. Task automation and faster processing.
  5. More Accurate.
  6. Cost Efficient.

Another usp of implementing Ethereum Smart Contract for your business is
The information is saved multiple times and is accessible to users on blockchain via private key. Hence information can be accessed at anytime and the authenticity can be verified by consensus.

Applications of Ethereum Smart Contracts in business
Ethereum Smart Contracts can be used to adopt a conflict free way of exchanging anything of value. They can be used to make processes more streamlined and efficient.

Creation of a verifiable cloud environment : Decentralized technology will ensure that the system is trustworthy and users can randomly select checkpoints on a decentralized platform to verify its security.

Peer to Peer Betting : Online betting industry is marred by accusations of money laundering and lack of transparency. Integration of decentralized technology can resolve these issues. Our  team of blockchain experts have come up with a revolutionary smart contract based product BetHite which will change the gamut of peer to peer sports betting.

Protection of intellectual property right : Prevention of misuse of intellectual property, ensuring that royalty is paid to rightful owner, preventing unauthorised use.

Supply Chain Management : Identity attestment, tracking inventory, verification, real time visibility by integration wit IoT.

Automation of Mortgages : Provide less error prone and frictionless process with features like automatic loan payment and liens release from records where loan is paid off.

Proposed Uses of decentralized technology in different fields.
Online voting procedure for choosing governments: Blockchain technology with help of smart contracts will ledger protect each vote. Identity verification and registration of vote will be more efficient and the entire process will be transparent and tamperproof.

Business logic coding in blockchain : This will enable better dispute resolution and conflict solving better in a business environment. Multiple stages of approval will not be needed and issue of transparency will be solved as well.

Blockchain in Fintech : Smart contracts will be used to transfer funds manage workflow. Error checking, calculating payout, checking claims and policies will be faster and fair.

Blockchain in Real Estate : Payment via cryptocurrencies and rental contract execution via smart contracts will be the future of real estate industry.  

Blockchain in Healthcare : Whether it would be securing personal information of patients via private keys or encoding health records on blockchain and storing them securely on blockchain, all these practices will improve authenticity and credibility of healthcare and insurance industry.

Ethereum Smart contracts is one of the most promising applications of blockchain technology and has the potential to offer many opportunities to make businesses more profitable and efficient.

About Techracers
Techracers as a blockchain studio is committed to sustain the innovative momentum of blockchain as a technology and have employed skilled professionals to facilitate development of blockchain solutions and applications. We believe that Blockchain is the future and is revolutionizing entrepreneurs do business. The possibility of blockchain application in different industries is limitless and our Blockchain experts help clients evaluate and implement the best solutions. Contact us today to request a session with our expert.

2 Ways of Ethereum Development

All that you need to know about the decentralized platform for applications that run exactly as programmed without any anomaly.

Ethereum is swiftly emerging as a revolutionary technology that has the power to disrupt almost all industries. Organisations are recognizing its power and potential to make processes more secure and efficient and are opting for Ethereum development.

Ethereum development facilitates the development of decentralized applications of the next generation.It has grown exponentially in terms of scale and interest and promises to overhaul open-source development.

It involves creation of a shared platform which is flexible yet secure. Ethereum development facilitates creation of a blockchain protocol using its own native programming language. The application is written on the top. This arrangement is supported by most existing applications and creates development momentum for creation of groundbreaking future applications as well.

Ethereum Development

What is Ethereum Dapp?

Dapp is decentralized application that serve particular purpose to users. They are built up on a code that runs on a network of blockchain, no single user or entity controls them.

What is DAO?

DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, they are fully autonomous with no single ledger and are run by a programming code on Ethereum blockchain smart contracts.

Benefits of Ethereum Decentralized Platforms?

No Down time : Apps made on Ethereum blockchain can never be switched off or can go down.

Consensus based security : Principle of security is consensus based thereby making censorship possible. Ethereum development also immutable as no changes can be made to the data.

Elimination of central point of failure : Apps developed on Ethereum are protected cryptographically against fraudulent activities.

Can Ethereum development add value to your business?

Benefits of Ethereum :

  1. Inhibition of wasteful code and keeping cost of Ethereum development low.
  2. Lower operational costs due to increased efficiency.
  3. Elimination of Third party intermediaries.
  4. Rules of smart contracts are automatically enforced.
  5. No need of legal mediation for enforcement of smart contracts.
  6. Powered by nodes
  7. Nodes are immune to interference and crashing.
  8. Paves way for efficient outsourcing by setting milestones for payment.

Current Uses of Ethereum

  1. Preventing identity theft : Consumer information is secured through cryptographic protocols.
  2. Improving transparency in crowdfunding : Implementation of Ethereum enable refund easily if project goals aren’t met.
  3. Reduction of operational fees : Significant reduction in exorbitant online payment fees, high currency exchanges and complicated remittance processes.

Future of Ethereum Development

It is estimated that within this decade most entrepreneurs will run their business processes on private blockchains. Ethereum is a transformational platform and for Ethereum development many unimagined possibilities await!

“In essence, the fundamental benefits of investing into Ethereum is the cryptographic nature, it’s anonymity, it’s universality, it’s divisibility, and most specifically, its coding language which specifically targets it for automated transactions and contracts.”

Jeff Reed, Investing in Ethereum: The Essential Guide to Profiting from Cryptocurrencies

About Techracers

Techracers as a blockchain studio is committed to sustain the innovative momentum of blockchain as a technology and have employed skilled professionals to facilitate development of blockchain solutions and applications. At Techracers, we specialize in creating ERC-20 token, smart contracts in Ethereum,Solidity, building distributed ledger using Hyperledger fabric and creating custom Blockchain forked from multi chain, Ethereum development and Blockchain services.

We ensure that our clients needs are aligned with our technical expertise to meet the project’s objectives within a reasonable timeframe. Get in touch and share your next Ethereum development idea and give us an opportunity to assist you.

China Bans ICO’s : Reasons, implications and aftermath.

On 4th September 2017 China outlawed ICO’s and issued a statement “ICO financing refers to the activity of an entity raising virtual currencies, such as bitcoin or ethereum, through illegally selling and distributing tokens. In essence, it is a kind of non-approved illegal open fund raising behavior, suspected of illegal sale tokens, illegal securities issuance and illegal fund-raising, financial fraud, pyramid schemes and other criminal activities.”

The decision was jointly taken by the Central Network Office, People’s Bank of China, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in lieu of multiple crypto scams in the country.

China Bans ICO’s

ICO Ban Timeline : Image Source Boxmining

Let’s analyze China’s ICO ecosystem to get a better understanding.

As per a report by Bloomberg, about $398 million million were raised by 65 ICO projects in China. Another report published by Ernst and Young in November 2016 stated that China “leapfrogged ahead to become the undoubted center of global FinTech innovation and adoption. The speed, sophistication, and scale of development of China’s FinTech ecosystem have been at a level unmatched in more established markets.”

The ICO ban came as a shock to all cryptocurrency investors, miners and enthusiasts. Several “theories” have been put forth like

  1. ICO ban is an extreme control mechanism to cool off the cryptocurrency craze in the country temporarily. Though it could have differentiated ICO’s trading in unregistered securities from decentralized app based tokens instead of considering all of them illegal. An investor at Union Square Ventures, Fred Wilson stated “many have speculated that this Chinese ban is temporary to give the Chinese authorities time to come up with sensible regulations. I suspect that is right.”
  2. ICO’s were posing a threat to incumbent businesses.The major red flag was lack of a centralized or state control. ICO bypassed regulations and paved way for new accessible venture capital that may have threatened the incumbent businesses.
  3. Existing cryptocurrencies weren’t giving a monopolistic advantage to any nation. China may mine its own cryptocurrency to have more control on cryptocurrency market after banning all ICO’s.

Aftermath
On a global level, Ethereum’s market cap dropped by $6 billion within 24 hrs of the ban and price of bitcoin also dropped by $200. Immediately after China banned ICO, its alliance with Russian cryptocurrency platform KICKICO got delayed. Until new regulations are made for ICO’s are made the “Chinese-Russian Cryptocurrency Alliance” is on hold. As per sources, People’s Bank of China may also freeze bank accounts associated with ICO’s.

Will regulation bring more legitimacy to the cryptocurrency market?
“A regulated ICO market, with proper checks in place, could draw in professional investors” : Syed Musheer Ahmed (FinTech Association of Hong Kong).

Unregulated ICO’s may at times provide misleading information, adopt unfair business practices, may not design token features well and may make smart contract vulnerable to hacking. Regulations may be expensive but they could bring in long term benefits. A regulated ICO market may bring in more professional investors and more capital thereby enabling companies to raise more money.

Alternative school of thought : Regulations may impair cryptocurrencies
Some believe that regulations would undermine cryptocurrencies by removing privacy. This may result in cryptocurrencies losing their independence in terms of decision making, anonymity and decentralized governance and move towards more centrally dictated intervention of governments and banks. Any poorly planned regulation may prove to be detrimental than beneficial.

Other countries take on ICO’s

Estonia : Despite being a small country Estonia is considering issuing crypto tokens called “Estcoins” via an initial coin offering. Their government officials are in conversation with Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum. Speculations are that the money raised can be jointly managed by private companies and the government and in future emerge as an option of choice in terms of digital payment on domestic as well as global level also providing high return on investment to participants in ICO.

Switzerland : Switzerland has a favorable environment for cryptocurrencies to flourish. The regulatory body of Switzerland is Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. It identifies cryptocurrencies as assets and cryptocurrency companies don’t require specific license or approval to operate.

Singapore : As per MAS(Monetary Authority of Singapore) cryptocurrencies are assets. The virtual currency transactions aren’t regulated however KYC and AML are monitored.

UK  : UK tests out new financial projects under a regulatory sandbox. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is exploring the distributed ledger technology and at of now considers cryptocurrencies as private currencies.

Canada : Autorite des marches financiers (AMF) is the regulator for financial institutions and it is striving to explore the adoption and usage of cryptocurrencies via sandbox method. Sandboxes help to jumpstart projects (usually Fintech) that do not fall under the norms of fiat currency.

USA  : Recently SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) has announced token sales and ICO’s to be subject to federal laws. Earlier the 50 states have their own independent cryptocurrency rules such as BitLicense to regulate ICO’s and cryptocurrencies.

Conclusion
All nations are struggling to make regulatory framework to accommodate cryptocurrencies in their economy and China is no exception.

Nick Evdokimov, Los Angeles-based ICO technology and consulting expert states “It may be too early to make this prediction, but the China ban will redirect the Chinese flow of ICO orders to global agencies. ICOs may be dead in China, but they’re not dead here.” It might be possible that companies will turn toward more cryptocurrency friendly nations with practical regulatory framework for business.

Perhaps China would establish regulations and resume ICO’s in future. The ban has also paved way for regulation technology or “regtech”.It is noteworthy that the intention of the ban is not to stop the blockchain revolution but it was aimed at safeguarding the investors. It can hence be summed up that though China has banned ICO’s at the moment to prevent scams but ICO’s are here to stay.

About Techarcers
Techracers is a blockchain studio with in-depth knowledge of blockchain technology and ICO’s. We aim to spearhead ICO revolution by extending our services to blockchain entrepreneurs, regulators and enterprises. Get in touch to get more insights on How to launch a successful ICO. We provide full technical support for ICO launch and advice on documentation and marketing.

 

 

Blockchain in Healthcare

Healthcare is witnessing a transformative change where huge amount of health data of patients is compiled for treatment and prognosis. Data such as genetic information of patients, previous ailment history, nutrition stats are collected and such huge volume of information needs to be stored securely in an efficient system because of Blockchain Healthcare Development.

Considering the importance of proper record maintenance for healthcare information, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandates all private and public healthcare providers to adopt EMR (electronic medical records).

However, such electronic storage of data is not essentially tamper proof. At Howard University hospital,Washington a technician was found guilty of selling critical information of patients for about 17 months! She was charged with violation of  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Such inadequate data security can increase susceptibility to security breach and compromised privacy of medical data.

Using basic security measures such as intrusion detection software and firewall is just isn’t enough. Healthcare professional are striving to store their data in a tamper proof and secure way.

Is there a solution?

Yes, Blockchain Healthcare Development.

As per a report from Deloitte, 35% of healthcare companies & hospitals  are planning to deploy blockchain within next year. Blockchain in healthcare would answer the issues of interoperability challenges and enable secure data storage. Healthcare industry needs to create frameworks to establish blockchain consortia which will help to foster secure partnerships.

Blockchain is a robust and scalable technology that can be integrated in different facets of healthcare industry like precision medicine (providing individualised care to patients), Genomics research (Genetic identity of patients could be secured on blockchain), drug traceability and blockchain health records.

Some potential uses of Blockchain Healthcare could be :

1) Secure exchange of clinical data and interoperability
Blockchain would enable cryptographically secure and irrevocable data exchange systems to eliminate the burden and cost of data reconciliation.  Recently, Guardtime (data security company) and Estonian eHealth Foundation have used blockchain technology by utilizing Keyless Signature Infrastructure. These blockchain health records would secure health information of about one million Estonian citizens along with addressing issues of integrity, security and health data interoperability.

2) Identifying fraudulent claims and bill management
As per a survey United States suffered a massive loss of $30 million in 2016 due to medical fraud. Blockchain in healthcare can keep a check on such malpractices and reduce dependency on intermediaries along with reducing time.
Several blockchain based claim management solutions are being developed, the most recent one being jointly developed by Gem Health and Capital One.

3) Medicine supply chain integrity validation
Pharmaceutical industry suffers an annual loss of $200 billion globally due to counterfeit drugs. Blockchain pharma can solve this problem by verifying proof of ownership using smart contracts and private keys. Chain of custody log can be validated by tracking of each step involved from production to storage. Recent advancement is adaptation of ADLT (Advanced Digital Ledger Technology to manage medicine supply chain integrity.

4) Minimising insider data breach
Protenus Breach Barometer report found that in 2016, 27 million patients were affected by health data breach and 43% of these were caused by insider data breach. Blockchain in healthcare will be instrumental in reducing data breaches by elimination single point of fault, bridge gaps and improve reliability. It will also help the evolution of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) by integrating connected health system to the blockchain system.

Conclusion
Blockchain in healthcare sector or Blockchain Healthcare Development could be adopted as an open source software which would eliminate complex point to point data integrations. Such systems would be well equipped to accommodate high volumes of data and would be robust and scalable. Standard protocols, algorithms and data encryption of the blockchain would distribute the data across different nodes thereby eliminating risk of single point failure. Such data collection would also be beneficial for longitudinal studies in healthcare.

Another advantage would be access and availability of real-time data which is critical in clinical care coordination.Blockchain could also be used to monitor clinical trials where data collected from wearable devices and symptoms logged in would enable healthcare researchers to classify individuals into batches of population that responded well to a treatment.

Transparency in Fantasy Sports : Blockchain introduces the concept of fair play

“The More Transparency, The Better” (March 2016, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver)

The question in a fantasy sports player’s mind today is “Am I playing on a platform which offers fair gameplay”?

Fantasy sports users pay an entrance fee, assemble teams and win based on players performance in real games. Points are managed by the fantasy team’s manager and a league commissioner is responsible for managing the overall league. The losers blame bad luck for their loss however frauds could also be the reason losers lose their stake.

Unsuspecting bettors are duped as mostly online frauds leave no trace and authorities are completely unaware about their occurrence. Integrity of the fantasy sports have concerned stakeholders from a couple of years. New York Times published an article in Oct 2015 where a DraftsKings employee was found guilty of releasing data and using it for an unfair advantage.

Common fraud types in fantasy sports

Sock Puppet frauds : Involves usage of fake identities to artificially inflate liquidity in fantasy sports. These fictitious identities are usually made by site owners to give a false impression of high activity and unsuspecting bettors bet against made-up users. This helps the site owners in a dual way:

  1. They show high activity on their site/platform.
  2. Winning pool money is under their direct control and it operates as per their whims and fancies.

Pump and Dump frauds : Fabricated facts to give false appearance of credibility and profitability of a fantasy sports league. This task is accomplished by computer controlled bots. False news such as key player injury, false weather forecasts contribute to value fluctuation due to mass incorrect information dissemination.

Data Scout frauds : Data scout is a filter through which all information related to the sport must pass, data scouts login information in real time on the site from the actual location. They act as the only link between game and the virtual world. There have been instances where data scouts are manipulated and insiders place a bet on an event that has already happened.

Ghost Games
These frauds are based on the concept that information flow can be manipulated and/ or controlled. In such frauds, data scouts are asked to make a dummy game and enter it in the system. Though such frauds are rare, they have caused severe losses to bettors in the past in one-off exhibition events during offseasons and semi-pro leagues.

Who is responsible for frauds in fantasy sports?
Employees with access to data, player information, bettor information are in a position to easily manipulate the odds in their favour. As they are virtually no fraud control mechanism evidence of misuse can hardly be gathered.

Vulnerability of fantasy sports industry
Unprotected bet deposits.
Unprotected bonus funds.
Funds susceptible to unauthorized withdrawals.
Inability to access funds if needed.
Unfair information circulation
Usage of software scripts to automate tasks
Opaque system
Unprotected user information
Mutable contests

Users want an informed choice option which is secure and transparent  in fantasy sports.
Fantasy sports industry is striving to protect the integrity and boost the credibility and it has been suggested that it should be more streamlined.This is on the cards but as speculations are it may take few years to bring it into practice.

Is there any technology which can allow ensure that users enjoy a fair play experience till such regulations are in place?

Yes, Blockchain.

Blockchain is a cutting edge technology which makes fantasy sports more transparent and accountable. It will help track fraudulent entries, verify authenticity of bets and make fantasy sports tamperproof.

Blockchain removes the problem of trust issues by enhancing transparency in fantasy sports industry. Blockchain uses a decentralized system based on co-ordinated independent nodes network thereby not giving any particular person a centralized advantage in the process. Network of nodes verify the information by consensus ruling out the possibility of an undetected fraud. Blockchain also allows users to be connected to a global network thereby boosting  the transparency of the gaming industry.

Blockchain technology will help to identify and assess malicious patterns.Tracking of all operations would be easier due to immutable data records. Blockchain will also be a channel of verifiable randomness in fantasy sports.

Blockchain can easily be implemented in fantasy sports. Fantasy sports modules can be linked with smart contracts which will help in fair execution of the processes like scoring rules, winner determination and much more. This ensures that the scoring parameters cannot be tempered by anyone in future, not even by the fantasy sports platform operator himself.

All the financial transactions like entry fees and winnings withdrawal can be done using cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. This helps in reducing frauds, immediate settlements, drastically lower fees. The biggest benefit of implementing cryptocurrency is that it opens your fantasy sports platforms to the world as crypto currency is free from any government oversight and is not bound by the exchange rates, interest rates, transactions charges or other charges of any country. So, it can be used at international level transactions with ease.   

Blockchain has also tapped into market intelligence, and is now being used to provide users with correct game based information based on “Proof-of-Skill” consensus algorithm.

To sum up integration blockchain technology with fantasy sports will help in maintaining transparency and security of the industry in a decentralized manner along with providing the users a fair game experience.

Eternal dilemma : “Shall I set up an in-house development team or hire a blockchain studio?”

Blockchain is not only shifting the way we use the Internet, but it is also revolutionizing the global ecosystem towards Internet of Value. Entrepreneurs and institutions like banks, financial institutions, healthcare industry are keen to know how they can invest in blockchain technology. We get lots of queries from clients on how to get started with blockchain development and extract maximum benefit from this digital revolution by investing in blockchain technology solutions.

The major question is “What is better? To set up an in-house team, or to use the services of an agency”

Well, there is no one size fits all solution here.

Blockchain development in itself has several different flavours. Let us consider three scenarios :

a) When you are developing your own blockchain with it’s own protocol, consensus mechanism and mining algorithm. For example, you want a blockchain that converts excess energy generated in a solar plant into coins and allows that to be traded.

b) When you are building a distributed ledger or a custom blockchain, but not from scratch. Instead you are forking out of multichain or building on top of something like HyperLedger fabric.

c) When are want to leverage ethereum and quickly rollout ERC-20 tokens or smart contracts that utilizes the Ethereum blockchain and uses the Ethereum virtual machine as its mainstay. Here the smart contracts is written out in solidity.

Each of these type of projects have different requirements in terms of the blockchain development team that you need. All three are also different when it comes to timelines and future maintenance.

Let’s take case 1, where you are rolling out your own blockchain. In such a case, you would essentially be creating a proprietary technology and hence it would make sense to assemble your in-house team.

This is because, the development is going to be in months (even years), and the product that you are building would have to be maintained in future and thus it makes a lot of sense to build your own team, as the technology is what is going to be the core of our business here. Also, it is not that easy to get developers who can build something like this from agencies or outsourcing companies.

For case 2, the scenario is different. The timeline for such product would generally be 3 – 6 months, with small maintenance work done later. Also, in most cases such blockchain solutions are build for enterprises that solves a certain pain point for them. For example, loyalty reward management program for a coalition OR a shared KYC data for several agencies.

While you can assemble your own team here, however since the development duration is not that large and future work on the ledger would not keep your team engaged fully, it might make more sense to hire good developers on a time and material basis from companies who already have expertise in this.

For case 3, the ecosystem is entirely varied. Here the timeline of developing a smart contract generally ranges from around a week to a month. Plus, once the contract is rolled out on the blockchain you can never change it, and hence the concept of maintenance is not there.

Besides the smart contract, the work would also involve some sort of web interface that would allow your users to interact with your smart contract. Since you need to define your entire smart contract before starting developing on it and the scope is almost finalized, it makes a lot of sense to outsource such projects out completely. The smart contracts anyways have to go through a third party audit and a bug bounty program before they can be released on the main blockchain, thereby bringing a lot of certainty to what you would roll out.

It is also noteworthy that there is a looming shortage of qualified blockchain developers globally, Jeremy Drane (former PwC FinTech director), has also quoted that their is a lack of talent in blockchain technology.

Hence entrepreneurs who want to invest in blockchain technology should consider the option of remote development by a reputed blockchain studio who would efficiently execute their blockchain based ideas by their own team of skilled blockchain professionals.

At Techracers, we specialize in creating ERC-20 token, smart contracts in solidity, building distributed ledger using Hyperledger fabric, and creating custom blockchain forked from multi chain, Ethereum development and blockchain services. As a blockchain studio,we are committed to sustain the innovative momentum of blockchain as a technology and have employed skilled professionals to facilitate development of blockchain solutions and applications. We ensure that our clients needs are aligned with our technical expertise to meet the project’s objectives within a reasonable timeframe.

Let us know what use case you have and we are sure to find a way to get it done. We could even help you assemble your own team in-house by helping you in sourcing them and vetting them technically. Look forward to partnering with you in your next big idea.

Regulation of Blockchain Revolution: Current status and future trends

Blockchain technology has recently piqued level of interest and speculation as to how it will disrupt the existing centralized systems and enable global transactions in various fields by utilizing distributed ledger system.

Projected uses of Blockchain Technology/ Blockchain Based Solutions in various industries

Banking and Payments : Bitcoin based remittance service are under development.Banking sector is aspiring to make banking more secure, efficient and faster using blockchain.

Supply Chain Management : Blockchain will be used to monitor costs, manforce at every point of the supply chain. Blockchain will also be used to trade status of products by enable tracking from origin to endpoint.

Insurance : Blockchain will integrate actual real-world data with blockchain smart contracts to improve the issues of trust and credibility.

Healthcare : Blockchain will enable healthcare industry to safely store confidential information like medical records and share it with authorized professionals or patients.

Real Estate : Blockchain will remove the dependency on paper based record keeping and help with verifying ownership, tranferring and tracking. These features will help to eliminate the problems of lack of transparency in the industry.

Worldwide Blockchain Technology Market is Anticipated to exhibit a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 58.7% between 2016 and 2024. It is believed to be worth $20 billion by 2024 as per a research conducted by Transparency Market Research (TMR).

Despite a very promising future, blockchain as a technology is questioned for its regulatory status. There are many myths related to blockchain and its components which have created an atmosphere of ambiguity amongst the users.

Myth 1 : “One Blockchain” Concept

Many people are under the impression that the concept of blockchain is like internet i.e one big or parent blockchain exists and everything is connected to it.

In reality, different blockchains are made for different purpose. Blockchain can be public (Bitcoin, Ethereum) which allow open participation, semi open blockchain that allow selective participation (Ripple) and private blockchain that enable limited participation.

Myth 2 : All Blockchains have to be public

The public feature of a blockchain is optional and flexible. It is up to the users if they want to make their blockchain private or public. There is also a way of stacking private blockchain on a public blockchain and authentication is done without revealing private information.

Myth 3 : Blockchain cannot be used in non-financial sectors

Financial sector has adopted blockchain for secure payments and currency transfer. Blockchain is popular in this sector for its tamper resistance and guaranteeing transactional integrity. The security of the overall transaction is guaranteed. There are few skeptics which are unsure about the adaptability and profitability of blockchains in non financial domains. Blockchain can be programmed to record anything and everything of value, financial or otherwise.

Academic institutions can adopt Blockchain to verify the authenticity of academic certificates. Governments can use Blockchain to authenticate voter identity and reduce fraud. Logistics and Automotive industry can streamline the process of shipping, selling and buying using Blockchain. Music industry can be benefitted by protection of intellectual property rights, managing royalties and enabling direct transfer without intermediaries. Hence blockchain is a very versatile technology with diverse applications in many fields.

Blockchain Regulation

Different industries are trying to analyse specific uses of Blockchain technology, this massive inclusion of blockchain has increased the need for regulation. There is also a cloud of enigma about legal and just use of blockchain technology. A widespread misconception that blockchain based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are only used for black market transactions whereas in reality cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are just an easier way to exchange assets of value digitally.

Regulatory initiatives are in nascent stages globally however there is a lack of specific regulation. Standards for blockchain regulation are slowly emerging.

Key areas of global regulatory attention with respect to blockchain is centered around :

  1. Virtual currencies (including tax implications)
  2. Data encryption
  3. Privacy
  4. Identity management (including KYC and FCC)

Tables of position of relevant authorities on virtual currencies and distributed ledgers : Source : Bbva Research by Javier Sebastian Cermeno

Position of policy-making authorities on virtual currencies and distributed ledgers

Authority Geography Position Topic Summary
European Parliament EU Neutral to Positive Virtual Currencies/ Distributed Ledgers Hands-off approach to regulating blockchain technology. Creation of a task force to analyse it
European Commission EU Neutral Virtual Currencies Inclusion of virtual currencies players in the AML Directive. DLT workstream inside the Financial Technology Task Force
US Senate USA Neutral Virtual Currencies/ Distributed Ledgers Request to regulators for guidance on these technologies
US House of Representatives USA Neutral Virtual Currencies/ Distributed Ledgers Resolution calling for a national technology innovation policy including digital currencies and blockchain technology
US Congress USA Positive Virtual Currencies/ Distributed Ledgers Creation of a caucus (study group) dedicated to bitcoin and blockchain
State Governments Several US states Positive Virtual Currencies/ Distributed Ledgers New York, North Carolina, Vermont and Delaware have promulgated specific regulations

 

Challenges that  the regulatory bodies are facing are to provide a conducive environment for innovation along with providing a secure technical space for blockchain enthusiasts.

Concerns associated with Blockchain

1) Cybersecurity Concerns

As at the moment there aren’t any common protocols or standards, users tend to use their individual technology stacks and back office systems. The security of transaction maybe compromised as due to varied level of encryption.

2) Error identification and reporting

The FCA Business Plan for 2016/17 has mentioned in its chapter on the Risk Outlook : “Blockchain technology represents an alternative approach to the safe storage of information of value such as trade execution, clearing and settlement and custody. It can provide for secure, transparent and immediate confirmation of information that can then be distributed to all interested parties without the need for a central record-keeping authority. While this new alternative approach has many advantages, it also presents new challenges related to data privacy, defect corrections, and trust in decentralised financial servicing.”

Despite being very secure blockchain may compound the problem of fraudulent transactions in some cases. If a transaction is fraudulent yet verified, it becomes embedded in the blockchain. At a later stage, even if it is identified as a fraud, it is difficult to identify the source and to separate that particular set of transactions from the rest of the system.

3) Blockchain self regulation

If a blockchain starts malfunctioning, there is no system that would audit and rectify as a secondary line of defence. The absence of an independent auditory mechanism may make the technology more vulnerable to risk of error and fraud.

4) Blockchain adaptation

Blockchain uses distributed ledger technology which will have to be integrated with existing infrastructures. There could be technical challenges involved and absence of common standards would mess up the situation further! ISO and W3C are working on creation of some common regulatory standards to address this problem.

5) Irreversibility of blockchain

Blockchain is immutable i.e transactions cannot be revoked or cancelled or modified. A need of correction mechanism is strongly felt to rectify potential mistakes from governance and technological perspective.

6) Quantum computing threats

Quantum computing is an emerging technology that specifically targets

asymmetric cryptography. Blockchain could be susceptible to such attacks as it relies on public and private keys which are cryptographically generated.

7) Susceptibility towards attacks

It could be a possibility that a malicious program becomes embedded in the blockchain and it is difficult to shut it down owing to the decentralized structure of blockchain.

Despite these “theories” blockchain is arguably the most safest technology at the moment. Technologies in use currently have more severe limitations in terms of scalability, security and tamper proofness.

Blockchain is the technology of choice for many startups. As per a research by Outlier Ventures Research Team in May-June 2016, 200 New Startups added in 6 Weeks.

Blockchain startups hotspots : Source Medium

Blockchain Application development

Here is how international bodies and major geographies are working on regulatory parameters of blockchain to encourage its wider adaptability.

In June 2016, the world bank published an article on “Blockchain technology: Redefining trust for a global, digital economy”. World Economic forum recently prepared a report on “The future of financial infrastructure: An ambitious look at how blockchain can reshape financial services” and mentioned the strong possibility of blockchain to become the “beating heart” of the global economic system.

European Commission has created a new task force to understand blockchain technology and its utility. The aim of this task force is to build expertise in distributed ledger technology by blockchain which would be overseen by European commission itself.

In USA, as the legislation is federal, each state is exploring and taking independent steps towards blockchain. Vermont legislation is on its way to utilize smart contracts for state registries becoming pioneer in the field. In a report published in January 2016 they acknowledged that “blockchain is a reliable way of confirming the party submitting a record to the blockchain, the time and date of its submission, and the contents of the record at the time of submission”.

Countries like France and Japan are harnessing the power of blockchain for their fintech sector. Japan may issue its own cryptocurrency within this year and France is exploring application of blockchain technology in various sectors.

Singapore has established specific legal “sandboxes” which allows blockchain startups to work under a temporary regulatory approval. This system encourages engagement and interaction between regulators and blockchain startups which may help formulate better regulatory provisions.

Conclusion

The question is will blockchain meet the safety prerequisites and be built to a functional and cost effective level?

What blockchain adoption could look like  : Source Rancounter

Blockchain solutions

Technical experts all around the globe are working tirelessly to create network protocols and technology parameters which will allow seamless integration of blockchain with multiple networks securely.  As blockchain continues to gain popularity, steadily regulatory bodies are moving towards enforceable regulation for it. However as blockchain and its components do not fit in the traditional enforceability and jurisdiction hence new foundation of law along with amalgamation of technology is the need of the hour.

 

 

Blockchain Based P2P Betting Platforms : The Future of Online Betting

“Gambling has held human beings in thrall for millennia. It has been engaged in everywhere, from the dregs of society to the most respectable circles.” –: Peter L Bernstein

Global online gambling market is now worth around $87 billion! About 85 nations have legalized online gambling and as per a research group Technavio, the industry is expected to grow at a rate of 11% compound annual growth rate.

Size of The Online Gambling Market From 2008 to 2018 : Source mobyaffiliates

 

How safe is online betting industry?

One would assume that online betting industry is very profitable however it is marred by money laundering, accusations of cheating and fraud. As financial incentives pour in online betting, the desire to cheat or hack increases.

If you google “ How to cheat in online sports betting?” you will be presented with a plethora of “try yourself “ options such as :

How to Cheat Online Sportsbooks

How to hack a sports betting website

5 Brilliant Hacks You Can Use to Cheat the Odds at Gambling

Newbie Sports Betting Cheat sheet  

And links to articles like “Sports Bettor Charged with “Cheating” & “Meet the man who beat the bookies and the banks”.

A quarter and half a billion dollars is estimated to be spent annually on development of game cheating software which is a serious threat to integrity of  esports and online betting platforms.

Types of Cheating in Online Games : Source Wikipedia

 

Recently a well-known name in the industry Joseph “Joee” Leigh was found guilty of using a cheat software to win an online game. He very casually quoted “It’s just a game. It was fun and it’s still fun looking at the tweets, no harm done to anyone so what’s the problem?”

Such incidents make the users question the authenticity and integrity of the online betting industry.

Aren’t there any regulations to stop the tampering in the online betting system?

In 2015, e sports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) was formed to tackle issues related to fraud. Federal gambling laws such as Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 were introduced for circumvention of security data in online sports events and betting. They have ability to control the malpractices to a certain extent however the industry is still not immunized from various deceptionary tactics that hackers or third party companies employ.

Other challenges online gaming industry is facing are :

Account creation on every platform: Almost all online betting platforms mandate to create an account for betting and collects user information. This step makes the platform vulnerable to potential breaches of user privacy and funds could be stolen. It also wrecks the user experience.

Transferring funds : Usually online betting platforms are integrated with third party payment processors which act as an intermediary to hold the funds till conditions of bet are fulfilled. This creates a huge risk, the betting platform attracts hackers and customers have to trust the betting platform and the third party to return the profits and the funds if the bet is won. Users are hesitant to risk their funds in a centralized non secure portal and the need of transparency and a decentralized tamper proof technology is rising.

Is there any technology which can make the gambling transactions secure, fast and transparent?

Is there a technology that will enable applications of robust yet scalable solutions for online betting industry without compromising on the ideal betting experience a user should get?

Yes, Blockchain

Blockchain services remove the problem of trust issues by enhancing transparency in online gaming industry. Blockchain uses a decentralized system based on co-ordinated independent nodes network thereby not giving any particular a centralized advantage in the process. Blockchain is used to ensure randomness or rather incapability of knowing the outcome of a bet. Network of nodes verify the bets, ruling out the intervention of a third party authentication. Blockchain allows users to be connected to a global forecasting network thereby boosting  the credibility of the gaming industry.

How do I invest in blockchain technology?

Blockchain is a versatile technology and multiple industries are harnessing its potential. Peer to Peer blockchain based sports betting platform is the new trend in the world of online betting.

Blockchain based peer to peer sports betting platform allows bettors to create own betting conditions. Flexibility of creating own odds and participating in a pool if need be is available. In a blockchain based peer to peer sports betting platform one can combining bets with peers thereby making it a “social” experience. Features like instant messaging can also be integrated in blockchain based peer to peer sports betting platform to enable private conversations along with forming “groups”  of people interested in a particular event. Forum can be made and moderated.

Blockchain based peer to peer sports betting platforms use smart contracts to execute on peer to peer networks. Once the smart contract is on blockchain, it is implemented by network’s computing power and is immutable thereby maintaining transparency and security of the peer to peer sports betting platform in a decentralized manner.

User expectations from an online sports betting platform

Seamless and consistent user experience in all platforms (Web, mobile, tablet etc) along with transparency and lesser risk of fund transactions is the primary expectation from users. Hence, if you are looking to develop an online betting platform you  should focus on making scalable solutions that end user can trust.

Some key features that should be included are :

  1. Product specific features and auxiliary offerings like social betting, informational content.
  2. Probable inclusion of feeds from online gaming and betting industry along with few local feeds.
  3. Operational automation (either full or partial) relevant to specific markets, games or events to increase the appeal of the platform.
  4. There are few options available in the market that offer one platform for retail and internet channels for betting. A platform which may be able able to support operations without compromising on security hasn’t been developed yet.
  5. Secure decentralized model which can allow operation and integration of multiple functionalities.

Conclusion

Application of Blockchain on private and public blockchains like peer to peer exchange, smart contracts have led to emergence of blockchain and distributed ledger technology as the biggest evolutionary step in online sports betting industry. Blockchain provides an efficient yet transparent way to improve credibility of  online sports betting industry. Blockchain will prevent frauds by astutely assessing patterns and providing audit reports.Tracking of all operations would be easier due to immutable data records. Blockchain will also be a channel of verifiable randomness and will verify the random numbers in gaming service via a public ledger and replace the client side server records.

To sum up to  invest in blockchain technology and to integrate it with online gaming would be cost effective and will reduce the risk of hacking considerably. The implications are believed to be substantial in gaming ecosystem. Potential applications of blockchain are increasing the credibility and viability of online betting industry.

It is safe to say that blockchain is an odds-on winner for online betting industry.

BetHite : Changing the gamut of peer to peer sports betting

Techracers is a Blockchain Studio helping industries create sustainable futures. We are committed to scaling blockchain technology towards broader adoption of blockchain systems.

Our team of blockchain experts have come up with a revolutionary smart contract based product “BetHite” which will change the gamut of peer to peer sports betting. BetHite will enable transmission of value without intervention of intermediaries. It is a smart contract based peer to peer sports betting platform which utilizes smart contracts to validate and facilitate betting over a secure decentralized blockchain. BeHite will protect the integrity of your bet and will fortify it against changes by malicious parties.

Contact us to receive whitepaper download link for BetHite at [email protected]

Blockchain’s Answers to the Fantasy Sports Business Challenges

With the evolution of online fantasy sports industry across the world in last decade, the industry has faced many expected and unexpected challenges. The industry has been through a roller coaster ride in different geographies due to various reasons. From insider trading to untrusted transactions to fair gameplay to legal cases to licensing. The seriousness of legality and fair gaming can be understood from the fact that both draftkings, fanduel ended up paying $12 million collectively to settle New York daily fantasy sports case.

We reviewed things in detail and zeroed down everything to 3 major problems that lies in the roots and can be considered as key reasons behind all these challenges. These apply to almost all online gaming platforms.

  1. Fair Gameplays – The question in a fantasy sports player’s mind today is “Am I playing on a platform which offers fair gameplay”?
  2. Trusted Platforms – Is the fantasy sports platform trustworthy? Is my information safe or not and the platforms stats are not hacked, manipulated or reused?
  3. Reward Distribution – Will I get my winnings back? Will I get the returns on time? Are there any hidden terms or any deductions I am not aware of?

A fantasy sports platform which can overcome these 3 challenges is the ideal platforms for any fantasy sports participant.

An Introduction to BlockChain Technology

 

For those who don’t want to take a deep dive now, let’s keep things very simple. “Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin”. It has now evolved manifolds in last decade from just a cryptocurrency technology to a distributed ledger technology that is taking different industries by storm.

This technology ensures immutability, tough security, anonymity, transparency, disintermediation, validation and authentication in the system where it is implemented. Blockchain has already disrupted the way businesses are done by inducing trust and transparency among everyone involved.

Blockchain’s Answers to the Fantasy Sports Challenges

 

Fair Gameplays

The need of Fair games, incorruptible account balances is the real bonus that comes with blockchain based token balances (read more). Implementation of token balances has given birth to a new avatar of the gambling industry, a foundation for p2p markets and fool proof customer protection.

Some of the gaming platform leveraging benefits of blockchain technology for a fast peer to peer interactions are

  1. iDice – A gambling platform with its beta already processed nearly $450,000 worth of Ethereum in winnings becomes the 1st blockchain gambling Dapp to announce ICO (initial coin offering) i.e. crowdfunding via cryptocurrency.
  2. Funfair.io – The world’s fastest Ethereum casino platform raised $26m in matter of hours after releasing over 17 million tokens in just 1 week. The platforms powered by Ethereum smart contracts offering instant gaming, transparent code, lower operating costs and consequently the possibility of higher payouts.
  3. Pokereum – A secure peer-to-peer (p2p) version of traditional online poker
  4. MiniWagor – Win ether playing games built with smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. (Pool games with smart contracts holding the fees in escrow)

Trusted Platforms

Blockchain technology offers everything in its core to solve this challenge because that’s exactly what smart contracts allows us to do – automate parts where trust is usually concentrated. By implementing smart contracts in fantasy sports modules like execution of fantasy sports scoring rules, assigning expertise level to a fantasy sports player (beginner, intermediate or expert), determining the winners of a fantasy league and much more.

In terms of blockchain implementation in fantasy sports. We can write a blockchain smart contract on scoring rules of a fantasy league. The scoring calculation based on real player’s performance on ground will be done through this immutable and unchangeable smart contract. This ensures that the scoring parameters cannot be tempered by anyone in future, not even by the fantasy sports platform operator himself.

Reward Distribution (payments and money transfers)

Blockchain ensures that money transfers between payers and payee (in our case users and fantasy sports platforms) are done directly without any 3rd party involvement, at a super-fast pace and ultra-low fees. With blockchain-based money transfers, a fantasy sports platform can ensure direct, safer, cheap and quick alternate of any 3rd party payment system.

Consider All the financial transactions like entry fees and winnings withdrawal can be done using cryptocurrency on blockchain technology. This helps in reducing frauds, immediate settlements, drastically lower fees. The biggest benefit of implementing cryptocurrency is that it opens your fantasy sports platforms to the world as crypto currency is free from any government oversight and is not bound by the exchange rates, interest rates, transactions charges or other charges of any country. So, it can be used at international level transactions with ease.   

How our team can help you?

 

Team Techracers includes fantasy sports developers, business consultants and blockchain developers who understand the industry and its dynamics better than anyone else out there. We have been instrumental in multiple fantasy sports website design, development and implementations and works as a technology partner for clients worldwide.  By combining our fantasy sports and sports betting experience with blockchain expertise we are helping online gaming operators to offer an engaging, trustworthy, fair and rewarding gaming environment to end users.

Contact us for more details on blockchain and how we can help you

 

Bitcoin Fork & its Impact on Bitcoin Investments

What is Bitcoin Fork & Why did it happen?

Bitcoin Fork is a permanent bifurcation in the blockchain. The users have to implement a protocol upgrade proposal called BIP148. It is believed to boost the transaction capacity of Bitcoin by creating the new cryptocurrency Bitcoin Cash or BCC. Before the Bitcoin Fork, Bitcoin was able to process approximately seven transactions per second by creating one block every 10 minutes which had capability of 1 MB Bitcoin transaction storage capacity.As Bitcoin is outshining the traditional currencies and it has consistently increased its popularity and value more people are turning towards it . Bitcoin was essentially bursting at the seams to accommodate the huge demand. Bitcoin Cash will increase the transaction limit to 8 megabytes.

Two Schools of Thought : SegWit & Bitcoin Unlimited

The main aim of Bitcoin forking was to process more transaction in a time slot. SegWit & Bitcoin Unlimited are the two schools of thoughts that emerged.

SegWit is acronym for segregated witnesses. It counts serialised witness data as one unit and core block data is counted as four units. Hence it updates the 1MB block size into 4 million unit block weight limit. SegWit thereby introduces a new transaction format.

As Bitcoin Core Team said :

“As transactions that use SegWit features begin to be used, this change will allow more data to be included per block (with 100% of transactions using segwit features this is expected to be about 2MB of data per block, however in the worst case could be up to 4MB of data per block). In so far as it allows a greater transaction volume, it can be expected to increase the UTXO database more quickly (with 100% of transactions using SegWit features, the rate of increase might be expected to approximately double; however because SegWit is a soft fork, the worst case UTXO growth is unchanged).”

SegWit Benefits

  1. Fixing  Third-party Malleability Issue : Makes transaction identifier (txid) immutable and prevents scriptSig malleability.
  2. Sighash operations are linearly scaled  : SigWit changes the transaction hash calculation for signatures in such a way that each byte of a transaction only needs to be hashed at most twice. Hence same functionality is provided more efficiently
  3. Explicitly Hashes Input Value : Ensures safe use of Bitcoin in hardware wallets.
  4. Multisig via pay-to-script-hash (P2SH) for enhanced security : Extra security is provided for scripts.
  5. Versioning of Script : Enables improved security and fucntionality and makes advanced scripting in Bitcoin easier.
  6. Reducing Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) : SegWit is a soft forking change. Soft fork is a software update that allows integration of the network with new features which are implemented on the go.

Possible impact on Bitcoin : It may decrease hashpower and potentially reduce transaction fees by reducing block power.

Bitcoin Unlimited

This school of thought advocated bigger block size. It is viewed as a long term solution as block size is unlimited. This advantage comes with few shortcomings like it may put Bitcoin miners in more control. It would also involve an irreversible change i.e the software update will conflict with existing version and needs to be replaced (Hard Fork).

Emergence of Bitcoin Cash : The New Digital Token

Bitcoin Cash (BCC) is the new cryptocurrency which is coming into existence after Bitcoin Fork or splitting. It shares same financial history as Bitcoin but is more efficient in terms of clearing more transactions per second. Bitcoin Cash is proposed to be credited at a 1:1 rate to Bitcoin holders i.e each Bitcoin holder will own one Bitcoin and one Bitcoin Cash as long as they control their own private keys. However many users are keen on buying Bitcoin Cash and selling Bitcoin despite the fact that they will retain the balance before the split and the existing ledger will be preserved.

How some people are viewing this as a scam?

It is believed that Bitcoin cash would end up with Third Party Companies who control user’s private keys and can steal coins from Bitcoin users.

Here is how major Bitcoin players are dealing with the Bitcoin Fork :

  1. ANXPro and mobile wallets Electrum and GreenAddress – do not have technical resources to support a new cryptocurrency, hence won’t support it.
  2. Bitstamp, one of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges – Is “not be in a position” to support the “altcoin.”
  3. Circle (peer-to-peer payments technology company) emailed customers -“We may never support the new version and any value on it could potentially be lost to you.”

Innovative Solution used by Bitrefil

Bitrefill (Prepaid phone startup) has planned to sell Bitcoin Cash in exchange of Bitcoin. It will then then proportionally divide the funds between users on the basis of amount the user holds in the company.

On the other hand some organizations like Shapeshift (Cryptocurrency Exchange) who aren’t sure about the best approach and have planned to stop trading for unspecified time duration and haven’t specified their take on listing Bitcoin Cash. Their idea is “Better Safe than Sorry”.

What Bitcoin Miners have to say?  

Mining pools such as Bitmain will continue to support Bitcoin Cash and the original Bitcoin chain. Most mining pools have explicitly verified their support in favour of both the currencies.

How is the Cryptocurrency Market dealing with the split?

The cryptocurrency market is showing resilience against the much dreaded Bitcoin Fork. Bitcoin’s price was trading at $2860 on 1st August, up 7% from a low of $2680 only a day earlier!

How you as an investor can ensure safety of your Bitcoin?

Firstly you need to  check with your Bitcoin exchange to see what their policy is towards the Bitcoin Fork. Will they support Bitcoin Cash or not? The must do thing would be to have control of your private keys. A good option would be moving the coins to hardware wallet like Ledger or Trezor. By doing so you will have access to all of your Bitcoin Cash. If you fail to do so, the exchange will be in control of your Bitcoin.

Investing in Bitcoin

Why invest in Bitcoin? What are the advantages?

Bitcoin is one of the most popular cryptocurrency as it can’t be stolen, no risk of “chargebacks” is involved in transactions and most importantly no third party seizure is possible. According to a research by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. Bitcoin is a popular investment option in countries like Argentina where risk of confiscation by Government is high. Bitcoin purchases also rise in geographies where the risk of taxation or high inflation exists.

“Gold is a great way to preserve wealth, but it is hard to move around. You do need some kind of alternative and Bitcoin fits the bill.”

– Jim Rickards, American Lawyer, Economist and Investment Banker

Investment funds that offer cryptocurrency gains are very popular, Bitcoin Funds, Bitcoin Mutual Funds to name a few. Recently some mainstream investment companies like Hargreaves Lansdown have included the option of investing in Bitcoin to their investors giving them access to the decentralized currency.

Current Investing Trend in Bitcoin

The Bitcoin investment ecosystem has witnessed a tremendous rise of investments from Venture Capitalists like Peter Theil Founders Fund. The current trend is to invest in companies that provide Bitcoin Wallet Services, Bitcoin Payment Systems etc. Another area of interest is Bitcoin Mining where Bitcoin Miners use special software to generate Bitcoins by solving math problems.

Future of Bitcoin

“You can’t stop things like Bitcoin. It will be everywhere” – John McAfee, Founder of McAfee

Most likely Bitcoin Cash will pose no threat to Bitcoin. Investors with both cryptocurrencies may benefit from speculative gains.An ambiguity of preference between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash is prevalent in the cryptocurrency ecosystem hence it is difficult to predict the outcome of the fork at this point of time. Bitcoin Cash could lose in the saga of cryptocurrencies or may prove to be a tough competitor to other crypto currencies but Bitcoin is here to stay.