Elon Musk’s outbursts are his pushback against the status quo, ex-colleague Reid Hoffman says

The Twitter outbursts of Elon Musk are due to frustrations with what he sees as shortsighted views about the progress he’s making with Tesla, former …

The Twitter outbursts of Elon Musk are due to frustrations with what he sees as shortsighted views about the progress he’s making with Tesla, former colleague Reid Hoffman told CNBC on Tuesday.

Musk is focused “three, five, 10 years into the future,” said the LinkedIn co-founder, who worked alongside Musk at online payments system PayPal. “Part of his grit, part of his determination to get to that long future is to push back.”

Just days after settling Securities and Exchange Commission fraud charges and just hours after a federal judge asked both sides to justify the agreement, Musk mocked the agency in a tweet lat week, calling it “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”

The SEC was going after Musk for alleged false statements in the now-infamous Aug. 7 tweet about having “funding secured” to possibly take the company private. The idea was abandoned on Aug. 24.

Prior to the take-private debacle, Musk had been acting erratically for months.

Following a bizarre Aug. 16 interview with The New York Times, Musk’s actions were under scrutiny again last month after he appeared to smoke marijuana and drink whiskey during comedian Joe Rogan‘s podcast.

Back in May, Musk rudely cut off analysts on Tesla’s first-quarter earnings call. He later apologized for that on the second-quarter call in August.

Shares of Tesla were up 3.2 percent Tuesday. But the stock has tanked more than 17 percent this year, and more than 25 percent over the last 12 months.

Appearing on “Squawk Box,” Hoffman conceded that Musk should perhaps find a different outlet for his outbursts. “I think it needs to be a different pattern than those tweets.”

Along with Musk, billionaire Hoffman is a member of the “PayPal Mafia,” a group of former PayPal employees and founders who have since founded and developed their own tech companies. Hoffman is now with the Greylock Partners venture capital firm.

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Blockchain: What is it, how it works and how it is being used in the market

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. This technology was originally …

A closer look at the technology that is rapidly growing in popularity

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

  • A number of valid records or transactions.
  • Information referring to that block.
  • A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

Ultimately, since each block is mathematically linked to the next block, once a new block is added to the chain, it is rendered unchangeable. So if a block’s relationship with the chain is modified, it is broken. In other words, all information recorded in blocks is immutable and perpetual.

Therefore, blockchain technology allows us to store information that can never be lost, modified, or deleted.

Moreover, each network node uses certificates and digital signatures to verify the information and validate the transactions and data stored in the blockchain, which ensures the authenticity of this information.

You could say that blockchain is like a record keeper. A means of certifying and validating any type of information. A reliable, decentralized registry, resistant to data manipulation, in which everything is recorded.

We are currently used to working with centralized models. We give all our information to companies like Google or Facebook to administer, send all our messages through Telegram or WhatsApp servers so that they can send them, or spend fortunes on record keepers and institutions to certify and store our important deeds or documentation.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralized model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralized and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorized, regardless of the health center where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionize the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralized model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

At present, the following projects, which are worth taking a look at, are already being developed:

HyperLedger Project

This involves a consortium of large companies looking to develop blockchain-based solutions. They have several active projects.

R3 Cev

In this case, the 40 largest banks in the world have come together to develop blockchain-based solutions for their financial processes. They also produce reports and conduct research on this technology.

Storj

The first blockchain-based storage initiative available to everyone. User data is encrypted and stored in blockchain to keep it secure and available.

Proof of Existence

An online certification service for any type of document. It allows users to save documents in blockchain, which can never be altered or deleted.

According to a survey conducted by the consultancy firm Deloitte, 74% of the companies asked consider blockchain to be an improvement for the business and plan to invest in this technology, while almost half of them already have blockchain implemented in some way in their business.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

9 Oct 2018 – 02:00PM

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Changing the world, blockchain by blockchain

JUDD WILSON/Press Travis Jank, Lawrence Sowell, and Dolan Valenzuela strategize around blockchain hardware designs at Krambu in Coeur …

COEUR dALENE Imagine a world without the internet, without smartphones, without wireless technologies. The world of the 1980s was a clickity-clack world of typewriters, ringing phones mounted to walls, and cords stretched like trip hazards across kitchen floors while kids waited for commercials to be over so they could watch cartoons.

The technological changes of the past decades have made 2018 far different. Workers make calls on phones that fit in their pockets, cooking parents access recipes from online catalogs, and kids stream videos that used to be controlled by movie theater execs, Blockbuster clerks, and television network programmers.

Just as the world has changed in our lifetimes due to technological advancements, the world may change yet again thanks to the emerging technology known as blockchain. You may have heard of its famous cousin bitcoin and a host of other cryptocurrencies. They became famous overnight when their values shot up toward the end of 2017, reaching a high of more than $20,000 per bitcoin last December.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are like skyscrapers that attract the attention of passers-by, but they cant stand without solid foundations, streets, and other public works infrastructure undergirding them. That infrastructure is blockchain. Just as streets and infrastructure undergird everything from schools to homes to skyscrapers, blockchain may soon undergird everything from your health care records to your bank accounts to your cryptocurrency wallets.

Coeur dAlene has its own blockchain innovators at Krambu. Dont let the name fool you. Krambu isnt short for anything. It has meanings in two different languages, but essentially its just a memorable way to remember the unique work Krambu does: making the worlds best blockchain hardware.

Coeur dAlene High School class of 2006 alumni Travis Jank joined forces with Oregon transplant Lawrence Sowell to create the company in 2017. They already had decades of experience in entrepreneurship, computers, and blockchain under their belts. Jank set world records for building the worlds fastest computers, servers, and workstations. He has consulted for Intel, Invidia, Microsoft, AVD, and other major players. Sowell has started up businesses since he was 18 years old. He also runs Codera, an app development company, and has been in the tech space for more than a decade.

When Jank and Sowell formed Krambu in 2017, they established that transparency would be one of the companys core values. Theres a lot of misinformation about blockchain thanks to the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies, Jank explained.

Its not bitcoin that matters, its blockchain that matters, he said.

Krambu chief information officer Ben Meyer said, Blockchain is like the freeway, and cryptocurrencies are most of the semi trucks on the freeway.

Blockchain works in this way: Imagine a single ledger that contained every transaction consumers in Kootenai County had made in 2018. If a hacker could alter that ledger, the hacker could profit from wreaking havoc on others records. But what if every consumer in Kootenai County had an identical copy of that ledger on his own device or computer? What if the past transactions could not be changed, and the future transactions would be invalid, if a hack was identified? The sheer difficulty of hacking into all of those devices, and altering all of those ledgers, at the same moment, undetected, is what makes blockchain so superior to legacy systems, Jank said.

The processing power required to forge a transaction on the network is the sum of all the processing power, all the computers, all the internet connections, and all the infrastructure needed to do the hack, he explained. The cost of that is massive. The only entities that could pull off a hack like that, Sowell said, and get away undetected are nation-states.

The most powerful governments will have the most powerful blockchains, he said.

Thats why 86 percent of all blockchain-related research and development is being funded by governments and companies worth more than $3 billion. Another 8 percent is being funded by companies worth between $1 billion to $3 billion. Only 6 percent is being funded by small players in the market, Sowell said.

So far governments are playing catch-up with the quickly-evolving world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Its been like the Wild West, said Jank, which isnt necessarily good for the technologys growth. People and companies dont feel comfortable adopting the technology.

Regulation needs to be drafted with close communication and work with those that are fundamental in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space, he said.

But because blockchain solves problems of security, reliability, and trust with all forms of electronic communication, Jank explained that blockchain will revolutionize technology in the way that the internet protocol suite TCP/IP did. Blockchain will be adopted by existing companies and integrated with existing technologies to provide cost savings, and to increase performance and security.

For example, banks and governments will adopt blockchain to replace their legacy systems, Jank said. Once that happens, its not going to change the dollar bills or credit cards you carry around, but the blockchain technology will lead to cost savings, mitigate fraud, theft, and counterfeiting, he said.

Krambus founders had been involved in blockchain long before last years bitcoin hype, and they want to one day become what IBM, Microsoft, and Apple have been to the world of personal computing. Thats because they dont just make stuff to speculate on bitcoin or to take advantage of thirsty investors. Like Steve Jobs, theyre out to make the worlds best blockchain technology beautifully.

Krambu builds hardware for enterprise-level companies. Everything they build, they design and build from scratch right here in Coeur dAlene. Krambus staff comes up with solutions, writes patents, builds prototypes, and does integration, testing, and assembly here at its R&D lab on Government Way. Once the hardware is internally validated, its shipped to the Krambu data center in Newport, Wash., for additional field testing, Sowell said.

Were one of the first companies in the blockchain space. We build it first and make sure it works before shipping it out to customers, Jank said. Most other blockchain hardware companies dont do that, he said.

Jank distinguished between companies that focus on cryptocurrency, and those that deal with blockchain.

Blockchain companies are few and far between, he said, though noting that in the aftermath of the 2017-18 bitcoin surge, many cryptocurrency companies rebranded themselves as blockchain companies. Theres a difference between traders trying to turn a quick buck and innovators engineering real blockchain technology, he said. Sowell and Jank hope that energy consumption issues can be addressed with regional power companies, many of whom dont know the needs and benefits of blockchain.

The Krambu staff works on designing and building the technology that blockchain will need 10 years from now.

Our mission is to do tough stuff, Jank said. Its motivating to look at a problem and solve it.

The Krambu team wants to build up Coeur dAlene as a high-tech hotspot where innovators can live, work, and change the tech world.

It was my dream to stay here. I worked so hard and took odd jobs just to survive, to stay here near friends and family, and be close to the outdoors, Jank said.

We believe in the technology. Our hearts and minds are in the right place. This isnt for getting rich quick. This is to enable blockchain for the masses.

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Bitwala Partners With Visa-Backed Solaris on Blockchain Bank Account

Blockchain startup Bitwala is aiming to launch Germany’s first “blockchain bank account” – and it’s struck a strategic partnership with Berlin-based …

Blockchain startup Bitwala is aiming to launch Germany’s first “blockchain bank account” – and it’s struck a strategic partnership with Berlin-based fintech company solarisBank in order to pull it off.

Built as part of solarisBank’s “Blockchain Factory” initiative, the partnership will enable Bitwala to offer banking services by way of solarisBank’s German banking license, spokesperson Roman Kessler told CoinDesk.

The goal is to launch the service in mid-November, and Bitwala hopes to cater to those who already hold cryptocurrencies. Bitwala raised €4 million in new funding last month to support its efforts.

Thus far, according to the company, 35,000 users have pre-registered for the upcoming service.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Kessler stressed that “we are a blockchain banking service” and not a bank. That said, Bitwala hopes to get there one day, and is planning to seek a German banking license of its own next year.

Bitwala’s partner has some notable backers, including Spain-based BBVA and card provider Visa. SolarisBank closed a €56.6 million Series B funding round earlier this year, according to TechCrunch, having been founded in 2016.

Kessler explained two aspects of solarisBank drew Bitwala to it: the “fantastic technical platform that allows” any company the ability to easily “go in and plug your use cases” into the solarisBank API, and the regulatory access vis-a-vis its banking license.

Indeed, solarisBank positioned itself as a possible partner for the crypto-industry through its Blockchain Factory effort.

And the solarisBank partnership helps Bitwala avoid some of the regulatory pitfalls it’s encountered in the past. In January, Bitwala was one of several cryptocurrency companies affected when Visa Europe closed the account of its debit card issuer.

“We are very proud to partner with solarisBank as we launch our new product. Their technical services and regulatory umbrella enable Bitwala to be fully compliant with German banking requirements while offering a reliable user experience,” Jörg von Minckwitz, president of Bitwala, said in a statement.

Bitcoins and euros image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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ToneTag CEO Sounds Off On Payments At The Speed Of Sound

FinTech firm ToneTag said earlier this month that it has linked with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

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Talk about cashless and contactless. How about payments made at the speed of sound — to be specific, using encrypted sound waves to make offline payments? Sound is the ancient method of communication, of commerce, where a promise to sell or buy in days of old would be — and was, and sometimes still is — conveyed by voice, of course, and proximity between buyer and seller.

Now, it’s not the sound of voice that carries commerce. It’s sound waves emitted by phones.

In sound-based payments (done in the modern age), sound waves transmit payments data and do not need to rely on the vagaries of the physical environment — such as smartphones or even electricity — that set the stage for other types of contactless transactions.

FinTech firm ToneTag said earlier this month that it has linked with First Abu Dhabi Bank, the largest bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The latter will deploy sound-based contactless payments.

The FinTech firm which offers software that enables sound-wave-based payments is used by investors such as Amazon, Reliance Capital and Mastercard. Through the partnership between ToneTag and First Abu Dhabi Bank, customers of the bank are able to pay using their PayIt app and make the payments from their mobile phone. The relationship is one that enables payments to go digital globally, and yet not be dependent on specific hardware, QR codes or even the internet.

In an interview with PYMNTS, ToneTag CEO and Co-founder Kumar Abhishek said the use of sound-based payments helps solve a problem faced by retailers and their customers, who are used to dealing in cash: They have “to struggle to find the exact change to complete a transaction.”

Even in the movement away from cash transactions and toward contactless payments (notably in ToneTag’s home market of India), constraints emerge. The fact remains that the consumer base in India contains 800 million mobile phone users. Only 200 million of that tally, said Abhishek, have smartphones. Of that number, he said only 6 million phones are near-field communication (NFC)-enabled.

“In such a scenario, a vast majority of 1.3 billion Indians can’t access pre-existing digital payment systems,” he told PYMNTS, “and fewer still can access the evolving developments or leading technologies which make payments easier.”

On the other side of the commerce equation, merchants may find it inconvenient to invest in complex payment systems, especially in the event that access to the internet is inconsistent. Embracing sound-wave-based technology to facilitate payments, said the executive, enables both payments and proximity engagement services across any device in a manner that remains “independent of the instrument of infrastructure.”

He said that, thus far, ToneTag’s tech has reached 50 million consumers, with the number expected to touch 100 million users within the next quarter. The larger addressable markets include person-to-merchant payments at $224 billion, and merchant-to-merchant transactions at $176 billion.

The adoption comes, he said, as sound which travels at 767 miles per hour (MPH) effectively addresses these challenges associated with QR codes and NFC. “While QR code scanning requires a working phone camera, NFC [hardware] works only on smartphones,” he said.

In broad terms, audio signals make their way between merchant’s machines (such as a ToneTag “pod”) and the customer’s phone (possibly a feature phone), and a “tone tag” carries an encrypted code that is valid for a set length of time. The audio signal alerts the consumer to authenticate the transaction, say, with a PIN code.

Use cases that might see early adoption, including digital toll collections, are slated to reach $2 billion, the CEO said. Other nascent areas, such as the emergence of smart parking, could be greenfield opportunities. But, of course, it is retail in general that will prove to be the most promising for sound-wave-based payments. After all, he said, the retail market in India alone may touch $1 trillion in 2020.

When asked about the mechanics, Abhishek said ToneTag has partnered with issuers and acquirers, which in turn enable the technology inside merchant terminals to enable sound-based payments.

“ToneTag, being a B2B company, does not have direct interaction with [end] customers,” he said.

Inevitably, as with any novel conduits to payments, the conversation turned to security. Abhishek stated that sound-based payments are conducted through multi-layered encryption and time-based, one-time password features, among other attributes. As the executive told PYMNTS, “end-to-end encryption of the transaction data, even before the information leaves the source device and the decryption key or code, is available only with the bank or wallet partner.”

Ideally, he said, sound-wave-based payments will “allow customers to pick up products and walk out of retail stores, their payments being conducted automatically via sound wave and their phones. We aim to explore the transport and consumer-internet sectors in the future.”