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  1. Very little in our lives hasn’t been touched or changed somehow by the dual revolutions of computer technology and the internet. In a larger sense, the changes they’ve inspired can be summed up in the term digital transformation (DT), from banking and investing online to communicating with virtually anyone in the world for free. And blockchain technology is quickly becoming one of the main drivers of DT, for good reasons. From securing and optimizing banking practices and insurance in the private sector to voting and reducing governmental bureaucracy in the public sector, all areas of enterprise stand to be changed through blockchain digital transformation. Let’s Save the Trees for Building the House, Shall We? If you’ve ever closed on a house, especially one with a mortgage, you know what it’s like to have sprained wrists from signing papers. If your wrists weren’t hurting so much, you’d cry for all of the trees that had to die needlessly instead. Today, the real estate industry has been undergoing a digital transformation, beginning with online listings of available properties, since automated Realtor boards were created in the 1980s. About half of those interested in buying a home search online before using other means. 2018 saw the first time blockchain was used to sell a house. But blockchain technology has begun to seriously reduce the paperwork involved in real estate, including listing agreements, letters of intent and offer sheets as well as closing documents. Moreover, real estate contracts need to pass through fewer hands, such as those of bankers and even realtors, with blockchain-facilitated (smart) contracts automatically ensuring the validity and the oversight of dozens or even thousands of node operators. Digging Deeper to See Why Blockchain Is Special The digital transformation framework blockchain provides is doing more than saving trees, too. It’s ensuring transaction accuracy, eliminating intermediaries and securing transactions in a uniquely immutable way. Indeed, it can even make blockchain-secured property security systems much less hackable. Across all industries, blockchain provides the most secure and accurate solution for any transaction, for several reasons: ● The encrypted code blocks that keep records of transactions are virtually unhackable. ● Smart contracts, the code setting rules for how transactions are made — in decentralized finance (DeFi) blockchain, specifically — are unbreachable and unchangeable, making transactions safe from malicious actors, accidental overwrites and unclear contract terms. ● Multiple stakers — invested validators — of transactions ensure the accuracy of all on-chain transactions worldwide. Without sounding too technical, you can say blockchain integration provides benefits that conventional database technology cannot. Although many platforms authenticate transactions, they ultimately store data in a database — a centralized authority. This means that conventional databases can still allow a single point of failure. With blockchain, however, data is stored in more places and verified by more actual humans than any individual or enterprise could reasonably afford. Moreover, while database-held data can be hacked or accidentally changed, it’s a different story with blockchain’s system of block producers, such as EOS block producers, who add the transactions, or blocks, to a blockchain. A virtually impossible number of computers would need to be hacked at once for blockchain-secured transaction data to be altered. Making Safer, Even Greener Transactions In the ongoing digital transformation, transaction validation is one of the main ways blockchain technology excels. Indeed, blockchain’s high level of trust and transparency allows for some great opportunities to improve people's lives in a virtually limitless number of ways. In just one example, Canada’s energy supply was challenged when electric car owners plugged in at peak demand times, but blockchain solved the problem. While car owners’ energy use was measured as immutably accurate transactions, reward tokens were triggered for those saving energy. Through verifying data robustly and removing costly intermediaries, blockchain technology allowed this win-winnovation to succeed. In short, blockchain allows both businesses and consumers ways to securely manage transactions and keep up with the worldwide digital transformation. So how can your company best adapt to this age of transformation? According to Business Leader, companies need to make a roadmap and work features of DT into their business gradually rather than force quick changes. Similarly, companies need to choose technologies — such as blockchain — that will last. Not Just Choosing the Right Team, But the Best Players As Well In order to take advantage of the benefits of blockchain digital transformation, specifically DeFi platforms are needed. Otherwise, using centralized finance (CeFi) platforms such as Coinbase (not Coinbase Wallet) and Binance will provide a likely less transparent and certainly a more mediated implementation. One player making waves in the DeFi space is AIKON. Its signature identity management platform, ORE ID (a secure login tool for blockchain), provides an easy but secure login interface accessible through email, most popular third-party social media logins and even SMS. ORE ID is built to be user-friendly enough for anyone responsible for integrating new technology in an organization to interact with. And that’s an important point when it comes to the oncoming digital transformation — inclusivity. There’s nothing more inclusive than DeFi, with the transparency of its public ledgers and freedom from centralized control. Another essential point is connection. Our lives aren’t transformed in a bubble, but we influence each other with the technology we use. Companies such as AIKON understand the importance of inclusion and connection, too. For example, AIKON is set up to connect all users of ORE ID across multiple blockchains, allowing for interoperability. With AIKON and its cross-chain capabilities, you definitely won’t be alone as the digital transformation that blockchain brings advances and improves everyone’s lives.
  2. Whether or not we’re ready for it, the growth of blockchain technologies is only going to continue expanding. Sources report that blockchain utilization is expected to grow more than 56% yearly through 2027. Even the growth of global mobile data traffic and consumer IP traffic is currently growing at much less than 56%. The rise of blockchain has often been compared to that of the internet, but for many years, even among its first few years, the growth rate of the internet was less than 56% annually, in the same timeframe. And now for the $69 billion question — can our current infrastructure handle it? In some ways, our current infrastructure and standard technology practices may not be set up to handle the increase in the utilization of blockchain technologies into the future. However, none of these issues seem to be unpreventable.[ For example, the real-time nature of blocks being added to blockchains may require more uninterruptible forms of power supply (UPSes). That being said, UPSes are already commonplace in industries such as health care — and the technology for them is improving. Houston, We Have Bigger Problems A more discussed and significant issue concerning blockchain technology and our current infrastructure is blockchain’s relative lack of scalability compared to that of conventional databases. The issue lies in the way transactions are relatively slow — very slow — compared to traditional database-facilitated transactions because of some of the very qualities that make blockchain technologies so revolutionary. That is to say, dozens and even thousands of block producers, such as EOS block producers, verify transactions in an immutable and precisely limited way. Unlike the centralized tech that makes up a database, blockchain has multiple agents validating the same transaction blocks rather than a single agent manipulating a single set of data. Furthermore, the blocks themselves are limited in size compared to the more unlimited record sizes allowed by databases, preventing more data in the same amount of code space from being handled in fewer actions. However, even this major issue is being solved. For example, serverless cloud computing technology, involving multiple machines using code practices that are more on-demand than conventional ones, portends an impending solution to this problem with blockchain technologies. Furthermore, specific solutions are in working order now. For example, the Lightning Network was created as a much faster alternative to conventional blockchain technology, by enabling acquainted users to set up a plan that allows a layer of technologically recognized trust integrated within the blockchain that provides faster transaction speeds. What’s more, Ethereum 2.0 — the platform’s highly awaited upgrade from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake — stands to create its own norm-busting solutions to scalability. Also, the high amount of computing power needed to support blockchain technologies shouldn’t be an issue, as block producers take ownership by handling each crypto and token transaction on their own systems. Not only will companies not need to maintain so many on-premise servers in the future, but they also won’t need to pay for services provided by either in-house personnel or even cloud-based services as much. Because of these savings, many smaller companies won’t need to have as much capital to start a blockchain-enabled business. Indeed, one of the main benefits of blockchain technology and decentralized finance (DeFi) itself require fewer costs in paying third-party intermediaries to verify transactions. Database, Meet Blockchain. Blockchain, Meet Database. Let’s All Just Get Along. One aspect of blockchain technologies that more stakeholders need to understand is the benefits of blockchain vs. those of databases, which is the norm for storing data. Blockchains can indeed do nearly everything that databases can. You can even make a to-do app, a typical programming use case, with blockchain technology. Although databases have encryption processes built with them to secure code, there are many ways that database security can be compromised, considering how more vulnerable SQL database tables or even NoSQL documents are compared to the relatively simple, immutable, singularly-focused, locked-down code used in blockchain technologies. While databases are more flexible with the kinds of actions that can be made on data through CRUD-based architecture — Create, Read, Update, and Delete — blockchain systems typically only do the Create (write) and Read actions, so their data cannot normally be altered or removed. Also, because most of the programs we use that require persisted data need it to be alterable, updatable, and removable as well as created and read, databases and the client-server apps that interact with them provide more flexibility and functionality of features than do blockchain-based apps. Furthermore, databases are currently faster with app actions and transactions, at least until the yet-to-be mastered scalability problem of blockchain technologies is more definitively solved. On the other hand, in terms of transparency, one of DeFi blockchain’s benefits — blockchain definitely rules the day. A database requires central administrators who have a lot of say over what you can do with your transaction data and who keep a lot of the transaction process hidden. So will blockchains replace databases? It doesn’t seem likely, especially in this stage of blockchain technology development. Because both data storage paradigms have their own benefits and drawbacks, it comes down to the particular use case. For example, databases are generally appropriate for platforms such as a social media network or other enterprises requiring fast, continuous flow of data without requiring dozens or thousands of verifications of the same piece of data, storage of confidential information, relatively less of a focus on validation of data, and detailed, complex, relational data. In contrast, blockchain technologies are best for transfer value, storage value, monetary transactions, trusted data verification, voting systems, and the fluid, transparent, independent transacting that decentralized apps (dApps) allow. Moreover, there’s nothing that says a company can’t have both technologies working for them, each with its own advantages. In any case, it will be necessary for managers and developers to investigate the benefits of tools made for either blockchain or database systems based on the individual needs of the department or enterprise. While many of the changes necessary to accommodate blockchain critical infrastructure are unproblematic — or problems related to them are being solved — many sources agree that the mental and cultural assimilation of blockchain technology into people’s lives needs a lot of work. Moreover, because of the growing recognition and use of blockchain technology’s benefits by governments worldwide, all businesses will need to be prepared to interface with the government on blockchain. Luckily, though, many reliable sources are already advising businesses on what to do. For example, they recommend sharing the multiple benefits of blockchain technologies on the ecosystem level through business-to-business collaboration. After all, a platform that creates trust blockchain-encrypted signatures for transactions needs to agree on how a particular business is done. The Learning Curve Is Rising but So Are the Learners — Along With the Pioneers Who Get It Although the lack of technical talent in blockchain technology poses challenges now, it won’t be like that for too long. Universities offering courses in blockchain are on the rise, even 25% in one year (2018). Moreover, most developers in a recent Stack Overflow survey said they were interested in developing with blockchain technologies themselves. One DeFi leader who knows that the lack of technical talent is an issue but also it’s correctable is Marc Blinder, the CEO of AIKON. However, lack of tech talent is definitely not an issue when it comes to this company. One area of blockchain that it’s ahead of the game in is identity management. AIKON’s ORE ID (a secure login tool for blockchain) is a flexible and straightforward but effective signup and login interface that allows users to access any DeFi blockchain platform in a variety of ways. As blockchain technologies expand globally, so will the need for such robust but user-friendly tools to perform basic but essential functions to facilitate data access in an era still unfamiliar with using blockchain. No matter what industry your enterprise is part of, blockchain technology has a lot to offer, and the game is already on. Don’t just build your company on the foundation of today — help build a foundation for your company’s future.
  3. One may be the loneliest number, but cryptocurrency most certainly is considered the loneliest asset class out there. For all of their prominence and value, cryptocurrencies on the same blockchain are not exchangeable simply as a matter of proportionate value the way fiat currencies are. It’s more complicated than that, and cross-chain transactions still exist at blockchain’s innovative edge. Quite a few technical factors must align for transactions to be made across different chains without the need for an intermediary. This involves a quality called isomorphism. However, isomorphism can be very difficult to achieve, so other solutions need to be made. For example, bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH), the most valuable and traded cryptocurrencies, are not similarly compatible. That’s not to say that you can’t trade one cryptocurrency for another directly, such as with BTC and ETH. With cryptocurrencies, many people use a kind of centralized intermediary, such as Coinbase or Binance, for cross-chain transactions. Of course, this is a common process that those dealing with fiat currencies are used to as well. If you want to trade one kind of fiat currency for another, you have to use a centralized exchange of some sort — a bank, an exchange office, etc — as an intermediary. And with both fiat currency and cryptocurrencies on centralized platforms, you’ll need to share a substantial piece of the pie with the intermediary. On top of that, centralized exchanges convert your money and store it, but how it’s done is not as transparent as it could be. The drawbacks of centralized finance (CeFi) don’t stop there, either, despite the way they allow some cross-chain transactions. CeFi is less secure, too, because assets and security keys, and the data they secure, are not under your direct control. This relative lack of control makes them more likely to be stolen or compromised in systems whose inner workings are not transparent or accessible to you. Moreover, if you need to establish your own token and want cross-chain capability with it, the steps to take to do so and potential barriers to it are tremendous. Finally, CeFi doesn’t allow lending and borrowing crypto on platforms such as Compound. Indeed, cryptocurrency transactions requiring intermediaries sidestep the whole point of cryptocurrency — a form of exchange freed from intermediaries, which decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms are already achieving. Time Is Money, and Blockchain Interoperability Solutions Are About Saving That, Too One of the most significant problems involving blockchain on DeFi that many developers are solving is scalability. Essentially, the problem is that there are many bottlenecks in the traffic of Ethereum-based transactions because the scale of these transactions remains relatively limited — too many transactions in too short a time. What’s intensifying these bottlenecks is that ETH is the dominant coin of the DeFi realm. And it’s not only that — Ethereum is not only used as a currency itself, but also for transacting in stablecoin, a subclass of cryptocurrency that has risen sharply in usage. Keep in mind, this is trading within a single blockchain, not cross-platform crypto trading. Because of scalability issues, the average amount of gas fees, which are paid to crypto miners for making any kind of transaction with ETH, have grown as high as hundreds of dollars at times and have become highly volatile, as shown in the graph below. Ethereum 2.0, the Ethereum network’s planned upgrade, aims to eliminate the problem of scalability through sharding, which creates multiple side chains handling parallel transactions to save the time individual transactions take. Although there are high hopes for Ethereum 2.0, it is certainly not a sure or absolute solution. That’s why alternative solutions are needed to address the scalability problem in the DeFi space. Accordingly, blockchain interoperability solutions can fit the bill. With multiple blockchains for crypto coins and tokens to be exchanged fluidly, there would be less need to depend on one particular blockchain, such as Ethereum, to maintain transaction information and handle transaction load. Just as importantly, cross-chain allows for a greater sharing of information between blockchains, which stands to benefit blockchain applications in and among a wide variety of industries. Moreover, many sources point out that cross-chain won’t just solve problems but also increase participation in DeFi. Crossing Chasms Means Picking the Right Bridge Although many solutions are trying to conquer cross-chain, some blockchain integration solutions are more value-added than others. For example, AIKON is a startup that aims to provide functionality as innovative as integration itself. Not only will the AIKON-affiliated ORE Token allow individual and enterprise users to perform transactions across multiple blockchains in a democratized network, but it also provides users a platform to create and manage their own DeFi app (dAPP). AIKON’s ORE ID (a secure login tool for blockchain) sign-up and login interface allows users to integrate securely and easily with virtually any blockchain through email, SMS or a wide variety of social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and more. Enterprise users, specifically, can take advantage of multi-signature (multisig) security, which requires multiple signatories for transactions through ORE Vault). All blockchain interoperability solutions must follow the best new practices. For example, a platform needs to be GDPR-compliant to ensure data privacy. Also, block producers, including EOS block producers, should follow a proof-of-stake protocol, where transactions are fast and fewer resources are wasted than with proof-of-work models. AIKON meets these requirements. It’s time for the loneliest of assets to get together and improve blockchain altogether.
  4. More and more of our financial life is happening online, and it’s not just in our online bank accounts. The tech we are becoming increasingly reliant on is making a reality of its own, with the lines between the virtual and real becoming more blurred every day. First, it was money itself, with cryptocurrency. Then it was art and collectibles, with NFTs. And now it’s the price we put on the online spaces we inhabit — with virtual real estate. When the “Crypto Landscape” Becomes More Than a Metaphor It may seem crazy to some to pay so much for something that isn’t real in the way we know its analogue counterpart to be, such as a painting, a player-worn sports jersey, or an apartment. But anything can have value if enough people choose to give it value. Even the U.S. dollar itself, an example of fiat money in cryptocurrency terminology, is not backed by gold, or any other precious metal, or anything else “real” besides some fancy paper and a conscious choice to use it in everyday life. Very few events could show this phenomenon more than the famous recent purchase of a non-fungible token of the Beeple artwork "Everydays — The First 5000 Days" for $69.3 million by Vignesh Sundaresan, more commonly known as Metakoven. As Sundaresan said in a recent interview about the purchase, “This is a change in medium. That means that there's going to be hundreds and thousands of people from around the world who are going to adopt this medium — a digitally native medium — to monetize art, and there's going to be an economy around it, and the first piece of such an important movement going forward is going to be quite valuable in the future, also.” And so it is with the sales of real estate in a virtual environment, one where people can never exist in the material sense, but only in their minds. But what is virtual real estate? Essentially, it stands for digital spaces recognizable visually as living spaces one might inhabit in the analogue world, created by software. Such spaces, for example, can be representations of land plots in the physical world on Google Earth or through platforms such as Decentraland, where you can sell advertising in the virtual spaces available there. Furthermore, not all spaces are sold — some are rented out. A Different Kind of Valuation Although virtual real estate usually involves no physical asset beyond an infinitesimally light electrical current, it does have value beyond a monetary one. It allows its owners and visitors to be part of communities and have experiences there that may not be possible or are usually beyond their control through “real” real estate. In fact, Metakoven himself doesn’t plan to keep his Beeple masterpiece locked away in a crypto wallet. Rather, he plans to put his Beeple masterpiece on display in virtual galleries. Moreover, this kind of community and experience isn’t new — Metaverse platforms such as Minecraft, SimCity, Second Life, Fortnite, and Roblox, to name just a few of the more famous ones, have been providing communities of interactive digital participants for decades now. And making money from some of these virtual spaces certainly isn’t new, either. So, by all accounts, virtual real estate is here to stay, for multiple reasons: ● It poses fewer barriers for people to participate. With no property tax, mechanical repairs, or soaring prices (especially in today’s market), anyone with a crypto wallet and a couple of (thousand) dollars can stake a claim and be a virtual neighbor to anyone — celebrities included. ● It’s a space with a variety of participants, from virtual reality and blockchain developers, from investors to hobbyists, from gamers to soccer moms. A truly inclusive and diverse community. ● Even in a month when total NFT sales and value of sales were down, between March 30 and April 28, 2021, the only NFT sector growing in valuation, and by a lot, was virtual real estate. On the Frontier — Literally — of Virtual Real Estate As mentioned before, there are platforms such as Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, The Sandbox, and Etherland that provide virtual experiences, and then there are platforms that aim to cross borders to connect them. Republic Realm is a prime example of such a venture. Although not open to the public yet, this virtual real estate platform aims to build community engagement across a variety of platforms, providing real-time output of underpriced listings and using findings to identify attractive acquisition targets. Companies such as Republic Realm connect platforms, and some companies connect the connectors. One such company is AIKON, which will be integrating Republic Realm into its barrier-busting blockchain soon. In fact, AIKON has already integrated blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Algorand, and EOS, and is working on adding Bitcoin and Cosmos to the mix. Essentially, AIKON has created a seamless protocol on the blockchain to secure data with its blockchain identity management solution ORE ID, and super secure multisig cryptocurrency wallet, ORE Vault. Moreover, it’s all connected to the ORE Network, with transactions flowing through the ORE Chain, a blockchain created to handle the identities and digital assets it protects. The ORE Chain is designed to integrate with other blockchains, allowing one to use multiple dApps, on multiple chains, with a single email address, SMS, or social login. It’s virtual real estate platforms like Decentraland that will continue to create digital worlds, but it’s platforms like AIKON and Republic Realm that are making sure all roads connecting these worlds are safe, fast, and clear. And all those roads lead to the future. Are you ready to join the new world where your next house is virtual, bought with virtual money, and existing in your imagination? If your answer is yes, here’s to the new kids in town!
  5. Nuclear-weapon states require multiple parties to unlock launch codes for a crucial reason — some things are just too important to entrust to one person. Likewise, a corporation needs to secure its cryptocurrency funds against accidental or malicious operations and using more than one person to do it provides a nearly unbreachable level of defense. In the realm of national defense, this kind of security means two different keys and multiple overseers. In the realm of cryptocurrency funds, it means using multi-signature (multisig) wallets and networks to maintain them. So what is a multisig wallet exactly? Multi-signature wallets are wallets that hold cryptocurrency funds but require the input of two or more private keys before effecting a transaction on a blockchain platform. And they’ve been growing as a paradigm in crypto security since they were introduced in 2014. Protecting the Pack from a Lone Wolf Attack Allowing only a single user to approve cryptocurrency transactions can cause problems in many ways, especially in a corporate environment. It only takes one disgruntled employee to empty a wallet with enterprise funds of its crypto. But with a multisig wallet, one person does not decide for everyone. It’s not just malicious intent on the part of someone on the inside that can jeopardize crypto funds. Phishing is the fraudulent sending of emails pretending to be from reputable companies to get users to reveal personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers — and private crypto keys. Worldwide, 20% of private and public employees from a wide variety of industries fell to phishing attacks last year, and the occurrence of such attacks is certainly not decelerating. With conventional crypto wallets, it only takes one person to fall for a phishing attack to jeopardize an entire enterprise. With a multisig wallet, however, the chance of multiple keyholders falling for a phishing attack is much smaller. Moreover, no malicious intent may be involved at all. If a private key for a crypto transaction is lost, the result can be disastrous because the funds involved could be lost. In fact, one-fifth of all bitcoin is estimated to be lost because of lost keys. However, as with phishing attacks, the chance of one user losing corporate funds decreases significantly with multiple signers. To avoid dependency on fixed private keys, a multisig wallet can be set up to allow a certain number of people — but not everyone with a viable key — to approve a transaction. A manager can choose the minimum number of keys needed to unlock a multisig vault, as well as how many keys are allowed to open it. What to Consider With Multisig Although multi-signature wallets offer a significant security advantage, a manager should not decide whether to use them — or which one to use — lightly. It’s true that multiple parties are involved, but a multisig wallet must be configured and used carefully and correctly or some of its advantages, such as not losing funds due to a single lost private key, won’t matter. Moreover, while multisig platforms have gotten easier to use, great care should be taken to learn the ins and outs of available options before making a final decision. That’s why it’s essential to choose a multisig wallet that’s as user-friendly as possible, such as AIKON’s ORE Vault. ORE Vault’s overarching platform, ORE ID, is a secure login tool for blockchain that offers considerable advantages over existing blockchain identity and account management solutions. Choosing the Best of Multisig — and More While such solutions are usually wallet apps downloaded to a device or desktop and installed as browser plugins, ORE ID is solely an API. ORE ID’s API-based approach encrypts a user’s keys for all of the public blockchains they use and stores them in the cloud, protecting them through two-factor authentication, with the option for users to store them locally as well. For a multisig wallet solution to be effective, functionality that should be simple is simple. At the same time, the solution needs to be as extensive in functionality as it is intensive in security. Accordingly, ORE ID is a user-friendly one-stop shop in all the right ways. For any user in an enterprise, the tool provides a simple signup and login interface with a wide range of choices, including email, SMS, and many popular social media logins. For the developer, ORE ID and its API are open-source and easy to implement. For enterprise managers, the tool provides easy ways to create a blockchain, airdrop crypto to users, and monitor blockchain and user activity with a comprehensive analytics dashboard. Convenience + Control Another aspect of a multisig wallet to consider is how confusing and complicated it could be for all users in an enterprise. While most solutions require multiple wallets and integration when different blockchains and devices are involved, ORE ID focuses on cross-chain interoperability. With ORE ID, enterprises don’t have to avoid using a particular blockchain out of fear of not being able to transact with it quickly or flexibly. What’s more, ORE ID can be used on a growing number of platforms, including Etherium, Algorand, EOS, and Telos. Finally, an important quality to seek in a multisig wallet is how much control one has over the custody of funds within it. ORE ID, for example, is a solution that leverages the benefits of decentralized finance (DeFi). In this regard, the tool allows users to own and have complete control over their own blockchain identity while being accountable to an enterprise. It does so through a blockchain identity registry that holds public keys and active NFTs linked to a given account rather than personally identifiable information (PII). With a DeFi solution such as ORE ID, centralized finance (CeFi) exchanges — expensive and autocratic intermediaries with limited transparency and exclusive custody of users’ funds — need not be involved. Although dozens of platforms offer multisig security options, AIKON’s ORE ID stands to be the best multisig wallet in terms of convenience, capability, and control — as well as security — both now and in the future.
  6. What is decentralized finance, otherwise known as DeFi? Many new terms are coming out of the world of blockchain, but this one may very well be one of the most essential to learn. Basically, DeFi is one of the most promising, up-and-coming ways to keep and use your money. And it’s pioneering a new paradigm for finance itself in the process. A Tale of Two Paradigms: Centralized vs Decentralized Finance Function The current paradigm that most of us are accustomed to is using a traditional bank with the currency a nation creates and manages — US dollars, euros, yen, etc. — which is generally called fiat currency. Then there’s cryptocurrency, which is transacted and exchanged through two major new paradigms: DeFi and centralized finance (CeFi). If you keep your cryptocurrency in an account with exchange platforms such as Coinbase (not Coinbase Wallet, which is DeFi) or Binance, you are using a centralized exchange. This means that there are third-party intermediaries that take a piece of the pie — the same as banks in the traditional financial setup. But with DeFi, there are no third-party intermediaries. It’s just you and the crypto miners and stakers who validate transactions to make decentralized finance blockchain what it is, an immutable, globally crowd-verified way to keep your money secure. Technically, unlike with a CeFi provider, DeFi transactions are made through a Decentralized Application (dApp), with smart contracts executing all transactions. In a sense, it’s like buying something at wholesale prices without the drawbacks of buying wholesale. As you’d expect from a wholesale purchase, the transaction fees — the piece of the pie a retailer/fiduciary intermediary takes — are less for a decentralized finance transaction than for a centralized one. Also, there is a relative lack of transparency with centralized finance. With a DeFi transaction, you can easily track movement between wallets, the transaction id/hash and even the record of validation confirmations. Furthermore, there’s a kind of control over your funds that CeFi doesn’t provide. Finally, CeFi transactions are relatively less private, as they require users to disclose personal information during the registration process. DeFi transactions should not require it. DeFi on the Rise To say that the use of decentralized finance on blockchain has skyrocketed in recent months is an understatement — it’s more like a whole solar system is being colonized. The chart above shows the meteoric rise of the DeFi finance token, more than tripling in just four months. Multiple other metrics also show that DeFi is not stopping or holding back. Not Just Valuable, But Also Value-Added One of the main benefits of DeFi for the average Joe is being able to do more with your crypto than just hold it. You can leverage your funds as collateral to borrow more crypto, not “take out a loan” such as you do at a bank — if the bank even lets you — because decentralized finance apps base their lending decisions solely on collateral — on dApps such as Compound or Uniswap. In fact, you can lend out your crypto itself! Don’t need a bank — BE a bank! It’s true that traditional banks and CeFi platforms still dominate the world of everyday finance. But DeFi is growing quickly, and as with many new paradigms, such as dial-up Internet or a refrigerator cooled by an actual block of ice, CeFi could end up just being a bridge to something greater. How DeFi Regulation Could Be a Good Thing Lack of regulation is a lot of what keeps corporations away from participating in decentralized finance — for now. But fear not, true believers! As Paul Brody, Global Blockchain Leader for Ernst & Young, writes, “The regulators will be acutely aware of the millions of users they risk angering if they move with too heavy a hand… It is difficult to kill a decentralized system. Just ask the Recording Industry Association of America. Streaming music services today are a veritable miracle compared to the world we lived in during the 1990s. My children will never know the horror of having to buy an entire album just to listen to one good song.” At this point you might be asking yourself, isn’t the point of decentralized finance to not be regulated and restricted the way a bank is? But the issue here is thinking of regulation and restriction as being the same thing. In fact, government regulators will be limited in how much they can restrict what DeFi platforms do. As Zaki Manian, co-founder of cryptocurrency infrastructure firm Iqlusion, Inc. says, “Unfortunately, for regulators, I think a lot of the stuff that happens before a project is live is really covered by the First Amendment. It's talking about ideas, it's writing code, it's creative expression … And there's a very small window between that and having a live project as more and more of the software matures.” Not only will regulation not ruin it for decentralized finance, but it could also help eliminate one of the most significant disadvantages of DeFi — vulnerability to scammers, who are less likely to be successful with more regulated financial platforms. Moreover, Stani Kulechov, himself the CEO and founder of Aave, a decentralized finance platform, says that U.S. government regulators are “interested in the first place to remove market operations that are clearly scams or malicious… No bad thing for a market intent on attracting institutional investors.” Finally, government regulators are more apt to target more centralized, unregulated entities. As Paul Brody analogizes, Napster, a centralized peer-to-peer music file sharing service back in the day, was taken down by regulators, but BitTorrent, which was doing the same thing but which is decentralized, wasn’t. Likewise, sources say that DeFi platforms aiming to increase decentralization, which is both essential to the purpose of DeFi and what most DeFi platforms want, will avoid being taken down as the regulatory environment around crypto matures. On the Frontier of Decentralized Finance DeFi platforms such as Algorand and AIKON are not only blazing trails in this sector, they’re also securing the best territories to stake a claim in. Both of them exemplify the core benefits of DeFi — permissionless participation, transparency, and optimization of transaction speed — beyond what a CeFi platform or conventional bank can offer. AIKON, specifically, stands apart from the whole pack in its commitment to a crucial front — blockchain secure authentication. AIKON’s signature platform, the ORE Network, or Open Rights Exchange Network, provides a single network that allows users to sign on to multiple blockchains with a single email address, phone number, or social login. AIKON’s signature offering, the ORE ID provides superior authentication, through an API, protocol, and software that’s GDPR- and CCPA-compliant, open-source, and available to anyone. What’s more, AIKON provides a high level of security that’s a huge step ahead of the norm: multiple-signature signoff, also known as multisig, with multisig wallets through its ORE Vault feature. Multisig reduces multiple risks associated with conventional single-party signoff, such as losing authentication keys, falling victim to phishing attacks, or transferring funds out of the company account accidentally or inappropriately. Ultimately, AIKON shows that decentralized finance can’t just blaze trails, it can connect them, too, and defend trailgoers against attacks like nothing else can.
  7. The inception of blockchain as a solution to secure data is a welcome change. All the more now, as social media platforms have leveraged their pervasive presence to abuse people's privacy constantly. It is a fact. A fact that has attracted massive public outcry in the last few years. Just last year itself, Facebook came under heavy fire for misusing the personal data of 1 million users in England and Wales. The Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant was also implicated in the notorious Cambridge Analytica (CA) scandal that involved harvesting the data of 87 million folks (globally) to polarise political opinions and target political advertisements for donations during elections. Only if there was a blockchain -based social media platform immune to such malversations. Life would be so much better. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Imbroglio Explained, Source: Vox.com Moving on, although CA drew the ire and criticism of the entire world, an article published on Vox on May 2, 2018, explored why this was more "a Facebook scandal more than a Cambridge Analytica one." According to Alvin Chang, the author of the article: "...this highlights a larger debate over how much users can trust Facebook with their data. Facebook allowed a third-party developer to engineer an application for the sole purpose of gathering data. And the developer was able to exploit a loophole to gather information on not only people who used the app but all their friends — without them knowing." What's the solution to this egregious situation? A blockchain –based authentication system. Period. How Can Blockchain Help Prevent Social Media Privacy Violations and Data Pilferage? Usually, there is a tendency to connect blockchain technology to Bitcoin. But, it's much more than just a ledger for settling BTC transactions. Along with payments, blockchain has sufficient potential to redefine supply chain management, data validation, and identity protection. Now, you must be wondering how a nascent technology that appeared only 12 years ago can redefine all these sectors. Well, that's because every "block" of data on a blockchain is secured cryptographically through hashing algorithms. Data gets verified by a network of computers before entering the ledger, eliminating any possibility of manipulation, a hack, or a malicious network takeover. Therefore, using blockchain for authentication makes perfect sense when it comes to social media platforms. Why? Because social media platforms use traditional infrastructure for personally identifiable information (PII) storage and management. This centralized infrastructure provides huge business advantages, but is also a massive target for hackers - as Facebook recently saw with the hacking of 533,000,000 user’s accounts. Transparent Application Access Without Significant Digital Traces Blockchain can solve this problem. , in a decentralized system, each user can control their own data, making a single hack of hundreds of millions of people almost impossible to achieve. The inclusion of public key cryptography further enhances data security, allowing people to use applications pseudonymously without leaving a significant digital footprint. Distributed ledger technology (DLT) reduces third-party access to personal data significantly. It ensures that the application authentication process is transparent and that only the authorized person can access his/her data. A blockchain-based social network would empower you to control your own identity by letting you control the cryptographic keys that allow access to your data. The Marriage of Blockchain Adoption and Social Media Blockchain adoption still faces crucial bottlenecks. The technology has proven itself ideal for protecting sensitive data, but the idea of actually going through the process comes across as daunting. People still don't fully understand blockchain and seem to get intimidated by a whole lot of technical jargon, complex user interfaces, and reclusive developer communities. Most of the available access points have a very high barrier for entry. Compared to social media platforms, the blockchain space is riddled with technicalities that ordinary people don’t understand. And the ecosystem has developed somewhat of a negative reputation for fostering scams and rug pulls (as they call it in DeFi terminology). This has inhibited the blockchain industry's growth. It has been over 12 years since Satoshi Nakamoto introduced the world to blockchain first, and despite its seminal potential, DLT still hasn't found sufficient traction. However, some platforms are helping ease the process of blockchain adoption by introducing workarounds that make decentralized apps (dApps) user-friendly and widen their access. One such platform is AIKON which simplifies blockchain usage through its proprietary solution called ORE ID. The team at AIKON has designed ORE ID to enable the constructive integration of blockchain via social media platforms. People can utilize their social logins (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) for blockchain identity verification. Even organizations can onboard their clients into the blockchain ecosystem by seamlessly creating their (clients') decentralized identities with their existing social media logins. The idea behind it is to reduce the complexities in accessing blockchain applications. AIKON's ORE ID solution makes logical sense and borrows from the already existing practice of traditional applications enabling access through social logins. Why is a Smooth User Experience Necessary for this Marriage to Work? Unlike social media platforms, complex blockchain app user interfaces are the most significant obstacles preventing blockchain technology from experiencing mass adoption. People who are not so technically sound feel left out and don't feel motivated enough to move forward with using blockchain-based services. Seamless integration of blockchain and social media platforms (through intuitive user interfaces) can help businesses and corporations effortlessly onboard their clients atop the DLT bandwagon, spurring the technology's mass adoption. People should be able to use blockchain services just by logging in with their email, phone, or social login. There should be no need to understand all the underlying decentralized technologies' intricacies. That is if we want to achieve mass blockchain adoption.
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