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Waves Enterprise releases blockchain voting platform to the public

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Waves Enterprise, the business-focused spin-off of the Waves project, announced on the public release of its blockchain voting system primarily aimed at corporations and board governance.

The Waves system uses blockchain at every step of the voting process, as votes are recorded and then counted with full cryptographic guarantees. Homomorphic encryption is used to accurately tally votes without having to reveal the identity of the person who cast each ballot.

While the system is primarily targeted for lower stakes environments such as corporate boards, the technology has recently been trialed in Russia during its local and parliamentary elections.

The team says that the experience showed the platform is ready for deployment, but the public product is somewhat different from the one used in Russia, chief product officer Artem Kalikhov told Cointelegraph:

“Those elections used a voting system developed in cooperation with Rostelekom […], which is based on a similar cryptographic protocol but has several important distinctions. For example, it uses Russian cryptography, it has different mechanisms for identification and anonymization, [and] the voting process is changed.”

Though Kalikhov said that authorities in Brazil are also exploring a potential implementation of blockchain voting, the current product is meant for corporate settings and board voting — a market estimated by Waves to be worth $100 million globally.

Having different target clients helped make the platform more accessible to the public. During the Russian elections, the platform was criticized by some for the inability for external parties to connect and verify the blockchain nodes. Kalikhov said that the commercial version runs on Waves Enterprise Mainnet, a permissioned but public blockchain.

The platform uses a variety of techniques to prevent fraud in the processes of voting and vote tallying. Kalikhov said that the use of blockchain and cryptographic signing of transactions ensures the vote will not be changed or deleted after being saved on the ledger. He continued to explain:

“The use of homomorphic encryption allows to automatically collect the results of the election without decrypting each individual ballot, guaranteeing the privacy of the vote. Using a distributed key generation protocol and several independent encryption servers excludes the possibility of a single actor with a ‘master key’ and guarantees that no one is able to decrypt the results or look into single ballots before the vote has ended.”

Overall, the combination of cryptographic techniques, blockchain and a system of checks and balances aims to minimize the possibility of fraud during the election process. Nonetheless, the use of blockchain does not exclude bugs or potential backdoors, as some other platforms showed.

Assuming that the election system is solid, the platform is still only as strong as the voter registration process. Election fraud often revolves around creating fake or manipulated ballots — for example by casting ballots in the name of dead people, felons, or otherwise ineligible voters; paying or harassing people to vote for a particular candidate; or leaving loopholes that allow for the same person to cast multiple votes.

Kalikhov said that voters are registered through a system of public and private keys. Smart contracts hold a registry of all valid voters through their public keys, while each private key remains on their personal devices. To defend against insincere voting, the system allows voters to change their preference at any point before the election is over.

But the system “cannot, of course, protect the users’ personal devices from hacks, loss or key transfers initiated by the user,” Kalikhov noted. While the voting software is built to ensure the safety of the private keys, users must still “follow the rules of cyber hygiene — using antivirus software and installing the latest operating system updates.”

In the future, the team is planning to implement technologies that could certify the identity of each user, Kalikhov added. Nonetheless, in corporate settings the current solution could be sufficient — fraud involving extra ballots is probably easier to notice in nongovernmental elections.



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How DeFi will kill the retail bank

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The world runs on consumer spending and consumer saving. It is everyday people who actually power the most important parts of the global economy and the global financial system. 

For consumers, this system runs through their retail bank. It is where most people save, spend and pay their taxes. This is the battleground for the coming fight: the battle for global consumer deposits.

Make no mistake, this will be the fight of the century. It will change the shape of the world more fundamentally than the internet has already. The internet was about information. DeFi is about capital — and as we all know, money is power.

Today, most people either hate or are indifferent to their bank. That is probably because they fine you for tiny mistakes, keep you on the phone for hours, give you the worst interest rates imaginable, and provide you with a user experience that borders on hostile.

That is not always the fault of the bank. Consumer regulation and controls have been mounting to the point that compliance is often one of the biggest cost centers for all retail banks. Such institutions cannot innovate because they are built to resist change, not to embrace it.

An irresistible opportunity

Decentralized finance has flipped the model on its head, delivering a new world of financial products, built using smart contracts that allow consumers to switch between providers in a matter of seconds, all at the click of a mouse.

Related: DeFi will bring global revolution to the traditional finance space

It is not that the DeFi model is just better — it’s simply fundamentally different. In the old world of retail banking, we had to trust the people that run banks. This trust is expensive. In the new world of decentralized finance, we trust the code that provides our financial services.

Protocols such as Aave, Uniswap and MakerDAO have the ability to directly control assets like USD Coin (USDC), Ether (ETH) and Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC), enabling the rise of financial products that can operate 24/7, 365 days a year, with 100% uptime and no staff. It removes the cost of checks and balances. It takes handcrafted financial processes and turns them into automated programs.

Decentralized finance gives entrepreneurs an irresistible opportunity to truly compete in the world of global finance — a place that was once the exclusive realm of multinational corporations with eight-figure legal teams on retainer. Not only this, DeFi lowers the switching costs for a consumer to almost zero: I can move my capital from Aave to Compound to Uniswap in a matter of minutes, with precisely zero paperwork.

Related: DeFi-ing the odds: Why DeFi could rebuild trust in financial services

On DeFi, capital can flow almost instantly to the best value opportunities, and it provides the thing that global finance truly needs: real competition and real innovation. This competition is why DeFi will kill the retail bank. If I can get 15% APR in my favorite DeFi savings decentralized application, why would I ever keep my money in a bank?

With opportunities come threats

But right now, all is not well in DeFi. To date, DeFi on Ethereum has seen over $285 million in hacks, rewards are unfairly shared, and Ethereum continues to be congested and expensive to use.

The trust model of DeFi is code, not humans. The community is essential to the success of any ecosystem. To win, a platform must never get congested — no matter how many people are using it.

Related: Smart contract exploits are more ethical than hacking… or not?

We need a decentralized network where developers can build quickly without the constant threat of exploits and hacks, where every improvement will get rewarded, and where scale will never be a bottleneck. Because only then can the retail banks be slain and we get to see what great consumer finance truly looks like.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Piers Ridyard is the CEO of Radix DLT, a secure decentralized network. Piers also founded and exited Surematics, a YCombinator company, and was mining on the genesis block of Ethereum in July 2015. Piers graduated from the University of Manchester and the University of Law and has a CFA level 1.



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Colombian capital supports blockchain and emerging tech with $2.3M fund

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Colombia’s capital of Bogotá is funding blockchain development as part of the city’s broader investment in innovative technologies.

According to a Monday announcement on the city of Bogotá’s official website, the municipal government will provide 8.8 billion Colombian pesos ($2.3 million) to local companies as part of four new programs in the city’s Innovation, Technology and Creative Industries Fund, or FITIC.

The new funding includes a contribution of of 2.8 billion pesos, ($739,000) to the development of local blockchain startups through a program called “Hub Blockchain Bogotá.” The project aims to support 100 blockchain-focused companies in order to boost their competitiveness on the global market and provide tech advice for implementing blockchain within participating companies.

The new innovation funding campaign is organized with support from the Superior Mayor of Bogotá, the District Secretariat for Economic Development, Jorge Tadeo Lozano University, state entrepreneurship body Innpulsa, and Singapore-based blockchain accelerator Tribe Accelerator.

Related: Colombia’s oldest commercial bank pilots crypto services

Bogotá Mayor Claudia Lopez took to Twitter on Monday to invite local businesses to apply for the program starting on June 25. “Each company will be able to receive from the FITIC from 10 to 50 million pesos in capital to be able to take their idea forward,” the mayor said.

Colombia has been actively exploring blockchain technology. Last August, the Colombian Ministry of Information Technology and Communications called on the public sector to adopt blockchain technology in payments, land registration, voting, data management, supply chain and others areas. Previously, Bogotá launched a series of free online courses on a broad spectrum of new technologies including blockchain.