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Binance Labs Season 2 Concludes with 13 Graduating Blockchain Startups

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Binance Labs Season 2 Concludes with 13 Graduating Blockchain Startups
Source: Inbound Junction

Real innovation seldom happens in a vacuum. Often, it’s the result of careful collaboration, strategic financing, and a little bit of luck. In many ways, that’s the story of the blockchain ecosystem, which has expanded from just a few use-cases to more than 2,500 dApps across multiple platforms.

Binance Laps, the venture arm of crypto exchange Binance, is striving to bring those three elements together in its second season of the Binance Labs Incubation Program. Operating in regional chapters across three continents, the program helps promising blockchain developers bootstrap their startups to achieve market share in the quickly expanding blockchain landscape.

The Binance Labs Incubation Program began in 2018, working with eight blockchain platforms in a ten-week intensive process in which development teams operated in stealth mode to create compelling products that addressed some of the sector’s most pressing problems.

In addition, participants, dubbed “BUIDLers” had an opportunity to present to private investors and other strategic partners to bolster their reach and to further their growth. Ultimately, their ideas were made public at Binance’s annual Blockchain Week conference in Singapore.

Starting with Inspiration

The program is exclusive. Prospective participants complete an application undergo a video interview and are selected based on the information provided in those two outlets. The program featured 13 platforms that were vetted by the Binance Labs team.

In a statement, Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, explained:

“For the Binance Labs Incubation Program, we search all over the world for the strongest founders and projects to invest in. We are proud to have found 13 gems in Season II, and to have spent the past 10 weeks working with the BUIDLers to launch their demos and gained early traction.”

Beginning in March 2019 and concluding on June 7th, this year’s incubator features companies building cybersecurity tools for crypto institutions, crypto donation platforms, gaming networks, and other financial services based on the blockchain.

In keeping with the program’s ethos, these problems are central to the blockchain’s proliferation, and tangible solutions could propel the technology further by encouraging adoption with compelling use cases.

That’s the goal, according to Zhang. “From in-app monetization to cash-to-crypto kiosks in Africa, this batch of projects represents the diversity in blockchain and entrepreneurship globally. We are excited to see firsthand the progress being made in every corner of the world to push blockchain forward,” Zhang notes.

Emerging Impact

Many services developed in the incubator already have working products. For instance, Yellowcard, a cash-to-crypto platform for emerging markets, is available in the Google Play store. At the same time, bitsika, a platform enabling anyone to donate directly to projects in Africa, already has donation projects established throughout the continent.

Binance Labs Season 2 Concludes with 13 Graduating Blockchain Startups

Of course, participating in an incubator doesn’t promise long-term success, and BUIDLers will have to continue to make their own luck after the program is complete. However, with decentralized technology becoming increasingly popular and demand for working platforms growing ever more prescient, they are undoubtedly off to a good start.

Binance Labs Season 2 Concludes with 13 Graduating Blockchain Startups

As Season 2 of the Binance Labs Incubation Program comes to a close, Season 3 is already in the works. It begins this October, and the application will be available soon for the next crop of companies looking for that perfect combination of collaboration, financing, and the ability to make their own luck.

For those that understand that innovation and impact are unlikely to happen alone, this next season is an opportunity to build upon what the first 21 companies learned and to continue developing the world’s best blockchain platforms.

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Guest Post

Balancing Cypherpunk Principles and UX With Multi-Party Computation

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Balancing Cypherpunk Principles and UX With Multi-Party Computation
Source: Pixabay

One of the fascinating, and frustrating, aspects of the broader cryptocurrency space is the prevalence of trusted third-parties in an ecosystem built on the notion that trusted third parties are security holes. From honeypot exchanges to custodial services with “bank-level encryption,” much of the crypto ecosystem is non-representative of its origins.

Without diving into the adverse outcomes of these third-parties in the ecosystem, of which there are many, one of the underlying frictions of centralized security is the inherent trade-off between security and user experience [UX].

The crypto landscape is esoteric enough as it is, let alone requiring users to manage their own keys and understand concepts like GAS on Ethereum. In fact, new user onboarding was named as the biggest obstacle to dapp development by projects on Ethereum. While there have been strides made in UX among many crypto products, ranging from DeFi tools to wallet interfaces, there is much work to be done.

The daunting task of converging security and UX into a safe and user-friendly experience has received a glimmer of hope in recent months, however, due to a unique subfield of cryptography–secure multi-party computation [sMPC].

A Wave of sMPC Innovation

The core concept of sMPC is to collectively derive a unique computation from a subset of individual fragments like non-trusting computers. Imagine a puzzle with individual entities, each holding a piece, and the final image only materializing after a specific threshold of pieces have been put together.

MPC has been lauded as the next fuel for innovation in onboarding users to crypto by reducing a significant portion of the barrier to entry — mainly key management.

“Ultimately, using sMPC, we can realize the separation in data of the right to use and the right of use, and directly calculate results on multi-source and heterogeneous ciphertext data,” detailed ArpaChain CEO, Felix Xu, in a ChainNode AMA. ArpaChain has emerged as one of the leaders in sMPC globally, and already has a functioning product on its testnet.

Their insights and innovation into sMPC represent a broader initiative to reconcile the issues of security vs. UX.

At a high level, sMPC empowers users to compute something over a large set of data without revealing their individual inputs, furnishing enhanced privacy, and a means to produce a specific outcome. Consequently, sMPC affords advantages over two existing modes of key management: multi-sig and hardware storage.

Hardware wallets and multi-sig are both complicated to use for mainstream users. Hardware storage is offline, and connecting it to online sources breeds security challenges. Conversely, multi-sig works to an extent, but services like Casa are out of the price range of most consumers and also out of their technical peripherals.

Hot wallets [i.e., online wallets] continually demonstrate their proclivity for being hacked, and while they offer the best UX, they are major security vulnerabilities — once again highlighting the quandary of balancing security and UX.

With sMPC, security is bolstered by the fact that no single entity controls the key, and UX is improved because there can even be “keyless” services using sMPC. The perfect crypto wallet does not exist, but sMPC may come to redefine that narrative.

Outside of wallets, the market for sMPC solutions for enterprises is enormous, and an area where ArpaChain is looking to make an impact.

“The ARPA project aims to provide businesses and individuals with private computing power and secure data flow solutions,” says Xu. “The entry point of ARPA is enterprise-level privacy data sharing.”

ArpaChain to The Rescue

Requiring developers to consistently worry about security vulnerabilities takes away from their ability to focus on improving UX and other aspects of blockchain-based applications. Similarly, continually encrypting and decrypting data creates high technical barriers, something which sMPC diminishes.

But some of the real magic also derives from the ability of sMPC to remain secure even in a hostile environment.

Xu stated,

“We have implemented an agreement to support the participation of any party, and as long as there is an honest node in it, it can ensure the security of the data. Either of these two points is a breakthrough, and as far as we know, the vast majority of projects can only support the involvement of two parties.”

This is a powerful feature. No longer do parties need to independently hold keys that serve as singular attack vectors. With such security assurances on the back-end, a better UX can be transferred to the front-end — such as “keyless” wallets — which are already happening.

Providing users with an experience that does not require key management is a compelling step forward for the industry. Add in the ability of exchanges and other financial entities to securely, and privately, compute functions over large shared data sets [i.e., blockchains], and sMPC just might live up to its impressive reputation.

Xu mentioned,

“Imagine multi-party joint credit information, data leasing, secure data analysis, and other scenarios in the financial industry such as multi-source data joint risk control in the insurance industry with sMPC. In the future, applications will exist for corporate finance, marketing, medical applications, and even artificial intelligence.”

ArpaChain achieves this dynamic balance using an off-chain, layer two structure — making ARPA compatible with any public blockchain.

Xu said,

“The ARPA secure computing network can be used as a second layer to provide privacy computing capabilities for any public blockchain, enabling developers to build efficient, secure computing networks on ARPA computing networks, while also protecting the data privacy of business applications. Enterprise and personal data can be safely analyzed or utilized on ARPA computing networks without worrying about exposing data to any third party.”

A confluence of security, privacy, and better UX — a compelling proposition.

Overall, sMPC effectively removes the requirement of trusted third parties for security [i.e., custody], the cold/hardware storage solutions preferred by exchanges, and affords a better UX by removing significant points of friction altogether like key management.

What’s the cherry on top? Better privacy.

For enterprises, mainstream users, and the broader trajectory of crypto adoption alike, that’s a potent recipe for success.

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