Andrea Tinianow was an influencer looking for a better way to connect people. With the help of her kids, Connector Street was born.
So, you’re at a networking event, or coworking space, or coffee shop, and you meet someone who would benefit from an introduction to someone else in your social network. You tell them you’ll connect them. You make a note of it on their business card. Later, you can’t find the business card. Or you forget. Or you’d just rather be relaxing after work than spending an hour creating introduction emails.
This is the problem Andrea Tinianow set out to solve four years ago.
“I started this because I make lots of connections, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’” she said.
At the time, Tinianow worked for CSC as assistant general counsel and VP of business development. One day she came home after a long workday and mentioned to her teenage son and daughters that she wished there was an app that allowed users to connect people with a couple of clicks.
Her kids, David, Sarah and Lauren Unterberger, were in agreement: She needed to make the app. Over the next years, they would be instrumental in the design of that app as it was developed.
Now a blockchain consultant and chief innovation officer for Global Kompass Strategies, known in the industry as the “Blockchain Czarina,” Tinianow was intimidated at first by the idea of creating an app.
“I didn’t know anything about social networks,” she said at the Millennial Summit, where she officially launched the app, Connector Street. “I didn’t know anything about anything.”
It took over two years to find the right group of developers. “There were a lot of fails, because this is actually three apps in one — Android, iOS and a web app — and they all have to work together.”
For her daughter Sarah, now 19 and a student at Tufts University, it’s been an opportunity.
“I feel like it happened almost in a dream,” she said. “One day my mom was just like, ‘I have this idea, I have this vision.’ She wanted us to help her, so we’ve been helping as the app has become more and more developed.”
She designed the marketing materials, including the printed banner she’s standing by when we meet. Lauren, now 17 and a student at Mount Pleasant High School, has helped her sister design the website and sometimes writes blog posts.
Much of the help came in the form of simply being young and in tune with social media.
“We’ve gone through a lot of different designs and templates,” Tinianow said. “We’d ask the kids, ‘Do you like this, or do you like this? What words should we use?’ They’re so involved with social media and apps. They would say, you know, ‘No, you can’t say that mom, that’s not going to work. It needs to be faster, quicker, more fun.’ I really trust them, so their input has been invaluable.”
David, now 22, just graduated from Bates College. He spent much of the day at the Millennial Summit demonstrating the Connector Street app.
“I was in college while the app was being developed, so I’d come home and hear about what’s been going on with it,” he said. “Today was really the realization point that I know this app well, and I’m so excited to talk about it.”
In a short demo, we learned that, to make the most of it, you need to import your contacts. When you meet someone and want to make a connection, you open the app and input their contact info, along with snapping an optional photo. Then you pull up the person you want to connect them to from your contacts and with a click, you’ve sent each a text or email with a pre-filled, customizable introduction.
“They get your contact info, too, so you don’t need a business card,” added Sarah.
And, as you might expect from someone called the Blockchain Czarina, the app, which was written in Python, is very secure.
“We used blockchain coders, so they know all about cryptography and ensuring that the data is completely protected,” said Tinianow. “It’s not on a blockchain, but it can be blockchain enabled.”
The app can also be used socially, as a career search tool, and even as a dating app.
You can give Connector Street a spin in its beta form by downloading it for free in the Apple or Google Play app stores.
Ford Test Driving Blockchain for Energy-Efficient Vehicles
Ford is giving a little more road to a blockchain pilot program aimed at improving fuel efficiency.
On Tuesday, the auto-giant said it will use blockchain to monitor and automatically implement fuel efficient driving modes for a fleet of vehicles in Cologne, Germany. This is part of a wider pilot program also happening in London and Valencia, Spain.
In collaboration with the City of Cologne, Ford outfitted 10 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with cellular modems that enable geofencing. As the vehicles enter low-emission zones, they will automatically switch to electric-drive.
The metadata, such as when the vehicle enters or exits a zone as well as the miles driven, will be recorded to a blockchain.
The pilot addresses the issues municipal authorities face in administering and implementing low-emissions zones by transmitting data to officials in real-time.
“Security, trust and transparency of emissions data are of paramount importance to all stakeholders in this project, and are key for our vision of cleaner air in the city,” said Gunnar Herrmann, chairman of the management board, Ford-Werke GmbH.
The pilot is part of SmartCity Cologne, a collaborative program to promote climate protection and energy transition.
On Monday, CoinDesk reported that 5 major automakers including BMW, Honda and Ford are working with the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) to implement automatic payments for tolls, parking meters and similar vehicular payments.
Italian Banking Association Uses Blockchain to Test Data Reconciliation Successfully
The banks from the Italian Banking Association (ABI) have processed a reconciliation of data from an entire activity of the year using the blockchain technology. According to the group’s press release, the tests were successful and proved that the technology could be very useful to local banks.
During this first test, the group processed around 200 million data entries using the blockchain system, which is called Spunta Project. The success is proof that the platform can be used to verify the data quickly.
At the moment, the project has eighteen Italian banks participating and 35 nodes that process the transactions and operations. This means that 78% of the banks present in the country are a part of this project.
According to the reports, the system will be officially implemented on March 1, 2020. Most of the necessary tests were already made, so the technology is ready to be more widely used by the banks which are a part of the national association.
The Spunta Project is officially led by ABI Lab, a research team created by the ABI. It also has the participation of NTT Data, Sia network and the R3 network with its Corda technology.
This is far from the only case in which banks are using the blockchain to achieve better results when processing data. In fact, blockchain technology is impacting the banking sector more than almost any other sector and specialists believe that it will be responsible for huge changes in the upcoming years.
Swedish central bank now looking into plausibility of issuing ‘e-krona’ CBDC
According to the Head of the Swedish central bank, Facebook‘s Libra project has given incentive to central banks across the world to review and investigate the development of new financial technologies. Stefan Ingves, Governor of Sveriges Riksbank, told CNBC,
“It has been an incredibly important catalytic event to sort of shake the tree when Libra showed up out of the blue, and that forced us to think hard about what we do. Part of my job is to produce a good/service called the Swedish krona which is convenient to use for Swedish citizens, and if I’m good at that in a technical sense then I don’t have a problem. But if I were to start issuing 20-kilo copper coins the way we did in 1668, then we soon would be out of business.”
As the use of cash continues to fall in Sweden, the Swedish central bank has been looking into the possibility of issuing its own digital currency. Several local business in the country no longer accept physical currency, with some even putting up signs to warn customers before they enter the store. As of now, Sveriges Riksbank is looking to investigate the plausibility of an ‘e-krona’ digital currency, which it says could be introduced if it decides to do so. However, it isn’t the only central bank looking into this.
China has already announced that it is close to launching its own digital currency while just last week, the Swiss National Bank declared that it was looking into the use of digital currencies in trading.
With Libra having lost backing from more than a few companies recently, Ingves warned that Facebook would be faced with challenges as it moves forward with the project. He said,
“In this day and age we have to twist things in our heads and do things based on the assumption that nothing is on paper, and then when we talk about money everything is going to be digital in one form or the other. But the old issues — private sector money or public sector money — they are basically identical, and if history gives us any guidance at all then almost all private sector initiatives have collapsed sooner or later.”
Just yesterday, The Libra Association announced the appointment of members to the Board of Directors, with the Board including David Marcus, former PayPal executive and Head of Facebook’s blockchain strategy. Currently, the group has 21 members, 7 fewer than its original 28 after Mastercard, PayPal, Visa and four more members backed out.