Newsletter

10hours ago, 10 Dec, Monday
1day ago, 9 Dec, Sunday
  • 23:18
    Analyst: Crypto ICOs in Crisis, Running Out of Money With No Products

    In the bull market of 2018, initial coin offering (ICO) projects in the crypto market raised tens of millions of dollars on average from investors in the public market to create decentralized applications (dApps) and systems.

    Fast forward 12 months, most of the ICO projects that currently exist in the sector have either have no working products to show or an insufficient number of users to justify their valuation.

    According to Martha Bennett, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, ICOs have struggled to find viable products with business models that failed to account for the occurrence of a potential bear market that could force projects to face a funding crunch.

    Crisis

    ICOs have raised large sums of money in the past year with several ICOs raising up to $4 billion from the public market. Yet, based on the data provided by DappRadar, apart from IDEX and ForkDelta, none of the dApps in the market have more than 600 users.

    Many of the top 100 cryptocurrency projects in the market, even those that have active developer communities and strong technologies like Augur0xDecentralandICONWanchain, and Polymath, have found it to be difficult to secure an active user base and maintain a high level of user activity on decentralized systems.

    The abovementioned projects have working products in place that are currently utilized by users in the Ethereum ecosystem for various use cases. For instance, Augur saw its daily volume spike up to nearly $3 million during the recent U.S. midterms.

    But, the majority of ERC20 tokens and ICOs in the top 100 cryptocurrency rankings do not even have a working product to show that is actively used by users on a regular basis.

    Considering the underwhelming performance of most dApps and ICO projects in the space, Forrester Research analyst Martha Bennett said that this year’s bear market has been a wake-up call for investors that funded multi-million dollar projects without working products and in many cases, a clear long-term vision, strategy, and solid business model.

    Bennett said:

    “Sooner or later, this would have led to a contraction anyway. The crypto crash acted as both catalyst and wake-up call.”

    Several large-scale companies like Coinbase and ConsenSys have also laid off a relatively small portion of their employees in the past two months,affected  by the bear market and dropping prices of digital assets.

    In October, Coinbase, one of the largest fiat-to-crypto exchanges in the global market, laid off 15 members of staff. This month, ConsenSys is said to have terminated the contracts of 13 percent of its employees, which is estimated to be around 130 individuals.

    How to Move Forward

    Lex Sokolin, the global director of fintech strategy at Autonomous Research, said that the entrance of new investors and capital could end up counterbalancing the sector in the months to come, and for commercial companies with strong profit margins like exchanges, that certainly could be the case.

    “I’d be comfortable saying that the pricing pressure on digital assets in 2018 is likely to lead to 25-50-percent shutdowns and layoffs for current projects based on historical comparisons. However, the pace of new entrants and capital could counterbalance this contraction and still grow the sector overall.”

    However, for ICOs, unless projects begin to start developing products that can actually be utilized by both cryptocurrency and casual users, it will be challenging to recover from the current state of the market.

  • 23:09
    New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings

    A quarterly ratings report has upgraded the score previously given to seven cryptocurrency exchanges, while downgrading four. It has also added seven new exchanges, rating them on such metrics as trading volume, security, and compliance. In related news, Crypto Exchange Ranks (CER) has begun tracking the hot and cold wallets of exchanges as part of a drive to champion greater transparency.

    Okex Downgraded, Bithumb Upgraded

    Cryptocurrency exchange ratings, much like cryptocurrency ratings, are highly subjective. Any attempt at rating and ranking the constituents of a particular set using specific benchmarks is bound to cause controversy. Nevertheless, quarterly ratings reports continue to grow in popularity and in number while shining the spotlight on various verticals within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Tokeninsight’slatest report tracks the progress of crypto exchanges over the past three months, amid difficult market conditions.

    New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings

    Tokeninsights’ exchange rating criteria

    Unique visitors have dropped across the board during the last quarter, with the sole exception of Bithumb, whose traffic and aggregated score has risen. Okex, by way of comparison, has seen its weighted score fall, exacerbated by the fact that it “has repeatedly unilaterally changed its trading rules during our rating period, including data rollbacks and modifying its contract delivery rules.” The report continued:

    In the case of the BCH hard fork, Okex delivered the last transaction price of BCH contract ahead of schedule at 16:05 p.m. on November 14, 2018 (GMT+8), and issued an announcement only one hour in advance, causing unnecessary losses to a large number of investors.

    Hitbtc, Kraken, and Kucoin all saw their ratings upgraded by Tokeninsight, while Poloniex and Gemini were among the exchanges given ratings for the first time.

    Trans-Fee Mining Exchanges Score Poorly

    Transaction fee mining exchanges, often linked with wash trading and fake volume, have scored poorly in Tokeninsight’s report. Hong Kong’s Fcoin exchange is one such casualty, its score lowered, with the report noting how “Transaction mining trends once brought a large amount of traffic to the platform, due to the notion that the vast majority of transactions of transaction fees or dividends were free, and transaction volume has dropped significantly in the past three months. In terms of compliance, Fcoin has lagged behind in development and has not obtained any license of relevant regulatory agencies.”

    New Report Updates Cryptocurrency Exchange Ratings

    The CER dashboard, showing hot and cold wallet balances for Bittrex.

    Exchange analytics service Crypto Exchange Ranks has been instrumental in uncovering fake volume on Asian platforms such as Fcoin, Coinbit, and GDAC. Its latest initiative involves launching a crowdsourced framework for crypto exchange transparency. CER is seeking the help of “transparency hackers” to help it identify and then track the hot and cold wallets of all leading cryptocurrency exchanges.

    The CER dashboard is already populated with wallet balances for several major exchanges. Results can be filtered according to the size of the exchange wallet, and clicking on the wallet balance will reveal the distribution between hot and cold wallets, where such information is available. Eventually, CER hopes to add this data for every exchange, and in doing so to bring greater transparency to the sector through a combination of self-reporting and public diligence.

  • 20:21
    Japanese Police Statistics Show Significant Jump In Suspicious Crypto Transaction Reports

    Numbers released by the Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) this week show a sharp uptick in the number of suspicious transaction reports from cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018. Police received 5,944 reports of suspicious transactions from January-October of this year, according to the data.

    The number was 669 from April to December of 2017. New rules came into force last April that obligated exchanges in the country to report suspicious trades.

    Reporting System Has Been Embraced

    One NPA official said the suspicious trade reporting system “has been embraced by the industry through guidance from the Financial Services Agency.”

    Police indicated suspicious activity noted in the received reports included the use of the same photo by different people trying to verify identity, the opening of multiple trading accounts from the same IP address, and the submission of out-of-use phone numbers for registration purchases.

    Japanese daily newspaper The Mainichi reported law enforcement in the country have been using the reports in various crypto-related investigations.

    In a recent report, the nation’s National Public Safety Commission wrote how crypto transactions are vulnerable to abuse since cryptocurrencies can be sent across borders quickly and in a relatively anonymous manner. The Commission also wrote it was hard for authorities to track criminal proceeds since crypto regulations are different across countries.

    Continued Crackdowns On Crypto Evasion

    The statistics about the suspicious transaction reports come about the same time Japan’s National Tax Agency announced new anti-money laundering regulations targeted towards crypto businesses.

    CryptoGlobe reported that the stipulations give the Agency authority to ask for customer information from cryptocurrency gateway businesses for tax-related purposes. The NTA is reportedly rolling out a system to streamline the information gathering process that will be fully up and running by April 2020.

    Just a few days earlier, reports came out the Japanese Financial Services Agency (FSA) would be rolling out new ICO regulatory frameworks due to a number of related scams. CryptoGlobe noted that the FSA will be submitting draft proposals in January’s parliamentary session in an effort to introduce new ICO regulations.

  • 19:48
    Crypto Exchange Gemini Lists Bitcoin Cash with NYDFS Approval

    Crypto exchange Gemini has announced that it now supports trading and custody activities for Bitcoin Cash (BCH), effective this weekend, with full trading slated to begin on Monday.

    With the announcement, the exchange platform founded  by bitcoin billionaire twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss now supports five cryptocurrencies, namely Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Zcash (ZEC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

    In the announcement, Gemini specified that its Bitcoin Cash support is limited to BCH ABC under the BCH ticker. As a result, all BCH withdrawals from Gemini will only be valid on the ABC blockchain, and any funds sent to the platform over the Bitcoin SV blockchain will be invalid and irrecoverable. According to Gemini, while it will not support SV in the meantime, it is evaluating the possibility of listing SV in the future, and it reserves the right to choose to enable support for it.

    Further nailing its colours to the BCH ABC mast, Gemini further said that the changes introduced by Bitcoin Cash have laid a groundwork for “further transaction throughput enhancements,” which was a major point of disagreement that led to last month’s contentious fork.

    An excerpt from the announcement reads:

    “We have worked closely with the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYSDFS) to obtain approval to offer Bitcoin Cash trading and custody services for our customers, and we are excited to add this cryptocurrency to the Gemini platform — the world’s most regulated cryptocurrency exchange and custodian. We are proud to provide our customers with a safe, secure, and compliant method to buy, sell, and store cryptocurrency as we build the future of money.”

    In September, CCN reported that sources close to the company indicated that it was considering applying for regulatory permission to open a crypto exchange in the UK. The following month, the company announced the hire of former International Securities Exchange COO Jeanine Hightower-Sellitto as its new Managing Director in charge of operations.

  • 19:42
    $80 Million ICO TenX Founder Linked to Pyramid Scheme: Report

    TenX president Julian Hosp has reportedly been implicated in connection with Lyoness, an Austrian discount shopping service that has been declared an illegal pyramid scheme in Norway, Austria, and Switzerland.

    After a summer of Chinese whispers on the internet alleging that he was involved in Lyoness before becoming the face of TenX, a video has emerged that appears to show Hosp presenting an online tutoring session used to enable viewers to recruit new participants in the pyramid scheme. The news was first reported by Breaker.

    The emergence of the video, if authentic, is particularly damaging not only because of the reputational harm that TenX stands to suffer, but also because the contents of the video point to a damning lack of integrity and a willingness to promote dishonest and underhanded tactics in pursuit of profit. Among the pointers mentioned by Hosp in the video are exhortations for users to exploit relationships with friends and family because they “cannot evade” them, and to hide the real reason for requesting meetings with them. The video also includes tips for evading “annoying questions” about how Lyoness works.

    Reputational Damage to TenX

    It will be recalled that TenX raised over $80 million in its ICO last year on promises to “make cryptocurrencies spendable anytime anywhere” by connecting bitcoin to the real world with a Visa debit card and banking license. According to the TenX whitepaper, its platform native PAY token would entitle holders to dividend payments generated from use of its cards – a promise which has since been jettisoned. Since 2017, the platform’s basic promise has not been delivered on, with users still waiting for the promises bitcoin-linked debit cards more than a year later.

    Questions are increasingly being asked about the willingness or capacity of TenX to fulfill its substantial promise, with some concluding that the company is in fact yet another iteration of an ICO exit scam.

    1/ I think it’s time to revisit TenX today. PAY token is now 93% from its all time high. People that bought during the ICO are now down ~30%. TenX is a company that never keeps the promises that it makes. pic.twitter.com/88Wm91WTMA

    — Larry Cermak (@lawmaster) November 17, 2018

     

    According to reports, Hosp had previously been successful in censoring such material linking him with Lyoness (known as “Cashback World” in the United States), particularly before the TenX ICO. Twitter accounts that shared material discussing his involvement in Lyoness were quickly suspended from the website, and even a message board created to catalogue complaints about Lyoness has been commandeered by the company, redirecting to its U.S. website instead.

    Excerpts of Hosp’s tips from the video go as follows:

    “Never forget, it is not about telling the exact 100% truth…if you follow this [method], you can earn incomes in an extent that it’s not imaginable to you at this moment…you will never run out of contacts if you follow some guidelines.”

    Apart from reputational damage however, this is unlikely to bother Hosp too much because multi-level marketing schemes are not a regulatory priority in the U.S. What will bother him a whole lot more however is the SEC’s current affinity for prosecuting ICOs that sold unregistered securities during the height of the ICO boom last year, one of whom is TenX.

    CCN has reached out to TenX for comment and will update this article upon receiving a reply.

  • 18:12
    Next-Gen BUIDLers: The 8 Teams Working on Ethereum 2.0

    “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel when building [ethereum] 2.0.”

    Speaking to the complementary efforts of developers working on two separate upgrades to the ethereum blockchain – one dubbed ethereum 2.0 and the other dubbed ethereum 1x – Raul Jordan insists upgrades to be included in ethereum 1x on a shorter time horizon would have benefits to ongoing research for ethereum 2.0.

    Jordan is the co-lead for one of eight different developer teams currently building software clients for ethereum 2.0.

    (As background, clients are software implementations usually written in differing programming languages that users deploy to connect to and participate in the ethereum network.)

    Maintaining that the “incremental enhancements” being proposed within ethereum 1x don’t affect the blockchain’s long-term roadmap, Jordan told CoinDesk:

    “I think both groups are fairly orthogonal but we must at least be aware of what each is implementing.”

    Presently, the technical guidelines also called specifications for both upgrades are still very much in the works.

    Having been discussed in earnest among ethereum developers only in the last couple of weeks, ethereum 1x is intended to be an intermediary upgrade that focuses on enhancements to the current ethereum network.

    Ethereum 2.0, on the other hand, features a more ambitious agenda that dates back to 2014 and consists of fundamental changes to the blockchain platform.

    Known in its early days under project name “Serenity,” the current specifications for ethereum 2.0 can be summarized as a combination of three main components:

    A switch to PoS from the current energy-intensive consensus protocol known as proof-of-work (PoW)

    Implementation of a network-wide scaling solution called sharding

    A revamping of the ethereum virtual machine (EVM) – the engine responsible for deploying decentralized applications (dapps) on the blockchain – to run on new programming code known as WebAssembly (WASM).

    And while one of these components – namely ethereum’s implementation of WASM – has the potential of being tested in the earlier roadmap for ethereum 1x, the majority of the work to build out ethereum 2.0 is still ongoing as a separate project.

    And that work is being carried out by eight different teams spread out across the globe.

    1. ChainSafe Systems

    Based in Toronto, ChainSafe Systems is a blockchain research and development startup offering consulting services to a number of different ethereum-based projects including Shyft, Bunz, Aion, and Polymath.

    Motivated by a desire to “contribute to something bigger,” project lead at ChainSafe Mikerah Quintyne-Collins told CoinDesk:

    “For me, developing ethereum 2.0 was my way to make a mark on the future of the internet.”

    Called Lodestar, Collins and her team are currently building an ethereum 2.0 client written in Javascript – the primary programming language for web development.

    Privately funded and seeking additional support through the Ethereum Foundation grant program, Lodestar according to Collins is envisioned to “bring a whole host of web developers to the [ethereum] ecosystem.”

    “All of these programming languages have their own communities. The whole community might not want to contribute but they’re big enough that parts of it will want to contribute and build on top of ethereum,” said Collins.

    Even suspecting development work to help other blockchain platforms progress, Collins emphasized that in her view ethereum 2.0 is not about ensuring ethereum’s future as “the main blockchain,” saying:

    “It’s not about who’s going to be the next big thing. It’s more about trying to make these systems work. Rushing it just so we can catch up with another supposed ethereum killer defeats the purpose of working on this.”

    2. PegaSys

    “Our goal is to bring enterprises to the mainnet. We want to do that by creating software that is easier for enterprises to adopt.”

    That’s Faisal Khan, strategy and business development head for blockchain protocol engineering group, PegaSys.

    Fully supported by Consensys – the self-proclaimed “venture production studio” of ethereum headed by ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin – PegaSys is building out ethereum 2.0 specifications for an existing ethereum Java client called Pantheon.

    Unveiled recently at a gathering of ethereum developers in Prague, Pantheon uses an open-source software license called Apache 2.0 to enable businesses building products on top of the ethereum platform to monetize their intellectual property.

    Speaking to CoinDesk, Khan highlighted that extending support for ethereum 2.0 specifications meant close collaboration with Ethereum Foundation researchers and other client development teams.

    “There’s a lot of touch points. There’s a weekly call. There’s a research forum, ETH Research. There’s a Gitter channel. The communication is pretty frequent. Obviously, there’s crypto Twitter. It’s pretty rich the conversation between any of the [ethereum] 2.0 teams and the Foundation,” said Khan.

    Adding that, ethereum 2.0 would kick-start a new “cycle of network effects, dapp development and user growth” on the platform, Khan reiterated that the biggest need at present for the project was “more people involved.”

    3. Harmony

    Launched last October, Harmony is ethereum’s original Java client formerly maintained by a group of independent developers called Ether Camp.

    Now called simply the Harmony team, these group of developers were recently awarded $90,000through the Ethereum Foundation grants program to build out specifications for ethereum 2.0.

    Subsidized by the Ethereum Foundation, Harmony is expected to continue running as an alternative Java client to the enterprise-focused Pantheon.

    Separate to the Apache 2.0 software licence underpinning Pantheon, Harmony operates under a General Public License (GPL) designed to ensure any implementations of the code remain “free software and stay free software,” as described in the official GPL guide.

    Likening the project to “building a new internet,” Harmony developer Mikhail Kalinin told CoinDesk:

    “The biggest challenges are staying on top of all changes in the research area and following the progress of every part of the work. The scope of it is huge.”

    4. Parity Technologies

    Co-founded by former Ethereum Foundation chief of security officer Jutta Steiner, Parity Technologies is a blockchain infrastructure company responsible for maintaining the second most popular ethereum client on the platform today.

    The name of the client called Parity Ethereum is self-proclaimed to be “the fastest and most advanced ethereum client.”

    As detailed on the official Wiki page, Parity Ethereum is programmed in Rust and built for “mission-critical use,” meaning fast synchronization speeds and maximum operation uptimes.

    Speaking to renewed efforts to build a ethereum 2.0 client within the organization, Head of Public Affairs for Parity Peter Mauric explained ethereum 2.0 was really the “production-ready” version of the ethereum blockchain.

    He told CoinDesk:

    “Broadly speaking, I believe that ethereum as it exists today is very much in beta … Ethereum 2.0 is going from this experimental project that Vitalik launched just a few years ago to a more production ready blockchain protocol.”

    5. Prysmatic Labs

    Building out the first implementation of ethereum 2.0 in programming language Go, Prysmatic Labs launched this January with the goal of helping the ethereum blockchain reach scalability.

    Speaking about the endeavour, team lead at Prysmatic Labs Raul Jordan told CoinDesk:

    “Ethereum 2.0 is a system that is scalable to the needs of a global computer…What this means is that it will be able to handle the load of real world necessities…Anything from something simple to a completely immense financial system built on top of it.”

    Named Prysm, the ethereum 2.0 client will act as a counterpart to the blockchain’s current most popular client implementation also written in Go called Geth.

    Not seeing client development as a competitive process, Jordan highlighted that multiple different client implementations is a great necessity on the ethereum blockchain.

    “The reason is that when you’re working on a blockchain like this, you want as much decentralization of implementations. So for example if the ethereum blockchain is running on Prysm and there’s a bug in Prysm, everyone can just switch to [another client]. You have options,” said Jordan.

    Still, likening the endeavour to building “a public good,” Jordan highlighted support for development work was largely by donation from both the Ethereum Foundation and other private donors.

    Receiving roughly $1 million in support to date, Jordan told CoinDesk one of the biggest challenges of building out an ethereum 2.0 client was making sure work corresponded “closely with the research.”

    He explained:

    “There are new ideas coming out every week, every day, and we’re basically building on a ever changing specifications… So I think one of the biggest challenges has really been multitasking between developing and also making sure that the research is good and we evaluate options moving forward.”

    6. Sigma Prime

    Founded in 2016, Sigma Prime is an information security and blockchain technology consulting company.

    Recently awarded a $150,000 grant from the Ethereum Foundation, the company is building an ethereum 2.0 client called Lighthouse written in programming language Rust.

    Being the second client implementation in Rust next to Parity, co-founder of Sigma Prime Paul Hauner told CoinDesk that he didn’t expect there to be “any fundamental differences” between the two products.

    Emphasizing that a duplication of work was actually “really desired in a blockchain,” Hauner explained:

    “Software has bugs. So, if everybody runs the same client and there’s a bug, everyone goes down. If there’s this diversity of clients, they’re most likely going to have different bugs. One client goes down that’s fine. The rest of the network still stays up.”

    And speaking to the importance of the ethereum 2.0 upgrade in general, Hauner added that not only would users notice “a huge increase in transactions in per second” but also significant environmental gains under a proof-of-stake consensus protocol.

    “Personally, I feel people are going to use it and it’s going to work. In terms of the actual technology, I don’t have any concerns about is it feasible. Is it bulletproof at this point in time? Absolutely not. It hasn’t been built,” said Hauner.

    7. Status

    A messaging platform and mobile browser specifically designed to engage users on the ethereum blockchain, Status unveiled this August active development for an ethereum 2.0 client called Nimbus written in programming language Nim.

    Funded in part by a $500,000 grant from the Ethereum Foundation, the goal of the project as highlighted on the official website is “to drive mass adoption of ethereum” by optimizing Nimbus for performance on “resource-restricted devices.”

    As such, leveraging the lightweight capabilities of running Nim code, Nimbus is expected to be ethereum’s first mobile client connecting smartphones devices and other handheld electronics to the blockchain platform.

    With eight core contributors to the project, Status highlighted in a blog post a few months ago that it is looking for additional developer support.

    “We are entirely open source and encourage contribution from those who want to get involved,” wrote head of research development at Status Jacek Sieka.

    In addition, speaking to CoinDesk, Sieka added that he foresaw development work for ethereum 2.0 being rolled out in multiple stages, with a suspected test network for one of the first components called the beacon chain coming some time in the next year.

    “That being said research is ongoing and any timelines are usually in flux but from an end user perspective, a year, two years is a reasonable timeline to expect for [ethereum 2.0] to become generally useful,” said Sieka.

    8. Trinity

    Last but not least, Trinity is a current ethereum client written in programming language Python.

    Championed to be the new standard Python implementation for ethereum, Trinity features upgraded code to the now dormant PyEthApp originally authored by founder of ethereum Vitalik Buterin.

    Having launched this year in a preliminary alpha phase, Trinity is comprised of six developers including Merriam all except one of whom are contracted to work by the Ethereum Foundation.

    Expected to build support for ethereum 2.0 specifications as well, lead architect for Trinity Piper Merriam highlighted developing “at the boundary between research and implementation” was what he did best.

    “I like the application of theory more than the theory. Protocol research is neat but implementing the protocols is more inline with what I’m good at,” said Merriam.

    Adding that the work was really “only just getting started,” Merriam likened the process of ethereum 2.0 client development as putting together the pieces of “a puzzle.”

    A puzzle requiring many hands, the collective work of all eight teams are expected to mutually reinforce each other and secure the future of the ethereum blockchain.

    Merriam told CoinDesk:

    “By having many implementations of any protocol … we can derive confidence that the written definition of the protocol is accurate [and] that the individual clients are correct.”

  • 17:01
    Bithumb Launches Voting Platform to Screen New Cryptocurrencies

    Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has beta launched a public voting system for screening new coins to be listed on its exchange. The platform, Pickthumb, aims to boost transparency and fairness in Bithumb’s listing process. Five coins are currently being evaluated with the current voting round ending in nine days.

    Bithumb’s Voting Platform

    One of South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Bithumb, announced on Thursday the beta launch of Pickthumb, its public voting platform for coins vying to list on the exchange. The aim of this new platform is to strengthen the “transparency and fairness” of Bithumb’s cryptocurrency evaluation and listing process, the exchange detailed. According to its website:

    Pickthumb is a platform for screening excellent coins based on your fair evaluation … users can directly evaluate, validate and vote on cryptocurrency projects that will be listed on global cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb.

    Bithumb explained that any registered users can participate, adding that members can actively give their opinions and “exert more influence” on coins to be listed on the exchange. Going forward, Bithumb says it “will try to promote a healthy cryptocurrency ecosystem that investors can believe in.”

    Pickthumb’s website currently lists five crypto projects in its first round which has nine days left. Each round lasts two weeks. At the time of this writing, there have been 41,778 voters and a total of 94,983 votes.

    The five projects are Rom, Amo Blockchain, Ttcprotocol, Olivecoinole, and Contentos.

    Users can vote for or against projects in each round. Coins attracting a large number of downvotes can be disqualified from listing consideration. After each voting round has ended, Bithumb will conduct an internal review of the winning project. According to the announcement, members who vote for the winning project will receive an airdrop of the winning coin.

    Penalties for Vote Manipulation

    On Friday, Pickthumb published a notice about how it will handle vote manipulation. The notice reads:

    Pickthumb is constantly monitoring the voting situation 24 hours a day for fair voting.

    In the event of unfair voting, the cryptocurrency project identified with fraudulent activity shall be immediately excluded from the voting round, the notice details.

    Furthermore, activities designed to manipulate votes can result in user accounts being permanently suspended. They include impersonating others to vote, buying votes, selling votes, and motivating or recommending others to vote in favor of a project.

    Pickthumb’s website states:

    Any act that requires money (or coins) for the benefit of a candidate listed for voting is a fraud.

  • 10:44
    Australian Company Issues Loans Backed by Cryptocurrencies

    A Melbourne-based company is now offering crypto-backed loans. Helio operates under an Australian Credit License (ACL) issued by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). In the current bear market, cryptocurrency holders can borrow fiat money and keep their digital coins for better times.   

    Helio Lends Fiat Against Crypto as Collateral

    Helio Lending accepts four major cryptocurrencies as collateral. The platform currently supports bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC), and ripple (XRP). It offers loans for up to 48 months and with an APR of between 17 and 24 percent, depending on the value of the collateral.

    Customers can choose between 30, 40 and 50 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. For example, a 10,000 Australian-dollar loan with a 30 percent LTV would require the borrower to pledge 7.19 BTC as collateral. In this case, the APR would be 17 percent and the monthly payment 350 Australian dollars (around US $250).

    Helio’s website has a calculator that can produce different loan configurations. The minimum amount that can be borrowed is set at 1,000 Australian dollars. The application process starts with providing a valid email address. To complete signup, applicants should follow the confirmation link sent by the platform.

    Credit License Secured

    According to Helio’s founder, John O’Shea, his company is the first licensed entity in Australia to offer crypto-backed loans. He believes there’s a massive market for digital assets in the country. Some estimates suggest that Australians perform cryptocurrency transactions worth around $2.8 million daily.

    Speaking to Businessbuyinvest.com, O’Shea stated there are currently not enough service providers and companies willing or able to support the growing market and to loan against crypto assets. That’s why he sees an opportunity to “capitalize on something that is so highly sought after, yet so underserviced.” The entrepreneur explained:

    We provide finance to both individuals and businesses through cryptocurrency asset-backed lending. This means that clients who hold bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin or ripple are able to use their assets as collateral for loan financing.

    Unlike traditional lenders, Helio can rely on the digital assets transferred by its customers to a secured collateral wallet. In the event of a default, the company can sell the coins to cover the losses. At the same time, Helio’s customers can benefit from the protection provided by ACL and ASIC laws and regulations.

    According to Australian media reports, Helio Lending has obtained its credit license by acquiring another company that held one, Cashflow Investment. The ACL license will allow Helio to offer its clients even more favorable terms in the future.

     

  • 10:16
    “This is my third crash in crypto-market, and I am not phased by it”- Ripple’s Asheesh Birla

    In an interview with PCMag media, Asheesh Birla, Senior VP of Ripple’s Product Management discussed the cryptocurrency mechanism. We have seen that Ripple is constantly on its way to building on-demand decentralized products such as xRapid, xCurrent, xVia, RippleNet and more. During the discussion, Asheesh heads up explaining the difference between cryptocurrency and blockchain. He began talking about the cryptocurrency regulation, the goal of Ripple’s cross-border payments along with the future of decentralized apps.

    Ripple’s Price Factor

    Since the bear market battle between XRP and ETH has taken place several times these days, Asheesh Birla’s first talk began with the question regarding factors affecting the price of Ripple’s day-to-day operations. He said that they don’t think about the day-to-day price factor rather looking at the longer market term. As Ripple’s principal, he advises the other crypto project must think about the long-term than considering the market for day-day volatility.

    He explains that;

    This is my third crash now in the crypto-market, and I am not phased by it. The flip side is that sometimes you crash and take out all the folks who are not focused on solving real problems and real use cases. And, I think you are going to see some really interesting companies come out of this next downturn.

    Blockchain Projects Are More likely Built on Google Sheet

    He strongly believes in the volume and liquidity to make the digital app noticeable. During the talk about how blockchain companies separating the coins from technology, he explains that the key of blockchain is to provide a 10x better experience and if not ‘do not use blockchain’ he advised. Moreover, he argued that some of the projects that claimed to be on blockchain technology are not essentially working on it. Rather, projects like blockchain tourism appear as Google Sheets and ‘not a sophisticated decentralized blockchain database’ he said.

    So that’s been the frustrating part. When prices are climbing, people are using it as marketing either to get funding or to get rid of [their coins].

    On questioning blockchain beyond Google sheet and database and his view about the Ripple’s widely deployed blockchain App, he points the high fees charged by Citi Bank, JP Morgan and HSBC for cross-border transactions. He emphasized, Ripple’s underlying technology can work cross-border ‘without friction and without permission’ and criticized these banks, stating;

    Today, if you want to money across borders, you are essentially trusting Citi Bank, JPMorgan, or HSBC. Those three banks control most of the cross-border flow. Either directly or indirectly, you are going to trust those three companies to move money on your behalf and they charge whatever fees they want. If they don’t care about the emerging market or the other firms then expense just goes up and up and up.

  • 08:45
    Bearish Market Makes Chatspin Abandon Plans to Accept Crypto Payments

    Chatspin, a popular live video streaming multi-platform app, is abandoning its plans to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment due to the significant losses in the value of Bitcoin and other coins have suffered this year, the company announced in a press release on December 6, 2018.

    Bearish Market Affects Companies Offering Crypto Payments

    While companies focusing on blockchain technology have seen their businesses flourish during the second half of 2018, it seems that the bearish market has been able to slow down cryptocurrency adoption.

    Companies that have been quick to jump on the crypto bandwagon, offering coins such as Bitcoin as a form of payment, were even quicker to abandon their plans as the uncertainty surrounding the asset is everything but good for business.

    One of those companies is Chatspin, a popular live video streaming app that was among the first social media platforms to announce the support for cryptocurrencies.

    The company is now abandoning its plans to accept any cryptocurrency as a form of payment on its platform. According to the company’s press release, the decision comes in the wake of significant losses in value Bitcoin and other digital coins have suffered throughout the fourth quarter of 2018.

    With many analysts doubting that any of the major cryptocurrencies will be able to recover in short to medium future, the company decided to pull the plug on their original plan to introduce crypto payments to their users.

    Live Chat App Pulls the Plug on Bitcoin

    In its press release, Chatspin explained that the decision to implement cryptocurrency as a form of payment was taken due to an increase in popularity of the digital coin when making online payments earlier in 2018.

    “Just a few months ago, the idea of accepting Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies as forms of payment seemed like a no-brainer,” Chatspin Press Manager, Shay Robin, said. “But, having closely followed the cryptocurrency markets, we can see no value to accepting these digital coins and feel the risk far outweighs the reward.”

    And while the announcement might deter some crypto enthusiasts from using its video chat app, Chatspin has seen a steady increase in the number of users during the second half of 2018, mostly due to the introduction of new features.

    Chatspin became the first platform to launch AR filters available on desktop, creating a more seamless experience for users on all devices. On December 4, the company also introduced a new location and gender filters which make the platform more secure and easier to use.

    The update also saw the release of new premium filters, only available for users who subscribe to the video streaming community. The premium features originally targeted to users willing to pay in cryptocurrencies, will now be available only via credit and debit cards.

  • 07:22
    Coinbase Considering Adding Ripple (XRP)

    During a year where many cryptocurrency investors are having their faith tested – Ripple (XRP) has stood out as a cryptocurrency project that has gained more traction than ever. Specifically, Ripplenet has recently formed a partnership with the multi-billion dollar Malaysian group CIMB. However, this isn’t the only partnership that Ripple – based in San Francisco – was able to forge this year.

    Gaining Ground

    Ripple also was able to announce partnerships with globally-known companies. For example, they also formed a partnership with Santander and American Express specifically for US-UK payments. A Top 10 U.S. bank, PNC, has also apparently seen the value in Ripple with regards to international payments. These moves have propelled XRP to becoming the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, moving Ethereum to third place.

    There is an advantage with using XRP, and it isn’t surprising that many financial institutions are looking into partnering with Ripple. This is because XRP allows users to enact transactions in real-time, instead of through the traditional financial system, which often take days. It is easy to see how international companies would value real-time settlements regarding transactions, rather than waiting days for payments.

    Ripple has even parodied the inefficiency of banks in an advertisement that many in the cryptocurrency community have praised for its humor and insight. In the commercial, a banker travels extensively, through all sorts of terrain, in order to directly deliver cash to another individual. The commercial also displayed the text: “Why is it possible to instantly send a message, but with payments, it’s sometimes faster to board a plane and fly it there yourself?”  The advertisement is titled: “Faster Cross Border Payments Shouldn’t Require A Boarding Pass” and can be seen below:

     

    The momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing for Ripple. Coinbase, one of the most well-known and influential companies in the cryptocurrency sector, and valued in the billions – is considering adding support for a “broad range of assets” – including Ripple.

    It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Ripple would be one of the first choices for Coinbase, considering that Coinbase has added coins with a lower market capitalization, and more controversial coins, as well, such as Zcash. Time will tell whether San Francisco-based Coinbase will finally add Ripple, but it certainly appears that it could happen fairly soon.

2days ago, 8 Dec, Saturday
3days ago, 7 Dec, Friday
  • 23:34
    VanEck: We’re ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ on Bitcoin ETF Approval

    Gabur Gurbacs, Director of Digital Assets Strategy at VanEck has expressed optimism over the SEC’s impending decision on the long-mooted Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) proposal by VanEck and SolidX.

    Speaking to host Brad Smith during an appearance on Cheddar, Gurbacs stated that while the market clearly wants a bitcoin ETF, the only update available is that VanEck believes it has provided enough compelling reason for the SEC to approve the long-awaited fund, and it believes it has a good chance of receiving the regulator’s blessing.

    “Increased Transparency and Better Structure”

    Explaining the reason behind the company’s optimism, he said:

    “The last day the ETF can be approved is end of February. We think we have met all required market structure, obstacles and requirements on pricing custody evaluation safekeeping. So, we are consciously optimistic but there is a lot more work to be done sort of to get the market ready. And some good announcements recently on over-the-counter markets being transparent.”

    The conversation, which was posted on Brad Smith’s Twitter account earned mixed responses from an audience which was split between sharing Gurbac’s optimism and expressing reservations about the growth of the over-the-counter market’s transparency and surveillance capabilities.

    Expanding later on his statement regarding increased maturation of crypto markets, Gurbacs tweeted:

    @MVISIndices partners with OTC trading titans @CumberlandSays @circlepay and @GenesisTrading to bring to market the first established #OTC #Bitcoin #Index. Ticker: #MVBTCO. Giant leap in #Bitcoin and #digitalassets market structure development! More info: https://t.co/LfMRTG1ndR pic.twitter.com/Ax7ktWk9iT

    — Gabor Gurbacs (@gaborgurbacs) November 20, 2018

     

    It will be recalled that in addition to the proposal by VanEck, nine similar proposals for bitcoin ETFs have been submitted to the SEC, which promptly turned all of them down. The reasons given in all these cases generally revolved around concerns about the possibility of manipulation and the absence of a robust market surveillance system in crypto markets.

    In a bid to address these concerns, VanEck has made a series of adjustments to their proposal. In November, Gurbacs stated that a Bitcoin ETF would not only attract billions of dollars in new investments, but the pending proposals could effectively give the SEC a key measure of regulatory leverage over the crypto market.

    While an exact time frame for an SEC decision on VanEck’s application remains hard to predict, many stakeholders in the crypto space are keeping a very close eye on developments because it is expected that unlike a number of other ETF applications, it is the one with the greatest possibility of success. The SEC has postponed a decision on the application twice already, with another postponement expectedly coming last night which pushes the decision to the end of February 2019.

  • 23:21
    Switzerland's 'Crypto Valley' Zug Ranked 'Fastest-Growing' Tech Hub in Europe

    The Swiss city of Zug, home to crypto and blockchain development hub “Crypto Valley,” has been ranked the fastest-growing tech community in Europe. Swiss startup news channel StartupTicker reported this on Dec. 6.

    According to the latest annual “State of European Tech” report from London-headquartered global technology investment firm Atomico, Zug came out top in a comparison of year-on-year growth of attendees to tech-related “meetup” events per European city, with a 177 percent increase as compared with last year:

    Comparison of YoY growth of attendees to tech-related meetup events per city. Source: startupticker.ch

    As Startupticker further reports, Switzerland overall had a weaker performance as compared with other European tech destinations. The United Kingdom sealed the top spot as preferred destination for non-European “international movers” into the country’s tech ecosystem, followed by Germany and France — with Switzerland in tenth place — behind countries such as the NetherlandsIrelandSweden and Belgium.

    Neither did Switzerland make it onto the list of U.S. software engineers seeking employment in Europe.

    Nonetheless, the Atomico report identified robust Swiss corporate investment in technology, with Zürcher Kantonalbank ranked second “most active” European corporate investor, behind only France’s BNP Paribas.

    As reported earlier this week, the country’s national postal service Swiss Post and state-owned telecoms provider Swisscom have just announced a partnership on a “100 percent Swiss” blockchain infrastructure. Its key premise is to provide a service that retains all data within Switzerland, and that can meet the security requirements of banks, in a bid to drive the Swiss economy to “quickly obtain a leading position” in developing use cases for the technology.

    Switzerland has a positive reputation among innovators, sealing the top spot of most “blockchain-friendly” European Union country this spring. Most recently, the Swiss Minister of Finance, Ueli Maurer, has nonetheless indicated that in lieu of establishing a blockchain- or crypto-specific legal framework, the country instead plans to tweak existing laws to accomodate the new technology and its financial applications.

2weeks ago, 29 Nov, Thursday
  • 22:16
    Coinbase, DCG Join $4.5 Million Seed Round for Crypto Evaluation Startup

    Flipside Crypto wants investors to think beyond market capitalization, and Coinbase apparently agrees.

    Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, the exchange’s Coinbase Ventures arm and Digital Currency Group co-led the analytics startup’s extended seed round that closed on November 21, alongside True Ventures and Castle Island Ventures. Although the size of Coinbase’s investment was not disclosed and the company declined to comment on the move, all told Flipside has raised $4.5 million.

    “Coinbase has substantial interest in what data can do to help their customers be most effective at understanding and take part in this space,” Flipside Crypto CEO Dave Balter told CoinDesk. “We look forward to working with them on that.”

    Boston-based Flipside tracks network activity and developer contributions to GitHub projects, among other factors, to determine how various assets are evolving and being used. Founded in 2017, the startup analyzes 1,000 crypto assets and scores them, factoring in global market caps and trading patterns as just 5 percent of each asset’s overall “fcast” score.

    The firm uses multiple algorithms to map out trading patterns and says it can distinguish exchange activity from other types of transactions, like payments or moving crypto to a personal wallet. Similar to CoinDesk’s Crypto Economics Explorer, the idea is to give a more well-rounded view of crypto valuations rather than fickle trading prices.

    “It starts with understanding the difference between speculation and actual usage,” Flipside board member Adam D’Augelli, a partner at True Ventures, told CoinDesk.

    So far, over 100 investors have used these metrics from the startup’s closed beta while Flipside partnered with institutions like the investment bank Canaccord Genuity to create detailed evaluation reports. Plus, according to Balter, several more institutions plan to partner with the startup when the platform launches publicly in early 2019.

    Balter went on to say that only the top 100 cryptocurrencies have any real traction at this point. However, he believes measuring blockchain activity and developer contributions can offer a holistic perspective of how an asset is maturing.

    “Price is an ineffective tool for understanding the value of these assets,” Balter said. “What you really need to pay attention to is, are customers using this product? How is that changing? And are developers actually building?”

    Early signal on XRP

    This combination of analytics can help predict market signals, according to Flipside. For example, XRP’s fcast score spiked in September, partly reflecting GitHub activity, as the fintech company Ripple was quietly rolling out a new initiative making it easier for banks to use the cryptocurrency.

    “As they [Ripple] begin developing for that partnership to get announced, they are doing code work. They’ve got customers testing the product. They are doing all the things that a typical business would do before making an announcement,” Balter said, adding:

    “It’s highly indicative of good, healthy company behaviors. If they are focusing on the business, you will see the fcast [score] move. If they are just focused pumping the price, that fcast isn’t going to change.”

    For D’Augelli, whose fund also invested in cryptocurrency projects like the Chia Network, TruStory, and ZeppelinOS, insights that must be collected in the moment or quickly evaporate or get buried in the slush could prove invaluable to cryptocurrency creators.

    “If you’re a crypto project today you don’t have a way to benchmark yourself against others, to reach out to your end customers, to understand if people are engaging in the right way,” D’Augelli said. “Those same tools that are useful for investors to understand the fundamental value of projects also help projects build better customer experiences and understand how they are doing.”

    Starting early next year, people who want more detailed reports and live updates from Flipside will be able to pay for subscriptions to ranging from $25–$300 a month, depending on what types of data insights they need.

    The startup’s mailing list already includes roughly 1,000 prospective subscribers, including venture capitalists, retail investors, and developer teams.

    As Flipside’s backer Coinbase looks to aggressively add new assets in 2019, such metrics could prove useful for the exchange unicorn as well.

    Speaking to the current market conditions, Balter concluded:

    “The projects that [will] win, that move through this winter of despair into growth, like Amazon from the dotcom bubble, are the ones that are actually showing that customer movement.”

  • 21:51
    Hardware Wallet Ledger Nano S Announces Support for Monero

    Cryptocurrency hardware wallet manufacturer Ledger has updated its support of altcoin Monero (XMR) for its Nano S device, the company confirmed in a press release shared with Cointelegraph Nov. 29.

    The French company, which along with Trezor and KeepKey is one of the oldest hardware wallet manufacturers in the industry, said the Nano S was already compatible with Monero’s latest GUI 0.13 release.

    “We are thrilled to welcome another top-ten cryptocurrency to the Ledger platform with Monero,” CEO Eric Larchevêque commented, adding:

    “With this addition, Ledger devices now cover 90% of the entire crypto market capitalization.”

    Like its competitors, Ledger continues to focus on supporting as many of the popular cryptocurrencies as possible, as security of holdings becomes an ever more pressing issue for investors.

    Earlier this month, Trezor issued a warning that counterfeiters had stepped up efforts to release fake versions of its own devices for sale on the internet.

    This week meanwhile, Ledger announced its expansion into New York and the hiring of a former Intercontinental Exchange executive to head its institutional custody project Ledger Vault.

    In October, Larchevêque revealed Ledger had sold over 1.3 million Nano S units.

    Monero is currently ranked 12th among cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. The coin is trading around $60.88, down just under 1 percent on the day to press time.

  • 20:51
    Blockchain Oil Trading Platform Backed by Shell and BP Is Now Live

    A blockchain platform built by Vakt Global, a consortium venture set up by major firms including Shell and BP, has launched to bring new efficiencies to energy commodities trading.

    According to a tweet from the company Thursday, the platform is now ready to facilitate the trade in crude oil between commodity firms, claiming to be the “first enterprise grade” blockchain solution within the oil and gas market.

    “Our 5 investors within the BFOET market have now gone live on the VAKT platform!,” the tweet reads. The BFOET market includes five North Sea crude oil fields – Brent, Forties, Oseberg, Ekofisk and Troll. The company plans to expand to other markets next year.

    The blockchain platform is aimed to help trading companies replace paper-based documentation with smart contracts. By automating parts of the process, the move is expected to help companies cut costs, reduce errors and make post-trade processes more efficient.

    The “first line of code was only written in May this year”, VAKT Global said in a LinkedIn post on Thursday, adding that, together with its partners Deloitte and IT firm ThoughtWorks, it managed to deliver this project “on time and to budget.”

    The consortium was formed a year ago this month. Shell and BP aside, other members include Norwegian energy firm Statoil, trading houses such as Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading and Mercuria, and banks including ABN Amro, ING and Societe Generale.

    In time, the venture aims to “lead the migration of all forms of energy transaction data to the blockchain, improving data quality, further strengthening security and increasing the speed of settlements industry-wide, while reducing the cost for industry participants,” Vakt said in a launch announcement.

  • 20:31
    UAE Launches Blockchain Initiative to Process 50% of Govt. Transactions by 2021

    The government of the United Arab Emirates has unveiled two national initiatives focusing on strengthening the position of the country globally in emerging technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

    One of the programs that were launched during the second UAE Government Annual Meetings which took place in the capital Abu Dhabi was the AI and Blockchain Guide initiative, as initially reported by the Emirates News Agency. With this program, the goal is to offer a standardized definition of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence at the federal level.

    The AI and Blockchain Guide, which will be offered to all the smart local entities across the seven emirates, will also focus on familiarizing the relevant authorities with the two technologies. This is important because the adoption of the two technologies will involve individuals drawn from across many sectors, some of who may not be technologically adept:

    “The UAE is keen to adopt AI and Blockchain technologies in all the economic, health, educational and other vital sectors. It seeks to boost cooperation and forge partnerships between the various government, federal and local entities, international companies and startups in a bid to find effective and innovative solutions and make a positive impact,” UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, said.

    Government Transactions on the Blockchain

    According to the Emirates News Agency, the UAE aims to ensure that by 2021 half of its government’s transactions are conducted on a blockchain platform. The UAE has also set an ambitious goal of becoming the global leader with regards to AI adoption by 2031.

    The other initiative that was launched is the National Programme for AI and Blockchain Capacity Building. The goal of the program which will be carried out in partnership with the higher education ministry is to provide scholarships and operate educational programs in the areas of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence. This will include rolling out educational programs that run for short periods of time for Emiratis in various professional levels.

    The National Programme for AI and Blockchain Capacity Building will also identify the sectors and sub-sectors that will face job losses as a result of the adoption of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence and work towards reducing the number of workers in these fields. Additionally, the initiative will seek to retrain the affected workers allowing them to find alternative employment opportunities.

    Private Sector Involvement

    Besides the government, the private sector has also made contributions to the development and adoption of blockchain technology in the UAE. Early last year, leading healthcare firm NMC Healthcare partnered with UAE Telecom to store patient records on the blockchain within the Emirates.

    UAE Healthcare Provider to Store Patient Records on a Blockchain https://t.co/hiLYp5Tae3 pic.twitter.com/1S4FdTbwFa

    — CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) January 7, 2017

     

    Blockchain initiatives in the UAE have, however, not been restricted to the national level as the various emirates have also unveiled their respective projects. This includes Dubai which has partnered with IBM on a blockchain-based trade finance pilot among other initiatives.

  • 19:55
    Market Value of Blockchain in Retail to Soar 29-Fold by 2023

    The market value of blockchain in global retail is forecast to see a 29-fold increase in value over the next five years, according to an analysis of factors behind the growth, published on PRWeb Nov. 28.

    The analysis on emerging blockchain applications driving the predicted increase – from $80 million today to over $2.3 billion by 2023 – was conducted by fintech executive Monica Eaton-Cardone.

    The figure of $2.3 billion by 2023 – at a compound annual growth rate of 96.4 percent – has been taken from a market research report from MarketsandMarkets, first published in June.

    Eaton-Cardone is the co-founder and Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Global Risk Technologies – a technology firm that focuses on mitigating risk in the global payments industry – and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Chargebacks911, a chargeback remediation company.

    In her analysis, Eaton-Cardone takes a detailed look at applications that are likely to accelerate business adoption of blockchain and other forms of distributed ledger technologies (DLT) across the retail sector.

    She looks at five major retail applications: supply chain management, inventory management, authenticity verification, auto-renewal and subscription services, and customer data and loyalty programs. For supply chain management, for example, her analysis cites a major Walmart  and IBMpartnership on a blockchain food traceability initiative, which can be used to identify the origin of produce within just 2.2 seconds – as opposed to over a week using legacy systems.

    For blockchain to be adopted industry-wide at global scale, Eaton-Cardone notes that several key issues remain to be tackled – such as data privacy and engagement with existing and emerging legal and regulatory frameworks. Nonetheless, industry giants such as Walmart, Carrefour, De Beers, and Amazon are all showing encouraging signs of engagement, she notes.

    As reported yesterday, Amazon has just announced the debut of two new blockchain-based products, Amazon Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and Amazon Managed Blockchain.

    A Cointelegraph analysis this fall outlined blockchain adoption rates and forecasts across major industries, including retail, manufacturing, finance, energy, and insurance.

  • 18:21
    AMZN! $4K BITCOIN STILL HISTORICALLY OUTPERFORMING AMAZON STOCK

    Bitcoin price held above $4000 November 29 as talk turns to the cryptocurrency’s continuing appeal over major stocks such as Amazon in recent years.

    BTC STILL BEATS AMAZON EVEN AT $4K

    After a dip to lows around $3500, something not seen in over a year, Bitcoin managed to reclaim and hold onto the $4000 mark Wednesday, hitting local highs of $4339 before correcting closer to $4190.

    Analysts had warned through last week that the mass sell-off could easily continue into the mid-term, Bitcoinist reporting on Civic CEO Vinny Lingham telling mainstream media this week that a sub-$5000 Bitcoin price could last “at least” three months.

    As BTC/USD $4250.33 +0.2% appears to close in on $4500, meanwhile, other proponents are highlighting the cryptocurrency’s strength as an investment despite the volatility.

    In data uploaded to Twitter, one commentator noted Bitcoin has outperformed Amazon stock (AMZN) for five out of the past seven years.

    Adding what he described as a “crazy” prediction, he added Bitcoin should ultimately beat Amazon’s $880 billion market cap within the next decade.

    Bitcoin currently has a market cap of $73 billion, itself up $7 billion in just two days.

    ‘SHORT-LIVED OPPORTUNITY’ FOR $2K

    Beyond the cryptocurrency scene, tech and FAANG stocks including Amazon began recovering this week, fuelling a positive relationship, which has seen Bitcoin react in kind to recent upheaval.

    In comments which could be mistaken for a Bitcoin price forecast, Credit Suisse strategist Jonathan Golub suggested a return to form for those stocks was inbound but it “is not the bull market you knew before.”

    “In the near term I think tech is going to bounce very hard,” he told CNBC’s ‘Fast Money.’

    In separate Bitcoin-specific comments to the network Wednesday meanwhile, BlackTower Capital partner Michael Bucella warned that BTC/USD may not have completed its “distress cycle” and could shed another 50 percent of its price in a “one more leg lower.”

    “But I think that opportunity will be very short lived, and I think the level we’re at right now is a great long-term entry point if you’re accumulating,” he summarized.

  • 18:05
    Colorado regulators look beyond coin offerings for other cryptocurrency fraud

    A special task force to investigate cryptocurrency shenanigans will continue after Gerald Rome leaves his post Friday as commissioner for the Colorado Division of Securities.

    The task force, created over the summer, has four staff members investigating potentially fraudulent activity involving cryptocurrency offerings. It has since expanded its scope to include other crypto investments.

    “Once you devote staff time to it, you start learning a lot,” said Rome, whose office has sinceMay ordered 18 cryptocurrency offerings to cease and desist, with two more expected. “We’re expanding our approach a little bit. We’ve identified some hedge funds in Colorado that are investing in cryptocurrencies.”

    Rome’s replacement, Chris Myklebust, the state’s former Bank and Financial Services Commissioner, starts Monday. Myklebust said there still is work to be done to protect consumers against suspicious investments in the guise of initial coin offerings, or ICOs.

    Chris Myklebust. (Handout)

    “Commissioner Rome and I have had the opportunity to review and discuss the ICO Task Force and its mission at length, and I’m confident that, for the time being, the work being done is important and necessary,” Myklebust said. “That being said, the cryptocurrency space is constantly evolving and changing, and as such, I intend to keep the division’s approach to it flexible and to do the work of protecting Colorado investors where it’s needed most.”

    Cryptocurrency is still a largely unregulated technology, although the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued several enforcement actions against companies that violate federal securities laws.

    The lack of clarity over whether a coin is a security or a utility, like a video-game token, frustrates many in the local blockchain community. As in any new industry, there are bad guys, but there are also a lot of good startups trying to figure out the right approach, said John Paller, co-founder of ETHDenver, an event for the Ethereum blockchain community.

    “No one is stopping us from going to the corner store and investing in the Powerball when it’s at $400 million. I can drop thousands of dollars. Why can I do that but not invest in the startup I’m choosing to support,” Paller said. “It’s finding the balance. Regulators should take very seriously this innovation that is nigh upon us.”

    Yev Muchnik, a corporate and securities attorney at Launch Legal in Denver, said she has worked with members of the Department of Regulatory Agencies. She understands a regulator’s job but called the system “somewhat archaic.”

    Read more politics and government coverage from The Colorado Sun. 

    “While fulfilling their much-needed role of protectionism within the confines of the law, there is a snowball of technological innovation challenging how we raise capital, authenticate information and transact, which naturally doesn’t fit so squarely into our round hole of regulations,” Muchnik said in an email.

    Her advice to incoming Myklebust? Find the balance that doesn’t stifle growth or spur an exodus of entrepreneurs out of Colorado or the United States.

    Do this, she said, by “taking (the) pulse of the Colorado market by exploring ideas and business ventures and sitting down with entrepreneurs to understand how they are using blockchain technology to make significant advances in our day-to-day lives.”

    In an interview Tuesday, Rome said he created the task force after legislation was introduced by the blockchain community earlier this year to clarify what makes a token a security or a utility. His staff wasn’t consulted about changing securities law, and he opposed it. The proposed law fell short by one vote.

    The task force initially targeted coin investments open to Coloradans, although they didn’t specifically target Coloradans, he said. Some ICOs won’t sell to consumers in the U.S. because of concerns from federal regulators. For the most part, the task force only looked at offerings online and did not interact with promoters until the cease-and-desist letter was sent.

    “You’d look at their white paper online and see they were promising a 2 percent profit daily, and we know that isn’t happening,” Rome said. “With the help of the internet, we found some of these sites were lifting images from other companies, indicating they were fraudulent.” Some even spoofed the HoweyCoins website, a fake site set up by the SEC, Rome said.

    Rome said his agency began paying attention to the cryptocurrency industry after bitcoin, the most popular coin, rose to a spectacular high value of $20,000 in December. Bitcoin’s value has since dropped 80 percent, trading Tuesday at around $3,800, according to cryptocurrency exchange site Coinbase.

    “To have the excitement with how high it went, along with true believers, is just a recipe for people to lose significant amounts of money if they are not careful,” Rome said. “Part of what we did was to send out warnings to investors. We’re out in the space, and we’re finding almost all of it is fraudulent, so be careful. And I think Chris (Myklebust) agrees with this: Our mission is investor protection. We’re not out just to get the bad guys.”

    The task force’s investigations have expanded into hedge funds that are investing in questionable crypto-related companies. If the funds are not disclosing the risks to investors, then they too are sidestepping the law.

    But Rome, who is retiring, won’t be part of any changes to Colorado laws regarding securities. He leaves that to Myklebust, who will continue to work with the Colorado Blockchain Council, a group created by Gov. John Hickenlooper to figure out how to regulate the blockchain community while allowing it to thrive.

    “Chris knows we’ve made it a priority with our office,” Rome said. “The blockchain council has subgroups, and we’ve assigned staff to … the securities law subgroup. That would deal with the issue of utility tokens, which was a big issue for the legislature. Doing it through the council like this is evolving it in the right way because you have a more balanced approach. That product will likely end up in a bill at the statehouse.”

     

  • 16:56
    Unbound Tech offers Blockchain Developers Solutions with Bank-grade Security

    Unbound Tech has unveiled a range of libraries aimed at improving security of blockchain projects 

    The libraries rely on private key splitting as one of the protection layers from hacker attacks

    According to a recent announcement by Unbound Tech, formerly known as Dyadic Security, the firm is the first to offer open-source bank-grade security solution to blockchain community. The solution in question is the company’s newest blockchain-crypto-mpc library that is able to protect cryptographic keys by utilizing the MPC-based solution also used by Fortune 500. It is available for download on GitHub and is free.

    Unbound offers three types of libraries:

    The blockchain-crypto-mpc library – targeted at crypto asset wallet developers

    Pro Library – targeted at technology platform providers, integrators and commercial wallets

    CASP – targeted at exchanges, banks and institutional custodians of crypto assets

    As practice has shown, most existing solutions designed for protecting cryptographic keys and other secret information incorporated in blockchain products are not safe enough. The solution of Unbound, on the other hand, grants developers a blockchain-crypto-mpc library designated for creating applications, such as wallets, that guarantees the powerful protction of cryptographic signing keys and seed secrets.

    Splitting the Keys for Security

    The library is based on SMPC (short for Secure Multi-Party Computation). The main improvement compared to previous systems is Unbound’s in-house technology that allows all of the operations to be made with the private keys separated into several parts. At no point of any operation do the keys or seeds exist in their original, complete form, which makes the system practically invulnerable to hackers’ attacks.

    The only way for hacker attack to be successful is to breach all the machines at the same times, which is nearly impossible. Unless that happens, the keys can’t be used for signing a transaction or compromised in any way. Because No key material or secret is ever in the memory, the developers of wallets can guarantee the highest level of key protection built into their offerings. What’s more, it is needless to rely on options like ledger-specific mechanisms such as multi-signature, hardware security modules (HSMs), which can be expensive, or appliance-as-a-service.

    Why are developers going to benefit?

    Unbound’s solution offers a range of benefits for developers. Company’s Blockchain Crypto MPC is a low-level API that can be compiled into virtually any platform. Wallet developers gain security that’s fully built into the application through blockchain-crypto-mpc; also, the solution does not rely on expensive external hardware. Furthermore, they are not limited to ledger-specific mechanisms, for example, multi-signature – all while gaining the advantage of sharing private key control between different agents without the need for several keys offered by MPC.

  • 16:47
    French CNIL Talks GDPR and Blockchain Compatibility

    Uncertainty regarding the compatibility of blockchain technology and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has often been highlighted as a potential obstacle to the development and widespread implementation of blockchain systems involving personal data.

    To address tensions between blockchain technology and the GDPR, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), the French data protection regulator, published an initial report analyzing certain fundamental questions regarding the interaction between blockchain technology and the GDPR’s requirements (the “Report”). The Report was the first guidance issued by a European data protection regulator on this topic.

    CNIL’s Approach to Identifying Blockchain Data Controllers and Data Processors

    The Report highlights the challenges of identifying data controllers and data processors in the blockchain context – an important distinction that determines which set of regulatory obligations applies.

    In discussing the likely classification of the various types of persons and entities involved in a blockchain, the CNIL primarily distinguished between (i) participants (i.e., those who transact on the blockchain) that have the ability to determine what data will be entered into a blockchain or have permission to write on it or cause data to be written to it, and (ii) miners or other validators (i.e., those who do not transact and instead validate transactions submitted by participants). The CNIL also provided an analysis as to how to classify smart contract developers and natural persons who enter personal data in a blockchain, distinguishing, with respect to the latter, between those engaging in personal or household activities and those engaging in professional or commercial activities.

    Participants: According to the CNIL, because the participants on a blockchain determine the purposes and means of processing of the personal data (e.g., data formatting, use of blockchain technology for such processing, etc.), they should be deemed data controllers. If a group of participants establishes a blockchain for a common purpose, the CNIL recommends designating a data controller by either creating a company for the purpose of being the controller or contractually designating one of the participants as the controller (in which case the other participants may be considered processors). In the absence of such an arrangement, all participants could be deemed joint controllers under the GDPR.

    Miners/Validators: Since validators only validate data to be recorded on a blockchain, the CNIL believes that they are likely not data controllers. Validators can, however, be deemed data processors if they process personal data on behalf of a controller – for example, by executing the instructions of the controller when they verify a transaction submitted by the controller. Article 28 of the GDPR imposes an obligation in such a case to have a written contract in place, which the CNIL acknowledged as potentially posing a number of practical issues, especially in blockchain networks in which participants and validators do not have formal agreements with each other.

    Natural persons who enter personal data in a blockchain for personal and household activities, as opposed to as part of professional or commercial activities: In the CNIL’s view, a natural person who sells or purchases cryptocurrency, for example, for his or her own account is not a data controller, whereas a natural person that conducts such transactions as part of professional or commercial activities (e.g., on behalf of other natural persons) may be considered a data controller.

    Smart contract developers: The CNIL explains that smart contract developers could, depending on the circumstances, be considered either controllers or processors (or neither), as is the case for other types of software developers. For example, a developer that processes data on behalf of the blockchain participant could be considered a processor, whereas a developer that participates in determining the purposes and means of processing could be considered a controller. The point at which a smart contract developer falls into either (or neither) of those categories is not yet clear.

    Permissioned and Public Blockchains

    In the Report, the CNIL recognizes that the GDPR was designed to respond to a world of centralized data management, whereas a key feature of blockchain technology is its decentralized model. The CNIL notes that public blockchains pose a greater challenge for GDPR compliance than permissioned (also referred to as “private”) blockchains. With respect to public blockchains, the CNIL encourages the development of solutions that would facilitate putting requisite contractual agreements in place between the participants and validators if the validators meet the criteria to be considered as data processors.

    Minimizing Data Protection Risks in the Context of Blockchain Technology

    Privacy by design: Article 25 of the GDPR requires data controllers to establish appropriate technical and organizational measures to implement data protection principles and safeguard individual rights (a concept often referred to as “privacy by design”). In the CNIL’s view, given the GDPR’s requirement of privacy by design, blockchain technology may not be a suitable technology where a transfer of personal data outside of the EU is involved. With respect to public blockchains, the data transfer mechanisms commonly used to enable such data transfers to comply with the GDPR (model contracts and binding corporate rules) may be difficult to implement because controllers may not be able to exercise control over the validators’ locations or effectively enter into the necessary written agreements with them all. Where a transfer of personal data outside the EU is involved, permissioned blockchains are preferable to public blockchains because the controller can exercise more control over how personal data is treated, and the commonly used data transfer mechanisms are more compatible with permissioned blockchains, in which participants are approved, known and more likely to have formal business relationships outside of the blockchain.

    Limited Retention Periods: Under the GDPR, personal data cannot be kept indefinitely. A retention period must be determined based on the purpose for which the data is being processed. The CNIL holds the view that the limited retention period required under the GDPR is, on its face, a clear incompatibility between the typical blockchain structure and the GDPR. It notes as an example that certain data must be kept for the lifetime of a typical blockchain – namely, the participants’ identifiers or public keys – since the architecture of a blockchain usually requires identifiers to remain in the blockchain.

    Encryption: The CNIL generally advised that unencrypted personal data should be stored off-chain and that any personal data stored on a blockchain should be encrypted. The CNIL did acknowledge that there may be some circumstances in which personal data that is subject to lesser cryptographic protection (or even personal data that is unencrypted) may be stored on a blockchain in compliance with the GDPR. It noted, however, that this would only be acceptable where the purpose of processing warrants such storage (perhaps for data controllers that have a legal obligation to make certain information public and accessible, the CNIL suggested) and a data impact assessment shows that the associated risks are minimal for the applicable data subjects.

    Data Subject Rights Under the GDPR

    The CNIL acknowledged that certain data subject rights under the GDPR (the right to be informed, the right of access and the right to data portability) can be satisfied in the context of blockchain technology. However, it noted that other data subject rights under the GDPR, including the right to object, the right to rectification and the right of erasure, conflict with fundamental attributes of a classic blockchain. With respect to those rights, the CNIL suggested that, although an imperfect solution, implementing technical measures to achieve results that are practically the same as those intended by such rights may be a path to deemed compliance with those rights. For example:

    Regarding the right of erasure, the CNIL stated that using technical solutions that render the data “almost inaccessible” (e.g., by removing the private key from the hash function, which would make verifying which information was hashed in the first place impossible) could be one way to achieve compliance, even though the data technically still resides on the blockchain.

    Regarding the right to rectification, the CNIL noted that the rectified data could be entered into a new block in a subsequent transaction that would supersede the previous one. The superseded transaction would remain in the blockchain, however, and to address this issue the CNIL suggested that the data containing the error could then be treated with the same technical solutions as the ones recommended by the CNIL to render data “almost inaccessible” in the context of the right of erasure.

    Automated Decision-Making and Smart Contracts

    The CNIL also analyzed the interaction between blockchain technology and the data subject’s right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing that produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her (referred to as “automated individual decision-making”).

    The GDPR provides that automated individual decision-making is only permitted in limited instances, including when the data subject has provided explicit consent or if it is necessary to perform a contract with the data subject. The CNIL acknowledges that, in the case of smart contracts, automated individual decision-making may be necessary for the performance of a contract and therefore may be permitted under the GDPR.

    In the context of smart contracts, the CNIL suggested that controllers should provide for the possibility of human intervention to allow automated decisions to be challenged by data subjects, even if the contract has already been executed.

    The CNIL recognized that the Report is a preliminary analysis, acknowledged that a number of questions remain unanswered, and invited the blockchain sector and other EU data protection regulators to find creative solutions for reconciling blockchain technology with the strict requirements of the GDPR. The CNIL also expressed an interest in working with other regulators on specific blockchain regulations, such as, for example, with the French financial markets regulator, Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). In October of 2018, the Assemblée Nationale (the French equivalent of the House of Representatives) adopted a proposed regulation regarding crypto assets and initial coin offerings (ICOs) that, if approved by the French Senate, would result in the involvement of the AMF in certain ICO transactions, making it likely that the CNIL and the AMF will collaborate and opine on the specific data privacy issues raised by ICOs.

  • 15:43
    SophiaTX blockchain chosen to accelerate development of Malaysia’s automotive industry

    The team of SophiaTX, a blockchain for business, has announced they have been selected to push forward blockchain initiatives for the Malaysian automotive and mobility sector with the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between Crypto Valley Malaysia and Malaysian Automotive Institute.

    On November 27, 2018, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed between Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI) – an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) – and Crypto Valley Malaysia (CVM) – a hybrid exponential technologies research and innovation center. The main purpose of this collaboration is furthering blockchain technologies and initiatives aimed at pushing forward the national Industry4WRD policy.

    Utilizing the SophiaTX Blockchain, integrated with enterprise systems such as SAP, the two sides are focused on improving supply chain efficiency and transforming the after-sales and service sectors through reputation economy 2.0.

    “Through the deployment of SophiaTX blockchain, we aim to deliver greater efficiencies, enable higher collaboration along the value chain and reimagine new business models, especially when it comes to ownership and use of shared assets,” said Co-founder of CVM, Effendy Zulkifly.

    The SophiaTX Blockchain will be principally used to address common automotive challenges, such as the opaque end-to-end supply chain visibility, providing insights into current and planned demand along with tracking critical items, inventory, delivery times, improper management of order changes, and limitations of supply at any desired level of the product hierarchy.

    Using the blockchain, information shared in such complex multi-tier supply chain ecosystems will be streamlined, and maximum accuracy and availability of information for all included parties will be secured. Committed to embracing integrated blockchain innovations, SophiaTX seeks to enable the industrialization of the businesses, leading to significant productivity increases.

    Speaking on the occasion, here’s what Dato’ Madani Sahari, CEO of Malaysia Automotive Institute (MAI), had to say:

    “As the industry begins to recognize the immense potential of blockchain and how it can redefine the automotive industry, it is essential for governments and businesses alike to adapt as technology evolves through strategic partnerships to make transportation more efficient, affordable, accessible, safer, and greener. This is what we would like to advance together with CVM and we’re pleased to be part of this collaboration.”

    “With years of global and local experience and commitment, we continue to make progress on our transformation journey through collaboration with our extensive network of partners and industry experts across the integrated value chain. Focused on competing in the industry 4.0 era, we are now seeing the results and are ready to take our blockchain to the national automotive and mobility space to drive greater transparency of information, improve timely logistics, validate authenticity of spare parts, and reduce erroneous orders.”

  • 14:25
    Fintech firm Revolut gets green light to expand to Japan and Singapore

    British mobile bank Revolut has obtained licenses to operate in Japan and Singapore as it readies an expansion into Asia.

    The London-based financial technology firm said Thursday that it had acquired a remittance license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore and full authorization from Japan's Financial Services Agency.

    Revolut offers users a prepaid debit card and a current account, as well as premium features like cryptocurrency trading and free unlimited foreign exchange.

    It said Thursday that it intends to launch its platform in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in the first quarter of 2019, and is looking to select Singapore to host its APAC headquarters.

    Revolut also has plans to eventually release its app in the U.S.CanadaAustralia and New Zealand.

    "We have confidence that Revolut will continue to be a driving force as we expand globally, developing a range of exciting new services for increasingly connected consumers in APAC," Revolut Chief Executive Nikolay Storonsky said in a statement Thursday.

    "It's a huge market and we're already seeing an incredible amount of people demanding our product."

    More than 50,000 people in the APAC region have signed up to a waiting list to create an account with Revolut, the firm said.

    Revolut added that it is working with Singapore's central bank to advise on legislation being tabled in the country's parliament and aimed at streamlining payments regulation under one single piece of legislation.

    It has also partnered with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, property insurer Sompo Japan Insurance and printing firm Toppan.

    Revolut has experienced significant growth since it was founded three years ago. It now has a total of 3.2 million customers registered with the app — up 60 percent from the 2 million user count it announced in June — and has processed 245 million transactions with a total transaction volume of more than $32 billion to date.

    Investors have poured a total of $336 million into Revolut, with its most recent $250 million funding round giving it a valuation of $1.7 billion. Notable backers of the firm include early Facebookinvestor DST Global and Dropbox backer Index Ventures.

    A recent report by The Times of London said that Revolut is in talks with Japanese tech investment giant SoftBank to raise a fresh round of funding, and that it could rake in as much as $500 million. Revolut declined to comment on that report when contacted by CNBC at the time.

  • 13:09
    US GOV’T SANCTIONS FIRST BITCOIN ADDRESSES

     

    The U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has taken action against two Iranian ransomware “facilitators.” The actions include publishing the perp’s cryptocurrency wallet addresses, and warning the cryptocurrency and financial communities that anyone transacting with the accused could be subject to secondary sanctions.

    INVOLVEMENT IN THE SAMSAM RANSOMWARE ATTACKS

    The OFAC stated that the two “Iran-based individuals,” are Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan. According to a U.S Treasury press release today they helped exchange Bitcoin ransom payments, obtained by “Iranian malicious cyber actors” involved in the SamSam ransomware scheme, into Iranian rial.

    Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyan are designated for:

    Having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the SamSam ransomware attacks.

    OFAC has identified and published the two wallet addresses associated with the “facilitators.” The cryptocurrency wallet addresses processed around 6,000-7,000 Bitcoin (BTC) $4304.79 +0.34%transactions across 40 cryptocurrency exchanges. Even at today’s Bitcoin price, this would equate to a value of over $25 million.

    The U.S Department of Justice has also indicted two actors for infecting over 200 networks with SamSam ransomware in the U.S, UK, and Canada since 2015. One hospital in Indiana lost all its IT networks during storms, leading them to pay the ransom to protect patients.

    The news quickly sparked a conversation on social media.

    1/ BREAKING: For the first time in history, the US has sanctioned a bitcoin address. https://t.co/5iFmXAaF8l

    — Marco Santori (@msantoriESQ) November 28, 2018

     

    1/ Today, the US Department of the Treasury, through the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took the historic step of adding two Bitcoin addresses to its list of sanctioned parties. In this thread, I'll break down what that means.

    — Marco Santori (@msantoriESQ) November 28, 2018

     

    FIRST PUBLISHING OF WALLET ADDRESSES

    OFAC says that although it usually shares “identifiers” with designated people:

    Today’s action marks the first time OFAC is publicly attributing digital currency addresses to designated individuals.

    The operators recognizing or finding the published wallet addresses are required to comply with OFAC obligations regardless of whether transactions are conducted in fiat or digital currency:

    Like traditional identifiers, these digital currency addresses should assist those in the compliance and digital currency communities in identifying transactions and funds that must be blocked and investigating any connections to these addresses.

    Any property or financial “interests” of the individuals are now subject to OFAC sanctions and “U.S. persons generally are prohibited from dealing with them.”

    The Treasury and OFAC actions today are part of a wider round of sanctions and “U.S economic pressure” targeting Iran “designed to blunt the broad spectrum of the Iranian regime’s malign activities and compel the regime to change its behavior.”

    Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker warns:

    Treasury will aggressively pursue Iran and other rogue regimes attempting to exploit digital currencies and weaknesses in cyber and AML/CFT safeguards to further their nefarious objectives.

  • 06:20
    Japanese Video Platform Pays Users Crypto to Watch Ads

    A Japanese video platform service called c0ban.tv has started its expansion into English-speaking markets, the startup team has reported to Cointelegraph. The platform has its own cryptocurrency and has been developed by the LastRoots corporation, famous for its  popular cryptocurrency exchange.

    Buying lunch with crypto

    The c0ban.tv platform publishes short video ads, already with over 50,000 active users and 5 million transactions per month, according to the startup team.

    The concept of c0ban is based on combining blockchain and video advertisement. The core idea of c0ban is that a user can get paid with c0ban coins (RYO) for watching advertisement videos posted on c0ban’s web application.

    This c0ban mechanism is similar to websites that offer reward points to their users. In order to get rewards, a user needs to sign in to the c0ban.tv web application and watch the videos that appear on the screen.

    There are three huge problems for the video advertising market that the industry faces right now: Users tend to skip video ads, they do not watch them in full and the current ads are not cost effective. According to the c0ban team, their application and platform can solve these problems by paying users to watch videos.

    According to c0ban fans blog, there are stores in Japan that accept RYO. Users can, for instance, watch a few videos, get paid with c0ban cryptos and buy lunch with those coins. Although the number of such stores is still quite small, LastRoots is actively working to expand, a company’s representative told Cointelegraph.

    Middle age samurai coin

    “C0ban is named after a Middle Ages Samurai coin, named Koban. C0ban is the first challenge for us to spread the technology to the world. We will be pleased if we could provide a trigger to people to feel the revolutionary world of decentralized consensus,” reads the c0ban website.

    According to the website, c0ban is a proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency that is designed to make it easy for everyone to enter the blockchain world. The genesis block was mined on Dec. 15, 2016 and so far over 26,000,000 RYO have been issued. The target number is 88,000,000 RYO.

    С0ban.tv held one of the first ICOs in Japan in July 2016 and succeeded in raising about $6 million. Its app was released in February 2017, with the cryptocurrency listed on a Japanese exchange in March 2017. Today, the c0ban trade volume has reached 100 million trades.

    On Nov. 30, c0ban will be listed on the Latoken exchange and will be able to be traded for Bitcoin and Ethereum. The c0ban cryptocurrency has been on the market since Dec. 15, 2016, when it was officially launched. The c0ban startup team has decided to move forward and expand worldwide, making its way to a broader audience.

  • 03:42
    Fidelity Investments’ Crypto Venture Capital Fund Activates Again, Significant Innovation Coming

    Fidelity Investments, one of the largest investment companies in the world in custody and execution of assets, has revived its crypto venture fund. As the company is responsible for holding and managing over $2.5 trillion USD in funds, this is huge news.

    While the company was able to raise some eyebrows when it announced that it would launch Fidelity Digital Assets, a custody and execution platform aimed at digital assets, this new fund is almost as surprising as that.

    Originally, the company was able to launch what was known as an “exploratory fund” for crypto and digital assets. The fund was originally created in 2017 and, while it served its purpose at the time, some key people at the company left and the fund died.

    Now, The Block Crypto has talked to inside sources and they affirm that the once dead VC fund for cryptos is now back up again with a new fund manager. While the source is unknown, the original media outlet that reported on the story affirmed that this is happening.

    The Old Crypto Fund

    The original fund, as we’ve said, was started last year. At the time, it was managed by Nic Carter and Matt Walsh. They used the capital from Fidelity to invest in crypto assets that looked profitable at the time.

    Why was the fund shut down? Because both Carter and Walsh left the company to start a new one called Castle Island Ventures. This company is a VC fund focused on Bitcoin.

    While this meant that the fund was basically dead at the time as the two experts who spearheaded the idea left the company, it looks like now Fidelity is interested in the market again. The new fund will be overseen by Sachin Patodia, an executive that already worked in the company for 11 years. The new version of the fund will be allegedly bigger and considerably more ambitious than its older version.

    Fidelity, Crypto and An Ambitious Plan

    It’s clear that Fidelity is eyeing cryptos now. The efforts of the company to understand this market began way before the last bull run, in 2014. The firm has also examined how mining worked in 2015 and made an important partnership with Coinbase last year, in which it allowed for its clients to view their crypto holding on the crypto exchange.

    Now, it is clear that the company has deemed cryptos interesting enough to invest more aggressively in them. While the plan is not yet clear, it is certainly ambitious, that much you can be sure of.

    With the bear market now in place, the company will have its chance to buy the assets at a low price and less them high later when the inevitable bull run happens once more.

  • 02:51
    ICO Market is Dead: Crypto Investor Barry Silbert

    The ICO market is dead, but that won’t hamper the inevitable growth of the cryptocurrency market, says Barry Silbert, the founder of crypto investment fund Digital Currency Group.

    Silbert said the frenzy for initial coin offerings in 2017 fueled the meteoric spike in bitcoin prices, but now the ICO market has been decimated, resulting in the mass sell-off we’re seeing now.

    “The ICO market is dead — over,” Silbert told CNBC on November 27 (video below). “You now have the lack of demand from ICOs. And you have all the sponsors of the ICOs who raised a bunch of bitcoin [and ether] that are now starting to sell that.”

    Silbert: Tech Sector Slump Is Pressuring Crypto

    Silbert said it’s not surprising that the cryptocurrency market is suffering right now because so is the tech sector.

    He explained that two sectors move in tandem because there are pools of overlap between investments in tech stocks and the crypto asset class.

    Silbert echoed the assessment of Fundstrat’s Tom Lee, who said the downturn in tech stocks is partially responsible for the slump in the crypto industry.

    “As growth stocks, tech, and FAANG come under pressure, it’s going to hurt bitcoin,” Lee reasoned.

    Despite the recent drop-off, Lee remains bullish, calling the bitcoin implosion an “awkward transition” that will pass. Accordingly, Lee stands by his exuberant $15,000 bitcoin price target for 2018, as CCN reported.

    Doubling Down: Tom Lee Won’t Abandon $15,000 Year-End Bitcoin Price Forecast https://t.co/406hAEMi5i

    — CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) November 20, 2018

     

    While crypto bears are running for the exits, Silbert isn’t frazzled by the market’s erratic fluctuations because those are inevitable growing pains that accompany any new phenomenon.

    Silbert said you have to look back at past bubbles and corrections to gain perspective.

    “We’re 5, 6, 7, times through this now,” he said. “The first couple of times you see your balance sheet drop by 80 percent, it’s kind of rough on the stomach. By the third or fourth time, you get used to it. Now we view this as a fantastic opportunity.”

    Institutions Are Knocking On Crypto’s Door

    Silbert said remarkable things are occurring below the surface that are not being reflected in the market’s mundane obsession with daily bitcoin price movements.

    Institutional investors are starting to get involved in the space — and that’s a game-changing development that will transform the industry.

    “What’s happening behind the scenes is companies are being built to create infrastructure to enable the on-boarding of a whole new category of investors, which I think is going to happen in 2019,” he said. “That’s the institutional investors. So behind the scenes, nobody has slowed down.”

    Breaking: What Crypto Winter? Nasdaq to Launch Bitcoin Futures Market https://t.co/EHeog8TPJ3

    — CCN (@CryptoCoinsNews) November 27, 2018

     

    As CCN reported, a landmark event occurred in October 2018, when Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, Yale, and Stanford announced that their multi-billion-dollar university endowments had started investing in cryptocurrencies.

    The move was widely viewed as an unmistakable signal of institutional confidence in crypto as investment vehicles.

    While the universities’ respective allocations to crypto is reportedly small, keep in mind that the combined endowments of the six universities currently invested in crypto is a staggering $108 billion.

    Consider this: Harvard’s endowment is $37 billion, so even a 1% allocation to crypto tops a whopping $370 million.

    ‘Miners Are Long-Term Investors’

    When asked about escalating mining costs, Barry Silbert said bitcoin mining costs are not the proper benchmark with which to value the asset class.

    “I don’t agree with the premise that bitcoin mining costs should be used as a good entry point,” Silbert said. “You have to separate the investment decision that a miner is making from the operating cost for them to mine the bitcoin.”

    Silbert said cryptocurrency mining operations have a long-term focus; they’re not thinking about short-term gains.

    “Miners are long-term investors,” he explained. “The mining businesses that have been created over the past five years have accumulated massive amounts of capital. They have the ability to continue mining at a loss [because they’re going long].”

    As CCN reported, crypto mining firm Coinmint plans to invest up to $700 million to build the world’s largest bitcoin mining center in Upstate New York.

    $700 Million Bitcoin Mining Farm Coming to Upstate New York
    via: @CryptoCoinsNews https://t.co/hxcaYamHAA

    — VTOS FOUNDATION (@VTOSFOUNDATION) June 7, 2018

    Coinmint has already invested $50 million so far to convert a 1,300-acre Alcoa aluminum smelting plant in Massena, New York.

    The new crypto mining farm is projected to create 150 new jobs, and is expected to be fully operational by June 2019.

    Coinmint signed a 10-year lease on the property, signaling its confidence that despite bitcoin’s recent slump, it believes crypto is here to stay.

     

  • 02:22
    FIRST BITCOIN ATM INSTALLED IN ECB’S OWN BACKYARD

    Germany has just got its second Bitcoin ATM in Frankfurt, home of the European Central Bank, as the total worldwide machine count hits 4000 for the first time.

    BITCOIN ATM ARRIVES IN FRANKFURT

    As local media reported November 23, Bitcoin-Store Frankfurt in Germany’s financial center and home of the European Central Bank (ECB) is now home to one of only two BTMs currently operational in the country.

    Under the auspices of founder Oliver Pangratz, Bitcoin-Store exists as a brick-and-mortar cryptocurrency guide, offering in-person assistance with all aspects of Bitcoin including helping consumers open wallets and send transactions.

    “A relatively small group of people have knowledge of cryptocurrencies in Germany at present,” Pangratz told local news program Hessenschau Monday.

    …At Bitcoin-Store we want to get people a bit more enthused about the topic.

    Unlike the US, which now boasts 2370 BTMs according to data from CoinATMRadar, Germany is one of the most sparsely-populated jurisdictions for Bitcoin buying and selling options.

    The reason behind the lack of progress remains regulation. As Bitcoinist reported, only a court decision allowed legitimate operation of machines this month, a situation which finance regulator BaFin has suggested may not last.

    “Whether the ATM will be found in Munich for a longer period remains unclear and depends on how long the judgment can remain in force,” media reported after the BTM appeared in a Munich casino.

    COINSOURCE PUSHES FOR US-WIDE PRESENCE

    Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the competitive push to cast BTMs far and wide has continued in recent months.

    Coinsource, one operator which has installed around 200 machines in various US states, finally received its BitLicense from New York regulators at the start of November.

    Planning a presence in all 50 states, the company is one of several laying the foundations for a future surge in consumer-level interest.

    “This expansion is not only a step in the right direction for mainstream adoption, but should also be seen as a case study for other companies to make every effort to remain compliant with current regulations,” LeapRate quoted Coinsource general counsel Arnold Spencer as saying Wednesday.

  • 01:05
    Judge Slaps Down SEC Attempt to Label ICO Token as Security

    US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of the Southern District of California declared yesterday that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had failed to demonstrate that the Blockvest ICO met the characteristics of a security under US law. The case will go to trial, as such.

    There are three important metrics involved in determining whether a token or financial product is indeed a security, dating back to a 1946 case, and the one that Judge Curiel decided was not satisfied was that investors had expected to make a profit on the tokens.

    Blockvest played all kinds of loose in the offering of its ICO tokens. The SEC alleges that Blockvest even made up the Blockchain Exchange Commission with the express purpose of lulling investors into believing they were a regulated investment offering. However, the BEC does seem to exist, just not in any sort of official government capacity.

    According to the judge, the SEC was unable to prove what promotional materials that investors – who numbered only 32 and whose total investment was under $10,000 – had responded to. While the SEC was able to demonstrate that investors were purchasing coins due to evidence shown on checks cashed, the judge did not feel this satisfied the evidence requirements in the Howey Test.

    Nothing To See Here, Your Honor

    In a brilliant defense, Blockvest claimed its tokens were only used for testing of the exchange, nothing more. The meat and potatoes of the defense was also that the majority of the people “investing” were friends known well to defendant Reginald Buddy Ringgold III, and that claims they had made online regarding the raising of “$2.5 million” were overly optimistic, relied on a single investor, and that that deal had fallen through.

    In denying the injunction request, the judge found that the defendants had already agreed not to pursue the ICO and that the SEC had insufficiently proven previous wrongdoing on the part of Blockvest. Therefore, the judge saw no reason for the injunction.

    It is important to note that this does not mean that Blockvest is off the hook. Not by a long shot. SEC surely doesn’t take kindly to people falsely representing that they have its approval, and the defense has not disputed the fact that they failed to register, which is a crime in and of itself. SEC could amend its approach and try for relief in another court in further attempts to punish Blockvest. Ultimately the most important takeaway is the reason that the judge felt BLV tokens are not securities – according to him, the way they were marketed and sold did not adequately meet the standard of such. The result is that BLV tokens are not technically considered securities at this time, and:

    “Based on the above, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction. The Court also DENIES Defendants’ ex parte motion for evidentiary hearing and leave of court to file supplemental declarations. (Dkt. No. 30.) The Court also STRIKES Plaintiff’s Supplemental Declaration of David Brown and Defendants’ Opposition and Response. (Dkt. Nos. 39, 40.)”

    Thus, Blockvest’s assets are apparently unfrozen. According to their lawyer Stanley Morris, it’s not over, as he told Law.com:

    “Relieved of the constraints of the TRO, our clients are now free to defend themselves through trial and look forward to being vindicated.”

  • 00:57
    China’s CCID Crypto Project Rankings Wise Up, Moving Bitcoin to #13 as EOS #1 ETH #2 Stay at Top

    BTC has moved up on the rankings of a crypto project ranking ledger issued by China’s Center for Information and Industry Development (CCID). Other cryptocurrency platforms that are still high on the list are EOS and Ethereum.

    The CCID is operated by China’s Ministry Industry and Information Technology. Every year, the CCID evaluates cryptocurrency projects and issues a ranking. This year, EOS and Ethereum are still high on the list and their rankings have not changed much. As for BTC, it moved up for 19th place to 13th place. Some contend that the move has to do with bitcoin’s hard fork on November 15. The list features a total of 33 cryptocurrency projects.

    Rankings are based on several factors, such as applicability, technology, and creativity. When it comes to creativity, bitcoin seems to be at the top of the list, and EOS is ranked highest in technology. As for Ethereum, it ranks first in applicability. Interestingly, the CCID constantly evaluates and optimizes its evaluation methods depending upon recommendations by working groups and consultants. The CCID then ranks and organizes the recommendations.

    There are three underlying principles to the evaluation model as well, and they include “the indicators should be adapted to all evaluated objects, not just some; the proposed indicators should be related to technological innovation in public chains; and the measurements or evaluation of the indicators can be implemented.” Concerning future projects, the center stated, “CCID Blockchain Research Institute will also launch and in-depth evaluation report and application development report for public chains. We will also launch an advisory serve and report on public chain technology assessment.”

2weeks ago, 28 Nov, Wednesday
2weeks ago, 27 Nov, Tuesday