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Weekly Crypto News Compilation

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Last updated 10-October-2020

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies 2020

EY launches Ethereum Solution ONP

OpsChain Network Procurement (ONP) which is expected to help convert the procurement contracts into digital smart contracts and automate volume discounts/rebates has been launched by Ernst & Young (EY) on Ethereum Blockchain.  EY is one of the Big 4 accounting firms in the world that has been eyeing to be at the forefront of blockchain technology and this ONP is a great addition to its forte. “EY OpsChain Network Procurement supports network-level business processes by moving those business processes outside of any single ERP system and into a shared blockchain-based smart contract. It builds upon EY experience with other procurement activities, such as software royalty calculations, where shifting to blockchain-based contracts has compressed cycle times by more than 90% and cut costs by 40%,” according to the press release.

KuCoin hack hauls $130 Million, creates a stir re: decentralization

KuCoin got hacked during the week for 100s of millions of dollars.  However, according to the KuCoin CEO Johnny Lyu substantial part of those stolen funds have been recovered.  Over $200 Million in stolen funds have been recovered. While many crypto maximalists were furious at the fact that KuCoin and the projects supporting KuCoin were able to freeze the funds in the suspected accounts, some argued that the key tenet of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is the ability to be not shut down by an external force.  Say what may – this recovery of funds has been welcomed by those who use KuCoin.  In a clear twist of the plot, KuCoin was able to turn these things around and instill confidence in the exchange.  The latest in this hack thriller is that KuCoin claims to have located the hackers and are now working with the authorities to take the legal action.

The man who called banking system a scam buys his first Bitcoin

The UK politician whose speech against the banking scam has been referred to by crypto communities, Godfrey Bloom,  has tweeted that he made his first purchase of Bitcoin.

 

$2 Trillion scandal shows why we need blockchain now

Standard Chartered, HSBC, Bank of America and many of the world’s biggest financial institutions have been secretly mining money in the form of fees for the world’s most dangerous individuals and entities.  “A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” reports Buzzfeed which ran an expose on the whole matter.  This reminds us one more time that the number one choice of criminals is not bitcoin or cryptocurrency which remain quite traceable.  Criminals use cash and also major bank accounts in broad daylight for their illicit affairs.

OCC issues clarification for banks regarding stablecoins

Office of Comptroller of the Currency issued clarification about banks holding cryptocurrencies, specifically, stablecoins.  Essentially, OCC gave greenlight for banks to hold stablecoins as long as they have 1:1 reserve.  “A bank providing services in support of a stablecoin project must comply with all applicable laws and regulations and ensure that it has instituted appropriate controls and conducted sufficient due diligence commensurate with the risks associated with maintaining a relationship with a stablecoin issuer. The due diligence process should facilitate an understanding of the risks of cryptocurrency and include a review for compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering,” OCC letter clarified.

Cryptos are part of Visa’s future strategy

Digital assets and blockchain technology are going to be important parts of Visa’s future,” was the conclusion of an exclusive Forbes interview with Terry Angelos, SVP global head of fintech at Visa and Cuy Sheffield, senior director, head of crypto at Visa. “We are seeing significant interest in demand from crypto companies that want to work with Visa and connect their clients to our network of 60-plus million merchants,” Terry mentioned during the interview. Visa expects to be part of broader cryptocurrency adoption and also work closely with the world’s major banks in the CBDC adoption.

EU announces plan to regulate cryptocurrencies

European Commission is working on introducing a framework to regulate cryptocurrencies.  It could potentially take a year or more for these regulations to come out.  Investor protection and enabling innovation will be cornerstones of these proposed plans.  The new plan will mean that crypto-asset companies authorized by one of the 27 EU countries will be able to provide its services across all the other member states, according to the CNBC.

Gemini is expanding into United Kingdom

Winklevoss brothers brainchild, Gemini, is expanding into the UK as it received the electronic money license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  This move will allow residents of the UK to buy bitcoin using a debit card on the Gemini platform.  According to the article in Bloomberg, Gemini is looking to expand into Singapore next.  

Fun Fact: Norway, Blackrock and Vanguard hold Bitcoin, indirectly

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, which owns 1.5% of MicroStrategy, effectively owns roughly 577 bitcoins. Blackrock and Vanguard also own shares in Microstrategy which in turn makes them indirect holders of Bitcoin. Source: Forbes.

Kraken becomes first US Crypto Bank

Kraken has become the first US Crypto Bank opening the doors for others to follow.  Kraken will operate its Crypto Bank under the name Kraken Financial. David Kinitsky, CEO of Kraken Financial said: “We’re thrilled to work in a state so aligned with our philosophy and values. Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how thoughtful regulation can drive innovation for FinTech companies.”  

Crypto and FinTech no longer need state-by-state license in the US

“Money transmitters like Western Union, PayPal, and cryptocurrency firms will be able to more easily expand across the United States, after 48 state regulators agreed to a single set of supervisory rules that should reduce their compliance costs,” according to Reuters. This move is expected to expedite the expansion of crypto related services across the United States which was earlier plagued by broken and disparate regulations to operate crypto services. 

Square launched Crypto Open Patent Alliance (COPA)

“Square is putting all of our crypto patents into a new non-profit org we’re calling the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, which will maintain a shared patent library to help the crypto community defend against patent aggressors and trolls,” Jack Dorsey tweeted marking the launch of https://open-patent.org/;  Crypto is home for extremes.  On one hand people like Craig Wright are hoarding 1000s of patents and on the other Jack Dorsey is opening their patents to public.

Digital Taxonomy Act moves to the committee

Forbes reported that “The House Energy And Commerce Committee held a marathon legislative hearing marking up 38 bills today, including successfully reporting out to the full House two bills that included crypto and blockchain studies. Part of the Digital Taxonomy Act made it out of Committee as well, representing the farthest a bill addressing regulatory clarity for blockchain tokens has gotten in the 116th Congress thus far.”  These bills are geared towards addressing the framework around blockchain and crypto companies while ensuring to put a stop on scams and frauds. 

COMPETE Act aims to put US in blockchain race with China

“American Competitiveness Of A More Productive Emerging Tech Economy Act” (American COMPETE Act) has made it front of the committee in a record time hinting that the US is now noticing the progress that China has made in the latest technological advancements including Blockchain and doesn’t want to be left behind in the race.  “Emerging technologies, such as quantum computing and blockchain technology, have expanded the horizons of humankind, drastically changing the way we exchange information and interact with the world around us,” said Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL). McMorris Rodgers did not shy away from criticizing China for “stealing, cheating, and subsidizing their State-Owned Enterprises,” to get ahead.  American COMPETE Act is the step in the right direction for the US to stay relevant in the emerging technology space.

IRS offers bounty to trace Monero transactions

irs cryptocurrenciesWelcome to the wild-wild west of crypto.  Monero is its latest bandit and the IRS is not shying away from declaring bounties on whoever can trace the ‘supposed privacy’ Monero transactions. According to the RFP from , “IRS-CI is seeking a solution with one or more Contractors to provide innovative solutions for tracing and attribution of privacy coins and Layer 2 off-chain transactions, such as expert tools, data, source code, algorithms, and software development services to assist their Cyber Crimes agents in carrying out their mission as it relates to cryptocurrency privacy technologies. These should support one of the outlined initiatives on Monero or Layer 2 network protocol transactions, or other cryptocurrency obfuscation technologies.” 

European nations call for oversight on stablecoins

Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands called on the European Commission to draw up strict regulation for asset-backed cryptocurrencies such as stablecoins to protect consumers and preserve state sovereignty in monetary policy,” according to Reuters.  “The finance ministers of the five European Union member states said in a joint statement on Friday that stablecoins should not be allowed to operate in the 27-member bloc until legal, regulatory and oversight challenges had been addressed,” the news read.

Crypterium aiming partnership with PayPal and ApplePay

Crypterium logoA crypto startup, Crypterium, run by former Visa executive is aiming first-of-its-kind partnership with ApplePay.  While that aim is farther, they have signed a letter of intent with PayPal. ““We are one of the first crypto companies to start a conversation with PayPal, and it’s basically to experiment how cryptocurrency could be used within the PayPal ecosystem,” said Steven Parker, CEO of Crypterium.  We are seeing a new trend of collaboration emerging in the space between established financial institutions and up-and-coming crypto startups with good reputation in the space.  This collaboration is a win-win since the startups can use the rails already laid out in the established commerce channels and these mega companies can use the ‘solutions’ built by the startups without having to reinvent the wheel.

Token Launch Platform coming to Coinbase

Future may be one of launching tokens, instead of stocks, on crypto exchanges.  ICOs, IEOs and STOs, all have occupied the crypto space but they all lack the brand power that could lure the big brands to take the bite.  Coinbase, one of the most popular crypto exchanges in the US, may soon launch Token Launch Platform.  Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, confirmed: “We’re working on a product, we’ll probably call it Coinbase Launch or something like that,” said Armstrong, “but it’s a way for anybody who wants to do a crypto startup to come in and say, ‘All right, I want to issue a token. Maybe I want to raise money. Maybe I just want to use it to build my community.’”

Congress asks IRS for sensible tax policy for Proof of Stake

“It is important that tax policy does not indirectly dissuade U.S taxpayers from participating in this promising new technology,” read the letter sent by Congress to the IRS.  While Bitcoin remains a Proof-of-Work protocol, more and more projects are turning to Proof of Stake protocol in which users can lock their tokens to earn tokens, like dividends for holding stocks.  This process of holding the tokens in a method specified by the token ecosystem is called staking.  Many industry experts expect that staking will attract a lot of investors to the crypto with some staking protocols yielding as much as double digit percentages.  

Chainlink oracles come to Bitcoin through RSK

Bitcoin may soon be benefiting from the massive connectivity boost as Chainlink is now integrated onto Bitcoin sidechain using RSK interface.  The launch that is expected to take less than a month will bring the smart contracts, connectivity with real world businesses to the world’s strongest blockchain network.  Bitcoin, while still remains to be the king of cryptos, has lacked smart contract capabilities which RSK has brought about, now that effort is getting a boost with Chainlink integration.

Leading Stock Exchanges in Switzerland, Germany, Austria Now List Bitcoin ETP

Zug based 21Shares announced that Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Product (ETP) is getting listed on 3 major exchanges in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.  “The 21Shares Short Bitcoin ETP (Ticker: SBTC) seeks to provide a -1x return to the performance of bitcoin for a single day. This product obtains short exposure through borrowing bitcoin and simultaneously selling it on an execution platform,” the company explained on its website. “SBTC is an innovative financial instrument that allows investors to gain exposure to the negative price movement of bitcoin,” the announcement clarified.

Swiss Insurance company now accepts bitcoin and crypto payments

Atupri Health Insurance became the first insurer to accept Bitcoin and crypto for payments.  “Our range is characterized by a high degree of customization. Our customers are free to choose which payment method they choose at any time. As digital pioneers in the health sector, we anticipate social trends and offer insurance solutions with long-term prospects. Blockchain technology and the associated use of cryptocurrencies will become increasingly important. Accordingly, we want to offer the necessary structures for our policyholders,” said Caroline Meli, Head of Marketing and Sales at Atupri.

IRS Memo clarifies that virtual currency received in microtasks is taxable

IRS memo 202035011 clarified that the virtual currency received for performing microtasks is considered taxable. The question posed to the IRS “Is convertible virtual currency received by an individual for performing a microtask through a crowdsourcing or similar platform taxable income?” was referenced and the conclusion was arrived stating that “Yes, a taxpayer who receives convertible virtual currency in exchange for performing a microtask through a crowdsourcing platform has received consideration in exchange for performing a service, and the convertible virtual currency received is taxable as ordinary income.”

Chinese bank disables digital asset wallet due to attention

There is such a thing called too much attention.  Chinese Commercial Bank (CCB), one of the four major banks in China, had a silent launch of its digital asset wallet on their official CCB app.  However, the crypto community got the wind of this capability; the news spread like a wild-fire and CCB disabled the feature to avoid too much attention to the matter, which seems like a moot point now as the news has become a sensation. “The brief availability of the wallet shows the Chinese commercial bank has been working towards adoption for the digital yuan initiative, also known as DCEP, which is led by the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBoC),” read the news.

Chainlink acquires DECO from Cornell University

Chainlink logoIn a press release, Chainlink announced that they have acquired a new technology to bring HTTPS/TLS data security capabilities to Chainlink.  “By extending the data security capabilities of HTTPS and TLS, the most widely formats for transmitting all internet data, DECO is able to guarantee that data remains private and untampered with during its delivery from various private and premium data sources. It does so by employing advanced cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs from any server using HTTPS/TLS, without revealing that data to the outside world or even to the final computation using the data. DECO creates a new method of providing private and premium data across the internet, while maintaining its confidentiality and security at previously unachievable levels,” press release informed.

Another company moves to Bitcoin as reserve

Founder of Snappa, Christopher Gimmer, wrote an extensive thesis on why he believes Bitcoin to be better money and hedge against failing fiat. He announced that his company is moving to Bitcoin as ‘reserve’ currency.  This is in the wake of MicroStrategy moving $250 Million cash to Bitcoin as reserve.

Cardano & Bidali to bring crypto to retail

cardano staking newsBidali, a payments processing company that is bridging the gap between traditional payment systems with digital currencies has partnered with Emurgo to bring Cardano to retail payments. In a press release, Emurgo announced that “it has entered into a strategic partnership with Bidali. The partnership enables ADA holders to directly purchase items from more than 1,200 major retail brands, such as Amazon, Nike, Starbucks, Airbnb, and many more via Bidali’s online gift card platform.”

International Monetary Fund (IMF) explains cryptocurrency

There are risks of using cryptocurrencies and it’s quite volatile BUT if we can mitigate those risks, this could be the change the way we transact…that was the core message of the video posted by the IMF explaining cryptocurrencies.  Every crypto enthusiast should watch this short video to see how the ‘rhetoric’ is changing from ‘cryptos are for the crooks’ to ‘cryptos could change the way we transact’.

River Financial brings Bitcoin to Hawaii

Hawaii has been on the sidelines for Bitcoiners, but no more.  River Financial announced that it has become the first digital assets company to participate in Hawaii’s state sponsored sandbox.  Company issued a statement: “We are incredibly excited to bring the best of Bitcoin to the residents of Hawaii, many of whom have long awaited this day. River Financial’s participation in the DCIL regulatory sandbox program will play a crucial role in shaping the State’s long-term regulatory framework for digital assets.”  ‘River Financial is the first regulated financial institution to legally provide cryptocurrency services to Hawaiian residents.’

Citi and Consensys use blockchain to Commodity trading

End-to-end blockchain solutions to commodities trade financing is becoming a reality because of komgo (an initiative by Consensys).  Citi, one of its members, shared the way komgo is shaping the future of commodity trading and how blockchain is solving issues that used to take weeks into mere hours.  One of the quotes shows the power of Blockchain: “reduced the time to issue a digital letter of credit from an average of 10 days to 1 hour.”

IRS brings digital currency question to the front page

On the 2019 US tax returns, the IRS asked a question about digital currencies in one of the schedules.  It was quite unassuming but it was there.  On the 2020 US tax returns, the IRS is bringing the same question to page 1 so that people know how serious the IRS is about the whole issue.  In a draft Form 1040 released by the IRS, the question about digital currencies stares at the taxpayers on the front page.

Form 1040 US Tax

best Crypto Tax Software

Fidelity backed BC Group gets Tentative Licensure Approval in Hong Kong

Fidelity backed BC Group’s OSL Exchange got a tentative license in Hong Kong to offer digital asset trading services.  According to Reuters, “Hong Kong’s markets regulator has agreed in principle to issue a license to cryptocurrency firm OSL Digital Securities, a unit of Fidelity-backed BC group, the company said in an exchange filing on Friday.

China’s Blockchain Service Network could use Stablecoins

Blockchian Service Network (BSN) stated in a tweet that it will never issue a cryptocurrency of its own or be associated with a crypto project, however, there is a possibility that it will make use of stablecoins on its network.  We surmise that this will be Digital Yuan and not other currencies like Digital dollar.

The dialogue around the blockchain and cryptocurrencies is changing from that of ‘anti-social’ to ‘society changing’ and we are witnessing it in real time.

You can see the news chronicles from 2017 to now to see how we have come through ups and downs.  It’s all in one place (and free) for you to relive the most important news in the crypto space.

MicroStrategy converts $250 Million fiat reserves into Bitcoin reserves

Microstrategy’s stock shot up by $100 Million dollars on the welcoming news that the company after much deliberation and research has converted $250 Million worth of USD into Bitcoin reserve.  The company thinks that Bitcoin is a better hedge in the face of what is going on with the fiats around the world. This marks a new era in Bitcoin adoption as big enterprises are looking for ways to hedge the potential fall of the USD (even if short-term). 

Coinbase to introduce borrowing feature

coinbase best exchangeCoinbase customers can soon be able to take up to 30% of their bitcoin holdings as a loan.  This collateral based loan will mark the entry (albeit silent) of Coinbase into crypto lending (and by that token into DeFi).  This move is going to further cement the revenue streams for Coinbase which is rumored to be preparing for an IPO.  Coinbase has opened the Waitlist for individuals to take advantage of this feature as soon as it is available.

USPS files patent for blockchain based voting system

USPS has filed for a patent for a blockchain based voting system.  The patent documents reveal the details: “A voting system can use the security of blockchain and the mail to provide a reliable voting system. A registered voter receives a computer-readable code in the mail and confirms identity and confirms correct ballot information in an election. The system separates voter identification and votes to ensure vote anonymity, and stores votes on a distributed ledger in a blockchain.” 

Ex-CEO of Prudential votes for Bitcoin

Mainstream adoption is in the works for Bitcoin.  A Bitcoin and Blockchain opponent (in his own words), George Ball, Ex-CEO of Prudential has opined that the future of Bitcoin is bright and people will start jumping into bitcoin after the labor day weekend.  

https://www.reuters.com/video/watch/idRCV008LQI

In the video interview posted by Reuters, Ex-CEO of Prudential says “I have been a big blockchain and crypto opponent…,” George clarifies before saying “Bitcoin can be a long term safe-haven or a short-term speculative asset”.

Rumors of Big Mac Coin are afloat

On a lighter note, a Reddit posted purportedly by a McDonald employee is making rounds on Reddit.  The Reddit post claims that “We received a box of these special coins. If you have one of the coins, you can exchange it for a Big Mac.”  Reddit did not miss a beat on the post and users started commenting as to why Big Mac coin is better than USD.   One user, r/amluchon quipped “What if the supply of BigMac coins exceeds the actual number of BigMacs available? You really can’t prevent fractional restaurant reservation banking. Suddenly your BigMac coin is only worth a nugget.”

NY Department of Financial Services (DFS) releases crypto greenlist 

DFS has issued a list of 10 coins approved for Custody and 8 coins for listing.  This means, any financial institute within NY State approved to do business by DFS can now offer custody services for these 10 coins.  The coins on the greenlist for Custody include:  Binance USD, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum Classic, Ethereum, Gemini Dollar, Litecoin, Pax Gold, Paxos Standard and Ripple.  Ethereum Classic and Ripple do not appear on the coins approved for listing by the DFS.  “Any entity licensed by DFS to conduct virtual currency business activity in New York may use coins on the Greenlist for their approved purpose(s). Note that if a licensed entity decides to use a coin on the Greenlist, it must inform DFS prior to beginning its use,” DFS stated in the update.

South Korea to use Blockchain for Highway Toll payments

Hana Bank and Korea Expressway Corporation have signed an MOU to introduce blockchain based services on the Highway Tolls.  People can now find out the non-payment of toll along with requesting and processing refunds by simply entering the vehicle number.  “Hana Bank announced that it had signed a business agreement with Korea Expressway Corporation to introduce blockchain technology-based services,” the Google translated news states.

IP Australia and National Rugby League to use blockchain to fight counterfeits

A trust badge using blockchain technology will be used to fight the counterfeits by IP Australia and National Rugby League (NRL).  According to the news, “Under the trial, two of the NRL’s official online merchandise stores, NRL Shop and Savvy Supporter, will be marked with the “trust badge” as visual proof that the website has been verified by IP Australia as authentic. The badge also provides a link to a registered trademark.”  The counterfeits in the sports merchandize is quite an headache for the manufacturers and a dire disappointment for the hardcore fans who pay big bucks for merchandize only to realize they got cheated.

China’s Loudi City to use blockchain to fight crime

China Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP)-Coinzajeera“Blockchain technology creates a weapon to fight crimes,” said the Mayor of Loudi.  According to the google translated news, “Loudi Municipal Party Committee and Mayor Yang Yiwen emphasized the need to improve prevention and control technology and use blockchain when studying and promoting the use of blockchain technology to combat illegal crimes. Technology creates a weapon to combat illegal crimes and accurately combat crimes.” 

Brave and Guardian bring Firewall and VPN to iOS

brave-logoBrave Privacy browser that supports the Basic Attention Token (BAT) has partnered with Guardian to bring Firewall and VPN capabilities to the Brave Browser on iOS platform. In an announcement, Brave team disclosed that “with this partnership, the companies are integrating their technologies to enable the fastest, safest, most private Web browsing experience. Brave now offers Brave Firewall + VPN, available for download from the App Store. This partnership allows people to take back control of their own data, browse the Web, and use their apps more safely and securely.”

Ledger market data breach

Ledger Nano S reviewUnauthorized third party access using an API Key has compromised the contact and order details at Ledger.  A total of 1 Million email addresses might have been compromised. According to the official statement “Contact and order details were involved. This is mostly the email address of our customers, approximately 1M addresses. Further to investigating the situation we have also been able to establish that, for a subset of 9500 customers were also exposed, such as first and last name, postal address, phone number or ordered products. Due to the scope of this breach and our commitment to our customers, we have decided to inform all of our customers about this situation.”

Coinbase explores [more] new digital Assets

coinbase best exchangeCoinbase is exploring more digital assets to add to their platform.  These 19 digital assets include, as per the official post,  Ampleforth, Band Protocol, Balancer, Blockstack, Curve, Fetch.ai, Flexacoin, Helium, Hedera Hashgraph, Kava, Melon, Ocean Protocol, Paxos Gold, Reserve Rights, tBTC, The Graph, THETA, UMA, and WBTC. Obviously, there is no guarantee that all of these tokens are going to be added but it is quite interesting to see some of the good projects making the list.

Putin signs Crypto bill into law

Russia just passed a bill that will allow the companies in Russia to issue digital assets as long as they seek and procure approval from the Bank of Russia.  According to Reuters (translated) “They can be an object of collateral, purchase and sale transactions, exchange of one type of digital asset for another. At the same time, CFAs are not and are not recognized as a means of payment.”

SEC Wants to Start Scrutinizing Binance Chain Transactions

sec crypto regulations“The Contracting Officer has determined that CipherTrace Inc., is the only source that can reasonably meet the SEC’s requirement […].  CipherTrace products are the only known blockchain forensics and risk intelligence tool that can support the Binance coin (BNB) and all tokens on the Binance network.,” read the official statement issued by the SEC.  This makes it clear that the transactions that people have conducted on Binance assuming they are ‘immune’ from the US government’s scrutiny are going to be surprised by what follows.

Cardano mainnet launched

cardano staking newsCardano has successfully launched its mainnet and introduced its ‘Staking’ phase ‘Shelley’. The entire crypto community has been eagerly waiting for the launch and has received the upgrade quite positively with Cardano (ADA) price coasting at 13 cents. Generally, when the community is not happy with the upgrades and mainnet launch, it tends to show in the negative price action. The stabilizing price movement indicates that the Cardano community has welcomed the mainnet launch.

OCC clears US banks to offer Crypto custody services in the US

bank crypto custodyProbably one of the biggest bullish news in the US around cryptocurrencies came from The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC),  which clarified that Banks must provide the custody services to its customers including digital assets.  In a press release, OCC confirmed that: “From safe-deposit boxes to virtual vaults, we must ensure banks can meet the financial services needs of their customers today,” said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks. “This opinion clarifies that banks can continue satisfying their customers’ needs for safeguarding their most valuable assets, which today for tens of millions of Americans includes cryptocurrency.”  This move ensures that banks are able to provide custodial services to its customers for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. This stamp of approval could open up a vast majority of investors ‘dipping in’ to crypto.

MasterCard expands Cryptocurrency program

Mastercard cryptoMastercard announced “the expansion of its cryptocurrency program, making it simpler and faster for partners to bring secure, compliant payment cards to market. Supercharging the partnership experience, cryptocurrency and crypto card partners are invited to join Mastercard’s Accelerate program for emerging brands and fintechs, giving them access to everything they need to grow quickly.”  Wirex recently received Mastercard’s principal membership to offer crypto services to the consumers on MasterCard platform.

Visa reveals its outlook on Crypto payment

Visa partners Bitcoin ZapVisa has revealed its outlook on crypto payments on its network.  In a somewhat positive spin on the digital currency move, Visa has praised the advantages of crypto payments, “We believe that digital currencies have the potential to extend the value of digital payments to a greater number of people and places. As such, we want to help shape and support the role they play in the future of money. We look forward to sharing more with you on this work in the months that follow.”  Visa did point out that there is a lot to do on the legal and policy framework side of things and that Visa has been “Visa has been engaging with policy makers and global organizations to help shape the dialogue and understanding of digital currencies; this includes our work with the World Economic Forum and our collaboration on a set of policy recommendations for central banks exploring the concept of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).”

DC Financial Services Law: Bitcoin deemed ‘money’ 

When Larry Dean Harmon tried to argue that ‘he cannot be tried for money laundering’ because Bitcoin is not money.  Well, the federal court tossed his argument out of the window declaring that “Money “commonly means a medium of exchange, method of payment, or store of value,” Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. “Bitcoin is these things.”  While Bitcoin is considered as ‘property’ under the IRS tax laws, this federal court ruling brings to light that Bitcoin is money for in the court of law.  This variation in the eyes of federal law and tax law will potentially continue to exist in the foreseeable future.

ESPN goes Crypto with eSports on Blockchain

Espn crypto paymentsESPN has unveiled its ‘pre-launch’ online gaming on Blockchain enabled for crypto payments.  This platform is expected to facilitate micro transactions. “As per a research done by 3EA Limited, a global strategic management consulting group, e-sports and online gaming is a $140 billion global industry driven predominantly by digital micro-transaction economies, which we believe will benefit immensely from the integrity and resilience of the Blockchain technology,” said Mr. Chris Parker, one of the Directors of ESPN Global.” The ability of Blockchain to facilitate ‘micro transactions’ without the need for central financial institutions could revolutionise the space.   

Massive Twitter hack targets Bitcoin newbies

We keep telling people that there are no free giveaways, especially in the crypto space, unless it is an airdrop.  A colossal coordinated Twitter attack hacked accounts of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Apple, Obama and more.  A message about ‘free bitcoin giveaways’ was promptly posted by the hackers to con the gullible users.  Luckily, and we say that with a sigh of relief, the entire debacle cost around 13 BTCs.  It could have been worse in our mind but glad that it ended with minimum damage.  Twitter issued a statement: “We detected what we believe to be a coordinated social engineering attack by people who successfully targeted some of our employees with access to internal systems and tools.”  It is unclear whether or not Twitter will bear the loss for investors from this debacle.

 

Kingdom Trust Appoints Fidelity Digital Assets To Power Bitcoin Custody For Choice Retirement Accounts

Kingdom Trust bitcoinProbably the biggest news this week is Kingdom Trust’s appointment of Fidelity Digital Assets to provide Bitcoin custodial services to the retirement accounts.  Kingdom Trust wants to bring the Fidelity brand confidence to its Bitcoin offering so that the investors feel comfortable and confident about their bitcoin holdings. “For anyone who was considering bitcoin as part of their retirement portfolio, but was waiting for the infrastructure to mature and for familiar names to enter the space, that day is today,” says Ryan Radloff, CEO of Kingdom Trust, in the Press Release.

TATA Consultancy Services launches Quartz to support Cryptocurrency Trading

TCS Quartz BlockchainTata Consultancy Services’ (TCS) new crypto services solution to allow Banks and Investment Firms to invest in crypto services. The announcement on the Bombay Stock Exchange revealed that TCS has launched Quartz, a solution in the crypto space, “the solution is designed to support multiple cryptocurrencies and stable coins, digital currencies linked to fiat currencies, trading venues and public blockchain networks, thus offering choice and flexibility to customers when deciding their trading and investment strategies. Importantly, it can help banks and investment firms offer their customers the ability to transfer payments in the form of ‘digital cash’, and benefit from lower transaction costs and quicker access to liquidity.” 

PayPal hints Crypto initiatives

In a letter sent as a response to the European Commission’s public consultation on building EU Framework for markets in Crypto-assets, PayPal revealed that while it has exited the Libra association it continues to “continue to focus on advancing our existing mission and business priorities to democratize access to financial services.”  People are interpreting this statement to mean that PayPal is innovating in the crypto-assets space.  At the minimum, based on the response in the letter, it seems plausible that PayPal may be building on ramps to facilitate any EU guidelines to accommodate Crypto-assets on PayPal. 

Cosco Shipping and Alibaba join hands in blockchain initiative

Cosco Shipping BlockchainCosco Shipping Group, the Chinese state-run shipping company, is the latest to join the growing momentum in digitization through the use of blockchain technology. China Ocean Shipping Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China’s e-commerce company Alibaba and its affiliate Ant Group, to jointly promote the development of blockchain technology for shipping logistics,” read the news.  The collaboration will explore the opportunities to utilize blockchain to support the smart shipping and smart ports efforts.

Coinbase to go IPO

coinbase best exchangeCoinbase is making headlines yet again.  Reuters reported in an exclusive that Coinbase is preparing to go public either by end of this year or early next year.  While the 2018 valuation has put the company at $8 Billion, we have to wait to see how much the company’s valuation will be for the IPO.  The company has not yet filed the paperwork with the SEC.  However, “Coinbase said it had hired Facebook Inc FB.N deputy general counsel Paul Grewal as its chief legal officer.”  This has further cemented the rumor that the company is serious about its IPO plans.

Binance acquires Swipe

binance logoBinance is on a global dominance of crypto space.  It has been making strategic investments to accomplish this mission.  Binance has announced that the acquisition of Swipe has completed.  The announcement disclosed that “The two companies will work together to further mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies by bridging the gap between fiat and digital assets, notably payments and purchases in cryptocurrency through traditional financial systems.”  Bringing the solutions that make the transition from crypto to fiat and vice-versa is one of the easiest ways to bring crypto to the masses.  This partnership of Binance and Swipe is the step in the right direction.

Arca to become first SEC registered fund to offer digital shares

ArCoins will be issued on Ethereum Blockchain which will provide the interest to the investors on quarterly basis.  The company will issue 100 million ArCoins at a face value of $1.  Jerald David, president of Arca Capital Management, stated that ““Shareholders can directly transfer ArCoin using blockchain technology; other features of blockchain are being used for fund operations, such as freezing and replacing tokens for investors that have lost their public keys, and using smart contracts on the blockchain to enforce transferability of ArCoin to only whitelisted ETH addresses,” as reported by Forbes.

Lithuania issues world’s first digital collector coin on Blockchain

World’s first blockchain based digital collector coins will be created by the Bank of Lithuania.  The press release states that “The Bank of Lithuania is planning to release 24,000 collector tokens created using the blockchain technology. Each token will feature one of the 20 signatories and collectors will have a chance to collect the entire set. The tokens will be divided into 6 categories by the signatories’ areas of activity, with 4,000 tokens allotted to each of them. When purchasing the digital coin, buyers will get 6 randomly selected digital tokens and only upon collecting a token from each of the 6 categories they will be able to redeem a physical silver coin. The tokens will be available for purchase and storage on the Bank of Lithuania e-shop.”

US Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on digital dollar

China’s digital yuan race is pushing the US to rethink its digital dollar timeline.  Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) stated, “The U.S. needs a digital dollar…The U.S. dollar has to keep earning that place in the global payments system. It has to be better than bitcoin … it has to be better than a digital yuan.”  While Facebook’s Libra is taking center stage of discussion whenever stable-coins are brought up in front of congress, the emphasis during this hearing was to develop a digital dollar controlled by the government and better than existing stable-coins.

NYDIG discloses $190 Million Fund 

“New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) today disclosed, in an SEC filing that it closed a $190 million bitcoin fund. The NYDIG Institutional Bitcoin Fund LP, reports that it has 24 unnamed investors and is  exempt under Rule 506(b) of the Regulation D safe harbor protections established in 2013,” according to Forbes.  This is quite bullish considering that NYDIG also had a similar fund worth $140 Million last month.

You can buy Bitcoin at 3500 Post Offices in Australia

Australians can now buy Bitcoin at any of its 3500 Post Offices across Australia.  Thanks to the partnership of Australia Post with Bitcoin.com.au, Australians can now simply use cash or EFTPOS payments for digital currencies.  “Our mission is to make Bitcoin safe and easy for every Australian”, says Holger Arians, CEO of Bitcoin.com.au, “for many people, paying for Bitcoin at an Australia Post office feels safer than transferring funds online—particularly for first-time buyers. We’re proud of this partnership and would like to thank Australia Post for their continued openness to new technologies.”  This is a tremendous news in the broader Bitcoin movement as this helps Australians to access Bitcoin directly without having to transfer money online or having to open accounts with random exchanges.

Visa partners with Bitcoin startup Zap

Visa partners Bitcoin ZapZap, a bitcoin startup, is building a product called Strike that enables bitcoin lightning payments without needing users to set up a bitcoin wallet.  Visa is now partnering with Zap to bring the lightning fast payments on Strike platform through Visa.  Visa has been aggressively partnering with companies in the crypto space.  It even filed for a patent in the cryptocurrency payment system.

BSN Integrates Chainlink Oracles, Bringing Real-World Data Into Its IRITA Powered Network

Chainlink logoChina’s Blockchain Service Network (BSN) has integrated Chainlink oracles. “This key integration will enable governments and enterprises to incorporate validated real-world data into their BSN applications using Chainlink oracles via the IRITA interchain service hub. Professional Proof of Stake (POS) operator SNZ Pool will run nodes to support the operation,” according to the press release.  The integration is expected to speed up the adoption of BSN in and outside China.  Chainlink has been picking up steam recently with many companies using Chainlink’s Oracles to bring the conventional business world to the blockchain network.

Supreme Court sets ‘limits’ on SECs powers to assess digorgements (penalties)

Securities Exchange Commission’s ‘extent’ of power has been challenged by the Supreme Court. A ruling that SEC cannot assess digorgements beyond the ‘illicit gains’ could help a lot of blockchain and crypto startups with much needed relief knowing that SEC cannot assess penalties beyond what was raised from the investors minus required expenses.  For instance, before this ruling, SEC could charge a company disgorgements that are 100% or more of the money raised from the investors, this devastated many up and coming entrepreneurs who may have spent part of the proceedings in expenses such as legal expenses, salaries, administrative expenses, etc.,   Supreme Court also ruled that the disgorgements should be used for the benefit of victims and not solely for the SEC’s fund.

KPMG’s Chain Fusion To Help Manage Crypto And Traditional Assets Over Public And Private Blockchain Networks

KPMG is making strides in the blockchain and crypto space. It has recently launched its Chain Fusion, a suite of advanced analytics capabilities to support blockchain and crypto technology products.  The press release states “KPMG Chain Fusion leverages a structured data model to combine data originating from blockchain infrastructure and traditional systems in support of analytics for business, risk and compliance objectives. KPMG Chain Fusion was designed to help clients address considerations from regulators across the globe focusing on the integrity of control environments to support business objectives for accurate financial reporting and technology objectives for security, availability and processing integrity across both traditional and blockchain systems.”

New York proposes new licensing rules to facilitate crypto businesses

In a good news from the big apple, New York financial regulators proposed new licensing rules for the crypto businesses that would make it easier for businesses to offer services and use cryptocurrencies.  The New York Post reported that  The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) proposed framework would allow companies that want to engage in virtual currency business activity in the state to obtain a conditional license, through which they would collaborate with fully licensed companies.”  Regulators in other States in the US are trying to catch up with regulatory framework to lure blockchain and crypto organizations, NY is heating up the space by making it easier for companies to operate in the State.  Being the financial capital of the US and the world, this is a welcoming stance from the State for the crypto businesses.

Bithumb Exchange to Reportedly File for IPO in South Korea

Bithumb NewsBitcoin and Cryptocurrencies are going mainstream.  We have seen companies that operate in the blockchain and crypto space going IPO instead of ICO.  ICOs have historically been limited to those who have been in the crypto space while IPOs are much more stringent to follow through with registrations, approvals and investor selection.  Bithumb, one of the popular exchanges is rumored to be going the IPO route.  Google translation of the news reads that “It is expected that Bitsum’s IPO will be an event in which discussions on virtual currency and even blockchain will spread in our society and economy. From whether or not a virtual currency can be recognized as a real value, it is highly likely that there will be controversy over business feasibility, industrial value, and meaning. In addition, virtual currency tax issues, business continuity, asset handling, and investor protection are also issues to consider.”

Bitfinex Launches Open-Source Crypto-Powered Streaming Protocol

bitfinex newsBitfinex launched an open-source crypto powered streaming protocol called Dazaar. Dazaar’s website describes that “Dazaar Vision is a live video-streaming app. It allows you to set up live broadcasts and subscriptions. All Peer-to-peer, and in real time. With the power of Dazaar you can customize payment options for your subscribers and viewers, without any centralized third-parties.”  The platform is designed to be blockchain agnostic although it will support Bitcoin Lightning Network, Ethereum and EOS at the beginning.    

Binance Joins the Internet and Mobile Association of India

binance logoBinance is making its strategic moves into India. First, it partnered with WazirX and now it has joined the Crypto Exchange Committee of the IAMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India). In a recent blog post, Binance confirmed its member standing with the Crypto Exchange Committee of the IAMAI.  The blog post alludes to what IAMAI does and why it is important alliance, “IAMAI plans to jointly work with the regulators and policy-makers on a sustainable policy framework for crypto assets in India to support innovation along with proper measures to ensure security and risk management,” the post read.

$6 Billion contract awarded to build a fully cryptocurrency based Akon City

KE International which got its fame by building a US $2 billion Mwale Medical and Technology City (MMTC), a green City based in Western Kenya, has been awarded a US $6 Billion contract to build one of a kind futuristic-complete Cryptocurrency run city called Akon City.  The city that is planned to open in phases will have its first phase open in 2023 with entire project scheduled to be completed by 2029.  Akon City is expected to run on the Akoin Crypto.  “Akon City’s Phase 1 is expected to complete by end of 2023, and will see the construction of roads, a Hamptons Hospital campus, a Hamptons Mall, residences, hotels, a police station, a school, a waste facility and a solar power plant. Akon City Phase 2 will run from 2024 to 2029 and will end with a complete cryptocurrency City running exclusively on AKOIN cryptocurrency,” press release stated.

Jay Clayton to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

“I am pleased to announce that President Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, currently the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” an announcement by the Department of Justice’s Office of Public Affairs read. Crypto community reaction was mixed.  Some people supported his role at the SEC and praised him for declaring Bitcoin as ‘not a security’, while others were hopeful that this is a ‘good’ turn of events for the crypto in general.

“Project Bakong” to bring blockchain based payments to life in Cambodia

A whitepaper released by the Government of Cambodia revealed its plan to inject blockchain-based payments in the country to reduce the US Dollar reign in the country. The project is expected to remove the redundancies and unnecessary costs that are apparent and plenty in the current centralized financial system.  “NBC re-evaluates existing payment systems infrastructure and engages in the Project Bakong – a project to consider alternative technology platforms to create a next generation of payment system aimed at addressing financial inclusion, interoperability amongst players, and supporting the ease of payments in the local currency, while at the sametime doing so in safety and efficiency,” the whitepaper reports.

Bank of Thailand announces Prototype Development Project of CBDC

The Bank of Thailand is building a prototype to test the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) capabilities. The prototype is expected to provide the feasibility assessment of a CBDC.  “ In this project, the CBDC prototype will be integrated with the procurement and financial management systems of the Siam Cement Public Company Limited and its suppliers developed by Digital Ventures Company Limited. The prototype is expected to serve as a financial innovation that enables higher payment efficiency for businesses such as increasing flexibility for fund transfers, or delivering faster and more agile payments between suppliers,” announcement read.

Anchorage to make borrowing against Bitcoin and Crypto easy

Whenever you remove the bitcoin and crypto from the custodian you run a risk of security outside. When you want to use your crypto as collateral to avail a loan – you will have to move your crypto from your wallet to the lender’s designated wallet. However, Anchorage Financing, a custodian service, is working with Silvergate to let owners lend US Dollars without crypto leaving Anchorage’s custody.  Silvergate has over 750 digital currency and FinTech clients and has been consistently posting profits for 20+ years. 

A tweet has been circulating about Craig Wright claiming ownership of an address that houses stolen Bitcoin from Mt.Gox hack.  However, the screenshots showing the wallet address may have been forged to create news where none exist.  Nevertheless, given it is associated with Craig Wright, it created some sensation and much needed humor this week. 

India wants to ban Crypto

India Bans CryptoIndia is looking for inspiration from Russia instead of the US, South Korea or Japan when it comes to crypto.  Given that the Reserve Bank of India has lifted the ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, the government of India is now looking to bring an overarching (and permanent) ban on cryptos in India.  The bill proposed Rs.25 Crore in fine and 10 years in jail.  For perspective, Rs.25 Crores translates to US$3.3 million.  Crypto enthusiasts in India have been frustrated with the changes in regulations. WazirX, which got backing from Binance, has started gaining traction after the RBI ban was lifted and now with this fresh FUD in play – we have to see what’s in store for India’s crypto future.

Wilshire Phoenix Funds files for Bitcoin Fund license with the SEC

An application for Bitcoin Commodity Trust to offer Bitcoin Commodity Trust Shares which represent a share of the Trust which will exclusively own bitcoin, was filed with the SEC.  The application filed with the agency reads “The Shares will provide investors with exposure to bitcoin in a manner that is accessible and cost-efficient without the uncertain and often complex requirements relating to acquiring or holding bitcoin.”  The Trust will follow the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Reference Rate for the price movement. 

Belarus looking to allow banks to issue tokens

Google translated news from Sputnik reads that “the National Bank [of Belarus] wants to evaluate the possibilities of the Belarusian banking system to engage in the process of digital transformation of the economy. Thus, the regulator will analyze the conditions and possibilities for attracting money by domestic banks (primarily remotely from non-residents) by placing its own tokens.”  While the proposal is being made for banks to be able to create tokens against the Belarusian Rubles and foreign currency received from non-residents, this does not mean that banks can accept cryptocurrencies.  

Coinbase is exploring 18 new coins to list

Coinbase effect seems to be still intact. When Coinbase announced that it is reviewing 18 tokens to list on its exchange soon they saw a sharp rise in their prices.  These 18 tokens include:  Aave, Aragon, Arweave, Bancor, COMP, DigiByte, Horizen, Livepeer, NuCypher, Numeraire, KEEP Network, Origin Protocol, Ren, Render Token, Siacoin*, SKALE Network, Synthetix, and VeChain, according to the blog post from Coinbase.  Obviously, this does not mean that all the 18 coins will be listed but it just shows that these projects have made the cut to qualify for the ‘review’.  Fans of these projects, especially VeChain, have been calling for its addition to the Coinbase for a long time.  

coins listing on coinbase

Source: Coinbase Blog

Microsoft to build Digital Identity over Bitcoin blockchain

Microsoft unveiled a project that aims to protect user identity on Bitcoin Blockchain. “ION is a public, permission-less, open network anyone can use to create DIDs and manage their Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) state. ION is designed to deliver the scale required for a world of DIDs, while inheriting and preserving the attributes of decentralization present in the Bitcoin blockchain,” announcement revealed.  To tackle the ‘speed’ issue of Bitcoin network, Microsoft wants to build a second layer on top of Bitcoin to support the ION project which could scale to tens of thousands of transactions per second (tps). 

Russia gray zones Cryptocurrencies

china bans antiblockchainIt’s official. In a document titled “On Digital Financial Assets” made available for public comment, Russia’s State Duma put all cryptocurrencies in the gray zone. Individuals are not restricted to own digital currencies, at the moment, however this less than favorable view on cryptos by the government could hamper the growth of crypto space in Russia.

InterWork Alliance Launches to Standardize Token-Powered Ecosystems Worldwide

The InterWork Alliance (IWA) has officially launched with notable names as members including Accenture, Chainlink, Nasdaq, IBM, ING, Microsoft, and more. IWA will operate as a non-profit to create standard frameworks across tokenized ecosystems. “Companies want to be able to create token-based business models without having a platform technology in mind. For this approach to work, standards are urgently needed around defining what a token is and how its contractual behaviors will work,” said InterWork Alliance President Ron Resnick. 

Crypto.com Becomes the First Cryptocurrency Company to Achieve ISO/IEC Certification

CRO tokenPrivacy risk management milestone has been achieved by Crypto.com as it became the first cryptocurrency company to achieve ISO/IEC 27701:2019 certification. “Considered the new standard for data privacy, ISO/IEC 27701:2019 specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continuously improving a Privacy Information Management System (PIMS). It also includes requirements for the assessment and treatment of information security risks specific to the needs of the organization,” according to a blog post by Crypto.com  

Joe Rogan uses Brave browser

Joe Rogan’s fans had the opportunity to learn about the Brave browser. Joe made comments about how big companies are snooping at our information and how he dislikes these practices. He then mentioned that he uses Brave Browser as his preferred browser and DuckDuckGo as his search engine. While DuckDuckGo is not as fast as google – Joe hinted that is a sacrifice he can live with. Brave team has launched an exclusive page on its official website to capitalize on this new found publicity.

Coinbase wants to sell user analytics to DEA and IRS

coinbase best exchangeThose who thought they could evade taxes will soon be reminded of the famous quote attributed to Einstein “Taxes and death”.  Crypto community reacted rather negatively to the news that Coinbase will license its analytics capabilities to the agencies.  “Both the DEA and IRS have expressed interest in awarding contracts to Coinbase for an analytics platform called Coinbase Analytics. The developments come a year after Coinbase’s controversial purchase of intelligence firm Neutrino, and Neutrino is mentioned in the IRS documentation,” according to The Block.

Coinbase to acquire institutional crypto brokerage, Tagomi

In a blog post, Coinbase has confirmed that it is acquiring Tagomi, an institutional grade crypto brokerage.  The acquisition is pending customary closing formalities and regulatory approvals. “We’re proud to build the foundation for the next wave of crypto investors by bringing onboard the first electronic prime brokerage in crypto. Even in a time of uncertainty, we view now more than ever as the time to push forward our mission of building the crypto-economy. We recognize that the journey is only just beginning, but we’re excited to be builders, and we welcome Tagomi to our mission,” the announcement according to Coinbase blog said.

Samsung’s crypto wallet to integrate Gemini crypto exchange trades 

Samsung is marching on its quest to become the blockchain smartphone of choice. Gemini crypto exchange has announced this partnership.  The announcement reads “Gemini is partnering with Samsung Blockchain to power the Samsung Blockchain Wallet. This integration allows Samsung Blockchain Wallet users to connect to the Gemini Mobile App to buy, sell, and trade crypto. Gemini is helping bring crypto to the fingertips of Samsung Blockchain Wallet users in the United States and Canada.”  The feature will be available on the Samsung Galaxy models. 

Adani Ports digitizes supply chain using IBM blockchain

India’s biggest private port operator has signed up with TradeLens, a blockchain-based digital container logistics platform which was developed by Maersk and IBM. “The TradeLens partnership will enable greater ease of doing business across the supply chain by replacing manual, time consuming administrative process with digital procedures powered by blockchain technology,” the news read.  The project is expected to result in millions of dollars in cost savings while helping reduce the delays by reducing the lead time.

Iran to develop national strategy for crypto mining

According to google translated news, Iran President Hassan Rouhani has asked the Central Bank of Iran to create a national strategy on crypto mining.  The translated news indicates that “at the 137th session of the government’s Economic Coordination Headquarters was held on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rouhani, the Ministries of Energy, Communications and Information Technology, as well as the Central Bank, were tasked with following up on the issue of digital currency mining and related framework.”

VeChain partners with Bayer China

Bayer China has partnered with VeChain to increase clinical trial traceability in drugs.  VeChain was selected under the 2019 Bayer China G4A Partnerships Program. The VCBeat revealed that the “challenge was to find a solution that can help improve data transparency, effectiveness, and traceability of drug management in clinical research. Blockchain technology’s high security, traceability, and unchangeable features coincide with such demands. Therefore, this cooperation was finally reached by a blockchain technology company, VeChain.”   

Brave takes a stab at Zoom by introducing Unlimited Videos from within browser

You can now conduct end-to-end encrypted video calls through Brave browser.  No extra software or subscriptions required.  Brave announced the Unlimited Videos from browser feature via Twitter.

You can check out the Video Calling here: https://together.brave.com/

Samsung elevates data protection with new Security Chip solution

Samsung is not only increasing its footprint in the blockchain wallets space, it is also upgrading the data protection features on its devices. Samsung announced that “The new security solution is a state-of-the-art component that offers higher assurance levels than its predecessor’s CC EAL 5+ with an industry-leading CC EAL 6+ certified-hardware secure element, S3FV9RR, and powerful security software. CC EAL 6+ is utilized in applications that demand the most stringent security requirements in the market such as flagship smartphones, e-passports and hardware wallets for cryptocurrency.

India OK with Crypto trading

Indian government’s response to a Right to Information (RTI) petition confirmed that crypto trading is OK in India. Harish BV, Co-Founder of UnoCoin, filed for an RTI and has posted the response on this twitter post.  The RTI response clarified that there are no prohibitions from RBI on banks providing services to crypto exchanges and crypto traders. 

Facebook Libra rebrands as Novi

Facebook is jumping through the hoops to bring its Libra project to life.  The latest effort involves a makeover to the name of the company, Calibra, that is tasked with launching its cryptocurrency Libra.  Calibra will now be called Novi. A post on Facebook’s official page, authored by David Markus, announced “the new name and brand for the digital wallet that will help people send and hold Libra digital currencies.”  The announcement also alludes to the KYC and customer support aspects which indicates that the project might launch sooner than we thought.  “All Novi customers will be verified using government-issued ID, and fraud protections will be built in throughout the app. And, whenever you need it, you’ll have 24/7 access to our chat-based support and customer care team.”

401(k) comes to Bitcoin

Listen up millennials – you now have the option to invest in bitcoin through your 401(k).  BitWage announced that with the help of strategic partnership between Leading Retirement Solutions, Kingdom Trust and Gemini, people will be able to invest in Bitcoin through their 401(k).  The blog post revealed that “What this means is that companies can offer employees the ability to invest traditional/pre-tax and roth/post-tax 401k dollars into Bitcoin.”

Digital Dollar Project releases Whitepaper

The Digital Dollar project continues to push through. A whitepaper has been released by the Digital Dollar Foundation.  The whitepaper describes that “the Project seeks to advance the public interest by future-proofing the dollar for consumers and institutions across both domestic and global economies. Given the US dollar‘s status as the world’s primary reserve currency and exploration of CBDC by other national governments and stakeholder organizations, the Digital Dollar Project sees piloting a US digital dollar across a range of use cases as a critical and prudent initiative for the United States to begin now. “

Goldman Sachs is hosting a conference to discuss Bitcoin

An investor conference titled “Implications of Current Policies for Inflation, Gold and Bitcoin” is scheduled to be hosted on Wednesday the 27th of May, 2020. Mike Dudas tweeted about the event stating ‘It’s happening’. Many crypto circles are saying that this conference will probably warn ‘against’ bitcoin and NOT support it. Nevertheless, to have a mention along with gold and inflation by Goldman Sachs is a sign of great penetration of Bitcoin as an investment ‘alternative’ in the mainstream.

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France tests digital Euro successfully

The tweet that translates in English to “the Banque de France has just successfully tested the use of a #blockchain on May 14 to experiment with the use of a central bank digital currency. Other experiments will be carried out in the coming weeks.” The update posted by Banque-France states that “Since the start of the year, the Banque de France has embarked on an experimental approach to central bank digital currency, aimed at exploring with partners the potential contributions of new technologies to improve the functioning of the financial markets and more particularly interbank regulations (so-called “wholesale” central bank digital currency).” Bank also posted the PDF titledProgress of the central bank digital currency experimentation process launched by the Banque de France” that goes into the detail of this experiment.

Brazil opens investigation on discrimination against crypto brokers

Cade counselor Lenisa Rodrigues Prado decided to proceed with the investigation on Brazil Banks discriminating against crypto brokers.  The lawsuit was filed in December 2019 by an Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain in Brazil when Banco do Brasil closed the current accounts of Atlas. The lawsuit claims abusive practice and anti-competition aspects. This decision to proceed with the proceedings of the lawsuit is a great relief for Brazil and could result in a legal path forward for the crypto service providers to operate in Brazil.

Louisiana may offer license to crypto businesses

Bitlicense may be coming to Louisian soon. A House Bill no. 701 “Provides for the licensing and regulation of virtual currency businesses.”  The bill got unanimous approval from the Louisiana House of Representatives and is making its way to the State Senate.  This move, while a long way to actually creating a path for businesses to conduct business, is at least a step in the right direction.

JP Morgan extends Banking services to Coinbase and Gemini

coinbase best exchangeGemini Exchange for cryptocurrencyI think the big businesses are realizing that they cannot stop Bitcoin and so they are joining forces to reap some profits.  JP Morgan has onboarded two of the most popular exchanges: Coinbase and Gemini.  Crypto fans know all too well that Jamie Dimon is not a great fan of Bitcoin and for his company to change stance to provide these services might hint something big is coming to the space.  WSJ noted as much “What is notable is that JPMorgan was willing to extend services to businesses built around bitcoin. Such businesses have for years been blocked by banks from opening up accounts. Bankers were concerned with exposing themselves to bitcoin’s shadier uses, like money laundering, and the added glare from regulators.”

Reddit Launches Community Tokens on Ethereum Blockchain

Get ready to grab your BRICKS to build a bridge to the MOON. Reddit has launched two tokens on Ethereum Blockchain called BRICKS and MOON. This is the flagship launch starting with 2 sub-reddits.  r/Cryptocurrency and r/FortNiteBR.  BRICKS community points are native to Fortnite subreddit and MOON is native to Cryptocurrency subreddit.  The tokens can be stored on the Reddit Vault.  These coins can be traded freely within the community for any number of things from special memberships to voting privileges.

reddit: the front page of the internet

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National Bank of Ukraine to launch CBDC on Stellar Network

stellar latest updatesThe National Bank of Ukraine’s analytical report calls the concept of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) as the ‘next evolutionary form of money.’   The bank had already run a pilot test in 2018 using Stellar Network and found the network to be ‘functioning in regular mode.’  The issuance of e-hryvnia using blockchain is not an immediate reality, the report observes “Implementation of e-hryvnia is impossible without major investment and time needed to upgrade the payment infrastructure for this instrument. The reason is that Ukraine’s market of payment services is characterized by high competition and concentration as well as the established infrastructure.”  

Visa applies for patent for digital currency

Digital CurrencyIt is a scam until it is not.  Now, Visa wants a piece of the digital currency pie. Visa is aiming to join forces with the US Government on its efforts to introduce Digital Dollar.  The Patent filed by visa describing the digital dollar mechanism explains (pay close attention to the bold text): “A computer-implemented method comprising: receiving, by a central entity computer, a request for digital currency, the request comprising a serial number and a denomination of a physical currency; generating, by the central entity computer, the digital currency for the denomination and linked to the serial number, wherein the generating comprises recording the digital currency on a blockchain; transmitting, by the central entity computer, a notification of the generation of the digital currency; and causing, by the central entity computer, removal of the physical currency from circulation in a fiat currency system.

Bitwala to allow 80,000 customers to buy, hold and earn interest in Bitcoin

Celsius Network has joined hands with Bitwala to bring access to Bitcoin to over 80,000 customers of Bitwala. The news reportsCustomers can purchase small amounts of BTC (as little as €30 \worth) and then hold it in their free Bitcoin interest account, while earning interest payouts each week. The Bitcoin in the accounts is loaned out via the Celsius Network to “trusted” business partners. There’s also an option to easily convert the cryptocurrency back to Euros if needed.”  Bitwala could be the first traditional fiat bank to begin offering interest for holding bitcoin in bank accounts according to the same news.

Veteran Wall St. Investor Paul Tudor Jones endorses Bitcoin

Of course, the big buzz this week was about Paul Tudor Jones’s endorsement for Bitcoin. Paul called Bitcoin the ‘fast horse’, however, he is not directly buying physical bitcoin. He will be dealing with Bitcoin futures, which is still a significant endorsement coming from the traditional capital market side.  Paul is well respected on the Wall St. and is a well known figure. This endorsement will certainly put asset managers on the notice since investors don’t want to be left behind on a lucrative investment opportunity, especially something that was openly endorsed by someone with Paul’s cadre. Forbes reported “The best profit-maximizing strategy is to own the fastest horse,” Jones, the founder and chief executive officer of Tudor Investment Corp., said in a market outlook note he entitled ‘The Great Monetary Inflation.’ “If I am forced to forecast, my bet is it will be Bitcoin.”

72 Billion in equities to move to Axcore Blockchain 

The Options Clearing House (OCC) has signed a deal with Axoni to move $72 Billion equities under its deal to the blockchain and hopes to give greater control of market data to each investor directly.  This move is also expected to help reduce the auditing efforts since the data will all be vetted by the blockchain live.  Forbes reportedThrough a deal signed with New York-based Axoni, the upgraded stock-lending platform, which now has $72 billion in equities on loan across the Americas, will see each participant in a deal run their own nodes on the Axcore blockchain, giving them direct access to the same pool of data in real-time, instead of having to rely on a series of time-consuming messages asking for and receiving data.”  

Telegram update: Free TON community launches TON Crystal token

Given the court case and all, Telegram Crypto project has hit a roadblock.  That has not stopped the community from creating a new project called Free TON.  This project will have its own token called TON Crystal.  “Since we believe in freedom of speech, in information sharing, and in free software, we have decided to give the power back to the community and unanimously proclaim the launch of the Free TON blockchain and the Free TON Crystal (or TON for short) as its native token,” reads the Free TON page. About 150 companies and individuals have already signed the Declaration of Decentralization.  The project already has 2358 validators at the time of this writing against the minimum of 300.  The project was unveiled live on YouTube, for those of you who are interested in watching that event, below is the video.

Chiliz and UFC announce Global Partnership

Blockchain based fan-engagement platform, Chiliz, has entered into an exclusive partnership with UFC.  Chiliz will use its voting and rewards app Socios.com on this partnership.  The announcement disclosed that “Socios.com has partnered with major soccer clubs including FC Barcelona, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain,  Atlético de Madrid, Galatasaray, AS Roma, CA Independiente and esports giants OG to produce club-branded digital assets known as Fan Tokens. Using Chiliz $CHZ, the cryptocurrency that powers Socios.com, Fan Tokens can be bought and sold via the app’s Marketplace or via the world’s first cryptocurrency exchange for sports & entertainment, Chiliz.net. Fan Tokens give the owner the right to vote in club-designated polls and earn once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”

CoinLinked to enable users to purchase any product from any website

A project launched by Wall St. Veteran, Jenny Q. Ta, called CoinLinked will give crypto-holders the ability to buy any product from any ecommerce website in the world.  The press release notes “Our aim is to grow the crypto industry by connecting the traditional marketplaces of today with the digital currencies of tomorrow,” said Jenny Q. Ta, CEO and Founder of CoinLinked. “We’ve designed this platform to vastly simplify the spending of digital assets, making the buying process smoother, faster, more intuitive, and more convenient for today’s crypto-holder. By combining a simple and efficient drop-shipping solution with a robust rewards system, the evolution of Social Networthing® takes on a whole new meaning. Especially in light of this new world we’re entering due to COVID-19, we’re streamlining the entire e-commerce process for people who want to move away from the dangers of spending or holding physical currency and want to purchase essential or other goods with crypto-payments.” 

3 blockchain projects partners with Telangana, India on Blockchain Accelerator 

Telangana Blockchain newsMatic Network, Harmony and æternity have entered into partnership with T-Block Accelerator, an initiative of Telangana Blockchain District. “A first-of-its-kind public blockchain accelerator organised by Telangana government and Tech Mahindra and run by IBC Media, an innovation management company, T-Block Accelerator is aimed at startups that have a strong blockchain use-case; thereby accelerating the startup growth and therefore contributing to the growth of the overall industry,” according to the news.

World Economic Forum releases Blockchain Toolkit

World Economic Forum blockchainWEF released a blockchain tool kit containing modules on many aspects including Digital Identity, Interoperability, Data protection, tax implications, legal and regulatory compliance, Cybersecurity, Risk factors and more.  The executive summary states “Blockchain has the potential to revolutionize how companies compete and stakeholders collaborate in the world of supply chains. As the technology is nascent, the World Economic Forum has published this toolkit to provide guidance for development and deployment of new blockchain solutions.”

Utah Republican Convention uses blockchain voting platform

Utah’s GOP convention which concluded on April 25th has picked their nominees using blockchain election platform, Voatz. Given the lock down restrictions, the use of blockchain based application for people to cast their vote from the convenience of their smartphones is timely. Voatz has been used before in Massachusetts, Oregon, Denver and now in Utah. Voatz website invites people to “use your smartphone to vote remotely and anonymously, and verify that your vote was counted correctly.”

Sony develops Rights Management System for digital content using Blockchain

In a press release, Sony announced “the development of a rights management system for digital content that utilizes blockchain technology*1. This new system is based on Sony and Sony Global Education’s previously developed system for authenticating, sharing, and rights management of educational data, and additionally features functionality for processing rights-related information.” Sony wants to continue to invest in the potential of blockchain.  In the same press release they indicated that “Sony Group is also considering innovative ways to make use of blockchain technology for information management and data distribution in a host of different fields. Through the technological development and commercialization of blockchains, including with this new system, Sony will continue exploring the possibilities that blockchain technology holds for Sony Group’s diverse and wide-ranging business domains.”

Target and General Mills join Hedera blockchain through Coupon Bureau

HederaHashgraph-ethereum-killerCoupon Bureau, a non-profit industry managed data exchange platform has joined Hedera Hashgraph blockchain to prevent coupon fraud.  With the Coin Bureau on board – it brings with it brand names like Target and General Mills onto Hedera indirectly.  “The main work that the Coupon Bureau, whose advisory committee includes members from Target, General Mills, and GS1, does is to work with leading CPG manufacturers coupon issuing brands, as well as with accelerators that provide access to point-of-sale systems at leading retailers that represent almost 70 percent of the US retail market,” Forbes reported.

Andreessen Horowitz announces $515 Million Crypto Fund II

“Investments made in internet technologies over the last several decades have given rise to products and services used everyday by billions of people, including messaging, video conferencing, ecommerce and everything in between. We think it’s important to keep investing in the long-term development of the internet to address the needs of the coming decades. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new $515 million fund that will be used to invest in crypto networks and businesses,” the announcement disclosed. The fund will work in the areas of Next Generation Payments, Modern Store of Value, Decentralized Finance, New ways for creators to Monetize and Web 3.

Zoom integrates crypto payments to help small businesses and entrepreneurs

Zoom integrates cryptocurrency“Zoom SmartSessions allow instructors, therapists and any service provider to socially distribute and manage registration, payments, and access to their services offered via Zoom,” thanks to the 2key SmartSessions app integrated into Zoom. SmartSessions will integrate smart contracts seamlessly into Zoom sessions so that only those who have paid for the session are able to join. Although the payment is in crypto, users can purchase the crypto with the credit card directly. Due to the paywall the recent Zoom video bombing will not be an issue for those setting up a payment to enter, according to Zoom. 

Dole to implement blockchain on all Dole divisions by 2025

“Implement blockchain product-tagging technology and/or advanced traceability solutions in all Dole divisions by 2025,” read Dole’s Sustainability report. The report further claims that blockchain helps cut the average time in investigating food safety investigations. “Dole has teamed up with Walmart, IBM and other partners to demonstrate the potential for blockchain – a technology that has been used by financial institutions for years – to bring about a step change in food safety,” report said.

Bitcon mining chip producer, Ebang, files for an IPO

how to mine bitcoinEbang International Holdings Inc., has filed an IPO application. Company hopes to raise $100 Million through the IPO. The application states that the company will use proceeds to “strive to expand into the upstream and downstream markets of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry value chain to diversify our offerings and achieve a more stable financial performance. We intend to start with the cryptocurrency mining and farming business and explore applying blockchain technology into non-cryptocurrency industries, such as the financial services and healthcare industries. We believe our extensive experience in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry positions us well in our future endeavors.”  Company has reported net losses of $11.8 Million in 2018 and $41.1 Million in 2019, respectively.

Renaissance Technologies, $75B hedge fund, gets OK for bitcoin futures

The Medallion Funds, operated by Renaissance Technologies has got the approval to conduct Bitcoin Futures transactions. The form filed with the SEC shows reads “The Medallion Funds are permitted to enter into bitcoin futures transactions, which Renaissance will limit to cash-settled futures contracts traded on the CME.” The Medallion Funds has been the talk of the town with their massive ROI performance. It is interesting that the same fund is now entering the Bitcoin Futures market.

Chinese Digital Yuan pilot list includes McDonald’s, Subway and Starbucks

starbucks bitcoinChina is moving forward with its pilot of Chinese Digital Yuan. They have released an initial list of 19 companies to participate – including – Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway etc.,  The race for digital currency has been heating up between the US and China although the US seems to have some catching up to do.  The US has recently hinted that they will introduce digital dollars to distribute the stimulus payouts.

Vertalo and tZero tokenize $300 Million Real Estate on Tezos Blockchain

Advantage Blockchain partners with Vertalo to tokenize a $300 Million using tZero platform using Tezos blockchain.   The parties involved in this transaction include Advantage Blockchain, Prime Trust, tZERO ATS, and Vertalo, in addition to Tezos blockchain technology. Vertalo stated that “by partnering with Advantage, Vertalo will lay the groundwork for commercial real estate’s tokenization and technology infrastructure.” This combination of Real Estate & Blockchain could open a $228 Trillion Real Estate market to benefit from blockchain to reduce costs and create more reliable and instantly verifiable real estate contracts.

Bundle aims to be Venmo of South Africa, a Binance spinoff

Binance spinoff, Bundle, is looking to become Venmo of South Africa to bridge the traditional economy with the Bitcoin economy. Forbes reportedThe new app lets users send, receive and spend bitcoin, ether, and Nigerian naira with little more than the recipient’s phone number. Unlike Square though, Bundle will also let users spend Binance coin (BNB), the exchange’s native cryptocurrency, which has been doled out to loyal and active traders using its crypto exchange. In the near future they’ll be able to spend and (more importantly) save Binance U.S. dollars (BUSD), stablecoins backed by U.S. dollars and regulated in the United States.”

US to issue TRILLION Dollar Coins & introduce Digital Dollar soon

Digital DollarThe Automatic Boost to Communities Act, ABC Act, proposes paying Americans $2000 per month for 12 months in Digital Dollars directly issued to individual’s eCash Wallets.  The ABC Act proposes to issue two $1 Trillion Dollar Coins (yes, Trillion with a T) and another trillion in case needed, so in total 3 Trillion Dollars coins. The race to issue the Central Bank backed Digital currency is picking pace.

First Tesla and now BMW announce blockchain initiatives 

The BMW Group initiated the PartChain project to ensure seamless trace-ability of components – more or less “at the push of a button” – and provide immediate data transparency in complex supply chains for all partners involved going forward,” an official press release from BMW stated. BMW had piloted a blockchain program in 2019 for front lights and are now rolling out PartChain to bring more parts to blockchain and encouraging its vendors to take part.  “PartChain enables tamper-proof and consistently verifiable collection and transaction of data in our supply chain,” said Andreas Wendt, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Purchasing and Supplier Network. Recently, Tesla was in the news for piloting blockchain to transform the application process for cargo release. 

South Korea proposes to introduce Blockchain in budget

The South Korea Government plans to include Blockchain-related projects in their annual budget. Translated news shows “”The size of the blockchain-related industry is expected to grow by more than 80% per year on average, and is competitively supporting foreign countries to preoccupy the market that is attracting attention as a promising technology in the future,” said the former minister, “The technological gap with developed countries such as the United States and Europe is not large for 2.3 years, so it is now a golden time for pursuit.

Google removes 49 Chrome Extensions stealing crypto-wallet keys

Google has removed 49 Chrome extensions from the Web Store that posed as legitimate cryptocurrency wallet apps but contained malicious code that stole crypto-wallet private keys, mnemonic phrases, and other raw secrets,” an exclusive article on ZDNet reported. The malicious extensions mimicked the real wallets and monitored the transactions including viewing private keys. These imposter extensions may have been targeting high-value wallets to steal funds from, according to the article.

China piloting the Central Bank Digital Currency by paying salaries in May

Construction Industry and Agriculture departments will be the first to pilot the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) as early as May 2020. Translated news indicates that “The official letter requires that the enterprises and institutions and various management committees in each district of Xiangcheng District should sign a digital currency distribution agreement with the wage distribution bank, install a digital wallet for all staff (except retirees), and include transportation subsidies in the monthly salary. 50% will be issued through digital currency.”  The US is following closely to issue its own Digital Dollar to make sure it stays relevant in the CBDC race.

Facebook’s Libra revamps to please authorities

Facebook Libra paypalReaders of CryptoTapas know that we have predicted that Facebook’s Libra will launch in spite of backlash from the government authorities all over the world.  That prophecy is likely to come to fruition. Facebook’s Libra continues to bend its back to please the authorities to get closer to launch. According to Reuters “Libra will be linked to individual national currencies and overseen by global watchdogs in a scaled-back revamp it hopes will win regulatory approval.” This change in approach is a direct result of the backlash that Facebook has faced from government authorities all over the world, including the USA.  The launch date continues to be a moving target, now scheduled for November. 

3iq Corp launches first public bitcoin fund on a major stock exchange 

After Ontario Securities Commission rules in its favor to start the Bitcoin Fund, 3iq has finally launched its Bitcoin Fund after a successful IPO. Gemini will act as the custodian for 3iq Bitcoin Fund. “’The Bitcoin Fund’ just launched on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This is the first public bitcoin fund listed on a major global stock exchange. Proud that @Gemini was selected as the custodian for this fund. Congrats to @3iq_corp for making history!” Tyler Winklevoss tweeted.  3iq will use an index based on performance of Bitcoin using the data from top exchanges: Binance, Bitflyer, Bitstamp, Coinbase, Gemini, Itbit, and Kraken.

Bitcoin gets a shot at mass adoption with Visa

The mainstream adoption of Bitcoin is getting a boost from credit card giant Visa Inc., which joined startup Fold to offer a card that earns rewards denominated in the cryptocurrency instead of airline miles or cash,” reported Bloomberg.  Visa’s stance toward cryptocurrency has evolved over time.  With Fold partnership – users will have the option to receive rewards of up to 10% in bitcoin. 

Reddit is experimenting with point system based on Ethereum blockchain

Everyone is going at the ‘possibility’ of Reddit introducing a point system based on ERC20 (Ethereum blockchain) on Android (at this point).  At this point, it is not clear as to who has access and when this will be rolled out on a broad level. A reddit post garnered a lot of discussion and crypto outlets picked on the reddit post and have been circulating it as ‘news’. At this point, the tokens do not seem to have any trade value or exchange value outside the Reddit ecosystem.  We have to wait for official confirmation and rollout at this point.

UPDATE: Reddit’s blockchain-based points system confirmed to be on Ethereum, and lot more! from CryptoCurrency

Fast Campus launches Bite Degrees on ICON’s Broof 

“The fast campus introduced ‘broof’ for the issuance of the bytedigree certificate, which increased the reliability and work efficiency of the certificate,” according to a medium post.  According to twitter from Markus of C-Rep launch on Broof is expected to help with: “1. Diversification of contents of Byte Degree (certificate); 2. Reducing unnecessary operating resources; Reasonable cost.”  Byte Degree on Fast Campus is already leveraged by Amazon, Kakao, etc.,

‘Skyscanner’ for bitcoin launched by oobit

“Using AI, the platform compares the best prices to buy bitcoin—aggregating the data, much like the same way that Skyscanner does for flights,” Bloomberg reported. Oobit has recently partnered with coinbase for the ‘wallet and custodial services.’  Oobit is also simplifying the KYC requirements – users who complete their KYC with oobit will receive a pass that can be used as KYC on all platforms that have tie ups with Oobit. 

Binance buys Coinmarketcap for $400 Million

Binance is the best exchangeBiggest news in the crypto space last week is probably Binance’s acquisition of Coinmarketcap.  The fastest growing (and probably one of the largest crypto exchanges by trading volume) has now bought the site that undoubtedly garners most crypto traffic.  Some crypto enthusiasts and veterans are vary of this transaction citing ‘conflict of interest’ on how Coinmarketcap can be impartial when it is owned by the exchange.  While we have to wait and see how those intricacies will work out in the future – it is quite encouraging to see these massive deals in the crypto space. For one, the guys who finance these deals will have done their due diligence and expect that this investment is worth it based on where we are headed!  That is what excites us.

tBTC could bridge Bitcoiners onto Ethereum DApps

A project called tBTC is seeking to forge a truce between the two by allowing Bitcoin owners access to the financial applications that run on Ethereum,” Bloomberg reported.  While Bitcoin will forever claim the first blockchain title, Ethereum will claim as the first smart contract enabled blockchain platform.  While the bitcoiners and ethereum fans have disagreed as to which blockchain is superior – there is no debate that while the smart contract reign could be stolen from Ethereum by a better project – that cannot be said for Bitcoin as it will continue to remain the ‘first to start blockchain revolution’.  Now tBTC could join these two networks if it executes its plans.

A lawsuits filed against Binance, KuCoin, TRON, and many others

Roche Freedman Law firm, the same firm that fought against Craig Wright and Bitfinex, has filed 11 lawsuits against top exchanges and their principals. These lawsuits name, separately, “Binance, Civic, BProtocol, Status, Block.one, KayDex, Quantstamp, BiBox, TRON Foundation, KuCoin, HDR Global Trading (that is, the BitMEX exchange), and many of their principals, including crypto notables such as Brendan Blumer, Dan Larimer, Vinny Lingham, Binance founder Changpeng (“CZ”) Zhao, and BitMEX co-founder and CEO Arthur Hayes,” according to TheBlockCrypto.  While these cases may take a while to be heard – the very fact that this prestigious firm is going after all of them together seems indicative of some underlying issues that might surface from a Securities law perspective.  We will have to wait and see what transpires from these lawsuits.

Shanghai Gas collaborates with VeChain to rollout Blockchain Energy As-a-Service 

VechainAccording to a press release, Shanghai Gas announced that they will “collaborate further with VeChain to develop and roll out a blockchain-enabled energy project. The partnership aims to optimize business processes, reduce operation costs, improve the supply chain efficiency and build a trust-free “Energy-as-a-Service” ecosystem.”  This decision was made after a successful pilot project.  “As a result, the solution significantly eliminates information barriers in the supply chain, contributes to a transparent product process, and provides a reliable database for LNG risk management,” reported the press release. 

Brave partners with Binance to facilitate trading from your browser

brave-logoSoon you can trade cryptocurrency right from your browser, that is if your Browser is Brave Browser. Brave announcedThe new Binance widget in the new tab page of the Brave desktop browser makes Brave the only browser that offers integrated functionality for buying and trading cryptocurrency. With the Binance widget, Brave users can access the Binance.com and Binance.US (for US-based users) sites, buy and sell crypto assets, view asset balances, and obtain deposit addresses all without leaving the browser.”  Brave is the only browser that protects user data, avoids tracking and pays users for their attention, and now they are integrating trading of cryptocurrency.

Stimulus package flirts with US Digital Dollar 

This week the US Government has approved a $2 Trillion dollar stimulus package to keep the economy afloat in the midst of COVID chaos. The first draft of this stimulus package included mention of the US Digital Dollar that required the banks to hold digital wallets for the citizens so that these payments could be sent directly to the wallets. However, the digital dollar was removed from the final bill that went through the house.  The fact that the US is considering the digital dollar is an indication that the US will not let China win the digital currency race. More to come for sure.

Russia proposes to ban Cryptocurrency

china bans antiblockchainCrypto space has become a staple for drama. On one hand, the US proposes a digital dollar on top of blockchain and on the other Russia proposes a ban on Cryptocurrencies citing security, money laundering and investor security as reasons. Forbes called it ‘Blow to bitcoin’, however, we think Bitcoin will do just fine. After all, there are 195 other countries in the world besides Russia. Translated news reveals “the bill directly formulates a ban on the issue, as well as on the organization of circulation of cryptocurrency, and introduces liability for violation of this ban.”

Binance raising money to fight COVID19

Binance is the best exchangeCrypto Against COVID, an initiative from Binance, is raising funds to fight COVID Pandemic. Binance Charity Foundation is looking to raise $4 million of which $1 Million is targeted from Crypto communities, according to Forbes. The charity is going to match all donations made to the fund.

BRAVE and TAP Network Partnership brings brand names to blockchain

brave-logoBrave browser users can now redeem their Basic Attention Tokens (BAT) for real world rewards from over 250000 brands. “The collaboration makes token utility redemption a reality for Brave users, and connects brands with an engaged consumer audience while respecting their privacy,” read the announcement. These brands include names such as Amazon, Apple, American Airlines, Delta, Hotel.com, Uber and Starbucks, etc.,  Lot of crypto enthusiasts have raved this partnership as ‘one step closer’ to mass adoption.

EARN IT act makes case for blockchain’s privacy feature stronger

While the world is grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic, few senators are busy carrying out ‘a sneaky attempt to end encryption is worming its way through Congress’, according to The Verge. While the bill mainly focuses on child exploitation – it is ironic coming from a Senator of a State where there is no ‘legal age’ for marriage if the girl is pregnant. “For starters, it’s not clear that companies have to “earn” what are already protections provided under the First Amendment: to publish, and to allow their users to publish, with very few legal restrictions. But if the EARN IT Act were passed, tech companies could be held liable if their users posted illegal content,” The Verge reported.  Imagine a technology that takes away middlemen so that the government cannot go after a single person or entity to ‘shut-down’? Wait – we have that in blockchain technology.

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Bitcoin soars amidst fear of inflation with Feds declaring a 700 Billion QE

MarketThe US has slashed its interest rate to almost ‘0’ and has a plan to spend $700 Billion in quantitative easing to save the economy that has been crippled by Coronavirus. Crypto enthusiasts have all read this has an impending inflation doom. This sentiment has caused bitcoin to retrace quickly from its bottom below $4000 to coast all the way to $6000.

Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to ‘0’

The Federal Reserve in an effort to calm the dampening economy has taken an aggressive step by slashing the interest rates to 0.  It also announced a 700 Billion dollar Quantitative Easing Program. The US dollar may lose more value to inflation in the coming decade than it has lost in the last decade.  Overall, the US Dollar has already lost over 97% of its value over the course of 100 years. In the last 10 years alone, the US dollar lost 16% value to inflation. Crypto market responded swiftly to this news by pumping the bitcoin hard for close to 2 hours by $400 higher.  This move from the Federal Reserve is making the government intervention weaker since it doesn’t have a lot of options to stimulate the economy if the Coronavirus doesn’t slow down or an actual economic depression sets in.

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Coronavirus and Plus Token dump act in tandem to create crypto sell off

Plus Token scammers had in their possession over 180,000 Bitcoins and over 6 million Ethereum tokens.  They were willing to get rid of their loot at any price. When they started dumping on the market – the coronavirus scare had already created panic.  Stock market lost historic single day percentage points and the crypto market followed suit, only more furiously. Bitcoin briefly hit $4100 during the sell off and quickly found a support around $5300.  We expect the dumping course of Plus scam to run until end of March while the impact of Coronavirus to run until end of May.

Coinbase along with ICE, DoJ, Walmart used Facial recognition

coinbase best exchangeCrypto fans found Coinbase’s name on the list that they would despise.  Buzzfeed’s investigative post exposed that ClearView’s Facial Recognition App has been used by ICE, Walmart, the NBA and Coinbase.  Buzzfeed reports “For a company that maintains its tools are for law enforcement, Clearview’s client list includes a startling number of private companies in industries like entertainment (Madison Square Garden and Eventbrite), gaming (Las Vegas Sands and Pechanga Resort Casino), sports (the NBA), fitness (Equinox), and even cryptocurrency (Coinbase).”

Warm weather is expected to reduce the coronavirus impact. We surely hope so. We don’t want to miss the bitcoin halvening marathon in panic.

India’s ban on cryptocurrency trading is lifted by the Supreme Court

Indian GovernmentSupreme Court of India has squashed RBIs restrictions on cryptocurrency trading.  As readers may remember, Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has imposed restrictions on any financial institution that caters to individuals or businesses dealing in cryptocurrencies.  This forced a lot of up and coming businesses in the crypto space to shut their doors. Some popular exchanges had to leave India to find a new home in Malta while others had to simply shut their doors. The ruling from Supreme Court comes as much needed relief for India’s crypto scene. We could see new exchanges sprout in India in the coming years and bring a new layer of liquidity to the space from the world’s second most populated country.

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South Korea makes Crypto fully legal

south korea cryptoAsian media outlets have reported that “The passing of the amendment signifies the official entry of cryptocurrency trading and holding into the legal system for the South Korean government.”  As long as the financial institutes comply with the reporting requirements – they will now have the blessing of the government to offer crypto trading to its customers. The law is set to be in full effect by September 2021 and “Exchanges, trusts, wallet companies, and ICO are now required by law to have a real-name verification partnership with an approved Korean bank.”

France recognizes Bitcoin as legal currency

France crypto newsIn a rare court decision coming out of France, Bitcoin has been given the status of “legal currency.”  LesEchos reported that “Once judges have considered bitcoin as a fungible asset, that is, as money, bitcoin lending falls under the “consumer loan” (not to be confused with consumer credit), which transfers ownership property loaned to the borrower during the term of the loan. And so, the bitcoins Cash belongs to the borrower, like the dividend to the shareholder, believes the Court.

Facebook to change its strategy

Facebook Libra paypalIn an effort to woo the regulators to approve its operations, Facebook’s Libra is changing its strategy to include government issued digital currency to its ‘basket of assets’. The question on how the asset pegged currency will be looked at by the SEC is not clear. Bloomberg reportedFacebook Inc. and its partners are considering redesigning the Libra cryptocurrency project so that the network accepts multiple coins, including those issued by central banks, in an effort to woo reluctant global regulators and rebuild momentum for the plan.”  With China’s economy taking a beating with coronavirus – Facebook’s Libra could be the medium that takes a digital US dollar to the global masses through Facebook’s messenger and Whatsapp platforms.

New Zealand to fix the ‘unfavorable’ treatment of cryptocurrencies

Addressing Goods & Sales Tax (GST) issues, New Zealand plans to fix the issues around unfavorable treatment of Cryptocurrencies.  They have dedicated a whole chapter on Cryptocurrencies in the Policy Issues document released this week.  In the section, New Zealand acknowledges that cryptocurrencies are a fast-growing sector and GST policies should accommodate, rather than oppose, this innovation. The summary page showcases this:  

Tax Invoice Requirement New Zealand                   

It is refreshing to see that some government agencies are taking proactive steps to make room for cryptos in the economy instead of labeling them as ‘illegal’.

Bank of England chief cashier signals ‘central bank digital currency’

“We need to think as an institution about how to position ourselves to make sure society still has a broad range of payments that it can use with confidence…” said Sarah John, chief cashier of Bank of England, commenting about Central Bank Digital Currency. Sarah John, who is responsible for issuing banknotes at the Bank, said it “absolutely is really important central banks think about that as an option” ‘as the private sector steals a march on regulators’, Telegraph reported.

Tagomi & Shopify join the Facebook’s Libra Association

Libra CoinTechCrunch was the first to report that Crypto Fund, Tagomi, is joining Facebook’s Libra Association.  “We are excited to welcome Tagomi to the Libra Association. Tagomi joins a growing group of Libra Association members committed to achieving a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of a global payment system that breaks down financial barriers for billions of people” says Libra’s head of policy and communications Dante Disparte, according to TechCrunch update.

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JP Morgan’s 74 page report elaborates of Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies

Is Blockchain moving into mainstream?  JP Morgan’s Perspective Series tackled in its latest edition.  It is ironic that a company that despised bitcoin only a year or so ago now has a dedicated publication series on blockchain and cryptocurrencies.  In this new edition, JP Morgan’s views indicate that blockchain is here to stay and Bitcoin continues to be undisputed leader of cryptocurrencies. “Trade Finance and Payments blockchain solutions offer the most incremental efficiencies in the banking sector relative to other use cases, but widespread implementation is at least three to five years away.  We see the long-term potential for Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) to transform banks’ business models by providing efficient and resilient information transfer and storage once scale has been achieved,” reports the publication.

USPS’s page on blockchain

United States Postal Service (USPS) has a dedicated page on blockchain benefits for supply chain.  The page talks about Blockchain’s role in Supply Chain, whether blockchain is the right solution for supply chain, 4 ways to use blockchain for supply chain.  Blockchain/crypto enthusiasts are happy about a government agency’s education page on blockchain.  

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Cryptocurrencies explained by Jim Parsons on Simpsons

Whether the crypto will become mainstream anytime soon is an ongoing debate, here is what is not a debate – Jim Parsons has a knack for explaining anything, albeit in a nerdy way. His voice finds space on The Simpsons explaining crypto which is making waves in the crypto world. Watch for yourself.

India will have voting on blockchain

We have only heard negative news from India when it came to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, however, Government has always been clear that it is not against blockchain. Indian Government That rhetoric is now strengthened with Election Commissioner declaring that EC is working on a blockchain technology solution to account for ‘lost votes’. It is estimated that over 450 Million people migrate from their hometowns for various reasons and most of them never change their voting registration or exercise their voting rights due to the hassle of travel.  The blockchain technology solution is expected to link Aadhaar Card (India’s social security number) with the voting ID so that people can vote from anywhere in India without having to travel. Sunil Arora, chief election commissioner, said that “Election commission was close to solving this problem,” thanks to the blockchain technology solution. 

Enjin Platform is now live on Ethereum

According to the official announcement, Enjin’s gaming platform that enables users to trade gaming and non-gaming assets is now live.  “Our platform is designed to integrate seamlessly into new and existing games alike, providing a competitive edge to studios of all sizes and across all genres,” said Maxim Blagov, CEO of Enjin.  Enjin’s platform is expected to give access to tools that enable developers, players and anyone who want to trade digital assets over the gaming platform.  

Sweden to launch digital currency pilot

Adding to the growing list of countries looking into issuing their own digital currencies, Sweden is negotiating an agreement with Accenture to create a digital currency pilot program, Reuters reported. This project will be used to understand the technology better and understand its scope, benefits and pitfalls.  

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Fidelity acquires stake in cryptocurrency exchange

Fidelity continues to steal limelight in the crypto space. You have noticed that Fidelity’s crypto news has been covered many times before and it has yet again made headlines. Bloomberg reported that “Fidelity International has acquired a HK$110.5 million ($14.2 million) stake in the operator of OSL, one of Asia’s biggest digital-asset platforms for professional investors.”  This transaction makes Fidelity 5.6% owner of the equity in BC Technology Group Ltd., one of Asia’s biggest digital asset platforms.

Coinbase becomes a Visa principal member

coinbaseCoinbase has announced that they have “become the first pure-play crypto company to be approved as a Visa principal member. Visa membership will enable us to further improve the customer experience, making it easier to spend cryptocurrency in everyday situations.” In spite of rants from the community about its high fees, Coinbase is indeed helping set the stage for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.  It’s crypto exchange platform is probably one of the best on-ramps for anyone dabbling with cryptos for the first time. With Visa card addition – Coinbase has set another milestone in making crypto mainstream.

SEC might reconsider the restrictions posed on Blockchain ICOs

sec crypto regulationsHester Pierce the commissioner of SEC, proposed to SEC to ease the restrictions over blockchain ICOs in the coming years. “I see this proposal as a path forward that achieves the objective of getting token purchasers the information they need, but it is also just a sketch – a work in progress – that requires productive engagement from the public.” The steps are also being taken to make sure the ICO scammers are punished.

40 Banks in Germany applies for Crypto Custody

German Banks crypto custodyAs per the German local newspapers, many banks have applied for Crypto Custody so that they can store, sell as well as let the customers buy crypto, just like stocks and bonds. Names of the banks haven’t been revealed but they are looking to make Germany a leading country to prefer when it comes to Crypto. The Head of crypto banking at Solarisbank, Michael Offermann Said: “We have been dealing intensively with the topic of crypto custody for one and a half years,”. “The new regulation in the new Money Laundering Act is a good time to start practically. After all, we are not a research institute, but a commercial bank.”

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US Air Force ties up with Blockchain Company

A contract was signed between US Air Force and Fluree, a blockchain data management company, to make the communications within the military more secure and fast.

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Highway Administration to explore Blockchain to Transform Transportation

Federal Highway Administration is exploring the role of AI and Blockchain to transform the transportation space.  According to the announcementBlockchain technology also has the potential to transform the connected and automated vehicle industry or freight logistics providing a platform to share a variety of information from the infrastructure and vehicles in a secure manner.”

IMF leans toward trialing with Digital Currency in smaller nations

According to news, “IMF suggested that a digital currency underpinned by blockchain would boost the resources and capacity of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), a region that comprises St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Anguilla, Antigua, and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St Vincent and Grenadines.”  IMFs view to to trial the Central Bank Digital Currency in small nations to learn the implications and potential issues.

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DMCC Signs an Agreement with Al Khaleej Sugar and Universa Blockchain

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), signed a membership agreement with Al Khaleej Sugar and blockchain company Universa to trade sugar in a more rapid and secure way.  The agreement was signed by DMCC, Chief Operating Officer, Feryal Ahmadi,  Al Khaleej Sugar Managing Director Jamal Al Ghurair and Universa’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Alexander Borodich in Dubai on 10th of February 2020.  Alexander Borodich said, “Establishing a new sugar platform is a perfect example of how blockchain can be used to increase efficiency and transparency on an already secure platform,”

LINE’s Digital Currency to launch in Japan

Line gets crypto licenseLINE Corporation is launching its Digital Currency, LINK, in Japan. “The total amount of LINK to be issued is limited to 1 billion.LINK will be distributed as user rewards, without an ICO,” according to their official website: Link.Network  Out of the total 1 billion LINKs, 800 Million will be distributed as rewards and 200 Million will be “managed by LINE Tech Plus, the issuer of LINK, as a reserve.”

Binance’s Futures Market Maker Program and Binance USD 

binance logoBinance is making news with its Futures offering and tying it to their Market Maker Program. Market Maker Program will offer the traders a negative fee on selected pairs. Binance had issued Binance USD in partnership with Paxos.  Users of the platform can avail BUSD through a collateral of their crypto in Binance wallet. “BUSD is a stablecoin backed by the US dollar, which was launched as a partnership between Binance and Paxos. In September 2019, Binance introduced the stablecoin as collateral against widely traded cryptocurrencies such as BTC and ETH. According to Binance, BUSD collateral will be available on its futures platform to provide greater variety for users.”  



BTCS to launch Digital Asset Data Analytics Platform

‘The First Blockchain Based US Public Company, BTCS, is expanding its business model by launching Digital Asset Data Analytics Platform.  In a press release, company has announced that “[BTCS] is expanding its business model with the development of a consumer-facing digital-asset data analytics platform that enables users to connect multiple digital asset exchanges and wallets to aggregate portfolio holdings into a single seamless platform to view and analyse performance, risk metrics, and potential tax implications.”  The Platform is expected to launch by the second half of 2020.

India Government Think Tank releases “Blockchain: The India Strategy”

Indian GovernmentNITI Aayog of India Government has released Part 1 of what it terms as a ‘two-part strategy’, titled “Blockchain: The India Strategy” has been welcomed by the Blockchain veterans and Crypto communities as it indicates the shift in tide of ‘Anti-Crypto nation’ to that of a Nation with Blockchain Strategy.  This paper sums up the experiences of NITI Aayog in implementing Blockchain systems and is expected to be used as a pre-read for implementing blockchain systems in India.

Singapore grants full license to Blockchain Capital Markets Platform

iSTOX has come out of sandbox mode to a fully licensed operation on Feb 1st. According to the news, this license means “ the removal of restrictions for the platform, including limitations on the size of issuances it can host and the number of investors that can be onboarded.” ‘Designed by blockchain-based infrastructure firm ICHX Tech, iSTOX uses blockchain and smart contract technology in its platform infrastructure, such that all issuances can be bought and sold using fiat currency more efficiently.’

Telegram ICO: U.S. Judge seeks CFTC lawyers

Forbes reported on 3rd Feb, 2020, that “The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sought a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Telegram and TON Issuer Inc. (collectively, “Telegram”), enjoining them from offering, selling, delivering or distributing “Grams” to any person or entity. The SEC argued that Telegram planned to “floo[d] United States markets with billions of . . . Grams through an unregistered offering of securities.”  On 7th February, US Judge has asked lawyers from CFTC to provide an opinion on the matter ahead of the scheduled hearing on 18th Februaury.

France outlines a path for Stablecoin Payment Systems

Denis Beau, First Deputy Governor of Bank of France, outlined three tasks for regulatory authorities to respond to stablecoin payment systems: i) avoid undue risks to the payment systems, ii) coordinate with regulatory framework and iii) keep an open mind.  Speaking at a conference, he stated that just because a new system has benefits doesn’t mean we overlook the material risks associated with the project.



USDA’s FSIS to utilize Blockchain to monitor export certification challenges

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the US Department of Agriculture is looking to develop its own proof of concept to address the concerns around export certification challenges. In its Annual Plan document, FSIS stated that one of its goals is to “develop a proof of concept for blockchain management as a potential mechanism for addressing export certification challenges and identifying greater efficiencies in the export certification process.”

Telangana State, India, starts T-Block a blockchain focused Incubator

Telangana State is inviting applications for its T-Block, Blockchain focused incubator.  Jayesh Ranjan, principal secretary ITE&C department said that “T-Block Incubator will be the torch-bearer to multiple future blockchain accelerators in the country,” according to Times Of India news post. The Telangana Government has joined hands with the tech giant Tech-Mahindra to carry out this initiative.  

Gemini is now integrated with Trading view

“We are excited to announce that Gemini is now integrated with TradingView, a platform that provides real-time information and market insights to millions of traders every day. Gemini customers can now trade with Gemini using the TradingView platform,” read the announcement on Gemini website. According to the stats from 2017, TradingView enjoys 3 million active users per month which should be significantly more by now.  

Bakkt aims to turn your rewards points into a wallet you can spend anywhere

BakktWe are about to see a massive revolution in the rewards programs.  Bakkt is now planning to rollout a plan to turn the reward points into ‘cash/BTC’ that users can actually spend.  After purchasing Bridge2, a specialist that handles rewards redemptions for America’s biggest sponsors, Bakkt wants to make claiming rewards centralized, easy and in cash. “Loyalty points you don’t even know you have—the average American has more than a dozen rewards programs—are suddenly as spendable as the bucks in your checking account, just by scanning your rewards app at the checkout counter. What’s more, you can even get cash for video game points you could use only to buy, say, a sword to make your team mightier, and trade points for your Bitcoin on the same wallet,” according to Fortune.  

Lightning Labs raises $10 Million to build Visa like bitcoin network

Jack Dorsey backed Lightning Labs has raised $10 Million to build payments network similar to that of Visa network to make Bitcoin  (and other crypto) usable in day-to-day transactions. Lightning Labs co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Stark. “We’re building the Visa network for bitcoin,” said Stark, “But what I think is powerful, is unlike Visa, anybody can build on top of it.”  



Power Ledger wins contract with one of Italy’s largest green energy utilities

Jemma poweredger team“Power Ledger’s technology will be used to explore a number of new services for Alperia’s commercial and residential customers such as energy trading, origin tracking, measurement and verification as well as reporting of renewable energy certificates,” according to news published on Power Ledger’s official site. “Italy has been leading the adoption of renewable energy globally and is one of eight EU members to commit to phasing out coal by 2030. Leveraging Alperia’s customer base, Power Ledger’s technology will help demonstrate how the country can rapidly progress its green energy targets,” said Power Ledger Co-founder and Executive Chairman Dr Jemma Green.

Federal Reserve eyes Digital Currency

According to Reuters, Federal Reserve Governor, Lael Brainard, said that Federal Reserve is looking into the digital currency issuance possibilities.  “The Federal Reserve is looking at a broad range of issues around digital payments and currencies, including policy, design and legal considerations around potentially issuing its own digital currency” according to the Reuters article.

Six Central banks to hold digital currency meeting

The central banks of Britain, the euro zone, Japan, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland are expected to meet in April to discuss the digital currency aspects, according to Reuters. While most of these central banks have not commented on whether or not they are issuing their own Digital currency, the meeting is expected to discuss challenges of rapid digitalization and government readiness.

SEC proposes 3 year safe-harbor period for token sales

sec commisionSubject to certain conditions, SEC proposed a 3 year safe-harbor period for token sales.  Hesther M Price, one of the 5 commissioners of SEC, has penned the proposal that is live on SEC site. “This safe harbor is intended to provide Initial Development Teams with a three-year time period within which they can facilitate participation in, and the development of, a functional or decentralized network, exempt from the registration provisions of the federal securities laws so long as the conditions are met.  The safe harbor is also designed to protect token purchasers by requiring disclosures tailored to the needs of the purchasers and preserving the application of the anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws.”

Bitcoin halving may happen 3 weeks sooner, maybe even in April!

According to the Binance Bitcoin halving tracker, Bitcoin Halving may happen in 91 days, putting the halving date on end of April or first week of May, instead of end of May as was anticipated before. Industry considers Binance’s tracker as much more accurate than other tools and with increasing hash power by each passing day – some expect that it could beat the earlier expected date by 3 weeks to around the end of April or 2nd or 3rd of May, 2020.

Fidelity’s tweet about how ‘Bitcoin obsoletes ALL money’ catches attention
Fidelity tweet

Fidelity’s Digital Assets twitter handle tweeted an article with a comment stating “What we’re reading: @parkeralewis discusses the role of money in civilization, how the world might converge to a single currency, and why bitcoin will be the currency to obsolete all others.” This tweet linked to the article on Unchained Capital titled “Bitcoin Obsoletes All Other Money” goes in depth about how Bitcoin’s ability to be single truth for global currency and how its scarcity makes it more valuable than what people realize, and how, it will gradually and then suddenly obsoletes money as we know it has caught fire on social media.



Fidelity’s CEO Abigail Johnson says she is a [Bitcoin] believer

Abigail Johnson

Source: Wiki

This week Bitcoin (and by that token digital currencies and blockchain technology) found an unlikely evangelist in Abigail Johnson. “It’s no accident that I’m one of the few standing before you today from a large financial services company that hasn’t given up on digital currencies,” she said, “I am still a believer.”  She went on to say that there will be an array of markets/products built on this technology. “I’d like to think that huge new markets and products are going to be built on these open platforms,” she said. “Blockchain technology isn’t just a more efficient way to settle transactions, it can fundamentally change market structures and perhaps even the architecture of the internet itself.”

DMCC Announces Crypto Valley in Dubai

dubai crypto‘World’s largest ecosystem for cryptographic, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to launch in Dubai,’ according to a press release this week.  Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) announced that it will soon launch a tax-free ‘Crypto Valley’ in Dubai. “DMCC is delighted to sign this agreement with CV VC, and launch the Crypto Valley in Dubai, at the very heart of Dubai’s leading business district,” said Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, in a press release. “The launch of the Crypto Valley in DMCC will enhance the city’s dynamic business environment, and support the wider strategy of the UAE Government to attract the innovators, entrepreneurs and pioneers that will shape the future economy,” he added.

Deutsche Bank report on Digital Currencies 

The report from Deutsche Bank has a positive view on Bitcoin and Digital Currencies and hints toward the inevitability of digitization of money as we know it.  The summary page of the report states “if the growth in blockchain wallet users continues to mirror that of internet users, then by the end of the decade, they will number 200 million, quadruple the current level. This will be encouraged by governments, banks, corporates, and payment providers who all stand to benefit from the digitalisation of payments. And when countries and companies eventually look back at the way they transitioned to digital payments, it may become very apparent how they achieved their standing in the world economy.”

Iran issues 1000 Crypto mining licenses

Financial Tribune reported that Iran has issued more than 1000 licenses for Crypto Mining businesses.  “Our studies show that the crypto mining industry has the potential to add $8.5 billion to the economy…but high electricity tariffs plus stringent regulations have made the sector less appealing for small investors,” Amir Hossein Saiedi was quoted as saying by IBENA. Some of these mines are already active and the numbers are expected to soar in light of the permits issued.



Bakkt to launch ‘PayPal’ like app in 2020

BakktBakkt is working on rolling out an app that could support cyrptocurrency payments along with equity and loyalty rewards.  According to this news, speaking at Davos Conference, Bakkt’s President Adam White.  The app is expected to be geared to facilitate the institutional consumer base as well as retail clientele. 

Cambodia to issue its own digital currency

‘The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) will launch a Blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform in the next few months’, its director-general Chea Serey told The Post. Cambodia joins the league of other nations who are issuing their own version of digital currencies on top of blockchain technology.  There are many benefits of running cash supply on blockchain, for one, every penny spent will always be tracked and counterfeiting is virtually impossible, thanks to Blockchain’s immutability.  “We are in the final stages of the deployment. It has taken a little longer than expected because we were ensuring that the system is as useful and convenient for the users as possible. We will offer the service as soon as it launches,” said Phnom Penh Commercial Bank (PPCBank) president Shin Chang Moo.

Mercedes-Benz starts Blockchain based pilot project

mercedez benz blockchain newsTo further its sustainability ambition to provide carbon neutral fleet in less than 20 years, Mercedes-Benz “has started a pilot project with a key battery cell manufacturer and Circulor, a start-up specializing in blockchain technology,” according to the Press Release. “A blockchain-based system maps the production flow of the materials as well as the associated CO2 emissions,” according to the release.

Pornhub adds crypto payment to beat PayPal’s ban

pornhub accepts cryptoIf Bitcoin is undermining the US’s bullying power, crypto as a whole is liberating businesses who are subjected to the power of oligarchical power of financial institutions.  Latest in the liberation stories is PornHub. PayPal decided to stop payments on PornHub and PornHub bounced back by adding Crypto payment options on their platform.  In a blog post, the company stated that they are adding Tron and USDT payment options to the platform.



Jack Dorsey’s Square wins ‘crypto-to-fiat’ patent 

Square pos crypto to fiatSquare, Inc. was granted patent for the crypto-to-fiat transactions.  Titled “Cryptocurrency payment network”, “the technology provides a payment service for providing financial transactions between a customer and merchant wherein the customer can pay in any currency and the merchant can be paid in any currency.” 

India has not banned crypto after all

Rbi crypto bitcoinReserve Bank of India has announced that it has never banned cryptocurrency rather has asked the regulated bodies, like banks, to refrain from dealing with highly volatile and uncertain crypto space.  While there have not been any evidence provided to show that cryptocurrencies have been used in terror activities, the rhetoric has been used to keep people from entering into the space by many government bodies like India and USA.  People unfamiliar with blockchain technology think that virtual currencies are more difficult to trace than hard cash while the truth is stark opposite.

Budweiser-owner AB InBev is using blockchain to help small farmers

budweiser blockchainBlockchain continues to garner adoption from industry giants.  Latest in the series is Budweiser’s owner AB InBev who is helping small farmers in Africa by helping them with bank accounts and line of credit to eventually become the giant’s supplier. “This farmer, who was never bankable — because she couldn’t prove income of any source, had no reports, or material or paperwork — now in a flip phone, she has in the blockchain proof that she is a supplier to AB InBev, a global company, and now she bankable. Now she can open a bank account. And now she can maybe have a line of credit to develop the business,” according to the news.

Blockchain tops the most-in-demand job skill

jobs on blockchainAccording to LinkedIn data, Blockchain has emerged into number 1 skill in demand.  For any industry to flourish – it needs best minds behind it. LinkedIn data shows that blockchain has evolved into a force of transformation and businesses are embracing it with both arms. We anticipate that Blockchain will be among the top in-demand skills in the coming decade as well.

Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act of 2020 could boost cryptocurrency adoption

cryptocurrency taxA bill called “Virtual Currency Tax Fairness Act of 2020,” introduced in front of Congress reads “Gross income of an individual shall not include gain, by reason of changes in exchange rates, from the disposition of virtual currency in a personal transaction (as such term is defined in section 988(e)). The preceding sentence shall not apply if the gain which would otherwise be recognized on the transaction exceeds $200.”  Because Virtual currency is treated as property – when someone buys something (like a coffee), technically, that transaction is required to be reported as ‘capital gain’ transaction. If passed, this bill could ease the tracking requirements and give a huge boost to cryptocurrency adoption.

Ripple files motion to dismiss to avoid its demise

ripple updatesWe were never fans of Ripple. And now a lawsuit claiming that Ripple has participated in sale of ‘unregulated security’ threatens company’s future.  And no, that is not our biased statement. Ripple, in its motion to dismiss, states in its motion “allowed to belatedly challenge the classification of XRP, it would not only threaten to eliminate XRP’s utility as a currency, but it would upend and threaten to destroy the established XRP market.”  We have to wait and see if this motion to dismiss verdict comes out in XRP’s favor.  Our opinion is – it definitely will come out in Ripple’s favor because of its [almost] unlimited supply of cash.



American Cancer Society joins the list of organizations accepting crypto through BitPay

Bitpay-cryptoAmerican Cancer Society is the latest addition to BitPay’s already impressive nonprofits list.  People can now donate Bitcoin through BitPay’s portal to support the cancer research. American Red Cross and United Way are among the nonprofits who accept cryptocurrency through BitPay’s payment system.

Google suspends MetaMask citing cryptocurrency policy

According to the Tweet from MetaMask “the MetaMask Android client was suspended by the Google Play App Store. They cited their policy that bans mining on mobile, which we don’t. Appeal rejected.”  Google’s play store policy states, “we don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.” However, MetaMask does not mine or manage mining of cryptocurrency.  The initial ban is understandable given the amount of companies that google manages using automated bots. However, the appeal should have been heeded to since MetaMask is a legit business that does not engage in mining operations. In response MetaMask tweeted “speak out, and show Google that you will not support a platform that censors disintermediation. Plenty of other great browsers out there with @Firefox and @brave.”

SEBA enters into 10 new countries including Switzerland

SEBA, “The Bank for the New Economy,” started accepting clients in 10 new countries including Switzerland.  These new jurisdictions include “Singapore, Hong Kong, U.K., Italy, Germany, France, Austria, Portugal, and the Netherlands.”  “SEBA is a licensed and supervised Swiss bank providing a seamless, secure and easy-to-use bridge between digital and traditional assets. Secure, trade and manage your crypto currencies, digital assets, and conventional securities all in one place,” according to their website.

Nike applies for patent to tokenize shoes!

nike cryptocurrency adoptionWe could soon see ‘blockchain-enabled digital shoes’, according to a patent filed with the US Patents office.  “A method of generating cryptographic digital assets for footwear includes a middleware server computer receiving, over a distributed computing network from a remote computing node, confirmation of a validated transfer of footwear from one party to another. The middleware server computer determines, from an encrypted relational database, a unique owner ID code of the transferred party, and generates a cryptographic digital asset for the footwear. This cryptographic digital asset includes a digital shoe and a unique digital shoe ID code,” according to the application.  In plain English, it means – the ownership is assigned with a unique token and owner ID and can help track the authenticity and ownership of these shoes.

Italy’s new cash limit boost Bitcoin’s viability

Italy was in our crypto news before for bitcoin beating American Express as a method of payment. Now, that dominance could get a turbo boost because a new law that sets new cash transaction limits. Under the new law, individuals cannot pay in cash for transactions involving Euro 2000 or more.  This limit is set to reduce to Euro 1000 in 2022. This limit sent a boost to Bitcoin’s viability as people are growing frustrated with government dictating how they can or cannot spend their own hard earned money.



US Attorney’s Office charges five in a $722 million crypto fraud case

According to the charges brought against five individuals alleges defrauding investors in a $722 crypto investment fraud case.  Case summary states that these individuals have “conspired together to solicit investment in BitClub Network through fraudulent means, including by providing false and misleading figures that BitClub investors were told were “bitcoin mining earnings” purportedly generated by BitClub Network’s bitcoin mining pool.  Goettsche, Balaci, Weeks, and others obtained the equivalent of at least $722 million from BitClub Network investors.”  

Korea is considering crypto gains tax

According to The Korea Times, Korea is considering taxing crypto capital gains.  “The government is seeking to include capital gains tax on virtual currency,” the post reads.  In addition ‘a bill on enhancing the transparency of the trading of virtual assets awaits passage at sub-committee level. If the bill passes the Assembly’s plenary session, it will go into effect one year after the regulation is promulgated.’  These regulations are actually good news. They provide legal stature to the crypto’s existence. 

China to proceed with its ‘digital yuan’ efforts, launches real-world pilot

china blockchainChina looks to lead the digital currency race.  We have covered China multiple times in the cryptocurrency news and it continues to stay in the headlines with its undertakings.  However, this move of real-world pilot crof its digital currency has put other nations, especially the US, on notice. “Compared with the previous pilot, this time the central bank’s legal digital currency pilot will go out of the central bank system and enter real service scenarios such as transportation, education, and medical treatment, reaching C-end users and generating frequent applications,” according to the Caijing news. 



IRS introduces self-declaration question related to Cryptocurrencies

irs cryptocurrenciesIndividuals, filing US tax returns, with any type of crypto transaction have to be careful when filing their 2019 Form 1040 as IRS has slipped in a self-declaration question with on the Form.  Remember, when you sign tax returns you are bound by the perjury law. When individuals deliberately do not answer this question will be regarded as filing ‘fraudulent tax returns’, which throws the statute of limitation out of the door.  Check out the article we have written about the Crypto Tax declaration on 2019 Form 1040

Germany to open doors for Banks to offer Bitcoin custody services from 2020

Google translated Handelsblatt news article from Germany reads “A new business field could open for German banks from 2020: the sale and custody of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. So far, almost no institute offers its customers virtual assets . The planned law to implement the fourth EU Money Laundering Directive is likely to change that . The draft law passed by the Bundestag provides for corresponding relief, and approval of the federal states for the new regulation is expected.”  Industry applauded the initiative. Sven Hildebrandt, head of the DLC consultancy, says: “Germany is well on the way to crypto heaven. German lawmakers are playing a pioneering role in regulating crypto-custodians.”

Switzerland to develop framework to become world blockchain leader

Switzerland BlockchainWe have covered Switzerland in a positive light in our crypto and blockchain news before.  And the good news continues to flow from this blockchain and crypto heaven.  Switzerland’s Federal Council is looking to improve the framework for the blockchain companies to operate in Switzerland.  According to this press release “The Federal Council has now adopted the dispatch on the adaptation of federal law to developments in distributed ledger technology. The proposal has been revised and refined in a number of areas as a result of suggestions received during the consultation process. This federal legislation, which is designed as a blanket framework, proposes specific amendments to nine federal acts, covering both civil law and financial market law.”

Korea moves forward with Cryptocurrency bill to legal status

Korea JoongAng Daily reported that Cryptocurrency bill that provides legal status to cryptocurrencies has received ‘approval’ from the committee.  “The National Assembly’s national policy committee passed a bill that will establish a legal foundation for virtual currencies by categorizing them as digital assets,” the news read.  “It added that the law will require virtual assets businesses to prevent money laundering and set ground rules for financial transactions,” news read, “under the new bill, all cryptocurrency-related businesses will be required to report to and register as digital asset businesses with the FSC’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).”   Korea, along with, Switzerland has been in the forefront of bringing legal framework for cryptocurrencies.

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Crypto News

Crypto News Today #53

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A rather slow week in the crypto space.  

Bitcoin on track to $100,000 by 2025

A Bloomberg report titled “Bitcoin Trend, Adding Zeroes” predicts that $100,000 by 2025 is on track.  “Bitcoin could continue doing what it has for most of its nascent existence, appreciating in price on the back of increasing adoption, but at a slower pace as we see it. The first-born crypto has had a tendency to add zeros to its price from around $10 in 2011. It took about four years to go from $1,000 to $10,000 in 2017, so doubling that time frame for maturation could get the price toward $100,000 in about five more years. Or the new technology could fail, but our demand indicators are positive. With the exception of stable coins, the rest of the crypto market is subject to excess supply and competition,” report read.

Another company joins the $100 Million Bitcoin club

Stone Ridge created a subsidiary called New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG) to act as the custodian of its own customers bitcoin.  The move was prompted by the growing demand from customers who were willingly investing 1% to 5% of their portfolio in Bitcoin.  Forbes reported that “Stone Ridge Holdings Group revealed NYDIG is acting as custodian of 10,000 of the parent company’s bitcoin, valued at $115 million at today’s price.” “The two largest funds currently managed by NYDIG are the $190 million Institutional Bitcoin Fund LP, disclosed in regulatory documents in June and the $140 million Bitcoin Yield Enhancement Fund LP disclosed in May,” the article revealed.

Coinbase lost 5% of its workforce, got over 1000 requests from FBI

coinbase best exchangeAbout 5% of the workforce left Coinbase due to its ‘no politics at work’ stance. At the same time, it has allegedly received more than 1000 requests from agencies, mainly FBI, regarding crypto transactions. While these news are unrelated – Reddit and other social media channels are flaring up with anarchists rhetoric calling crypto users to move away from the capitalists Coinbase. We are indifferent on the matter.

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Crypto News Today #52

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On ramps are being built to pave the world’s businesses to the blockchain. Latest in this trajectory is EY, one of the world’s big 4 accounting firms, who has built a solution to onboard businesses onto blockchain.

EY launches Ethereum Solution ONP

OpsChain Network Procurement (ONP) which is expected to help convert the procurement contracts into digital smart contracts and automate volume discounts/rebates has been launched by Ernst & Young (EY) on Ethereum Blockchain. EY is one of the Big 4 accounting firms in the world that has been eyeing to be at the forefront of blockchain technology and this ONP is a great addition to its forte. “EY OpsChain Network Procurement supports network-level business processes by moving those business processes outside of any single ERP system and into a shared blockchain-based smart contract. It builds upon EY experience with other procurement activities, such as software royalty calculations, where shifting to blockchain-based contracts has compressed cycle times by more than 90% and cut costs by 40%,” according to the press release.

KuCoin hack hauls $130 Million, creates a stir re: decentralization

KuCoin got hacked during the week for 100s of millions of dollars.  However, according to the KuCoin CEO Johnny Lyu substantial part of those stolen funds have been recovered. Over $200 Million in stolen funds have been recovered. While many crypto maximalists were furious at the fact that KuCoin and the projects supporting KuCoin were able to freeze the funds in the suspected accounts, some argued that the key tenet of blockchain and cryptocurrencies is the ability to be not shut down by an external force. Say what may – this recovery of funds has been welcomed by those who use KuCoin. In a clear twist of the plot, KuCoin was able to turn these things around and instill confidence in the exchange. The latest in this hack thriller is that KuCoin claims to have located the hackers and are now working with the authorities to take the legal action.

The man who called banking system a scam buys his first Bitcoin

The UK politician whose speech against the banking scam has been referred to by crypto communities, Godfrey Bloom,  has tweeted that he made his first purchase of Bitcoin. 

 

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Crypto News Today #51

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This week people are reminded why Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are needed.  An expose by Buzzfeed reviewed the FinCEN files to show that major financial institutions have been assisting and facilitating illicit affairs to earn their fees.

$2 Trillion scandal shows why we need blockchain now

Standard Chartered, HSBC, Bank of America and many of the world’s biggest financial institutions have been secretly mining money in the form of fees for the world’s most dangerous individuals and entities.  “A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins,” reports Buzzfeed which ran an expose on the whole matter.  This reminds us one more time that the number one choice of criminals is not bitcoin or cryptocurrency which remain quite traceable.  Criminals use cash and also major bank accounts in broad daylight for their illicit affairs.

OCC issues clarification for banks regarding stablecoins

Office of Comptroller of the Currency issued clarification about banks holding cryptocurrencies, specifically, stablecoins.  Essentially, OCC gave greenlight for banks to hold stablecoins as long as they have 1:1 reserve.  “A bank providing services in support of a stablecoin project must comply with all applicable laws and regulations and ensure that it has instituted appropriate controls and conducted sufficient due diligence commensurate with the risks associated with maintaining a relationship with a stablecoin issuer. The due diligence process should facilitate an understanding of the risks of cryptocurrency and include a review for compliance with applicable laws and regulations, including those related to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and anti-money laundering,” OCC letter clarified.

Cryptos are part of Visa’s future strategy

Digital assets and blockchain technology are going to be important parts of Visa’s future,” was the conclusion of an exclusive Forbes interview with Terry Angelos, SVP global head of fintech at Visa and Cuy Sheffield, senior director, head of crypto at Visa. “We are seeing significant interest in demand from crypto companies that want to work with Visa and connect their clients to our network of 60-plus million merchants,” Terry mentioned during the interview. Visa expects to be part of broader cryptocurrency adoption and also work closely with the world’s major banks in the CBDC adoption.

EU announces plan to regulate cryptocurrencies

European Commission is working on introducing a framework to regulate cryptocurrencies.  It could potentially take a year or more for these regulations to come out.  Investor protection and enabling innovation will be cornerstones of these proposed plans.  The new plan will mean that crypto-asset companies authorized by one of the 27 EU countries will be able to provide its services across all the other member states, according to the CNBC.

Gemini is expanding into United Kingdom

Winklevoss brothers brainchild, Gemini, is expanding into the UK as it received the electronic money license from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).  This move will allow residents of the UK to buy bitcoin using a debit card on the Gemini platform.  According to the article in Bloomberg, Gemini is looking to expand into Singapore next.  

Fun Fact: Norway, Blackrock and Vanguard hold Bitcoin, indirectly

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund, which owns 1.5% of MicroStrategy, effectively owns roughly 577 bitcoins. Blackrock and Vanguard also own shares in Microstrategy which in turn makes them indirect holders of Bitcoin. Source: Forbes.

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