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‘Business Improvement Order’: Japan Slaps Crypto Exchange Operator after $60 Million Theft.

Japanese financial authorities are ramping up their scrutiny into the domestic crypto exchange sector after last week’s ¥6.7 billion ($60 million) hack of Tech Bureau’s exchange Zaif.

In an announcement today, Japan’s Ministry of Finance struck Osaka-based Tech Bureau, operator of the licensed cryptocurrency exchange Zaif, with “administrative penalties” wherein the latter sees a number of enforced mandates in the aftermath of last week’s hack.

Specifically, the company is now required to determine the facts and the cause behind the theft, as well as formulate and execute measures to prevent another hack. Pointedly, the company is also tasked to determine the attackers behind the hack.

Further, the exchange operator will also need to respond to customers to assess damages in an adequate manner.

This is Tech Bureau’s second business improvement order in the space of three months.

Tech Bureau disclosed details of a sizeable hack involving the theft of ¥6.7 billion (just under $60 million) in bitcoin, bitcoin cash and monacoin from the exchange’s ‘hot wallets’ (online wallets that are more vulnerable to theft than offline, cold-storage wallets).

The hack initially occurred between 1700 and 1900 local time on September 14. Tech Bureau reported the breach to the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s financial regulator, prompting an investigation into the breach that ultimately led to today’s action.

As reported previously, Tech Bureau revealed plans to sell a majority of its shares to a publicly-listed financial firm in an agreement that will see the operator gain a cash injection of ¥5 billion (approx 45 million). These funds will directly help reimburse an estimated ¥4.5 billion ($40 million) stolen from customer accounts.

The exchange operator also sees a deadline to submit written reports revealing its own investigation into the theft and its progress on implementing improved measures after its first business improvement order, issued by the FSA, in June.

The incident draws parallels to the $530 million theft of Coincheck in January, the biggest crypto exchange hack in history. By April, the Tokyo-based exchange was wholly acquired by Japanese financial brokerage giant Money for ¥3.6 billion ($33.5 million).

While the thefts have unquestionably raised concerns – Japan’s National Police claim crypto theft has tripled in the first half of 2018 – about the security and reputation of  Japan’s domestic cryptocurrency exchange industry, it has scarcely dampened the ever-growing appetite for crypto adoption in Japan. Earlier this month, the FSA revealed it is expecting in excess of 160 applications from companies seeking licenses to launch cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan’s regulated market which already sees the likes of Yahoo, LINE and Rakuten operating exchanges.

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Cryptocurrency round-up 25 September 2018.

Market update

Consolidation following wild weekend

Markets appear to be consolidating now, as traders lock in their profits from a wild weekend of gains. None of the top 20 coins are in the green right now (other than tether) and overall market cap is down about 4% in the last 24 hour period.

Trading trends

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin is currently trading for around $6,400 where it might look to stabilise following a weekend of gains.

The upwards push over the weekend has returned bitcoin to roughly where it was a month ago, and up about 11% to where it was 3 months ago. Market dominance is down slightly, currently at 52% down from 55% this time last week.

Billionaire fund-manager Mike Novogratz, who recently called a bottom to this years bear market, has said on CNBC's fast money that the next key level for bitcoin is $6,800.

VeChain (VET)

VeChain has been featured as the star pupil on CNBC's Advancements with Ted Danson program. The episode explored blockchain technology, and used VeChain as a standout example to demonstrate blockchain's application in supply chain management and product authenticity.

VeChain is currently sitting at 19th largest by market cap and trading for around 1.3 cents.

New listings

Over the weekend the Circle Investment app added EOS, Stellar, ZRX and Qtum which we saw correlate with a nice little price pump for Stellar. Another app named crumbs which handles micro-investments also added a slew of well known coins, such as BTC, Monero, Ethereum and Basic Attention Token.

Binance has added a new stablecoin – The Paxos Token is pegged to the US dollar and runs on Ethereum.

HitBTC have gone ahead and added the Winklevoss Twins' Gemini Dollar, which is another USD pegged stablecoin, also running on Ethereum. This a big win for the Winklevi as hitBTC is one of the largest exchanges by trade volume according to CoinMarketCap data.

And of course – Coinbase are still exploring the addition of Cardano, Basic Attention Token, Stellar, Zcash and 0x. Hopefully we will have an answer on that before the end of the year.

Tether delisted

So we just mentioned some new stablecoin listings there, but we're about to flip the script and bring you news about a stablecoin delisting – and this one's big because it involves Tether.

Singapore based Digifinex is in the process of delisting USDT, also known as Tether, perhaps the most widely used and recognised stablecoin to date.

Speaking with CoinDesk, Digifinex's cofounder Kiana Shek made it clear it was an issue of trust, saying "I simply don't believe in Tether but I had no choice [but to list it]" and that she had been "looking for ways to get rid of USDT."

She went on to say that she had chosen the TrueUSD token, made by TrustToken to replace Tether, saying that "through my research, due diligence, and my communications with the TrustToken team, I have come to appreciate their commitment to industry-leading best practices."

Tether has been at the centre of ongoing controversy for almost a year now, around whether or not it's tokens are actually backed by fiat reserves. Tether famously broke off ties with an auditing firm earlier this year, that had been hired to vet Tether's fiat reserves – adding further fuel to the fire of suspicion.

And there's further shake up for Tether with KuCoin announcing they are reorganising their USDT pairings. Nine USDT pairs will be removed, including OmiseGo and Dash, and will instead by replaced with six new pairs including Aurora and IoT Chain.

KuCoin have not given any explanation for the shake-up.

Deslisted coins

Poloniex are deslisting 8 cryptocurrencies under their new rules for underperforming coins. The affected coins and tokens are BTCD (Bitcoin Dark), BTM (Bitmark), EMC2 (Einsteinium), GRC (GridCoin), NEOS (NeosCoin), POT (PotCoin), VRC (VeriCoin), and XBC (Bitcoin Plus).

BitConnect finally delisted

And finally, the cryptographic cancer and pyramid scheme that was BitConnect, has finally been delisted from all exchanges, following its removal from an obscure exchange named Trade Satoshi.

BitConnect rose to infamy late last year despite having all the hallmarks of a classic pyramid scheme, in which users would receive increased profits for every other user recruited. The scheme operated out of India and was eventually shut down early this year leaving many investors in the lurch.

In that time it had managed to become a top 20 coin by market cap, which is why its presence to the cryptocurrency ecosystem was so damaging. In fact it got the attention of several courts in the US, and did nothing to help the perception of cryptocurrencies in those jurisdictions.

As a result, two US states are still urging Indian authorities to seize the property and assets of several of those involved with the BitConnect scam. Illinois and Arizona state governments suspect that BitConnect defrauded investors of a total $5.6 billion from investors.

Good riddance bitconnect.


New AUD stablecoin

So speaking of stablecoins...

Australia is getting an AUD-pegged stablecoin. The project is the result of a collaboration between the blockchain-based employment infrastructure company Emparta, and Australian exchange Bit Trade.

Emparta tout the title of being the "The World’s First Smart Employment Contract on the Blockchain" so you can imagine a stable cryptocurrency as being necessary for their operations. The inclusion of Bit Trade in the deal is a no brainer, as their marketplace will likely facilitate the trade of the stablecoin to both crypto and fiat.

Emparta CEO Adam Sarris had this to say about the stablecoin and its necessity in the Australian market

"The need for an Aussie dollar-backed and redeemable coin is essential for the broader market adoption of digital currency throughout Australia and the world... We see multiple uses for the stablecoin, and our partnership with Bit Trade enables us to maximise its utilisation and work with some of the most talented and experienced blockchain experts in Australia."

The stablecoin is expected to launch in 2019. No name has been given to the coin as of yet.

Users can earn with Brave Browser

Brave CEO, Brendan Eich has estimated that users of the Brave web-browser will be able to earn over $70 next year, by simply using the browser and agreeing to view ads while they browse.

Users who view ads would be rewarded with the aptly named Basic Attention Token (BAT) for their time. Since the payout is in BAT, that $70 figure could rise over time. If the popularity and value of BAT rises, Eich predicts that the payout could amount to as much as $320 by 2020.

The system benefits both users and publishers, with both parties receiving crypto for their efforts. Here's a short video of Eich explaining how it works.

Also it's worth mentioning Brendan Eich created Javascript, as well as co-founded Mozilla and Firefox. So it's fair to say that he likely has what it takes to pull-off a major paradigm shift in the way we consume advertising on the internet.

Brave is currently available on Mac OSX, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android – although each of these release are at different stages with their integration and testing of BAT.

Brave users are not yet able to earn BAT rewards, although Eich's comments suggest a 2019 release. Brave recently broke the 10 million downloads mark, and has 4 million monthly users. This certainly looks like one to watch.

Opera tests Ethereum-integrated browser

Many people are calling the blockchain revolution Web 3.0 so it shouldn't be a surprise that we have another piece of news about a web-browser.

The Opera web-browser is rolling out a desktop version of its Ethereum-integrated browser to closed beta-testers. The new browser has a built in Ethereum wallet, as well as the ability to natively browse Ethereum dapps on the network.

The browser is called Opera Labs and interacts with their existing Android version of the software. Infact if both the desktop and android version are paired, desktop transactions can prompt the android version for confirmation, where a fingerprint can be used to authorise transactions and add and extra layer of security.

A spokesperson for Opera said the company had plans to extend browser integration to other networks, but would not specify which ones just yet.

Crypto goes off the grid

A project called Burst, claim to have created the first ever solar-powered blockchain that operates completely off the electricity grid, and that can send blockchain transactions via radio waves.


Other projects have used radio-waves to transmit blockchain data before, but because this is fully off-grid and self-sustaining, it could be a useful tool in areas with poor infrastructure, or that have suffered natural disaster.

Burst started as part of a hackathon called CallforCode which encourages developers to create tech that is used for humanitarian purposes. Disaster relief happens to be one of these areas. Burst would allow for blockchain data to still be communicated in a disaster scenario, such as proof-of-life to emergency services, or even transacting cryptocurrency in an area which devastation has left fiat rendered useless.

It's not the first HAM radio cryptocurrency though, with some speculating that Daniel Jones had something to do with an obscure 2014 HAMRadioCoin project from bitcointalk.

Speaking about the project and its potential, lead developer Daniel Jones had this to say,

"Burst would allow people suffering from natural or man-made disasters to preserve value and have something worth trading even in the event of banks and on-grid blockchains being blockaded or destroyed. The trope of money being useless in an apocalypse scenario applies to fiat, certainly, but less so to Burst. Theoretically, the disruption of infrastructure and centralized government should not affect the value of the currency or the ability of people to transact with it in a secure, immutable way around the world."

Sounds like they're making cryptocurrency for the zombie apocalypse.

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Binance Info 2.0 ratings site shows the trouble with crypto reviews.

Binance's third party crypto review hub is a solidly zero star affair so far.

Binance is the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, so its word can carry a lot of weight, especially as far as cryptocurrency project viability judgments are concerned. But it still wants to become a complete blockchain ecosystem, rather than just an exchange, so it has to get a bit creative and rely on third parties to pass around these kinds of judgments.

"Info 2.0 may be the most comprehensive compilation of third-party rating reports on blockchain projects that's available," it said in its announcement. "For this upgrade, we’ve compiled resources from more than 50 rating agencies, capital and media across the globe to build a library of nearly 1,000 reports."

"In building an expansive third-party rating platform based on well-researched reports, our goal is to help users learn more about the blockchain projects in our ecosystem," Binance said.

Hot or not


Binance Info 2.0 is a trainwreck with less academic rigour than a YouTube comments section, and the internet is a measurably worse place for containing such a cesspool.

You only need to look as far as some of the more polarising projects for a sense of how low the bar is for Binance Info reviewers.

For example, Binance Info 2.0's so-called experts at Coindaily gave EOS a solid A rating of 4.5 stars because they're obviously heavily invested they couldn't discern any downsides to EOS whatsoever except "a certain degree of centralisation," and then gave TRON a 1 star review because "it can be regarded as the younger brother of EOS" and "the market for public blockchains is very competitive and EOS is the most powerful competitor."

Regardless of how one feels about either project, having reviewers who grade one coin based on how they feel about another entirely separate project makes the entire scoring system pointless.

The haphazard ratings scheme doesn't help either. Each reviewer has their own way of marking coins, which are then crudely mashed into a rating out of 5 stars.

For example, Binance 2.0 is of three minds about Polymath each of which uses completely different metrics.

  • If you like Polymath, you'll probably want to trust the 4.5 star review that gives it a very high score, citing a strong-seeming business model but lingering doubts.
  • If you don't like it you might prefer the B rating review which translates to an unfavourable 2.5 stars, citing the unpopularity of its GitHub repository.
  • If you're ambivalent you can hedge with the very positive and detailed review which gives it a solid 8/10 score, which is then translated to a middling 3.5 stars.

There's little rhyme, reason or consistency to the actual grades. Binance can probably afford to command a bit more effort from all the exposure-hungry self-described experts spawning on its platform, so it's not clear why it's not at least enforcing a more consistent and useful ratings system.

The sheer inconsistency from one review to another makes it extremely difficult to get any useful comparative insights, but at least you know it's impartial... maybe.

To be fair BNB does present a fairly compelling value proposition, but it's still not a great look.

juicy crypto words

Bitcoin, of course, is one of the most consistently high-rated coins on the platform. But no one's seriously reviewing bitcoin's technical fundamentals anymore, so the bitcoin review page is more like a shrine to leave offerings at, than a serious review page.

Meanwhile, the scores given to Tether seem to depend on whether the reviewer is worried by the whole "no audits allowed" thing.

"The price support of USDT fundamentally comes from its full dollar reserve, which has NOT been convincingly proven for a very long time," said one reviewer. They seem to think Tether's blatant and undeniable shadiness is a cause for concern, so only gave it either a pretty bad 2.5 stars or a pretty good high B grade depending on how you look at it.

Another reviewer was much more upbeat about Tether. The main downside they mentioned was that "there are risks of default by the issuer, being closed by the government and various insider manipulations." Then in literally the exact next sentence after the words "insider manipulations" they described Tether's crossover episode with Bitfinex (which has been found to be a likely centrepiece of Tether's alleged manipulations) as a huge advantage, saying "the USDT team is very strong in both resources and capabilities because they have their own exchange." 4 stars and a strong A- rating from that addled reviewer.

Some of the concrete information such as prices might be useful, but as the rating system it intends to be Binance 2.0 is utterly useless. The cursory star ratings are inconsistent to the point of uselessness, while a more detailed at some of the reviews reveals an terrifying degree of incompetence and blatant shilling.

Binance Info 2.0 needs to slow down, exercise a bit of quality control over which "experts" it lets on the site, and get all its reviewers to use the same metrics if it wants to be remotely useful.

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Events exploring blockchain ticketing solutions to combat scalping.

With Ticketmaster and others embroiled in scalping allegations, events are starting to look elsewhere.

Scalping is big business, which is at risk of becoming almost entirely indistinguishable from the ticketing business. The gist of industrial-scale scalping is that people buy up all the tickets to an event and then re-sell them at much higher prices.

This suits many ticket sellers perfectly fine, because they get the original commission from the bulk purchases from scalpers, and might then stand to get a second, much larger commission when that scalper sells the same ticket at a much higher price.

It's an open secret, as The Star discovered when it went lightly undercover at the Ticket Summit 2018 convention and allegedly found Ticketmaster, one of the industry's giants, with a near-monopoly on events in North America and the UK, selling software specifically made for scalpers. But what's to be done? Ticketmaster and other ticket platforms have continually maintained, despite the hilariously compelling evidence to the contrary, that they're doing everything they can to fight the problem of scalping.

Laws around scalping vary by region but are almost universally ineffective, says Evelyn Richardson, the chief executive of Live Performance Australia.

"We haven't seen any evidence that they work," she says. "Internationally, we know they aren't very effective. They're very difficult to enforce, and it doesn't stop scalping."

The solution, then, might need to be more technical than legal in nature. And with its ability to turn digital assets into more discrete and concrete tokens, blockchain is probably well suited to the task. These kinds of solutions are currently rolling out – the Union of European Football Associations is already using one of its own – and might be quickly embraced by fed-up fans.

Block party

An aptly-named startup called Blockparty wants to be the disruptor, encountering encouragement from many industry partners, most of whom aren't any fonder of scalpers than the fans. One of its newest partners, Hyperglow, was happy to hop on board ahead of its five-year anniversary tour.

"After attending a Blockparty-ticketed event, we were wowed with what they are doing and the partnership became quite an obvious progression," said Claude Elie, CEO of Hyperglow tour.

He also notes the general hotness of cryptocurrency among his predominantly millennial attendees.

"Our millennial audience is very forward thinking and are early adopters of new technologies," Elie says. "Cryptocurrencies are arguably one of the world's hottest technologies right now and we felt that we wanted to be at the forefront of it within our community."

The Blockparty app itself is largely a digital identity solution that connects ticket purchases to a user's identity and can track tickets from issuance through to the secondary market to the event gates, which customers can pass through by unlocking their ticket through their phones.

juicy crypto words

Scalping can be minimised by more transparently tracking the origin and the distribution of tickets through secondary markets, and allowing for connections between anonymised purchaser identities and the tickets they buy to better enforce the usual rules around the maximum number of tickets that any individual can purchase.

In itself, this might not do much that Ticketmaster and similar don't already claim to do. As a Ticketmaster Resale representative said to an undercover Star journalist: "I have brokers that have literally a couple of hundred Ticketmaster accounts."

The real benefit might come down the line, from the trustlessness elements of blockchain technology (the Blockparty token is an Ethereum-based ERC20), and the eventual ability to actually tie purchaser identities to verified individuals through solutions like Civic, or other identity verification programs.

This creates a trustless and transparent way of proving that a specific individual has purchased X number of tickets, which can then be tracked through secondary markets. Eventually this could theoretically be tailored to individual regulations, such as the South Australian law specifying a maximum markup of 10% for certain major event tickets sold on secondary markets, to automatically enforce existing laws in a usable fashion.

"Hyperglow event goers will no longer need to worry about massive resale prices on tickets or being forced to wait in tiresome lines with ticket verification, and can instead focus on enjoying the party," said Blockparty CEO Shiv Madan. "The best part of Blockparty is that fans don’t need any prior knowledge of how blockchain technology works, as the tech operates seamlessly in the background. All they need is a smartphone and the Blockparty app."

Whether or not this particular solution is the one, recent Ticketmaster troubles and the spotlight on scalping show that there's clearly a lot of room for improvement in the industry, in a way that blockchain technology is potentially able to deliver.

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Walmart’s supplier blockchain mandate is a huge leap in food safety.

Walmart's unassuming letter to suppliers might be the biggest advance in food safety since pasteurisation.

Walmart is requiring its leafy green suppliers to get on the IBM Food Trust blockchain solution by this time next year. Leafy greens might be a healthy place to start, with a high-profile E. coli outbreak from contaminated lettuce making its way around the states earlier this year. As is is usual for these kinds of outbreaks, a few people died and hundreds more got sick.

That particular case was also handled as usual. Health officials quickly identified the source of the outbreak as the Yuma region and advised everyone to start avoiding any lettuce grown there. But because no one could actually identify which lettuce came from Yuma, the only solution was to pull lettuce from stores all around the country.

It only takes one bad apple

"This year, the United States experienced a large, multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to romaine lettuce," Walmart wrote in a letter to its leafy greens suppliers. "All in all, the outbreak resulted in 210 confirmed cases, caused 96 hospitalizations, and tragically, 5 deaths. Although the FDA and CDC were able to inform consumers, producers and retailers that the romaine lettuce associated with illnesses came from the Yuma growing region, in general, health officials and industry professionals were unable to quickly determine which lots were affected and which were not."

"None of the bags of salad had 'Yuma, Arizona' on them," said Frank Yiannas, Walmart VP of Food Safety. "In the future, using the technology we're requiring, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty where it came from."

If that seems like a fairly stupid problem to have in this day and age, as well as a very literal example of one bad apple spoiling it for everyone, you might be right on the money.

It's also quite remarkable given the extreme danger posed by food poisoning. In the USA alone, food poisoning kills about 1,800 people per year, according to the CDC, while about 10 million people per year are hit with foodborne illness. Worldwide, it's estimated that about half a million people die annually from food poisoning. Australia has had a bumper year for food poisoning deaths too, with a rockmelon listeria outbreak claiming nine lives earlier this year and, in more of a food sabotage incident, some guy sticking needles in a few strawberries triggering the mass pulling of strawberries from shelves around the country.

Someone should really do something about that

One part of the problem is that suppliers, distributors, stores and everyone else along the enormously complex worldwide food supply chain is just keeping their own siloed paperwork. Theoretically this might let health departments and sufficiently motivated consumers track down the original source of an outbreak, but in practice, it's impossible to actually respond to food safety issues in a timely fashion.

With the current system of paper-based ledgers, Yiannas says it might take his team a full week to track down the source of a source of contamination. They have to contact the supplier, get their paper records and then use those to follow the trail one piece at a time, just hoping at each step that someone will be there to pick up the phone, all while there might be deadly bacteria sitting in people's pantries and digestive systems. Blockchain systems stand to let people do it in just seconds, rather than days or weeks.

"Multiply this process by the 70,000 food items stocked in a typical grocery store, and you have an almost insurmountable challenge," Walmart says.

This is one of the reasons the usual response is to pull and destroy everything that might be contaminated, rather than risk it. But naturally, this is time-consuming, expensive and in many cases, not exceptionally helpful, given the days or weeks that might elapse between the time a shopper puts the food in their cart and the time they keel over.

The commercial elements of food safety and the extreme cost of mass recalls probably also does its part to keep the fatalities coming. A few thousand semi-random deaths per year is easy to write off as just one of those things, but pushing the button on a mass nationwide recall of one's own product is extremely difficult. Being able to conduct quicker, more granular and more specific recalls where needed will almost certainly encourage more reporting of potential issues.

Just ship it

"Just ship it," said Stewart Parnell in an email to a plant manager. The email was sent in March 2007, in response to findings of a potential contamination in a batch of Peanut Corp. peanuts. Over a year later, 9 people were dead and over 700 more were taken ill around the nation after contracting salmonella from peanut butter.

The first reason this outbreak is notable is that six years after the deaths, a Georgia jury took the unprecedented step of actually convicting Peanut Corp. executives for knowingly shipping salmonella-tainted products.

The second reason is that it triggered the largest food recall in American history, involving at least 361 companies and 3,913 different products, because peanuts are used in just about everything and Peanut Corp. manufactured about 2.5% of all peanuts processed in the USA at the time.

The recall was an enormous undertaking, more akin to a natural disaster response than a product recall, right down to FEMA's involvement. Beyond the actual cost of the recall operation itself, the entire US peanut industry is thought to have suffered about $1 billion in profits from customers reflexively avoiding all peanut products.

The court case that came much later and after years of investigation prominently featured horror houses.

Former Peanut Corp. plant employees gave graphic descriptions of filthy conditions, while federal inspectors would find roaches, rats, mould, dirt, accumulated grease and bird droppings at the processing plants, as well as a leaky roof which is thought to have supplied the moisture which kicked salmonella's growth into overdrive.

Maybe it shouldn't have come as a surprise. Peanut Corp. had a trail of health violations running back to the 1980s, but the occasional settled lawsuit and wrist slap was apparently just consistently written off as the cost of doing business.

The salmonella outbreak was just the straw that broke the camel's back, and a combination of circumstances that became impossible to ignore. No one will ever know how many of those other thousands of food poisoning illnesses and deaths that rake around the USA each year were avoidably caused by Peanut Corp.

The MO was pretty clear though: Just ship it. Life is cheap and food poisoning deaths happen every day. By contrast, mass recalls are expensive and can only be done in exceptional circumstances.

"My strong suspicion is that this happens much more often than is known," said one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Take it from the top

Having a food trust blockchain available is one thing, but actually using it is another. Blockchain solutions depend on picking up a wide range of participants from across a network (the network, in this case, being the food supply chain), but the benefits aren't shared equally among participants.

juicy crypto words

For a producer whose sole job is to manufacture as much as possible as cheaply as possible while meeting minimum applicable regulatory standards, there might be no immediate business case for upgrading from the tried and tested pen and paper to a more expensive digital system, and dealing with all the disruptions, learning curves and related systemic changes that might entail, just for retailers and others to get the benefits.

But when someone like Walmart starts throwing its weight around and politely demanding that its suppliers get with the times, there's suddenly a much more pressing commercial case for these upgrades.

"Over the past 18 months, Walmart has piloted new technology in collaboration with numerous suppliers and IBM, and we have demonstrated that meaningful enhancements to food traceability are possible," Walmart said in its letter to suppliers. "Using the IBM Food Trust network that relies on blockchain technology, we have shown that we can reduce the amount of time it takes to track a food item from a Walmart Store back to the source in seconds, as compared to days or sometimes weeks."

But blockchain or not, it's probably still a good idea to wash your fruits and veggies before eating them.

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XAYA founder explains how a serverless future can change gaming forever.

finder talks with XAYA founder Andrew Colosimo about his company’s name change from Chimaera and the future of gaming on the blockchain.

Imagine an MMO that requires no server. Or imagine an online shooter where no one can cheat, you can never be banned and the experience will never stop. Imagine a game where everything, from your items to your appearance to your character itself, are completely owned and controlled by the player. This is the future blockchain gaming platform Chimaera is striving for.

However, Chimaera is no more. The platform, which we have previously detailed in depth, recently underwent a name change. Chimaera is now called XAYA, and there are three exciting new gaming projects preparing to make the most out of a revolutionary new use case for the blockchain. Those games are Treat Fighter, Soccer Manager Crypto and an as yet untitled in-house XAYA game.

With XAYA, there are no servers. The server is a blockchain, meaning players don’t connect to a centralised hardware bank as we’ve traditionally seen. Instead, they connect to a network of computers from across the community – called nodes – which have the combined power to uphold the game experience. The result is a decentralised online game.

For further insight, we caught up with Andrew Colosimo, founder of XAYA. He talked us through the reasons behind the name change from Chimaera to XAYA, and how his platform’s use of blockchain technology can change the future of gaming.

xaya chimaera treat fighter L

Andrew Colosimo, founder of XAYA, interview

Why did you feel there was a need to rebrand to XAYA?

AC: When we came up with the concept of Chimaera in October 2016, it was solely an open source blockchain project with many use cases, not just gaming, and more of a hobby project.

Upon deciding to branch into developing and partnering with game studios and therefore making it into a business model, we wanted to make sure we had a unique name. Something that would not cause confusion and possible legal action further down the road. So, we bit the bullet and decided to change the name to XAYA.

Where did the XAYA name come from?

AC: It came from the team spending many hours coming up with countless names, running them all through trademark searches and slowly narrowing down our choices.

A major consideration was that Chimaera comes from Greek mythology and we’d already chosen CHI as the coin’s ticker. The Greek letter chi is X, and we wanted to keep the CHI reference as it still alludes to the far east Asian concept of chi (or xi or qi – there are many spellings). We all liked that additional metaphor of inner power or vital force.

What have you learned about your platform from the closed beta thus far?

AC: Everything has been running smoothly for the platform so far and the blockchain is now live. There is ongoing development with some features coming later in the year, too.

For the recent Treat Fighter closed beta, that’s a game running on our platform and it’s being developed by Tricky Fast. We’ve not been involved in the development much, but we’ve been testing out the game and it’s very addictive. We are also working with on their next release of their football management franchise. This is going to be a big one.

Finally, there is the development of our in-house game of which we’ll be releasing some information out regarding it in the following weeks.

How will a serverless future change the way we play games?

AC: That’s a fantastic question. There are several ways that the XAYA approach to serverless games can really change games for the better. (There are other benefits relating to blockchain, too, of course.)

First, you won’t have any downtime. The blockchain runs 24/7 with 100% uptime. There are no servers that can go down.

For game developers, the blockchain solution for eliminating servers can really make deployment costs almost negligible. The big AAA+ game studios probably don’t really need to consider those benefits. However, for smaller developers, game studios and publishers, server costs and maintenance are very real considerations. The serverless game is very attractive there.

So, from the financial aspect for creators, it represents a democratisation of gaming where developers have a more level playing field to bring their visions to reality, irrespective of those server and maintenance costs.

That’s important because it makes game developers more profitable, which in turn makes more games viable. This can increase the number and quality of games for players. Choice is great, especially when you have better choices.

Aside from the attractiveness of 100% uptime and near zero deployment costs, serverless games running on the XAYA blockchain are also censorship resistant. Once the game is up and running, it’s near impossible to take it down. It also lets anyone who wants to play, play the game irrespective of where they are (provided that network traffic is allowed). It also limits the power of developers to ban players or to confiscate items as people have real ownership on the blockchain. Everyone has to agree to the game state.

I think the main tl;dr summary of the future of gaming without servers (or with blockchain games) is:

  1. No downtime
  2. Unhackable accounts
  3. Cheaper deployments for developers (greater profitability)
  4. Greater choice for gamers
  5. No more cheating
  6. Real ownership guaranteed on the blockchain
  7. Censorship resistance
  8. Fraud-proof payments in crypto
  9. Completely new types of game genres
  10. Earning money from playing games

There’s something else I would like to comment on: there is a lot of mention of True Item Ownership blockchain at the moment. But one thing people should consider is, is it really true ownership if they can only be used in a centralised game? If that game server, or that company, fails, then the items are of no use.

Games on XAYA can be fully decentralised so that no matter what happens to the company, the players can still play and the items are still useable.

It’s a bit like having a key to a Lamborghini, but someone can just take it away. If the only thing you own is a cryptographic key to your in-game asset, and there is no game, the key is useless.

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Interview: TechCrunch Editor-at-Large Josh Constine Talks Cryptocurrency.

I had the opportunity to sit down with TechCrunch Editor-At-Large Josh Constine at TechCrunch SF. Josh has an interesting background in that he’s spent most of his career covering social media products (and earned a master’s degree on research in the field) in a time when these products are under heavy scrutiny.

He’s also a media heavyweight by any standard, having interviewed the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Edward Snowden, and Cory Booker and having spoken at 120 events on a diverse set of topics.


CCN: You’ve been covering cryptocurrency for a long time. Now, you’ve really seen them emerge and just burst onto the scene. Whether you’re at TechCrunch just around then, I could tell you that every booth has some mention of blockchain. And even if they don’t, the founders are talking about how they can integrate blockchain into these products.

JC: It’s like the new AI. Last year, every pitch has got AI in it. Now, every pitch has got blockchain or tokens in it.


CCN: Yes. It’s the old “Every company is an AI company.” Now, “Every company is a blockchain company.”

JC: Don’t worry. It seems to be an easy way to add a few extra million to your next route.

CCN: How long have you seen this trend coming for? Mainstream blockchain companies?

JC: I don’t necessarily think of there being that many truly mainstream blockchain companies. I think beyond Coinbase, where we saw a huge flood of users in late 2017, early 2018, spike in prices, I think that was the place where a lot of people got their first taste. But honestly, I think it’s going to be a few more years before we get real mainstream applications for blockchain usage, and I think the main barrier to that is the usability.

Engineering has really been the forefront of most cryptocurrency and blockchain developers, whereas the design, the usability, the UX, has been often left behind. So it falls very far behind on what we’re used to using every day.

If anyone’s used to logging in to Facebook or logging in to other apps using their Facebook login, they might think, “Oh, if I want to use a new crypto-decentralized app, I should be able to just hit a login button, right? “

It’s like, “No, you’re going to have to remember this super long private key. If you type something in wrong, you’re going to end up sending money to the wrong person.” It’s really just very complicated.

I think until the platforms get there and the usability of those infrastructural parts of the blockchain ecosystem get there, it’s going to be really difficult for us to see mainstream adoption of some of these decentralized apps.

CCN: How long do you think that’s going to take? And just to follow that up real quick, we have had some which have been breached two, three, four, five times now. At what point do you think we’re going to be in the maturity of those platforms where users are comfortable with it in their daily lives?

JC: Unfortunately, security is a real cat-and-mouse game. The attackers are always going to be improving their skills, so I don’t think we’re ever going to get to a point where things are just secure. I think the really well-funded companies that have the ability to attract great talent have that momentum. They’re going to be okay. But at the same time, they’re going to have larger targets on their backs.

It’s those medium-sized companies that might be starting to actually steward a fair amount of money or tokens but haven’t had the funding or momentum to recruit the best security talent. Those are going to be the ones that are really concerning.

The problem is, it just takes one bad breach. It just takes one time having your wallet stolen for people to be like, “You know what, this whole thing is a bit too crazy. I’m going to step back.” I think, that, combined with the depression in prices recently has pushed a lot of mainstream investors away from cryptocurrency.

CCN: From a venture capital perspective, what kind of trends are you seeing?

JC: I’m seeing that these crypto companies, at first, we saw a quick wave of games and things like CryptoKitties and things like FameBit that are designed to help you steward your cryptocurrency items and virtual goods. But I think after the downturn, we’ve seen that the real companies that are getting equity funding are these truly infrastructural scaffolding of the blockchain industry.

There are people who are going to be doing things like compound and derivatives trading where you can be able to short and trade on margin for cryptocurrencies or things like 0x where you’re going to have a distributed and decentralized exchange for cryptocurrencies.

These things that you sort of want to have in place before the mainstream are what we’re seeing funding from big companies like Andreessen Horowitz, or even Coinbase itself.

Whereas, the kind of applications and the utilities that get built on top of that stuff, I think the big venture funds are waiting until all that infrastructure is in place before they start investing in the content or the utilities that are built on top.

CCN: As far as a West start-up type company goes, what are you thinking about IBM, even AWS, and their approach to blockchain technologies?

JC: I’ve heard a lot of talk about IBM, but I’ve also heard about a lot of people who think it’s kind of just a bunch of smoke-and-mirrors. That, yes, they might have a bunch of patents, but they’re not really doing very much seriously with it.

With AWS, there’s definitely opportunities for decentralized storage systems and ways of assigning and doing accounting for storage space. Actually, the big company that I’m most bullish on in the blockchain space right now is Facebook.

They have built this small but elite team of product managers and engineers, including David Marcus who was formerly the head of PayPal and was the head of Facebook Messenger for years, and Kevin Weil who was the head of product of Instagram, who launched Stories and really turned Instagram into the powerhouse that we know it is today.

Them, and some other highly elite engineers from Facebook have moved on to this blockchain team. I’m very excited about what they’re going to build. What I think they’d probably end up building is something that allows you to pay for stuff with the kind of advertisers that buy ads on Facebook.

But with the cryptocurrency wallet, instead of having to use actual cash, and for that, Facebook will be able to say, “Hey, get 4% off your purchase when you buy with FaceCoin.” Or something like that.

Also, I think that they may be the one that ends up building that identity platform, that login layer, for the cryptocurrency decentralized app ecosystem.

The same way they built Facebook Connect for games and other apps around the web, they can build a similar identity system for the decentralized app layer. I think those are two really important areas that we’re going to see.

There’s also just lots of opportunities for them in e-commerce because they already have the relationships with all these businesses and advertisers. They’re not starting from scratch.


I think in some cases, it may be easier for the big companies to build blockchain and bolt it on to their existing technology than it is going to be for blockchain first companies to build all of the other infra-business relationships necessary to launch all of these products.

CCN: So Facebook is an addressing point because they have a problem and a pretty big one. That problem is that the users don’t trust them anymore. Do you see them using blockchain to try to solve that issue?

JC: Fortunately, while there’s obviously a lot of opportunity for transparency and the decentralization, which means you’re not going to have centralized meddling or corruption, at the same time, when people hear blockchain, a lot of them think of stolen wallets, giant hacks, Mt. Gox, and these kinds of flameouts.

They don’t necessarily think of it as being a super secure industry. It’s affiliated with the dark web. It’s affiliated with a lot of these scammers and the people who were in the ads business on the internet a few years ago.

I don’t necessarily think blockchain is going to make people trust Facebook anymore. In fact, I’m not sure if there’s a lot that Facebook can do to rebuild that trust. That said, I don’t think people actually care about privacy that much. I think they care about utility, and they care about where their friends are.

The biggest problem for Facebook isn’t that people don’t trust it, it’s that the people’s friends aren’t there, that people aren’t posting status updates anymore, that people have moved on to SnapChat and YouTube and Instagram.

Luckily, they own Instagram so that’s not as big of a problem for them. But really, they need to focus on the utility of their apps more than I think they do the privacy. They need to avoid more scandals, but nobody’s like, “I choose my social network based on privacy.”


CCN: Yes, and I guess they also need to focus on increasing user engagement, which is funny because Zuckerberg, in his New Year post, basically said, “User engagement’s going to go down, profits are going to down because we’re focusing on privacy.”

JC: Yes. I think he’s focusing on privacy but also focusing on digital well-being. I think that’s the real thing that’s weighed down on some of Facebook’s profits. That, and the fact that they said that they’re going to double their security and content moderation force from 10,000 to 20,000 employees in order to prevent election, interference, and hate speech and other content problems on their network. That’s what’s really dragging down profits right now. That, and the engagement issue.

If they want to fix that, there’s a lot of things that they can do that don’t really have anything to do with privacy.

But around digital well-being, they want to have less viral video on the site, because that’s kind of low-quality content that people might watch and spend a lot of time watching, but it doesn’t make you feel good afterwards. It makes you feel empty and like you just ate up a big double cheeseburger. Like you felt good for that one moment, but then you feel awful afterwards. And they’re trying to clean that up because they know that long-term, they need to have people to have a good feeling when they leave Facebook if they’re going to keep coming back for years to come.

I think we’re going to see a lot more focus on how do you make sure every post that people see makes them feel good, or at least teaches them something, rather it’s just lots of blinking, flashing lights in that first one second of the video as you scroll by to capture your attention.

CCN: So the OpenID concept you brought up before is interesting because it allows for Facebook, which already has 2 billion users, probably more, to engage in KYC, which is a huge activity that generates probably hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue. Do you also see that having any effect on user engagement and solving some of the problems they’ve had with people impersonating Americans?

JC: Yes. One of the things that we can rely on with Facebook is that if somebody has hundreds of friends, they’re probably real. It’s really tough to build up that kind of friend network if you’re a fake account, and if you are, you basically are tying a bunch of fake accounts together, so if one gets busted, they all end up falling down like a stack of dominoes.

Facebook does have a really good way of being able to tell who is real and who is fake out there. Hopefully, they’re going to be using that to prevent some of the selection interference in these fake accounts, but like you said, that could also give them a leg up when it comes to knowing your customer and making sure you’re not doing money laundering or enabling fraud.

Again, that’s one of those points where the big incumbents who already have built a lot of these technologies may have an advantage over the smaller blockchain companies who might be in the right place in terms of their primary focus, but they haven’t built up on that backend technology they’re going to need to become a success.


CCN: One other question I have with Facebook, because you said they’re in such a great position to do KYC and identify fake accounts. Why haven’t they been able to execute all that on Instagram? The platform has tons of fake accounts and verification is almost impossible to get, although I’m sure…

JC: I’m sure there’s always the fear that if you start terminating too many accounts, you’re going to end up with some false positives and you’re going to delete some really legitimate accounts. And especially in the last few years when they were truly battling it out with SnapChat, I think they were a little bit worried about that.

In the meantime, they have done a lot with artificial intelligence to start being able to weed out fake comments or spam comments. I don’t think you see nearly as many of those like “Buy Viagra” or “Easy way to make money at home” kind of spam that you see in the Instagram comments like you used to.

That doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of bots and fake accounts who were trying to comment in order to get you to follow them back so that they can make more money from sponsored posts or just people running bots to increase their own personal following. And there are definitely troubles with that.

I hope that now that they’ve kind of vanquished SnapChat with its actually 3 million users in the last quarter, I think that means that they can stop focusing on the competition and start focusing on those internal fundamentals, and I think that that’s really going to mean focusing on safety and integrity of the service and making sure everyone on there is real.

And, yes. Honestly, when I have friends who use those auto-commenting services, so they comment on all my photos in hopes of getting me and other people to follow them back, I’m just like, “What are you doing? We’re trying to be real people and interact with each other. I can get it if you’re some business, but if you’re doing this for your own personal account, you’re probably just coming off like a jerk to all your friends.”

CCN: That’s interesting. So I’d like to segue back to blockchain real quick. Where do you see this in 3-5 years based on how you’ve seen it progress since you started covering it?

JC: I think what we’ll see is that the focus will move away from “Oh, my gosh, how much is the ethereum price? How much is the bitcoin price?” to “What are the utilities that can be built on the blockchain?”

I think there will be plenty of those in the developed world for new financial services, new ways to prevent corruption in businesses and keep track of things.

But I’m actually really excited about the financial inclusivity opportunities in the developing world, whether that’s being able to create identification systems that are truly immutable for refugees so that they can access services, or provide bank accounts, or something like a bank account to the unbanked in parts of the developing world where you might not want to have some cash on you because you could easily get robbed when security isn’t as good in the physical world. But if you have it on a blockchain, it’s tough for somebody to really steal it from you.


So I think we’re going to see some awesome opportunities, and that’s where the real focus of the blockchain industry will be.

That said, it’s tough to tell where these coins are going to go. I do think it’s probably pertinent for most people to have at least a small position in them given that there’s definitely an opportunity that they go from where they are now to many, many, more zeroes worth a lot more than they are now. But you can only obviously invest where you’re comfortable losing because everything could just go to zero, especially if the cryptocurrencies don’t solve these scalability problems.

Fundamentally, there are so many coins out there that I think are really just giant scams that are basically just people who put out these tokens as a way to get rich, that people should really be focusing on those primary, fundamental coins like bitcoin and ethereum rather than worrying too much about speculating on all these random old coins.

CCN: One other thing I want to get your perspective on. We sat down earlier today with Joseph Lubin who is the founder of ConsenSys. ConsensYs is doing something really drastic. It’s the hub-and-spoke model. They have 50 different companies that, in theory, could be unicorns. I think this is a real pivot from the traditional venture capital model which is, “Let me raise $100 million fund. Let me invest in all these different venture capital companies.” Do you think this is a trend we’re going to see continue in crypto and outside of crypto? Or do you think this is a one-time thing with ConsenSys?

JC: We’ve seen some of these start-up studios over the years, whether that’s north or you just want to call it Lone Pines out of Seattle.

Basically, they have a core team, often with a great product and technologist. And they come up with these ideas and then they farm them out to operators who take them on and the core company and studio keeps a big percentage of the equity. From what I’ve heard with ConsenSys is that their take is outrageous, like 50% or more.

I think what that really signals is that there is a massive lack of legitimacy and proper signalling in the cryptocurrency industry. There are so many start-ups, so many developers out there, and nobody’s really sure who to trust. These start-ups are willing to give away a massive chunk of their equity if they can tie in with a reputable company, with a good name brand like ConsenSys, who might be able to help them with recruiting, and fundraising, and these other things.

I think that’s really just a sign that there’s a lot of lack of trust in the cryptocurrency industry. I’m not sure that as the industry matures and some of that trust starts to accrue, that we’ll necessarily see people being able to get away with this exploitative model of ConsenSys.

CCN: We are in a restless industry. Anything else that you think is a really pressing trend that you want to talk about?

JC: I think some of the most important stuff right now is really around derivatives and shorts. There’s been a lot of ways that you can buy cryptocurrency, but the problem is, when you have them work where you can only buy and you can’t short, it’s easy for bubbles to develop.

So it’s actually really healthy for financial ecosystems to have methods to short these coins. I think that’s going to be very important to the cryptocurrency world to make sure that the prices stay in check and we have less of that massive volatility because nobody’s going to want to use this as a currency or even a utility if the prices are fluctuating so massively.

I hope that we’ll see more start-ups and more developers embracing the idea, offering derivatives, and ways to short cryptocurrencies. I think with that, we’ll see the kind of stability that will bring in the really big banks and investment banks and these massive corporations that control billions and billions of dollars.

I think they’ll only get involved with cryptocurrency once they’re sure that the custodianship and the bubbles and all of these problems have been taken care of.

CCN: I still want to address one point. Intercontinental Exchange, which owns the New York Stock Exchange, just entered with Bakkt. What kind of consequences do you think that’s going to have in the industry?

JC: I think it’s important for there to be accessibility for buying cryptocurrencies because I think there certainly is an opportunity for financial mobility for people. That’s it.

A lot of retail investors are not up-to-date enough on what’s going on in crypto to be able to make wise investments, and I was talking with the Robinhood CEO about this earlier. When they launched Robinhood Crypto in February, the ethereum price was in the $800s. Now it’s in the $200s.

That means most of the retail investors, mostly, like younger kids without that much money who invested in ethereum through Robinhood have lost their money. I think it could be dangerous to offer that much accessibility and democratization of access without the accompanying education.

So I hope that if the New York Stock Exchange wants to tie in with crypto, then it’s doing enough to make sure that the people who do invest there aren’t taking it the way that they invest in a normal stock which probably has a lot more stability.

I want to be out there and do the education and just say, “Hey, this is a volatile market. Never invest more than you’re willing to lose 100% of.” Otherwise, you’re going to end up with more of those horror stories of people mortgaging their homes or taking out loans or using their student loans and then burning it all and then all of their money on crypto and be stuck in debt.

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Andreessen Horowitz Invests $15 Million in MakerDAO’s Algorithmic Stablecoin.

Andreessen Horowitz has made a major investment in a cryptocurrency project that algorithmically adjusts the supply of coins to keep their value stable.


The American venture capital firm, which has invested in crypto startups like CryptoKitties and OpenBazaar in the past, purchased 6 percent of the total supply of MKR tokens through its $300 million crypto fund, a16z. The fund committed a total of $15 million to the MakerDAO project and marked their investment as a “strategic purchase.” Holding MKR tokens will offer a16z the rights to govern MakerDAO and the Dai Credit System as it becomes the first decentralized autonomous stablecoin organization.




The Dai Credit System proposes to handle a decentralized stablecoin called Dai using smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. The self-governing ecosystem creates the durable token when people collateralize their assets to secure a loan. Dai becomes the central cryptocurrency to denote the loan amount that is equivalent to the USD value of the collateral deposit.


“A set of autonomous smart contracts coordinates and runs the Maker system, which means that anyone with an internet connection and collateral can create Dai without the need for trusted intermediaries,” a16z stated. “To ensure the system remains solvent, a network of market makers is incentivized to liquidate loans that risk becoming undercollateralized, thereby removing excess Dai from circulation and keeping the balance of Dai to collateral in check.”




Katie Haun, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said in a press statement that the future economy would belong to decentralized stablecoins. The former federal prosecutor, known to have led a probe into Mt. Gox and Silk Road, two of the most high profile criminal cases in the crypto industry’s history, recognized MakerDAO for being a “first mover and innovator” in the burgeoning stablecoin industry.


Haun’s confidence in the MakerDAO project could be attributed to the general inefficiencies of traditional cryptocurrencies, mainly price instability. In a16z’s recently-published blog post, Haun argued that crypto volatility had been to blame for their dismissive adoption rate. By particularly mentioning lending, one of the critical working areas of MakerDAO,  Haun, along with co-author, Jesse Walden, said that making a long-term loan in bitcoin would not be practical because of two underlying risks such loans pose.




“First that the loan would be repaid, and second, whether the bitcoin would be worth more or less at the time the loan came due,” they wrote.

However, the Dai token is itself backed by ether (ETH), a cryptocurrency that has lost 80 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar this year. To ensure the pegging does not rely on only one cryptocurrency, MakerDAO plans to introduce a diverse basket of collateral types, which would include tokenized equities and fiat-backed stablecoins.

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Cryptocurrency Prices Highly Correlated to Regulatory Action: Central Bank Report.

New research has found that, despite the popular idea that cryptocurrencies operate generally outside the reach of national regulators, regulatory actions still have a huge impact on crypto markets. The research is presented in a report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), an organisation owned by 60 of the world’s central banks from countries cumulatively making up 95 percent of global GDP.

In the report, the data presented shows that while markets do not generally respond to news about central banks creating their own digital currencies or issuing general non-specific warnings about cryptocurrencies, they show a significant response to regulatory announcements regarding the legal status of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, as well as possible expansion and enforcement of AML, KYC, and CFT regulations.

According to the report, four major findings were established about the response of crypto markets to regulatory actions and announcements.

First of all, crypto markets were found to respond most significantly to news reports and events concerning bans, restrictions, or legal battles on cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Where the news in question directly concerns regulatory decisions or actions regarding the legal status of crypto assets, markets respond very strongly.

This also includes issues surrounding securities regulation, such as the ongoing ambiguity regarding the United States SEC’s pending decision on whether to permit a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This does not only work negatively, as according to the report, markets also react positively to news about possible new legal frameworks designed to accommodate cryptocurrencies and ICOs.

bitcoin price

BTC/USD | Bitfinex

Second, regulatory news about AML/CFT measures and restrictions on crypto’s ability to integrate with traditional financial systems due to regulatory action or non-action was also found to have a noticeable effect on crypto markets. For example, news that a crypto exchange is denied access to banking services within a regulated financial system has a noticeably negative effect on the local market. Conversely, news about regulatory green lights for crypto startups to engage with regulated financial organisations, such as a successful New York BitLicense application, has a markedly positive effect on markets.

Third, non-specific general warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrency investment and trading have a negligible effect on the market. The same also holds true of announcements by financial regulators and central banks announcing their own plans to issue central bank digital currency (CBDC). Markets generally ignore such pronouncements for good or for bad, which was seen earlier this year when the EU slapped down Estonia’s bid to issue a national cryptocurrency. The news had no noticeable negative effect on crypto markets, as did news of Venezuela’s plan to launch a state sanctioned cryptocurrency backed by its crude oil reserves.

The report’s final finding is that, despite crypto’s trans-border accessibility and functionality, significant price differences are still noticeable across jurisdictions, indicating that there is a significant level of market segmentation.

Explaining this phenomenon, an excerpt form the report reads:

“These results suggest that cryptocurrency markets rely on regulated financial institutions to operate and that these markets are segmented across jurisdictions, bringing cryptocurrencies within reach of national regulation. […] Because they rely on regulated financial institutions to operate and markets are (still) segmented across jurisdictions, cryptocurrencies are within the reach of national regulation.”

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Malaysia is Directing Its Three Largest Industries to Blockchain Technology.

The Malaysian government is seeking to explore blockchain solutions in the nation’s three largest industries: renewable energy, palm oil, and Islamic finance.


A task force named the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) will be spearheading the move to adopt blockchain in each industry in order to increase transparency, sustainability, and logistical efficiency according to a  report  published last week.


Renewable Energy

MIGHT holds talks with energy companies in Malaysia to evaluate the ways they could be using blockchain to increase renewable energy adoption. When sellers put energy on the blockchain, the transparent nature of the system means that they must declare exactly how the electricity was generated for buyers to scrutinize. Through blockchain adoption, buyers can now choose to buy green or renewable energy only, whether from energy companies or even private owners of solar panels with excess energy, a process which is often far more efficient than sending energy over longer distances from non-local power stations.


Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s sole provider of utilities, has already looked into blockchain solutions and the General Manager of Innovations stated that the company has been holding workshops to identify use cases and discuss adoption with business owners.


Palm Oil

Palm oil is a controversial product at the moment due to unsavory reports of bad practices and child labor being used in the industry around the world. Blockchain adoption can help identify certified palm oil operations with ethical practices and allow buyers to identify the source of their palm oil before making a purchase.


Around 8% of Malaysia’s GDP comes from agriculture, and 43% of agricultural revenue comes from palm oil sales, making this a major area to undergo blockchain adoption. As well as having benefits for buyers, blockchain adoption would help the government identify and monitor palm oil operations with sustainable practices and regulate accordingly.


Islamic Finance

As CCN has reported before, Islam forbids usury (the collection of interest on a loan) under the principle that money has to be based on a real commodity and cannot simply be generated from more money. Debt creation must be backed by something like gold as opposed to futures as is common practice in Western fractional reserve banking, the system that is to blame for the 2008 world financial recession.



Islamic finance could also see a significant boost by adopting blockchain.

The strict ethical regulations in Islamic banking create higher overhead costs in the industry, and Malaysia is looking into how blockchain could help offset these costs while remaining compliant with Sharia law. Already in the Middle East banks have begun pegging debts to units of gold and  representing the debt as a smart contract on the blockchain.


Crypto firms in Dubai and Malaysia have also pegged sums of gold to cryptocurrency units to allow debt creation compliant with Sharia law.

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Bitcoin Mutual Fund CEO Explains Why Canada is More Blockchain-Friendly than the U.S.

Canada has set the pace as the first government to ever approve an exclusive bitcoin mutual fund. This builds upon its reputation as a friendly environment for emerging technologies.


The atmosphere in Canada seems to be freer and more conducive to innovation in this field, based on the numerous developments that the industry has experienced even prior to this time. This is in comparison to its prominent neighbour, the United States, whose Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) upholds strict measures while trying to figure out appropriate regulatory systems for the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.




In an exclusive interview with CCN, Sean Clark, CEO of First Block Capital Inc. — the operator of FBC Bitcoin Trust, the first bitcoin mutual fund to trade in Canada — discussed the underlying factors that make Canada a country that is friendly to new technologies such as cryptocurrency. According to Clark, unrelenting education, political will, and open-mindedness, among other factors make the North American nation an ideal hub for technological innovation.


He told CCN:


“I think in general, the Canadian regulatory bodies understand the potential benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrency, and traditionally Canadian regulators have been open to technological innovation. That is different from what you get in places like the US.”


Canadian Regulators are More Open to Dialogue

Clark noted that his company, in collaboration with other experts, worked directly with the Canadian securities regulators and educated them for a period of six months while also using the discussions as an opportunity to build relationships. Comparing this to what is obtained in the United States, especially with the SEC, he believes that the Canadian regulators appear to be more open to dialogue with regards to technological innovations.


The elected leadership of Canada is also identified by Clark as a key factor that is enabling the openness of government to cryptocurrency and other emerging technologies. He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is embracing blockchain technology. Also, the Canadian leadership sees the United States’ increased isolation of these technologies as an opportunity to get skilled labour migrated into Canada to help contribute to the economy.




“This is what we’re seeing trickling down to the regulatory environment, he said, “as they are not stone-walling but rather embracing and wanting to understand the implications of blockchain technology and working with local companies to be able to understand and have the asset class flourish.”


Another important factor that Clark noted is that the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is one of very few capital markets globally where you can see blockchain and cryptocurrency companies publicly listed.


[Editor’s Note: Several blockchain ETFs have been publicly listed in the U.S., but regulators asked them not to include the word “blockchain” in their names.]


Investors’ Safety is Paramount


Source: Shutterstock

While the the government of Canada offers a relatively conducive environment to blockchain technology and digital currency, Clark noted that they are also ensuring that both institutions and investors are protected against the risks involved. While funds such as First Block Capital are given access into the markets, more critical attention is paid towards them, especially in terms of auditing. So the government and regulatory bodies keep a very close eye on these funds, which facilitates a more cooperative relationship between the companies and the regulators.


Elaborating on the product offered by First Block, Clark described it as a true bitcoin trust, claiming that there is nothing like it currently existing in the industry, even on a global level. The only comparable product as at the time of the interview, he said, was the Bitcoin Investment Trust (OTC: GBTC) from Grayscale  in the states. However, while GBTC offers its clients fractional ownership of bitcoin pools, First Block’s services are entirely different in the sense that subscribers’ actual fiat values are exclusively used to purchase the equivalent worth of bitcoin for the period of investment and kept in cold storage to be redeemable in the future. It is like an ETF for qualified investors.


Looking Into the Future

Looking into the future, Clark said that he believes that the digital asset market class will grow into a multi-trillion dollar asset class over the next 5 to 10 years. However, he identified the prevailing bear market cycle in the near-term, so he expects bitcoin and altcoin prices to trade sideways or even down for at least the next four months, ahead of another significant bull run in the next one-and-a-half to two years. This would be powered by the entrance of institutions into the space and the likely approval of ETFs.


Clark concluded by elaborating on his company’s commitment towards creating financial products and providing legitimacy and transparency to the cryptocurrency asset class through traditional equities. This he expects to improve the confidence of investors, who will no longer need to go through unregulated exchanges to participate in the cryptocurrency marketplace. According to him, this will eliminate a lot of risks and at the same time give institutional investors access into the crypto space just like they have access to equities.

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ConsenSys Has Begun Using Ethereum to Supply Electricity to Texas.

Grid+, a blockchain startup operated by ConsenSys, the largest blockchain software company in the world operated by Ethereum co-creator Joseph Lubin, has successfully started to supply electricity to its clients in Texas.



Through the use of a unique hardware gateway system and a blockchain solution, the startup has been able to distribute renewable electricity like solar and wind energy to consumers throughout the US on the Ethereum mainnet.


Ethereum co-creator Joseph Lubin, who has recently expanded the team of ConsenSys to 900 employees, said:


“Groundbreaking milestone. The tireless Grid+ team has begun supplying power to their first four customers.”


Importance of Decentralized Energy Distributors

The hardware and software stack of Grid+ are utilized to process payments for electricity in real time, allowing consumers to programmatically buy and sell electricity with a function called Smart Agents.


For large-scale properties, like factories for instance that consume a significant amount of electricity on a daily basis, it is possible to process multiple payments within a short period of time to purchase and use energy that they need without acquiring an abundant supply of energy.




With renewable energy sources, it is still difficult for grid operators to fully maximize their supply. In Chile last year, when local solar power plants over produced solar energy, local grid operators had no efficient way of storing and distributing energy throughout the country and had to give its supply of electricity for free.



ConsenSys Founder Joseph Lubin | Source: Collision Conference/Flickr

Over the past few years, especially in the deregulated market of renewable electricity, the demand for trusted distributors of energy has increased significantly, with renewable sources of energy including wind and solar power securing 20 percent of the market share of the US.


Targeting the deregulated market of renewable energy, ConsenSys developed a system that utilizes the Raiden Network, a scaling solution on Ethereum that is often described as the Ethereum network’s Lightning, which allows decentralized applications (dApps) and users to process micropayments on the Ethereum network with low fees.




“Through this experience, ConsenSys identified the opportunity to form Grid+, which will build natively Ethereum-based utilities in deregulated markets. Grid+ will demonstrate production ready blockchain-based energy solutions at scale in competitive commercial environments in order to enable the transactive grid of the future and prove the advantages of Ethereum over incumbent technologies,” the Grid+ and ConsenSys team said.


Scaling and Off-Chain Transactions

The integration of Raiden Network and a second-layer scaling solution could become a monumental step towards enabling second-layer scaling for mainstream users at a large-scale. Currently, the Ethereum network is able to process around 12 transactions per second on its mainnet but for a network like Grid+ that primarily relies on Internet of Things (IoT) devices, at least thousands of transactions per second is required.


Over the past nine months, a growing number of dApps have started to utilize platforms like 0x and Raiden that focus on reducing the burden on the Ethereum mainnet to maximize transaction capacity, which is beneficial for Ethereum even if it scales to tens of thousands of transactions per second in the years to come.

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Bitmain Rival Ebang Launches New Line of Uber-Efficient Bitcoin Miners.

One of Bitmain’s biggest rivals is ready to give the bitcoin mining giant a run for its money as both firms prepare to go public in Hong Kong.


Upstart Bitcoin Mining Firm Unveils New 10nm Chip, Miner Series

The China-based Ebang Communication, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips for bitcoin miners, has unveiled the next generation of its flagship product line, complete with an upgraded chip that makes significant strides in energy efficiency.


Ebang made the announcement at the World Digital Mining Summit in Georgia, stating that the Ebit Miner E11, E11+, and E11++ will be available for preorder soon.


The E11 series features a 10nm chip, the same size featured in its E10 product line. However, according to a product flyer circulated on Twitter by Blockstream CSO Samson Mow, the E11 series is capable of achieving phenomenal performance for a 10nm chip. Per the flyer, the Ebit E11++ can achieve a power consumption as low as 45J/TH at 44TH/s while even the lower-end E11 bases model offers a hashrate of 30TH/s at 65J/TH.


#Ebang has just announced their next gen miners, the E11 series with 10nm chips up to efficiencies of 45J/TH. That’s for the entire miner at the wall, not the chip. Ebang has maxed out gains for the 10nm process node, and it far exceeds Bitmain’s 7nm stats. #WDMS #miningconf ????


— Samson Mow (@Excellion) September 22, 2018


More Efficient Than Bitmain’s New 7nm Chip?

Bitmain, also based out of China, claims to possess a 70 percent share of the cryptocurrency ASIC market. Shortly before Ebang unveiled its E11 series, Bitmain CEO Jihan Wu announced that the firm had developed a 7nm chip for its yet-to-be-released next mining rig generation.


Wu said that Bitmain’s 7nm chip can achieve a max power efficiency of 41J/TH, which does not include the rest of the mining rig. Consequently, it’s unlikely that Bitmain’s next generation of bitcoin mining ASICs will have comparable performance to the E11 series.


As CCN reported, market research firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. recently published a report alleging that Bitmain, which is said to be worth at least $15 billion, is losing its competitive edge in ASIC development.


Of course, price points matter, and it remains to be seen whether Bitmain — which is almost certainly holding much more capital than Ebang — can price its miners low enough to be profitable while also maintaining its dominant market share.


Both firms, along with fellow China-based mining firm Canaan Creative, plan to hold initial public offerings (IPOs) on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) within the near future. Ebang and Canaan are said to be targeting raises as large as $1 billion while recent reports have suggested that Bitmain will likely raise $3 billion.

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Green Energy Bitcoin Mining Will Have ‘Insignificant Environmental Impact’

As the Bitcoin network grows, so too does the concern around its environmental impact, and with good reason. Bitcoin consumes more electricity than the entire island of Ireland, and that power consumption is set to steadily rise in the coming years. Beyond the electricity required to run the network, there are the materials required to make ASIC miners and GPUs as well as air conditioning, etc.


So what does this mean for planet Earth? Is Bitcoin a godsend or an environmental disaster?




The person with all the answers is Hass McCook, a civil engineer as well as a Bitcoin researcher and advocate who has done the deepest investigation into Bitcoin’s energy requirements that’s ever been carried out. His recent 39-page report which was continued from his 2014 research which revealed the following findings:










McCook’s new 39-page report is a thorough exploration of the subject matter with updated info. He also has a ten-part Youtube series  explaining his findings.


McCook spoke to CCN about the environmental impact of Bitcoin and the future of money.


What led you to become interested in the environmental impact of Bitcoin? Would you describe yourself as an environmentalist?


What got me interested in my original career in Civil Engineering, was that I naively believed that physical infrastructure was the key to delivering economic justice and empowerment to the “bottom of the pyramid”.


From basic water and sanitary needs, all the way to highways, airports, and railroads – the Civil Engineer contributes towards keeping us civilized and surviving. But infrastructure comes at an environmental cost. Of which I know quite well through professional experience and study. Now for the part about Bitcoin! I believe that it is the only form of infrastructure, physical or digital, that matters in the fight for global economic freedom and fairness.




You’re one of the few Bitcoin maximalists who openly acknowledges that while fiat is very harmful to the environment, Bitcoin is problematic as well, and your investigation into Bitcoin’s energy use is the most comprehensive one there is. In your opinion, is there room for both fiat and Bitcoin in the future, or does something have to give?


In my opinion regarding room for two, in the short term, i.e., the next 10 to 15 years, yes. In the long term, 25 to 50 years, no. The market will decide either way – but I’d say that there would only be room for Bitcoin around the end of this century.


How would you describe the results of your findings briefly to our readers?


To dangerously explain by analogy – I’ll express things in infrastructure asset analogy. It was the lens I first took when trying to understand Bitcoin as a beginner. To analyse the impact of a highway for example, we first must understand the design, construction and operation of the highway. In Bitcoin’s case, you need to understand Bitcoin mining economics, and the construction and operation of all of the ASIC units that power The Blockchain. From there, it’s simple to get the numbers on costs and impacts.


The summary is that Bitcoin mining uses a LOT of energy (power). That said, its environmental impact is 100% attached to the “green performance” (or lack thereof) of the global energy grid. If the global grid isn’t almost emission-free by 2050, the renewable energy industry should be ashamed at the lack of their market success. But if the grid is emissions-free, Bitcoin will have insignificant environmental impact.


I also compared Bitcoin and Gold Mining’s environmental impacts – and the results were ugly for Gold. After seeing the data, no true environmentalist should be happy to support the jewellery industry any longer. Over 40% of the overall damage done by gold is done for gold jewellery alone. This is also all before we get into the impact of mining other precious metals.




What measures can and should be put in place to lower the negative impact of Bitcoin in terms of energy consumption?


Placing measures on Bitcoin is like trying to herd cats. Things will flow naturally based on market incentives and the rules of the game. The energy consumption issue will never be solved, nor do we want it to be, as Proof of Work and the monetization of Energy is fundamental to Bitcoin. The problem is emissions and environmental impacts of the power plants that power the manufacture and operation of the mining hardware.


What are your thoughts on proof of stake alternatives?


For me, “If it’s not Proof of Work, it isn’t money.” I do envisage many good uses for proof of stake in the form of 2nd layer solutions or utility tokens though.


What does Bitcoin and Bitcoin maximalism mean to you?


Everything. Enough meaning to do dozens and dozens of stories. I believe that physical civil (roads, rail, sanitation, fibre and communications networks, etc.) and digital (Internet, Bitcoin) infrastructure are the only things that will stop the rot of inequality – which is predominantly a side-effect of the root-cause problem; the “printing” of money.

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Winklevoss-Led Cryptocurrency Exchange Gemini Eyes UK Expansion: Report.

Gemini, the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange founded by bitcoin billionaires Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, is rumored to be eyeing an expansion into the United Kingdom.


Gemini Plots Transatlantic Expansion

Citing two sources close to the process, the Financial Times reports that the New York-based exchange operator has hired advisors regarding a move into Britain and may soon submit an application to the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for regulatory authorization to open an exchange in the country under the agency’s e-money licensing program.


Gemini has not confirmed the report, telling FT that it has “no immediate plans” but is evaluating opportunities to increase its global presence.




“Gemini continues to explore potential jurisdictions around the globe to provide a best-in-class digital asset exchange and custodian which will enable growth and infrastructure to the entire digital asset community,” FT cited the exchange operator as saying. “Although we have no immediate plans, we . . . will always evaluate opportunities that allow the global economy to buy, sell and store digital assets in a regulated, secure and compliant manner.”


In March, San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase received such an e-money license from the FCA, authorizing it to provide payment and electronic money services to customers in the U.K. and 23 other European Union countries. Coinbase UK  customers can currently trade GBP against BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, and ETC.


Gemini currently ranks as the world’s 61st-largest cryptocurrency exchange, according to CoinMarketCap, with a 24-hour volume of about $12 million and a 30-day volume of nearly $750 million. Binance, the highest-volume exchange, averages more than $1 billion in daily volume.




Recently, the exchange launched a fully-collateralized, USD-pegged cryptocurrency called the Gemini dollar (GUSD).


U.K. Lawmakers  Call for End to ‘Wild West’ Crypto Markets



Earlier this month, FCA chief Andrew Bailey said that regulators need to take a balanced approach on cryptocurrency, mitigating risks and maintaining consumer protections while also leaving sufficient room for innovation. Lawmakers, though, have been more critical of the nascent industry, alleging that regulators need to cease with the “feeble warnings” and regulate the “Wild West” cryptocurrency markets.




Increased regulation would likely not be a major hurdle for Gemini, though, as the exchange is already one of the few cryptocurrency companies to receive a charter authorizing them to operate in New York under the state’s rigorous BitLicense framework. The firm has also partnered with Nasdaq to police its markets for illegal trading activities using the stock exchange giant’s market surveillance technology.


According to a recent survey, 30 percent of London residents plan to invest in cryptocurrency assets, compared to 13 percent of the national average. A previous survey found that 27 percent of male millennials living in the U.K. consider bitcoin a better investment than real estate.

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Vitalik Says Ethereum Can Scale to 500 tx/s Using Zcash Technology.

Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin has a plan to scale the Ethereum network to accommodate a ~3,200 percent increase in transactions without the use of second-layer technologies such as Plasma.


Buterin: ZK-SNARKS Could Help ETH Scale to 500 tx/s

Writing on an ETH research forum in a post originally published on Saturday, Buterin said that Ethereum can borrow a technological innovation from privacy-centric cryptocurrency Zcash to “mass-validate” ETH transactions.


That technology, ZK-SNARKS, allows relaying nodes to “verify the correctness of computations without having to execute them” or “learn what was executed,” per a post on the Ethereum Foundation blog. Buterin elaborates that relayers can batch transactions together and then publish a ZK-SNARK to prove their validity, greatly compressing the amount of data stored in the blockchain while keeping all transactions on-chain.


He wrote:


“There are two classes of user: (i) transactor, and (ii) relayer. A relayer takes a set of operations from transactors, and combines them all into a transaction and makes a ZK-SNARK to prove the validity, and publishes the ZK-SNARK and the transaction data in a highly compressed form to the blockchain. A relayer gets rewarded for this by transaction fees from transactors.”


Buterin estimates that the integration and adoption of ZK-SNARKS could allow Ethereum to process a maximum of around 500 transactions per second, up from the current cap of approximately 15. That not only represents a 3,200 percent increase in network capacity but also accomplishes this feat apart from Plasma and other second-layer scaling solutions that increase network capacity by moving the majority of transactions off the main blockchain while retaining its security. If used in tandem with second-layer technologies following their eventual launch, the scaling improvement would be even more pronounced.


ETH Must Scale to Make dApps Mainstream


CryptoKitties contributed to ETH network congestion last December when its daily user base peaked above 14,000.

Such scaling improvements are crucial if Ethereum hopes to achieve mass adoption. As CCN recently reported, decentralized applications (dApps) that run on Ethereum have struggled to achieve widespread adoption, and only a few projects (mostly decentralized exchanges) have more than 500 daily users.


If one or more dApps does build a large user base, it would rapidly clog the Ethereum blockchain and send gas fees soaring. This already happened last December, shortly after the launch of CryptoKitties. At its peak, the dApp had around 14,000 daily users, a minuscule number compared to traditional web applications but enough to visibly disrupt  the ability of users to transact on the Ethereum network. One startup even postponed its initial coin offering (ICO), citing CryptoKitties-linked congestion.




Buterin isn’t the first developer to suggest that adapting Zcash-based technology to Ethereum could make the latter’s protocol more robust. In early 2017, CCN reported that a group consisting of researchers from both organizations had launched “Project Alchemy,” an initiative to add zero-knowledge proofs to Ethereum to help anonymize the protocol, with a particular eye toward ensuring that smart contract applications such as electronic voting can be executed transparently without sacrificing user privacy. Previously, the group had teased plans to build a decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX) that would allow transactions between the two blockchains.

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1 in 3 Londoners Plan to Invest in Crypto, Twice the National Average: Survey.

A recent  survey reveals that 30% of Londoners plan to invest in cryptocurrencies, over twice as much as the national average of 13%.


The survey was carried out by Atomik on behalf of Rathbone Investment Management and had a sample size of 1503 adults throughout the UK.




Rathbone IM investment director Robert Hughes-Penney attributed the increased public awareness and the 2017 bull run to the sudden interest:


“Lucrative returns made by the early adopters of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been widely publicised. These early investors have been followed by others looking to make similar gains.”


The survey found that 37% of adults under 35 were interested in investing in digital assets, while only 4% of people over 45 would consider making an investment. While digital assets are obviously very popular among London investors, more people had money saved in traditional investments like savings accounts or stocks and shares. It also found that one in eight cryptocurrency investors in London in the capital attribute their current wealth to digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum compared to just four percent in other parts of the UK.


He added:


“These figures suggest there are a number of investors in London with shorter investment goals who have been more susceptible to the so-called bitcoin craze, while outside of the capital investors have mostly stayed clear of what is a high-risk asset class.”


A June survey also revealed that a quarter of UK millennials prefer Bitcoin to real estate investment, viewing the digital asset as a more promising opportunity than purchasing physical property, with a clear preference for Bitcoin over stocks, government bonds, and gold demonstrated in a separate survey by Blockchain Capital this year as well.


As citizens of an international hub of fintech and finance, it’s promising to see Londoners show such firm support for cryptocurrency investment. The city itself is home to many crypto projects and firms, with TransferGo  remittance service recently opening crypto trading in response to strong demand for digital assets and East London launching its own cryptocurrency called the Local Pound to encourage spending in local businesses – meanwhile, CoinBase recently enabling British Pounds as a payment option on the platform to make the purchase of cryptocurrencies easier and cheaper for UK customers.




A July survey by securities trading platform SharesPost found that 72% of cryptocurrency investors plan to buy more cryptocurrency this year with the majority expecting mass adoption by 2025. 66% of investors also expect prices to rise in the coming year.

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Crypto-Funded Web Browser Brave Sees Phenomenal Growth as Google Shreds Privacy Policy.

Brave, the web browser created by Mozilla founder Brendan Eich and funded through an initial coin offering (ICO), is rapidly carving out a significant market share as entrenched giants like Google Chrome shred their privacy policies.


New Chrome Update Forces Browser Login

Quietly included in the browser’s most recent update, Chrome’s latest affront to user privacy is a new policy that forces users to sign the browser into their account the next time the login to a Google service such as Gmail. This authorizes Chrome to ship your local browsing data to Google, enabling you to “sync” it across all your devices, which previously had required the user’s opt-in consent.


This policy change was identified by cryptographer Matthew Green, also a professor at Johns Hopkins University and a scientist with the Zcash project, who wrote in a  blog post that the change was sufficiently anathematic to user security and privacy that he will no longer be using the Chrome browser.




Noting that the policy change could even have “serious” privacy implications even if sync is turned off, he wrote:


“In short, Google has transformed the question of consenting to data upload from something affirmative  that I actually had to put effort into — entering my Google credentials and signing into Chrome — into something I can now do with a single accidental click. This is a dark pattern. Whether intentional or not, it has the effect of making it easy for people to activate sync without knowing it, or to think they’re already syncing and thus there’s no additional cost to increasing Google’s access to their data.”


Brave Browser Hits 4 Million Active Users


Brave founder Brendan Eich | Source: Frédéric Chateaux/Flickr

Google’s decision to further erode its data protection policies presents an opportunity for privacy-focused companies like Brave to make further penetrate the crowded browser market.


The Brave browser aims to “reset the web” by blocking advertisements by default and instead giving users the ability to opt-in to unobtrusive ads that are native to the user’s browser, do not track them as they traverse the web, and — according to the company — provide publishers and content creators with a greater revenue share than they currently receive.




Payments are made with Basic Attention Token (BAT), the ERC-20 token issued through the Brave ICO. Recognizing that most publishers do not want to bother with holding and converting cryptocurrency themselves, the service interfaces with trading platform Uphold to automatically convert tokens into publishers’ local fiat currency.


Last week, Brave announced a partnership with blockchain identity startup Civic to allow verified publishers to accept their monthly BAT payments in an external Ethereum wallet rather than the default one provided by the browser. Through the partnership, publishers will use Civic’s secure, private KYC service to authorize the payments to their external wallet.


Far from a niche piece of software though, Brave has rapidly onboarded users since it launched following a $36 million ICO last year. To wit, Brave’s Android app has more than 10 million downloads, and the company says that the browser currently has 4 million monthly active users across all devices, up from 3 million in July.




Moreover, the Brave browser has also been earning platitudes from professional reviewers, including Popular Science, as a viable alternative to Chrome and Safari.


“Developers built this browser on Chromium, an open-source project that also serves as the basis of Chrome, so you might notice some similarities with the look and feel of that app,” the publication wrote in praise of Brave. “In addition to stellar security, it includes all the usual features you would expect from a mobile browser, including incognito browsing, browser bookmarks, and password management.”


However, Brave hasn’t just been building a viable alternative to Chrome, it has also begun to take the privacy fight to Google. As CCN reported, the firm recently filed two formal complaints against Google, arguing that the firm has violated Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The company also dumped Google as the browser’s default search engine in France and Germany, replacing it with privacy-focused search tool Qwant.

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Regulators Are Landing Punches, But There's a Long Crypto Fight Ahead

There are shifts at ShapeShift and not everyone's happy with them.

When the token exchange recently announced a new "membership" model with mandatory account identification, there was outrage from certain members of the cryptocurrency community who felt it was abandoning its pledge to privacy and destroying its core value proposition.


Bitcoin developer Peter Todd, for one, was brutal:

ShapeShift described the move as a way to provide added perks to loyal customers and to explore approaches to tokenizing that loyalty. But it was clear that the threat of action by regulators played a big hand in the move.

In a blog post announcing the move, CEO Erik Voorhees, a prominent crypto libertarian and vocal proponent of individuals' rights' to private value exchange, acknowledged to his customers that the mandatory aspect of the new model "sucks." And in a reply to crypto developer Greg Slepak's suggestion on Twitter that he write an "honest blog" about what happened, Voorhees responded by saying "What I write is being watched very closely. Please give us time."

But in a statement provided to CoinDesk, Voorhees offered further explanation for ShapeShift's policy shift. He said an official know-your-customer (KYC) identification system "was not added a result of any enforcement action, but rather a proactive step we took to derisk the company amid uncertain and changing global regulations."

"We remain committed to the struggle for financial privacy and sovereignty for all humans," he said, but added,

"Ultimately, ShapeShift is a corporate entity, and we have to abide by laws around the world. "

New York's AG Office Enters the Fight

Now, with the New York Attorney General's office releasing a report accusing various crypto exchanges of doing too little to prevent market manipulation, one could conclude that regulators are gaining the upper hand in their ongoing battle with the crypto industry's more anarchic elements.

Along with the capitulation at ShapeShift, long viewed as a model for those wanting to conduct exchanges outside of the state surveillance ingrained in KYC identification regimes, it does look as if officialdom is striking some heavy blows right now.

But this will be a long struggle, a boxing match, if you will, that still has many rounds to go. New technologies, the dynamic development of token-based business models and an evolving regulatory landscape will continue to create avenues for blockchain and cryptocurrency developers to protect privacy and challenge government intervention.

That, in turn, will spur regulators to pursue new enforcement approaches to maintain their power, which will be followed by new solutions from the crypto side to deal with those efforts. It's hard to say who will win in the end. Perhaps it will never be resolved.

Some of the battle comes down to defining and managing jurisdictional boundaries — and that doesn't necessarily go in favor of the regulators.

Crypto technology is, for example, ensuring that the New York Department of Financial Services no longer has the de facto global reach it wielded under the previous assumption that any decent financial entity had to operate in the New York market. The reason old-style financial companies felt compelled to submit to NYDFS rules was that the most important financial intermediaries — the investment banks, the correspondent banks, the custodians and so forth — were based in the state. But crypto technology is explicitly intended to bypass those intermediaries and create peer-to-peer exchange.

This is why exchanges like ShapeShift and Kraken felt comfortable opting out of the New York market when they decided that NYDFS's BitLicense was too onerous. They could simply choose not to deal with residents of the state — much to the chagrin of the New York Attorney General's office, which called the exchange's refusal to cooperate with its request for information "alarming."

We'll have to see if there's any negative fallout for Kraken CEO Jesse Powell, who mockingly responded to the NYAG's report by comparing the state to "that abusive, controlling ex you broke up with 3 years ago but they keep stalking you, throwing shade on your new relationships, unable to accept that you have happily moved on and are better off without them." However, Powell's bravado suggests Kraken is confident it has successfully shut itself off from New York residents and so can, effectively, tell the state's officers to take a flying leap.

Ironically, Kraken is able to derive that confidence because of sophisticated technological new tools for managing customer accounts that KYC compliance officers call for — such as monitoring IP addresses, which can indicate if someone trying to trade on the exchange's site is in New York.

New Pro-Privacy Tools

Meanwhile, advances in cryptographic privacy are coming thick and fast, with blockchain developers making strides with tools such as zero-knowledge proofs. Cryptocurrencies such as zcash, monero and dash all enjoy these qualities.

And within Bitcoin Core, work is being done to make it near impossible to trace transactions — a goal that's critical, not so that criminals can exploit cryptocurrencies, but so that enterprises that might want to use these technologies don't expose corporate secrets to their competitors.

"Layer 2" solutions such as the Lightning Network, which allow for transactions to occur "off chain" will also enhance the privacy of cryptocurrency users. Meanwhile, related solutions such as discreet log contracts, which essentially blind information oracles from information about the contracting parties they serve, will create extremely private smart contracts and could encourage crypto "dark pools" whose transactions are invisible.

And of course, there's a big push toward decentralized exchanges. Lawyers often point out that these models are still vulnerable to regulatory oversight, since the developers of the software can be held accountable. But once powerful price discovery systems, atomic swap mechanisms and safe custody models are built so that buyers and sellers can find each other without intermediaries, what's to stop a new "Satoshi Nakamoto" from anonymously bequeathing such a system to the world and avoiding the clutches of the law?

The Law Is the Law, Though

Still, it's naïve to suggest that government doesn't have powerful weapons. If activities that take place on these systems are deemed illegal, then participants must engage them in full knowledge that they are breaking the law. And if they're caught doing so, prison is always a possibility. That threat can be a strong, moderating force on behavior.

The powers of the state are far-reaching. With the implicit threat of jail time or fines, it can force businesses to spend heavily on legal fees and compliance costs without even taken any action. Voorhees told CoinDesk that ShapeShift spent "over a million dollars of legal expenses on this topic" before making the decision to change policy.

So, in reality, we don't know who the ultimate winner is in this crypto-versus-regulators fight.

But perhaps this back and forth can have a positive outcome if it sparks a dialogue around the best way to permit innovation and the degree to which privacy needs to be protected. As I've argued elsewhere, privacy should be viewed as a key element of an effective system of exchange, without which money can cease to fungible.

That's why it's encouraging to see policy makers in various jurisdictions try to give more leeway to innovators in this industry.

On Friday, Rep. Tom Emmer of Illinois, a new co-chair of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, announced he would introduce three new bills providing safe harbor protections with lightweight regulatory models for blockchain startups. And we're seeing jurisdictions like Singapore open up a constructive global dialogue on how to encourage innovation in areas such as utility tokens without leaving developers to fall afoul of securities laws.

Such frameworks can give a lease of life to those building a more frictionless, liberal system of value exchange. It could even provide opportunities for ShapeShift, whose new accounts model includes some interesting opportunities in tokenized membership, which could facilitate experiments in disintermediated and decentralized exchange, even within the confines of a KYC regime.

So, grab yourself some popcorn. This is going to be a long one.

:…ypto-fight-ahead/ ‎

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Italian Champions Juventus the Latest Football Giant to Launch Fan Token

Italian football Serie A champions Juventus FC have become the latest top level European football club to announce a partnership with a blockchain company, with the launch of the ‘Juventus Official Fan Token’. The token, which is being launched as part of a multi-year strategic partnership with blockchain platform is designed to tap into the club’s 340 million-strong global fanbase and evolve its fan engagement strategy with particular focus on embracing millions of Juventus fans based outside of Europe and creating an intimate fan experience for them.

Juventus Fan Token Framework

According to an announcement released by the club, the fan token will be offered for sale to Juventus fans through a groundbreaking scheme known as a Fan Token Offering (FTO), with Q1 2019 tentatively fixed for the general release of the tokens. Holders of Fan Tokens will gain access to an exclusive mobile voting and polling platform that the club will use to ballot its fans and allow their voices to be heard, which improves the connection between club and fans.

Speaking ahead of the planned FTO Giorgio Ricci, Co-Chief Revenue Officer, Head of Global Partnerships and Corporate Revenues of Juventus said:

“Juventus is glad to welcome to our partners. At the Club we are always very careful and pro-active towards innovation and new technologies. Together with we believe we can offer new opportunities to our worldwide fan base to engage in cutting-edge way with their favorite club.”

The Juventus Official Fan Token will only be available through, and will be tradeable against the platform’s native token, $CHZ.

On his part, Alexandre Dreyfus, CEO & Founder of noted that the Juventus Official Fan Token project is the starting point for a planned rollout of similar offerings across the world’s top football clubs as the company aims to significantly improve the fan experience in football.

He said:

“Our long-term aim is to onboard more than 50 football clubs and we hope to inject an additional $300 million into the sports economy over the next few years. We have started at the very top, with some of the biggest names in football, and our ambition is to build the world’s biggest global football community and marketplace for football fans alongside demonstrating that blockchain and cryptocurrency is the trusted technology of the mainstream.”

Earlier CCN reported that English Premier League table toppers Liverpool FC announced a partnership with TigerWit, a blockchain-based trading app. Several other top flight European football clubs including Newcastle UnitedWolverhampton WanderersParis Saint Germain, Cardiff City and Tottenham Hostpurhave also either indicated interest in creating their own tokens or signed partnerships with cryptocurrency and blockchain platforms.

In August, CCN also reported that European football governing body UEFA successfully trialled a blockchain-based ticketing system for the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

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