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Westpac develops blockchain procurement proof of concept.

Learning about blockchain was "like being a caveman coming out into the light".

Plans for the Australian National Blockchain, a legal smart contract network, are well underway. Elsewhere the Australian Stock Exchange has taken a global lead on blockchain upgrades, and Commonwealth Bank has put 17 tonnes of almonds on the blockchain, while also being tapped by the World Bank to create the first blockchain bond.

Westpac doesn't want to fall behind. To the contrary, said Didier Van Not, Westpac's general manager of corporate and institutional banking to the Australian Financial Review, "I want Westpac to be seen as a thought leader in this space."

To that end it quickly cranked out a procurement blockchain proof of concept, built on R3's Corda platform, in partnership with tech consultancy Infosys.

A technology company with a banking licence

It only took three months to develop, but the project isn't necessarily intended to be commercialised, Van Not says. Rather, it's more of an exploration of blockchain and its potential ability to deliver data insights to Westpac and its clients.

"I'm looking to automate as much as I can at Westpac over time and utilise more data analytics and offer services like this to more of our institutional clients.... Corporate Australia is crying out for insights about their businesses, and the data we have about their sectors can have such a big impact and be packaged in such a way that we can provide more insights. It's not about selling the data, but generating insights," he said.

The system itself integrates Internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence and blockchain to create a system that achieves near-perfect buzzword saturation. It's also intended to predict demand and price rises for goods and automate currently manual procurement and payment processes.

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"I'm a traditional banker, so for me, this was like being a caveman coming out into the light," Van Not said. "I'd go to conferences and people were talking about a future where machines would help people make better decisions. This was a powerful glimpse of that future."

Ultimately, Van Not said, Westpac sees itself as more of a technology company.

"Looking at the bank nowadays, we're a technology company with a banking licence," he said. "That's why we're spending time with developers, doing this proof-of-concept and talking about these things at conferences."

This might be a necessary approach for financial institutions today, as more and more tech companies start using blockchain and cryptocurrency to make inroads into banking territory.

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Ripple xRapid could go live “in the next month or so”

What's xRapid and why does it matter?

Ripple could launch xRapid "in the next month or so," said Ripple head of regulatory relations for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, Sagar Sarbhai to CNBC.

"I am very confident that in the next one month or so you will see some good news coming in where we launch the product live in production," he said.

xRapid has been under testing, seeing light use in specific trials, for a while now. And news that it could be rolling out commercially within the next month might be a significant development.

What makes xRapid different?

xRapid stands in contrast to other Ripple solutions in that it actually uses the XRP token to provide liquidity, rather than just being a kind of blockchain-based messaging system like Ripple's xCurrent.

xCurrent might be a more cost-effective system for banks to send money between each other. It's generally more suited for use along well-trodden and popular payment corridors since it's a more efficient language for banks to speak to each other within their existing relationships.

xRapid, however, is actually about moving digital money in the form of XRP when needed. It's generally as simple as converting one currency to XRP, sending the XRP overseas, and then converting the XRP to the desired other currency. One of the preferred exchanges nominated by Ripple will typically carry out these conversions.

Relative to xCurrent, this has a few serious implications:

  • It actually uses XRP. It will actually involve the usage of XRP the token, rather than just the XRP ledger. This increase in demand may push up prices.
  • XRP is deflationary based on usage. The minute transaction fees involved with XRP usage are burned. The idea is that the total supply gradually decreases over time. If the amount of transactions on the network multiplies suddenly, that's quicker deflation. Although it probably won't make much of a difference for a long time.
  • It allows Ripple to move into the remittance space. xCurrent is more about slow, high-volume payments between banks. xRapid focuses on quick low-volume payments of the kind found mostly in the enormous remittance sector. The commercial release of xRapid cracks open the doors to a much wider variety of customers, such as Western Union and MoneyGram, both of whom have been trialling it.

Global remittance flows are worth over $600 billion per year, and the vast majority is in small amounts to developing countries. Whoever has the lowest fees possible, and ideally allows transfers by app, will be in a position to capture individual corridors.

So while banks and remittance companies are struggling to offer the best solution to customers in individual markets, and competing for dominance, Ripple aims to be the best option for serving all of them. With its wide range of partnerships, xRapid might roll out extremely quickly and spark a fee race to the bottom. This in turn might bring on even more clients (the banks and remittance companies) to Ripple.

Ripple is being contested by other solutions such as Stellar, but if the commercial release of xRapid is only a month away and if its partners are keen to start using it as soon as possible, it stands to grab up a sizable portion of the market quite quickly.

The timing of the commercial xRapid release, and the release of the Ripple-based MoneyTap app, might not be a coincidence either. It looks like both will be going live at about the same time.

In a nutshell

Basically, the international money moving business is enormous. It makes bitcoin look like chickenfeed.

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Just the remittance sector, which is just a fraction of the total industry, handles more than twice as much money per year as the entire cryptocurrency market cap. It's possible that XRP as a token could find a use across a significant portion of that enormous total, not that it needs to in order to experience noticeable differences.

And Ripple is in a good position to get at multiple facets of the whole, both with the release of xRapid and by pushing xRapid onto existing xCurrent customers. Given the size of those markets, Ripple doesn't even need to make an especially large impact for XRP to experience a fundamental shift in economics and underlying demand.

Assuming even a moderate degree of things-going-well on Ripple's part, and that the news of xRapid's commercial release is true, it might be pretty safe to assume interesting things for XRP prices in the next few months – just in time for Christmas.

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Be your own bank: New SIM swap heist shows where crypto needs to go.

Centralised exchanges are getting caught in no man's land and will have to start making a move soon.

Be your own bank (BYOB), it'll be fun! Or so runs the crypto mantra. Unfortunately part of being your own bank is being your own security guard and cybersecurity specialist, which is impossible for any individual or institution to do with 100% reliability.

A new high profile SIM swapping heist demonstrates this, highlighting the very clear differences between the crypto and fiat banking worlds, and raising old concerns around the future of centralised exchanges in the cryptocurrency space.

A professional job

A few days ago prominent Twitch eSports streamer "DoubleLift" recounted the details of the heist that robbed him of $200,000 in fiat and an undisclosed amount of cryptocurrency.

The theft was apparently weeks in the making, with the robber carefully laying the groundwork without drawing attention. DoubleLift, it's worth noting, did almost everything right. He had his two factor authentication in place for both bank transfers and cryptocurrency, and took almost all other reasonable security precautions.

He only made two mistakes. The first was to leave his money on Coinbase rather than keeping it in a more secure hardware wallet. But to be fair it's a mistake that a lot of people deliberately make, judging the risk of theft or exchange insolvency to be low enough to offset the hassle of managing seed phrases and shopping around for a hardware wallet.

The second mistake was to mention to the world that he owned cryptocurrency and that it was on Coinbase. This, coupled with his relative prominence as a streamer, might have suggested to the thief that it was worth going to all the trouble of robbing him.

The heist

The thief started by SIM swapping. This is when someone impersonates their victim to a mobile provider – in this case T-Mobile – and then asks them to swap the victim's phone number to a new SIM card and a new phone.

This is usually done under the auspices of having lost one's old phone somehow, or otherwise having gotten a new phone. The first sign that this has happened is that one's phone just stops working.

"I remember one day my service randomly turned off, my phone just turned off," DoubleLift says.

"They [the thief] impersonated me to T-Mobile, said "my phones lost and missing, I can't find it, but I want my phone number transferred to this SIM card," on another phone obviously, completely bypassing two factor authentication."

When he discovered it, he contacted T–Mobile who told him that his phone had been flagged as lost or stolen. They then re-enabled his phone, and DoubleLift didn't think much of it, chalking it up to some technical or clerical error.

But in the short time between the SIM swap (which disabled the phone) and contacting T-Mobile to get it re-enabled, the thief used the number to get through DoubleLift's two factor authentication on his email account and anywhere else they could. This was likely done by using the forgot password functions, and then providing phone verification or guessing some secret questions.

"This was weeks before anything happened," DoubleLift says. "I guess in that small amount of time they got access to my email."

"He [the thief] didn't kick me out of my email. He had this system where every email I get from Coinbase for transactions immediately gets sent to trash then deleted, and all emails that go through that email account get forwarded to another email, which is obviously not mine, and I had no idea that any of this was happening."

By now, the thief has complete access to DoubleLift's email. From here they can get at his Coinbase account, bank account, social media and anything else linked to that email by requesting a password change or claiming forgotten password. These get forwarded to the thief's email account, which lets them respond as though they were DoubleLift.

From there they can either disable two factor authentication (because they no longer had access to the victim's phone number) or simply change the phone number used for two factor authentication, using the systems put in place in the event of someone getting a new phone.

The entire time, DoubleLift has no idea what's going on. He was probably receiving plenty of alert emails, but these were being instantly and automatically deleted. Even changing his email password and taking other steps wouldn't necessarily stop the thief at this point, he says.

"There are so many ways he can access my email, even after I log out, close the session, change the password... through recovery emails, recovery apps."

It's reasonable to assume that the thief grabbed all the crypto first, and then saved DoubleLift's bank accounts for later.

Triggering the alarm

The alarm was triggered when DoubleLift got a message from his bank saying he was overdrawn. When he went to check it out, he found an empty digital vault where there used to be $200,000.

This would be an appropriate time to panic.

DoubleLift contacted the bank which started investigating, contacted Coinbase and generally did what a bank robbery victim is supposed to do.

The upshot, he says, is that he's probably going to get the $200,000 from his bank account back, but that the crypto is gone for good.

"Coinbase said "you're shit out of luck, dude. You cant get any of it back,"" DoubleLift paraphrased. "I take the crypto as a loss, but I'm pretty grateful I got everything else back... I'm probably gonna get everything else back."

Security and liability gaps, and what they mean for the future of crypto


Systems need ways to let users recover and change passwords. It's necessary, but also means that if someone's email gets compromised it can snowball to losing control of everything connected to it. Of course, email accounts need the exact same password recovery and changing mechanisms, which are increasingly tied to phone numbers and relying on two factor authentication.

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Functionally, this kind of cybersecurity has become a system where a lot of different services just pass the buck around in an endless circle. By picking out the weakest link in the circle, a thief can do it all.

Right now, that weakest link is almost certainly mobile providers. Two factor authentication and control of phone numbers has rolled in as a critical element of cybersecurity, but SIM swapping procedures haven't kept pace with the growing importance.

Functionally, the rise of two factor authentication has left minimum wage branch staff (according to a sizable portion of US AT&T and T-Mobile retail sales associates are indeed around the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour) as the gatekeepers to countless bank accounts, multiple fortunes in digital assets and near-complete control of one's online identity.

It's safe to say that neither the training nor the pay generally meets the gravity of the role.

Another recent $24 million SIM swap crypto heist, which resulted in a lawsuit against AT&T, may have involved bribing staff to carry out a SIM swap rather than just impersonating the victim, and in some cases it might also be possible to SIM swap online with just some basic information about the victim.

The problem of actually preventing SIM swap fraud is a thorny one without any clear solution in the immediate future.

In the nearer future, protection might be more about formalising liability for stolen funds. DoubleLift is probably going to get his bank money back, but the crypto is probably gone for good. Right now banks, card providers and other financial institutions are all responsible for customer funds to a certain extent, but "banking" at crypto institutions like Coinbase is almost entirely at one's own risk.

Many mobile providers can definitely do more to prevent SIM swap fraud in their unwanted newfound capacity as bank security guards, but no protection is ever 100%. Plus suing mobile providers over every little bit of identity theft isn't a terribly efficient system, to say nothing of it being horribly exclusionary for anyone who can't afford the lawyers.

As such, centralised exchanges like Coinbase will eventually have to put on their big boy pants and find some way of guaranteeing customer funds. Just hand-waving away all losses as being the customer's fault is not a permanent solution.

This guarantee of customer funds might go in two directions.

It could go towards legitimacy and centralisation, such as bank-style insurance and government arrangements. Or it might go towards decentralisation, such as refusing to hold any customer funds whatsoever and only selling to external wallet addresses.

"Be your own bank" is a nice catchphrase, but it wasn't intended to be used as a licence for centralised exchanges to disavow their responsibility to customers. These exchanges are standing with a foot in either world for the best parts of each, but if they want to survive in the long run they'll need to choose a side.

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Dubai Police Warns Against Crypto Scams, Predicts Electronic Money Will Replace Cash.

Dubai Police currently investigating a Dh 300 million ($81.7 million) international fraud case have issued a warning about the potential role of digital assets in terms of facilitating crime in the UAE.

Speaking at a forum on Sunday September 16, Major-General Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, assistant-commander of criminal investigation department (CID) at the Dubai Police warned that a lack of awareness in the UAE about the risks inherent in digital currency aids cybercriminals in carrying out fraud, money laundering and piracy in the country.

According to police officials at the event, unmonitored large scale electronic financial transactions inevitably pose a substantial amount of risk, and the UAE government needs to develop a legal and law enforcement framework to deal with this threat.

Predicting the Rise of Electronic Money and a Possible UAE Cryptocurrency

At the event, Lt-Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy chairman of the Dubai Police and head of general security in Dubai noted that the nature and price of digital currencies makes it such that it is impossible to offers protection guarantees to investors. In the light of this he said, the only possible course of action on the part of the government is to warn investors about the risks they potentially face.

According to him, electronic money will eventually replace cash, but that in itself does not mean that all digital currencies will achieve the trust levels of fiat as long as their source and tracking system remains unknown.

A number of experts also spoke on the need for the UAE to proactively engage with cryptocurrencies so as to preempt their possible deployment as a tool of criminality. Dubai SmartWorld chairman Dr Saeed Al Dhaheri stated that rather than wait, Dubai should take the initiative and create a regulatory system to monitor electronic currency and stop it from becoming an enabler for crime. According to him, the high level of crypto startup failure within four months of establishment – 56 percent – is proof that a large portion of such businesses are “fake”.

In his words:

“For every one successful digital transaction, there are five failed currencies.”

Experts recommended the formation of a comprehensive legal system for regulating crypto in keeping with the Emirates Blockchain Strategy. To this end, they suggested the launch of a state-backed UAE cryptocurrency, as well as amendments to existing AML and CFT laws to state that they also apply to the use of digital currencies.

Authorities in the UAE have a well documented ambivalence about the issue of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, often issuing conflicting messages within weeks of each other. CCN reported in February that the UAE’s Securities and Commodities Agency (SCA) issued an investment warning to ICO investors in the country. Previously, the UAE Central Bank governor Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri also stated that cryptocurrencies are “often abused for illicit financing purposes”.

However in December 2017, CCN reported that the UAE and Saudi Arabia began a collaboration on a proposed cross-border cryptocurrency. In February 2017, the UAE government also announced a partnership with IBM for a blockchain trade finance project.

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Stellar Startup Merges with Chain, to Reborn as Interstellar.

San Francisco-based distributed ledger technology company Chain has been acquired by Lightyear, an entity powered by the Stellar network in an undisclosed agreement.

Announced last week, Lightyear will be re-named to Interstellar concurrent with the merger, a company release states. Chain, that builds enterprise-grade blockchain products backed by financial giants Visa, Nasdaq, and Citigroup, will offer its cloud product, Sequence, to Interstellar’s portfolio, allowing organizations to track assets while moving between private ledgers and the Stellar network, it added.

Jed McCaleb, co-founded of the Stellar Development Foundation and Lightyear, will be CTO of Interstellar. According to him, the merger will “help organizations build on Stellar.” He further said:

“Chain’s team has led the market for enterprise adoption of blockchain technology, which is a critical component of building a future where money and digital assets move over open protocols.”

At present, Stellar (XLM) ranks as the world’s sixth-largest cryptocurrency with a market cap of $3.6 billion. With the acquisition, Interstellar will receive Chain’s enterprise products and customer base, enabling organizations to issue, exchange, and manage assets on a public network.

Chain had previously raised more than $43 million from a variety of financial institutions including Capital One, Citigroup, as well as tech-focused funds such as Khosla Ventures, Blockchain Capital, and Pantera Capital.

Interstellar will ease enterprises to create financial services and products with the help of the Stellar open network. Chain’s CEO Adam Ludwin will serve as the CEO of new Interstellar. He stated,

“Chain has worked from inside the enterprise while Stellar has focused on the network between organizations. As a single team we will have a complete view and set of capabilities to make value-over-IP a reality.”

With the launch, Interstellar will have its headquarters in San Francisco, with office operations from New York City and Singapore. Initially, the startup aims to employ 60 employees, the report concluded.

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China Central Bank Warns of Cryptocurrency, ICO Risks in Public Notice.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, has issued a public notice urging investors of risks in cryptocurrency trading and initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The Shanghai branch of the PBoC issued a public notice on Tuesday to “remind” consumers and investors to increase their risk awareness of ICOs – a radical form of fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies, urging investors to avoid speculative trading in cryptocurrencies and steer away from overseas operators issuing ICOs.

It’s been a year since the PBoC issued a blanket ban on all ICOs, outlawing it as an illegal practice of fundraising.

In its notice today, the central bank heralded the ban as a success, stating:

“[T]he global share of domestic virtual currency transactions has dropped from the initial 90% to less than 5%, effectively avoiding the virtual currency bubble caused by skyrocketing global virtual currency prices in the second half of last year in China’s financial market. The impact has been highly recognized by the community.”

Still, by the PBoC’s own admission, cryptocurrency trading activity among domestic investors continued to thrive in offshore exchanges despite the mainland ban. In August, CCN reported that an internet authority run by central bank officials is targeting up to 124 offshore cryptocurrency trading platforms serving China’s citizens by blocking their IP addresses.

The central bank, in its notice today, said it will continue to monitor the offshore servers of these 124 platforms in a continuing clampdown against the sector that still finds ways to evade the blockade.

In response, the PBoC said it will “closely monitor ICOs and its multiple variants, strengthen research and judgement, proactively fight and prevent concerns.”

It added:

“In addition, it [the internet authority] has also strengthened the disposal of domestic ICO and virtual currency transaction related websites, public numbers, social media etc., and permanently blocked some public numbers suspected of releasing ICO and virtual currency trading hype information.”

Tech giants behind messaging platforms and online public forums like Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba have all censored, banned and/or blocked cryptocurrency transactions on their platforms.

The central bank also stressed that domestic residents should report operators behind ICOs, or any variant of ICOs for any “suspected illegal activity or illegal crimes.”

Once among the world’s largest trading markets for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, China’s comprehensive curbs on the cryptocurrency sector – led by the Shanghai PBoC with “on-site checks” of the country’s biggest bitcoin exchanges in early 2017 – has seen China’s influence on crypto trading markets and global prices wane considerably.

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Cryptojacking: Attackers Hijack Indian Government Websites to Mine Cryptocurrency.

Hackers stole the processing power of several Indian government websites to mine cryptocurrencies, researchers found.

Citizen portals such as that of the municipal administration of Andhra Pradesh (AP), Tirupati Municipal Corporation and Macherla municipality are among the hundreds of Indian websites that are found to be infected by cryptojacking malware. Cryptojacking, as the term indicates, allows hackers to access victims’ computers for the sole purpose of mining cryptocurrencies. Hackers do this by fooling victims into clicking malicious links on emails, or by infecting websites with JavaScript code by loading it into the victims’ browsers.

They seem to have done the same to many of these government websites mainly because they have high traffic volume, found Indrajeet Bhuyan, one of the security researchers behind the revelation.

“Hackers target government websites for mining cryptocurrency because those websites get high traffic and most people trust them,” he stated. “Earlier, we saw a lot of government websites getting defaced. Now, injecting crypto-jackers is more fashionable as the hacker can make money.”

An effort from Indian media to speak to JA Chowdary, the IT advisor to AP’s Chief Minister, yielded a one-liner response from him.

“Thanks for notifying us about the AP website hacking,” it said.

However, nothing concrete has been done to fix the issue. The malware code continues to run on AP’s public portals. CCN’s recent efforts to reach their websites also met with a downtime error.

Cryptojacking on the Rise

It is not only the government websites that are on the list of cyber-criminals. They are also crypto-jacking highly trafficked enterprise systems for mining cryptocurrencies – secretly. PublicWWW found over 100 sites that are running Coinhive javascript that mines Monero coin. The same script had earlier infected over 200,000 ISP-Grade routers globally and is among the top three crypto-mining malware on the web, alongside Cryptoloot.

Hackers are inclined to use cryptojacking as their prime tool to earn money illegally, for it doesn’t require significant technical skills. The darknet sells cryptojacking kits for a mere $30, finds a Digital Shadows report. It is a cheaper alternative to a much more complex ransomware attack, meaning more money for less risk.

Nevertheless, cryptojacking continues to be a poor man’s choice for its inability to bring in any substantial earning.

“With a hash rate of 80 H/s and CoinHive’s payout ratio, a miner earns about 5.8 USD per day and website on average, which supports our observation that web-based cryptojacking currently provides limited profits only,” states a report by the Braunschweig University of Technology.

Less risk also means less money!

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The largest international Blockchain & Cryptocurrency conference of the region

As known, Netherlands-based banking giant ING published a customer report recently where it was declared that Turkey is the leading cryptocurrencies owner among all European countries. The fact that the people in Turkey are heading to more technological innovations and current economic circumstances serve as an increasing factor for it. Investors and engineers, mostly from the Middle East and Central Asian countries as well as from Turkey, who are interested in blockchain and who deal with cryptocurrencies will be participating in this conference. Attendees will better understand Blockchain, the greatest technological and financial revolution of the 21st century, with the expression of expert speakers in the sphere. Thus, “Blockchain Economy Istanbul Summit” rolls out the distinction of being the largest-scale event of the region, ever held in this field.

More than 5,000 attendees from 20 countries will attend the conference and more than 10,000 people will be watching live. By associating investors, entrepreneurs and professionals for discussing current cryptocurrency market and future of blockchain technology.
International Blockchain & Cryptocurrency conference, will be held on February 20, 2019, in Istanbul, Turkey.

  • Summit Subjects:
    Future of Payments with Cryptocurrencies: Why do Current Banking Solutions Fail
  • Panel Discussion: Will States Make Peace with Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain or will They Struggle Against?
  • Redefining Human Value: a New Epoch of Individualized Economy
  • People vs. Power: Shifting Away from Centralization
  • Bitcoin and the Other Cryptocurrencies: What are the Investors’ Next Step?
  • Understanding Economic Crises: Blockchain based Economical System

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Bitcoin Price Intraday Analysis: BTC/USD Wedge Support Broken.

Bitcoin price on Monday depreciated against the US Dollar after consolidating sideways for the whole Asian and European sessions.

The BTC/USD at the beginning of the US trading hours formed lower lows towards 6239-fiat. Before that, the pair was trading sideways owing to minimal momentum. It kickstarted the Asian session with just shy of 6500-fiat and recorded marginal gains as the day matured. BTC/USD started retracing below 6500-fiat during the early European session, displaying weak pullbacks from the said psychological level. And, right around the time of this writing, and at the beginning of the US session, the pair has dropped by more than 2.5 percent already.

In one of our previous analysis, we had put BTC/USD inside a near-term rising wedge. We had expected the pair to bring potential entry/exit positions between the wedge range. So it happened. But, with the support of the rising wedge broken, we are looking at bear pole formation in the context of the medium-term bearish bias.

BTC/USD Technical Analysis

The breakdown below the near-term rising wedge appears in line with the giant descending triangle formation. So far, BTC/USD is forming lower highs and lower lows which could mean a nasty bearish breakdown below the 5759-bottom. That could put Bitcoin on a path towards 5000-fiat, the support from October 2017. A bounce back from the bottom, however, could prove stronger than usual for the sheer buying enthusiasm the level offers.

Moving on, the bearish bias in near-term charts could intensify further, as far as the technicalities are concerned. BTC/USD is trending below its 50H, 100H and 200H SMAs. The 50H SMA particularly has crossed below the 100H one, indicating a selling sentiment in the market. The RSI and Stochastic indicators are also inside a selling area and them sulking into oversold areas should not surprise.

BTC/USD Intraday Analysis

The latest drop has invalidated 6400-fiat as our reliable support level, and we are in a state of breakdown. BTC/USD should expect an extended sell-off period with a focus towards 6600-6620-fiat as the next potential support area. We are also switching our range levels in line with our intraday strategy below.

So, the range we are watching for now is defined by 6620-fiat as interim support and 6347-fiat as interim resistance. For now, we are waiting for BTC/USD to attempt a break below support to clear our short position towards 6120-fiat. In this position, we will make sure to keep our stop loss just 4-pips above the entry point.

On a bounce back from support, we’ll go long towards 6294-fiat, the level coinciding with the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level while keeping our stops just 2-pips below the entry point. A further break and our upside target will move to 6347-fiat.

Trade safely!

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Government Sites in India Among Prime Targets for Cryptojacking, Research Shows.

Official government websites have become a prime target for cryptojacking in India, The Economic Times (ET) reports today, September 17.

Cryptojacking is the practice of infecting a target with malware that uses a computer’s processing power to mine for cryptocurrencies without the owner’s consent or knowledge.

New research from cybersecurity analysts reportedly reveals that widely trusted government websites – including those of the director of the municipal administration of Andhra Pradesh, Tirupati Municipal Corporation and Macherla municipality – have become the latest to be exploited by the practice.…g-research-shows/

Security Researcher Indrajeet Bhuyan told ET that:

“Hackers target government websites for mining cryptocurrency because those websites get high traffic and mostly people trust them. Earlier, we saw a lot of government websites getting defaced (hacked). Now, injecting cryptojackers is more fashionable as the hacker can make money.”

According to the Times, Guwahati-based security researchers Shakil Ahmed, Anish Sarma and Bhuyan were the first to identify vulnerabilities on the AP government websites, all of which are subdomains of the extremely popular – which is reported to receive over 160,000 visits per month.

According to the ET, crytojacking appears rife on enterprise as well as government systems, with PublicWWW listing over 119 Indian websites that run Coinhive code – a script created to mine Monero (XMR) via a web browser.

ET cites a recent Fortinet report that suggests cryptojacking has more than doubled between 2017 Q4 and 2018 Q1, with the percentage of affected enterprises rising from 13 to 28 percent.

Fortinet’s Rajesh Maurya told ET that cryptojacking generates revenue “with a fraction of the effort and attention caused by ransomware,” noting that illegal video-streaming websites are a particularly lucrative target, as the script can make use of multiple CPU cycles to mine crypto as users watch movies or TV series.

ET further reports that internet of things (IoT) products are considered by security experts to be “the next frontier” for cryptojackers, given that such devices have high processing power and yet may be idle for much of the day. ET’s search on IoT-focused search engine found that over 13,500 home routers in India were infected by cryptojacking malware – a figure that was only outflanked globally by Brazil.

As previously reported, a research this summer from cyber security firm McAfee Labs revealed that cryptojacking malware activity had risen a staggering 629 percent in 2018 Q1.


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Crypto Market Steadies at $202 Billion. Low Bitcoin Volume Remains a Concern.

Over the past 24 hours, the crypto market has consistently demonstrated stability in the $202 billion region, as Bitcoin and Ethereum remained above $6,400 and $220.

Yesterday, on September 16, CCN reported that the volume of Bitcoin is a concern, as it recorded nearly 30 percent drop in volume in a period of three days. As of September 17, the volume of Bitcoin still remains below $3.3 billion, down quite significantly from its $4 billion daily trading volume recorded last week.

For Bitcoin to demonstrate gradual recovery from the $6,400 to $6,500 range, it will have to see a rebound in its volume, ideally back to the $4 billion mark. Until the volume of Bitcoin recovers, it is unlikely that BTC initiates a short-term rally.

State of the Market

The market has not demonstrated any major change in trend since September 11. Apart from the abrupt increase in the price of ETH, the native cryptocurrency of Ethereum, which was somewhat expected due to the 50 percent fall in value recorded by ETH in the previous week, the market has been relatively stable.

The stability in the market resonates the three-week period in August during which Bitcoin recorded its lowest rate of volatility since June of 2017. Generally, analysts have been optimistic towards the newly gained stability in the market, especially given the fact that the market has been exhausted from an eight-month long period in which Bitcoin was highly volatile in the range of $6,000 to $10,000.

On September 14, economist and cryptocurrency trader Alex Kruger stated that the stagnation of the volume in the crypto market showed exhaustion and signs of a bottom.

“Volume that extreme speaks of exhaustion and ‘a’ bottom. Similar exhaustion volume can be observed in Binance, Bitmex and most exchanges, both against the USD and BTC,” Kruger said.

In the short-term, possibly even until the end of September, it is highly likely that the cryptocurrency market will maintain its low price range throughout the upcoming weeks.

Based on the price trend of BTC since February, it is also likely for Bitcoin to remain in the $6,500 to $7,000 range, testing resistance levels above the $7,000 mark.

Mining is One Optimistic Indicator

September has seen some of the most positive developments in the cryptocurrency market, specifically pertaining to the institutionalization and regulation of the global market. But, analysts have stated that the most optimistic indicator of mid-term market recovery is the decision of miners and mining centers to grow the hashrate of Bitcoin despite low-profit margins and potential losses.

Under normal circumstances, as the price of crypto declines, the hashpower of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum should decline as well. In the past few months, the hashrate of Bitcoin has actually increased, which has shown that miners are taking lower profit margins with the assumption that Bitcoin will inevitably recover in the mid-term.

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Bitcoin Appetite: Nasdaq is Acquiring Crypto-Friendly Swedish Exchange Cinnober.

Nasdaq, the world’s second-largest stock exchange, announced Friday that it is in the works to acquire Cinnober, a trading solution provider based in Sweden.

Cinnober has a history for bullishness towards digital assets and making it easier for institutions to invest in them. One of those efforts is the partnership with BitGo, a behemoth for institutional-grade cryptocurrency custody security. BitGo itself has built partnerships and acquisitions over its history, which have helped it firm up its mission, including the acquisition of Kingdom Trust and a partnership with the South Korea exchange Korbit.

Nasdaq: More Prepping for Cryptocurrency Trading?

Nasdaq’s latest acquisition highlights, though indirectly in this case, its taste for cryptocurrency trading. As CCN reported, on the heels of the SEC’s second rejection for the Winklevoss twins’ ETF, the Nasdaq held a closed-door meeting with cryptocurrency industry experts. In the meeting, participants discussed ways to legitimize cryptocurrencies as a traditional securities product, especially in ways to appease the fickle SEC.

Cinnober’s BitGo platform is well-suited for large institutional investors in Nasdaq. The multi-signature security and custody solution with BitGo has made it one of the most popular in the space. Nasdaq’s release points to their interest in Cinnober’s success in offering newer asset types. Adena Friedman, President and CEO, Nasdaq, said:

“The combined intellectual capital, technology competence and capabilities of Cinnober and our Market Technology business will expand the breadth and depth of our fastest growing division at Nasdaq. Not only have the global capital markets continued to evolve rapidly, new marketplaces in various industries are demanding market technology infrastructure that enables rapid growth and scale as well as access to tools to promote market integrity. This acquisition will enhance our ability to serve market infrastructure operators worldwide, and will accelerate our ability to expand into new growth segments.”

Cinnober has developed in-house solutions and technology acquisitions that make it a prime candidate for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Corporation. Cinnober’s cryptocurrency custodian service, in specific, could be one of the most coveted arms of the acquisition, as questions over custodianship have made many institutional investors leery.

Household names in finance are racing to developer regulated and clearly audited custodian solutions, including Citigroup and Bank of America.

Exchange Hacks Marred Crypto’s History

Large institutions’ concerns over custody are understandable, given the number of exchanges hacked in Bitcoin’s history. The Bancor exchange hack is the most recent large example, as CCN reported on in July. Many cryptocurrency experts believe that the custodian problem has been solved, especially with multi-signature technology and cold storage.

While the technology is there, legitimacy can only be improved when large names like Nasdaq can provide tangible audits that traditional securities managers are accustomed to. Nasdaq acquisition of Cinnober is another box to check off in the race to provide the first (and best) publicly trading cryptocurrency vehicle (and thus the servicing fees that translate to more profits.)

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Two [Cash-Strapped] Premier League Football Clubs Plan to Launch Cryptocurrency.

Two cash-strapped football clubs are trying to circumvent financial issues by planning a tokenized crowdfunding round, reports the Times.

Newcastle United and Cardiff City, the English Premier League teams, are reportedly in talks with SportyCo, a decentralized sports investment & funding platform, to launch their Initial Coin Offering (ICO) round. SportCo has earlier partnered with Avaí Futebol Clube to raise them about $20 million via a public sale of AVAI tokens. The company is also a principal sponsor of Espanyol, the world’s top football team.

The partnership would enable the clubs to begin the sale of their private digitized tokens as securities/utilities. As interested participants purchase these tokens, they would either gain a particular stake in the clubs’ revenue or receive additional benefits for using the token on game-related purchases.

The Mag highlights the poor financial health of both Newcastle United and Cardiff City. While Newcastle United earlier has been named for losing profits off to bad managerial decisions – those taken by the club owner Mike Ashley – Cardiff City is facing a debt burden of over $150 million, bulk of which they owe to Vincent Tan, a Malaysian investment tycoon.

Cardiff even cut the wage bill to £20.6m, 18% lower than the previous year.

Both Newcastle United and Cardiff City have admitted that they are fighting for survival with lower budgets.

Sir John Madejski, a prominent figure in the Premier League once said that running a football club is not for faint-hearted; that one has to have deep pockets to run them smoothly especially when most clubs run at a loss.

Some common issues prevent football clubs from governing their finances properly. The wages of footballers are considered too high and paying unnecessarily hefty commissions to their agents adds up to the overall profit-deficit. Whatsoever, football continues to be a key part of a state’s – or even nation’s – economic strategies.

Understanding that running a football club cannot always be a one-rich-man show, football clubs are waking up to the possibility of going public. ICOs somewhat simplifies the process by allowing organizations to raise funds by selling digitized tokens that could either be used as proof-of-ownership or tools to avail discounts and offers from the issuers. The digitized crowdfunding method, so far, has appealed to startups that look to raise funds to build blockchain-enabled applications.

“Money raised from the crowd sale goes straight into club infrastructure which will stay with the club forever,” Marko Filej, SportyCo’s co-founder, stated. “With this initial money offer, we are opening a new chapter in football and the sports industry in general.”

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LG UPlus (LGU+) Mobile Provider Opens Blockchain Cross-Carrier Payment System (CCPS)

South Korea’s LG U+ Launches Blockchain Based Payment System

LG plus which is one of South Korea’s mobile carriers has put forth a cross-border payments system built on blockchain technology. LG+ is owned by Korea’s 4th largest corporation LG. LG+ signed an MOU on September 13th to provide the service amongst 3 other corporations namely; Taiwanese FarEstone Telecommunication, Japan’s Softbank and TBCASoft that’s based in USA.


The new payment service allows users of one network to transact with another payments network in a frictionless manner. The first trial for the LG+ payment system will be conducted in early 2019. The Cross Carrier Payment System will use blockchain technology to transmit payments.


Benefits of the Platform

Since payments using blockchain, users will be in a position to pass on expensive international payments methods. The existing methods are time consuming and one can’t keep track of where the money is in the system.


Another great benefit is that the payment made will be cushioned against fluctuating foreign exchange rates that’s a great challenge when carrying out international trade. The platform users will be insulated from this since the transaction will be pegged on the prevailing rate of the home currency. The plat form will allow South Koreans who have subscribed to the LG+ network to purchase goods using their mobile phones while in Taiwan and Japan.


Carrier Blockchain Study Group

The CEO of TBCASoft, Ling Wu, says the platform is a first of a series of telcom-specific solutions that are centered on blockchain. These telcom giants are among the first founders of a global consortium that seeks to transform the industry using blockchain based solutions known as Carrier Blockchain Study Group.


The study group announced that it had launched a new working group that will look for effective ways to use blockchain to make remittances globally. The group was also working to add other corporations into its fold. Such efforts will help grow telcom companies in the blockchain space. Softbank also announced in recent times that it was in partnership with Synchronoss for a new proof of concept platform. All these moves are a plus for blockchain technology.


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Cryptocurrency Could Solve Zimbabwe’s Cash Shortages: Finance Minister.

LG Uplus – a South Korean cellular carrier owned by the nation's fourth largest conglomerate, LG Corporation – is launching a blockchain-based overseas payment service.

Announced Sunday, the trial effort will see the company working with partners in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. to offer users of three mobile carriers cheaper and faster payments when travelling internationally.

Expected to launch early in 2019, the system is based on a blockchain cross-carrier payment platform provided by project partner, U.S.-based TBCASoft, according to The Korea Times.

LG Uplus has also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) Thursday with two other carriers – Taiwan-based Far EasTone Telecommunications and Japan-based SoftBank – to work together on the trial.

The service will enable LG Uplus subscribers to make purchases at select retailers using their cellphones when they travel to Taiwan and Japan. Similarly, users of Far EasTone and SoftBank will be able to shop via phone-based payments when travelling in Korea and Japan.

"Customers will have the benefit of an overseas payment system based on convenient, economical and secure blockchain technology," Joo Young-joon, director of the mobile services at LG Uplus was quoted as saying.

Aimed to help users avoid costly international card transactions and speed up the payments process, the service bills for transactions through the carriers to be paid in users' home countries and in their national fiat currency via their mobile bills.

TBCASoft said it also reduces the risk associated with fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, according to The Times.…finance-minister/

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Binance to start fiat trading in Singapore on 18 September.

Trading starts "tomorrow," or possibly "today" or "yesterday" depending on when you read this

While chatting at the Cumberland Summit crypto industry conference, Binance CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao accidentally let slip that Binance will begin fiat trading in Singapore on 18 September. He then accidentally posted the same on Twitter, which also accidentally included a video of the accidental disclosure.

It happens to the best of us.

The time and location of the first fiat pairs – Singapore on 18 September – is probably just as accidental. It coincidentally happens to coincide with the start of Consensus Singapore, which might fortuitously be a great opportunity to pick up a lot of enthusiastic testers.

The trial will initially be invite only, but all trades will be live.

There's a first time for everything

Binance supports about 100 different cryptocurrencies, and for some of them, it might be the first time they get a direct fiat link. It's also the world's largest exchange by trade volume, and unlike some of the other world's largest exchanges by trade volume, it has managed to stay squeaky clean even as wash-trading allegations circle elsewhere.

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Market-watchers might be interested to see how much volume starts coming through in fiat when it all goes live. As it adds more fiat pairings, the scale of Binance might make it a useful new yardstick for measuring crypto interest in different countries.

If a lot of crazy rich Asians start using it, there might be a market and a half waiting in Singapore.

It might also be another sign of bad news for Tether as a business. USDT is the most popular pair for almost every single coin on Binance right now, with just a handful of exceptions. But with fiat pairs coming to Binance, it might start getting a bit less useful.

It might take a while, but the same trend is probably coming to other exchanges which might start eking away at the Tether market share just as surely as all the other stablecoins are.

Elsewhere, it's also moving towards security tokens, with signs of them being available in the very near future through its home offices in Malta.

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Coinbase kicks up hiring, citing institutional demand.

Institutional traders turn up when the markets turn down.

Coinbase Institutional is planning to expand its current operations from about 20 people to 150 in the coming months, said general manager Adam White to CoinDesk, in the face of steady and growing demand from institutional traders.

"When we saw the market begin to correct, which we all expected, institutions didn't lose interest," he said. "It was exactly the opposite. They look at it as an opportunity to enter when things are not too frothy."

This trend has been seen all around the cryptosphere, but Coinbase might be more ready to capitalise on it than most.

First, it naturally has deeper pockets than its smaller competitors, which is funding the ongoing hiring. Second, it's very much part of Coinbase's wider plan of covering all bases and becoming the destination for anything and everything related to cryptocurrency and digital assets.

With the right coverage of all bases, retail interest can fill Coinbase's pockets when markets go up, and institutional interest can do the same when markets go down – and making the most of that means hiring hard.

Striking while the iron's hot

Financial institutions are moving towards cryptocurrency very quickly themselves. Established names on Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, Nasdaq, Intercontinental Exchange, Morgan Stanley and many more, are all champing at the bit to various degrees in their keenness to meet client demand for crypto exposure.

And all of them are wrestling with how best to handle this new techno-money. Coinbase is there as a solution for them.

"We want to partner with appropriate institutions to help the whole ecosystem grow," said Coinbase Institutional head of sales Christine Sandler. "It's not 'institutional or retail,' because a lot of these institutions will be distributors."

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A twin effect of hiring away this top talent might also be to put a damper on the movements of Coinbase's competitors. Coinbase Institutional's location in New York might also help.

The area's "an incredibly deep pool of talent," White said. "We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology... In order to do that, we need to pull from some of the best and brightest minds that have worked their whole careers in other kinds of traditional financial firms."

The ongoing brain drain from Wall Street to crypto alley has left some concerned, but it has showed no signs of abating. If anything, it might be picking up and bringing both industries closer together.

It's another strangely appropriate parallel to the situation following the global financial crisis, which gave birth to bitcoin, when concerns around Wall Street brain drain were last out in force in light of talk of pay caps for Wall Street executives.

And that situation might also be worth learning from. The crypto industry is still flush with money after the run-up to 2018, which has left the big names able to poach talent which would typically be well beyond the reach of such young companies. Is the fledgling crypto industry setting itself up to get kicked in the teeth if the gravy train starts drying up?

It might also be worth considering what the ongoing wave of Wall Street transplants see in crypto, and what the breakdown is of those in it for the money, the technology and the ideology. Coinbase aims to build a bridge between crypto and traditional finance, but for better or worse, a bridge runs both ways.

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1 in 10 advertisers has bought advertising on the blockchain.

While 7 in 10 are still highly suspicious of the space as a whole.

A new survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions in partnership with the XCHNG blockchain-advertising platform has found that just over 1 in 10 advertisers (11%) has purchased advertising on the blockchain.

From one angle, that's a promising sign of wide investment in emerging technology. From another, it's just a tiny slice of adoption that should be much larger. But there's no reason it can't be both.

It's worth noting that the results only encompassed 300 advertisers, so it's probably not wise to generalise the results to the entire industry around the world, but at the same time, its lessons around current industry pain points and potential solutions might be quite valuable.

¿Por qué no los dos?

On the one hand, the findings still signify the remarkable adoption of still-new technology. On the other hand, its still relatively limited uptake is quite at odds with survey respondents' belief in the potential of the technology.

Clearly there are still a lot of obstacles which prevent advertisers from wearing the blockchain grin.

Two-thirds of agency and marketer professionals said they were sceptical of blockchain media solutions and found it to be difficult to navigate. The paper points at the entrepreneurial nature of the space as one of the culprits, generating a confusing set of offerings on top of an already hard-to-navigate field of solutions and providers.

The problem might be at least partly on the side of the blockchain salespeople. Half of all advertisers report having met with a blockchain provider, but only 1 in 10 providers went on to even try a blockchain solution.

The survey also showed that 9 out of 10 advertisers cannot recommend blockchain.

Just do it

The problem isn't necessarily a lack of willingness or an inability to appreciate the potential of blockchain technology to help solve the industry's current problems.

Almost 7 in 10 advertising decision-makers noted that inefficiency, a lack of transparency and inaccuracies in the digital-media supply chain are keeping them from deriving the full value of their digital-media investments, and of those, more than half believed that blockchain technology would help them address these issues.

But with such a high degree of confidence in the underlying technology, what's preventing them from just doing it? It might come back to that scepticism in the individual solutions being proffered, the confusing nature of the space and current doubts about whether the solutions are ready for prime time. Of those who see themselves using blockchain to solve some of their current problems, most think they'll be doing it sometime within the next two years.

There might still be a significant gap between understanding the technology and actually picking out a working solution. In addition, the nature of most headlines in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space probably don't give the impression of a technology ready for real-world use today.

Head on, apply directly to forehead, head on, apply...

Every day brings another hack, another report on cryptocurrency prices, another story about someone who lost their life savings by going all in when prices were at an all-time high, another tale of someone being prosecuted or news of the latest crypto scam.

The problem might be that these stories are increasingly conflated with blockchain technology itself and then constantly reinforced through repetition.

Security is a very real issue, but the mild day-to-day hysteria in the crypto world is often at odds with actually understanding the security needs of a blockchain system.

"By design, a blockchain is a self-policing, verifiable ecosystem, but privacy and security considerations vary by offering. Advertising decision makers are split on whether or not blockchain is a secure method for transacting media buys," the paper observes. "This issue is muddied by attention-grabbing, alarmist headlines in the cryptocurrency arena. Advertisers should be sure to understand how any solution addresses security."

Technical obstacles also remain, but most expect them to give way in the near future. Just over half of advertisers and marketers are sceptical that currently available blockchain media solutions can operate at a speed consistent with managing media transactions, but three-quarters are confident that blockchain will be able to evolve to handle the speed and volume necessary for digital-media solutions in the future.

Uniquely yours

It might also still be difficult to decipher the various solutions available. Advertising is often named as one of the more disruptable sectors, but no two solutions are alike.

juicy crypto words

For example, there's a significant subset aimed at rescuing free online media from the age of ad blockers in different ways.

Basic Attention Token is probably the best-known example and is intended to be an incentive token to share advertising profits between publishers and consumers. The Oyster Protocol is another and is intended to gently pull small amounts of CPU and GPU power away from site visitors to power a decentralised data storage ledger for non-advertising website revenue in place of banner ads. This solution is broadly similar to browser-based crypto mining.

But others, such as XCHNG, are more about disrupting the advertising industry supply chain. The paper described XCHNG as "enabling sightlines between disparate media players," to disrupt the current top-down approach where walled gardens like Facebook and Google set the price and sell ads. Its goal is to let open markets determine the cost of advertising rather than having a handful of unavoidable giants set the prices.

In addition, it also aims to eliminate middlemen to increase advertisers' bang for buck, make the field much more accessible and cut costs and inefficiencies to the extent that any ad spend can be tracked as close to the ideal of "$1 of value per $1 spent" as closely as possible, allowing marketers to track advertising return on investment more accurately than ever before and explore new avenues at less cost.

These come back to one of the key tenets of blockchain technology – that its efficacy is largely dependent on being widely used. Three-quarters of respondents noted the same, saying that the ideal solution might be one which incorporates all stakeholders.

For providers who want to start using it, the signal among the noise might then be a large provider that is able to unify enough stakeholders, while also having the secret ingredients of adequate transparency and decentralisation, so providers know they aren't just swapping one walled garden for another.

It also points at a potential snowball effect of extremely rapid uptake of blockchain solutions once a critical mass is on board.

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Ethereum Constantinople mainnet hard fork might be as soon as November.

November is the soonest-possible case scenario. But what does it all mean for Ethereum?

The Ethereum Constantinople hard fork is set to hit the Ropsten testnet on 9 October, and will then be implemented on the main chain soon after the Devcon 4 conference on 30 October to 2 November, said Ethereum community member Eric Connor on Twitter.

These tentative dates square with the information provided in a recent Ethereum developer bi-weekly call, where Ethereum Foundation communications officer Hudson Jameson suggested November or December for the mainnet hard fork. Others have said one can typically expect two or three months from testnet to mainnet.

Basically, the time line right now seems to put the hard fork on track for November at the earliest, but it's still probably more likely to be December or early next year. There's a rush, but not an enormous rush, Vitalik Buterin says, and the high stakes nature of any Ethereum hard fork means it has to be impeccably done before release.

"It's totally not urgent," Buterin said, adding: "We could probably have three months of safety and likely even more."

What's coming in Constantinople?

Constantinople is part two of the Ethereum Metropolis upgrade, and there are five specific Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs) agreed on. For the most part, users probably won't notice any real changes, but developers will and miners definitely will.

The five EIPs set to be released in Constantinople are as follows:

That last one, EIP 1234, is a somewhat contentious change that's attracted a lot of attention.

Mining rewards and difficulty bombs

The "difficulty" in "difficulty bomb" refers to mining difficulty. It was planted in Ethereum's code as part of a long-term plan to transition Ethereum from bitcoin-style proof of work

(PoW) to an alternative called proof of stake


Presciently, Ethereum developers realised years ago that PoS would be a contentious issue, and that miners would naturally oppose it. To better override those future objections, Ethereum developers planted a ticking time bomb in the code.

It works by gradually increasing mining difficulty over time. Mining difficulty is a normal element of PoW blockchains, but typically it only increases in order to compensate for growing hashpower – ensuring that block times and inflation rates keep sticking to the original plan even as the amount of mining power in the system constantly changes.

In this case, it's an artificial and ongoing increase in difficulty intended to simultaneously increase the amount of time between each block and decrease the rewards earned by miners. Once the Ethereum difficulty bomb progresses enough, it culminates in what's called the "ice age," where PoW mining is useless, yielding no rewards and not being able to uncover any new blocks.

The thinking is that with this time bomb in place, mining will eventually be useless anyway, so miners have little motivation to continue resisting PoS in the long run.

The catch is that Ethereum is still dependent on miners until PoS is complete and ready to go, which is taking longer than initially anticipated. As such, the difficulty bomb has been adjusted and delayed a few times to keep miners working until the time comes. However, in doing so, Ethereum has also been experiencing faster-than-planned inflation. EIP 1234 simultaneously drops mining rewards while also delaying the difficulty bomb for another 12 months.

The meta-catch

There's no right answer for what the block rewards or the difficulty bomb delay should be. After all, nothing exactly like this has ever been done before and everything is up for debate.

The decision can't be considered in a vacuum either. It's not just about pure economics and a tentative development time line, but also about community management. After all, the difficulty bomb was built to be a community management tool. The economic consequences of the bomb are largely just a means to an end.

If the catch is that Ethereum is simultaneously dependent on miners and working towards scrapping their profit margins, then the catch within the catch is that these kinds of updates can only be accomplished with a hard fork.

A hard fork is a non-backwards-compatible software update. So whether the update actually happens depends on whether enough miners willingly install and operate the update. If some miners go one way and other miners go a different way, you can get a contentious split – similar to what happened with Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash or with Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

In this case, the update requires miners to go against their own short-term self-interest and accept a significant pay cut. This is one of the concerns around the update. It's possible, but probably extremely unlikely, that miners revolt en masse against Ethereum's development plans.

Most miners are probably much more invested in the success of Ethereum than the value of their machines. The presence of Ethereum Classic (which has removed the difficulty bomb entirely and plans to just stick with PoW) means there's an alternative home for ETH miners after the difficulty bomb goes off and being on the wrong side of the fence is an expensive mistake in a fork. Still, there is a bit of a risk which has some arguing that the difficulty bomb should just be delayed without adding such a sizable block-reward reduction or any block-reward reduction at all.

juicy crypto words

Overall, hard forks are a fairly inconvenient way of pushing through updates. And even if they do go as smoothly as possible, there's still going to be some service disruption which isn't necessarily a great look for an immutable world computer, says Vladislav Dramaliev, head of digital marketing at æternity.

"The Constantinople fork could definitely cause disruption of services on the Ethereum network and result in a few hours (maybe days) of reduced utility. It will be a prime example of why a functioning, public blockchain system, managing billions in value, is difficult to upgrade. Implementing fundamental protocol changes always comes with a risk of disruption and community fragmentation," he notes. "Moreover, controversial proposals introduced through off-chain governance might not be the best way forward for blockchains. On-chain governance — "one-token, one-vote" or common decisions based on information markets, for example — could be more transparent from a community perspective."

What does it mean for Ethereum?

Even if most users won't experience too many immediate changes from Constantinople, there are still some long-term implications to be found, and different conclusions one might reach from the circumstances surrounding it.

Market impacts

First of all, reduced block rewards are probably good for speculators hoping for a rise in value, says Gabriele Giancola, CEO and co-founder of qiibee.

"From an Ether standpoint, the community can look to the fact that its current rate of inflation is currently higher than that of Bitcoin. ETH holders can favor the reduction of block rewards, since this will undoubtedly limit the supply of ETH, having a direct correlation on the overall value."

Plus, contentious hard forks are usually exciting times for markets, says John Iadeluca, the 20-year-old founder and managing director of Banz Capital Hedge Fund. Even if there are no guarantees regarding which way something will go in the end, a potentially contentious fork historically means great volatility – or great opportunity as a trader might call it.

"Hard forks usually spark speculation, as was shown with the DAO fork and the Bitcoin Cash fork," Iadeluca says. "Price became so volatile at these times, I wouldn’t be surprised if the volatility doubled nearing and after the Constantinople hard fork.

"The DAO fork led to a near 50% Ether price increase whereas the EIP-150 hard fork led to Ethereum price falling approximately 40-45% over the coinciding month. Nobody can tell you that hard forks increase or decrease digital asset price because neither of the latter is factually true. Hard forks do, however, raise speculation and that speculation usually leads into a specific direction. In any instance, volatility of Ether price tends to increase during a hard fork, so as a result, those who are keen on playing volatility are usually successful."

Volatility is largely contingent on fork contentiousness though, and if everyone's on the same page, volatility around the event might be limited. Nothing's yet set it stone, so a lot of developers and traders alike are probably going to be keeping a finger on Constantinople's pulse in the coming months.

There are also questions around how the fork is perceived by the wider market. The word "delay" typically doesn't inspire a lot of confidence, but in this case, that might not be a wise interpretation.

The development schedule

If it's like previous difficulty bomb delays, markets might have a tendency to see it as another problem for Ethereum and a sign that development is running behind schedule.

Giancola isn't concerned though.

"Following the recent announcement by Ethereum developers to delay the difficulty bomb by 12 months, we should not rush to see the delay in a negative light. In fact, there are positive aspects to look upon. Considering the overall size of the Ethereum network, and the overall monetary value, the advancements that have the chance to come to fruition over the next 12 months will aim to absolve current aspects that need reworking."

In other words, if one looks at the difficulty bomb delay as a sign that Ethereum might go live with PoS sometime in the next 12 months, it looks like an extremely promising sign. Giancola suggests it might be enough to cement Ethereum's position at the front of the pack, even as other projects continue emerging.

"Although advancement within the blockchain space is rapid, it is doubtful other projects will overtake Ethereum in the amount of time in which the difficulty bomb has been delayed. There is no project or product currently that has similar disruptive methods that could have such an impact on smart contracts. Despite the delay in the difficulty bomb, there is no concrete reasoning to think this will impact the impending shift to PoS for Ethereum. The Ethereum developers are working to implement corrections which will improve the Ethereum blockchain as a whole, creating amends to the code in which will be the best moving forward from PoW to PoS."

But on the other hand, it's also another potential reminder of Ethereum's inherent downsides, Dramaliev says.

"Newer blockchain protocols have the advantage of solving scalability issues in a test (non-live) environment. They can make use of knowledge and experience generated from "older" blockchains to improve their designs and address fundamental issues before going live. Nonetheless, no matter what happens, Ethereum will still have a significant advantage in terms of network effect and developer resources. The question is if the system complexity will increase too much after upgrades, making it more and more difficult for developers and users to use it (especially in comparison to more elegant blockchain solutions)," he says.

Part of the issue might be endemic to live decentralised projects; that nothing less than perfect is good enough.

"That seems to be the main debate right now regarding the Constantinople hard fork, on whether hard forks should get pushed back because they’re not perfect," Iadeluca says. "Should devs continuously perfect things before final launches? The answer to that is yes. Ethereum functions as an infrastructure for thousands of currency systems, and hard forks are meant to be finalisations to this infrastructure.

"If a fault was found in the Federal Reserve’s infrastructure for capital safety do you think they would still publish it? Of course not. Will the community complain though? Probably, yes. With that in mind if Ethereum aims to be a global currency system, its code needs to be perfect, which is almost impossible. Therefore, the way developers are handling the Constantinople hard fork is a step in the right direction."

In that light, the only solid time line for Ethereum right now is Constantinople on testnet on 9 October, and then on mainnet after however long it takes. It might be as soon as November, or it might be a full year. But it's probably closer to the former than the latter.

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Korean Mobile Carrier LGU+ Launches Blockchain-Based Overseas Payment System.

South Korea’s LG UPlus, a mobile carrier owned by the country’s fourth largest conglomerate LG Corp., is launching a blockchain-based cross-carrier overseas payment service, Korea Times reportstoday, September 16.

Last Thursday, September 13, LG UPlus had signed an MoU to develop the new service alongside three global partners: Taiwan-based Far EasTone Telecommunications, Japan’s SoftBank, and U.S.-based TBCASoft. Through the new service, users of one telecoms carrier will be able to frictionlessly complete transactions on the payment networks of another.

According to the Korea Times, the first trial of the LG UPlus partners’ blockchain-based cross-carrier payment system (CCPS) is slated for the beginning of 2019.

CCPS will reportedly deploy blockchain to enable a prompt settlement mechanism in cross-carrier services. This will mean that users can avoid fees on overseas credit card transactions, and are insulated from the effects of fluctuating foreign exchange rates as they are ultimately billed through their carrier in their home currency.

For example, the service will allow LG UPlus Korean subscribers to purchase retail goods when using their cellphones in Taiwan and Japan, while Far EasTone users from Taiwan will enjoy the same convenience in Korea and Japan.

Ling Wu, founder and CEO of TBCASoft, told the Korea Times that the cross-carrier payment system is the first in a planned series of telecoms-specific blockchain-based solutions, noting that systems designed for “identity and authentication” are next.

Far EasTone, SoftBank, and TBCASoft are all among the initial founding members of the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG), a global blockchain consortium of telecom carriers that launched in late 2017. As reported earlier this summer, CSBG has recently unveiled the creation of a new blockchain working group that will focus on global remittance services, as well as adding six further major global telecoms firms to its ranks.

Just last week, Softbank unveiled a new proof-of-concept (PoC) in partnership with Synchronoss Technologies and TBCASoft to use CCPS to allow users to conduct peer-to-peer money transfers globally using legacy messaging services such as SMS and email.…s-payment-system/

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