Monthly Archives: March 2018

French CryptoCurrency Plan Unclear but Optimistic

French minister of finance and economics, Bruno Le Maire, has made comments recently which appear to extol the merits of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies as being revolutionary.

Le Maire suggested that blockchain technology would offer startups the option to “…create a network of trust without intermediaries…and offer increased traceability of transactions” generating a climate for a more efficient French economy.

The minister suggested that France should become “actors” rather than “spectators” although he clarified that the government should still be wary of speculation, security issues and criminal activities such as money laundering.

French comments were made prior to the recent G20 summit this month in which there was at least some agreement on cryptocurrencies regarding the need for regulation. France and Germany are in agreement, both advocating moves towards a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. German banks have made it quite clear that effective regulation of virtual currencies is an international imperative.

Some French enthusiasm for cryptocurrency at a governmental level can be due in part to French National Assembly member Laure de La Raudiere, a Republican who represents the Eure-et -Loir region of France. As part of another investigation into the use of blockchain technology, she was asked to lead The National Assembly’s Mission d’information in order to inform legislators on how the technology should be used and regulated. La Raudiere’s is scheduled to take six months to complete this prior to the G20’s next meeting where cryptocurrency regulation will return to the agenda.

Less vague, and certainly more optimistic, comments were recently made by Raudiere when she suggested that recent legislative amendments attempting to ban peer-to-peer technology revealed a “total misunderstanding” of the nature of the technology, pointing out that most of the time it was the way technology was used, not the technology itself that required restrictions.

 

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Intel Pursues Patent for Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator

Leading tech firm Intel is looking to patent a hardware development that would accelerate the process of Bitcoin mining chips, as revealed in recently published documents.

Accelerating Bitcoin mining

The application for the patent was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office in September 2016, with the details made publicly available on 29 March 2018. The formal request seeks to patent specifically a “Bitcoin Mining Hardware Accelerator With Optimized Message Digest and Message Scheduler Datapath”.

Intel outlines the benefits of the mining hardware accelerator in the application, detailing the process by which the software can increase the efficiency of Bitcoin mining. The hardware is described as consuming less electricity than standard software used for mining, increasing the economic efficiency.

Acquiring a patent such as this addresses the problems associated with conventional Bitcoin mining. As addressed in the application, the hardware utilized in the mining process ”uses brute force to repeatedly and endlessly perform SHA-256 functions”. This results in the process of Bitcoin mining being both power-intensive and employing large amounts of hardware space.

The hardware accelerator reportedly offers to reduce the space used, as well as cut the amount of power consumed during mining by up to 35% against a general-purpose processor.

Intel’s links to Bitcoin

This latest event follows previously reported connections between Intel and Silicon Valley bitcoin mining startup, 21 Inc. Intel originally developed chips for the fledgeling company, although plans to incorporate these chips into other Intel products never reached the market.

In March 2015, Intel reportedly listed a job application citing they needed a researcher to “investigate hardware and software capabilities that advance the performance, robustness, and scalability of open, decentralized ledgers.”.

A patent applied for by Intel in December 2017 illustrates the company’s focus again on the energy-intensive process involved in genetic sequencing. This patent does not, however, focus explicitly on mining any form of cryptocurrency.

If a leading industry company such as Intel should choose to invest further in the development of Bitcoin or blockchain innovations, the potential impact could be significant.

 

 

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Bitcoin Faces Renewed Pressure

The bearish trends of 2018 so far continue to reduce the price of Bitcoin, testing lows similar to that of the beginning of February. Bitcoin struggled under selling pressure in the early hours of 30 March, falling to USD 6,617.69 at its lowest point (Coindesk). Strong resistance led to a sharp ascent to USD 7,150, leading to stability around the USD 7,000 mark.

Possibility of a bullish break?

Bitcoin has a unpredictable year ahead, although it has been known to bounce back from bearish trends in the past. There is still a distance for Bitcoin to fall to reach prices of a year ago when it was trading at around USD 1,000. Recent scrutiny from the public and the banning of ads by giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter may have led to a present loss of faith from the public.

Not alone with its bearish trends

Ethereum (ETH) tested lows of  USD 368, which hadn’t visited since November 2017. At the beginning of the year, ETH at its height was above USD 1,026 (Coindesk). In terms of range, that’s a  64% depreciation since the beginning of the year. Bitcoin Cash is hitting new lows for the year at USD 684 compared with its highs in early January of USD 2,518, also the lowest in four months, relating to a 73% decrease. Litecoin has revisited lows of USD 110 that were reached only recently in February. Litecoin is faring slightly better with only a 57% decrease from its January high of USD 253. Ripple (XRP) is struggling the most under bearish pressure dropping to USD 0.48 from the January heights of USD 3.18, an 87% drop.

 

 

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BITCOIN USD gdax-btcusd-Mar-30-2018-24-35-57

Crypto Rewards Program to Boost Air Asia Service

Malaysian budget airlines Air Asia has announced that it is about to launch a cryptocurrency-based frequent-flyer rewards program.

Frequent flyer

The Nikkei Asia Review revealed last week that Air Asia plans to update its current digital services to include a cashless system. The system is part of a major upgrade of its digital program which will include seat purchasing, in-flight meals, seat upgrades and other services. The airlines will offer passengers an alternative to fiat currencies through the launch of its own digital currency in next six months, although it is still unclear whether the airline has plans to utilize an existing platform in the future.

Air Asia is not the only airlines to examine if blockchain tech is suitable as a possible rewards program. Singapore Airlines also announced last month its intentions to launch a frequent flyer program of its own in this way, although the company hasn’t commented on plans to develop its own cryptocurrency.

Ticketing

Taiwan Airline, Far Eastern Air, has also announced that it will accept crypto payments for its ticketing, becoming the first Taiwanese airline to offer its passengers cryptocurrency fares. The airline promises to accept cryptocurrency payments and all relevant services and sees itself as a ‘pioneer’ in the industry as a result. The airline’s president, Zhang Gangwei, suggests that “…the widespread use of cryptocurrency in various scenarios will usher in a new future for the airline business…”.

Accommodation

Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea, now well known for their adoption of cryptocurrency as a means of payment for services, are proactive within the travel industry, always seeking ways to improve customer satisfaction. A South Korean travel website with over 50,000 hotels is now offering its guests cryptocurrency paid bookings.

Air Asia head Tony Fernandes claims that cryptocurrencies will play “an important role in the South East Asian economy” as the region is home to millions of overseas workers who send billions of dollars across borders.

 

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Bitcoin Price Analysis, 30th March 2018: Bitcoin Price Goes Below $7000

It has so far been a tough day for Bitcoin markets. Trading volumes are up but at the same time, USD prices are down by almost 7%. Traders are now finally taking the hit that the bearish market was signalling for a while now. With Bitcoin prices continuing to dip down even further, the potential for a recovery appears more distant.

The day’s signals

  1. Markets are breaching floors with prices touching a low of USD 6,600 levels.
  2. Selling pressure appears to be the most prevalent element influencing price movements.
  3. Upward price movements are quickly met with resistance, highlighting the more negative change in the market’s mood.

BITCOIN USD gdax-btcusd-Mar-30-2018-24-35-57

GDAX BTC/USD charts are quite indicative of how the current outbreak of negativity. There were a few hours of back-to-back sell orders pushing prices further below USD 7,000 price points. Following that, markets entered the course of a recovery, reaching up to USD 7,200 but prices quickly went on a downward spiral again. It’s worth pointing out that BTC/USD markets went below USD 8,000 price points just a couple of days ago. Based on that, it’d be safe to say that the market’s downward course is not only continuing but also taking a turn for the worse.

Of course, breaking away from the bearishness keeps being an increasingly harder task as support just keeps being struck down. And yet, volatility continues to be a major factor affecting price movements throughout the course of today’s trading session. The fact that the prices continued to take a downward path with support being unable to prevent another major breach goes to show that there’s not much that could have prevented this. While the latest breach originated from another sizable selloff, the market’s response wasn’t able to counter the selling pressure that emerged.

Under such a market setting, markets are naturally surrounded by a state of further uncertainty and volatility. Thankfully though, the more recent hours have had BTC USD prices looming above USD 6,800 levels. That same setting of volatility had prices reach a low of USD 6,600 in the recent hours but a further price fall has been averted for now. Further uncertainty is to be expected and that’s not to say that the chances for a more positive outlook don’t appear to be that great.

OKCoin BTC/USD futures remained paused for the largest part of the day and went through a rollback on 30 March after staff intervention to compensate for an alleged attempt at manipulation. For that reason, today’s analysis has not taken into account the usual OKCoin BTC/USD weekly futures.

 

 

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China Scraps Blockchain Funding Center

The Chinese government has just scrapped its blockchain funding center, insisting on regulations before going forward with anything blockchain.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has called for domestic regulation as part of an effort to foster the development of the technology. The CCP’s official media made clear that the government’s stance is to integrate blockchain technology, while also warning of illicit activities that come with it.

A recent report stated the entity as saying that “Blockchain technology is still very immature. We must be cautious about speculation on this concept and separate technology-based innovations from those with a fund-raising purpose. To better promote and utilize the blockchain technology, the government should implement strengthened policies and regulations.”.

China aims to solidify plans in the future for the opening of the center; the full report gives a solid argument for explanations on blockchain technology applications in various industries and financial services.

This marks another restrictive move from China after the banning of initial coin offerings in 2017. It was, however, suggested that regulations would be a proactive step in the right direction, with China hoping to initiate frameworks that help the public and business sectors.

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has claimed that cryptocurrencies will be at the top of its agenda in 2018.

The Peoples Bank of China (PBoC) has called for a conference on the financial development of blockchain. Fan Yifei, vice governor of the PBoC, has a detrimental stance on the currency, praising its progress so far, but wanting to highlight the fact the integrity of the Chinese Yuan stays intact.

Fan also stated that the agency would reinforce its regulatory measures both internally and externally.

 

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Tech Giant Fujitsu Announces Blockchain Center In Europe

Japanese IT giant Fujitsu has recently announced the opening of its first Blockchain Innovation Center, located in Brussels, Belgium, with the aim of supporting research, developmen and innovation. Fujitsu has selected Brussels as the venue of choice because of its diverse political, technical advantages.

Witnessing the adoption of blockchain technology and distributed ledger technology (DTL), big tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon are just a few companies who are looking to integrate this technology into their companies framework, thus providing them with a transparent and more secure network.

Fujitsu sees blockchain technology as a step in the right direction for the IT sector, enabling a new model for businesses to buy, sell and distribute. Fujitsu aims to use the technology in some different business sectors such as supply chains and logistics, storing public records, and identity documents.

Fujitsu focused on becoming a worldwide leading contender for smart cities, Frederik De Breuck, Presales and Business Assurance Director of Fujitsu Benelux stated: “We believe blockchain technology plays a significant role in the development of smart cities. Today, more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas, and by 2050 this number is expected to increase to 66%. Cities need to adapt to these developments and become smart cities that connect ITC’s technologies with infrastructure and architectures to solve social, economic and environmental challenges”.

While new adaptions of blockchain will lean to a smarter future, changes will drive economic growth and forgo social and environmental problems.

Additionally, in the current economic adoption stage, companies such as IBM and Walmart are launching a blockchain food safety alliance in China by collaborating with China’s largest retailer JD.com, a member of the NASDAQ-100 and Fortune Global 500.

 

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The Bitcoin Miner - Behind the Scenes

Daily Discussion, March 31, 2018

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