Monthly Archives: May 2018

Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

European Union

EU privacy laws shut down PICOPs amid radical changes adopted by other companies: The new stringent Global Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU is causing problems to many blockchain startups operating in the 28-member economic union with the Parity ICO Passport Services (PICOPS) startup shut down following its failure to comply with the new rules. GDPR’s right to delete data was cited as the breaking point for PICOPS as the conflict arose with blockchain’s immutability.

PICOPS in a statement said: “Because of this, the significant resources required to make PICOPS GDPR-compliant, and the fact that PICOPS is not part of our core technology stack, we have decided to discontinue the service despite overwhelming market needs and demand.”

Other blockchain companies are also rapidly making changes to their platform with LocalBitcoins’s latest changes in terms of services to come into effect after 25 May 2018.

Small business focus by EU blockchain committee: EU parliament members voted to recommend blockchain payment systems to small businesses throughout the continent, according to Coindesk.

While the committee fell short of recommending cryptocurrencies, it did suggest non-monetary uses including specifying data controls, and supply chain management, that will make small businesses operations cost-effective.

Eva Kaili, a committee member said: “Today the Industry Committee voted univocally in favor of a forward-looking technology that we expect to change the quality of our life, empower SMEs and improve business models in most industrial sectors… and we aspire to make EU the global leader in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

England

London mosque starts accepting ETH donations: A London mosque belonging to Turkish Cypriot Muslims have announced the acceptance of donations in ETH, according to London’s Hackney Gazette. The leaders made the decision to accept cryptocurrency for Zakat, a mandatory part of Muslim faith that requires 2.5% of followers’ wealth to be donated to charity.

The mosque is expecting more than EUR 10,000 in donations throughout the current Ramazan month.

Cryptoassets task force makes positive start: The UK government’s task force on cryptocurrencies met for the very first time on 21 May as part of the country’s efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies. The task force includes members from the national bank, financial watchdog Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and UK Treasury.

The task force’s overall initial attitude seems tolerant as the members acknowledged the use of cryptocurrencies and their utility while at the same time focusing on the issues they bring. UK is currently a sizeable force in the blockchain community.

Spain

Government opens legal doors for crypto investment: The Spanish National Securities Market Commission or Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) has recently announced that investment funds could now invest and trade in Bitcoin in the country. The move opens more Blockchain companies to move to Spain and the statement was within the Q&A document for fintech companies previously and the CNMV said:

“This type of funds would have a legal place in Law 22/2014, which regulates, in addition to venture capital entities, other collective investment entities of closed type and their management entities.”

But, the CNMV will have to comply with European standards and since there are none, the investment companies can have a benefit in the country as they will have legal cover.

Poland

Government suspends crypto tax collection following popular demand: The Polish government has softened its stance on cryptocurrencies by suspending tax collection on cryptocurrencies, according to Cointelegraph.

The Eastern European nation had just recently heavily taxed the cryptocurrency earnings in the country but following public outcry, the government was forced to make changes to the cryptocurrency regulation.

Switzerland

Switzerland ranked as most crypto-friendly European nation: Switzerland has once again come on top of the rankings in the most crypto-friendly countries in Europe, according to a recent study based on Europe. Gibraltar and Malta also ranked favorably.

A total of 48 European countries and territories were examined in the study for the regulations in place for ICOs, cryptocurrencies as payment services and crypto taxation approach. Switzerland came out on top in all countries. Gibraltar came in second followed by Malta.

Government mulling over e-Franc crypto: Swiss government is following up on its pro-blockchain status by considering the establishment of a cryptocurrency named e-franc, according to a report by the Reuters. A study has been requested by the government and the currency will just use blockchain technology for transparency and record-keeping.

Norway

Norway joins central bank queue on crypto: The Norwegian government is looking to launch its own state cryptocurrency, according to latest reports by CoinTelegraph. An official document has been released by the government and shows that the Norwegian government is keeping up with the current trends of central banks looking into state-backed national cryptocurrencies.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

China

China arrests 98, recovers $266 million in OneCoin Ponzi: Chinese government machinery in the ZhuZhou County Protectorate has arrested 98 culprits involved in the infamous OneCoin cryptocurrency pyramid scheme and recovered a total of USD 266 million in crypto. If proven accurate, this could be the single biggest cryptocurrency seizure in history, with the current biggest episode being Finland’s with BTC 2,000 (USD 8 million) recovered from fraudulent activities.

OneCoin had over 2 million registered accounts in China in 20 different provinces. More than CNY 15 billion (Chinese yuan) was reportedly invested in the project.

Chinese central TV warns against Bitcoin investment: Chinese state-controlled China Central TV has discouraged investors in investing cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin in a news story this week.

The news report titled ‘Blockchain Cryptocurrency Bubble Accumulates’ (区块链”代币泡沫堆积) is part of many similar pieces covered by the government to fend off public interest in Bitcoin.

India

CoinSecure closes after losing all its BTC: Indian cryptocurrency exchange CoinSecure is still closed with a hack reported in the exchange on 9 April that led to over BTC 438 being stolen by hackers, equivalent to around USD 3.3 million at the time.

The company still remains locked up and distribution of funds may take place according to latest reports. As of this week, a ratio of 90% INR (Indian rupee) and 10% in BTC is being reported.

Government may implement crypto taxes: Crypto-skeptic Indian regulators will reportedly apply GST on cryptocurrency trading according to latest news from Bloomberg India. As much as 18% is being reported by the government sources and could see the cryptocurrencies labelled as “tangible goods”.

The proposal is being developed by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs. The move follows the Central Bank’s ban on cryptocurrency exchange accounts registered in local banks.

Singapore

Central bank to revamp regulations for blockchain industries: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has drafted a consultation paper that includes proposals for changing existing cryptocurrency regulations, according to latest reports from the Southeast Asian nation.

The move will see a complete revamp of the regulations and is widely seen as enabling more blockchain companies to come and invest in the country. The report comes in the backdrop of a government-MAS preparation to launch blockchain-based inter-bank payment system.

South Korea

Seoul mayor reiterates support for local crypto ahead of elections: Mayor Park Won-Soon has doubled down on his proposal to introduce a native cryptocurrency in the capital city of Seoul in his bold plans of becoming a smart city ahead of his re-election campaign.

Park had highlighted six sectors that his city could improve drastically including Internet of Things, AI, big data and bio-health.

Government reviews, softens crypto regulations to meet G20 unified regulation: The South Korean government is revising its earlier hardline stance on cryptocurrency regulation following the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. The summit acknowledged cryptocurrencies as “financial assets”  and heralded them to usher in a new age of development in economy.

South Korean government is now softening its policies according to the G20 summit and are set to dole out “unified regulations for cryptocurrencies”.

Japan

MUFG Bank partners with Akamai for crypto payment: Japan’s largest bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) has announced that it is partnering with US-based Akamai to work on a global payment network service. The service will reportedly become fully functional by 2019 and will enable IOT-based payments and other emerging technologies.

According to a press release from the bank:

“MUFG and Akamai, using Akamai’s globally deployed high-speed and high-security platform, will utilize this new blockchain’s high-speed processing and secure value transfer abilities to promote pay-per-use, micropayments, and other new IoT generation payment methods, and to support the diverse payment options of the sharing economy by offering an open platform,.”

Thailand

Thai regulators clarify crypto stance: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Thailand has made some clarifications regarding cryptocurrency and blockchain regulations while hosting a focus group on the matter. The SEC presented its present and future approaches in a Facebook Live session regarding ICOs and crypto-related enterprises.

The move will see KYC and AML standards adopted for new blockchain projects and ICOs.

Australia

Government considering blockchain for services and welfare payments: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has asked the state Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to research blockchain and see how it could be used to improve government services including welfare payments.

A preliminary budget of AUD 700,000 has been earmarked for the initiative into blockchain technology. DTA Chief Digital Officer Peter Alexander said: “The Prime Minister, in fact, wrote to our minister and asked us to have a look at blockchain, which evolved into this particular piece of work.”

The move will focus on how government can leverage the new technology to improve governance.

 

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Brazil

Regulator sees Bitcoin regulation as premature: Brazil’s securities authority CVM is now viewing cryptocurrency regulation as premature, according to latest reports by BN Americas. According to the regulator, the number of transactions is still low and the authorities will look into it once it crosses a certain barrier.

Brazil’s love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies is evident as trading was banned back in January but the ban was subsequently lifted.

Argentina

Bank ditches SWIFT for Bitcoin on international payments: An Argentinian bank becomes one of the world’s first banks to announce that it is dropping the SWIFT system in favor of Bitcoin transfer for international remittances.

Banco Masventas (BMV) has been looking into the cryptocurrency scene for some time and has teamed up with local cryptocurrency fintech startup Bitex to set up a service that will make things safer and practical according to the bank’s statement.

One of the biggest developments is that the bank’s Bitcoin preference will remove the need for SWIFT, a clearing network that has seen various security issues and fraudulent activities around the world in recent years. The BMV’s alternative will have the option to send money to 50 countries and the payment timeframe is reduced to 24 hours.

According to the BMVbank’s Chief Marketing Officer Manuel Beaudroit: “The customers will ask the bank to do an international payment, and the bank uses Bitex as a provider. For the customer, it’s transparent, they don’t touch, they don’t see the Bitcoin. We are a provider for them, and they are not touching Bitcoin.”

The successful working of this platform will usher in a revolution around the world in international payments and will reduce the monopoly of the SWIFT system and US Dollar.

Chile

Central bank considering crypto regulations: The Chilean Central Bank’s president Mario Marcel has announced that he is in favor of developing a regulatory apparatus for monitoring cryptocurrencies and their trading.

Marcel said this statement in a forum recently held by the Chile’s Finance Commission of Deputies. He indicated that the development of this apparatus is necessary to regulate and monitor cryptocurrencies in the country.

Right now, cryptocurrency trading is largely unregulated in the South American country and aren’t recognized by the government as a legal tender.

Venezuela

Petro given boost after President Maduro’s win: Venezuela’s controversial cryptocurrency Petro was handed a big boost as its leading advocate and founder President Nicholas Maduro won the presidential campaign and retained his seat. The move will keep him in power for the next six years which is seen as enough time to deploy Maduro’s brainchild, the Petro cryptocurrency.

The 55-year-old won the election with a controversial 67.17% of the total vote and the election was marred by irregularities but Petro will see increased focus in the near future as the president sees the currency as a solution to Venezuela’s dangerous hyperinflation figures that are seeing thousands fleeing the country.

The Petro is also widely seen as a move by Russia to circumnavigate US sanctions on these two nations. The American government banned the trading of Petro and since then, the currency’s progress has gathered steam with Russia toying with the idea of using the cryptocurrency to pay for oil.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 18th to 24th May 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

Public to face probes if they buy crypto from offshore exchanges: The South African Reserve Bank has issued latest guidance regarding buying and selling of cryptocurrencies in the country, according to latest instructions coming from the central bank. The bank doesn’t have a direct role in controlling cryptocurrencies in the country, but is issuing regulatory guidances on purchasing and selling of cryptocurrencies from foreign exchanges.

South African crypto investors are directed to purchase cryptocurrencies only from their discretionary allowance of  SAR 1 million or individual foreign investment of SAR 10 million per year. Companies are also banned from purchasing cryptocurrencies from the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) dispensation in the country.

The move will create further problems for cryptocurrency trading in the country but it is yet unclear how many South Africans actually use foreign exchange for buying cryptocurrencies.

First Bitcoin ATM opens in South Africa: The first Bitcoin ATM has been opened in South Africa by Northwold Spar in Johannesburg. While there have been other cryptocurrency ATMs in the country before, this one is the first fully functioning crypto ATM currently functional in the country.

George Neophytou, the GM of Northwold Spar said: “It is all awfully exciting. It will take away much the frustration of buying and selling cryptocurrency, and hopefully help make cryptocurrencies mainstream… It’s a different world there. Walking around in the streets of Germany you see signs with ‘Bitcoins accepted here’.”

Recent surveys in South Africa have shown that 25% of South Africans plan to invest in cryptocurrencies in the future and 15% said they would invest in mining equipment.

Kidnappers demand ransom in Bitcoin for abducted South African child: In a first, a 13-year old boy named Katlego Marite was abducted by kidnappers in Witbank, South Africa. The kidnappers left a note with a Bitcoin address at the scene and instructions to deposit the ransom if the parents wanted to see their child alive again.

The ransom was worth around USD 120,000 and is said to be the first known case of Bitcoin ransom in the country. It is unclear why the boy was specifically targeted. The parents had no idea what Bitcoin was and the case is currently under investigation by the police. The boy was recovered on 24 May.

Zimbabwe

Exchange sues Central Bank for banning crypto trading: In reaction to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe banning cryptocurrencies, cryptocurrency exchange Golix has challenged the ban in the country’s top court citing the ban was illegal.

Golix is one of the three cryptocurrency exchanges active in the country and the lawsuit argues that the reserve bank has no authority to ban cryptocurrency since it requires legislation from the parliament to do so. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the bank has failed to manage its own currency and thus, it shouldn’t be forcing anybody else in trading.

Zimbabwe’s triple-digit inflation is believed to be caused by the currency mismanagement from the Reserve Bank and it will be interesting to see how the court responds to this request. Banks were prohibited in dealing with cryptocurrency exchange accounts although a 60-day grace period is still going on.

Ethiopia

Government signs deal with Cardano to introduce blockchain in agriculture: Ethiopia has become the latest African nation joining the blockchain revolution with the ministry of science and technology signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the CEO of Cardano Charles Hoskinson. The partnership will allow Cardano’s platform to be used for improving the domestic agriculture in the country.

While MOUs don’t have any obligatory standing, it is deemed as a positive development in the country.

Syria

WFP blockchain food vouchers reach 100,000 Syrian refugees: The World Food Programme (WFP) has announced that its cryptocurrency-enabled food vouchers have served more than 100,000 Syrian refugees currently residing in Jordan, according to Rightsinfo.

WFP is currently engaged in distributing food among the refugees who have fled a bloody civil war in the country that has been raging for six years leaving hundreds of thousands dead and tens of millions refugees.

The UN is partnering with IBM through the WFP to use Blockchain for recording transactions in a safe manner.

Robert Opp, the director of Innovation at WFP said: “Blockchain technology allows us to step up the fight against hunger. Through blockchain, we aim to cut payment costs, better protect beneficiary data, control financial risks, and respond more rapidly in the wake of emergencies… using blockchain can be a qualitative leap, not only for WFP, but for the entire humanitarian community.”

In addition to this program, WFP is also using other localized blockchain projects around the world.

Israel

BTC 1,000 seized in money laundering case: Israeli Cybercrime division has arrested a local citizen Hilmi Git on Monday for using 800 credit cards in fraudulent activities numbering over 20,000 and laundering the fraudulent money through Bitcoin.

The indictment in the Tel Aviv court read that the accused had laundered over USD 8 million in ten years through Bitcoin and that the state seized a whopping BTC 1,071 from him. This is one of the biggest Bitcoin-related criminal activities reported in the world with the BTC 2,000 arrest in Finland back in February still ranked as the biggest of them all.

 

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Deutsche Boerse Becomes Second German Stock Exchange Embracing Crypto

Deutsche Boerse, the owner of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, is evaluating whether to offer cryptocurrency products, according to Bloomberg.

If this is the case, this will be the second German stock exchange to make announcements this year regarding a move towards the adoption of cryptocurrency related products, after Boerse Stuttgart Digital Adventures announced the release of its Bison app in April.

Jeffrey Tellsler, Deutsche Boerse’s head of clients products and core markets, spoke to an industry event in London organized by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe on Wednesday suggesting that the company was “deep at work with it”. Tellsler went on to comment:

“Before we move forward with anything like Bitcoin we want to make sure we understand the underlying transaction which isn’t the easiest thing to do.”

The company’s rivals in the US, Cboe Global Markets Inc and CME Group Inc, became involved in Bitcoin futures last November, and due to regional regulation, no European company had been able to follow suit until this latest move, although he did admit that as yet Boerse Deutsche wasn’t at the same level.

Germany, along with France who is more supportive of ICOs, has been vocal within the EU in supporting blockchain technology and has joined 21 other countries in supporting initiatives with the aim of reinforcing local innovation.

Last June, Deutsche Boerse revealed a plan to move the majority of its post-trade services to a blockchain, using Hyperledger’s open-source Fabric protocol to transfer securities and move commercial bank money.

The firm is clearly moving into the crypto space arena with some urgency, following its announcement in March of a securities lending platform using R3’s Corda blockchain technology. Tellsler explained that before they could proceed, the firm needed to ensure that they understood the volatility of the Bitcoin market, and made sure clients and regulators were in line before moving forward.

In a recent Sowa Labs survey of 1,019 German crypto traders, 16.9% owned a single cryptocurrency, while 18.2% confessed to owning several. Of the respondents, 81% were male, 19% were female, and 54% were 35 years old or younger. More than 80% of respondents opened their first trading account from 2017 onward.

 

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“Show Me The Money”, Say Asian Crypto Investors

At the Blockchain Week recently held in New York, it emerged that two quite distinct differences exist between the Asian crypto market and the West.

In the US, initial coin offerings are about ideas rather than returns and vice versa when it comes to Asia, according to Coindesk interviews conducted at the conference. Asian investors want returns more quickly than US investors, who are in for the long haul, better invested in terms of financial knowledge than quick gains.

“At the very beginning, the information coming from Asia to the US was very limited. We didn’t know what’s really going on,” said Zhuling Chen, co-founder of Aelf, a Singapore startup.

With no real reference point, this resulted in the market evolving in Asia as a separate entity, not part of a Bitcoin or Ethereum ecosystem, but certainly informed by them, followed by Asian banks joining the fray in early 2016.

“Asians love to gamble,” commented Jason Fang from Sora Ventures at the Token Summit 111, one of the Blockchain Week events. Fan added that unlike Western projects, they don’t want to see long lock-up periods, but want their tokens out and realize quick returns.

Fang suggested that Asian investors have one eye on the market, knowing there will always be quick value increase after a coin is released, happy to let them go having made the quick return.”We’re money in, money out in crypto,” he said.

Ricky Li, co-founder of blockchain company Altonomy, told Coindesk that Asians rarely diversify their portfolios over time, again after that quick return:

“US and Europe ICO project teams are more well-invested in terms of financial knowledge… Chinese companies and their neighbors will raise funds in ether and largely maintain those positions, sometimes failing to lock in gain or riding volatility through their whole portfolio.”

“The general view is that a lot of American companies are pushing the boundaries of technological advancement,” Chen said. “In China, it’s slightly more balanced. More companies are looking from a business point of view.”

Nick Tomaino, of VC firm 1confirmation, thought that Asia was arguably the most important part of the world in terms of cryptocurrency, and that the Asian market does mirror Western protocols. He felt, however, that there was a willingness to find common ground between US and Asian companies within the space.

Asian markets very much follow a common theme that is recognizable to all Chinese, that of family, or in terms of business, community, and localization:

“The best way is to have your own project that’s local,” Li concurred. “That’s very appealing to investors in China culturally.”

This, of course, has been affected by the Chinese ICO ban which is now driving companies to towards global business ventures, although this is seen as somewhat of a double-edged sword, giving benefits which weren’t considered before, due to the localized nature of Chinese business.

 

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Over $1 Billion in Crypto Stolen Since 2017

Recent reports from the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) show that USD 1.2 billion in cryptocurrencies has been stolen since the beginning of 2017. Less than 20% of the stolen funds have been recovered.

Bitcoin received a massive influx of popularity in 2017 due to price increases up to USD 20,000, which has brought attention to this sector. Over 1,500 alternative cryptocurrencies have emerged as well, with some of the biggest thefts coming from altcoins.

“One problem that we’re seeing in addition to the criminal activity like drug trafficking and money laundering using cryptocurrencies is the theft of these tokens by bad guys,” Dave Jevans, CEO of cryptocurrency security firm CipherTrace, told Reuters in an interview.

Ethereum alone has seen millions lost in hacks. The Ether stolen from the DAO hack would now be worth USD 2 billion but was an event in 2016. Even so, the Ethereum community went through many hardships in 2017 due to Parity hacks.

Also Read: New EU Privacy Laws Brings Parity’s PICOPs to a Halt

Despite the massive losses, Bitcoin has taken quite a beating as well. Last year saw Nicehash being hacked and many users are still experiencing the aftermath of Bitfinex and Mt Gox.

But NEM takes the cake with the Coincheck hack earlier this year, which saw USD 500 million worth of the tokens being stolen from a Japanese exchange.

The EU’s new GDPR will make it harder for Bitcoin companies to function in the future, and will also enable further thefts and hackings in the future Jevans said.

“GDPR will negatively impact the overall security of the internet and will also inadvertently aid cybercriminals,” said Mr Jevans. “By restricting access to critical information, the new law will significantly hinder investigations into cybercrime, cryptocurrency theft, phishing, ransomware, malware, fraud and crypto-jacking,” he added.

The chairman for APWG predicts more cybercriminals will move to Europe and exploit GDPR. Many cryptocurrency projects are based in Europe, due to the United States’ strict and sometimes ambiguous regulations regarding crypto. This makes them easy targets for hackers, due to proximity to servers.

 

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IBM Recruits in Preparation for $176 Billion Blockchain Future

IBM’s pursuit of 1,800 blockchain jobs in France is a signal of intent to expand research and development in several areas, primarily focusing on blockchain technology, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things), as detailed in an interview with chief executive Virginia Rometty on Wednesday.

IBM is one of the largest and most established research organizations in IT and computing alongside companies such as Microsoft and Google. The company currently holds the record for the most patents generated in a year as well as the last 25 consecutive years. IBM assigned 9,043 patents in comparison to Samsung Electronic which filed for 3,300 putting them in second place.

IBM has previously reported working with up to 63 blockchain clients on over 400 projects related to blockchain technology. The tech giant is confident that blockchain will streamline solutions and be a leading innovator in its field. Earlier this year CFO Jim Kavanaugh stated: “For us, blockchain is a set of technologies that allow our clients to simplify complex, end-to-end processes in a way that couldn’t have been done before.”

IBM securing the market

There have been regular headlines of IBM and collaborators looking to enter the blockchain space. IBM started a partnership with Maersk and Agility, a global logistics provider, announcing their plans to track shipping containers using blockchain technology back in February.

IBM has been pushing for the lead in the race for adopting blockchain technology working alongside various industries and supporting giants like VisaHSBC, and Walmart. Walmart’s vice president of food safety and health Frank Yiannas explained that:

“As a global advocate for enhanced food safety, Walmart looks forward to deepening our work with IBM, Tsinghua University, JD and others throughout the food supply chain. Through collaboration, standardization, and adoption of new and innovative technologies, we can effectively improve traceability and transparency and help ensure the global food system remains safe for all.”

Although cryptocurrencies have been met with some skepticism many industries are starting to understand the potential benefits of the underlying blockchain technology. Industry leaders and the European Union are pouring millions into research and exploration of blockchain projects. The EU announced plans in February to increase funding over the next two years from EUR 83 million to around EUR 340 million. IBM’s general manager of blockchain, Marie Wieck previously highlighted research predicting the value-add of the blockchain economy growing to more than USD 176 billion by 2025.

 

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IBM to Bring 1,800 Blockchain Jobs to France

International Business Machines (IBM) recently announced initiatives and investments which will create 1,800 jobs in France.

News of IBM’s intentions broke after the Tech for Good summit in Paris hosted by the president of France. Over 50 tech CEOs were present, including Mark Zuckerberg, Satya Nadella, and Biran Krzanich.

The openings require “new collar” skills, a term coined by president and CEO Ginni Rometty. New collar skills involve knowledge in data science, cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and blockchain. New graduates and experienced technical professionals alike will be hired to fill these opportunities.

The new positions will be created within the next two years. They include 400 IBM hired in March for research at the French AI for Humanity summit. IBM has been steadily reducing its presence in France since 2012, but new hirings will help IBM return to previous numbers.

IBM has also announced a partnership with the French government regarding its Pathways to Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) education system. P-TECH gives disadvantaged people the ability to obtain skilled labor.

It is to no surprise that Rometty spearheaded discussions about education during the summit, and will use insight gathered to better French education. The company is also introducing IBM France Academy supplemented with online courses. This will train IBM France employees, partners, and clients in skills that will prepare them for the AI-era.

Most of IBM’s clients within France utilize Watson, IBM’s supercomputer, to accelerate their business operations. Introduction of blockchain technology could potentially make Watson more potent.

IBM has won deals in multi-line insurance, bank guarantees, the automobile industry, and global food-supplying industry, among others, thanks to its strides in blockchain technology.

According to a report by MarketandMarkets, blockchain tech is expected to be worth USD 2.3 billion by 2021, growing at a CAGR of 61.5%. IBM has been slowly gaining ground within the blockchain space and its investments in France are just their latest efforts.

 

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Zimbabwe Lifts Crypto Ban after Reserve Bank Misses Court Appearance

The High Court in Harare, Zimbabwe has issued an interim order lifting the nationwide cryptocurrency ban decreed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on 11 May 2018. Apparently, officials from the Reserve Bank, including Governor John Mangudya, failed to show up at court, resulting in a default judgement against them.

The lawsuit was brought forth against the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe by Golix, a cryptocurrency exchange which is based in Africa and one of three primary cryptocurrency exchanges that operate in Zimbabwe, the other two being Bitfinance and Styx24.

In the lawsuit, Golix argued that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had no jurisdiction to ban cryptocurrency, since that is equivalent to lawmaking which is a power reserved for parliament. Therefore, by banning cryptocurrency, the Reserve Bank was infringing on the parliament’s power.

The temporary lifting of the ban has brought great relief to Zimbabwean cryptocurrency traders. Golix is hoping to get back to business immediately and is aiming to begin processing trades in their order book which has been on halt due to the ban.

It is unknown whether banks will cooperate with the temporary lifting of the cryptocurrency ban. There was supposed to be a 60-day grace period after the issuance of the decree which occurred on 11 May 2018, but within a week banks were already refusing to facilitate withdraws from Golix. Since the banks didn’t even follow the order of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to give cryptocurrency users 60 days to get their affairs in order, it seems they have some independence regarding the decision to allow cryptocurrency trading through their respective banks, and if they decide not to cooperate Golix won’t be able to function.

While this is a big win for cryptocurrency in Zimbabwe, it is only a temporary order and there will have to be more court proceedings before a final decision is made. The only thing that is certain is a big legal battle is about to ensue between cryptocurrency and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, and this battle will determine cryptocurrency’s future in the Southeast African nation.

 

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