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Crypto Pioneer David Chaum Builds Super Fast Blockchain Platform

Crypto guru and pioneer David Chaum is launching his own platform which he is promising will be able to process thousands of transactions a second.

The new platform named Elixxir will not only outpace Bitcoin, said Chaum at the Consensus conference in Singapore last week, but will allow digital cash to be traded at a similar speed to physical cash as well as cut down on the energy required.

Chaum is an American computer scientist and cryptographer famous for developing ecash, an electronic cash application that aims to preserve a user’s anonymity. He has also invented many cryptographic protocols and founded DigiCash, an electronic money corporation.

One of the reasons for cryptocurrency’s popularity is its speed of delivery to the user, with the Bitcoin network able to process around seven transactions a second. Chaum had been working on speeding up the processing time of electronic funds since the launch of DigiCash and then Bitcoin ten years later.

“These breakthroughs I’ve made change the whole game,” Chaum said in an interview. “We can actually meet the requirements to go to consumer scale…Truth be told, when I invented [DigiCash] there was no chance of using it… People didn’t even know about the internet.”

On the current Bitcoin network, transactions are processed in blocks. When connected, they create the blockchain which the stores the transaction on a ledger replicated on every computer. Miners compete to be the first to verify and process the transaction in a valid block, thus adding to the blockchain and collecting newly-created Bitcoin generated as a reward for finding new blocks.

Chaum’s Elixxir system limits these types of transactions, making the system less decentralized. These blocks won’t carry the transactions and won’t be linked to wallets, requiring less processing power due to less stored information. The key, he claims, is that producers will be given equal status, unlike the current system, thus eliminating the energy-intensive status quo.

Chaum has said that he will open up Elixxir as an open-sourced project to encourage improvement from developers in the future.


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Europol: It’s Cash that Funds Terrorism

A 72-page long report recently published by Europol has clarified that it is conventional banking which is the primary source of terrorist funding such as the recent attacks on European cities.

The report explains that such outrages are financed through cash as it is a tried and tested form of funding. Finding an alternative source, such as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which publicly log transactions, is of little interest to terrorist cells operating in Europe, according to the findings.

Europol based in The Hague, the Netherlands, supports the 28 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime. They also work with many non-EU partner states and international organizations.

Also, in line with the findings of the report, in the US last week, a senior member of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies Centre on Sanctions and Illicit Finance spoke out against anti-crypto rhetoric, particularly those aimed at the financing of militant jihad.

A senior member of the center, Yaya Fanusie maintained that despite continual references by governments around the world that cryptocurrency finances terrorist activity, terrorist networks have been mainly unsuccessful in using cryptocurrency to fund their activities. The Europol report agreed, stating:

“…despite the clear potential, none of the attacks carried out on European soil appear to have been funded via cryptocurrencies. The use of cryptocurrencies by terrorist groups has only involved low-level transactions – their main funding still stems from conventional banking and money remittance services.”

It is undeniable that just like cash, cryptocurrencies are on the radar of criminals but the use of Bitcoin in criminal activity has dropped to 35% of the market share from a peak of 80% when the flagship digital currency was its infancy. It is now known that criminals are more likely to use Zcash and Monero across the globe than Bitcoin. The report clarifies that:

“While the criminal abuse of cryptocurrencies remains largely within the realm of cybercrime, some Member States reported that they are increasingly encountering their use by non-cyber [organized crime groups].”

The report concludes that law enforcement information sharing and tighter security measures are the best weapons cybersecurity has against cyber-attacks.


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Can Blockchain Crowdfunding Solve Football’s Financial Burden?

A day doesn’t seem to pass now without the announcement of a top-flight football club’s interest in a new blockchain or crypto project, or an endorsement by a high profile player, and now more are lining up with crowdfunding in mind.

The latest to join the “club” are two more English Premier League teams, newly-promoted Cardiff City and Newcastle United, the latter promoted a season earlier. Both teams are currently in conversations with blockchain-based crowdfunding platform SportyCo. The platform is gaining some prominence now since it formed with an aim to tackle the problem of funding training and international events, faced by many athletes.

Cardiff City, currently lying 17th in England’s top-flight league, were promoted from the Championship last season with high hopes to regain a permanent standing in one of the world’s most prestigious divisions. An ICO launch through SportyCo may be an approach they take in order to gain additional funds in order to strengthen their squad in order to compete at the elevated level. They currently have a debt burden of over USD 150 million.

Newcastle United is also suffering a shortage of funds under owner British billionaire retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley. Supporters are now asking “where has all the money gone?”, with the club being unable to account for GBP 200 million from gate and sponsorship money including some USD 125 million in prize money.

Brazilian football superstar Ronaldinho has already taken the blockchain route on a personal level with his RSC coin, and others have followed, including two Barcelona players Carles Puyol and Andres Iniesta, with a blockchain project which links players and fans.

It’s becoming clearer that there is plenty of scope for fans to form closer connections to their clubs through such projects via a rewards mechanism. For example, a practical system would reward investors as token holders with discounts for club-related purchases, such as season passes, tickets and items purchased through the club.


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Crypto Fast Becoming Only Way to Pay in Northern Queensland

From Queensland International Airport to the northern parts of the state, this area of Australia is leading the rush in utilizing cryptocurrency as the way to pay, replacing more conventional card usage and the necessity to carry cash.

As covered by Bitcoin News last month and earlier this week in a televized BBC One piece on English TV, a microcosm of Queenslander’s changing crypto face has become the busy beachside tourist town of Agnes Water which has rightly laid claim to being the country’s first digital currency-friendly town.

With more than 30 businesses now taking Bitcoin as payment around the area including guest houses, hotels, restaurants, taxis, stores, and most retailers, payment is just a QR code away from an instant transaction. Now the region of North Queensland now boasts over 100 outlets for Bitcoin payments. As TravelbyBit’s CEO Caleb Yeoh observed regarding the new phenomenon:

“If you travel around the world you have to deal with multiple currencies, the exchange rate can be confusing, sometimes you struggle to find ATMs, and sometimes you get swindled by money changers… Travelling with one global currency like Bitcoin… makes sense.”

The move towards accepting Bitcoin for fast cardless payments is not only gaining traction as it moves its way around Northern Queensland. In some areas, cryptocurrency is now becoming the preferred method of payment along with Bitcoin Cash, and in some case its the only way to pay, putting credit and debit cards under pressure.

As one Reddit user observed, “Many merchants in North Queensland are choosing to accept only Bitcoin Cash, these merchants are well informed and well organized, why are they choosing to concentrate on Bitcoin Cash for their electronic commerce needs.”

Users in Northern Queensland often have numerous crypto methods of payment at their disposal including, NEM (XEM), Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum (ETH) which doesn’t simply limit them to a choice of one currency. Freedom of choice seems to be the requirement of most users when it comes to preferred methods of QR payment, many having multiple currency wallets accessed through their phones.

In July, a senior representative of Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) predicted that there would be little likelihood of Bitcoin being widely adopted in Australia in the future due to its price volatility compared to the stability of the Australian dollar.

A trip to Northern Queensland may offer the RBA rep a picture of the future, particularly if the movement spreads across the states at its current pace. Currently, for many in the area, the only way to pay is in crypto.


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Bitcoin Eases Cross-Border Transactions for Palestinians in Gaza

Bitcoin is currently serving an important role in Gaza to help investors gain access to markets abroad and send money overseas.

Currently, Palestinians are unable to get their Israeli shekels or other currencies used in the area, such US dollars or Jordanian dinars, to online exchanges as they don’t work with local banks. This has given rise to many unofficial exchanges around the city.

The territories of Gaza and the West Bank are separated from each other by Israeli territory. Both fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority but Gaza has since June 2007 been governed by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic organization which came to power in free elections in 2006. It has been placed under an Israeli and US-led international economic and political boycott from that time onwards.

There are reportedly now 20 unaccredited exchanges helping local cryptocurrency users to get their money abroad to make investments that otherwise they would have no chance of making in the region. In Gaza, Mohammed runs his own unofficial crypto exchange and suggests that over the course of four years, he’s enabled up to 50 Palestinian families to buy an average of USD 500 worth of Bitcoin a month to use abroad or shop online. He maintains that his clients view Bitcoin as “cheaper, safer, and quicker”, maintaining that “nothing works with Palestinian banks” and that “Bitcoin wallets are alternative banks”.

Palestinians have adopted peer-to-peer payments are seen as another way of getting around local restrictions. Palestinians are under enormous pressure in Gaza and, due to Israel’s world status, international pressure often means that those sending money from the West have been known to have their accounts closed.

Laith Kassis, CEO of Techno Park on the West Bank, illustrated the problem for many wishing to get money overseas: “There is no payment gateway, like PayPal, for entrepreneurs to receive payments internationally… So here come solutions on blockchain with private nodes.”

The lack of power is another local issue that Palestinians struggle with as frequent outages equates to no access to the internet, making any kind of transfer of funds next to impossible.

However, Bitcoin enthusiast and professor of economics at the Lebanese American University, Saifdean Ammous doesn’t see Bitcoin or crypto in general as a solution to the failing Palestinian economy. He argues:

“If the people who want to do the transaction don’t both have balances in Bitcoin then you’re just adding extra layers of conversion from their home currency to Bitcoin and back to the home currency… That’s never going to be a sustainable solution.”

The World Bank estimates that 20% of Palestinians live below the poverty line of less than USD 5.50 a day. In this volatile highly-controlled environment, cash is the most highly sought-after payment for day-to-day necessities.


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Ripple Enters Partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Biggest Bank

US-based technology company Ripple has announced a partnership with Saudi Arabia’s largest bank, the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia (NCB).

Ripple’s network of banks and payment providers known as Ripplenet plays the predominant role in the terms of the partnership, with NCB agreeing to use the service for connecting with other financial institutions. Ripplenet claims to provide a more economical, standardized and legally streamlined method for international money transfers.

The partnership will open up NCB to companies first in Singapore, then Asia and North America – all regions that the Saudi bank previously did not have access to. The commercial bank was first established in 1953 and claims 400 branches across Saudi Arabia, with over 5.4 million customers globally.

XRP, the Ripple network’s local token, can be used by banks to source liquidity on demand in real time, with no pre-funding of nostro accounts (accounts that a bank holds in a foreign currency in another bank) required. Payment providers can also benefit from using XRP in terms of saving costs on foreign exchange rates and enjoying a faster payment settlement.

According to Ripple, XRP payments can be settled in four seconds, as opposed to the several minutes Ethereum transfers take and Bitcoin payments that sometimes require up to an hour to be approved.

Islam and crypto

Saudi Arabia’s legal system is founded on the Islamic Sharia law. As Bitcoin News reported earlier this month, the first fully Sharia-compliant cryptocurrency exchange has now launched in the UAE.

While Islam prohibits fractional reserve lending which underpins most fiat currencies, cryptocurrency is based on the logistics of scarcity. Academic discussions on the subject have suggested that cryptocurrencies may be, in fact, more Sharia-compliant than fiat.

In April, Islamic scholar Mufti Muhammad Abu Bakar published a paper detailing how the majority of the time Bitcoin is Halal (permissible), with the caveat that illicit use of the cryptocurrency or use of it in countries where it is prohibited by local laws are not Sharia-compliant.

As Muslims account for around 23% of the world’s population, they may yet become a powerful force in the market.

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Indian Exchanges Continue to Flout Crypto Banking Ban

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banking ban on cryptocurrencies in India is having less impact than the government anticipated as more exchanges go back to work.

Three exchanges have announced the return of Indian rupee (INR) deposits, contrary to the government ruling in July, which effectively removed INR deposits and made withdrawals illegal. Petitions against the current ruling are up for Supreme Court scrutiny later next week. On 12 September, Koinex announced rupee deposits and withdrawals were now back in operation at their exchange, referring, rather romantically, to the “old times”:

“We are happy to announce the revival of INR in the crypto universe through a new peer-to-peer deposit and withdrawal mechanism for INR transactions… Just like the old times, users will be able to deposit and withdraw funds directly from their INR wallets.”

Another exchange, Coindelta, is back to business as usual too with an equally folksy announcement on their website:

“We have resumed back the INR deposits and withdrawals on Coindelta. Not only this, your old favorite INR markets are back where you can trade with your INR.”

Two other platforms, Koindesk and Giottus, are back too, the latter with a peer-to-peer (P2P) system, allowing its users to withdraw rupees. P2P has become a way that many exchanges have developed for their own homemade way of operating. Exchanges now using a P2P system for accessing and spending their rupees include WazirX, Intashift, and Coind.

WazirX head Nischal Shetty suggested that the exchange was seeing more that one match per minute through its P2P facility, with trading increasing daily, proving that crypto is very much alive and well on the subcontinent.

Rahul Chitale of Instashift said: “Since the last set of RBI-related developments in the past couple of months, we have continued to see strong 20-25% growth in trading volumes month on month over the last 2 quarters of our operation.”

In the meantime, Dabba growths in strength, profiting from the RBI ban. Working via the messaging app Telegram, with money as cash routed through the various channels in the hawala system. The money then passes either officially or unofficially to the foreign account where Bitcoins are transacted. Payment is then made in cash or check and the deal is done: no exchange, no Indian bank.


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Coinbase Goes on Wall Street Hiring Spree as Part of Global Expansion

Coinbase has cut the ribbon for its new New York office with plans to expand the staff profile to 150 employees over the next 12 months.

As part of the company’s expansion plans, the current staff of 20 have been acquired from the New York Stock Exchange, Barclays, and Citigroup, which indicates the level of seriousness on its part in infiltrating the banking system. Adam White, general manager of Coinbase Institutional, explained the staffing direction the exchange was embarking on:

“We have to create a bridge between financial services and technology,” he added, “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.”

With an expansion into the Irish Republic and now NYC, crypto exchange giant Coinbase is clearly on a push to amplify its influence around the globe. In its push to raise its corporate and institutional investor client base, the office is following the NYSE with its new staffing profile. According to Christine Sandler, the company’s head of institutional sales, its focus on institutional investors should sit comfortably with its retail investment trade. She commented:

“We want to partner with appropriate institutions to help the whole ecosystem grow.” She further said, “It’s not ‘institutional or retail,’ because a lot of these institutions will be distributors.”

White argues that they had expected an exodus of institutional investors when the market corrected but claims, “It was exactly the opposite.” White sees Coinbase as having the capability to “light up more countries and more fiat rails” with a new office in Tokyo planned and a move into South America. White further said: “we’re committed to not being a U.S. company.”

Coinbase has also joined a new Washington-based lobby group called the Blockchain Association who intend to convince governmental bodies to give the crypto space some well-needed regulatory leeway in a bid to foster innovation.

Along with Coinbase other leaders in the sector include Circle, Protocol Labs, and other crypto investment firms, like Polychain Capital and Digital Currency Group,

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Digital Currency Ecosystem in Africa Grows, But More Connectivity Needed

A new report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has outlined that Africa will need to invest more in internet connectivity in order to maintain the continent’s current pace of cryptocurrency adoption.

The popularity of Bitcoin in Africa continues to grow as a result of the presence of cryptocurrency exchange platforms. There are benefits to cryptocurrency ownership that are unique to the African continent, many devolving from the widespread unstable economic conditions.

Owning and trading in cryptocurrencies is a trend on the rise in countries across the globe. The markets in the USA and Asia have typically gained media traction, while the phenomena in Africa is left largely uncovered. Moreover, a large number of recognized exchanges don’t offer services in Africa, whereas, some recognize the significant marketplace that includes many Africans who do not have access to formal bank accounts.

If Africa is to be the next boom as many experts are currently predicting, it will need to make major changes to its telecommunications infrastructure across the continent, as indicated by the ITU report. The report shows that to connect the majority of Africans to the internet will cost as much as $450 billion.

Currently, governments on the continent spend significantly less than the global average with most countries spending three times as much on connectivity. Low education levels and the high cost of internet capable devices have been cited as contributing factors to the current slow uptake of the internet in many areas of the continent.

The uptake of digital currency has been prolific in Africa over the past two years, with many countries taking on the advantages that currencies such as Bitcoin offer over local fiat currencies. Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have all shown a significant increase in crypto adoption.

Coindirect co-founder Stephen Young says that Africa has unique problems and these must be considered in any startup plan for cryptocurrency adoption on the continent. He feels that current exchanges don’t take these into consideration. In terms of African fiat currencies, Young identifies their systemic volatility, insecurity and lack of governance as factors that the crypto space need to take on board: He argues:

“If Africans are to benefit from the cryptocurrency revolution we need make it easier to buy, store and trade cryptocurrencies. As Africans, it is our responsibility to help build the infrastructure and we need to be a part of the revolution.”

It is clear that this “infrastructure” depends on connectivity. ITU reveals that out of the 52 percent of the world’s population who remain unconnected to the internet, the majority of these live on the African continent.

One country is attempting to address this disparity. Rwanda has managed to achieve a 90 percent broadband spread with its nationwide rollout of optical fiber throughout a larger part of the country. The project began in 2009 in order to boost broadband services and attract foreign business investment.

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Poll Reveals Millennial’s Rush to Crypto Still Male Dominated

The latest cryptocurrency poll has indicated that millennial women are still lagging behind in adoption of cryptocurrency.

A new survey conducted in the US with 3000 millennials, was published on September 12, 2018, by crypto finance company Circle. It revealed that currently, men invest in cryptocurrency at twice the rate of women within the millennial age bracket.

In terms of investment, 71 percent of millennials say that they have kept their investment in crypto below $1000, of which 42 percent invested under $500 and 29 percent invested between $500–$1,000. The bigger spenders or at least those investing more than $1000 represented 29 percent of the poll. 17 percent of men are planning to purchase crypto against 8 percent of women.

The gender gap which has always existed in terms of crypto investments appears not to have narrowed greatly in the US if the results of this survey give a fair indication of who’s investing between the sexes. In the UK, which has become a major crypto hub, particularly for millennials, things have improved significantly over the past year according to a recent London Blockchange poll.

Their poll conducted earlier this year showed that the number of women showing interest in investing in cryptocurrencies has gone from 6 percent to 13 percent over the last six months; almost twice the amount revealed in the US poll. A significant result of that survey revealed that women were far less likely to stress over cryptocurrency, keeping a cool head when making their crypto investments. This inference was drawn from the new Circle poll which suggested that 42 percent of millennial men were “aggressive investors” as opposed to 27 percent of women.

The figures from the Blockchange poll suggested that women in the millennials group are responsible for the increased percentage of women participants in the space, as millennials remain the dominant group worldwide in cryptocurrency investment. Another survey revealed that this group viewed Bitcoin as more trustworthy than big banks.

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