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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 24th to 30th June, 2019

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

North America

The United States

Californians hold the most bitcoin in the United States: Californians are the top crypto owners in the country according to latest data published by US exchange Coinbase. Considering that California is the most populous US state, the survey results are hardly surprising.

Following California are 9 other states in the top 10 including New Jersey, Washington, New York, Colorado, Utah, Florida, Alaska, Nevada and Massachusetts.

Interestingly enough, smaller but more crypto progressive states like Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming have much higher crypto holdings per capita in the general population than many of these bigger states because their governments are promoting the new industry in a much more effective way.

Ex Trump Fed Nominee wants to be part of “Crypto Central Bank”: Controversial economist Stephen Moore who was the Trump nominee for the Federal Reserve Bank is now eyeing the formation of what he calls a “crypto central bank” or Decentral which is calling itself the world’s first decentralized central bank.

The Trump appointee had received flak the moment he was nominated by Trump by the opposing democrats who deemed him unfit for qualification. Moore eventually withdrew his candidature and has since experimented with one thing or another.

The decentralized central bank is expected to bring forward a new concept for stablecoins and how they can be used to change the banking outlook in the world.

Self-described Libertarian and gold investor attacks Bitcoin over volatility: American investor and self-described Libertarian Peter Schiff has attacked bitcoin on Twitter over its recent dip after reaching 30 month high of 13,900 USD and has called it a scam once again but was also squared up by bitcoin enthusiasts over his claims.

According to Peter Schiff:

“No, there is real demand for gold as a commodity in industry and as a reserve asset among central banks. So there will always be natural buyers for gold at any price no matter what. The only demand for Bitcoin comes from speculators”

But soon enough, Bitcoiners struck back at him and schooled him over the basic principles of the top cryptocurrency.

FDA Calls for blockchain-based system to authenticate prescription drugs: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of USA is working with the American retail giant Walmart Inc to develop a Proof-of-Concept (PoC) project for identifying and tracking prescription drugs in the country.

In addition to these two partners, major drug companies including Merck and KPMG as well as blockchain promoting arm of IBM have also joined hands in this partnership to ensure supply chains remain unaffected by counterfeit medication.

Pharma giant Merck responded and said:

“A permissioned blockchain network has the potential to create greater transparency, reduce the time needed to track and trace inventory, help determine the integrity of products (such as whether they are kept at the correct temperature), prevent and remove counterfeit drugs, and more.”

Canada

Quadriga founder stole funds before untimely death: The case of the Quadriga cryptocurrency exchange has become even more damning as it was found out that the deceased owner had stolen funds from the exchange to put into his own personal wallet.

According to the latest audit of the now bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, it was found out that the Gerald Cotton, the founder transferred huge amount of crypto from the customers’ accounts to other exchange and used them to buy luxury goods and even his own trading losses.

According to the audit report:

“In addition, substantial amounts of cryptocurrency were transferred to wallet holders whose identity the monitor has been unable to confirm.”

The prosecutors are still unsure about how to proceed this case as much of the money was reportedly lost when Cotton’s laptop key was nowhere to be found. Cotton died in India from complications of Crohn’s disease. The fate of the exchange and the customers still hangs in the balance even months after the initial case was reported.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 24th to 30th June, 2019

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South America

Brazil

Bitcoin Pioneer recommends buying bitcoin: Brazilian bitcoin entrepreneur and the founder of Nox Bitcoin João Paulo Oliveira has advocated buying of Bitcoin for some time and he has once again urged the public to invest in the cryptocurrency.

He said:

“I believe that this can be a revolutionary infrastructure, which can inject even more money in criptveconomy, allowing for more high of the Bitcoin”

Overall, the Brazilian crypto comment is upbeat about Bitcoin and its future. The number of Bitcoin investors and traders are increasing in the country and the legislature itself is expected to pass comprehensive bitcoin legislation for legalizing the new class of assets in the country.

Local bitcoin enthusiast shortlisted UN project: A Brazilian bitcoin enthusiast Barbara Schorchit has been shortlisted by the UN Climate panel for a blockchain-based project from South America and the Caribbean.

Schorchit along with two other partners under the patronage of federal deputy Iracema Portella are close to winning the UN-sponsored competition.

According to Portella:

“We need to support the new talent so that these young people really can give your contribution in the battle for the preservation of nature and better living conditions for all people around the world,”

Seven winners of these projects will receive 15,000 USD to invest in their individual projects as well as other incentives. Brazil is at the epicenter of climate change with its rainforests under attack and some experts believe blockchain technology can help the country in its fight against climate change.

Analyst Fausto Barba believes bitcoin will reach 330,000 USD in the future: According to technical analyst Fausto Barba, bitcoin’s price index has the potential to reach more than $330,000 in the near future in the current bull market.

Predictions are being made all across the market with some predicting as much as 1 million USD per BTC while others predicting a more modest 40,000 USD per BTC.

But, according to Barba:

“(The current high cycle) is the one who carries the pinnacle of euphoria and can take the Bitcoin achieve US $330 thousand, which configures a valuation of more than 3,500%,”

While an immediate bounce to this figure seems insane but in the long run, the target is within reach as Bitcoin’s popularity increases and mainstream adoption promoted.

Senate debates cryptocurrencies in Brazil: A much awaited debate in the Brazilian parliament was to be held in the Senate Brazil Federal last week.

This hearing’s witnesses included representatives from Ministry of Economy, Brazilian Securities Commission (CVM), Internal Revenue of Brazil and local cryptocurrency exchange associations including Brazilian Association of Criptoeconomy (ABCrypto) and Brazilian Association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain (ABCB).

It is expect that the government agencies will ask the senators to take it slow while the exchange associations will ask the government to fully embrace crypto and not lag behind the rest of the world.

Venezuela

Russia cooling military intervention fears in Venezuela and interest in Petro: The Russian government is scaling back its military deployment in the country after the latest danger to the government seems to have passed.

The Russian government is also cooling off its interest in the national cryptocurrency Petro as the Venezuelan government is barely to stable enough to promote a coin project of this magnitude in the country. For now, Russia will roll back and observe the quest for the national oil backed cryptocurrency and will only sponsor a foray if things dramatically change for Petro.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 17th to 23rd June, 2019

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South America

Brazil

Fintech Regulatory Sandbox approach by Brazilian regulator: Brazil’s top securities regulator Securities and Exchange Commission (CVM) in a recent post on its official site has published a joint statement from CVM itself, the Special Secretariat of Finance of the Ministry of Economy, the Central Bank of Brazil and the Superintendency of Private Insurance regarding the newly established regulatory sandbox for financial, security and capital markets. 

While it is yet not clear that the government will include cryptocurrency and other token projects in the regulatory sandbox, several moral-boosting signs are already there from government officials that it will be eventually included. Brazil is one of the most progressive countries in South America when it comes to cryptocurrencies and the new approach will help cement this status.

Campus Party offering free blockchain courses for children: The latest edition of “campus party” being organized in the capital of Brasilia will have free blockchain courses for kids in a first in South America. The event is in its 12th year running and will see participants from all around the country and is being staged at the Mané Garrincha National Stadium in the capital.

The blockchain courses will be available for kids as part of the event called Kids Hackers that help children engage in programming, games, applications and other IT related content. Childrens from all age groups can come and help develop a basic understanding of blockchain through this course.

Brazil surpasses USA, China and Japan to become the second largest user of crypto: A recent survey ranks Brazil higher than USA, China and Japan when it comes to active cryptocurrency users in each country and second only to Turkey in the world.

The reason for the higher number of cryptocurrency users in these countries is often tied to the high depreciation rate of the local fiat currency. The Turkish Lira fell over 18% in May while the Brazilian currency has been in free fall against the US Dollar for some time. For many cryptocurrency users in these countries, cryptocurrencies offer a viable alternative to holding foreign currency reserves as there is considerable market manipulation and regulation by the local governments.

Developer unveils blockchain registry: Cyrela Brazil Realty, one of the biggest real estate developers in the country has announced that it has developed and deployed a blockchain-based land registry in the country according to a Valor Economico Report. The first transaction was already recorded by the company to showcase for its efforts.

According to the legal director of Cyrela Rafaella Carvalho:

“When there is regulation so that the registry offices can actually act through the technology, it will be possible to accelerate the transfer of the receivables of the clients to the banks and, consequently, the generation of cash. For customers, receiving keys will occur more quickly. This tends to occur in the medium term”

Federal deputy files proposal for joint discussion of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies: Eduardo Cury (PSDB-SP), a federal deputy has filed a new application in the Chamber of Deputies for joint discussion on two bills for the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country.

The two bills titled 2060/2019 and 2303/2015 may be up for joint discussion if their motion is approved.

Venezuela

Funds allocated for getting youth into cryptocurrencies: The Venezuelan government has approved a grant to help the youth get into the Digital Youth Bank which is working with the National Superintendence of Cryptocurrencies.

According to president Nicolas Maduro:

[The money was] “for the diverse use of cryptocurrencies in daily, economic and commercial life and the financing of projects of our youth.”

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 17th to 23rd June, 2019

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

North America

The United States

Federal Reserve move could help propel bitcoin further: A latest decision taken by the Federal Reserve can actually benefit the long-term price outlook of bitcoin. According to the latest figures from Fed, the interest rate is to be kept between 2.25% and 2.5% in the country.

The move while more of the same seems to undercut the looming financial issues in the country including the issue of pressure on the greenback which the bank has so far failed to address publicly. With Bitcoin aspiring to become an alternative to the USD, it is possible that the news regarding the financial pressure will help propel BTC’s price further.

Florida city pays ransom in Bitcoin to hackers: Florida town Riviera Beach’s city government has been forced to pay a whopping USD 600,000 to hackers who targeted its online system. The case is unique because it is one of the rare instances in which an elected city government has had to pay ransom in the digital currency for cyber attacks.

Previously hospitals, ports and other strategic places have been targeted by hackers across the country. Since most of the data is stored on computers these days and is extremely valuable, many are now resorting to pay the criminals to get it recovered which is a worrying trend in not just United States but in North America as a whole.

IBM Layoff spares blockchain staff: A latest news report shows that IBM has laid off more than 1700 people from its workforce but the blockchain division of the tech giant was spared from these layoffs. According to the report by Block Crypto, IBM had decided in principle to layoff more than 1700 people earlier this month but the blockchain-related staff was spared because of its future applications.

According to the source:

“The product team had no layoffs, there was nothing out of development. It was very limited on the blockchain side.”

It is good news for the blockchain sector that jobs are relatively more secure than other sectors that are seeing some heavy layoffs in current years.

Tyler Winklevoss tight-lipped about libra: Tyler Winklevoss, bitcoin billionaire and co-founder of Gemini stablecoin and exchange has remained tightly lipped about future collaboration with Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg on its Libra stablecoin project while speaking

The issue remains complicated because of the history of Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins who famously remained embroiled in a lawsuit regarding the idea of facebook during the early years of the social media platform. Winklevoss although did predict that Bitcoin will reach 15,000 USD once its 10,000 USD ceiling is breached.

Lawmakers unconvinced about Facebook’s Libra project: New plans by Facebook to launch its own stablecoin project Libra have received flak from some members of Congress who believe Facebook is getting beyond the government’s checks and balances with some likening it to a shadow bank.

House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters is ahead of the pack on the matter and she wants the whole project examined by US regulators in depth before allowing it to continue its development. So far, only a white paper is available from Facebook on this regard.

Canada

Bank of Canada looking to review Facebook’s Libra project: The Bank of Canada has said on record that it will examine the new Libra project very carefully while refusing to comment on any specifics of the project that raise suspicion.

Overall, Facebook’s latest move has rattled many in government around the world and it remains to be seen what kind of strategy is being devised to counter the latest challenge posed by the social media giant.

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Dysfunctional States And State Crypto

Dysfunctional States And State Crypto (1)

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said that cryptocurrency will never replace a government’s sovereign currency.

Le Maire’s comments were made in the light of growing concerns by regulators over Facebook’s intended launch of its own cryptocurrency in 2020. Mark Carney, Governor, Bank of England also said that the new digital currency will be under scrutiny to ensure it is not used for illegal purposes. Le Maire argued that financial sovereignty must come from government, commenting, “The aspect of sovereignty must stay in the hands of states and not private companies which respond to private interests.”

Looking at the three rogue states which have considered doing just that, he may well have a point. Venezuela remains the most prominent example of a misguided attempt by those in power to support the economy using a government-initiated cryptocurrency or state crypto. Russia and Iran have also dabbled in state crypto in attempts to overcome sanctions.

Both Venezuela’s Petro and Petro Gold, based on the South American country’s oil and gold reserves, have done little to stem the tide of hyperinflation which currently is running at a staggering 99,900% although down from 224,900% at the end of last year. Launched in February 2018, the Petro was supposed to be backed by the country’s oil and mineral reserves and was intended to supplement Venezuela’s plummeting bolívar fuerte currency (VEF), as a means of circumventing US sanctions and accessing international financing.

To illustrate the level of the country’s economic woes, Venezuela’s highest denomination, VEF 500, when initially issued in August 2018, was equal in value to USD 8.30. Today it is worth no more than seven cents. This week new 50,000 bolivar Soberano (VES) banknotes have been released (equal to USD 8.09 at time of writing) along with two other notes, in an attempt to stem the tide for at least the next few months.

The latest plan is to use the Petro, currently equal in value to VES 80,000, to prop up the currency. Venezuelan President Madura claims that linked to the Petro the new notes will hold their value, but among the population, such claims fall on deaf ears, with the average monthly income for most Venezuelan households now VES 40,000 (USD 6.55). To date, the Petro has been largely invisible.

It remains a disappointment to genuine cryptocurrency enthusiasts that rogue states use cryptocurrency as a go-to solution to tackle economic mismanagement or punitive sanctions. Both Russia and Iran are currently movers and shakers on the world stage for all the wrong reasons, both accused of government-sponsored acts of terrorism in the last 12 months. Both countries have strict laws prohibiting the use of cryptocurrencies but flirt with the technology at the state level.

Russia’s latest flirt with crypto is current research being undertaken by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) to develop a gold backed cryptocurrency, an idea clearly finding its origins in Iran’s own proposed gold-backed cryptocurrency known as ‘PayMon’. Reports claim that four Iranian banks including Bank Melli, Parsian Bank, Bank Mellat and Bank Pasargad have joined hands with blockchain startup Kuknos for PayMon. Previously, in July 2018, reports came out claiming that Iran was looking to launch its own national cryptocurrency.

Iran sees cryptocurrencies as a mean to bypass new economic sanctions imposed on it by the US government. The new cryptocurrency is expected to back and tokenize Iran’s national fiat currency, the rial. Thereby, cross-border and domestic transactions will be facilitated.

Vladimir Gutenev, a member of the Russian State Duma, submitted plans for its own gold-backed cryptocurrency in August 2018; a plan which was subsequently shelved. Russia’s former Minister of Economics and Trade, Herman Gref, also spoke out last year in favor of cryptocurrencies and their transformational nature as a future threat to the financial sector’s status quo. It now appears Gutenev’s plan is back on the table. The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) is now looking at the proposal for a gold-backed stablecoin but makes it clear that it has no plans in the future to replace the rouble with an alternative state-run cryptocurrency.

To date, without any proven successes in state-run cryptocurrency, Le Maire’s suggestion that cryptocurrency will never replace government sovereign currencies seems to ring true, at least in the near future. The current example of Venezuela’s Petro adventure is not one to encourage finance ministers around the globe to anticipate any changes to the status quo, nor is the track record on the international stage of those that propose to do so. At least not yet, for now. It remains to be seen how well cryptocurrency fares in the hands of private companies who maintain that they are responding to private interests, and to that end, all eyes are on Facebook.

 

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Brazil’s President Bolsonaro and Central Bank Clearly Differ on Crypto Adoption

Brazil's President Bolsonaro and Central Bank Clearly Differ on Crypto Adoption (1)

Brazil’s cryptocurrency uptake may not have been helped by the country’s new president Jair Bolsonaro who seems to know absolutely nothing about crypto. But his head of banking clearly does.

“I don’t know. Is it a coin?” Brazil’s new leader recently asked, when Bitcoin was put to him. However, his administration has taken up previous president Michel Miguel Elias Temer’s lead, who, when in office, had proposed a cryptocurrency which could be used by Brazil’s unbanked indigenous population.

Although Temer was officially Brazil’s most unpopular president whose term presided over corruption, his proposed so-dubbed BNDES token seemed like a step in the right direction. On taking up his new office, far right winger President Bolsonara made his views crystal clear:

“We are cutting expenses. We were about to use 40 million Reales to teach natives to use bitcoin.”

That project, brainchild of the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and the Fluminese Federal University, was vetoed by Brazil’s Ministry of Human Rights, Family, and Women in January,

Roberto Campos, the Central Bank of Brazil’s number one has clearly, unlike Bolsorano, spent some time at least investigating cryptocurrencies and their functions, also commenting in a letter to the Brazilian Senate to suggest that this future market could well include blockchain and digital assets at some level:

One of the contributions I hope to bring to the Central Bank is to prepare the institution for the future market, where technologies advance exponentially, generating more rapid transformations.”

Earlier this month, the President of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil issued an order to establish a commission that would study cryptocurrency regulation in the country. Last May, the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service put up new tax rules for crypto, which makes it mandatory to report transactions worth over BRL 30,000 (USD 7,600) every month.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 10th to 16 June, 2019

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continFacebooent by continent and country by country.

North America

The United States

New report submitted to SEC shows transparency issue with cryptocurrencies: A new comprehensive report submitted to the SEC by Bitwise shows that transparency is expected to remain a big issue with cryptocurrency exchanges. 

The move comes after the recent issue of fake volumes was highlighted by the SEC after it started investigating several Chinese exchanges in the country including Binance and Bitfinex. While the report does raise some valid points, it remains to be seen what kind of influence it will have on SEC’s attitude towards many exchanges operating in the US.

Rhode Island introduces blockchain proposal: American state Rhode Island’s government has reportedly issued a new proposal to implement blockchain technology within the state. The news was reported by Forbes business journalist Andrea Tinianow and according to his claim, the government issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Proof of Concept (PoC) for blockchain implementation to be more efficient, transparent, accurate and business friendly.

According to Elizabeth M Tanner, Director of Rhode Island’s Department for Business Regulation:

 “…WE WANT GREATER INTER-CONNECTIVITY BETWEEN GOVERNMENT, BUSINESS AND OUR CITIZENS… WE NEED BOLD IDEAS TO MAKE GOVERNMENT BETTER.”

However, the positive attitude towards blockchain doesn’t translate towards more readily acceptability of cryptocurrencies as well. The state is still lagging behind in that regard.

Binance begins closing down US accounts: Binance is beginning to close its services for its US-based clients and has now stopped registration of new accounts as well as disallowing existing users to deposit more btc and money into their accounts.

The move comes after the SEC increased crackdown against cryptocurrency exchanges that are not handling their businesses in a transparent manner (allegedly). The move was put forward in an updated user agreement on its platform. While the trading is off, US customers may still be able to trade on the exchange using a simple VPN.

Facebook stablecoin project to go ahead despite concerns: The facebook stablecoin project now known as Libra is proceeding further despite several challenges and uncertainty growing around the project. Despite an unusually sluggish start and the announcement of partnerships with Visa, Mastercard and several other big players in the transaction world, early reports suggest that the tech giant is still far from a major undertaking in the field.

The Facebook coin project attracted a lot of interest from crypto and conventional sectors alike but there is a lot that needs to be understood and declared about the latest project before it can be called a successful one.

Google claims it did not shut down CCN: A Google representative has denied that the website’s updated search algorithm was used to target specific websites including previously popular ccn.com. The latest news from CCN showed that the website was hit hard by a Google search engine update that reduced its traffic by 90% and such that it will have to shut down.

Some believe that Google’s stance against crypto was at display for minimizing search traffic for cryptocurrency related content.

Canada

Tax agency believes the risk of non-compliance by crypto users is high: The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) has suggested that tax non-compliance by crypto users in the country is significant and this statement may be used to clamp down on the traders and general users of the industry.

According to the CRA:

“WE HAVE LEARNED THAT THERE ARE SO MANY TYPES OF CRYPTOCURRENCIES AND CRYPTOCURRENCY BUSINESS ACROSS CANADA AND THAT THE RISK OF NON-         COMPLIANCE IS HIGH WHICH REINFORCES THE IMPORTANCE OF COMPLIANCE WORK IN THIS MARKET SEGMENT”

It remains to be seen what kind of response can be expected from the tax agency.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 10th to 16 June, 2019

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South America

Brazil

Brazilian Deputy David Miranda Receives Death and Ransom Threats: According to reports, Brazil’s Socialism and Liberty Party’s Deputy, David Miranda, has received significant threats after his partner and journalist Glenn Greenwald revealed the talks between Justice Minister Sérgio Moro and prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol.

He received the threats via an email, threatening to “blow up the deputy’s mother’s head” while asking for $ 10,000 in Bitcoins as blackmail to avoid such a calamity. The Federal Police of Brazil has been notified and is currently looking to hunt down the proponents.

Federal Deputy Eduardo Cury proposes a joint discussion of projects to regulate Bitcoin in Brazil: Federal Deputy, Eduardo Cury, has filed an application to the Chamber of Deputies asking for the unification of two bills aimed at regulating crypto-coins in Brazil.

The bills 2060/2019 and 2303/2015 were proposed by Federal Deputy Aureo Ribeiro (SD -RJ) and look to regulate virtual currencies to ensure transparency of transactions while reducing the possibilities of frauds and illegalities. Cury proposed that the joint approval of the propositions will “speed up the legislative process” as the content is very similar. Cury’s application has been submitted to plenary and still needs to be approved.

Febraban and CIP announce national blockchain for the financial sector: Febraban (Brazilian Federation of Banks) and CIP (Interbank Payment Chamber) announced the launch of the Blockchain Network of the National Financial System (RBSFN) during the CIAB Febraban event in São Paulo.

As per the statements, this initiative will look to enhance the sharing of information between partner institutions while offering better data protection from the first access. RBSFN employs IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric technology already used by several banking institutions such as JP Morgan, Itaú, Banco do Brasil, Bradesco, and the state bank Caixa Econômica. Advertised as the “Device ID”, the project was first introduced in February last year and is now being implemented after rigorous validation by all the involved parties.

Brazilian associations affirm that IRS can review IN details related to crypto: Brazilian Association of Cryptotomes and Blockchain (ABCB) and Brazilian Association of Cryptoactive (ABCripto) recently met with the Federal Revenue (RFB) to discuss the contents of the Normative Instruction (IN) 1,888/2019. According to reports, IRS has committed to “evaluate provisions of the Normative Instruction”, although the exact items under discussion are still unclear.  The meeting didn’t lead to any changes in the IN, but according to the president of ABCB, it was “very positive” as it successfully conveyed the “the seriousness of the sector” in this matter.

Federal deputies propose a bill to legally force the use of blockchain in Brazil’s public service: Federal Deputy of NOVO, Tiago Mitraud along with four other members, have filed a bill in the Chamber of Deputies (PL) that would make the use of blockchain in Federal Government applications mandatory.

The proposal asks for the integration of blockchain into public services along with the establishment of guidelines to create a “Digital Government”.  If implemented, it would make Brazil the first country to legally require the usage of Blockchain technology within the state organs.

Venezuela

Can Blockchain Help Rebuild Venezuela?: Last month, 4000+ experts from public and private spheres gathered in NYC for the annual flagship event, Blockchain Week, to focus on pulling Venezuela out of the economic and political crisis using Blockchain. These experts pointed out 4 four fields where Blockchain could be effective, namely humanitarian aid, digital identity, data transfer, and e-government.

For humanitarian aid, the estimated cost of rebuilding the economy is $15 billion a year, which could be transferred using cryptocurrency to ensure transparency. Similarly, the crisis of lack of identity documents for Venezuelan migrants can be solved using Blockchain-based ID applications. Data on the 3.5 million Venezuelan migrants, with 60% of them having irregular legal status, can be collected using stand-alone or digital identity blockchain tools to create a secure regional database. And lastly, the problem of alleged corruption in the elections can be resolved using blockchain based e-government and voter registration similar to the model of Estonia.

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Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd June to 9th June, 2019

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

North America

United States

US Consultancy firm believes banks sluggish to adopt blockchain technology: In a recent interview with Bloomberg American consultancy Mckinsey & Company has said that the banks are slow in adopting blockchain technology because of restrictive regulations and conventional consumer attitude towards the new tech.

According to the firm, retail banks are often cautious and nervous when it comes to implementing blockchain technology. The firm also said that an estimated 5 million USD can be saved by every bank annually by adopting blockchain solutions for cross-border payments.

Apple announces crypto kit for new iPhones: Apple has announced the release of a new iPhone Cryptokit for its new iOS 13 that may signal the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency users by the company. Although not much is known about the futures of the new phone, it is clear that the new feature will probably not be a crypto wallet, something Apple’s competitor Samsung has already announced in its new phone.

The new iOS 13 will replace the previous iOS framework and was announced in its developers’ conference earlier this week.

US-China trade war may result in increased bitcoin prices: The recently increasing intensity of the US-China trade war might result in higher bitcoin prices according to some analysts. With the announcement of a ban on Huawei by the US government, the Chinese government is looking to see how it can reciprocate and hurt the US economy.

With bitcoin offering a borderless alternative to both the Chinese Yuan and the American Dollar, it is clear that it will outlast both of these countries and their trade squabbles.

Securities and Exchange Commission ( SEC ) appears well informed at blockchain forum: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) held the first fintech forum in Washington DC on 31st of May last week and appears to be increasing its competency on the matter. While critics have named SEC’s lack of understanding of the technology as one of the primary reasons why it has been unable to pursue meaningful legislation for the cryptocurrency industry, the latest move shows much better know-how of the new industry from the federal agency.

The better know-how was appreciated by the crypto community during the conference and it is hoping for a better approach by the SEC once it is well versed with the industry.

Canada

Vancouver Mayor Suggest ban on Bitcoin ATMs: Kennedy Stewart, the mayor of Vancouver, Canada has suggested a ban on Bitcoin ATMs in the city as he cites increasing occurrence of money laundering activities through the new monetary system.

Over 840 reports of illegal activities using digital currencies have been received by the authorities this year and the mayor is using this number to try and enforce a ban on Bitcoin ATMs. This ban would be unfruitful because most of the illegal use of digital currencies is done through illegal channels and not regulated ones like Bitcoin ATMs.

Marshall Islands

Marshall Islands Government Defies IMF with National Crypto Development Fund: The tiny Pacific nation of Marshall Islands is once again defying IMF as it plans to go ahead with its Sovereign Digital Currency Initiative in the country.

Despite veiled threats from the premier financial authority in the world the IMF, the country is planning to go ahead with its own national cryptocurrency that once put its president under extreme pressure and she was forced to face a no-confidence vote in the legislature. This would mean further fighting with the IMF as it has repeatedly warned the government against such moves.

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd June to 9th June, 2019

South America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

South America

Brazil

Two Brazilian crypto active startups make it into the semi-final of the Innovation Awards Latam: In this year’s Innovation Awards Latam, two crypto related Brazilian startups, Uzzo and Z.ro, have made it into the semi-finals out of a total of 1700 startups. The Innovation Awards is an initiative that features startup ideas from different categories such as social impact, retailtech, fintech, health tech, agrotech, and smart cities.

165 startups have made it into the semis and were judged by a panel of 12 experts and investors hailing from different countries. Uzzo is a Fintech responsible for creating free digital accounts by using crypto-currency payment solutions and Z.ro Bank is a Fintech bank resulting from a merger between CoinWISE and BitBlue. The finalists will be announced on the 3rd of July with the awards ceremony taking place on the 26th of August.

Microsoft to launch blockchain applications for agribusiness in Brazil: Microsoft has registered for several technology-based applications in Brazil as part of a program called Microsoft Farmbeats to push for developments in the agricultural fields using blockchain technology.  According to Ranveer Chandra, global chief scientist at Azure and the mind behind the project, the data collected aims to create a more accurate agricultural mapping of the farming landscape.

For example, this would measure the moisture, pH index, temperature, and soil nutrients in each area and would allow a uniform application of water, fertilizers, and pesticides throughout the field. This integration of technology will help increase yields, reduce costs, and cut down the negative environmental impact.

Brazilian Fintech uses blockchain to register loan agreements: REBEL, a Brazilian startup focused on fintech services, will now also offer loan agreements and contract recordings using blockchain, making it the first fintech in Brazil to use blockchain technology for this application.

The technique also allows the personalization of credit profile for each customer using machine learning and Big Data and claims to be an alternative to the status quo style of contract registration and negotiation. The company uses the Ethereum platform and offers its users to be registered forever and while being able to contact at any time reliably..

Visa wants to accelerate Brazilian startups involved with blockchain: The second round of the Visa acceleration program was launched on Monday, 3 June, to foster the startup ecosystem and “to promote entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology.” Visa do Brasil has launched an open call for startups with disruptive ideas which are currently in the growth phase. It has also announced that solutions aimed at improving the customers and end-user experience while enhancing the operational efficiency will be preferred.

Startups interested should also have a focus on “leveraging sales, raising or expanding investments, and fine-tuning strategy for their business operations”. Among the 13 other areas of interest, blockchain features among the top with a focus on high professional grade products, easy scalability, relatively low investment, and an accessible international market.

Venezuela

Venezuela and Russia allegedly discuss exchange agreement involving Petro and Russian rubles: Venezuela and Russia are on the verge of agreeing on a mutual liquidity deal based on rubles (Russian local currency) and the Venezuelan cryptocurrency, Petro.

This is a joint attempt to remove the influence of the US dollar for both of the countries, along with improving the valuation and utility of their local currencies. This is seen as a last-ditch attempt by the Venezuelan government to circumvent the crippling sanctions imposed by the US by seeking help from the Russian government and attempting to restructure their foreign debt. Despite all recent failures and criticism by the experts, the government seems adamant on using Petro, which was first launched in February 2018 to “fight poverty and hyperinflation.”

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