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New Point-of-Sale Crypto Device Could Become Future of Retailing

Pundi X, a blockchain-based Point-of-Sale (POS) provider, has announced a partnership with Hong Kong group FAMA to improve retailing using cryptocurrency, writes Global Finance and Banking Review (GFBR).

The outcome of the partnership with FAMA, the organic food restaurant chain, will be a POS smart device enabling consumers to access easy purchasing using digital currency via cryptocurrency-to-fiat or crypto-to-crypto transactions.

Such solutions for mainstream consumers will simplify cryptocurrency transactions, enabling retailer outlets to install their POS devices for speedy acquisition or spending of major cryptocurrencies and could become the future for both retailers and consumers.

The Pundi X device will allow consumers access to BTC, ETH, NPXS, and other cryptocurrency using fiat money. According to GFBR, purchased cryptocurrency can be stored in the physical card wallet, or used to make cashless payments to top up phones, pay utility bills or buy goods, subject to local regulations in each market.

A promotion is currently underway in Hong Kong at four FAMA restaurants around the city: Locofama, Sohofama, SUPAFOOD and the Hive Café. Those trialing PundiX pass cards pre-charged with a pre-loaded giveaway will be able to use cryptocurrency to purchase coffee, snacks, beer or a full meal free of charge up to the value of each card using the preinstalled devices at one of the four restaurants.

Larry Tang, founder of the FAMA Group sees the POS system as a great boon for the company and the future of simple payments for services. He explained:

“Our restaurants celebrate traditional methods in our cuisine, but we also see ourselves as innovators and are pleased to be on the frontline in enabling customers to settle their bill with Bitcoin or Ether-based cryptocurrency by using a secure payment option such as the Pundi X POS.”

Pundi X co-founder and CEO Zac Cheah was equally optimistic amount the merger:

“This is the first of many partnerships that we will be setting up across Asia to encourage more widespread use of cryptocurrency in the retail economy over the longer term.”

Cheah explained that East Asian adoption of cryptocurrency was the highest in the world, but despite this, there were limited channels for spending digital currency. This was something that such devices would change, making retailing using cryptocurrency far more accessible to both seller and purchaser.

 

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Twitter Plagued by Fake Ether Giveaways in Growing Scam Worth Over $4M

Twitter has become a target for online crooks promoting fake “giveaways”, according to Bleeping Computer. Such activities are estimated to have tricked people out of ETH 8,148, currently worth around USD 4.3 million, much of it through social media, according to statistical data compiled in EtherScamDB.

John Backus, co-founder of crypto-related startups Bloom and Cognito, concurs, making his own “back of an envelope” calculation that ETH scam giveaways have returned around ETH 8,148 – which happens to be exactly the same amount estimated by EtherScamDB, writes Bitcoin.com.

EtherScamDB tracks online scamming which centers round Ethereum and associated assets and was established by the team behind MyCrypto wallet.

As the figures illustrate, fake Ether giveaways are growing exponentially, and Twitter has become one of the scammers’ favorite utilities. Criminals use well-known ecosystem names to target Twitter members, using mirrored accounts complete with avatars. Posts invite targets from the fake personalities’ following to participate in free crypto programs, which then separate the target from their funds.

An example of how the scammers operate is best illustrated by Forbes writer Laura Shin’s recent experiences on Twitter, covered in an article on Bitcoin.com, when she came across an interesting Tweet by Ari Paul, investor guru of Blocktower hedge fund fame.

She came across “fairly elaborate ether (ETH) come-ons, fake giveaways using mirror’d (sic) accounts” as a result. No sooner than she realized this, she discovered that she had been compromised.

“Someone with the account @XaedenJ was using Ms Shin’s professional reputation and likeness to tacitly approve a 10,000 Ethereum giveaway, and it directs readers to a website asking for payment,” read the report.

The “new” Laura Shin was then seen to be Tweeting, “If you’re late for this event… you’ll get your investment back at once!”. The Forbes writer did some further research and discovered that her scam post had received 28 likes, although Shin suggested that they were probably bots created to give the scam some credibility. The @XaedenJ address was later removed by Twitter.

In order to prevent such activities and falling foul to such scams, MyCrypto wrote a support document that recommends several protective measures including using hardware wallets, using cold storage or running wallets offline. It also recommends looking up ETH addresses on Etherscan.io to check for bad reviews, and to not trust any messages promising free ETH or hack alerts.

 

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Apple Bows to Public Pressure over Crypto-Unfriendly Apps

Apple has made a number of store revisions in order to loosen its guidelines for crypto apps, reports Investing.com. A group known as the Developers Union had recently made requests to Apple to allow every app on the platform to free trials before July 2019, among suggestions for other improvements.

The union is an unofficial body which says that its aim is to “bring developers and supporters together for better App Stores for all”. It currently only has 400 members but hopes to stretch its membership to 20,000 this month according to The Register.

It appears that the IT multinational has been listening given its recent announcements, also noting how its apps are currently:

“Changing the world, enriching people’s lives, and enabling developers to innovate like never before. As a result, the App Store has grown into an ecosystem for millions of developers and more than a billion users.”

Telegram backer and self-proclaimed “global entrepreneur” Pavel Durov has blamed a lack of updates to his app on Apple “not siding with us” in the ongoing furore in Russia over the crypto-chat platform. He was forced to apologize to his customers due to features of the latest iOS 11.4 not working, alleging that Apple had prevented updates to Telegram. He has also blamed Apple for Telegram being unable to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation due to the alleged block on updates.

Apple’s latest announcement regarding cryptocurrency states: “Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself. Cryptocurrency Apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other Apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.”

This is a significant move from Apple’s position five years ago when the IT giant reportedly asked companies to remove cryptos from their apps. Regarding ICOs, Apple says that apps must facilitate transactions from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants and other approved financial institutions.

Apple specifies that apps can’t mine for cryptos “unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining)”.

 

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World’s Largest Archive Testing Blockchain for Record Management

The National Archives (TNA), entrusted with national record management of the UK government, is on the verge of testing the blockchain for record keeping and sharing. The project, termed Archangel, is meant to investigate the use of blockchain to address archiving challenges faced by TNA.

The world’s first archiving research project on blockchain is led by the University of Surrey and bankrolled by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Reports indicate that the council of research spend USD 800 million on research projects related to technology, mathematics, and material science annually. Additionally, the Open Data Institute is another key partner with an interest in project Archangel.

On Tuesday, Alex Green, the digital preservation services manager, wrote in a blog post:

”How can we demonstrate that the record you see today is the same record that was entrusted to the archive 20 years previously? …How do we ensure that citizens continue to see archives as trusted custodians of the digital public record? To address these questions, Archangel is exploring how we can know that a digital record has been modified and whether the change was legitimate so that ultimately it can still be trusted as the authentic record.”

Being the largest and oldest archives, TNA has set standards and best practices in the field. Being an 18-month project, Archangel is set to prototype a distributed ledger technology that will collect robust digital signatures for born-digital and digitized physical content, reports Green.

TNA has acknowledged the challenges imposed by the changes in technology and is working on a solution.

 

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Northern Trust Patents Blockchain Tech to Record Business Meetings

Northern Trust won two patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office on 5 June 2018 for blockchain technology which will record business meetings on an immutable blockchain ledger. Northern Trust is a financial services company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois that has over USD 100 billion of assets and brings in over USD 1 billion profits annually.

The first patent describes systems and methods for digital meeting management within a blockchain. A first smart contract is generated at the beginning of the meeting to authenticate and record attendees in the digital meeting using biometric information from attendee’s devices. A second smart contract is generated during the meeting to record actions of attendees including date, time, and location.

After the meeting, a third smart contract is generated which stores post meeting documentation including meeting minutes. A hash is then generated for this documentation, and it is stored permanently on a blockchain after being reviewed by meeting attendees.

Once added to the blockchain the meeting minutes become immutable, providing a permanent record of who attended the meeting, what occurred during the meeting, and promises and decisions made during the meeting. This record is cryptographically secure and cannot be hacked or manipulated at a later time.

The second patent complements the first patent; it describes the technology which will be used to store biometric identification information and documents on the blockchain by generating one-directional cryptographic hashes.

This technology will help reduce fraud in business and ensure that meeting attendees stand by their commitments. It will also help bosses and employees keep track of what happened at each meeting, since they can go back to the blockchain at any time for any meeting in the past. This will be particularly helpful for people that miss meetings.

The digital meeting blockchain technology described in these patents will be helpful for any business or organization that has meetings and is yet another example of an ever-expanding list of real-life uses for blockchain technology.

 

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Startup Wins Prize to Partner Volkswagen on Car History App Project

German automobile giant Volkswagen has offered a Lithuania-based company a role in its Dresden center after a successful pitch in a manufacturers competition, writes Cointelegraph.

The company, carVertical, has developed a platform for used car history reports enabling users to verify details of a car’s past before making a purchase. The competition held in Riga, Latvia saw carVertical’s pitch as the most inventive.

The decision was announced after numerous teams of entrepreneurs presented their pitches at an event organized by German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce. As winners, carVertical will begin work in Die Gläserne Manufaktur, Volkswagen’s innovation hub in Dresden in September of this year, with EUR 15,000 in financial support.

The outcome of the project is the joint development of blockchain-based solutions, intended to place Volkswagen as the leader for future mobility applications, also providing carVertical with valuable resources and expertise.

“In connection with the program, Die Gläserne Manufaktur also offers the assistance of mentors and coaches, an attractive working environment at the facility, high-quality IT infrastructure, contacts with Volkswagen research and development employees and decision-makers, professional advice by Sächsische Aufbaubank (SAB), close proximity to the start-up scene and both financial and personnel support from the City of Dresden,” says the press release.

CarVertical’s history records app is designed to prevent used car frauds by using the app to locate a car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) located in its technical passport or on a car’s body.

The car’s VIN is the identifying code for a specific automobile. It serves as the car’s fingerprint, as no two vehicles in operation have the same number. A VIN is composed of alphanumeric 17 characters that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. It displays the car’s unique features, specifications, and manufacturer. The number can also be used to track recalls, registrations, warranty claims, thefts, and insurance coverage.

CarVertical claims to be most successful automotive-based initial coin offering. The team raised almost USD 20 million during its coin offering in January 2018.

“Our goal is to enable every car buyer around the globe to get authentic and non-faked information about the specific vehicle and to help consumers in the maintenance of their vehicles,” states the carVertical website.

 

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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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Coinbase Looks to Acquire Banking Licenses

Coinbase is currently looking into the processes involved in acquiring banking licenses. The Wall Street Journal reports that an undisclosed source revealed that the exchange engaged in conversations with members of the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in earlier this year:

“Coinbase Inc and another cryptocurrency firm talked to US regulators about the possibility of obtaining banking licenses, a move that would allow the startups to broaden the types of products they offer.”

Additional Coinbase services

Coinbase has been expanding its services this year to become more than just an exchange. Its commerce API or its “PayPal-like service”, was released in February. Merchants could quickly implement cryptocurrencies as a payment method supporting BitcoinBitcoin CashEthereum, and Litecoin. The platform adds a “PayPal-like” button to e-commerce sites allowing streamlined payments straight to the vendor’s wallet.

Coinbase isn’t the only company to offer these types of services, with BitPay also letting customers pay in Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. With the volatility within the cryptocurrency market this year it may take more to encourage merchants to adopt this additional payment method.

Coinbase announced this month that it would be releasing its Coinbase Custody platform. The new product could entice institutional investors, it went on to explain: “The cryptocurrency market is maturing rapidly as more sophisticated institutional participants enter the space. In fact, in the past few months over 100 hedge funds were created that exclusively invest in and trade cryptocurrency. Some of the world’s largest financial institutions have also recently announced their plans to begin trading cryptocurrency.”

Coinbase Custody is a storage service for a minimum of USD 10 million in crypto. Financial institutions will be expected to pay USD 100,000 as a set-up fee and an additional monthly premium dependant on holdings. Coinbase claimed: “We have leveraged our experience safely storing more than $20 billion of cryptocurrency to create Coinbase Custody, the most secure crypto storage solution available.”

Industry issues

Coinbase believes its recent progress will accelerate the world’s adoption of cryptocurrency by bringing new capital and greater awareness to the industry.

The volatility of Bitcoin still stands to be an issue and has led to merchants withdrawing the payment option. This was one of the main reasons for Steam halting Bitcoin payments at the end of 2017. The rise of crypto-related crime is enough to deter investors in the interim.

As much as 30,000 people who have fallen victim to Ethereum-related theft, suffering an average loss of USD 7,500 each, according to Chainalysis. Exchanges have been targeted in large-scale hacks with Coincheck losing USD 550 million worth of NEM cryptocurrency (XEM) in January and Coinsecure losing USD 3.5 million in Bitcoin (BTC). With legislation and regulation becoming a hot topic among unions and governments, 2018 is set to be an interesting year for cryptocurrencies.

Coinbases profitability values the company at around USD 8 billion. The growth and reinvestment into new ventures such as the banking industry shows Coinbase’s faith in the future of cryptocurrencies.

However, not everyone believes that the company is heading in the right direction. Reddit user Bitcoin Yoda explains how Coinbase Commerce is moving in a different direction to Satoshi’s vision: “A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Any intermediary between your BTC payment and the merchant is violating the definition of Bitcoin and your privacy.”

Is Coinbase’s pursuit of becoming a bank turning its back on the ideologies behind crypto?

 

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Chinese Police Develop Blockchain-Based Evidence Storage

China’s ministry of public security, in charge of all Chinese police forces, has built a blockchain application which stores evidence from police investigations. The technology, which was patented at China’s Intellectual Property Office in November 2017, takes police investigation data that is uploaded to cloud storage and puts it into a blockchain.

This solves a concern of Chinese police about data in cloud storage that can easily be altered and manipulated. Now that the data will be stored in a blockchain, it is virtually tamper-proof, with cryptographic security that has yet to be breached by hackers.

This is important since criminals have a major incentive to hack into the police database and destroy evidence to avoid punishment. With blockchain technology, police, lawyers and judges are likely to see this move as a direct improvement of the justice system in China.

The technology will require multiple signature confirmations when storing data, providing an immutable ledger of when data was stored and who stored it. This will provide clarity and transparency to the police investigation process and help lawyers prepare for court.

The blockchain application also provides a clear supervisory process for storing police evidence, whereas before, there was no standard supervised process when storing data on cloud storage. This standardization of storing police evidence will increase efficiency.

The use of blockchain technology by a Chinese government agency will be taken as a positive sign by observers. In recent years, China has passed harsh regulatory measures to ban cryptocurrency activity, out of concern that cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature takes power away from the government. Even though China’s government has not openly embraced cryptocurrency, clearly some parts of the government see the usefulness of blockchain technology’s immutable and cryptographically secure ledger and storage systems, and are applying it for their benefit.

Another example of a Chinese government agency utilizing blockchain technology is the National Audit Office’s investigation of blockchain solutions to store audit data from provincial and local offices.

 

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Physical Bitcoin Smart Banknotes Launched in Singapore

Singapore startup Tangem released its own version of a physical bitcoin banknote at a shopping centre in the city yesterday.

The banknotes are available in denominations of 0.01 BTC ($98) and 0.05 BTC ($485) at launch. Each note is a Samsung Semiconductor S3D350A chip which reportedly cost the Tangen $2 to manufacture. according to Cision PR Newswire, the Tangem Note is the first hardware storage solution with certification for its entire electronics and cryptography to Common Criteria EAL6+ and EMVCo security standards

Tangem co-founder Andre Pantyukhin is confident that the new notes are completely safe, maintaining that the chip, ‘addresses all known attack vectors on hardware and software levels” and the accompanying wallet is uncopiable.

The company’s headquarters are in Zug, Switzerland’s answer to Silicon Valley, home to over 200 blockchain companies and a global hub for cryptocurrency. Tangen says it has now has plans to distribute its notes globally, beginning with a first shipment of 10,000 production notes to prospective partners and distributors around the world for commercial pilots.

Pantyukhin comments that the notes have real advantages for the user and transfer of ownership is exactly like a fiat note in that as soon as the note is handed over, so is ownership, “Physically hand over the whole wallet together with the blockchain private key. No transaction fees, no need to await confirmation blockchain.” Each note will allow a user to instantly verify the validity of the assets by NFC via smartphone. He adds the company is continuing production with goal facilitating, “immediate, free and anonymous,” transactions for users.

According to Tangem’s press release the concept behind the notes was make the spending of crypto easier, “to radically improve the simplicity and security of acquiring, owning, and circulating cryptocurrencies for both sophisticated and incoming users.”

Although based in Switzerland and Singapore, Tangem manufactures in centres in South Korea and Southern China, Taiwan, Russia, and Israel.

 

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