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Institutional Investors Have High Hopes for Bitcoin During Economic Crisis

Market research company Fundstrat has produced details of a survey that indicates institutional cryptocurrency investors have a bullish attitude towards Bitcoin’s performance in circumstances of an economic crisis such as a recession.

Key findings of the survey:

  • 72% of institutional investors believe the price of cryptocurrencies will rise if there is a recession;
  • 44% of these investors believe such an economic crisis is coming in the next 18 months;
  • 60% think that the US has the correct regulatory stance for the industry, and believe the rest of the world will follow suit;
  • 59% believe Bitcoin will be the best performing crypto in 2019.

A consensus from investors and the Twittersphere

Fundstrat shared that alongside 72% of institutional investors that believe a recession will spur a cryptocurrency price surge, 59% of respondents to a Twitter poll voted in the same way.

While there was no clear consensus from investors on whether a recession will affect the US in the next 18 months, in parts of the world already suffering, cryptocurrency markets have already begun to grow.

Bitcoin News recently reported on the economic crisis in Venezuela where Bitcoin is being used in mass for charitable donations. The adoption of other digital currencies has also become an increasingly popular way to avoid losing money due to hyperinflation. Dash has become so popular, fast food chain Subway now accepts it as a payment method.

In Iran, a travel startup calling itself IranbyBit is exclusively accepting Bitcoin as payment for a range of travel options that they offer as a way of avoiding economic sanctions on the country that are preventing economic growth.

The future for crypto

Given four choices to vote from in regard to the future of regulation, institutional investors voted overwhelmingly at 60% that the US’s strict stance was the correct one, and that the rest of the world will follow its lead. Just 12% said that they believe the global regulatory structure will remain fragmented.

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, 59% said they think Bitcoin will be the best performing cryptocurrency next year, with Neo, Tron and Stellar, all receiving just 5% of the vote apiece.

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StellarX Launches as Decentralized, No-Fee Crypto Exchange

A new decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platform from Interstellar has now been launched, free of any transaction or trading charges.

StellarX is open source and based on the native Stellar (XLM) cryptocurrency’s universal marketplace, the sixth largest crypto with a USD 4.8 billion market cap.

The platform differs from other exchanges as it allows users to load fiat currency directly into the local wallet, and offers a number of digital tokens for sale with state-issued currency including euros, Philippine pesos and Nigerian naira. ”A full suite of forex stablecoins” is anticipated for the exchange in the near future, as it hopes to become a usable cryptocurrency exchange for countries that currently do not have access to any others.

Interstellar say that it has plans to digitize alternative types of assets, including bonds and real estate – another aspect yet to be seen on any similar exchange. These new features are apparently in development now, with time and finding the right protocol to digitize them being the only hurdles.

Transparency

Creators say that the marketplace they created is completely transparent as everything described as ”meaningful” happens on the blockchain for the world to access. Both traders and token issuers also benefit from transparency in a wider sense of the word.

Traders are promised that tokens will behave in an ”expected manner”, and rather than smart contracts that may unravel ownership, tokenization happens from a basic template at the protocol layer. Issuers are able to see who is trying to trade with them and can confirm their identity before any transaction takes place.

Developers recognize the necessary standards for legal compliance in the space, hence requiring all users identities to be verified, particularly as they expand their listings to offering assets such as bonds.

Bitcoin News recently spoke to Felix Moreno from Bisq, a fully decentralized trading platform that offers a similar service bar the know-your-customer (KYC) policies. How did Moreno say they get around these legal expectations? It would seem to be by avoiding the establishment of any company, therefore, giving no particular entity for the government to pursue.

“There is no way we could turn into a KYC financial surveillance company because there is no company, there is no one the SEC can send a subpoena to. There is no one in charge,” Moreno told Bitcoin News.

 

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Colombia’s New President Has Big Plans for Blockchain

Newly-elected president of Colombia Ivan Duque has outlined his desire to turn the country into a leader in technology on the global stage, with an emphasis on harnessing blockchain to fight corruption.

President Duque has said the official focus of the government will now be directed towards issues relating to digital society, with blockchain linked to the plan by being utilized in helping increase the transparency of public expenditure.

One specific policy he plans to implement is a tax exemption for the information and communications technologies sector for their first five years should they employ enough staff, something that could encourage new blockchain-related startups. The government has also organized the INNOVA blockchain research group to find ways to protect citizens utilizing the technology.

The new Colombian leader comes from a background in technology and business rather than politics, which some consider a beneficial change while others have criticized his lack of experience. His work history includes time at the Inter-American Development Bank, the largest source of development financing for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Following a regional trend

In June, Senator Antonio Navarro Wolff of the Green Alliance said that blockchain technology had the potential to change the lives of Colombians. He highlighted its use cases in administration, protection of rights, electoral legitimacy and transparency, and management of public services, to name just a few.

Senator Wolff went on to explain the basics of cryptocurrency transactions to the Senate committee, and how blockchain enables the transactions to alternative wallets. He applauded that ease and nearly costless nature at which this can be achieved compared to the difficulties in making international bank transactions.

A lack of regulation in Colombia was cited by the senator as problematic; without comprehensive laws, there are no ways to prohibit illicit activities such as tax evasion or sale of illegal goods.

 

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Kenya Enlists Blockchain to Fight Allegations of Electoral Corruption

Kenya’s electoral agency plans to utilize a blockchain voting system in its reform efforts to promote transparency.

The blockchain system in the works would be used to offer real-time voting results to avoid any perceptions of misconduct including tampering with the results. A statement from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati detailed the potential blockchain solution as providing security for all presidential candidates and allowing them to access and verify the results themselves.

The northeast African nation of Kenya has suffered claims of election rigging in nearly every election since the institution of multi-party democracy in 1991. The leader of the opposition party Raila Odinga just last year rejected two of the presidential polls; the first was annulled by the Supreme Court on the grounds of substantial electoral irregularities.

In 2007, chaos ensued after the disputed election results, leaving approximately  1,100 people dead, as well as displacing around 600,000 before a coalition government was finally agreed upon.

A blockchain-backed voting system could be a valuable tool in promoting a peaceful democracy in Kenya, bringing an end to any lingering doubts about the legitimacy of results.

Blockchain solutions in elections

Ukraine has also been testing the benefits of utilizing blockchain in its voting procedure. The Central Election Commission of Ukraine has been experimenting with the NEM blockchain, with the commission commending the immutability of hosting elections on the blockchain, as well as the improved security benefits of the decentrally-hosted data.

While it remains in the trial stages, the head of the country’s voter registry at the commission Oleksandr Stelmakh has been providing much positive feedback on his social media pages.

An Australian start-up also has plans to institute blockchain voting technology in countries such as Indonesia that are struggling to preserve the sanctity of elections in their emerging democracies.

The platform designer Jamie Skella said: “If you utilize blockchain to submit a vote in the same way that a Bitcoin transaction can’t be reversed, it can’t be changed, it’s a trustworthy process based on a system, which is not owned by any one entity, not by an organization, or a government or an individual.”

 

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Bitmain’s New Texas Mining Facility to Begin US Expansion

China-based cryptocurrency mining hardware company Bitmain has confirmed Rockdale, Texas as its next location to spearhead the way for its takeover of the US.

Texas operations

Rockdale will benefit from Bitmain’s investments totaling over USD 500 million in the following seven years, with plans to launch mining operations in early 2019. The location will employ 400 individuals for the new Texas blockchain data center, offering educational services and training programs for aspiring employees.

The location was described by Bitmain as a ”strategic investment” for the company, putting them in a prime spot to begin expansion plans across the US. The firm confirmed the plans Monday after speculation began circling last month when Dallas News reported Bitmain had purchased an unused smelting facility.

Despite the positive local press acknowledging the benefits of such an investment in a town recently hit by difficult economic times due to the closure of the coal mines, Bitmain and public officials declined to comment until this week. The article hinted however, it was an open secret shared among Rockdale residents.

Job openings for the new site have already reached online listings for those looking to join the firm as it begins its US expansion.

Bitmain’s recent moves

The Texas location follows Bitmain’s approved land lease in Washington State received in April, with the firm planning to set out a large-scale mining operation in the area. The state has, however, received several complaints from residents regarding the sustainability of cryptocurrency mining.

The cheap electricity tariffs have attracted many mining operations to the area, with locals reportedly concerned about the amount of energy being consumed. Some have suggested that an increase in the use of renewable energy resources in the mining process would stem the complaints.

Brazil is also supposedly on the agenda for Bitmain, with one article suggesting the firm is looking to open offices in the country.

Bitmain has already international footholds in Switzerland and Israel where it carries out its mining operations.

 

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GDPR May Stifle Blockchain Innovation, Finds EU Report

The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum has released a report warning that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws instated by the European Union (EU) earlier this year may prevent effective blockchain innovation taking place.

The Blockchain Innovation in Europe report cites a lack of clarity in the legal framework regarding personal data and blockchain technology as a major issue for entrepreneurs and developers working in the EU. The report states that it “can put a brake on innovation”.

Friction between GDPR and blockchain

One of the crucial issues discussed is the incompatibility with a decentralized blockchain network to erase person data, with GDPR giving citizens the right to have their information erased upon their request. To enforce these right, GDPR requires a central authority to be held accountable, something lacking in the structural nature of a decentralized blockchain network.

Permissionless blockchains can also not be guaranteed to comply with GDPR restrictions that require data to only be transferred to third parties outside of the EU who offer equal data protection regulations.

Thus, applications built on a blockchain are being threatened by unclear laws regulating them.

A need to update GDPR?

The report claims that these conflicts are not addressed because during the time GDPR policies were being constructed, blockchain was not as popular with developers, nor nearly as well known and utilized as it is now. This means that the laws were written with an implicit assumption any database would operate with a centralized authority for processing data.

However, the investigatory review does claim that blockchain could in the future evolve to become key in promoting data sovereignty and the further goals of GDPR. With more research and development, blockchain could theoretically have compliance supported in the code of platforms and applications.

For now though, with hope, the report will influence EU lawmakers to clarify what is required from blockchain developers to prevent the industry from moving out of the union.

 

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Bitcoin Googled More Than Taylor Swift, Stock Market, Donald Trump

Whether Bitcoin is celebrated by everybody or not, one thing is for sure: people can not stop talking about it. Between August 2017 and today, the number of times Bitcoin was Googled surpassed both pop icon Taylor Swift, and even the stock market.

In December 2017, when the value of Bitcoin reached nearly USD 20,000, it was searched for up to 25% more times than US President Donald Trump. Not to forget this was the month that Trump announced Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, the Senate passed his significant tax reform legislation, and he sent out a series of Tweets condemning his own Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Tickets for Swift’s 2018 stadium tour went on sale on 13 December, but Bitcoin was pulling in around 70% more Google traffic than the pop star.

Interestingly, when the stock market experiences a slump, the number of times it is Googled increases, whereas Bitcoin sees an increase when there is a bull market. This perhaps indicates it is the younger generation losing interest in crypto when there does not appear to be big gains to be had, whereas the older generation that is more heavily invested in stocks for the long-term keeps a closer eye on their investments when they appear to be depreciating.

As well as this, for the majority of people consuming just mainstream media, the extremities of the market are only covered; while it may not be so intriguing to investigate what is being portrayed as a failing market on the verge of collapse, a 10% investment increase in 24 hours is far more interesting.

What can we take from this data?

While Bitcoin simply being Googled more times doesn’t provide any steadfast data regarding its popularity or give us any indication of a change in market price, there is no denying that the concept has entered and intrigued the general population. And that counts for a lot.

What the trends indicate is that there is still a ways to go in turning around the conversation to keep people confident in the market despite the inevitable downward trends.

Just keep in mind, last year Bitcoin was googled more than the US president for around a month. That is progress right there.

 

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Walmart Applies for Blockchain-Managed Smart Appliance Patent

US multinational retail corporation Walmart has recently applied for another blockchain-related patent, this time looking to manage the use of smart appliances via blockchain technology.

The application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office covers the use of this tech on a number of devices, including televisions, computers, laptops and portable media players.

Patent details

The smart device paired with the computing system would receive a transaction request which, once accepted, transmits a configuration instruction for the appliance to be operated by the user via one or more nodes in the network needed for validation. The smart device holds the private key needed to authorize transactions.

Management of the device includes the ability to customize access and control in order to secure the system, with the blockchain server network utilizing an Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem that allows multiple smart devices to be managed. The computer system would include a memory device to store the smart appliance’s usage data, as well as a processor capable of executing a variety of instructions.

The patent application details how the technology could be utilized in creating an entire smart home system, including control over energy and healthcare environments.

Walmart’s eclectic blockchain patents

The patent request was filed on 26 January following several other similar appeals from Walmart.

In June, the corporation filed an application for blockchain technology for use with life-saving medical wearables. The device would allow paramedics to gain information about a patients ailment should the individual be unconscious or unable to communicate their problem.

In another case, Walmart filed an application that would utilize blockchain in the receipt of goods at the point of delivery from autonomous ground vehicles, while allowing automated vehicles to have safe travel access. Walmart cites in the patent proposal that one-day parcels may be delivered to the company via automated vehicles that operate on blockchain technology.

 

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Mount Sinai Launches Research Center to Explore Blockchain Use Cases in Medicine

Mount Sinai Hospital’s New York-based medical school has established a blockchain research center to explore its medical use case applications.

The Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research is set to be part of the hospital’s Institute for Next Generation Healthcare. The institute currently hosts 50 specialist researchers studying progressive healthcare solutions, including the application of robotics, artificial intelligence, wearable medical devices, sensors, and genomic sequencing.

Blockchain use-cases to be researched include drug development, drug tracking and authentication, improved research reproducibility, and use in clinical trials. Predictive health applications are also on the agenda, with studies planned to investigate the possibilities of utilizing electronic health record information gained from wearable devices to prevent future health problems.

Director of health data and design innovation, Noah Zimmerman, was careful to point out the institute would add a degree of academic rigor to the blockchain sector. He acknowledged there could be no singular technological solution to ”save healthcare” and he was careful to avoid becoming merely part of the ”blockchain hype cycle“. He believes the institute has a balanced, academic approach to its research.

Executive vice president of precision health at Mount Sinai, Joel Dudley, has been positioned to run the research center. His previous experience in the sector includes time as a senior data scientist at Pivotal Software where the use of artificial intelligence in biology is studied, as well as working to design predictive healthcare models.

Teaming up

The institute’s plans began by bringing together 144 companies involved in blockchain healthcare projects and creating a database of shared information. The combined total of funds raised through initial coin offerings by the companies involved is USD 670 million.

CoverUs is included in the group, offering its project which allows patients to gain financially from their own health data via a blockchain-backed exchange, as is Embleema, a venture which brings together patient health data and electronic medical records in a secure format.

 

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South Korean Banks Initiate Blockchain-Based ID System

The Korean Federation of Banks (KFB), a group of South Korean commercial banks, has announced that a new blockchain-based ID initiative dubbed ‘BankSign’ will be implemented in July later this year.

The initiative will replace the massively outdated current system that has been in place for 20 years that has resulted in an enormous number of fraudulent activities, described by local news outlet Korea Joongang Daily as “notorious for its complexity and inconvenience“.

Blockchain solution

Park Chang-ok, a manager at the department of deposit services and payment systems at KFB described BankSign as giving financial institutions the option to ”choose from in verifying consumer identity, not just the public certification system“.

A spokesperson for KFB explained, ”[It is] the first project co-developed by the local banking sector utilizing blockchain technology. While BankSign will start off by providing the service in the banking sector, we will work with the government and other public organizations to expand its usage.”

The project has been built on the Nexledger blockchain, created by Samsung specifically for businesses. Development began in November 2017, with beta testing following in April 2018.

The current system

The system at present requires a number of identity checks to take place before goods and services can be purchased online in South Korea, with users required to download several security programmes that are only usable on the device they are directly downloaded onto.

While the active software was modern in 1996, there are several reported challenges it now faces. The programmes may slow down computer systems, only working on Internet Explorer for desktop users.

In addition, the outdated technology has led to an estimated 80% of users information compromised in 2014. Research Gate conducted a study the same year that estimated national losses due to these hacks between USD 10 billion and USD 40 billion.

 

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