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Blockchain Art Startup Scoops $7 Million in First Round Funding from Spotify Investor

Blockchain Art Startup Scoops  Million in First Round Funding from Spotify Investor

Blockchain art provenance chaser and registry Artory has raised over USD 7 million in a funding round, which includes an early investor in Swedish streaming platform Spotify.

2020 ventures, an early backer of Spotify, American logistics company Postmates, and luxury goods resale platform The RealReal are all backing the new project which is aimed at improving the capabilities of the platform.

The Tokenization of artworks is growing and platforms which use blockchain to register art are gaining in popularity due to the nature of the technologies capability to register information which cannot be refuted or changed. In October of 2018 prestigious auction house Christies stepped into the blockchain space when it used the technology in the sale of ‘An American Place: The Barney A. Ebsworth Collection.’  Christie’s also worked with Artory to supply certification to buyers.

The Artory registry is comprehensive, containing all provenance of artwork, including past sales, valuations, and exhibitions will be in the database and accessible with the certificate. This certificate stored on the blockchain provides irrefutable proof of authenticity, which protects buyers and sellers, and can increase the value of the artwork. This is better than a typical bill of sale since the blockchain certificate for each artwork cannot be lost as it is immutably stored on a blockchain.

This aspect of blockchain is not wasted on the art world who are quick to recognize the added value in the extra level of provenance. Nanne Dekking, founder of the new project, pointed out the company “are building something that has to be vetted, accurate and easily searchable to show the depth of information behind every artwork”.

Artory is moving from strength to strength having acquired auction house database Auction Club, a subscription-only database containing sales information from more than 4,000 international auction houses.

 

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Afghans Look to Sovereign Crypto Bond to Raise $5.8 Billion for Economy

Afghanistan is planning to jumpstart its ailing economy with a blockchain-based sovereign crypto bond. The announcement to attempt a cryptocurrency solution to three decades of economic turmoil came at a meeting of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington recently.

According to the Central Bank of Afghanistan’s governor Khalil Sediq, the target figure is USD 5.8 billion in order to support the country’s critical mining, energy, and agriculture sectors, and with 25% of the country’s population currently unemployed and living under the poverty, critical measures are being assessed.

Afghanistan, as the of the world’s largest suppliers of lithium, could utilize Bitcoin with metals futures in bond form, according to the Afghan delegation, although IMF president Christine Lagarde believes such a bond will need thorough testing before it can be sold on markets.

Bitcoin has gained popularity in Afghanistan and its thought that cryptocurrency could find real leverage in the county if local money-sellers, called sarafis, were to start trading in digital currency. Afghans are generally untrusting of financial institutions and turn to sarafis, who deal with numerous fiat currencies across Afghanistan.

It appears that Afghanistan is not the only nation, considering some kind of a sovereign Bitcoin bond, as both Tunisia and Uzbekistan, both also represented by delegates at the Spring IMF and World bank forum, have also expressed interest in similar solutions.

Uzbek Ambassador to the United States Javlon Vakhabov sees an Uzbek bitcoin bond being linked to the country’s cotton futures market, much along the lines of Afghanistan’s plan for lithium futures. Uzbekistan has recently legalized crypto trading in the country and has announced some initial regulations for both trading and mining. The new decree, “On measures to organize the activities of crypto-exchanges in Uzbekistan”, states any company providing for the purchasing of or sale of crypto assets on a platform will be recognized as a legal exchange.

 

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Brexit, Binance and Bitcoin: A New Era for Crypto in the UK?

Brexit, Binance and Bitcoin: A New Era for Crypto in the UK?

With the clock ticking on Britain’s much-debated exit from membership of the EU and all that means if a decision is finally agreed by September, where will this leave the UK in European Crypto Space? In a position of strength, or cut-off from its legislative support on the other side of the channel?

Well, no man is an island according to English metaphysical poet John Donne, but at this moment in time, it appears that the UK is digging its own hole in the sand as each week passes towards the latest agreed date of departure, when Great Britain and Northern Ireland hopefully get its rules back from the longtime European partners; the leaver’s much heralded and acclaimed  “taking back control.”

Does this even matter when it comes to cryptocurrency trading? In the UK the banks are aware of it, the Bank of England is monitoring it, and the man on the street pretty much knows about it. Bitcoin continues to be classified as private money, with VAT applied and also subject to capital gains tax, where profits and losses are involved.

However-and Britain has illustrated with great clarity to a dumbfounded Europe with its Brexit machinations-it is often slow to make decisions and enforce regulations; in fact, the UK now risks falling behind its European partners regarding cryptocurrency regulations unless it acts with more clarity and decisiveness, and guess who has taken up the leading role in this regard? The French…that must hurt.

Yes, the UK’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) did release a recent update of its progress which is currently in the hands of the specially selected Cryptoassets Taskforce.  However, a series of final guidelines or policy guidelines are still awaited from the FSA after the release of this consultation paper as far as regulatory dynamics go. With France now happy to lead Europe on a regulatory charge, Britain could be left counting its fingers after Brexit.

There are those in the UK however who like what they see in terms of crypto’s future after Brexit. Mike Romanov chief executive of Digital Securities Exchange (DSX) feels it can continue its dominance in the financial markets and crypto could come under the UK rather than EU legislative control. Others see an opportunity too, with a dent left in the Euro cryptocurrency market as Britain goes into its own crypto shell, out of reach from the EU’s legislative grasp, opening the door for new smaller players outside of the EU to leap in and plug some holes.

This is the Bitcoin bull’s stance, Britain hopes for friendlier digital currency regulations than it has at present. Another consideration is what might happen to the price of BTC with the impact of a final departure or possible vote to remain (the usual suspects) this year. There is a general feeling that it is simply the Brexit debate which is pinning the economy down and any kind of departure from this pain will be a release for both traditional and digital financial markets. According to the Bank of England, the economy has been shedding about £800M every week since they made the verdict in 2016.

There is one man who is just happy at what he sees, and if it continues, well then long may it do so. Enter Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao who, having now set up in Jersey is in the right place at the right time; well located for Europeans and Brits alike, whatever the outcome. With the existing offshore legal and regulatory framework for cryptocurrency, it is made to measure, given that there is now more than just a hint that Brits could turn to cryptocurrency come the predicted economic fallout given a no deal Brexit this year, and for this event, Zhao sees himself in the front line.

When it comes to crypto, the front line is always the place to be.

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Breaking Down the Latest Ethereum Developments

Breaking Down the Latest Ethereum Developments

Ethereum’s core development team is constantly working to improve and make changes to the native blockchain on which the #2 cryptocurrency is built. This can be observed via the on-chain data available, including the popularity of the native smart contracts.

However, as the bulk of the cryptocurrency market enjoys a period of bullish growth, Ethereum is struggling to entice miners to the network due to break-even prices.

What the on-chain dates can tell us

  • Like Bitcoin, active Ethereum addresses (those engaged in transactions within the last 24 hours) have experienced an upturn after 9 months or so of steady decline; this change has coincided with the rise of both cryptocurrencies’ prices.
  • Decentralized finance, or DeFi, has proved to be the second biggest use case so far for Ethereum, private fundraising being the first. Growth in the area of DeFi has been at a lull for the last month or so after demonstrating impressive growth rates since September last year, potentially showing it has reached a temporary structural ceiling.
  • The aggregate number of smart contract interactions have been on the rise since February, coming close to the all-time highest levels, seen in April 2018. Because the number of new ICOs have been at such low levels for over a year now, it can be assumed that the rising smart contract use demonstrates a strengthening of trust in their utility. Stability in Gas cost also implies the network is moving closer to network capacity.

The Ethereum hash rate negative trend

Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a Proof-of-Work cryptocurrency, but unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum’s hash rate has failed to pick up since the favorable market turn. Current market prices have meant Ethereum mining is still unprofitable for many, showing the network has failed to meet equilibrium yet. Compared to Bitcoin, the inflation rate of Ethereum remains high.

The fact that Ethereum will be moving to a Proof-of-Stake system in the near future may also be influencing the lack of miners on the network, although the date of this implementation has already been pushed back once this year.

Ethereum price fluctuations

While Ethereum may not be as bullish right now as Bitcoin or many of the altcoins it has pulled up with it, in the last few days ETH has shown a strong rebound hitting USD 174 before settling around USD 166. Against the USD, Etherum surpassed key levels at USD 169/ USD 179, showing indicators that a climb past USD 180 is viable.

Ethereum is currently +1.25%, trading at USD 173.22; at its peak price in January 2018, Ethereum was trading at USD 1345.07. In December last year, it fell as low as USD 84.00 – a level not experienced since May 2017.

 

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All Assets Will Be Traded on Decentralized Exchanges

In an interview with Bloomberg, executive chairman of Blockchain Research Institute Donald Tapscott shared his opinion about the future of cryptocurrency, decentralized exchanges and the fate of traditional assets.

Tapscott has suggested that in the near future, the intrinsic qualities of decentralized exchanges will make them compatible with traditional assets, he said:

“All assets, not just currencies, but traditional securities will be traded on decentralized exchanges.”

His reason for the assertion comes from the fact these exchanges offer the requisite transparency for tracking bad players in the financial market, and as a matter of fact, this core characteristic will enable decentralized exchanges to dominate over the centralized exchanges in the future.

Tapscott seems to think decentralized exchanges in China are feasible despite the lack of government oversight as an intrinsic quality of these exchanges. However, since China banned cryptocurrency trading, and according to him, “the government of [China] is quite serious about hurting crypto,” his understanding of the situation is that of a “weird dichotomy” as the nation sees blockchain playing an important role in the future economy, nonetheless has made an enemy of the underlying digital asset class.

However, the banning of exchanges and the current action against mining operations can only hurt any foreseeable future with blockchain. Tapscott finds it unnecessary and while Bitcoin seems to be championing the crypto space at the moment, he argues that:

“In 20 years we are not going to be using Bitcoin in China. The Chinese people will use the RMB, only the RMB will become a cryptocurrency, the Central Bank of China will turn it into a digital currency.”

On the subject of security, Tapscott argues that few things can be solved by technology alone, and while crypto space may be prone to bad actors, sometimes the problem isn’t with the technology but rather bad governance which is structured in a centralized manner. He opines:

“Blockchain is much harder to hack than the traditional systems, our banks, our governments and [financial] institutions.”

 

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Female Blockchain Pioneers Are Taking Center Stage at Conferences Globally

Female Blockchain Pioneers are Taking Center Stage at Conferences Globally

Despite the gender gap in technology gradually becoming more balanced, a recent report has shown that females account for just 20% of employees in tech-related fields. Whilst this disparity may be discouraging, blockchain conferences internationally have played a crucial role in giving female tech pioneers a platform to showcase their success.

Here are some of the leading women from the blockchain industry who have contributed significantly to the progression of the industry, and participating in upcoming conferences as headline speakers.

Elizbeth Stark: Co-Founder and CEO of Lightning Labs

Elizabeth Stark is arguably one of the most influential female leaders in blockchain. Her company Lightning Labs is behind the major developments of the Layer 2 solution for Bitcoin, the Lightning Network, looking to build a payment channel that is both quicker and cheaper. Many people see the Lightning Network as the missing link that can help promote Bitcoin for everyday payments such as a morning cup of coffee.

Stark received her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard and has taught classes at top US universities, Stanford and Yale.

She is high demand speaker at blockchain events. In the next month, Stark will be at the Global Conference 2019 at the Milken Institute 28 April – 1 May, and Magical Crypto Conference 11-12 May 2019 in New York.

Donna Redel: Professor lecturing in blockchain and cryptocurrency

Donna Redel has a background in financial governance and performance, previously holding tenure as COMEX Chairman as well as Managing Director and Board Member at the World Economic Forum. Now, she is focusing her attention primarily on educating future leaders and promoting the financial literacy of women. Additionally, Redel is an angel investor and philanthropist.

Redel teaches courses on blockchain and cryptocurrency as a professor at Fordham Law. She is booked to give a keynote speech on industry leadership at the Ethereal Summit 2019 in New York on 10-11 May.

MEP Eva Kaili: Leading progressive blockchain legislation in Europe

Eva Kaili is a Member of the European Parliament from Greece. She has made a name for herself as one of the most progressive voices within the parliament regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency regulation in the EU, producing a Blockchain Resolution last year after becoming concerned with potential resistance to blockchain from ”the systems that failed us.” She is also responsible for bringing an initial coin offering resolution to parliament.

Within the European Parliament, she is a member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, as well as chairing the Future of Science & Technology board.

Kaili is a headline speaker at the Future Blockchain Summit in Dubai 31 March-1 April 2020.

 

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Russia Adopts Law to Divorce Runet from Internet

Russia Adopts Law to Divorce Runet from Internet

The Russian segment of the internet, called Runet, is about to be cordoned off from the rest of the world, with a new law recently adopted by the State Duma to protect online Russia from external threats and transform it into a “sovereign” space.

A Bitcoin.com report says that taxpayers and end users will foot the bill for Russia’s “Great Firewall”, and that this will likely affect online businesses including crypto platforms.

The lower house of the Russian parliament has this week adopted a final reading of a draft known as the ‘Digital Economy National Program’. Although the next legislative step is approval that is still required from the upper house – the Federation Council – before proceeding to the President for his signature, Duma’s decisive support points to a strong political will for this to pass and become law.

Once it does get implemented, the system will mean that local internet traffic will have to pass through state-controlled routers to ensure they only can visit sites that are permitted. The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) will also be granted absolute power, able to close down internet providers. Just recently, it had already forced VPN providers in the country to get on board with a censorship program, prompting TorGuard to close its operations in Russia.

 

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John McAfee Claims $1 Million Bitcoin Prediction Based on Math

John McAfee Claims  Million Bitcoin Prediction Based on Math

John McAfee’s explanation for his USD 1 million Bitcoin price by the end of 2020 is all down to mathematics, according to the high flying tech mogul.

A recent McAfee Tweet offering to the market suggested that it would be “mathematically impossible” that one BTC will be less than USD 1 million “by the end of 2020”.

A brave claim worth investigating. Assuming Bitcoin remains around it current price for the next 24 hours, a good place to start from, now sitting at USD 5,277, it needs launch on a head-spinning lift off increasing by 20,000% in order to reach McAfee’s 2020 USD 1 million target. The leap in 2017, regarded by many as highly unexpected and unrepeatable saw a 20-times leap in the value of the flagship coin before it just as rapidly crashed to earth in 2018.

It is worth noting McAfee’s last big prediction of USD 500,000 by the end of 2020 made in 2017 is still current, so he does have the advantage of a fallback position should he wish to hedge his bets as the end of next year approaches, assuming Bitcoin is flying into the stratosphere.

McAfee’s math told him that his early prediction priced Bitcoin at USD 5,000 by the end of 2017, and it to be fair it had already doubled that by December to USD 10,000. A simple annual doubling up process, however, would not have taken Bitcoin to his original USD 500,000 prediction by the end of 2020; in fact, a mathematical total based on doubling would be closer to USD 80,000, but still no mean feat, and great for those BTC holders buying in 2017. McAfee was clearly hoping for a 20-times annual leap over the span over four years to get to his mammoth target.

Wences Casares, CEO of Xapo and a director at PayPal, is going for Bitcoin reaching USD 1 million in the next 7 to 10 years, but still gives McAfee’s claims a hint of a chance. Casares uses his own equation by multiplying the total of Bitcoin Hodlers with USD 7,000 and given there are 3 billion owners globally, then the currency could be worth USD 1 million with a fixed BTC supply of 20 million units.

No stranger to controversy, McAfee’s latest media offering has suggested that he is not ready to release the identity of Bitcoin’s founder yet, but has revealed:

“It is NOT the CIA nor any agency of any world government. It IS a collection of people, but the white paper was written by one man, who currently resides in the US.”

 

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Big Corporates Investing in Blockchain with Wait ‘N See Approach

Big Corporates Investing in Blockchain with Wait 'N See Approach

PitchBook data recently compiled for Reuters shows that both corporate funding and venture capital investments are still behind blockchain tech, although trust in cryptocurrency has still yet to become a feature of large company investment.

Corporate investment in Bitcoin is seen very much like the Holy Grail of the cryptocurrency industry, and to date, the big money is aimed at blockchain technology, although the application for the tech is not as widespread as some advocates would suggest.

However, the future is looking bright with this new data illustrating just how much corporates have softened towards the crypto market, despite avoiding the actual cryptocurrencies themselves. Funds heading in the direction of crypto and blockchain startups are now to the tune of USD 850 million this year to April, and some of this interest has come from high tech companies.

The Catch 22 continues for Bitcoin though, as large companies wait to see if Bitcoin can break through to gain wider adoption despite its fall in value. For many, the perception is that it is only corporate acceptance that can give the market impetus to drive crypto forward to new levels moving forward.

Despite the usual hype, blockchain still needs to find some more sectors in which to operate so that it can be accepted as a viable solution in industry, according to Richard Hay, UK head of fintech at law firm Linklaters, who calls for far more blockchain innovation:

“There are two dynamics at play… We can get something up and running and achieve cost savings, and also look longer term at ways of deploying the technology in more transformative ways.”

Pitchbook data to April also shows that some cooperate investment has been directed at crypto mining gear and exchanges, including the four biggest VC-backed firms by valuation, but Anton Ruddenklau, global co-head of fintech at KPMG feels that although companies are “really enamored” with tokenization, “they are investing as a technological hedge as much as anything”.

One potential crypto industry driver, Bakkt, has already run into problems before its launch. The highly-anticipated cryptocurrency platform has run into trouble with the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over its custody plans for clients’ Bitcoin, after raising USD 180 million last year from investors including M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm.

 

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France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France Will Push EU to Adopt New Crypto Regulatory Framework

France is keen for her European Union neighbors to adopt a similar framework for cryptocurrency to its own newly- formed financial sector legislation.

Its new laws have been structured to keep the Finance Ministry, exchanges, and traders satisfied that there is a little bit of harmony for all, and a relief for many traders who have been expecting a tightening of cryptocurrency guidelines this year.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire clearly wants to share the joy with the rest of Europe, although at this stage it seems unlikely that the UK would come on board with Brexit and European elections looming. France has jumped to head of the Euro queue in adopting a national regulatory framework and sees this as a solution for the other 26, or possibly 27. Le Maire commented:

“I will propose to my European partners that we set up a single regulatory framework on crypto-assets inspired by the French experience.”

Le Maire is clearly confident, adding that “our model is the right one”, although it remains to be seen how this suggestion will be greeted by other EU members.

The French government’s new cryptocurrency bill will now give the opportunity for startups and platforms that want to issue new cryptocurrencies or trade existing ones to apply for a certification giving companies official state recognition. This means that the rest of Europe will now be playing catchup. The certification will be granted by French market regulator and issuers, traders, custodians, and investors will have to pay taxes on their profits.

Transparency is seen as key by the French Finance Ministry and those applying for certification under the new rules will need to be thorough in furnishing business plans, AML, KYC, and be clear about exactly who is conducting and overseeing the business. Those not choosing to seek registration could be left in a vulnerable position.

 

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