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Law Professor’s Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

Law Professor's Paper Targets US Regulatory Confusion over Crypto

A professor from the University of Arkansas School of Law has written a paper essentially claiming that US regulators are in a state of confusion over exactly what cryptocurrency is.

The article, entitled ‘U.S. Law: Crypto is Money, Property, a Commodity, and a Security, all at the Same Time’, written by professor Carol Goforth for the Journal of Financial Transformation, has recently been published in the University of Oxford’s Business Law blog.

The article is raising eyebrows as it outlines what many some academics and lawmakers are already thinking across the US, that the SEC really doesn’t know how to proceed over cryptocurrency legislation as the commission can’t really classify it.

Goforth claims that part of the problem which prevents correct legislation is the fact that a broad definition does not cover the requirements of the four entities in US government currently dealing with cryptocurrency. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) defines cryptocurrency assets as property, the Department of Treasury through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “very much like money”, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as commodities, while the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lumps cryptocurrency assets into its “securities” basket.

Here lies the problem claims Goforth; this diverse set of contradictory definitions make a broader definition impossible, in fact as she points out cryptocurrencies also have other functions not even covered by these four definitions.

Putting aside these four bodies, jurisdictions of individual US states are also bringing in their own guidelines regarding virtual assets, adding even more uncertainty to an already confused area, claims Goforth. Registering an exchange in New York, for example, will require a different process for completing the same activity in, for example, California.

The professor explains that in view of such a diversity of cryptocurrency functions a monolithic approach to defining and therefore regulating virtual currency should be abandoned to make way for far more nuanced thinking by government agencies; an approach which examines the functionality of the crypto asset along with the requirements of the agency issuing guidelines for its use.

 

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Blockchain Gains IP Credence Among Chinese Legal Institutions

Blockchain Gains Credence Among Chinese Legal Institutions

Blockchain has found its way to an internet courtroom in Eastern China to get justice for writers, reports China.org.cn.

The painstaking effort exercised in getting justice for authors whose intellectual properties are misappropriated just got easier, as explained by a judge of an internet court in China,Wang Jiangqiao. He said:

“Writers used to resort to screenshots and downloaded content as evidence, which was hard to gain legal recognition as the process was not credible enough.”

But it seems with the perks of blockchain’s immutability and timestamp actions, the credibility of the facts stored on a blockchain is much more reliable. Wang added that:

“Blockchain guarantees that data cannot be tampered [with], due to its decentralized and open distributed ledger technology. Therefore, all digital footprints stored in the judicial blockchain system, [including] authorship, time of creation, content, and evidence of infringement, have legal effect.”

More so, plaintiffs have had to suffer the high cost of legal bills when seeking justice through the traditional method as Wang observed that “notarial procedures and hiring of professional lawyers push up the costs of seeking justice”.

The media outlet also reports that 107 prominent online writers have signed contracts to produce works in a “writers’ village” in the city’s Binjiang District of Hangzhou. Hangzhou is home to many, if not most, online writers in China.

Three internet courts have been situated in three districts: Hangzhou, Beijing, and Guangzhou. While internet-related cases are a norm because of the high internet activity in the country, Hangzhou appears to be in the front lead to adopt blockchain solution in solving copyright issues, first with writers.

The first time a case was solved through evidence brought forward on the basis of blockchain happened about five months back. A Chinese defendant successfully argued his innocence in the Chinese court at Hangzhou using blockchain timestamp data, clearing his name from charges of copyright theft.

It appears that writers are not the only ones who need the services of the internet court, as China is home to over 800 million internet explorers with online businesses at the heart of the activity. Other related case types being handled by the court include contract dispute arising from online shopping, product liability dispute arising from online shopping, disputes over internet service contract, disputes arising from the financial loan contract disputes and small loan contract disputes signed and executed on the Internet.

On the traditional side of things, other real-world courts are adopting the concept of blockchain as a reliable witness to intellectual property as seen in the case of the Russian Intellectual Property (IP) court successfully using a blockchain-based solution for storing copyright data.

Even though cryptocurrencies are banned in China, its Supreme Court seems to think blockchain evidence can be seen as legally binding material in court.

 

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Dutch Province of Limburg Launches Community Crypto

Dutch Province of Limburg Launches Community Crypto

Dutch cryptocurrency platform Studio/Belfius has joined with payment platform LimbU in Limburg in the South of Holland to create its own cryptocurrency for promoting community spirit.

The initiators of the project suggest that the aim is to encourage sustainability, community support, promotion of local produce, and the creation of supply chains throughout Limburg’s 10 provincial regions.

Limburg is the southernmost of 12 provinces of the Netherlands. It is in the southeastern part of the country, stretched out from the north, touching the province of Gelderland, to the south, where it internationally borders Belgium.

The new digital currency, the “Limbu” has no fiat support but is transferable to users’ wallets throughout the province after locals complete a range of civically responsible activities such as; garbage collection, doing small repairs, giving blood, collecting clothes for charity, undergoing first aid training or composting organic waste.

The aim is to also encourage companies, public authorities, and associations to contribute through the scheme towards building a “greener, more welcoming Limburg.” The project’s member Wim Van De Putte explains:

“It was not easy finding the right partner with the required experience and expertise. But from the very outset, Studio Innovation Lab impressed us with its ability to understand this complex issue and its willingness to meet the challenge. In fact, The Studio has its own scalable platform for creating a digital currency based on the blockchain.”

As the project, Uitmuntend Limburg, grows in numbers, it plans to hand over to Limburg.net. and widen the range and scope of activities around the province, especially as thousands of Limburgers across the 10 regions already have their wallets. Ronny Neckebroeck from The Studio commented:

“We are honored to be part of such a beautiful project. Developing the platform and payment app is a major step forward along the way towards making the LimbU project a professional and sustainable initiative. Working with Uitmuntend Limburg, we will make the LimbU a success – we are sure of it. And our experience in innovative digital solutions and blockchain makes us the ideal partner for handling the technological side of this great story.”

At the beginning of this year, The Studio also developed Pengo, an innovative service that enables individuals to send payment requests via instant messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.

The Netherlands is a leader in advancing blockchain technology in Europe and often slips under the radar, but the Dutch government is no slouch when it comes to promoting the interests of companies adopting new technologies, especially when such projects benefit the entire community such as Uitmuntend Limburg. Holland is a country with a social conscience, and legislation over the years has illustrated the degree to which its population is a beneficiary of the desire shown by the government to support its society as a whole.

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Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO: Virtual Reality and Crypto Next Big Combo

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has said that cryptocurrency has the potential to turn Virtual Reality into a full-time job.

Armstrong suggests that virtual spaces could create their own currencies or even make use of existing ones such as Bitcoin or Ethereum by integrating the means for users to spend crypto in the same way as they are currently using fiat.

Developers would see more time spent on such games, according to the Coinbase boss, taking it much further into the realms of Sci-fi by suggesting that players could use the virtual world to support themselves in the real world, cashing in their accrued gaming funds for “real” use, such as paying rent. He speculates:

“Perhaps we’ll see virtual bank buildings with pillars, virtual bank vaults that spin when you open them, and virtual tellers with glasses.” The exchange magnate, clearly a follower of the gaming and VR world added, “Ready Player One had a great visual of coins being collected in the game, and spilling out of characters when they were killed (leaving a big pile of loot on the ground).”

Clearly, Armstrong has seen the potential of turning VR ownership into the real thing via some of his own exchange-listed cryptocurrencies. But in reality, there’s still a long way to go – crossing the bridge from virtual into reality.

Armstrong appears to be in touch with the man on the street, if not through gaming and VR, then certainly in terms of what reality actually means for many of the world’s “have-nots” these days. This was shown by his recent personal $1 million giveaway through his charity project called GiveCrypto.

The project is a global enterprise which will give out cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their donations as cryptocurrency or exchange them for fiat. GiveCrypto wants to raise USD 10 million by the end of 2018 and grow to a fund of USD 1 billion over two years. Donations will hopefully come from wealthy donors who have amassed wealth through cryptocurrency, passing on their good fortunes to those in need of financial help. Suggested cryptocurrencies for donations are Bitcoin, Ripple, and Zcash.

Ripple’s co-founder Chris Larsen has already put in an undisclosed donation into the Armstrong charity hat. This may not be all that Ripple will be putting into Coinbase’s coffers if recent news that Coinbase plans to list XRP on its exchange becomes reality…. that’s not a virtual one by the way!

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American Express Praises Ripple for Cross Border Payments

american express

According to a top American Express representative, Ripple has the potential to revolutionize cross-border transactions globally.

Speaking in Madrid recently at the Wings of Change Europe conference, Carlos Carriedo, the credit card giant’s general manager of corporate payments indicated this was one reason that blockchain integration was high on the company’s agenda for change.

Clearly, Ripple’s XRP has caught the eye as the preferred blockchain route for the company moving forward, if Carriedo’s views are a clear representation of the Amercian Express’ programme for future development of financial services around the globe. He explained why his company was looking at Ripple becoming a significant blockchain partner in the future:

“Blockchain is absolutely an option we’re looking at. Just to give you a sense, we have invested in a fintech lab based on blockchain technology, just to understand how to leverage this better…We did a test, partnering with Santander locally, and with Ripple to just do cross-border transactions…And in a matter of seconds, through this test, our clients were able to transfer funds in a very transparent and seamless way, from one part of the world to the other one.”

Ripple itself has just joined three other partners to form a European blockchain called “Blockchain for Europe” in order to bring together what it describes as “fragmented” voices in Europe into a “more unified whole” in matters of the blockchain. Such moves are sure to offer confidence to intuitional players such as American Express, in the fact that Ripple is becoming a far more representative voice for the blockchain industry as a whole, despite its Bitcoin purist detractors.

Ripple is spreading its global network. And by working with American Express, collaborating with Santander to reduce the current inefficiencies of cross-border payments it has heightened its global profile. Also, significantly Ripple has gained approval to operate in China, opening up other opportunities in the region.  By using Ripple, Santander has stated that it wants to fundamentally change cross-border payments universally by establishing a strong alliance between the two companies. AM’s Carriedo again, speaking of the future of payments:

“There is more to come. There’s still a lot of things that need to get addressed with blockchain as a technology. But it’s very promising…The future is definitely digital. Digital is the way payments will continue to be across both the consumer part of the business the commercial part of the business”.

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SEC Slams CoinAlpha With $50,000 Fine

SEC Slams CoinAlpha With ,000

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has carried out another ICO related sanction, this time against CoinAlpha Advisors LLC, issuing a cease and desist order with an additional fine of USD 50,000 according to a filing published yesterday.

Established in July 2017, CoinAlpha Advisors LLC is a Fund manager registered with the Delaware authorities operating from California. The operators of the business were tasked with the management of the funds of CoinAlpha Falcon LP, a subsidiary of the former which was established later that year.

CoinAlpha’s intention was to raise funds and invest in digital assets on behalf of its investors and share the dividends among shareholders.

The commission’s concern was that unregistered securities were sold in exchange for partnership interests in the activities of the Fund. Apparently, CoinAlpha had never been registered with the Commission in any capacity. The filing reads that “approximately USD 600,000 from 22 investors, residing in at least five U.S. states had been raised within the period of October 2017 and May 2018.

The filing further reveals that the Fund had filed a “Form D Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities with the Commission on November 3, 2017”. However, this was done without “a registration statement with the Commission, and no exemption from registration was available for the securities offering during the Relevant Period,” thereby violating the securities law act preventing unregistered securities to be sold to US citizens.

Although, upon contact by the staff of the SEC, CoinAlpha stopped the offering and refunded investors of the funds including fees it had already collected.

CoinAlpha Advisors filed a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities with the SEC on Nov. 3, 2017. However, the company was not registered with the SEC; therefore, CoinAlpha Advisors violated the securities law that “prohibits the sale of securities through interstate commerce or the mails unless a registration statement is in effect.”

CoinAlpha has been ordered to pay a “civil money penalty of USD 50,000” to the commission within 10 days.

The SEC continues to hold a tight grip on offenders of the securities act with regards to unregistered crypto-related securities offering, despite working to provide simplified crypto guidelines. This past fiscal year alone, reports reveal that more than 12 ICOs were shut down as a result of the crackdown activities of the commission, with more than USD 3.945 billion have be collected in fines and penalties.

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New Mastercard Patent Claims Crypto Transaction Anonymity

New Mastercard Patent Claims Crypto Transaction Anonymity

A patent application published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office shows that US credit card giant Mastercard claims that it has now found a way of keeping cryptocurrency transactions anonymous.

The patent claims that Mastercard’s system can mask both the point of origin and the number of transactions on the blockchain by using an intermediate address which will interact with the public key.

Once the transaction is stored, a whole new transaction and a digital signature are generated using a private key. The data, which includes the destination address and payment total, is then forwarded instead of the original. This method, according to Mastercard’s patent application, “would result in showing the user only transferring funds to and receiving funds from a small number of addresses that are also involved in a significantly large volume of transactions with various other users, thereby rendering the data innocuous.”

Mastercard has admitted that, despite its earlier condemnation of Bitcoin and past criticism of cryptocurrency’s viability as a payment system, the blockchain is increasingly being employed by users “flocking to various digital currencies”. Mastercard has clearly seen a developing market for supporting users who use cryptocurrency “for the anonymity that blockchain transactions can provide”. It adds:

“…it is often extremely difficult to identify the user behind a blockchain address, meaning that an individual can transfer or receive funds utilizing a blockchain while keeping a high level of anonymity.”

But it goes on to note that most blockchain ledgers are not anonymous and that currently transactions can be identified by using public data.

“For instance, such data may, as it is accumulated and analyzed, eventually reveal the user behind a wallet or at least provide information about them… However, the existing communications and attribution structure of blockchain technology such as Bitcoin require identification of where the transactions are emanating and terminating, in order to maintain the ledger.”

Until now, privacy coins like Monero and Zcash have incorporated features to hide their users’ transaction information, but not without gaining attention from the US Department of Homeland Security, which is continually developing new ways on keeping tabs on cryptocurrency transactions in its fight against money laundering.

This new patent offering ID anonymity is one that may not be welcomed by government law enforcement agencies but might encourage crypto users towards Mastercard; clearly the aim of the patent.

 

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Breaking: Coinbase One Step Closer to Listing Ripple

Breaking: Coinbase One Step Closer to Listing Ripple

It’s been a long wait with plenty of speculation but exchange giant Coinbase has finally bitten the bullet and announced on its blog today that it will add support for Ripple on its exchange after it gets final approval.

The news was revealed today along with an announcement that a package of some 30 crypto assets is likely to be added to its current discrete selection of cryptocurrencies, along with Cardano (ADA), NEO, and Tezos (XTZ).  The post is most likely a response to customers continued complaints that no support has existed for the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.

One thing that Coinbase has clarified is that not all of the names on its new hit list of favorable currencies will necessarily be listed, but it’s a positive step further for patient Ripple investors who have had to seek out other exchanges in order to carry out transactions, clearly losing Ripple significant business over time.

The following are among the Coinbase list of possible listings:

Cardano (ADA), Aeternity (AE), Aragon (ANT), Bread Wallet (BRD), Civic (CVC), Dai (DAI), district0x (DNT), EnjinCoin (ENJ), EOS (EOS), Golem Network (GNT), IOST (IOST), Kin (KIN), Kyber Network (KNC), ChainLink (LINK), Loom Network (LOOM), Loopring (LRC), Decentraland (MANA), Mainframe (MFT), Maker (MKR), NEO (NEO), OmiseGo (OMG), Po.et (POE), QuarkChain (QKC), Augur (REP), Request Network (REQ), Status (SNT), Storj (STORJ), Stellar (XLM), XRP (XRP), Tezos (XTZ), and Zilliqa (ZIL).

Coinbase’s post stated today:

“Adding new assets requires significant exploratory work from both a technical and compliance standpoint, and we cannot guarantee that all the assets we are evaluating will ultimately be listed for trading. Furthermore, our listing process may result in some of these assets being listed solely for customers to buy and sell, without the ability to send or receive using a local wallet.”

In January when its last concrete announcement regarding Ripple was made  that the then third top listed cryptocurrency wouldn’t be listed on its exchange, Ripple’s token, XRP, proceeded to lose roughly a third of its value.

It remains to see what impact a final stamp of approval will have on Ripple’s current fortunes.

 

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Researchers Develop Algorithm to Predict Pump and Dump Schemes

Researchers Develop Algorithm to Predict Pump and Dump Schemes

Researchers from Imperial College London have developed an algorithm which they say can be used to predict cryptocurrency “pump and dump” schemes, something that allegedly contributes to USD 7 million worth of trading every month.

Pump and dump is a form of insider trading that has become increasingly commonplace since the rise of tokens in the cryptocurrency industry. It begins with an organizer accumulating a large amount of an obscure token in private, before announcing it to a closed group which then begin purchasing it also in large amounts, spiking the value.

Within minutes the selloff begins, with participants making an easy profit off those slow to the game and unaware of what was really going on.

While pump and dump schemes are present in conventional commodities trading, it is tightly regulated and participants can find themselves is significant trouble with the law. The issue in the cryptocurrency market is that there is no central authority to crack down on those responsible, hence these types of activity continue to take place, usually organized on private channels such as Telegram.

Jiahua Xu and Benjamin Livshits from Imperial College London have used machine learning to give investors a way to spot the schemes themselves, with some mathematical legwork.

Looking at 236 pump and dump cases, the researchers noted that the targeted cryptocurrency was nearly always preceded by unusual buying activity as the organizer accumulated a store prior to the pump. “The study reveals that pump-and-dump organizers can easily use their insider information to take extra gain at the sacrifice of fellow pumpers,” they explained.

These schemes can be avoided by identifying unusual buying patterns in obscure coins, Xu and Livshits identified, backing up their theory by training a machine learning algorithm with historical pump and dump data.

This is not a final solution, however, as organizers of these scams may change the patterns of their behavior to avoid detection by the algorithm.

 

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Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia Get First Blockchain Center as Perth Goes Crypto Crazy

Western Australia is having to reinvent itself after being the hub of Australia’s massive gold mining industry for years, and blockchain and cryptocurrency are beckoning.

Mining in Western Australia, together with the petroleum industry in the state, accounted for 92% of the State’s and 41% of Australia’s income from total merchandise exports in 2015-16. The state hosted 111 principal mining projects and hundreds of smaller quarries and mines.

Over the past few years mining has taken a hit, but this is nothing new to West Australians who have lived in a boom-bust economy for years. Experts say it is on the brink of another mining boom with new projects and tens of thousands of jobs to be created in the next year. FMG, Rio Tinto and BHP are set to invest billions of dollars to recruiters struggling already to keep up with demand for workers.

New game in town

The state’s capital, Perth, on the banks of the meandering Swan River, has been both the beneficiary and the victim of the state’s boom-bust economic roller coaster, most recently affected by China’s own economy and its need for minerals. A new game in town which local business has taken to is the city’s Blockchain Center, a project created in order to push new technologies such as blockchain into business and public consciousnesses. Investors in Perth have been moving away from the state’s backbone traditional investments such as real estate and mining over the past 18 months towards developing technologies.

Australia itself is becoming a blockchain and cryptocurrency trendsetter, with the newly-elected government showing a great interest in leveraging blockchain into government department systems in a number of sectors. Crypto towns have appeared, and in some areas travelling without a Bitcoin payment facility could cause problems for the keen traveller as locals try to create bitcoin communities to boost tourism.

Perth Blockchain Center will allow startups to share resources and ideas with like-minded business personnel and entrepreneurs. Sam Lee is the brains behind the venture, which he hopes will encourage business to stay in the city by offering every resource that a blockchain startup might need. He points out:

“Whether it’s a retail investor or a developer interested in implementing the technology, a blockchain center as the knowledge hub has the access required to upskill the local ecosystem to ensure better outcomes through higher quality projects.”

Lee maintains that a problem for new startups in this field is frequently that such companies are unable to access capital, often driving them overseas for a more supportive business environment. The center plans to change this situation, encouraging these young start-ups to stay in town through its knowledgeable local support.

Also in Western Australia’s capital, Perth Mint announced earlier this year that it had plans to win back investors who lost funds at the end of 2017 by creating the Mint’s own cryptocurrency backed by gold. Perth Mint is Australia’s largest exporter of gold, with about USD 18 billion in revenue from exported metals. Richard Hayes, Director of the Perth Mint commented:

“…you see this massive influx of capital and funds into Bitcoin and its derivatives because people are looking for something other than traditional forms of investment… [our own crypto] would have all the beneficial aspects of a distributed networks, namely very fast transactions which will facilitate trade. However, it will be backed and supported by precious metals. So, there is a non-virtual aspect of it that will ensure its value.”

 

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