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World Bank and Commonwealth Bank Team up with Blockchain

The World Bank and The Commonwealth Bank of Australia have combined to create an Ethereum-based Australian dollar blockchain bond.

The bond project has a target of between USD 50 million and USD 100 million for sustainability projects. The World Bank issues between USD 5060 billion a year for project funding around the world.

With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries.

The World bank has three priorities in working with countries to end poverty and boost prosperity for the poorest people. It helps to create sustainable economic growth, the surest path out of poverty. It also invests in people, through access to health care, education, water and sanitation, and energy, building resilience to shocks and threats that can roll back decades of progress.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) is one of the country’s big four banks and has been chosen to be responsible for the new blockchain bond after consulting with investors. Microsoft had carried out an independent review of the CBA’s blockchain platform which will run on the MS Azure cloud platform.

The World Bank sees blockchain as the ability to streamline its necessary processes simplifying the raising of funds and operational conditions. The banking giant issued its first global bond as far back as 1989 and the first electronic bond in 2000.

As for selecting both the CBA and Ethereum for the project, World Bank treasurer Arunma Oteh said that it had worked with the Australian bank for a year before it could launch the project. Ethereum was top of its list as it had “the largest and most active development community globally”.

The CBA has recently been very active in using blockchain for a number of its recent projects including a shipping project reported by Bitcoin News recently. The bank shipped 17 tons of almonds from Sunraysia to Hamburg, Germany using a newly-developed blockchain platform. The trial demonstrated the usefulness of blockchain technology in international supply chains by tracking the almonds every step of the way from packing in Australia to delivery in Germany.

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Malta Makes Huge ICO Funding Gains as Crypto Investment Funds Rise in 2018

New crypto funds are continuing to open despite a falling market and apprehension over ETF decisions, according to the latest analysis from Crypto Fund Research.

With things seeming to go well for crypto funds, collectively amassing $7.1 billion, they still lag behind traditional hedge funds, with most of the institutional investment managers playing a wait and see scenario. Cryptocurrencies’ next big hurdle, now that digital currencies are very much out there in the financial sector, is to start encouraging institutional investment on a larger scale.

It is thought that 2018 will see more crypto hedge funds arrive on the scene, which is on target to reach 165, nine more than in 2017. Statistics show that until July 31 of this year, there were 96 new crypto hedge funds and venture capital funds with more than half of those existing today being launched in the past 18 months.

There are currently 466 crypto funds across the globe with San Francisco, New York, Singapore and London topping the list for 2018 launches. In addition, Austin, Dallas, Hong Kong, Philadelphia, San Diego, Tokyo, and Zug are not far behind in terms of multiple launches of crypto hedge funds and capital ventures since January this year.

In terms of ICOs, launches have also accelerated this year to date, also seemingly undeterred by a bear market. However, 50 percent of all projects in 2018 have failed to raise more than £100,000. This low figure was put down to investors concerns about scams

Service tokens accounted for 42 percent of new ICOs, but utility tokens attracted the most funding at $22 million per project, followed by crypto tokens at an average of $7 million.

Another hurdle for new ICOs remains that problem of getting projects listed on exchanges, which has become an increasingly lengthy process. The number of projects that managed to get listed in the shortest possible time fell by 22 percent this year, due in part to tougher exchange requirements and new regulatory demands.

In overall terms, 2018 has been 10 times better than the previous year for ICOs, according to a market status report published by ETF on August 8, with more money being raised and more ICOs being launched in the second quarter of the year.

A notable fact coming out of the report is that small nations are winning in terms of making the largest gains, with Malta, Gibraltar, and Singapore coming out on top. Malta raised an average of £119 million, almost twice the funds raised by second on the list Gibraltar. Other statistics show that although it is clearly European nations that are making the largest gains in terms of overall fundraising, North America is still the crypto giant at $4.98 billion with 116 projects, a huge 65 percent of all the funding raised. Europe came in second at $1.12 billion, with Asia coming in third with $751 million.

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tZero to Receive Largest Recorded Investment for Blockchain Startup

Chinese private equity firm GSR Capital has confirmed it signed a letter of intent to invest USD 270 million in blockchain startup up tZero, making it the largest recorded investment to such a company, according to Forbes.

Atypical investment structure

The USD 270 million investment came with an 18% stake in tZero, a platform for trading blockchain-issued securities, with GSR confirming it will spend another USD 104.55 million for approximately 10% of the platform’s parent company Overstock’s shares. Additionally, the private equity firm has pledged another USD 30 million in tZero’s initial coin offering (ICO).

This funding would bring the aggregate investment past USD 404 million, pushing tZero’s company valuation to USD 1.5 billion, surpassing its parent Overstock.com (USD 1.07 billion) despite the flagship product not even having been launched yet.

Independent letters of intent were configured and signed by all parties to secure the deal.

Sonny Wu, GSR Capital’s chairman and founder, told Forbes that his company has a long-term view on scaling the platform globally. This investment is GSR Capital’s first public blockchain venture, with its previous history focused on electric vehicles and clean energy.

tZero executive chairman and CEO of Overstock.com, Patrick Byrne, said that the money would be used to open more tokenized securities exchanges internationally for uses such as his SEC-licensed US platform. He envisions tZero’s token to be listed on each of these exchanges.

Byrne noted that raising capital from the businesses home in the US was proving challenging, hence they had to look further abroad. He told Forbes, “US capital is, to be honest, they’re gun shy on this whole blockchain issue… I’m sorry to say the US is not the leading country in the world.”

Hitting into US economics harder, Byrne said that he started the venture to undo what he called the ”original sin” of Wall Street – separating the trade of a stock and its settlement. tZero’s tokenized securities are designed to enable real-time, transparent lending of securities.

Such sentiments have led Byrne to be called the ”scourge of Wall Street” by those whose practices he criticizes, but this does not trouble him. Instead, he believes that the significant investments to tZero show that the tides are turning on traditional Wall Street practices.

 

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Australian Cricket Ex-Captain Michael Clarke “Given Out” by Tweeters After ICO Endorsement

Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke has put his name behind an ICO, causing a stir in the Twitter community.

Clarke has endorsed Brisbane-based crypto exchange Global Tech, who is looking to raise up to AUD 50 million (USD 36 million) in its upcoming ICO. Global Tech, which was founded a little over a year ago by Andrew Mclean and Marlon Donaire, describes itself as a platform which:

“…combines premium education, important industry updates and a social platform, which is sure to revolutionize the way we invest and live. Our mission is to develop, advance and modernize the industry, making it more accessible, transparent and forward-thinking.”

Exciting times ahead 👌🏻👍🏻https://t.co/kFey7jqCLF pic.twitter.com/iTW3NX28S0

— Michael Clarke (@MClarke23) August 8, 2018

Australian cricket is very much under the microscope at the moment, so it is unsurprising that the announcement that Clarke was involved with the ICO launched the usual negative Tweeting. The comments were spurred on by the recent ball-tampering scandal which involved yet another ex-captain of the national cricket team, Steve Smith, after sandpapering a ball in a test match in South Africa this year.

One such detractor was Bronte Capital founder John Hempton (also known to some for his appearance in an episode of the Netflix series Dirty Money). Hempton commented that Clarke was “squandering his reputation on an initial coin offering” adding:

“Whether Michael Clarke is breaking Australian law regarding advertising investments with this Tweet I will leave for ASIC and their lawyers to decide.”

ffs, ex Australian cricket captain in an ICO.

Suggest Mr Clarke you just buy sandpaper.

It will do less damage to your reputation… https://t.co/lyoHNxm1aS

— John_Hempton (@John_Hempton) August 8, 2018

The Global Tech founders admit that the sector does include scams and illegitimate companies but wants to address this issue with its own ICO arguing that there are still many “fantastic blockchain and cryptocurrency companies” in the industry. The company declares that:

“Andrew and Marlon propose to bring legitimacy back to the industry with a community and education-based trading and exchange platform. With their revolutionary vision and entrepreneurial ethos, they spent months tracking down the right people to create the perfect team, and make their vision a reality.”

Business crowdfunding has been an issue this year in Australia’s burgeoning crypto community. The corporate regulator, ASIC, has introduced measures to protect investors, along with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, sending some ICO plans back to the drawing board.

 

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UTRUST Just Made Charitable Donations a Whole Lot Easier as Crypto Flows to Charity

Blockchain-based payment platform, UTRUST and AidCoin will combine forces to enable charitable donations across the world in 23 different cryptocurrencies.

The project is being launched to simplify donations in multiple countries via the UTRUST interface. The new system is set to replace methods whereby a donor transferred and then converted funds into AidCoin tokens or through a donate button allowing donors to transfer UTK from their UTRUST wallet to the AIDChain wallets of various charities.

The new donation system called AIDPay is a widget which allows the donor to use any one of 23 supported cryptocurrencies to pay charities registered with AIDChain online using a fully trackable system including how the money is dispersed and what on.

There’s been a significant rise in the number of charities supported by cryptocurrency donations in the recent years. Some of these include Electronic Frontier Foundation, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, WikiLeaks, Antiwar.com, Watsi, Water Project, Code to Inspire, BitGive and Epic Change.

In such a scenario, not even a single day passes without the release of another crypto-aid project or a way to make donations and fund utilization more transparent so that NGOs and private charities are more accountable.

Brian Armstrong, the CEO of digital currency service Coinbase, recently announce the launch of a project to help the homeless and other people out of poverty with a personal USD 1 million donation.  GiveCrypto is a global enterprise which will make cryptocurrency donations to worthy recipients, who will then be able to make personal choices in whether to keep their cryptocurrency donations or exchange them for fiat.

Madonna with her Raising Malawi project has built 14 schools in rural Malawi and in partnership with buildOn have educated community members about the importance of girls’ education in that country. Ripple too, was quick to support her project with a dollar for dollar match of donated funds.

Even English Heritage, a UK charity that provides the country with access to over 400 historical sites, buildings, monuments and places, has found a way of making the technology behind Bitcoin play its part in supporting that country’s historical heritage by partnering with charity platform Giftcoin.

UTRUST’s move is another link in the chain allowing cryptocurrency funds to continue flowing towards needy causes — a forgotten fact by dissenters who happily feed the FUD in these volatile times.

Francesco Nazari Fusetti, CEO and Founder of AidCoin commented:

“We’re excited to introduce an opportunity for crypto-holders to donate cryptocurrency straight from their Utrust wallets seamlessly, or when making a payment…This is, of course, a well-established practice in conventional banking and payments solutions, and yet until now, has been an unprecedented case in the crypto world.”

 

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First Crypto Company Listed on the London Stock Exchange is Now Active

Crypto mining firm, UK-based Argo Mining — first cryptocurrency company to be listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) is now active.

Argo, which provides “accessible” crypto mining via a subscription service has raised £25 million (about $32.5 million) through an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the LSE, exceeding its fundraising target by £5 million (about $6.5 million).

Company documents have stated that the newcomer began its life on the LSE with roughly 156 million shares priced at 16p, bringing Argo’s evaluation to £47 million pounds (about $61.2 million). Its website offers three packages covering three levels of mining power provisions, which has all been sold out. The company supports BTG, ETH, ZEC, and ETC.

London-headquartered firm Argo works on a subscription-based model, with its cryptocurrency mining operations based in Quebec, Canada, active since last year. This has become a popular location for mining farms due to optimal climate and energy cost conditions. Argo has plans to expand operations to Iceland and China, both of which benefit from cheap electricity costs and a cold climate.

Executive Chairman Jonathan Bixby stated that:

“Argo’s admission to the London main market is a major step in the company’s development and will put us in a strong position to execute our long-term growth strategy” adding, “We are delighted with the strong response from investors which will enable us to grow our business in multiple jurisdictions.”

Bixby suggests that he would like to see the company become the “the Amazon Web Services of crypto.” Argo had released its crypto mining subscription service in June after gaining the necessary approval to list on the stock exchange in May.

The Chairman referred to the fact that industrial-scale elites have 90% of the crypto mining sector covered due to its technical requirements, adding “It is incredibly expensive to buy, up front, the hardware you need at $5,000 a machine.”

Bitcoin News reported yesterday that Canaan Creative applied for an IPO earlier this year in Hong Kong with the hope of raining in a significant starter fund. At present, Canaan needs to keep one eye on its competitor Bitmain which at present has a huge 70% of the global Bitcoin mining device market.

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NGO in Tanzania Registers First Babies on Blockchain

A Dutch-based NGO working in Africa has teamed up with AID:Tech on a women’s aid project in Tanzania by using blockchain tech to assist pregnant women.

AID:Tech is an award-winning company that focuses on the delivery of digital entitlements, including welfare, aid, remittance and donations using blockchain and digital identity. The company was the first in the world to successfully deliver international aid to Syrian Refugees in Lebanon using blockchain technology, according to Wikipedia. The Dutch NGO, PharmAccess, works on projects in Africa and uses blockchain to make aid delivery more efficient.

The AID:Tech platform describes itself as a company which offers digital identity, represented by a blockchain wallet address. Each identity profile is unique and documents every transaction associated with it. Each digital identity can also be used to receive, send and hold digital entitlements. Each profile is both an identity solution and a built-in tool for managing social and financial entitlements.

The Tanzanian project’s main focus is not simply targeted at pregnant mothers, as it also ensures that beneficiaries receive supplies and services including pharmaceutical necessities. The blockchain program being used by the team ensures that individual women can be tracked for receipt of benefits, vitamins, doctor appointments and medication through AID:Tech’s digital ID system. This ensures that funds arrive at the nominated source correctly and that post-natal treatment is being properly delivered.

Postnatal treatment is clearly not the only thing that the program can deliver, as this month, using the new digital system, the births of three babies were recorded on the blockchain, reportedly the technology’s first of its kind.

Charities are currently receiving poor press because of recent developments, particularly reporting that sexual predators are working for international aid organizations where they can abuse children, young girls and women from vulnerable communities. Little appears to be done despite reassurances from the UN that charities such as Oxfam and Save the Children will take immediate action.

Another problem has been aid actually reaching its designated beneficiaries or donations being carelessly monitored and utilized. CEO of AID:Tech Joseph Thompson was reportedly inspired to launch this latest fundraiser due to a charity in the past losing his donation, which ended up not reaching those it was targeted for. A more successful project in 2015 saw it successfully deliver 500 food vouchers to a Lebanese camp for Syrian Refugees.

Such programs can go a long way to restoring much of the trust that has been lost in charitable organizations over recent years, also reminding the public that new technologies will be the key to making NGOs and private charity activities far more transparent and trustworthy.

 

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Ripple Matches Madonna’s Malawi Fundraiser Dollar for Dollar

Singer Madonna is to launch an online fundraiser with Ripple to raise funds for her Raising Malawi Foundation.

Born Madonna Louise Ciccone, the singer is better known simply as Madonna, songwriter, actress, and businesswoman. Referred to as the “Queen of Pop” since the 1980s, she has gone on to become a star of both stage and film as well as numerous pop videos.

In 2012, Madonna launched a partnership between Raising Malawi and the global nonprofit buildOn. In July 2018, she traveled to Northeast Kasungu Province to officially open the four newest primary schools. In total, Raising Malawi has built 14 schools in rural Malawi, according to her fundraising website. As a part of the partnership, Raising Malawi and buildOn have educated community members about the importance of girls’ education, and as result, all schools have gender parity.

She has timed the fundraiser to coincide with her 60th birthday and says that Ripple will match every dollar donated to her website. The program will run until the end of August. Madonna announced the fundraiser on her site:

“I want to come together with my friends, fans and supporters to change the lives of Malawian children and let them know they are nurtured, protected and loved. Through their generous commitment to this organization, Ripple will match each dollar donated to this campaign.”

Ripple CEO David Schwartz confirmed the crypto company’s fundraiser matching commitment later on Twitter.

“From July 30 through August 31, @Ripple will match all public donations in support of the cause …” https://t.co/LEkzcIaux2

— David Schwartz (@JoelKatz) July 30, 2018

Facebook is also involved in the fundraiser for Madonna’s Malawi children through its “charitable giving tools” which charges no fees with 100% going directly to the charity. On Facebook, Madonna stated:

“I have an unwavering commitment to providing vulnerable children with a loving home. For my birthday, I can think of no better gift than connecting my global family with this beautiful country and the children who need our help most. Every dollar raised will go directly to meals, schools, uniforms and healthcare.”

 

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South Carolina Startups Get Green Light After Operation “Cryptosweep”

The Office of the Attorney General of South Carolina has given the go-ahead for two startups to resume business in the southern US state.

The Securities Division has removed cease-and-desist orders previously served against ShipChain and Genesis Mining for being accused of being in violation of state law as part of “Operation Cryptosweep” launched by the North American Securities Administrators Association earlier this year, as reported by Bitcoin News. The Statement by the Attorney General’s Office stated at the time:

“It is in the public interest, for the protection of investors, and consistent with the purposes of the Act that Respondent be ordered to cease and desist from engaging in the above-enumerated practices, which constitute violations of the Act, and pay an appropriate civil penalty for its wrongdoing.”

Shipping platform ShipChain refuted the accusation that its token sale wasn’t conducted in compliance with securities laws and that it was “not aware” that SHIP tokens were even offered to South Carolina residents as the sale was conducted out of state before being registered there.

The company launched in 2017 in California, reportedly raised USD 30 million in a private token sale in January. It was set up to deal with logistic issues which currently blight the industry to the tune of USD 50 billion annually on lost or stolen cargo.

The other company, Genesis Mining had been accused by the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office Securities Division of selling unlicensed securities and although the order to cease and desist has been dropped, no further details were given. The Icelandic company, founded in 2013, is the largest crypto mining consumer of power in Iceland and one of the largest companies offering Bitcoin mining services.

US States continue to legislate for cryptocurrency and blockchain activity in order to regulate for a rapidly growing fintech impact as more companies choose to do business in the country.

Nebraska, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Vermont, along with Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, and North Dakota are some of the many US states notably either in the process of presenting bills, enacting legislation or actively utilizing blockchain in state legislation.

 

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The United Nations’ Secretary-General Has Blockchain Firmly on the Agenda

The United Nations has put together a panel of 20 experts in order to investigate how blockchain can impact global economics.

The panel was initiated by The United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres. The group which comprises of 20 figures from major sectors including industry and academia will examine digital technologies in general with a particular focus on blockchain technology.

Executive Director and co-chair of the UN secretariat Ambassador Amandeep Gill, commented the new body, called the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation:

“You cannot look at ‘web 3.0’ without looking at blockchain or without looking at AI (Artificial Intelligence) […] our hope is that through discussion of these various digital domains […] in terms of human rights, in terms of privacy, in terms of subversion of democracy, we are able to come out with some common principles…of strengthening cooperation across borders.”

It was also revealed that Melinda Gates, founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Jack Ma were invited to co-chair the new panel. It is thought that Ma was selected due to his work with blockchain, including his raising of $14 billion for development projects.

Secretary Guterres has said that digital technologies are affecting society at an “unprecedented scale” with Ma conceding that “that the impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination.”

The UN itself has been implementing humanitarian programs using blockchain for a number of years but admits it can do far more. There are currently 25.4 million refugees in the world and some 3.1 million asylum seekers around the world, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.

Blockchain solutions are in place in many poorer countries working to improve the lives of individuals at community and national levels, but it is noticeable that the worldwide refugee crisis hasn’t as yet been significantly impacted by new technology.

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