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2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Hits Out at BitLicense

2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Hits Out at BitLicense

Pro-Bitcoin Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang is calling for more clarity in regulating cryptocurrencies slamming BitLicence as “onerous”.

BitLicence, the business license of virtual currency activities issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services, has again come under fire in the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate’s latest comments.

Yang is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder of Venture for America. He worked in startups and early-stage growth companies as a founder or executive from 2000 to 2009. He is one of the few presidential candidates in history to accept crypto donations.

One of the concerning factors of BitLicence that many exchanges cite is its dictatorial approach to regulating the market, even to the extent of instructing exchanges exactly which cryptocurrencies they are permitted to trade. When the BitLicense was first enacted at least ten major cryptocurrency companies shuttered their doors to New York customers, and some people have called this the Great Bitcoin Exodus. Ripple gained their license in 2016 and Coinbase in 2017.

Yang is pushing for much clearer regulation, a well-trodden path by many industry players, arguing that has the US will fall behind due to conflicting regulation measures and such introductions as the Token Taxonomy Act, pointing to Wyoming as a beacon of sensible legislation regarding cryptocurrency. He said:

“It’s time for the federal government to create clear guidelines as to how cryptocurrencies/digital asset markets will be treated and regulated so that investment can proceed with all relevant information.”

Wyoming continues to build legislative bridges between the cryptocurrency system, its underlying blockchain technology, and legacy financial laws of the state. Efforts so far have been channeled towards innovation and improved economic activities of digital assets. Its most recent bill aims to identify and classify digital assets into three categories: digital consumer assets, digital securities, and virtual currency.

The bill mentioned that virtual currency is “intangible personal property and shall be considered money”.

 

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Forbes “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies” List Released

Forbes “Blockchain’s Billion Dollar Babies,” List Released

Forbes has released its high flyer list of blockchain users which indicates which of these companies has valuations or revenues of USD 1 billion.

The usual high flyers are as expected including Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, ING, Mastercard, Microsoft, and Nestle, with crypto-companies such as Coinbase, Ripple, and Bitfury putting in a show.

Interestingly Forbes goes a bit further on the blockchain front by flagging the use of blockchain in the non-crypto domain. The list points to where the action is and who the players are when it comes to blockchain protocols, with a nod to companies such as the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC) which records a mammoth 90 million transactions daily.

Firms using R3’s Corda protocol and the Ethereum network are also listed on Forbes’ breakdown, and blockchain based solutions utilized across many different sectors including food companies, supply chain management firms and others including banking. R3 itself leads a consortium of more than 200 financial institutions in research and development of DLT usage in the financial system and other commercial sectors.

Corda was designed for dealing with complex transactions and security and is expected to have many of the benefits of the blockchain. A new version of Corda was released earlier this year aimed specifically at businesses, called Corda Enterprise, it includes a blockchain applications firewall.

It was unsurprising to see Walmart on the list. The US retail giant has applied for numerous blockchain patents and has become a leader in applying new technology to the supply chain sector. Both Walmart and IBM have been at the forefront of DLT supply chains since its conception and both companies are eager to promote the use of the new technology in sectors including business and commerce.

 

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World Bank Says DLT Can Drive Cross-Border Payments

World Bank Says DLT Can Drive Cross-Border Payments

A senior financial specialist at the World Bank has released a paper which claims that distributed ledger technology could help bring down remittance costs and improve cross-border payments compliance.

The World bank blog also states the “industry is ripe for disruption“, citing DLT as being well positioned to make its mark. The post was written by World Bank senior financial sector specialist Marco Nicoli along with Rodrigo Mejia-Ricart, research and public policy analyst at the United Nations and Camilo Tellez, head of research and innovation at the Better than Cash Alliance. The post criticizes current traditional B2B cross-border payments as being too slow and points out the faults quite succinctly:

“Moving funds through the current corridors requires transferal through the relevant domestic payment systems, which often have different operating hours and are located in different time zones… For certain corridors, the funds must be routed through several banks and intermediaries before they reach their destination, leading to higher fees and slower payment settlement.”

There is a multitude of options operating within the payment space, making it hard for DLT to find a position which users trust, tied for years to traditional systems, and dependent on them despite their pitfalls. The paper suggests that cost, one major burden for users of current payment systems, could be reduced if existing companies followed models such as Ripple, Circle, Swift, Visa, and JPMorgan, who are all active within the space, and currently bringing new innovations to the cross-border payment sector.

One major area of concern which was seen as a hurdle to the take up of DLT in this sector was a general distrust of such solutions due to industry concerns and misunderstanding regarding the nature of cryptocurrency, borne from the same technology.

Other concerns were raised on the subject of bringing DLT into direct competition with established CBP systems such as security, governance rules for protocols, recourse mechanisms for users, privacy, and scalability.

 

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Two South Korean Unis to Create Blockchain Campus

Two South Korean Unis to Create Blockchain Campus

South Korea has never shied away from demonstrating its pro-cryptocurrency stance, and the latest industry project in the Asian powerhouse now sees two universities combining to create a blockchain campus.

The two institutions, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) and Yonsei University, have plans to test out a combined campus later this which will also involve students from both universities.

The crypto space in South Korea is booming and has become world’s third-largest crypto market, but this is mainly company driven, as South Korean legislators have largely been reticent towards any kind of progressive moment in the industry. Cryptocurrency activity is mainly unregulated as the central bank and financial regulators refuse to recognize it as a currency or financial product.

However, moves such as this demonstrate South Korean educators’ drive towards forging ahead and simply letting the government catch up with legislation. The campus blockchain-based system is scheduled to aid blockchain research through the opening of a center, organizing curriculums, and establishing a connection with entrepreneurial programs.

Another by-product of the project run by POSTECH will be to create Engram, a blockchain-based group intelligence knowledge sharing system and also a voting survey system called Voting for students. A reward system will be introduced through a cryptocurrency called Neurons which can be used at university cafeterias.

The voting system will enable immutable recording of student history and student life and the new blockchain system will enable more effective student card and certificate issuance, and donation management. POSTECH president Kim Doh-yeon was clearly encouraged by the universities’ amalgamation to create a new campus devoted to blockchain research and development:

“The blockchain technology has innovative and destructive power to create a new concept industry. It is meaningful that POSTECH and Yonsei University jointly design the future of core technology and establish educational and research foundations for future talent to prepare for the technology.”

Last year, Ripple made a donation of over USD 50 million to universities as part of a project which promotes and disseminates blockchain and cryptocurrency across the globe. There are 17 universities currently beneficiaries to Ripple’s program. Korea University, another South Korean educational institution, was the only East Asian university on the list.

 

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Out of the Shadows: New Weiss Ratings Shine New Light on Crypto

Out of the Shadows: New Weiss Ratings Shine New Light on Crypto

The latest Weiss report on cryptocurrency is out with some favorable statistics, particularly for Bitcoin and Ethereum rival EOS, with the latter taking a 20% boost over 24 hours.

The Weiss Report which helps guide consumers, individual investors, and business professionals toward the best investment, banking, and insurance options also pick out Ripple’s XRP as most likely to succeed this year.

Bitcoin received its much-needed A grade due to infrastructure improvements such as its Lightning Network, boosting it from Weiss’s previous C+, and EOS also picked up an A, according to how Weiss measures projects showing the best combination of both adoption and technology.

The new ratings auger well for the industry at a time when it seems that it is poised to finally break the shackles that have kept it in a bearhug for the past year. The report illustrates this, noting, “With cryptocurrencies down sharply in price, many observers seem to assume there’s been an industry-wide decline in usage and practical applications. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Many industry leaders and commentators have continued to get behind Bitcoin during this period, predicting its comeback, but this may not have been entirely necessary as it seems clear that Bitcoin hasn’t suffered a lapse in usage with transactions growing in number globally. Founder Martin D Weiss explained this in a press release:

“Despite lower prices since early 2018, our ratings model gives us hard evidence that a critical segment of the cryptocurrency industry has enjoyed remarkable growth in user transaction volume, network capacity, and network security. Equally important is our finding that these improvements are often powered by an evolution in the underlying technology.”

If ‘State of the Dapps’ statistics are accurate, another high flyer in the report, EOS is now seeing over 80,000 daily active users on its Dapps as opposed to Ethereum’s 19,000, which will clearly give Ethereum developers some cause for concern moving forward.

 

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What is Ripple?

What is Ripple ?

Ripple is a cryptocurrency as well as a platform for enabling cheap and fast financial transactions all over the globe. Its platform’s payment settlement technology has been adopted by banks and other payment networks.

It claims to be an open source platform and offers a more transactional, functional and decentralized peer-to-peer network compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum, although there have been many detractors, particularly to its claim of decentralization.

Ripple allows the exchange for any kind of value (with XRP as its underlying token) between two or more parties almost instantaneously. However, due to its validating servers and mechanism which requires an agreement between those validating servers, Ripple is often misunderstood as a blockchain-based system.

RippleNet

The participants of the Ripple network (RippleNet) are categorized into two different groups, namely, Network Users (corporates, small- and medium-scale enterprises, banks and payment providers) who direct payments and Network Members (banks, payment providers) who process payments. This is incorporated through xCurrent, xRapid and xVia.

How does Ripple work?

The consensus mechanism and the validating servers make people think that Ripple is a blockchain-based system, when in reality, it is not. Ripple uses a HashTree to encapsulate the data into a single value which is paralleled by the validating servers to provide consensus. Ripple does not rely on the computing of rigorous proof-of-work protocol like Bitcoin. It is not possible to mine XRP and the only persons who can generate XRP are the ones who actually created it — one of the centralized features of Ripple.

XRP

XRP is the underlying token of Ripple. Its mining is not possible due to the following reasons:

  • It is a regular currency controlled by the US Ripple company which has produced an official static figure of 100 billion units of which 39 billion units are in the market.
  • Investors in XRP are betting on the inclination of banks towards buying huge amounts of this currency in order to improvise their services, rather than selling them and providing them to their customers, as it doesn’t come to replace currencies.

Pros

Currently, customers face real hardships in making real-time, low-cost and fully traceable payments. This is mainly because the current payment system is a blend of centralized networks. Ripple seeks to break through these pain points, offering an efficient network of banks and payment providers to achieve the above said. Moreover, it allows making payments in any currency and has a very small internal transaction fee of $0.00001. It appears to suit enterprise usage which is its main focus. The network’s ability to transfer assets around the world and shift money between the various foreign currencies makes it stand out.

Cons

  • The biggest problem that hinders any cryptocurrency’s growth in general is its real-world utilization. The real victory for Ripple would be when banks will approve payments in XRP. This could be quite challenging for now as it requires a better infrastructure, technology, liquefaction against any mode of transaction and of course, more acceptance.
  • Previously, there were many lawsuits filed against Ripple Lab, the inventors, alleging them of manipulating the market. Although they won many of these lawsuits, claims persist that Ripple is not decentralized, thereby hindering its progress and acceptance.

The future of Ripple

Ripple has come a long way to make its position in the market. In a discussion with Modern Wall Street, legal practitioner Douglas Borthwick said:

“There are some cryptos that are working with regulators. Ripple would be an example. I can imagine in the next five years instead of doing sterling against the dollar or sterling against the yen, I can see these transfer transactions with sterling versus Ripple… I think Ripple has a great future because right now it is supported by all the banks and all the regulators.”

 

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Breach Leaves 450,000 Users of Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinmama Vulnerable

Breach Leaves 450,000 Users of Cryptocurrency Exchange Coinmama Vulnerable

A large scale hack affecting 30 companies and a breach of 841 million records inclusive of 450,000 records from cryptocurrency brokerage firm Coinmama were posted on a dark web registry, in a security report on its blog last Friday.

The hacker had reportedly published the hacked users’ data from the previous heist on the dark web’s marketplace and had eight of the recently hacked websites put up for sale at 2.6 bitcoins, or about USD 9,350. The perpetrator may be interested in selling the other data for Bitcoins as with other leaked data.

In the official statement released by the exchange, it said: “We believe the intrusion is limited to about 450,000 email addresses and hashed passwords of users who registered until 5 August 2017.” As at press time on Friday, the exchange said there had been no evidence of the data being used by the perpetrator.

Coinmama currently serves about 1.3 million users as a cryptocurrency brokerage firm that allows users to use their Credit or Master Card to purchase a range of 7 cryptocurrencies to include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Cardano, and Qtum.

While reports from cybersecurity firms looking into the matter show basic speculations about the hack, the crypto exchange has said that it has taken measures to understand the scope of the hack and has reached out to users who were affected in the breach to update their account security, whilst protecting their funds and data.

Security breaches continue to be a major concern in the crypto industry as bad actors plaguing the industry constitute bad labels. Despite crypto processes involving complex cryptographic algorithms and supposedly airtight security measures being put in place by service providers, users are still tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the security of their data and possibly offline security measures.

Earlier this year, New Zealand cryptocurrency exchange had been hacked and had significant losses, though, a few days back it was given the green light to resume operation. Recently, a cryptocurrency exchange in Istanbul reportedly lost USD 2.4 million to hackers. Although about USD 256,000 had been recovered, still the blight of such occurrences still has its damning effects on the industry.

One of the major concerns of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with regards to cryptocurrency is custody infrastructure. This has been a core deterrent in approving Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications which if approved could steer the industry in the direction of institutional investors.

Cryptocurrency is yet to gain its footing in the mainstream market and while this data heist was done across other non-related ventures, however, for a cryptocurrency-related venture to be caught in the web, further slights the emerging economics of cryptocurrency.

 

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Ripple’s Brad Garlinghouse Slates JPMorgan’s JPM Coin as Lacking Innovation

Wall Street banking giant JPMorgan’s announcement of its new stable coin JPM Coin, has Ripple’s boss Brad Garlinghouse criticizing its “closed network” lack of innovation.

JPMorgan says it sees potential in using digital coins to reduce risk and enable instant transfers, despite JPMorgan’s chief executive Jamie Dimon criticizing Bitcoin since it emerged as the industry’s flagship cryptocurrency.

The bank says it has always “believed in the potential of blockchain technology”. “We are supportive of cryptocurrencies as long as they are properly controlled and regulated,” says Umar Farooq, JPMorgan’s head of Digital Treasury Services and Blockchain. The new JPM coin will be transferable between client accounts at the bank, who will then be able to redeem them for US dollars pegged at parity with the coin.

With the arrival of JPM, the volatility of Ripple’s XRP is brought into question and certainly draws obvious comparisons, to which Garlinghouse has reacted by saying there is nothing innovative about JPMorgan’s final arrival into the cryptocurrency space, arguing:

“As predicted, banks are changing their tune on crypto. But this JPM project misses the point – introducing a closed network today is like launching AOL after Netscape’s IPO.”

His comments very much echo the sentiments illustrated in an article he wrote two years ago called “The Case Against BankCoin,” in which he argued that banks should be using XRP as the obvious independent digital asset, claiming they offered “universality” which bank coins did not:

“It goes back to the fundamentals of what makes digital assets unique and special – they’re universal currencies, meaning anyone can use them as units of value anywhere in the world. That universality gives digital assets global reach and the ability to settle much faster than traditional assets.”

Clearly, Ripple’s executives would argue that users of XRP also has the added option to speculate, holding on to the currency in the hope of trading later at a higher value; compared to bank coins which will only have a fixed settlement value based on parity with the US dollar.

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Exchange Listing XRP Says Ripple “Not Crypto”

Exchange Listing XRP Says Ripple

An exchange that has recently added Ripple to its trading platform is happy to proclaim that in its view, XRP is a “Centralized Virtual Currency“, not strictly a cryptocurrency.

The Finnish-based Coinmotion exchange’s definition for users could find that many enthusiastic customers may not be happy to read it:

“What one needs to know about XRP is that it is not cryptocurrency in the strict meaning of the word… What differentiates XRP from cryptocurrencies is that it is not based on blockchain, it is not mined and it is heavily centralized. Ripple network is a suite of different applications by Ripple Labs. XRP, is the currency of Ripple network, which the apps use.”

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse claims that XRP is in fact “very clearly decentralized”. The company has been moving from strength to strength within the industry, particularly with its link to traditional banking. Ripple Labs announced the addition of 13 more financial institutions to its RippleNet in January, which now takes the total to over 200.

Coinmotion’s blog claims that Ripple’s network doesn’t use blockchain but relies on a Ripple Labs patented system called HashTree adding:

“In HashTree all the transactions and balances are combined to a single number, which servers compare to each other to reach consensus. This kind of system is faster than blockchain, but far more centralized.”

The Finnish exchange ends its blog with a rather curious note to users, given that it chose to list XRP, stating, “Nonetheless since You, our dear customer, have asked for it, we have offered you the possibility to buy and sell XRP on Coinmotion.”

 

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Report Claims Ripple Tempts Recruits with Generous XRP Packages

Ripple

Ripple has recently claimed that it had no role in the development of the cryptocurrency XRP. However, reports are surfacing that claim the company was found utilizing its huge XRP reserves to attract potential hires.

It began with a media report claiming that an engineer was offered an XRP pay package by Ripple. The engineer, whose name has not been named, said that he received an email in late 2018 from the company stating that along with a generous salary, he would receive XRP worth USD 3 million.

For its xCurrent project, the company is looking to hire a new engineering head in addition to more than 12 technical experts and engineers, as stated on Ripple’s LinkedIn profile. xCurrent project is looking to challenge SWIFT (a legacy messaging network).

This is not the first time that Ripple has faced these allegations. In September 2018, an engineer requesting anonymity told the media about a similar email from the company offering him a generous XRP bonus package.

On the basis of the data obtained from two potential recruits, the general range of bonuses in XRP for engineers is from USD 1-6 million. However, these salaries are based on seniority.

A former Ripple employee revealed that it is a standard in Silicon Valley to offer generous equity deals to new recruits. However, he noted that before 2017, he never heard of anything like XRP bonus packages.

Nevertheless, the company has refused to comment on bonus packages. It is uncertain whether these packages are still being offered or not. The overly centralized nature of XRP is a much-debated topic within the crypto community and will draw further flak if it is proved that the company’s infrastructure is completely centralized.

 

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