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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

North America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

USA

Crypto markets likely to surge with Wall Street interest: Crypto markets may be up for a boost amid interest from Wall Street according to BKCM digital asset former founder and CNBC contributor Brian Kelly. Kelly maintains the opinion that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Goldman Sachs’s entry into the crypto space will increase popularity of crypto markets.

But, it was also reported that NYSE won’t be launching a futures market but instead a regular cryptocurrency trading desk or app where customers can trade in cryptocurrencies like stocks.

According to NY Times:

“The parent company of the New York Stock Exchange has been working on an online trading platform that would allow large investors to buy and hold Bitcoin, according to emails and documents viewed by The New York Times.”

Elon Musk challenges Warren Buffet’s take on crypto: Warren Buffet’s anti-cryptocurrency views are famous around the globe and constantly draw flak from pro-blockchain figures. Recently, Elon Musk was involved in a social media exchange with his rival that led to a light-hearted jab.

Elon Musk said in response to Buffet’s rigid ideas on cryptocurrency in a tweet: “ok ok, just for the sake of argument, what do you wish for Candy? Cryptocandy?”

The reference was a light jab at Buffet’s investment in See’s Candy. Musk hasn’t taken to much of a strong stance on cryptocurrencies but the tweet shows he is ready to defend the currency and the tech.

Mutual fund VP says blockchain to drive companies into next industrial revolution: Mutual fund Federated Investors’ VP and portfolio manager Steve Chivarone has ranked blockchain as one of the top five techs that will usher the world into the next industrial revolution.

Chivarone went beyond that and said blockchain could become an “economic driver” along with robotics, AI and IOT.

He said, “When you think about it from an enterprise perspective, it has the ability to replace reconciliation, which is expensive and requires back-office and time and paperwork with more instantaneous verification […] that will allow cost to be cut and that savings [sic] to be passed along.”

Microsoft and Amazon adapting to blockchain: Two of the biggest companies in the world, Microsoft and Amazon, are now trying multiples approaches to get into the blockchain space as part of their transition into decentralized economy and cashless society.

Microsoft had been one of the pioneers in the business it has already toyed with Bitcoin payments in the Xbox and Windows store but is now looking at its technology for the future rather than just monetary value.

Similarly, Amazon has been under pressure to start accepting cryptocurrency payments. While that is not possible right now, Amazon has announced that it is looking into blockchain-related proposals for its Amazon Web Services (AWS).

The involvement of both these tech giants is seen as a boost by the crypto community.

Californian candidate running on pro-crypto platform: Californian politician Brian Forde is running on a pro-crypto platform for Congress. The candidate is aiming to become the representative of the 45th District seat in Washington and is promising to bridge the gap between the government and the crypto community.

Speaking at an Ethereum summit in Queens he said:

“What I want to do is create transparency for the voice of the citizen, so that if I do make a decision that’s not consistent with what all the votes said, then I’ve got to explain myself.”

New York looking to become blockchain hub: The New York Economic Development Corporation (NYEDC) has announced that it is taking initiatives to make the city a Blockchain hub in the country. With Blockchain Week underway in the city, several plans for the future of cryptocurrencies have been proposed. The development of a Blockchain Center is one of the initiatives and its purpose is to educate and raise awareness of the groundbreaking technology.

New York’s notorious BitLicense requirements are seen as anti-crypto policy and that may well change following this move by the administration.

NYC Blockchain Week underway: The first Blockchain Week is underway. The inaugural edition is taking place in partnership between NYDEC and CoinDesk.

Over 8,000 attendees are likely to participate in the conference and speakers include Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis President James Bullard and CEO FedEx Corp Fredrick Smith according to co-sponsors Coindesk.

After parties will include a bash hosted by Ripple featuring Snoop Dogg.

Canada

Bank of Canada says blockchain effective for securities settlements: Canada’s central bank and Toronto Stock Exchange has said that blockchain technology is an effective method for automating securities exchange in real time.

British Columbia regulator warns against investing in crypto: British Columbia securities regulator has voiced the same concerns as his Ontario counterpart by coming out against investment in cryptocurrencies because of the risk of financial scams.

The official channel of the commission states that residents should take extreme caution in deciding whether or not to buy cryptocurrencies.

 

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

European Union

Companies folding after GDPR legislation in EU Parliament: The latest GDPR regulations passed by the EU Parliament are taking their toll on the blockchain space with several companies folding or minimizing their operations. The General Data Protection Regulation is especially focused on the fintech industry to adopt standards like Know-Your-Customer and other ID verification approaches onto their platforms.

The aftershocks of this wide-ranging legislation will mean that blockchain businesses in the continent are in for a rough ride in the near future with the EU giving businesses a 25 May deadline for compliance with heavy fines and punishments for the absconders. A blockchain startup, CoinTouch, has already closed because of the regulations. 

The owner of CoinTouch was of the opinion:

“This new EU law hurts small website[s] like mine but helps reinforce the dominance of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, who are able to prepare and defend themselves using established legal teams and cash reserves, and who now face less competition from startups. The EU Cookie Law, EU VAT regulation and now the EU GDPR are all examples of poorly-implemented laws that add complexity and unintended side-effects for businesses within the EU.”

Long-term effects of the GDPR legislation remain to be seen.

Germany

Stock exchange to launch zero-fee trading app: The second-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the country, Stuttgart Börse, is reportedly launching a new trading app that will be a zero-fee option for cryptocurrency traders. The app is named Bison and will be available in the fall of 2018.

The app was developed by a fintech startup named Sowa labs and includes an AI tool to measure the overall mood of the crypto community through analysis of over 250,000 crypto-related tweets.

Free trading apps are likely to become more common in the future with the stock trading app Robin Hood already raising USD 363 million with plans to support 16 cryptocurrencies with zero trading fee.

German bank using Bitcoin for cheap international payments: Nascent German bank BitBond is using cryptocurrencies to bypass the all-powerful Swift International transfer system to help lend money around the world at low interest rates. The traditional money transfer is seen slow, expensive and insecure by crypto enthusiasts.

Radoslav Albrecht the founder of the bank said:

“With Bitbond, payments work independently of where customers are. Via internet it is very, very quick and the fees are low.”

The bank’s clients hold Bitcoins for only a few minutes before they are changed back to fiat currency so the volatile nature of the currency is avoided. Bitcoin has never been used to transfer fiat credit before by regular banks so this is a significant development in the crypto world.

United Kingdom

$700K worth of Bitcoin seized by London police: The London Metropolitan Police and Scotland Yard have seized more than USD 700,000 in cryptocurrencies from fraudulent activity taking place in the city. This is the first seizure of its kind by the local police. The suspect was identified as 25-year-old Grant West and he has plead guilty in court.

The police investigator Mick Gallagher said, “These people generally feel they can operate with impunity, that they can’t be touched. We have now debunked that.”

This shows that authorities are now catching up with new fintech development and are now equipped with the facilities they need to catch crypto criminals.

France

French minister declares support for cryptocurrencies: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has openly said to French entrepreneurs in a meeting that he supports cryptocurrency space according to a report by Bitcoin.fr.

Le Maire committed his total and determined support to cryptocurrency and said:

“I was a neophyte a year ago, but now I’m passionate. It took me a year. Let us show a lot of pedagogy with our fellow citizens to make France the first place of blockchain and crypto-active innovation in Europe.”

Ireland

University urging government to push blockchain into mainstream: The National University of Ireland (NUI) has urged the Irish government to promote blockchain technology in the country according to reports from The Irish Times.

The study is going to be first of its kind in the country that presents how blockchain technology can be used for good governance and how its adoption can progress the country in tech overall.

Research leader at NUI Dr Trevor Clohessy said:

“…Beyond business, other beneficial uses of this technology would be in voting machines and ballot boxes to address electoral fraud and potentially looking at a blockchain enabled technology-controlled border identification system that could provide a possible solution to the current North/South Brexit border challenges.”

Belgium

Government expands list of fraudulent crypto companies: Belgium’s monetary watchdog Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has expanded the list of fraudulent cryptocurrency platforms in the country. Back in March this year, FSMA had revealed the first list with 19 suspicious firms and now it is expanding to include several others according to latest reports from the country.

Ukraine

Government preparing to legalize crypto: The Ukrainian government is realizing the potential of cryptocurrencies and is now set to legalize them according to a post by a Ukrainian lawmaker Alexei Mushak.

He said on his Facebook page:

“We go to the home stretch to create conditions for digital tokens and cryptocurrency in Ukraine. This is the outcome of many meetings and work of many people. There are many more nuances left to figure out. The final version will be ready in two weeks. I ask you to comment and edit. The thoughts of market practitioners are especially important.”

The use of blockchain in government affairs will increase in the future with this bill being passed by the government.

Russia

Russia looks to crypto to defy US sanctions: Russia is looking to end the dominance of the US dollar in the currency market of the world today by using cryptocurrencies. Recent reports suggest that the country is both helping Venezuela and Iran, countries under heavy US sanctions, to overcome them.

According to Head of Economic Affairs of the Iranian government Reza Purebrakhimi, Iran is looking to end the dependence on SWIFT banking system and the USD through cryptocurrencies. The central bank has also instructed the government to begin the process of “developing proposals for using cryptocurrency”.

 

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Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Japan

Regulator shows sharp increase in crypto-related inquiries in Q1 2018: Japan’s top financial authority Financial Services Agency (FSA) has disclosed latest numbers on cryptocurrency trading in the country. According to the figures, 3,559 inquiries were faced by the agency during the first quarter of 2018 alone.

The number is three times more than the first quarter of 2017 with a total of 1,141 inquiries back then. These numbers show an increased interest in the Japanese people regarding cryptocurrencies.

Blockchain-based tuna fish film shows tech potential: Ethereum Startup Consensys is showcasing a documentary that shows the potential of blockchain technology in supply chain tracking.

The reel titled “Bait to Plate” was produced by Viant, Ethereum-based supply chain management startup and shows the journey of a huge yellow fish tuna caught off the waters of Fiji in Japan. The film showed the journey of the fish from the start to finish including packaging and then shipping and then finally ending up in the plate of a few lucky attendees at the conference in which the documentary premiered.

World’s fifth largest bank to trial digital currency: Japan’s largest and world’s fifth largest bank Mitsubishi UFC Financial Group (MUFG) in terms of assets has announced that it will trial its own cryptocurrency in 2019.

The move was anticipated as early as 2016 and will see the Japanese banking giant releasing the coin valued at one Japanese yen (JPY) equivalent to 100,000 account holders in the bank, according to news by Japanese broadcaster NHK.

MUFG is checking to see the viability of the test run and will even broaden the plot by offering the new cryptocurrency to a variety of businesses to test its effectiveness. Japanese corporations are warming up towards blockchain and cryptocurrencies and have signed lucrative deals to get into the space.

South Korea

Government’s focus on positive aspects of cryptocurrency: The South Korean government is finally relaxing its approach towards cryptocurrencies after months of cracking down and strong-handed measures. The South Korean Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) will now classify cryptocurrencies as “financial assets” now and will soften its approach further.

The move comes after a unified G20 stance on cryptocurrencies. The FSS stated earlier:

“It’s almost certain that cryptocurrencies will be classified as assets and the main issue will be centered on how to regulate them properly under the unified frame that will be agreed upon between G20 nations. Given the current stance [in Korea], this isn’t good, but we will step up efforts to improve things.”

Largest cryptocurrency exchange cleared in audit: In a symbolic victory for the cryptocurrency scene, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Upbit was cleared in a government audit thus allowing it to continue its operations. The currency market came under pressure recently after police raided Upbit offices on suspicion of fraud. The Financial Services Commission and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) allowed the government to take control and audit the exchange.

Upbit feels vindicated by this move and its president Lee Seok-woo said:

“In early March, when Upbit was suspected of only book transactions without coins… I have been notified that the amount of coins is 100% identical to the number of coins in the wallets.”

Chinese Tapei (Taiwan)

Taiwan bank sets pace in blockchain payments: Fubon Commercial is close to becoming one of the first banks in the country to introduce a blockchain payment system.

The first test run will see the restaurants and merchants in the National Chengchi University use the payment service with shorter transaction times and improved bookkeeping.

Each transaction is encrypted and stored in the Ethereum blockchain. Following this move, transactions have quadrupled in just two weeks since the launch.

India

Conglomerate attacked in largest crypto-jacking episode in country: Third largest Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group was targeted in the first episode of crypto jacking in the country according to latest reports by Economic Times.

Hackers broke into a network of 2,000 computers that belong to different companies operating under the Birla group umbrella and used their terminals and computing power to mine cryptocurrencies. The attack was first detected last month according to Economic Times but within a few days, the malware spread to other areas including manufacturing and additional services that are part of the huge corporate empire.

The attack isn’t widely seen as to steal information or cryptocurrency but to mine them, according to a person familiar with the attack who spoke with the Economic Times. A spokesperson for the group said that countermeasures had been deployed and that an internal investigation was being carried out.

Australia

Budget makes room for blockchain: The Australian government is warming up to blockchain as the Department for Home Affairs (DHA) has proposed a framework to introduce decentralized ledger technology to help improve the country’s international trade and supply chain management.

A spokesperson of the department said:

“Intelligence and risk assessment capabilities and revenue collection are improved by new and emerging technologies, such as blockchain, that would improve the veracity, validation, and analysis of intelligence and trade data.”

In addition to DHA, the Australian stock exchange ASX has also outlined plans to use a DLT system in the near future.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

47% of South Africans plan to invest in crypto: South Africa is seen as one of the most progressive countries in the continent when it comes to cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin, and a recent survey confirms that more than 47% of South Africans aim to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies at some point in the future.

MyBroadband 2018 Cryptocurrency Survey was completed back in April and shows that more and more South Africans got into cryptocurrency trading. Many invested by purchasing them directly or through mining rigs set up around the country.

According to the survey:

“Of the survey respondents who do not own or who have never owned cryptocurrency, almost 50% said they plan to invest in an aspect of cryptocurrency or crypto mining in 2018.”

First Bitcoin ATM opens: The first Bitcoin ATM in South Africa was recently opened this week in North Spar, Johannesburg. The machine was imported from Portugal and is capable of processing different kinds of cryptocurrencies including major tokens like Ethereum and Bitcoin.

According to the GM of Northwood Spar George Neophytou: “Lots of people in South Africa are also in the cryptocurrency space and lots of South Africans are watching it. However, not all individuals have access to it.”

The Bitcoin ATM will help bringing in cryptocurrency outreach and help people who do not have a bank account according to company sources.

Kenya

Special unit proposed for handling ICOs and crypto: The Kenyan Capital Markets Authority (CMA) based in the capital Nairobi has tasked the regulators to create a special unit for monitoring of cryptocurrency related issues in the country. The unit will include experts from Central Bank of Canada and CMA itself, according to Standard Digital.

CMA chief Paul Muthaura said:

“There is need for regulators to devise a common approach towards handling issues revolving around cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). A joint workgroup by financial sector regulators could be put in place to tackle issues around cryptocurrencies and ICOs.”

ICOs are already banned but like many other governments, Kenya is interested in blockchain technology and wants to”embrace it cautiously”.

Nigeria

Blockchain technology’s high potential in Nigeria: Nigeria is the biggest African economy and one of the most diverse countries and that is proving to be a fertile ground for the propagation of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology in the resource-rich country.

Numerous blockchain companies including Bitpesa and Bitland are becoming household names in the cryptocurrency scene with useful applications in sectors like healthcare and education. Blockchain conferences are a common sight and Nigeria had the largest one up to date in Africa.

According to Nigerian innovators like Alex Alieja, the CEO of Cryptoneurng:

“I believe that blockchain can flip the charts in terms of infrastructural development for Nigeria and the African economy, if the government should embrace the blockchain technology the potential are enormous and bring numerous benefits.”

Zimbabwe

Government bans cryptocurrency trading: Zimbabwe is in the midst of an economic turmoil with triple digit inflation ruining the country. The hardships are forcing the government to take extreme stances on the things they believe are creating problems for the government. According to local sources, the Zimbabwean government has issued instructions to stop all partnerships, relationships, associations and trading with cryptocurrencies with immediate effect.

The institutions, however, have been given a deadline of 60 days to cut off ties with cryptocurrencies and liquidate the accounts and their balances. The registrar of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Norman Mataruka said:

“As monetary authorities, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is the custodian of public trust and has an obligation to safeguard the integrity of payment systems… Any person who buys, sells, or otherwise transacts in cryptocurrencies, whether online, or otherwise, does so at their own risk and will have no recourse to the Reserve Bank or to any regulatory authority in the country.”

Mataruka also singled out cryptocurrency exchanges and warned people against using them because of their unregulated nature. Bitcoin is already being traded at a higher rate due to the rampant inflation in the country. The latest move is likely to drive the price even higher.

Israel

Israeli watchdog tells PM he cannot buy cryptocurrencies: State Financial watchdog Yosef Shapira has issued a guideline which categorically asks the Israeli PM and his cabinet to not buy cryptocurrencies because of their de-regulated nature. It also “raises the concerns regarding the integrity of government officials so the PM, ministers and the deputy ministers should avoid using it”, according to the statement by the regulator.

Israeli banks have largely been reluctant in handling cryptocurrency profits in the country.

UAE

Dubai becoming leader of blockchain development in Middle East: Dubai is swiftly growing in stature and exposure to become the blockchain hub in the region. The Dubai-based cryptocurrency Zilliqa became only the 28th cryptocurrency to have more than USD 1 billion valuation at one point and its rise is likely to continue in the near future.

Blockchain-based marketplaces, real estate portals and other platforms are being pursued in the country in addition to trading. The so-called Tourism Vision 2020 of Dubai will see it secure more than 20 million visitors and new businesses coming in. Blockchain Development showcases Dubai’s desire to harness the technology to facilitate its rapid development.

 

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South America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 11th to 17th May 2018

South America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Venezuela

Russian bank helps Venezuela defy US cryptocurrency sanctions: Venezuela’s controversial state cryptocurrency Petro took a significant boost in recent week as reports from Russian and Venezuela suggested that a little known Russian bank with ties to the government has helped the Petro currency circumnavigate the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies.

Evrofinance Mosnarbank, a financial institution based in Moscow with majority shareholders including the Venezuelan government and two state-owned Russian companies already under US sanctions, is defying the ban imposed by the Western bloc by allowing investors to invest in the oil-backed cryptocurrency.

The would-be investors would have to register with the Venezuelan government and download Petro’s wallet and then send money to the Venezuelan government account in the Evrofinance bank located in Moscow. The sum is believed to be around EUR 1,000. An equivalent amount of Petro is then sent to the user’s wallet and registered on the native blockchain.

Evrofinance bank’s role confirms the actions of the Russian government to defy US sanctions and its long-term plans to use cryptocurrency to achieve its objectives. Even on Petro’s official launch on 21 Feb 2018, Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro, an avid Petro supporter, praised the Russian businessmen from Zeus Exchange and Aerotrading to help him in his endeavor to create a “kryptonite” against US economic dominance.

According to Claiborne W Porter, formerly of the US Justice Department banking integrity unit and now head of Washington-based investigations firm Navigant:

“Like kids on the playground, Venezuela and Russia think they are fighting a common bully in U.S. sanctions, so they’re going to try and form a united front.”

Russia is reportedly using the Petro as a litmus test to eventually launch its own cryptocurrency backed by its immense oil and natural gas reserves. The Russian government also sees cryptocurrencies as a long-term plan to cut the global dominance of US dollar.

Argentina

Cryptocurrency exchange Buda starts operations: Argentina is seeing a major South American cryptocurrency exchange open shop in the country. Buda, an already popular exchange in Colombia, Chile and other Latin American countries, has now started operations in Argentina according to Buda CEO Pablo Chavez.

He said:

“And in a country where inflation is extremely high, the value of other alternative currencies is greater. In the same way that you can hedge with gold at times of volatility, you can do the same with cryptocurrencies.”

Argentina’s increasing inflation and currency crisis are pushing many people into cryptocurrencies with the country seen as a major player in the South American region in the digital currency world. The country’s government is also relaxing the rules for cryptocurrencies to take pressure off of the national peso fiat currency.

HSBC and ING announce successful working of R3 blockchain platform: R3’s new blockchain platform Corda has been making headlines in recent times and now it is here again as two banking conglomerates HSBC and ING bank announced that they used the tech to oversee a transaction of soybeans from Argentina. The transaction included a letter of credit between the two banks as well that was delivered directly from the R3 Corda platform.

The move sees increasing penetration of blockchain technology in the fintech industry. Monetary means of managing finances are slow and inefficient these days in addition to being insecure and vulnerable.

According to Vivek Ramachandran, HSBC’s head of growth and innovation:

“Trade finance transactions have been made simpler, faster, more transparent and more secure. The need for paper reconciliation is removed because all parties are linked to the platform and updates are instantaneous. The quick turnaround could mean unlocking liquidity for businesses.”

Brazil

Survey finds diminishing interest in cryptocurrencies: According to a detailed survey by Dalia Research, the global interest in cryptocurrencies may be cooling down, including in Brazil. The survey was conducted on over 29,000 people in eight countries including US, UK, Germany, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, China, and India.

While the awareness regarding cryptocurrencies is increasing, fewer Google searches regarding Bitcoin and lower crypto wallet growth shows that the interest from newcomers may be cooling down in Brazil.

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Europe: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 2018

Europe

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

Germany

TokenPay acquires German bank: TokenPay, a decentralized self-verifying payment platform has recently announced that it has acquired a sizeable stake in the Berlin-based German Bank WEG. In the beginning, it was established that Litecoin and TokenPay were partnering up for this move and Derek Capo, the founder of TokenPay had said to Charlie Lee, the founder of Litecoin:

“We are buying 9.9% of a bank in Munich with option to buy 90%. They have a whole ecosystem and plan in place.”

The move isn’t a surprise since acquiring banks was listed as an eventual end in the official whitepaper of the platform.

France

Conflicting tax policies cause confusion: France is continuing its love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies with the latest move seeing cryptocurrencies being reclassified as “moveable property” rather than currency and thus the tax rate has come down from 45% to 19%.

The defence lawyer of the tax department argued that “Bitcoin has no other purpose than that of means of payment” but the ruling came in the favor of cryptocurrencies. Due to the rapid change in government dealing with crypto profits, there is a considerable confusion in the market and government circles regarding what rule should be followed.

Sweden

Company takes Bitcoin mining to the stratosphere: Swedish company Miner One has taken cryptocurrency mining literally a notch above as it launched a Bitcoin mining rig into the atmosphere over 100,000 feet (35,000 meters) above the Earth according to a blog post from the company.

The mining rig uses a hydrogen balloon with capsule assembly underneath containing an ASIC and a Raspberry Pi microcomputer capable of processing data at 35 km above land. The capsule also contains instruments for navigation, tracking and other necessary material to protect the rig from extreme temperatures. It mines at a rate of 330 megahashes per second.

The project is a brainchild of Swedish CEO Pranas Slusnys. He said:

“The goal of Space Miner One is to symbolically express our belief that bitcoin and cryptocurrency, in general, is about the future and the revolutionary technology at its heart: so-called blockchain technology. And with this new technology, the sky’s the limit.”

United Kingdom

Richard Branson says Bitcoin scams in his name a worrying trend: Latest Bitcoin scams include using the name and image of popular British billionaire and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson in fake schemes and they are becoming quite successful according to a recent blog post from the Virgin Group’s website.

Branson wrote:

“Some of the most regular and worrying fake stories currently spreading online are false endorsements of Bitcoin trading schemes. While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine Bitcoin developments, I absolutely do not endorse these fake Bitcoin stories.”

The scams usually involve Richard Branson endorsing a cryptocurrency or a product.

UK financial think tank calls Bitcoin a fad: UK’s financial think tank Evidence-based Management’s director Martin Walker has called Bitcoin a “fad” in an address to the British Parliament. The words were in stark contrast to the other representatives called for testimony including blockchain companies EverLedger and Ripple, researchers from local universities and other professionals, most of whom spoke at length about the potential benefits of the industry including saving the banks millions of dollars per annum.

Walker continued and said to a room full of British MPs that the world-renowned tech behind cryptocurrencies was nothing but “magic wand, pixie dust things” and the blockchain was nothing but a distraction from getting the basics of banking right.

Telegram cancels ICO amid ever-increasing restrictions: What was potentially the biggest ICO in history is now history as Telegram has officially closed its much-publicized ICO, according to a report by The Independent. The tightening of ICO regulation around the world including the US and the UK resulted in this move and will see potentially billions of dollars return to the investors.

Investors were frustrated with this move and called it a blow for the future of cryptocurrencies.

Portugal

Crypto regulations planned: The Portuguese government is meeting to debate cryptocurrency regulations in the coming weeks according to a local news outlet Jornal de Negocios. The government is all set to discuss possible sanctions in addition to supply and distribution of cryptocurrencies in the market.

But, there could be good news as the government officials were quoted saying that they would “accommodate the innovation to the benefit of consumers, and to even promote competition“.

Switzerland

Switzerland aiming to become the top blockchain nation: Switzerland is increasingly becoming the destination of choice for all cryptocurrencies and ICOs in the world. Out of six of the world’s largest ICOs last year alone, four took place in Switzerland according to a report by the Swiss Financial watchdog Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).

Most of the world’s ICOs are moving to Gibraltar, Malta and Switzerland. Small towns with just a few thousand people living are becoming famous as centres of this new revolution. Zug, a small town of 120,000 people has seen the entry of over 200 blockchain companies on its own. It was one of the first towns to install Bitcoin ATMs in 2016.

Switzerland’s openness to new ideas and innovations is a key factor in the country becoming the number one destination for ICOs and blockchain companies.

 

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Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

African Union

Solar power could push blockchain forward in Africa: Africa receives the most sunlight in all of the large land masses and in the 2018 Blockchain convention in South Africa, the future of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in the continent was heavily discussed. Africa is seen by many as an emerging blockchain center, with rapidly developing markets in DLT in Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria and Kenya.

South Africa

How much money have South Africans made or lost in crypto? According to a recent survey by MyBroadband 2018, Bitcoin was the currency of choice for making the biggest profits and incurring the biggest losses in South Africa. The survey included 1244 broadband readers in April and shows the inclination of the South African tech-savvy community towards cryptocurrencies.

The survey found that 78% of respondents have owned cryptocurrency at one point or are owning them right now. 57% have made a profit for themselves but a large percentage made SAR 50,000 or less, so none were big profiteers from the market, although individual losses were not more than SAR 50,000 either.

Bitcoin was the most popular cryptocurrency and had a 50% share in the market with Ethereum taking the second place.

Rwanda

Bitcoin founder backs unified African crypto: One of Bitcoin’s original founders, Australian computer scientist Dr Craig Wright, once rumored to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself, addressed a Bitcoin conference called Transform Africa in Kigali, Rwanda this week.

He presented a simple Powerpoint presentation titled ‘Bitcoin Cash: The Crypotocurrency and Blockchain for Africa‘ and discussed the future of the continent in the Blockchain economy.

The idea of a unified African cryptocurrency has been in the pipeline for some time. Wright believes that blockchain and P2P trade is the answer to Africa’s issues with the economy as there is not even a need to use the internet as even SMS can be used effectively for the purpose.

Nigeria

Country’s first blockchain tech incubator: P2P cryptocurrency trading company Paxful has announced that it is opening a major incubator in Lagos, Nigeria to help streamline operations.

The company chose Nigeria because of demographics. The country has the highest numbers of Paxful users in the region.

Kenya

Blockchain to settle real estate sale/purchase: Land ownership is one of the biggest problems in Kenya today despite the technology and computerization. The country still suffers from double ownership of land issues due to governmental corruption. To fight this problem, the Kenyan minister of information Joseph Mucheru has formed a team to investigate how blockchain technology can be used to put an end to the land theft cases.

Mucheru said in a BBC interview:

“We missed the internet wave, caught up with mobile technology… blockchain is the next wave – and we must be part of it.”

Ethiopia

Ethereum co-founder launches coffee project: Ethereum co-founder and Cardano chief Charles Hoskinson has recently launched a new decentralized coffee project in Ethiopia in a partnership with the country’s ministry of science and technology.

Coffee is an integral part of the economy of the country with 60% foreign income coming from the sale of the brown caffeinated drink.

Israel

Bitcoin mining company sues bank for closing account: Israeli Bitcoin mining company Israminers has registered a lawsuit against Union Bank of Israel, the country’s sixth largest fiat bank for a unilateral decision of not accepting funds from Bitcoin exchanges after months of operations.

According to the mining group’s lawyer Guy Penn:

“Banks in Israel are currently refusing services to companies that operate in the crypto field, without even checking or understanding their business activity. The banks’ overwhelming refusal leaves us with no choice but to take our case to the courts of law, otherwise the entire Israeli crypto field will have to relocate its business model abroad.”

Palestine

Palestine mulling over crypto launch: In order to be economically independent, Palestinian authorities are considering launching their own cryptocurrency to break away from the fiscal control of Israel.

According to a recent report in Reuters, the Palestinian Monetary Authority may call the new currency Palestinian pound and it will have the currency in use in the next five years.

 

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The post Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 4th to 10th May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018

North America

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

USA

Goldman Sachs announces Bitcoin futures trading: Prominent Wall Street banker Goldman Sachs has announced that it plans to trade in Bitcoin futures after a crucial decision by the bank’s board of directors, as reported by the New York Times.

This significant decision that may pave the way forward for Bitcoin’s validity as a currency or a genuine asset came after the bank’s customers requested the board to trade in Bitcoin. The bank will officially start trading in cryptocurrencies within a few weeks according to these latest reports.

Largest car manufacturers form blockchain alliance: World’s largest carmakers including US giants General Motors and Ford have joined other brands to launch the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI). Other members of the partnership include Bosch, Hyperledger, IOTA, IBM and dozens of other big companies as part of the 30-strong group.

MOBI was established to create common standards to enable data sharing and making transportation safer, affordable and accessible with the help of blockchain technology.

Chris Ballinger, CEO of MOBI said, “Blockchain and related trust enhancing technologies are poised to redefine the automotive industry and how consumers purchase, insure and use vehicles… by bringing together automakers, startups, and government agencies, we can accelerate adoption for the benefit of businesses, consumers and communities.”

Regulators seek legal pathway for ICOs: Regulators at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are looking for a solution to facilitate the launching of ICOs in the country within current securities law in the country.

According to Robert Jackson, commissioner at the SEC, SEC still has several concerns when it comes to ICO fraud but he also suggested a legal method for raising cryptocurrency funds could be a viable alternative.

He said, “Investors are having a hard time telling the difference between investments and fraud. Down the road, I think we will be thinking about ways to make those investments work consistent with our securities laws.”

His is among other positive voices in the SEC coming out for the last few weeks.

Crypto under microscope in SEC hearing: Various issues were discussed during the latest SEC meeting on 26 April including an approach towards token sales and classifications. SEC has previously argued that coins sold in token sales can only be termed as securities and thus cannot be self-regulated according to current law.

Other issues in the hearing included the designation of Ethereum token Ether as a security considering its decentralization. While there is no consensus on the decision, there are several positive voices in the commission wishing for a better outcome for the cryptocurrency circles.

Republican Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer went as far as to say: “People tend to fear what they don’t know. If people sailing the oceans at the time of Columbus had believed the world is flat, we wouldn’t have had the great discoveries of the New World.”

Bitcoin like a regular currency – St Louis Federal Reserve: The Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis has in an official piece declared that the Bitcoin is valid as a currency.

The post on its official website, titled ‘Three Ways Bitcoin is Like a Regular Currency’ reads:

“Bitcoin units have no intrinsic value but also currencies such as the US dollar, the euro, and the Swiss franc… have no intrinsic value either.”

This is a bold statement from this part of the Federal Reserve and may go against the policies of the bank itself.

Blockchain way forward to cashless economy – Ex-Fed VP: Ex-Fed vice president Rod Garrott has said that blockchain is the way forward to introducing a cashless economy in the country. He made these comments at a recent MIT Business conference in April in Boston along with other claims that banks will soon start adopting Blockchain.

While a cashless society could be a far cry right now, it is a futuristic concept that fascinates many.

Canada

Canada gets best rank as blockchain nation: Canada’s coin economy is increasing and it is quickly becoming a world leader in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology behind the UK and US. Canada is home of Ethereum, the world’s largest programmable blockchain and second only to Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization for a long time.

Emin Gun Sirer, Cornell professor of computer science said, “The Ethereum nodes are both in the latency space, and also geographically, more distributed around the world, as opposed to Bitcoin nodes, which tend to be located in data centers.”

Vitalik Buterin, Toronto-based Ethereum founder is leading the nation’s development in cryptocurrencies and fintech. More than 70 projects have been invested in by the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) in Toronto alone.

Quebec hydropower company suspends requests for power: After investing considerable sums in cryptocurrency mining operations, miners in Quebec, French Canada have taken a major hit as the state’s power company Hydro-Quebec has announced that it is putting all mining operations’ requirement of electricity on hold.

What happened was that all requests from miners for additional power were deemed excessive, taking up a quarter of all the state’s total power generation capacity.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Jonathan Côté said, “At the moment, the volume of requests that we have received from the cryptomining scene is very large. We’re talking about more than 10,000 megawatts.”

It remains to be seen how much of this can be met by the Canadian power company.

 

The post North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018

Asia and Australia

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

The Korean Peninsula

Korea peace treaty inscribed in blockchain: The historic Korea peace declaration by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on 27 April 2018 was immutably recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. The move was done by Ryi Gi-Hyeok, a prominent South Korean game developer, after the two leaders met at the demilitarized zone on the border.

Rye coded the two Ether transactions, including the Panmunjom Declaration, one in English and the other in Korean. He explained:

“I just thought it took too long for the South and the North to give way to each other… After finding out what I could contribute to this historic achievement as a developer, I found the Panmunjom Declaration on the Blue House homepage and recorded it on Ethereum.”

He has further plans to launch a website to keep all important historic records in permanent, immutable storage on Ethereum.

Samsung posts record-breaking quarter thanks to crypto mining surge: South Korean tech giant Samsung’s investment into ASIC chips for Bitcoin mining seems to have paid off as the company posted a record operating income for the first quarter of 2018 and a profit of $14.5 billion.

Vice president, investor relations, Robert Yi was of the opinion:

“In the semiconductor business, earnings increased significantly year-over-year thanks to favorable memory market conditions driven by a strong demand for server and graphics memory as well as earnings improvements in both System LSI and foundry businesses led by increasing demand for chips used in flagship smartphones and cryptocurrency mining”.

Bank of Korea considering blockchain as part of cashless society concept: The South Korean cryptocurrency scene is exploding after Samsung announced record profits from ASIC chips sales and now the Bank of Korea is considering cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology as part of its “cashless society concept”.

The bank has announced the official launch of its cashless society project on its 2017 Payment Report, according to a post from TokenPost on 1 May 2018.

Japan

Crypto enquiries tripled in 2017: The Japanese Financial Security Agency (FSA) has released figures of cryptocurrency enquiries and they have gone up by more than three times since the same time last year. Over 3.5 million people have been trading in cryptocurrencies in Japan and the new figures confirm the massive spike in public interest in cryptocurrencies since the course of last year.

What is interesting is that most of the enquiries were from the 40s and 50s age groups and were regarding the legitimacy of ICOs and the security of the exchange platforms. It seems the older Japanese generation is also getting into cryptocurrencies.

Taiwan

Binance more profitable than Deutsche Bank: Binance, one of the biggest exchanges in the world, has outperformed the mighty Deutsche Bank in terms of profitability, according to latest figures from both of these organizations. Binance posted a profit of USD 200 million between January and March, while Deutsche Bank only recorded net gains of USD 146 million, significantly under a targeted USD 456 million amount.

Binance was originally founded in China but since then moved to Japan before eventually settling in Republic of China (Taiwan).

Singapore

Singapore fast tracks patents and crypto ride-hailing: The Singapore government has just announced its Fast Track Fintech initiative that is aimed at accelerating the patent approval process for fintech areas including cryptocurrencies and blockchain-based payments.

The development was announced by Low Ling, the senior parliamentary secretary for ministry of trade and industry. His office said:

“The incorporation of blockchain technology to improve the security and efficiency of clearing and settlement across borders for transaction and payment is deemed as a Fintech invention.”

Hong Kong

Government finds crypto not implicated in financial crime increase: The Hong Kong government’s investigation into criminal activity has revealed that criminals are still more likely to use conventional methods of money transfer rather than cryptocurrencies to move black money from one place to another.

Normally, cryptocurrencies are blamed for most of the money laundering efforts in criminal circles but this investigation proves that conventional systems are more likely to be used in this space than cryptocurrencies.

Australia

UNICEF announces mining project to help fund education: UNICEF Australia has announced a cryptocurrency mining initiative in which computing resources from donors will be used to mine cryptocurrency which in turn will be used to raise fiat money to invest in education.

The project is called the Hope Page and will be used to mine the cryptocurrency Monero using donors’ computer processing power that can be anything from powerful ASIC miners to a regular PC with GPU.

UNICEF launched a similar project back in February to help the Syrian civil war crisis.

Stock exchange okays plan for blockchain: The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has announced plans to replace its old clearance and settlement system with a blockchain-based alternative as early as 2020.

The idea had been in the pipeline for some time since 2015 but the decision arrived back in December last year when the stock exchange announced plans to become the world’s first stock exchange to employ blockchain technology.

The post Asia and Australia: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.

Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018

Africa and the Middle East

Welcome to our weekly roundup of all important blockchain and cryptocurrency news from around the world. Follow the latest developments in the cryptocurrency space continent by continent, country by country.

South Africa

Tax imposed on Bitcoin and other crypto: In a recent move, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has announced that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will be subject to tax in the country.

While the move wasn’t seen as a positive one in cryptocurrency circles, some experts believed that it may not ultimately be a bad thing in the long term. According to Christine Rodrigues, a partner at Hogan Lovells, jurisdictions do not necessarily mean a slow-down in the cryptocurrency space.

He said, “The United Kingdom, as an example, has set up several cryptocurrency organisations to bring more legitimacy to the industry… Legitimate regulation on cryptocurrency may increase confidence on existing users and possibly induce an investor appetite for potential users and thereby cause a rise in demand and, as mentioned above, the more demand for and confidence in the commodity, the more value it will earn.”

The move follows weeks of consideration by the South African government to allow crypto communities to self-regulate but instead, the tax was imposed and the recommendations from the cryptocurrency startups wasn’t followed. But, while monetary taxes have been promulgated, the overall regulation of the cryptocurrencies may still be handled indigenously.

Luno helping South Africans pay Bitcoin tax: Capitalizing on the promulgation of the so-called Bitcoin Tax, blockchain startup Luno is now offering citizens to make fair returns on their investments in a transparent manner. Calculating taxes on cryptocurrency profits can be as complicated as that of the stock market because losses and profits are fluid and may even balance each other out at the end of one day.

The gains tax imposed by the South African government will apply to traders’ cryptocurrency earnings and Luno will help traders download their transaction history in CSV format, thus making the process smoother.

Nigeria

House of Representatives intends to regulate crypto and blockchain apps: Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is gearing up for cryptocurrency regulation with the the lower house of parliament tasking the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to come up with a regulatory framework for the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the country.

The move came after the assembly adopted a bill called ‘Need to regulate Blockchain applications and Internet Technology’ authored by MP Solomon Adaelu.

Nigeria’s attitude towards regulating cryptocurrency exchanges is not clear at the moment.

Kenya

Authorities establish agency for monitoring crypto activities: Kenyan authorities have announced the establishment of an agency to monitor the cryptocurrency space in the country. While the Bitcoin and altcoin economy is seen as a big investment circle in the country, the Capital Markets Authority of the government is determined to bring these markets under its control.

The move follows similar decisions around the world including the establishment of a special task force in the UK for this exact purpose. It said in a statement this week:

“There is a need for regulators to devise a common approach towards handling issues revolving around cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). A joint workgroup by financial sector regulators could be put in place to tackle issues around cryptocurrencies and ICOs.”

Egypt

National bank joins 200 financial institutions’ R3 blockchain alliance: In a bid to promote the cryptocurrency scene in the country, the National Bank of Egypt has announced that it has recently joined the R3 Blockchain consortium with over 200 financial institutions around the world as its members.

The benefits of entering this collaboration include access to commercial applications of blockchain technology and using Corda, a custom Blockchain developed by the R3 initiative. According to Hisham Okasha, the NBE chairperson, it allows the bank to “better assess the value this technology can bring to the banking industry and the impact it can have on faster and more cost-effective services to our customers for future implementation.”

United Arab Emirates

Global crypto exchange for celebrities launched in Dubai: In a recent partnership aimed at expanding celebrity token footprint in the world, Global Crypto Offering Exchange (GCOX) has signed an MOU with Bin Zayed International in Dubai, UAE.

The celebrity exchange allows influencers to create, list and trade their own personal crypto tokens on a new blockchain called Acclaim.

The post Africa and the Middle East: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup, 27th April to 3rd May 2018 appeared first on BitcoinNews.com.