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Argentina Goes With Bitcoin to Settle Export Deal

Argentina Goes With Bitcoin To Settle Export Deal

Argentina has made history by recently completing an export deal with South American neighbor Paraguay using Bitcoin as payment.

The export of pesticides and fumigation products has set an example for others in the region, showing that cryptocurrency has the potential to act as a credible form of payment at the international trade level as well as between individual users.

Although a small total in terms of export values, still the move is significant, illustrating the simplicity of the process of paying using a cryptocurrency and then converting to local currency. Argentina utilized Bitex – a Latin American financial service provider that supports Bitcoin payments- to facilitate the deal made under the Esporta Simple programme which facilitates small deals of less than USD 15,000.

This was not the first time Bitex crypto project involved the Argentinean Banco Masventas. Last year, the bank had announced the creation of a SWIFT interbank alternative, using Bitex to provide support for BTC transactions.

Paraguay itself has seen some serious activity on the cryptocurrency front since the end of 2018, following a new partnership with local Bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer Bitfury and Commons Foundation, a South Korean peer-to-peer knowledge commons research firm. The project will see the launch of several mining facilities in Paraguay.

Under the project, a remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is to develop its own crypto mining subculture, thanks to the world’s largest dam, the Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam – the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world.

It appears Itapúa is finally going to create the regeneration many have been calling for as Paraguay’s government has revealed plans to put into action, the “Golden Goose” – a project which will see the construction of five mining centers on 50 square kilometers near the tourist border town of Ciudad del Este.

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Aragon Government Invests $13 Million Into Industry 4.0 Development

Earlier this week, local news outlet La Vanguardia reported a USD 13 million fund allocation by the Government of Aragon for the development of emerging technologies, including blockchain.

The source reports that the sum was co-funded by European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and was double the amount initially intended in the original plan, hence, meeting the needs of up to 320 Argonese companies.

According to the news outlet, the specific objectives of the program dubbed Aragón Industria 4.0 under the Strategy of Economic and Industrial Promotion of Aragon 2017-2019 initiative, were designed to explore concepts and applications of emerging technologies in the industry 4.0 such as artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology as well as promote synergistic tech companies’ growth within its industrial sector.

Moreover, small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) will be given an opportunity through the program to incorporate digitalization into their processes.

Blockchain exploration in Spain has had tremendous successes, and more ambitious prospects for blockchain within the country continue to spring up. Developments had included the proposed use of blockchain in resolving corruption and fraud within its economic system., the exploration of the distributed ledger use case in the logistics industry. In finance, a clear distinction was the successful completion of a USD 150 million syndicated loan through the blockchain. More exploits have covered other areas including agriculture, and the energy industry.

Perhaps this is an opportunity for Spain to mark its territory in the blockchain industry and also in other emerging technologies as it scales up funding into research and development, and attempts an SME inclusion system for the industry.

Other governments and institutes seem not to be slacking in the pursuit of prospects within the blockchain industry. Most nations and non-government related funds have invested large sums for research purposes into the emerging technology of blockchain.

Last year, the Chinese government was reportedly involved in blockchain related funding despite their stance on cryptocurrencies. One specific event that stood out was a USD 1.6 billion investment into startups by a blockchain fund and co-sponsored by the government of Shenzhen.

As nations and tech companies continue to race to become an all-encompassing entity on the subject of blockchain and other emerging technologies, the frontier of blockchain continues to expand while adoption slowly gains traction.

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Bitcoin Price: Valentine Day’s Bart Simpson Afternoon

What’s the connection between The Simpson Family’s iconic square-headed son and cryptocurrency? Well, there is one, as the market discovered on Valentine’s Day this week.

The explanation lay in the market’s movement yesterday afternoon. A “Bart Simpson pattern” occurs when a sideways action follows an unexpected spike in price, and then the price drops back again – suddenly. When this is graphed it is startlingly familiar to the profile of Bart Simpson’s head, particularly when superimposed on a graph showing the movement of the market over the given period.

A full Bart will develop if the cryptocurrency is subjected to a sudden bearish correction, to the extent it erases its previous gains. On Thursday afternoon, the Bart occurred when this happened:

$BTC #Bitcoin just went through the Bart Simpson pattern.

If only I was a better charter, I could have seen this coming… : / pic.twitter.com/AlXGYMttCf

— Jayden Crypto 💎 (@jayden_crypto) March 27, 2018

In other market news, according to analysts, there are indications that Bitcoin might finally be hitting the bottom and be ready for a bounce back. Its moving average convergence divergence (MACD) – a momentum indicator based upon price moving averages – is reported to be signaling an end to the sustained bear period.

A bullish divergence often signals a market trend reversal and is widely considered to be a sign of seller exhaustion. At the time of writing Bitcoin is listed at USD 3.363.70 on CoinmarketCap.

 

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No Money Left, QuadrigaCX Tells Creditors At Supreme Court Hearing

No Money Left, QuadrigaCX Tells Creditors At Supreme Court Hearing

The Nova Scotia Supreme Court hearing has heard QuadrigaCX creditors pleas for reimbursement of funds following the death of the exchange’s founder, but the coffers are reportedly empty.

The Halifax courtroom was told that the USD 70 million in cash and USD 190 million in Bitcoins and other digital assets could not be repaid to the 115,000 cryptocurrency traders owed funds at this stage as there were no funds available.

QuadrigaCX’s misfortune began when the founder and CEO 30-year-old Gerald Cotten died in early December 2018, but the exchange waited until early January to announce his passing. Funds locked in cold storage amounted to 26,488.59834 Bitcoins; 11,378.79082 Bitcoin Cash, 11,149.74262 Bitcoin Cash SV, 35,230.42779 Bitcoin Gold; 199,888.408 Litecoins; and 429,922.0131 Ether at the time of Cotten’s death.

As a result, USD 190 million in missing cryptocurrency is locked in offline digital wallets, but because Cotten was the only person with access to the encrypted passcodes, the funds are inaccessible. With the suggestion that the creditor lawyers’ fees should be capped at USD 100,000, payable by QuadrigaCX, the company’s lawyer was forced to admit, “As of today, we don’t have anything.”

He later claimed the money was to be made available by Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson.

Three teams of lawyers from separate law firms based in Nova Scotia and Toronto have been selected to represent the creditors. Bennett Jones of Toronto and Halifax-based McInnes Cooper have already signed up 181 users who are owed about USD 22 million. McInnes Cooper lawyer Benjamin Durnford said one of the key roles of counsel will be communicating with affected users scattered around the world. Avoiding innuendo on Reddit, where anonymous participants often trade in rumor, would be an issue, he argued.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt and Halifax-based Patterson Law representing 134 affected users owed about USD 19 million told the judge that one of its lawyers was luckily a cryptocurrency expert: “We don’t need to familiarize ourselves with cryptocurrency… We already have that.”

 

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Blockchain Could Be Set for $462 Billion Finance Industry Stake by 2030

Blockchain Could Be Set for 2 Billion Finance Industry Stake by 2030

London-based global information provider IHS Markit have estimated that the finance industry blockchain market is set to reach USD 462 billion by 2030.

The value of blockchain in the financial sector reached USD 1.9 billion in 2017, according to IHS Markit’s figures but this total is set to swell significantly given the expected launch of numerous projects over the next few years. The London info provider’s chief analyst Don Tait sees his 2030 projections as entirely feasible, adding, that a positive international regulatory stance will impact the industry over time:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission in the United States, the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and other regulatory bodies are reacting positively towards blockchain technology within the financial sector.”

IHS Markit indicated many ways in which the blockchain industry will be called upon in the years ahead, including cross-border payments, share trading, and syndicated lending. Tait sees the global financial market as becoming the technology’s most prominent user, including insurance and fintech. He cites the derivatives market, currently worth around USD 544 trillion a year, as having huge blockchain potential, commenting:

“By applying blockchain to the clearing and settlement of cash securities – specifically, equities – investment companies could save up to USD 12 billion in fees.”

The possible applications for blockchain technology have not gone unnoticed by stock exchanges either, with recent with Switzerland’s SIX exchange and Germany’s Deutsche Börse either actively, or at the stage of, integrating blockchain technology into current systems.

 

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IBM Launches Australian Blockchain Cloud Service, Second to Follow

IBM Launches Australian Blockchain Cloud Service, Second to Follow

IBM’s platform built on Hyperledger Fabric has launched its blockchain main net at its Melbourne-based data center in Australia.

Hyperledger is an umbrella project of open source blockchains and related tools, started in December 2015 by the Linux Foundation and supported by big industry players like IBM, Intel, and SAP to support the collaborative development of blockchain-based distributed ledgers.

The launch allows IBM customers to run their applications on the company’s cloud. A second Australian center is also planned for the end of March in Sydney. IBM Australia’s Head of Blockchain, Rupert Colchester, said that a second center would make the technology more widely available, adding, “Customers who are deploying blockchain applications have reached a maturity of projects that requires the data to be stored in Australia.”

Colchester highlighted the degree to which blockchain technology was now being used across all industries in Australia with many IBM clients now “trying to understand how best they can apply it to the business problems they have”.

An example of the growing use of blockchain at the corporate level in the country saw Australian real estate company Vicinity adding blockchain to its business operation in tandem with Australian energy tech company Power Ledger as part of a USD 75 million solar program, late last year.

 

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Fake Photo Scams Largely Ineffective but Illustrate Need for Cold Storage

Fake Photo Scams Largely Ineffective but Illustrate Need for Cold Storage

With reported instances of the latest ploy for hackers to access user funds, photo scamming is further proof that cryptocurrency cold storage is by far the safest way to keep digital assets secure.

Doctored images are now for sale on dark web forums according to research by Hold Security and warnings from Bank Info Security, and can be purchased for as little as USD 50. A recent example published by the latter showed an anonymous individual holding up a passport and note showing the words “Reset 2FA” along with the date.

Hold Security, LLC is an information security company helping businesses of all sizes to stay secure. Its Chief Information Security Officer, Alex Holden, says that some exchanges’ security is far too lax, not requiring photographic ID at initial registration. He commented:

“Some companies have no ability to assert what their client looks like… It’s not like hackers publish success rates,…But because we know that [hackers who] we are monitoring are actually making money off of it.”

Most larger exchanges have far better security, which makes the success rate of such hacks uncommon, limited to smaller exchanges without rigid security procedures. Most exchanges require new clients to verify their identity with a passport or drivers license before trading on the platform, although with exchanges unwilling to talk about photo scamming events, it could be that even the larger exchanges have seen attempted security breaches through this method.

Hold Security has reported that the dark web is awash with some 10,000 doctored photos which are used as fake verification purposes. The idea is to convince the exchange that a request to reset the often-mandatory two-factor authentication security process required to gain access to accounts is a legitimate one and is coming from the owner of the account. Cryptocurrency exchange giant Binance admitted that they had seen some attempts to breach their security in this way, commenting:

“Unfortunately, we’re no stranger to these types of malicious attempts to gain access… Given the measures we currently have in place, I don’t believe this threat is something for Binance to be particularly worried about at the present time.”

 

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Starting Young: UK High School Wins 3rd Place in Barclays Blockchain Comp

Starting Young: UK High School Wins 3rd Place in Barclays Blockchain Comp

Blockchain enthusiasts are starting young, as proved by the third-placed team at a blockchain interoperability hackathon at the Barclays Rise fintech hub in London. The hackathon was hosted by London-based blockchain startup Clearmatics.

The prize was awarded to a team of high school students from Bedford, who was up against challenging senior competition.

Not only did the students take away the third prize; their entry wasn’t planned ahead, with only two days to organize their project, according to Dr David Wild, head of computer science at Bedford School. His team knew almost nothing about blockchain tech just 48 hours prior to the contest.

Dr Wild guided his students through the process of designing a smart contract to share exam results between schools, exam boards, and university admissions by using the Ion framework. The teacher explained that the students’ lack of prior knowledge actually worked in their favor: “If you are writing a piece of software say, you want somebody who is naive to use it because they tend to use it in the ways that you wouldn’t imagine.”

The team of high school students who had not even sat their A-Level exams yet was pitted against blockchain experts from Santander and Barclays and other UK bank representations, as well as seasoned startups such as Web3j and Adhara.

One of the students commented on collecting their prize that it was truly a last-minute learning curve, pointing out: “We learned quite a lot about Solidity and smart contracts on the train.”

 

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Bitcoin Transaction Performance Climbing Past January 2018 Levels

Bitcoin Transaction Performance Climbing Past January 2018 Levels

Bitcoin’s transaction volume is on its way to new levels, now touching rates unseen since the period following Bitcoin price’s all-time high at the end of 2017.

According to Jameson Lopp, chief technology officer at Bitcoin personal key security system firm Casa, “the system is improving and growing”. Data from transactionfee.info verifies that the Bitcoin is now reaching the highest volume levels since January 2018. Lopp has just published his own analysis of Bitcoin’s recent performance in which he writes:

A variety of improvements in block propagation have been implemented by Bitcoin Core over the past couple years and as nodes are upgrading, they appear to be having an effect. There’s also a new highly performant miner relay network.”

Lopp sees the combination of lower transaction demand, coupled with improved fee algorithms, along with adoption of segregated witness (SegWit), and transaction batching, resulting in far more efficient use of block space. In 2018, the percentage of BTC transactions spending SegWit inputs increased from 10% to 40% according to Lopp, who added that “the average BTC transaction size found its peak at 750 bytes in February before falling to 450 in the fourth quarter of 2018”.

Casa’s tech officer points out that this year, the market dominance of BTC returned to over 50%, after falling to 32.5%, concluding:

“The number of reachable nodes didn’t fall much in comparison to the exchange rate — my suspicion is that people who run these nodes are highly dedicated to Bitcoin and/or using them for economic purposes, thus they are unlikely to turn off the node due to exchange rate volatility.”

 

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Credit Suisse Successfully Tests Blockchain for Cross-Border Payments

Investment Bank Credit Suisse Successfully Tests Blockchain for Cross-Border Payments

Swiss multinational investment bank and financial service company Credit Suisse confirmed today that its asset management arm which manages over USD 400 billion has successfully tested a blockchain-based cross-border transaction, as reported by Reuters.

According to the post, parties involved in the test — Portugal’s online bank Banco Best and Luxembourg-based order-routing platform Fundsquare — confirmed that a blockchain-based platform was used “to process an unspecified number of trades”.

The attestation stated that the test showed cross-border payment processing which was distributed over the blockchain and is more efficient, scalable and timely in processing.

According to the source, “the investment fund industry relies heavily on transactions and settlements that are often complex and time-consuming to process”, hence the need for a transition to a more secure and fast system to scale up processes.

As it stands, blockchain much-cited edge as a distributed immutable ledger becomes the preferred choice under the circumstances. The post also notes that because of the quality of the blockchain, fewer checks are needed to ensure entries are secure, which in turns saves time.

While the test was successful, the parent company made no comments on whether future applications of the technology will be expanded.

For banks and many financial institutions, optimizing cross border payment processes through blockchain is increasingly becoming an important use case of the blockchain.

Last December, UK fund processor Calastone said it could save up USD 4.3 billion using blockchain and would be moving its operations by May this year.

Recently, major Swiss exchange SIX said it was ready to launch its SDX trading platform using blockchain.

Saudi and UAE have reportedly been collaborating to develop a cross border payment system basically designed for bank-to-bank transactions only through the blockchain, and currently, have a select few commercial banks participating.

 

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