Category Archives: US blockchain news

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 15th to 21st April, 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

USA

CFTC Commissioner says rapid pace of innovation presents difficulty in approving proposal like Bakkt: In the current period of innovation, it will be harder to approve proposals like Bakkt, according to Christopher Giancarlo, US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner. CFTC is responsible for regulating options and futures markets.

Recently, prospective clients were promised by Bakkt that CFTC will be requested to permit the issuance of the first physically deliverable Bitcoin futures. Moreover, Bakkt will be looking to store Bitcoin in a physical warehouse on their client’s behalf. Industry is changing at a rapid rate, hence it is difficult for regulators to catch up with upcoming technological innovations, believed Giancarlo.

John McAfee relied on mathematics to predict BTC price: By the end of 2020, Bitcoin (BTC) price will be no less than USD 1 million, claimed John McAfee in a recent tweet. He stated that his prediction is based on mathematics and it will be “mathematically impossible” to experience a lower price. In 2018, BTC price experienced a 20 times increase which, according to many experts, was extremely unexpected and will not likely happen again.

Nevertheless, BTC currently sits at USD 5,277, meaning that it will have to increase by 20,000% to achieve USD 1 million target. It is important to note that previously, in 2017, McAfee predicted that BTC price will touch USD 500,000 mark by the end of 2020.

2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang criticizes BitLicence, demands clarity on crypto regulations: More lucidity is demanded by Andrew Yang (democratic presidential candidate) on crypto regulations. Yang, who is known as a supporter of Bitcoin, stated that BitLicence is “onerous”.  According to the reports, the New York State Department of Financial Services will issue BitLicence, which will serve as the business license for cryptocurrency activities.

Yang said that federal government must bring clarity in regulations so that investors can proceed with relevant information. It is worth noting that Yang announced to accept crypto donations. He is among a few presidential candidates to do so. Moreover, he himself is an entrepreneur and has worked in multiple startups during the span of 2000-2009.

Russia allegedly used BTC to purchase computer hardware for hacking into Clinton’s emails: Bitcoin (BTC) was used by Russian intelligence to secure computer infrastructure required for hacking purposes, which aided in interfering in the 2016 US Presidential Election, stated the Mueller Report. As per the report, Russia damaged Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign by using hacking, which in turn helped Donald Trump and “smoothed his path”.

However, Donald Trump was not found guilty of collusion.  The operation was carried out by the main intelligence directorate of the general staff of the Russian army (GRU). GRU was responsible for hacking into computers of Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and leaking the hacked material, states the report.

IBM and University of Louisville will join hands to open blockchain academy: A blockchain skills academy will be setup by IBM in collaboration with the University of Louisville, reports the media. The academy will aim at reducing the gap between existing supply and demand for blockchain expertise.

The curriculum of the said academy will be comprised of eight developing and emerging technologies like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and Internet-of-Things (IoT). The academy will be established in Kentucky state (USA). IBM is expected to extend this program to other universities as well.

ETFs should drop “blockchain” tags in their names, warns SEC: Fund providers looking to offer blockchain exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have been warned by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to lose “blockchain” tags in their names.

The said step is taken to avoid “misleading investors”. During 2018, one out of every three companies changed their names during the SEC approval process, owing to the increased scrutiny. As per the reports, one of those companies replaced the word “blockchain” with “transformational data sharing”. Many ETFs changed their names even before their funds started trading.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 31st March to 6th April, 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Canada

Two Canadian Crypto Firm Owners Fight USD 30 Million Fraud Accusation: Two Vancouver cryptocurrency firm owners, Lisa Angela Cheng of Anbex Group Inc. and Kevin Patrick Hobbs of Etherparty Smart Contracts Inc have been accused of fraudulent activity and swindling USD 30 million in initial coin offering. The British Columbian (BC)’s Civil Forfeiture Office claims that the couple raised money fraudulently by launching FUEL token as part of their businesses. The companies are undergoing RMCP investigation which revealed purchases of a three-bedroom townhouse, two Range Rovers, an apartment in Toronto, and a leased Lamborghini with the allegedly swindled money. Both owners deny all charges and vow to fight the allegations.

Canadian Town Approves Bitcoin Payment for Property Taxes: The Canadian town of Innisfil will now also accept Bitcoin as a payment option for property taxes. The technology shift will be implemented in collaboration with Coinberry Limited, and will make Innisfil the first Canadian town to adopt such a project. The option will make tax paying far more convenient for the locals, and is seen as a milestone step towards the country’s adoption of blockchain technologies. Currently, only Bitcoin will be accepted, but the authorities are also planning on integrating other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Ripple.

USA

Ripple Founder Donates USD 25 Million Dollars to San Francisco State University: Founder of cryptocurrency company Ripple, Chris Larsen has donated USD 25M to his alma mater San Francisco State University (SFSU). The donation was delivered in XRP tokens to SFSU’s College of Business through RippleWorks, which is a private foundation offering support and advice to social entrepreneurs. Interim vice president for university advancement,  Venesia Thompson-Ramsay, thanked the tech entrepreneur, and termed the donation being made in crypto as a “ learning curve for everyone in dealing with cryptocurrency”. The donation will be used to finance an endowed chair in fintech and the Lam-Larsen Fund for Global Innovation.

SEC Publishes Framework for Digital Assets Investment Contracts: Deciding on the status of digital asset as an investment contract and security is now easier courtesy the framework published by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Development of the document titled ‘Framework for “Investment Contract” Analysis of Digital Assets’ was led by Valerie Szczepanik, senior advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation and Bill Hinman, director of the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance. It is to be noted that the framework is neither legally binding nor a regulation, but a mere guideline for token issuers and initial coin offerings (ICO) operators since the US Commission hasn’t officially approved it.

Bitcoin Spike Down to Public Distrust of “Irresponsible” Federal Reserve: Ikigai Asset Management founder and chief investment officer, Travis Kling, has criticised US Federal Reserve Bank’s constant changing of the interest rate and has pinned the sudden spike in Bitcoin’s value earlier this week on the growing public mistrust of the Federal Reserve. He termed Bitcoin as a hedge against the “irresponsible monetary and fiscal policy” of the US central bank and blamed the highly fickle interest rates policy for the loss of the public’s faith. Kling added that this mistrust would only increase, consequently benefiting Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, if the Central Bank doesn’t bring stability in their decision making.

Crypto Considered to Plug Legalized Cannabis Payments Hole in California: Two members of the state assembly in California from the Democratic party have filed a bill to allow buying of legal cannabis using Stablecoin rather than just fiat. Kevin McCarty and Phil Ting have furthered the bill and protested against US federal restrictions stating that they are out of tune with the legalised cannabis industry, making the use of digital methods of payments like cards or crypto next to impossible. In case the bill is passed, it would require a change in the state law to allow operators and customers to conduct transactions in stable coin.

Mexico

Santander to Study Fintech Firms in Mexico: Banco Santander has announced the launch of a new study on the financial tech companies in Mexico in collaboration with the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Mexico. The study, undertaken by research firm Endeavor, would examine “the challenges, prospects and opportunities for the development of the companies”. The study would offer recommendations to ensure the development of competition on a level playing field. The study also aims to reveal new opportunities for public policy development and the possible role of fintech innovations benefiting society in financial matters.

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Thirsty California Seeks Blockchain-Based Water Solutions

California

California, a state known for the divisive nature of water politics courtesy of the omnipresent danger of a drought, is now looking to implement a blockchain solution to alleviate the crisis to some extent.

California’s research organization, Pacific Institute has opened a nonprofit called The Freshwater Trust in collaboration with IBM and SweetSense to create a water management project employing a blockchain-based system. The system aims to install Internet of Things (IoT) sensors across water pumps around the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta to track groundwater usage in real-time. The aim is to monitor and manage the water supply and incentivize responsible usage by agricultural and business users to ease pressures on the water table.

The aquifers in California are depleting fast due to intensive farming and heavy industrial usage; at a rate that cannot be replenished through natural resources, making conservation the key in resolving the problem. The IoT sensor-based solution will track levels of groundwater sucked by individual pumps, and then it will upload the data via satellite to IBM’s blockchain without any internet connectivity. The data will be used to calculate and grant water credits as per the usage, which will allow its owner the right to pump a set volume of groundwater. Similarly, if people need less water for some reason, they can treat these water credits as an asset and sell them for profit.

This could be great for streamlining the distribution of already scarce water resources as per the consumers’ customized needs, as the AI-backed blockchain system could recognize the potential water credit trading opportunities and notify administrators and relevant businesses.  It also gives the consumers an incentive to save water as it will now be a commodity with clear economic value. In essence, this entire system can prove to be an efficient method to improve the groundwater scarcity crisis in the region and hopefully avert the state-wide ecological catastrophe that’s looming large.

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IBM Strikes Deal with US Credit Unions to Use Hyperledger Blockchain

IBM Strikes Deal with US Credit Unions to Use Hyperledger Blockchain

CU Ledger, consisting of a consortium of US credit unions known for experimenting with multiple private blockchains, has recently added IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric solution to its blockchain list.

As Big Blue revealed on Monday, the consortium will employ IBM’s technology to create “an immutable audit trail that can be used to create new business models and transform existing business processes for credit unions”.

The new enhancements will focus on services like lending and payments, identity authentication, and compliance with know-your-customer (KYC) regulations, with the first blockchain services available to CULedger members “later in 2019”.

However, the consortium also revealed that they aim to continue their relationships with previous partners R3, Hedera and Evernym.

Julie Esser, CULedger’s chief experience officer, said in an interview:

“The use of a specific blockchain platform will be dependent on each particular application or use case that is being developed. Our partners, such as IBM, Evernym, and Sovrin, each play a role within our overall strategy and solutions.”

She added that this would not replace any prior relationships as the group was building a “network of networks” to facilitate P2P for digital entities.

She also revealed that CULedger is building an identity solution for the members leveraging the Hyperledger Indy platform. Evernym developed the code for the platform with contributions from the Sovrin Foundation. But, the new KYC-related product will instead employ Fabric, for which IBM contributed to the open-source Hyperledger project.

In May of 2018, the consortium revealed that it would use Hedera’s Hashgraph distributed ledger technology (DLT) to create a public system for cross-border payments. And in December of the same year, CULedger announced the collaboration with R3’s global network of companies to build on the open-source Corda platform. At this time, CULedger is not using Corda, but as Esser stated, “there is an opportunity in the future for the consortium to leverage R3’s tech.”

 

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Colorado Governor Signs Crypto Exemptions into Law

The Colorado Digital Token Act has been signed into law by Jared S Polis, the Governor of the state of Colorado, on 6 March 2019.

Democrat Steve Fenberg and Republican Jack Tate initially proposed the new legislation in January at the state Senate level. The act aims at providing limited exemptions for securities traders and registration. Moreover, exemptions from licensing requirements for persons dealing in digital tokens were also included.

Cryptocurrency was identified in the bill as a digital unit secured through a decentralized database or ledger having specific characteristics. These units are exchangeable for services or goods and people can transfer or trade it without a custodian of value or intermediary.

In May 2018, a bill intended to govern cryptocurrencies was voted down by Colorado’s senators. The bill aimed at exempting specific “open blockchain tokens” to be identified as securities. The rejection of the bill disappointed many private sector investors. However, venture capitalist David Gold maintained that Colorado should say that it is looking to provide lucidity for the crypto sector and it will be difficult for fraudsters to breach security laws.

Recently, a bill was filed by Senator Jack Tate along with representatives Marc Catlin and Jeni James Arndt that tasked Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University to study the possible integration of blockchain technology into the present system in order to manage water rights’ database.

In addition to Colorado, the US state of Wyoming also passed two crypto-related bills. One was related to depositories serving blockchain businesses while the other pertained to the tokenization of assets. These bills will come into effect by the end of 2019.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 3rd to 9th March, 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

Utah’s Lawmakers Make Efforts to Encourage Blockchain Growth: In order to exempt blockchain firms from the application of Money Transmitters Act, a bill has been pushed by Utah’s lawmakers. The bill is presented to encourage the growth of crypto sector in Utah.

As per the act, a money transmitter license has to be obtained by any firm issuing payment instruments to be put up for sale. Bill no. 213 was filed in the Senate by Daniel Hemmert (Republican senator) to exempt digital currencies from obtaining the said license. It is yet unclear what kind of backing this latest pro-crypto bill will have in the state’s legislature and things will become clearer once the debate starts on the floor.

Kroger to Drop Visa Credit Card Payment Option: Kroger will stop accepting Visa credit card payments from next month, reports the media. The largest supermarket chain in the US, with 108 fuel center locations and 142 supermarkets, cited “excessive transition fees” as the reason to drop credit card payments. However, Kroger has not announced any alternative payment method. According to rumors, the company is considering Bitcoin (BTC) as a replacement due to the cryptocurrency’s universal appeal.

Anthony Pompliano, Morgan Creek Digital partner, has purportedly suggested Kroger Digital representatives use BTC as an alternative option. However, the company itself has not spoken on the matter and we await further details on it.

Philadelphia to Facilitate Cash Payments Along With New Jersey and Massachusetts: After the states of New Jersey and Massachusetts, Philadelphia has now announced the introduction of new laws for the utilization of cash in retail stores. The move is expected to affect the adoption of a cashless future in the state as it may slow down its pace.

From July 2019 onwards, Philly retailers will be required to accept cash as payment. The city has decided to facilitate residents who do not own a debit or credit card. Previously, New Jersey announced a ban on all cashless stores in order to keep cash in circulation.

However, the decision has raised considerable questions regarding digital currency adoption in the state. In case cash payments become a widespread phenomenon, it may negatively affect the appeal of cryptocurrencies but the state may change its stance because of the pressure from companies for a more cashless future.

Bahamas

Bahamas Central Bank Announces Collaborators for Its Digital Currency Project: With the aim of developing a virtual fiat currency system for the Bahamas, the country’s Central Bank has announced its collaborating members, noted an official document.

As per the document, NZIA.io (transaction provider) and Zynesis (software development firm offering blockchain solutions) will join the project, which is named as “Project Sand Dollar”.

The project will deal with reducing service delivery and cash transaction costs. Moreover, the overall operational efficiency of the financial system will be enhanced. Digital currency will integrate communities across the Bahamas (currently lacking a proper banking system) into the financial system.

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Utah Bill Exempts Blockchain Firms from Money Transmitter Act

In a bid to encourage and simplify the use of cryptocurrency in the region, lawmakers from the US state of Utah have pushed a bill that will exempt blockchain firms from the application of the money transmitters act.

According to the actany entity issuing payment instruments to be sold or put up for sale are required to obtain a money transmitter license. The definition of a payment instrument includes a check, money order, traveler’s check, draft, or other instruments, but now this doesn’t include cryptocurrencies.

Republican senator Daniel Hemmert filed the bill no. 213 in Senate last week and proposed that any entity who “facilitates the creation, exchange, or sale” of cryptocurrency or any other blockchain products must be exempted from the state’s Money Transmitter Act.

The bill will also create a legislative group, the Blockchain Pilot Project Evaluation Task Force, that will research the potential of the technology in government services. This 12-member strong task force will work on a pilot project employing the blockchain technology in Utah at a state or municipal level and discuss the commercial applications of blockchain for “future economic development in Utah”.

The task force will also be required to prepare a report, that includes any proposed legislation, to the Business and Labor Interim Committee and the Legislative Management Committee, up to 30 November.

More US states have been moving in a similar direction, with Pennsylvania ratifying the same liberty for crypto transactions in January. However, there is also some opposition for the proposition, such as North Carolina state taking an opposite stance in 2016 and passing an update to the state’s Money Transmitters Act that required the cryptocurrencies transactors to obtain a money transmitter license.

 

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 23rd February to 2nd March 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

Canada

Regulations Proposed After Quadriga CEO Reportedly Takes USD 140 Million to His Grave: Canadian public and regulators are calling for new regulations to be put in place after CEO Gerald Cotton died without giving the whereabouts of the USD 140 million worth of private crypto stash that belonged to investors of the exchange.

The bizarre incident caused the exchange to go into bankruptcy and seek creditor protection. The cautionary tale is forcing the community and the government to ensure that digital assets can still be accessed after a person’s death to distribute to his heirs.

Crypto Ponzi Scheme Banned in Ontario: USI Tech, a US-based Ponzi scheme claiming to deal in forex and cryptocurrency has been banned in Ontario by the Ontario Securities Commission. The abrupt closure comes after the company’s management threw its Canadian affiliates under the bus.

Last month, the OSC had issued a Cease Trade Order against the platform without any reason and the company tried to get out of it by saying that it hadn’t sold any product in Canada directly but only through local independent traders. That is when OSC came to the conclusion that USI Tech was dishonest and warranted a blanket ban.

USA

Congressman Tells Federal Reserve Chair That Cryptocurrencies Will Improve Innovation in the Country: Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH) has told the Federal Reserve chairman that cryptocurrencies can help innovate the fintech space in the country in a recent congressional hearing.

He said:

“Bitcoin doesn’t represent blockchain anymore than a website represents the internet. It is one use…..Capital has fled the United States where this innovation [was] initially off to a good start. Do you believe that regulatory certainty could foster innovation in this market…in the token economy?”

Davidson also cited the development of the internet as a similar example to that of the crypto sector and suggested the Federal Reserve Chair allow it to do so. The response of some of the other lawmakers was not as encouraging as Davidson’s.

Ripple Lawsuit to Remain in Federal Court: Ripple scored a minor legal victory last week when it announced that the securities lawsuit against the company’s XRP cryptocurrency was to remain in Federal court despite a move by the prosecution.

Lawyer Jake Chervinsky announced the development through a tweet on 1st March 2019 and said that the plaintiff’s motions were denied by the court and termed it as a minor victory. The case currently being fought by Ripple is a class action lawsuit against Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse and Ripple for illegally selling unregistered securities in the country.

Specific Tokens to Be Exempted from Securities Law in Rhode Island: A new bill tabled in the Rhode Island legislature suggests that some digital tokens should be excluded from securities laws of the state.

The bipartisan effort H5595 recommends a series of amendments to the Rhode Island Securities Act and suggests several revolutionary changes. According to the new bill, tokens for consumptive use including receipt of services, goods or content may not fall within the securities laws.

But, the bill clearly suggests that tokens are not allowed to be used for investment purposes and so, it makes the adoption of the new bill a tricky subject up for debate in the state assembly.

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Specific Tokens to Be Exempted from Securities Law in Rhode Island

Rhode Island

A new bill tabled in Rhode Island suggests that specific tokens will be excluded from Securities Law currently enforced in the state. The said bill was introduced in the state legislature on 27 February 2019.

According to the bipartisan bill H5595, various amendments to the Rhode Island Securities Act have been suggested. If certain conditions are met, a seller or developer of a cryptocurrency token will not be considered as the issuer of a security.

However, tokens are allowed to be used only for consumptive purposes such as the receipt of services, content or goods. It may also include rights of access to content, goods or services.

Furthermore, the said bill explains that tokens are not allowed to be used as an investment. Buyers must refrain from reselling the tokens if they are not usable for a “consumptive purpose” during a trade. The entities facilitating the exchange of token from broker-dealer will also be excluded, given that they file a notification with the Secretary of State.

The bill defined blockchain token as a mathematically verified, decentralized and digitally recorded entity which can be traded or transferred without a custodian or intermediary of value.

Following the bill’s introduction, it was referred to the House Finance Committee, noted Legiscan (legislation info portal). However, information regarding further votes has not been reported yet.

Recently, a similar bill (SB023) was passed by the Colorado General Assembly, offering limited extra freedom to cryptocurrencies. However, their governor is yet to sign the bill in order for it to become a law.

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North America: Crypto and Blockchain News Roundup 9th to 15th February 2019

North America

North America

Welcome to another weekly blockchain news roundup from around the world. Here we present to you all the latest Bitcoin news continent by continent and country by country.

The United States

JP Morgan Launches New Cryptocurrency: JP Morgan, one of the biggest investment banks in the country has launched a new crypto token called JPM Coin. The new coin is more like a stablecoin and will be backed by USD.

The move was surprising because JP Morgan has long called cryptocurrencies unreliable and a scam but the latest move suggests that the mindset is currently changing and the bank is eagerly looking on to join the stablecoin bandwagon.

The coin drew a mixed response from the crypto community with Ripple’s boss Brad Garlinghouse calling it out for its lack of innovation. However, confusion surrounds much of the new JPM coin’s details.

Virginia Police Fund Invests Millions in Bitcoin: Virginia’s Police Retirement Fund of Fairfax County has announced that it will invest some of its money in Bitcoin.

The funds will be invested through Morgan Creek which will use it to invest in companies like Coinbase and Bakkt. More than USD 40 million from these pension funds will be eventually invested by Morgan Creek. This is the first time in USA that a police retirement fund is looking to invest in cryptocurrencies.

UC Berkeley Announces Accelerator for New Blockchain Startups: One of the top public universities in the US UC Berkeley has announced a new accelerator program for new blockchain startups trying to gain a footing.

The 12-weeks long program is being launched with a partnership between Berkeley Blockchain Xcelerator, Haas School for Business and Blockchain and Venture Capitalist fund Berkeley X-lab Fund. The program is open for everyone and new startups can apply to it. The selected startups will be mentored by entrepreneurs, students, alumni and investors from the industry.

IBM Looking to Fight California Drought with Blockchain: IBM is looking to employ blockchain to tackle the issue of drought in some parts of California. The project will initially observe one of the largest and at-risk aquifers in the area using sensors and blockchain to record the data.

IBM is joining hands with the University of Colorado Boulder and non-profit The Freshwater Trust (TFT) for this project and looks to test the initial effort for a potential expanded investment.

Canada

Quadriga Investors Still Unsure About their Funds: Quadriga exchange’s curious case is unfolding further as more details are emerging from the case. This week saw a flurry of new information being released to the public.

Quadriga exchange’s case is unique because its owner Gerald Cotten died with access to a cold storage wallet that had a majority of the exchange’s crypto assets. Now those funds are difficult, nearly impossible to access. At first, this week the government announced that it would do as much as it could to help the victims and retrieve funds, but it has proven to be an extremely difficult task.

Cutton’s widow may reportedly have the keys to the cold storage wallet but nothing is certain for now. A local judge has reportedly given the exchange’s operators 30 days to try and access the wallet.

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