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Gibraltar Stock Exchange Subsidiary Seeks Regulated Blockchain Exchange

A subsidiary of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) is aiming to become one of the first licensed and regulated crypto exchanges operated by an EU stock exchange.

The company, the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), has reportedly introduced 300 retail account holders to its platform as part of its launch. The company has suggested that in order to monitor and develop how to present the best user experience for its future customers, the invited retailers will be asked to offer feedback after the launch.

It plans to serve institutional cryptocurrency investors at start up, with CEO Nick Cowan suggesting that the platform will be “fair, transparent, efficient, and safe”.

Gibraltar aims to lure new and existing fintech companies to its shores, following in the footsteps of other European countries such as Malta and Switzerland, both of which have seen the arrival of major cryptocurrency players like Binance and Bitmain in recent months.

The 2nd Gibraltar International FinTech Forum held earlier this year, with another ‘Gibfin’ forum to follow in September 2018, demonstrates the country’s serious intent when it comes to encouraging fintech companies to do business there.

According to GBX, it has already enacted distributed ledger technology (DLT) legislation to provide a worldwide jurisdiction for crypto companies, suggesting it wants to lead the world in technology regulation. The new legislation states that any firm in Gibraltar using DLT to store and transmit value is regulated in the country by default. Cowan adds:

“The soft launch of the platform will mean that we can continue as effectively as possible toward providing an institutional-grade token sales springboard for utility tokens and top-quality digital asset exchange for the global blockchain and trading communities.”

The company’s aim to become the first licensed and regulated EU stock exchange cryptocurrency platform is in part thanks to recent changes in Gibraltar law earlier this year, as providers of DLT now come under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Act, implemented by the Financial Services Commission of the British overseas territory.

 

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Crypto Marketing Gets Creative Amid Ad Bans and Tighter Regulatory Scrutiny

A new Wired report finds that US companies are experimenting with new marketing channels within the crypto space, especially after recent high-profile bans on crypto-related advertising on social media channels and with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) starting to take a closer look at unregulated token sales late last year.

This has also created new opportunities for those willing to take on the challenging task of differentiating genuine startups from fraudulent ones.

An example is Sally, an executive assistant living in British Columbia, who created a 34-page beginner’s guide to crypto investing and shared it online, very quickly gaining 18,000 subscribers on YouTube and 14,000 followers on Twitter. Within a few months, she was making a living from her new-found life and eventually quit her job. She commented:

“I’m like a nobody in traditional marketing terms, but because this space is so new and it’s so crazy right now, there aren’t a lot of crypto influencers yet, and especially female ones.”

Although she has clearly made a success from the crypto space, now receiving up to ten requests a week to promote ICOs and post coin reviews, such opportunities need to be weeded out among the numerous similar sounding projects, many of them far less reputable.

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation has highlighted this problem of how to choose a bona fide opportunity amongst the numerous scam traps waiting for its next victim. The investigation found that nearly 20% of 1,450 projects were obvious frauds and increased scrutiny from the SEC has dampened entrepreneurial enthusiasm.

This requires that projects need to be far more innovative, particularly in the light of recent advertising bans by Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Bing. Startup fundraising was largely superseded by ICOs as an effective way of raising funds, but now ICOs are looking far less secure among the confusing mix of promoters, scammers, spammers, and regulators.

“Scams and pump-and-dump schemes have turned off many potential investors. Meanwhile, a sustained drop in the prices of major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether has left crypto investors with less capital to risk on new tokens. Making matters worse,” writes Wired.

The market is becoming expensive as it becomes primed for growth hackers, PR agencies, telegram managers and bounty hunters. Jonas Karlberg, CEO of AmaZix, a Denmark-based firm that manages Telegram communities, explains that bounty programs give products a voice and are also time-friendly, but they have a downside. He warns that numerous mindless social media shares create little value for the project. “These bounty hunters are only doing this to get their hands on some quick reward,” he says.

A Google company spokesman has said that its ban is not operational yet. Until it does, writes Wired, crypto companies will take advantage of the lag. Searches for terms like “buy ico”, “token sale” and “invest crypto” will turn up numerous ads for cryptocurrency projects, white papers, and ICOs.

Sally’s 34-page guide may be even more useful to the uninitiated about to step into this vibrant and complex space; it may possibly help them to avoid a misguided next move and make a productive, financially rewarding decision.

 

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Young Afghan Female Coders Earn ETH Promoting New Crypto Projects

A non-profit company in Afghanistan which teaches women to write code has partnered with a network which allows students to accept Ether (ETH) for fixing vulnerabilities for businesses or projects posting bounties, writes Coindesk.

The company, Code to Inspire (CTI), has partnered with The Bounties Network for this endeavor. According to Fereshteh Forough, the founder of CTI, the women are already earning Ether.

In May, the partnership was formed, setting up the women with MetaMask accounts and software wallets. Although Forough didn’t expand on details about the project, it claimed that earnings varied between USD 10 and USD 80 per completed bounty.

A bounty is a simple task or job created by a coin developer that you carry out to earn coins or tokens, usually before and during an initial coin offering (ICO). The main areas are typically Tweeting about the project, posting on Facebook, creating blog posts, designing a logo for the coin, or participating in a forum with the logo signature. These jobs are essential jobs for the coin developer to promote their coin during ICO stage to fund their ambitions, explains CryptoCoinDude.

Forough didn’t say how much had been collected by her new staff, but explained that this wasn’t her first enterprise of this type. In 2014, she collaborated with another fellow Afghan entrepreneur Roya Mahoob to teach women how to earn Bitcoin by blogging, although the program fell into problems due to a lack of a local crypto exchange. Also, most of the bloggers had no bank accounts.

“The challenge was how to exchange [Bitcoin] to the local fiat currency… Even now, when they are saving crypto in any form, there is still the same challenges of how we can exchange them with the local currency or dollars.”

Another Bitcoin enthusiast, Afghan-American Janey Gak, is less optimistic, explaining that Afghanis are still asking simple questions about cryptocurrency and she’d only ever had one question about Ether, implying there’s still a long way to go before cryptocurrencies reach any kind of acceptance in Afghanistan. However, she was positive about the inclusion of women, particularly working in the financial sector in a male-dominated society:

“I personally think it is good to have digital literacy or financial literacy, the knowledge, especially for women in Afghanistan that are limited from accessing a lot of financial resources, such as banks,” adding, “It’s an amazing technology, not only in case of financial aspects but also in terms of using blockchain technology to create different products that could tackle, maybe, one of these [local access] issues.”

It is thought that cryptocurrency could find real leverage in the county if local money-sellers, called safaris, were to start trading in digital currency. Afghans are generally untrusting of financial institutions and turn to safaris, who deal with numerous fiat currencies across Afghanistan.

 

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Swiss Crypto Haven Zug to Pilot Blockchain Voting

Switzerland’s progressive blockchain center in Zug is going to conduct the first blockchain-based test vote later this month, reports Coinspeaker.

In 2016, Zug was the first city in the world to accept Bitcoin (BTC) as payment for certain municipality services, and also established ‘Crypto Valley’, a not-for-profit association supporting the development of blockchain and cryptography-related technologies and businesses.

One reason for Switzerland’s success as a center for blockchain and fintech, according to Swiss law firm MME, is the country’s openness to new business concepts and innovation. Marin Eckert MME partner said, “Swiss regulators are among the few that really have a deep understanding of the technology and how it works.”

Bitfinex, the fifth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by 24-hour trading volume, planned to leave its current base in Hong Kong and relocate its resources to Switzerland in March of this year.

The trial blockchain-powered vote will utilize Zug’s eID system voting on minor issues and the future of the ID system itself. Some of the municipal services that the public will be asked to vote on include annual fireworks displays, digital ID library lending, digital entry ID parking fees and electronic tax returns.

Owners must be in possession of a digital ID in order to place their yes/no votes which will be held on 25 June. The eID system was established in November 2017, but at this stage only includes 200 users who registered in a pilot for payment of municipal services last year.  Registered voters can get their voices heard by downloading the uPort app to smartphones and then submitting their vote electronically.

Zug is not alone in Switzerland in term of its blockchain- and cryptocurrency-friendly projects, and utility payment facilities, as it has a rival in the southern Swiss-Italian border town of Chiasso, which announced earlier this year that it planned to take Bitcoin to settle up to CHF 250 (Swiss francs equivalent to USD 265) of tax bills starting from January 2018.

 

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500,000 Swiss Vote for Bitcoin-Like Financial System

Crypto-friendly Switzerland went to polls on Sunday to vote on the ‘Sovereign Money Initiative’ which would have seen the country bar any institution besides the central bank from creating new money, reports Forbes.

The system would have seen a door opening for the central bank to adopt a blockchain solution, not unlike Bitcoin; an alternative sovereign money. Although the idea did not receive a popular reception from voters, 25% supported the proposed initiative at the polls, numbering 500,000 votes.

The Swiss National Bank, prior to the landmark vote, had already begun looking into using blockchain to help keep track of its financial industry and the Federal Council of the Government of Switzerland is currently considering its own central bank digital currency (CBDC) called the e-franc.

“Cryptocurrency and the blockchain does look like where we’re heading. It could have been used under the system we were proposing,” said Emma Dawnay, board member of MoMo, the group which proposed the Sovereign Money Initiative, but confirmed that the Swiss central bank was looking at “similar things”. MoMo is made up of academics, former bankers, and scientists.

Swiss National Bank president Thomas Jordan has suggested that central bank money could be issued using DLT, despite being one of the votes detractors, maintaining that the Sovereign Money proposal was a “dangerous experiment”.

MoMo’s spokesperson Raffael Wuethrich is still hopeful despite the outcome of the campaign to change Switzerland’s banking laws: “…the discussion is only just getting started. Our goal is that money should be in the service of the people and not the other way around and we will continue to work on it.”

MoMo board member Dawney suggested that the financial system needed fundamental change and needs to go through a process of public education:

“The way money currently comes into circulation still isn’t well understood… Before we can expect change we need to educate people about how money is created and the established institutions which benefit from it,” she said.

 

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South Korean Exchange CoinRail Suffers Major Hack

Sources over the weekend suggested that South Korea Cryptocurrency platform CoinRail had been hacked, a fact that was confirmed on its website this morning, according to Reuters.

CoinRail’s statement explains that its system suffered a “cyber intrusion” on Sunday causing a loss of 30% of its traded coins. Sources speculate that the amount stolen might be in the region of KRW 40 billion (Korean won worth roughly USD 37 million) but this has not been confirmed by the company. The exchange is ranked 90th in the world with a USD 2.6 million daily trading volume.

News sources have pointed to the hacking as being the reason for Bitcoin’s overnight drop in value over the weekend, but some pundits are pointing towards the news of Friday’s announcement by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission that they were investigating three major cryptocurrency exchanges: Coinbase, Kraken, and Bitstamp, along with others.

The breach included NPXS tokens from the Pundi X project, who commented on their site yesterday:

“This morning on June 10 we received notification from Coinrail: There was an unauthorized suspicious trading activity involving 2,619,542,080 NPXS tokens transferred to IDEX”.

“The CoinRail team is now working with the Korean law enforcement to investigate the account holder involved in the unauthorized transactions. Once we get an update from CoinRail, we will update our token holders immediately about the development of this incident. We hope the incident will resolve soon,” it added

Data from Etherscan.io shows the address tried to sell some 26 million NPXS tokens at IDEX, a decentralized Ethereum asset exchange, right after it received 2.6 billion NPXS from another address that is also now labeled as a suspicious account – ‘Fake_Phishing1431’.

Other tokens stolen in the alleged breach were ATC from Aston and NPER project’s NPER token, although there are unconfirmed reports that several other tokens, including Ether, may have been compromised.

There have been numerous warnings from government agencies and regulators about the risks of cryptocurrency trading, not simply in South Korea, but in many countries around the globe; many are in the process of regulating their own financial banking strategies regarding blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Kim Jin-Hwa, a representative at Korea Blockchain Industry Association commented, “CoinRail is not a member of the group that promotes self-regulation to enhance security. It is a minor player in the market and I can see how such small exchanges with lower standards on security level can be exposed to more risks.”

 

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$15 Billion Shed in Two Hours in Bitcoin, Crypto Markets Overnight Flash Crash

Over Saturday night on 10 June, Bitcoin and crypto markets dipped significantly, with Bitcoin shedding USD 300 in just over an hour, writes Inside Bitcoins.

The sideways market which has endured for some weeks finally came to an end when the mini-crash wiped out USD 15 billion off cryptocurrencies in a couple of hours.

The current scenario is that if Bitcoin slides, other cryptocurrencies tend to follow and this downward charge was again led by the major digital currency which has lost over 4.5% since its sudden drop in value in less than 24 hours. At the time of writing, other markets are falling with EOS, IOTA, Ontology, OmiseGo and Icon having had a particularly restless few hours.

The markets slid over 6% over the past day, creating a rush selloff. Currently, at a total capitalization of USD 324 billion, markets have fallen fast from yesterday’s level of USD 345 billion. At the time of press, Bitcoin is selling at USD 7,324 as indicated my CoinMarketCap.

Ethereum went with BTC and slid 5%, losing USD 25 in two hours, dropping to a new weekly low of USD 576 at time of writing. Previous to that, the currency had been hovering between USD 580 and USD 620 for over a week.

There is speculation that there may be two significant factors precipitating such rapid downward movement in crypto markets. Some pundits are pointing towards the news of yesterday’s announcement by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission that they are investigating three major cryptocurrency exchanges: Coinbase, Kraken, and Bitstamp, along with others.

Others point to emerging news that South Korean crypto exchange CoinRail has been hacked, although the exchange is just ranked 90th in the world with a USD 2.6 million daily trading volume.

The biggest fall in the market’s top 10 has been IOTA, losing almost 12% on the day with USD 600 million wiped off its market cap, falling from USD 4.8 billion to USD 4.2 billion in a few hours.

Despite this slump, many analysts see this drop as insignificant. The 24-hour trading volume in January saw Bitcoin experience a trading volume of USD 17 billion in a day. Yesterday’s Bitcoin trading volume was a mere USD 4 billion, reports AMB crypto.

With market prices still in the follow-Bitcoin trend, a fundamental turnaround in market fortunes is reliant on Bitcoin’s performance over the following weeks.

 

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Homes Sold in Montenegro for 420 BTC, Part of a Global Real Estate Trend

Three luxury apartments located in Budva Montenegro were purchased this week using Bitcoin to the equivalent of 3.2Mn USD, according to Bitcoin.com

The 420 BTC sales were made according to Notary Office and the firm Astra Montenegro Investment Association (AMIA), which has been promoting cryptocurrency use locally.

Montenegro, meaning “Black Mountain” is a sovereign state in South-eastern Europe. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea to the southwest, is bordered by Croatia to the west, and was part of the old Yugoslavia. It has since become a playground for holidaymakers attracted to the Adriatic coast.

The luxury homes are located in the coastal area near the Adriatic Sea where property prices are high. AMIA executive Nila Emilfarba, who has encouraged nearby businesses to accept cryptocurrency, including a marina, said the sale was the biggest so far in the country

“Our company, unlike many who have doubt in cryptocurrency, is the first in the region that started selling real estate for the cryptocurrencies.”

One of the purchasers, a 25-year-old from France, said the settlement process of paying the BTC to the notary and then transferring the funds, which were immediately converted to Euros was very simple, and quicker than a standard method using fiat.

Real estate purchases using Bitcoin is becoming more accepted after the currency’s climb to around $20,000 in early 2017. Other transactions in Miami, Amsterdam, Dubai, Manhattan and other global locations have all gone smoothly. There are now sites that provide a sales service offering properties worldwide payable for in Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin.

A buyer could purchase a property today such as 12 bedroomed French Chateaux in Brizay for the BTC equivalent of 950,000 euros or if a more contemporary lifestyle is sought, a beautiful 2 acre home on the Costa Rican coast for exactly 100 BTC.

Homes are not simply sold at holiday locations or need to be luxury homes in order to make to make a Bitcoin purchase; last year two residential developer properties sold in the UK in Essex and Hertfordshire using Bitcoin. One of the new owners, a cryptocurrency investor, then decided to rent out his new property in BTC.

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A Step Back in History May Answer the Question, Is Fiat’s End in Sight?

Naeem Aslam, Contributor to Forbes has looked to history in an attempt to answer the question, will cryptocurrency ever replace fiat as the standard currency, reports Forbes.

At the recent Money 20/20 Conference held this month in Amsterdam, the panel discussions between major banks’ representatives were all of the opinions that wouldn’t be the case. During a panel discussion, representatives from Swiss National Bank, the Bank of Lithuania, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Canada took turns in expressing their views on the topic.

The responses were generally in agreement, with Bank of Canada’s James Chapman suggesting that this situation would only occur in a hyperinflation scenario, with Swiss National Bank’s Thomas Moser concurring that a poor fiat performance may well invite more cryptocurrency activity, but argued that “as long as central banks do a good job, there is no real for central banks to disappear”.

This discussion was the first of its kind where major financial institutions were able to address a specific question that is on many private and commercial investors’ minds. Aslam suggests that you only need to look into history to find the answer. He uses the UK pound established in 1694 and the US Dollar created in 1792 as cases in point, both currencies originally only available as precious metals, a troy pound of sterling silver constituting a pound,  and 24.75 grains of gold creating a US dollar.

Aslam observes that in the UK, the process of paper replacing gold was actually created by the private sector, with London goldsmiths furnishing receipts for payment, which of course later became the banknotes that are now traditional currency.

Across the Atlantic, The Massachusetts Bay Colony were the first to print paper money in the U.S. in 1690. As a type of IOU soldiers spent or traded them just like gold and silver coins. About 100 years later, the United States dollar became the country’s standard unit of money.

Due to reports of the decreasing trust in government, and specifically, banks after the last economic crisis, coupled with an increasing number of the population turning to alternative forms of electronic payment, such as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could be a portent for the future, especially when one looks at the evolution of cash.

Given the private sector was originally responsible for giving life to the current financial system, so it is possible that history is repeating itself with slow the encroachment on fiat by global cryptocurrency adoption, created by a private individual for global use.

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Coinmint to Make Alcoa Smelter One of World’s Largest Crypto Mining Centers

Crypto company Coinmint is to take over a former Alcoa aluminum smelting facility in New York State, a move that would make it one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining centers.

The smelting plant located in Upstate New York has signed a deal with crypto-mining company Coinmint, to install one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency mining centers in Upstate New York, reports Bitcoinist. The 10-year lease, with options to renew, will give Coinmint the opportunity to invest USD 700 million into its new facility, expected to bring over 150 new jobs to the nearby town of Massena.

Among stiff competition around the world, companies are finding it increasingly difficult to find locations suitable for Bitcoin mining. Iceland has become the mining location of choice due to its cheap geothermal resources, but already miners are using more than the country’s citizens do, and now Venezuelans are turning to Bitcoin mining in order to combat hyperinflation. Mining companies’ biggest costs come from the electricity needed to power and cool the hardware in the process.

The US struggles to compete with countries like China where most of the world’s mining is done, due to cost.  New York state residents and lawmakers have mixed feelings; in March 2018, the town of Plattsburgh, NY, which is only 80 miles east of Massena, issued an 18-month moratorium against crypto-mining operations in the town.

Plattsburg mayor Colin Read has not been impressed with the intended arrival of a new mining center. He regards them as no more than a public nuisance, consuming the town’s power and giving no impetus to local employment prospects; a key factor in mining institutions proposals to local communities. He comments, “The mining companies? They hire a security guard and a guy who comes when something breaks.”

Coinmint remains confident in their plan, as stated by its CEO Prieur Leary: “As long as the Bitcoin network exists we anticipate mining to be profitable. We’ve developed a process to get an edge in the market.”

Coinmint has signed with the  New York Power Authority and the New York Independent Systems Operator, giving it access to 435 MW of clean hydroelectric power from the St Lawrence River. The region’s cooler climate was an incentive to select this region of Upper New York State as a location for the new site.

 

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