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Monte Carlo and Ibiza Venues for 2019 Hodl Rally

Monte Carlo and Ibiza Venues for 2019 Hodl Rally

It’s the season for ‘Blockchain Week’, with New York Consensus 2019 coming up and Paris 2019 just having drawn to a close, but one event to look out for and getting a plug in Paris last week, is the 2019 Hodl Rally, scheduled for June.

If this sounds more like it should be a top gear event or a follow up to Paris-Dakar, that is understandable. It was described in Paris last week as “1,800 miles. 7 nights. 6 parties. 2 conferences. 100 cars. 1 superyacht party. 1 poker tournament. A fashion show. A charity gala.” Fair enough it’s a blockchain event… and its sounds pretty impressive, for those into Cannonball Runs. The Hodl Rally site tells its readers what they can expect:

We will be combining Blockchain conferences with parties, dinners, fashion show, yacht parties, club takeovers, poker tournaments, beach parties, beautiful models and lots of supercars. We will be driving across the most beautiful and diverse scenic continent; Europe, 8 cities in 8 days with a stopover in each city.”

Follow that with a 3-day visit to Barcelona for the World Crypto Convention, then a closing party at club Ibiza, and it’s starting to look like an interesting week.

It comes at a price at USD 3,897 per person, and some might argue such events are a bit of left-over from when partygoers danced till dawn with no concerns where the next Bitcoin was coming from, although to be fair a third floating blockchain conference is planned for September of this year. That one is using an entire ship reserved for a potential 2,500 cryptocurrency enthusiasts sailing the Mediterranean Sea. The cruise is organized by cryptocurrency exchange CoinsBank taking in Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Ibiza as 100 speakers deliver presentations on current developments in the industry.

Virtue Nightingale, the organizer of the Hodl Rally set for 3oth June, says the glam is absolutely not over the top, quick to point out the Gumball 3000 costs around USD 65,000 for a ticket, and the Hodl Rally has already sold 30 tickets, mostly to crypto and blockchain enthusiasts. He pointed out:

“It brings people from different walks of life altogether as one community, participating in this event and then what you do is you take that time, that opportunity to educate and inspire people about the importance of blockchain in their day-to-day lives.”

 

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What is Ripple?

What is Ripple ?

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

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

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

RippleNet

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

How does Ripple work?

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

XRP

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

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

Pros

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

Cons

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

The future of Ripple

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

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

 

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What is Ethereum?

what is ethereum

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is an open software platform for decentralized applications (Dapps), allowing developers to build smart contracts and distributed applications and execute them, mitigating fraud, downtime or control by a third party. It is akin to programming language run on the blockchain.

One of its aspects is its own virtual currency, Ether. Ether is used for two main purposes: it is a digital currency like other cryptocurrencies and is also used within the platform to run applications and to monetize work. Ether is used by the application developers to make any kind of payment in the Ethereum network.

Smart contract

A smart contract is more or less like a self-operating computer code facilitating the exchange of money, shares, property or any unit of value. It can store information about an application such as domain registration and other membership details, provide utility to other contracts, manage agreements between users and function as “multi-signature” account so that funds are spent only upon the agreement of a certain percentage of people.  It is theorized that smart contracts will replace all kinds of contractual agreements at some point, as their implementation provides a level of security superior to any traditional contract law, also reducing transactions costs associated with these contracts. Thus, they establish trust between parties and reduce the overall costs.

Benefits of a decentralized Ethereum platform

  • A third party is not involved, preventing changes to data by intervention.
  • Censorship is avoided with the strong network formed around the principle of consensus. Consensus means all nodes in a particular system must comply with any change made in a system.
  • With the help of cryptography, applications are secured from hacks and frauds.
  • Apps never go down as they are being run by thousands of volunteer computers across the globe.
  • Cuts out middlemen and expenses associated with them.

Disadvantages of Ethereum

  • The code for smart contracts may have errors, giving hackers an opportunity to exploit the code. In such a case, the underlying code has to be rewritten on reaching a consensus but this goes against the very idea of making the Ethereum blockchain an immutable ledger.
  • The transactions are stored on the nodes. The problem is that with the increase in transactions, the developers are trying to increase the size of the nodes, which will consequently kick people off the network. Running a full node allows users to take advantage of privacy and security. Thus, denationalization and scalability are currently at odds.

Scope of improvement

  • There should be more focus on technical issues and security improvement to prevent disruptions of code which has a direct impact on the value of Ether and the public belief in Ethereum.
  • Sharding is a recommended possible implementation. It means moving away from full nodes. Thus, each node stores only a part of the data and verifies the transactions and if it requires information of transactions which it does not store, it approaches the node which has the data for the respective transaction.
  • Transactions can be made off-chain via micro-payment channels, which means, either party can kick the transaction to the blockchain any time they want, giving both parties a chance to end the interaction.

A comparison between Ethereum and Bitcoin

While Ethereum and Bitcoin are two vast projects which seem very similar, they are truly similar only in the cryptocurrency aspect. Bitcoin is a project which focuses solely as a means of payment and store of value, and has successfully established stability by being the most-used cryptocurrency enjoying robust development to date. Ethereum, on the other hand, has a wider scope as it is a multipurpose platform, with Ether being just one aspect of its multiple smart contracts. Therefore, the Bitcoin blockchain is mainly used to track the ownership of bitcoins while the Ethereum blockchain is focused on running Dapps.

Conclusion

Some experts believe that in the coming years, Ethereum will have the potential to completely revolutionize services and industries which have been operating for hundreds of years. The abundance of projects attempting to tokenize services and industries via Ethereum-based tokens shows a strong demand for a platform that makes it relatively easy to crowdfund or tokenize ideas. Its long-term success will rely much on how it handles scaling solutions, with an ongoing Constantinople hard fork making a major switch in algorithm.

On the other hand, others believe that Ethereum’s limitations will mean that it will not outlast other competing platforms, whose development teams appear to be more flexible and agile in responding to market demands and learning from Ethereum’s flaws.

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Ethereum 2.0: Everything You Need to Know

ethereum constantinople

ETHEREUM 2.0: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ethereum 2.0 is the potential update to Ethereum to make it faster and better. Potential updates deal with the current scaling issues, issues with mining, to make transactions faster and create a better environment for smart contracts and more. Ethereum’s launch was initially planned to be in four stages back when it launched in 2015. They are:

  • Frontier
  • Homestead
  • Metropolis
  • Serenity

Now we are on the third stage of Ethereum “Metropolis”. Metropolis consists of two phases, Byzantium and Constantinople. The next system wide upgrade for the Ethereum network called as Constantinople is nearing. The activation of Constantinople is expected to take place at block number #7280000. This upgrade is also known as New Ethereum software version 3.5. The next stage is Serenity also known as Ethereum 2.0.

Need for Updates and Solutions

There are some problems in the current version of Ethereum which is to be solved. Some of the fundamental and current problems with Ethereum are scalability, security, slow mining process and high energy consumption. Ethereum 2.0 “Serenity” plans to overcome these problems through its solutions. Some of them are

Proof of Stake (PoS)

Vitalik Buterin, inventor and co-founder of Ethereum admits that Ethereum mining now roughly consumes as much energy as Iceland consumes. Thus, to sustain its competitive advantage, Ethereum is aiming to reduce its energy consumption by scraping its blockchain based on proof-of-work (PoW) and build an entirely new blockchain based on the proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm. Vitalik also says that Ethereum 2.0 should complete transaction using 1% of energy consumed today when PoW is replaced with PoS.

Sharding

Ethereum 2.0 will move towards Beacon Chain. One main thing the Beacon Chain was designed is to manage the new feature for Ethereum scaling called “sharding”. Sharding will split the network into independent groups of nodes called shards. As the nodes are split into shards, the nodes only need to handle the fraction of the total system load. This will split the network load so that the main network will not have to bear the load of all transactions. Sharding gives the ability to process thousands of transactions per second rather than the current 15 or so transactions per second. This reduces the transaction time and will speed up the process.

Security

Ethereum 2.0 is also focusing on the security, which means that it will be harder for the attackers to make the network behave in unexpected ways. Ethereum 2.0 will have large number of available validators and this has the following advantages in it. First, a large validation pool allows more opportunity for decentralisation and this makes attack less likely to happen and more difficult. Second, if something that violates the protocol occurs, it means that many validators must have disobeyed the rules. This behaviour is detectable, and the misbehaving group will be penalised by having all their stakes wiped out. And there are some more security aspects too. All these will make Serenity more secure than Ethereum 1.0.

The Road Ahead

The next system wide upgrade is Ethereum version 3.5 also known as Constantinople. It is expected on the end of February 2019. After this there are two more updates which will happen before Serenity. One is Casper Proof of Stake and Hybrid PoW / PoS. Then comes the Beacon chain and sharding. If the Ethereum project successfully implements these upgrades, then Serenity comes next. Serenity is an upcoming major upgrade that creates a Proof-of-Stake chain that combines many of the above ideas (PoS, sharding, etc) into a new chain that would be fully compatible with the existing Proof-of-Work chain. Serenity will run on a pure Proof of Stake consensus protocol. This scaling and mining solution would not only partly change the way Ethereum is mined but also will make way to allow the network to do faster transactions and thus would create a better environment for smart contracts and Decentralised applications. In theory, Serenity could increase scalability by as much as 1000 times than Ethereum 1.0.

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Tech Giants Take on Opioid Addiction with DLT

IBM has announced that it is now planning to use a blockchain-enabled health surveillance system in order to collect data on antibiotics and opioids prescriptions by doctors.

Opioid prescription abuse is becoming a problem worldwide with figures showing that their illicit use has now overtaken heroin. Globally, prescription opioid pain relievers are now among the most commonly misused and abused medicines.

IBM’s blockchain system is now making it easy for public health agencies to track both medical practitioners and their patients in order to try and stem this new epidemic of drug misuse. The healthcare industry is seeing several attempts at developing secure digital platforms for the exchange of patient data, believing that blockchain-based solutions may have the potential to vastly improve current data sharing systems in national hospitals.

Healthcare and clinical research is an expanding area as doctors and hospitals increasingly need secure access to a patient’s entire health history. This new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.

The implications for the industry are endless. New platforms are emerging almost daily such as a diagnostic blockchain infrastructure aimed to host, train and use artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare, and a blockchain-powered platform designed to track and protect pharmaceutical data.

Prominent healthcare professionals are also growing increasingly confident that DLT has what is required to vastly improve the security of current centralized forms of data storage, which have been vulnerable to hackers attempting to steal patient data for sale on the black market.

IBM has, for some time now, been looking at applying blockchain solutions to the healthcare industry through its work with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the end of last year, its chief science officer Shahram Ebadollahi acknowledged how relevant blockchain and AI was becoming in the industry.

“Blockchain is very useful when there are so many actors in the system… It enables the ecosystem of data in healthcare to have more fluidity, and AI allows us to extract insights from the data. Everybody talks about big data in healthcare but I think the more important thing is long data.”

Since then, CDC has run several pilots and is urging the healthcare community to take up the mantle. Another computer giant, Intel, has done exactly that, working with McKesson and Johnson and Johnson to use DLT to trace the pill supply chain. Intel’s Director of healthcare privacy and security commented that the tech could “vastly reduce the opioid epidemic” adding, “I would not say this will eliminate the opioid problem, but this will help.”

Another player in the healthcare space, the leader in blockchain healthcare solutions, Hashed Heath, maintains that blockchain’s most significant asset apart from the obvious tracking advantages, is that a “decentralized database of test results with free access to this data” prevents global duplication and enhances research by others moving forward.

 

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38% of South Africans Polled Regret Missing Early Bitcoin Uptake

A recent poll in South Africa on awareness and attitudes towards cryptocurrency has shown that 38% of respondents wished that they had invested in digital currency before, writes Cointelegraph.

The poll was conducted by Pan-African financial services company Old Mutual Limited. The annual Savings and Investment Monitor survey for South Africa revealed that in general, South Africans were currently largely positive about cryptocurrencies.

Along with 38% of people responding positively to the statement “I wish I had invested in [crypto] before”, another statement, “You can make a lot of money with them”, received a huge 71% agreement from the public.

The statement “They are bad news, like a pyramid scheme” seemed to resonate with 43% of respondents, while 53% had no idea how digital currencies actually worked.

Overall, and clearly important for the development of cryptocurrency in the region, according to the poll, more South Africans were unaware of the industry than those who were, with a 60/40 split.

As Bitcoin News reported recently, South Africa is developing its cryptocurrency space. The South African Reserve Bank has recently taken steps to introduce a new non-state self-regulatory body (SRO) aimed at overseeing further developments in the industry. Further to that, the SARB has announced that it wants to build a proof-of-concept wholesale payment system for interbank settlement using a South African rand token on DLT.

Europeans, according to recent statistics, are reported to be far more familiar with cryptocurrencies and take up in some countries such as Switzerland and the UK is significant. A recent ING survey suggested that 66% of Europeans were familiar with crypto and 33%, when prompted, saw it as the future of online spending. The awareness rate was found to be lower in the US with only 57% of respondents having heard of cryptocurrencies.

 

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How Much Would Bitcoin’s Price Be If It Extinguished Fiat Currency?

An interesting thought experiment can be conducted in regards to what Bitcoin’s price would be if all fiat currency ceased to exist, and if all of that money were put into Bitcoin. This can be defined as Bitcoin’s extinguishing capacity.

There are varying answers depending on what is defined as money, and money supply estimates for this article are taken from The Money Project which was last updated in 2017. Currently, there are BTC 17.128 million in circulation, and at a price of USD 6,600 each, that yields a total Bitcoin market cap of USD 113 billion.

The Bitcoin market cap pales in comparison to any measure of global money supply but theoretically, Bitcoin or some other cryptocurrency could become the dominant form of currency in the future and maybe in a radical scenario, fiat could simultaneously become obsolete. This extreme scenario is what this article explores.

For starters, all the fiat coins and banknotes in the world amount to USD 7.6 trillion. If all of these coins and banknotes were wiped out and an equivalent amount of money was invested into Bitcoin, Bitcoin’s price would be USD 443,700. John McAfee says Bitcoin will hit USD 1 million by 2020, which would entail more than double the amount of money being invested in Bitcoin than the total supply of fiat cash in the world.

However, the total amount of fiat currency in existence is nowhere near the amount of total money in the world. Combining the money held in all of the world’s checking accounts with the total amount of fiat yields USD 36.8 trillion, and this is considered “narrow money” since it is easily accessible. If global narrow money were converted to Bitcoin, then Bitcoin’s price would be USD 2.148 million.

There is much more money in the world that isn’t easily accessible and considered “broad money”, including savings accounts, money market accounts, time deposits, and all the narrow money, totaling USD 90.4 trillion. This is probably the best measure of all the “real” money in the world, and if all broad money were put into Bitcoin then Bitcoin’s price would be USD 5.28 million.

Broad money is considered physical money, yet only comprises 8% of all the money on the books in the world. 92% of money on the books is non-physical. USD 217 trillion of non-physical money is tied up in all of the world’s real-estate, and it is quite interesting that there is nowhere near enough physical money in the world to buy all of the world’s real-estate. This suggests that the real-estate market is hyperinflated and not based on reality.

It gets worse; the governments of the world hold USD 215 trillion of debt, which is more than double all the physical money in the world. This is an excellent way to visualize how unsustainable the global economy is, and this stems from uncontrolled money printing. Bitcoin solves the out-of-control money printing problem, since it cannot be printed at will and only 21 million Bitcoins will ever be created. This fact is what could cause Bitcoin to become the primary global currency since unlimited money printing could destroy fiat currency.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the global derivatives market is somewhere between USD 544 trillion and USD 1,200 trillion, outweighing physical money by an order of magnitude. A derivative is a contract between two parties that derives value from the performance of an underlying asset. Derivatives trading played a primary role in the 2008 global financial crisis, which was on par with the Great Depression. Derivatives can be considered another example of out-of-control money printing, while simultaneously being a deceptive yet legal way for investment bankers to take physical money out of the markets.

To sum up, if all the world’s fiat is put into Bitcoin, the price per coin would be near USD 500,000, and if all the physical money was put into Bitcoin the price per coin would be near USD 5 million. While it seems like a radical possibility, a global economy tiring of a flawed system relying on a tremendous amount of money printing – itself a possible death knell for fiat – could lead to Bitcoin becoming the primary global currency.

 

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Joshua Broggi: Woolf’s University Blockchain Education “Practical Rather Than Theoretical”

There is a widespread scramble in the blockchain industry to apply the technology to almost any imaginable industry. Projects now seek to update existing standards, enhance efficiency or upgrade every known tool across a broad range of sectors, from finance and banking to music sharing and data privacy.

While it’s not improbable that most industries could benefit from a blockchain upheaval, there is some merit in asking the question: is the education system in need of distributed ledger technology? Also, is a blockchain university really necessary?

Joshua Broggi, Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University, certainly thinks so.

Broggi has founded Woolf, a platform that is designed to deliver higher education degrees through a decentralized, democratic system, with the intention to protect both students and teachers. Billed as “the first blockchain university, Woolf allows anyone around the world to access higher education outside of their own jurisdictions.

With platforms like the Open University and other universities allowing for distance learning degrees, this is blockchain’s foray into the sacred institution of education?

Bitcoin News got in touch with Joshua Broggi to help unravel some of the broader questions surrounding Woolf’s innovation on modern education.

Bitcoin News (BN): When did it become apparent to yourself and others behind the Woolf project that higher education needed to undergo some rigorous readjusting? 

Joshua Broggi: Higher education faces many challenges, and these have occupied my thinking (and public debate) for many years. Two economic problems have stood out: student debt and adjunct teaching. In the UK and US, student debt is a major and visible problem – it damages the lives of many students and keeps them from reaching their potential.

At Oxford, my home university, most of the faculty members – 63% – are on temporary contracts. This is typical of all major British universities. In the United States, roughly half of all university teachers are on extremely precarious ‘adjunct’ contracts. The human costs of this employment practice are incredibly damaging.

Meanwhile, university administrations have been growing for decades. In 2015, university administrators finally outnumbered academics in the United Kingdom. So we are left with a situation in which the normal employee of a university is either an administrator or a badly-employed academic. That’s not a good arrangement.

BN: The economic downturn caused quite a stir across all industries; a heavily discussed issue was the decline of college and university entrants, this in tandem with increased university costs has left many sceptical. However, there seems to be somewhat of an upswing over the past couple of years, what do you think has caused this? 

Broggi: Without engaging in an interpretation of the data, I can say that at Woolf, we are committed to providing access to an education that prepares students for a changing employment situation. We’re asking ourselves, “How can we best prepare the next generation of students? How can we reach across borders so that we can broaden student horizons?”

At Woolf, we are committed to the long-term benefits of a formative university education  – the kind of education that results from the extended, concentrated effort demanded by universities – because that is how the underlying skills of good judgment, sound reasoning, and intellectual creativity are developed.

But we don’t think the current system is agile enough to create the courses that students most require. We need to prepare students for a more global world in which the employment demands are changing. This is one thing that makes senior professors excited about joining Woolf: they can craft innovative curricula across borders.

BN: What can a blockchain-based education system do to remedy the employment challenges that faculty members face? 

Broggi: At Woolf, we are creating blockchain processes that enforce regulatory compliance for teaching activities, and that provide government accreditors with assurance about cross-border teaching data.

This eliminates a number of administrative processes and facilitates a global, collegiate, democratic, university structure. The result is potentially very powerful: a system in which professors do not need to ask for permission to practice their profession, but in which regulators and students can be confident about the quality of teaching.

BN: The Open University has been delivering a similar service to what Woolf offers and is in the pursuit of utilizing blockchain also, so can this medium of education overtake the present standard? 

Broggi: The Open University has been doing marvelous work exploring blockchain’s potential in higher education – as have Alex Grech and Anthony Camilleri, who wrote the European Commission Report on Blockchain in Education. We are really supportive of their work on blockchain.

At Woolf, however, we aren’t just researching blockchain; we’re focused on delivering a full university system to the public as quickly as possible, and we have been beta-testing our smart contracts since March of 2018. Woolf is in the process of obtaining full degree-granting powers in the European Union – so many of our considerations are practical rather than theoretical.

BN: In a recent Forbes article you were quoted saying that “teachers and students from outside the EU can join our platform and earn a full EU degree – a non-EU student with a non-EU teacher in a non-EU language“.  The broader implications of this guide me to a point where educational qualifications have the capacity to become borderless, but will the degrees hold any weight in a country that could deny the legitimacy of those qualifications? 

Broggi: The whole design of Woolf is meant to incentivize higher standards. But you raise an interesting point, which is that there are no agreed global standards for accreditation. Every agreement is the result of political negotiation and consensus.

Our work with various governments has reinforced how varied the standards are across jurisdictions, but Europe has agreements like the Bologna Process, which not only help to harmonize standards but also to make them more globally recognizable. At Woolf we have had to develop a strategy to ensure the widest global reach for our credentials – this is an ongoing process, but it is going well, and we are committed to ensuring that our future students will be proud of their degrees!

BN: Protecting the educators, as well as the students, appears to be a priority for you and the platform. However, how can a professor be sure that there is any employment or financial security when the tuition fees will be significantly cheaper and they’ll be getting paid in a cryptocurrency, which is often well known to be rather volatile?

Broggi: Every academic department faces employment challenges because it is uncertain how many students will enroll in a given course. Woolf has several advantages. First, we are focused on a personalized education with Oxbridge-style classes – so we only need one or two students per class. Second, we’re creating a global pool of students and a global pool of qualified teachers – and this makes it much easier for students and teachers to find each other across borders. Third, lowering tuition fees does not mean lowering salary. Many traditional universities only pass on a fraction of tuition fees to their teachers, in their salaries.

This is why we have been working so hard to eliminate and automate bureaucratic processes. Fourth, our blockchain-based enrollment system is designed to give teachers greater financial confidence about future student enrollment, so they know exactly what their teaching load is in the future.

Digital currencies are more unstable than most fiat currencies when they are compared to each other. (Of course, for any currency, one unit is stable in relation to another unit of that currency; so volatility is always a description of external relations.)

At Woolf, we’ve been developing a stabilised payment system to dampen volatility with relation to specific external values, but you’ll have to wait for future announcements on that front.

 

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Take a French Leave from Taxes, or How to Keep Your Cryptocurrency Safe from the Taxman

When cryptocurrencies go through their periodic pumps, cryptocurrency investors are placed in a position of having to stop thinking so much about how to make more profit and start worrying more about how to protect their gains from the avaricious reach of the taxman. Depending on the laws in specific localities, and on the amount of trading an investor does, tax obligations can double or more. Experts from international company Worldcore have given a lot of thought to how investors can protect their earnings from unfair taxation.

According to a recent survey conducted by Worldcore, the majority of both novice and experienced traders are already familiar with, if not actively investing in, cryptocurrencies. Fully 89% of bankcard holders are aware of what cryptocurrencies are – but they may not be as aware of the legal and taxation grey area their crypto transactions and trades are in. This is as true for experienced investors and tax professionals as it is for novices.

The one thing we are sure of is that there is going to be a continued tightening of national regulations regarding cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, this is likely to further confuse rather than clarify the situation as different countries take different approaches. Cryptocurrencies may be borderless, but the laws that apply to them are not – and the message to the user is to beware out there.

For instance, the US tax authority, the IRS, in 2014 issued a ruling that cryptocurrencies should be regarded as property for tax purposes. This means that converting cryptocurrencies to fiat is a taxable event, requiring the individual to calculate loss and gains for each purchase and sale. At first, there did seem to be a loophole, known as a like-kind exchange. This would allow any conversion of one cryptocurrency to another to be considered non-taxable as these things are essentially the same kind of item. As of 2018, though, this loophole has been closed with only real estate being recognized for like-kind exchanges.

For US taxpayers, this has upped the ante. If they don’t comply with tax laws, as vague as they might still be, they may be subject to severe penalties. The IRS last year sent shockwaves through the community when it served Coinbase, the largest US cryptocurrency exchange, to hand over all trade data for its then over 500,000 users. A court battle ensued and the number of accounts that had their information turned over was dropped to a “mere 14,000”, but it was concerning all the same.

Alexey Nasonov, CEO of Worldcore, had this to say on the matter: “I suppose that we will witness similar actions throughout the world. More and more, regulators will want to access to international cryptocurrency exchanges, users’ accounts. It’s all happening because under 1,000 people were reported to have declared their cryptocurrency in the US in 2015, even though Coinbase’s client database at the time was about 2.7 million. It is currently reported to be over 13 million, putting it on par with some of the largest international banks!”

Rules in other countries vary. In Canada, cryptocurrency purchases and sales are taxable as capital gains/losses. In the UK, crypto-assets fall under the scope of either profit tax, corporate tax, income tax or capital gain tax, depending on whether you’re a company, a professional trader or an amateur investor. In Switzerland, amateur investors are not taxed at all, while in Australia cryptocurrency used to be subject to double-taxation due to the fact that, as property, it was subject to both VAT at point of purchase, and subject to capital gains tax. In Norway and Bulgaria, cryptocurrency is recognized as a financial asset, and the revenue from trades or sales on exchanges is subject to a 25% tax and 10% respectively. In Bulgaria, though, you can take the matter up with the regulator and keep small exchange gains tax-free.

Because we are a company with operations in many countries, Worldcore is uniquely positioned to assess best practices when trying to figure how to stay safe from regulators and keep as much of your cryptocurrency gains as possible, no matter where you live or operate. Here are a few simple rules we’ve come up with:

  1. Remember that it is always the responsibility of the taxpayer to know what their obligations are and fulfill them. Get a hold of your country’s regulations and consult with a professional if necessary.
  2. Make it a habit to log and track your cryptocurrency purchases, sales, and trades. Note the date and time you acquired the currency, for what price, when you sold it and how much you got for it. For small amounts and HODLers, a simple excel file might suffice.
  3. For large investors who trade actively, consider investing in specialized software or in hiring professional tax attorney or accountant.
  4. Don’t try to conceal transactions. There are multiple ways for tax officials to get information on trades – whether that be from the exchanges themselves or even by analyzing blockchains – so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Right now the rules may be vague, but once regulators catch up, the fines you could potentially face may be devastating.
  5. In most countries, giving cryptocurrency as a gift (check for allowable limits) is not taxed. This might be one way to protect your cryptocurrency gains while benefiting those around you.
  6. In those countries where cryptocurrency is considered property or as an asset, taxes will depend on how long you’ve owned it. In both Germany and the US, after one year the asset is considered long-term and will be taxed at a considerably lower rate.

Cryptocurrency has often been characterized as “the Wild West”’ meaning that no laws apply. Although that once might have been true, laws are slowly creeping into the cryptocurrency space. It’s the wise person who sees the trend and takes steps to keep their assets, and themselves, safe.

 

Article reproduced courtesy of Worldcore

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Brazil University to Launch Bitcoin Masters Program

Sao Paulo university Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV) has announced that it is to offer a Masters Degree in Cryptofinance as part of its program in order to “prepare students for the coming era of digital currencies”.

FGV’s new Masters’ program is a reflection of Brazil’s forward thinking approach to new developments in the financial global market. The university’s program officer, Ricardo Rochman, regards the move as an important one towards training professionals as “leaders” in Brazil’s start-up ecosystem. Rochman claims that the current market suffers from a lack of expertise and that economic and financial fundamentals need to be both researched and taught so that cryptofinance can move ahead.

The Faculty of Economics and Administration at the University of Sao Paulo (FEA-USP) is also embracing the new technologies, adding a Cryptocurrencies module to its Derivatives course. In this module, students can learn about Bitcoin and how markets react in the cryptocurrency environment. Alan de Genaro, a professor at the faculty, made the decision to run the course because future professionals “need to decipher which factors are beneficial and which are not”.

The education market, through major universities around the globe, is beginning to embrace the need for further research and teaching programs with regard to blockchain technology. New York University began offering one of the first classes on the subject in 2014. Other top Universities, such as Duke, Cornell and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are now offering a range of crypto courses. Stanford and Princeton Universities also offer courses on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

In Russia, some major universities have added courses to existing programs on banking, finance and financial markets. Saint Petersburg State University of Economics and Moscow’s Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) both run blockchain technology courses.

With cryptocurrency’s growing popularity, Bitcoin ‘labs’ are increasingly being introduced at universities around the world. Students enrolling for Edinburgh University‘s new course, Blockchains and Ledgers, will be required to build their own blockchain in a course aimed at fourth-year undergraduates and first-year masters students.

 

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