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Blockchain and CryptoCurrency

Crypto Markets Keep Building Momentum, Bitcoin Inches Towards $6,400
July 15, 2018 6:50 pm

Crypto markets keep growing, with nine out of top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap firmly in the green.

Sunday, July 15: crypto markets continue building momentum, with nine out of the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap firmly in the green, according to Coinmarketcap.

Market visualization from Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) has gone above the $6,300 mark, up about 1.5 percent over the past 24 hours, trading at $6,354 at press time. The top cryptocurrency continues its growth after dipping to an intraweek low of $6,180 on Friday.

Bitcoin price chart

Bitcoin price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Ethereum (ETH) is up 3.4 percent on the day, trading at $448 at press time. The coin has gone as low as $424 during the week, and it is still down around 10 percent over the past 30 days.

Ethereum price chart

Ethereum price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

After plunging to $242 billion on July 13, total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is back to its average monthly levels, currently just below $256 billion.

Total market capitalization chart

Total market capitalization chart. Source: Coinmarketcap

Stellar (XLM) is currently the biggest winner among the top ten coins by market cap, up 6.1 percent and trading at around $0.218 at press time. XLM is also the only coin among the top ten that has seen gains over the week, amounting to about 3.3 percent.

In terms of losses over the past week, EOS has suffered the most among the top ten. Despite the fact that the coin has gained almost 6 percent in 24 hours to press time, it is still down 15.7 percent over the past 7 days, trading $7.40 at press time.

On July 12, Chile’s Court of Appeals ruled in favor of crypto exchange Orionx, ordering the state-owned bank Banco Estado to reopen the company’s previously closed deposit account. It also stated that the bank’s original decision to close the account was “arbitrary and illegal.”

Crypto Wallets Security: Explained
July 15, 2018 6:09 pm

How to use your crypto wallet safely and spot possible threats to protect your coins against hackers.

My wallet has been hacked. Help!

Since it’s already happened there is not much you can do.

Imagine that you’re entering your wallet and seeing no coins and several transactions to unfamiliar addresses. That likely means you’ve been hacked.

Due to the anonymous nature of cryptocurrency ‘ownership’ is determined by whoever holds the codes for it. So if it’s gone - in majority cases - it’s gone. You may track the address of the last wallet but it will give you nothing. Notify the company - it's possible you are not the only one - and review your wallet and PC/smartphone security, if it has significant flaws.

Although if you kept your coins at a crypto exchange wallet and that exchange was hacked, there is a possibility that some kind of compensation will follow. The best thing you can do to protect your wallet is to make sure you’re aware of possible threats and you use your wallet correctly.

How could this ever happen? How can hackers steal cryptos?

Hackers use simple human weaknesses

The most popular type of fraud is phishing. Hackers may sent you a fake email from behalf of your wallet service, containing a fake URL, which may differ by one or several letters from the real URL of your wallet service. Or hackers even may redirect the right URL to fake URL when you’re entering the online wallet. The latest huge phishing scam occured on April 24 2018 to My Ether Wallet users, who lost in total $150,000 worth of Ethereum in a DNS hack.

Besides of phishing, hackers use simple human mistakes, such as keeping private keys in mail, exposing the keys at public, using public unprotected networks that allows hackers to sniff all the information and find the password. Big amounts of tokens and large transactions may attract hackers to hack exactly your wallet.

Where should I keep the keys, then?

The shortest answer here is that offline is better than online.

A popular mistake is to keep crypto wallet keys in email, Google Drive or Dropbox, or any notes app in your smartphone. These are the first places hackers usually try to get in. In order to save your coins, you can relocate keys to any less obvious storage. You may record it to an USB stick, or just write it down and keep it in your drawer - you obviously shouldn’t expose it to anyone else.

What if I lose my keys?

It depends on the type of wallet you use.

For most popular software wallets, it’s ok to know only your backup phrase, a mnemonic phrase, consisting of 12 words. In case you forget your pin, you should just delete the app, install it again using the backup phrase, and create a new pin.

There are wallets that provide access via Touch/Face ID instead of pin-codes. For example, in the Lumi app, you should just switch on Touch/Face ID in the app settings. The good thing about apps like Lumi is that the only thing you need to know is a backup phrase. The bad thing is that once you’ve lost the backup phrase, you’ve lost an access to your wallet. In this case, technology is helpless. The last hope for such luckless crypto owners is hypnosis.

I noticed that my wallet sets a new address every time I sign in - is it ok?

Yes, it’s for your wallet safety.

This method is called HD-safe, or "hierarchical deterministic", and means that every time you send or receive funds, a new address will be generated for your wallet. That’s a useful option, because it makes your transactions harder to track, and impossible for hackers to calculate the actual amount of money you keep at your wallet. If you need to transfer a big amount of coins you better split it to several transactions.

Is there an ideal wallet type with the best security level?

No. All wallets differ by online and offline types, and the security mechanisms differ respectively.

The majority of existing online cloud wallets, or so called ‘hot’ wallets, use two-factor authentication, in case hackers try to enter your email. ‘Warm’ wallets, the ones that you install as a software to your computer, or as an app to you smartphone, use 12-word backup phrase and pin-codes. ‘Cold’ wallets are hardware ones, that are located at a USB stick or a special gadget — it seems like the most secure way so far, but, according to a recent report, even hardware wallets are not foolproof. Regular updates and careful key management are still vitally important. Whatever kind of wallet you use, you should make sure that your laptop or smartphone doesn’t contain malware.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Top Swiss Stock Exchange Says It Is ‘Open’ to Offering Crypto Trading on Its Platform
July 15, 2018 4:14 pm

Operator of Switzerland’s top stock exchange SIX Group is “open” to the possibility of offering crypto trading on its planned digital trading platform.

SIX Group, the parent company of Switzerland’s principal stock exchange, has revealed that it is “open” to the possibility of offering cryptocurrency trading services on its digital trading platform. The platform, still in development, is set to launch by mid-2019, SIX Group’s spokesman told the Swissinfo news outlet in an interview July 15.

Swiss Infrastructure and Exchange (SIX) Group operates the country’s largest stock market, and is planning to launch a “fully-regulated” platform for digital asset trading by mid-2019. The service is set to offer a “complete” range of services from, including initial coin offering (ICO) consulting for those ICOs that are not classified as securities.

In the interview with Swissinfo, SIX Group spokesman Stephan Meier claimed that there is a “real need” for the establishment of “transparency and accountability in the crypto-world.” According to Meier, this would benefit both the businesses and investors in the crypto industry, and the participants of traditional markets.

“Not only traditional financial service providers and investors are interested in this, but also numerous companies and investors who want to take advantage of the new digital opportunities for raising capital and trading in digital assets.”

Meier clarified that SIX Group has not yet made a decision on what “specific products will be offered to list and trade” on its upcoming platform, noting that the question of whether cryptocurrency trading will be available is still “open.”

He added that the company would “technically be able to add various digital assets to the platform,” stressing that each digital asset will undergo a “due diligence process” before being added.

Stephan Meier also claimed that the company “want[s] to build a bridge between the traditional financial services and digital communities.” He emphasized that SIX Group is working in “close consultation” with regulatory authorities to find out “in which areas adjustments or additions to the legal framework may be necessary.”

Earlier this week, Switzerland has been reported as the second “most favorable” country for ICOs in terms of funds raised, outperformed only by the U.S.

Hodler’s Digest, July 9-15: While Mining ETH is a ‘Side Hustle’ for Google Co-Founder, Mining BTC for Russians May Fund Election ‘Interference’
July 15, 2018 3:42 pm

Russian officials have been accused of mining Bitcoin to fund election “interference,” while a UK study sees crypto soon becoming “mainstream.”

Coming every Sunday, the Hodler’s Digest will help you to track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions, and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

US Charges 12 Russian Intelligence Officers With Crypto-Funded Election “Interference”

The U.S. Department of Justice released an indictment this week that charged twelve Russian nationals with the intention to “interfere” in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections. According to the indictment, Russian officials from the government’s Main Intelligence Directorate mined cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in order to fund efforts to hack into various computer networks associated with the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and U.S. elections-related state boards and technology companies. The Russian hackers then released stolen emails through a crypto-funded domain while promoting themselves as “American hacktivists.”

Billionaire Google Co-Founder Reveals He Mines Ethereum With Son As A “Side Hustle”

Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google and the current president of Google’s parent company Alphabet, has said that he and his 10-year-old son mine Ethereum together as a “side hustle.” Brin also said that cryptocurrencies are “mind-boggling” and the crypto global network is “extraordinary,” admitting that Google hasn’t been on the “bleeding-edge” in embracing crypto.

UK Study Finds Crypto Has Potential To Become Mainstream Payment Means In Decade

A joint study by Imperial College and U.K. trading platform eToro writes that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could become a mainstream means of payment in the next decade, as they already meet one of the three main criteria of money— store of value. In order to become a fully fledged payment instrument, the study notes that cryptocurrencies must now solve their six main challenges: scalability, usability, regulation, volatility, incentives, and privacy.

Three American Economists Shoot Down Bitcoin’s Chances For Survival

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kenneth Rogoff, and NYU economist “Dr. Doom” Nouriel Roubini have all expressed negative views about Bitcoin during an interview. According to the three economists, Bitcoin’s anonymity, volatility, and ability to be used for “nefarious activity” mean the coin will fail as a currency.

Elon Musk Refers To Twitter Crypto Scammers’ “Mad Skillz” In Tweet About Ethereum

Billionaire Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, tweeted this week about the “mad skillz” of Twitter scammers impersonating famous people to steal ETH and other crypto from their victims. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin responded to Musk by both asking Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for help and noting his disappointment that Musk’s first tweet about ETH concerned scammers.

 

 

 

Most Memorable Quotations

“I want to know who is running the Etherium [sic] scambots! Mad skillz…” — Elon Musk, billionaire entrepreneur, on Twitter crypto scams

“We’re moving into a qualitative shift in the nature of money...towards a world of ‘global villages’ where you can have decentralized governance,” — Joseph Lubin, Ethereum Foundation co-founder

Laws And Taxes

Philippine Special Economic Zone Issues Three Provisional Crypto Exchange Licenses

The Philippine’s Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) has issued provisional licenses to three crypto exchanges, reportedly two from Hong Kong and a third from Thailand. CEZA, which is a state-owned corporation that control the operations of the special economic zone, expects to attract $3 million of investment as a result of the issuance. The Philippine government announced in April that it would allow 10 blockchain and crypto-related companies to operate in the special zone to stimulate the economy.

EU Directive Sets New Legal Framework For Financial Watchdogs To Regulate Crypto

The EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Director, which came into force on July 9, will create a new legal framework for regulating digital currencies to protect against money laundering and terrorism financing. The new rules include stricter transparency requirements for the use of “anonymous payments through prepaid cards” and “virtual currency exchange platforms.

South Korea Legislators Reveal Crypto, ICO, Blockchain Bill Drafts

South Korean regulators will reportedly introduce drafts of bills regulating cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, and blockchain tech at an extraordinary National Assembly session which will take place from July 13-26. The bills are reported to call for regulations on crypto trading platforms in order to prevent money laundering, cybercrimes, and personal data leaks. Also this week, South Korean regulators promised to create more friendly blockchain investment legislation.

Report: India Won’t Ban Digital Currencies, But Will Treat Them As Commodities

An anonymous source in the government reported this week that India is not gearing up for a blanket crypto ban, but will instead treat digital currencies as commodities. According to the source, Indian regulators participating in a Finance Ministry-ordered crypto study are mainly concerned with tracking investors and funds to fight money laundering and illicit financing.

Bermuda To Introduce New ICO, Distributed Ledger Technology Regulations

Bermuda’s Premier and Minister of Finance has introduced new regulations on ICOs to the House of Assembly this week. The new regulatory guidelines lay out the information required for ICOs projects, as well as establishing compliance measures for companies conducting an ICO. The Premier also noted that the government will set out a legal framework for distributed ledger technology, passing the Digital Asset Business Act 2018.

Adoption

London School of Economics To Offer Online Crypto Investing Course

The London School of Economics will offer an online course titled “Cryptocurrency Investment and Disruption” beginning this August. According to the announcement, students will learn the “practical skills” involved in dealing with crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, and how to evaluate the analytics of ICOs.

Blockchain-Based Phone To Be Released In November By Sirin Labs

Swiss smartphone developer Sirin Labs will release a blockchain-based phone, the Finney, this November with an expected price of $1,000. The phone will be based on the Android system, and run on SIRIN OS with an included cold storage wallet, a Token Conversion Service, and a DApp store. Sirin Labs previously released a privacy-focused smartphone in 2016 for the much higher price of $16,000.

Ledger Reportedly Attracts Industry Investors For Funding After Selling 1 Mln Wallets

Security-focused hardware wallet Ledger, which sold more than one million crypto wallets in 2017, is now seeking an additional funding found. The company already raised $75 million in a Series B funding round in January, but the new fundraising intends to attract “industrial partners who will also sign commercial contracts with the crypto startup.” Forbes reports that tech giants like Samsung, Siemens, and Google’s venture arm GV are interested, with talk of Ledger’s valuation reaching as high as $1 billion.

Czech Investment Banking Firm Reveals $100 Mln Fund For Israeli Blockchain Startups

Investment banking firm Benson Oak said this week that it would pump “around $100 mln” into Israeli startups with an emphasis on blockchain tech. The company has already raised one fourth, or $25 million, of the funds, and notes that Israel was chosen as a focus due to its potential for “great entrepreneurs” to develop blockchain further.

Bloomberg: Billionaire Steven Cohen Reportedly Backs Crypto, Blockchain Hedge Fund

Steven Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is allegedly backing crypto and blockchain-focused hedge fund, Autonomous Partners. According to Bloomberg, Cohen invested in Arianna Simpson’s crypto hedge fund visa his private equity firm Cohen Private Ventures.

Mergers, Acquisitions, And Partnerships

Litecoin Foundation Partners with TokenPay, Acquires 10 Percent Stake In German Bank

The Litecoin Foundation has partnered with crypto-fiat payments firm TokenPay and acquired a 9.9 percent stake in Germany WEG Bank AG. TokenPay transferred its equity share of the bank to the Litecoin Foundation as part of an agreement that the foundation will provide blockchain and marketing expertise for TokenPay’s operations.

South Korean Logistics Giant Join Blockchain Transport Alliance

Seoul-headquartered logistics and shipping firm, Lotte Global Logistics, has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) this week. The BiTA was formed in 2017 to develop blockchain applications in transport and logistics industries, and includes as FedEx, Uber, shipping giant UPS, and GE Transportation as members.

Saudi Arabian Municipality Partners With IBM For Blockchain Development

The Riyadh Municipality in Saudi Arabia has partnered with IBM in order to develop blockchain tech for government services. The Riyadh Municipality, IBM, and Saudi tech firm Elm Company will collaborate on workshops for deciding with government services are suitable for blockchain.

Winners And Losers

The crypto markets are still down this week, with Bitcoin trading for around $6,297, Ethereum for around $438, and total market cap around $250 billion.

The top three altcoin gainers of the week are BitShares, Decred, and Enigma. The top three altcoin losers of the week are DigiByte, KuCoin Shares, and RChain.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

FUD Of The Week

Head of Chinese Regulator Says Blockchain Shouldn’t Be “Mythologized”

Fan Wenzhong, the head of the international department of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, said this week that although blockchain innovation has “significant meaning,” one shouldn’t “mythologize” the technology. Wenzhong also added that decentralization is merely a loop of an old trend, and that cryptocurrencies are not “necessarily useful.”

20 Arrested In Chinese Cryptojacking Case Allegedly Affecting Over 1 Million Computers

A major cryptojacking case in China has led to the arrest of 20 suspects that reportedly garnered around $2.2 million in illicit profits by infecting over 1 million computers with cryptojacking mining scripts. Local sources report that the investigation began in January of this year after a security team alerted the Weifang City Public Security Bureau about a mining script hidden in freely-downloadable plugins.

Decentralized Crypto Platform Bancor Experiences “Security Breach” Involving $12 Mln

Bancor, a decentralized cryptocurrency platform, halted operations on July 9 as it investigated a “security breach” that reportedly involved around $12 million of Ethereum, $1,200 of Pundi X, and the platform’s native token BNT. The exchange reported that no users funds were affected, as cryptocurrencies are not held in hot wallets. Bancor’s head of communications told Cointelegraph that the exchange expected to be back online in 24 hours. As of press time, Bancor is back online.

Cybersecurity Firm Kaspersky Lab Finds More Than $10 Mln ETH Stolen Over Past Year

Kaspersky Lab reports that cyber criminals have stolen around 21,000 in Ethereum through social engineering schemes over the past year, with more than a hundred thousand alarms triggered on security software dealing with crypto since the beginning of 2018. According to the report, the scammers targeted investors interested in ICOs, using fake websites and phishing emails to illegally obtain their victims money.

Study Shows That Over 80 Percent Of ICOs Held In 2017 Were Scams

According to a study by ICO advisory firm Statis Group, more than 80 percent of ICOs conducted in 2017 can be considered scams. The study examined the life cycles of the ICOs, determining that four percent had failed and three percent had “gone dead.” The ICOs identified as scams garnered $1.34 billion of funding overall, which is 11 percent of total ICO funding in 2017.

Prediction Of The Week

Bitcoin Will Hit $60,000 This Year, Says TenX Co-Founder Julian Hosp

Julian Hosp, the co-founder of crypto startup TenX, repeated his previous prediction that Bitcoin will hit $60,000 this year. Last December, Hosp had forecasted that Bitcoin would see both $5,000 and $60,000 in 2018, and he is still “quite confident” that the $60,000 mark will become a reality.

Best Features

From Icarus to Basic Sanity: Blockchain Technology and the Power of Not Knowing

Aleksandr Bulkin from Coinfund explains the impudence of assuming that a decentralized solution will automatically work, and the importance of avoiding the hubris that can blind developers to gaps in their project.

Dear Cryptocurrency Investors — They’re Trying to Trick You

Chris Douthit, CEO and analyst at CryptoInvestingInsider.com, draws parallels between an American entrepreneur creating “fake news” in the 1800s to buy up as many gold mines as possible with the media “FUD” around cryptocurrencies today. Douthit details what he considers the recent “eye opening” changes that show the crypto space is actually moving in the right direction, like Bloomberg’s Crypto Galaxy Fund Index and Goldman Sachs’s future crypto trading desk.

Universities Racing to Provide Lectures on Crypto: Opportunities and Pitfalls
July 15, 2018 2:31 pm

Universities are increasingly offering crypto courses, but most provide students with introductory knowledge, rather than advanced skills.

Knowledge is power, particularly in the Information Age, where an understanding of ‘the new’ can provide an edge over the competition. This is why, barely a year since crypto exploded into mainstream awareness — and long before it's likely to enjoy blanket adoption — it’s already been the object of a growing number of university courses. While a minority of these have focused on the actual coding, computer science and cryptography lying behind cryptocurrencies, most others have sought to provide a detailed introduction to crypto, so that a more business-focused audience will have the basis for deciding whether — and to what extent — it should adopt Bitcoins and blockchains.

In other words, increasingly profit-oriented universities are seeking to capitalize on the crypto-rush by offering the public nontechnical courses on cryptocurrencies. However, even if many of them are simply teaching students how to conceptualize blockchains as opposed to how to actually code and create them, students are reporting considerable satisfaction with the teaching they've received so far. And despite not necessarily providing them with the ability to build decentralized apps and currencies for themselves, the knowledge they've received may be vital if crypto is to be adopted on a mass scale in the future.

The United States

For the most part, the teaching of crypto takes place in the context of business-related programs, with very few universities offering specific degrees in cryptocurrencies or blockchains themselves. In the U.S., a number of high-profile MBA (Master of Business Administration) programs have been or are adding cryptocurrency courses, enabling students to gain a grounding in crypto at the same time as learning about accounting, finance, entrepreneurship, and so on. This is the case with the following institutions:

  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
  • Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
  • NYU's Stern School of Business
  • Fuqua School of Business, Duke University
  • MIT Sloan School of Management
  • UCLA Anderson School of Management
  • Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business
  • The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania)

To take an example, NYU's Stern School of Business offers MBA students an introductory course titled, "Digital Currency, Blockchains, and the Future of the Financial Services Industry." According to the course's own outline, it aims "to equip the students to better understand the law and business of blockchain technology, both in its initial application in the digital currency Bitcoin, as well as in the applications currently being explored for a wide variety of uses and functions."

Since the teaching is centred around understanding the applications of blockchain tech, its lectures cover such topics as payment systems through history, how blockchains work, criminality and cryptocurrencies, and managing bank runs. There is no coding or computer science-aspect of the course, which is typical across the institutions listed above, with students instead being schooled in the basic principles of cryptocurrencies and the impact they’ll likely have on the financial sector.

Given that only three of the schools listed above were offering their courses when Cointelegraph published a similar article on blockchains and universities roughly a year ago, their expansion signals that cryptocurrency courses are enjoying a steady growth. And what's interesting about such growth is that it's being driven, to a large extent, by the students themselves, who in some cases are pushing their universities to include modules, courses and lectures on crypto in their programs.

For instance, second-year MBA student Itamar Orr said in April that Stanford's inclusion of its cryptocurrency course was in part the result of pressure heaped on the Graduate School of Business by him and 12 other students, who wrote a joint letter to the school demanding the addition of a crypto-themed module.

"Many of us will have to discuss blockchain at our jobs. It makes sense to teach it. It gets you a competitive advantage; it's an extra hammer in your toolbox."

Similarly, universities and professors themselves recognize the growing public demand for crypto courses, a demand that's been heightened by the price movements that cryptocurrencies have enjoyed in recent months. David Yermack, a professor at NYU's Stern School of Business, reported in February that the first lecture theatre he used for his Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies course had a maximum capacity of 180 people, but he had to move to a bigger theatre that accommodates 225 people, after interest exploded in the new year. Likewise, Dawn Song, a professor at UC Berkeley, reports telling her students, “This is a very precious opportunity for you to be able to sit in this class […] There are a bazillion other students who are waiting for your spot.”

The rest of the world: MOOCs and courses

The supply and demand for courses in crypto is perhaps highest in the U.S., but that's not to say such courses aren't available elsewhere. In fact, there are a number of places outside of America where students can gain full degrees or qualifications in a crypto-related field.

In Cyprus, the University of Nicosia has offered a MSc in Digital Currencies since 2014, when it also launched the first module of this program as a free MOOC (massive open online course). Available online and worldwide, the program includes lectures on banking, regulation, blockchain applications, financial markets and digital currency programming. Its coverage is therefore quite broad, with its overview stating that it's "designed to prepare participants to become competent professionals in the field of digital currency."

The University of Nicosia isn't the only place in Europe students can obtain a master's degree in cryptocurrencies. The Universidad de Alcalá in Spain is now offering a "Máster en Ethereum, Tecnología Blockchain y Cripto-Economía," which promises "to provide comprehensive training in the field of blockchain technology, DAOs and smart contracts, including cryptocurrencies as a special and transversal case, from a triple perspective: technological, economic-financial and regulatory." A similarly tripartite focus is also evident with the Expert Master in Blockchain and Cryptoeconomics organized by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. Running from this September to May, it's "aimed at providing professionals with the basic tools related to blockchain in these three fields: technological, economic and legal."

And while its degree is a postgraduate diploma rather than a master's, the Universidad Europea Madrid is also attempting to tailor its crypto program specifically for professionals. Its Postgraduate Diploma in Bitcoin and Blockchain begins in October and last for six months, at the end of which students "will be able to analyze in a critical way the technical and legal viability of solutions based on blockchain technologies and to develop integral projects related to cryptocurrency."

Another vocational diploma is available from the Buenos Aires Institute of Technology, in Argentina. The Diploma in Cryptoeconomies: Blockchain, Smart Contracts and Cryptocurrencies is again targeted at people "with very basic knowledge and who want to learn the reasons, mechanics and disruptive opportunities at a monetary, technological level and as a form of investment." It lasts only for a couple of months starting July 11, underlining the fact that its priorities reside more with introducing students to blockchains and cryptocurrencies than with fully teaching them how to be an integral and productive part of the cryptocurrency industry itself.

Again, short courses that cater to professionals and terminate in a certificate or diploma are becoming increasingly common throughout the rest of the world. In February, the RMIT University in Australia launched an eight-week online course, Developing Blockchain Strategy, in which — for the price of around $1,200 — students will receive an "introduction to the blockchain basics," will then "look at the scope of the wider blockchain industry," and finally will be advised on how to "apply these learnings to [their] own business."

Back in Europe, the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark has been running a one-week Blockchain Summer School since 2016, with this year's edition due to take place in August, and to "focus on the application of blockchain technology for generating business and social value."

In Russia, three institutions added crypto-related courses to their financial programs at the end of 2017: Moscow State University, the Saint Petersburg State University, and the Higher School of Economics. Meanwhile, a couple of technical universities (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, the National University of Science and Technology) are adding courses on how to develop cryptocurrencies, highlighting the ways some nations are aiming to teach students the means of building blockchains, rather than of just understanding them on a conceptual and financial level.

Education, or profiteering as well?

But while there appears to be no shortage of courses and degrees for those interested in crypto, it's still an open question as to just how valuable such courses and degrees are. Do they enable students to become active in cryptocurrencies and to design blockchains for themselves, or do they simply provide a higher, more marketable class of general knowledge?

As the above summaries reveal, most of them are tailored toward business professionals, who are either interested in beefing up their CVs with a fashionable qualification, or who actually want to decide whether it’s worth integrating blockchains or cryptocurrencies into their businesses. Universities therefore increasingly seek to capitalize on such people, and — given that the knowledge they're imparting is sometimes 'basic' — it's arguable as to whether their underlying motive in offering crypto courses is partly profit-driven, rather than being guided solely by a belief in the wider social, economic and political value of what they're teaching.

Of course, there has been no admission from any of the universities concerned that they're simply looking to make money out of the crypto craze, although the increasing commercialization of universities in general would strengthen such a suspicion. For example, between 1988 and 2018, the average tuition fee for an American private nonprofit university — i.e., Harvard, NYU, Duke, Georgetown, etc. — rose from $15,160 to $34,740 per year in real terms, representing an increase of 129 percent. In England, yearly tuition fees went from £0 (in 1998) to the current £9,250 in 19 years, catalysing a change that has seen universities becoming more driven by targets and teaching 'outcomes' in a bid to attract more student numbers — or, rather more "customers," as one anonymous academic put it. And such a process has been exacerbated by the financial crisis, which, in the U.S., U.K., and other nations, left universities with less public funding, and therefore more impetus to find revenue streams for themselves.

There is, then, reason to think that some universities are being drawn toward crypto partly by their increasing corporatization and commercialization, especially when the tuition fees for their crypto-courses range from $1,200 — for a mere eight weeks at the RMIT University — to €12,080 — for 18 months of studying online with the University of Nicosia. However, even if this is the case, the students that Cointelegraph has talked to indicate considerable satisfaction with the teaching and instruction they've received.

Christelle Bure, a director at a South African consultancy firm, is taking the MSc at the University of Nicosia, and — despite being in the early stages of the program — already reports gaining helpful knowledge.

"The free MOOC (Module 1) was a wonderful intro to crypto and blockchains. It covered information on both a business and technical level. Obviously, it is an intro course, but the knowledge I received was incredibly useful and helped me conceptually understand the what, how and why of crypto and blockchains."

Another student at Nicosia who has actually completed the program is cryptocurrency journalist Caleb Chen, who confirms that, aside from looking at money and the markets, the degree also involves cryptographic and coding elements. "The nine course degree program had two paths, one for those with a developer background and one for those without," he explains. And although he chose the non-developer route, the program still delved into how to understand and use cryptography.

"As an example, every student did have to create and sign their own multi-sig testnet transactions with the instructor as the 3rd key in one of the classes, even in the non-developer course path. The program in general definitely focused on design of blockchains and cryptocurrencies more than how to engineer or code them — though I imagine that may have been covered in the developer course path."

Education = Adoption

Such accounts show that, even if some crypto courses are more introductory than intensive, there are others that provide students with a thorough and varied schooling in cryptocurrencies and blockchains — one that will actually help them play an active, rather than passive, role in the crypto industry. Added to this, while their numbers are still small, there are certain courses that do focus specifically on the technical aspects of crypto, such as Cornell University's Distributed Consensus and Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts, and Blockchains, Cryptocurrencies, and Smart Contracts courses, which are all available through its computer science department, rather than through its SC Johnson College of Business.

Another example comes from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which runs Cryptocurrency Engineering & Design and Shared Public Ledgers courses as part of its Digital Currency Initiative. In Europe, the University of Edinburgh now runs a Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers course for undergraduates at its School of Informatics, while the Varna University of Management in Bulgaria is planning to include a blockchain module in its Software Engineering program in the 2018/19 academic year.

While it may take other universities some time to catch up with such offerings, the more general and introductory courses on crypto are still very valuable — and not just in a professional sense. As highlighted PwC's Daniel Diemers in a recent interview:

Adoption of new technologies requires more education.”

This is why the healthy growth in general and introductory courses on blockchains and Bitcoin is a very welcome development, since, even if these courses don't necessarily breed the next generation of crypto coders and developers, they will breed the next generation of people ready to adopt what these coders and developers produce.

Chile Court of Appeals Orders Bank to Resume Business With Crypto Exchange Orionx
July 15, 2018 1:33 pm

Chile’s Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Orionx crypto exchange, saying that the state-owned Banco Estado has to reopen its deposit account.

Chilean Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of crypto exchange Orionx, resolving that the state-owned bank Banco Estado should reopen the company’s deposit account, local news outlet La Tercera reported July 12.

The Fourth Chamber of the Court of Appeals of Santiago has accepted the appeal filed by Orionx crypto exchange against Banco Estado, which closed the company’s deposit account in late March. At that time, the bank cited the lack of “regulatory recognition of [cryptocurrency trading]” as justification for its decision.

Now, by the ruling of the Court of Appeals, Banco Estado has been ordered to reopen the deposit account of Orionx. The Court called the bank’s original decision to close it an “arbitrary and illegal action, which constitutes a deprivation of the right protected by Article 19 No. 2 of the Political Constitution of the Republic, that is, the right to equality before the law.”

In late April, Chile’s anti-monopoly court similarly ruled that two banks, Banco del Estado de Chile and Itau Corpbanca, have to reopen the previously closed accounts of crypto exchange Buda.

In May, the president of Central Bank of Chile Mario Marcel announced that they are considering the development of a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies, in order to better manage the risks associated with crypto trading.

Crypto Markets See Slight Gains Since Yesterday’s Upswing, Despite US Indictment FUD
July 14, 2018 10:07 pm

Crypto markets keep moving upwards slowly since yesterday’s mild upswing, Bitcoin near $6,300, despite U.S. govt’s crypto-involving indictment.

July 14: crypto markets are holding gains from yesterday’s mild upswing, with all top ten cryptocurrencies seeing slight growth over the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinMarketCap and Coin360.

Coin360

Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is up just over one percent over the past 24 hours, trading at $6,274 at press time. The leading cryptocurrency has been mostly trading sideways today, holding gains from yesterday’s modest rebound.

Btc

Bitcoin price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Top altcoin Ethereum (ETH) is trading at about $435, up almost one percent on the day to press time. The top altcoin by market cap is still down over 10 percent over the past week.

Value

Ethereum price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is hovering near $250 billion, around yesterday’s levels, with an intraday low of $246 billion. Total market cap however has lost almost $30 bln on the week.

Total market

Total market capitalization chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

While most top ten cryptocurrencies have seen modest growth of around 1-2 percent over the past 24 hours, some coins have seen bigger gains.

Stellar (XLM), the seventh largest coin by market cap, is currently up almost 5 percent, trading at $0.21 at press time.

Cardano (ADA), the 8th largest coin, is the only one of the top ten coins in the red, down just a slight 0.01 percent over the past 24 hours, trading at $0.138 at press time.

On July 10, crypto markets took dip, reversing an overall upswing since late June that saw Bitcoin reach almost $6,800 this same week, July 9. Since July 10, markets have been following a further downward trend until yesterday, July 13, when the markets took a turn to make a modest comeback.  

Though slight, the general growth of crypto markets comes despite the fact that yesterday, July 13,  U.S. authorities indicted twelve Russian officials for allegedly using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to fund “interference” in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

Crypto and Blockchain — Following in the Footsteps of Man’s Greatest Inventions?
July 14, 2018 8:55 pm

From the printing press to electricity, radio and the internet — here’s how cryptocurrency and blockchain stacks up to some of the most influential technologies of the modern age.

Throughout history, human civilization has gone through massive growth periods, thanks to major technological advances.

The earliest — and perhaps most notable — was the discovery and mastery of fire, which is estimated to have happened around 700,000 years ago. The American Council of Science and Health cites archaeological evidence for these figures.

Fire provided the impetus for Homo Sapiens to evolve, creating ‘revolutionary’ changes for early man, which may have led to the establishment of bigger settlements and the development of more intricate tools and a better quality of life.This very distant discovery marks the start of man’s intellectual development.

While the list of technological discoveries that have changed history are numerous, let’s narrow down our list to five of the biggest innovations in communications technology that have changed the way people access and consume information and data.

For a more comprehensive list of man’s greatest inventions, The Atlantic has put together a fantastic catalogue compiled and ranked by some of the world’s most notable historians, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs.

INFOGRAPHICS

The printing press

Hailed as one of the most important inventions in history, the printing press precedes the rest of our list by almost 400 years. Johannes Gutenberg is credited with the creation of what is known as the Gutenberg press.

The German, who was a goldsmith by trade, created a hand-held metal matrice that essentially created the first type-based printing press system.

It allowed the rapid and cheap printing of documents and books in short print runs. As the printing press spread around the world, more and more people had access to information — which led to an intellectual revolution and played a big role in the Reformation.

This ability to spread information had marked influences on the scientific revolution and the rise of adult literacy. It also, ironically, led to the decline of Latin and the development of vernacular languages around the globe.

The printing press literally fast-tracked the ability to create and share information around the world, and played a big role in the development of education on a grand scale.

Electricity

While the printing press allowed the spread of information and knowledge around the world, people were still in the dark, per se.

That would eventually come to an end in the late 1800s, as a number of scientists came to grips with the intricacies of electricity. The invention of the light bulb, which had numerous contributors throughout the 19th century, brought lighting to the world as one of the first widely used applications of electricity.

One of its applications was developed earlier and had an even bigger role to play in communications. The electric telegraph was developed in the 1830s, which allowed people to send messages across the world with the use of an electric circuit.

This laid the platform for communication systems likes telephones, fax machines and, eventually, the internet.

Radio

The next step in the development of communication was the emergence of radio. At the turn of the 19th century, a certain Guglielmo Marconi patented the idea of a wireless telegraphy system in England in 1896.

Marconi delivered his first ever wirelessly transmitted signal — the first radio waves — across the Atlantic, from the Isle Wight of Cornwall in 1901.

For the next 20 years, radio communication was mainly used by the military. But from the 1920s onward, commercial radio was launched. The likes of the BBC started broadcasting in 1922 — providing people with news, information and entertainment.

Radio then played an important role in bringing news to the people during World War II — and then changed its focus to music and entertainment after those chaotic days. Commercialization changed the nature of radio, but it still plays an important part in keeping people informed of major events around the world.

Radio’s success lies in its wireless nature. Anyone with a receiver can tune in to a frequency that is in range to access messages and information. This also means that many people can benefit from a single receiver — making it one of the most powerful mediums for the exchange of information.

Internet

While radio and television slowly gained adoption around the world from the 1920s onward, it would take a good 70 years — until the 1990s — before the internet would be accessible to the wider public.

Its origins began in the 1960s, where psychologist and computer scientist Dr J.C.R. Licklider produced a series of documents that outlined the idea of an ‘Intergalactic Computer Network’ —  which would allow a network of globally connected computers to access and share data, as well as use programs from a number of sites.

In 1963, while serving as the director of the U.S. Department of Defense’ Advanced Research Projects Agency (known as DARPA), Licklider laid the foundation for the development of ARPANET.

Building on the concept of time-sharing, which was the sharing of computational resources to multiple users, the internet’s development was mainly driven by the use of packet switching as a means to transmit information over these early, closed networks.

From the 1980s onward, the internet as we know it began to become commercialized, as businesses looked to embrace and make use of the capabilities of a global network. This saw the emergence of internet service providers.

At the turn of the 1990s, the public had access to email services and basic web pages, and the next ten years saw an explosion of growth, which was characterized by the dot com bubble.

Nevertheless, the internet’s use has all but encompased all of the technologies listed above. Through a network of global computers and servers, people around the world have access to an almost infinite supply of information.

Furthermore, the internet now provides the platform for video and audio, which has shaken up the world of radio and television. Its applications are numerous — and the internet has reshaped the modern world.

It is also, in part, responsible for the infrastructure that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are built upon.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency

The internet is now the road that links global networks together, empowering hundreds of millions of people to be able to access information and communicate with each other around the world.

As the digital world continued to evolve after the internet became widely accessible to the masses, newer technologies were developed using its infrastructure.

With the ability to communicate and share data with users around the world via the World Wide Web, privacy and safety also became an issue.

This is where the foundations of cryptocurrency came into being — through the development of encryption technology.

The development of cryptocurrencies finds its origins in the 1980s, where ‘cypherpunks’ pre-empted threats against privacy. As software developer Jameson Lopp said in November 2017, these cypherpunks were responsible for the foundation of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency:

“The origin of the cypherpunk goes back to the 1980s. A bunch of nerds who saw the promise of the internet and these new communication technologies, but they also saw the dark side.”

“They wanted to bring privacy-enhancing technologies into the internet itself, on top of the internet protocols and it just so happens that digital money was one of those interesting things the cypherpunks thought was important for society to have. A number of cypherpunks worked on it for decades and it wasn’t until 2009 that Satoshi came along with an elegant solution.”

Encryption technology was pioneered, once again, by governmental and military agencies in the 1960s, while the origin of encryption dates back way further. Nevertheless, once digital data-encryption was developed, it was released to the public in the late 1980s, and during 1990s, the cypherpunk movement was officially formed by Eric Hughes, Tim May and John Gilmore.

With access to previously classified technology, these technologists were able to continue the work being done on data privacy. This encryption technology then became a vital part of the Bitcoin protocol.

Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin white paper even credits the work of Dr. Adam Back and his Hashcash proof-of-work — which is an algorithm that can be used to safeguard against denial-of-service attacks.

The work of b-money creator Wei Dai, computer scientist Ralph Merkle — who invented cryptographic hashing — and a number of other scientists that have worked on digital time-stamping technology, all contributed to the eventual creation of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin was birthed in 2009, on that fateful day of January 4, when the genesis block was mined. While its uptake was slow in the first few years, things have changed dramatically since.

2017 was arguably the breakout year for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. A spiralling bull run saw the pre-eminent cryptocurrency break past the $20,000 mark.

This cast a spotlight on Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general, and they’re no longer an obscure technology that nerds talk about on lunch break in Silicon Valley.

Bitcoin and its blockchain still rule the roost, while the likes of Ethereum have brought a new dimension to the applications and possibilities of blockchain technology.

A brave new world

Like the early years of electricity, radio and the internet, the uses of this technology are still being figured out. But as more people come to grips with the possibilities of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, the faster adoption occurs.

While the crypto space is constantly evolving, with a number of big movers having entered the scene in the past few years, blockchain technology is being harnessed by private companies around the world as well.

Ironically, this is where blockchain technology differs from the predecessors mentioned above. Radio and internet technology was developed and harnessed by government and military operations first.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, was released to the public in 2009, and since then it has been adopted by millions around the world and has birthed numerous blockchain projects — both public and private.

The applications of blockchain technology are still being explored and the sky's the limit in terms of the effect it could have on society.

US Ranks as ‘Most Favorable’ Country for ICOs in Recent Report
July 14, 2018 8:30 pm

The U.S. and Switzerland ranked as top two ‘most favorable’ countries for running an ICO, according to a new report.

The U.S., Switzerland, and Singapore were ranked as the top three “most favorable” countries for Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in a recent report, according to a press release the researchers shared with Cointelegraph July 14.

Analysts associated with the Crypto Finance Conference compiled the research based on publicly available data of the top 100 ICOs by country in terms of funds raised and ranked them by number of projects launched.

The report highlights the U.S. as the most favorable country for ICOs with a  total of 30 companies launched in the field. The second country is Switzerland, which is responsible for half as many of the projects, while Singapore is ranked third place with 11 projects.

countries

Top ‘favorable’ ICO countries from Crypto Finance Conference’s study

The report also features Russia, Estonia and the UK as some of the most promising countries for crypto project funding.

As Cointelegraph reported last week, the largest ever month for ICO investment took place just four months ago, and 2018 has also seen the time taken to complete and ICO, and success of these projects, shift significantly since last year.

Cointelegraph also recently reported that ICO volumes reached new records in the first half of 2018, amounting to already twice as much as it was during the entire year of 2017.

As a top location for conducting biggest ICOs and crypto projects, the U.S. continues to combat cases of illegal activity in the sphere. Earlier this week, the Texas State Securities Board (SSB) issued an an emergency cease and desist order to a network of cryptocurrency-related firms allegedly accused of offering fraudulent crypto investments to state residents.

Greek Court Rules to Extradite Alexander Vinnik, Accused of Laundering $4 Bln in Bitcoin
July 14, 2018 7:40 pm

Greek court rules to extradite Russian national Alexander “Mr. Bitcoin” Vinnik to France on charges of fraud and money laundering.

A Greek court has ruled to extradite the alleged former operator of crypto exchange BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, to France, local news outlet CNN Greece reported Friday, July 13.

The 39-year old Russian national Vinnik, also known colloquially as “Mr. Bitcoin,” was indicted by U.S. authorities on charges of fraud and money laundering last year, reportedly involving up to $4 billion in Bitcoin (BTC).

Vinnik’s Greek lawyer Ilias Spyrliadis confirmed to Russian news agency TASS that “the court has granted France’s request for Vinnik’s extradition.” Spyrliadis also revealed that he is planning to appeal against the court’s decision in the Greek Supreme Court.

According to CNN Greece, Vinnik himself challenged the decision of the Greek court on extradition to France, denying the allegations of French authorities, who issued a warrant, in which the alleged BTC-e owner was accused of “defraud[ing] over 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.” Vinnik responded that he was "transferring e-money through a platform," considering it as "legitimate personal transactions.”

Vinnik’s lawyer Spyrliadis assured Russian BBC that the latest extradition to France would lead to a further extradition to the U.S., because “otherwise the U.S. cannot get him, since the extradition process was blocked.”

The Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a comment July 13 in response to the events, accusing the Greek authorities of “continu[ing] to complicate relations with Russia.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that Russia’s request to extradite Vinnik should have been given priority over France’s, concluding “[i]t is obvious that Russia cannot leave these actions unanswered.”

On July 25, 2017, Vinnik was arrested by Greek police under the order of of the U.S. Ministry of Justice, following the closure of once major cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, allegedly owned and administered by Vinnik.

Having publicly stated his innocence in September 2017, Vinnik also denied his involvement in the Mt. Gox hack back in 2011 after a group of Bitcoin security experts claimed that Vinnik had a direct relationship to the incident.

Blockchain Platform Offers Digital Collectibles of World Leaders and Politicians
July 14, 2018 12:00 pm

A blockchain-based platform is giving people the chance to buy digital collectibles of public figures, ranging from Donald Trump to Oprah Winfrey.

A blockchain-based platform is giving people the chance to buy unique, digital collectibles inspired by public figures and political leaders — including politicians, such as Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, and media personalities, like Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres.

Each Crypton comes with a handcrafted image of the person it represents. Humorous or satirical “gaglines” can be added underneath and shared on social media in order to comment on matters of public interest or just to have fun. Examples of edgy captions so far have included Mark Zuckerberg (“Elections are more fun with FB,”) Jeff Bezos (“Poor Donald… I am 100x richer,”) and Sarah Palin (“Don’t misunderestimate me”).

The company behind the concept, Crypton Labs, believes this form of expression will prove to be far more effective and sophisticated than the “dry word fights” or messages seen on Twitter. In the future, it plans to add short audio clips and animations to Cryptons — and even allow owners to use an image of themselves to create their own Crypton. Historical figures and famous fictional characters can also be collected.

When it comes to ownership, an automatic price escalation feature has been introduced, which means someone’s Crypton can be purchased by someone else for twice the price. Most of the revenues go back to the person who has lost their collectible, creating the prospect of making a profit. It is also possible to pay a one-time protection fee in order to prevent a Crypton from changing hands. This feature allows owners to set their own selling price.

According to Crypton Labs, snapping up the Crypton for someone who is considering a run for U.S. president in 2020 or 2024 might not be worth much now, but it could be in high demand a few years down the line, if they become a candidate or win the election.

Varun Gupta, the company’s co-founder, told Cointelegraph that the Cryptons don't trade on some celebrity's image only for profit.  Rather, they are transformative and artistic creative works and a powerful expressive tool protected by freedom of expression. The company's representative added that the Crypton personalities are selected based on various criteria but the most important criteria is whether they are of public interest.  Politicians and world leaders squarely fall within that category. To the company's knowledge, the project has not received any legal complaints or queries.

The platform is currently open for anyone to share any of the Crypton images on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, or download to send via email.

Revenue opportunities

Beyond buying and selling Cryptons, the company says there are other ways to generate revenues from these digital collectibles.

If a Crypton that someone owns is involved in a game on the platform, they would receive a proportion of the revenue it generates — creating the potential for their asset to be even more valuable.

A mating game has already been launched through Crypton Labs. Here, two well-known personalities can be combined to make a whole new person.

Crypton Labs says that many other game ideas are in the pipeline, with the company planning to open its platform up to developers — paving the way for new games to appear on the marketplace. A game called Angry Mobs is being actively developed, and people will be able to jeer and revere famous people through the game.

When it comes to artwork, the startup is inviting talented caricaturists to get in touch, allowing them to get public exposure and offer their creations for use on the platform.

Crypton Labs is also actively looking at introducing a token economy into the platform through an ICO in the near future.

Getting charitable

The smart contract for Crypton also allows for the issuance of special charity fundraiser Cryptons. In the near future, the company intends to partner with crypto industry leaders to raise money for good causes by creating special charity fundraiser Cryptons, featuring images of these persons. Instead of the proceeds from the sale of these collectibles going back to sellers, the revenue would be donated to nonprofit organizations instead. The Crypton would revert to its normal profit mode once a fundraising goal had been reached. It is hoped that anyone in the crypto world could launch their own campaigns on the platform, creating momentum among their fans and followers.

A MetaMask digital wallet and Ethereum wallet are used for purchasing Cryptons. In the near future, Crypton Labs intends to launch apps on iOS and Android — enabling all the functionalities on mobile.

 

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Bank of Thailand Considers Blockchain for Cross-Border Payments, Fraud Reduction
July 14, 2018 10:23 am

The Bank of Thailand’s governor says the bank is considering blockchain technology for multiple applications.

The Governor of the Bank of Thailand (BoT), said that the bank is considering blockchain technology for various applications during a speech at the the Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit on July 12.

The central bank’s governor Dr. Veerathai Santiprabhob stated that the bank was specifically reviewing blockchain applications for cross-border payments, supply chain financing, and document authentication.

According to Dr. Santiprabhob, using blockchain for cross-border payments would “improve regional financial connectivity and facilitate smoother cross-border financial services.”

The BoT’s Governor also sees blockchain playing an important role in reducing fraud and protecting financial information:

“Adoption of modern technologies like biometrics and blockchains can help safeguard financial information and reduce the number and magnitude of fraudulent activities.”        

Also during his speech Thursday, the BoT governor spoke to the bank’s ongoing development of updated regulations encourage “competition and innovation”:

“The Bank of Thailand is also undergoing regulatory reform to review outdated rules and regulations, to facilitate ease of doing business and ensure that our regulations do not impede competition and innovation and contribute to high costs of financial services.”    

Thailand has recently made two notable moves in regulating cryptocurrencies. As Cointelegraph reported March 30, the country’s Finance Minister revealed a new tax framework for cryptocurrencies. The second move came from the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (Thai SEC), who stated that new Initial Coin Offering (ICO) regulations will come into effect July 16, as Cointelegraph reported last week.

This is not the BoT governor’s first step towards implementing blockchain-based technologies. As Cointelegraph reported earlier in June, Dr. Santiprabhob spoke of possibly issuing central bank digital currency (CBDC) to improve interbank settlements.

Tezos Foundation to Launch Grantmaking Process
July 14, 2018 2:29 am

The Tezos Foundation is launching their first grantmaking process in August of this year, with plans to attract participants from various fields to apply for grants.

The Tezos Foundation has announced that it will hold their first formal call for proposals through an open grantmaking process, according to an announcement published July 13.

According to the announcement, Tezos’ public call for grants will be made in August of this year, and has determined three main areas as an initial target. These include “research that furthers the Tezos protocol and related technologies,” “development of tools and applications to support the Tezos ecosystem,” and “efforts to strengthen and nurture the burgeoning Tezos community.”

Within the initiative, the Foundation is reportedly going to invite community members, institutions, developers, and other parties which would be interested in applying for grants. All proposed projects should relate to one of the three grantmaking categories and will be reviewed on a monthly basis and evaluated by the Tezos Foundation Board.

On June 30, Tezos launched its beta network, calling the move an “inflection point” for the project. From that point on, users can begin validating blocks or “baking” after the first seven cycles which they estimate to be in about three weeks from the launch. According to Tezos’ website, the betanet is being launched in anticipation of a broader main network launch in the future.

Last month, the Foundation also announced the implementation of Know Your Customer/Anti-Money Laundering (KYC/AML) checks for contributors, in particular for those who ask for participation in initial coin offerings. The move was met with a negative reaction from the community.

Coinbase Announces Five Possible New Assets, Makes No Guarantees For Trade Listing
July 14, 2018 1:07 am

Coinbase announced that it is considering the addition of new assets to its exchange and will negotiate with local banks and regulators to add the assets to different jurisdictions.

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has announced that it is examining the addition of five new coins, according to a blog post published July 13.

The trading platform is exploring the possibility of adding new assets to its trading lists, including Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX). Additionally, Coinbase said it will negotiate with local banks and regulators to add the assets to as many jurisdictions as possible.

In June, Coinbase announced it will support Ethereum Classic (ETC) on their platform, after which the ETC price surged by more than 25 percent. According to Coinbase, the process of adding ETC to their exchange platform is “proceeding as planned.”

Coinbase noted that unlike adding ETC, which is technically akin to Ethereum (ETH), the new assets “will require additional exploratory work.” The exchange noted that it does not guarantee the new tokens will be listed for trading.

Additionally, the exchange warned that the listing process may make some coins available for customers to buy and sell only, without the ability to send or receive them using a local wallet. Coinbase further explains:

“We may also only enable certain ways to interact with these assets through our site, such as supporting only deposits and withdrawals from transparent Zcash addresses. Finally, some of these assets may be offered in other jurisdictions prior to being listed in the U.S.

The exchange said that these assets require more detailed study, and have not yet determined when or whether these coins will become available on the platform. Coinbase further states that “some of these assets may become available everywhere, while others may only be supported in specific jurisdictions.”

At press time, all the announced coins are in the green. ADA and XLM are trading up over 8 percent in the last 24 hours, while ZEC, ZRX, and BAT are up 11, 15, and 22 percent respectively.

In March, Coinbase announced its intention to support ERC20 tokens on its exchange. The company said then that its decision to add ERC20 “paves the way for supporting ERC20 assets across Coinbase products in the future.”

Currently, Coinbase supports four different assets, which are Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC). Last month, the company initiated the process to become a fully regulated broker dealer by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This would help Coinbase extend its offerings and subsequently expand into non-crypto financial products.

Bermuda Government to Introduce New Regulations on ICOs, Address ‘Legal Ambiguity’
July 14, 2018 12:11 am

The Government of Bermuda has introduced ICO regulations that require issuers to provide detailed data in order to conduct an ICO

The Premier and Minister of Finance of Bermuda David Burt introduced new regulations on initial coin offerings (ICOs) speaking before the House of Assembly, the Royal Gazette news reports July 13. The regulatory framework describes minimum required information for ICO projects and establishes compliance measures for companies to conduct an ICO.

Addressing the lower house of the Bermudian Parliament, Burt outlined regulations that would require Bermudian ICO issuers to provide detailed information about “all persons involved with the ICO.” Issuers must also disclose a review of the project, including such key aspects as the product or service, the market audience, financing system, the amount of money that is planned to be raised, and technical aspects associated with software and blockchain specifications.

Burt stated that a group of new bills would be tabled before the end of summer that would expand existing laws against money laundering and terrorism financing. The Premier added that Bermuda has developed a legal environment “expeditiously” that addresses the “legal ambiguity” plaguing the fintech and blockchain industries. 

The Premier stated that, in response to “market demand,”  the Bermuda government set out to develop a legal framework for distributed ledger technology (DLT) firms, passing the Digital Asset Business Act 2018. The new regulatory regime sets visible boundaries for blockchain and crypto-related businesses and protects the rights of their existing and potential clients.

Earlier this month, the government of Bermuda announced plans to release amendments to the Banking Act to establish a new class of bank to provide services to local fintech and blockchain organizations. After local banks refused to offer services to blockchain companies, the government consulted with them to create the new classification.

In April, Premier Burt signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, to establish funding for educational programs on blockchain and fintech. Burt said that a new Binance “global compliance base” would create 40 new jobs, 30 of which would go to Bermudians.

Bloomberg: R3 Considers IPO Launch, Potential Buyers Express Interest
July 13, 2018 11:29 pm

New York-based R3 consortium is reportedly considering to launch an initial public offering

R3, a blockchain software enterprise that leads a consortium of more than 200 members, is considering launching an initial public offering (IPO), Bloomberg reported July 13.

A source familiar with the issue told Bloomberg that the firm is negotiating an IPO with advisers, while potential buyers have already expressed interest in the sale. The final decision as well as the plan, which is up to R3’s founder and CEO David Rutter and  investors, reportedly have not yet been made. The company said in a statement:

“We’re not surprised about the speculation given the success of Corda, but an IPO is not a path we’re pursuing at this time. Our mission from the start was to deliver a blockchain solution for the widest possible business community, and any decision we make will have that goal in mind.”

New York-based R3 is supposedly weighing its options following the growth and development of the blockchain software market. As per research conducted by Deloitte in May, 30 percent of the financial executives who participated in a survey said that they “plan to commit resources to blockchain within the next year and a half,” while 33 percent of those asked said they are ready to implement the technology.

Earlier this week, R3 released a new “version” of its open-source distributed ledger platform Corda aimed specifically at businesses. Corda Enterprise is “optimised to meet the demands of modern day businesses,” and includes a “Blockchain Application Firewall” to let the platform run within corporate data centers and still communicate with Corda’s nodes.

In June, anonymous former R3 employees told Fortune that R3’s internal financial targets are “10X short” of their revenue, with the figure described as “laughably off.” The consortium’s managing director Charley Cooper, however, denied the rumors, saying that the company is not in danger of running out of revenue. He said:

“We currently have more than sufficient funding and at this point have no plans to raise additional money.”

Blockchain Game Releases Its Inner Wallet for Seamless User Experience
July 13, 2018 11:12 pm

The wallet is designed as an alternative to Metamask, but the credentials are still applicable to other popular crypto wallets

On July 4, 2018, Blockchain Cuties, a new collectible crypto game on the Ethereum blockchain, released its first ever crypto wallet, according to the company’s press release.

The Blockchain Cuties game was launched on April 24, 2018. The game allows players to make profit in the in-game marketplace. Сharacters, or so-called ‘cuties’ are traded or transferred among players just like a regular cryptocurrency, using Ethereum smart contracts. Cuties have their unique artifacts and abilities.

Blockchain Cuties was made in a cost-efficient way, using compact encoding of gameplay data to hedge the risk of an Ethereum network overload and to decrease transaction fees for players, says the company’s press release.

Game

A wallet full of cuties

According to the company representatives, this is the first time in the crypto game industry that a game has introduced its own wallet.

The company says that the innovation of the wallet is that there is no need to install additional, standalone web browser add-ons to play the game. So far, the wallet allows users to keep data and make payments, and it's also planning to implement a sending option in future.

“This introduction is no easy barrier to break in pursuit of improving user experience and allowing more people to access the game,” reads the text of the announcement.

The Blockchain Cuties wallet — or the BC wallet — is already integrated into the game, and it was designed as an alternative to Metamask. Players may transfer funds to the wallet account via Best Rate directly from the game, and it doesn't require users to go through any registration process. Also, players have the option to use their credentials and access their assets on other wallets, such as Metamask, Trust Wallet, Toshi, Cipher or Status.

“The game's own wallet is here for users who are new to the market or those who do not want to install additional browser extensions to play. For others, Metamask and other software wallets can still be used to trade assets and access the game, both on desktop and mobile,” the announcement reports.

BC wallet is following the industry standards of security, according to the press release. All data is saved on the user’s side of their browser’s local storage. User credentials and private keys are securely encrypted.

Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor this article can be considered as an investment advice.

Texas State Securities Board Issues Cease and Desist Order to Crypto Promoters
July 13, 2018 10:32 pm

The Texas State Securities Board has taken emergency action against a network of fraudulent crypto-related firms.

The Texas State Securities Board (SSB) has issued an emergency cease and desist order to a network of cryptocurrency-related firms, the SSB announced in an official statement July 12.

SSB commissioner Travis J. Iles took emergency action on July 11, suspending a group of crypto-related companies that allegedly offered fraudulent crypto investments to state residents. According to the order, the companies are immediately suspended from offering securities in Texas until the security is registered or exempt.

The order lists a Utah-based network of three companies; Mintage Mining LLC, Symatri LLC, and NUI Social. According to the SSB’s statement, Mintage Mining offers illegal and fraudulent investments in cryptocurrency mining. Symatri is issuing a newly launched coin dubbed Kala and offering investors an opportunity to acquire Kala-mining equipment. NUI Social, touted as a multi-level marketing company with over 300,000 members in 140 countries, recruits individuals for the cryptocurrency investments.

The order also names BC Holdings and Investments, which is allegedly involved in sales of crypto mining investments offered by Mintage Mining, as well as Houston-based Wyatt McCullough and William Douglas Whetsell, who are affiliated with NUI Social.

The order cites violations of the Texas Securities Act, claiming that the companies “[made] deceptive claims to the public,” such as promising “extraordinary returns” of up to 250 percent annually and claiming that the companies offer the investments in compliance with securities laws. It states that Symatri failed to disclose Kala token details and provide information on the risks of crypto investments.

Earlier this week, the SSB released a report on mid-year enforcement highlights, featuring protection for “investors from fraudulent cryptocurrency-related investment products.” The SSB was “the first state securities regulator to issue an administrative order” against illegal crypto-related firms in 2017. SSB investigations of crypto-related investments have led to “nearly 40 pending or completed enforcement actions.”

In February, the SSB issued an emergency cease and desist order to Leadinvest.com, citing poor disclosure of information about the company. In January, the SSB issued a similar order against notorious scam project Bitconnect for selling unlicensed securities.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Litecoin, Cardano, Stellar, IOTA, TRON: Price Analysis, July 13
July 13, 2018 7:30 pm

As some investors are leaving crypto, large institutional players are moving in, as they see value around the current price levels.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

Recommending investors to sell their Bitcoin in December of last year was against the general consensus, especially considering the lofty numbers that we were seeing back then. Similarly, telling investors to buy Bitcoin now, during sharp declines and in batches is against the prevailing negative sentiment.

Can we pinpoint the exact top and bottom? Definitely not.

But, the readers who followed us and sold close to the highs were spared this scarring bear market. Similarly, readers who start building a position now will not miss the boat when the next bull run begins.

We are noticing that while the retail investors are turning away from cryptocurrencies, larger - mostly institutional - players are showing greater interest in entering this space.

The latest such player to jump onto the cryptocurrency bandwagon was the hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen who has invested in a new hedge fund, Autonomous Partners, which in turn invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related companies.

It is worth noting that the institutional players did not enter the market when the price were at their highest points. They waited patiently for the fall and began investing in the past few weeks. This shows that they find value around the current price levels.

Let’s look at some critical levels that the investors should keep an eye on both on the upside and the downside.

BTC/USD

We expected Bitcoin to find support close to $6,250 but it plunged down to $6,120.45 on July 12. This invalidates our expectations of an inverse head and shoulders pattern. Still, if the bulls defend the zone between $5900 and $6075, the digital currency can form a double bottom.

Led by Bitcoin, most cryptocurrencies are showing a positive divergence on the RSI. However, until confirmed by a bullish price action, we can’t take a trade on the basis of this divergence alone.

So, at what point does the trend change?  

BTC/USD

As the BTC/USD pair has still not broken down of the $6,000 threshold convincingly, there is no reason for us to abandon our anticipation of a large range of $6,000-$12,000.

We will change our view if the digital currency slumps below $5,900 and fails to recover above it quickly. Under such circumstances, the decline can extend to between $5,000 and $5,450.

On the upside, we shall add to our existing position once the pair breaks out of $7,000 because that improves the probability of a rally to $10,000 with minor resistances at $7,750 and $8,560.

Traders who follow us are holding long positions initiated at $6,650. We suggest to continue holding on to them until the bears succeed in sustaining below $5,900 for four hours.

ETH/USD

We like Ethereum because it is trading above its April lows. This shows mild outperformance. If the bears fail to break below the June 29 low of $404.99 within the next couple of days, we anticipate a move to $500.

Once above $500, the digital currency should attract buyers, pushing the price towards $600, with a minor resistance at $550.

ETH/USD

If the bears drive the ETH/USD pair below $404.99 within the next couple of days, the drop can extend to $358.

We might recommend long positions on a breakout above $500.

XRP/USD

Ripple is hanging above the June 29 low of $0.4242 by the skin of its teeth. If this level breaks down, the next major support is at $0.24001. In between, there are minor support levels with the first one at $0.38, but it is difficult to hazard a guess where the buyers might step in.

XRP/USD

The first sign of a pullback will be when the bulls break out of the downtrend line and the 20-day EMA. Still, it will not be a green signal to buy, because the XRP/USD pair will face resistance at $0.52 and then again at $0.56270.

We anticipate the digital currency to spend some time forming a bottom. We shall turn positive once we get a confirmation that the bottom is in place.

BCH/USD

Bitcoin Cash continues to slide towards its June 29 low of $657.8. If this support breaks down, the next stop is at $619.7510. We anticipate the digital currency to find a bottom between these two levels.

BCH/USD

The 20-day EMA is the first resistance on the upside, above which the BCH/USD pair can rally to $838.9139. On a close above the downtrend line, we expect strong buying to push price towards the $1,200 mark.

The coin has a history of vertical rallies. Hence, we shall suggest a long position as soon as we spot a buy setup.

EOS/USD

The bulls have defended the $6.8926 mark for the past two days and are attempting to bounce from it. On the upside, EOS will face resistance at the downtrend line and above that at $9.4456.

Once these two levels are crossed, the digital currency should pick up momentum and move towards $15 with a minor resistance between $10.9 and $11.6.

EOS/USD

However, if the bears force a break below $6.89, the next support on the downside is at $5.961, which will complete a 100 percent retracement of the previous rally. Below that, the EOS/USD pair can slide to $5.1801. We shall propose a trade only on a close above the $9.5 mark.

LTC/USD

Litecoin continues to slide towards the critical support of $74.074, as the bulls have failed to break out of the descending channel for the past ten days.

LTC/USD

If the $74.074 level breaks down, the next support is at $67. However, the RSI is forming a positive divergence, which indicates the formation of a probable bottom.

On the upside, the bulls will face resistances at $91.146, $102 and then at $107. We believe that the LTC/USD pair needs to spend some time building a base before starting a new uptrend. We shall wait for a breakout from the base before proposing any trades on it.

ADA/USD

The bears are finding it difficult to break below $0.13 for the past three days. The range on Cardano has also tightened in the past two days. We should get a range expansion within the next few days.

ADA/USD

If the bears break below the immediate support, the ADA/USD pair can slide down to $0.078215. This will also invalidate our assumption of a large range formation.

However, if the bulls defend the support zone between $0.111843 and $0.13, a move to $0.181617 is probable. We shall wait for a new buy setup to form before recommending a trade on it.

XLM/USD

Stellar has been clinging on to the $0.184 support line for the past three days. However, the bulls have not been able to push the price higher.  

XLM/USD

If the XLM/USD pair doesn’t bounce within the next couple of days, the bears will attempt to sink it below $0.184. If successful, the next support on the downside is at $0.138565 and below that at $0.082332.

On the upside, a move above $0.22221471 will be a positive development, which can push the price towards $0.3. Until then, it is best to remain on the sidelines.

IOTA/USD

IOTA has been trading close to the critical support at $0.9150 for the past three days. Though our stops have not been hit, our recommended long position is deep in the red.  

IOTA/USD

If the bears sink the IOTA/USD pair below the June 24 lows, it can drop to the next support at $0.666.

Any pullback from the current levels will face resistance at the downtrend line. The digital currency will pick up momentum once it breaks out of the overhead horizontal resistance at $1.33.

We suggest to hold the current long position with the stops below $0.8850.  

TRX/USD

Tron is trying to hold on to the $0.03275 level for the past three days but the bulls have so far been unable to force a pullback.  

TRX/USD

If the bears sink the TRX/USD pair below $0.03275, the next support on the downside is at $0.022806. We expect this price to attract buyers.

On the upside, the 20-day EMA and the downtrend line will be the important levels to watch out for. The positive divergence on the RSI is a minor positive but we shall wait for the bulls to scale the downtrend line before suggesting any long trades.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. The charts for the analysis are provided by TradingView.

US DoJ Charges 12 Russian Officials With Cryptocurrency-Funded Elections ‘Interference’
July 13, 2018 6:05 pm

The U.S. Department of Justice has charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with crypto-funded attempts to “interfere” in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) released an indictment on July 13 charging twelve Russian nationals with committing federal crimes — funded by cryptocurrencies — with the aim of “interfering” in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

According to the DoJ’s announcement, Russian officials from two units of the Russian government’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) used cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) — which they allegedly mined and obtained by “other means” — to fuel efforts to hack into computer networks associated with the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and U.S. elections-related state boards and technology companies.

A grand jury in the District of Columbia, along with the FBI’s cyber teams in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and the National Security Division allege that the officials used cryptocurrency in order to buy accounts and servers that allowed them to illegally access the associated networks through a spearphishing campaign. The Russian officials allegedly then obtained “thousands of stolen emails and documents” that they released through the domain DCLeaks.com while promoting themselves as “American hacktivists.”

The DoJ reports that the indictment does not claim that the alleged criminal activities “altered the vote count or changed the outcome of the 2016 elections.”

The indictment consists of eleven criminal charges, including the claim that the defendants laundered more than $95,000 through cryptocurrencies in order to fund their hacking activities. The DoJ notes that the bitcoin mining activities that paid for the DCLeaks.com domain also funded the spearphishing attacks.

The DoJ has already been involved in cryptocurrency-related investigations, as the government body opened an investigation into Bitcoin and Ethereum (ETH) price manipulation at the end of May.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Donald Trump released an executive order for a new anti-crime task force that will focus in part on digital currency fraud.

Crypto Markets Show No Friday 13th Fear as Assets U-Turn on Previous Losses
July 13, 2018 4:35 pm

Bitcoin and Ethereum managed to bounce of weekly lows Friday after dropping up to 7 percent.

Cryptocurrency markets staged a modest comeback Friday, July 13, following a week in which Bitcoin (BTC) lost over 5 percent against the dollar and Ethereum (ETH) over 7 percent.

Data from Cointelegraph’s price indices and Coin360 show a rebound from weekly lows of $6,180 for Bitcoin, which had hit highs of $6,792 July 8.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

At press time Friday, BTC/USD is trading around $6,250 up just about one percent on the day, this week’s downward momentum failing to crack support around the $6,000 barrier.

Bitcoin’s general price pattern continues to reflect a curious pattern of sudden losses followed by de facto flat performance, a cycle which commentators have failed to fully explain.

Accusations of market manipulation by actors ranging from whales to Tether token production have not seen sufficient evidence, with recent research denying theories major bagholders are dictating market performance.

Bitcoin price chart

Bitcoin price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

For Ethereum, prices have continued to broadly fluctuate around Bitcoin, Friday’s reversal also seeing about one percent gains against a broader weekly decline around 6.2 percent. At press time, ETH/USD is circling $437.

Ethereum price chart

Ethereum price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

The return to form of the two largest cryptocurrencies has in turn produced copycat behavior from the majority of the top 50 cryptoassets, with most seeing 1-4 percent gains today. EOS rose over 4 percent Friday, while Dash is up a notable 8.4 percent, leading the top 25 coins.

Bancor’s BNT token, which lost around one third of its value this week after its issuer reported a hack, has so far failed to reverse its losses, up a modest 0.8 percent today.

As Cointelegraph continues to report, many commentators from the cryptocurrency industry and beyond continue to hold a bullish stance on prices in the medium term.

A report last month by Chinese exchange Huobi saw the majority of respondents to its survey forecast a “substantial” increase by the end of the year, 71 percent believing markets will expand by over 30 percent of current levels.

TenX’s Julian Hosp went further, this week committing to a Bitcoin price target of $60,000 by the start of 2019.

United Nations Puts Blockchain at Center of New ‘High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation’
July 13, 2018 3:30 pm

The United Nations’ Secretary-General António Guterres has created a ‘High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation,’ which explicitly puts blockchain technology on the agenda.

The United Nations’ (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres has created a ‘High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation,’ which explicitly puts blockchain technology on the agenda,  UN News revealed yesterday, July 12.

The panel, said to be “the first of its kind,” will gather 20 eminent figures from industry, civil society and academia to tackle the impact of digital technologies on global economies and societies –– an impact ongoing at “unprecedented scale” and “warp speed,” in Guterres’ words.

Representing the new body on behalf of the UN Secretariat, Executive Director and co-chair, Ambassador Amandeep Gill, said:

“You cannot look at ‘web 3.0’ without looking at blockchain or without looking at AI (Artificial Intelligence) [...] our hope is that through discussion of these various digital domains [...] in terms of human rights, in terms of privacy, in terms of subversion of democracy, we are able to come out with some common principles...of strengthening cooperation across borders.”

Gill emphasized “the opportunities and the risks and the unintended consequences” of digital transformation, citing mounting concern about both cyber-attacks and suspected election-tampering.

The ambassador considered that the panel’s “cross-cutting” approach to new technologies such as blockchain and AI would enable it to “maximize” its impact over the course of its nine-month mandate.

The Secretary-General has also revealed the panel’s co-chairs as being U.S. philanthropist Melinda Gates and Jack Ma, the founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

As Cointelegraph reported, Ma introduced blockchain technology through Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial as early as summer 2016. The firm has since raised $14 billion for blockchain development, and recently successfully trialled its first blockchain remittances.

With Ma recently affirming “that the impact of blockchain on the future of humans may be far beyond our imagination,” his co-chairmanship of the new UN panel signals a positive step for global dissemination of the technology.

For its part, the UN has long been exploring multiple –– largely humanitarian –– use cases for blockchain, beginning with its use of the Ethereum blockchain to transfer coupons based on cryptocurrencies to refugees in Syria.

Since then, it has also piloted a blockchain-based digital identity system designed to combat child trafficking globally. This April, the Belgian government contributed €2 mln to promote a blockchain project by the World Food Programme (WFP), which would allow the UN to use the technology to fight hunger in impoverished areas.

South Korea to Simplify Blockchain Investment With New Legislative Changes
July 13, 2018 2:21 pm

Investing in blockchain innovation will become simpler under rule changes promised by South Korean authorities this week.

South Korea regulators vowed to introduce friendly blockchain investment legislation in a meeting July 13, the latest chapter of an ongoing push to promote the technology nationally.

At the 4th Vice Ministerial Meeting on “Growth through Innovation,” presided over by Vice Minister of Strategy and Finance Ko Hyoung-kwon, the government pledged to make it easier for blockchain businesses to enter the market.

In order to promote job creation and support emerging technologies, the South Korean government plans to both “expand tax reduction for new growth engine investment and ease requirements for new technology support, including the blockchain technology investment support.”

 

The redesigning of corporate investment support comes the same week as Seoul unveiled drafts of bills also aimed at developing rules for Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) and specifying the legal obligations of actors like crypto exchanges.

South Korea has continued to shape its cryptocurrency landscape throughout 2018 after backlash at the beginning of the year over the country’s cryptocurrency regulations resulted in public protests and calls for ministers to resign.

Crypto exchanges in particular have felt the impact of changing legislation, being required since January to pay a corporate and local income tax in line with the country’s tax policy, as well as conform to a strict ban on anonymous and foreign entity trading.

How Malta Is Becoming the Blockchain Hub of the World: A Talk With Leading Law Firm
July 13, 2018 1:21 pm

Leading Maltese law firm on regulations, benefits of building a crypto business in Malta and further governmental plans.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

On July 4, 2018, the Parliament of Malta approved a regulatory framework for blockchain technology, making Malta one of the most ‘blockchain-friendly’ countries in the world.

Cointelegraph talked to Simon Schembri, a partner at Ganado Advocates — one of the leading Maltese law firms that was involved in drafting the legislation — about what it means for the country, investors and future.

On how it all started

“It started a couple of years ago when there was initial momentum within a number of smaller organizations within the country and then it gained lots of momentum since June of last year, after the reelection of the current government.

“The purpose was to make Malta a blockchain hub, attracting a number of investments in the country. And, I mean, the aim of the regulation has already attracted lots of interest. As a law firm, we’ve been inundated with requests and have already been working on a number of transactions. And we anticipate that this will go on and progress even further now that the laws are in place.”

Silvio Schembri, Junior Minister for Financial Services, Digital Economy & Innovation

“Malta [is] the first world jurisdiction to provide legal certainty to this space.”

On why a company should consider running its business in Malta

“We are doing [things] differently than other jurisdictions and are not merely focusing on just ICOs and financial assets. What we are doing is creating a legal environment for DLTs and blockchains, which would obviously include, as well, ICOs, crypto assets, regulation of exchanges, brokers, money makers, etc.

“It gives the opportunity for DLT frameworks at the outset to come over to Malta and voluntary, — if they want — register, or have their DLT framework licensed or certified by this new authority, which is called the Malta Digital Innovation Authority. And that, to a certain extent, gives the DLT framework legitimization. Everyone knows that one of the major issues raised — when it comes to anything related to crypto spaces — is the relationship with banks. Having DLT frameworks, having blockchain and cryptos regulated in some format will give that legitimization. It’s important to note that what the Maltese are aiming to do is not regulate heavy-handed. It has introduced three pieces of legislation, which are principle-based, light-touch regulation.”

OKEx CEO Chris Lee:

“We look forward to working with the Malta government, as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values: The most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the blockchain ecosystem.”

Many crypto companies have already moved their businesses to Malta, including Binance, OKEx, Tron, etc. On July 12, Binance announced its plans to open a ‘blockchain-based bank’ for digital token investors in the country.

On plans to introduce a national cryptocurrency

“At this stage, there is nothing set as an agenda by the Maltese government. But we are aware that other countries are considering this and have already taken steps. And we would not be surprised if that would be the next step.”

On ecosystem for cryptocurrencies

“As I mentioned before, the regulatory framework is aimed at regulating or creating a legal framework for everything, and that also includes virtual financial assets. The aim of the regulator — in this case the Malta Financial Services Authority — is to introduce regulation on how the white paper should be formulated in having tokens issued. So, it makes it easier for a company to launch an Initial Coin Offering as well.”

On further initiatives

“I mean, the momentum is in Malta right now: We see a number of activities which the government and the private sector are organizing. For instance, as a law firm, we had a local conference a couple of weeks ago explaining the three bills. We’re always very active in attending seminars being organized by different organizations. In October, in Malta, there are three major events which are open not only to the Maltese public, but they will attract a number of international people who are interesting in knowing what Malta is really doing.

“We’ve really been placed on the map for the simple reason that we’re the first jurisdiction to try to regulate, or aiming to regulate, the whole DLT framework and we’ve seen a number of notable players in this market who have already moved to Malta.”

On why other governments should also embrace the blockchain industry

“I understand that some skepticism around cryptos exists, but it’s a reality. And our government — and I need to point out that this is not only the Maltese government, but the opposition — I mean, Malta as a whole has embraced this. And the fact that the laws that are being passed by parliament are being passed unanimously, which is something that does not occur very often in Malta, gives a sense that we Maltese, in general, are recognizing this as the way forward. And even the most serious investors involved in the crypto space are recognizing the fact that some form of regulation is now required. And I guess what we are doing as a jurisdiction will be followed closely by other jurisdictions.”

The interview was edited and condensed.

American Express Files Patent for Blockchain-Powered Proof-of-Payment System
July 13, 2018 1:11 pm

The travel arm of financial services giant American Express has filed a patent for a blockchain-based proof-of-payment system.

Financial services giant American Express (Amex) has filed a patent for a blockchain-based proof-of-payment system, according to filing published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Thursday, July 12.

The patent’s applicant is listed as American Express Travel Related Services Co., Inc., Amex’s travel arm. The proposed system would automate proof-of-payments by encrypting payment payload data with a public key on an initial node of the blockchain –– the data in question comprising the merchant’s identifying information and the transaction amount.

According to the patent filing, the encrypted data could then securely be propagated to a second blockchain node. In one proposed embodiment of the system, the data could then be fetched by a connected smart device that would decrypt the payment payload data and match it with a second identifier, the customer.

In this way, the blockchain-secured system could enable smart devices to detect proof-of-payments and initiate actions to service paying customers:

“A payment processing entity (e.g., a credit card network, bank, debit, bitcoin, rewards points, or ACH) provides evidence of a payment in a tamper-proof manner by writing the proof of payment to a blockchain. A smart device connected to the blockchain may detect the proof of payment, and can extract relevant information. The information may be encrypted on the blockchain such that access is restricted to entities having the correct cryptographic keys. “

The patent then outlines various use cases for such a secured system, suggesting hotel reservations, real estate rental, and ticketless access to events and venues. All of the proposed use cases would potentially facilitated by customers’ uniquely identified smart devices that could retrieve and decrypt proof-of-payments stored on the blockchain.

Amex has already indicated its interest in blockchain technology by becoming a member of the Hyperledger Blockchain consortium, a collaborative effort to define and develop standard blockchain technology for use across industries.

In May, Cointelegraph reported on Amex’s announcement that it would be integrating Hyperledger into its Membership Rewards program. The initiative, in partnership with online merchant Boxed, would enable merchants to design customized offers for Amex cardholders in order to incentivize customer engagement.

Back in October 2017, American Express Travel Related Services Co., Inc., filed an earlier patent for a personalized rewards system that would also harness blockchain technology to incentivize its customers.

Bloomberg: Billionaire Steven Cohen Backs Crypto, Blockchain Hedge Fund
July 13, 2018 12:00 pm

Billionaire Steven Cohen has invested in Arianna Simpson’s crypto and blockchain hedge fund, Bloomberg reports.

Billionaire Steven Cohen, the founder of Point72 Asset Management, is reportedly backing a crypto and blockchain-focused hedge fund, Bloomberg reports Friday, July 13.

Cohen invested in Arianna Simpson’s cryptocurrency hedge fund, Autonomous Partners, via his private equity firm Cohen Private Ventures, according to Bloomberg’s anonymous source.

Point72 Asset Management, whose most recent portfolio value is almost $24 billion, is headed by Andrew B. Cohen, who is also the Managing Director of Cohen Private Ventures.

Simpson founded Autonomous Partners in December 2017. In an interview with Fortune on July 12, she said that the fund has already secured “funding in the low eight digits” from VC and private equity firm Union Square Ventures, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong, and former PayPal COO and Craft Ventures co-founder David Sacks.

Simpson emphasized that the fund seeks investments from partners that “can be very much value-add beyond their capital.”

As Fortune reports, a low percentage of Autonomous Partners is devoted to major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). The fund is mostly focused on crypto infrastructure projects, anonymity-oriented altcoins, and crypto companies that tackle scalability issues. The fund has also invested in OX, a protocol for decentralized crypto exchanges.

Simpson told Fortune that her fund has held off from investing in Ripple (XRP) pending clarification from U.S. regulators as to whether XRP will be classified as a security. She added that she “think[s] the whole space is still waiting for a bit more clarity.”

According to data from Autonomous Research, the number of crypto-focused funds was estimated at 251 as of April 2018, 175 of which were opened in 2017. In 2018, only 26 more funds have been established, signalling a possible downtrend in momentum.

As Cointelegraph reported April 3, various sources from the crypto space have warned that 10 percent of crypto funds could potentially be forced to close in 2018, allegedly due to the negative impact of regulatory uncertainty.

In March, news of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) probe into up to 100 crypto-related hedge funds indicated increasing scrutiny of their activities.

Bancor Creates Crime-fighting ‘Crypto Defenders’ as Scorn Over $12 Mln Hack Escalates
July 13, 2018 11:37 am

Decentralized exchange platform Bancor plans to reduce the risk of future hacks across crypto by commissioning a cross-industry squad of “crypto defenders.”

Self-styled “decentralized” exchange platform Bancor pledged to tackle cybercrime threats to cryptocurrency entities in a blog post July 12 as it resumed operations following a $12 mln hack this week.

Summarizing the platform’s future plans in the post, co-founder Guy Benartzi also announced that Bancor’s internal tools that helped tracked its hacked funds would be made available to a wider audience.

This move will form a precursor to a major crime-fighting initiative which Benartzi hopes will result in contribution of “resources and capabilities to fight criminals together.”

The initiative, described as a “coalition of crypto defenders,” will involve the platform and other as yet unnamed cryptocurrency industry businesses. Benartzi explained in the post:

“Members will collaborate on mechanisms to warn and assist each other in times of peril, coordinate around shared blacklists, and contribute open-source tools aimed at creating a safer world for all stakeholders.”

Bancor’s handling of the hack drew criticism from well-known industry figures and community members. The platform’s freezing of a smart contract containing almost $11 mln in its native token BNT runs contrary to decentralized principles, critics argued, while others claimed the fact that the attack was successful at all proved Bancor’s inferiority.

“An exchange is not decentralized if it can lose customer funds OR if it can freeze customer funds. Bancor can do BOTH. It's a false sense of decentralization,” Litecoin co-founder Charlie Lee wrote on Twitter July 9.

Lee subsequently focused attention on Bitcoin and Litecoin’s Lightning Network implementation, which he said would eventually be the “ultimate” decentralized exchange arena.

Other commentators were less reserved, trader Tone Vays calling Bancor an “ICO scam” and Bitcoin developer Udi Wertheimer describing claims user funds were safe as a “meme.”

“Users funds aren’t safe,” he continued on Twitter, adding:

“The stolen 25,000 ETH belong to BNT holders. They were stolen from a reserve managed by a smart contract to fund BNT liquidity, and they were put there by BNT token buyers.”

IRS Joins the J5, Should We Prepare For International Enforcement? Expert Take
July 13, 2018 11:17 am

The J5 is using military and intelligence terminology to talk about its enforcement response.

In our Expert Takes, opinion leaders from inside and outside the crypto industry express their views, share their experience and give professional advice. Expert Takes cover everything from Blockchain technology and ICO funding to taxation, regulation, and cryptocurrency adoption by different sectors of the economy.

If you would like to contribute an Expert Take, please email your ideas and CV to george@cointelegraph.com.

The views expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Cointelegraph.com

The IRS’s Swiss Bank enforcement efforts may be winding down, but not its push for global tax compliance.  Over the past decade, the IRS has brought in over $10 billion by “encouraging” U.S. taxpayers with undisclosed foreign bank accounts to, well, disclose those accounts.   Although the program will end this September, the IRS is now gearing up to focus on cryptocurrency as the next big compliance push.

The recently formed J5 may provide a preview of what’s to come.  The J5 stands for an alliance of Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement from the United States, U.K., Canada, Australia, and the Netherlands who have come together to work on information sharing, with cryptocurrency high on the agenda.

In its mission statement, the J5 notes that they will work with other countries where appropriate.  So much for the U.S. bucking multilateralism! When it comes to tax enforcement, it appears that the U.S. remains eager to work with foreign governments to improve its detection and enforcement capabilities. 

Simon York, who is director of Fraud Investigation Service at HMRC in the U.K., said that cyber criminals have evolved, and what’s “changed is them using virtual currencies and the dark web.” In response the J5 promises to:

  • Enhance existing investigation and intelligence programs.
  • Identify significant targets for new investigations.
  • Improve the tactical intelligence threat picture now and into the future.
  • Lead the wider community in developing its strategic understanding of the methods, weaknesses and risks from offshore tax crime and cybercrime.
  • Raise international awareness that the J5 is working together to reduce transnational tax crime, cybercrime and money laundering, and create uncertainty for those who seek to commit such offenses.

What does this mean in practice?  Again, a look back at the IRS’s Swiss Bank efforts may provide some clues.  To convince Americans with foreign accounts to come forward, the IRS used a mix of sticks and carrots, including the threat of prosecution and fines for those who tried to stay hidden, as well as the promise of leniency for those who entered one of the IRS’s voluntary disclosure programs.  

But the key piece to the whole program was information gathering.  The IRS made foreign banks open their books and turn over U.S. account holders.  Once the IRS had this information, it wasn’t hard to convince taxpayers to come forward.    

The IRS is likely to apply this same model to cryptocurrency tax enforcement. For example, the IRS is likely to try to get its hands on foreign cryptocurrency exchange information, and start connecting users to accounts to see who hasn’t paid taxes.  Its summons to Coinbase may be just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition, the J5’s mission statement may provide a preview of some other features of this coming enforcement push.  It’s interesting that the J5 appears to be grouping tax evasion together with “money laundering” and “cybercrime,” at least in the language it uses.  Even more striking is that the J5 is using military and intelligence terminology to talk about its enforcement response. It’s not atypical for the U.S. government to use military and intelligence tools to go after international criminals, for example large-scale drug and weapons smuggling rings.  

But using military and intelligence tools to go after run-of-the-mill tax evasion involving cryptocurrencies?  That would be a new direction. And yet, it can’t be ruled out. The J5’s mission statement notes that it was formed “in response to the OECD’s call for countries to do more to tackle the enablers of tax crime.”  The IRS, and the other members of the J5 appear to be taking this call seriously, and it’s possible that cryptocurrency tax evasion will be dealt with even more aggressively than offshore accounts were in the IRS’s Swiss Bank efforts.

With this backdrop, tax compliance is essential, and it will likely not pay to assume the IRS won’t find out about an account or a wallet.  At the same time, in our democracy it’s important for enforcement agencies to be careful not to overstep their bounds. Civil liberty lawyers and libertarians among others will be certain to monitor this closely.   Using military and intelligence tools to combat offshore tax evasion may be overkill, especially when voluntary compliance efforts have proven to be so successful.

 

Dashiell Shapiro is a Tax Partner at Wood LLP in San Francisco, CA, and a former DOJ Tax Attorney. His practice focuses on tax controversy and audit defense and includes international tax and financial products/cryptocurrency tax planning work.

New Study Says 80 Percent of ICOs Conducted in 2017 Were Scams
July 13, 2018 3:02 am

A new report shows that more than 80 percent of ICOs conducted in 2017 were scams.

A recent study prepared by ICO advisory firm Statis Group revealed that more than 80 percent of initial coin offerings (ICOs) conducted in 2017 were identified as scams. The study took into consideration the lifecycle of ICOs run in 2017, from the initial proposal of a sale availability to the most mature phase of trading on a crypto exchange.

The research says that in 2017 “over 70 percent of ICO funding (by $ volume) to-date went to higher quality projects, although over 80 percent of projects (by # share) were identified as scams.” The analysts found that four percent of ICOs failed, and three percent had “gone dead.” The study recognized ICO death as “not listed on exchanges for trading and has not had a code contribution in Github on a rolling three-month basis from that point in time.”

According to the study, total funding of coins and tokens in 2017 amounted to $11.9 billion. $1.34 billion (11 percent) of ICO funding went to scams, the vast majority went to three large scammy projects; Pincoin ($660 million), Arisebank ($600 million), and Savedroid ($50 million), which together equal $1.31 billion. This suggests that while a large number of ICOs were scams, they received very little funding when compared with the industry as a whole.

Earlier this month, TechCrunch released a report based on data from Coinopsy and DeadCoins, which found that more than a thousand crypto projects are “already dead” as of June 30, 2018. According to Coinopsy’s list, there were 247 “dead” coins, while DeadCoins had a 830-item long list of “dead” cryptocurrencies.

According to research conducted by cybersecurity company Carbon Black in June, roughly $1.1 billion worth of digital currency was stolen in the first half of 2018. The security company said that criminals take advantage of the dark web to facilitate large-scale cryptocurrency theft. Estimates reportedly show that there are 12,000 marketplaces and 34,000 offerings associated with cryptotheft that hackers can take advantage of.

A joint report from consulting firm PwC and the Swiss Crypto Valley Association revealed that the volume of ICOs between January and May 2018 reached $13.7 billion in 2018 so far, which is already twice as much as the market amounted to in all of 2017.

Tether Appoints BMO Anti-Money Laundering Manager as Chief Compliance Officer
July 13, 2018 2:19 am

Tether has hired а former Bank of Montreal anti-money laundering manager to head its regulatory compliance program.

Cryptocurrency startup Tether Limited has appointed a former AML Quality Control Manager at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) to lead the company’s regulatory compliance efforts, according to an announcement published July 12.

The company behind cryptocurrency Tether (USDT) has hired Leonardo Real as Chief Compliance Officer. Real was previously responsible for establishing practices, policies, and procedures in accordance with regulatory requirements to improve the quality of Canadian BMO’s anti-money laundering (AML) investigations. Additionally, Real has experience dealing in stocks and futures trading. Real commented on the new appointment:

“I look forward to helping showcase Tether’s commitment to transparency and regulatory compliance within the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. As a longtime advocate of blockchain technology and the integration of cryptocurrencies into the mainstream, I am looking forward to putting my experience in AML and regulatory compliance in traditional financial institutions to use, to ensure that the Tether project can continue its work disrupting traditional industries.”

Tether was founded in 2014 as “the first” blockchain-powered platform which allows the tokenization of fiat-backed digital currencies. Last month, law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP conducted an unofficial audit of Tether’s accounts, where it was discovered that USDT did indeed have enough funds to back each token 1:1 with the U.S. dollar. The question of whether Tether could back all of its tokens with dollars was previously the subject of some criticism and controversy.

After the publication of a study conducted by analysts from the University of Texas, Tether fell under further suspicion for Bitcoin (BTC) price manipulation in 2017 when the BTC price surged to all-time highs around $20,000. The paper claims that “purchases with Tether are timed following market downturns and result in sizable increases in Bitcoin prices.”

Today an Australian cryptocurrency exchange bitcoin.com.au hired former consulting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) executive Ben Ingram as its new CEO. Prior to joining the exchange, Ingram held the position of director in charge of digital strategy at “Big Four” auditor PwC. Ingram’s work at bitcoin.com.au will include both improving the exchange’s trading functionality and focusing on expanding crypto-based financial products into the traditional market space.