Daily News Digest Featured News

Friday February 9 2018, Daily News Digest

criminal digital currencies
Source: Bloomberg

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International

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Asia

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United States

NXT-ID (NXTD) Subsidiary Fit Pay Announces Flip, Payment Device for Cryptocurrencies (StreetInsider), Rated: AAA

Fit Pay, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of NXT-ID, Inc. (NASDAQ: NXTD), today announced FlipTM, a new contactless payment device that will enable cryptocurrency holders to use the value of their currency to make purchases at millions of retail locations. The launch of the new device follows a December 2017 announcement by Fit Pay that it is expanding its platform to connect cryptocurrencies to the payment ecosystem. Leveraging the FitPay Payment Platform, Flip will use value exchanged from cryptocurrency to make traditional payment transactions. The FitPay will begin taking pre-orders for Flip in February 2018 on a date to be announced.

Criminals May Ditch Bitcoin for Litecoin, Dash, Study Says (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

In the next six to 12 months, the most widely used digital coin is poised to lose its spot as a dominant payment method on the dark web, according to a study by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. Its biggest competitors? Litecoin and Dash.

criminal digital currencies
Source: Bloomberg

Another Cryptocurrency Target for U.S. Regulators: Tether (Lawfare), Rated: A

Because of their use in criminal activity, most cryptocurrency exchanges are cut off from the conventional banking system. Those that have access are required to generate IRS reports on transactions of a certain size and report suspicious activities. But substantially more could be done to disrupt unregulated exchanges —and the token Tether should be the government’s next target.

Banning cryptocurrency would be as sensible as banning the internet (The Hill), Rated: A

In the early 1990s, the rise of the internet coincided with the fall of communism and the Soviet Empire. It’s not a coincidence that as the internet grew in popularity and usefulness, democracies flourished around the world. The potential of the internet transcended borders and helped to change the world’s geopolitical structure.

The time is now to build that global regulatory framework and prevent any more blanket bans from taking hold. A global framework governing virtual currency activity should:

  • Avoid a “one-size-fits-all” approach and recognize that certain virtual currencies have unique use cases, and
  • Acknowledge the different risks associated with consumer versus enterprise use of virtual currencies.

FORBES’S NEW LIST OF BITCOIN BILLIONAIRES IS ALREADY HOPELESSLY OUT OF DATE (Vanity Fair), Rated: A

But there’s just one problem with the list, and it’s directly tied to the problem inherent to the currencies themselves: the market is too volatile to be sustaining, and so are the fortunes of those who have profited from it. As soon as the list was published, major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin saw their values plummet, rendering it immediately out of date. As The New York Times noted, even though the magazine identified about 10 billionaires, many were no longer billionaires once the list went live:

Ripple wealth
Source: Vanity Fair

Winklevoss twins take dig at 80-year-old cryptocurrency critics (CNBC), Rated: B

When asked to respond to criticism leveled at digital coins from leading business figures such as investor Warren Buffett, International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde and J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, Winklevoss said such negativity was a “failure of the imagination.”

Winklevoss Twins Say Bitcoin Will Hit $ 320,000 (Fortune), Rated: B

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the erstwhile Facebook power-scrabblers who made and lost a fortune with Bitcoin’s rise and fall, are insisting that the cryptocurrency will appreciate 40 times in value.

What’s needed to unlock the real power of blockchain and distributed apps (TechCrunch), Rated: AAA

With cryptocurrency prices reaching all-time highs and total market capitalization topping $800 billion recently, everyone wants to know if we’re witnessing the second coming of the internet or the craziest bubble of all time. If you ask me, it’s a bit of both.

Today, we have blockchain projects raising hundreds of millions of dollars with little more than a whitepaper — no product, no traction, just an idea and some technical specifications. You don’t need to be in venture capital to understand this level of speculation is unsustainable. At the same time, however, we saw much the same in the early stages of the internet, and look where we are today.

One of blockchain’s greatest innovations is the way it decentralizes trust by taking a consensus-based approach to verifying transactions of every kind. While this creates massive value, it also comes at a massive cost: latency — and lots of it.

If blockchain is ever going to achieve widespread adoption, it needs to get a lot faster.

Why Blockchain Could Kill Uber (Forbes), Rated: A

What if people could connect directly with drivers who are willing to transport them?

Blockchain Rival to Wikipedia Raises $ 30 Million, Plans Token ‘Airdrop’ (Fortune), Rated: A

Do we need a more lively Wikipedia for the Snapchat generation? The founders of a fast-growing site called Everipedia, which offers a snappy design and incorporates blockchain technology, say we do—and just raised $30 million to expand their mission.

It remains to be seen, however, if Everipedia can pull this off. In a recent article, the website The Outline offered a scathing account of how trolls have run amok on the platform, fanning conspiracy theories and defamatory comments. The piece also worried about the privacy consequences of Everipedia, which completes many entries simply by scraping material from social media, creating public profiles of non-notable people.

Why Blockchain’s Future Demands More Coopetition (Forbes), Rated: A

The Hyperledgerproject, for example, saw tech giants like IBM, Intel and Cisco band together to collaborate on enterprise blockchain technologies.

Blockchain solutions platform Ark, for instance, allows for interoperability between blockchains rather than serve as a direct rival to platforms like Ethereum or Neo. Fusion, which announced this week on successfully raising approximately $50 million in the first day of its ICO, is another blockchain project that seeks to provide cross-blockchain and cross-organization transactions and smart contracts for cryptofinance.

There’s also the Interoperability Alliance – a collaboration between blockchain ventures that aims to connect various blockchain protocols and establish industry standards. Currently composed by AionICON and Wanchain, the group seek to collaborate on improving blockchain scalability and adoption by sharing standards and research.

The Ethereumization Of Wall Street Is Inevitable: Expert Take (Coin Telegraph), Rated: AAA

These days it is much easier to raise funds through an ICO than through traditional venture capital funds. As a result, there are already more than 1,500 cryptocurrencies out there. Thanks to the ERC20 standard that uses the existing Ethereum Blockchain, anyone can launch a token at a limited cost without having to worry about building a Blockchain infrastructure from scratch.

Out of the 580 tokens out there, 475 are on the Ethereum Blockchain.

token platforms ethereum
Source: Coin Telegraph

How Ethereum can disrupt the bond market

Let’s have a look at one of the most lucrative businesses on Wall Street: the issuance of corporate bonds. Last year, companies around the world issued more than $3.5 tln worth of bonds.

At maturity of the bond, the smart contract pays out both the coupon and the principal (either the same amount of ETH or the same amount of US dollar paid in Ether or fiat-backed tokens).

smart bond ethereum
Source: Coin Telegraph

‘R-Token Standard’ Aims to Automate Security Token Compliance (Strategic Coin), Rated: A

Blockchain startup Harbor has unveiled the release of the “R-Token Standard,” a compliance protocol designed to standardize and automate the issuance and exchange of security tokens.

Smart contracts on blockchain the next wave of CRM automation (SearchCRM), Rated: B

Contract management will undergo a radical transformation soon as CRM vendors and their partners release technologies enabling blockchain applications from which customers can create smart contracts.

Chainspace: a sharded smart contracts platform (the morning paper), Rated: A

Chainspace is a DApp (decentralised application) platform based on smart contracts, designed for higher scalability than is currently achievable with Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Chainspace manages state in objects, which are sharded across nodes. One very interesting twist is the distinction between procedures that execute a computation, and independent checkers that can verify a computation was carried out correctly. Only one party executes a transaction, the others just need to verify it.

Smart Contracts Need Smart Corporate Lawyers (Law360), Rated: A

Strictly speaking, a “smart contract” need not be a legal agreement at all; fundamentally, it is computer code that automates performance of an already existing contract. Yet many smart contracts — such as the “Ricardian Contract” and other “smart legal agreements” — may constitute self-effectuating contracts in software, potentially in a…

Dallas.city puts Dallas on the Blockchain (GlobeNewswire), Rated: A

DigitalTown, Inc. (OTC:DGTW), the leading provider of People-centric Solutions for Smart Cities, is pleased to announce the launch of Dallas.city. The groundbreaking platform cooperative where residents and visitors improve quality of life in Dallas as they search, connect, share and shop locally, transacting directly with local merchants.

With the launch of Dallas.city, residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex have their very own personal alternative to Google, Expedia, AirBnB, OpenTable, PayPal and Bitcoin, all in one, accessible 24/7 via the Dallas.city web portal and mobile application. Best of all, Dallas.city can be owned by residents through the distribution and sale of CityShares, a Blockchain-based solution for managing shared ownership of city cooperatives.

Starting today, residents can claim their free CityShares ownership stakes of the Dallas.city platform. The free CityShare claim is scheduled to end on February 28, 2018. The free CityShares are limited to 10 CityShares for each legal resident of the Dallas-Fort Worth and surrounding metropolitan statistical area, last reported at over 7,100,000 as of July 1, 2016. Unclaimed CityShares will be available for purchase after the free period until they are all distributed or sold.

Dallas merchants can sign up for a free storefront.

US Congress to Hold Blockchain Hearing on Valentine’s Day (CoinDesk), Rated: B

Two subcommittees of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology – for Oversight as well as Research and Technology – are holding a hearing, entitled “Beyond Bitcoin: Emerging Applications for Blockchain Technology,” on Feb. 14 at 10 a.m. EST.

What Are the Differences Between Tangle and Blockchain? (The Merkle), Rated: A

That last point is where Tangle and blockchain differ the most. Instead of having a group of miners or validators dedicated to processing transactions, everyone sending a transaction is responsible for processing other transactions on the Tangle. What’s more, this means that no one is required to run a crypto’s core software and connect to network nodes to validate transactions.

According to IOTA’s website and whitepaper, there are a handful of noteworthy advantages that Tangle holds over blockchain technology:

  • Decentralized protections: Since everyone using the network is responsible for its upkeep, it doesn’t require miners; and since it doesn’t require miners, it’s not susceptible to the sort of mining centralization that ASIC mining has brought to Bitcoin and other Proof-of-Work, non-ASIC-resistant cryptocurrencies.
  • Quantum resistance: The IOTA team has laid out how the Tangle would offer a security buffer for cryptocurrencies against quantum computing, which could threaten the security of blockchain technology.
  • Scalability and micropayments: In theory, Tangle networks actually scale more efficiently the more people use them. That’s because the more transactions that are pushed through the network, the more there are to process others. Furthermore, the consensus mechanism is inherently low-cost and friendly towards micropayments thanks to these peer-to-peer confirmations.

 

Harvard genetics pioneer wants to monetize DNA with digital currency, and defeat 23andMe (CNBC), Rated: A

Harvard University genetics guru George Church — one of the scientists at the forefront of the CRISPR genetic engineering revolution — announced on Wednesday a start-up, Nebula Genomics, that will use the blockchain to not only allow individuals to share their personal genome for research purposes, but retain ownership and monetize their DNA through trading of a custom digital currency.

Houston co. completes stem cell-for-cryptocurrency exchange (Houston Business Journal), Rated: A

A Houston-based company successfully completed Feb. 5 a cryptocurrency transaction for a health care service in Sugar Land as the payment method is being used globally to purchase anything from food to private jet services.

Houston-based CareX Blockchain Platform, a subsidiary Scottline Healthcare Solutions, facilitated the exchange for a patient needing stem cell therapy at Sugar Land-based clinic Elite Doc Health and Beauty. The company is developing a technology that uses blockchain to make health care transactions.

The best laptops for mining cryptocurrencies (Techradar), Rated: A

If you are thinking of buying a laptop for mining, you need to take into consideration a few things. First of all, you should research which cryptocurrency you want to mine, as certain ones will be easier to mine on the hardware than others.

You should also consider getting a laptop with a longer warranty than usual, as you’ll be putting your mining laptop through a lot more stress than you would a normal one.

  1. Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
  2. Razer Blade Pro
  3. Dell XPS 15
  4. HP Pavilion 15
  5. Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
  6. Gigabyte Aorus X9

Crypto For Charity: Mine Ethereum To Help Children In Syria (Forbes), Rated: A

Enter “UNICEF Game Chaingers,” a charity effort that leverages Ethereum and the Claymore mining software to raise money for emergency aid and supplies for the 13.5 million people affected by the war in Syria.

The Biggest Threat to an ICO and How to Avoid It (NewsBTC), Rated: A

According to an Ernst & Young study, about $400 million has been stolen from funds raised through initial coin offerings. This large pile of unrecoverable investor capital represents over 10 percent of the $3.7 billion raised in 2017. In addition, the report noted that most funds are stolen through phishing attacks, racking up losses of $1.5 million a month. Only a quarter of ICOs reached their funding goals in November 2017, down from 90 percent in June that same year. Throw in pump and dump schemes orchestrated by hedge funds, and ICO investors are less likely than ever to see their full investment again, let alone turn a profit.

BitcoinLatina Foundation Commits One Million BCL Tokens to TopiaCoin’s Initial Coin Offering (BusinessWire), Rated: B

Topia Technology announced today a commitment from BitcoinLatina Foundation that will further enable the company to bring its security expertise to decentralized systems in early 2019 through TopiaCoin, the first secure network for sharing digital assets.

How An Alleged Cryptocurrency Scam Put A Texas Car Show In Peril (Jalopnik), Rated: A

For years, the Texas Relays Car Show and Donk Contest in Austin brought a passionate but sometimes misunderstood car culture into the spotlight around one of Texas’ biggest track and field events. But this year, the show’s fate is uncertain after its organizer apparently invested funds in what turned out to be a scam cryptocurrency platform—and then went missing.

Bitcoin at center of Toledo fake ID case (The Blade), Rated: A

When officers seized $4.7 million from a Toledo man accused of running an ambitious fake-identification ring, the currency didn’t come in the form of legal U.S. tender.

Court records state the money taken from Mark Alex Simon, 34, existed as Bitcoin.

Hospital Hit With Cryptocurrency Mining Malware (LookingGlass), Rated: A

Decatur County General Hospital in Parsons, Tennessee, is notifying more than 20,000 individuals that their health information was potentially compromised by an incident last year involving cryptocurrency mining software discovered on an electronic medical records server.

This cryptocurrency wallet has room for your cash and cards, too (Technobuffalo), Rated: B

This slimTECH Cryptolite Cold Storage Wallet solves this problem by providing both a place to store your cryptocurrencies as well as your cards and cash—all for just $89.99.

United Kingdom

Blockchain name-grabbing has echoes of dotcom bubble (Reuters), Rated: AAA

If you want a quick boost to your company’s share price, adding “blockchain” to your name will work – at least for a while.

The average share price of such companies has risen more than threefold since such name changes, according to Reuters data, with experts comparing the practice to a similar rush during the dotcom bubble.

Most recently shares in Stapleton Capital (BLOC.L), a UK shell company yet to report any revenues, doubled on Jan. 22 after it changed its name to Blockchain Worldwide.

blockchain names
Source: Reuters
China

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance suspends trading (Financial Times), Rated: AAA

Binance has denied that it was hacked after a system upgrade sparked an extensive halt of trading and customer withdrawals of funds at one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrencies exchanges.

The depth of the system issues at the Hong Kong-based exchange first came to light on Thursday at roughly 2:20am GMT. An official announcement told traders that “due to a significant increase in users and trading activity, Binance will need to extend the system upgrade” that began hours earlier.

It said that it expected the work to be completed by 2pm GMT, but that “withdrawals and trading during this period will remain suspended.” However, by 1:07pm GMT, Binance was forced to significantly push back its target for the resumption of trade to 4am GMT on Friday.

Hong Kong’s SFC confirms action against several cryptocurrency exchanges, ICO issuers (Financefeeds), Rated: A

Earlier today, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong confirmed it had taken action against a number of companies active in this market segment.

European Union

Cryptocurrency Tops EU Watchdog’s 2018 Agenda (CoinDesk), Rated: AAA

The European Union’s top securities watchdog has indicated that cryptocurrencies will be one of its top priorities in 2018.

In its latest supervisory work agenda released on Feb. 7, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) outlined the five primary areas that the agency will focus on in the coming year.

European Central Bank wakes up to digital currency ‘concern’ (Independent), Rated: A

Officials are investigating whether and how they can control a new asset class that’s captured the imagination of retail investors and attracted interest from financial institutions.

Germany and France are leading a push among the world’s biggest economies to regulate cryptocurrencies, and Mersch’s ECB colleague Benoit Coeure said last month that he’d expect the topic to feature prominently during a Group of 20 meeting in Argentina in March.

The ECB has its own ways to prevent digital currencies from piggybacking on its financial infrastructure. The collateral framework already bans those assets from being used in financial transactions, while central counterparty clearing can be adjusted, Mersch said.

Wysker Launches Hyperspeed Shopping App after Raising $ 2.1m in ICO Presale (BusinessWire), Rated: A

wysker announced today the global launch of the new wysker shopping app on the Google Play Store. Its single-button navigation allows users to discover new products to buy at up to 20 items per second. A unique and innovative mobile shopping experience that comes with its own Ethereum-based token to reward users for their interactions.

UBIQUICOIN, Backed by Real Assets and Guarantees $ 1 Min Per Coin, Launches Initial Coin Offering (Crowdfund Insider), Rated: A

UBIQUICOIN is described as a digital currency backed by real assets that is using a “two-coin approach,” has launched their initial coin offering (ICO). The Gibraltar based company has taken their ICO a step further by providing a two year financial guarantee of $1.00 per coin “if a triggering event were to occur.”

Water Utility Infected by Cryptocurrency Mining Software (Schneier on Security), Rated: B

A water utility in Europe has been infected by cryptocurrency mining software. This is a relatively new attack: hackers compromise computers and force them to mine cryptocurrency for them. This is the first time I’ve seen it infect SCADA systems, though.

International

Report Suggests Global Spending on Blockchain Tech Could Reach $ 9.2 Billion by 2021 (Bitcoin Magazine), Rated: AAA

According to IDC’s inaugural Worldwide Semiannual Blockchain Spending Guide, $945 million was spent on blockchain solutions in 2017. The report notes that this amount is expected to reach $2.1 billion during 2018. IDC expects blockchain spending to grow at a robust pace over the 2016-2021 forecast period with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 81.2%, reaching a total spending of $9.2 billion in 2021.

Globally, blockchain technology spending is expected to be very high in the financial and banking sectors (estimated to reach $754 million in 2018), although leading use cases for blockchain technology are also being seen in other areas.

Fr8 Network, a U.S. based supply-chain management company, is using blockchain technology to solve a number of problems to help improve the flow of goods and services in the freight industry.

From a technology perspective, IT services and business services (combined) will account for roughly 75 percent of all blockchain spending throughout the 2016-2021 forecast, with spending fairly well balanced across the two categories.

Cryptocurrencies are rising despite the World Bank president calling the market a Ponzi scheme (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

After getting hosed earlier in the week, all major cryptocurrencies are solidly in the green by Thursday lunchtime in Europe. Here’s how the scoreboard looks at 12.15 p.m. GMT (7.15 a.m. ET):

bitcoin
Source: Business Insider

The Rouge Project is Carrying The Billion Dollar Coupon Space Into The Future (Global Coin Report), Rated: A

Whichever statistics you read, the global coupon market is expanding dramatically. A study from Juniper Research predicts that there will be 1.05 billion mobile coupon users by 2019 and another report on the prospects of the global mobile coupon market forecasts growth at a CAGR of 73% between 2016 and 2020.

Rouge has applied distributed ledger technology (DLT) or, to use a term that’s perhaps more familiar to readers, blockchain technology, to the coupon space and, in doing so, has created a solution that not only promises to meet the above discussed growth in demand for coupons (and, specifically, mobile-based digital coupons) but that also provides a technological framework from which the industry can reinvigorate itself.

What are Atomic Swaps in Cryptocurrencies; Keys to Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) (cryptovest), Rated: A

In the cryptoworld, an atomic swap is the exchange of different cryptocurrencies on different blockchains, without the need to trust a third party/intermediary. It utilizes a specific type of smart contract called ‘Hash-time locked contracts’ (or HTLCs for short) that enables two people to exchange different cryptocurrencies in a trustless manner, without the inherent risk of one person defaulting or backing out of the trade.

Australia

Ethereum devs continue taking the hard road to decentralisation (finder), Rated: A

How much is decentralisation worth? Somewhere between a few hundred million dollars and infinity, according to Ethereum developers. The inherent complexity of Ethereum, its notoriously tricky Solidity programming language and software bugs have resulted in the loss and freezing of tens of thousands of ETH over the years.

Since then, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of ETH has been lost. The largest recent loss was the Parity Freeze, where human error locked away 513,000ETH, worth US$160 million at the time. it would be forever out of reach unless consensus was reached to recover it.

Asia

Crypto Investors Face Tax of Up to 55% in Japan (Bloomberg), Rated: AAA

Japan’s National Tax Agency has caught onto the cryptocurrency mania gripping the world and investors in digital coins are about to pay the price.

Having ruled last year that capital gains on these transactions are a form of “miscellaneous income,” investors are now required to declare their profits in annual tax filings due Feb. 16-March 15.

Unlike winnings on stocks and foreign currencies, which are taxed around 20 percent, Japan’s levy on profits from virtual money runs from 15 percent to 55 percent. The top amount applies to people with annual earnings of 40 million yen ($365,000).

Sakae Holdings plans to launch Southeast Asia’s first F&B digital token – and it’s called Bitecoin (Business Insider), Rated: A

Sakae Holdings announced on Thursday (Feb 8) that it has entered a partnership with e-payment solutions provider Mobile Credit Payment (MC Payment) to jointly develop Southeast Asia’s first F&B digital token called Bitecoin.

Canada

Canadian digital currency exchange Coinsquare closes record $ 30 million investment (Business Insider), Rated: AAA

goNumerical Ltd. (d.b.a. Coinsquare), one of Canada’s leading and most secure digital currency exchanges, announced today that it has closed a fully marketed equity financing led by Canaccord Genuity Corp. for gross proceeds of approximately $30 million. In just over four months Coinsquare has raised a total of $47.3 million, at equity valuations increasing from $30 million to $430 million. The most recent round of funding will be used to fuel a global growth plan and diversification strategy focused on making the platform even more responsive to mainstream customers’ needs.

MENA

Qatar central bank tells banks not to deal in bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies (The Straits Times), Rated: AAA

Qatar’s central bank has warned banks and other financial institutions not to trade in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, according to financial sources and a circular seen by Reuters.

Authors:

George Popescu
George Popescu
Allen Taylor
Allen Taylor

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Allen Taylor

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