Čvn 10

US Banking Regulators Warn About Imminent Swift Attacks

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Swift Breaches

US Regulators are scrutinizing the Swift payment network in light of the recent heists which have taken place. That is not a complete surprise, as there is plenty of cause for concern. Things have gotten so dire; the US regulators have warned banks about more imminent threats to their cyber security.

Also read: Hacker Sells Twitter Data Dump On Deep Web For 10 Bitcoin

Ever since the various attacks made against banks connected to the Swift network became public knowledge, there has been a lot of concern among financial regulators. Albeit the hackers used smaller banks to gain access to the Swift network, regulators feel the interbank protocol is no longer safe.

Swift Is Not Adequately Protecting Its Partners

Moreover, they feel all connected banks should do their due diligence and fortify cyber security as they see fit. This is a lot easier said than done, though, considering how smaller banks do not have the budget nor staff to counter these cyber threats in an efficient manner.

Several vulnerabilities have been exposed during these breaches. Given the diversity of the Swift system, patching all of these critical flaws will take a lot of time and effort. Until these fixes are implemented, the protocol remains vulnerable to attack, and it is not unlikely new attacks will follow.

If it were up to Swift officials, however, they would rather cut off smaller banks with subpar security standards. Ever since the small bank breaches were announced, the interbank network has done everything they can to put the blame on their partners. This has caught the attention of regulators all over the world, and especially in the United States.

Note from the author: It remains unclear who is the “guilty party” in these incidents. The investigations are still ongoing as we speak. 

The US Federal Financial Examination Council issued a warning to all Swift-connected banks. This assortment of banking regulators strongly feels Swift cannot protect its partners in an adequate manner, and banks should take matters into their own hands.

But that is not all, as the FFIEC warned how unauthorized transactions will cause losses to the originating bank, as well as result in compliance breaches penalties. So far, the FBI has been investigating various security breaches. However, regulators and banks are on high alert ever since the attempted heist in April of 2016.

Do you think there will be more attacks against the Swift interbank network? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Finance Magnates

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, FFIEC

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US Banking Regulators Warn About Imminent Swift Attacks

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Čvn 08

Further Economic Woes In Turkey Create Bitcoin Opportunities

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Turkey Economy

Financial trouble continues to brew in Turkey, as the economy minister was not overly confident when discussing the situation in the country. The central bank is expected to continue cutting its lending rate. Now that PayPal has also left the scene in Turkey, Bitcoin can start gaining popularity in the region.

Also read: ownCloud Inc. Closes Doors Following NextCloud Announcement

Although many people in Turkey expected the country to see financial growth later this year, the current projects do not seem to agree. With more lending rate cuts by the Central Bank of Turkey on the horizon, things are looking bleaker than anticipated. If this were to happen, it would be the fourth straight month of cuts in the country.

Financial Situation In Turkey is Evolving

Despite that forecast, Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci is confident the country is on the right track to achieve its growth. Moreover, there is a plan on the table to reach a year-end inflation rate of 7.5%. A lot of that success will hinge on exporting goods from Turkey to other countries, though.

Declines in export have already caused a correction for the 2016 projections. It was initially assumed Turkey would see US$155.5bn in export in 2016, but that target has been cut back to US$150 billion. The first half of 2016 was not on par with expectations, although the numbers were not terrible either.

Part of this export will hinge on how consumers can pay for goods coming from Turkey. Online shopping is becoming more important than ever to consumers all over the world. Paypal is one of the most common payment solutions in the e-commerce sector these days.

Unfortunately for Turkish retailers, PayPal is no longer a payment option in the country. The company had to withdraw after being unable to renew its operating license. It is expected this news will have an impact on the export figures as well, although it would only affect consumer purchases, rather than the corporate side of things.

Bitcoin is a more than viable alternative to PayPal in Turkey, though. Bitwala is even offering completely free Bitcoin debit cards to Turkish citizens for a limited time. The country has come to a crossroads where consumers may start looking for payment alternatives. Bitcoin presents an excellent case and solution, which is very cheap to use as well.

What are your thoughts on the economic situation in Turkey? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Reuters

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, PayPal

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Čvn 01

Six Russian Banks Lose US$25.7m To Hacker Collective

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Hacker Collective

According to Russian news sources, over US$25.7m has been stolen from Russian banks. This has nothing to do with yet another Swift network breach, though. A hacker collective is involved in the creation and distribution of malware, used to steal money from Russian bank accounts.

Also read: Sandjacking iOS Exploit Threatens Bitcoin and Ethereum Wallets

Earlier today, Russian law enforcement officials have arrested fourteen people of an undisclosed hacker collective. All of these people are suspected of being involved in the usage of malware to steal funds from Russia bank accounts. Preliminary results indicate more than US$25.7m has been taken. The Russian Federal Security Service has also confiscated a lot of computer equipment, combined with financial documents, bank cards, and cash sums.

The Rising Number of Hacker Collective Threats

 

A total of six banks has been affected by this hacker collective, including the Russian International Bank, Metropol, and Metallinvestbank.The attacks took place between March and April of 2016, although no specific dates were announced. All of these banks suffered from remote access attacks, which were made possible due to the distribution of malware.

Kaspersky Labs has indicated the hacker collective made use of the Lurk banking trojan. Doing so allowed the assailants to steal funds from bank accounts in both Russia and other countries. Lurk has been a powerful tool in the hands of the wrong people, as it has been used for over five years by hackers looking to sluice funds to offshore accounts.

It is not the first time these types of attacks take place in Russia, though. Damages caused by hackers and internet criminals have exceeded US$45m over the past year. Especially the number of attacks against financial institutions seems to be increasing exponentially. Since mid-2015, law enforcement has tracked 18 different incidents, resulting in over 3 billion rubles being stolen.

At the same time, several attacks have been prevented from causing even more damage. If that had not been the case, there would have been an additional US$30 million in damages, according to TASS. After thorough investigations, over 50 hackers have been arrested, and more than 80 searches have been conducted so far.

What are your thoughts on the rising number of cyber attacks against banks? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: TASS

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia

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Dub 18

Japanese Bank Acknowledges Mijin Blockchain Infrastructure Test




Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Mijin

Various financial institutions and blockchain providers are testing distributed ledger technology solutions these days. Tech Bureau Inc. provides blockchain infrastructure through Mijin, and their blockchain infrastructure was successfully tested by SBI Sumishin Net Bank.

Also read: Bitcoin Price: Stagnant or Satisfactory?

Mijin Blockchain Infrastructure Field Trial

It is worth noting this field trial of Mijin blockchain infrastructure was not a typical trial of securities system, but rather to see if the blockchain can be a viable accounting system for financial players. SBI Sumishin Net Bank was curious to find out of a customer blockchain can replace the centralized ledger currently employed by the bank.

As it turns out, a total of 2.5 million virtual bank accounts were created, and the Mijin blockchain infrastructure managed to process 90,000 transactions per hour. To ensure the system was stable enough, six different nodes were set up across Amazon AWS servers, and a stress test was conducted to determine system availability and fault tolerance.

Although many people suspect various banks around the world have been conducting similar blockchain experiments in recent times, very little information has been made publicly available. SBI Sumishin Net Bank is the first to acknowledge openly a successful ledger trial through blockchain infrastructure, as provided by Mijin.

Dragonfly Fintech’s Lon Wong stated:

“The outcome of the test shows that blockchain can be used for the core banking system. The Mijin/NEM Technology makes it easy to integrate with the core banking system. In fact, it should coexist with legacy core banking systems, run in parallel, and finally replacing them in the long term.”

Contrary to popular belief, blockchain technology might be more applicable to accounting systems rather than post-trade processing. Although the blockchain can be useful to various aspects of the financial sector, Mijin blockchain infrastructure has shown the world it is possible to use distributed ledgers in an accounting setting. After all, the majority of current mainframes have become a liability, which forces banks to come up with innovative solutions.

Last but not least, it does not look like the maximum capacity of the Mijin blockchain infrastructure has been reached yet. Tech Bureau Corp. CEO Takao Asayama feels the technology can achieve four-digit transactions per second. However, developers and engineers are working on a solution to increase this capacity over the coming months.

What are your thoughts on this field test of blockchain infrastructure in the accounting sector? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Mijin

Images courtesy of PR Web, SBI Sumishin Net Bank

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Dub 18

Axoni Achieves 100% Success Rate With Blockchain-based CDS

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_CDS

The correlation between blockchain technology and the financial industry is hard to overlook these days. A few weeks ago, several firms – including Axoni – tested the blockchain as a way to use smart contracts for single name credit default swaps. As it turns out, distributed ledgers are far more efficient than most financial players assumed.

Also read: CEX.io Adds Ether Trading Support to Crypto Exchange

Axoni And Others Focus on Blockchain-based CDS

Established financial players have taken a vested interest in distributed ledgers to improve their own day-to-day operations. Four of the world’s biggest institutions – Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan, and Credit Suisse – recently partook in a trial to see if this technology would hold its own when used for North American single name credit default swaps [CDS].

The trial was made possible thanks to these four players collaborating with the DTCC, Markit, and Axoni. Especially this last name is of great interest, as they are a blockchain technology firm looking to bring the power of distributed ledgers to companies all over the world. Some people may recall Axoni is being advised by Benjamin Lawsky’s blockchain consultancy firm.

Trials of this project took place during Q1 of 2016, and a blockchain-based trade processing network was established successfully. Credit default swap transactions were the primary focus, as they are subject to various events throughout their “existence”. Moreover, CDS lend themselves well towards determining whether or not the blockchain is efficient enough to handle all of the input and output of these swaps.

Markit’s head of Processing division Brad Levy told the media:

“This collaboration in CDS illustrates how smart contracts can facilitate higher levels of automation in OTC markets. The success of this initiative reinforces our commitment to continued development of blockchain technology in CDS, other asset classes and financial industry processes more generally.”

Smart contracts played an integral role in this blockchain trial, as Markit generated the contracts from CDS trade confirmations. In return, this process allowed for creating a synchronized and distributed record on the network, containing all of the financial data associated with these financial instruments.

As one would come to expect, these Axoni smart contracts were tested thoroughly, as they included economic terms, event processing, and a way to manage permissions. The blockchain allows for unprecedented transparency, and that aspect was showcased by seeing how much information these contracts would make available to regulators in real-time.

So far, it seems as if all of these parties took a smart decision by relying on Axoni for these field trials. Even though a total of 85 different test cases were drafted and tested through blockchain technology, none of them failed. A 100% success rate is quite noteworthy, although there is no official word on whether or not there are specific plans to continue these experiments in the future.

What are your thoughts on financial players getting together with Axoni for these blockchain tests? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Chain-Finance

Images courtesy of Axoni, Shutterstock

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Bře 29

Money Over IP Follows The Footsteps Of VoIP




Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Money Over IP

In the world of communication, Voice over IP – or VoIP – has made a significant impact on the world. This cheaper form of global communication through an Internet connection, allows users to interact with each other through various applications and devices. But in the financial world, Money over IP could become the next big thing. Distributed ledgers and data analytics will play an integral role in the process of automating the financial “back office”.

Also read: Mainstream Media Takes Notice of Versatile Blockchain Projects

Money Over IP Is Important To Finance

Imagine the world in which consumers can send money to anyone else in the world, regardless of financial service access, the device user, or their location. All of this seems all but impossible to achieve with the legacy system, whereas other ecosystems such as Bitcoin provide a viable alternative.

Disrupting the financial sector will not be easy, at banks and other institutions have a tight grip on how consumers and businesses deal with money and transactions. Then again, the same principle applied to the communications sector, as VoIP was initially seen as a minor threat to the business model of telcos. However, a projected US$400 bn loss between 2012 and 2018 seems to disagree with that statement.

There is no denying VoIP services have become a part of everyday life for most consumers, and especially the younger generations. WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, and consorts can be found on just about any smartphone these days, as they allow for easy, frictionless, and global communication.

Similarities between VoIP and Money over IP are not difficult to find, as both principles revolve around Internet access. Whereas telcos are fighting tooth and nail against over-the-top providers, banks are facing similar struggles where the Fintech industry is involved. Moreover, digital currencies such as Bitcoin are another force to be reckoned with.

Although it would be a stretch to say Money over IP will replace the banking system overnight, banks had been warned about this coming disruption quite some time ago. Moreover, WiFi access is becoming more and more common all over the world, rendering mobile data “useful” instead of necessity. Cheaper – or free – Internet access will only help drive the Money over IP revolution on a global scale.

The main hurdles for banks to overcome are the PR issues, as many consumers feel these archaic institutions are greedy, arrogant, complacent, even lazy. Neither of these terms is favorable when it comes to finance, and Fintech companies – as well as Bitcoin – do not suffer from these drawbacks. However, it will take a significant mind shift before Money over IP becomes as familiar as Voice over IP.

What are your thoughts on the chances of success for Money over IP? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: The Finanser

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Technoflix

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Money Over IP Follows The Footsteps Of VoIP




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Úno 22

Joint Biometric Security Collaboration Aims To Protect Financial Services

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_Biometric

Security is of great importance to the world of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, and strategic partnerships will bring more legitimacy to this industry. Gemalto, a company, working on security solutions who recently partnered with Symbiont, has introduced their biometric security platform. The primary goal is to deploy this new feature in consumer-grade electronics shortly, which would impact Bitcoin adoption.

Also read: Sony Aims to Reshape Education with Blockchain Technology

Gemalto Focuses on Biometric Security

Consumer electronics need to be protected properly, and username and password combinations are a thing of the past. Particularly where payment solutions in the financial sector are concerned, improved security features can play a big role in safeguarding consumer details.

Biometric features can become the new norm in the field of security, and Gemalto will demonstrate their new technology by using a smartwatch with a fingerprint sensor. In fact, this demo will be a joint collaboration between Gemalto, Fingerprint Cards, Precise Biometrics, and STMicroelectronics. Coming up with a biometric solution is not an easy feat, as the collective expertise of all of these companies can create a potent feature.

This biometric security solution works by combining a fingerprint sensor with fingerprint software and a secure NFC solution based on low power microcontrollers. By the look of things, this new security feature will not be compatible with most of the existing consumer electronics in existence right now.

That being said, this biometrics solution will remove the complexity of using various username and password combinations for different platforms. One universal verification procedure to access any service or platform the end user will ever use sounds great on paper, but it remains to be seen if such a solution is feasible in reality.

Linking an individual fingerprint to the end user’s biometrics will be the key challenge to overcome for this collaborative effort. But perhaps the biggest challenge will be how the details will be stored, as no technical details were revealed. This is where distributed ledger technology could come into the picture.

Using The Blockchain For Data Protection

Assuming this joint biometric collaboration by Gemalto and partners works efficiently, there is a new security factor to take into consideration. If consumers will be able to use fingerprint scanning and biometrics for all of their services and platforms, storing all of this data becomes even more important than it was ever before.

Storing this vital consumer information on a decentralized ledger such as the blockchain seems to be the obvious choice. Gemalto has already partnered with blockchain startup Symbiont.io in recent months, so the company knows what this technology is capable of. Centralized data storage solutions are out of the question where biometrics are concerned, as going down that path will only invite hackers to breach the databases.

Another question that arises is whether or not biometric security can affect Bitcoin usage all over the world. Nearly every wallet solution available today uses a pin code or passphrase to provide additional security, which is not all that secure to begin with. Biometrics could play an interesting role in this regard as the tehcnology matures.

 

What are your thoughts on using biometric security? Will it affect Bitcoin usage in the future? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Gemalto

Images courtesy of Gemalto, Shutterstock

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Úno 17

Virtual Currency Issued By PBOC Will Not Use Blockchain Technology

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_PBOC

While there seems to be a lot of doubt regarding the future of cash right now, the governor of China’s central bank feels virtual currency will eventually replace this archaic method of transferring value. At the same time, PBOC governor Zhou Xiaochuan was quick to add how the Chinese government will regulate all virtual currencies used as legal tender, indicating there are no plans to embrace Bitcoin by any means.

Also read: Tokken Puts the Legal Marijuana Industry on the Immutable Bitcoin Blockchain

People’s Bank of China Believes In Virtual Currency

To many people, it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear the People’s Bank of China reinforced their earlier statement regarding virtual currency, as the institution has announced plans to launch their own currency shortly.  PBOC governor Zhou Xiaochuan mentioned how currencies evolve as new technologies and economies develop. Cash is very low-tech, and it only seems natural consumers will look for digital alternatives at some point.

Replacing paper money will take some time, though, as a large part of the success of virtual currency hinges on how it will operate. Bitcoin, a very popular virtual currency, is not regulated by banks or governments. Some people see this as a weakness while most of its community members feel this is a core strength of Bitcoin. Central banks will want to control the virtual currency they see as legal tender, though, pushing Bitcoin to the bottom of the list for the PBOC.

When the people’s Bank of China decides to issue their own virtual currency, a significant portion of the development efforts will be focused on security and convenience. At the same time time, a balance must be found between preventing illegal activities and respecting user privacy. Virtual currency can offer pseudonymity to its users, which protects privacy, but also makes it harder to crack down on illicit activities.

PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan stated:

“Since the digital currency will be legal tender, it must be issued and controlled by the central bank, with the issuance, circulation and transaction processes following the same management principles as traditional currencies.”

At the time of publication, the PBOC did not mention a concrete timeline for the release of their own virtual currency. Given the high population and large economy of China, it will take anywhere from months to several years until the new currency is launched. However, it would not replace cash from day one, but rather co-exist for a while until the time has come to remove cash from the economy.

No Mention of Bitcoin At All

As was to be expected, the People’s Bank of China shows absolutely no interest in Bitcoin at all. Or to be more precise, there are no plans to use the popular virtual currency to replace cash in China by any means. But at the same time, officials are keeping an eye on how Bitcoin evolves, as they can use its concept and development progress for their own virtual currency in the future.

Additionally, PBOC has no plans to use the blockchain as we know it either. According to Xiaochuan, the current technology requires far too many resources – such as computational power – and is incapable of handling the transaction volume needed to make it an efficient replacement for China’s economy. Other technological solutions are being researched, and cooperation with various industries will bare an answer in the months and years to come.

What are your thoughts on the plans of PBOC and their own virtual currency? Let us know in the comments below!

Source; BTCC

Images courtesy of PBOC, Shutterstock

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Virtual Currency Issued By PBOC Will Not Use Blockchain Technology

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Úno 12

India Has A Booming Economy Despite Global Financial Turmoil

Source: bitcoin

Bitcoinist_India

The financial turmoil wreaking havoc throughout the world is leaving most countries trying to figure out where to go from here. One country that is not encumbered by any of these issues is India, as they are gaining a lot from other countries’ issues. Low oil prices and a growing interest in the Indian stock market paint an interesting picture of how this corner of the world might be getting ready for a financial revolution.

Also read: Classic Fork Release Launches Consensus Hysteria

Why India Is Booming

It may sound rather strange in this day and age, but India is one of the very few countries where the economy is growing. Even though the local stock market may have taken a slight bump in recent weeks, things are looking quite positive on a grand scale. In fact, India remains the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with a GDP growth of 7% per year.

However, it is important to keep in mind India has somewhat of an unfair advantage over other countries in the world. Keeping in mind how the average income is still very low, there simply is a lot more room to grow. In fact, India has five times the room to grow compared to China, and 40 times the room compared to the United States.

Furthermore, the demographics in India play a significant role in the process as well. With roughly 600 million people under the age of 27, the future generation of earners is just around the corner. Keeping in mind how a lot of these individuals are very tech-savvy as well, interesting things are bound to happen in the country over the next few years.

But other decisions play a key factor in this process as well. The country resorted to coal for generating energy, rather than looking at oil or other options. Granted, this is not the healthiest solution available, but it is by far the cheapest. With solar energy solutions reaching parity with coal prices in the not so distant future, setting up solar plants becomes a lot more attractive all of a sudden.

For years, people have been criticising India for moving slowly in critical areas such as healthcare, banking, and retail. At the same time, this last-mover advantage can prove to be very beneficial to the country, as they can reap the rewards of international research and development conducted in these industries. However, only time will tell whether or not these decisions will play out in a positive manner.

Growing Interest in Bitcoin Can Be Beneficial

While traditional solutions are only one part of the future, India is well-known of their mobile commerce boom as well. Consumers are skipping credit card payments altogether and move from cash payments to their mobile counterparts. Bitcoin could play an important role in this regard as it allows for frictionless mobile payments in foreign and international markets.

India is home to several Bitcoin exchanges, such as Unocoin and BTCXIndia. Additionally, the LocalBitcoins market is rather active in the country, with plenty of buyers and sellers looking to trade Bitcoin on a daily basis. It remains a mystery whether or not Bitcoin can make a big impact in India though.

What are your thoughts on the financial situation in India? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: CNN Money

Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Vitt

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India Has A Booming Economy Despite Global Financial Turmoil

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