Čvc 18

Blockchain Trade Finance Platform Set to Launch In Hong Kong

A blockchain-backed trade finance platform is getting ready to be launched by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and partners. The system currently stands as one of the largest examples of a government-backed effort to tackle issues in the worldwide trade finance industry.


Those who work in the trade finance sector often sift through lots of paperwork to verify transactions and ensure credentials are valid. Now, a new blockchain-based platform is being launched in the coming months to help reform the industry by digitizing documents and automating processes so the banking industry can be protected against fraud and risk.

The project is a joint effort by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and a collection of banks, including HSBC, Bank of East Asia Ltd, and Standard Chartered.

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‘Unlock the trading potential of many thousands’

A growing number of banks, governments, and technology firms have turned their eyes to blockchain when it comes to trade finance — one of the main reasons being that people are still looking for a way to unlock liquidity in the supply chain. A study from Ernst & Young said 2,000 leading companies in Europe and the United States have about $1.3 trillion dollars tied up unnecessarily.

The World Trade Organization said in a report how unmet demand for trade finance totals $700 billion dollars across developing Asia and $120 billion in Africa. The agency says bridging these types of gaps would “unlock the trading potential of many thousands of individuals and small businesses around the world.”

The reasons for the lack of liquidity are multifaceted, but some of the biggest barriers have been identified as high transaction costs, physical paper trails that slow down processes, and general complexity when it comes to accounting.

Government Backing

The blockchain is being heralded as a solution to many of the aforementioned issues — primarily because it could be used to eliminate physical paperwork, vastly cut down on transaction times, and make it easier to catch fraud, since parties can view logged trades in the blockchain.

Banking giant HSBC said in May how it was able to execute the globe’s first commercially viable blockchain trade finance transaction on the Corda platform, which was developed by the R3 blockchain consortium. Entities like Deutsche Bank and Rabobank have also teamed up to launch a trade finance platform.

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However, the project in Hong Kong is one of the first to go live with government backing. The system was designed by Ping An Group and will be owned by the banks — who are teaming up with the financial regulator.

One key feature of the platform is the ability to cheaply extract company data so potential customers can be reviewed — which is said to make it easier for small businesses to have access to trade and supply-chain finance.

Officials involved with the project also have plans for the future. HKMA deputy chief executive Howard Lee said the next step of the project “is to link up with other trade platforms in other jurisdictions to further facilitate cross-border trades.”

What are your thoughts on the new blockchain trade finance platform? Let us know in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia Commons.

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Čvn 27

Vitalik Buterin Demands Court Challenge Against New nChain Patent

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has openly criticized Blockchain research company nChain’s latest patent award, calling for opponents to challenge it in court.


Pure Invention?

nChain, whose chief scientist Craig Wright claims to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto while heavily endorsing altcoin Bitcoin Cash, received its latest European patent for what it describes as a “digital security invention.”

“This Deterministic Key Generation technique provides for improved secure communication between a pair of nodes or parties on a network, while being able to keep their private keys secret,” a press release issued June 25 claims.

nChain is attempting to create a raft of Blockchain-based tools to facilitate transactions worldwide through what it calls the “Internet of Transactions.”

The company, often via Wright as a spokesperson, continues to hit the headlines in the cryptocurrency industry for its controversial approach to marketing.

craig Wright

Last month, Wright told a conference audience in Rwanda that he “had more money than their country” while plugging nChain’s future plans.

‘Can’t Someone Attack It In Court?’

Reacting to the patent meanwhile, Buterin appeared unimpressed at the prospect of the company using it as a basis for innovation, appearing to argue it contained no new “invention” at all.

“This looks like they’re trying to patent plain old public master key-based deterministic wallets, like what we had in 2013,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.

“Can’t someone attack it in court with the obvious mountains of prior art?”

Buterin had previously called Wright a “fraud” for his Nakamoto claims.

Discussing its implementation, nChain claimed a hook-up with Japanese conglomerate SBI had legitimized the technology.

“We will work with select partners on projects to produce maximum benefit for the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem,” CEO Jimmy Nguyen stated, the release adding SBI and nChain were “collaborating to develop a next-generation advanced secure cryptocurrency wallet system.”

What do you think about nChain’s latest patent? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter, Bitcoinist archives

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Čvn 21

Akon Launches Akoin to Be ‘Savior of Africa’

· June 21, 2018 · 12:00 am

US singer-songwriter Akon has become the latest celebrity to launch a cryptocurrency — as he proclaims his belief the underlying technology “could be the savior of Africa.”


Akoin ‘Will Be Center Of Transactional Life’

Originally reported by Page Six, Akon — who is originally from Senegal — revealed at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that he wants to use Akoin as part of a giant 2000-acre development called Akon Crypto City. Akon stated:

I think that blockchain and crypto could be the savior for Africa in many ways because it brings the power back to the people and brings the security back into the currency system and also allows the people to utilize it in ways where they can advance themselves and not allow government to do those things that are keeping them down.

Akon is currently heavily involved in humanitarian projects, having set up Lighting Africa — a project to bring solar power to Africa — in 2014.

The star appears to have built a presence, with the president of Senegal donating the 2000 acres needed for the Crypto City — which describes itself as “a first of its kind 100% crypto-based city with Akoin at the center of transactional life.”

That’s A Rap

Akon is not the only well-known personality to have ventured into the world of cryptocurrency.

Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard became indirectly linked with the industry after his son launched a coin, while rapper 50 Cent made headlines earlier this year after claiming he “forgot” about $8 million in Bitcoin holdings — only to deny the claims to a judge weeks later. DJ Khaled was also involved with CTR Token, which was deemed a fraud by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Akon, meanwhile, appears to be adopting a somewhat hands-off approach to the technical reality of creating and launching an altcoin, stating:

I come with the concepts and let the geeks figure it out.

What do you think about Akon’s cryptocurrency plans? Let us know in the comments section below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Čvn 16

Bitcoins Seized From Bankrupt BitGrail by Italian Authorities

· June 15, 2018 · 9:00 pm

Authorities in Italy have seized bitcoins from the company wallets of controversial exchange BitGrail as part of standard pre-bankruptcy proceedings. BitGrail was hacked in February 2018, with $170 million dollars’ worth of Nano stolen — which subsequently lead to a major price crash for the coin.


BitGrail’s blog was updated today, June 15, 2018, with the following announcement:

On June 5, 2018, pursuant to the Tribunal of Florence orders, the Bitcoins contained in the company’s wallets were seized and brought under control of the judicial authorities pending further Court decisions in the prebankruptcy proceeding.

A news update on the website in May declared BitGrail would reopen on May 2, 2018, but was closely followed by an announcement stating the Italian court of Florence had issued a deed “requesting the immediate closure of BitGrail” and that BitGrail would comply.

Hack vs. Insolvency

BitGrail’s problems came to light in February 2018 when it reported 17 million Nano (previously RaiBlocks) — equivalent, at the time, to $170 million dollars — stolen in a hack. At the same time, reports surfaced that the exchange could be insolvent and may have been for a number of months.

Nano refused to fork its blockchain in response to the hack stating:

We now have sufficient reason to believe that Firano has been misleading the Nano Core Team and the community regarding the solvency of the BitGrail exchange for a significant period of time.

BitGrail stuck with its hacking claim, later posting on its blog that, though it wasn’t responsible, it would “meet its users half-way” by offering a settlement agreement and repayment plan for victims of the purported Nano hack.

As the news of the hack and the potential insolvency of BitGrail broke, Nano’s price began to fall — eventually crashing from $30 USD to $2.50 USD. Many investors had been encouraged to use the BitGrail platform as one of only two exchanges listing the coin until it was added to the popular exchange Binance.

BitGrail was prevented from reopening on May 2, 2018, by a court order initiated by BonelliErede — the firm assisting the 3000+ investors who became victims of the BitGrail/Nano hack.

Nano Is Moving Forward

BitGrail and Nano have argued publicly and legally over the cause of the hack and the insolvency issue. The Nano Foundation concluded in April that there was a bug in the exchange software at BitGrail.

Nano is moving on. Colin LeMahieu, Lead Developer, said in May:

While the BitGrail situation is extremely unfortunate, it has not impeded the project. We allocated significant resources towards both determining what exactly happened, as well as investigating legal options, but as far as protocol development and overall project milestones are concerned, we have continued to move forward.

Were you affected by the BitGrail hack? Tell us your story in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, CoinMarketCap.com.

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Čvn 14

‘Leonardo da Vinci’ Puts Mona Lisa Painting on the Blockchain

· June 13, 2018 · 11:00 pm

Bitcoin core developer Peter Todd defended Blockchain art startup Verisart against Terence Eden June 13 after claims the company believed he had painted the Mona Lisa.


‘Obvious Fraud’

In a Twitter discussion, Todd alleged Eden, who currently runs Open Standards for the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), “misunderstood what Verisart is” after the company uploaded the famous painting to the Blockchain with Eden as the creator.

Verisart began trading in 2015 and describes itself as “applying blockchain technology to combine transparency, anonymity and security to protect your records of creation and ownership.”

“Verisart is a tool to collect and timestamp evidence, not an authoritative blockchain; his Mona Lisa claim is obvious fraud [without] evidence,” Todd wrote.

Eden had originally published details of his experiment with Verisart in a blog post June 12.

Allegedly, Verisart had required only “an email address” and “a photo of the Mona Lisa from Wikipedia” as “proof” he had painted it.

“I don’t understand the blockchain hype,” Eden subsequently wrote on Twitter.

A startup has certified my artwork & placed their verification on the bitcoin blockchain. Now art dealers & auctioneers can feel secure that I am the original artist. One small problem… I am not Leonardo da Vinci!

Blockchain ‘A Big Improvement’

Blockchain’s ability to tighten up the art sales process have formed the focus of a growing number of business initiatives in recent years, with high-profile schemes targeting the upper echelons of the collector world.

Critiquing Eden meanwhile, Todd nonetheless suggested the real value of Blockchain at Verisart lay beyond the benefits Eden claimed did not exist.

“What Verisart’s tech – specifically [open timestamps] – prevented… [Eden] creating backdated evidence. If he tried to forge that evidence, it’d still show up as being created recently, and thus be suspicious,” he continued.

That simple guarantee is a big improvement over the status quo.

What do you think about Terence Eden vs. Verisart? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter

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Čvn 08

PayTabs CEO: ‘Cryptocurrency is Here to Stay’

· June 7, 2018 · 9:00 pm

Plenty of people remain skeptical about cryptocurrency’s future. PayTabs’ CEO, Abdulaziz Al Jouf, is not one of those people. 


‘It is out of their control’

The cryptocurrency market is notoriously volatile and still remains largely unregulated — but that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed as a failed project. According to the CEO of the Saudi-based payment processing and fraud prevention company PayTabs, Abdulaziz Al Jouf, “cryptocurrency is here to stay.”

Al Jouf believes cryptocurrencies will continue to exist and gain popularity, as none of the core problems which originally provoked Bitcoin’s creation — namely, centralization and a lack of transparency in traditional finance — have been solved. He explained to Arabian Business:

There are different dimensions and different directions where this will go. Keep in mind that until today, central banks are trying hard to ban [cryptocurrency] because they feel it is out of [their] control.

If you think back to why cryptocurrency launched, it is because of the massive collapse in 2011… [It aimed] to make sure currencies and money is protected everywhere.

While cryptocurrency is still a long way from mainstream, traditional finance hasn’t exactly regained the trust of the masses after the economic crisis — and is almost certainly never going to regain the trust of cryptocurrency proponents.

Crypto Enthusiasts Express Concern That Banks Could Take Over Bitcoin

‘Making Extra Bucks’

Al Jouf also believes cryptocurrency will stick around as a popular way to speculate and make money by trading in a volatile market. He explained:

People still use it for the fun of making extra bucks. Of course it’s risky and anything new is risky. There’s a lot of hype on how to make money out of it. I’m sure you heard that if you had bought x amount of bitcoin… You’re a billionaire today. But in reality, there’s a big issue on how to get this money out of the cryptocurrency industry.

Plenty of companies are already working on solving this issue — including Al Jouf’s. As more regulatory-compliant solutions come into play, cryptocurrency will only be further solidified as a viable means of value transfer, speculation, and investment.

Bitcoin volatility

‘Blockchain is not doing anything’

Finally, Al Jouf noted his opinion that blockchain technology is currently not doing anything of value for the real world. He told Arabian Business:

Blockchain [in its current form] is not doing anything. We need to implement it somewhere on our surface. You see a lot of people talking about blockchain, but there’s the question of why do you need to use blockchain and how you can implement it in your business. In Europe, many companies completely shifted their businesses to blockchain. We need some time in the region to see [that]… I see it progressing in some areas, but it will require some time.

During that time, expect companies all over the world to nevertheless continue implementing blockchain solutions in the race to launch the first true killer app. If and when that happens remains to be seen.

Do you agree that cryptocurrency is here to stay? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Wikipedia Commons, AdobeStock.

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Kvě 28

Vitalik Buterin Asks: Does Rothschild Conspiracy Theory Extend to Crypto?

· May 27, 2018 · 9:00 pm

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin questioned the authenticity of the Rothschild banking empire after rumors emerged of its plans to enter the cryptocurrency market.


‘Old-money-type High Society People’

In various posts in the /r/ethereum subreddit on May 26, Buterin focused on the potential impact of the Rothschilds’ IMMO project, adopting a critical perspective about their presence as a market force.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin questioned the authenticity of the Rothschild banking empire after rumors emerged of its plans to enter the cryptocurrency market.

“Are ‘the Rothschilds’ even well-coordinated enough to be worth caring about as a group these days?” he queried on Reddit.

[…] If old-money-type high society people want to make their own currencies, go ahead, more power to them; see you in the moderately-free market.

Rothschild IMMO Rumors Abound

Reports about IMMO first surfaced in the local cryptocurrency industry press last week. While all information is based on rumors and leaked information, it is thought the Rothschilds plan to create a Tether-like stablecoin which its creators would tie to gold or similar commodities.

Other theories tie IMMO to The Economist, a publication which first floated the concept of a “world currency” in the late 1980s and which is also owned by the Rothschilds.

After fielding responses from Reddit users about the knock-on effect for sentiment regarding cryptocurrency should the rumors be true, Buterin, however, remained unconvinced of the Rothschild dynasty’s providence.

“[M]y updated view after seeing the replies is that they are just people born into various old-money-type high-society positions, and the theories that they are anything beyond that are fairly baseless,” he added in a later edition of his original post.

Previous third-party experiments with Bitcoin by the Rothschilds meanwhile appeared to have no impact. In July last year, Rothschild Investment Corporation invested in the Bitcoin Investment Trust, the grantor trust sponsored by Barry Silbert’s Grayscale Investments.

Digital Currency Group, of which Grayscale is a subsidiary, has invested in multiple well-known cryptocurrency businesses including CoinDesk, BitPay, and Blockchain.

Later, in February 2018, the empire gained further exposure to Bitcoin, when Rothschild Group member Goldman Sachs acquired exchange Poloniex through Circle, a company in which it is the major shareholder.

What do you think about Vitalik Buterin’s appraisal of the Rothschilds? Let us know in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Flickr

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Kvě 25

The Sweet Smell of Success: Unilever-Owned Schmidt’s Naturals Adds Bitcoin as Payment Option

· May 24, 2018 · 7:00 pm

There are a lot of odd things you can buy with Bitcoin – spy gear, lasers, alpaca socks, and now, high-end deodorant.


‘Scent or Payment Method’

Deodorant maker Schmidt’s Naturals is the latest company to let online shoppers buy its products with Bitcoin. Co-founder and CEO Michael Cammarata claims Bitcoin has accounted for 5 to 10 percent of online sales since they started accepting the cryptocurrency on May 14.

“It’s starting to be a percent of sales more than we expected,” he said in an interview with Cheddar.

The all-natural deodorant comes in scents like lavender, tea tree, bergamot, and cedar and will set you back about $9, or 0.0011 BTC, a stick. Schmidt’s is the first company owned by hygiene giant Unilever to accept cryptocurrency as a payment method.

Cammarata said:

It kind of was actually a last minute surprise. We got a lot of consumers that are like, ‘Can we pay with Bitcoin’? We were playing around with the idea a little bit and our tech team was like, ‘Should we do this should not do it?’

But he admitted they “weren’t that shocked” when the company’s social media savvy consumers asked to pay with Bitcoin.

“We have a lot of millennials and highly socially active consumers,” he said.

Schmidt's Naturals Deodorant Bitcoin

Shopping with Bitcoin

You can make purchases on Schmidt’s Natural’s site using Bitpay, a widely available Bitcoin payments provider found on Shopify and in popular mobile games by Zynga. When it comes to e-commerce and online shopping, Bitpay is the most ubiquitous.

But the service has had its fair share of controversy. Newegg is a Canada-based online computer and electronics seller that uses Bitpay. The payment provider came under fire last month when a Newegg shopper accused Bitpay of taking more than their share when it comes to network costs.

Regardless, Bitcoin is becoming more widespread as a way to shop online. And as Schmidt’s Naturals co-founder said, it will take consumers demanding more payment options to see it more commonly accepted.

“Whether it be a scent or a payment method, we are very highly engaged with our consumer,” Cammarata said.

What do you think about paying for goods like deodorant with Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments!


Images courtesy of Schmidt’s Naturals

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Kvě 14

Nvidia Expects 2/3 Decrease in Sales to Crypto Miners in The Next Quarter

· May 13, 2018 · 7:00 pm

Nvidia announced that they had a successful 1st quarter in terms of sales, in part due to the fact that cryptocurrency-related sales boosted their revenues by 10%. Despite the good news, Nvidia expects that the sales generated by cryptocurrency enthusiasts will decrease by over ⅔ over the 2nd quarter, which ends in 2 months.


Nvidia’s Growing Business: Did Crypto Sales Help?

Nvidia’s Thursday release of their Q1 financial reports has shown that their revenues have gone up from $1.9 billion in Q1 of last year to a staggering $3.2 billion during this year’s first quarter. The latter figure is a ~$300 million dollar increase in revenue compared to the figures reported in Q4 of last year.

The other statements and figures given by Nvidia in their earnings call were also positive but did not meet all analysts’ expectations, as the price tumbled over 2.5% during after-hours trading. Jim Cramer, a popular financial analyst and personality, quickly jumped on analysts’ statements, calling them “total joker chowderhead analysts,” in an attempt to call off their allegedly unrealistically high expectations of the company.

The 10% in revenue growth since Q4 was quickly attributed to cryptocurrency mining sales which became so prevalent in the latter half of 2017 and the start of 2018. Hardware sold by Nvidia to miners over Q1 was revealed to have generated $289 million for the market leader in the computer hardware industry.

Taking a tally of the company’s profits overall, the $289 million generated by cryptocurrency sales have accounted for just around 9% of Nvidia’s total sales during the first fiscal quarter of the year. Considering the worldwide impact which Nvidia has, a 9% portion of the company’s revenues is quite substantial.

Nvidia’s Q1 cryptocurrency miner sales were actually above the expected amount, with a quantitative financial investment firm, Susquehanna, and its analysts expecting that sales brought in by the cryptocurrency industry would amount to a relatively small $200 million in a best-case scenario. This means that the figure revealed by Nvidia execs was over 44% higher than the anticipated figure. A welcome surprise, that’s for sure.

Is The GPU Mining Market Slowing?

Despite this good news, Nvidia expects for the $289 million made by sales to miners to drop by over ⅔ by the end of Q2 of this year.

Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, acknowledged the help cryptocurrencies had on Nvidia’s profits in a statement made during the earnings call with CNBC. Huang stated:

Crypto miners bought a lot of our GPUs in the quarter and it drove prices up,

For those who are unaware, the demand for GPUs over the course of the past year for mining purposes has caused the PC enthusiast community to go into an outrage over the current high prices, not to mention the lack of supply.

Cryptocurrency mining rigs

It is now clear that 2017 and early 2018 saw a multitude of cryptocurrency mining operations, individuals and corporations alike, buying as many GPUs as they could get their hands on. Although retailers did their best to prevent GPU shortages, by implementing restrictions on buyers, in the end, many mining companies still got their hands on the equipment.

Despite the rush of last year’s market, the GPU mining market has been slowing down as mining costs have gone up while profits have been decreasing, not a combination you want to see as a miner. As hype for GPU mining begins to subside, prices and supply for graphics cards will begin to return to numbers which resemble the MSRP prices.

This is not the only bad news for GPU miners worldwide. Bitmain’s announcement of 3 brand new ASIC miners which run on the Equihash, ETHhash, and Cryptonite algorithms have threatened the existence of the GPU mining industry. These ASICs provide an exponentially higher hashrate per dollar and watt of energy compared to traditional GPU processes.  However, ASICs have been rejected by a large majority of the cryptocurrency community as many see ASICs as a threat to the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies.

The GPU mining community has been quick to jump on the announcements of the ASICs, calling for developers of GPU-mineable coins to fork away from ASICs. Despite the cries of the community,  Ethereum and ZCash’s developers have chosen to abstain or delay a fork away from ASIC miners.

With the threat of ASIC miners looming not too far in the distance, it is understandable to see Nvidia’s expectations that its cryptocurrency profits will take a beating. But the future could still be bright for Nvidia as they move into an era where technology use will become increasingly prevalent. In fact, Jim Cramer even called Jensen Huang, Nvidia’s CEO, the “Einstein of our era.”

Will BitMain shutdown the GPU mining industry? Do you think that Nvidia has a future as a mainstay in the cryptocurrency GPU mining industry? Please let us know in the comments below.


Images Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/@Nvidia Corporation, Shutterstock, and Twitter/@business.

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Dub 13

Yahoo! Japan Enters the Crypto Field: Acquires Minority Stake in Tokyo Crypto Exchange

· April 13, 2018 · 5:00 pm

Yahoo! Japan Corp announced on Friday its intentions to purchase a minority stake in BitARG Exchange Tokyo. The deal builds on the increasing mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies in the country on behalf of business in the face of some of the most prominent Japanese companies.


Getting Involved in the Crypto Field

As reported by Reuters, Yahoo! Japan Corp is set to buy a minority stake in a Tokyo-based, FSA-approved crypto exchange. The hope of Japan’s number #2 most popular and visited website is to completely dismiss concerns associated with security as well as to get involved in the cryptocurrency field. It’s safe to say that the move has its merit, as the company has had its fair share of security breaches in recent years.

Yahoo! is set to buy out a 40% stake off BitARG Exchange through one of its subsidiaries. The official launch of the services is scheduled to start sometime this autumn.

Even though official financial terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed, a person close to the matter said that the purchase amount is likely to be close to two or three billion yen, which is the rough equivalent of $18.6 to $27.9 million.

Serious Mainstream Business Adoption

Serious Mainstream Business Adoption

It seems that the Country of Eight Islands is becoming a hot spot for the crypto field – not only for individuals but also for businesses.

The Yahoo! deals follow recent moves of other major Japanese companies. Earlier last week, a leading local financial services firm confirmed the purchase of Coincheck – a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange which had suffered a hacker attack earlier in the year, setting it back with upwards of $430 million in compensation to its users.

Going further, back in January, the country’s largest messaging service, Line Corp, has also attested its interest in the field, applying for cryptocurrency exchange license.

Do you think Yahoo!’s deal will attribute to the development of the cryptocurrency field in the country? Will other big players follow? Please let us know in the comments below!


Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos

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