Bře 31

Making ATM Bitcoin Payments via Lightning Network Is Becoming a Reality

Developer and researcher Felix Weis successfully executed, as a proof-of-concept, the world’s first ATM Bitcoin transaction on the Lightning Network.


World’s First Lightning-enabled Bitcoin ATM ‘Worked Fine’

On March 31, 2019, Weis publicly demonstrated a transaction via Lightning Network at a bitcoin ATM, during the Lightning Hackday, in Hong Kong, as shown in the video below.

Later, Weis described the transaction as:

Just a proof of concept ‘top up your existing channel.’ Lots of bugs but two different mobile wallets worked fine.

Bitcoin Lightning Network Capacity Rises Over 1,000 BTC

The crypto industry is becoming increasingly enthusiastic about the Lightning Network because it offers to drastically lower BTC’s transaction fees while making it possible to execute near-instant transactions.

Moreover, the demonstration of making ATM Bitcoin payments over the Lightning Network comes when Weiss Crypto Ratings has just upgraded Bitcoin from a “C-” to a “B-” (good) because its technology had dramatically improved.

Weiss highlighted these conclusions in a comprehensive report on the crypto market entitled “Dark Shadows with a Bright Future, ” published in March 2019.

Specifically, the Weiss evaluation considered four factors: adoption rate, technology, risk, and reward. And, it highlighted the effect of the advent of the Lightning Network in the upgrade, as follows,

Bitcoin has been upgraded with the roll-out of its Lightning Network and is the best positioned to become a popular store of value for savers and investors.

The Lightning Network is a decentralized system where participants can implement trustless micropayment channels to perform one or multiple payment transactions off-blockchain.

These channels reside off the Bitcoin blockchain. Transactions occur between these channels. Upon completion, transactions are transmitted, as a single transaction, to the blockchain. Then, the payment channel is closed, and transactions are transcribed onto the blockchain.

Therefore, regardless of the number of transactions performed, the BTC blockchain is accessed twice, at the opening of the channel and the closing of the channel.

The implementation of Lightning Network nodes continues to gain momentum. As of this writing, according to 1ML, a Lightning Network monitoring website, the network now boasts 7,744 nodes and 39,129 channels. And the network capacity reaches over 1,059 BTC.

Will Bitcoin ATMs use Lightning Network to cut costs in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of  via Twitter/@bitcoinorghk, Weiss Crypto Ratings, Shutterstock

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Bře 30

Algeria Embroiled in Political and Economic Unrest – Time to Lift Bitcoin Ban?

Algeria, one of North Africa’s largest producers of oil and gas, is currently going through serious political and economic turmoil.  Amid the current unrest, it’s perhaps high-time for the country to reconsider its position on Bitcoin as it has proven itself as a viable alternative during times of upheaval. 


Algeria: Arab Spring 2.0?

Algeria, officially the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, is going through major political and economic turmoil. The country is the largest in Africa and it’s also amongst the biggest producers of oil and gas in the world. However, for the past few weeks, waves of protests and demonstrations have attempted to block the possible re-election of the current president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who’s been serving on the post for 20 years.

Even though the president has promised to step down following the next elections scheduled for April 18th, demonstrations continued.

Algeria protests bitcoin

The current situation in Algeria painfully reminds of what happened in neighboring Tunisia as well as in Egypt back in 2011, which became known as the ‘Arab Spring.’ In Egypt in particular, millions of protesters from a broad range of socio-economic, as well as religious backgrounds, demanded the resignation of the long-standing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. He was an acting president from 1981 to 2011 – a total of 30 years.

Looking at Algeria, there’s a similar pattern when it comes to the current political structures. The country is run by an old president, supported by a reportedly corrupt political party, while Algeria’s economy is struggling. Problems such as mismanagement, paternalistic political views, as well as clientism are all at the forefront.

This comes in spite of the fact that Algeria is a large oil producer, having 12.2 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. The country exports about 540,000 barrels per day (b/d) or roughly half of its total production of about 1.1 million b/d.

Time to Lift Ban on Bitcoin

Following similar steps taken by its neighbor Morocco, Algeria banned bitcoin back in 2018 with the introduction of the country’s yearly Finance Act. Per the reports, not only is it prohibited to transact using Bitcoin, but also to hold it.

However, Bitcoin has managed to prove itself as a viable alternative to fiat currencies in times of political and economic unrest.

One such example would be Iran. Economic instability in the country due to US sanctions has led to hyperinflation of its national currency, the rial. This has resulted in some citizens seeking alternatives to access to the global economy as well as preserve wealth. Fortunately, Iran has relaxed its stance on Bitcoin earlier this year as it makes way for its own national digital currency, according to reports.

But perhaps the most notable example would be that of Venezuela. Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela is going through a political and economic crisis and severe hyperinflation, which reached a staggering 2.30 million percent in February.

Capital controls and a shortage of foreign currency have left residents with the only choice to secure their wealth through Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As such, trading on peer-to-peer platform LocalBitcoins has surged in the country.

It also shows that Bitcoin is a lot more than just a speculative asset to people in countries facing economic and political instability. Therefore, perhaps it’s high time for the government in Algeria to reconsider its ban on Bitcoin and give its citizen the freedom to use an alternative to the Dinar, which has lost almost 80 percent of its value against the US dollar over the past 5 years.

What’s more, despite the official ban, the LocalBitcoins trading platform still works in Algeria, proving the politically neutral, decentralized and borderless nature of Bitcoin.

Would Algeria benefit from lifting the ban on Bitcoin? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!


Images via Shutterstock, xe.com

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Bře 29

Hong Kong Wants STO Investing To Be Reserved for the Super Rich

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) will no longer let its citizens invest in STOs–unless they have at least $1 million.


STOs for ‘Professional Investors’ Only in Hong Kong

In what they call a move to protect investors, Hong Kong’s financial watchdog clarified its position on STOs yesterday. The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) reminded investors that digital assets are still highly risky. This means they should be in the realm of ‘professional investors’ only.

To be clear, it doesn’t matter if savvy investors have made the right call on the market or sharpened their trading skills. If they don’t have a portfolio of at least $1 million (HK $8 million), STOs are off the table for them.

The announcement comes after the SFC launched its regulatory sandbox for cryptocurrency companies in November 2018. In a statement on Thursday, the SFC said that security tokens fall into the same category as securities, which meant that they were subject to the same existing laws.

Foreign Entities Can No Longer Freely Target Hong Kong Investors

The latest crackdown on STOs, which have become a compliant replacement to ICOs in just about every corner of the world, is not limited to companies based in the region. According to the SFC statement, anyone marketing or distributing security tokens targeting Hong Kong investors must obtain a local license.

Moreover, digital asset providers must comply with three key requirements laid out by the SFC. They must restrict their offerings to professional investors only. They must provide clear and comprehensive investment advice and guidelines, and must encourage investors to carry out their own due diligence.

If they fail to do this, they will either lose their license or trigger “disciplinary action” from the financial watchdog. According to the statement:

It is a criminal offence for any person to engage in regulated activities without a licence unless an exemption applies.

SFC: Not an Outright Ban But Almost as Bad

ICOs are all but dead. This time last year, ICOs raised $1.74 billion. This year the figure is bearly making the chart at just $46 million.

STOs have emerged as a more secure and regulated way to invest in cryptocurrency companies. Unlike ICOs, they bear most of the hallmarks of IPOs, depending on the jurisdiction.

However, even in the United States, with its 70-year-old rules, not all STOs are reserved for the super wealthy. Hong Kong may not be outright banning STOs like mainland China. But they’re moving a step further to strangling innovation here–and leaving retail investors at the gates.

Should and will STOs be reserved for wealthy investors? Share your thoughts below!


Images via Shutterstock

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Bře 28

These Investors Are Betting Big on the Future of Blockchain Gaming

Supply chain, trade finance and digital identity have all been touted as potential “killer apps” for blockchain. Blockchain solutions in each of these areas continue to attract significant investment. However, there is one use case for blockchain which has the potential to trump all others – gaming.


Gaming is already a double-digit growth sector, with a global market value of nearly $135 billion in 2018. Fortnite is currently one of the most popular games worldwide, with 200 million players. Gaming channels feature heavily among the top influencers on YouTube, with heavyweight gaming vlogger PewDiePie clocking up over 90 million subscribers.

Blockchain technology is making strides, but it still needs a killer app to appeal to a mass user base. However, blockchain has much to offer the gaming industry.

Is Gaming Blockchain’s Killer App?

As gaming becomes more high-stakes, with users investing serious cash into their online profiles, account theft is becoming more prevalent. Hackers have been reportedly stealing accounts from games such as League of Legends, with the goal of selling the accounts online to others who prize the accrued in-game assets. Blockchain offers the potential for immutable ownership of unique digital assets, making it an attractive proposition for game developers.

Although blockchain games are among the most popular decentralized applications, scalability has been a barrier for developers. Games typically require a high transaction throughput, and Ethereum has struggled to live up to the job ever since the mania around CryptoKitties strangled the network back at the end of 2017. Newer blockchains such as EOS and Tron are addressing the scalability challenge, opening up the possibilities for dApp game developers.

Therefore, it’s hardly surprising, that the convergence of blockchain and gaming is now attracting significant investment. Here, we look at three separate instances where investors are betting big on blockchain gaming.

Ripple/Forte

Ripple has made its name predominantly in the financial sector; however the company also has an investment arm, called Xpring. Xpring is partnering with Forte, a blockchain gaming company founded in February by executives from the gaming industry and backed by big names such as Andreesson Horowitz and Coinbase Ventures. The partnership between Xpring and Forte launches a joint plan to help integrate blockchain into the gaming industry.

As part of the plan, Forte will oversee a $100 million fund, held in XRP and released to game developers or designers for incorporating Ripple blockchain services into existing games which have over 50k daily users.

The move represents an opportunity for Ripple to expand its offerings beyond messaging software for the finance sector. Forte will be using Ripple technology, including the Interledger protocol which enables transactions across different blockchains. A smart contract service called Codius will also be available.

Mangrove Capital/DreamTeam

Mangrove Capital is a Luxembourg-based venture fund with team members who have previously been involved in successful tech startups such as Skype and Wix. Late last year, the company announced it was putting a $5 million investment into DreamTeam, a blockchain-based all-in-one eSports platform.

For the uninitiated, eSports is the billion-dollar industry of professional gaming. Competitors from different teams or leagues compete professionally in games such as Counter-Strike. Gameplay is streamed in real-time to fans all over the world. For this reason, the eSports industry is growing fast, as ever more brands and sponsors look to capitalize on the marketing potential.

The founders of DreamTeam recognized that there’s a gap in the eSports market for a platform that connects a fragmented industry and helps to reduce incidences of fraud and non-payments. DreamTeam will serve as a gateway for connecting the various players, leagues, agents, sponsors and tournament operators. Their DREAM token will also be used to receive the advertised prize money when winning these tournaments.

The eSports market is set for rapid further growth, with revenues forecast to reach $1.65 billion by 2021. Therefore, it’s easy to see why Mangrove has chosen to invest in a company like DreamTeam, which is aiming to corner this burgeoning section of the gaming market.

Tron

Last year, Tron announced that it was establishing a blockchain game fund called Tron Arcade. The fund aims to build the foundation for a blockchain gaming ecosystem on the Tron platform, with Tron providing up to $100 million in funding over the next three years.

The Tron Arcade website points to the potential of tapping into engaged users and the limited selection of dApp games currently available. The fund is aimed at providing developers with distribution, funding, advice, and potential access to partnerships through the Tron network.

Tron is making rapid headway among dApp platforms, with fast transaction speeds of up to 2,000 tps. Founder Justin Sun is ambitious about his vision, which is for Tron to “decentralize the web.” This vision was a driving force behind Tron’s acquisition of peer-to-peer filesharing service BitTorrent for $150 million. According to its blog, the Tron Foundation is also venturing into other blockchain use cases including charity, consumer internet, and social media.

Bottom Line

The double-digit growth of the gaming sector shows no signs of slowing. However, the convergence of blockchain and gaming could be a massive turning point, enabling even more significant growth in the future. The influx of investment capital from the big blockchain platforms and venture funds certainly seems to indicate that we can expect far more to come from this combination.

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Bře 27

Anti-Bitcoin Banks Paid Over $243 Billion in Fines Since the Financial Crisis

Banks are quick to label Bitcoin the money of criminals. But banks fines since the financial crisis have totaled over $243 billion. Bitcoin fines? Zero. Isn’t it time for society to open its eyes?


Banks Don’t Want to Work with Cryptocurrency Companies

I tried to make a small purchase from a well-known cryptocurrency exchange earlier this week. The action was immediately blocked and I had to call my bank over possible fraud. They kept me on hold for 11 minutes. By the time I had liberated my card, I no longer had time to carry out the transaction.

This is one story in countless others from small-time cryptocurrency users and individual Bitcoin HODLers. The plight of cryptocurrency companies trying to open bank accounts is much, much worse.

Take Lamassu, the world’s oldest manufacturer of Bitcoin ATMs. After one year of being unbanked, the company finally upped sticks and moved to Switzerland where they were at last granted access to a bank account. Again, their story is the tip of the iceberg.

Why won’t banks work with cryptocurrency companies? Most point to lack of regulation and lax AML controls. But with $243 billion in fines over questionable dirty money practices in just one decade, it would seem that banks, not cryptocurrency companies, are the enablers of illicit financial flows.

Bitcoin ‘Charlatans’ Over Corrupt Banks Any Day

Warren Buffett’s views on Bitcoin are well-known. It’s a scam, a ‘delusion’, a space packed with con-artists, ‘charlatans’, and money launderers. If ever there were a clearer case of the pot calling the kettle black, it would be the world’s most famous investor.

Wells Fargo (a Buffett investment) has been fined a mind-boggling total of 93 times for fraudulent activities and other abuses since the turn of the century. How many fines has Bitcoin received? Zero.

Big Banks Are Often the Perpetrators of Criminal Activity

Not only have large banks found themselves in hot water over the years for their inadequate AML procedures. They’ve also been found guilty of laundering the money themselves.

According to calculations by Bloomberg, Deutsche Bank has paid out close to $18 billion in the last decade alone in AML fines. The bank also had its offices raided in November 2018 on suspicion of laundering a massive $200 billion of dirty money.

Yet, they won’t allow Bitcoin ATM makers and other genuine cryptocurrency companies to open accounts? Isn’t that a little hypocritical?

Just a little… Yet it also shows the size of the profit doesn’t outweigh the risk involved.

Bitcoin Isn’t Big Enough Yet

So if big bank fines topped $243 billion over 10 years, why do they keep acting this way?

Because the profits they make from these activities far outweigh the sting from the fines. AML fines are a mere fraction of the billions of dollars more made from enabling criminal transactions.

The same cannot be said for small cryptocurrency companies. As Dan Hedl pointed out, the entire cryptocurrency market cap is worth just $134 billion, dwarfed by AML fines alone. Most banks simply realize the risk isn’t worth the reward.

That’s one theory. Another is that banks are simply trying to crush innovation and suppress Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because they see them as a threat. Let’s not forget the very reason Bitcoin was born in the first place.

With numbers like this, it can’t be too long before society opens its eyes and realizes who the real charlatans are.

Can a more honest monetary system be established using Bitcoin? Share your thoughts below!


Images via Shutterstock

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Bře 26

Bitmain Says It Won’t Give Up on World’s Biggest Cryptocurrency IPO

Bitcoin mining giant Bitmain has officially announced its new CEO and says it will restart the IPO listing process sometime in the future. The company endured a difficult 2018 with administrative upheavals, staff layoffs, and significant losses.


Bitcoin Mining Giant Gets New CEO

In the latter part of 2018, Bitmain laid off a couple of departments amid reports of financial difficulties. In a blog post published on Tuesday (March 26, 2019), the company explained the decisions taken as part of its efforts to align its business model.

An excerpt from the statement reads:

It was a difficult but necessary decision as we continue to build a long-term, sustainable and scalable business. We did our best to compensate our employees above the legal requirement.

Bitmain also made some changes to its leadership structure with Haichao Wang, the former Engineering chief appointed as the new CEO. Co-founders Jihan Wu and Ketuan Zhan remain directors of the company and continue to have a say in “big decisions.”

Bitmain Will Restart IPO Listing Process

As reported by Bitcoinist on Monday, the Bitmain IPO application at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) expired after six months. According to the company, regulators and other mainstream stakeholders aren’t yet sold to the immense potential of the emerging cryptocurrency industry.

In the meantime, Bitmain says it will restart the application at some time in the future. Despite the failure of its first IPO application, the company said the process did deliver some positives for the company especially in the area of financial transparency.

Concerning transparency, Bitmain is yet to publish its financials for the second half of 2018. Speculation is rife with reports of huge losses for Q3 2018 of about $740 million.

Any attempt to refile another IPO application will see the company being forced to publish its financial report for Q3 and maybe even Q4 2018 depending on the reporting period stipulated by the stock exchange operator.

Bitmain Will Focus on Innovation and AI

Bitmain also revealed that its focus for 2019 will be on streamlining its business process to focus on innovation in both the cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence (AI) market.

Back in February 2019, Bitcoinist reported on the company’s new 7-nm chip touted to deliver more efficient Bitcoin mining. On paper, the new chip will offer about a 28.6 percent improvement in power efficiency, compared to previous iterations of the company’s 7-nm chip.

For innovation in the AI scene, the blog post also mentions agreements already inked with important stakeholders across China. Bitmain says it plans to lead the way in terms of cutting-edge innovation for neural processors.

What do you make of Bitmain’s stated goals for 2019 after the difficulties experienced in 2018? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Bře 25

Paris Blockchain Week Summit Shows French Regulatory Climate Beginning to Thaw

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France isn’t at the forefront of blockchain adoption–at least, not yet. However, all that could be about to change. Paris Blockchain Week Summit from April 16-17, will be one of Europe’s largest events dedicated to blockchain professionals. It’s also the first of its kind to be held here, backed by the French Ministry of Economy and Finance.


Paris Blockchain Week Takes Place April 13-19

April 2019 won’t only be a good time to visit Paris in full bloom as the thousands of trees that line its famous boulevards burst into shades of pink and white. This year, PBW organizers are dedicating an entire week to furthering the blockchain scene in France.

Just a few weeks after the updated PACTE law to aid innovation in the country, the event will showcase the French regulatory framework, one that takes a lighter, more flexible approach to emerging tech.

Paris is one of the world’s most expensive cities currently. But it’s also now vying for its place as a blockchain hub. One of the goals of the PBW is to encourage international blockchain projects to put down roots here.

Throughout the week there will be a series of events. These include workshops, hackathons, keynotes, and of course, fancy cocktail parties to showcase the country’s fine champagne as well as burgeoning tech scene.

Some of the highlights of the week include a €10k prize for the first team to create an entire blockchain and UI on the Cosmos mainnet. There will also be a gathering of the world’s top French-speaking CEOs, entrepreneurs, and investors organized by FrenchFounders.

The flagship event of the week, however, is the Paris Blockchain Week Summit, which organizers expect to attract some 1,500 attendees.

What to Expect from the Paris Blockchain Week Summit

The Paris Blockchain Week Summit (PBWS) is a two-day long conference taking place at Station F. The event will gather some of the most influential thought-leaders, decision-makers, and movers and shakers in the blockchain space.

Among the speakers are Tezos co-Founder Arthur Breitman, MyEtherWallet’s CEO Kosala Hemachandra, and Ripple’s Global Head of Banking Marjan Delatinne. Ledger’s President Pascal Gauthier will, of course, be delivering a keynote as well, as will eToro’s CEO Yoni Assia.

President at France Blocktech Describes His Way to Success

Speakers on the main stage will discuss EU regulation, decentralized exchanges, stable coins, scalability issues, advances in consensus mechanisms, governance, PoW vs PoS, sharding, the integration of AI in distributed algorithms, and many other topics besides.

With Switzerland, Malta, and even Lichtenstein gathering all the attention, this is Paris’ chance to show the world that the country is open for blockchain business–and that France is a contender in the race.  

France is one of the few G20 countries to have drafted a framework for blockchain entrepreneurs over the last year. Its regulators are open-minded and advised by the likes of industry heavyweights Ledger and La French Tech. France is definitely beginning to show that the climate is thawing for blockchain businesses here.

Cryptocurrency Adoption in France

Some of the largest companies in the industry have come out of France. However, while Bitcoinist reported on the efforts of French protestors and street artist Pascal Boyart to spread the word on Bitcoin, France hasn’t been a major contender so far.

With the Paris Blockchain Week Summit backed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as the Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, it looks like while other G20 countries are falling behind, France is getting serious.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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Bře 24

Bitcoin Price Analysis: Bears Look to Trap Bulls Into Weekly Close

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As the Bitcoin price weekly candle draws towards a close for the week we take a look at what the performance over the week looks like going into the final week of March.


Bitcoin price: 4-HOUR CHART

Looking at the4-hour chart, we can see that the bitcoin price has spent the last few days oscillating around the weekly opening price of $3965, with the bears continually attacking this level.

The MACD has broken through it zero line having turned bearish on the dump from the weekly highs at over $4056 all the way down to $3920, which along with a generally downward trending MACD implies that the bears are in control going into Sunday evening, however the bulls have proven to defend the weekly candle in the last two weeks of asking.

Should the bears want to define the weekly candle, the mid-week lows of $3920 will be the target, whereas the bulls will want to close above the weekly open of $3965.

1-DAY CHART

A look at the 1-Day Chart shows that bitcoin price is showing signs of struggle to complete the Adam and Eve and Inverse head and shoulders classical charting patterns, which would imply an upside target between $4800 and $5200.

Failed moves typically lead to fast moves, so if BTC cannot break back to test the $4,000 and loses the weekly lows, the 50 and 100 DMA at $3780 and $3730 respectively will be the first line of defense for the bulls. These levels have acted as support since Mid-February when they turned from resistance and into support.

WEEKLY CHART

With only a few hours remaining, the weekly chart shows that bitcoin price is still being capped by the center line of the Bollinger Bands, which is the 20 week moving average.

Should BTC manage to hold the mid $3900s, bitcoin will open the final week of March above the 20 WMA will be for the first time of 2019. It is clear to see that a more definitive move is on the brink of occurring with the pinch of the 200 WMA and the 20 WMA being clearly defined on the chart.

The weekly MACD will print a fifth green bar on the histogram and continues to trend upwards, but has some way to go before it crosses its zero line and is in bullish territory.

BITCOIN SENTIMENT

Looking at sentiment in the Bitcoin market, we can see that the Bitcoin September Futures contract at Bitmex is currently trading around $40 below the spot price, meaning that the expectation of the market is that BTC prices will be lower moving forwards.

This of course presents an opportunity for the bulls who believe the opposite to be true. So they’ll be able to pick up bitcoin at a discounted rate. But this would be against market expectation and the discount is to be expected in a bear market environment.

The Long/Short ratio at Bitfinex has crept higher in contrast to the futures movement, and is now up at 1.18, which has room to manoeuvre higher towards where it usually tops out around 1.5 if there is a break to the upside.

The longs and shorts total open interest at Bitfinex is down to 44k BTC – down from nearly double that in Dec-2019. This implies that there are speculators awaiting the bigger move to commence before taking on any risk in the market, which further supports the idea the next move will be a sharp one.

Overall, bitcoin price remains locked in a bear market and is grinding on upwards in an encouraging fashion. But the bulls must take control of the market in the final week of March as the 20 week moving average continues to suppress the price.

Trade Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and other cryptocurrencies on online Bitcoin forex broker platform evolve.markets

To get receive updates for the writer you can follow on Twitter (@filbfilb) and TradingView.

The views and opinions of the writer should not be misconstrued as financial advice.  For disclosure, the writer holds Bitcoin at the time of writing.


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Tradingview.com

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Bře 23

Vietnam Reportedly Launching First Fully-Authorized Cryptocurrency Exchange

Vietnam’s largest distribution company, Linh Thanh Group, is apparently partnering with Switzerland-based blockchain company KRONN Ventures to establish the first fully-authorized cryptocurrency exchange in the Southeast Asian country. 


The information comes from a press release, which states that the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding and have received a license to establish a cryptocurrency exchange in Vietnam.

This news comes after the Zug-based KRONN Ventures AG brought together financial committees from Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka to form a consortium in late last year. The consortium was formed to construct an international wiring system powered by blockchain technology.

The aforementioned press release claims that the Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures are building “a world-class cryptocurrency exchange” — which may have merit, given Zug’s standing as a leading cryptocurrency and blockchain hotspot in the world. KRONN has also worked with London’s King’s College on an artificial intelligence research facility.

“The industry expectation is that by combining Linh Thanh Group’s massive distribution network, which is the largest in Vietnam, with the world-class technology of KRONN Ventures, the impact will be widely felt not only in Vietnam but also in other surrounding Asian countries,” states the press release — though we’re not confident the press release is capable of speaking for the entire blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

The move from Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures is one likely driven by the desire of developing countries in Asia to not fall behind once the cryptocurrency market finishes correcting and commences on another positive trajectory — which is more likely to happen than not, given the behind-the-scenes development taking place on an industry level while coin prices fall and worthless tokens find themselves removed from the market. It is also a move that hopes to reverse the worrying trend in the region of regulators casting unfavorable eyes on the industry.

What do you think about Linh Thanh Group and KRONN Ventures teaming up to launch Vietnam’s first authorized cryptocurrency exchange? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pexels.

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Bře 22

China’s Orwellian Cashless Payments Show Why Bitcoin Is Freedom

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Like a scene from an Orwellian nightmare, authorities in Shenzhen China show where the future of centralized cashless payments is headed. And it isn’t pretty.


Centralized Cashless Payments in China

China is known for its high rate of technology adoption. Of the 2 billion or so smartphones around the world, two-thirds of them are in China.

Unlike most users in the West, Chinese smartphones are particularly popular for making instant cashless payments. Just about everyone accepts mobile payments, from small street vendors to homeless people.

Up until now, Chinese using WeChat Pay to make a purchase was completely at their will. But the Shenzhen traffic police are about to instantly extract fines from people’s WeChat accounts if they’re caught jaywalking.

Better than that? They’re using facial recognition technology to catch offenders and remove the fines automatically, no questions asked.

Facial Recognition to ‘Name and Shame’ Is Not Enough

In Shenzhen, pedestrians who violate road rules are already named and shamed on giant LED screens. Traffic police use CCTV cameras backed by AI to single out jaywalkers. Their faces are also registered on a government website.

china wechat jaywalking shenzen

AI-enabled cameras are nothing new in China’s most progressive city. The technology was put in place in April 2018 and since then, almost 14,000 jaywalkers have had their faces plastered across the screen at a busy junction in the Futian district.

The Chinese authorities, it seems, really don’t want you crossing the road outside of a designated pedestrian area.

According to Wang Jun, Director of Marketing Solutions at AI firm Intellifusion, quoted in South China Morning Post, however, naming and shaming is not enough.

Jaywalking has always been an issue in China and can hardly be resolved just by imposing fines or taking photos of the offenders… But a combination of technology and psychology… can greatly reduce instances of jaywalking and will prevent repeat offenses.

So, the Chinese traffic police will soon use a combination of facial recognition technology and instant fines by text.

Despite the margin for error (last year, a facial recognition system mistook a face on a bus for a jaywalker), the new system is moving ahead.

Push vs Pull Payments: Centralization vs Decentralization

Since the naming and shaming campaign began, the number of repeat offenders has reduced. Although Wang believes the only incentive strong enough to stop jaywalking completely is to hit people directly in their pockets.

wechat china

Intellifusion is currently in talks with popular Chinese social media platforms WeChat and Weibo. Not only will the jaywalker be notified by text, but their account will be debited some 20 minutes later. Their credit rating will also be affected if they pass a certain limit and violate the rules too many times.

If it sounds like a scene from an Orwellian society, that’s because this is exactly what this is. Big Brother China is showing the world where the future of centralized cashless payments is headed. And it isn’t pretty.

By going ahead and taking funds from violators’ accounts, they impose a ‘pull payment’ strategy, whereby the supplier simply takes the money from the account.

Now, contrast this to a decentralized financial system like Bitcoin, in which account holders send the funds (with their private key) and payments are ‘pushed’ onto the network.

China Has Control Over Your Financial Sovereignty

It’s been clear to the Chinese people for some time now that the authorities are watching them. But with this new initiative, the government will have access to pull payments from its citizens’ accounts, effectively controlling their financial sovereignty.

It’s not only Shenzhen that’s doing it, either. The Chinese are getting trigger-happy with facial recognition technology, with similar projects in Shanghai and Beijing.

What do you think about China’s automatic fines for jaywalking? Share your thoughts below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock

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