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Blockchain and CryptoCurrency

Blockchain Payments’ Mass Adoption Is 3-5 Years Away, Says BitPay CEO
December 15, 2018 11:53 pm

Stephen Pair, the CEO of BitPay, declared that speculation is a substantial Bitcoin price driver, while “actual utility” is not.

The CEO of crypto merchant platform BitPay Stephen Pair stated that speculation on future adoption drives Bitcoin’s (BTC) price more than “actual utility,” in an interview on CNBC Dec. 13.

Speaking on the reasons behind Bitcoin’s current value, compared to its historic price highs, Pair told reporters:

“A very big component of the [Bitcoin’s] price is certainly speculation. It’s investors that are speculating on the future usage and adoption of this technology. I’m sure a small component of that price is the actual utility.”

When asked about a Bitcoin ETF’s potential to stimulate a price rally, Pair argued that “not just ETF adoption or ETF launches” could be catalysts for price movement, but that “adoption will push the prices higher,” adding optimistically:

“I do think we’ll see those kinds of prices at some point in the future, if history is any guide.”

Answering a question about blockchain-based currencies’ use in daily transactions, the BitPay CEO told CNBC that he expects such adoption to occur on a mass scale in under half a decade, stating that:

“I used to say 10 years, but now I think it’s more like 3-5 years until you can go into a restaurant, a retail establishment, and just everybody’s going to expect that that store will be able to accept a blockchain payment.”

Pair then further noted that he was not just referring to “Bitcoin or the various tokens that we see today [but] also about issuing dollars on a blockchain or euros on a blockchain.”

According to Hester Peirce, a commissioner for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the approval of a Bitcoin ETF is not necessarily close at hand. As Cointelegraph recently reported earlier this month, Peirce said that an approval “could be 20 years from now” or “tomorrow,” urging the crypto community to not “ hold [its] breath.”

A study published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance this week stated that the number of verified cryptocurrency users nearly doubled this year. A Bloomberg analysis of the study claims that the increase in crypto’s user base, despite prices declining, “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”

Top Cryptos See Mixed Gains & Losses, Bitcoin Fights to Stay Over $3,200
December 15, 2018 10:31 pm

Top cryptocurrencies report moderate losses and Bitcoin briefly dips under the $3,200 mark in the past 24 hours.

Saturday, Dec. 15: the top 20 cryptocurrencies report a mix of moderate gains and losses, with Bitcoin (BTC) briefly dipping under $3,200 before climbing back above the price mark by press time.


Market visualization from Coin360

Bitcoin started the day around $3,228, but after a mid-day high of $3,275, it fell back to the current price of $3,232, after touching its lowest point of $3,191 earlier today.

At press time, Bitcoin is down a fraction of a percent over the last 24 hours. On the weekly chart, the prices in the past two days have been the lowest, down from a weekly high of $3,600.


Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP), the second largest crypto by market capitalization, lost 1 percent in the last 24 hours. It started the day at $0.286 and is currently trading around $0.284 after a mid-day high of $0.292. On the weekly chart, the current price is the lowest, seven days ago Ripple was worth about $0.32.


Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum (ETH) remains the third cryptocurrency by market cap, losing just a under half a percent of its value in the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading at $84.33, after having started the day around $84 and trading sideways during the day.

On the weekly chart, the current ETH prices today are the lowest. Seven days ago Ethereum was trading at $87, but then shortly peaked at $98.90 last Sunday, Dec. 9, before starting a decline towards the current price.


ETH 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, several coins are seeing more notable growth. EOS (EOS) is up a solid almost 6 percent, while IOTA (MIOTA) is up 4.29 percent on the day, and Dash (DASH) is up almost 5 percent.

The only top ten cryptocurrency reporting more than 2 percent losses is Bitcoin SV (BSV), having lost close to 5 percent in the last 24 hours.

As Cointelegraph reported Dec. 13, according to a study, while crypto prices have been decreasing, this year the number of verified crypto users nearly doubled. A Bloomberg analysis of the report says that the growth of crypto’s user base while markets are declining “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”

Jeremy Allaire, the co-founder of cryptocurrency company Circle, recently told CNBC in an interview that in three years time, Bitcoin will be worth “a great deal more” than it is now.

Status, an Ethereum-based open source chat platform has recently laid off one-fourth of its staff due to the recent decline in cryptocurrency prices. In an announcement, the startup’s co-founder said that Status is “much larger than we can sustain.”

From South Korea to IBM Food Trust - How Blockchain Is Used in the Food Industry
December 15, 2018 9:25 pm

How blockchain is feeding an appetite for transparent food supplies.

2018 has witnessed a steady increase in the number of food manufacturers and retailers using blockchains to enhance their operations. From tracking the quality of food to facilitating international trades in grain, blockchain technology has been turning up repeatedly in recent months; and while many deployments of such tech have been conducted on a trial basis, a growing number have been implemented permanently.

However, as much as it now seems that blockchains are becoming a familiar feature of the food industry, they aren’t an infallible solution to every problem it faces. Even though many blockchains will provide an 'immutable' and 'trustless' record of the distribution of certain foods, this doesn't mean we don't have to trust the parties that first registered these foods on them. And similarly, even though such multinationals as Carrefour are using solutions offered by the IBM Food Trust, they don’t use blockchains in the original sense of the term.

Tracking and transparency

In the vast majority of cases, blockchain tech is used by the food industry for tracking purposes, so that customers can be assured that a particular item is what it's claimed to be. Most recently, France-based multinational Auchan revealed that it would permanently implement blockchain-based food tracking in five of the countries it operates in: France, Italy, Senegal, Spain, and Portugal. This announcement followed a successful 18-month trial in its Vietnam branch, which has been using the tracking system in conjunction with some 6,000 companies.

Auchan's system works by registering an item's information at each stage in its distribution. When, say, an organic carrot is pulled from the ground and readied to be transported from its farm, it's recorded on TE-FOOD's blockchain, and when it's sent to a distribution plant, it can be quickly checked against the info already recorded on that blockchain, which is immutable.

Tracking and transparency

Auchan’s press office manager, François Cathalifaud, tells Cointelegraph that such blockchain tech will enable it to make participants in its supply chains more responsible for the data they enter.

“This is a key point of the blockchain in a sector where data is a valuable resource. As [a] retailer, we cannot ask a producer or a supplier to give us the information without return.”

“Blockchain-based technologies solved that major issue,” he explains, since TE-FOOD’s blockchain works by requiring supermarkets, for example, to transfer tokens whenever they want their suppliers to disclose relevant supply-chain information. This incentivizes suppliers to not only produce such info, but to remain honest, since they would lose out on an additional stream of revenue otherwise.

“Another point is also to avoid data corruption that can occur during a food scandal (transparence+security),” Cathalifaud adds. “Well, at last, if a consumer is asking traceability information we can provide them with traceability information in seconds instead of days with such technology.”

Such credibility is important because according to recent research, consumers are becoming increasingly suspicious of the food industry and turning to more ethical food producers and distributors. In a September study conducted by the Virginia-based Food Marketing Institute, it was found that 75 percent of shoppers would "switch to a brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what’s provided on the physical label." Distributed ledgers are a prime source of such information, and in age becoming more concerned with where our food is coming from, more companies are looking to adopt blockchain-based tracking systems.

In November, multinational retailer Carrefour announced that it would be using the IBM Food Trust blockchain to track free-range chickens in Spain, while in Switzerland, Gustav Gerig AG revealed that it would be using the Ethereum blockchain to track tuna. And in the same month, the South Korean government announced that it would begin tracking beef in January, while United States salad chain Sweetgreen said it had raised $200 million in funding to develop a blockchain-based tracking system for its ingredients.

Tracking and transparency

These announcements were all made within a single month, testifying to how quickly the momentum is growing behind blockchain as a means of bringing greater transparency to food distribution. And prior to November, other organizations have outlined plans this year for blockchain-based tracking include the Dairy Farmers of America, Albert Heijn, the Netherlands' largest supermarket chain, the Australian government, the United Kingdom Food Standards Agency, Walmart and Chinese retail giant JD.com.

A growing number of organizations are looking for ways to strengthen their claims that they are responsibly sourcing their products. In other words, food is becoming a more ethically and morally charged issue by the day, which is why the added transparency and the irreversibility offered by the blockchain holds such strong appeal.

This would explain why blockchain is now being used by such major NGOs as Oxfam, which announced in November that it had launched a blockchain to track the supply of rice in Cambodia, where local farmers often lack the information to bargain properly over prices.

Trading and loyalty

There is, then, an increasingly strong sense that food tracking is one area where blockchain and crypto hold genuine appeal to businesses (and consumers). But while the tracing of products will almost certainly be the main area in which blockchain tech contributes to the $5.6 trillion food and beverage industry, such tech looks set to play a slightly more limited role in other areas.

This October the world's four biggest agricultural producers — Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc., and Louis Dreyfus Co. — formed a partnership through which they'll use blockchain technology to automate the grain-trading process. As the press release states "Eliminating inefficiencies would lead to shorter document-processing times, reduced wait times and better end-to-end contracting visibility."

Not trustless?

However, while there is plenty of demand from food distributors and producers for blockchains that trace the supply of food, it doesn’t imply that blockchains offer a fail-proof means of proving that, say, an 'organic chicken' is really organic, and that they would create entirely trustless food supply networks.

Not trustless?

Initial records can be misled, the only way to stop someone from falsely registering a freshly farmed mango or chicken as organic is to have another trust-providing system or mechanism in place beside a distributed ledger. Big companies such as Carrefour, Auchan, and Walmart do have such systems in place, having worked for years with known farmers and suppliers with which they've built a mutually trusting relationship.

Also, even if a blockchain can't guarantee the initial veracity of information entered into it, it can prevent anything untoward from happening further down the line, such as the addition of, say, non-organic ingredients to a supposedly organic product.

Indeed, as the U.K.-based National Farmers' Union highlighted in a study which found that food fraud costs Britain around 12 billion pounds a year.

“Food fraud means the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering with or misrepresentation of food, ingredients, or packaging at some stage of the product’s distribution cycle. It also means false or misleading statements made about a product for economic gain.”

Judging by the report, food fraud regularly occurs beyond the initial registering of a product. And the transparency and immutability provided by the blockchain could play a significant role in reducing its high cost, even if it won't be a miracle cure.

Cryptojacking Overtakes Ransomware as Top Malware in Some Countries
December 15, 2018 3:29 pm

Malware that uses infected hardware for mining crypto without authorization has become the top cyber threat in certain countries.

Cryptojacking, the unauthorized use of another’s hardware to mine cryptocurrency, has become the biggest cyber threat in many parts of the world, Bloomberg reported Dec. 14.

According to research from cyber security research firm Kaspersky Lab, cryptojacking overtook ransomware as the biggest cybersecurity threat particularly in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa. In Afghanistan and Ethiopia over one out of four detected malware are cryptocurrency miners, according to Kaspersky’s data.

As cited by the Bloomberg, Kaspersky’s research “shows crypto mining attacks have risen almost fourfold in the region, from 3.5 million in 2017 to 13 million this year.” The cybersecurity firm reportedly also claimed that cryptojacking incidents are “likely to continue given the increased use of digital currencies.”

A report released by Kaspersky in November declares that the reason for the rise of cryptojacking malware compared to ransomware may “be due to the fact that people from developing markets are not so eager to pay a ransom.”

Not only PC but also smartphone users are targeted by unauthorized mining software — from the 2016-2017 period to the 2017-2018 period, these kinds of attacks reportedly increased by 9.5 percent.

Fabio Assolini, Kaspersky’s Senior Security Researcher, told Bloomberg that “the [Middle East, Turkey, Africa] region is becoming more appealing to cyber-criminals, with financial and malicious cryptomining attacks taking center stage.” Assolini also claimed that such attacks are becoming increasingly popular because they are “less noticeable” than ransomware.

Still, the increase in the popularity of this kind of malware has not been global. For instance, this year it registered a decrease of 15 percent in Zambia and 11 percent in Uzbekistan, according the cybersecurity firm. The report concludes

“Last year we asked what tips the scales for cybercriminals? Today, this is no longer a question. Miners will keep spreading across the globe, attracting more people.”

Cryptojacking is not the only way in which cybercriminals use cryptocurrency. As Cointelegraph reported in October, users of the popular video game Fortnite have been targeted by a malware that steals Bitcoin (BTC) wallet addresses.

Not only individuals resort to such actions in search of financial gains. According to a Chinese cybersecurity company, after targeting cryptocurrency exchanges, North Korean hackers have started to steal cryptocurrencies from individuals.

Telecoms Giant AT&T Seeks Patent for Blockchain-Enabled Social Media ‘Mapping’ System
December 15, 2018 4:30 am

Telecoms conglomerate AT&T is seeking a patent for a blockchain-based system that would create a “mapping” platform for content on social media networks

American telecoms giant AT&T is seeking a patent for a blockchain-based social media history “map.” The patent application was published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Dec. 13.

AT&T’s patent application describes a blockchain-powered system that may include a transaction history controller to store subscribers’ data, which may be used for various purposes. The file outlines a number of particular cases, such as creating and sharing information, ideas, and career interests through virtual communities and networks.

Broadly speaking, by deploying the system users could purportedly track “micro-culture transactions,” like tracing current trends at a particular time or place, or behavior of their friends. That ability, per the patent application, “may have enormous value in e-commerce, marketing, and targeted advertising.” The document further states:

“The social media history map platforms described herein may take advantage of the immutable and permanent nature of blockchain records to store, and provide access to, data representing online transactions that occur on multiple social media applications.”

Per the filing, content creators would keep ownership of their data on the “mapping” platform:

“However, instead of passing ownership of blocks or data between users, a social media account owner maintains primary ownership of his or her online transaction data. What passes from the social media account owner to other users of the social media history map service, such as followers of the social media account owner, is a notion of elevated visibility rights.”

In November, the USPTO awarded printing and digital copying appliances manufacturer Xerox a patent for a blockchain-driven auditing system for electronic files. The technology offered by Xerox can supposedly detect whether a file has been altered and tracks the history of changes to documents. Owing to the decentralized verification mechanism, the system thus becomes resistant to tampering, the filing states.

Also that month, financial services giant American Express (Amex) filed a patent for a blockchain-based system to capture and transmit the image of a receipt. The filing describes how the system lets a user with a mobile device capture the image of a receipt. The system then, via “optical character recognition,” deciphers the image and matches it with “related records,” namely transaction history.

Ethereum-Based Chat Platform Lays Off 25% of Staff Due to Crypto Market Decline
December 15, 2018 3:45 am

Ethereum-based mobile app Status is laying off 25 percent of its staff following the crypto market crash.

Ethereum (ETH)-based chat platform Status is laying off 25 percent of its staff due to the recent cryptocurrency market decline, according to a post published Dec. 11.

Founded in 2017 in Switzerland, Status is an open source Ethereum-based mobile app that enables its users to chat, transact, and access decentralized applications (DApps).

In the announcement, the startup's co-founder Jarrad Hope said that Status is “much larger than we can sustain” in the environment of the declining market, wherein the company was not prepared for scenarios of ETH dropping over 80 percent since August.

“This was compounded by not having solid banking partners due to the difficulty in opening banking accounts for crypto projects until Q2 of this year, and have been hedging since then accordingly,” the announcement further reads.

According to Status, 25 percent of its staff is “non-essential” to the company’s long-term growth projects, and are therefore being laid off. Remaining employees have been asked to take a paycut and will purportedly be given a sum of Status’ native virtual currency SNT “to help offset the cut and align with the network’s success.”

In order to set up a “runway measured in years,” Status is going to tap into its remaining fiat money and “large” ETH holdings. The startup has also asked remaining employees to actively contribute to the development of its two priority projects, which are to “deliver on white paper promises” and get the app to a “usable state.”

In November, another cryptocurrency-based startup, Steemit, laid off more than 70 percent of its staff due to the cryptocurrency market crash, and began a structural reorganization. The recent drop in crypto markets purportedly resulted in a decrease in fiat currency returns from the company’s automated STEEM token sales. Additionally, the cost of running Steem’s nodes has increased.

The crypto market experienced a harsh fall on Nov. 14, with Bitcoin (BTC) slumping from its average trading price of around $6,400 to as low as $5,506. This week, the leading coin dipped even lower, to as low as $3,199, while ETH’s lowest price point was $83.50.

At press time, SNT is the 67th largest coin by market capitalization and is trading at $0.0134, down 4.41 percent on the day. The coin’s market capitalization is nearly $47 million, and its total supply is over 6.8 billion coins, according to CoinMarketCap.

Blockchain Incubator Binance Labs Releases First ‘Batch’ of Blockchain Projects
December 15, 2018 3:05 am

Blockchain Labs has graduated its first blockchain projects from its Incubation Program.

Binance Labs, the venture wing of the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has released its first “batch” of blockchain projects from its Incubation Program, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Dec. 14.

Binance Labs is an initiative that seeks to help early-stage blockchain and digital assets projects and entrepreneurs through direct investments and technical assistance. The Binance Labs Incubation Program is an onsite program that was launched in August 2018.

Following a try-out tour with over 500 applicants, Binance Labs selected only eight projects, each of which received $500,000 in seed funding and access to necessary resources and mentors. Over the course of the 10-week program, seven projects have shipped working products and signed on users, while three of those teams have paying customers.

Among others, the eight projects selected by Binance Labs include hardware wallet SafePal, fictionless logins for decentralized apps (DApps) Torus, Internet security project Nym, and market prediction startup Deaux.

In an “Ask me Anything” (AMA) session on Reddit in June, Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs, said that decentralization is “the core value of Bitcoin and blockchain,” stating that the company had launched a number of initiatives in this direction.

In the beginning of October, Binance Labs reportedly invested millions of dollars in decentralized digital content ecosystem Contentos. The startup is set to develop a decentralized ecosystem, which will offer transparency and monetization of content, without third-party censorship or removal of content.

Last month, Binance launched an analysis division Binance Research to conduct “institutional-grade” research reports. The division will prepare institutional-grade research reports with the objective of increasing transparency and improving the quality of information within the cryptocurrency space.

Report: CEO of Largest Romanian Crypto Exchange Arrested on US Warrant
December 15, 2018 2:11 am

The CEO of Romanian crypto exchange Coinflux was reportedly arrested for alleged fraudulent activity.

The CEO of Romania's largest crypto exchange Coinflux was reportedly arrested on a warrant from the United States for fraud, organized crime, and money laundering, local news outlet Mediafax reported Dec. 13. Coinflux has subsequently stopped all digital currency exchanges.

Founded in 2015 in the Romanian city of Cluj, Coinflux is an online digital currency trading platform, with reportedly more than 200 million euro worth of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Ripple (XRP) in transactions.

Vlad Nistor, the CEO and founder of Coinflux, was supposedly arrested on the territory of Romania upon the request of U.S. prosecutors. Nistor is accused of alleged fraudulent activity, organized crime and money laundering. The issue of extradition of Nistor to the U.S. will reportedly be heard by the Appeals Court of Bucharest.

Following the purported arrest, Coinflux published an announcement saying that the exchange has temporarily suspended all digital currency exchanges, while the company’s bank accounts have been frozen. Coinflux states that the ongoing investigation has also restricted its access to some parts of the platform.

In July of 2018,  the Ministry of Finance of Romania released a draft Emergency Ordinance, which regulates the issuance of electronic money (e-money). Per the document, any legal entity looking to issue e-money must have a share capital of no less than €350,000 ($395,000), while its members are subject of approval by the Romanian National Bank (BNR).

While the first Bitcoin automated teller machine (ATM) in the country appeared back in 2014, it took Romanian authorities about three years to come up with an expanded comment on cryptocurrencies. In 2017, Ilan Laufer, Romania’s Business, Commerce and Entrepreneurship Environment Minister, expressed his belief in cryptocurrencies, but pinpointed that the area should be officially regulated.

Major US Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds Cash Withdrawals to PayPal
December 15, 2018 1:24 am

U.S.-based crypto exchange Coinbase enhances its services, introducing cash balance withdrawals to PayPal.

Major American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has introduced free of charge cash withdrawals to online payment system PayPal, according to an announcement published Dec. 14.

From now on, Coinbase’s United States-based customers are able to withdraw their cash balances to Paypal. The service for other countries will reportedly be rolled out some time in 2019.

Coinbase and PayPal previously integrated in 2016, when Coinbase added support for the payment platform in addition to major credit cards. At the time, Coinbase users were able to sell Bitcoin (BTC) and have their fiat funds deposited to a PayPal wallet. The integration was subsequently terminated due to technical difficulties.

With this move, Coinbase has enhanced its range of services, which has been actively expanding over the past several months. This month, the exchange began “exploring” the possibility of providing trading support for 31 cryptocurrencies. Potential new additions include Ripple (XRP), EOS and Cardano (ADA). Coinbase “will be working with local banks and regulators to add them in as many jurisdictions as possible.”

As Cointelegraph reported in September, Coinbase announced a new process that will purportedly allow it to list more digital assets faster. Issuers who want to submit tokens at Coinbase via the newly adopted process will have to use a special form, which will subsequently be evaluated by the exchange team against their digital asset framework.

In November, Coinbase launched over-the-counter (OTC) trading for institutional customers. Christine Sandler, head of sales at Coinbase, revealed that the OTC service is likely to be combined with Coinbase Custody, a service crypto custodian tool for institutional investors launched on July 2, 2018.

In March, PayPal  filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to increase the speed of cryptocurrency payments. The patent describes an “Expedited Virtual Currency Transaction System”, involving the use of secondary private keys to shorten wait times for transactions between consumers and merchants.

French Financial Regulator Blacklists Four Crypto Websites for Unauthorized Offerings
December 15, 2018 12:34 am

French stock market regulator AMF blacklisted four crypto-related websites for unauthorized investment offerings.

The French stock market watchdog, the Financial Markets Regulator (AMF), has blacklisted four crypto-related websites for unauthorized investment offerings, according to an official statement published Friday, Dec. 14.

The AMF announcement notes nine companies that are allegedly operating without necessary regulatory approval, including four crypto-related firms.

In the announcement, the stock market regulator warns investors about the increasing number of unregistered investment projects, claiming that “new unauthorized actors appear regularly.”

The recent blacklist includes such crypto-related websites as iminage.com, elos-patrimoine.com, infoconso.info, and live-crypto.com.net. Elos-patrimoine claims to offer “risk-free” crypto investments, promising “professional support” powered by a “long experience in all areas of investment.” Introducing itself as a “manager of European heritage for 15 years,” the Elos-patrimoine purported to guarantee monthly minimum returns of 3-5 percent.

The other websites blacklisted by the AMF included four businesses relating to the wine industry, and one website offering investments in diamonds.

The AMF is an independent public institution that is responsible for protecting investors and maintaining orderly financial markets. In late November, the AMF participated in a joint initiative with France’s central bank to warn the public about the risks associated with the “speculative” nature of crypto assets.

Earlier in November, the AMF released a report claiming that the initial coin offering (ICO) industry in the country represents a small part of the overall global ICO market. According to the study, the global ICO market accrued 19.4 billion euros ($21.8 billion) since 2014, wherein France accounted for 89 million euros ($100 million) raised in 15 ICO projects.

Bitcoin to Be Worth ‘Great Deal More’ in Three Years, Circle Co-Founder Says
December 14, 2018 11:48 pm

Circle co-founder Jeremy Allaire believes that crypto valuations will increase, and BTC will be worth “a great deal more” than it is now.

Jeremy Allaire, co-founder of crypto finance company Circle, told CNBC in an interview Friday, Dec. 14, that Bitcoin (BTC) will be worth “a great deal more” than it is now.

When asked about the Bitcoin price in three years, Allaire told Squawk Box host Andrew Ross Sorkin that he does not make “significant price predictions,” while adding, “I think it is certainly going to be worth a great deal more that it is today.”

Allaire also stated that while Bitcoin is attractive as a non-state store of value, a slew of other tokens will enter the space, and the bases of their valuations will be diverse. He further explained:

“I do not think it's a winner-take-all [situation]. We have the phrase ‘the tokenization of everything,’ and we think cryptographic tokens are going to represent every form of financial asset in the world. There will be millions of them in years.”

Allaire claimed that the crypto sphere needs clearer regulation, while noting that the United States already has “more regulatory clarity than almost any other market in the world.”

The Circle co-founder cited the need for clarification of whether crypto assets are currencies or commodities, and which crypto assets should qualify as securities. Furthermore, he believes the industry needs to define whether it needs rules for secondary trading of digital securities or a “kind of commodity spot market supervision for the crypto space.”

Earlier this week, major crypto bull and co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors Tom Lee claimed that the fair value of Bitcoin is “significantly” higher than its current price and should be somewhere between $13,800 and $14,800. Moreover, he still thinks that the fair value of Bitcoin could reach $150,000 after it has been more widely adopted.

As for crypto adoption, a commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Hester Peirce, dubbed “Crypto Mom” by the community for her pro-crypto stance, thinks that the process might take a long time. She urged the public not to ‘hold its breath,’ waiting for a Bitcoin ETF, as it could be “20 years away from now or it could be tomorrow.”

Swiss Federal Council: Existing Financial Law Should Be Adjusted to Blockchain Industry
December 14, 2018 10:36 pm

The Swiss Bundesrat has called for specific adjustments of existing financial laws in relation to the blockchain industry.

The Swiss Federal Council (Bundesrat) has said that existing financial law in the country suits the blockchain industry, but needs specific adjustments. The government suggested several amendments in an official statement by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) published on Friday, Dec. 14.

In a meeting on Dec. 7, the Bundesrat adopted a report on the legal framework for blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the financial sector. The report analyzes relevant framework provisions, outlines the need for measures and proposes concrete steps for developing the necessary legal conditions in the blockchain sphere.

Specifically, the report recommend the development of a new and flexible authorization category for blockchain-based financial market infrastructures. It also advocates for better legal clarity for rights holders of digital registers, and ensuring that decentralized trading platforms are subject to the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Act.

The Federal Council also mentioned the results of a cross-departmental working group on the money laundering and terrorist financing risks of cryptocurrencies. The recent report is based on the work of the blockchain/initial coin offering (ICO) working group by the Federal Department of Finance that was reportedly set up in January 2018.

Following the report adoption, the Bundesrat has instructed the FDF and the Federal Department of Justice and Police to prepare an adjustment plan for the first quarter of 2019. The Bundesrat has also commissioned the FTF to research whether money laundering law should be reconsidered in accordance with certain types of crowdfunding.

Earlier this year, the Federal Council requested a report on the risks and benefits of launching its own government-backed digital cryptocurrency called the e-franc.

European Parliament Calls for Increased Blockchain Adoption in Trade
December 14, 2018 9:58 pm

The European Parliament has called for an increase in the adoption of blockchain technology in trade in a new resolution.

The European Parliament has called for measures to increase the adoption of blockchain technology in trade and administration with a provisional resolution published on Dec. 13.

The resolution, dubbed “Blockchain: a forward-looking trade policy,” generally considers blockchain “as a private, permissioned distributed ledger technology (DLT)” but also admits that “various case studies and industries will derive different utility from a mixture of private/public, permissioned/permissionless blockchains.”

The resolution notes that Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) in the EU are underutilized — only 67 percent of EU exporters and 90 percent of EU importers make use of the preferential tariffs — and that blockchain could help improve these trade policies.

The authors of the resolution state that “exporters could upload all their documents to a public authority application underpinned by blockchain, and demonstrate their compliance with preferential treatment granted by an FTA.”

The parliament also states that blockchain technology has potential in “providing trust in the provenance” of products and assisting and enabling customs authorities to obtain the required information for customs declarations.

Overall, the resolution proposes that DLT technology is as a way to “increase the efficiency, speed and volume of global trade by limiting the costs associated with international transactions.”

The document concludes by calling on the European Commission to “follow developments in the area of blockchain”  and develop “a set of guiding principles” for its applications. It also urges the commission to set up an advisory group on the technology and conduct policy investigations into the technology. The European Parliament states:

“The EU has an opportunity to become a leading actor in the field of blockchain and international trade, and that it should be an influential actor in shaping its development globally, together with international partners;”

Earlier this month, seven EU member states released a declaration calling for the promotion of DLT’s use in the region. The declaration was initiated by Malta, and then signed by Italy, France, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, and Greece.

Still, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, reportedly said in September that there are no plans to issue its own digital currency. Also, in mid-November, a member of ECB’s Executive board called Bitcoin (BTC) the “evil spawn of the [2008] financial crisis.”

Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, Stellar, EOS, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Bitcoin SV, TRON, Cardano: Price Analysis, Dec. 14
December 14, 2018 9:05 pm

While total market cap threatens to break below $100 billion, new research shows that the amount of crypto users doubled by Q3 2018. Does this signal a recovery in the future?

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

Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

A lot of crypto investors have lost a staggering amount of money this year. The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is threatening to break down of the $100 billion mark. Unlike the traditional assets, there is no set standard to arrive at a fair value for cryptocurrencies. Various experts have proposed many different methods to determine the valuation.

One of the most popular Bitcoin advocates and a co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors, Thomas Lee, believes that the fair value of Bitcoin is between $13,800 and $14,800. He expects the price to rebound if the asset class is widely embraced and its user adoption increases.

After this year’s bear market, one would expect the hitherto existing owners to abandon the asset class. However, a study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance shows that the number of ID-verified cryptocurrency users has doubled in the first three quarters of this year — from 18 million to 35 million. Does this signal a likely recovery in the near future?

Let’s look at the charts and try to forecast whether the price will fall or rise from the current levels.


A weak bounce on a retest of either a low or a critical support is a bearish indication. It implies that the price has still not reached a level that is attractive to buyers. Today, Bitcoin easily slipped through the yearly low of $3,329.05 and made a new one of $3,307.02.


If the BTC/USD pair bounces off the current support and breaks out of the 20-day EMA, it will be a positive sign. Such a move can result in a pullback to $5,000.

However, if the bounce from the current level turns out weak, a break down of $3,307.02 is probable. The next support on the downside is $3,000. Though $3,000–$3,500 is a strong support zone, we are yet to see any signs of buying. If $3,000 breaks, it might invite further selling, sinking the digital currency further to $2,416.52.

The only bullish indication is the positive divergence on the RSI, but if the price doesn’t move up, it can turn into a bear trap.


Ripple has been holding the support of $0.28600 for the past seven days, but it has not been able to achieve a meaningful bounce.


Failure to rebound has increased the probability of a breakdown of the support. Both moving averages are falling, and the RSI is in the oversold zone. This suggests that the sellers have an upper hand.

The next level to watch on the downside is $0.24508. If this support also fails to hold, the downtrend can extend to $0.15. The first sign of a likely change in trend will be a break out of the 20-day EMA. Above this level, the XRP/USD pair might see some buying and can reach $0.4.

Traders who are long can hold their positions. We shall take a call on whether to keep holding or to sell in our next analysis.


Ethereum has been clinging to the bottom of the $83–$102.5 range. This shows a lack of buying even at the current levels. The failure to move up in the past three days is likely to attract sellers.


A breakdown and close (UTC time frame) below $83 will resume the downtrend and can plunge the ETH/USD pair to the next support of $66.

The first sign of an end to the incessant selling will be a sustained rally above the 20-day EMA. Until then, every pullback will be sold into.


After a two-day pullback, Stellar has resumed its downtrend and has made a new yearly low. The down sloping moving averages and the RSI in the oversold zone confirm that the path of least resistance is to the downside.


The next support on the downside is at $0.08. However, in a strong downtrend it is difficult to call a bottom as the price continues to slice through support levels with ease.

The first sign of a trend reversal will be when the XLM/USD pair sustains above the 20-day EMA. In such a case the pullback can extend to $0.184. Traders should stay away from long positions until the price confirms a bottom.


Though EOS continues to be in a downtrend, it has been trading close to the overhead resistance of $2.1733 for the past five days. This shows some buying in the pair. However, if the bulls don’t scale the resistance quickly, it will invite selling.


A break out of $2.1733 can reach the 20-day EMA, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance. The recovery will gain traction if the bulls sustain above the 20-day EMA.

On the downside, a break down of the Dec. 7 low of $1.55 will resume the downtrend that can reach $1.2. The traders should wait for the EOS/USD pair to signal a trend reversal before attempting a trade in it.


After trading in a tight range for five days, Bitcoin Cash resumed its downtrend and made a new low on Dec. 18.


Both moving averages are trending down and the RSI is deep in the oversold territory, confirming a downtrend. There has not been a meaningful pullback since the downtrend gained momentum on Nov. 19. This suggests that the bears are in complete control. The BCH/USD pair can now correct to $72.39.

The traders should wait for the decline to end and a trend reversal to be signaled before establishing a long position in the pair.


Litecoin has slipped back to the low of $23.1. Though the bulls are defending the support level, if they don’t manage to push the price above $29.349 within the next few days, a new low is likely. The next lower support is at $20.


The downtrending moving averages and the RSI in the oversold zone show that the bears are in complete control. A small ray of hope for a bottom formation at the current levels is the positive divergence on the RSI. However, for that, the LTC/USD pair will have to sustain above the 20-day EMA. Until then, we suggest traders remain on the sidelines.


After trading inside the range since Nov. 26, Bitcoin SV broke below the support of $80.352 on Dec. 13. Unless the bulls quickly reverse and scale the previous support-turned-resistance of $80.352, the sellers are likely to pounce on it. The next lower target is a retest of the Nov. 23 low of $38.528, with a likely minor support at $57.


The first sign of strength will be when the BSV/USD pair climbs back into the range. Though the digital currency is currently trading way above its lows, it has a short trading history. Hence, we suggest traders wait for a new buy setup to form before buying it.


TRON continues to trade inside the symmetrical triangle. The bulls are defending the support of the triangle, whereas the bears are not allowing a break out of it.


The next leg of the move will be decided after a break out or break down from the triangle. A breakout can result in a rally to $0.0183, which is likely to act as a stiff resistance.

On the other hand, if the TRX/USD pair breaks down of the triangle, the downtrend will resume. Though the pattern target of the breakdown is $0.00554133, we expect some support at $0.00844479. The traders should wait for a breakout and close above the triangle to initiate any long positions.


The failure of Cardano to climb back into the previous range is likely to attract selling. The bears will now attempt to break down of the support at $0.027237 and plunge towards the next support of $0.025954.


On the other hand, if the ADA/USD pair bounces off the Dec. 7 low, it might remain range bound for a few more days. The first sign of buying will be when the price sustains above $0.035. We can expect the recovery to gain traction if the bulls scale the 20-day EMA and sustain it for three days. Until then, the path of least resistance is to the downside.

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

Brazilian Premier League Soccer Club Launches Crypto 'Fan Tokens'
December 14, 2018 7:30 pm

Atletico Mineiro, a Brazilian premier league soccer club, is launching its own fan token “GaloCoin” based on Ethereum blockchain.

Brazilian premier league soccer club Atletico Mineiro has launched a fan token dubbed “GaloCoin,” Cointelegraph Brazil reports Friday, Dec. 14.

The GaloCoin is named after Atletico’s mascot, a rooster (“galo” in Portuguese). It is based on Footcoin — a platform that allows to launch utility tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. The GaloCoin is tied to the national fiat currency exchange rate and is equal to one Brazilian real.

Atletico’s token will allow fans to purchase game tickets, official apparel, as well as participate in discount programs. To use the club’s cryptocurrency token, one has to buy at least 50 GaloCoins (equivalent to approximately $13).

Utility tokens are steadily increasing in popularity among soccer teams. In September, one of the best-performing French clubs Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) partnered with the blockchain platform Socios.com to launch its own Fan Token Offering (FTO).

One of Italy’s most famous clubs, Juventus soon followed PSG’s example and announced “Juventus Official Fan Token,” also in partnership with Socios.com. The coin is set to launch in early 2019.

Moreover, seven United Kingdom premier league clubs — Tottenham Hotspur, Brighton & Hove Albion, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Leicester City Football Club, Newcastle United and Southampton — have partnered with local crypto trading platform eToro to integrate blockchain and cryptocurrencies in soccer stadiums.

As Cointelegraph reported in August, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has implemented a blockchain-based ticketing system. The association has already conducted a successful trial during the 2018 UEFA Europa League final in Lyon this May, where 50 percent of the tickets were sold using a blockchain-based application.

Bahrain’s Central Bank Publishes Draft Regulations on Crypto Assets
December 14, 2018 6:15 pm

Central Bank of Bahrain has issued a draft of digital assets regulations which includes new licensing requirements for crypto service providers.

Bahrain’s central bank has issued draft regulations on digital assets, Reuters reports Friday, Dec. 13.

According to Reuters, “the central bank said it had issued for consultation draft rules for crypto asset platform operators, providing regulations for the licensing and supervision of crypto asset services.”

Bahrain’s central bank has reportedly stated that the proposed regulations include “measures to safeguard customer interests, technology standards, and cybersecurity risk management.”

Bahrain first announced its positive stance toward blockchain over a year ago. At the time, Khalid Al Rumaihi, the country’s chief executive of the Economic Development Board, called the technology a “huge opportunity for Bahrain.”

As Cointelegraph reported this November, Bahrain’s Institute of Banking and Finance launched its own “Blockchain Academy.” The newly established academy will provide courses in three competency areas of blockchain technology: development, implementation and strategy.

Abdulhussain Mirza, Bahrain’s minister of electricity and water affairs, demonstrated a positive outlook on the technology in September, saying that “Blockchain’s ability to protect user’s data is a true mark of progress.”

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this week, the Netherlands' central bank also proposed licensing cryptocurrency service providers.

US Credit Union Blockchain Consortium Joins R3's Global Ecosystem
December 14, 2018 4:22 pm

CULedger, a U.S. credit union service organization-owned blockchain consortium, has joined enterprise software firm R3’s global blockchain ecosystem.

CULedger, a blockchain consortium and credit union service organization (CUSO), has joined enterprise software firm R3’s global blockchain ecosystem. The partnership was officially revealed in a press release published Dec. 13.

Based in Denver, Colorado, CULedger reportedly delivers blockchain applications to credit unions and their members, using the technology to improve cybersecurity and to mitigate fraud risks, as well as streamline administrative and operational processes to save time and costs. The firm also provides a specific blockchain-based identification solution for credit union members.

As the press release notes, the consortium joins the R3 global network, which has, to date, reportedly gathered over 200 financial services companies, tech firms, central banks, regulators and trade associations to collaborate on or use its enterprise-grade blockchain platform “Corda.”

Corda has been designed to work within the financial services industry and uses a permissioned distributed ledger technology (DLT) system to restrict data access to only the required participants. This July, R3 released a commercial version of Corda, dubbed “Corda Enterprise,” aimed specifically at businesses.

The Corda platform has seen a wave of positive adoption news in recent months.

Just in December, R3’s Corda-based Euro Debt Solution was used by a German-French-Dutch triad of banks to successfully complete a live commercial paper transaction; major Japanese financial services company SBI Holdings announced its partnership with R3 to boost the use of Corda in Asia; and 26 French companies and five major banks completed a Know Your Customer (KYC) test using Corda.

In mid-October, United Kingdom-based bank Natwest announced it would be integrating a new blockchain platform based on R3 Corda technology for use in the syndicated loans market.

Major Spanish Bank BBVA Closes €150 Mln Loan With Porsche Holding Using Blockchain
December 14, 2018 3:35 pm

Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, has closed a €150 million loan using blockchain technology.

Spain’s second largest bank, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), has closed a €150 million loan using blockchain technology with Porsche Holding, the largest car distributor in Europe. The news was reported by financial news site Finextra Dec. 14.

The transaction is reportedly BBVA’s first blockchain-based loans deal with a non-Spanish borrower. The bank has to date arranged several blockchain-based loans with Spanish corporate customers, including a syndicated loan of $150 million for partly state-owned Spanish national electrical grid operator Red Eléctrica de España (REE) in November, and a €100 million long-term bilateral corporate loan with Spanish engineering firm ACS.

Finextra reports that the Porsche Holdings deal uses the “same mix of private and public blockchain technology” BBVA used in its prior blockchain loan transactions.

As reported, the REE loan had been conducted on a private Hyperledger-based network with participation from three funding banks (BBVA, BNP Paribas and MUFG), REE and two legal advisory firms; the unique document identifier for the signed contract was recorded on the Ethereum (ETH) public blockchain.

In reference to the Porsche Holdings loan, Frank Hoefnagels, head of BBVA CIB in Germany, emphasized that for acquisition finance transactions, for which speed is of the essence, blockchain is of particular relevance:

“This transaction is all about putting blockchain technology into meaningful practice in the interactions with our clients. Our aim is to improve clients’ experience by simplifying processes and enhancing the speed of execution”.

In April, BBVA claimed to have become the “first” global bank to conduct an entire loan process using blockchain, again in a part-private part-public configuration. Recognition of blockchain’s efficacy for lending continues to widen: this October, United Kingdom-based bank Natwest announced it would be integrating a new blockchain platform based on R3 Corda technology for use in the syndicated loans market.

For its part, Porsche’s manufacturing arm began testing blockchain apps for its vehicles this February, claiming to be “the first automobile manufacturer to implement and successfully test blockchain in a car.”

Bitcoin Cash Tanks 13 Percent as Major Cryptocurrencies All Fall Hard
December 14, 2018 2:16 pm

The cryptocurrency bear market continues in earnest as Bitcoin Cash investors in particular see holdings evaporate.

Friday, Dec. 14 — Bitcoin Cash (BCH) led fresh losses across cryptocurrency markets as investors in the top 20 twenty assets by market cap shouldered new lows.

Market visualization

Market visualization from Coin360

Data from Cointelegraph’s own price index, Coin360. and CoinMarketCap painted a gloomy picture at press time on Friday, with Bitcoin (BTC) dropping about 3.5 percent in 24 hours.

Having staved off a move below last week’s current “bottom” around $3,220, BTC/USD has failed to find support much higher and is now circling around $3,300 to cap off an almost 50 percent loss on the month.

 Bitcoin 7-day price chart

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index

Worries over the fate of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) gaining United States regulators’ approval in February, combined with uncertainty over when the 2018 bear market could end, have limited the largest cryptocurrency’s prospects for gains in the short term.

Many still remain steadfast believers in a Bitcoin U-turn, the most recent of which was ratings agency Weiss, which said this week that BTC represented one of the “best buying opportunities” of the year at current prices.

In altcoin markets, BCH continued what had become a common sight for day traders this week, losing more against USD than any other asset in the top 20.

A hashrate war with rival faction Bitcoin SV (BSV) has continued since the pair split from the BCH chain in a contentious hard fork Nov. 15.

Since then, BSV has made a habit of trading inversely with BTC, gaining when the majority of assets fall and vice versa.

Friday revealed BCH as the major loser, however, shedding its market cap to fall below the USD price of Ethereum (ETH) for the first time on a 13.3 percent daily drop.

Just $125 million now separates the market cap of BCH and BSV.

Bitcoin Cash 7-day price chart

Bitcoin Cash 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Cash Price Index

ETH itself, meanwhile, failed to capitalize on updates about its Constantinople hard fork, which will bring various technological advances to the network.

At press time, ETH/USD was trailing at around $86, its lowest level since May 2017.

Ethereum 7-day price chart

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index

Other major altcoins saw losses between 1 percent and 9 percent, BSV coming in second behind BCH’s performance.

Top Crypto Exchange Binance Adds Circle’s USDC to Its Combined Stablecoin Market
December 14, 2018 1:45 pm

Major crypto exchange Binance has added Circle’s USD-pegged stablecoin USD Coin as a quote asset in its combined Stablecoin Market.

Crypto exchange Binance has added Circle’s USD-pegged stablecoin USD Coin as a quote asset for several new trading pairs in its combined Stablecoin Market (USDⓈ). The exchange has announced this in an official post published Dec. 14.

USD Coin (USDC), first announced by Goldman Sachs-backed Circle this May, and released in September, is one of a host of new stablecoins notionally pegged 1:1 to a major fiat currency.

This November, Binance, currently the world’s largest crypto exchange by daily trade volume, had rebranded its Tether (USDT) Market as the combined USDⓈ market to allow for the support of more trading pairs with different stablecoins offered as a base pair.

Today’s latest development will add six new trading pairs with USDC as a quote asset: native exchange token Binance Coin (BNB/USDC), Bitcoin (BTC/USDC), Ethereum (ETH/USDC), Ripple (XRP/USDC), EOS (EOS/USDC) and Stellar (XLM/USDC). In addition, Binance is also adding a USDC trading pair with fellow stablecoin Tether.

According to the announcement, the exchange will replace and delist its former USDC/BNB and USDC/BTC trading pairs, which had just been launched mid-November.

Just ahead of Binance, major United States’ cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase had made USDC the first stablecoin available for trade on its platform in October.

With the proliferating issuance of fiat-backed stablecoins, major exchanges have stepped in to list the new coins: both OKEx and Huobi recently opted to list four USD stablecoins at once.

Earlier this week, Binance launched a collection of educational content comprising almost 500 articles in order to provide “unbiased” information about crypto and blockchain, as part of its Binance Academy initiative, which launched this summer.

According to CoinMarketCap, the exchange has seen $464,404,519 in trades over the 24 hours before press time.

US Government Tells Bitcoin Bomb Scam Victims to Inform FBI, Not Pay Ransom Money
December 14, 2018 1:21 pm

Internet users worldwide have begun receiving emails claiming an armed “mercenary” will blow up their building.

A suspected scam which threatens to blow up buildings unless recipients pay a Bitcoin (BTC) ransom caught the attention of the United States’ government Dec. 13.

The scam, which centers on anonymous emails demanding payment of $20,000 in Bitcoin or face a “mercenary” detonating a device in “your building,” has appeared throughout the world.

Now, the U.S. National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) opted to release dedicated advice to victims, advising the only action necessary on receipt of an email was to inform the FBI.

The NCCIC is “aware of a worldwide email campaign targeting businesses and organizations with bomb threats,” it said.

“The emails claim that a device will detonate unless a ransom in Bitcoin is paid.”

Prior to the government acknowledgment, media sources had reported on the scheme, including cybersecurity publication and research outlet Krebs On Security, which published the full text of the email.

“My mercenary keeps the building under the control. If he notices any unusual behavior or emergency he will blow up the bomb,” an excerpt reads.

“I can withdraw my mercenary if you pay. You pay me 20.000 $ in Bitcoin and the bomb will not explode, but don’t try to cheat -I warrant you that I will withdraw my mercenary only after 3 confirmations in blockchain network.”

Multiple campaigns continue to target unwitting internet users both within and outside the cryptocurrency community.

As Cointelegraph reported, 2018 has seen an almost 500 percent rise in the number of flagged hacking schemes known as “cryptojacking” — the process by which a device is commandeered to mine or steal cryptocurrency.

Phishing scams — hackers masquerading as known entities to trick users into transferring coins to a fake address — have spread from emails to social media platforms such as Twitter en masse this year.

Blockchain Startup Civic Appoints Apple Veteran as Executive Director of Identity.com
December 14, 2018 12:57 pm

Blockchain startup Civic has appointed Phillip Shoemaker as executive director of its Ethereum-based decentralized identity platform.

Blockchain startup Civic has appointed Apple veteran Phillip Shoemaker as executive director of Identity.com, its Ethereum (ETH) blockchain-based, decentralized identity platform. The news was announced in a press release published Dec. 13.

Identity.com is Civic’s open-source, decentralized and tokenized digital identity ecosystem that uses smart contracts to provide on-demand, blockchain-based identity validation.

Shoemaker joins the initiative after working over seven years as senior director of the Apple App Store Review team, which he reportedly built “from the ground up, taking his team from 4 to over 300 employees,” under the company leadership of founder Steve Jobs. Since leaving Apple in 2016, he has worked advising multiple blockchain projects and startups.

The company has said the appointment comes at a “key time” as it prepares to add external organizations to its ecosystem, “both as collaborators and participants.”

According to the press release, Shoemaker’s responsibilities will include managing identity.com’s objectives and team growth, “defining the parameters around the Civic relationship,” and taking charge of establishing a “governance structure” for the ecosystem that prioritizes “trust and transparency.”

Shoemaker’s other past experiences include a role as developer relations director at the open-source, neuroscientific software engineering firm Numenta, which has been working to reverse-engineer the neocortex to study how the brain works and evolve approaches to enhancing machine intelligence.

As previously reported, Shoemaker is not the only Apple veteran to embrace blockchain innovation; in October, the tech giant’s co-founder Steve Wozniak was announced as a co-founder of recently launched blockchain-focused venture capital fund EQUI Global, having made a solid endorsement of Bitcoin this summer, arguing that it is the only “pure digital gold.”

In October, Civic announced that credit report repair service Progrexion, along with its subbrands law firm Lexington Law and consumer advice portal Credit.com were set to use its blockchain identity solution, with the Civic (CVC) native token surging 22 percent in value following the news.

As of press time, CVC is trading at $0.050, down just over 6 percent on the day, according to CoinMarketCap.

Its ICO Portfolio ‘Could’ See 25 Percent Refund Rates Over Non-Compliance, Says Pantera Capital
December 14, 2018 12:44 pm

Securities law enforcement means the investor’s various ICO project could come in for penalties, Pantera Capital has warned.

Blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused investment firm and hedge fund Pantera Capital has warned that a quarter of its ICO projects could be found to violate the United States’ securities laws.

According to the company’s most recent newsletter cited by a Bloomberg article Dec. 13, the ongoing crackdown by U.S. regulators means many ICOs, which have already felt the pinch from declining markets, may have to repay investors.

“While we believe the vast majority of the projects in our portfolio should not be affected, approximately 25 percent of our fund’s capital is invested in projects with liquid tokens that sold to U.S. investors without using regulation D or regulation S,” the publication quotes co-chief investment officers Dan Morehead and Joey Krug as saying.

“If any of these projects are deemed to be securities, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) position could adversely affect them. Of these projects, about a third (approximately 10 percent of the portfolio) are live and functional and, while they could technically continue without further development, ending development would hinder their progress.”

Included in the likely victims is cannabis-focused ICO project Paragon, one of two schemes the SEC ordered to repay millions of dollars in refunds and fines in November for breaching securities rules.

Data has since confirmed the downward pressure regulators have had on the ICO industry, with the amount of funding accrued dropping significantly.

Barry Silbert, founder of fellow investment giant Digital Currency Group, told CNBC earlier this month he considered the ICO market to be “dead.”

“You now have the lack of demand from ICOs and then you have all the sponsors of the ICOs who raised a bunch of Bitcoin (BTC) and primarily Ether (ETH) who are now starting to sell that,” he explained.

Europe Takes Serious Steps Toward Blockchain Adoption
December 14, 2018 3:29 am

After months of monitoring and observing the potential of blockchain, EU is finally making a turn into it

After months of monitoring and observing the “promising and challenging” potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT), the European Union (EU) is finally making a turn into the blockchain industry.

How it all started

Back in February 2018, the European Commission (EC) launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, aimed to support European cross-border engagement with the technology and its multiple stakeholders and to unite the economy around blockchain.

Since its official launch, the newly established organization — supported by European Parliament — has released three thematic reports: the first one in July, dubbed “Blockchain Innovation in Europe”; the second one in October, “Blockchain and the GDPR”; and the third one in December, “Blockchain for Government and Public Services.”

The second major step was taken in April when 22 countries — 21 EU member states and Norwaysigned a Declaration that created a European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). During 2018, five more European countries joined the EBP: Greece and Romania in May, Denmark and Cyprus in June, and Italythe last member to join — in September. The partnership’s main focus is on cybersecurity, privacy, energy efficiency and interoperability, all in full compliance with EU law.

As Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, underlined welcoming the established of the EBP:

Blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and Member States to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies (sic)

European Blockchain Partnership

Back in the fall, ResearchAndMarkets.com published a new report dubbed “EU5 Blockchain Technology Market (2018-2023).“ In the report, the EU is expected to increase its investment into blockchain- and DLT-related projects from $94 million in 2018 to $386 million by 2020. The positive view within the document toward the blockchain industry in Europe is based on several crucial facts: The EC is liberalizing the industry’s regulation and it creates a new task force entrusted with blockchain expertise.

Another move toward blockchain was made in October this year when the European Parliament formed a resolution titled “Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains: building trust with disintermediation.” The resolution states that DLT “could potentially affect all sectors of the economy,” but it focuses on several important spheres: finances, health care, transport, education, copyrights, public governance, data protection, and some others.

The agreement shows that the Parliament has set the plans for the EC to ensure that its proposed policies would be realized, taking into account benefits of the DLT implementations and warning about some of the related risks. This resolution is a crucial document, as it means that Parliament articulated several main features.

Health care sector

The potential of DLT implementation in the health care and medical sector was among the first initiatives discussed by the European Union. My Health My Data (MHMD), the EU-funded project, has been aimed “to use blockchain technology to enable medical data to be stored and transmitted safely and effectively.” The resolution signed in October highlighted that blockchain would “improve data efficiency and the reporting of clinical trials in the health sector, allowing digital data exchange across public and private institutions under the control of the citizens/patients.”

Health care sector

For the EU, the main focus of the implementation of blockchain technology is on the protection of personal data (followed by the General Data Protection Regulation, known as GDPR), which gives “people more control over how they store, manage and use personal data generated online,” says DECODE, another blockchain project funded by the EU. According to the document, blockchain “should protect the privacy of sensitive health data” and allow “citizens to control their health data and benefit from transparency thereon, and to choose which data to share, also with regard to their use by insurance companies and the wider health care ecosystem.”

It also underlines the importance of improving the health care sector with DLT “through electronic health data interoperability, identity verification and a better distribution of medication,” as well as improving the management of health care systems.

Financial services

There are several major advantages of DLT implementation for the financial sector within Europe. One of them is, definitely, the significance of the blockchain technology in financial intermediation by “improving transparency and reducing transaction costs and hidden costs by better managing data and streamlining processes.”

Financial services

The EC and local regulatory authorities are to monitor trends of DLT implementation in the finance industry and are encouraged to do “the research and experimentation that major financial institutions have undertaken in the exploration of the capabilities of DLT.”

The European Parliament also expressed its concern about the “volatility and uncertainty” of cryptocurrencies. It requires the EC and the European Central Bank (ECB) “to provide feedback on the sources of volatility of cryptocurrencies, identify dangers for the public, and explore the possibilities of incorporating cryptocurrencies in the European payment system.”

There are certain risks related to initial coin offerings (ICOs), and the resolution stresses the “lack of clarity with regard to the legal framework applicable to ICOs,” that could negatively affect the investment and funding potential of ICOs. The Parliament asks the EC and national regulatory authorities “to identify criteria that enhance investor protection and articulate disclosure requirements and obligations for the initiators of ICOs” to avoid risks and dangers related to ICO projects.

The certainty and clarity of the crowdfunding in the crypto space could increase investor and consumer protection and reduce “the risks stemming from asymmetric information, fraudulent behaviour, illegal activities such as money laundering and tax evasion.”

How bright is the blockchain future in Europe?

Meanwhile, the Distributed ledger technologies and blockchains resolution has more political significance than legal, as the EC is not required to do anything in response to these requests.

Last week, four major blockchain companies — including Ripple, the NEM Foundation, Emurgo (based on the Cardano blockchain) and “smart ledger” development firm Fetch.AI — formed “Blockchain for Europe” Association. It is aimed to help the EU “shape the global agenda” on blockchain by providing education on the technology’s potential and by developing “smart regulation” of the blockchain industry.

The EC does not appear to be fully involved in promoting a global regulatory framework for the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystems. The general idea is to focus on promoting the regulations of the technology on national levels.

A vivid example of it is another declaration signed on December 4 between seven southern European countries — including France, Italy, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, and Greece. It was reportedly initiated by Malta, commonly known as the “Blockchain Island” of Europe. This declaration calls the EU for help to “promote DLT that is most associated with cryptocurrencies but is increasingly being used by governments to offer services to citizens.”

Switzerland is another European country, but not a member state, that has friendly regulation on the blockchain and crypto industries.

Europe has the ambitions to become "the global leader in the field of DLT," which can be seen from the number of initiatives taken place over the 2018 year. Still, it might want to consider bringing more legal power to them rather than just “raising the awareness.”

LinkedIn Report: Blockchain Developer Leads List of Most Rapidly Growing Jobs
December 14, 2018 2:52 am

LinkedIn has released a report showing that the role of blockchain developer is the fastest growing emerging job in the U.S. this year.

The role of blockchain developer is the most rapidly growing emerging job in the United States, according to the 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs report by LinkedIn released on Dec. 13.

In the course of preparing the report, LinkedIn used data from its Economic Graph to analyze the positions that companies are hastily hiring for, as well as skills related to those positions and roles that have emerged over the past five years.

The professional social network found that the role of blockchain developer has registered an increase of 33 times in the past 12 months, while cities with the highest demand are San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta. Among major skills required for the role, LinkedIn notes solidity, blockchain, Ethereum, cryptocurrency, and Node.js.

This year’s top emerging jobs also include artificial intelligence (AI) specialists, wherein “six out of the 15 emerging jobs are related in some way to AI,” and machine learning engineers, with 12 times growth year-over-year. For the latter roles, LinkedIn names deep learning, machine learning, tensorflow, Apache Spark and natural language processing as major required skills.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, 645 vacancies tagged with the words “blockchain,” “Bitcoin,” or “cryptocurrency” were published on LinkedIn in 2016. By 2017, the number surged to around 1,800 and to 4,500 vacancies by mid-May of this year. As of recently, LinkedIn’s search system displays 13,816 records related to blockchain and 2,479 records related to cryptocurrency.

A report prepared by job review site Glassdoor shows that as of August 2018, U.S. companies had posted 1,775 vacancies related to blockchain technology, which is three times more compared to the previous year. 79 percent of the vacancies are concentrated in the 15 largest American cities, and the most saturated demand regions show that New York and San Francisco account for 24 percent and 21 percent of the total number of crypto-industry job offers.

Social network Facebook listed five new blockchain-related jobs on its careers page within the past three weeks. In the job description for blockchain engineer at the Facebook Blockchain Data Engineering team, the ad characterizes the position as technically and intellectually challenging work, which “will have massive global impact.”

Church's Chicken Starts Accepting Dash in Venezuela After KFC Confusion
December 14, 2018 1:43 am

U.S. fast food chain Church’s Chicken has started accepting Dash payments at its locations in Venezuela.

American fast food chain Church’s Chicken has started accepting payments in cryptocurrency Dash (DASH) at its locations in Venezuela, according to an official Facebook announcement on Dec. 12.

According to Dash News, the cryptocurrency is accepted in all 10 restaurant locations in Venezuela. Dash has also completed its first transaction at Church’s Chicken and uploaded a video of the event on its official YouTube channel. The restaurant claims to be the first global fast food chain to accept payments in crypto.

The announcement from Church’s chicken follows some confusion regarding the acceptance of Dash at major fast food vendors in Venezuela. On Dec. 7, PR and media director at DashNews Mark Mason posted a tweet stating that KFC Venezuela would start accepting Dash payments the following week.

Later KFC Venezuela denied the news, stating that processing payments with Dash “is not a fact, nor has the publication of any news about it been authorized.”

Shortly after, Dash Merchant Venezuela posted a public apology on its Twitter account. It said that the statement was premature and reflected optimism rather than the current stage of discussions with KFC Venezuela. However, both Dash and KFC confirmed that they are in negotiations regarding the possibility of crypto payments.

In January 2018, KFC Canada introduced a PR stunt, in which it offered a “Bitcoin Bucket” of fried chicken, which could only be purchased with Bitcoin (BTC). KFC announced the promotion in a tweet stating:

“Sure, we don’t know exactly what Bitcoins are, or how they work, but that shouldn’t come between you and some finger lickin’ good chicken.”

As Cointelegraph reported in August, CEO of Dash Core Group Ryan Taylor said that Venezuela had become the second largest market for Dash, with almost one hundred merchants accepting the cryptocurrency each week.

Security Token Platform TokenSoft Invests in SEC-Regulated Broker-Dealer
December 14, 2018 1:03 am

Security token firm TokenSoft has acquired a share in an SEC-compliant broker-dealer in a bid to expand the range of its services.

Security tokens platform TokenSoft Inc. has invested in a company that is purportedly a United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-compliant broker-dealer, according to a press release published Dec. 13.

TokenSoft is a platform that provides a suite of technology and security products for the sale, issuance, and management of security tokens and other digital assets. Security tokens often promise investment returns and value appreciation, in addition to allowing holders to purchase goods and services.

The company in which TokenSoft invested is now renamed TokenSoft Global Markets, LLC, while TokenSoft is entitled to acquire 100 percent of TokenSoft Global Markets. After the acquisition, TokenSoft Global Markets will reportedly enhance the range of its services, including referrals to exchanges or brokers, custody solutions, or private placement services.

The investment enables TokenSoft to offer issuers the choice to host a token sale themselves or work with a broker-dealer to manage the token sale on their behalf. Mason Borda, CEO of TokenSoft, commented on the investment:

"As a result of rapidly growing interest in the security token market, we have been inundated with requests for broker-dealer support services. With this investment, we are building a one-stop-shop for digital asset issuance and management — enabling us to expand our security and compliance support to every stage of a digital asset's lifecycle."

Last week, Thai cryptocurrency exchange Satang Corp. announced plans to raise nearly $10 million in a security token offering (STO). Satang’s plans are reportedly supported by the government of Thailand in a bid to make the country a blockchain hub and develop a regulatory framework for digital currencies and blockchain.

Last week, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, highlighted the illegality of STOs in the country. The deputy governor of the bank noted that “the STO business that has surfaced recently is still essentially an illegal financial activity in China,” reiterating the stance that cryptocurrencies are associated with crime.

Crypto-Friendly Banking App Revolut Obtains EU Banking License
December 14, 2018 12:31 am

Revolut fiat and cryptocurrency app has obtained a banking license in Lithuania.

Crypto-friendly fintech startup Revolut has obtained a banking license in Lithuania, technology news outlet TechCrunch reported Dec. 12.

As the report states, the startup obtained a license through the Bank of Lithuania and “is leveraging passporting rules to operate in other European countries.” The mentioned “passport rules” are laws permitting the operation of banks that are part of the European free market on the territory of other member states.

In the coming months, Revolut’s users in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Poland are expected to get a “true current account and a non-prepaid debit card.” Additionally, users’ deposits will also be covered up to €100,000 (about $113,500) under the European Deposit Insurance Scheme.

About a year ago, the startup also started to support cryptocurrencies. According to a post on the company’s support blog, Revolut currently lets its users “gain exposure to” Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Ripple (XRP).

TechCrunch also reports today that “eventually, the startup expects to be able to offer overdrafts and loans.” According to data contained in the article, Revolut’s user base generates $4 billion in transaction volume per month, and that there are 8,000 to 10,000 new accounts opened per day.

As Cointelegraph reported, after its funding round in April, Revolut became a so-called “unicorn,” at the time valued at $1.7 billion.

Bitcoin Beats Google Trends in 2018 as Internet Users Seek to Know ‘What It Is’
December 13, 2018 11:51 pm

Google users are keen to understand what Bitcoin actually is — more than anything else, data reveals.

Google data shows ‘What is Bitcoin?’ was the most popular search question in the United States and United Kingdom for 2018, showing Bitcoin (BTC) has topped public consciousness online this year.

Capping various achievements in search rankings over the past twelve months, Bitcoin’s latest price volatility saw interest in understanding it peak again following a period of price stability.

‘What is Bitcoin’ currently tops this year’s ‘What is…?’ search list, while the annual listings also include one other cryptocurrency-related entry.

While Bitcoin has topped the list of ‘What is…,’ the major currency lost its rank on ‘How to…’ queries to the second top cryptocurrency, Ripple (XRP). During 2018, users were googling more on how to purchase XRP, with ‘How to buy Ripple’ making it to fourth place in Google’s ‘How to...’ list, while Bitcoin is currently ranked eighth.

The increased popularity of Ripple is likely to be concerted with a recent publicity push — particularly informally on social media.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, despite overall Google searches for ‘Bitcoin’ coming down 75 percent as of June, the term was still more popular than household names such as Beyonce.

In mid-November, as the contentious hard fork of top crypto Bitcoin Cash (BCH) sparked volatility across markets, worldwide search interest in ‘Bitcoin’ hit six-month highs, gently trailing off in subsequent weeks.

At present South Africa, the Netherlands and Ghana represent the top three sources of ‘Bitcoin’ searches.

Curiously, ‘Ripple’ searches meanwhile have remained practically flat since May.

Gaming Hardware Firm Razer Launches Token-Based Loyalty System and Desktop Miner
December 13, 2018 11:43 pm

Gaming hardware producer Razer has launched its redesigned native virtual currencies and a desktop SoftMiner.

United States-based gaming hardware manufacturer Razer has redesigned its native virtual currencies and loyalty system and launched a desktop mining app, according to a blog post published on Dec. 12.

Founded in 2005, Razer has become a leading gaming hardware and software manufacturer in the U.S., Europe, and China. The company’s software platform reportedly has more than 50 million users. In the first six months of 2018, Razer’s revenues were $274.2 million.

Razer has redesigned its native reward system and virtual credits Razer zGold and Razer zSilver. Launched in 2017, the virtual currencies have subsequently gained over 5 million users, according to the post. From now on, the Razer zGold and Razer zSilver will be rebranded as Razer Gold and Razer Silver respectively.

In regard to Razer Silver, gamers will be rewarded with the currency for every Razer Gold spent, wherein the more Gold gamers spend, the more Silver they earn. Users can further exchange Razer Silver to products, discounts and vouchers.

The company is also launching a desktop app called Razer SoftMiner, which utilizes idle graphics processing unit (GPU) power of users’’ devices to solve blockchain-based puzzles on the back-end. Once users install and launch the app, they will be awarded with Razer Silver depending on the amount of time SoftMiner has been operating, and the processing power of their PCs. Currently, SoftMiner is reportedly in beta and supports 5,000 users per week.

However, some have called the efficacy and economy of Razer’s miner into question, claiming it is a scam. A Twitter user Scott Chicken commented on Razer’s announcement of the new product, calculating that the company earns at most £0.35 ($0.44) per day mining at full power, making each Silver worth £0.0007 ($0.00089). Chicken said that “running this at full power, every single day all day it takes 560 days to earn a Razer keyboard, valued at £199 [$251] as of their website.”