Archive for Category: News

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  • Cryptocurrency ‘Illegal’ In India Says Trade Organization Head

    Cryptocurrency ‘Illegal’ In India Says Trade Organization Head

    The head of an Indian nonprofit trade organization said cryptocurrency is “illegal,” and urged businesses to obey the law, local news daily the Hindu reported Thursday, Oct. 25.

    Debjani Ghosh, the president of the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM), was cited by the Hindu saying that cryptocurrencies are illegal from NASSCOM’s perspective. NASSCOM is a nonprofit trade association of over 2,000 member companies for the Indian IT and business process outsourcing industries.

    “It is [the] law of the land and hence, we have to work with it,” Ghosh claimed about cryptocurrency’s ‘illegal’ status. She added, “If we do not agree, we have to go back to the government and speak about why cryptocurrencies aren’t correct.” However, Ghosh noted that the “illegal” status of crypto is the result of the government’s failure to keep up with innovation:

    “The genesis of this problem, however, lies in the failure of policy making not keeping pace with rapid technological changes. NASSCOM’s focus would be to say, how do you synergize technological development and policy making. I think that will be our focus.”

    Cryptocurrency is currently legal in India, but in July the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) banned the country’s banks from servicing businesses involved in exchanging or processing digital assets. At the time, RBI cited risks to financial stability and the security of investors as being the main reasons behind the ban.

    Following the crackdown, commentators were quick to note that, while banking activities for crypto business were suspended, it was not a ban on crypto in India outright. The country’s supreme court continues to uphold the ban even after hearing a raft of petitions.

    Since July, the ban has had severe repercussions for the industry. Exchanges in particular have faced difficult conditions, with major platform Zebpay halting operations and relocating to crypto-friendly Malta.

    Ghosh’s comments come after police clamped down this week on a project from crypto exchange Unocoin, arresting its co-founders after they installed a Bitcoin ATM in a Bangalore shopping mall.

    Various media outlets have cited authorities who reportedly explained that the ATM “had not taken any permission from the state government and is dealing in cryptocurrency outside the remit of the law.” According to a police official quoted by the Times of India, the central bank considers cryptocurrency “illegal.”

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  • Vietnam’s Largest Telecoms Company Enters Blockchain Sphere, Aims to Be Industry Leader

    Vietnam’s Largest Telecoms Company Enters Blockchain Sphere, Aims to Be Industry Leader

    The Viettel Enterprise Solutions Corporation has set a goal to become Vietnam’s leading blockchain technology provider in five years, local news outlet Viet Nam News reported Oct. 25. The Viettel Enterprise Solutions Corporation is a development and innovation wing of Vietnam’s largest telecommunications operator Viettel Group.

    The Viettel Enterprise Solutions Corporation was established earlier in October to focus on providing information and communication technology solutions to the governmental and commercial sectors, and to assist in building a digital government.

    Speaking at a workshop called “Blockchain at Viettel,” the company’s deputy general director Ngô Vĩnh Quý reportedly said that Viettel is eager to keep pace with development trends, including blockchain technology. Ngô assured that the corporation has the necessary resources, including financing, specialists, and network infrastructure to learn and deploy blockchain. Ngô added:

    “Blockchain is an unlimited ecosystem. The most difficult task for Viettel is choosing the most effective blockchain technology that can be applied in daily life.”

    Viettel Enterprise Solutions Corporation has already developed a blockchain-based solution to improve file management in the healthcare sector. The solution purportedly enables the connection of entire medical networks, including the Ministry of Health, provincial health departments, patients, and other related entities on the nationwide level. The model is now awaiting approval from the country’s Ministry of Health.

    Some other Asian countries have already deployed blockchain technology in their telecoms networks. South Korea’s largest telephone company, the state-owned KT Corporation, announced the launch of its blockchain-powered commercial network to make it “more secure and transparent” in July. KT plans to allow its individual and corporate clients to store and transfer their digital data with “less hacking risks.”

    Also in July, China’s three major telecoms operators — China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom — launched a blockchain research group, which aims to “build a trustworthy blockchain application team to explore the blockchain area” and seeks to increase understanding of “new applications in the area of ​​blockchain digital assets, telecommunication assets and next-generation telecommunication network.”

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  • Bloomberg: European Crypto Mining Firm Bitfury Considers Going Public

    Bloomberg: European Crypto Mining Firm Bitfury Considers Going Public

    Blockchain technology company Bitfury is considering a potential Initial Public Offering (IPO), which could reportedly become the first major public listing in the crypto industry in Europe, Bloomberg reported Oct. 25.

    People familiar with the matter reportedly told Bloomberg that Bitfury is examining a range of options including raising debt financing or selling a minority stake. Should Bitfury go public in the following two years, its value could reach from $3 billion to $5 billion. However, the numbers could change depending on the markets and the health of the industry, purported sources told Bloomberg.

    Bitfury has reportedly contacted global investment banks ahead of a potential IPO in London, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong next year.

    Bitfury was founded in 2011 and is recognized as the largest non-Chinese company that develops Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain software and provides infrastructure for BTC mining. The company also developed a more efficient algorithm for routing on the Lightning network called Flare, which operates as a secure off-chain channel for faster transactions with less commissions.

    Last month, Bitfury launched a new generation of its BTC mining hardware based on an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) chip, Bitfury Clarke. The chip is sold individually in addition to being integrated into Bitfury’s other BTC mining hardware. Bitfury is planning to implement the new ASIC in its mining centers in Canada, Iceland, Georgia, and Norway, where the company received governmental approval in March.

    In July, Toronto-based BTC mining company Hut 8 announced the completion of its second mining facility in Canada, claiming to have become the world’s “largest publicly-traded” operator by capacity. The project was launched through a partnership with BitFury, which provided the company access to mining hardware and other necessities.

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  • Ripple Reports Double Revenue From XRP Token Sales in Third Quarter of 2018

    Ripple Reports Double Revenue From XRP Token Sales in Third Quarter of 2018

    American tech company Ripple reported that its revenue from XRP token sales doubled in the third quarter (Q3) compared to the second quarter (Q2) of 2018, according to the company’s quarterly report published Oct. 25.

    In the Q3 2018 XRP Markets Report, the company reveals that  it sold $163.33 million worth of XRP in the Q3, which is more than double the $73.53 million it sold in the previous quarter. The sales were distributed between Ripple and its subsidiary XRP II, LLC, which saw $65.27 million and $98.06 million sales revenues respectively.

    Sales Summary Chart. Source: Ripple

    Sales Summary Chart. Source: Ripple

    The sales volume in Q3 represents 0.172 percent of the total XRP volume traded globally, while in  Q2 that figure was 0.125. In the Q3, Ripple released 3 billion — 1 billion each month — of XRP out of escrow, matching the same number released in the Q2. Ripple states in the report that the remaining 400 million XRP not returned to escrow is being used in different ways to support the ecosystem.

    In terms of year-on-year, in the same quarter of 2017 XRP II, LLC sold $19.6 million worth of XRP directly and $32.6 million programmatically. For the Q3 last year, the sales represented 0.20 percent of the total $16.50 billion traded.

    Ripple further notes that the volatility of XRP was weak throughout most of Q3 2018, with an increase in the last two weeks of the quarter and a surge in price.

    Last month, Ripple announced it will lead a group of crypto startups called the Securing America’s Internet of Value Coalition to lobby lawmakers and financial regulators in D.C. The group aims to soften the government’s stance in order to encourage innovation and support competition in the ecosystem of global crypto markets.

    Within the initiative, Ripple will pay Klein/Johnson Group, a bipartisan lobby group, to assist the crypto and blockchain community in conveying to regulators that the industry needs governmental support. The group will reportedly receive around $25,000 a month and 10,000 in XRP from the coalition.

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  • North Korea Allegedly Backed Two Cryptocurrency Scams This Year

    North Korea Allegedly Backed Two Cryptocurrency Scams This Year

    According to a new report from U.S.-based security firm Recorded Future published on Oct. 25, the North Korean government has sponsored at least two scam coins.

    In the report entitled “Shifting Patterns in Internet Use Reveal Adaptable and Innovative North Korean Ruling Elite,” Recorded Future’s research team Insikt Group mentions two alleged altcoin scams tied to North Korea.

    The first scam coin allegedly backed by North Korea is called Interstellar coin, and was found by Insikt Group in June 2018. The coin has reportedly been rebranded a number of times, going by various names such as HOLD, HUZU, or Stellar. The latter should not be confused with the XLM token.

    According to the report, the HOLD coin has been listed and delisted on a series of crypto exchanges, eventually defrauding investors in a scam staking scheme.

    The second scam coin dubbed Marine Chain coin was detected in a “couple of Bitcoin forums” in August 2018. The coin, which supposedly enabled the tokenization of maritime vessels for multiple users and owners, was claimed to be fraudulent by the state of Ontario, Canada.

    A slew of users complained about the loss of tens of thousands of dollars and scams on the website, which was hosted at four different IP addresses since its registration. Some users pointed out that the website marine-chain.io was a near mirror image of another site shipowner.io:

    April 2018 screenshots of marine-chain[.]io and shipowner[.]io. Source: Recorded Ruture

    April 2018 screenshots of marine-chain[.]io and shipowner[.]io. Source: Recorded Ruture

    In previous research, Insikt Group discovered that North Korean leaders were mining both Bitcoin (BTC) and privacy-oriented altcoin Monero (XMR), while at a limited or “relatively small scale.”

    Earlier this year, Recorded Future released a report investigating the potential ties of major crypto exchange hacks with North Korea-affiliated cybercrime group Lazarus. Insikt noted the potential involvement of the group in the hack of South Korea’s Bithumb crypto exchange, following previous accusations of hacking Youbit exchange.

    Last week, Cointelegraph reported that Lazarus stole $571 million in cryptocurrencies since early 2017. According to cybercrime firm Group-IB, the total amount stolen from online crypto exchanges during the studied time between 2017 and 2018 reached $882 million.

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  • Reserve Bank of Australia Official ‘Not Convinced’ of Need for Digital Dollar

    Reserve Bank of Australia Official ‘Not Convinced’ of Need for Digital Dollar

    The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) assistant governor Michelle Bullock said that the bank has not been convinced of the need to create a digital Australian dollar, local business and finance news outlet The Australian Financial Review reported Oct. 24.

    Speaking at the Sibos 2018 banking and financial conference in Sydney, Bullock reportedly said that she is “interested to consider what frictions these technologies are designed to address [but] in many cases I just don't see what the point is."

    Among “touted” benefits digital currency could provide to central banks, Bullock cited the possibility to technically leapfrog the monetary policy problem of the “lower bound,” by allowing a central bank to support negative interest rates. Although, it is still "an untested and quite a different idea", she added.

    Bullock said that before the bank could reasonably adopt a new asset like a digital currency, there would need to be a proven use case fore it. She added that proponents for a digital dollar should first demonstrate why current payment systems “can’t deliver” the same benefits of a distributed ledger. She stated:

    “I’m not convinced that it has a use.”

    Regarding the efficiency gain associated with the issuance of national currencies onto a distributed ledger, Bullock said that it is “not material” with respect to the other costs in the system. The assistant governor stated that digital currency “certainly would be a simplification,” although:

    "It isn't a requirement in the sense the inefficiencies we are seeking to resolve here do not reside in that last final exchange of cash in an existing digitized cash system with corresponding securities — that is actually a highly efficient and high-speed exchange."

    In June, the central bank of Australia denied it would issue its own cryptocurrencies, calling Bitcoin (BTC) “fascinating” but “inefficient.” Tony Richards, head of the RBA’s payments policy, stated that issuing the bank’s own token is “not a high priority for us, but it's something we're continuing to work on.”

    Also in June, Board director of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) Thomas Moser said that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are too primitive to consider issuing a state-backed digital currency. Moser compared blockchain in its present condition with the “useless innovation” of compact discs (CDs), stating that “something similar has to happen with BTC. People will only switch to something new if it works better or is cheaper.”

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  • IBM Study: Most Global Financial Firms Think Central Banks Should Issue Digital Currencies

    IBM Study: Most Global Financial Firms Think Central Banks Should Issue Digital Currencies

    The majority of global financial institutions surveyed believe that central banks should develop central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDCs), according to a joint study by IBM Blockchain World Wire and the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF) released Oct. 25.

    The study includes 21 central banks that participated in the OMFIF's research between July and September 2017. The reports notes that participants failed to find a compromise on whether governments should issue their own cryptocurrencies, as well as were divided over the associated processes of managing and accessing those CBDCs, tech news media The Next Web notes.

    76 percent of respondents have reportedly expressed uncertainty about the efficiency of distributed ledger technology (DLT) deployments, while most financial institutions surveyed said that they believed that central banks should issue their own digital currencies.

    Still, 38 percent of financial institutions in the study are actively exploring and trialling CBDC, while the rest — 62 percent — are reported as completely not active in this field.

    Apart from providing statistics on opinions towards central bank-issued digital currencies by global financial institutions, the report also includes a number of approaches to establish CBDCs, as well as offers guidance for institutions on how to manage the associated challenges.

    On Oct. 23, a senior executive at U.K.-based bank HSBC Craig Ramsey claimed that both CBDCs and blockchain deployments pose a “great challenge” to existing real-time gross settlement (RTGS) systems.

    Last week, the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) deputy governor Masayoshi Amamiya claimed that CBDCs are unlikely to improve the existing monetary systems, since controlling the economy through CBDCs only works if central banks eliminate fiat money from the financial system.

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  • Major Agriculture Companies Partner to Use Blockchain in Grain Trading

    Major Agriculture Companies Partner to Use Blockchain in Grain Trading

    The world’s four largest agriculture companies, commonly known as ABCD, have partnered to digitize international grain trading by using blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, Reuters reports Thursday, Oct. 25.

    ABCD, composed of Archer Daniels Midland Co., Bunge Ltd., Cargill Inc., and Louis Dreyfus Co., states that blockchain implementation could make trading more efficient and transparent, as well as reduce costs. The conglomerate aims to digitize the system that has previously relied on paper contracts, invoices, and manual payments.

    According to grain industry news outlet World-Grain.com, blockchain and AI will be initially used to automate grain and oilseed post-trade execution processes, which are a highly manual and costly part of the supply chain.

    In the long run, ABCD plans to integrate blockchain technology on different levels of the supply chain, including shipping, storage, and customer experience.

    As cited by World-Grain.com, CEO of Louis Dreyfus Co. Ian McIntosh explained how blockchain could help develop the agriculture industry, noting the technology’s “capacity to generate efficiencies and reduce the time usually spent on manual document and data processing.”

    Major food giants across the world have been testing blockchain to improve the efficiency of the supply chain. Louis Dreyfus Co., along with four other parties, conducted its first blockchain-based shipment back in January 2018, sending soybeans from America to China using the Easy Trading Connect (ETC) blockchain platform.

    U.S. national milk marketing cooperative Dairy Farmers of America also piloted decentralized solutions among its farmer-members in 48 states, while major Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn used blockchain to track orange juice production.

    As per a recent study by Reportlinker, blockchain use in agriculture and food supply chains market will be worth over $400 million in the next five years.

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  • СNBC Crypto Trader Host Ran Neuner Claims Coinbase Will Soon Announce Its First IPO

    СNBC Crypto Trader Host Ran Neuner Claims Coinbase Will Soon Announce Its First IPO

    Ran Neuner, host of of the Crypto Trader show on CNBC Africa, claims that major crypto exchange and wallet Coinbase is about to announce its first Initial Public Offering (IPO), according to a tweet Thursday, Oct. 25.

    Neuner states that the details on Coinbase’s IPO are to be revealed Friday, Oct. 26, live on the CNBC Crypto Trader show.

    The host also provided statistics on Coinbase’s revenue and account numbers in his post. The infographics show that the number of users on Coinbase has now reached 25 million, with 600,000 actively trading on the platform.

    Source: Ran NeuNer’s tweet

    As per the data revealed, the California-based crypto exchange has seen $90 million in revenue last quarter, with expectations to earn $450 million in the last quarter of 2018. 80 percent of revenue came from consumers, 15 percent more from institutional accounts, and the source of other 5 percent was not disclosed.

    Source: Ran NeuNer’s tweet

    Coinbase president Asiff Hirji first hinted about an IPO in late 2017. When asked about the possibility of taking the company public, he said:

    “It is certainly in the interest of our investors…and the most obvious path of Coinbase is to go public at some point, but there’s a lot for us to do between now and then, whenever that date is.”

    In early October, U.S. tech media Recode cited two unnamed sources familiar with the matter who stated Coinbase was about to finalize a deal that would value the company at about $8 billion. In particular, the crypto exchange was allegedly in talks with Tiger Global and its current shareholders for an investment of up to $500 million.

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  • Malta’s Financial Watchdog Warns Against ‘Dubious’ Crypto Trading Platform

    Malta’s Financial Watchdog Warns Against ‘Dubious’ Crypto Trading Platform

    Malta’s Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has warned of a “dubious” online crypto trading platform it says has falsely claimed to be licensed in the country, English-language newspaper Malta Today reports Oct. 25.

    The platform in question, “Primetradingbot,” reportedly appears to be running a “high yield” Bitcoin (BTC)-related investment scheme, which the MSFA cautions has “a dubious nature with a high risk of loss of money”.

    The MSFA has warned that Primetradingbot is not, as it claims, licensed by the watchdog, stating that “although this entity purports to operate from an address in Malta, the MFSA does not believe this to be the case,” adding:

    “The MFSA wishes to alert the public, in Malta and abroad, that Primetradingbot is not licenced or otherwise authorised by the MFSA to provide any investment or other financial services which are required to be licenced or otherwise authorised under Maltese law.”

    A list of entities that are legitimately authorized by the watchdog is available from the MFSA and can be viewed on the official website of the MFSA here. The MFSA has cautioned the public not to engage in any business or transactions with the suspect firm.

    Dubbed the “Blockchain Island,” Malta is widely recognized as having a proactive and transparent crypto regulatory climate, drawing multiple high-profile crypto firms in to relocate there.

    Under Malta’s Virtual Financial Assets Act (VFA), which was passed in July 2018, all practitioners — including lawyers, accountants, and auditors — who wish to liaise between crypto vendors and the MFSA have been required to undergo mandatory “continuous professional education” and to take an exam to receive a crypto agent qualification. As recently reported, 39 percent of those sitting the exam this fall attained a pass, despite examiners’ last minute attempts to ease the marking scheme.

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