I had the pleasure of joining the Rice Report to talk about current events, persistent censorship that is obstructing discussion of these events, and how my recently-launched ISE Media platform can help protect this discussion that is vital in a free society. I was thankful to be able to discuss these issues as well as our plans to expand this platform through our WeFunder equity crowdfund.
Our announcement video explains the ISE Media platform launch in detail and how crowdfund investors can own part of ISE Media, setting us apart from other traditional fundraisers. Click to watch here.
A new wave of adoption is coming to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies, notably from two major tech giants— Microsoft and Amazon— both of which are aiming to apply blockchain within their cloud computing arms.
In the case of Microsoft, the company recently announced Azure Blockchain Workbench. The new tools will be included in the Microsoft Azure Marketplace by aiming to provide developers with tools to implement the ready-to-use infrastructure for blockchain application solutions.
The press announcement discussed the pace in which these blockchain development tools are being embraced, stating that “Engagement in our preview program has been overwhelming. Since September, hundreds of customers and partners have joined the preview and used Workbench to create innovative solutions to shared business problems.”
The announcement also provided some insight into Azure’s future plans for more massive adoption:
“With the release of Azure Blockchain Workbench, we take another step towards making this technology more developer friendly. As we continue to learn with customers and partners, we look forward to extending its capabilities, open-sourcing more of its code and partnering with organizations to expand its usefulness.”
Even though Microsoft is making moves to embrace blockchain, founder Bill Gates has not had positive words for cryptocurrency. According to Cointelegraph, Bill Gates recently shared some critical comments of Bitcoin. “As an asset class, you’re not producing anything and so you shouldn’t expect it to go up. It’s kind of a pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment,” Gates said.
However Microsoft, in general, has been witnessing businesses increase their use of blockchain-based solutions and the corporate empire is looking to capitalize on the market opportunity.
Amazon’s recent efforts
Amazon, another major corporation at the forefront of the technology wave, is implementing a similar system to Microsoft’s. Amazon is introducing Amazon Web Services (AWS) blockchain templates, which will “provide a fast and easy way to create and deploy secure blockchain networks using open source frameworks.”
The focus of Amazon’s new tools is to allow developers to focus on building a blockchain application, potentially saving time, energy and resources spent on a manual setup of a blockchain network.
Both seem to have to a focus in mind of streamlining the process for businesses and developers to implement blockchain technology. This is likely to help promote a more massive adoption of the decentralized technology in various industries, such as app development and the financial industry with peer to peer transactions.
AWS vice president Jeff Barr alluded to these various possibilities in a recent post:
Some of the people that I talk to see blockchains as the foundation of a new monetary system and a way to facilitate international payments. Others see blockchains as a distributed ledger and immutable data source that can be applied to logistics, supply chain, land registration, crowdfunding and other use cases. Either way, it’s clear that there are a lot of intriguing possibilities and we are working to help our customers use this technology more effectively.
These recent moves show recognition of blockchain technology’s future. The money and effort being put forward by major corporations offer further supporting evidence that blockchain and cryptocurrencies have lasting potential.
The world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry is set to join the blockchain program Tracr, according to a press release recently released by De Beers Group. Signet Jewelers joins a project that aims to provide transparency, consumer insight, and efficiency throughout the industry.
According to Cointelegraph, Signet Jewelers is the number one diamond retailer in Canadian, American, and British markets. They made over $3.8 billion in diamond jewelry sales in 2017.
Bruce Cleaver CEO of gem giant De Beers Group, said:
We are delighted to welcome Signet to the Tracr pilot programme. Tracr is focussed on bringing the benefits of blockchain technology to the full diamond value chain – providing consumers with confidence, the trade with increased efficiency and lower costs, and lenders to the industry with greater visibility. Signet has deep insights into the needs of consumers, and our collaboration will ensure that consumers remain the focus of Tracr.
Signet joining the program will allow the Tracr team to complete the first digital link “all the way from diamond production through retail.” Both teams will work alongside each other to ensure jewelry manufacturers’ and retailers’ needs are met. The project will initially focus on “the tracking of diamond jewelry” and provide for smaller-sized goods.
Virginia C. Drosos, CEO of Signet Jewelers, said:
Responsible sourcing of diamonds has always been an integral part of Signet’s corporate ethos, and this will be further strengthened through our cooperation with Tracr. We are joining the Tracr pilot because we believe the project not only has strong potential to facilitate increased transparency and confidence within the industry, but it can also foster much-needed digital transformation.
Tracr provides a digital certificate for each diamond registered on the platform. Storing attributes and transactions aims to give consumers detailed information about their diamonds, allowing them to determine if the product is natural and conflict-free by tracking it across the blockchain.
In early May, De Beers Group announced its success of tracking 100 high-value diamonds along their Tracr blockchain platform, which the company noted is the first time that a diamond’s path has been digitally tracked from the mine to the consumer.
The diamond industries application of blockchain technology affirms the value and potential of the ledger technology, allowing for increased security and peace of mind. However, the diamond industry isn’t the only major sector to take notice.
Walmart has recently filed a patent for a blockchain based digital marketplace. Major banks piloted a successful blockchain-powered cross-border fund transfer that took a matter of seconds. A major fiat powerhouse has also taken notice: the Rockefeller family’s venture-capital arm has recently reported its move into cryptocurrencies.
Dash Africa is one of a several grassroots efforts coming from the Dash community. The grassroots efforts in places like Africa take community outreach to the next level while increasing awareness of Dash around the globe.
Dash Africa is supporting the Dash Leopards soccer team; they are working to enable a better life for kids in Africa through sports, education, and social activities. Thanks to Dash, soccer program founder Coach Ricardo— along with the other coaches— use soccer as a tool to help the players achieve comprehensive life skills.
The Dash Leopards program also offers tutoring to help children with their schoolwork. They’re learning about healthy food and nutrition and preparing snacks and smoothies prepared with fresh ingredients.
Dash Africa’s community outreach efforts have brought awareness of Dash to the African continent, a place where Dash can flourish due to Africa’s large numbers of unbanked individuals who could benefit from digital currency.
Cryptocurrencies like Dash are fit particularly well with countries dealing with continuous problems stemming from devaluation and corruption associated with fiat currency. Dash Force News notes that Zimbabwe has been dealing with hyperinflation of their currency since 2009 and at one point destroyed their currency altogether. In developing countries, many would prefer a decentralized, secure, and valuable currency than the insecure fiat alternative.
The Kuva project is another initiative funded by the Dash community; this project is working with Zimbabweans to use Dash as their currency, rather than foreign fiat currencies. With Dash, the people of Zimbabwe can now have a secure place to store value, cheaper transaction costs, and a more reliable way to transact.
Cryptocurrencies like Dash will be needed now more than ever in areas like Zimbabwe. CCN recently reported that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has “banned financial institutions in the country from processing cryptocurrency transactions for cryptocurrency traders and investors despite growing interest in digital monetary assets in the country.”
CCN further reported that “in order to safeguard the integrity, safety, and soundness of the country’s financial system, and to protect the public in general, all financial institutions are hereby required to ensure that they do not use, trade, hold and/or transact in any way in virtual currencies.”
As the central banking attempts to dictate how the people of Zimbabwe secure their money, efforts like Dash Africa, the Dash Leopards and the Kuva Project will be needed to not only raise awareness about alternative options and provide valuable programs for youth, but to help in freeing everyday transactions from centralized banking systems. Given that Zimbabwe has a history of an unstable currency and financial system, this step has become crucial.
Editor’s note: Dash Digital Cash is the exclusive sponsor of Reality Check and the Truth in Media project.
(DFN) Recently, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Charlie Munger spoke negatively of cryptocurrencies, but Gary Cohen spoke somewhat positively and there are other signs that institutional money is becoming more keen on cryptocurrencies.
Buffet called Bitcoin a “non-productive asset” and that the “asset itself is creating nothing” when compared to “productive” assets like gold or farms. Buffet also compared cryptocurrencies to the Dutch Tulip Mania. Gates said that Bitcoin’s price relies on the “greater fool theory” of finding another “fool” to sell to at a higher price. Munger hit below the belt by calling Bitcoin “stupid and immoral” and the equivalent of “rat poison”.
However, another financial titan and former Goldman Sachs President, Gary Cohen, said that he’s “not a big believer in bitcoin”, but is “a believer in blockchain technology”. He added that he thinks there will eventually be a “global cryptocurrency”, but that it won’t be “based on mining costs or cost of electricity or things like that”. In addition, the famous Gemini exchange founder, Tyler Winklevoss, recently called out Bill Gates to “put [his] money where [his] mouth is” and referenced numerous trading outlets where one can short Bitcoin after Bill said he “would short [Bitcoin] if there was an easy way to do it”.
Institutional Money is beginning to venture into cryptocurrencies
Despite the big names in finance and tech speaking against crypto, there are signs that institutional investors are venturing into cryptocurrencies. Dash Force News spoke with Chris Rockwell, founder of RSI Advisors (an investment advisory firm in New Hampshire), about this new trend. Mr. Rockwell said that institutional money has been waiting for two things to happen:
“A way to hedge against crypto holdings and qualified custodians to take custody of their crypto holdings. Bitcoin futures contracts by both the CBOE and CME allow investors to hedge and qualified custodians like Kingdom Trust and Coinbase Custody should allow the doors to open for some institutional investors.”
Not all institutional money is the same and thus there are different players at different levels of entry into the cryptocurrency market. Rockwell mentioned that “[c]rypto only hedge funds are the early adopters and already in this space”, but as hedging and custodian market penetration increases, “standard hedge fund[s] will consider dipping their toe in the water”. He said that investment advisory firms and endowments are the next likely cryptocurrency investors, while pension funds and mutual funds “will probably be the last to enter because of unclear regulatory framework”, but Chris does “expect them to invest in crypto currency eventually”. Chris mentioned that banks and insurance companies are a “wild card”.
Chris also added that “[f]irms will get involved in the crypto space because of client demand, because crypto currency is uncorrelated to any other asset class (very unique in investing) and the potential to boost portfolio returns with little downside risk”. Despite the potential upside and the consumer demand, some establishment firms will nevertheless fall into the classic mistake of becoming lethargic in their innovation. Chris summarized this action very eloquently.
“The largest institutions/names in finance want to stay the largest and like the way things are now. They have little incentive to change how they invest. Radical changes scare them. The smaller and hungry firms/names trying to catch up have a lot of motivation to try new things if it gives them an edge. I also think many just don’t understand crypto currency and instead of saying they don’t know or understand they simply denounce and malign it to sound knowledgeable on the subject”
Dash makes institutional investing easier
As the price of Dash has increased drastically from the beginning of 2017 so has the overall price of masternodes. Consumers and investors wanted to invest in masternodes to receive the payout rewards, but did not have the capital to buy a full masternode. The Dash community has demonstrated its commitment to satisfying consumer desires. So naturally, Neptune Dash soon emerged to accommodate these desires. Neptune Dash went public in Canada this past January and raised over $23 million CAD to buy Dash and masternodes that will generate a respective return to those that own its publicly-traded shares. In April of this past year, Neptune Dash became available to EU and US investors as well.
Dash has demonstrated that it has a robust community to recognize and satisfy consumer desires in a multitude of ways. The mixing pot of ideas that is the Dash community encourages and fosters success for entrepreneurs that find quality methods to accommodate desires of consumers. This process benefits the overall Dash community by involving more users and investors, including institutional investors, by lowing the adoption curve and switching costs, which makes it easier for individuals and firms to use Dash. The Dash community brings Dash to individuals rather than waiting for individuals to discover Dash.
Written by Justin Szilard
This article was republished with permission from Dash Force News.
In early April, Ben Swann attended the Block2TheFuture blockchain and digital currency conference in San Francisco, CA. During his time there, Swann gave an informative talk that detailed the imminent transformation in how news and media will be produced and consumed, largely due to decentralization and cryptocurrencies.
Swann, the first independent journalist to be solely funded by cryptocurrency, summarized his professional career, including his transition from conventional broadcast reporting to founding his own independent media organization. He explained how the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) of Dash Digital Cash played a primary role in Swann’s mission to remain an independent journalist.
Swann highlighted how digital currencies such as Dash make it possible for independent creators to endure by freeing themselves from the longstanding corporate funding structure that has exerted power over the news for generations, noting that following his sponsorship with Dash many other independent organizations have subsequently followed suit in seeking funding through similar DAOs including the Dash treasury.
Swann also noted that real-life experiences with the blockchain, cryptocurrency and decentralization and their potential to solve a number of societal problems starkly contrast mainstream media narratives that paint these aspects as harmful to “the greater good.”
While mainstream media reporting in recent months has expanded to cover blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, coverage is often limited to discussion of the market and regulations. CNN International recently visited New Hampshire and provided a closer look into how individuals live day-to-day using cryptocurrency, an act not often seen in the media.
Joël Valenzuela is a longtime cryptocurrency advocate and the chief editor of Dash Force News, a news service that provides current-event reports cryptocurrency and the blockchain, as well as updates and developments related to the Dash digital currency. Valenzuela accepts wages and pays for expenses solely using Dash, and allowed CNN International to accompany him in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a day as he exemplified everyday crypto use.
Valenzuela uses Dash to pay for a plethora of costs including rent, gas, coffee and recreation; CNN International noted that all of his purchases took about the same amount of time as a typical credit card transaction.
Valenzuela told Truth In Media that he is paid Dash directly from the blockchain, and the amount is determined by the exchange rate. He also clarified that cryptocurrency is not actually “legal tender” in Portsmouth as explained in the video, but is widely accepted in the city of just over 20,000 people.
In response to CNN International’s inquiry about how cryptocurrency will survive regulations, Valenzuela remarked that a better-suited question is how regulations will survive in cryptocurrency environments, and added that the coexistence of regulations and cryptocurrencies is being sought by the community.
Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton recently defended the agency’s regulatory initiatives while acknowledging the legitimacy of initial coin offerings (ICOs) during a talk at Princeton University.
CoinDesk reported that Clayton responded “absolutely not” to a question about whether ICOs are fraudulent, in relation to the agency’s recent regulatory actions against ICOs such as charging Centra Tech’s ICO with fraud.
Sohrab Sharma and Robert Farka of Centra Tech were charged with fraud after they raised $32 million by selling unregistered securities.
Clayton made remarks during his talk at “Cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings.” He made headlines during his last public statements when he said he believes that “every ICO” he has seen qualifies as a security.
Chairman Clayton contended that regulatory steps being taken by the agency could actually help the industry mature.
Clayton said to the attendees:
“Is the approach taken in Washington by the SEC adversely affecting distributed ledger technology in other areas? My quick answer is that my hope is that it’s actually helping – because this technology is being used for fraud and to the extent that it’s being used for fraud, history shows that government comes down harshly on that technology later.”
He continued, “I think if we don’t stop the fraudsters, there is a serious risk that the regulatory pendulum – the regulatory actions will be so severe that they will restrict the capacity of this new security.”
Currently, cryptocurrency regulations vary state by state and federal plans are not yet clear. However, one certainty is the SEC is not backing away from its plans for ICO regulations, although the Chairman of the SEC hasn’t wavered in his support for the future of blockchain technology.
Mark Karpelès, the former CEO of defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, recently said he doesn’t want the 160,000 Bitcoin that will be left after creditors are paid.
The Japan-based Mt.Gox cryptocurrency exchange had been the largest in the world until its downfall; a February 2014 hack led to a loss of 850,000 BTC.
Karpelès explained the process of the Japanese bankruptcy law that will be giving him a billion-dollar payday in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, stating:
Japanese bankruptcy law has a particularly nasty outcome here, and I want to address this up front. As creditors claims were registered, those claims were registered in the valuation of Japanese Yen on the bankruptcy date. That’s the only way Japanese bankruptcy law can work (most bankruptcy laws around the world operate this way for that matter). This means that the claims can be paid back in full, and there will still be over 160,000 bitcoin and bitcoin cash in assets in the Gox estate. The way bankruptcy law works is that if there are any assets remaining after the creditors have been paid in full, then those assets are distributed to shareholders as part of the liquidation.
That’s the only way any bankruptcy law can reasonably work. And yet, in this case, it produces an egregiously distasteful outcome in that the shareholders of MtGox would walk away with the value of over 160,000 bitcoin as a result of what happened.
I don’t want this. I don’t want this billion dollars. From day one I never expected to receive anything from this bankruptcy. The fact that today this is a possibility is an aberration and I believe it is my responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen. One of the ways to do this would be civil rehabilitation, and as it seems most creditors agree with this, I am doing my best to help make it happen. I do not want to become instantly rich. I do not ask for forgiveness. I just want to see this end as soon as possible with everyone receiving their share of what they had on MtGox so everyone, myself included, can get some closure.
Under Japanese bankruptcy laws, most of the money received will go to Mt. Gox’s shareholders, the largest being Karpelès company Tibanne, which owns 88%.
Criticism of Karpelès and the board of trustees has surrounded the refund process used to reimburse creditors who claimed losses in the 2014 hack. The volume of selloffs was so large that some have speculated the sales unfairly influenced Bitcoin prices across the world.
Coin Telegraph reported on a statement released by the trustee in charge Mt. Gox estate, Nobuaki Kobayashi, he said:
“Please refrain from analyzing the correlation between the sale of BTC and BCC (BCH) by us and the market prices of BTC and BCC (BCH) based on the assumption that the sale was made at the time the BTC and BCC (BCH) were transferred from BTC/BCC (BCH) addresses that I manage, as such assumption is incorrect.”
The estate currently holds 166,3444 BTC. The sell-offs took place between December 2017 and February 2018. During that timespan, BTC has seen highs of 20,000 and lows of 5,900.
Even though the sell-off of 35,841 BTC in a three month period may not have been the sole cause of the recent market crash. Kobayashi’s move may have triggered a market trend that influenced other investors buying and selling positions.
Although the Reddit post lacked specific details, based on the last few months the process to pay back creditors is underway.
Google recently announced its ban on cryptocurrency mining browser extensions from the Chrome store, adding to their “crypto blackout,” as they also announced in the middle of March their plans to ban cryptocurrency ads.
Google announced on Monday that effective immediately, the Chrome Store will halt acceptance of extensions that mine cryptocurrencies. At the end of June, it will start removing existing browser extensions that enable mining. However, non-mining blockchain extensions are still allowed.
According to Coindesk, Google had previously allowed Chrome mining extensions that were exclusively for mining cryptocurrencies. Unfortunately, that was not enough to prevent non-compliant extensions from participating in “cryptojacking.”
Cryptojacking has become more prevalent in recent months with the general rise of blockchain technology. The scheme itself is when adware, spyware, or an extension secretly uses a person’s laptop or mobile device to mine cryptocurrency. Wired has reported on this increasing cryptojacking issue, noting that “In theory, cryptojacking can be used for legitimate purposes, like raising revenue for a publishing platform or collecting funds for charitable causes.” However, the report highlighted that this technology has been illicit in practice, explaining that that “bad actors can use locally installed malware to steal a victim device’s computing power, embed miners directly into website to target casual web users without needing to install anything or hide miners in the most innocuous applets and tools.”
Google’s decision to enact a sweeping ban of cryptocurrency mining extensions was made because a majority of mining extensions submitted to the store failed their sole usage compliance. At least 90 percent of the mining extensions submitted by developers had reportedly failed Google’s compliance requirements. The Chrome Store extensions that slipped through the cracks received hundreds of thousands of downloads, with many of those users being unwittingly cryptojacked.
James Wagner, Google’s extensions platform product manager, told Wired:
The key to maintaining a healthy extensions ecosystem is to keep the platform open and flexible. This empowers our developers to build creative and innovative customizations for Chrome browser users…This is why we chose to defer banning extensions with cryptomining scripts until it became clear that the vast majority of mining extensions submitted for review failed to comply with our single purpose policy or were malicious.
Clandestine crypto mining malware has compromised systems in the past. In February, Coindesk reported Tesla’s cloud was hit by a cryptocurrency mining malware attack that siphoned off power from their cloud system. The UK was also hit by malware attacks on thousands of websites, including sites owned by the government.
Messaging app Telegram has accumulated $1.7 billion through its initial coin offering (ICO) second-round presale event, reaching that mark after a staggering $850 million first raised in its first round. Public documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed the most recent figure.
The document submitted to the SEC reported that Telegram’s second sale raised $850 million from 94 investors. The document also stated the company’s intentions for the acquired funds, noting that “the issuers intend to use the proceeds for the development of the TON Blockchain, the development and maintenance of Telegram Messenger and the other purposes described in the offering materials.”
The document also included the intended purpose of the securities, stating the intent is to have “purchase agreements for cryptocurrency.” The filing was signed by Telegram CEO Pavel Durov.
Telegram was making headlines back in February during their first ICO pre-sale when the company raised $850 million from 81 investors. Coindesk reported then that Telegram had announced in January “that it intended to raise $1.2 billion via a sale of its own token known as grams.” After this most recent presale offering the company has surpassed their goal by $500 million.
The SEC filing also states that “the issuers may pursue one or more subsequent offerings,” which aligns with previous reports. The company has been expected to hold a third round of funding, and reports have varied regarding how much Telegram plans to raise in total.
The offering is by far the largest sum gathered by an ICO offering to date. The next closest offering was a Tezos token sale, they raised $232 million last year.
An unofficial Telegram ICO whitepaper was leaked in January; according to that document, goals and problems the project hopes to solve were discussed, stating:
Bitcoin has established itself as the digital gold, and Ethereum has proved to be an efficient platform for token crowd sales. However, there is no current standard cryptocurrency used for the regular exchange of value in the daily lives of ordinary people. The blockchain ecosystem needs a decentralized counterpart to everyday money – a truly mass-market cryptocurrency.
Simply put, the ICO appears to be aiming to integrate P2P transactions on a massive scale. Societal integration of cryptocurrency being used for everyday transactions has been an issue facing blockchain technology.
The cryptocurrency being used in the network will be known as Telegram Open Network (TON) coins or Grams.
The whitepaper also included information on how these coins will be distributed after the ICO offering, stating:
“Four percent of the supply (200 million Grams) will be reserved for the development team with a 4-year vesting period. During the initial stage of active TON development, at least 52 percent of the entire supply will be retained by the TON reserve to protect the nascent cryptocurrency from speculative trading and to maintain flexibility at the early stages of the evolution of the system.”
The remaining 44 percent (2.2 billion Grams) will be sold according to a set formula. “The price of the first token to be sold will be approximately 0.1 USD,” the whitepaper stated.
Telegram has recently announced that their platform had 200 million active users. That amount of active users makes the potential for the TON cryptocurrency on its network something to watch.
West Virginia is test launching a mobile voting system powered by blockchain technology in its upcoming primary election on May 8th. The system will initially be available only for active-duty military registered voters and their “eligible dependents” in Harrison and Monongalia county.
The state is the first in the country to be testing a blockchain-backed voting system for a federal election, according to a recently released statement.
In the statement issued Thursday, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said:
Registered and qualified military voters that are currently deployed from participating counties are now able to vote on the secure mobile application and will continue being able to vote until polls are closed at 7:30 p.m. EST on Primary Election Day on May 8th. All that is needed for qualified, registered military personnel to cast their ballot is a compatible Apple or Android mobile device and an approved, validated State or Federal ID.
The goal of the project is to offer a more secure military mobile voting system that is verifiable, transparent, and more secure and accessible than the current system. A report from The Hill noted that while the new system is currently designated just for military voters, their spouses and children in Harrison and Monongalia counties, “the state plans to expand the program to all 55 counties in the upcoming November general election if the pilot proves successful.”
According to the voting project’s white paper, support for the project is coming from the Office of the Secretary of State of West Virginia, Voatz, Tusk/Montgomery Philanthropies, New America and the Blockchain Trust Accelerator. Voatz has recently been in the news for raising $2.2 million to prevent tampering in elections.
The Secretary’s office described the current system, noting that “the current absentee process for West Virginia military voters who are currently deployed can be cumbersome to complete. Finding solutions to ensure military personnel are able to vote has been one of the Warner’s priorities since taking office 14 months ago.”
The white paper listed benefits of a blockchain-based mobile voting system including being fast, auditable, and maintaining transparency as well as anonymity.
The paper further discussed issues with overseas ballot systems, stating that “absentee ballot systems previously offered to overseas military voters did not ensure anonymity, and many military voters were concerned their mail-in or faxed ballots may not be received in time, or may not be counted. The new mobile voting system resolves these concerns.”
Scott Warner, son of Secretary Warner, was the first active user of the mobile voting system. Since he is currently deployed in Italy he was able to test and provide feedback, saying:
The registration for this application was very easy to maneuver. It included an ID verification process that matched me to my ID. That gave me confidence that this mobile voting process was secure…when the ballot was made available, I just clicked through the names of the candidates. I hit ‘vote’ for the candidates I wanted to support. Then I used the thumb print Touch ID on my phone to verify who I was. That was it. Pretty slick!
The Secretary of State’s Office plans to expand this pilot program in the 2018 General Election in November to all 55 counties in the state. Once the system is successfully implemented.
In addition to the state testing a blockchain-powered voting system, the West Virginia House of Representatives recently made a move to establish a subcommittee to study the potential implementation of blockchain technology for state record keeping.
Europe is becoming the new go-to place for cryptocurrency exchanges looking for a new home. Coming after recent news that Binance is moving to the European island of Malta, it’s now being reported that Bitfinex is planning to relocate in Switzerland.
According to a recent article from Handelszeigung (an English translation by Iota News is available here), dozens of smaller cryptocurrency companies have settled in Switzerland in recent months. Switzerland has become a well-established crypto-hotspot, with the valley around the city of Zug becoming known as “Crypto Valley.”
Prominent businesses already stationed in Crypto Valley include Ethereum, Monetas, Bitcoin Suisse, Xapo, Shapeshift, ConsenSys, and Tezos, as well as other lesser known cryptocurrency projects.
Switzerland is becoming appealing for cryptocurrency-based companies because the country has a track record of having friendly business regulations and the country itself holding a stable financial position.
Jean Louis van der Velde, the head of Bitfinex reportedly confirmed these recent reports, stating: “We are looking for a new domicile for Bitfinex and the parent company iFinex, where we want to merge the operations previously spread over several locations.”
Handelszeigung reported that “there have already been several meetings with the State Secretariat for International Financial Affairs (SIF) and an exchange with Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann, the head of the Department of Economic Affairs.”
With regulations across the world appearing to tighten, companies have been on the move looking for countries with better track records. Bitfinex is not the only cryptocurrency exchange looking at Crypto Valley; in the last few weeks, Crypto Valley has received interest from exchanges in Asia, Europe, and Central America.
Crypto Valley is likely to experience the effect that tech giants such as Google had in Silicon Valley. By drawing in a major cryptocurrency company like Bitfinex, it could have a domino effect and allow the crypto business ecosystem to continue growing; having a major company in place would make the particular region more attractive to other related businesses.
This reported move by Bitfinex seems to follow a recent trend of cryptocurrency exchanges aiming for transparency and regulatory compliance; Bitfinex has explicitly expressed their intention of meeting all the requirements of Swiss regulators.
This follows Binance’s recent announcement of their goal to move an office to Malta as well as Poloniex, a US-based exchange that has recently expressed intentions to follow SEC regulations. This coming after another recent announcement of Poloniex being acquired by a Goldman Sachs-backed startup, Circle.
Welcome to the first episode of our Sponsor Spotlight on Dash Digital Cash.
As you may know, Dash Digital Cash is the exclusive sponsor of Reality Check and the Truth In Media project.
After a year “in the dark,” the only way I was able to bring back Reality Check and the Truth In Media project, was through the support of Dash Digital Cash, which I’ve described as a revolutionary cryptocurrency that will change the game for everyone.
In the next Sponsor Spotlight, I’ll explain how that funding was made possible through the unique way Dash Digital Cash operates as money-as-a-service business.
But first, how do you use Dash Digital Cash? Well, it works just like cash.
It’s transferred instantly, in just one second, and is completely anonymous. It costs less than 1 cent to send Dash, regardless of the size of the transaction. One second, less than 1 cent.
The easiest way to buy Dash Digital Cash is on Uphold.com, as explained in the video below:
You can also purchase Dash Digital Cash on exchanges like Bittrex and Poloniex.
To hold and spend small amounts of Dash Digital Cash, you will need a mobile wallet. Dash Digital Cash has mobile wallets available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.
Remember—always consider the amount of Dash you carry and the necessary security measures to protect your crypto.
So where can you use Dash Digital Cash? CheapAir, Overstock.com and BitCart are some of the most popular places Dash Digital Cash holders spend their crypto.
Ford has recently been awarded a new patent suggesting the U.S. automaker is looking to implement a token-based system to allow cars on the road to communicate with each other. This car-to-car cooperation is intended to reduce traffic as well.
The patent, named “vehicle-to-vehicle cooperation to marshal traffic,” was published Tuesday and awarded to Ford Global Technologies, LLC. A major focus of the patent is developing vehicle cooperation to alleviate traffic congestion.
The patent stated:
Traffic congestion occurs when one or more lanes of a multilane road are blocked, for example, because of a construction or an accident. The blocked lanes reduce the flow rate of vehicles through the section of the road with the blocked lanes. The reduced flow is compounded due to the psychology of human drivers who focus on their individual travel time preferences.
The patent discussed the use of crypto tokens to help facilitate the car-to-car communication and promote the flow of traffic with a “Cooperatively Managed Merge and Pass” (CMMP) system. The CMMP system “operates with individual token-based transactions, where the merchant vehicles and the consumers’ vehicles agree to trade units of cryptocurrency (sometimes referred to as “CMMP tokens”).”
The patent further stated how these peer-to-peer driver interactions will help the flow of traffic:
The CMMP system operates with individual token-based transactions, where the merchant vehicles and the consumers’ vehicles agree to trade units of cryptocurrency (sometimes referred to as “CMMP tokens”). The CMMP tokens are used to validate and authorize a transaction in which, at consumer vehicle request, the merchant vehicles either occupy slower lanes of traffic themselves, or allow the consumer vehicle to merge into their own lane and pass as necessary.
The participating merchant vehicles gain CMMP tokens from the consumer vehicle. In some examples, the time allotted to the request of the consumer vehicle is based on the number of CMMP tokens chosen by the consumer vehicle to be spent at that particular time. For example, a driver of a consumer vehicle which is running late for an appointment may request to pass any participating merchant vehicles for a duration of 10 minutes on a particular road or highway for 60 CMMP tokens, at a rate of 10 seconds preferential access per token.
According to the patent, the token payments would act as an on-the-road credit and a mediator between drivers in the proposed system.
Although Ford hasn’t been straightforward with its plans for implementing blockchain technology, this patent indicates that it’s at least on their radar. A report from last July by Trustnodes further illustrated the vehicle manufacturer’s interest in blockchain with a blockchain-focused job posting that stated: “We are looking for a strategic thinker and researcher to lead and pioneer work in the branch of Blockchain technology applied to mobility use cases that would help deliver superior user experiences for our customers.” The listing is no longer available.
As reports surfaced recently highlighting a regulation-related dispute with Japan, leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it is preparing to open up in Malta.
An article published by Nikkei Asian Review late last week reported that Binance would be issued a formal warning from Japan’s Financial Services Authority (JFSA) to shut down its cryptocurrency exchange operation in Japan. The report claimed that the JFSA planned to file criminal charges if Binance refused to stop operations in Japan, and noted that according to the revised payment services law, “cryptocurrency trading services can only be offered in Japan by exchanges that are licensed by the FSA or by those awaiting their license.”
Nikkei claimed that “the exchange has irked the FSA by failing to verify the identification of Japanese investors at the time accounts are opened. The Japanese officials suspect Binance does not have effective measures to prevent money laundering; the exchange handles a number of virtual currencies that are traded anonymously.”
Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, initially called the report “irresponsible journalism.”
Nikkei showed irresponsible journalism. We are in constructive dialogs with Japan FSA, and have not received any mandates. It does not make sense for JFSA to tell a newspaper before telling us, while we have an active dialog going on with them.
As Zhao mentioned in his tweet, it appeared unusual that the JFSA would not reach out to Binance itself before providing its plans to news sources. Bloomberg reported that a warning to Binance from JFSA was eventually issued “according to a person familiar with the FSA’s plans, who asked not to be named because the information is private.” Zhao reportedly told the publication that while Binance has been working to obtain licensing in Japan, the exchange “decided to remove its staff to avoid a clash with local regulators.”
Japanese regulators have been working towards stronger oversight after Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck was hacked in January; more than $500 million worth of the cryptocurrency NEM was stolen in the incident.
In the midst of regulatory conflict with Japan, Binance announced plans to open an office in Malta. “We are very confident we can announce a banking partnership there soon,” Zhao said, according to Bloomberg.
“After reviewing several different locations, the company decided to invest in the European nation due to its existing pro-blockchain legislation and the stability that it offers financial technology companies through its regulatory framework” Binance stated in its announcement published on Medium. “With plans to substantially grow its operations, there are plans to eventually hire up to 200 people to assist their expansion.”
The announcement was embraced publicly by Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Silvio Schembri, the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation.
Honored, sir! Part of my original quote to Bloomberg that was left out of the article. "Malta is very progressive when it comes to crypto and fintech. We think it is a good place for other crypto businesses to look into as well." https://t.co/cBZJnEgUGk
Malta has been in the process of implementing a Digital Innovation Authority to “to provide legal certainty in the sphere of Blockchain technology and by extension cryptocurrencies,” according to a Malta Independent report.
Binance is a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange currently ranking #1 in daily trading volume. It was launched through an initial coin offering (ICO) where it sold BNB tokens, which can be used for lower fees on the exchange platform, and opened its doors for trading in the summer of 2017.
A new report from Congress — the 2018 Joint Economic Report, used to assess the nation’s economic status and provide recommendations for the upcoming year— includes an entire chapter dedicated to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
The report called for policymakers, regulators, and industry leaders to cooperate and ensure developers can implement these new blockchain technologies, and even called 2017 “The Year of Cryptocurrencies.”
The comprehensive report illustrates blockchain as a “potential tool for securing America’s digital infrastructure,” and points out how “methods of theft, espionage, and vandalism” are shifting “from physical toward virtual.”
Included within the Blockchain section is a statement that the technology is “not only nearly invulnerable to cyberattack but is revolutionizing the way the world conducts commerce and shares information.”
Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology that underlies digital currencies such as Bitcoin. A ledger is the accounting tool that tracks the movement of money from one person or account to another. Conventionally, such records are stored in central locations like banks, headquarters, and Paypal servers. Blockchain revolutionizes ledger technology with a network of distributed ledgers. Instead of one central, authoritative record of all transactions or information, blockchain creates potentially thousands of identical ledgers in computers and servers all over the world.
In “permissionless” proof-of-work blockchain, people compete to validate each transaction in return for a reward. The protocol rewards users for creating and validating entries into the ledger. This reward creates an incentive for competition and gives these validators (“miners” see Box 9-1) new tokens to use in the system. Users who do not earn tokens by performing verifications, i.e., not “miners,” must buy the tokens. This interplay between miners and purchasers create an ecosystem where people have clear incentives and rewards to maintain the distributed ledger for everyone.
The report tracked cryptocurrency’s massive rise during 2017, noting the significant price growth of leading cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum, and that both outpaced the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500.
The report shared a critical view of cryptocurrencies as a currently viable form of money and stated that “technical and economic limitations” of Bitcoin “hinder its use as a medium of exchange.” The report went on to acknowledge that “If digital currencies become less volatile in the future, valuing items in those denominations could become easier and individuals might begin using them more frequently as a medium of exchange.”
Regulation concerns were also examined in this report, noting that cryptocurrencies, ICOs and exchanges all pose unique challenges. “Their rapid ascension led to instances of new products running afoul of America’s current regulatory framework,” the report noted. “This demonstrated how certain regulatory environments are simply out of touch with the internet age.”
The report concluded that:
Technology presents evolving challenges and generates new solutions. Blockchain technology essentially stores and transmits data securely, in large volume, and at high speeds. So far, the technology has proved largely resistant to hacking, and given this feature, developers first applied it to digital currencies. Yet blockchain has many more potential applications, such as portable medical records and securing the critical financial and energy infrastructure.
The report offered recommendations to policymakers, regulators, and industry leaders in its conclusion:
— Policymakers and the public should become more familiar with digital currencies and other uses of blockchain technology, which have a wide range of applications in the future.
— Regulators should continue to coordinate among each other to guarantee coherent policy frameworks, definitions, and jurisdiction.
— Policymakers, regulators, and entrepreneurs should continue to work together to ensure developers can deploy these new blockchain technologies quickly and in a manner that protects Americans from fraud, theft, and abuse, while ensuring compliance with relevant regulations.”
— Government agencies at all levels should consider and examine new uses for this technology that could make the government more efficient in performing its functions.
This new report offers an extensive interpretation of the rise and future potential of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Other government acknowledgment this week included the House Capital Markets, Securities and Investment Subcommittee, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.
Twitter is reportedly planning to be the next major media platform to ban certain cryptocurrency products and project advertising. The policy, according to Sky News, will be implemented in two weeks and would ban advertisements for initial coin offerings (ICOs), token sales, and cryptocurrency wallets across the globe.
The move by Twitter comes after numerous reports of a looming global regulatory crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry.
Twitter is following similar policies as other major tech companies like Google and Facebook. In late January, Facebook banned all ads for ICOs and cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin in an effort to combat against deceptive advertising in the market. Google followed Facebook’s move last week, announcing they will be cracking down on cryptocurrency related advertising come June.
The spirit of the planned bans by Facebook, Google, and now Twitter all appear to focus on concerns regarding ICO scams and the speculative nature of their advertising. This reported coming ban from Twitter would make three major online advertising companies banning cryptocurrency advertising, with Google and Facebook being top online marketing platforms.
Sky News also reported that Twitter is considering the possibility of banning advertisements for cryptocurrency exchanges, with some limited exceptions.
Earlier this month, cryptocurrency watcher Emin Gün Sirer took to Twitter with concerns about the prevalence of cryptocurrency scams on their platform. Fortune reported Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded by saying the platform is “on it.”
However, Sirer’s tweet was directed more toward the bot accounts filling the comment sections of major cryptocurrency industry leaders, rather than the paid advertising that has been banned on Facebook and Google.
The move by these major advertising platforms isn’t surprising. US financial regulators such as the CFTC and SEC have indicated their intentions of cracking down on these cryptocurrency offerings, partially because they see them as investment offerings. In addition, the 2017 surge of interest in blockchain technology and the creation of cryptocurrencies has shown that some of these new crypto offerings are scams.
Fortune reported that “Nearly half of 2017’s ICOs – sales in many ways similar to initial stock sales in startups – collapsed within months, with many supposed founders simply disappearing with the money they raised.”
These new social media advertising restrictions might be able to slow scammers down because of the impact these platforms have in promoting these projects. However, the full effects of these restrictions on the cryptocurrency market remain to be seen.
Washington, D.C. — The House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Securities, and Investment (Committee on Financial Services), on Wednesday, held a hearing entitled “Examining the Cryptocurrencies and ICO Markets.” During the hearing, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) read a statement that called cryptocurrencies “harmful,” and appeared to accidentally admit that cryptocurrency reduces government control of the dollar.
BitsOnline noted that it’s unclear “whether his most infamous statements during the March 14th crypto hearing were on behalf of, or in the stead of, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY).” Notwithstanding, Sherman spoke assertively while reading the statement.
Sherman began by referring to cryptocurrency as “a crock,” and went on to perpetuate pop culture stereotypes and and fears about the industry, saying, “Cryptocurrencies are popular with guys who like to sit in their pajamas and tell their wives they are going to be millionaires. They help terrorists and criminals move money around the world. Tax evaders. They help startup companies commit fraud, take money, and one percent of the time they actually create a useful business.”
As Sherman continued to rebuke cryptocurrency and those who utilize the technology, he seemingly revealed the real reason government fears widespread consumer adoption of cryptocurrency.
“It hurts the U.S. government in two ways,” Sherman said. “Our contr….” Sherman began, as he appeared he was about to say “our control.” Although he stopped himself prior to uttering the entire phrase, he continued by saying, “…our ability to have the US dollar as the chief means of international finance is what has underpinned our ability to impose sanctions,” illustrating that monetary policy and the dollar are used as a system of control by the U.S. government.
It should thus come as no surprise that the top industries funding Sherman’s election campaigns are securities and investment related entities.
According to a report from CryptoCoinsNews, it was revealed on Reddit that Sherman’s top contributor for 2017-2018 is digital payment processor Allied Wallet- a company that stands to encounter significant competition from more efficient and private payment systems that have been created with blockchain technology. Overall, Sherman received $56,700 from the securities and investment industry.
Bank of America recently acknowledged that cryptocurrencies pose a challenge to their earnings, stating that “widespread adoption of new technologies,” including cryptocurrencies, may compel the company to make “substantial expenditures” in order to compete with such innovations.
Certain members of Congress like Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus, showed a better understanding of the technology and its implications.
“This is something that Democrats and Republicans should be celebrating here in Congress not going ‘oh my gosh, this is terrible, we don’t understand it’,” Emmer said.
“I tend to trust people and believe that they’re in these things for good, and that they’re trying to improve their own lives and hopefully the lives of people around them — that old adage that a rising tide lifts all boats. And yet I hear elected officials who don’t have any concept of what we’re dealing with here and how exciting it is, talking about how we got to regulate and create more government infrastructure. I respectfully disagree that that won’t act as a wet blanket on this amazing new technology. I realize there has to be some regulation, but there’s got to be balance,” Emmer said.
Coinbase’s chief legal and risk officer Mike Lempres, Georgetown University law professor Dr. Chris Brummer, and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati partner Robert Rosenblum served as expert witnesses at the hearing, which is Congress’ first foray into potential regulatory issues surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs).