Multicoin Leads $10 Million SAFT Sale for Ethereum Scaling Startup Skale

Multicoin Leads $10 Million SAFT Sale for Ethereum Scaling Startup Skale

Blockchain startup Skale Labs raised nearly $10 million in an effort to develop a blockchain scalability infrastructure for ethereum, the company announced Thursday. The startup says in a press statement that it raised $8.86 million in a Simple Agreement for Future Tokens (SAFT) sale led by Multicoin Capital, on top of $785,000 raised earlier this year. Galaxy Digital, Aspect Ventures, Blockchange Ventures, Boost.VC, Canaan Venture Partners, Floodgate Fund, Hack.VC, Neo Global Capital and Signia Venture Partners also participated in the sale. The company intends to launch an open-source permissionless blockchain targeted toward providing ethereum-based decentralized application (dapp) developers a new base platform to build upon. In particular, Skale intends to launch the first implementation of the Ethereum Virtual Machine on a Plasma chain – a move it says would help dapp developers by giving them a layer-2 platform on which to execute smart contracts. Using Skale’s network will enable dapps to conduct “millions of transactions per second at a fraction of the cost of what’s possible today,” the release claims. Jack O’Holleran, co-founder and CEO of Skale Labs, said in a statement that “helping Ethereum dapp developers scale applications is the center of what we do.” He added: “We are sharply focused on making Layer 2 easy, fast, secure and cost-effective for anyone who wants to run smart contracts on Ethereum … We are looking forward to bringing this network to market in a fully open-source, [peer-to-peer] manner.” The startup plans to set its testnet live by the end of 2018 and activate its mainnet in the upcoming year. A foundation will also be launched to support the network, similar to the Ethereum Foundation and its work supporting the Ethereum mainnet, the firm says. “Skale is uniquely positioned to dominate Layer 2 on Ethereum,” said Multicoin Capital managing partner Kyle Samani, adding that it is “Ethereum’s best shot at fending off competition from other smart contract platforms.” Blocks image via Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

SBI Ripple Asia’s MoneyTap App Has Launched in Japan

SBI Ripple Asia’s MoneyTap App Has Launched in Japan

MoneyTap, a consumer-focused blockchain money transfer app built by SBI Holdings and Ripple, has now gone live. Announced by Ripple in a tweet Thursday, the remittance app is the product of SBI Ripple Asia and several participating banks. A new website for the product has also been launched indicating that the app is able to make bank-to-bank money transfers in “real time” using Ripple’s xCurrent payments product. Available for both iOS and Android devices, the product allows users to send funds to others using just their telephone numbers or a QR code, and utilizes devices biometric log-in features, such as fingerprint scanning, for security. Currently, the service is only able to remit between accounts held at the three participating Japanese banks – SBI Sumishin Net Bank, Suruga Bank and Resona Bank. Payments are being offered at no charge and can be sent in Japanese yen or foreign currencies, says the website. SBI Ripple Asia announced in late September that it had completed registration with Japan’s Ministry of Finance as a licensed agent for handling electronic payments – the final hurdle before launching the app. In the Asian nation, any entity wanting to handle electronic payments using banking APIs must now be registered with local finance bureaus – a rule that came into effect from June 1. Ripple’s xCurrent network is built on distributed ledger technology and has recently seen increasing adoption by banks seeking to stay competitive as rival payments offerings proliferate. Banking giant Santander also launched a payments app using xCurrent back in April. While based on blockchain, xCurrent does not by default utilize the Ripple-linked crypto token XRP. However, at the U.S. firm’s Swell event over the last few days, it was revealed that several payments firms are now commercially using Ripple’s third payments solution, xRapid, which does use the open-source token. MoneyTap image courtesy of SBI Ripple Asia The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Wall Street Journal Creates, Then Destroys Own Cryptocurrency

Wall Street Journal Creates, Then Destroys Own Cryptocurrency

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) created and then destroyed its own cryptocurrency in a bid to “understand” the industry, the publication revealed in a mini documentary Wednesday, October 3. WSJ Coin, which journalist Steven Russolillo hoped would shed light on the emerging crypto economy while providing real use cases for the journalism industry, made it to the grand total of two issued units. A mound of around 150 physical WSJ Coins was further distributed to the audience of a panel discussing the concept at the publication’s D.Live annual technology conference in Hong Kong. Speaking on the panel were remittance service BitPesa CEO Elizabeth Rossiello and former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas, who both saw considerable potential in a journalism-based crypto asset. “If you lower the cost of moving money around, the entire economy changes … ‘How do I pay for a news article online?’ changes,” Thomas said by way of example. Russolillo teamed up with Japanese developer Makuto Takemiya to use Hyperledger’s Iroha blockchain as the basis for WSJ Coin. The two fixed a supply of 8.4 billion units, which they arrived at by averaging the supply of the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap. Two coins made it to a local bar to pay for two beers. When Russolillo pitched a full issuance to investors, however, it was the WSJ’s own ethics head who shut the scheme down. Neil Lipschitz, editor for ethics and standards, said WSJ Coin raised what Russolillo says are “ethical questions.” “We’re not in the business of getting into the cryptocurrency world; we’re here to report it and to explain it, just like we report on banks but we don’t go out and start a bank,” he said, adding: “We’re not going to create a currency.” At the end of August, the Associated Press signed a content licensing partnership with blockchain-based startup Civil to explore ways to secure intellectual property rights, support ethical journalism, and track content usage with blockchain technology.

The Daily: Wall Street-Backed Crypto Futures, Market Manipulation as a Service

The Daily: Wall Street-Backed Crypto Futures, Market Manipulation as a Service

The Daily Cryptocurrency attracts a diverse crowd, from speculators to scammers, and from financiers to gamblers. These groups, and their often opposing aims, are what make the cryptoconomy such a strange yet compelling place. In today’s edition of The Daily, for instance, we’ve got stories pertaining to a Wall Street-funded futures exchange, another US platform ending its margin trading, a company that will trade your token to simulate demand for it, and an obligatory new stablecoin. Also read: Six of the Best Cryptocurrency Calendars Wall Street-Backed Crypto Exchange Erisx Announced Nebraska-based brokerage firm TD Ameritrade is making a move into the cryptocurrency exchange game with a little help from its Wall Street friends. The brokerage big shot revealed Erisx on Wednesday, the name for the platform being spearheaded by trading veteran Thomas Chippas. Regulatory approval is being sought to list bitcoin core, bitcoin cash, ether, and litecoin futures. Chippas left his job at Citigroup to head up the project, a trend that’s been observed repeatedly in the cryptocurrency space, with traditional financiers being lured into the realm of crypto by the promise of a fresh challenge and potentially big payday. Having closed a fundraising round backed by DRW and Virtu Financial, in addition to TD Ameritrade, the venture has attracted attention, fueled by its intention to position itself as a direct rival to Bakkt, the forthcoming cryptocurrency platform from the NYSE’s parent company. Erisx will begin by offering spot trading for cryptocurrencies before venturing into derivatives, all going well. It should be noted, however, that the “new” exchange is in fact a revamp of Eris Exchange, a derivatives platform that has failed to achieve anything of note in its eight years of operation. Circle Drops Margin Trading While one US exchange is dreaming of derivatives, another is shunning them. The Circle-backed Poloniex exchange has revealed that it is removing margin and lending products for its US customers. “These changes are part of our ongoing commitment to ensure that Poloniex complies with regulatory requirements in every jurisdiction,” explained Circle. In the same announcement, it was revealed that three assets will be delisted from Poloniex on October 10: AMP, EXP, and, perhaps surprisingly, gnosis (GNO). Market Making as a Service “What is the biggest trouble for every ICO?”…

US Customs Official Claims Crypto Conversions Can Be Traced

US Customs Official Claims Crypto Conversions Can Be Traced

A “vulnerability” is created every time criminals convert from cryptocurrency to government-issued ones, an official with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday. Matthew Allen, an assistant director of domestic operations with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of ICE, discussed the role of cryptocurrencies in drug trafficking during an October 3 hearing before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. “On dark net marketplaces and other ‘unindexed’ websites, purchases are often paid for with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and monero, among many others,” he said in a prepared statement. Perhaps most notably, he noted that HSI is having some level of success in tracking criminals who use cryptocurrencies to launder proceeds from drug sales. While cryptocurrencies make transferring value relatively easy, he contended, criminals still need to convert cryptocurrencies into fiat – and vice versa – during the process. “Whenever monetary exchanges are made, a vulnerability is created,” he went on to say. “This is the time when criminals are most susceptible to identification by law enforcement means and methods,” Allen stated, explaining: “Utilizing traditional investigative methods such as surveillance, undercover operations, and confidential informants, coupled with financial and block-chain analysis, ICE-HSI is able to disrupt the criminals and dismantle the [transnational criminal organizations], as well as the cryptocurrency exchangers who typically launder proceeds for criminal networks engaged in or supporting dark net marketplaces.” Allen went on to discuss multiple types of cryptocurrency exchanges and how they may be used to facilitate money laundering. Peer-to-peer exchanges in particular, referring to startups which refuse to register as a money services business and do not follow compliance laws, are often used to ensure users remain anonymous. Despite that, however, national and international agencies are training investigators in how to best track cryptocurrencies, he said. “We train investigators … in an effort to deter organizations from laundering proceeds or using cryptocurrencies to fund the purchase of fentanyl/opioids or other narcotics,” he said. ICE logo image via chrisdorney / Shutterstock The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Bitcoin Startup Acinq Raises $1.7 Million to Double Down on Lightning

Bitcoin Startup Acinq Raises $1.7 Million to Double Down on Lightning

Lightning isn’t just a big hit with developers, the promising bitcoin technology is now attracting a little attention from investors. Acinq, one of the leading startups working on the lightning network, a top-level layer aiming to boost the number of transactions bitcoin can support, has closed a $1.7 million funding round led by Serena Capital, with participation from Talend co-founder Bertrand Diard, Sebastien Lucas, Alistair Milne and Snapcar founder Yves Weisselberger. As a result of the funding, Lightning Labs is no longer the only startup solely dedicated to lightning that’s been able to rake in money for its efforts. Since it launched a few years back, the Paris-based company has become one of the most pivotal in a broader push to build and design lightning. It has built Eclair, one of three lightning software implementations alongside those by Lightning Labs and Blockstream, as well as Eclair Wallet, the most popular lightning wallet to date. Yet for all the startup has accomplished, it’s all been done a small team of three. “Everything that we did was done with very little,” Acinq co-founder and CEO Pierre-Marie Padiou said. He told CoinDesk: “With this raise, we’re very excited to be able to do a lot more with more resources. We’ll be able to make even more cool services for lightning. This is not only good for us but for lightning in general and for pushing adoption forward.” Doubling efforts With the funds, Acinq also plans to hire three to four “highly technical” developers over the coming weeks and months. Acinq is sure to need it, as far as pushing lightning adoption forward, there’s still a lot to do. Lightning may have entered beta earlier this year as users started using it to send real money. (But, this isn’t exactly advised. The technology is still unfinished, so users can lose money.) Now, at least $700,000 worth of bitcoin is now tied up in the lightning network. That’s still a far cry, though, from what developers want lightning to be – safe and easy to use. They want it to grow the capacity of the network, so maybe one day people with no interest in cryptocurrency will be able to use it, To do its part in the effort, Acinq plans to take…

Venezuela Makes Petro Crypto a National Currency, Publishes New Whitepaper

Venezuela Makes Petro Crypto a National Currency, Publishes New Whitepaper

News Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has made several claims regarding his country’s digital currency this week. He announced the launch of the petro as a national currency on Monday, reportedly claiming that it is already “present in the world’s six topmost international exchange houses.” A new whitepaper has also been published showing that the petro is no longer 100 percent backed by oil but is also backed by some of Venezuela’s other resources. Also read: 160 Crypto Exchanges Seek to Enter Japanese Market, Regulator Reveals Petro Officially a National Currency Maduro announced on Monday the official launch of the petro, supposedly an oil-backed cryptocurrency created in February. In a televised address, he said: Venezuela makes history! Today we take a step forward with the launch of petro as a national currency and platform for strengthening our financial sovereignty. Telesur TV subsequently quoted him declaring that the petro, “unlike other digital currencies, doesn’t need to be mined because it already has a value; it is shielded with Venezuelan oil and mining wealth.” According to the publication, Maduro was also referring to “the country’s gold, diamond, iron, and aluminum.” New Whitepaper Following Monday’s announcement, the Venezuelan government published a new whitepaper for the petro. In contrast to the previous whitepaper, the new version states that the petro is using Dash’s X11 mining algorithm for Proof of Work, as well as a staked masternode system for Proof of Stake verification. The hybrid system will employ four-megabyte blocks and a one-minute block interval. A page of the new whitepaper, describing the basic concepts of the technology behind the petro, displays illustrations taken directly from the Dash and Bitcoin whitepapers. “Lol Venezuela’s new petro token is a blatant Dash clone,” tweeted Ethereum developer Joey Zhou upon reading the document. Furthermore, the petro is no longer backed fully by a barrel of oil. Instead, it is now backed by 50 percent oil, 20 percent gold, 20 percent iron, and 10 percent diamond, the new whitepaper details. Maduro Claims Petro Already in Six Exchanges Without naming any exchanges, Telesur TV also quoted Maduro claiming: The petro is already present in the world’s six topmost international exchange houses and will now be accepted at a national level. He further described, “All Venezuelans will have access…

Vote Buying Scandal Stokes Fears of EOS Governance Failure

Vote Buying Scandal Stokes Fears of EOS Governance Failure

EOS investors can’t say they weren’t warned. What was foretold in a March blog post by ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin may have come to pass on the world’s fifth largest blockchain, with a bout of vote buying drama rocking the $5 billion protocol over the weekend. That’s when a Twitter account named “Maple Leaf Capital” produced screenshots from a leaked Excel spreadsheet that supposedly shows the China-based exchange Huobi, one of the world’s oldest and largest, accepting money for its support of certain entities in the charge of ensuring the network’s distributed decision-making. The allegation is notable as EOS has only 21 “block producers,” trusted entities periodically elected to maintain the history of the blockchain and that receive monetary rewards in the form of cryptocurrency for doing so. No one can verify any of the claims made in this thread, nor the provenance of the spreadsheet’s data. Huobi promptly denied all the accusations. However, that doesn’t mean damage control isn’t being done. Block.One, the creators and maintainers of the EOSIO software, for which they raised $4 billion in a nearly year-long initial coin offering (ICO), issued its own statement on Tuesday. It reads: “We are aware of some unverified claims regarding irregular block producer voting, and the subsequent denials of those claims. We believe it is important to ensure a free and democratic election process within EOS and may, as we deem appropriate, vote with other holders to reinforce the integrity of this process.” Accusations of wrong-doing aside, the controversy illuminates deeper issues, adding fuel to the fire for those who allege the EOS protocol may have an incomplete approach to governance. At the simplest level, the debate is over whether or not block producers should or shouldn’t be allowed to pay other people to vote for them. The EOS interim constitutions, documents designed to put forth rules for participants on the network, clearly ban vote buying, but that constitution has never been ratified by EOS users. Yet, at the same time, EOS seems designed for block producers to support other block producers. Block producers earn tokens and have an interest in the long-term health of the protocol, so some argue it seems natural that they would (and must) use those tokens to support other block…

Six of the Best Cryptocurrency Calendars

Six of the Best Cryptocurrency Calendars

Featured The world of cryptocurrency is a hectic and jam-packed one, with nary a day passing when there isn’t a major event of some kind going down. From conferences to seminars and coin burns to airdrops, crypto events large and small must be factored into the investment strategy and travel itinerary of cryptocurrency traders. We’ve rounded up six of the best event trackers so you don’t have to miss a thing. Also read: Under the Tent: A Look at the Latest Openbazaar Marketplace Software Coinmarketcal Coinmarketcal sprung up a year ago and is probably the best known site of its kind. It’s gradually refined its listing criteria to the extent where its community-supplied data is reasonably accurate and thus reasonably useful. In addition to listing general cryptocurrency events, Coinmarketcal enables visitors to filter by coin, category, exchange, and date. With Twitter and Telegram bots plus an email newsletter, Coinmarketcal has all bases and all events covered. Coinmarketcap Perhaps in revenge for Coinmarketcal ripping off its name, Coinmarketcap recently decided to borrow its near-namesake’s entire business model. While Coinmarketcap’s events page is rudimentary, it’s perfect for keeping track of upcoming blockchain conferences of note. A lack of curation, however, means viewers are forced to rely on the soundbites provided by conference organizers, which ensures that every event is dubbed as the event of the year. Kryptocal Kryptocal combines ICO listings with general news events and allows users to filter by categories such as airdrops, bounty programs, conferences, forks, and meetings. If you want to find out what’s coming up in the land of Bitcoin Cash, for example, there’s a page for that. Kryptocal can’t rival the number of listings offered by Coinmarketcal, but remains a well designed site that’s a pleasure to browse. Kryptocal Cryptocalendar Cryptocalendar isn’t as easy on the eye as some of the sites featured here, but is good at providing a snapshot of the number and scope of events taking place globally on any given day. Its search feature also works well, taking you to a dedicated events page for your preferred cryptocurrency. Cryptocalendar Coinscalendar With so many similarly named sites, it’s tough trying to distinguish the entries in this list from one another. Coinscalendar looks generic, but it does have several strings…

Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index

Abra Wallet and Exchange Service Introduces Token That Tracks Crypto Index

Digital currency wallet and exchange Abra has launched support for a new token, BIT10, that tracks the Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index, according to an announcement published Oct. 3. The Bitwise 10 Large Cap Crypto Index was developed by cryptocurrency asset management firm Bitwise Asset Management and is reportedly listed exclusively on Abra. The index tracks the ten largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, currently representing 80 percent of the total crypto market capitalization. Per the announcement, any investor is now able to acquire the BIT10 token through the Abra app, with a $5 minimum investment. Hunter Horsley, the CEO at Bitwise, said: “Index investing is extremely popular in stocks, bonds, and crypto because it gives investors diversified exposure without having to constantly monitor news and try to predict which assets will be most valuable. So far in the crypto space, index investing has only been available to institutions and accredited investors.” The cost of each BIT10 token reflects the value of 10 coins in the index, while the token’s positions are reportedly held in multi-signature smart contracts on the Bitcoin (BTC) or Litecoin (LTC) blockchains. The press release further explains the operational principle: “Once invested, Abra and the user are entering into a smart contract that effectively pegs the asset invested (either fiat currency or cryptocurrency) to the same amount of BIT10 tokens. Abra will get a real-time price feed from Bitwise Asset Management and the BIT10 investor will see the market movement up or down reflected in the price of their BIT10 tokens.” Last month, Abra enabled the direct purchase and sale of cryptocurrencies for European bank accounts. Customers can now transfer euros or several other national currencies directly to their wallet which can, in turn, can be converted into the 28 cryptocurrencies supported by Abra. In March, Abra’s CEO Bill Barhydt forecasted that “all hell will break loose” in BTC and altcoin markets this year. Barhydt said that he talked with hedge funds, high networth individuals, and speculators, who saw a “huge” opportunity in the volatility in the crypto markets. “Once that happens, all hell will break loose. Once the floodgates are opened, they’re opened,” Barhydt added.