Global tech giant Intel has co-sponsored a new blockchain programming project by major blockchain tech firm Hyperledger, according to a Forbes report on July 3. Officially released on June 27, Hyperledger Transact is a new tool that aims to boost the compatibility of blockchain networks by providing a standard interface, or a shared software library for smart contracts execution. Michael Reed, Intel’s blockchain program director, said in an interview with Forbes that the main purpose of the company’s efforts in blockchain development is to ensure that distributed ledger technology solutions “run well on Intel silicon.” Reed noted that the company is also working to find out the requirements or standards for blockchain developers in consortiums such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Hyperledger Transact involves a number of companies specializing in different industries, including global tech giant IBM, Intel, as well as tech service firm Bitwise IO and global food supplier Cargill. Intel is a member of the major blockchain standards consortium, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which counts over 500 participants, including the United States’ largest bank JPMorgan Chase, blockchain incubator ConsenSys, Big Four auditor EY, as well as tech giants Microsoft and IBM, and blockchain consortium R3. On June 18, IBM introduced updates on its IBM Blockchain Platform, enabling it to run on multiple cloud networks including Microsoft’s Azure or Amazon Web Services.
South Korea’s Gram Asia is selling rights to its Gram holdings at $4.00 per token starting July 10, according to a report by Bloomberg on July 3. The proposed sale price is triple the original $1.33 sale price at Gram’s second initial coin offering (ICO) round in March 2018. The sale on July 10 is apparently happening exclusively through Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Liquid, as per its website. Liquid also hosted the Gram ICO in March, at which time Telegram raised $850 million, bringing its total valuation up to $1.7 billion. Citing an email from the exchange, Bloomberg reports that users who buy Gram with the exchange’s native token, QASH, will get a $0.50 discount per token. Gram is the yet-to-be-released native token for the Telegram Open Network (TON), a decentralized network project by the open source, encrypted messenger app Telegram. The service, used by over 200 million people, is planning to launch its Gram tokens by the end of Q3 2019. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Gram Asia is the largest holder of the Gram token in Asia. Additionally, the exchange Liquid apparently has a deal with Gram Asia, but not Telegram. Liquid has further hinted at being an incubator for TON. Liquid CEO Mike Kayamori pointed to the 200 million people using Telegram as providing an attractive platform for decentralized app developers: “If you are a distributed app vendor, would you want to be listed on top of Ethereum? or EOS? Or do you want to be built on top of TON? Ethereum is great. It is a gold standard of ICO. EOS is decentralized and good but who has 200 million active users already? […] The TON network app vendors building their applications on it, when it integrates into Telegram, that is going to be special.”
French financial regulators have observed an increase in complaints regarding cryptocurrencies this year. Investors in the country are increasingly filing complaints about digital currencies with France’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) since January 2019, according to the AMF’s 2019 Risk Map report published on July 2. Percentage of claims to AMF regarding crypto assets. Source: AMF The Risk Map analyzes the major factors that have an impact on the country’s financial markets along with associated risks. At the same time, 2019 has reportedly seen a drop in the number of enquiries received by the AMF’s consumer contact center in regard to digital currency. The document further notes that investors continue to express interest in speculative products like binary options, foreign exchange, contracts for difference and crypto, despite the AMF’s efforts to limit the marketing of such products. From 2016 to 2018, the AMF issued 118 warnings against crypto-related bad actors out of 154 warnings overall. In its annual report released in May, the AMF noted a 14,000% surge in enquiries related to fraudulent cryptocurrency offers in 2018 as opposed to 2016. Specifically, the number of enquiries associated with crypto-related scams online surged to over 2,600 in 2018 from only 18 similar enquiries back in 2016. A survey from Tokyo-based crypto exchange bitFlyer published in April showed that the majority of Europeans believe that crypto will exist in 10 years, wherein French respondents were more pessimistic about the future of crypto, with only 55% claiming that they believe in crypto in the long term.
Coinsquare, a Canadian cryptocurrency trading platform, announced it has bought an eight figure controlling stake in fintech software producer, Just Cash. The acquisition will enable the firm to introduce crypto transactions on traditional, non-bank ATMs in the United States. Just Cash developed a software to retrofit ATMs to sell cryptocurrencies via a customer’s debit card, the first such market advancement, without having to upgrade the machine’s hardware. Coinsquare CEO Cole Diamond confirmed that the technology has already been introduced to some ATM machines, a process that will continue until the end of next year. There are approximately 250,000 non-bank ATMs that can potentially be upgraded with this feature. By partnering with two of the three major producers of non-bank automated teller machines – Nautilus Hyosung, Triton, and Genmega, though he was unable to disclose which ones – Diamond said Coinsquare expects to integrate with approximately 170 thousand machines across nearly all 50 states. “We will outnumber the total number bitcoin ATMs within a year,” Diamond said. Users will be able to buy and transact with bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, dash, litecoin, stellar, ripple, doge, among others directly through their bank accounts. The machine will then offer a printed receipt that shows the user’s private and public keys, “effectively your paper wallet,” Diamond said. The company’s roadmap includes a full US expansion in 2020, with the ATMs serving as an entry point. Just Cash’s software will “piggyback on the regulatory efforts” Coinsquare has pulled through in anticipation of this market entry. Diamond hopes the ATMs serve as an efficient on-ramp to the crypto-uninitiated. “Right now, there is a lack of mainstream cryptocurrency adoption because most people are intimidated by the process to acquire it,” he said in a statement. Diamond also said this feature will “bridge the gap” between traditional banking and the crypto industry, though he does not expect to integrate the software with bank partners soon. “One, we need to believe [banks] want to use it… Banks have been hesitant to get involved [in anything crypto,]” he said, adding bank ATMs require the development of additional software upgrades, as each entity runs proprietary software. The merged firms will operate under the Coinsquare brand, though Just Cash will maintain a degree of autonomy. ATM photo…
A third defendant pleaded guilty in a string of court cases against a Toledo, Ohio-based fake ID ring that is said to have netted over $4.7 million in bitcoin, according to a report by The Blade. Sarah Alberts, of Perrysburg, Ohio, admitted to charges of money laundering, conspiracy and knowingly possessing with intent to use unlawfully or transfer unlawfully five or more identification documents. Alberts participated in a large-scale operation to distribute driver’s licenses and other identification cards across the nation that operated in online forums such as Reddit and transacted in bitcoin. The group was active between June 2013 and February 2018, until federal investigators arrested three of the participants. Police initially seized $7,000 in cash, a thumb drive with $4.7 million in bitcoin, six pre-paid crypto debit cards registered under other identities, as well as gold and silver bars. Co-defendants Mark Alex Simon and Aaron Kuns previously pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to launder money. Simon also pleaded guilty to knowingly transferring false identification documents, and Kuns to the production of false identification documents. The government seeks the forfeiture of $2.8 million and $2.8 million from Simon and Kuns, respectively. Additional charges of production of identification documents and transferring an identification document were dismissed as part of Alberts plea deal. According to court documents, Simon – the ringleader – would receive customer orders to his Reddit avatar “TedDanzigSR” and forward client’s photos, personal information and mailing labels to Kuns to produce the fake IDs. Alberts was responsible for mailing the packages. According to The Blade, Kuns was paid by Simon in bitcoin, and Alberts paid him in gold coins or bars. She is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 8. Benjamin Stalets, another alleged ring participant, was also formally charged. Prison image via Shutterstock
The United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services requested Facebook and its partners to stop the development of the Libra stablecoin. In a July 2 letter addressed to Facebook CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and David Marcus, and COO Sheryl Sandberg, the lawmakers request that Facebook and its partners immediately agree to a moratorium on the development of Libra and its dedicated Calibra wallet. The committee claims that the project may lead ”to an entirely new global financial system that is based out of Switzerland and intended to rival U.S. monetary policy and the dollar.” The committee notes that it believes such an endeavor could have serious implications: ”This raises serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns for not only Facebook’s over 2 billion users, but also for investors, consumers, and the broader global economy.” The letter claims that it foresees cybersecurity vulnerabilities, which could potentially lead to trillions of dollars of uninsured deposits being lost, and that consumers could be exposed to severe privacy and national security concerns. The committee also notes that Facebook’s troubled past with user data further exacerbates those concerns. The letter claims: “If products and services like these are left improperly regulated and without sufficient oversight, they could pose systemic risks that endanger U.S. and global financial stability.” The committee claims that “it is imperative that Facebook and its partners immediately cease implementation plans” until regulators explore the issues above. During the proposed moratorium, the regulators intend to hold public hearings on the risks and benefits of the system and explore legislative solutions. The letter concludes: “Failure to cease implementation before we can do so, risks a new Swiss-based financial system that is too big to fail.” As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, over 30 advocacy groups have appeared as signatories on a request that Congress and regulators implement an official moratorium on Libra development. Also yesterday, Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Eugene Stiglitz published an article claiming that “every currency is based on trust, but only a fool would trust Facebook’s Libra.”
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision. Market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange. Galaxy Digital founder Mike Novogratz said that he is not selling his Bitcoin the next time it reaches $14,000 because he anticipates the next up move to carry it to $20,000. However, he does not expect the price to reach lifetime highs in a hurry. He is targeting a new lifetime high only by “the middle or the end of the fourth quarter.” A recent survey by Jefferies’ indicated that majority of the respondents were unlikely to use Facebook’s Libra due to a lack of trust in the social media giant. Echoing a similar opinion, Nobel prize-winning economist, Joseph Eugene Stiglitz, said that Facebook has earned a “level of distrust that took the banking sector much longer to achieve.” Hence, according to him, only a fool would trust Libra. Contrary to these two opinions, Arthur Hayes, CEO of BitMEX believes that Libra “will destroy commercial and central banks.” In this leg of the up-move from the lows, bitcoin futures have attracted a lot of trading activity. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) Group tweeted that bitcoin futures hit a new high of $1.7 billion in traded value on June 26. With futures volumes picking up, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts to the launch of Bakkt. BTC/USD Bitcoin (BTC) is attempting to resume the uptrend after a brief pullback. It plunged below the 20-day EMA on July 1 and 2, but on both occasions, buying at lower levels ensured a close (UTC time frame) above the moving average. The price bounced off from just below $9,977.33, which is the 61.80% Fibonacci retracement level of the recent leg of the up move. Both moving averages are sloping up marginally and the RSI is in positive territory, which suggests that the bulls have again seized the advantage. The BTC/USD pair can now move up to $12,500 where it might face stiff resistance. If this level is crossed, the bulls will attempt to ascend $14,000 and resume the uptrend. Nevertheless,…
Tech giant IBM has launched a pilot for a blockchain-powered platform designed to streamline bank guarantee process In a press release shared with Cointelegraph on July 3, IBM stated that the pilot was launched in partnership with four Australian financial services companies. The pilot — dubbed Lygon — is backed by IBM, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Commonwealth Bank, real estate operator Scentre Group, and Australia’s first bank Westpac. The pilot is set to run for eight weeks for a test group of retail property leasing customers starting today. Essentially, Lygon is a blockchain-based platform that digitizes the issuance and management of bank guarantees in the retail property lease sector. Per the release, digitizing the process will reduce the risk of fraud, decrease potential of errors, as well as increase transparency and security. Once the pilot is completed, Lygon plans to expand the range of digitised bank guarantees it supports and begin offering them to other industries. Didier Van Not, general manager of Corporate and Institutional Banking at Westpac, said: “We have created a blockchain-based platform to digitize the bank guarantee ecosystem. The pilot will test live transactions using distributed ledger to prove the technology is commercially viable. It is a great example of digital transformation that refines the customer experience.” IBM has launched a number of enterprise blockchain offers to date. Last month, CIP, a facilitator of Brazilian banking and financial infrastructure, officially launched its blockchain ID platform via a partnership with IBM using Hyperledger Fabric. Its aim is to authenticate and verify digital signatures using mobile devices. In March, five Japanese banks collaborated to roll out a financial services infrastructure based on IBM’s distributed ledger technology.
The Binance Charity Foundation (BCF) has announced a new initiative for improving feminine health. BCF, which is the philanthropic arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, announced an alliance of 47 organizations to make a token geared towards women’s health in a blog post on July 3. 46 organizations, including industry players such as Ripple, smart contract security firm Quantstamp, and digital assets venture company Blockseed Ventures, have joined BCF to promote the “Pink Care Token” (PCAT) geared to help improving feminine health in developing countries. PCAT is a redemption-only token issued on the Binance Chain and pegged to one year’s supply of sanitary pads instead of fiat currency, the post explains. The first delivery of PCAT and sanitary pads will take place in mid-July in Uganda. Binance claims that a blockchain-based means of distributing charity will address inefficiencies and transparency issues that are purportedly present in traditional means of charitable giving. Commenting on the initiative, Justin Sun, Founder of Tron, said that “there are many ways that cryptocurrency will make the world a better place. Being able to help those in need using cryptocurrency could accentuate the importance of it.” Changpeng Zhao (CZ), CEO and co-founder of Binance, said: “Pink Care Token is the first social-impact stablecoin issued on Binance Chain. A part of our mission is to promote the adoption of cryptocurrencies, and I think charity is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate their value and make them available to the people in need.” The PCAT initiative also bolsters BCF’s previously launched “Binance for Children” program in Uganda which is aimed at local education improvements. The initiative will provide a number of new supplies to the country’s schools such as solar panels, sanitary pads, school supplies, LED screens, as well as breakfast and lunch for students.
Facebook’s David Marcus is pushing back against concerns about the social media giant’s new cryptocurrency project, Libra. In a note published Wednesday on Facebook, Marcus addressed “a number of questions and a few misunderstandings” about the project. The social media giant’s blockchain lead also confirmed he would be testifying before both the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee on the project later this month. In Wednesday’s post, Marcus sought to address a number of issues that have been raised by lawmakers and informed observers alike, including whether Libra is actually decentralized, why there isn’t a charter in place for the Libra Association and whether Libra can actually address financial inclusion. Perhaps most notably, he addressed the widespread distrust of Facebook in the wake of Cambridge Analytica, 2016 election interference and other high-profile mishaps. “Bottom line: You won’t have to trust Facebook to get the benefit of Libra,” Marcus wrote, adding: “And Facebook won’t have any special responsibility over the Libra Network. But we hope that people will respond favorably to the Calibra wallet [made by Facebook]. We’ve been clear about our approach to financial data separation and we will live up to our commitments and work hard to deliver real utility.” Facebook published a white paper and supporting documentation for Libra last month, but was immediately met with pushback from regulators worldwide. Under various subheadings, Marcus addressed complaints about the project, including concerns that Libra would not be able to bank individuals who are currently under- or unbanked, as well as concerns about Facebook’s track record on consumer data protection. “Someone wrote that the key reason people are unbanked is that they don’t have enough money to actually be banked, and claimed Libra wouldn’t solve this,” Marcus wrote, calling this explanation misguided. In his view, Libra would lower the drawbridges to financial services for anyone with “a $40 smartphone and connectivity.” Marcus also repeated a claim from the Calibra subsidiary’s public documentation in noting that Facebook would not have access to any financial data from the wallet provider. “People will have many ways in which to use Libra and access the network,” he said. “You’ll be able to use a range of custodial and non-custodial wallets that will have full interoperability with one another, meaning…