Binance Partners With CipherTrace in Latest Compliance Push

Binance Partners With CipherTrace in Latest Compliance Push

Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance is embarking on a multi-pronged push to boost compliance procedures across its platform. To that end, Binance is announcing a new partnership with the blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace to enhance anti-money laundering (AML) processes like tracing the source of on-chain funds and matching user IDs to problematic wallet addresses. “We are very serious about improving our compliance standards,” Samuel Lim, head of compliance at Binance, told CoinDesk. “We will continue to build our [compliance] team, continue to re-invest in the compliance space.” The addition of CipherTrace, which is backed by venture firms such as Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital, comes on the heels of a new partnership with IdentityMind on know-your-customer (KYC) compliance. Binance also works with Chainalysis, Refinitiv (formerly the financial risk division of Thomson Reuters) and the Blockchain Transparency Institute (BTI), according to Lim. “We want our users to have the best trading experience, to know that they are safe that they are not trading with crooks or bad actors,” he said. For example, the analytics firm Whitestream identified a Binance account that allegedly received bitcoin from supporters of the military-political group Hamas, which the U.S. deems to be a terrorist organization. Most experts agree such cases are extremely rare. Financial crimes present a more common reputational risk, especially considering the regtech startup Coinfirm identified Binance as an exchange that may not always enforce restrictions based on KYC requirements. Along those lines, a BTI report released this week found that although Binance trading volumes were more than 85 percent authentic some wash trading – the practice of simultaneously buying and selling the same assets to create the illusion of market activity – was occuring with niche token pairs. So BTI development director Marco Paez told CoinDesk his research firm is working with Binance to crack down on wash trading. Coupling those BTI insights with CiperTrace’s services could complement the broader compliance push across the Binance ecosystem. However, Lim said these partnerships are merely enhancing Binance’s existing capabilities, adding the exchange already has an in-house team with “dozens” of legal and blockchain analytics experts devoted to tasks like platform moderation, AML and KYC compliance. Indeed, Lim said Binance’s compliance team is committed to continually raising the bar as the regulatory landscape…

Pennsylvania’s State-Backed VC Firm Is Tokenizing an Investment Fund

Pennsylvania’s State-Backed VC Firm Is Tokenizing an Investment Fund

The venture capital arm of Pennsylvania’s economic development office is tokenizing one of its funds. Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, one of four regional outposts formed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development in 1982, launched the Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund, or GO Philly Fund, in February with $15 million committed. Unlike Ben Franklin, which receives funds from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is restricted to investing in the companies based in the Greater Philadelphia area, GO Philly is planning to raise funds globally while focusing primarily on the Philly area-based companies, Scott Nissenbaum, Ben Franklin’s chief investment officer and a managing partner of GO Philly, told CoinDesk. Working with the California-based token platform Securitize, GO Philly is looking to raise another $35 million by selling GO Philly Fund tokens to accredited investors. “GO Philly Fund has been a trailblazer, not only in the blockchain space, but also as an impact fund,” Securitize CEO and co-founder Carlos Domingo told CoinDesk via a spokesperson. “We are proud to be partnering with them as their technology provider.” Built on top of the ethereum blockchain, the GO Philly Token will be available for purchase by accredited investors at $0.50 apiece, in dollars, bitcoin or ether – but the minimum buy-in is $250,000. Big investors first The $50 million fund was created in partnership with a publicly traded IT company, EPAM. GO Philly raised more than $15 million pre-launch: with $5 million from Ben Franklin, $5 million from EPAM and the rest from investment firms including Fulton Financial Corporation, SRI Capital and Provco Group. These investors have already secured their bags of GO Philly tokens, with the first batch being sold on Feb. 7. Nissenbaum sees that early action as an assurance to new investors: “There are so many question in this market about what’s real and what’s not. So we decided that we are going to bring big companies first, and then the rest of the entire globe can also buy in.” GO Philly is expecting to sell 100 million tokens in total, including the portion already sold. The tokens will be “a digital representation of a limited partnership contract” and comply with the SEC’s Rule 506(c), Nissenbaum explained. When payout? The token holders’ money will fund GO Philly’s efforts and earn them a profit…

Tensions Flare in MakerDAO Community Call Over Transparency Issues

Tensions Flare in MakerDAO Community Call Over Transparency Issues

Who runs the MakerDAO Foundation? Questions over an ongoing board shakeup flamed tensions Tuesday during a weekly community call, with participants asking pointed questions about who controls a $190 million pot of MakerDAO governance tokens. Stepping back, the MakerDAO Ecosystem Growth Foundation, or MakerDAO Foundation for short, is a non-profit entity that launched the dollar-pegged stablecoin DAI back in December 2017 along with a programmatic loan system to keep the value of DAI stable. As stated in a recent blog post, the foundation “is tasked with bootstrapping the system to ensure that it can survive as a fully decentralized organization.” There are nine board members who oversee development funds for the network, which account for roughly 27 percent of all MakerDAO governance tokens in existence. The identities of those nine board members have never been disclosed. In another blog post, the foundation announced Monday that its board would be reconstituted to not only include “technical members” but “a decentralized community of stakeholders.” “We think it would be better to have more industry professionals with deeper business experience sitting on the board,” MakerDAO Foundation general counsel Brian Avello told CoinDesk. During yesterday’s community call, Avello faced some tough questions about the nature of the foundation’s organizational structure – the most pointed of which came from a former legal advisor to the MakerDAO Foundation itself, Chris Padovano. Padovano asked when the bylaws of the foundation would be publicized, whether correspondence from board members could be released and if the foundation’s proprietary trading desk is a for-profit initiative. No concrete answers were given by Avello. When pressed specifically about board member correspondence, Avello responded to Padovano curtly (and in the third person): “Chris, this isn’t Brian’s deposition here where you’re given the opportunity to try to paint me into some sort of corner. I’m telling you my answer is I can’t discuss those matters.” When asked about why there was a need to remove certain individuals from the board, Avello admitted he was not at liberty to discuss such matters on a public call. To this, MakerDAO Foundation head of communications Mike Porcaro told CoinDesk after the call that the lack of full transparency here was “pretty traditional for most organizations” and that “in many cases, there are requirements based on employment law about what you can and…

Bithumb Announces External Audit Results in Wake of $13 Million Hack

Bithumb Announces External Audit Results in Wake of $13 Million Hack

South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has conducted a professional external audit of its funds after a major hack last month, the company confirmed in a statement on April 11. Bithumb, South Korea’s largest exchange, lost around 14 billion won ($13 million) two weeks ago in an event executives believe was masterminded by an insider. Now, Bithumb has used a third party to assess its reserves, repeating its previous assurances that customer funds remained safe in cold storage wallets. The 14 billion of hacked EOS (EOS) tokens, a previous statement said, represented company-only funds. All remaining funds in its hot wallet were moved to cold storage following the loss. “We have stated that we will conduct fair and objective due diligence on all assets that we have through a reliable external Audit,” the statement reads, linking to the accounting firm’s statistics. The statement continues: “We are pleased to inform you that our members’ valuable assets are managed and maintained in a systematic / safe manner through the attached due diligence report.” As Cointelegraph reported, it is not the first time Bithumb has dealt with security difficulties. Last August, a larger hack saw the loss of tokens worth up to $30 million. This week, the exchange reported annual losses of nearly $180 million for 2018, the hacks adding to an overall difficult year as Bitcoin (BTC) endured a record bear market and bottomed out at $3,100. During the same period, sales nonetheless increased by 17.5 percent, a spokesperson confirmed.

Digital Asset Scores Partnership With Cloud Computing Giant VMware

Digital Asset Scores Partnership With Cloud Computing Giant VMware

Enterprise-focused distributed ledger tech startup Digital Asset (DA) has landed another high-profile partner. Announced Thursday, software virtualization giant VMware is integrating DA’s smart contract language into its own blockchain platform. Further, VMware, a publicly traded company majority-owned by Dell Computer with more than 24,000 employees, will distribute the Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML) with its VMware Blockchain platform directly to customers and through partners. “DAML has been proven to be one of the few smart contract languages capable of modeling truly complex workflows at scale,” said Michael DiPetrillo, senior director of Blockchain at VMware, in a press release. According to the companies, VMware Blockchain “is deployed in enterprises worldwide,” although further details weren’t provided. Palo Alto, California-based VMware first revealed last August that it had developed an open-source blockchain designed to be both scalable and energy-efficient, known as Project Concord. In 2017, the firm sought a patent for a system that would use blockchain as part of a wider effort to boost the speed of data transfers. Its main business is providing cloud computing and platform virtualization services to companies. The team-up is the latest in a string of announcements by New York-based Digital Asset, which is best known for its former CEO, JPMorgan alum Blythe Masters, and its multi-year contract to rebuild the Australian Securities Exchange’s aging CHESS system using DLT. The startup recently open-sourced DAML and began working with the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) to aid the Wall Street trade group’s effort to standardize data in complex financial contracts. These developments followed a series of high-level departures, starting with Masters herself in December. (Co-founder Yuval Rooz succeeded her as CEO.) VMware image via Shutterstock.

Bitcoin Futures Exchange Bakkt Hires PayPal, Google Vet as Product Chief

Bitcoin Futures Exchange Bakkt Hires PayPal, Google Vet as Product Chief

Bitcoin futures exchange Bakkt has hired a PayPal and Google veteran as its new chief product officer. The firm announced Thursday that it had hired Mike Blandina, who at various points in his career served as head of payments and credit engineering at PayPal and director of engineering for Google Wallet. Most recently, Blandina was chief technology officer and head of product and engineering at OneMarket, Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler wrote in a blog post. “As our CPO, Mike will lead our efforts to converge a trusted ecosystem for digital assets with payments use cases, two elements of Bakkt that help bring real world applications to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” she wrote. As to the firm itself, Loeffler acknowledged that Bakkt is currently in a state of limbo as it awaits regulatory approval to launch, but likened the firm’s development to a marathon. “As a former marathoner, this point in time recalls the stage in the training regimen when you’re putting in long runs with your training team,” she wrote. Bakkt still has no official launch date after multiple delays, though Loeffler hinted that the exchange might provide more clarity soon, writing “race day is approaching.” “There is more work to be done,” she said. “I’m proud to be going the distance with this growing team and of the culture we are building, while bringing digital assets into the mainstream economy.” The firm is currently waiting on approval from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to list its bitcoin futures contract. Bakkt’s proposal would have it warehouse its own bitcoin, which may be a factor in this delayed approval. That being said, Loeffler seemed undaunted, writing: “We are mindful that the infrastructure we are building has the potential to create more opportunities for digital assets to grow in relevance and trust — by being more secure, investible and useful.” Michael Casey, Kelly Loeffler, Jeff Sprecher (Bakkt) image via CoinDesk archives

World’s Second-Largest Grocer Joins IBM Food Trust Blockchain

World’s Second-Largest Grocer Joins IBM Food Trust Blockchain

Albertsons Companies, the world’s second-largest supermarket company by sales, has joined IBM’s Food Trust blockchain, a digital system for tracking and tracing food between retailers and suppliers. Announced Thursday, Albertsons will begin with a pilot involving suppliers of romaine lettuce – a product which was last year linked to a widespread outbreak of E-coli resulting in recalls on a grand scale, 96 people being hospitalized and, tragically, five deaths.  Based in Boise, Idaho, Albertsons operates nearly 2,300 stores across the U.S., including the Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, and Acme chains. With $57 billion in sales in 2017, it was second only to Kroger among supermarket companies, according to The Balance Small Business. Albertsons’ addition brings the total number of brands involved in Food Trust to over 80.  Arguably the jewel in the IBM Blockchain Platform crown, Food Trust, which went into live production in October of last year, tackles a critical problem in the commercial food chain: the ability to rapidly pinpoint a dodgy batch of produce and surgically remove those tainted goods from circulation so that retailers don’t have to empty their shelves of every item in the affected category, be that lettuce, spinach, beef, etc. It appears to be a compelling proposition. Most recently Food Trust signed up European supermarket giant Carrefour, to join other food business giants such as Walmart, Nestle, Dole Food, Tyson Foods, Kroger and Unilever. According to Big Blue, more than 500,000 traces have been conducted on the platform to date (each trace represents a single lot, although the number of items per lot varies from company to company). Rucha Nanavati, group vice president for IT at Albertsons, told CoinDesk: “I truly believe there’s power in numbers. Now all those big companies can come together and ask suppliers to come on the platform. We always had technology in supply chain but now with all the data you can gather the potential is there to take it a step further.” She explained that the food industry has always had a firm focus on safety but said doing recalls efficiently is difficult, first involving the internal supply chain and then looking into the external supply chain. “What we had before wasn’t this efficient, that’s for sure,” she said. As early as 2016, IBM and Walmart…

Introducing Fenrir: How Coinbase is Scaling Serverless Applications

Introducing Fenrir: How Coinbase is Scaling Serverless Applications

Serverless, specifically AWS Lambda, is awesome. It scales from 0 to near infinity, it costs next to nothing, and it integrates with almost everything. The trouble starts when going from one engineer deploying applications into one account, to lots of engineers deploying into many shared accounts. It’s hard to make sure applications follow the same good naming and security practices to stop everyone from stepping on each other’s toes. Providing a secure and pleasant experience for thousands of developers building and deploying hundreds of serverless applications to dozens of AWS accounts is the goal. To that end we developed and open sourced Fenrir, our AWS SAM deployer. This post is about how we use Fenrir to deploy serverless in a large organization. What the Framework (SAM, serverless…) Doesn’t Do Serverless frameworks typically include a CLI that can create/update AWS resources and deploy code. For example, both serverless deploy and sam deploy use AWS Cloud Formation (CF) to release code. These deploy commands are useful when getting started, and can easily be put into a CI/CD pipeline to accelerate application release. When more engineers start deploying serverless applications it is a good idea to ensure they: Use consistent naming: good naming (and tagging) of resources, like Lambda and API Gateway, will keep accounts clean and make obvious which resources belong to which projects. Follow recommended security practices: e.g. practice “least privilege” by giving Lambdas separate security groups and IAM roles. Create a reliable workflow: cleanly handle failure in a way that shows developers what happened, why it happened, and how to remedy. Record what is deployed: quickly answering what is currently deployed allows engineers to debug and understand the current state of the world. Our solution was to build a centralized deployer. This deployer provides clear boundaries to developers working in the same AWS account and blocks deployment unless common practices are followed. This removes the cognitive overhead of a lot of details and allow engineers to focus on their application code. Fenrir Serverless Serverless Deployer FenrirFenrir is our AWS SAM deployer; at its core is a reimplementation of the sam deploy command as an AWS Step Function, so it’s a serverless serverless (serverless²) deployer. sam deploy is an alias for a python script with two steps…

Telegram’s TON Blockchain Is Live in Private Testing Mode, Shows High Speed: Report

Telegram’s TON Blockchain Is Live in Private Testing Mode, Shows High Speed: Report

Global messaging app Telegram has reportedly launched a private beta testing of its blockchain, Telegram Open Network (TON), Russian media outlet Vedomosti reports on April 11. According to Vedomosti, Telegram has opened access to a testing version of TON Blockchain to a limited number of global developers, including Russian dev teams. Citing two anonymous persons who acquired the early access, the news agency reported that the dev teams were enabled to set up TON Blockchain nodes. While testing has not provided any specific outcomes, the unnamed testers revealed that the TON Blockchain has demonstrated an “extremely high transaction speed.” However, the specific indicators could not be delivered, since the blockchain’s code — including smart contracts — were in the process of testing, one of the persons has said. Privacy-focused encrypted messenger Telegram was founded by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov in 2013, and as of March 2018, the service amassed 200 million active users. Recently, three million new users signed up for the app over a 24 hours period when Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were all experiencing significant outages worldwide, as Durov reported on its official Telegram channel on March 14. Telegram raised around $1.7 billion in two private initial coin offering (ICO) rounds for both Telegram and its TON platform in 2018. While Vedomosti reported that Telegram would release a test version of TON in the fall of 2018, there has been no official data on the expected date of TON Blockchain launch, with Durov having declined to confirm a concrete date for TON’s release in March 2019. Recently, Cointelegraph reported that purchase agreements for messenger service Telegram tokens will be terminated if TON does not launch by Oct. 31, 2019.

Crypto Markets See Red, European Stocks Teeter in Wake of Brexit Deadline Extension

Crypto Markets See Red, European Stocks Teeter in Wake of Brexit Deadline Extension

Thursday, April 11 — after a bullish week, all of the top twenty cryptocurrencies are reporting slight to moderate losses on the day by press time, as Bitcoin (BTC) corrects down close to the $5,100 mark. Market visualization courtesy of Coin360 Bitcoin is down close to 2.8% on the day, and is trading at around $5,106 by press time, according to CoinMarketCap. The top coin has seen a week of near-consistent growth, hitting an multi-month price high of over $5,420 yesterday, April 10. Today’s correction has brought Bitcoin’s weekly gains to around 3.3%. Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap The largest altcoin by market cap, Ethereum (ETH), has taken a price hit, down 7.8% on the day to trade at $166.23. The alt has seen a jagged trading pattern over the week, first growing to hit an intra-week high of over $180 on April 8, before faltering downward to its current price point, notwithstanding a brief spike yesterday. On the week, Ethereum remains up by 3%. Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ripple (XRP) has reported a loss of 5.8% on the day, and is currently trading at around $0.335. On its weekly chart, the altcoin peaked at $0.373 on April 5, and has seen a tempered and consistent decline since. XRP is now down close to 2.4% on the week. Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Among the uniformly red top 10 cryptocurrencies, Litecoin (LTC) is reporting the largest losses, down 9.8% on the day to trade at $79.40. It is closely followed by 5th largest crypto Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which has taken an 8.35% loss on the day to press time. Widening out to the top twenty, the heaviest losers are 19th-ranked crypto Ontology (ONT), down a stark 13% on the day, 11th-ranked Tron (TRX), down 11.3%, and 16th-ranked NEO, down close to 11.75%. Tezos (XTZ), ranked 20th, has seen the mildest losses of all top 20 coins, down just 1% to press time. The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is currently around to $173.2 billion, down 0.4% on the week. Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. Source: CoinMarketCap In crypto and blockchain news, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said yesterday that blockchain innovators are shaking the traditional financial world,…