PwC’s Pierre-Edouard Wahl: Blockchain Can Bring Positive Competition to Swiss Banking Space

PwC’s Pierre-Edouard Wahl: Blockchain Can Bring Positive Competition to Swiss Banking Space

Cointelegraph recently had the chance to speak with Pierre-Edouard Wahl, the head of blockchain digital services at PwC Switzerland, about the future potential of blockchain in the country. Wahl, who noted that PwC Switzerland worked closely with main Swiss stock exchange SIX on their announcement of a future distributed ledger-based digital asset exchange, elaborated on his beliefs that crypto must be used in order to go mainstream enough to give people back control of their digital footprints. This interview has been edited and condensed. Molly Jane: Could you tell us how you got interested in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space? Pierre-Edouard Wahl: I’m an engineer by schooling. I’ve been in the blockchain space for several years now, and I discovered a Bitcoin community that was very ideologically driven. The community drove me to the technology, not the other way around. And so I decided to start a B2B Bitcoin exchange and got into some trouble, because at that time, it was very difficult. There was no clear regulation around exchange operations, and I looked for a big banking partner. Unfortunately, at the time, every time you mentioned Bitcoin, there were closed doors — so that did not work out. But Credit Suisse asked me if I was willing to jumpstart their blockchain department, so I happily did. I spent three years at Credit Suisse and after that left, thought I was going to get back to the startup world, but really thought I had an opportunity at PwC to make an even bigger difference than in the startup world. Because we have a reach that is pretty amazing — a very high level of established business, executive suite. So, yeah, that was the exciting part. MJ: When did you first hear about cryptocurrencies? PW: The first time I heard about Bitcoin was in 2010. I dabbled with Bitcoin really for the first time in 2011, and got into the space full-time in 2012. I feel like it is an industry that has such a huge potential, and I wish I could have spent more time there. But yes, relative to the existence of this industry, I have been there for a while. MJ: Do you actually invest in the industry, do you own Bitcoin? PW:…

Where Have All the Augur Users Gone?

Where Have All the Augur Users Gone?

The day Augur launched it breezed into the rankings of top ethereum dapps by daily active users – but the momentum didn’t last long. Released on July 10, Augur allows users to create and bet on prediction markets tied to real-world events, such as World Cup games, elections and – unfortunately – murders. Having waited three years for Augur to be developed and tested, users rushed to try it out, briefly pushing it past the most famous dapp, CryptoKitties, in terms of users. It’s worth noting that dapp userbases are uniformly tiny, though, with Augur and CryptoKitties each boasting around 300 users on the day in question. Over the following weeks, however, Augur has shed users and slipped in the rankings. At the time of writing, it’s had 66 users over the past 24 hours, putting it in an uninspiring 22nd place, according to data provider DappRadar. The dwindling userbase has also raised some uncomfortable questions about the valuation of Augur’s native REP tokens, which are used to create markets and challenge reported outcomes (bets are placed and paid out in ether). “I like Augur and what it represents,” Edan Yago, founder and CEO of the bitcoin-focused software company Epiphyte, tweeted. “BUT,” he continued: “The protocol is valued at $308 million and has 64 daily users. That’s $4.8 million per user.” It’s up for debate how useful that metric is (the valuation could reflect expectations of future user growth, or not be directly connected to users at all), but the Augur community plainly has user numbers on its mind. The project’s Discord forum was mulling the topic at the time of writing, and the question of whether Augur has “failed” was broached at least once. Joey Krug, the project’s co-founder, put on a brave face, telling CoinDesk he’s “not super concerned” about user numbers “as long as markets are getting resolved correctly.” He cited short-term factors that could have fed the decline, including the end of the World Cup (which dominated betting volumes early on) and the fact that user experience is still clunky. “I imagine lots of people tried it and decided they’d come back in six months to a year when it’s more mature,” Krug said. The liquidity problem However, Ryan Berckmans, co-founder of…

Blockchain Startup Havven to Launch Stablecoin on EOS This Year

Blockchain Startup Havven to Launch Stablecoin on EOS This Year

A blockchain startup that sets out to offer cross-blockchain payments has announced it is planning to bring its existing stablecoin – a cryptocurrency tied to a stable asset – to the EOS network. Called Havven, the Australia-based project said in a release on Wednesday that it is expecting to issue its nUSD stablecoin on EOS by the end of this year. The U.S. dollar-pegged token first launched on the ethereum network in June. The goal, the startup said, is not to switch the token’s fundamental network from ethereum to EOS, but to issue nUSD on both networks separately – a mission it claims will “offer cross-blockchain stablecoins.” “At this stage, cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, so it’s not clear which blockchains will manage to scale,” Havven’s founder Kain Warwick said in the announcement, adding: “For this reason, it’s important that projects providing blockchain infrastructure plan to provide cross-chain compatibility, so their success isn’t bound to the success of whatever chain they’ve chosen.” A stablecoin is typically designed to adjust its supply as the market shifts in order to maintain a price pegged to an asset such as a fiat currency, providing a lack of volatility makes it easier for businesses or users to adopt. For instance, stablecoin startup MakerDAO is currently working with supply chain management firm Tradeshift to use its ethereum-based DAI token to help speed up payments for small businesses. Havven’s effort comes after EOS officially announced its long-awaited network launch in June. Block.One, the entity behind the EOS blockchain has also revealed a $1 billion investment fund to facilitate the growth of its ecosystem. IBM is also working with a startup called Stronghold to launch a stablecoin on the stellar blockchain. Boy balancing 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.

Opera Browser Opens Its Built-in Cryptocurrency Wallet to Desktop Users

Opera Browser Opens Its Built-in Cryptocurrency Wallet to Desktop Users

Wallets Opera Ltd (NASDAQ: OPRA), the Norway-headquartered company behind the browser used by 322 million people, has decided to open up its desktop browser to its recently released mobile crypto wallet. The developers say this is due to the “overwhelmingly positive response of the crypto-community and users to the crypto wallet in Opera for Android.” Also Read: Opera Browser Introduces a Built-in Cryptocurrency Wallet Opera Is Opening Up the PC Browser to Crypto The Norwegian browser maker explains that the desktop wallet roll-out is designed to tackle two main issues for its users. Firstly, Opera users will no longer need to install and set up an extension in their PC browser, just to connect the browser with the wallet-enabled mobile app by scanning a QR code which will grant them access to their mobile wallet. Secondly, the phone’s secure system lock will be used to store the keys, allowing people to sign transactions with their fingerprints instead of using long passphrases. And the keys controlling the assets will remain stored only on the user’s phone. “By adding a crypto wallet directly into the browser, we removed the need for complex extensions or separate apps,” said Charles Hamel, Product Lead of Opera Crypto. “Opening up the PC browser to crypto marks Opera’s second step towards making cryptocurrencies and Web 3.0 mainstream.” Make Crypto-Integration Mainstream As we reported when it was launched in private beta back in July, the current version of the app only supports ETH, ERC-20 tokens and ERC-721 collectibles (which it automatically presents to the user). However, the developers plan to add support for additional cryptocurrencies in the future. The decision to open up desktop browsers to a crypto wallet is part of the company’s long-term strategy of focusing on more demanding users with built-in features. “At Opera, we try to stay at the forefront of innovation. Our next aim is to make crypto-integration mainstream. We believe blockchain technology has the power to transform the web of tomorrow and expect it to make a big difference in the years to come,” said Krystian Kolondra, EVP Browsers. In how long will all browsers support crypto payments as default? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Opera. Verify and track bitcoin…

EOS Stablecoin? Blockchain Startup Havven Plans Launch By Year End

EOS Stablecoin? Blockchain Startup Havven Plans Launch By Year End

A blockchain startup aimed to offer cross-blockchain payments has announced it is planning to bring its existing stablecoin to the EOS network. Called Havven, the Australia-based project said in a release on Wednesday that it is expecting to issue its nUSD stablecoin on EOS by the end of this year after the U.S. dollar-pegged token first launched on the ethereum mainnet in June. The project said that the goal is not to switch the token’s fundamental network from ethereum to EOS but to issue the stablecoin in both networks separately – a mission it claims to “offer cross-blockchain stablecoins.” “At this stage, cryptocurrency is still in its infancy, so it’s not clear which blockchains will manage to scale,” Havven’s founder Kain Warwick said in the announcement, adding: “For this reason, it’s important that projects providing blockchain infrastructure plan to provide cross-chain compatibility, so their success isn’t bound to the success of whatever chain they’ve chosen.” A stablecoin is typically designed to adjust its supply as the market shifts in order to maintain a price pegged to a fiat currency so that its stability would make it easier for businesses to adopt. For instance, stablecoin startup MakerDAO is currently working with supply chain management firm Tradeshift to use its ethereum-based DAI token to help speed up payments for small businesses. Havven’s effort comes after EOS officially announced the long-awaited network launch in June. Block.One, the maker behind the EOS blockchain also revealed a $1 billion investment fund to facilitate the growth of its ecosystem. The goal of launching cross-blockchain stablecoins also follows previous news that IBM is working with a startup  called Stronghold to launch a stablecoin on the stellar blockchain. Stable 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.

SEC Postpones Decision on Vaneck Solidx Bitcoin ETF but Previous Concerns ‘Resolved’

SEC Postpones Decision on Vaneck Solidx Bitcoin ETF but Previous Concerns ‘Resolved’

Regulation The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has extended the time period it needs to make a decision on the Vaneck Solidx bitcoin ETF based on the proposed rule change filed by Cboe BZX Exchange. Meanwhile, the ETF team has submitted to the SEC key changes addressing all concerns cited as reasons for rejecting Solidx Bitcoin Trust ETF last year. Also read: Yahoo! Japan Confirms Entrance Into the Crypto Space Deadline Extended The SEC announced Tuesday that it has extended the time it will take to make a decision on the proposed rule change to list and trade shares of Solidx Bitcoin Shares issued by the Vaneck Solidx Bitcoin Trust. SEC building. Cboe BZX Exchange filed the proposed rule change with the SEC on June 20, which was published in the Federal Register on July 2. This bitcoin ETF has received a lot of attention from the crypto community. “As of August 6, 2018, the Commission has received more than 1,300 comments on the proposed rule change,” the agency wrote. The Commission explained that the Securities Exchange Act provides that within 45 days of the publication in the Federal Register a longer period may be designated, elaborating: The Commission is extending this 45-day time period. The Commission finds that it is appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change. The SEC now “designates September 30, 2018, as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove, or institute proceedings to determine whether to disapprove, the proposed rule change.” However, this may not be the last time the SEC postpones its decision on this bitcoin ETF. According to the Exchange Act, the Commission can extend it 240 days from the date published in the Federal Register. Key Concerns from Last Rejection ‘Resolved’ In March last year, the SEC rejected the proposed rule change filed by NYSE Arca to list and trade shares of Solidx Bitcoin Trust. A document published on the SEC website dated August 1 details a meeting the previous day between 15 SEC officials and six representatives from Van Eck Securities Corporation, Solidx Management LLC, and Cboe BZX Exchange Inc. A presentation was submitted…

Code as a Weapon: Amir Taaki Wants You to Join the Real Crypto Revolution

Code as a Weapon: Amir Taaki Wants You to Join the Real Crypto Revolution

There are many words that could be used to describe Amir Taaki – but today, ambitious is best. The infamous bitcoin developer – known for co-creating Dark Wallet, Darkleaks and OpenBazaar – took the stage during a hackathon he hosted in the wake of the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium (PETS) in Barcelona last week, the same city where he plans to set up his academy of coders, hackers and philosophers dubbed Autonomous Polytechnics. It’s a bit of a shift, about 1,800 miles to the West from Taaki’s earlier idea, which was to build the academy in Greece. But with a toolset focused on anonymity and autonomy, it might make more sense to build the project in the capital city of the autonomous Spanish community of Catalonia. Spending no time mulling over the decision, Taaki took to sketching out his political vision on a dirty whiteboard. In a series of diagrams, Taaki described the evolution of biological cells, the structure of societies and the impact that technology can have on such systems, sparking runaway trends to monopolization, or its opposite — atomization. Tying the latter to the UNIX philosophy, a branch of coder theory that vouches for minimal and modular units of software, Taaki then exposed the upcoming product suite his academy will build. Albeit loose mathematical sequences, the audience could tell the scripts comprised the details of an entire dark machinery, a kind of subterranean web 3.0. Distilling the wide-ranging talk, one attendee quipped, “Plans to anonymize the world.” And while Taaki insisted the details on the whiteboard not be published for fear they be co-opted – “There’s a lack of ideas in this space,” he told CoinDesk – it’s clear the tooling he’s got in mind would be a revolution, which is exactly what he wants. Having left bitcoin development to fight alongside a Kurdish militia in Rojava, an autonomous region in northern Syria, Taaki is hoping to spread that region’s practices of democratic confederalism, a political theory that advocates for small, self-governing communities. “Every revolutionary movement needs to have a technological arm, and we are the technological arm of the democratic confederalist movement,” Taaki told CoinDesk, “This is our objective as an organization, which is using technology for autonomous democracy and the collapse of the system of nation states around…

XRP, Litecoin Fall to Lowest Prices Yet Seen in 2018

XRP, Litecoin Fall to Lowest Prices Yet Seen in 2018

The price of XRP, the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, fell to a new 2018 low on Wednesday. Data from Bitfinex shows the cryptocurrency dropped to $0.35 – seven cents from the previous yearly low of $0.42 in July. Indeed the current price stands at its lowest level since December 12, 2017, days before XRP shot up to all-time-highs over $3 amid a bull run on the crypto market. All told, XRP is now down 89.2 percent over an eight-month period. Driving the trend is likely not only the wider bear market, but bad press for Ripple, the startup most often associated with XRP, and which continues to be bombarded by bad press and investor lawsuits stemming from the coin’s price decline. XRP Daily Chart At press time, the price of XRP continues its downward trajectory – down 11.76 percent over a 24-hour basis according to CoinMarketCap data and down 1 percent on the hour. As a matter of fact, other major names are also flashing red. For example, bitcoin is down 4.86 percent over a 24-hour period after it dropped from its $7,000 support zone on Tuesday. Litecoin Daily Chart Litecoin has also dropped to its lowest point this year, declining 8.78 percent from its previous yearly low at $72.65, making it one of the biggest losers on the day. Other names such as ethereum and eos are down 6.89 percent and 7.96 percent respectively and are showing no signs of a short-term bullish revival. Meanwhile, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies dropped below $250 billion –  an amount traders kept an eye on in hopes of remaining bullish. The Author holds USDT at the time of writing Image via Shutterstock; Charts via TradingView 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.

Crypto Markets Slump Following SEC Bitcoin ETF Delay

Crypto Markets Slump Following SEC Bitcoin ETF Delay

After solid growth to break above the $7,000 mark earlier today, Bitcoin (BTC) saw a loss of around $500 in six hours. At press time, all of the top ten cryptocurrencies other than Tether (USDT) are in the red, according to Coin360. Market visualization from Coin360 BTC is trading around $6,598 at press time, dropping 5.29 percent over the last day and bringing a new weekly low. The decline follows today’s news that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) postponed its decision on the listing and trading of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) to the end of September. Bitcoin’s 24-hour price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Bitcoin Price Index Ethereum (ETH) is suffering a slump, having lost around 6.64 percent in the last 24 hours. The second largest cryptocurrency is trading at $377 at press time, also hitting a new weekly low. Over the month, the ETH price has dropped 23 percent. Ethereum’s 7-day price chart. Source: Cointelegraph Ethereum Price Index The top ten altcoins are firmly in the red, moving downward from 4 to almost 12 percent. At press time, IOTA, and Ripple (XRP) show the most significant losses, dropping 8.52 and 11.46 percent respectively, followed by Litecoin (LTC) with a loss of 8.5 percent on the day. Among the top twenty coins by market capitalization, Ethereum Classic (ETC) has been hit the hardest, losing over 13 percent in the last 24 hours, and trading at $17.02 at press time. Today, Aug. 7, crypto exchange Coinbase added support for ETC on its Coinbase Pro platform. Yesterday, commission-free crypto trading platform Robinhood listed ETC as well. Ethereum Classic’s 1-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is at $236.7 billion at press time, down almost $15 billion over the 24 hour period. 1-day chart of the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies from CoinMarketCap

DEA Agent: Speculators Are Using Bitcoin More Than Criminals

DEA Agent: Speculators Are Using Bitcoin More Than Criminals

Criminals were behind roughly 90 percent of all bitcoin transactions five years ago – a figure that has now declined to 10 percent. That’s according to Lilita Infante, a special agent from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration who spoke to Bloomberg about changing trends in the relationship between the cryptocurrency and criminal activity. “The volume has grown tremendously, the amount of transactions and the dollar value has grown tremendously over the years in criminal activity, but the ratio has decreased. The majority of transactions are used for price speculation,” Infante was quoted as saying. Despite the shift from criminal use to investment and trading, though, the total volume of criminal bitcoin transactions has still increased over the years as dark market activity has grown. It’s just that the proportions have effectively swapped, according to Infante. In fact, given this rapid growth in interest for the different use cases of cryptocurrency, U.S. law enforcement has since caught on to the technology to some degree using blockchain technology to trace cases of money laundering and illegal drug trafficking. Even so, Infante maintained that U.S. law enforcement is ahead of the game, telling the publication that “we still have ways of tracking them” and noting that, at least for the time being, the majority of criminal dealings in cryptocurrencies still occur on the public bitcoin blockchain. “The blockchain actually gives us a lot of tools to be able to identify people … I actually want [criminals] to keep using them,” she told Bloomberg. Handcuffs 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.