Indian Minister: No Official Ban on Cryptocurrencies in India Yet

Indian Minister: No Official Ban on Cryptocurrencies in India Yet

India’s Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur has said that there is no law in India expressly prohibiting the use of cryptocurrencies. Local media outlet Inc42 reported Thakur’s statement on July 19,  The statement came during a recent exchange between a Member of Parliament (MP) and Thakur inside of Rajya Sabha — the “Council of States” or upper house of Indian legislature. MP Dharmapuri Srinivas reportedly asked Thakur about whether cryptocurrency was actually illegal. Srinivas apparently followed up his first question on legality with others on information and enforcement, asking: “Whether the government has taken note about the prevalence of cryptocurrency in the country and if any action is being taken against the persons who are responsible for running the cryptocurrency in the market?” Thakur reportedly replied in the negative.  Elaborating on the country’s position, Thakur said that there is no law specific to crypto to refer to. Cryptocurrency activities are reportedly only actionable offenses if they violate preexisting laws, which can be enforced by entities including the RBI, enforcement directorate, and income tax authorities. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, an unverified, leaked bill draft entitled “Banning of Cryptocurrency & Regulation of Official Digital Currencies” would ban all “non-official” cryptocurrencies. It defines cryptocurrencies as:  “Any information or code or number or token not being part of any Official Digital Currency, generated through cryptographic means or otherwise, providing a digital representation of value.”   However, this definition leaves India the option of issuing a digital Rupee, which the bill also proposes.

Energy Company E.ON Files Blockchain Patent for Data Analytics Device

Energy Company E.ON Files Blockchain Patent for Data Analytics Device

Energy network company E.ON has filed a patent application for a blockchain-based data collector with the European Patent Office.  E.ON announced the patent filing on the company’s website on July 19. As per the announcement, the device in question makes use of sensors to collect user data, which the user can then choose to sell as data analytics. According to the announcement, users supply data from smart home applications.  E.ON claims that the customer has sole control over who accesses any given portion of their data. This includes E.ON itself, who cannot access customer data without explicit consent. Regarding the role of blockchain technology in this new device — which is reportedly shaped like a small box roughly the size of a €5 bill — is to safeguard data privacy, alongside “highly secure encryption.” Chief digital and technology officer Matthew Timms said that a solution for customers to pick and sell their data for analytics is a new innovation: “Our Future Lab team has managed to combine blockchain and big data with a simple hardware solution. We want our customers to have absolute control over the analysis of their data. The ability to sell parts of these analyses within a more secure, traceable framework is completely new.” According to the announcement, a prototype of the device has passed international safety tests and receiving certification from German testing laboratory SGS. Additionally, the current roadmap for the product includes customer testing by the year’s end, and an official launch as early as next year. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Napster creator Shawn Fanning’s new company Helium has begun testing a blockchain-based wireless hotspot initiative. These devices, called Helium Hotspots, are intended to form the backbone of a decentralized internet service. In addition, these hotspots contain sensors that can track information like location and heat, which have potential in use cases like wildfire prevention and even tracking pets.

Bitcoin Mining Helps Oil Companies Reduce Carbon Footprint

Bitcoin Mining Helps Oil Companies Reduce Carbon Footprint

Natural gas acquired as a byproduct of oil extraction has become synonymous with wasted energy. In certain areas, drilling companies are unable to find a profitable market for the excess fuel. It’s often vented into the atmosphere. Startups are now offering on-site systems that utilize the surplus to mine cryptocurrencies. This new business is growing in regions where shale oil and gas extraction are major industries. Also read: Georgia Exempts Bitcoin From VAT to Become the Next Country to Affirm Its Currency Status Fossil Fuels Aren’t Going Anywhere At least for the foreseeable future, traditional energy sources such as oil and gas are here to stay. Their abundance and relatively low price compared to some renewables, their utility, mobility and well developed supporting infrastructure are hard to beat. However, despite these obvious advantages, getting them out of the ground can sometimes be a wasteful process. Electricity is the primary cost of bitcoin mining and while coin minting is often powered by renewables like hydro, energy from traditional sources is widely used as well. Cryptocurrency mining can utilize the surplus fuel that would otherwise be wasted, and the oil and gas industry is a good example of this. With the spread of alternative methods of extraction to even remote, hard-to-access places, the need for on-site consumers grows. New shale oil wells have been popping up across North America and other parts of the world in the past few years. They are often located far from potential markets, and the transportation of certain byproducts such as methane and other compounds forming natural gas is not always economically viable, because grid prices are too low or because expensive additional infrastructure is needed to transport the fuel. Associated gas, or flare gas, is a liability for oil companies and they have several options for dealing with it. If a well is close to a market, producers can pipe it to end consumers. Alternatively, they can flare it or vent it into the atmosphere. However, authorities in the U.S. and Canada impose restrictions on the amount of gas that can be released or burned. Exceeding these limits usually leads to costly production stoppages. Crypto Mining Makes Excess Gas Profitable Installing bitcoin mining equipment at oil production sites provides a solution…

Bitcoin Dominance Growing — What It Could Mean for Altcoins

Bitcoin Dominance Growing — What It Could Mean for Altcoins

Bitcoin (BTC) has more than tripled in 2019, moving from under $4,000 at the start of the year and then topping out at a little under $14,000 in June. In the earlier part of 2019, altcoins seemed to be performing strongly, with many calling the trend “altseason.” However, since Bitcoin began its 2019 charge starting with the “April Fool’s day rally,” most altcoins seem to be slipping when compared to the top-ranked cryptocurrency. There is now a growing debate about whether the altcoin market will experience the same massive price gains seen in Bitcoin during this current bullish cycle. Within this expanding debate, there are several viewpoints. Some say Bitcoin’s dominance will continue to increase while altcoins continually lose ground. Others posit that previous cycles have seen altcoin rallies coming after bullish fatigue sets in for Bitcoin. Bitcoin dominance chart as percentage of total market capitalization Whether altseason returns or not, the only point for consonance appears to be the idea that the current bull cycle could have profound ramifications for the still infant market. Several commentators say cryptos are becoming a more mature asset class, which could lead to wider adoption. Bitcoin vs. altcoins: The altcoin bubble argument In late 2017, the cryptocurrency market arguably captured attention in the financial sector and beyond. Bitcoin rose to almost eclipse the $20,000 price mark while altcoins also posted all-time highs. The following year, many cryptocurrencies saw these gains virtually wiped out as the market endured a prolonged bear decline. The average price dip across the board was more than 80%. Many analytical autopsies of the 2017 bull run converge at the conclusion that the sharp price gains were likely fuelled by hype-driven mania for cryptos as a new asset class. Retail investors struck with a fear of missing out (FOMO) rushed to put money into any and all crypto tokens in the hopes of becoming early backers of the “next Bitcoin.” This FOMO-driven hype occasioned by the initial coin offering (ICO) boom also generated sufficient tailwind for Bitcoin to reach its all-time price high in mid-December 2017. ICO tokens generated a lot of buzz for the altcoin market as well. While the 2018 bear market did not discriminate in its wipeout of the 2017 price gains,…

Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware Ryuk Virus Found and Studied in China

Bitcoin-Seeking Ransomware Ryuk Virus Found and Studied in China

Tencent Yujian Threat Intelligence Center says that a Ryuk ransomware virus has been spotted in China. The intelligence center released information on the outbreak in a report on July 16. According to the report, Ryuk viruses are a family of malware aimed at infecting government and enterprise machines holding valuable data. According to the report, a Ryuk virus derives from the Hermes virus, with code that is directly modified off of the latter. As noted in the report, Ryuk is the name of a death spirit in the popular manga Death Note. As per its title, Ryuk possesses a notebook that can be used to kill a person by writing their name on one of its pages. Researchers at the intelligence center were reportedly able to capture and study the virus in action. According to the report, this virus came attached with a ReadMe note containing two email addresses. Upon replying to the first email address, the researchers received instructions and a ransom demand set at 11 Bitcoin. The intelligence center advised personal users to run Tencent PC Manager and enable file backups, turn off Office macros, and to stay away from unfamiliar emails. The report also referenced a number of Ryuk ransom cases. In the United States, for instance, the public administration of La Porte County, Indiana paid a $130,000 ransom to get rid of the virus. In Lake City, Florida, the local government paid a $460,000 ransom after Ryuk infected the city’s computer systems.  As previously reported by Cointelegraph, research in January suggested that Ryuk originated in Russia. The virus was originally thought to have come out of North Korea, but McAfee Labs and Crowdstrike have suggested that Russia is the more likely source. According to these cybersecurity companies, Ryuk may in fact have come from the Russia-based group GRIM SPIDER.

St. Louis Fed Chief Pessimistic on Crypto as Non-Uniform Currency

St. Louis Fed Chief Pessimistic on Crypto as Non-Uniform Currency

St. Louis Fed Chief James Bullard reportedly views cryptocurrencies as part of a global currency competition that is ultimately unhealthy. Bullard presented his views at the Central Bank Research Association 2019 annual meeting in a talk entitled “Public and Private Currency Competition.”  Presentation slides have subsequently appeared on the official Twitter account for The St. Louis Fed on July 19. In Bullard’s slides, he noted that there is historical precedent for certain key features of cryptocurrency. One of his bullet points reads: “Global currency competition is nothing new, nor is electronic delivery of value.”  He also presented that “public and private currencies can compete and coexist as part of an equilibrium.” However, what Bullard appears to be concerned about is the apparent, current trajectory toward localized non-uniformity. He notes that there is some evidence to suggest that this is unfavorable, citing data on global volatility in exchange rates. Source: stlouisfed Bullard also noted that there is historical precedent within the U.S. indicating that localized non-uniform currency will not fly. Bullard wrote: “Cryptocurrencies are creating drift toward a non-uniform currency in the U.S., a state of affairs that has existed historically but was disliked and eventually replaced.” Bullard cited the book “The Jacksonian Economy” by Peter Temin to say that 90% of American money in the 1830s was issued via private banknotes.  According to Bullard, contemporaries received this system unfavorably. A lack of uniformity reportedly entailed varying pay rates and town-specific discount books. Due to its unpopularity, uniform pay rates will reportedly implemented during the Civil War. As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) pressed Calibra wallet CEO David Marcus on whether currencies ought to be sovereign, corporations governing Libra, and Marcus’ comment on potentially taking his paycheck fully in Libra. Although AOC ran out of time before finishing her line of questioning, she asked Marcus: “In the history of this country, there is a term for being paid in a corporate-controlled currency … It’s called ‘scrip.’ The idea that your pay could be controlled by a corporation instead of a sovereign government. Do you think that there is any risk here?” She also made a remark on scrip destabilizing in the U.S. in the past. Company scrip has been illegalized as a payment…

Token Startup Founder Took Steps to Sue Lubin, ConsenSys for $13 Million

Token Startup Founder Took Steps to Sue Lubin, ConsenSys for $13 Million

Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin could soon be sued by a former employee, according to court documents filed in New York. Harrison Hines, former head of Token Foundry at Lubin’s Brooklyn-based venture studio ConsenSys, began the process of filing a legal complaint in June against his former employer. The complaint seeks more than $13 million for alleged fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and unpaid profits. According to the summons from Hines’ lawyer: “The relief sought is monetary damages in the amount of $12,827,000 on the contract, quasi-contract and fraud claims plus $404,783 in unpaid profits.” Lubin’s legal representation responded to the summons by clarifying which counsel might represent the defendants in this case. The details of the case, along with the upcoming dates, are still unclear. The plaintiff, Hines, has yet to follow up with a formal lawsuit and the deadline for such paperwork has since passed. This may mean that legal representatives for both parties are pursuing a prospective agreement outside of court. Hines could not immediately be reached for comment; requests sent to ConsenSys were not returned as of press time. Launched in April 2018, Token Foundry was the division, or “spoke” of the ConsenSys “hub,” responsible for promoting token sales and pitching token-design services to clients. The fees for consulting services often included a portion of the newly minted tokens in addition to a percentage of proceeds from the sales which Token Foundry helped launch, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity. As CoinDesk previously reported, the spoke projected more than $50 million in revenue for 2018 and is widely believed to have fallen short of that goal. Top clients included the $13.4 million sale for Dether, which allowed physical shops to sell cryptocurrencies, Virtue Poker’s $18.5 million token sale and the token sale for geolocation startup FOAM, which raised $16.5 million in August, just weeks before Hines was let go. The source described Hines as a former member of Lubin’s “inner circle.” As recently reported by CoinDesk, conversations around equity have been a point of contention for many ConsenSys staffers. Among those are Token Foundry employees who were laid off in late 2018, sources said. In early 2019, ConsenSys restructured its token-centric division as ConsenSys Digital Securities,…

Global Accounting Firm KPMG Partners with Microsoft, R3 on Telecoms Blockchain

Global Accounting Firm KPMG Partners with Microsoft, R3 on Telecoms Blockchain

KPMG, a multinational accounting firm, is partnering with software firms TOMIA, Microsoft, and R3 to develop a blockchain for telecom settlements. One of the “big four” accounting firms, KPMG has pursued industry-specific blockchain pilots in the past, always with an eye to settling cross-border, or network, complexities. The latest partnership, with two distributed ledger (DLT) industry leaders, Microsoft and R3, continues in the vein of resolving the issues that arise from multi-party connections. Specifically, KPMG is looking to address the hard data issues that will arise from 5G connectivity. The company states that “international mobile data roaming revenues are expected to reach $31 billion in 2022, with an average annual growth rate of eight percent.” It’s that accelerating use of international data that Arun Ghosh, Blockchain Leader at KPMG, addressed in a blog post: “While we will be able to consume more data more quickly and across more locations than ever before in this next wave of telecom advancement, it is becoming increasingly complex for telecom companies to track and settle interchange fees.” The blockchain being piloted aims to reduce the future costs, number of disputes, and time involved in telecom settlements caused by “billions of mobile interactions flow[ing] through hundreds of connected networks managed by dozens of customers and suppliers.” It’s not just future costs the business partnership is looking to salve, but the current inefficiencies in the market. Settlements and reconciliations are currently handled manually, and can take up to a month to complete, Ghosh said. Currently, he said, a huge amount of data is generated is around mobile devices including the metadata of where a call originates and terminates, the conditions of a user’s contract, and billing information, that must be authenticated by at least two parties if cross-service operations occur. “The three pillars of settlements – the subscribers, their contracts, and amount of data generated – can all be integrated on a private, permissioned ledger to be seen and verified by the telecom operators,” he said. In fact, KPGM now reconciles much of that information automatically with smart contracts they designed. In the business arrangement, Ghosh said KPMG has taken the design and execution lead for the project. While Microsoft acts as the principal architect, R3’s Corda acts as the backbone…

R3 Taps Software Sales Vet to ‘Evangelize’ Paid Version of Corda

R3 Taps Software Sales Vet to ‘Evangelize’ Paid Version of Corda

Blockchain technology company R3 has hired software sales veteran Cathy Minter as chief revenue officer, a role newly created to recruit users for the firm’s paid commercial product, Corda Enterprise. Minter, who lived through the revolution in cloud computing from its early days, sounded unfazed by reports this week stating the “blockchain not bitcoin” segment of the industry – which R3 once personified – can expect to see as much as a 60 percent decrease in investment flows this year.  She told CoinDesk: “I’m seeing huge demand for that at R3 so I’m not concerned; maybe some of our competitors should be concerned.” There are many projects graduating from the proof-of-concept to pilot stage that demonstrate the cost-saving potential of blockchain, Minter said, adding that R3 will be working to build specific return-on-investment analysis for customers. “I remember cloud computing in its early nascent days; having conversations with customers around bringing data to the cloud. They would kind of look at you and say they would never move data out of a data center to the cloud,” she said. “Now I’m at R3, I find similar feelings around blockchain. It’s about education and evangelizing.”   Minter has spent close to 30 years in enterprise software in forms like SAP, Oracle and Docker. Since joining R3, she sees the firm’s vibrant open-source community as a natural place to convert users to the commercial version.  “Open-source [users] are fabulous targets for us to talk to about taking them to the next level. Naturally, the enterprise version comes into play as you talk about solving business problems,” she said.  Revenue growth The Corda open-source community has burgeoned in the last year or so with many enterprises experimenting with the code and an ecosystem of “CorDapps” enjoying a life of its own. Opting for the Corda Enterprise version brings the added perks of 24-hour support five days a week, predictable release schedules, high availability, and support for industry-standard enterprise databases, said R3 managing director Charley Cooper. “It includes the world’s only Blockchain Application Firewall, which enables the platform to be deployed inside corporate data centers and is optimized for use within these highly demanding IT environments,” claimed Cooper. Last year, R3 CEO David Rutter said the company set revenue targets for…

European Central Bank Policymaker Says Stablecoins Not Cause for Alarm

European Central Bank Policymaker Says Stablecoins Not Cause for Alarm

A European Central Bank (ECB) official has stated that users should be aware of the risks associated with the stablecoins use, but not to be alarmed. As Reuters reported on July 18, member of the ECB’s governing council and president of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann said that stablecoins — digital currency designed to minimize price volatility by being pegged to another asset — offer users opportunities for prosperity, however users should be vigilant in regards of the associated risks. Weidmann delivered his comments at a news conference at a meeting of the G7 finance ministers and central bankers. “There is no reason to be alarmed but there is reason to be vigilant,” Weidmann stated. Weidmann also spoke in favor of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency project. He specifically argued that global regulators should not suppress the project in its infancy, adding that digital currencies such as Libra can be attractive to consumers in the event that they deliver on their promise. However, a range of other policymakers do not share Weidmann’s view on Libra, with French finance minister Bruno Le Maire saying that the G7 “cannot accept private companies issuing their own currencies without democratic control.” Brad Sherman, a United States Democratic congressman, recently claimed that “Mark Zuckerberg is sending a friend request to oligarchs, drug dealers, human traffickers and terrorists” by launching Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency. Notably, at the G7 conference, the Financial Action Task Force — a G7-initiated intergovernmental organization that promotes legal, regulatory and operational measures that aim to fight money laundering on a global scale — approved a new, global cryptocurrency payments network that would be similar to Japan’s proposed SWIFT.