US Lawmakers Urge Trump Advisor Larry Kudlow to Promote Blockchain

US Lawmakers Urge Trump Advisor Larry Kudlow to Promote Blockchain

A group of U.S. lawmakers has urged advisors to President Donald Trump to include blockchain on their list of emerging technology initiatives. The bipartisan letter, which was spearheaded by U.S. Representatives Trey Hollingsworth (R.-TN) and Darren Soto (D.-FL), asks the National Economic Council to host a forum on the nascent technology, as well as to include blockchain on a list of technologies that the Trump Administration will promote. In addition to Hollingworth and Soto, the letter, dated May 24 and publicly released on Wednesday, was also signed by U.S. Reps. Bill Foster (D.-WI), Tom Emmer (R.-MN), Ted Budd (R.-NC), Josh Gottheimer (D.-NJ) and David Schweikert (R.-AZ). “Government agencies within the United States are exploring blockchain technology in multiple ways,” says the letter addressed to Larry Kudlow, a financial analyst and former CNBC host who has led the council since 2018. However, “more can be done” to support the technology in the U.S., the lawmakers said. The letter specifically cites the fact that blockchain tools – and, it is implied, cryptocurrency projects – are governed by decades-old laws, “and a lack of regulatory clarity may be dampening investment.” The letter goes on to say: “To continue its standing as a world leader in technological innovation, the United States should engage with policymakers, the private sector, and academia to promote the research and development of blockchain technology; explore its benefits for private and public use; collaborate on cross-sectoral policy, standard-setting, scalability, and implementation issues; and discuss potential regulatory approaches.” Soto, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said in a statement that “blockchain has the profound potential to benefit society and be a driver of economic growth.” “It is crucial we continue to be informed on new initiatives and educate Congress and other government agencies on the impact of these emerging technologies,” he added. The National Economic Council is a presidential advisory group that focuses on economic initiatives. Formed in 1993, the group is tasked not only with advising the president’s economic policy, but also advancing his goals. Larry Kudlow image via Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Russian Police Arrest Alleged Creator of Large Crypto Pyramid Scheme From Kazakhstan

Russian Police Arrest Alleged Creator of Large Crypto Pyramid Scheme From Kazakhstan

Police in Russia have arrested an alleged creator of a crypto pyramid scheme from Kazakhstan who was facing an international arrest warrant, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MOI) officially reported on May 28. The unnamed detainee is reportedly accused of defrauding investors using a scam crypto scheme promising high returns from crypto investments, involving a group of criminals. The MOI reported at least 300 fraud cases allegedly connected with the pyramid scheme, with one of the investors having reportedly lost around 14 million Kazakhstan tenge ($36,700) to the criminals. According to the report, the intruder fled Kazakhstan in early 2019 and has since been declared wanted by Interpol. After being arrested by Russian police, the alleged criminal confessed that he illegally crossed the border into Russia on horseback. At the moment, the authorities are resolving the question of criminal extradition to Kazakhstan, the MOI reported. Recently, Cointelegraph reported that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission initiated court proceedings against a California resident for the alleged operation of a multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency pyramid scheme. Earlier in May, Brazilian police arrested ten people suspected of operating a cryptocurrency pyramid scheme worth $210 million.

A UK University Is ‘Fingerprinting’ National Archives With Blockchain

A UK University Is ‘Fingerprinting’ National Archives With Blockchain

The U.K.’s University of Surrey has announced that it’s securing digital government records of national video archives around the world against tampering using blockchain tech and artificial intelligence (AI). In a press release provided to CoinDesk, the university said its Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) has teamed up with the Open Data Institute and the National Archives in the U.K. to develop what it calls a “highly secure, decentralised computer vision and blockchain based system” called ARCHANGEL, which is designed to preserve the integrity of digital archives for the long term. Computer vision is a field in which computers are programmed to analyze and understand digital images or videos. The system “essentially provides a digital fingerprint for archives, making it possible to verify their authenticity,” according to project lead at the University of Surrey, Professor John Collomosse. ARCHANGEL uses blockchain tech as a database maintained by a number of archives. The system is designed to automatically flag modifications to the digital public record, whether accidental or malicious, and it is backed up by the “proof-of-authority” blockchain system. “Everyone can check and add records, but no one can change them. As no data can be modified, the integrity of the historical record remains intact,” the university explained. The new system has already been trialed by the national government archives of the U.K., Estonia, Norway and Australia, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration in the U.S., according to the release. The institution will present a paper describing the work at the CVPR conference in Los Angeles next month. Jeni Tennison, CEO of the Open Data Institute, said: “It is becoming easier and easier to manipulate digital records, which makes it crucial for the institutions who take care of those records to be able to demonstrate their trustworthiness.” Video wall image via Shutterstock

Bitfury, Tech Firm Mphasis Plan Blockchain Disruption in Trade Finance

Bitfury, Tech Firm Mphasis Plan Blockchain Disruption in Trade Finance

IT firm Mphasis, which is owned by private equity multinational Blackstone, has partnered with blockchain tech firm Bitfury with the aim of disrupting trade finance. The firms say they will bring new transparency and efficiency to settlement, foreign exchange and financing processes using automation and “new forms of tokenization,” according to an announcement Tuesday. “Instant” settlement of export and import trade transactions, streamlining “complex” forex infrastructures and improving flexibility in liquidity management for financial institutions will be the key areas of focus, according to the announcement. These “highly outdated, inflexible and disjointed” processes result in a “complex gridlock that limits visibility for all parties and hinders access to liquidity for those who need it most,” said Bitfury. “Using blockchain technology, we will create interoperable systems that deliver the highest degrees of trust, transparency and security to [global trade] industry,” said the blockchain firm’s CEO, Valery Vavilov. This interoperability is said to allow functionality across different types of procure-to-pay networks, distribution platforms and trade finance consortia. Andres Ricaurte, senior vice president and global head of payments for India-based Mphasis, told Reuters the effort will create “a digital representation of the liquidity that’s trapped inside this supply chain.” “Our goal is to accelerate the disruption and transformation in the trade finance space. The exact end-goal – whether it’s a platform, a trade token, or a consortia is still to be figured out,” he said. Dock image via Shutterstock 

Bitcoin’s ‘Toxic Culture War’ Explained

Bitcoin’s ‘Toxic Culture War’ Explained

“What the heck! It’s a food fight on here. [Bitcoin developer] Matt Corallo is mad at Blockstream. Ragnar and Giacomo Zucco clubbing people left and right. Wat is going on!?” This text from a bitcoin enthusiast friend aptly described the confusion on social media platform Twitter in recent days, when leading members of the bitcoin developer and startup ecosystem have been fighting over bitcoin’s “culture” and whether it needs to be changed or improved. The root of the debate: Does bitcoin have a culture problem? Is there too much “toxicity”? And yet, as Twitter is a free-for-all, there were all sorts of sub-parts to the debate, centering on other questions: Is bitcoin inclusive enough? Why is Twitter so harsh? And what, exactly is bitcoin culture? It’s hard to say exactly how the fiery battle started, but it appears to have stemmed from a tweet from Token Daily co-founder Soona Amhaz stating: “A few bright ethereum core developers have personally confided in me that they turned to ethereum after feeling [antagonized] by the bitcoin community. Play the long game or you will lose talent.” Amidst the discussion that followed came Neil Woodfine, Blockstream’s marketing director, who argued that bitcoin’s culture can seem unwelcoming partly because there are so many fraudsters in the industry trying to make a quick buck. And those in the ecosystem who have been around for more idealistic reasons, have grown to reject this mindset in a sometimes harsh manner. “Bitcoin industry culture is therefore *necessarily* one of extreme skepticism, cynicism, rigorous review, and forthright language,” Woodfine tweeted, adding: “If you’re unhappy with bitcoin culture, sorry, you’re the problem. Bitcoin is better off without you—you’re not cut out for the challenges ahead. You’re not good under pressure, you’re too sensitive, and you lack conviction.” Others on Woodfine’s “side” of the debate (though the debate was so raw and messy it’s hard to determine actual sides) argue that bitcoin’s community has been hardened by past debates over the years. The most well-known of which was bitcoin’s scaling debate, which abruptly ended when a minority of bitcoiners broke off to create bitcoin cash. In short, the argument goes that the reason the community can come off as unwelcoming is because they’ve had to dispel many bad…

Wallet and Card App Crypto.com Adds Bitcoin Cash Support

Wallet and Card App Crypto.com Adds Bitcoin Cash Support

Prepaid, debit and credit cards backed by digital assets are a great way to spend your coins, given that it will take time for retailers to transition to accepting direct cryptocurrency payments. One such card, offered by Crypto.com, has just opened up to bitcoin cash users. Also Read: How to Easily Convert Funds From BTC to BCH Crypto.com Adds Bitcoin Cash Support Hong Kong headquartered payments and cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com announced on Wednesday May 29 that it has added support for bitcoin cash (BCH) to its wallet and card app. This means that users can now buy BCH from the service with credit card and bank transfer both available for funding. The company explained that, as it also offers the MCO Visa card, this move adds additional utility to BCH as users can now easily convert digital funds into fiat currencies and spend them at over 40 million merchants supporting the network around the world. Bitcoin cash is the 21st digital asset to be added to the platform, joining other popular cryptocurrencies and stablecoins such as BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, TUSD, and PAX, as well as the company’s own MCO and CRO tokens. Kris Marszalek, CEO of Crypto.com said: “We’re committed to providing complete selection of all major digital assets and empowering our customers to purchase it at true cost without fees or markups.” Accelerating the World’s Transition to Cryptocurrency Crypto.com was founded in 2016 and launched an initial coin offering (ICO) in May 2017 after a year working on its offering in stealth development mode. The payments and card provider, formerly known as Monaco, today reports that it employs more than 120 people. The company has announced it started shipping the MCO Visa card to customers in Singapore in October 2018. The following month it was also revealed that the cards will be issued in the U.S. through a partnership between its Florida-based affiliate Foris Inc. and Metropolitan Commercial Bank, New York. The cards, which have no annual, monthly or ATM withdrawal fees, can be ordered from the app. What do you think about Crypto.com adding support for bitcoin cash? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Images courtesy of Shutterstock. Verify and track bitcoin cash transactions on our BCH Block Explorer, the…

US Congress Think Tank Claims Bitcoin Is Used Mostly as ‘Investment Vehicle’

US Congress Think Tank Claims Bitcoin Is Used Mostly as ‘Investment Vehicle’

Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrencies are used as a speculative investment tool and not money, a report by United States think tank the Congressional Research Service (CRS) claimed on May 10. As part of an investigation into cash usage in the U.S., the report, dubbed “The Potential Decline of Cash Usage and Related Implications,” appears to forecast a reduction in paper money as contactless card payments increase. Researchers also analyzed other forms of payment, including cryptocurrency, be it public, private or issued by a central bank. Taking bitcoin as its prime example, the CRS nonetheless draws conclusions which have become commonplace among government sources. “Although price data on Bitcoin illustrates the public interest in and overall demand for this cryptocurrency, it is a poor indicator of how often it is being exchanged for goods and services (i.e., how often it is being used as money),” the report reads. It continues: “Certain analyses appear to show that digital currencies are not being widely used and accepted as payment for goods and services, but rather as investment vehicles.” As Cointelegraph reported, analysis from software company DataLight last month painted an entirely different picture, claiming bitcoin was already poised to usurp both cash and card payments worldwide. All that is needed, its authors wrote, is for bitcoin’s development to continue in its current vein. “If it maintains this pace, in another 10 years, it will surpass all competition,” they summarized. Others remain less convinced, with entrepreneur and serial gold supporter Peter Schiff extensively examining bitcoin’s future potential as money with “The Bitcoin Standard” author, Saifedean Ammous, in an online debate last week. A day before the CRS report’s publication, meanwhile, U.S. senator Brad Sherman called on Washington to ban cryptocurrency altogether over fears it contributed to the undermining of U.S. political power.

Iran’s Crypto Barometer — Regular Users Feeling the Heat

Iran’s Crypto Barometer — Regular Users Feeling the Heat

Iran’s plan to battle international sanctions through the use of a state-sponsored cryptocurrency has been brewing for over a year now. It’s been a viable and exciting option for a country that had been cut off from the global economic community up until 2015 and again in 2017, following a short reprieve after agreeing to dial down its nuclear energy program. Despite all of this, Iran is still grappling with international pressures, including a ban on the acquisition of United States dollars in the country. American regulators are also looking to block the use of cryptocurrency as an alternate means for trade in Iran. A changing stance toward crypto and blockchain Iran has slowly changed its attitude toward cryptocurrencies over the past few years for a number of reasons. Up until the beginning of 2017 the trade and use of cryptocurrency was of little to no concern to the regulating authorities in the country. In fact, data from May 2018 suggests that there has long been a voracious appetite for crypto trading in the country. A major driving force for the adoption of crypto in the country was a decision in January 2017 to stop using the U.S. dollar in Iran. Driven by fresh travel bans imposed by the U.S. administration, the Iranian government looked to leverage the use of other stable currencies to continue foreign trade. It didn’t take long before bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies began being talked about as viable alternatives for the country’s international trade. A few months later, the Iranian government revealed plans to roll out the necessary infrastructure to nurture the use of bitcoin in the country. In the same breath, authorities hammered home the importance of imposing regulations to ensure that the use of cryptocurrencies remains above board in November 2017. The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and related departments were already hard at work making sure that the use and supply of crypto in the country was being supervised. Just four months later, in February 2018, local press reported that the CBI had made a U-turn in its crypto-friendly approach by announcing plans to control and prevent usage of cryptocurrencies in the country. Less than a week later, news broke that the Iranian government was exploring the creation…

Barclays Leads $5.5 Million Round for Blockchain Business Payments Startup

Barclays Leads $5.5 Million Round for Blockchain Business Payments Startup

Barclays Bank has backed a $5.5 million Series A funding round for blockchain-based B2B payments startup Crowdz. The round was jointly led by Barclays and investment firm Bold Capital Partners, Crowdz announced Tuesday, with TFX Capital Partners, Techstars Ventures and First Derivatives also participating. The investment will go toward product development, marketing and sales, as well as team hiring, according to the firm. Crowdz sets out to disrupt the payments industry with a focus on $9 trillion global receivables market via its blockchain-based “Invoice Exchange.” The service allows companies to automatically digitize invoices and speed up payment collections. Kevin Hopkins, a former White House economist and now Crowdz’s chief strategist, said that 90 percent of the world’s annual inventory of more than 400 billion invoices are still manually processed. Crowdz co-founder and CEO, Payson E. Johnston, said: “We founded Crowdz with the goal of ensuring that all small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) in particular have access to the cashflow they need in order to survive and grow. Unfortunately, millions of these companies – which account for 75% of global B2B commerce and which need invoice financing the most – have long been excluded from the market.” While SMEs often have to wait for up to 120 days or more to get paid, Invoice Exchange enables companies to get paid “within a few days or less,” he added. Invoice Exchange also offers an auction platform, via which companies can submit their invoices for banks or investors to make offers for financing without filing additional paperwork, according to Crowdz. Crowdz’s angel investors include Chris Adelsbach, venture partner at Techstars Ventures; Susan Standiford, CTO at IKEA; and Dr. Jürgen Wolff, founder and former CEO of Mercedes Pay, according to the announcement. Barclays image via Shutterstock 

Bitcoin and US Stock Market Both See Minor Losses

Bitcoin and US Stock Market Both See Minor Losses

Wednesday, May 29 — most of the top 20 cryptocurrencies are reporting moderate losses on the day by press time, as bitcoin (BTC) still holds over the $8,000 mark, with minor gains on the day. Market visualization courtesy of Coin360 Bitcoin is over .5% down on the day, trading at $8,658 at press time, according to CoinMarketCap. Looking at its weekly chart, the coin is up about 8.55%. Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, the number of wallets holding between 1,000 and 10,000 bitcoin (BTC) has seen a sharp increase since the crypto market bottomed this winter, indicating significant accumulation during the price dip. Ether (ETH) is holding onto its position as the largest altcoin by market cap, which currently stands at $26.6 billion. The second-largest altcoin, XRP, has a market cap of $18.5 billion at press time. CoinMarketCap data shows that ETH has seen no movement over the last 24 hours. At press time, ETH is trading around $270. On the week, the coin has also seen its value increase almost 6%. Ether 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap On May 24, New York-based blockchain firm ConsenSys released a new Blockchain and DApp Developer Job Kit to help aspiring Ethereum blockchain developers enter the market. XRP is over 3% up over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at around $0.440. On the week, the coin is up over 38%. XRP 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Among the top 20 cryptocurrencies, the one reporting the most notable price action is bitcoin SV (BSV), which is up over 20% on the day. At press time, the total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is $272.9 billion, over 9% higher than the value it reported a week ago. Total market capitalization 7-day chart. Source: CoinMarketCap In traditional markets, the United States stock market is seeing discrete losses so far today, with the S&P 500 down 0.84% and the Nasdaq down 0.39% at press time. The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), on the other hand, has gained a solid 4.91% on the day at press time. Major oil futures and indexes are mostly up today, with WTI Crude down 1.96%, Brent Crude down 1.79% and Mars US up 0.96% at press time. The OPEC Basket is up 0.03%…