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Updates: May-20-2018 12:54:27 AM
EU Parliament Touts Blockchain to 'Empower' Businesses and Citizens -  A committee of the European Parliament believes that small businesses could benefit from integrating blockchain technology.>> full details
Updates: May-20-2018 12:53:45 AM
Santander Conducts Proxy Voting Blockchain Pilot at AGM -  Banco Santander has completed a blockchain pilot that it says improves the process of proxy voting during annual general meetings.>> full details
Updates: May-20-2018 12:28:50 AM
The Use Cases and Applications for Involving Women in Blockchain -  While women in the blockchain industry want to focus on the technology, a lack of women is hurting the industry.>> full details
Updates: May-20-2018 12:27:14 AM
Tea Tokenizers Arrested in China for Alleged $47 Million Crypto Fraud -  Another cryptocurrency project has been busted by law enforcement in China for allegedly soliciting money from investors with fraudulent claims.>> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:35:46 PM
CME Group Partners to Launch Ether Reference Rate Index -  Derivatives exchange operator CME Group and U.K. firm Crypto Facilities are partnering to create an ether reference rate and real time index.>> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:35:25 PM
Florida Tax Collector to Accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash Payments -  BitPay has partnered with a Florida county tax collector to facilitate tax payments in bitcoin and bitcoin cash.>> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:34:24 PM
IoT Startup Filament Hits Milestone for Blockchain Hardware -  Filament announced Monday that its blockchain-native semiconductor is now available in a USB form factor. >> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:34:02 PM
SAP Launches Blockchain Supply Chain Initiative -  Software giant SAP has announced a new food safety-related blockchain pilot and a collaboration with a Swiss supply chain startup >> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:33:41 PM
First Bitcoin Smart Contracts Sidechain Now Secured By 1 in 10 Miners -  From miner adoption to a lightning-like network to new partners, RSK, which developed the bitcoin smart contracts sidechain, is building momentum.>> full details
Updates: May-14-2018 02:33:20 PM
Crypto Valley Association Taps VC Firm Lakestar as Strategic Partner -  The 600-member Crypto Valley Association has added venture capital firm Lakestar as a strategic partner >> full details
Updates: May-9-2018 10:39:51 AM
China's Police Ministry Touts Blockchain for Secure Evidence Storage -  China's Ministry of Public Security has developed a blockchain system aimed to more securely store evidence collected during police investigations. >> full details
Updates: May-9-2018 10:39:23 AM
SEC Commissioner Cautions Against 'Blanket' ICO Classification -  U.S. Securities Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce advocated against blockchain sandboxes and 'blanket' classifications of ICOs.>> full details
Updates: May-9-2018 10:38:47 AM
Winklevoss Brothers Win Crypto Exchange Patent -  Winklevoss IP, the company owned by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has been awarded with a patent that aims to settle ETPs holding cryptos.>> full details
Updates: May-9-2018 10:38:22 AM
Facebook's David Marcus to Lead New Blockchain Research Unit -  Facebook is reportedly launching a team dedicated to blockchain technology, which will be spearheaded by Messenger's vice president David Marcus. >> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:43:34 PM
Circle Adds Monero to Crypto Investment App -  A week after adding zcash, Circle's trading platform Invest is adding monero. >> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:43:14 PM
Thailand's Top Exchange Plans Blockchain Funding Market -  The Stock Exchange of Thailand unveiled a crowdfunding platform built on blockchain technology to widen the access to capital funds for startups.>> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:42:48 PM
Bitcoin Looks for Price Support After Failed $10K Crossover -  Bitcoin is reporting losses today but only a break below $8,650 would signal a bull-to-bear trend change. >> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:42:07 PM
Startup That Puts Diplomas On the Blockchain Raises $3 Million -  MIT-linked startup Learning Machines has secured $3 million in seed funding to put digital diplomas on the blockchain >> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:41:29 PM
Iceland's Missing Bitcoin Miners May Be In China -  Icelandic police think Chinese authorities may have discovered where its 6,000 missing bitcoin mining computers have gone.>> full details
Updates: May-7-2018 07:40:37 PM
Meetup's Crypto Secret? Scams Are Running Rampant -  Long-running groups using the popular social network are finding that separating education from financial advice isn't as easy as it sounds.>> full details
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latest updates from EU Parliament Touts Blockchain to 'Empower' Businesses and Citizens
Updates: May-20-2018 12:54:27 AM
Members of the European Parliament believe small businesses could benefit from integrating blockchain technology.

The Industry, Research and Energy committee voted Wednesday to recommend that small businesses look into blockchain payment systems in a move aimed at relieving some of the costs associated with intermediary payment facilitators. In addition, an oral question will be posed to the EU Commission about the technology during a plenary session next month, according to a press release.

The committee specifically suggested non-monetary uses for the technology, specifying data controls, supply chain management, land registries and in democratizing the energy market, according to the release.
 
latest updates from Santander Conducts Proxy Voting Blockchain Pilot at AGM
Updates: May-20-2018 12:53:45 AM
Banco Santander has completed a blockchain pilot that it says improves the process of proxy voting during annual general meetings (AGMs).

For the project, announced Thursday, Santander partnered with global fintech firm Broadridge and custodian banks JPMorgan and Northern Trust, describing it in a press release as the "first practical use of blockchain" for shareholder voting.

However, it should be noted that other entities such as Nasdaq, the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange and a group of central securities depositories, including Russia's National Settlement Depository, have all conducted pilots, are developing systems or have launched platforms around the use case.

The Broadridge-built solution - piloted previously in April of last year - aims to improve transparency in the global proxy voting system, while also increasing security, efficiency, security and analytics, the release says.

The pilot was concluded on March 23 for the Spanish banking giant's AGM and saw participation from Santander's blockchain lab and Corporate Services, which acted as the issuer's agent. The blockchain solution was used to produce a "shadow" digital register of the proxy voting system taking place in parallel using the conventional voting model.

Sergio Gamez, global head of shareholders and investor relations at Santander, said that, for a listed company like Santander, the AGM is one of the most important corporate governance events
 
latest updates from The Use Cases and Applications for Involving Women in Blockchain
Updates: May-20-2018 12:28:50 AM
"Satoshi is female!"

That's how New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney rallied the crowd on May 13 at the "Women on the Block" event in Brooklyn, New York, where more than 300 people came together to talk about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. The event comes at time of tension within the crypto community, as blockchain stars like Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark are urging interviewers to stop asking what it's like to be a woman in crypto.

"Stop marginalizing and write about the awesome work that women are doing," Stark tweeted in February.

But to the ladies at the event, it's less about creating a divide and more about a welcome reprieve from the perennial challenge of being treated like a crypto unicorn, when they just want to discuss use cases and applications.

True to that, many of the day's discussions focused on the business opportunities within the space, from using the technology to shine a light on the opaque real estate industry to utilizing blockchain for supply chain management within the food sector.

Nonetheless, the fact is that women are still underrepresented in positions of privilege and power across the board - and the blockchain industry is no exception.

Based on findings from an international Quartz survey of 378 venture-backed crypto and blockchain companies founded between January 2012 and January 2018, roughly 8.5 percent had a woman on the founding team, compared to 17.7 percent in the broader tech industry.

And according to many women at the event, this lack of gender parity could hold the nascent industry back significantly.
 
latest updates from Tea Tokenizers Arrested in China for Alleged $47 Million Crypto Fraud
Updates: May-20-2018 12:27:14 AM
Another cryptocurrency project has been busted by law enforcement in China for allegedly soliciting money from investors with fraudulent claims.

According to Guangdong Daily, a provincial government organ in China, police in Shenzhen arrested six individuals Monday who allegedly defrauded 3,000 Chinese investors out of $47 million by selling a cryptocurrency they claimed was backed by a commodity.

The six suspects formed a firm based in Shenzhen called PEB, which beginning in January 2017 issued a blockchain-powered token dubbed Pu'er Coin, according to the report.

The project's website says buyers of the token are entitled to hold a contract representing ownership of a certain amount of the Pu'er Tibetan tea the firm has in stock, which it claims to be worth billions of dollars.

While the token can be subsequently exchanged in a secondary market called Jubi.com, another website claims the contract can also bring a 12 percent annual return if investors choose to lock their funds for 12 months.

According to the police investigation, though the firm had only a "very limited amount of the tea in stock," it promised high short-term returns to investors in social media promotions and roadshows at high-end hotels.

The police said the project succeeded in attracting a significant number of investors by manipulating the secondary market with its own funds to drive up the token price twentyfold over the course of 2017.

In fact, this week's crackdown may not be entirely surprising as the firm had received a warning and a fine late last month from China's State Administration for Market Regulation, whose mandate is to ensure fair and just market competition.

The authority fined the firm $20 million for disseminating false claims in an advertisement that touted its supposedly large stockpiles of the Tibetan tea to back the token.

The arrest marks another notable crackdown on alleged cryptocurrency fraud in China as law enforcement in the country have beefed up efforts to battle illegal fundraising.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, police from Xi'An have arrested the founders of an alleged nationwide cryptocurrency pyramid scheme that is said to have amassed $13 million from over 13,000 people.
 
latest updates from CME Group Partners to Launch Ether Reference Rate Index
Updates: May-14-2018 02:35:46 PM
Derivatives exchange operator CME Group is launching an ether reference rate and a real-time ether-dollar index in partnership with UK-based digital asset trading service Crypto Facilities.

The operator noted Monday that it would provide "a daily benchmark price in U.S. dollars" every 24 hours, as well as the real-time price "based on transactions and order book activity" from cryptocurrency exchanges Kraken and Bitstamp, according to a press release. The rates are already available online on both the CME Group and Crypto Facilities websites, and will be provided to the CME Group Market Data Platform starting June 4.

In a statement, CME Group managing director and global head of equity products and alternative investments Tim McCourt said "the Ether Reference Rate and Real Time Index are designed to meet the evolving needs of this marketplace. Providing price transparency and a credible price reference source is a key development for users of ethereum."

Similarly, Crypto Facilities CEO Timo Schlaefer said:

"Ether, the second largest cryptocurrency, experienced incredible adoption and growth in 2017, evolving into the leading blockchain for smart contracts. We are excited to be contributing to the strong community that has developed around the Ethereum network by providing a reliable reference rate and real-time Ether-Dollar price."

The new indices will be overseen by the Bitcoin Oversight Committee formed by CME Group, Crypto Facilities and other industry participants, according to the release. This "oversight committee will regularly review the methodology, practices and standards to protect the integrity of the reference rates."

The news comes just days after Crypto Facilities began trading in ethereum futures, as previously reported by CoinDesk. The platform announced it was launching the first futures contract for the token through a regulated platform on May 11.

Crypto Facilities notably provides CME Group with reference rates for the latter's own bitcoin futures.
 
latest updates from Florida Tax Collector to Accept Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash Payments
Updates: May-14-2018 02:35:25 PM
A Florida county tax collector has partnered with bitcoin payments processor BitPay to accept cryptocurrency for a variety of services.

Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg said in a statement Monday that his office will take bitcoin and bitcoin cash for payments associated with driver licenses and ID cards, automobile tags and titles and property tax.

The office decided to accept the cryptocurrencies in an effort to streamline fee collection, reduce the potential for fraud and identity theft and increase the transparency and accuracy of payments. Greenberg's office added that it does not perceive any "price volatility or risk to the County" in accepting the cryptocurrencies.

Greenberg said in the statement:

"The aim of my tenure in office is to make our customer experience faster, smarter and more efficient, and to bring government services from the 18th century into the 21st century and one way is the addition of cryptocurrency to our payment options."

The collaboration with the Seminole County Tax Collector marks BitPay's first government partnership. Head of compliance Jeremie Beaudry said the company was launched because "we recognized the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the financial industry, making payments faster, more secure and less expensive on a global scale.

"With the Seminole County Tax Collector's office, we have engaged our first government agency to accept bitcoin and bitcoin cash by making it easy and seamless for them," he added.

However, Greenberg's office is not the only local government entity that has entertained the idea of accepting cryptocurrency for taxes.

Arizona and Georgia lawmakers both proposed bills this year that would allow citizens to pay their state tax liabilities in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, though neither bill made it through their respective legislatures.
 
latest updates from IoT Startup Filament Hits Milestone for Blockchain Hardware
Updates: May-14-2018 02:34:24 PM
Filament, a startup that focuses on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, announced Monday that it has successfully created a USB-compatible form factor for its blockchain semiconductor.

Co-founder and CEO Allison Clift-Jennings told CoinDesk that the device, based on Filament's existing technology, allows technologists to launch blockchain projects simply by plugging it into a compatible port. The blockchain-native semiconductor was first announced in January and offers "the ability to sign and verify transactions at the silicon level."

The new "Blocklet" device, she said, builds on that, allowing blockchain processors to interface with existing infrastructure.

"Many products, not all, [have] the ability to connect [to] USB. These are for manufacturing lines - we have a version of a USB product that plugs into the [on-board diagnostics] port in vehicles. It's very much trying to drive toward machines being transactive in nature," Clift-Jennings said in an interview.

Stepping back, the Filament chief executive said that there has been a shift in how people perceive blockchain in the last several years.

"A couple years ago we had the blockchain-native capability, but it was to sell IoT devices as sensors and we'd Trojan Horse the blockchain into it. We had a hard time getting people to commit even when they knew about blockchain," she said, continuing "now we're trying to massively hire more engineers and we want that chip in our product line."

The move is similar to announcements made by IBM and Microsoft, she said, noting that IBM has announced a blockchain hardware chip and Microsoft has been promoting its Azure cloud computing framework.

That being said, "both of these chips don't exist, so we don't know" what the companies are specifically planning, according to Clift-Jennings. By contrast, "our devices can hold up to 16 keys, so you can have 16 blockchain implementations simultaneously."

"We can deploy solutions on Microsoft Azure or IBM Bluemix, but that doesn't give you the application you need. It doesn't give you the smart contract to write things," she said.

The startup has already produced a small number of the devices, but is in the process of ramping up production, Clift-Jennings said, adding "probably [in third quarter] people can have as many as they would like."
 
latest updates from SAP Launches Blockchain Supply Chain Initiative
Updates: May-14-2018 02:34:02 PM
Multinational software firm SAP is expanding its work with blockchain into the supply chain space.

Torsten Zube, SAP's blockchain lead, revealed Monday that the company is looking to apply the tech to agricultural supply chains by way of its Farm to Consumer initiative. Companies like Johnsonville, Naturipe Farms and Maple Leaf are working as additional collaborators on the project.

"The Farm to Consumer project perfectly showcases a common pattern we see in many of our blockchain projects," Zube wrote in a blog post detailing the initiative. "Cross-company collaboration along complex value chains for which the technology can remove abundant process steps and friction, and establish automated trust."

SAP will integrate the blockchain into its existing Global Track and Trace technology to act as "an additional layer complementary to core processes that creates one shared view on the data from all involved stakeholders contributing to the supply chain."

The enhanced technology, Zube contended, allows companies to trace the origins of food products, enter requests and offerings, and authenticate and execute transactions.

SAP also revealed that it has teamed up with Swiss supply chain startup modum.io to further its supply chain ventures. SAP plans to provide further details on the companies' joint work on pilot projects in June.

Zube is bullish on blockchain and thinks the technology could potentially reconfigure current food industry production models.

"If enterprises can access the complete version of product history," he explained, "this could result in a shift from a central unilateral supplier-led production to a consumer demand-led supply organized by a consortium of peers."

He went on to predict:

"Networking along the traditional lines of value chains will be replaced by sharing data governance, resources, processes and practices and lead to joint learning opportunities."

These undertakings are not SAP's only blockchain ventures. The company previously launched a "blockchain co-innovation initiative" to explore distributed business processes that utilize peer-to-peer networks. It is also a member of Spain's Alastria consortium, which focuses on inter-company data sharing, and the Blockchain in Trucking Alliance (BiTA).
 
latest updates from First Bitcoin Smart Contracts Sidechain Now Secured By 1 in 10 Miners
Updates: May-14-2018 02:33:41 PM
The first bitcoin smart contracts sidechain just reached an early milestone.

To be revealed Monday at CoinDesk's Consensus 2018 conference, RSK, the startup that built the long-anticipated technology, touted as a way to bring ethereum-style smart contracts to the world's largest cryptocurrency, is issuing new details on the number of bitcoin users dedicating computing power to backing the experimental idea.

First launched this past January, the sidechain pegged to bitcoin was admittedly limited in that it's not pegged to bitcoin in a "trustless" way advocates have promised for so long. Rather, anyone who wants to move their bitcoin to the sidechain needs the approval of a 'federation' group of third parties.

Still, the miner support, RSK Labs co-founder Gabriel Kurman contends, is rather impactful as it shows support for a concept heralded as a way to expand bitcoin's functionality.

He told CoinDesk:

"It's a major announcement for bitcoin as a whole. This 10 percent is coming from 80 percent of the total mining pool power."

And, although there's a small fraction of the entire network currently securing the sidechain, about 80 percent of miners have already committed support in the future.

"The hash power percentage is set to increase significantly over the next months," Kurman added.

It makes sense, after all, because the sidechain is designed to be "merged-mined" - a process which allows miners to get transaction fees by contributing their hash power to the sidechain, all while using the same equipment, electricity and power they're already using to mine bitcoin.

"RSK has massive support from the mining ecosystem because it adds a new revenue stream for them," Kurman said.

RSK's lightning
Not only that, but RSK has developed the sidechain to be able to handle more transactions than bitcoin can currently.

The RSK sidechain uses what the company calls "smart bitcoins," a separate version of bitcoin with the smart contract capability, and that allows for improved scalability.

"On RSK you can process smart bitcoins at 100 transactions per second," Kurman said, pointing to the "compression" technology RSK pioneered that decreases the total amount of data that must be stored on the blockchain.

Even with that improvement, though, Kurman is quick to note that that's not nearly enough to bring this technology to the masses, acknowledging that the sidechain still deals with the scalability issues faced by many of today's blockchains. But the team is working towards that.

Taking inspiration from developers working on both bitcoin and ethereum, who have been developing technologies called the lightning network and Raiden network, respectively, RSK has been building a similar technology.

Called "Lumino," the project is what Kurman describes as a "combination" of these two networks so that it can work with RSK's unique sidechains technology.

Kurman said he believes the finishing touches won't take long, telling CoinDesk:

"Before the end of the year, we hope to launch the Lumino network, which will allow for 20,000 transactions per second."

Growing the family
The last announcement from RSK today is that two companies are now joining the "RSK family," Kurman said.

The first is the Inter-American Development Bank, an Argentinian NGO that seeks to promote financial inclusion in Buenos Aires. The NGO has been working on its launch on RSK for the past two years, although Kurman did not elaborate on how exactly the business plans to use the network.

The second company building on top of RSK is the BitGive Foundation, a long-standing bitcoin-focused charity organization that's been used to funnel bitcoin donations to Nepalese citizens affected by a devastating earthquake in 2015, among other initiatives.

Speaking to the BitGive's interest in using the RSK sidechain, Kurman said, "It's a project that allows donors to have transparency using smart contracts."

He added that these new partners display that more and more businesses are starting to see the benefits of bitcoin (and beyond), and as such, are adopting the technology.

RSK will be demoing all this functionality at their booth at CoinDesk's Consensus 2018 conference in New York City this week.
 
latest updates from Crypto Valley Association Taps VC Firm Lakestar as Strategic Partner
Updates: May-14-2018 02:33:20 PM
Switzerland-based blockchain consortium, the Crypto Valley Association (CVA), has added European venture capital firm Lakestar as a strategic partner, the association revealed to CoinDesk this week.

Lakestar has previously dabbled in blockchain, and in 2017 made investments in crypto wallet provider Blockchain and exchange startup ShapeShift. Its portfolio also includes investments in Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Airbnb.

With the announcement, Lakestar will join the rank of CVA's existing strategic partners that include the multinational consulting firm PwC, and ethereum startup ConsenSys. In addition, Lakestar will chair the CVA's new "Venture Building" working group, which will be comprised of experts from both the blockchain and business sectors.

Lakestar has previously raised two funds with an aggregate volume of 500 million euros in 2013 and 2015, and intends to leverage this experience to offer guidance on tech investments for the Swiss blockchain consortium.

The CVA, which has more than 600 members, said it expects the partnership to be mutually beneficial.

"Their experience of investing and assisting technology entrepreneurs effectively scale and internationalize will provide unique insight to support the work of the CVA and our members," CVA president Oliver Bussman said of the firm.

Likewise, the CVA said Lakestar will gain "greater access to and understanding of its startup community and ecosystem" through its involvement.

"We see great synergy between our proven track record of building global, digital leaders and the work of the CVA's blockchain-focused teams," Lakestar partner Nicolas Brand said. "We look forward to working with the CVA and its members in supporting some of Crypto Valley's most exciting projects."
 
latest updates from China's Police Ministry Touts Blockchain for Secure Evidence Storage
Updates: May-9-2018 10:39:51 AM
China's Ministry of Public Security has developed a blockchain system aimed to more securely store evidence collected during police investigations.

According to data released by China's Intellectual Property Office on Tuesday, the ministry's research arm filed a patent application in November 2017 for a blockchain-based system that timestamps and stores data submitted to the cloud in a bid to provide a more transparent and tamper-proof deposition procedure.

With centralized cloud platforms becoming an increasingly popular way to share data, the ministry - which supervises all China's police forces - said a potential problem with the current deposition process is that evidence sent via cloud providers could easily be altered.

In addition, the lack of an efficient technology to provide clear supervision of the cloud storage process could also make the deposition process less reliable.

As such, the patent sets out a blockchain system that would initially request that cloud providers be sent deposition data, which, after receiving multi-signature confirmations from both parties, would be recorded and timestamped on a blockchain. In this way, the system would provide an immutable copy of the data, as well as who initiated the transaction and the time and date it occurred.

Although the technology described in the application doesn't appear to be entirely novel, given it largely reflects the basic mechanisms of standard blockchains, it still marks a notable use case exploration by one of the 26 cabinet-level ministries of China's State Council.

Further, the Ministry of Public Security is not the only Chinese government agency that is interested in taking advantages of blockchain technology.

As reported previously by CoinDesk, China's National Audit Office, another cabinet-level ministry and also the government's official auditing authority, is also looking at blockchain solutions for storing audit data it gathers from provincial and local level bureaus.
 
latest updates from SEC Commissioner Cautions Against 'Blanket' ICO Classification
Updates: May-9-2018 10:39:23 AM
Peirce went on to argue in her ICO-focused speech that "open communication" between regulators and those they regulate is possible without a sandbox, and instead advocated for a "lifeguard" approach in which the regulator "watches over what is happening, but she is not sitting with sandcastle builders monitoring their every design decision."

Peirce did, however, acknowledge that sandboxes have been successful for some regulators, including those in the U.K., the U.A.E. and Singapore.

Blockchain sandboxes have become increasingly popular amongst global regulators, and advocates argue that they are a means of satisfying regulators without quashing innovation. Lithuania, Bermuda and Malta are among other countries experimenting with the idea.

In another notable part of the speech, the Commissioner broke with SEC Chairman Jay Clayton's statement at a U.S. Senate hearing in February in which he stated, "I believe every ICO I've seen is a security."

Contrarily, Peirce remarked: "Given the undeveloped nature of this area, I am wary of any blanket designation for all ICOs." She instead suggested that regulators "evaluate the facts and circumstances of each offering."

The Commissioner also addressed the potential for regulation to impact innovation and argued that the classification of tokens as securities, for example, could create boundaries for innovation.

"They will, over time, come to look more and more like securities and securities offering. Innovations that might otherwise have occurred that don't fit within that 'security' framework may never come to fruition," she told event attendees.

Additionally, Peirce expressed regret that the SEC has largely communicated with ICO issuers via its Division of Enforcement and cautioned that the Commission should not lead "with its enforcement powers." She also suggested that the SEC set up a website to field questions and comments on ICOs, tokens, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.
 
latest updates from Winklevoss Brothers Win Crypto Exchange Patent
Updates: May-9-2018 10:38:47 AM
Winklevoss IP, the company owned by Gemini founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, has been awarded with a patent claim that aims to settle exchange traded products (ETPs) holding cryptocurrencies.

The company outlined a system that can execute transactions for ETPs holding cryptocurrencies "such as bitcoins ... ripple, dogecoins ... ether" as well as BBQCoin, among others, according to patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday. The company first filed the application in December of last year.

ETPs, which include exchange-traded-funds (ETF), are a type of security whose prices derive from other investment instruments they are tied to, which in the Winklevoss case, would be cryptocurrencies.

The patent reward is notable as it provides a glimpse into the Winklevoss brothers' continuing efforts to push forward the trading of cryptocurrency-related ETFs after having met hurdles from U.S. regulators.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rejected the brothers' last bid in March 2017 that sought to list a bitcoin-tied ETF on the Bats BZX Exchange, citing risk associated with the trading and regulatory uncertainty.

Currently, the SEC has yet to green-light any bitcoin-related ETFs on exchanges. And in January this year, several firms that were proposing a rule change to the SEC had also withdrawn their filings per requirement by the securities regulator.

Today's patent reward also comes just a month after the Winklevoss IP won another patent claim for strengthening cryptocurrencies' transaction security that could be used in the Gemini exchange, as previously reported by CoinDesk.
 
latest updates from Facebook's David Marcus to Lead New Blockchain Research Unit
Updates: May-9-2018 10:38:22 AM
Social media giant Facebook is launching a team dedicated to exploring blockchain technology.

The initiative will be spearheaded David Marcus, who has served as the company's vice president for its Messenger app division. Marcus is a former president of PayPal.

"After nearly four unbelievably rewarding years leading Messenger, I have decided it was time for me to take on a new challenge. I'm setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch," Marcus wrote in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday.

A report from Recode indicated that while the team will have fewer than a dozen people, it will feature engineering and product staff from Facebook's Instagram unit as well.

Although it remains unknown at this stage the exact work to be carried out by the new team, the news marks a notable move by the social media giant.

It also follows a remark made by the ex-PayPal president - who joined the board of directors of crypto exchange Coinbase last year - that Facebook Messenger is open to the idea of embracing cryptocurrency payments once the blockchain community can "fix all the issues."

The formation of Facebook's new blockchain team follows a platform-wide ban on cryptocurrency-related ads, with the social media company cciting concerns that users had been exposed to fraudulent ICOs and cryptocurrency schemes.
 
latest updates from Circle Adds Monero to Crypto Investment App
Updates: May-7-2018 07:43:34 PM
Blockchain startup Circle is adding the privacy-focused cryptocurrency monero to its Invest application, the company announced Monday.

Just one week after the payment platform announced it was adding zcash to its trading app, the company added monero, according to a blog post. As with the other tokens available on the app, users will be able to purchase or invest the cryptocurrency.

In addition to the privacy coins, Circle Invest offers bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ethereum, ethereum classic and litecoin.

In the post, Invest senior product manager Rachel Mayer wrote:

"Last week, we welcomed zcash to the coin family on Circle Invest. Today, we continue to grow our coin collection by supporting monero as our new listed crypto asset. This brings our investable crypto assets to a total of 7 coins, making Circle Invest one of the only platforms you can invest instantly and seamlessly in the widest breadth of coins by using your bank account."

Future updates will include information on "how we think about adding assets into our products" and more new features, the post concluded.

The Invest app is a digital investment product that features zero commissions, as previously reported. While a preview indicated Ripple's XRP might be a supported cryptocurrency, so far it has not made it onto the platform.

A Circle Invest executive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
latest updates from Thailand's Top Exchange Plans Blockchain Funding Market
Updates: May-7-2018 07:43:14 PM
Thailand's national stock exchange has launched a new blockchain-powered component for startups.



The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) has launched a crowdfunding marketplace that is built on blockchain technology in a bid to widen the access to capital funds for domestic startups.

According to an announcement from the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) on Friday, the new service, dubbed LiVE, uses blockchain to enable peer-to-peer trading in an effort to help startups access new capital from investors, including those drawn from the venture capital and institutional investor worlds.

SET officials said that so far, eight companies have joined the blockchain platform, with another 50 companies scheduled to participate in the initiative.

SET's President Kesara Manchusree said in the announcement.

"'LiVE' platform will be a key mechanism to help drive forward Thailand's growth especially enabling startups and SMEs to have more financial accesses through crowdfunding. Businesses can utilize LiVE to promote to a wider target group while using [the] partnership to expand [our] customer base."

The launch follows a year-long technological development process. As CoinDesk previously reported, the SET began planning to build a crowdfunding platform for startups in March of last year. At the time, the SET said that over 600 companies had shown interest in joining the blockchain-powered marketplace.

Meanwhile, other stock exchanges in the world, such as the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, are also looking to blockchain as a means to develop securities markets for smaller businesses.
 
latest updates from Bitcoin Looks for Price Support After Failed $10K Crossover
Updates: May-7-2018 07:42:48 PM
Bitcoin's (BTC) pullback in prices over the weekend has dampened the immediate prospects for the bulls, the technical studies indicate.

Having witnessed a bullish pennant breakout last Friday, the cryptocurrency looked set to scale the $10,000 mark in a convincing manner over the weekend.

However, the bullish move unexpectedly ran out of steam at $9,990 at 13:00 UTC on Saturday, according to Bitfinex, and had retreated to $9,258 earlier today.

As of writing, bitcoin is changing hands at $9,400, representing a 2.67 percent drop from the previous day's close of $9,658.

While the pullback is not good for the bulls, only a drop below $8,650 would give the bears the upper hand.
 
latest updates from Startup That Puts Diplomas On the Blockchain Raises $3 Million
Updates: May-7-2018 07:42:07 PM
Learning Machine, the blockchain startup co-developed a system for putting digital diplomas on the blockchain with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has raised $3 million.

The seed funding round was led by PTB Ventures with additional involvement from Omidyar Network and Learn Capital. The funding comes months after MIT unveiled that it had partnered with Learning Machine on the digital diploma initiative, which is based on the open-source Blockcerts standard.

Last fall saw other academic institutions and organizations launch their own Blockcerts-based pilots, including the University of Melbourne and Malta's government. That software tool, according to Learning Machine vice president of business development Natalie Smolenski, can be used to link academic certifications to different blockchains - including bitcoin and ethereum - with the goal of eliminating degree forgery.

The startup hopes to allow clients to use any blockchain they want she said, noting that some customers might prefer a public chain versus a private one.

"Right now in part I think because blockchain technology is still relatively new, there are a lot of high or strong emotions about which blockchain is better than another and blockchain has kind of engendered these fierce loyalties," she said, adding:

"We don't want to pick winners with blockchain. We do generally recommend users pick blockchains with a proven record but ultimately you don't want to prescribe to customers which blockchain they should use. If they have strong feelings about ethereum, they should use ethereum; if they have strong feelings on bitcoin, they should use bitcoin; if they have strong feelings on a private blockchain they should use a private blockchain."

Smolenski went on to predict that educational institutions will increase their use of the technology - adding that she hopes they will learn toward tapping open-source projects.

"This is the future," she told CoinDesk. "By 2020 most institutions will be using blockchains in some way, shape or form and the question we have to answer right now is are the solutions going to be open-standard or are they going to be proprietary?"
 
latest updates from Iceland's Missing Bitcoin Miners May Be In China
Updates: May-7-2018 07:41:29 PM
Iceland's 600 missing bitcoin mining machines may be in China, local news reported last week.

According to RUV, Icelandic police have sent Chinese authorities an inquiry after the latter country confiscated 600 mining computers. Police in the Tianjin area reportedly seized the machines after detecting unusually high electricity consumption, per Xinhua News.

The Chinese news agency explained that this may have been the "largest power theft case in recent years," noting that eight high-power fans were also confiscated. The individuals running the mining farm short-circuited their electricity meter, thereby avoiding receiving a bill for the energy used to power the miners.

Left untouched, the meter would have recorded "hundreds of thousands of yuan" in bills, Xinhua reported.

However, it is unclear whether the machines seized in China have any relation to Iceland's "Big Bitcoin Heist." As previously reported, the machines were stolen across several incidents during December and January, and officials have so far had no luck in locating them. A $60,000 reward is offered by the machines' owner for any information which could lead to the computers.

The alleged mastermind behind the thefts is set to be extradited to Iceland from the Netherlands, where he was arrested after escaping a low-security prison and fleeing to Sweden.

As previously reported, Sindri Thor Stefansson reportedly took a taxi to a nearby international airport and flew out of the country on an aircraft which also carried the nation's prime minister.
 
latest updates from Meetup's Crypto Secret? Scams Are Running Rampant
Updates: May-7-2018 07:40:37 PM
The line between crypto education and self-promotion has blurred.

And nowhere is this more evident than on social media, where imposters are everywhere and scams are rampant. But as crypto Twitter devolves into all-out chaos, a similar deterioration of discourse is playing out on another popular site for crypto enthusiasts - Meetup.com, the startup acquired by co-working giant WeWork for $20 billion in 2017.

Take James Moreau's experience. The founder of the Worcester Ethereum Meetup had a self-proclaimed blockchain expert interrupt one of his recent meetings focused on how to use cryptocurrency wallets by passing out flyers for a crypto accounting service. Thinking it was inappropriate, Moreau stopped the solicitation but was later horrified to discover the accountant didn't actually have any experience reporting crypto assets.

Yet, some of the more inexperienced group members had been quick to take the stranger at her word.

And Moreau felt some responsibility, not only for their potential wasted time but also the fact that should any of those members purchase her services, and then have problems later because she, in fact, didn't know what she was doing.

This experience displays just how difficult it's become to run a Meetup group related to cryptocurrency or blockchain, and moreover to educate in any form in the space.

"Around a month or two ago, I started noticing the same type of spam you'd see on Twitter," Moreau said, listing questionable exchange links, giveaways and phishing scams among the culprits he sees on Meetup.

He continued:

"I've deleted the comments and blocked the users, but they keep coming."

Meetup's policy currently forbids groups that offer "specific advice or services in areas that require a licensed professional," including law and finance, as well as groups that promise "financial gains." But when it comes to the nascent cryptocurrency space, it can be tricky to separate education from blatant scams and misinformation.

So far, Moreau has dealt with about a half dozen problematic posts and direct messages, but he can't be sure how many scammy direct messages have been sent to the 97 members of his Worcester group.

"I have people in my groups that are new and don't know what a scam looks like in this space," he said, describing newbies punch-drunk on headlines about quick riches as a ripe target for opportunists.
Online solicitation

And what's more problematic is when users directly solicit others via the comments section of Meetup groups.

For instance, a Meetup user calling himself "Stellar Lumens" promised users of the platform an "invite bonus" of lumens, the native cryptocurrency of the stellar protocol, even following up with people on Facebook before Meetup shut down the solicitor's account.

Zac Freundt, community manager at the Stellar Development Foundation, told CoinDesk the team routinely reports such scams on Meetup and other social media platforms.

While this bad behavior appears far less common on Meetup.com, Moreau said reporting scams (which the company has encouraged him to keep doing) is taking up a lot of his time.

As such, he isn't sure whether he'll keep using the platform if the problem persists. In his eyes, some of the responsibility lies with the platform itself.

"It's a paid service, so I feel like there should be some level of service," he told CoinDesk, adding:

"I'm thinking about whether Meetup is a good platform for me to organize around anymore, then again, I don't know what my options are otherwise."

Meetup did not reply to requests for comment.

Currently, Moreau is hoping to address some of the issuers by exploring an option to review prospective members before allowing them to join the group.

Lawson Baker, a former attorney turned founder of the cryptocurrency consulting firm RelayZero, echoed Moreau, saying Meetup.com should deal with these scammy and spammy issues, whether through moderation policies or other solutions.

Although, the moves of platforms like Facebook, which banned all advertisements related to cryptocurrency, are also not the best solution.

"It's a fine line to walk between censorship and consumer protection," said Moreau. "Somebody sharing their opinion about cryptocurrency could be misconstrued as spam or financial advice. I don't know what the best solution is yet."
In-person pumps

It's not only online where dodgy promotion happens.

Going one step further from Moreau's example, a Stellar Meetup in San Francisco in April left Baker feeling uneasy.

During that Meetup, hosted by Boris Reznikov, director of partnerships at Stellar, the co-founders of real estate startup Slice not only talked about what the company's aims were but also offered a guide to buying "slice" tokens and referred to upcoming portfolio options.

The event's comment section is full of people posting links to similar blockchain projects and asking about free lumen giveaways.

According to Freundt, "Our meetups are purely focused on educating the public about the technology and use cases of stellar. We do not offer any investment advice."

But Baker said the Slice executive's presentation kind of was.

"They put all the disclaimers that this was not a solicitation. Even though, honestly, that's basically what they are doing," he told CoinDesk.

On the other hand, though, startup pitches and discussions about what crypto assets have real long-term value are a normal and much-needed part of the cryptocurrency community.

But Baker said organizers of these events have to be careful and vet guest speakers diligently.

"There's always bad actors, and then there's a whole bunch of stuff that is just really bad projects. Sometimes it's hard to identify that in a three-minute talk on why you should invest in it," Baker said.

As such, Hannah Rosenberg, co-organizer of the Bitcoin & Open Blockchain Meetup group in Chicago, which has more than 2,550 members, takes a more stringent approach.

"We don't do ICO stuff," Rosenberg told CoinDesk, adding:
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