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Updates: May-7-2018 07:40:05 PM
Code Is Law - But It's Not the Only Law for Blockchains -  It's the combination of internal and external rules that ultimately dictates how blockchain-based platforms will operate, says Primavera De Filippi.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:32:05 PM
These Crypto Assets Are Pushing the Market Back Toward $500 Billion -  The crypto markets continued to build on April's gains this week, with alternative cryptocurrencies like nano, VeChain and bytecoin leading the way.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:31:38 PM
Arizona Lawmakers Strip Crypto Mentions From Tax Payments Bill -  Arizona Senate Bill 1091 has been passed by the House and Senate - but no longer mentions cryptocurrencies anywhere.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:31:13 PM
Virgin's Richard Branson Warns on Bitcoin Scam Sites Using His Name -  The British tycoon published a post Thursday warning the public to ignore bitcoin scams promoting themselves using his image.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:30:44 PM
Police Mandate Use of Blockchain Hotel Registry in Indian City -  Police in the Indian city of Vizag have ordered hotels to deploy a new blockchain security solution.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:30:05 PM
Venezuelan President Launches Cryptocurrency-Funded Youth Bank -  Venezuela is reportedly launching a youth bank to be funded by the state's controversial cryptocurrency, the petro.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:29:26 PM
12 Chinese Banks Say They Deployed Blockchain in 2017 -  Nearly half of the 26 publicly listed banks in China said they deployed blockchain applications in 2017.>> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:26:36 PM
Fraudsters Take Aim at Investors in Controversial KodakCoin ICO -  KODAKCoin's backers are calling a crypto exchange's ICO launch claims "fraudulent." >> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:26:07 PM
California City's Blockchain Token Is Definitely Maybe Happening -  The "labyrinth" of city politics defies easy interpretation, but it seems that Berkeley is actually on its way to issue on a bond on the blockchain. >> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:25:40 PM
'Belligerent' Crypto Miners Prompt Power Utility to Beef Up Security -  Chelan County's Public Utilities District is enacting new security measures to protect employees from bitcoin miners. >> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:25:07 PM
JPMorgan Seeks Patent for Blockchain-Powered Interbank Payments -  A patent application by JPMorgan Chase suggests putting financial transaction information on a distributed ledger. full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:24:27 PM
Arizona's Bid to Accept Crypto for Taxes Suffers Setback -  Arizona's crypto tax bill no longer enables the Department of Revenue to collect taxes in cryptocurrency, but rather directs it to conduct a study. >> full details
Updates: May-4-2018 08:23:57 PM
CFTC Officials Want Close Cooperation With SEC on Crypto Rules -  Two members of the U.S. commodities regulator spoke at a conference. One stressed enforcement, the other working with the industry. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:33:36 AM
Sony Eyes Blockchain Use for Digital Rights Data -  Sony believes a blockchain can be used as a digital rights management solution by storing ownership information. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:33:08 AM
CBOE Saw Its Highest-Ever Bitcoin Futures Volumes Yesterday -  Bitcoin futures contracts saw a spike in trading volume Wednesday, according to data from both CBOE and CME. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:32:46 AM
Ripple Says Sales of XRP Cryptocurrency Rose 83% In Q1 -  While XRP's price has fallen since the end of the year, Ripple's sales of the cryptocurrency are stronger than ever.>> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:31:53 AM
Romania's Oldest Bitcoin Exchange Is Shutting Down Next Week -  BTCxChange announced it was closing its platform on May 1, and advised customers to withdraw all funds before then. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:31:29 AM
Crypto Mining Made Up 10% of AMD's Revenue in Q1 -  While AMD sees demand for GPUs to process blockchains falling this quarter, CEO Lisa Su believes the technology will have a long-term impact. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:28:36 AM
OmiseGo Hits Two-Month High Amid Exchange Listings -  OmiseGo's OMG token is reporting double-digit gains today, possibly due to new listings on Asian exchanges and news of an airdrop. >> full details
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:28:09 AM
BBVA Issues $91 Million Loan Using Two Blockchains -  Spanish banking giant BBVA has completed a pilot that issued a $91 million corporate loan using two different blockchain technologies. >> full details
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latest updates from Code Is Law - But It's Not the Only Law for Blockchains
Updates: May-7-2018 07:40:05 PM
A blockchain network is a complex system that involves a variety of actors that cannot be trusted. Its protocol is designed to ensure that every actor has an incentive to cooperate and that the costs of defection are higher than the potential gains.

Yet, like other complex systems, blockchains are made of many different parts, interacting with one another in ways that are difficult to predict - and therefore difficult to govern or regulate.

It might be possible to regulate the actions of each individual part. But as the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, governance cannot be achieved without a proper understanding of the various components that constitute that whole, and the power dynamics that subsist among them.

This post provides an overview of the multiple layers of governance affecting blockchain-based systems. It distinguishes between two distinct governance structures: on-chain governance by the infrastructure and off-chain governance of the infrastructure - each model incorporating both endogenous and exogenous components, which contribute to varying degrees to the overall governance structure of a blockchain-based network.
Layers of governance

If we look at the first post of this blockchain governance series, we see that most decentralized blockchain-based applications have their governance split into different layers, each one interacting with the other:

The Internet protocols layer: e.g., the TCP/IP protocol
The blockchain layer: e.g., the ethereum protocol
The decentralized app (DApp) framework: e.g., DAOstack
The DApp layer: e.g., Sapien

Each layer implements its own governance structure, which may affect or be affected by that of the other layers. The design and implementation of these multiple layers involve several individuals, but chances are they come from different communities that may or may not communicate with one another.

Specifically, bottom-layer communities often implement their own governance structure with little to no regard for the governance system implemented on the upper layers. And yet in doing so they ultimately dictate how applications from the upper layers will operate.

For instance, DAOstack, a project I am involved in, is a DApp framework (Layer 3) built on top of the ethereum blockchain. It is therefore subject to the governance rules of that specific blockchain-based network.

Yet DAOstack also implements its own protocols that determine how people interact with the platform, and how they can create new decentralized organizations on top of it. An application (like Sapien) deployed on top of DAOstack will, in turn, have its own governance protocols specific to that DApp (Layer 4).

Accordingly, any blockchain-based application is subject first to its own governance rules, but is also indirectly affected by the rules of the platform on which it operates: the ethereum blockchain that ensures the proper execution of relevant smart contracts (Layer 2), and the internet network that makes everything run (Layer 1).

The governance of each layer can be distinguished into two separate components:

governance by the infrastructure
governance of the infrastructure.

These two mechanisms co-exist more or less peacefully and both contribute to regulating a particular platform or infrastructure according to their own - sometimes divergent or contradictory - set of rules

Depending on the focus of analysis, these two mechanisms can be regarded as either endogenous to a particular community or exogenous to that community.

Endogenous rules are elaborated by the community and for the community: they are a community's attempt at self-governance through a set of self-imposed rules (e.g., the hipster's dress code).

Exogenous rules are established and/or imposed by a third party that is external to the community, but nonetheless have the ability to influence it through a set of rules that community members are required to abide by (e.g., school uniforms).
Modes of governance

Governance by the infrastructure refers to hard-coded rules embedded into a technological platform. It generally focuses on the process of rule enforcement rather than rule-making (at least with regard to the elaboration of the initial set of rules).

In the case of ethereum, for example, endogenous rules refer to the blockchain protocol and consensus algorithm (Layer 2). From a DApp's perspective, endogenous rules include decision-making procedures and technical rules embedded in the relevant smart contracts (Layers 3 and 4) - whereas the underlying ethereum protocol qualifies as exogenous. A variety of other exogenous rules also exist, like the TCP/IP and other Internet protocols that make it possible for people to find and connect to the blockchain-based network (Layer 1).

When these rules are endogenous to a blockchain-based network, we refer to governance by the infrastructure as "on-chain" governance. These rules are encoded directly into the blockchain-based network, which guarantees their execution in a secure and decentralized manner.

Sometimes, on-chain governance rules also specify procedures to amend themselves: just like we can make laws that stipulate how to make, amend or repeal laws, we can design protocol rules that define the procedures to make, amend or repeal other protocol rules.

Take Tezos, for instance: a self-amending blockchain, where people have the ability to change the protocol rules - including the rules to change the rules!

Governance of the infrastructure refers to all forces that subsist outside of a technological platform, but nonetheless influence its development and operations. These rules operate at the social or institutional level rather than at the technical level.

Endogenous rules comprise rules, social norms, customs, and other governance structures developed or endorsed by a particular community with a view to facilitating coordination within that community.

For instance, developers in open source communities codify rules and procedures to decide on developing and evolving an open source software project. Peer-review usually enforces these rules, although the community might also implement formalized mechanisms of enforcement and oversight. Failure to follow these rules might lead to exclusion from the community or other forms of social punishment.

In a blockchain-based network, we often refer to governance of the infrastructure as "off-chain" governance because the governance rules subsist and operate outside of the blockchain infrastructure. As opposed to on-chain governance rules, these rules are not automatically executed: they require a third-party authority for enforcement or oversight.

For most blockchain communities, endogenous rules include all rules and procedures used to decide which changes to implement in the protocol, including the decision to fork. In bitcoin, these are done via the Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIP) - an informal mechanism by which people can propose new features and improvements to the bitcoin protocol.

Ethereum implemented a similar system for people to submit Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIP), an informal procedure by which people can suggest or request changes to the ethereum protocol or code. However, none of these procedures are binding. The developer community evaluates these proposals and decides whether (and how) they should be implemented into the code base - along with the various problems that this might entail.

To the extent that these proposals get accepted and implemented into the code, governance of the infrastructure has the ability to affect governance by the infrastructure. In other words, because off-chain governance is generally geared toward changing the rules of the underlying blockchain protocol, it has the power to modify the structure of on-chain governance.

Exogenous rules neither stem from the community nor are chosen by it, yet they have the ability to influence the activities thereof.

For instance, although they do not apply directly to blockchain-based networks, national laws can impact the operations of such networks. Of course, because laws are inherently territorial, if violated, they can only be enforced by the national court system within the scope of a particular jurisdiction. Yet as soon as we start dealing with real-world assets (as opposed to pure digital assets), the rule of law will necessarily come into play, potentially countering the rule of code.

Perhaps the clearest illustration of the tension between endogenous and exogenous rules comes from the recent discovery of child pornography imagery and links encoded into the bitcoin blockchain. Hosting this type of content is illicit and national laws stipulate that such harmful content should be taken down.

Yet according to bitcoin's endogenous rules, the blockchain is immutable: nodes cannot arbitrarily delete or modify the content that has been recorded onto the blockchain.

The same tension exists between blockchain's immutability and Europe's right to be forgotten, which entitles people to request the removal and deletion of specific information concerning them, if such information is deemed irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.

Governments or other regulatory authorities impose these exogenous rules to ensure public order and morality. Their goal is to promote the interests of specific communities or the public at large - sometimes at the expense of the interests and norms of other communities.
Putting it all together

Today, most of the discussion about on-chain and off-chain governance is mainly looking at endogenous rules. Yet, it is the combination of endogenous and exogenous rules that ultimately dictates the manner in which blockchain-based platforms will operate.

Before we can begin to understand blockchain governance, we need to adopt an ecosystemic approach, looking at the various forces that might affect the operations of these platforms, and how they interrelate with one another.

As a result, we cannot focus only on endogenous rules and forget about exogenous rules. That would be like trying to understand people independent from their social context, analyzing a cell without looking at the body in which it lives, or disregarding the whole for its parts.
 
latest updates from These Crypto Assets Are Pushing the Market Back Toward $500 Billion
Updates: May-4-2018 08:32:05 PM
The cryptocurrency markets continued to build on April's gains this week, with alternative cryptocurrencies (altcoins) leading the way.

Notably, the combined market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies rose back above $460 billion today - the highest level since March 6, representing a week-on-week increase of 15.8 percent.

Out of top 25 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, 23 are reporting gains on a weekly basis, and names like nano (NANO), VeChain (VET) and bytecoin (BCN) are topping the list.

Bitcoin, the world's largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is reporting 8.5 percent appreciation, largely due to Thursday's bull pennant breakout.

Meanwhile, other bigwigs like Ripple (XRP), litecoin (LTC) and bitcoin cash (BCH) are reporting 11 percent gains. Ethereum's ether token (ETH) rose above $800 for the first time since early March and has witnessed an appreciation of 23 percent.

Moving forward, the cryptomarkets will likely remain bid as bitcoin is eyeing a big bullish break above the $10,000 mark.
 
latest updates from Arizona Lawmakers Strip Crypto Mentions From Tax Payments Bill
Updates: May-4-2018 08:31:38 PM
UPDATE 4 May 19:00 UTC: Representative Jeff Weninger told CoinDesk that there were insufficient votes for the bill with the cryptocurrency language included. Because Arizona's legislative session ended on May 3, there are no plans to propose a future bill at this time.

Arizona's long-in-the-making cryptocurrency tax payments bill has been further stripped down - so much so that it no longer mentions the technology at all.

The final version of Senate Bill 1091 does not mention cryptocurrencies in any way, despite three previous versions of the bill all specifically including cryptocurrencies as a possible payment method, public filings show. The version of the bill approved by both the House of Representatives and the State Senate does say that the Department of Revenue "may develop, adopt and use a payment system that enables the immediate remittance and collection of tax."

It goes on to explain:

"The Department of revenue may design, develop and provide for trial demonstrations of the adaptation, application and use of technology to enable immediate remittance and collection of transaction privilege tax payments, at the option of the taxpayer, at the point of sale and for payments of additional amounts after audit."

However, it is unclear whether this technology refers to cryptocurrencies or a traditional banking system.

The bill originally sought to enable Arizona's Department of Revenue to collect cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, for tax payments. The bill was introduced in January and quickly passed through several committees before being referred to the House, as previously reported. Committees in the House similarly approved the bill's passage, but it stalled at the beginning of March.

Representative Jeff Weninger, one of the bill's cosponsors, later told CoinDesk that the bill was being modified to become more neutral. While the original version specifically mentioned bitcoin, the new version was supposed to be "agnostic" about which cryptocurrencies could be collected, he explained.

Following the revamp, the bill was approved by the House Rules Committee and sent up to Ways and Means.

However, a new version was passed by the full House at the end of April. Rather than enabling the Department of Revenue to collect taxes through cryptocurrencies, the bill directed the Department to study "whether a taxpayer may pay the taxpayer's income tax liability by using a payment gateway." Possible gateways included bitcoin and litecoin, among other cryptocurrencies.

Senators Warren Petersen and David Farnsworth and Representative Jeff Weninger, the sponsor and cosponsors respectively, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Representative Travis Grantham could not be reached.
 
latest updates from Virgin's Richard Branson Warns on Bitcoin Scam Sites Using His Name
Updates: May-4-2018 08:31:13 PM
British business tycoon Richard Branson spoke out Thursday about the rash of bitcoin scam stories that have used his name to lure victims.

"I have written several times warning people about the growing problem of fake stories online linking me to get-rich-quick schemes, fake pages, misleading ads, false endorsements and fake binary trading schemes," Branson wrote in a blog post.

"While I have often commented on the potential benefits of genuine bitcoin developments," he continued, "I absolutely do not endorse these fake bitcoin stories."

Branson is the founder of Virgin Group, whose portfolio of over 400 companies includes the airline Virgin Atlantic. He has promoted bitcoin and blockchain technology in the past, including through an annual private island summit of industry participants.

Branson singled out one scam - Bitcoin Trader - in particular. CoinDesk visited a site advertising the scheme, which poses as a CNN Tech article, complete with the outlet's logo and formatting - if not its copy-editing.

"560 Thousand British Quit Their Jobs After Richard Branson Invests Heavily In New Bitcoin Financial Tech." the headline reads, and the fake article is falsely attributed to a real CNN tech writer.
 
latest updates from Police Mandate Use of Blockchain Hotel Registry in Indian City
Updates: May-4-2018 08:30:44 PM
Police in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh have ordered hotels to deploy a new blockchain security solution developed by local startup Zebi.

According to a Medium post from the startup published last Friday, the product merges blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to securely store data about hotel guests, and aims to both bring convenience to customers and to help prevent criminal activities.

The data collected is compared with the police database of criminals, missing persons and so on to ascertain whether the guest has any criminal background.

Zebi said that the solution - dubbed Zebi AI Chain - has already been integrated across over 200 hotels, including The Park, Taj Gateway, Novotel in Vizag, the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh known for its "Fintech Valley" ecosystem.

Dr Fakeerappa Kaginelli, IPS, Deputy Commissioner of Police in the Vizag region, confirmed that the use of the solution has been made mandatory for all hotels in the Vizag city limits.

He told Coindesk today:

"All hotels are directed to enter their check-in particulars on real-time basis without fail and they are adhering too ... 230 hotels are entering their guest particulars through this tech web page."

The initiative collects real-time date from hotel check-in desks in order to provide "real-time surveillance over criminals and their anti-social activities," he said. "No criminal activities as such are reported to date."

Under Indian law, hotels must provide guests' personal data to the police on a daily basis.

"Generally, they do it manually, leaving scope for misuse during transportation and storage of papers. Time to process the documents too is long," said Babu Munagala, Zebi's founder and CEO, according to the Hindu Business Line.

The posts states that the "private and sensitive" data of hotel guests is immutably stored in the Zebi AI Chain system, adding that visitors are asked to give permission for access to the data.

Nagesh Kumar Venkata, assistant front office manager of The Park hotel, was quoted as saying that local police previously had to visit the hotel on a regular basis to ascertain the status of tourists and their backgrounds. "Now it is not necessary," he said.

Looking ahead, Zebi further says it is preparing for "full-scale deployment across all the hotels in India."
 
latest updates from Venezuelan President Launches Cryptocurrency-Funded Youth Bank
Updates: May-4-2018 08:30:05 PM
Venezuela is launching a youth bank to be funded by the state's controversial petro cryptocurrency.

Announced Thursday by the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, the country will set up a bank for students and young people that will begin its operations with 20 million petros, according to news source Telesur.

Speaking during a youth ceremony in the state of Aragua on Thursday, Maduro said that close to $1.2 billion-worth of the cryptocurrency would be given to the new institution to get it up and running, and that the bank would support "productive initiatives."

During his speech, Maduro also said that every university should have a mining farm to produce cryptocurrencies in order to strengthen the economy of Venezuela.

Launched in February 2018, the petro is a national oil-backed cryptocurrency developed by the government of Venezuela under the direct orders of the president. The move has been widely condemned as away to avoid U.S.-led sanctions against the Latin American country.

Even the country's own opposition-led congress has condemned the petro, saying before its launch that it was "illegal" and merely borrowing against the country's assets.

Soon after the launch of the petro pre-sale, President Maduro further announced that he plans a second cryptocurrency to be backed by the nation's gold reserves.
 
latest updates from 12 Chinese Banks Say They Deployed Blockchain in 2017
Updates: May-4-2018 08:29:26 PM
Nearly half of the 26 publicly listed banks in China say they deployed blockchain applications in 2017, according to a report.

Chinese banking industry news source CEBNet said Friday that, among the 26 Chinese banks, 12 of them disclosed in their annual filings that blockchain applications were adopted for various use cases over the last year.

The 12 institutions include major state-owned commercial banks such as the Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Agriculture Bank of China, as well as other privately held ones, including China Merchants Bank and other city-level entities.

The applications that have been adopted range from using blockchain technology to issue invoices and cross-border loans to ID authentication processes.

For example, according to the annual filing from the Agriculture Bank of China, the state-owned entity has developed a decentralized network to offer unsecured loans for agricultural e-commerce merchants that it said offers an automatic loan issuance process.

Similarly, China Construction Bank also disclosed in its financial statement that it has launched a blockchain-based platform that provides cross-bank and cross-border loan issuance for small businesses. The bank further boasts that the platform has so far processed transactions that worth a total of 1.6 billion yuan, or $251 million.

Taking another approach, Bank of China said that it has completed testing for a distributed IT infrastructure to be deployed across its branches for further development of a blockchain-based digital wallet.

The banks' en masse move to adopt blockchain comes at a time when the country's banking regulator has also praised the benefit of applying the technology in the financial sector - especially when it comes to improving the efficiency of loan issuance.

Recent patent applications, as reported by CoinDesk, also indicated that China's state-owned banks have been exploring ways to use blockchain technology to solve data storage issues and to streamline certificate authentication processes.
 
latest updates from Fraudsters Take Aim at Investors in Controversial KodakCoin ICO
Updates: May-4-2018 08:26:36 PM
A representative for the company behind the long-in-the-making KODAKCoin initial coin offering (ICO) has accused a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange of fraud after it claimed it would host the token sale.

According to a page on the Hong Kong-based exchange LBank.io, the platform's ICO section says it is about to open the KODAKCoin token sale on Friday, May 4 at 20:00 Beijing time, or 12:00 UTC, which will end at the same time on May 11.

But the platform behind the digital rights management-focused coin first unveiled in January says that isn't true.

In an email response to CoinDesk's request for comment, a spokesperson for KODAKOne called the information "neither authentic nor accurate."

"It has come to our attention that more than one fraudulent websites have been promoting the sale of KODAKCoin. All factual information regarding the availability of an ICO to accredited investors will come directly from KODAKCoin and its authorized representatives."

The rep went on to say:

"To clarify, WENN Digital is only offering the SAFTs and the underlying KODAKCoin in exempt transactions to 'accredited investors. Offers and sales of the SAFTs and the underlying KODAKCoin outside the United States will also be made in accordance with the laws and regulations of the relevant jurisdictions."

The KODAKCoin sale was expected to begin at the end of January but was instead delayed for what was initially said to be several weeks.

Most recently, WENN Digital, KODAK's partner in developing the cryptocurrency, is pitching the sale to be conducted by way of Simple Agreements for Future Tokens (SAFTs), which brands the coin to be a utility token and can only be sold to "accredited investors."

According to LBank.io's token sale page, would-be investors can purchase KODAKCoin at a 1:1 ratio with tether or USDT, the dollar-pegged cryptocurrency tied to crypto exchange Bitfinex. The exchange's page claims that there is a funding hard cap of 8,000 ETH.

Data from CoinMarketCap shows that the LBank.io is currently the ninth-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume in the world, with over $421 million worth in transactions during the past 24 hours.

While LBank.io has not yet responded to CoinDesk's requests for comments, its website indicates that the firm was founded in 2017 and is currently based in Hong Kong
 
latest updates from California City's Blockchain Token Is Definitely Maybe Happening
Updates: May-4-2018 08:26:07 PM
In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the city council of Berkeley, Calif., took a step toward approving the issuance of a blockchain-based "microbond."

Ben Bartlett, the vice mayor and council member who spearheaded the initiative, told CoinDesk by phone on Thursday: "It's happening. We passed it."

But the actual decision taken by the vote is a bit more convoluted.

According to Berkeley's city clerk, the council decided to "refer to the 2018 prioritization process to direct the City Manager to produce a report outlining steps required if the City were to implement a Pilot Project for the Community Microbond Initiative within 90 days."

Another member of the city council, Susan Wengraf, cautioned that "this action does not imply approval at this time."

But according to a council member who preferred not to be named, the proposal is moving at a rapid clip through the "byzantine labyrinth" of city government.

"This is a really big win," the member said, explaining that the strong support signaled by five of the nine council members Tuesday means that, rather than taking a decade, the project is likely to progress rapidly.

Bartlett says that he faced considerable opposition to his blockchain-based municipal bond going into the meeting, with only two members in favor. But his pitch for low-denomination bonds, tokenized on a distributed ledger, found fertile ground.

Currently, he says, costs imposed by financial intermediaries force municipal bond issues to be large and drive the minimum a person can invest up to $5,000 or even $100,000. "No one can buy them," says Bartlett, adding, "they're not targeted to specific needs for neighborhoods and communities."

He believes that blockchain technology could allow for tokenized bonds selling at $5, $10 or $25 each, while simultaneously increasing transparency:

"Blockchain allows us to really disintermediate that process and make bonds more affordable for communities and for people."

'Hyperlocal' uses

Among the projects he thinks Berkeley could fund using the bonds are a homeless shelter, an ambulance or an individual fire truck - "hyperlocal activities," in other words.

The world is watching, Bartlett added.

His office has "calls coming in from literally every continent." And his plans for blockchain-based municipal finance go beyond Berkeley, as a recent Medium post seemingly suggests.

But Bartlett has very little to say about the technical details of the plan. He declined to discuss what network the bonds would be issued on - a freestanding blockchain, Hyperledger, bitcoin, ethereum - or even whether the blockchain would be open or permissioned.

"I can't speak to that," he said. "We'll see what the best proposal that comes in from the market is."

The city, he continued, will solicit contracts for the project and "vendors will do every step of this process."
 
latest updates from 'Belligerent' Crypto Miners Prompt Power Utility to Beef Up Security
Updates: May-4-2018 08:25:40 PM
A public utility in one of the U.S. hot spots for bitcoin mining is adopting new security measures in light of harassment suffered by some of its employees.

The steps are being taken by the Chelan County Public Utility District (PUD) in Washington County - as previously reported, the area has attracted a number of bitcoin miners because of its abundant access to hydropower sources. Yet "confrontations" between staffers and would-be mine operators, as first reported by The Wenatchee World, have sparked a drive to add new cameras, install security panels and institute other actions.

On Monday, Chelan County PUD director of corporate security Rich Hyatt briefed the district's commissioners during a meeting, attributing the moves to "belligerent behavior by impatient cryptocurrency miners" who are reacting poorly following a moratorium imposed on new bitcoin mines.

Hyatt explained:

"Some of the things we're doing internally, we've got a lot of business security measures, at [headquarters] we've [installed] a lot of security panels, we've increased the camera coverage. We've also designed and are going into the construction phase for a very small store front lobby that would give employees a lot more security without having personnel or customers being able to walk right into their work area. We're monitoring those areas."

He also described new measures being taken to dissuade unauthorized bitcoin miners from setting up facilities, saying his office was making agreements with the chief of police, the county sheriff and the county prosecutor to investigate and potentially prosecute repeat offenders.

"We ... have an agreement with those agencies that we could use [them] as the mechanism that when we prepare a case and gather the evidence and establish probable cause, we can take that case through their detectives and that can help the county for prosecution considerations," he said.

The agency has also trained its personnel on how to deal with potentially hostile people by installing panic buttons for front-line staff and adding security officers able to spot "negative body language," he said.
 
latest updates from JPMorgan Seeks Patent for Blockchain-Powered Interbank Payments
Updates: May-4-2018 08:25:07 PM
JPMorgan Chase is seeking to patent a system for using distributed ledgers as a way to facilitate and reconcile financial transactions, newly-released filings show.

In a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday (which was originally submitted last October), JPMorgan outlined a system that uses distributed ledgers to record payments being sent from one bank to another using a peer-to-peer network. According to the bank, the tech's use would provide "a unique system for recording transactions and storing data."

The ability to replicate that data on the ledge across a public or private distribution network offers another benefit, the filing notes.

JPMorgan goes on to explain:

"In one embodiment, a method for processing network payments using a distributed ledger may include: (1) a payment originator initiating a payment instruction to a payment beneficiary; (2) a payment originator bank posting and committing the payment instruction to a distributed ledger on a peer-to-peer network; (3) the payment beneficiary bank posting and committing the payment instruction to the distributed ledger on a peer-to-peer network; and (4) the payment originator bank validating and processing the payment through a payment originator bank internal system and debiting an originator account."

A blockchain could improve upon existing systems by allowing real-time settlement more cheaply and quickly than is possible at present, according to the bank.

"For a cross-border payment to be made from a payment organization to a payment beneficiary, a number of messages must be sent between the banks and clearing houses involved in processing the transaction. This often results in a slow transaction, as there are may be delays in service due to correspondent banking, messaging networks, and clearing intermediaries in the payment flow," the application explains.

It's perhaps unsurprising that JPMorgan would seek a patent for its blockchain-related work in the area of interbank payments. The bank launched a platform for just that kind of service, built on ethereum-offshoot Quorum, days before it filed the patent application.

"Blockchain capabilities have allowed us to rethink how critical information can be sourced and exchanged between global banks," Emma Loftus, head of global payments and foreign exchange for JPMorgan Treasury Services, said at the time.
 
latest updates from Arizona's Bid to Accept Crypto for Taxes Suffers Setback
Updates: May-4-2018 08:24:27 PM
Arizona's cryptocurrency tax payments bill was passed by the state's House of Representatives, but with a caveat: it is now almost completely different.

Public records show that the Arizona House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 1091 on April 30 by a 43-14 vote. That comfortable passage aside, the measure is now starkly different from the one originally submitted - and later passed - in the Arizona Senate.

Now, the two chambers enter talks to reconcile the differences, with lawmakers from the House and the Senate being named to undertake the task.

By far the biggest change is that the mandate aimed at Arizona's Department of Revenue - which would have cleared the way for it to accept cryptocurrency as payment for tax liabilities - has been walked back.

If implemented as-is, the House version would merely require the Department to study the issue and that it "may develop, adopt and use a payment system that enables the immediate remittance and collection of tax in real time at the point of sale, including payments of additional amounts after audit."

As the bill explains further:

"The Department shall study whether a taxpayer may pay the taxpayer's income tax liability by using a payment gateway, such as bitcoin, litecoin or any other cryptocurrency that uses electronic peer-to-peer systems. The Department shall study the conversion of cryptocurrency payments to United States dollars at the prevailing rate after receipt and shall study the process of crediting the taxpayer's account with the converted dollar amount actually received less any fees or costs incurred by the Department for conversion."

The bill does not define when this study would begin or how long it might take for the results to be compiled into a report. It is further unclear whether Arizona would allow its tax officials to collect payments using cryptocurrencies at a later date.

Senator Warren Petersen's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
 
latest updates from CFTC Officials Want Close Cooperation With SEC on Crypto Rules
Updates: May-4-2018 08:23:57 PM
Two officials at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) spoke about regulating cryptocurrencies this week, stressing the need for cooperation between their agency and another powerful U.S. regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Addressing the FIA Law and Compliance conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, commissioner Brian Quintenz spoke out about "an effort that is underway at both the SEC and CFTC to coordinate and harmonize regulatory oversight."

Quintenz did not focus on cryptocurrencies specifically, but when he did talk about them, the emphasis was on "fraud, market manipulation and disruptive trading involving virtual currency."

He reminded the audience that the CFTC has set up a special task force "to prosecute fraud in this evolving asset class," and stressed the importance of cooperating with the SEC so as to "ensure that differences in product nomenclature do not enable bad actors to slip through jurisdictional cracks."

Examples of recent cooperation between the SEC and CFTC include the cases against the alleged My Big Coin and CabbageTech cryptocurrency scams, according to an annotated transcript of Quintenz's remarks.

Commissioner Rostin Behnam, who spoke Thursday morning, struck a much softer tone on cryptocurrencies. He noted that CME Group and Cboe's introduction of bitcoin futures required a "hard and fast introduction" to bitcoin and blockchain technology.

He expressed concern that cryptocurrencies could present a threat to financial stability, if not now then down the line. He urged regulators - who often find themselves "scurrying to keep pace with swift innovations" - to act before that threat appears.

Behnam acknowledged that not everything in the cryptocurrency markets is a fraud and said that policy should "reflect an understanding of FinTech and address the concerns and needs of all stakeholders."

The commissioner was skeptical of the cryptocurrency industry's attempt to craft its own regulations, since "their motives may be too focused on supporting industry growth." Even so, he welcomed market participants to help craft policy:

"Let's work together, have an honest conversation, and seek solutions that focus on an inclusive regulatory landscape."

He added: "Whatever your issue, my door is open."
 
latest updates from Sony Eyes Blockchain Use for Digital Rights Data
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:33:36 AM
Japanese technology giant Sony is looking at using blockchain to store digital rights data.

In an application published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Sony explains that current digital rights management (DRM) solutions that aim for interoperability "may not be very reliable and rely on one unique point of failure. If the rights locker provider or system goes out of business or otherwise fails, the user loses all the acquired content."

A blockchain could store the required identification information to ensure users could watch the products they purchase, according to the filing.

DRM systems refer to technologies that limit access to copyrighted materials only to those who purchase access. Sony cites UltraViolet, a cloud-based locker for digital rights, as one example.

The application was filed jointly by Sony and subsidiary Sony Pictures Entertainment, and the document specifically cites movies as an example of the type of media the system could be applied to.

However, Sony also argues the blockchain-based system could manage rights to "various types of content or other data, such as movies, television, video, music, audio, games, scientific data, medical data, etc."

The application describes several potential implementations of the technology. In one, each user's rights are encoded on a dedicated blockchain. This ledger begins with a genesis block, which stores identifying information about that user. When the user acquires rights to certain content - by purchasing a movie download, for example - those rights are committed to the blockchain.

Concurrently, a "DRM computer system would verify the rights in the blockchain and then decrypt the media when needed. This computer system can take different forms, including a "DRM agent" residing on a user's device, according to Sony.

As previously reported, Sony has been looking at other applications of the technology, including as a means to authenticate user data and manage education data.
 
latest updates from CBOE Saw Its Highest-Ever Bitcoin Futures Volumes Yesterday
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:33:08 AM
Two major markets for bitcoin futures contracts saw a major boost in volume on Wednesday.

Available market data shows that CBOE saw its highest-ever volume for bitcoin futures since it first debuted the contracts back in December. 18,210 contacts for the May futures were traded, along with 703 for the June contract and 87 for the July contract. No volume was reported for the exchange's August-dated contract.

CBOE Options Institute senior instructor Kevin Davitt, in a social media video posted on Thursday, said that "[the] average daily volume (ADV) runs about 6,600 in XBT Bitcoin Futures. Yesterday's volume was nearly three times ADV."

He went on to explain:

"Yesterday was the highest daily volume for bitcoin futures since their introduction here at CBOE nearly five months ago. The lead month May futures traded 18,210 contracts, and across the term structure a total of 19,000 bitcoin futures traded here yesterday. The previous high-volume session was January 17 with just less than 15,500 contracts traded."

Wednesday's volume was an outlier among the past several days, as well as the results seen during Thursday's session. On Monday, XBT Bitcoin Futures traded at 3,881, rising to 6,653 on Tuesday. On Thursday, volume was reported at 5,634 contracts as of press time.

CME, according to market data, also saw a big trading day on Wednesday.

The exchange saw the volume of its bitcoin futures contracts market double on Wednesday from the day before, shooting past 11,000 contracts. Unlike CBOE, it was CME's April 2018 contracts which saw the bulk of the spike, according to its website.

The spike in January's volume coincided with the expiration of the first set of contracts, Davitt said. However, Wednesday's volume did not, nor did it have a 15-20 percent range in futures Davitt would otherwise have expected, he added.

"We will certainly be watching to see if this is a volume aberration or if more and more institutional types are moving into crypto," he said. However, he noted that "the overall bullish sentiment continues in XBT Bitcoin Futures."
 
latest updates from Ripple Says Sales of XRP Cryptocurrency Rose 83% In Q1
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:32:46 AM
San Francisco startup Ripple Inc. is reporting an uptick in sales for a cryptocurrency core to its product suite.

According to a post on the firm's site, released Wednesday, the company sold $167.7 million worth of XRP in the first three months of 2018, an increase of 83 percent compared to the previous quarter and of 2,400 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017. Ripple has long been closely associated with the open-source XRP Ledger, a technology on which it has built tools aimed at enterprise businesses.

The company further said direct sales of XRP totaled $16.6 million - a decline of 17 percent compared to the previous quarter. Programmatic sales of the cryptocurrency more than doubled, on the other hand, rising from $71.5 million to $151.1 million.

Tom Channick, Ripple's head of corporate communications, told CoinDesk that XRP sales "exceeded our expectations."

He added:

"As a company, our strategy remains focused on signing up customers to use our technology and moving those customers into production. If we continue to do that, we will fix how money moves around the world."

The total volume of XRP traded globally also increased markedly in Q1: volumes grew 68 percent to reach $160 billion for the period.

XRP's clout relative to the total cryptocurrency market grew in Q1, with its share of overall market volume growing from 5.3 percent at the end of 2017 to 6.9 percent at the end of March.

As for its share of total cryptocurrency market value, the report notes:

"While the total market capitalization of all digital assets was the same on both November 24, 2017 and March 31, 2018, XRP's share of that market capitalization doubled, rising from 3.56 percent to 7.57 percent - a continuation of a trend that first began in 2017."

XRP's price took off in late 2017, rising from less than $0.25 at the beginning of December to a peak of $3.84 in early January. The token's subsequent fall was just as steep, and within a month, it was trading at just under a dollar. At the time of writing, 1 XRP is worth around $0.82.

Ripple's first-quarter report also addressed the negative influence that a global regulatory crackdown, combined with uncertainty about the future, has had on cryptocurrency prices. It did not specifically reference Ripple's own regulatory questions, however, including whether XRP is a security.

Ripple markets XRP and other solutions to banks as a means to increase efficiency and reduce cost in payments, particularly those transacted across borders. The cryptocurrency has attracted a devoted following, but also a fair amount of criticism too, including questions about its degree of centralization and the pace of adoption.

Ripple has issued quarterly XRP reports since Q4 2016, when it sold $4.6 million XRP directly to institutions.

David Schwartz, the startup's chief cryptographer, explained programmatic sales on Reddit in November, saying:

"This is done by third parties that Ripple employs to use agreed algorithms to execute sales, usually by market making that is biased in favor of a net sale. Ripple does not have direct control over these sales and cannot adjust their timing on a short-term basis."

Direct sales, by contrast, are conducted by XRP II, LLC, a registered and licensed money service business. The main buyers, the company has stated in the past, are financial institutions.

Ripple placed 55 billion XRP in escrow accounts in December "to create certainty of XRP supply at any given time." The company released around 300 million of these XRP in Q1, which it says "are being used in a variety of ways to help invest in the XRP ecosystem."
 
latest updates from Romania's Oldest Bitcoin Exchange Is Shutting Down Next Week
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:31:53 AM
Romania's BTCxChange announced it was closing its platform earlier this week.

In a notice dated April 22, the nation's oldest cryptocurrency exchange told its customers to withdraw all of their remaining funds from the platform, which had already suspended most of its operations - including the ability to trade between cryptocurrencies and fiat currencies like the Romanian leu - earlier this year.

The notice said:

"We inform you that starting from 1st of May 2018, our platform will be closed. Operations stopped back on 1st of February but you still could stock your bitcoins on our platform."

Earlier this year, the exchange's chief executive, Max Nicula, said the startup's bank accounts had been shut down, and it would no longer able able to process fiat trades, Cryptoninjas reported.

This marks the third time the exchange has said that it would close. In September 2016, the company announced it would possibly be sold, and prepared for a closure at the time. At the time, the startup's owner, Horea Vuscan, said he wanted to retire, and placed the exchange up for sale, as previously reported.

Before then, the exchange asked its users to withdraw all their funds after its team lost access to their servers in September 2014, less than a year after it first opened.
 
latest updates from Crypto Mining Made Up 10% of AMD's Revenue in Q1
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:31:29 AM
Cryptocurrency mining demand accounted for as much as 10% of AMD's first-quarter revenue this year, according to the chip maker.

"The strength in Radeon products was driven by both gaming and blockchain demand. We believe blockchain was approximately 10% of AMD revenue in [the first quarter of] 2018," chief financial officer said Devinder Kumar during an earnings call on Wednesday after AMD revealed that it made $1.65 billion in first-quarter revenue, a 40% increase year-over-year.

Kumar noted that the combined gaming and blockchain demand contributed to a 95% boost year-over-year for its GPU and computing markets. That said, Kumar indicated that the company believes that it will see a "modest decline in graphics [revenue] due to blockchain."

All in all, AMD anticipates less than 10% of its 2018 revenue will come from cryptocurrency miners.

"Based on the strength of our business momentum, for the full year 2018, we now expect revenue to increase by mid-20s[%] over 2017, driven by the ramp of our new products. Blockchain revenue to be mid to high-single-digit percentage of revenue for 2018," he said during the call.

Looking past the figures, however, CEO Lisa Su struck a somewhat optimistic tone for AMD's prospects in the blockchain infrastructure sector.

She remarked:

"I do think the blockchain infrastructure is here to stay. I think there are numerous currencies. There are numerous applications that are using the blockchain technology. We don't see a significant risk of secondhand GPUs coming into the market. I think what you find is that, one, there are number of different currencies, and, two, a lot of these users that are buying GPUs these days are actually buying them for multiple use cases, both commercial and consumer."

"They're not necessarily buying just for mining," Su continued. "I think, most people are comparing sort of this blockchain time period to the last one which was a couple of years ago and I think there are a couple of important differences. I think the first one is that there are multiple currencies and multiple applications that are being used. And what we've seen is that people who are mining do go from one currency to another depending on what's happening."

The only unknown factor at play involves retail sales, as Su said it was "hard to tell" whether retail sales go toward gamers or miners. But even there, AMD believes it has a close approximation of the demand.

"I think the breadth of the blockchain applications and also the breadth of the customer base give us that belief," she later concluded.
 
latest updates from OmiseGo Hits Two-Month High Amid Exchange Listings
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:28:36 AM
OmiseGo's OMG token is reporting double-digit gains today, figures that throw shade on the rest of the top 25 cryptocurrencies by market valuation.

Having clocked a two-month high of $20.67 earlier today, OMG is now changing hands at $18.20 on Bitfinex - up 15 percent in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, OMG's BTC-denominated exchange rate jumped to a seven-month high (highest since Sept. 30) of 0.0023466BTC.

The price rise may be associated with the OMG's listing today on Bithumb, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea. The token was alo listed on Zebpay, one of India's largest cryptocurrency exchanges, yesterday.

According to the chart analysis, though, the outlook will remain bullish as long as prices hold above $14.40.

Daily chart

The bullish triangle breakout indicates long-term bearish-to-bullish trend change and has opened the doors for a retest of the record high of $28.50.

It's worth noting that the bullish breakout is matched by a 415 percent spike in 24-hour trading volume. So, the rally looks sustainable. Further, the momentum studies are biased to the bulls too, with both the 5-day moving average (MA) and the 10-day MA trending north.
View

OMG will likely take out the immediate resistance at $20.83 (Feb. 28 high) in a convincing manner and could rise to $28.50 (record high) in the near-term.

Only a daily close (as per UTC) below $14.40 (April 21 low) would signal bullish invalidation. Meanwhile, a drop below $12 would signal a bullish-to-bearish trend change.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to remove a link to a fraudulent website that was misrepresenting OmiseGo in an effort scam users. CoinDesk regrets the error.
 
latest updates from BBVA Issues $91 Million Loan Using Two Blockchains
Updates: Apr-27-2018 03:28:09 AM
Spanish banking giant BBVA has completed a pilot that issued a 75 million ($91 million) corporate loan using two different blockchain technologies.

According to a report from the Financial Times on Thursday, the bank's latest exploration of the technology focuses on the entire issuance process, including negotiation of terms and signing the corporate loan. The system used for the trial is based on both a private digital ledger and the public ethereum blockchain.

The report said that, as as a first step, the pilot requires both the borrower and the bank to start terms negotiation on a privately held distributed ledger that simultaneously updates the transaction's progress on both sides.

As such, BBVA claims the system can reduce the negotiation phase from "days to hours," following which the completed contracts are moved onto the ethereum blockchain for immutable record keeping, the report said.

The latest experiment expands BBVA's existing work in applying blockchain technology across a range of its business operations.

As previously reported by CoinDesk, the bank has already tested a blockchain solution for paperless trade transactions between Europe and Latin America. And in October of last year, it moved to use distributed ledger technology to match the foreign exchange between itself and its Mexican subsidiary.

BBVA is not the only established financial institution investigating the technology's potential to streamline loans transactions.

Recently another two European banking giants - Credit Suisse and Dutch bank ING - also announced the completion of a live $30 million securities lending transaction based on a blockchain application co-developed with enterprise blockchain consortium R3.
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