libra

Facebook’s Libra and the Future of Digital Currencies

A few weeks ago, Facebook Inc. announced it plans to launch Libra, a blockchain-based payment system that the company has described as a new “global currency”. This term may seem very familiar and this is because it has been thrown around especially when describing other digital currencies. However, unlike most, if not all other cryptocurrencies, Libra is actually backed by real assets and is pegged to stable government securities.

As a matter of fact, the project has already partnered with several corporate partners who include global financial companies such as PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and Coinbase among others – each of these companies has contributed at least $10 million for the initiative and Facebook plans to partner with as many as 100 companies and accumulate $1 billion in assets by the time Libra goes live in the first half of 2020.

The Goal

Needless to say, Facebook’s announcement was not like any other digital currency unveiling. This was not just another blockchain and there is a very good reason why. So, unlike other digital currency offerings, Facebook’s new venture aims to bank the unbanked population (1.7 billion people) and this is what makes it such a big deal.

Obviously, providing financial services to such as a scale using relatively new financial technology is definitely no easy task but this is where Facebook’s resources and the members of the Libra Association come in. Putting those into consideration, it is pretty clear that the project was well thought out which is expected of any company that hopes to break the ground on new and innovative ideas.

How It Works

Libra is expected to allow people to purchase goods and services as well as send me to others with almost no fees. Users will also be able to use pseudonyms to buy or cash out their Libra on a number of online platforms or at exchange points such as grocery stores. They will also be able to spend the currency using third-party wallets or Facebook’s Calibra wallet that will be offered using a standalone app and will also be built into WhatsApp and Messenger.

Fortunately, the digital currency and platform offer some form of decentralization since Facebook will not have full control of Libra – just like the other members of the Libra Association such as Uber and Visa, the behemoth tech company will only get a single vote in the governance of the new currency. The Libra association as a whole will be tasked with promoting the open-source Libra Blockchain as well as the currency’s developer platform with its own Move programming language.

Moreover, Calibra, a subsidiary company, is also being launched by Facebook and it will be tasked with handling crypto dealings and protecting the users especially from targeted advertising. To achieve this, the company will ensure that the users’ real identities are not tied to their publicly visible  Libra transactions.

DAO.Casino-Mixbytes-partnership

DAO.Casino, MixBytes Partner for Gambling 3.0 Blockchain

Global blockchain adoption has been a trend for the past several months, a very positive development that will hopefully help the industry to recover after the ruin that the crypto market went through because of the bearish trends of the last year. Investment in Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) startups increased significantly as venture capitals and many other investors put on more than $5 billion in the space, with the hopes that it will deliver on the promised blockchain-powered future.

Fortunately, the industry is slowly taking shape and until now, there have been a number of industries that have moved to adopt the innovative technology and more are expected to join the bandwagon sometime in the near future.

Some of the most notable developments include the increased number of crypto-powered online casinos or gambling platforms that have come up in the recent past. While this comes as a little of a surprise especially because the gaming industry is known to be one of the earliest adopters of emerging technologies, it is great news for the global crypto and blockchain communities as it represents a huge leap forward in the bid to have both sectors go mainstream.

As the blockchain and crypto gambling industries continue to blossom, DAO.Casino has inked a partnership with Mixbytes to build a brand-new Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) platform that will capitalize on the growth of the online crypto/blockchain gaming segment.

Unified Blockchain Solution for the Gaming Industry

Some of the biggest issues that have plagued the online gaming industry include the lack of trust and the security of players’ funds. Various blockchain and crypto technologies have been able to address these issues but the new gambling 3.o blockchain platform is set to things a notch higher – according to a DAO.Casino tweet, the intention of the partnership is to build a platform that will “provide unified blockchain solutions for the gambling industry”.

The partnership is a strategic move for both companies as it will ensure that there are more high-level experts taking part in the creation of the new platform, which will hopefully define the future of the online gambling industry and blockchain applications.

“MixBytes are to provide DAO.Casino with thorough consulting and collaborate to create the DAO.Casino Blockchain, featuring all the necessary technologies to ensure the future prosperity of decentralized gambling, as finality, random number generator, high throughput, low latency and more,” DAO.Casino officials said.

The new blockchain will put major emphasis on the reduction of transaction times as well as the improvement of existing security features. DAO.Casino’s plan is likely to go very smoothly especially now that it has already established itself as a prominent name in the world of crypto-powered online gaming.

Crypto-Gambling

Can Crypto Replace Credit Cards for UK Online Gambling?

The UK Gambling Commission, in March 2018, announced that it was mulling over a possible ban on the use of credit cards on online gambling sites. This consideration came up following the commission’s report on responsible gambling measures where it was found that the availability of credit card payment options at online casinos was a viable cause of harmful gambling tendencies among a considerably large number of people.

According to the commission’s report, approximately 10 to 20 percent of all the deposits that were made to online gambling sites in the country were made using credit cards. In essence, this implies that close to a fifth of all the online gambling that was carried out in the United Kingdom was facilitated by borrowed money. This even becomes a much bigger problem when we factor in the fact that most, if not all, of the involved credit card companies treat these transactions in the same exact way that they treat cash advances – that is, they do not come with an interest-free period, may entail exorbitantly higher interest rates and often incur varying amounts of handling fees. Combined, these are the ultimate ingredients for problem gambling and never-ending financial woes for given groups of people – problem gamblers.

The UK Gambling Commission has taken a more proactive approach in the way it handles its activities of late and thus if things keep going the way they are, it is possible that it will indeed proceed to regulate a credit card ban of some kind.

What Next?

Naturally, if it so happens that the use of credit cards for making online casino payments is banned, both the consumers and operators will need to find viable alternatives. Some of the ones that have already been floated around include e-wallets and bank transfers both of which are actually quite reasonable. However, by far the most revolutionary and perhaps the most appealing is blockchain technology and the associated digital currencies.

Needless to say, cryptocurrencies have grown immensely popular over the past few years and within that time a number of online gambling sites have adopted their use in a number of different ways. This implies that there is already a sense of direction and thus it should not be so hard to have digital currencies completely replace credit cards as a payment option on online gambling websites.

There are a number of advantages that a crypto-powered gambling service would have but it is important to note that there will equally be a unique set of challenges. Still, with the looming ban on credit card use on online gambling websites, it will definitely be a great time to advance the agenda for mainstream adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

cryptos

More Institutional Investors to Venture into Crypto in 2019

The price of a number of cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, which is considered to be the mother of all cryptocurrencies, took big hits in 2018 amid the prolonged Crypto Winter. Even though there is no guarantee that it cannot get any worse than it did in the just concluded year, many investment analysts and financial market experts are expecting the volatility to subside significantly this year largely due to the entry of institutional investors. In fact, according to a report the Australian Financial Review some analysts even believe that bitcoin may make a comeback that will be fueled by the momentum created by institutional investors.

Over the summer of 2018, Wall Street was stunned by the news that some multi-billion-dollar endowments of Harvard, Yale and Stanford had decided to invest in digital currencies. Analysts believe that due to the herd mentality of most institutions, the move is likely to trigger a chain reaction of sorts among other institutional investors like pension funds. This influx of institutional investors was expected to pick up in a major way in late 2018 but the harsh bear market that affected nearly all digital currencies stalled most of the efforts – a number of the institutions were reportedly scared off by the protracted downturn of the crypto market which is an understandable move especially for organizations operating within that particular space.

Financial analysts have projected that, as Wall Street appears to be poised to even more turbulence in 2019, organizations may begin to consider crypto assets even more seriously – these assets are not buoyed since they have no correlation to the regular stock market and this makes a pretty good investment, especially during volatile periods.

Will Crypto Finally be Legitimized?

Well, many observers believe that, as it stands, mainstream adoption hinges on regulatory clarity to help legitimize the market. Regulation is already a big deal and has been defined by the move by US lawmakers in December 2018 to propose legislation that was designed to prevent bitcoin price manipulation and position the United States as a market leader in the crypto space. The US is being encouraged not to ignore the “profound potential” of crypto to bolster the country’s economy and this might just be what is needed to have digital currencies legitimized. The industry is putting a lot of effort into advancing the agenda of mainstream adoption of crypto most by greasing the wheels of Congress.

Unfortunately, there are some setbacks that may still impede the growth of the sector and one of the most serious ones is the scalability. As it stands, most platforms would need about a year to figure out concrete solutions to scaling, but until then let’s hope that the Lightning Network grows further and, hopefully, achieves its full potential.

blockchain-speed

Conflux Raises $35 Million into New Blockchain Protocol

The cryptocurrency industry, despite having existed for well over a decade and culminated into several innovations, is still in its nascent stage. Needless to say, there have been some very high moments for the industry as well as some very low lows, but cryptocurrency enthusiasts are in no mood to give up their optimism for a bullish future.

Still, we have to acknowledge the fact that the crypto market has been on a downward slope for a better part of this years, a bearish trend that is still going on. One of the major factors that go against digital currencies, more specifically bitcoin which is the flag bearer of the cryptocurrency world, is the sluggish nature of the underlying blockchain technology which makes its an infeasible choice for a real-world ledger. Even though developers have been working round the clock to solve this problem, it remains to be one of the most significant stumbling blocks to the wider adoption of cryptocurrencies.

Well, things, in this regard, are about to change for the better.

Enter Conflux

In a bid to provide the much-needed solution to the problem, a group of university professors and researchers have raised a whopping $35 million for Conflux, a non-profit foundation that will support the development of a new and improved blockchain network. The Conflux project which is being backed by a Sequoia China and a number of Chinese Internet Companies claims to be able to overcome a key limitation of the existing blockchain – this limitation is rooted in the fact that protocols like bitcoin’s can only add a single block to the blockchain at any given time. The addition of multiple blocks at the same time results in the creation of a fork which leads to competing chains.

Conflux’s solution involves the utilization of a system that allows users to simultaneously work on blocks and put them in the chain. This new system will also be able to maintain a decentralized consensus method that prevents any entity from taking control of the blockchain. The general idea is to make the entire blockchain scalable.

In essence, Conflux serves to fulfill Etheruem’s promise of allowing the users to create an execute the so-called “intelligent contracts” in a distributed blockchain library. Unfortunately, even though Ethereum boasts of being a powerful technology, it still suffers from the same speed scaling issues that have hampered the growth of bitcoin up until now.

“Contrary to popular belief, true decentralization isn’t sacrificed to increase throughput, highlighting Conflux as the first example that achieves the best of both worlds. By weaving a Directed Acylic Graph data structure into Conflux’s Proof of Work consensus algorithm, tests on its testnet has achieved a throughput of at least 6,500 Transactions Per Second (TPS), while supporting at least 20,000 nodes,” said the foundation’ press release.

Private blockchains have been able to overcome the aforementioned scaling problems but this has been at the expense of decentralization since they were only able to do this by relying on central authority. Conflux, on the other hand, promises to offer the best of both worlds, that is, both speed and decentralization.

whirl

Socially Driven Crowdfunding Comes to the Blockchain

Following years of extensive research and one and a half more of development through legal vetting, an A-list team of blockchain, non-profit and crowdfunding experts is proud to launch WHIRL, the global market’s first ever blockchain-powered consumer crowdfunding platform. According to Roel Wolfert (Bancor, VISA) and Martijn Hekman (World Vision, United Nations), WHIRL aims to give the world a whole new way of financing dreams and obligations through the introduction of a revolutionary incentive system designed to maximize success and also encourage charity. Like other revolutionary blockchain-based projects, this one is expected to a great leap forward for the crypto community.

How Does It Work?

WHIRL has been described as a “what goes around comes around” kind of system owing to its unique karma-based model – in fact, the system’s reward concept is literally referred to as a Karma. The platform is not only socially driven but is also deeply rooted in traditional crowdfunding, that is, where individuals, groups organizations come together in a bid to pool resources towards their projects.

WHIRL can reportedly be used to finance any type of venture; ranging all the way from personal goals to medical bills, business ventures, and even scientific endeavors. People can, therefore, get funding by participating in charity instead of taking out loans or sourcing for funds from family and friends. While this makes it a cut above the rest since it is pegged onto the blockchain network, there is more to it than meets the eye.

The platform utilizes a fair and transparent queue system which limits the number of listed campaigns at any given time. Its blockchain is powered by WRL tokens and the concept of Karma, a reward system that supports and facilitates the giving economy within WHIRL. With these, it is able it is able to guarantee a 100 percent success rate to all projects listed under a campaign. However, only those with a history of contribution are allowed to create fundraising campaigns.

Contributions are tracked through the issuance of Karma points – 7 to 20 Karma points are awarded for every dollar contributed on any campaign listed on WHIRL. Consequently, there is a threshold number of points required to launch a campaign and based on the number of points accumulated, the size and duration of the campaign is determined. In addition to this, the campaigns also go into a transparent queue based on the order of submission.

So Many Birds, One Stone

WHIRL is poised to take care of a number of unattended needs in the crowdfunding market which has stagnated over the past decade due to fraud, oversaturation and, of course, the declining rate of success of crowdfunding campaigns. By listing only a limited number of campaigns at any given time and incentivizing backers with a fair and transparent system, the platform definitely takes care of most of these problems.

In addition to that, WHIRL supports 12 cryptocurrencies (including BTC, BCH, DASH, and ETH) at the moment, something that by itself already sets it apart from many other crowdfunding platforms – it also has plans to add more digital currencies in the future. This is great for the crypto community as a whole since it will aid further proliferation of digital currencies into the mainstream market.

 

finma

Swiss Regulator Imposes 800% Risk Coverage on Crypto Trading

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, otherwise known as FINMA, has instructed Swiss banks that are dealing in crypto assets to apply an 800 percent risk weighting the market value of said assets when “calculating loss-absorbing capital buffers. The news of this was delivered in a confidential letter that the regulator recently sent to swissinfo.ch.

What It Means

As per the terms of the regulator’s new requirements, securities dealers and banks will be required to assign a flat risk weight of 800 percent – which will be used to cover both market and credit risks – against digital assets. Therefore, considering bitcoin’s current value or price ($6,000), the banking institutions would be required to value each of the coins on their books at $48,000 when making decisions regarding adequate levels of buffer. This is regardless of whether the positions are held in a trading or banking book.

Even though FINMA has openly allowed banks in the country to trade bitcoin and other crypto assets, the regulator has not made any effort to integrate cryptocurrencies into the country’s liquidity ratios or Base III capital requirements. Risk weightings are a measure of an asset’s volatility as well as their potential to compromise the capital base of any given bank. Naturally, a higher risk weighting is largely an indication of skepticism – the higher the risk weighting, the lesser amount of the asset that a bank should hold.

“FINMA has recently received an increasing number of enquiries from banks and securities dealers holding positions in crypto assets and are subject to capital adequacy requirements, risk distribution regulations and regulations for the calculation of short-term liquidity ratios,” the letter, dated October 15, reads.

This move is an indication that FINMA is clearly still very skeptical of digital currencies despite the fact that some of them have steadily stabilized over the past year. Bitcoin, for instance, has been priced at around $6,000 over the past few months.

Not So Surprising Positive Reactions

It is undeniable that the asset class is extremely volatile but there is a lot of great signs with more and more banks all over the world offering crypto related products. Switzerland happens to be one of the few places where banks and trading products have been in business for quite a while. SEBA Bank, one of the Swiss banks that is hoping to win a license to operate full banking services to bridge fiat currencies and crypto.

“It’s encouraging to see banks no longer turning down the increasing number of client requests for crypto services but asking for guidance and providing their input along the way,” the Bitcoin Association of Switzerland stated. “This is the Swiss financial center’s first step towards moving into the next decade where assets are no longer held in single, central custody but instead are held on the blockchain.”

FINMA’s new regulations are certainly going to present a new set of hurdles for banks hoping to offer crypto trading services but with such positive reactions, something good may eventually come of it.

declub

Macau Casino Plans to Build World’s First Blockchain Casino

Despite a significant decline in prominent blockchain-based digital currencies such as bitcoin due restrictions that are being enforced by the governments of countries like China, there are still large and prevalent communities of cryptocurrency enthusiast in those areas. Similar restrictions have been imposed on gambling activities within the same areas.

However, in the peninsula of Macau which is the Chinese licensed Mecca of gambling activities, casino operator known as DeClub Macau has come up with a new idea to take advantage of the high demand for cryptocurrencies. For this, the casino has already inked a partnership with Wide Rich Global Company, a Maltese investment firm, to bring gambling and blockchain technology together.

DeClub, in its press release, said that Wide Rich Global Company intends to buy the casino so as to build the what the duo is referring to as the “world’s first blockchain-based casino gaming hub with fully integrated online and land-based casinos.” Wide Rich hope to fund the purchase by offering an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) which will hopefully bring in as much as $1 billion.

“The tokenization of chips, casinos and their surrounding entertainment service providers will be able to build a pan-gambling business ecosystem together, so that people with varying business needs – from tourism to business meetings, to shopping – can all gain easy and cost-effective access to customized and prestigious services on their mobile devices,” Wide Rich Global Company’s officials stated in a recently released white paper.

Once the sale of the 20 billion DEC tokens is complete, De Club International will move forward with its plans to apply for a junket promoter license in Macau – this is because it intends to open multiple land-based gambling facilities both within and outside of the Macau region. The company has allocated about 35 percent of the funds from the token sales to the acquisition and licensing of said casinos.

Bypassing the Limitations of the Gambling Industry

Apparently, the prime motivator of this project is the need for a viable solution to the untrustworthy nature of the gaming industry. The project is aimed at achieving transparency are trustworthiness using blockchain technology – in essence, the project managers are counting on the fact that it is easy to conduct research, investigations or digital forensics on blockchain-based serves.

China has in the recent past had a very strained relationship with cryptocurrencies. The country also penalizes gambling outside Macau despite the obvious demand for it, but with blockchain technology, it will be much harder for the country’s government to implement these restrictions since users can gambler using a number of digital currencies anonymously.

There are, of course, a number of challenges that stand in the way of the project – the fact that Macau does not allow blockchain gambling yet, for instance – but with just enough lobbying, it will be a reality sooner than we may anticipate.

Petition Champions XRP As Official Crypto in 2020 Olympics

An online petition pertaining to the mainstream adoption of Ripple’s XRP that was created months ago has recently gained a lot of steam. Dubbed change.org, the petition that was reportedly created by Ken Takahashi, a Japanese citizen, is aimed at the Olympic Games Committee and it proposes that Ripple’s XRP token should be adopted as an official cryptocurrency in the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Initially, the petition aimed at getting a total of 7,5000 signatures before it was submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but the number has since been surpassed with the total count currently standing at around 15,000 signatures.

According to the creator of the petition, Ken Takahashi, XRP is capable of solving a number of logistical problems that have often accompanied large international sports events such as the Olympics especially when it comes to foreign exchange. So, instead of putting enormous pressure on the Japanese Yen in 2020, the petition proposed that a system that uses XRP be created and implemented.

“As tourists stream into the country, demand for the local currency skyrockets, causing long lines at currency exchanges, as seen at past events like Beijing 2008 and Rio de Janeiro 2016. Confusing exchange rates and language barriers further complicate the problem. We believe that the fast transaction times and security of Ripple Lab’s XRP cryptocurrency would be a great contribution towards solving this problem,” reads a section of the online petition.

The arguments presented in the petition could not be more sensible – it seems natural that the borderless nature of crypto would be used at an international event that is attended by people from all corners of the globe. In fact, if such a thing happens, it would be a huge step forward towards mainstream adoption of digital currencies.

How Likely Is It?

Despite the fact that Japan witnessed the biggest crypto heist in the world earlier this year, it has remained quite open to crypto adoption – this shows how deep-rooted cryptocurrencies are in the country. As such, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics present a golden opportunity to test the potential of crypto to help in saving time and money for the global influx of Olympic fans and tourists.

Unfortunately, while the case can be made for the benefits that a crypto-powered gaming event has been made, the problem in this particular case lies with XRP itself. Ripple has not focused much on mainstream adoption with XRP even though the platform has been gaining a lot of popularity due to its application for cross-border transactions between organizations.

Frankly speaking, XRP might be the third-ranked digital currency on the planet but its application in the Olympics might be too premature especially because it is still in its early stages and is yet to gain enough traction in the mainstream commercial arena. However, in retrospective, the period between now and the 2020 Olympics is a fairly long time more so when speaking of the crypto industry – who knows what changes may be introduced?

google-crypto

Google Ends Cryptocurrency Advertisement Ban

Barely five months after it rolled an advertisement policy that banned cryptocurrency advertisements, Google has decided to lift ban with plans to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to buy ads in the United States and Japan. This new policy is scheduled to be rolled in October 2018 and will require the advertisers to apply for certifications within the specific countries within which their ads will be circulated.

The rapid growth in the popularity of cryptocurrencies has been great for the industry but it has also attracted additional scrutiny. For instance, in the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission recently created a Cyber Unit tasked with handling online financial crimes to begin investigating companies that had stakes in the crypto or blockchain industry. The Cyber Unit also issued several subpoenas and charged a number of firms for alleged cryptocurrency fraud. Similar and even worse crackdowns have also been seen in other countries including China and India.

Widespread Rollout

Even though the digital currency boom has been a great source of wealth and excitement, it has been accompanied with quite a number of negative aspects that include spawned fraud as well as high-profile scams, both of which resulted from the lack of well-defined regulatory frameworks. It is for this particular reason that for a better part of the first of the year that many of the world’s leading tech giants – Google, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat among others – moved to crack down on crypto-related advertising in a bid to stop some of the criminal activities associated with crypto. Unfortunately, the restrictions also affected legitimate crypto-related business and this is perhaps why some of the companies, namely Facebook and Google, have taken a step back.

“We don’t have a crystal ball to know where the future is going to go with cryptocurrencies, but we’ve seen enough consumer harm or potential for consumer harm that it’s an area that we want to approach with extreme caution,” Google’s Scott Spencer cited in June during the company’s original crypto ad ban.

The Updated Policy

While the tech giant’s updated ad policy will apply ton advertisers all over the world, the advertisements will only be allowed to run in Japan and the United States – hopefully, this will also change soon. Furthermore, as mentioned earlier the advertisers will be required to apply for certifications from each of the countries that they wish to advertise in (which are now only Japan and the U.S.) to have their ads served in those countries.

“The Google Ads policy on Financial products and services will be updated in October 2018 to allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to advertise in the United States and Japan. Advertisers will need to be certified with Google for the specific country in which their ads will serve. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification once the policy launches in October. This policy will apply globally to all accounts that advertise these financial products. For more details, see About restricted financial products certification. The Financial products and services page will be updated once the policy goes into effect,” Google wrote.