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.

Ethereum

Ethereum Drops Below $200, Further ICO Selloff Expected

Over the past few months, Ethereum investors have had to cope with bears from everywhere thanks to the pessimistic news and sporadic or wavering statements that have grown rather rampant within the period of its existence. While a lot of work has been put into the Ethereum project, the digital currency otherwise known as ETH has managed to plunge so deeply to a new all-time low of about $183 – this is the first time that the cryptocurrency market is seeing a bloodbath that has caused a plummet of close $198 billion.

There was a boom in the number of Initial Coin Offerings in towards the end of the 2017 and early this year, something that drew the attention of a number of different market players including mainstream media. Ethereum happened to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this rapid increase in the number of Initial Coin Offerings. In fact, the digital currency remains to be the second biggest cryptocurrency market and its smart contract has spawned several projects including Tron and EOS.

Unfortunately, this year has not been Ethereum’s best year having gone through a constant drop this year. This drop in Ethereum’s value has been one of the most shocking outcomes in the cryptocurrency industry and the ICOs are reportedly to blame for the digital currency’s downward price trend.

“The blockchain space is getting to the point where there’s a ceiling in sight. If you talk to the average educated person at this point, they probably have heard of blockchain at least once. There isn’t an opportunity for yet another 1,000-times growth in anything in the space anymore,” Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum commented on ETH’s decline.

This is certainly not good news for speculators and crypto enthusiasts who purchased digital currencies at high prices at the beginning of the year with the hopes of stopping glosses from the year-long slump. As such, it is very important for stakeholders to have practical anticipations for possible gains especially considering last December’s astounding flare-up in crypto prices that was described as a “retail bubble” by many investors.

Why Fingers Are Pointing to the ICOs

Ethereum-based ICOs have spent 157,700 ETH over the past 8 days – this is equivalent to $29.9 million at the digital currency’s present value and is the highest amount spent since March. Due to this, there has been speculation that the cryptocurrency startups have been offloading Ethereum for fiat currency on major exchanges.

Alex Kruger, a cryptocurrency analyst, says that about 4 percent of the Ethereum held in visible ICO wallets was transferred out last month. Kevin Rooke, another cryptocurrency analyst, also pointed out that the Ethereum reserves held by ICOs fell to $600 million in the last week. This ICO cash-out is one of the causes of ether’s 40 percent price drop over the past month.

PlayStore_mining_ban

Google Play Store’s Crypto-Mining Ban Not Going So Well

A little over a month ago, Google banned cryptocurrency mining apps from its Play Store – this was made official when on July 27 the company pushed an update reading “we don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices” to its developer policy. All of the existing apps that were in violation of the updated policy were given a 30-day grace period within which they were to revise their products to ensure that they comply with the new terms or face removal from the Play Store.

It has been 30 days since the ban was issued but despite the fact that the deferral period has expired, some apps that enable on-device crypto mining can still be found on the Play Store. Google is not entirely at fault in this case since it has been purging some of the offending apps. However, as it turns out, there is still a lot more work to be done. The company’s inspiration can be partly attributed to a number of security concerns that have led to probes and investigations into ICOs and crypto firms.

Earlier this month, the Google Play Store reportedly hosted an Ethereum (ETH) scam application. Discovered by Lukas Stefanko, a Slovakian malware researcher, the fraudulent “Ethereum” app was being offered for purchase at a price of around $388. According to Stefanko, the scam app was intended to dupe uninformed buyers into purchasing it when they mistook it for the original Ethereum cryptocurrency.

Some of the apps that are reportedly in violation of Google’s new developer policy but are still being hosted in the Play Store include Crypto Miner PRO, Pocket Miner, NeoNeonMiner and Pickaxe Miner. MinerGate, one of the mining apps that was axed from the store boasted of more than a million Android installs. The developers behind the app are however not amused because according to them they had made changes to the app in order to comply with Google’s updated developer policy.

“Mining on your phone directly was among the core features of the MinerGate app before the last changes in Google Play Development policies.” MinerGate wrote in an email addressed to Hard Fork. “With the last update, we are removing this functionality to meet the updated requirements.”

App Developers Going Rouge

Google begin its crackdown on crypto mining software when it announced that it be removing mining extensions from its Chrome Web Store following a revelation that a huge number of them were supposedly not in compliance with the company’s policies. The focus has since shifted to the Play Store and the affected parties are being to get crafty.

Many developers are already trying to find ways to bypass Google’s ban and distribute apps and Chrome extensions with on-device mining capabilities. Still, it will be up to users to decide on the best cause of action with regards to accessing apps with similar functionalities – downloading and installing apps from third parties is very risky. Be warned.

weighing-scale

Indian Government Considering Crypto Tokens for Transactions

Following the recent ban on cryptocurrencies by Reserve Bank of India, it was assumed that the country would take a more partial stance as it reflects further on the issue of cryptocurrencies altogether. Well, as it turns out, the country has set up an inter-governmental committee called the “Inter-Ministerial Committee” (IMC) which has been tasked with drafting regulations and a roadmap for the concept of tokenization in both the public and the private sector.

“The committee is examining if crypto tokens can be used to replace smart cards such as metro cards in the public sector to start with. Similarly, in the private sector, it can be used in loyalty programs such as air miles where its use is limited to buying the next ticket and can’t be converted into money.”

Yes, that’s right. The India government may soon allow its citizens to pay for airline tickets and metro cards with crypto tokens regardless of the fact that the ban on decentralized digital currencies in the country is still ongoing.

Slight Delay

The government had previously planned to submit the proposal for the crypto regulations last month but according to a senior official close to the matter, the regulatory framework had experienced some minor setbacks and are therefore likely to be pushed forward to the end of the year. The official further revealed that the reason for the delay was because the “finance ministry panel is still evaluating how to treat blockchain and cryptocurrencies separately.”

“Blockchain is an interesting thing. We definitely want to milk it effectively for financial transactions. So all officials are really trying hard to understand how to separately use blockchain, without cryptocurrency… And understanding a new software takes time,” the official clarified.

Government Issued Crypto Tokens

News about this new development was made public on August 10 through a DNA India report that stated that the Indian government has been “considering launching crypto tokens for financial transactions in the country, even as the existing ban on cryptocurrencies is likely to continue.”

Even though the aforementioned tokens will be based on blockchain technology, they will not form a currency of their own – instead, they will be a mere representation of real money and not its replacement. Heading the committee is DEA Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg who has categorically denied that the government has allowed the use of cryptocurrency in a manner including payment systems – crypto is very poular in India and this was bound to come up.

“The committee is studying the possibility of using cryptocurrencies or the crypto technology (distributed ledger technology) for financial transactions and also what kind of regulations are needed for that. [While] the currency is totally banned, the committee is discussing its other usage and how it can be mainstreamed in India,” he said.

MGM_and_GVC

GVC and MGM Forge $200 Million Joint Venture

MGM Resorts International and GVC Holdings on July 30 announced that they have established a 50/50 joint venture worth a whopping $200 million. The venture will see to the creation of a world-class sports betting and online gaming platform and comes in the wake of the recent United States Supreme Court ruling that created a plethora of new opportunities by lifting the federal ban on sports betting.

Both companies have proven track records and by joining forces, they will be bringing together distinguished brands, market-leading assets, extensive industry expertise, and experience as well as prove and scalable proprietary technology that will certainly revolutionize the gambling industry in the United States. Furthermore, the joint venture is going to be a catalyst of sorts for the speed to market for both MGM and GVC – it will not only occur in a prudent and efficient manner but it will also lower execution risks while at the same time creating meaningful early mover advantages.

“We are proud to join forces with GVC, the largest and most dynamic global online betting operator, with existing reputable and trusted operations in the U.S. With MGM Resorts’ expertise and leading position in key markets across the U.S., this historic partnership will be positioned to become the instant leader in technology, market access, sports relationships, and brands. We are excited to benefit from GVC’s proprietary, best-in-class technology, digital customer acquisition expertise, and experience with adapting to new operating environments. GVC is unusually qualified due to their existing operations in the U.S. Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the U.S. sports betting market,” the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MGM Resorts International, Jim Murren commented.

GVC, which has grown rapidly through a number of lucrative acquisitions including last year’s purchase of Ladbrokes, has been trying to get its share of the U.S. market. This joint venture with MGM will grant it access to 15 states with close to 90 million people. In addition to this, the MGM and GVC joint venture will get have access to all the land-based and online sports betting facilities in the United States while integrating both MGM’s and GVC’s customer loyalty programs.

“MGM Resorts is a world-leading entertainment business and the most trusted name in gaming, with the highest quality brands and management, and strong sports connectivity. This combined with GVC’s technology and experience in successfully building online gaming businesses across multiple markets presents a truly exciting opportunity for U.S. players and our respective shareholders. To be able to team up with a partner with such pedigree and knowledge, particularly in the U.S., is a real opportunity for GVC,” Kenneth Alexander, the GVC Chief Executive Officer said.