Malaysian Securities Regulator Approves Crypto Trading Platform

Malaysia-based cryptocurrency trading firm Tokenize Malaysia has received full approval from local securities watchdog.

Following a nine-month-long probationary period, Malaysia-based cryptocurrency trading firm, Tokenize Malaysia, has received full approval from local securities watchdog.

With the approval to operate a Digital Assets Exchange, the company’s cryptocurrency trading platform, Tokenize Xchange, became legally approved and regulated by the Securities Commission (SC) of Malaysia, local news outlet, SoyaCincau, reported on April 3. The exchange offers fiat-to-digital asset pairings.

Malaysian laws require that local cryptocurrency exchanges register with the SC, after which they have up to nine month to achieve compliance with the SC’s regulation standards.

Commenting on the development, Hong Qi Yu, CEO and CTO at Tokenize Malaysia, said:

“We are now able to go ‘live’ in Malaysia and it is perfect timing –- as we have received many interested enquiries from individuals aged 24 to 50 years old who are keen to invest in digital assets.”

The SC registered the firm — along with Luno Malaysia and Sinegy Technologies — last June. At the time, Luno stated that the aforementioned three exchanges were the only registered digital asset exchanges to operate in Malaysia.

The SC introduced the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 on January 15, 2019. The regulation classifies digital currencies, tokens, and crypto-assets as securities, placing them under the Securities Commission’s authority.

Crypto regulations in other countries

While some countries undertake efforts to develop adequate cryptocurrency-related regulations, others are in no hurry to give digital assets the green light. Thus, after facing multiple delays, the adoption of Russia’s major cryptocurrency law will be postponed again, this time due to the coronavirus.

A pending bill may still inhibit cryptocurrencies from flourishing in India, with India’s parliament yet to rule on the "Banning of Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill" from 2019. If passed, the bill will introduce unique regulatory frameworks for virtual currencies, utility tokens, and commodity-backed tokens.

UnionBank Head Foresees the End of Physical Cash

UnionBank head forecasts that the coronavirus will drive banks to shift towards digital currencies, leaving physical cash behind.

Edwin Bautista, president and chief executive of UnionBank of the Philippines, has forecast that the coronavirus outbreak will drive banks to shift towards digital currencies, leaving physical cash behind.

As Euromoney reported on April 3, Bautista noted that the pandemic provoked a heightened demand in online banking services, pushing banks to revise their digitization strategy. “Certainly, this pandemic amplifies the need for all banks to go digital now,” Bautista said.

Going further, the exec projected the beginning of the end of hard cash, especially if central banks fail to deliver notes and coins to banks and automated teller machines. Bautista stated:

“One key realization here is that the longer the disruption, the more tenuous the traditional cash supply chain becomes. Thus I expect that banks will be more open to testing, developing and deploying digital cash and currencies, QR codes and maybe even cryptocurrencies and digital tokens.”

“The crisis will fast track the shift towards digital,” which “represents a tremendous new opportunity for banking,” according to Bautista.

UnionBank’s experiments with blockchain

UnionBank has indeed demonstrated a proactive approach to blockchain-related developments. Last July, the bank launched a payments-focused stablecoin pegged to the Philippine peso. The coin, dubbed PHX, is designed to function as “a stable store of value, medium of exchange and is a programmable token with self-executing logic.”

That same month, UnionBank successfully piloted a blockchain-based cross-border remittance from the Philippines to Singapore. The project eventually aims to provide millions of unbanked Filipinos with the ability to use financial services by connecting rural banks to the country's main financial network.

Meanwhile, other world banks continue to advance the development of their own digital currencies. The Bank of France officially launched an experimental program to test the integration of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) for interbank settlements, while the Bahamas announced plans to adopt a CBDC no later than 2020.

ShapeShift Enables US-Based Customers to Buy Crypto With Debit Card

Crypto exchange ShapeShift allows United States-based customers to buy BTC with a debit card in the new exchange’s platform.

Switzerland-based crypto exchange, ShapeShift, has enabled its United States-based customers to buy Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) with a debit card in the new exchange’s platform.

ShapeShift’s founder, Eric Voorhees, announced the development in a tweet on April 3, saying:

“If you're in the US, you can buy Bitcoin instantly in the new ShapeShift.com platform with your debit card. You can literally have the Bitcoin, in your possession, five minutes from now.”

KYC processes compliance

ShapeShift’s new platform doesn’t require account verification to purchase cryptocurrencies, which has led to questions from the tweet’s commentators.

When asked about the project’s Know-Your-Customer (KYC) policy, Voorhees confirmed that KYC is not required. This is due to the fact that, as is the case with Shapeshift, the platform does not actually hold custody of customer funds. Since transfers occur P2P between wallets owned and controlled by individual users, KYC measures are not strictly necessary.

ShapeShift has not yet released a mobile app, and only allows customers to purchase crypto via debit card through its web platform.

Crypto industry actively adopts debit and credit cards

Crypto exchanges have been actively adding support for debit cards, with some of them even issuing their own. Most recently, major crypto exchange, Binance, entered the crypto debit card sector with news of an official Binance Card. Issued by Visa, the card is initially only available in South East Asia, though the company states that other regions will be unlocked soon.

Earlier this year, Coinbase became a principal member of Visa, which allows it to issue debit cards without relying on third parties. The company’s Coinbase Card connects to each user’s Coinbase account, allowing individuals to spend their crypto balance via an instant conversion to fiat.

Bail Bloc Founder Says How Monero Mining Can Help ICE Detainees

Cointelegraph has had an in-depth talk with Bail Bloc’s Grayson Earle about how the charity project helps release people from incarceration through cryptocurrency.

One cryptocurrency project is using Monero (XMR) to give undocumented immigrants a better shot at a fair treatment in the United States judicial system.

The Bail Bloc project collects cryptocurrency to help people get out of pretrial incarceration for cases with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Unlike conventional charities, Bail Bloc doesn’t want your money — it wants your computer processing power.

Cointelegraph reached out to Bail Bloc co-creator Grayson Earle for deeper insight into the initiative.

Detainees make bail with Monero

Users download a special app that uses between 10% and 50% of their overall processor capacity— the user can set the rate — to mine the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Monero.

Bail Bloc trades its XMR for U.S. dollars every month and then donates the sum on a rotating basis to the bail funds in the National Bail Fund Network.

“The idea is to get people to volunteer their spare computing power to mine, so it doesn't require them to make any cash donations. It's like creating an ad hoc supercomputer with the purpose of mining cryptocurrency,” said Earle.

ICE detention and who ends up there

ICE’s operations target individuals “who present a danger to national security” and “undermine the integrity of the immigration system”. However, most detainees are undocumented immigrants who otherwise have no criminal records and are detained simply for unlawful entry to the U.S.

In ICE detention, people can pay an immigration bond in exchange for their immediate release, but less than half of those in detention are given a bond hearing. Those who cannot afford to pay the bond, or who are not granted a bond at all, must wait for their court hearing while detained, which could last from months to years.

Additionally, ICE’s treatment of detainees has repeatedly raised concerns of violence, inappropriate segregation practices, foodservice issues, lack of recreation, and even violations of medical ethics.

While Bail Bloc was initially created for individuals in the American prison system, Earle said, "We've since re-oriented the project to pay immigration bonds for people affected by Trump's policies. This includes people who are not citizens of the U.S. who might be living here."

Bail Bloc steps in

Bail Bloc has mined cryptocurrency for the Immigrant Bail Fund since November 2018. The fund pays bonds for people in ICE detention across Connecticut, where the $15,000 immigration bond is nearly double the national average.

There are currently some 300 users running Bail Bloc on their computers, but the number is subject to fluctuation. “At its height, we had 2,500 users at peak hours, including Grimes as she actively used it while recording her new album,” Earle revealed.

It’s true — popular musician Grimes, (who was romantically linked to tech billionaire Elon Musk) tweeted about the project back in 2017, encouraging her fans to get involved:

“Downloaded bail bloc onto my comp. mines crypto currency 2 pay ppls bail; SO cool! & so easy..."

Why Monero?

It's not surprising that Bail Bloc chose Monero as its digital currency of choice. “The anonymity of everyone we have helped to release from pre-trial detention is paramount,” Earle said, adding:

“I chose Monero because it was a fairly stable coin and is ASIC-resistant. I knew that our target participant had a laptop so we needed CPU mining to be viable. More recently, Monero has made GPU mining less viable which also improves the viability of our project.”

YouTube Bans Drive Cryptocurrency Fans to Decentralized Alternatives

YouTube’s crypto policy has driven crypto enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives that are uncensored and provide incentives to their users.

In recent years, Google-owned video-sharing platform YouTube deleted and banned an array of cryptocurrency-related channels. The platform’s policy has driven cryptocurrency enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives to YouTube, which allow users to skirt censorship and even incentivize them with their own tokens.

In a YouTube video published on April 1, a channel dubbed Bitcoin for Beginners reviewed some of the decentralized YouTube alternatives. When choosing the most relevant platforms, the channel host took into account their usability, track records and user interface as major criteria.

Among the most popular decentralized video sharing platforms, the author noted LBRY, Bitchute, BitTube, PeerTube and Dtube. 

Censorship-resistance and incentives

LBRY has a community-controlled blockchain protocol and enables users to mine library credits and send them as tips to various creators. However, it is not easy to find good content as the platform doesn’t lay out popular or trending videos before you start following a channel.

Launched in 2018, BitTube allows users to overpass censorship thanks to InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). BitTube appears to be more entertaining as it offers livestreams, games, groups, and other options. Moreover, the platform has a reward system, wherein it rewards creators and viewers based on the time watched, and provides two privacy tokens.

Bitchute claims to use a peer-to-peer WebTorrent technology, however, the service still can delist content as it comes from their centralized servers. Also, most of the content is heavily political. 

Another platform called DTube is built on IPFS and the STEEM blockchain and rewards its users with DTC tokens, which gives them an ad-free option. The last platform mentioned, Peertube, was launched in 2015 and is based on the WebTorrent technology. Peertube features P2P video sharing.

Calling for a mass migration to alternative platforms

In a bid to stand up to Google for censoring cryptocurrency-related content across its platforms, the crypto community started a petition in early March. The so-called #ForkGoogle memorandum accuses the tech giant of waging “campaigns of suppression against Bitcoin and blockchain industry for years.”

#ForkGoogle calls for the crypto community to boycott Google’s services and migrate to alternative decentralized platforms like blogging platform Steemit and open-source browser Brave.

In recent years, Google-owned video-sharing platform YouTube deleted and banned an array of cryptocurrency-related channels. The platform’s policy has driven cryptocurrency enthusiasts to look for decentralized alternatives to YouTube, which allow users to skirt censorship and even incentivize them with their own tokens.

In a YouTube video published on April 1, a channel dubbed Bitcoin for Beginners reviewed some of the decentralized YouTube alternatives. When choosing the most relevant platforms, the channel host took into account their usability, track records and user interface as major criteria.

Among the most popular decentralized video sharing platforms, the author noted LBRY, Bitchute, BitTube, PeerTube and Dtube. 

Censorship-resistance and incentives

LBRY has a community-controlled blockchain protocol and enables users to mine library credits and send them as tips to various creators. However, it is not easy to find good content as the platform doesn’t lay out popular or trending videos before you start following a channel.

Launched in 2018, BitTube allows users to overpass censorship thanks to InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). BitTube appears to be more entertaining as it offers livestreams, games, groups, and other options. Moreover, the platform has a reward system, wherein it rewards creators and viewers based on the time watched, and provides two privacy tokens.

Bitchute claims to use a peer-to-peer WebTorrent technology, however, the service still can delist content as it comes from their centralized servers. Also, most of the content is heavily political. 

Another platform called DTube is built on IPFS and the STEEM blockchain and rewards its users with DTC tokens, which gives them an ad-free option. The last platform mentioned, Peertube, was launched in 2015 and is based on the WebTorrent technology. Peertube features P2P video sharing.

Calling for a mass migration to alternative platforms

In a bid to stand up to Google for censoring cryptocurrency-related content across its platforms, the crypto community started a petition in early March. The so-called #ForkGoogle memorandum accuses the tech giant of waging “campaigns of suppression against Bitcoin and blockchain industry for years.”

#ForkGoogle calls for the crypto community to boycott Google’s services and migrate to alternative decentralized platforms like blogging platform Steemit and open-source browser Brave.

Blockchain Is Not a Panacea for Finance, Says Russian Bank Official

The CBR’s first deputy governor has said that blockchain has found application in letters of credit and guarantees, but has not yet become a "universal solution."

The Central Bank of Russia’s (CBR) first deputy governor has said that blockchain technology is not the "universal solution," many promised it would be five years ago.

In an interview with Euromoney on April 2, Olga Skorobogatova took a deep dive into the bank’s initiatives, sandboxes, and experiences with blockchain deployment. 

Following three years of experimenting with the Masterchain platform — a local blockchain-based network for transferring valuable financial data like mortgage accounting — Skorobogatova said, “Blockchain is a great fit for things like letters of credit and guarantees because it is essentially a technology of trust.”

However, she further added that blockchain is not the cure-all that many believed it would be:

“I remember being told by some tech companies back then: ‘Olga, in five years everything will be powered by blockchain, there will be no other technologies.' I responded that this technology would work in cases when it would create additional value but not as a substitution for everything. Time has proven me right.”

But what about cryptocurrencies?

Skorobogatova said she does not believe in cryptocurrencies as a means of payment as they pose major risks for customers. She noted cryptocurrencies’ high volatility, lack of guarantee for savings, and usage in money laundering as major threats.

The deputy governor noted that the central bank is in talks with other regulators on the issue of global stablecoins, stating that, at this point, stablecoins raise more questions than answers.

The CBR has flirted with the idea of a national digital currency, which Skorobogatova questions as well:

“For me, the big question is if there is any added value in using central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) – for the economy, for individuals and for businesses. Clearly, people want fast digital payments, but this can be implemented with a national fast payments platform. What can CBDCs bring to the table? So far, no one in Russia or elsewhere has been able to give a convincing answer or even to explain the difference between electronic payments and CBDCs.”

Russia’s recent approach to crypto and blockchain regulation

Meanwhile, Russia has postponed its bill “On Digital Financial Assets” yet again. Anatoly Aksakov, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Financial Markets and chairman of the National Banking Council at the CBR, admitted that previous delays in the bill’s adoption were caused by disagreement on the new asset type between local authorities.

Aksakov said that the central bank opposed the legalization of crypto while the State Duma advocated some crypto initiatives.

On March 24, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia reportedly prepared a draft law that would allow the testing of cryptocurrency and blockchain developments within a special regulatory sandbox.

Dow Jones Has A Blockchain-Based Product For Fighting Fraud And Staying Compliant

EastNets and Dow Jones Risk & Compliance have rolled out a blockchain-based feed of sanctions alerts based on a private blockchain network.

Dow Jones Risk & Compliance has teamed up with a company called EastNets to build a real-time blockchain-based watchlist feed. This watchlist identifies high-risk third parties for business deals and helps maintain a business’s regulatory compliance. This blockchain-based product currently lets users solve problems associated with manually updating these watchlists and protecting data from cyber criminals.

Deya Innab, chief strategy and product officer for EastNets, said:

“Designing and testing a suitable solution was challenging, but we are delighted to lead the industry with a real-time, secure watchlist update solution that is actively used by leading institutions that now meet their compliance obligations every minute of the day.”

Although the announcement did not reveal which institutions already use this blockchain-based watchlist, Dow Jones’s risk management and compliance arm has already gained traction among major companies like Deutsche Bank, Barron’s, and The Wall Street Journal.

Blockchain adoption is growing

More and more traditional businesses are deriving value from blockchain technology. For instance, digital payment giant, PayPal, is hiring an Anti-Money-Laundering and Blockchain Strategy director for their Global Financial Crimes division. The person in this role will evaluate blockchain’s usefulness in the prevention of financial crimes.

The European Commission is offering grants to blockchain developers and other specialists for solutions that adapt technologies from civil to defense applications. The use of blockchain can purportedly allow for the use of tamper-proof cryptographic tags that validate the provenance, state, and ownership of products or objects.

Opera Becomes First Major Browser to Integrate .Crypto Domain Extension

Opera now enables its users to access decentralized web pages through a partnership with Unstoppable Domains.

Opera now enables users to access decentralized web pages through a partnership with Unstoppable Domains, a tech firm backed by prominent Bitcoin (BTC) advocate Tim Draper.

The collaboration entails Opera’s integration of Unstoppable Domain’s .crypto domain extension, according to an announcement shared with Cointelegraph on March 26. This will allow the browser’s users to surf decentralized websites, as well as make cryptocurrency payments.

No more middleman

As the announcement further explains, blockchain domains are stored by the owner instead of by registrar firms, and decentralized websites are stored on peer-to-peer networks, not cloud services. This makes it possible to conduct transactions without a middleman, as well as avoid censorship.

Unstoppable Domains told Cointelegraph that the development will affect the speed of the internet connection as, over time, a distributed network is more robust, has far better uptime and will reduce the risk of incidents like DDoS attacks.

What about countries with internet censorship?

Unstoppable Domains noted that, while decentralized domains can help people avoid censorship from the publishing side, they do little to aid viewers in jurisdictions that face censorship, surveillance and de-anonymization issues:

“Just as with the current web, if users are facing those types of issues they would need to use VPNs or a similar tool. Decentralized websites solve a user’s ability to publish — it’s on the publishing side rather than on the viewing side. Right now, you can't publish using a traditional domain registrar if you're in a place that is limiting free speech. Whereas, with decentralized website tools, you could. So it’s about the publishing and not the viewing.”

Blockchain-based browsers go mainstream

The development ostensibly marks the first time a mainstream browser has integrated a domain that is not part of the traditional domain name system. Last October, Opera also became the first major browser that allows making payments with Bitcoin (BTC) directly inside the browser.

Meanwhile, Unstoppable Domains has rolled out its own blockchain-based browser to simplify access to the decentralized web. Unstoppable Domains’ websites are stored in a user’s wallet, while the content is stored on the InterPlanetary File System or other decentralized storage networks.

Microsoft Files Patent For Crypto Mining System Using Body Activity Data

Microsoft files crypto-based patent which would enable individuals to mine crypto using body activity data.

Tech giant, Microsoft, is looking to develop a cryptocurrency system which enables individuals to mine cryptocurrency using their body activity data, eliminating the need for specialized mining machines.

Microsoft published a patent dubbed “Cryptocurrency system using body activity data” on March 26. Their paperwork details a method of crypto mining which exploits data associated with a user’s body activity to exercise a new form of proof-of-work. The document further details:

“For example, a brain wave or body heat emitted from the user when the user performs the task provided by an information or service provider, such as viewing advertisement or using certain internet services, can be used in the mining process.”

Diagram of the invention. Source: Patentscope

Diagram of the invention. Source: Patentscope

To implement the process, a server provides a task to a user’s device, which is communicatively coupled to the server. A special sensor then indicates body activity of the individual, while a cryptocurrency system verifies whether or not the body activity data satisfies the conditions set by the cryptocurrency system. Ultimately, the system awards cryptocurrency to the user whose body activity data is verified.

Blockchain patents gain traction

Technology companies continue to experiment with cryptocurrency and blockchain in an attempt to remain a step ahead of their rivals. In the United States alone, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted 227 blockchain-related patents from January 2014 to October 2019.

Recently, another tech behemoth, IBM, was awarded a patent for the development of a so-called “self-aware token.” The idea of the development is that the adoption of new forms of currency will create questions regarding the ability to validate, authenticate, and coordinate transactions across diverse forms of payment and trade that traditionally had little or no interaction.

Brian Amstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, patented a method that enables users to make Bitcoin (BTC) payments using email addresses tied to wallet addresses, without incurring transaction fees.

US County Extends Regs for Crypto Miners Requiring Them to Use Clean Energy

The Missoula County Board of Commissioners has extended its green regulations for cryptocurrency miners, enabling them to set up operations in industrial zones only.

The Missoula County Board of Commissioners in Montana, United States, has extended its green regulations for cryptocurrency miners, which are designed to control the energy consumption of the industry in the county.

The regulations, which require crypto miners to set up their operations only in light industrial and heavy industrial districts, and only after they have been reviewed and approved as a conditional use, are now extended until April 3, 2021. 

County authorities initially adopted the rules a year ago, with a view “to protect the public health, safety, morals, and general welfare of county residents.”

For the sake of the planet

The regulations are part of a city-county resolution aimed at transitioning to 100% usage of clean energy by 2030. As such, the county board is considering proposing it as permanent zoning, local news outlet The Missoulian reported on March 27.

The board has not made changes to the rules, which means that miners will still need to exclusively use renewable energy, as well as ensure that all electronic waste generated will be handled by a relevant recycling firm.

Authorities approved the extensions after a public hearing during a commissioners meeting, where only one citizen spoke out and compared crypto mining operations to the coronavirus outbreak, saying:

"Just as coronavirus, it's a prolonged consequence where if we don't act immediately to lower our demand for electricity and introduce renewable electricity, our planet is going to be degraded tragically in the future. It is an emergency. It's just not one that we can perceive on an hour-to-hour basis like the virus."

The regulations, however, will not apply to crypto mining facilities existing before April 4, 2019.

Eco-friendly developments in crypto mining

Some crypto industry players have already developed eco-friendly crypto mining solutions, with German Bitcoin (BTC) mining infrastructure firm Northern Bitcoin AG completing tests for its new air-cooled mining container last year. The firm operates mining hardware that uses renewable energy sources and aims to attain optimal efficiency and sustainability.

In January, researchers at Ireland’s Economic and Social Research Institute proposed that using a blockchain-based “forward trading system” can provide a more effective incentive for the smart management of renewable energy consumption. The proposed mechanism includes the use of smart contracts to automate energy control, trading and management within a distributed framework.

China and UK’s Planned Digital Currencies Appear to Have Little in Common

After analyzing the plans for the Chinese and British CBDCs, InterChain Pulse noted the differences and similarities of the planned digital currencies.

As major central bank digital currency (CBDC) projects develop apace, it is becoming clear that not all digital coins will look, or even function the same way.

A recent analysis by Chinese financial media group InterChain Pulse reveals that two of the most visible such projects — those of the Bank of England (BoE) and the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) — may be more different than they are alike. 

InterChain Pulse cited BoE’s discussion paper released earlier this month, where the financial institution seriously weighed the pros and cons of issuing a CBDC denominated in pounds sterling.

InterChain compared the provisions set forth in the bank’s report with those of the PBoC and concluded that the two have significant differences in their design. 

Unlike China, where the central bank will be the issuing authority of the CBDC, Great Britain has assigned the issuance of its CBDC to the parliament. Moreover, China is working on the digitization of its national currency, the yuan, while Great Britain is planning to create a competitive payment system.

Compared with the digital currency of the PBoC, another significant difference is the application of smart contracts to ensure transactions. The Chinese central bank’s digital currency currently does not support this type of operation.

The BoE’s CBDC will comply with anti-money laundering (AML) provisions, the financing of terrorism and sanctions procedures, and be compatible with the General Data Protection Legislation.

The PBoC’s CBDC must comply with the AML provisions and the bank’s own privacy rules.

InterChain Pulse noted some similarities between the two projects, the most notable being that neither will be based on distributed ledger technology. As both will be used for transactions, BoE and PBoC are developing networks that concentrate on supporting a very high transaction frequency.

Additionally, InterChain Pulse states that neither network will recognize a private digital currency. 

Recent patents shed light on China’s digital yuan 

As Cointelegraph recently reported, patents from Chinese payments platform Alipay — which is working on the CBDC project — have revealed some details about the digital yuan’s features.

Among them, Alipay itself will be a secondary issuer of the currency, while wallet functionality can be determined by behavior and personal data.

Indian Tech Giant Mahindra Speeds Up Cross Border Transactions with Blockchain

India’s Tech Mahindra said faster reconciliation and a reduction in paperwork are just two of the benefits of its implementation of the Marco Polo blockchain platform.

Tech Mahindra, the IT subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group, has become the first Indian business to use R3’s blockchain-based Marco Polo Network for conducting cross-border transactions.

It said the platform had resulted in faster reconciliation and ambiguity resolution, as well as the significant reduction of paperwork and time required for the entire transaction cycle.

Tech Mahindra partnered with Singapore’s DBS Bank, which facilitated the transactions and acted as the company’s leading trade bank. The parties used the Marco Polo Receivables Discounting product which is designed to help companies optimise their working capital, improve liquidity and mitigate credit risk.

Marco Polo is a consortium of major global financial and banking institutions that aims to streamline international trade. The network is built on R3’s open-source blockchain platform Corda.

Distinct improvements to existing platforms

Sriram Muthukrishnan, group head of trade product management at DBS Bank, said that the bank’s goal is to provide a seamless end-to-end trade financing experience for its customers:

“Technology plays a monumental role in breaking down barriers in cross-border trade and will remain key in facilitating the continued growth of international trade and businesses. This joint initiative with Marco Polo and Tech Mahindra complements DBS’ efforts to help our clients unlock greater efficiencies through the digitalisation of often manual and complex trade finance processes.”

Tech Mahindra is exploring blockchain

Tech Mahindra is not new to blockchain technology and has its own specialized blockchain unit. Last month, the company launched a blockchain accelerator in partnership with the government of one of India’s states. The accelerator aims to foster blockchain startups that have strong real-world use cases and to boost industry growth overall.

In September 2019, the tech company partnered with American distributed ledger technology firm Adjoint to launch a blockchain financial management and insurance solution.

California Governor Namedrops Bitcoin in Speech About ‘Extraordinarily Bad People’

California Governor Gavin Newsom warned the public against Bitcoin fraudsters during live speech about the coronavirus outbreak.

California Governor Gavin Newsom warned the public against Bitcoin (BTC) fraudsters during his live speech about the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 26, Newsom mentioned the leading cryptocurrency as part of his official speech about what measures had been taken by the state to prevent the further spread of the virus in California.

Newsom went on raising the public’s awareness and understanding that “extraordinary people, who do extraordinary bad things,” are apparently taking advantage of the pandemic, and further explained:

“That doesn’t just include an interface with the government, but people claiming that we need to send the equivalent of Bitcoin in advance to get some materials before they can send them. Questionable activities like that.”

Crypto fraudsters try to benefit on the coronavirus-driven panic

Newsom thus joined the ranks of other global authorities, who are concerned of cryptocurrency fraudsters trying to capitalize on the widespread coronavirus fears. More recently, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission cautioned the public that scammers commonly use major news events like the spread of COVID-19 in order to add credibility to their scam schemes or manipulate emotions.

The United Kingdom police also issued a warning against COVID-19 scammers, after it identified 21 cases of fraud involving the virus, earlier in March.

Some online perpetrators are even impersonating the World Health Organization in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malaysian Blockchain App Allows Users to Trace Sustainable Palm Oil

The Malaysian Palm Oil Council and BloomBloc have developed a blockchain-based app that enables users to trace palm oil throughout the entire supply chain.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and blockchain startup BloomBloc have developed a blockchain app that enables users to trace palm oil throughout the entire supply chain.

Following a successful test, the blockchain-based system is available in a pilot roll out to local oil palm growers, palm oil processors, plantations and family owned smallholders, according to food industry publication Foodbev Media. The system registers each tree and its associated information, making it possible for users to track the journey from plantation, to mill, and on to the final product.

The new app follows on from the implementation of the mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard nationwide. MPOC CEO Datuk Dr Kalyana Sundram said:

“It speaks volumes about our trust in our supply chain. And it is yet another way Malaysia is showing the world that we value our people and our planet. We hope that by creating this platform and demonstrating the benefits of using blockchain technology, we will encourage others who are practising sustainable agriculture to follow our lead.”

To eradicate deforestation

Sustainability within the oil palm industry is a big issue in Malaysia due to illegal logging and the replacement of forests with plantations. According to environmental groups, palm oil producer Radiant Lagoon was responsible for the destruction of 730 ha of forest in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. The company is reportedly associated with Double Dynasty, a supplier of palm oil to manufacturers like Nestlé, Unilever, Mondelēz and P&G.

But the government is fighting back. It has introduced more than 60 regulations and aims to improve forest management practices, as well as promoting various activities towards zero deforestation.

The industry argues that the total planted area of oil palms in the country is 5.74 million ha. This equates to just 0.11 percent of global agricultural land but is responsible for 20% of global fats and oils exports.

Malaysia actively deploys blockchain

It is not the first time Malaysia turned to blockchain tech in the food and agricultural products supply chain. Last year, the Malaysian state of Penang said it was considering using blockchain to trace the origins of products, which would also enable it to warn consumers about outbreaks of dangerous foodborne diseases.

The education sector has also embraced the tech with the Malaysian Ministry of Education introducing an application built on the NEM blockchain to deal with the issue of certificate fraud.

Malaysia has also launched a work visa program targeting tech freelancers that addresses a demand for blockchain capable talents.

Billionaire Demands Facebook Reveal Who Placed Scam Bitcoin Ads About Him

Janet Jackson’s billionaire ex husband, Wissam Al Mana, has demanded that Facebook reveal who placed scam crypto ads on the platform using his image.

Janet Jackson’s billionaire ex husband, Wissam Al Mana, has demanded that Facebook reveal who was behind ads on the platform that used his image to promote a crypto scam. 

The case stems from late February when Al Mana filed a lawsuit against the social media giant about a cryptocurrency scam using his name to promote itself in the Middle East. Al Mana claimed defamation, malicious falsehood and false advertising from the purported cryptocurrency firm ‘Bitcoin Trader’.

One man to sue them all

Facebook has since deleted the offending ads, but Al Mana is concerned fraudsters can publish similar ads containing his image in the future. His lawyers have applied for a court order that would oblige Facebook to reveal details about the ad’s publishers, the Irish Times reported on March 25.

Al Mana is seeking information about the fraudsters’ names, addresses, contact details, payment methods and billing address. Al Mana is suing Facebook Ireland Ltd along with the parties behind the ads.

High Court Justice Leonie Reynolds has urged the parties to resolve their differences before she hears the order application. The 12 month deadline for the dispute hearing is in May, however Facebook’s counsel asserted that it could be extended to 24 months amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Crypto scams involving big names

Claiming false legitimacy by appropriating the identity of well known figures —- including Kate Winslet, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Bill Gates — is popular among cryptocurrency swindlers. In November last year a Dutch judge ordered Facebook to pay 10,000 Euros ($10,890) each time a new, fake Bitcoin ad featuring Big Brother creator John de Mol appeared. 

The crypto community recently spotted a bogus YouTube account impersonating Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of major blockchain startup Ripple, in order to promote a fake airdrop scam. The YouTube scammer has been asking users to send between 2,000 XRP to 500,000 XRP in order to “participate” in an airdrop of 20,000 to 5 million XRP.

Some online perpetrators are even impersonating the World Health Organization in an attempt to steal cryptocurrency donations to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crypto.​com Simplifies Crypto Tax Reporting for Its Users

Payments and cryptocurrency platform Crypto.​com has simplified cryptocurrency tax reporting for its users through a new partnership with three tax providers.

Payments and cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com has simplified cryptocurrency tax reporting for its users through a new partnership with three tax providers.

On March 24, Crypto.com announced the collaboration with crypto tax calculator CoinTracker, crypto tax software platform TokenTax and crypto tax reporting firm CryptoTrader.Tax.

Now, Crypto.com’s users can import their historical crypto transactions from the platform into one of the aforementioned tax reporting platforms to generate necessary tax reports. Users then can pass the forms along to a tax professional or transfer to tax filing software for further processing.

A response to crypto taxation around the world

The new option comes in response to growing crypto adoption, as well as new requirements from regulators around the world making cryptocurrency owners report on their holdings. Thus, last summer, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began asking digital currency holders to amend their tax filings, while compelling others to pay back taxes and interest and penalties.

At the time, the IRS said that it was focused “on enforcing the law and helping taxpayers fully understand and meet their obligations." Last October, the IRS issued its guidelines for crypto-based tax reporting, requiring roughly 150 million American taxpayers to answer the question whether they received, sold, sent or exchanged any virtual currency.

At the same time, most members of the European Union have a radically different approach to tax codes to govern their respective crypto sectors. For example, in Germany, Bitcoin (BTC) is not subject to any capital gains tax, thereby allowing investors to avoid paying significant levies on their holdings if the value of their BTC appreciates.

Robinhood Looks to Win Back Users Angry Over System Outage on Historic Market Day

Trading app Robinhood is trying to win back the trust of users affected by catastrophic technical outages earlier in March.

Crypto and trading app Robinhood has begun taking action to reconcile with users affected by technical problems that sidelined them during the biggest one-day point gain in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

On March 23, Robinhood reportedly emailed affected users to apologize for the incident and demonstrate its intention to rebuild customers’ trust in the form of credits, with the dollar amount to be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Will users get reimbursement?

A spokesperson for Robinhood told Cointelegraph that after reviewing customers’ emails and accounts, Robinhood indeed credited some of the affected customers. 

Specifically, Robinhood credited clients who are currently using its premium feature, Robinhood Gold, with three months of the “Gold” subscription free. The spokesperson further emphasized that not every person who has an account on the platform will receive compensation during the next few weeks on an individual basis. The firm plans to limit its credits to those who responded to the company and confirmed that they were affected by the incident.

The company declined to comment on the total number of the affected users, as well as on the users outflow from the platform following the outage.

Three crashes in two weeks

As Cointelegraph reported, on March 2, Robinhood experienced a day-long technical problem, with users being unable to complete their exchange orders or load their portfolio lists and charts.

At the time, a spokesperson for the startup told Cointelegraph that the issue resulted in outages across many of its services, making users unable to use the company’s app, website, and help center. The spokesperson noted that the problem was not caused by a failure to code for leap year.

Robinhood subsequently partially restored trading. That incident was, however, the first in a series of technical issues, which took place on March 9 and March 12. The outage of March 9 left the platform inoperable until 10:25 a.m. EDT, with services being restored at 3:30 p.m. EDT, less than 30 minutes before the markets closed. On March 12, users reported that Robinhood was down again.

Users filed federal class lawsuit against Robinhood

Following the March 2 outage, one of the Robinhood’s users filed a federal class lawsuit on behalf of himself and other traders, on March 4. The plaintiff alleged that Robinhood breached its contract by failing to “provide a functioning platform,” causing traders to be unable to transfer money while stock markets surged.

The platform’s customer agreement, however, explicitly states that it is not liable for “temporary interruptions in service due to maintenance, Website or App changes, or failures.”

New Blockchain System to Track Individuals Not Infected With High-Risk Viruses

A consortium has announced the release of a blockchain-based system designed to track the movement of individuals not infected with high-risk viruses.

The Netherlands-based Public Health Blockchain Consortium (PHBC) has announced the release of a blockchain-based system designed to track the movement of individuals not infected with high-risk viruses. The impetus behind the development is to help healthy people avoid potentially life-threatening diseases.

The PHBC announced the release on March 19, detailing that the blockchain-based platform will monitor systematic, continual and anonymous verification of communities and workplaces, which are not afflicted by dangerous viruses, including the Coronavirus.

Recording virus data on blockchain

“The blockchain stores a workplace's or community's protection certificate from security organizations or government bodies to assure that all persons who enter a safe zone are continuously monitored,” the PHBC further explained the system’s operation. If a person previously visited an infected area, they are required to stay in a quarantine zone, wherein communities can provide isolated places of residence to incoming visitors.

Ayon Hazra, the administrator for the PHBC, said:

"PHBC's virus-free monitoring blockchain can automatically identify zones with and without validated incident reports by integrating real-time information from virus surveillance providers with artificial intelligence and geographical information systems. Those areas without validated reports of contamination are elevated to safe zone status. Communities and workplaces can maintain such safe zone status if they restrict access to anonymously identified persons and only allow movement to and from other safe zones."

Blockchain in health proliferates

The coronavirus outbreak has pushed blockchain companies to more actively develop health-focused applications and systems. Tech firm ConsenSys will spin off its health devision, which will explore blockchain application to the health industry, citing issues such as rising costs and access to care as some of the areas where blockchain can contribute.

China-based tech startup Hyperchain announced the launch of its blockchain-based platform to fight against the coronavirus epidemic. The platform will focus on medical supply donations, ensuring that the donation process is immutable, traceable and reliable.

Report: Top Blockchain Use Cases Are in Payments, Security and Settlements

Per a new report, financial institutions have mostly deployed blockchain to improve payments, securities settlement, fraud detection security and trade finance.

In its recent blockchain in banking report, Business Insider Intelligence indicated that financial institutions have mostly deployed the tech to improve payments, securities settlement, fraud detection security and trade finance.

Published on March 19, the report analyzed a number of financial and tech organizations worldwide, including Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Bank of America, Citi Bank, HSBC, Ripple, Visa, Fidelity Investments and CME Group.

Major benefits from blockchain

The findings showed that 66% of the surveyed financial institutions saw the major benefit of blockchain and distributed ledger technology in payments, while 56% of respondents named securities settlement as a primary benefit.

41% of respondents said that fraud detection and security was among the top use cases of blockchain in their practice, while 38% of the survey participants saw blockchain’s main use in trade finance.

Key difficulties of blockchain deployment

According to the report, financial institutions remain concerned about the tech’s commercial application, regulatory uncertainty and the difficulty in bringing together competing participants. Moreover, the analysis indicated an increased skepticism surrounding blockchain, with financial institutions beginning to drive a bearish narrative in regard to blockchain’s prospects.

As a recent study by a market research firm Research Dive showed, the global blockchain Internet of Things market size could reach $5,802.7 million in 2026. However, a lack of awareness among companies could be a critical factor influencing this projected rise.

Financial organizations explore blockchain

In the meantime, China Ever­bright Bank, a major commercial bank in China and one of the world’s largest public companies, debuted a blockchain-based supply chain finance solution by Ant Financial. Major European financial institutions are also jointly launching a blockchain-based platform for the investment fund industry.

Binance P2P Adds Five New Fiat Currencies in Latin America

Binance has rolled out peer-to-peer crypto trading with five new Latin American fiat currencies.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has rolled out peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto trading with five new Latin American fiat currencies. 

Users of the Binance P2P trading platform can now buy and sell cryptocurrency directly with Brazilian real (BRL), Argentine peso (ARS), Colombian peso (COP), Mexican peso (MXN) and Peruvian sol (PEN).

Supported cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), Binance Coin (BNB) and Binance USD (BUSD). The platform has zero transaction fees and uses an escrow service to protect user funds. 

Latin American region active in crypto trading

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao — also known as CZ — said that Latin America is one of the most active regions for crypto trading and P2P trading is well established there:

“Amidst the current global economic uncertainty, cryptocurrency is still a favorable asset with great potential use despite its price volatility. [...] For the massive unbanked population in Latin America, cryptocurrency is a more promising financial asset, and we are glad to directly provide the financial access and service for them.”

Binance P2P’s fiat-to-crypto expansion

In early March, Nigerian naira (NGN) became the first African fiat currency to trade on the Binance P2P platform. Binance also intends to roll out its P2P trading service to a number of other African countries this month, with CZ calling Africa a “blockchain continent” where cryptocurrency can empower ordinary people to join the financial world. 

The Binance P2P platform added support for the Vietnamese dong (VND), in January of this year, and Chinese yuan (CNY), in October 2019.

Highs and lows of other P2P trading platforms

In the meantime, another P2P crypto trading exchange LocalBitcoins saw a major decline in BTC trading volumes recently.

During the week ending on Feb. 22, global BTC trading volumes on LocalBitcoins touched a seven-year low, with just 3,144 bitcoins traded, or around $28 million at the time, marking the lowest weekly trading amount since May 2013.

Spanish Securities Watchdog Halts Short Selling Amid Coronavirus Caused Recession

Spain’s National Securities Market Commission has halted short selling in an effort to protect local stocks from the recession caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

Spain’s National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) has halted short selling in an effort to secure local stocks from the recession caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

The ban will last one month, starting from March 17, with possible extension for additional periods not exceeding three months, Bloomberg reported on March 17. In an email to Bloomberg, the CNMV explained that it made a commitment to take such action: 

“Due to the extreme volatility taking hold of European securities markets, including those based in Spain, their performance in the context of the situation arisen as a result of the virus COVID-19 and the risk of disorderly trading taking place in the following weeks. Another factor considered has been the consequences of the announcement of the state of emergency.”

Coronavirus’s severe impact on world economy

Coronavirus has stricken the world economy, pushing the United States Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by half a percentage point, and even New York City’s mayor Bill de Blasio to require that all regulated companies engaged in crypto-related activities submit detailed “preparedness plans” to address the historic risk.

At the same time, some analysts, like crypto-focused market research firm Crebaco, suggested that the recession was anticipated by many analysts over the last several years. “The Global markets have been correcting since [the] last few days. Some blame it on CoronaVirus, some curse on crude oil,” the firm said.

According to Crebaco, the U.S. yield curve — which consists of the long-term and short-term interest rates given by the treasury — is “an incredibly accurate tool for understanding and predicting recession and US economic conditions.”

In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, Campbell Harvey, a professor of international business at Duke University, also spoke about the inverted yield curve, which, according to him, precedes recessions.

In Harvey’s opinion, the recession will be very severe, with people de-risking their portfolios by liquidating some of the cryptocurrencies in the face of the current coronavirus threat:

“We were already in a slowing growth situation and already headed for what might be a mild recession or just a slowdown. So given what we've seen in terms of in many cities, many countries where economic activity is basically stopped. So it could be that we're already in a recession.”

Libertarian Presidential Candidate Proposes ‘AmeriCoin’ to Achieve American Dream

Libertarian Adam Kokesh has appointed Alastair Caithness to work on the development of the AmeriCoin cryptocurrency.

Adam Kokesh, the first libertarian candidate of the 2020 U.S. presidential race, has appointed Alastair Caithness as his chief blockchain policy advisor. The purpose of this role will be to work on the development of a sovereign cryptocurrency, known as AmeriCoin.

Going forward, Caithness will focus on the development of a cryptocurrency pegged to all the assets of the Federal government. These include the U.S. government’s substantial land, energy, gold, timber and mineral reserves, Associated Press reported on March 11. 

To achieve the American Dream

As such, Kokesh aims to create a new decentralized monetary system, with AmeriCoin as its backbone. Through AmeriCoin, citizens are set to receive universal basic income and compensation for existing governmental tax and policing policies. In the candidate’s view, institutional inequities such as these prevent citizens from achieving their own vision of success within American society, or the so-called American Dream.

Caithness’ professional background is marked with the development of an oil and gas security token dubbed ZiyenCoin, which focuses on the development of blockchain and the Internet of Things within the oil sector.

Caithness believes that AmeriCoin will transform the country’s economic landscape and ensure the financial freedom of all citizens. He stated:

“AmeriCoin has the potential to restore liberty to all people in the United States, and we are building a dream team of blockchain experts to join me in developing this important project. There is no better way to return power to the American people than by democratizing ownership of the Federal government’s assets through tokenization.”

Crypto supporters in the politics

Previously, John Berlau, a senior fellow at libertarian think tank, Competitive Enterprise Institute, criticized the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) approach to regulating cryptocurrencies. Berlau claimed that blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are transformative innovations, the potential of which has been stunted by “burdensome regulation.”

He argued that the government’s crackdown on these technologies prevents entrepreneurs from experimenting with novel approaches and applications.

In February, Andrew Yang, another cryptocurrency enthusiast and presidential candidate, suspended his campaign for president. Yang is also known for supporting a basic universal income and for his forward-thinking approach to blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies.

South Carolina Senate Recognizes Blockchain as Critical Emerging Tech

The State Senate of South Carolina has passed a resolution recognizing the potential of blockchain technology.

The State Senate of South Carolina has passed a resolution recognizing the potential of blockchain technology.

A new push for emerging technology in the state

The bill is dubbed “A Senate Resolution To Acknowledge The Importance Of Emerging Blockchain Technology And To Call Upon The Residents Of South Carolina To Join In Encouraging The Promotion Of Blockchain Technology In Our State” and was passed on March 10.

Specifically, the bill highlights the urgent priority of adopting emerging technologies throughout the state, with an objective “to become the capital for the real-world application of the emerging technology of blockchain.” To encourage the public to get acknowledged with blockchain, local nonprofit organizations and blockchain advocacy entities have ostensibly cooperated with city and state organizations  and universities.

Cointelegraph reached out to state senators involved in the bill but had received no response as of press time. This article will be updated should responses come in.

The U.S. scrutinizes the crypto and blockchain industry

The news came on the heels of the introduction of the “Crypto-Currency Act of 2020,” a bill that “looks to provide not only clarity, but legitimacy to crypto assets in the United States,” by Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

The bill is more explicit about determining “primary” rather than “sole” regulatory responsibility. Communications Director for Gosar, Ben Goldey, explained the emphasis on industry engagement before legislative approval:

“Since this is such a niche issue, we worked with stakeholders and outside groups/experts to get a good sense of the kind of clarity that the industry needed. We chose to gather stakeholder support before working toward cosponsors.”

Earlier in March, the U.S. Department of the Treasury met with major stakeholders in the cryptocurrency space to discuss regulatory challenges. At the time, the Treasury took a clear stance that it is focused on preventing the use of crypto-assets for money laundering, terrorist financing and other illegal purposes.

The regulator also outlined that the U.S. will stay at the forefront of cryptocurrency regulation and “will not tolerate the use of cryptocurrencies in support of illicit activities.”

Crypto Lending Firm BlockFi Adds Support for Wire Transfers to Buy Crypto

Cryptocurrency lending platform BlockFi has added support for cash on its platform, which enables customers to purchase crypto through wire transfers.

Cryptocurrency lending platform BlockFi has added support for cash on its platform, which enables customers to purchase crypto through wire transfers.

The company revealed the new option in a press release on March 10, detailing that its users can now send wires transfers to BlockFi to buy digital currencies and earn up to 8.6% annual percentage yield. The wire transfer service is backed by financial services firm Silvergate and is available both domestically and internationally.

BlockFi founder and CEO Zac Prince told Cointelegraph that, at the moment, Bitcoin (BTC) remains the most popular cryptocurrency on the platform and is followed by Ether (ETH) and then stablecoins like USD Coin (USDC).

“We’ve found that older generations are more likely to invest in stablecoins, as they’re more risk-averse, while our Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X clients are more likely to own Bitcoin and Ethereum,” Prince further said.

Soon, BlockFi will begin adding support for additional cryptocurrencies on the platform, including more stablecoins, asset-backed coins and cryptocurrencies. 

Investments and plans for new products

BlockFi’s funding round in late February saw the company secure $30 million. The round was led by United States-based capital fund Valar Ventures, with participation of Akuna Capital, CMT Digital, Avon Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, Purple Arch Ventures, Kenetic Capital, and Hong Kong-based HashKey Capital, among others.

At the time, BlockFi planned to allocate the raised money for expanding its offerings and hinted that it will roll out products accessible to a mainstream audience, starting with a mobile app, in the coming months.

The crypto loan industry is growing

Recent months have been marked with a number of developments in the crypto loans industry. BitGo, a crypto firm that claims to handle over 20% of all Bitcoin transactions, announced plans to launch an institutional-level crypto lending service. The Celsius Network was reported to have more than doubled its interest payments in the three months since its last disclosure.

In the meantime, over-the-counter digital currency trading and lending firm Genesis closed the fourth quarter of 2019 with record-high results in loan originations since its inception. Genesis facilitated over $4.25 billion in loans since its incorporation in March 2018. It originated more than $1.1 billion in loans and borrows for its institutional customers, with total active loans of $545 million, showing a 23% increase compared to $450 million in Q3.

$2B Deal Will Keep Crypto Bull Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter

Investment management firm Elliott Management has set up a deal with Twitter to save Jack Dorsey’s role as CEO of the social media network.

Investment management firm Elliott Management has set up a deal with Twitter to save Jack Dorsey’s role as CEO of the social media network.

Following the deal closure —  which considers a $2 billion share buyback — Elliott will gain a seat on Twitter’s board of directors, NBC reported on March 9. As part of the agreement, private equity firm Silver Lake will invest $1 billion in Twitter and also get a seat on the board. Twitter’s board of directors will continue to look for a third board member.

Commenting on the deal, Dorsey ostensibly said: 

"Silver Lake’s investment in Twitter is a strong vote of confidence in our work and our path forward. They are one of the most respected voices in technology and finance and we are fortunate to have them as our new partner and as a member of our Board."

Concerns about Dorsey’s plans

Paul Singer, a billionaire investor and the founder of Elliott Management, began pushing for the removal of Dorsey as CEO of Twitter in late February. The impetus behind the move lay in concerns of Dorsey’s time split between two $5 billion-plus companies — Twitter and crypto payment firm Square — and his desire to move to Africa.

Following the news about Dorsey’s possible removal, some of the major players in the crypto industry voiced support for the exec. Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is also known for his active endorsement of crypto, did not want Dorsey to step down from his position at Twitter.

Buterin specifically questioned the competence of a new potential CEO that would replace Dorsey, saying: “I also #StandWithJack. Twitter certainly has flaws but @jack has done a vastly better job than what I expect/fear from a hedge fund appointed CEO swooping in to replace him.”

Crypto Industry Continues Fight Against Coronavirus With New Contributions

The crypto community continues to help fight the coronavirus, with Binance Charity donating new batches of medical supplies to medical institutions.

The crypto community continues to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, with Binance Charity donating new batches of medical supplies to hospitals and disease control command centers.

On March 9, Binance Charity announced the completion of the second phase of its philanthropic initiative dubbed “Binance for Wuhan,” wherein the company gave 6 new batches of medical supplies to 130 hospitals, medical teams and disease control command centers. 

The shipment included protective suits from Israel and the United Arab Emirates, oxygen machines, gloves and protective goggles.

Crypto space stakeholders in the fight against coronavirus

In February alone, an array of cryptocurrency- and blockchain-related companies contributed to combating the virus. Tech startup FUZAMEI rolled out a blockchain-based platform designed to improve the transparency and efficiency of charity and medical data sharing. Blockchain firm Krypital launched a charity donation effort to acquire medical supplies for Wuhan coronavirus victims.

China-based high-tech firm Hyperchain announced the development of a blockchain platform geared to transparency and traceability of donations related to the coronavirus epidemic.

Cash vs cryptocurrencies amid coronavirus

Also in February, the Chinese government quarantined used bank notes in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. The authorities asked local banks to provide individuals with new bank notes if possible.

The fuss around the coronavirus epidemic has led people around the world to set sights on digital currencies. Thus, the search term “Bitcoin coronavirus” overtook “Bitcoin halving” on Google Trends, with the most traffic in Europe.

However, while investors around the world are struggling to find safe-haven assets, some industry experts do not see cryptocurrencies as a suitable option. Campbell Harvey, a professor of international business at Duke University, told Cointelegraph: “When you start talking about safe haven, it becomes really difficult to think are these really safe-haven assets because it's just not obvious.”

Harvey suggested that much of the value that is attributed to cryptocurrencies is essentially speculative.

Telecom Giant Vodafone Explores Blockchain to Verify Suppliers

Multinational telecommunications company Vodafone is exploring blockchain capabilities to improve its supply chain.

Multinational telecommunications company Vodafone is exploring blockchain’s capabilities to improve its supply chain.

By integrating blockchain into its internal processes, Vodafone aims to advance its supply chain by promoting and verifying a number of suppliers through a digital identity platform dubbed Trust Your Supplier, the company announced on March 6.

To implement diversity criteria

The announcement further explained that the company is implementing criteria for diversity “to influence procurement decisions alongside other standard criteria, such as safety, value, delivery and technology when we invite suppliers to tender for business.”

Trust Your Supplier was jointly developed by tech giant IBM and blockchain company Chainyard last summer. Alongside Vodafone, the network’s founding members include tech companies Cisco, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric and British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, among others.

The platform aims to eliminate time-consuming manual processes and help reduce the risk of fraud and errors.

Telecom sector embraces blockchain

Telecom companies around the world have been gradually deploying blockchain even beyond their supply chains. Telefonica reportedly partnered with the local Association of Science and Technology Parks to grant access to its blockchain to about 8,000 firms in Spain.

South Korea’s largest telecom company, KT, was set to launch a local blockchain-based currency for one of the country’s largest cities, Busan, on Dec. 30. At the time, it was noted that participants can use the “currency at any store in Busan with a credit card terminal,” although compatibility will reportedly be less common among larger retailers in an effort to encourage spending at smaller local businesses.

Riot Reports 147% Monthly Growth In Average Daily Run Rate of BTC Mined

Nasdaq-listed cryptocurrency mining firm Riot Blockchain has demonstrated a remarkable monthly growth in BTC mined in February.

Nasdaq-listed cryptocurrency mining firm Riot Blockchain has demonstrated a remarkable monthly growth of average daily run rate of Bitcoins (BTC) mined, in February.

The United States-based firm has seen a 147% increase in the average daily run rate of BTC mined, against the average daily production run rate for December 2019, Riot revealed on March 5. Riot attributed the boost to its mining equipment upgrade. At the beginning of the month, it had 2,940 Bitmain S17s and 1,751 S9s machines, while by the end of the month, it was running 4,000 S17s.

Riot’s mining facilities upgrade

Riot Blockchain started deploying around 3,000 new units of S17 Pro Antminers as part of the full upgrade of its Oklahoma City mining facility, in January. The company purchased the mining machines from Chinese mining giant Bitmain. 

At the time, Riot anticipated that the upgrade would bring its aggregate operating hashrate at the Oklahoma City mining facility to approximately 248 petahashes per second, representing a 240% increase in hardware power efficiency compared to Riot’s mining hashrate.

Worth noting, Riot’s shares dropped by over 5% following the announcement that the company was planning to sell its cryptocurrency exchange, which was launched in the second quarter of 2019, to focus on BTC mining ahead of the halving in May of this year.

Mining issues in the run-up to BTC halving

As Cointelegraph reported last month, major mining hardware manufacturer Bitmain announced two new upcoming miners — the Antminer S19 and the Antminer S19 Pro. Both miners will have a power efficiency of 34.5+/-%5 joules per terahash.

In the meantime, Alex de Vries, the founder of the Digiconomist, asserted that 98% of mining rigs will never verify a transaction, resulting in an enormous and unproductive electricity expenditure. De Vries explained:

“The shocking thing is the average lifetime of a bitcoin mining machine is one and a half years, because we have a new generation of machines which are better at doing these calculations. So the rest are just running pointlessly for a few years, using up energy, and producing heat, and then they will just get trashed because they can’t be repurposed.”

Canaan Faces Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Dubious Practices During IPO

Rosen Law Firm has filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of investors in ASIC producer Canaan’s IPO.

Blockchain services and cryptocurrency mining hardware producer Canaan is facing a class-action lawsuit filed by investors following claims of dubious practices for attracting investments. 

Investor rights-focused law firm Rosen Law Firm has initiated the suit on behalf of Canaan securities purchasers in the company’s initial public offering (IPO). The law firm claimed that Canaan investors suffered damages as the firm had made false and misleading statements and failed to disclose a number of issues.

Canaan allegedly misled investors regarding a partnership

According to the announcement, Canaan did not reveal to its investors that a purported “strategic partnership” — apparently with Hong Kong Exchange-listed company Grandshores (HK 1647) — was actually a transaction with a related party. Also, Canaan allegedly did not provide the investors with correct information about its financial condition, which was allegedly been worse than was reported. Among other allegations, the lawsuit said:

“The company had recently removed numerous distributors from its website just prior to the IPO, many of which were small or suspicious businesses; and (4) several of the Company’s largest Chinese clients in prior years were clients who were not in the Bitcoin mining industry and, thus, would likely not be repeat customers.”

Rosen Law Firm is seeking restitution for affected investors.

Canaan carried out its IPO last November, wherein it raised $90 million — more than 75% less than was expected. Canaan has initially planned to raise considerably more, with a funding figure of $400 million circulating prior to the event.

The failure was purportedly a result of losing Canaan’s biggest banking partner, Credit Suisse, just a week before the IPO. 

An investigation into claims against Canaan

Additionally, a shareholder rights litigation firm, The Schall Law Firm, has begun an investigation into purported violations of securities laws by Canaan. The law firm states that it is acting on behalf of Canaan investors and aims to indicate whether Canaan actually issued misleading statements and failed to disclose information pertinent to investors. 

Both the investigation and lawsuit came in the wake of an analysis produced by Marcus Aurelius Value, which argued that the ASIC manufacturer had misrepresented its potential revenue for 2020 and that at least one of its customers is an alleged related party who is unable to honor a $150 million purchase contract.

The analysts based their claims on a highly irregular transaction relating to Canaan’s IPO on Nov. 27. This refers to the $150 million deal between Grandshores one month before the IPO, which would represent an equipment order almost equal to Canaan’s revenue in the past twelve months, which amounted to $177 million. 

The analysts argued that Grandshores had no way of honoring the agreement, citing the company’s $50 million market capitalization and $16 million cash balance.

Cryptocurrencies Are Not a Safe-Haven Asset, Says Expert

A Duke University professor believes crypto has not acted as safe haven amid the challenges to the global economy.

Cryptocurrencies have not been used as a safe haven amid challenges the global economy has faced at the beginning of the year, one expert says.

The world has already seen a slew of market-shaking events this year including trade policy uncertainty, geopolitical tensions and the coronavirus epidemic, among others. With investors around the world struggling to find safe haven assets to insure themselves against potential crises, it was anticipated that many would turn to Bitcoin (BTC) and other digital currencies.

Doubts of crypto’s capabilities

However, some industry experts say that digital currencies have failed to serve as a safe haven. In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, Campbell Harvey, a professor of international business at Duke University, said that people value cryptocurrencies for transactional purposes and speculation.

“When you start talking about safe haven, it becomes really difficult to think are these really safe-haven assets because it's just not obvious,” Harvey said, suggesting that much of the value that is attributed to cryptocurrencies is essentially speculative.

Elaborating further on the matter, Harvey referred to a major sell-off in the stock market when the prices on consecutive days dropped by 3%, adding:

“Now, if these cryptos were safe havens, then you would expect maybe no change in their value or maybe even an increase in value. But that's definitely not what we've seen. The cryptos got battered and dropped by more than 10%. So that suggests to me, in a particular situation of great stress where people are realizing that there's systemic risk unfolding, the stock market drops as expected, people flee to safe assets, but they didn't flee to cryptos, they fled to the U.S. 10-year bond.”

“We’re already in a recession”

Harvey went on to speak about the inverted yield curve, which, according to him, precedes recessions. He suggested that the recession will be very severe, with people de-risking their portfolios by liquidating some of the cryptocurrencies in the face of the current coronavirus threat:

“We were already in a slowing growth situation and already headed for what might be a mild recession or just a slowdown. So given what we've seen in terms of in many cities, many countries where economic activity is basically stopped. So it could be that we're already in a recession.”