Elon Musk: Bitcoin Has ‘Quite Brilliant’ Structure, Paper Money is Going Away

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Bitcoin is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper,” during an interview on the advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast.

Technology entrepreneur and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Bitcoin’s (BTC) structure is “quite brilliant” and that digital currency is “a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper.” Musk made his remarks during an interview on advisory services firm ARK Invest’s podcast on Feb. 19.

In response to a question about whether Bitcoin becomes the only native cryptocurrency of the Internet, Musk said that “the Bitcoin structure was quite brilliant,” and that he thinks that “one of the downsides of crypto is that computationally it is quite energy intensive. So there have to be some kind of constraints on the creation of crypto. But it's very energy intensive to create the incremental Bitcoin at this point.”

On this note, Musk stressed that “it would not be a good use of Tesla resources to get involved in crypto. We’re just really trying to accelerate the advance of sustainable energy.”

Musk continued saying that cryptocurrency “bypasses currency controls [...] paper money is going away, and crypto is a far better way to transfer value than pieces of paper, that's for sure."

Last February, Musk tweeted that he only owned 0.25 BTC. He noted in the same tweet that apart from the 0.25 BTC a friend had given to him “many years ago”, he "literally own[s] zero cryptocurrency."

Previously, major industry players also argued that Bitcoin occupies a unique place as a store of value or “digital gold.” Mike Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs partner and founder of crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, said that “Bitcoin is going to be digital gold, a place where you have sovereign money, it’s not U.S. money, it’s not Chinese money, it’s sovereign. Sovereignty costs a lot, it should.”

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey — who is well known for his conviction that Bitcoin will become the “native currency of the Internet” — said earlier this month that “[Bitcoin] feels it’s the one that wants to be currency the most, versus others that are doing more general purpose things or distributed computing [...] I think [the altcoin space] has generated some really amazing ideas, but I’m focused on currency and the transactional aspect.”

Canadian Judge Appoints Legal Representatives for QuadrigaCX Customers

A Nova Scotia supreme court justice has chosen the legal representatives for clients of Canada’s major crypto exchange QuadrigaCX.

The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia has ordered Canadian law firms Miller Thomson and Cox & Palmer to represent customers of cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX in upcoming proceedings. The ruling was announced in a court filing published on Feb. 19.

On Tuesday, Justice Michael Wood rendered a decision that Miller Thomson and Cox & Palmer will act as lead counsel to represent the representative committee of users of Canada’s major cryptocurrency exchange Quadriga.

Specifically, the representative counsel will be responsible for “managing communications with users; acting as user liaison for the monitor [Ernst & Young]; advocating for user interests before the court; identify[ing] potential conflicting interest amongst users; and advocating for user privacy.”

In the filing, Wood says that the proceedings should concentrate on efficiency and cost effectiveness, and that the counsel should not have open-ended retainers and undertake inquiries where they can exact fees from the exchange’s assets. The filing further explains:

“Representative counsel can make the proceeding more efficient and cost effective for all parties by providing a clear mechanism for communicating with the stakeholders and avoiding a multiplicity of potentially conflicting retainers.”

While the next hearing is scheduled on March 5, 2019, Justice Wood stated in the filing that he “expect[s] that representative counsel, the Monitor and the Applicants should be able to come to an agreement on most, if not all, of the terms of the order which could then be presented to the Court for consideration.”

Wood’s decision follows a hearing on Feb. 14, when the Nova Scotia Supreme Court brought together over “a dozen” lawyers who were vying to represent the 115,000 cryptocurrency traders owed around $260 million ($195 million) by QuadrigaCX.

On Feb. 13, Cointelegraph reported that Ersnt & Young’s recently released report dubbed “First Report of the Monitor” stated that “on February 6, 2019, Quadriga inadvertently transferred 103 bitcoins valued at approximately $468,675 to Quadriga cold wallets.” Quadriga has purportedly been unable to access its cold wallets as its recently deceased found Gerald Cotten was solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys.

New Survey Indicates Businesses Unprepared to Deploy Blockchain Technology

A new survey reveals that organizations are not ready to implement blockchain tech, although a half of respondents are considering blockchain adoption.

A new study has revealed that, while businesses are considering blockchain adoption, overall they do not feel ready to implement the technology. The survey was conducted by software development firm Globant and published on Feb. 19.

The report says that 64 percent of organizations are intent on investing in blockchain solutions to improve their internal operations, while only 46 percent of respondents feel ready to deploy the technology.

Out of 61 percent of organizations that are already researching blockchain, only 28 percent have chosen a blockchain provider. According to the survey, the majority of decision-makers are still investigating the technology and comparing vendors, and have not yet defined their stance on blockchain tech.

Diego Tartara, CTO Latin America at Globant, said, "Blockchain implementation is different for every organization, so it's imperative for business leaders to have a unified idea of what their integration will look like. The technology as such usually requires a shift in paradigm to adopt it, thus sharing core objectives for the technology is key for a successful blockchain integration."

To prepare the study, the researchers reportedly surveyed 679 senior-level decision makers employed in the fields of marketing, IT and operations in the United States during first quarter of 2018.

Earlier this month, a TD Bank survey revealed that 90 percent of treasury and finance professionals think that blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) will positively affect the payments industry. Per the survey, only 14 percent of the respondents said that their organization has training strategies for blockchain.

A survey by the Global Blockchain Business Council published last January revealed that 63 percent of respondents believe that senior business executives have a poor understanding of blockchain technology. 30 percent consider their knowledge of the emerging technology as “average.” The remaining 7 percent described senior executive understanding of blockchain as “good.”

Survey: Half of Millennial Investors Trust Crypto Exchanges More Than Stock Exchanges

A new survey from investment platform eToro has revealed that 43 percent of millennial traders trust traditional stock exchanges less than crypto exchanges.

Nearly half of millennial traders have more trust in digital currency exchanges than in United States (U.S.) stock market exchanges. Data regarding millennial investment attitudes was collected in a new study from investment platform eToro and published on Feb. 19.

Per the report, 43 percent of the surveyed millenial online traders demonstrate less trust in the traditional stock market, while having more faith in cryptocurrency exchanges. 93 percent of millennial cryptocurrency traders reportedly said that they would invest more in digital currency if traditional financial institutions proposed such an option. At the same time, 71 percent of millennials that do not trade cryptocurrency said that they would begin if it were offered by conventional institutions.

Managing Director of eToro U.S., Guy Hirsch, said that the market is now witnessing a generation shift in trust from traditional stock exchanges to digital currency ones. “Immutability is native to blockchains and that makes real-time audit to be sensible and cost-effective and that is why millennials and Gen X perceive crypto exchanges as less likely to be subject to manipulation and less likely to be a place where bad actors get rewarded with taxpayer money,” Hirsch explained.

45 percent of the respondents expressed interest in allocating cryptocurrency in their 401(k) retirement savings plans, and 74 percent of digital currency traders would like to receive that option from their 401(k) plan providers.

The research was conducted by market research and strategy firm Provoke Insights on behalf of eToro in September 2018. Throughout the course of the study, the company surveyed 1,000 online investors from ages 20 to 65. The company notes that the margin of error is around 3 percent.

Research published last November revealed that cryptocurrency investing is most popular among millennials earning from $75,000 to $99,999 annually. The survey collected responses from over 1,000 Americans between ages 18 and 80. Almost 40 percent of respondents cited peer influence as a main reason for investing in crypto, and over 35 percent have reportedly been lured into the crypto market by the “Fear of Missing Out.”

Owner of Indeed and Glassdoor Job Search Engines Invests In Privacy Coin Project Beam

Tokyo-based Recruit Co., Ltd. has invested in privacy coin project Beam Development Limited.

Japanese employment information services company Recruit Co., Ltd. has invested in a blockchain-focused company Beam Development Limited, according to an announcement published on Feb. 18.

Per today’s press release, Recruit has invested in Israeli blockchain startup Beam Development Limited. The investment was made through Recruit’s $25 million fund called RSP Blockchain Tech Fund Pte. Ltd. The latter is focused on investing and acquiring shares in blockchain and cryptocurrency companies.

Beam is a privacy-oriented crypto project that purportedly secures transactions by enabling transaction data to be verified by a specified third party. The announcement states that the Beam token prevents the “divulgation of transaction data to third parties and protects user’s transaction information.”

Recruit further stressed that it “recognizes the revolutionary impact of blockchain technology in facilitating innovation while preserving confidential data, but at the same time Recruit understands the need for appropriate government regulation to ensure that this new technology is not abused.”

Beam confirmed the recent investment on Twitter, stating that it “helps Beam fulfill its mission in Japan [...] when it comes to deploying a compliant, scalable, and confidential cryptocurrency.”

Founded in 1960, Recruit Co., Ltd. acts as an advertising and employment information services company internationally. The firm acquired job search portal Indeed.com in 2012, and then job search site Glassdoor in 2018.

Recently, Beam (BEAM) announced that it plans to introduce a Mimblewimble-compatible lightning network (LN) to enhance the altcoin in commercial settings where payments would require quick confirmation. While Beam’s paper states that their transaction capacity is three times faster than that of Bitcoin’s (BTC), the paper notes that it is not at the same level as other major payment processors.

According to a Litecoin Foundation blog post published Feb. 7, Mimblewimble is in part a variant of “Confidential Transactions,” which allows for transactions to be “obfuscated yet verifiable,” so as to achieve both heightened privacy and prevent double spending.

At press time, BEAM is trading at $1.26, having gained around 4.5 percent on the day, according to data from CoinMarketCap. The coin’s market capitalization is around $7.8 million, while its daily trading volume is around $7 million at press time.

Blockstream Publishes Schnorr-Based Test Code for Bitcoin Blockchain Upgrade

Tech firm Blockstream has released the Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme MuSig designed to address Bitcoin blockchain privacy.

The Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme MuSig, a test code for a potential upgrade to the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain, has been released by blockchain tech firm Blockstream, according to an announcement published on Feb. 18.

Last January, four Bitcoin developers released a paper outlining how Schnorr multi-signatures (‘multisig’) could help scale the Bitcoin blockchain, saying that the technology could reduce its transaction size and “improve both performance and user privacy in Bitcoin”. In the paper, the developers state that MuSig is designed as “a protocol that allows a group of signers to produce a short, joint signature on a common message.”

Today’s announcement reveals that MuSig has been turned from an idea into usable code, while this week the code was also merged into secp256k1-zkp, a fork of secp256k1 representing “the high-assurance cryptographic library used by Bitcoin Core.”

In the post, the developers explain their decision to develop MuSig by creating “a misuse-resistant API without sharp corners, and which doesn’t encourage dangerous usage patterns even in constrained environments.” The post also stresses the necessity of improving verification efficiency and developing provable security in the public key model. MuSig signatures purportedly improve privacy since they hide the exact signer policy.

However, since the beginning of the MuSig development, its creators have reportedly found that a number of already published signature schemes —  including an earlier unpublished version of MuSig — are insecure. The post further reads:

“MuSig signatures, just like Schnorr signatures or ECDSA, use in their construction a secret ‘nonce’ which must be produced uniformly randomly. Any deviation from uniform, even by a single bit, can lead to secret key loss and stolen funds.”

For now, the developers are asking community members to test the code, which is reportedly posted on GitHub, and provide feedback.

Bitcoin’s next halving is expected to happen in May 2020. Bitcoin halving is an event that happens roughly once every four years, after which the amount of new BTC created and earned by miners will be cut in half.

In anticipation of the next halving, United States-regulated trading and clearing platform LedgerX released a new type of derivative contract unique to BTC called LedgerX Halving Contract (LXHC). The new product represents a binary option and reportedly “allows you to get a fixed payoff if the next halving block (#630,000) happens before a certain date and time. If the block is discovered after, the contract expires at zero.”

Major Chinese University Launches Blockchain Research Center

Fudan University has opened a blockchain research center that will purportedly facilitate the development of the Shanghai economy.

One of the most selective universities in China, Fudan University, has opened a blockchain research center, according to an announcement published on Feb. 15.

Per the announcement, Fudan University established the Shanghai Blockchain Engineering Technology Research Center in collaboration with Zhongan Online Property Insurance Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Zhongren Information Technology Co., Ltd.

The center will purportedly carry out basic research on blockchain technology, demonstrate its application, as well as provide associated talent training. The establishment of the Shanghai Blockchain Engineering Technology Research Center will further promote the development and growth of the blockchain industry in Shanghai and purportedly facilitate the development of the Shanghai economy.

Other Chinese universities have also integrated blockchain into their scholarship programs. In January, in collaboration with blockchain payments firm Ripple, the Institute for Fintech Research at Beijing’s Tsinghua University (THUIFR) announced the Blockchain Technology Research Scholarship Program (BRSP). The program reportedly intends to bring together the best graduate students in China in 2019 to study global blockchain regulations and industry development.

Earlier this month, the Chinese Institute for Fintech Research at Tsinghua University joined Ripple’s global University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI) — which was originally launched in June 2018 — that supports academic research, technical development and innovation in blockchain, cryptocurrencies and digital payments.

Major Omani Bank Joins RippleNet Cross-Border Payment Network

Oman’s second largest bank BankDhofar is now using RippleNet technology for cross-border payments to India.

Oman’s second largest bank by market value, BankDhofar, has begun using RippleNet technology for cross-border payments to India. The news was tweeted by the managing director of South Asia and MENA at Ripple, Navin Gupta, on Feb. 16.

RippleNet is a global blockchain-based payment network of institutional payment providers, that was developed by technology company Ripple. In January, RippleNet expanded its network to over 200 customers, including such industry players as JNFX, SendFriend, Transpaygo, FTCS and Euro Exim Bank.

Per the recent announcement, BankDhofar has become the first bank in the country and one of the first in the region to adopt RippleNet. The technology enables the bank to provide cross-border transfers via a mobile banking application “in less than 2 minutes,” thus allowing non-resident Indians living in Oman to conduct real-time payment transfers.

BankDhofar was incorporated in 1990, subsequently becoming one of the largest banks in the country. In 2017, BankDhofar’s revenue from banking services was reportedly $2.4 million, while its total revenue amounted to $28.2 million.

Earlier this month, Finablr, a global payment platform and foreign exchange operator based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), joined the RippleNet network to complete real-time transactions to Thailand. The first partner in the service, major Thai bank Siam Commercial Bank will purportedly let UAE Exchange and Unimoni customers globally send money to Thailand.

Last December, the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) also launched a cross-border remittance product based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology. NBK reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — “NBK Direct Remit” — for international live payments based on RippleNet.

How the Marshall Islands Envisions Its National Digital Currency Dubbed ‘Sovereign’

The SOV team revealed that it had made “significant progress in finding partners, investors, and developers” to realize the project, and aims to launch SOV in 2019.

On Jan. 10, 2019, the team behind a national cryptocurrency for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) — dubbed the Sovereign (SOV) — revealed that the coin is still being actively developed, despite previous disagreements among government officials, as well as reservations expressed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the United States Treasury Department on the subject.

The idea behind the SOV project lies in the RMI government's pursuance of "manifesting our [the RMI’s] national liberty,” as well as the creation of an alternative state currency to the U.S. dollar, which the small island nation has been using for decades.

Behind the scenes of the decision to issue a national crypto

The Republic of the Marshall Islands is an island country located near the equator in the Pacific Ocean and consists of 29 atolls and five individual islands, amounting to about 1,225 islands. For a period of 40 years, the country had been administered by the U.S. as part of the Trust Territory of the Pacific islands, attaining independence in 1986 under the Compact of Free Association.

Country snapshot

Currently, the Marshall Islands uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency and is “highly dependent on receiving and spending U.S. grants,” totalling around $70 million each year in assistance, in accordance with the compact. Once issued, the SOV will circulate alongside the dollar, thus the Marshall Islands will have two coexisting legal tenders “for all debts, public charges, taxes and dues.”

The Sovereign was first introduced in February 2018, when the parliament of the Marshall Islands passed a law declaring its new national digital currency set to be released through an initial coin offering (ICO), with an initial total amount of 24 million units in order to avoid inflation. Some cash raised from the ICO will purportedly go toward health care for the country’s roughly 53,000 citizens who fell victim to the consequences of nuclear testing by the U.S. in the past.

The president of the RMI. Hilda C. Heine, said then that “this is a historic moment for our people, finally issuing and using our own currency, alongside the USD. It is another step of manifesting our national liberty.”

To implement the SOV initiative, the RMI government partnered with Israeli fintech startup Neema. Neema CEO Barak Ben-Ezer told the press that “this cryptocurrency, the Sovereign, is completely decentralized and the government cannot control the money supply. After the [crowd sale], they don’t have any control over the currency.”

Peter Dittus, chief Economist and co-founder of SOV Global and former secretary general of the Bank for International Settlements, told Cointelegraph that the decision to develop a national digital currency and not a fiat one is backed by several reasons. According to Dittus, developing countries, such as the RMI, struggle with the high costs of remittances, and having a crypto legal tender creates a situation where the solution to costly remittance is “baked into” the monetary system itself. Additionally, a central bank-managed fiat currency is costly to implement and to run, wherein “for a small country the costs clearly outweigh the benefits.”

SOV’s further development is challenged by the IMF and the U.S. Treasury Department

However, later in September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) raised doubts about the issuance of SOV, claiming that “the potential benefits from revenue gains appear considerably smaller than the potential costs arising from economic, reputational, AML [Anti-Money Laundering]/CFT [Countering the Financing of Terrorism], and governance risks.”

The IMF further warned the Marshallese authorities against adopting of cryptocurrency, stating that it will pose risks to the country’s financial integrity, as well as relationships with foreign banks. The regulator urged the RMI to reconsider issuing a cryptocurrency until the government is able to provide and implement “strong policy frameworks.”

Dittus revealed that SOV will differ from most digital currencies, as it will have measures built-in to discourage misuse, outlining the need to closely cooperate with regulators, financial institutions and exchanges “to ensure that Know-Your-Customer [KYC] rules are well implemented, and that AML features cannot be circumvented.” This will purportedly allow the RMI to develop new capacities in governance and facilitate a wider adoption of the technology within the country.

Speaking about possible instability in the country’s financial system caused by cryptocurrency’s volatile nature, Dittus said that it is planned to establish a Bank of SOV in the RMI, which will help provide SOV-related services to the other banks, hedging the exposure and facilitating transactions. Dittus, however, added:

“On a fundamental level, there is no guarantee of banks or the government to provide conversion between SOV and the USD at a fixed rate, thereby limiting financial instability.”

Heine administration’s plan to issue a state cryptocurrency sparks political instability

Despite perceived advantages of the concept behind a national digital currency, RMI President Heine faced a vote of no confidence in November in connection to her administration’s plans to implement SOV. The vote was introduced by a group of eight senators, and former President Casten Nemra stated that the plans of establishing a digital currency as legal tender had a negative impact on the reputation of the country, also endorsing the arguments put forward by the IMF and the U.S. Treasury Department.

Six days later, it was reported that Heine survived the no confidence vote, with the Marshallese parliament reportedly splitting 16-16, just one vote short of the number needed to prompt Heine to resign the office of president. RMI Finance Minister Brenson Wase declared the government would move forward with SOV and is waiting to fulfill requirements from the IMF, the U.S. and Europe.

Commenting on the situation, Dittus stressed:

“The IMF has endorsed CDBCs, and its managing director, Christine Lagarde, has highlighted the potential benefits, in particular for smaller economies. But so far, there have not been implementations of sovereign cryptocurrencies. The Marshall Islands has been the first state to declare one as legal tender. The challenge is now to make it a reality. And that is highly motivating.”

The SOV team further revealed that it had made “significant progress in finding partners, investors and developers” to realize the project and aims to launch SOV in 2019. The project also announced a new partnership with “smart banknotes” firm Tangem, a startup operating from Switzerland and Singapore.

While the initiative has been receiving criticism from major financial organizations and government officials, the SOV team seems to be confident with the viability of the idea behind national digital currency and its impact on the country’s further development. Dittus also unveiled the possibility of introducing a stablecoin variant at a later stage, and added:

“The emission of the SOV will be controlled by the rules baked into the blockchain, with an initial total amount of 24 million units. Each year, the total supply will increase by four percent, implementing a proposal made by the late Prof. Milton Friedman. In addition, unlike other fiat currencies, where new money is issued to private banks, new SOV units will be distributed pro-rata, or per capita, back to the SOV holders. As the SOV supply will increase broadly in line with world GDP [Gross Domestic Product], it should tend to lead to relatively stable exchange rate against goods over time.”

Report: QuadrigaCX Founder May Have Stored Private Keys on Paper in Safety Deposit Box

Gerald Cotten, founder of crypto exchange QuadrigaCX, purportedly stored paper copies of the exchange’s keys in a safety deposit box.

The founder of major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX, Gerald Cotten, may have stored the exchange’s private keys on paper in a safety deposit box, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 15.

In an interview on the “True Bromance Podcast” in February 2014, Cotten warned of the danger of losing keys to cold wallet storage systems, and thus losing access to the assets stored on them. “Even the U.S. government, with the biggest computers in the world, could not retrieve those coins if you’ve lost the private key. It’s impossible to retrieve those," Cotten said.

Cotten further explained that the best way to keep private keys —  which are basically a chain of numbers and letters — is to print them off and store them offline in a safety deposit box. “So that way you can never have your Bitcoin (BTC) stolen, unless someone, like, breaks into the bank, steals your safety deposit box and gets into your private key and so forth,” Cotten added.

Quadriga’s founder revealed that the team behind the exchange actually stored its private keys offline in the company’s safety deposit box at a bank. Cotten explained:

“Essentially we put a bunch of paper wallets into the safety deposit box, remember the addresses of them. So we just send money to them, we don’t need to go back to the bank every time we want to put money into it. We just send money from our Bitcoin app directly to those paper wallets, and keep it safe that way."

Quadriga has not been able to access its cold wallets where it kept most of the assets, because Cotten —  who passed suddenly in early December — was apparently solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys. The exchange purportedly only has CA$375,000 ($286,000) in cash, while it owes CA$260 million ($198,435,000) to its users. Facing insolvency, the exchange has sought creditor protection in Canadian court.

Yesterday, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Michael Wood delayed a decision on legal representation for Quadriga customers, saying that he would issue a written decision in the case within a week. The court hearing reportedly brought together over a dozen lawyers who represent 115,000 cryptocurrency traders, seeking to reimburse CA$70 million ($52 million) in cash and CA$190 million ($142 million) in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Moscow Blockchain Cluster Needs Intellectual Property Mechanism, Says Expert

Founder of blockchain platform Universa.io Aleksandr Borodich said that the Moscow blockchain innovation cluster needs a mechanism for assessing intellectual property.

The Moscow-based blockchain innovation cluster needs a mechanism for assessing intellectual property, says the founder of blockchain platform Universa.io, Aleksandr Borodich. Borodich’s statements were reported by Russian news agency TASS on Feb. 15.

The plans to launch a blockchain-based city innovation cluster by summer 2019 were initially announced by the Moscow municipal government earlier in February. The upcoming platform for the city’s IT innovation cluster will purportedly bring together various tech and business entities and enable participants to find potential partners, as well as learn about their products and equipment.

Per Borodich, the hypothetical mechanism for evaluating intellectual property will facilitate financing for potential inventions. Speaking at the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi, Borodich reportedly stated:

“If we manage to develop expertise —  within the frameworks of the cluster —  that would allow to better evaluate intellectual property, we [investors] would gladly provide some financing on inventions.”

Earlier this week, a subsidiary of Russian state-owned high-tech conglomerate Rostec,  the National Center for Informatization (NCI), partnered with blockchain platform Vostok.  The partners will develop “competencies in the implementation of blockchain technologies at the municipal, regional and federal levels.”

Also this week, Russian shipping logistics company Infotech Baltika announced it will develop a blockchain-based system dubbed Edge.Port for the ports in which it operates. The network will purportedly allow participants to store all necessary documentation on a blockchain. All services in port, including vessel parking and tug boat rentals, can reportedly be ordered and tracked online via the system, without time-consuming paperwork.

Starting this year, the Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Education and Science, (Rosobrnadzor) will also implement blockchain technology in the country’s main graduation examination.

Report: Global Blockchain in Energy Utilities Market to Grow 60% by 2024

According to a recent report, the global blockchain in energy utilities market is expected to grow by 60 percent from 2018–2024.

The global blockchain in energy utilities market is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2024, according to a new report from Infoholic Research LLP published on Feb. 15.

Per the report, the global blockchain in energy utilities market was assessed to be $210.4 million in 2018, and is expected to reach $3.4 billion by 2024. Infoholic Research thus predicts the growth at a compound annual growth rate of 59.4 percent during the period from 2018 to 2024.

The report also notes that the key driver of growth in the next five to six years will be sales of distributed energy and peer-to-peer (p2p) electricity. “Due to the increasing automation in energy utilities, organizations are making real-time changes to the infrastructure that will help them to convert into blockchain-powered software and reduce [total cost of operation] TCO,” the report further explains.

To prepare the report, Infoholic Research reportedly analyzed the deployment of blockchain in the energy utilities market on a global scale by components, services, application, and regions. The research firm tracked statistical figures of such regions as North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, while revenue was mainly generated in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific.

Blockchain technology has found multiple applications in the energy sector. In January, Spain’s major energy company Iberdrola began using blockchain to track renewable energy. During a pilot program, Iberdrola monitored renewable energy delivered from two wind farms and one power station to bank offices in Basque Country and the city of Cordoba. The test was reportedly a success, and Iberdrola believes that blockchain tech will help issue a guarantee of origin.

That same month, Danish state-owned energy company Energinet announced it would  use IOTA’s Tangle technology in the energy and Internet of Things (IoT) markets. Energinet reportedly looks to create new solutions based on IoT for emerging phenomena, such as green energy and electric vehicles.

Indonesia: New Legislation Recognizes Crypto as Trading Commodity

New legislation introduced in Indonesia recognizes cryptocurrencies as trading commodities and gives legal certainty to crypto exchanges.

Indonesia has introduced new legislation that recognizes Bitcoin (BTC) as a trading commodity, Asia-oriented news outlet KrASIA reported on Feb. 15.

Indonesia’s Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency, also known as Bappebti, initially signed a decree to make cryptocurrency a commodity future legally tradable on stock exchanges last June. The agency then stated that the Indonesian government would soon release corresponding legislation regulating currency exchange companies, taxation, and other related issues.

Today, Bappebti reportedly approved regulation No. 5/2019 that recognizes Bitcoin and other digital currencies as a trading commodity. The legislation thus gives legal certainty to cryptocurrency exchanges that have been already operating in the country.

The new policy reportedly outlines a set of requirements in regard to any cryptocurrency circulating in Indonesia. Specifically, cryptocurrencies have to comply with risk assessment, anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism  (CFT) requirements. The policy also stipulates that cryptocurrency traders must keep transaction histories for at least five years and have a server located inside the country.

Head of Bappepti Indrasari Wisnu Wardhana reportedly said that with the introduction of the new legislation, the agency wants to “give protection to people who want to invest in crypto assets so that they aren’t cheated by fraudulent sellers.”

At the same time, Head of Bank of Indonesia (BI) Payment System Policy Department Onny Widjanarko stressed that "BI still prohibits Bitcoin or crypto as a means of payment.[...] Commodity is not an area of ​​BI, but we are concerned about the above."

Bitcoin brokers in Indonesia have become displeased with regulators following new capital requirements that were introduced last October. The new rules oblige brokers to have at least $70 million to launch futures trading.

Apple Notes Blockchain Guidelines in Recent SEC Filing

A recent SEC filing revealed Apple’s involvement in the development of blockchain standards for mineral supply chains.

Tech giant Apple has mentioned its work in forming the Blockchain Guidelines of the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) in a filing with the United States Security Exchange Commission (SEC). The document, entitled “Conflict Minerals Report” was published on Feb. 15.

In general, the document pertains to Apple’s business practices and ethics in sourcing minerals for its various consumer electronic devices. Apple states that it is “committed to going beyond the minimum requirements in order to meet and exceed internationally accepted due diligence standards and protect people in its supply chain…”

Last year, Apple came under scrutiny for its plans to source cobalt — a necessary mineral for smartphones — directly from mines in Congo. While Apple is ranked highly among tech companies in terms of human rights abuses in its supply chains, “the bar is low,” according to human rights watchdog Amnesty International.

Per the recent filing, Apple participates in the development of blockchain guidelines for the RMI, which are designed to determine a set of principles, concepts and terms for the deployment of blockchain in mineral supply chain due diligence. The drafting process for the guidelines was initially launched in March 2018.

In addition, the RMI intends to help businesses understand the nature of blockchain technology, its application in the industry, and its potential impact on supply chain actors and local communities.

Established in 2008, Responsible Business Alliance’s Responsible Minerals Initiative is a multi-industry initiative that comprises over 360 companies including Apple, computer hardware manufacturer Acer and American electronics store Best Buy. Members purportedly contribute to the development and improvement of due diligence mechanisms and resources in mineral supply chains.

Companies and public entities around the world have been exploring the use of blockchain technology in their supply chains. Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration of the Chinese Chongqing Yuzhong District announced plans to deploy blockchain for strengthening the supervision of food and drug quality assurance.

Last month, IBM partnered with MineHub Technologies to develop blockchain solution to improve supply chain management in the mining and metals industry. The solution targets the inefficiencies of the global market, including excessive paperwork, manual data processing and lack of transparency between supply chain parties.

Canadian Judge Delays Decision on Legal Representation for QuadrigaCX Clients

A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has delayed a decision on legal representation for clients of major Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX.

A Canadian judge has delayed a decision on legal representation for customers of major Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX. The news was tweeted by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Jack Julian on. Feb. 14.

On Thursday, Feb. 14, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court reportedly brought together over “a dozen” lawyers who represent 115,000 cryptocurrency traders owed around $260 million ($195 million) by Quadriga after the exchange’s founder’s, Gerald Cotten, passed suddenly. Specifically, the customers are seeking CA$70 million ($52 million) in cash and CA$190 million ($142 million) in Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.

Justice Michael Wood reportedly said that he would issue a written decision in the case within a week. In the meantime, the monitor appointed by the court, Ernst & Young, has revealed that at the current stage the exchange owes CA$100,000 ($75,000) to the lawyers, while Quadriga claims that “as of today, we don't have anything.”

Maurice Chiasson, a lawyer representing Quadriga, reportedly stated that Cotten’s wife Jennifer Robertson “has put in CA$250,000 of the CA$300,000 she’s promised to fund this process so far. But that money will run out in the next two weeks if not sooner.”

Following submission from the competing legal teams, Wood reportedly said that he is “not sure if you’ve made my life any easier.” Ernst & Young said that the first nine days of the process has been “hectic,” also stressing the need of stabilizing current investigations into Quadriga’s operations.

On Feb. 13, Cointelegraph reported that in a recently released Ernst & Young’s report dubbed “First Report of the Monitor,” the ‘Big Four’ audit firm revealed that:

“On February 6, 2019, Quadriga inadvertently transferred 103 Bitcoins valued at approximately $468,675 to Quadriga cold wallets which the Company is currently unable to access. The Monitor is working with Management to retrieve this cryptocurrency from the various cold wallets, if possible.”

In the course of the audit, Ernst & Young secured a number of Quadriga electronic devices — reportedly owned or used by Cotten — including four laptops, four cell phones, and three fully encrypted USB keys. Ernst & Young has reportedly stored the devices in a safety deposit box.

Coinbase Users Can Now Withdraw BSV to External Wallets

Customers of major U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase can now withdraw Bitcoin SV to external wallets.

Major American cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase now allows its users to withdraw Bitcoin SV (BSV) balances to external wallets, according to an announcement published on Feb. 14.

BSV appeared following a hard fork in the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) blockchain in November of last year. The for resulted in two new coins; Bitcoin SV and Bitcoin ABC. The camp for Bitcoin SV (Satoshi’s Vision) was lead by Australian computer scientist Craig Wright, who has previously declared himself to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

After the hard fork, Coinbase users holding BCH received an equal amount of BSV, however the exchange has, until now, not provided an option for users to withdraw their BSV. From now on, Coinbase clients are able to send their BSV balance to an external wallet. Coinbase noted in today’s announcement that it still does not offer services for buying or selling BSV on its platforms.

Following the hard fork, United States-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken began supporting both forks of BCH, while warning that “custodial losses taken on due to attacks originating from nChain or its affiliates will be socialized among all BSV holders on Kraken. Given the volatile state of the network and threats that have been made, Kraken cannot guarantee perfect custody of BSV.”

In January, cryptocurrency statistics and wallet provider Blockchain.com announced it had launched partial support for BSV, letting its users have some of the same options with BSV as with its four other hosted cryptocurrencies — Bitcoin (BTC), BCH, Ethereum (ETH) and Stellar (XLM).

According to data from CoinMarketCap, BSV has seen slight losses on the day, decreasing by 2.91 percent and trading around $62.70 at press time. On its weekly chart, the altcoin saw its lowest price point at $61.50 on Feb. 8, and a high of $67.04 on Feb. 8 as well.

Luxembourg Passes Blockchain Framework Bill Into Law

Luxembourg regulators have approved a bill that would provide more legal certainty to transactions made on blockchains.

Luxembourg lawmakers have passed bill 7363 into law, facilitating the use of blockchain technology in financial services, according to an official announcement published by the country’s parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, on Feb. 14.

The new law aims provide financial market participants with more transparency and legal certainty in regard to the circulation of securities with blockchain technology. The bill is also geared to make the transfer of securities more efficient by reducing the number of intermediaries.

According to local news outlet Luxembourg Time, the bill grants transactions done with blockchain technology the same legal status and protection as those done through traditional means. Out of 60 parliamentarians, only two members of the left-wing party déi Lénk reportedly voted against the bill.

Luxembourg is known for its proactive approach to blockchain technology. In November 2018, the University of Luxembourg partnered with Luxembourg-based trading platform VNX Exchange in a bid to improve the security of digital assets. Within the collaboration, the University of Luxembourg purportedly helps VNX develop higher levels of network security for digital assets.

In March, the Luxembourg Financial Regulator CSSF issued a warning against investments in cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). The regulator noted in the warning that cryptocurrencies are not backed by any central bank, and warned against the volatility of virtual currencies, stressing that deals are often not entirely transparent and business models are incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by research company Ipsos on behalf of Dutch ING Bank B.V. in June revealed that the lowest rate of people owning cryptocurrency — 4 percent — rate is in Luxembourg.

Crypto Markets Trading Sideways With Slight Losses, April Gold Closes Slightly Down

Cryptocurrency markets have continued trading sideways, remaining relatively quiet with moderate losses throughout the top 20 coins.

Thursday, Feb. 14 — most major cryptocurrencies are trading sideways, with a few experiencing minor losses. The markets are seeing mixed signals as of press time, according to data from Coin360.

Market visualization from Coin360

The leading digital currency Bitcoin (BTC) is slightly down 0.19 percent on the day, trading at around $3,620 at press time. Over the past week, BTC has gained 6.38 percent, while its monthly losses were over 2 percent.

Bitcoin 7-da7 price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ethereum (ETH) — which regained its position as the second largest coin by market capitalization on Feb. 11 —  is down by 0.31 percent during the past 24 hours, and is trading at around $121.75 at press time. Ethereum’s market capitalization is currently around $12.7 billion, nearly $200 million ahead of Ripple’s (XRP).

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple is up over the last 24 hours by 0.07 percent and is trading at $0.303 at press time. The altcoin’s weekly chart is showing its price increasing by 3.83 percent. After dipping to its weekly low of $0.291 on Feb. 8, XRP has seen moderate gain in price.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Yesterday, Ripple, the firm behind XRP, introduced a major network upgrade of its XRP Ledger version 1.2.0, which now reportedly includes a number of network amendments, including MultisignReserve Amendment, fixTakerDryOfferRemoval and fix1578.

NEM is the major gainer over the day, having increased by 4 percent and trading around $0.042 at press time. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is down by 0.25 percent over the last 24 hours and is currently trading at $122.25.

Total market capitalization of all 2,072 coins on CoinMarketCap’s list is around $120 billion at press time, dipping as low as $119.8 during the day. The daily trading volume of all cryptocurrencies is around $19.6 billion.

Total market capitalization monthly chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

In commodities markets, gold futures ended lower as concerns about United StatesChina trade negotiations continued. April gold lost less than 0.1 percent to close at $1,313.90, which is down 0.4 percent on the week.

Earlier today United States banking giant JPMorgan Chase (JPM) announced it is launching its own cryptocurrency  dubbed “JPM Coin” geared to increase settlement efficiency, initially within three of the company’s operations. JPM Coin will initially focus on international settlements by major corporations, helping speed up transactions that currently take a day or longer using extant options such as SWIFT.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier today, Barry Silbert, CEO and founder of Digital Currency Group and Grayscale Investments, said that the majority of digital tokens will not have value in the long run. In a purported phone interview with CNBC, Silbert said “I’m not a believer in the vast majority of digital tokens and I believe most will go to zero. Almost every [initial coin offering] ICO was just an attempt to raise money but there was no use for the underlying token."

Dutch Tech Firm Develops PoC of Autonomous Smart Electricity Grid Using IOTA

Netherlands-based tech company ElaadNL has devised a PoC for a smart grid using IOTA Tangle technology.

Dutch technology company ElaadNL has developed a Proof of Concept (PoC) for a smart power grid for electric vehicles using internet of things (IoT)-focused IOTA Tangle technology, according to the company’s announcement on Feb. 14.

Per the announcement, the PoC shows the ability of smart grids to not only consume power, but also generate it and autonomously redistribute it amongst community members. The initiative  was based on IOTA’s Tangle technology, which purportedly lets the charging devices autonomously decide whether there is need to help balance grid load.

In addition, the charging stations can earn a IOTA tokens by charging electric vehicles at a lower speed or at an off-peak time. “The grid in this PoC will connect all devices to a particular area of the grid, along with the transformer supplying energy. If one or more devices lowers its energy usage, they receive a few tokens of the IOTA cryptocurrency,” the announcement further explains. Harm van den Brink, distributed ledger technology (DLT) expert at ElaadNL reportedly said:

“This proof of concept shows a possible future electricity system, where energy is shared amongst neighbours and decentralized islands are capable of balancing itself. We are using our electricity grid in total different way than we did 50 years ago, we went from only consuming to also producing energy.”

ElaadNL is a technology company established in 2009 by a group of grid operators with an aim to develop electric vehicle infrastructure and provide smart charging to electric vehicles. Since its establishment, the company has reportedly installed 3,000 public charging points within the Netherlands.

In January, Danish state-owned energy company Energinet expanded its partnership with distributed ledger network IOTA to investigate the use of its technology in new areas. IOTA’s product offering is specifically geared to IoT, and Energinet looks to create new solutions based on IoT for emerging phenomena, such as green energy and electric vehicles.

In December 2018, Spanish renewable energy company ACCIONA Energía announced its intention to deploy blockchain to trace electricity generation. ACCIONA and software startup FlexiDAO had been jointly working on the development of a commercial demonstrator that tracks the supply chain of renewable electricity generation from five wind and hydro facilities in Spain to four corporate customers in Portugal.

Institute of Decentralized Economics Launches in UK to Study Blockchain Economic Systems

The London-based Institute of Decentralized Economics has launched and will study blockchain-based economic systems and their impact on existing institutions.

The Institute of Decentralized Economics (IDE) has opened in London, the United Kingdom on Feb. 14, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph.

The think tank, which is dedicated to the study of blockchain-based economic systems and their impact on existing institutions, is backed by fintech company Sweetbridge. It is purportedly designed to investigate the potential of decentralized and autonomous systems and find real use cases.

Per the press release, the idea behind the IDE is to “help organizations better understand the economics that underlie the blockchain industry.” The IDE will also study the design and viability of stablecoins and how government policy and “crypto-economic” technologies interact.

Sweetbridge will ostensibly facilitate research and attract blockchain industry-related players with different backgrounds and expertise — including entrepreneurs, corporations, and governments —  while the activities of the IDE will be set by the IDE Foundation Council.

In January, a major Chinese research university launched a blockchain research scholarship with the support of blockchain payment firm Ripple. The program reportedly intends to bring together the best graduate students in China in 2019 to study global blockchain regulations and industry development.

That same month, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced that it is opening its Blockchain Center in Manhattan, which will reportedly offer blockchain-oriented educational services to the general public, such as programming classes to lectures for software developers.

Spanish City Gives $13 Mln to Develop ‘Industry 4.0’ Technologies, Including Blockchain

The Spanish city of Aragon has given over $13 million for the industrial digitalization and implementation of “Industry 4.0” projects.

The government of the Spanish city of Aragon has allocated over 12 million euros ($13 million) for the development of “Industry 4.0,” which includes blockchain technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and other emerging technologies. The news was announced by local news outlet La Vanguardia on Feb. 12.

The funds —  the amount of which is reportedly twice the originally planned amount —  were co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) within the Operational Program of Aragon for 2014–2020. The donation will be used for the development of industrial property and consulting projects, as well as the analysis and planning of projects.

The specific objectives of the program include the education and promotion of the “Industry 4.0” concept and associated technologies. The program purportedly plans to attract representatives from various industrial sectors, including research centers and technology firms to work on digital solutions adapted for industry use.

The program is also designed to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) incorporate digitalization into their processes and products, as well as enable technology companies to develop their R&D in order to boost the digitalization of the industry.

In January, the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA), Spain, signed an agreement under which it will collaborate with IBM on its blockchain-based shipping platform Tradelens. The platform will purportedly allow APBA to more securely and efficiently exchange information and documentation between partners within a supply chain.

That same month, Madrid-based energy company Repsol reported a successful test of a blockchain pilot to improve the quality of safety certification of its products. The use of blockchain will purportedly allow Repsol to save up to 400,000 euros ($450,000) each year by reducing the frequency of errors.

Proposal for ETF Following Bitcoin Futures, Sovereign Debt Withdrawn by SEC Request

An ETF proposal filed by Reality Shares ETF Trust earlier this month has been withdrawn at the request of the Staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The United States (U.S.) Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has requested the withdrawal of a proposed exchange-traded-fund (ETF) submitted by Reality Shares ETF Trust, according to a letter published by the SEC on Feb. 12.

In the document, the SEC specifies that the withdrawal was “at the request of the Staff of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. No securities have been sold in connection with the offering of the Fund.”

Reality Shares ETF Trust — which is a unit of crypto-focused fintech firm Blockforce Capital — initially filed a proposal for an ETF, that would invest in a portfolio which includes both sovereign debt instruments and Bitcoin (BTC) futures, on Feb. 11. Subsequent to the SEC request, the ETF filing was withdrawn by Reality Shares.

In the application, the company stated that the proposed ETF was designed to “provide investment exposure to global currencies, both fiat and virtual currencies, that have been widely adopted for use (e.g., as store-of-value, international remittance, foreign-exchange trading) throughout the world.”

In regard to BTC futures, the fund would have invested via a wholly owned Cayman Islands-registered subsidiary in the cash-settled BTC futures that are currently traded on CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).

Earlier in February, Cointelegraph reported that American Investment management firm AdvisorShares and investments advisory company Sabretooth Advisors will jointly launch an ETF that tracks tech companies, including those involved with blockchain and cloud computing. The idea behind the new ETF is that entities involved with emerging technologies could reach increased profitability and rises in share prices within a reasonable time.

In the end of January, the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s, along with investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX, re-applied with the SEC for a rule change to list a BTC ETF. While the firms first filed with the SEC to list a Bitcoin-based ETF on June 6, 2018, the application process has since experienced several delays, as the SEC pushed back its decision on multiple occasions.

California Governor Talks Blockchain and Data Privacy in State of the State Speech

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, has said that the state needs “to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data.”

The governor of California Gavin Newsom supported the development of blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI)-based products in his “State of the State” speech, local news outlet CALmatters reported on Feb. 12.

In his speech delivered on Tuesday, Feb. 12, Newsom said that “California needs a comprehensive statewide strategy to uplift and upskill our workers, to ensure technological advancements in AI, blockchain, big data, are creating jobs, not destroying them, and to reform our institutions so that more workers have an ownership stake in their sweat equity.”

Newsom further revealed that he appointed a new Commission on California’s Workforce & Future of Work — which includes players from both the labor and business sectors — to develop innovative technologies and ensure opportunities for workers. Newsom said that “California is proud to be home to technology companies determined to change the world.”

Newsom also pointed out that the state’s citizens should be able to benefit from sharing their personal information on online sites and services. Newsom purportedly asked his team to develop a proposal for a “Data Dividend” for Californians, stressing that “ we recognize that your data has value and it belongs to you.”

Newsom is known for his proactive approach to developing technologies and digital currency. He reportedly brought crypto onto the party political scene as early as 2014, when he became one of the first high-profile politicians to accept campaign donations in Bitcoin (BTC). In November 2018, Newsom sealed 59 percent of the electorate’s support to defeat the Republican Party’s John Cox in the midterm gubernatorial elections.

As Cointelegraph recently reported, 89 percent of consumers purportedly believe that corporations do not do enough to protect their data; over half of all CEOs and C-suite executives admit that most consumers are right to doubt them on this. Blockchain, however, ostensibly ensures that the data related to digital ID is manageable.

Report: QuadrigaCX Accidentally Transferred $500K in BTC to Cold Wallets It Cannot Access

According to a report, QuadrigaCX has “inadvertently transferred 103 bitcoins valued at approximately $468,675” to cold wallets the exchange cannot currently access.

Major Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX accidentally transferred nearly $500,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) to its cold wallets earlier this month, according to a report published by Ernst & Young on Feb. 12.

The founder of QuadrigaCX, 30-year-old Gerald Cotten, died in December 2018. The exchange has been unable to access its cold wallets since, as Cotten was solely responsible for the wallets and corresponding keys.

The vast majority of Quadriga’s assets were reportedly lost in the missing cold wallets. In the beginning of February, it was reported that Quadriga is missing CA$190 million dollars ($145 million) in digital assets.

The exchange previously appointed ‘Big Four’ audit company Ernst & Young as an independent third party to monitor the proceedings in a creditor protection case. The recently released report dubbed “First Report of the Monitor” aims to provide the court with an update in respect of the proceedings, stating:

“On February 6, 2019, Quadriga inadvertently transferred 103 bitcoins valued at approximately $468,675 to Quadriga cold wallets which the Company is currently unable to access. The Monitor is working with Management to retrieve this cryptocurrency from the various cold wallets, if possible.”

In the course of the audit, Ernst & Young secured a number of Quadriga electronic devices — reportedly owned or used by Cotten — including four laptops, four cell phones, and three fully encrypted USB keys. According to the document, the devices are currently in a safety deposit box rented by Ernst & Young.

Cointelegraph recently reported that the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) was “looking into Quadriga. OSC spokeswoman Kristen Rose stated, “given the potential harm to Ontario investors, we are looking into this matter and have already been in contact with the monitor.” Rose reportedly declined to specify whether this means the Commission was formally investigating the exchange.

Comments from the OSC followed the British Columbia Securities Commission’s claim that it does not regulate QuadrigaCX, since the company had reportedly shown no signs of trading of securities or derivatives, or operating as an exchange in general.

Overstock Founder: Blockchain Can Make Government ‘Incapable of Being Bribed’

Overstock founder Patrick Byrne has stated that blockchain technology is capable of making government “superefficient.”

The founder and CEO of retail giant Overstock.com Patrick Byrne says that blockchain can make government “superefficient and incapable of being bribed,” in an interview with MarketWatch published on Feb. 12.

Byrne reportedly said that government services have reached a turning point for a fundamental change of their structure, and blockchain technology, in his opinion, will be the optimal solution.

Byrne proposed “building government-as-a-service, a set of applications and companies that, between them, can bring blockchain to different services that governments provide,” which will eventually “make government superefficient, inexpensive and incapable of being bribed.” He stated:

“We could step into Venezuela with six laptops and create not only a functioning society but arguably one with the most advanced government systems in the world. We could bring them a central bank on the laptop. Everyone in Venezuela downloads a free app, and suddenly you have the most advanced monetary system on the planet.”

Byrne reportedly revealed that he expects to conclude a contract with more than one sovereign nation in the near future to start radically overhauling their government services.

In January, Overstock.com announced it will pay part of its business taxes in the state of Ohio using Bitcoin (BTC) via the recently launched cryptocurrency taxpayer platform, OhioCrypto.com. Byrne said then that government adoption of cryptocurrencies and other emerging technologies, accompanied by friendly legislation, is "the best way to ensure the U.S. does not lose our place at the forefront of the ever-advancing global economy."

Recently, Venezuela’s new crypto bill, which establishes а legal framework for the industry, officially came into force. The legislation also introduced the concept of a sovereign crypto asset — any currency issued in Venezuela and authorized by the government — and established obligatory licenses for mining entities and crypto exchanges, and introduces fines for unlicensed activities.

In December, Harvard University Professor of Economics and Public Policy Kenneth Rogoff said that governments worldwide may in due time “regulate and appropriate” the innovations of new asset classes like cryptocurrencies, as coorinatinated global regulation would eventually seek to “stamp out privately constructed systems:”

“The right way to think about cryptocurrency coins is as lottery tickets that pay off in a dystopian future where they are used in rogue and failed states, or perhaps in countries where citizens have already lost all semblance of privacy. It is no coincidence that dysfunctional Venezuela is the first issuer of a state-backed cryptocurrency (the “petro”).”

FinTech Startup to Use Oracle Blockchain Platform to Boost Payment Processes

A fintech payment platform has partnered with Oracle to use blockchain technology in expediting payments processes.

Finance platform SDK.finance has partnered with Oracle to use the Oracle Blockchain Platform to improve payments processes and remove intermediaries. The partnership was announced in a press release published on Feb. 12.

SDK.finance is a European-based fintech startup that offers a payment platform for banks and financial institutions. In 2015, the company was reportedly recognized as the best fintech startup by the Central European Startups Awards, while in 2018 it overcame other major industry players in terms of application programming interface (API) endpoints.

By integrating the Oracle platform, SDK.finance reportedly aims to boost payment processes, also making them more cost efficient and secure. The company is looking to replace intermediary financial institutions with the new system, which would purportedly result in reducing the time needed for cross-border transactions to a matter of seconds and remove related transaction fees.

Frank Xiong, group Vice President, Blockchain Development Platform, at Oracle said that blockchain could “change the future of digital payment processing, improving the user experience, security, speed, and cost of each payment dramatically."

Earlier today, Cointelegraph reported that Oracle is expanding features on its enterprise-grade Oracle Blockchain Platform, with the intention to simplify the process of integrating existing business and IT systems, as well as to speed up development and deployment of new blockchain applications.

In October 2018, Oracle released a suite of blockchain-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications based on its Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, which is purportedly designed to improve traceability and transparency throughout supply chains. The product reportedly allows users to track the authenticity of product components and temperature-control, as well as reduce paper waste.

Also today, major global online payments firm Netpay International partnered with Israeli firm BNC LedgerTech to integrate blockchain into its services aiming to cut operation costs. Netpay International will reportedly become the fourth fintech firm to use BNC LedgerTech’s digital, blockchain-based banking solution “Ubanker.”

IBM Partners With Boehringer Ingelheim to Test Blockchain in Clinical Recordkeeping

A new partnership between IBM and Boehringer Ingelheim aims to test whether blockchain provides a proper level of data integrity, transparency, and patient safety.

The Canadian unit of American tech giant IBM has partnered with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim to deploy blockchain in clinical recordkeeping, according to a press release published on Feb. 12.

The cooperation between the two companies aims to test whether the integration of blockchain technology with clinical recordkeeping provides the proper level of data integrity, transparency, and patient safety, in addition to reducing costs and automating processes.

Dr. Uli Broedl, Vice President, Medical and Regulatory Affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) said, “The clinical trial ecosystem is highly complex as it involves different stakeholders, resulting in limited trust, transparency and process inefficiencies without true patient empowerment.” Within the collaboration, IBM will reportedly provide blockchain technologies to ensure trust and transparency around the trial process.

IBM has participated in several healthcare-related projects. In January, the tech company partnered with American insurance giant Aetna to create a blockchain network tailored to the healthcare industry. Estimated to serve over 39 million clients globally, the blockchain system will reportedly be designed to streamline insurance claims processing and payments, as well as manage directories.

Established in 1885, Boehringer Ingelheim is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company that also focuses on the development of therapies. In 2017, the company’s net sales was reportedly around 18 billion euros ($20.4 billion). The Canadian headquarters of Boehringer Ingelheim was established in 1972 in Montreal, Quebec.

Yesterday, blockchain tech company Bitfury announced a partnership with radiology blockchain marketplace Medical Diagnostic Web (MDW) to create a blockchain-based platform for maintaining, sharing and securing medical imaging and diagnostics information such as X-rays and CT scans.

Earlier in February, a medical R&D consortium, the Pistoia Alliance, expanded its blockchain project to include data sharing, data identity, and data integrity. The project will focus on the use of blockchain to validate sources in identifying data and improve sharing between organizations.

Report: Bitcoin Transaction Fees Fall to 2014 Levels

Bitcoin transactions fees have reportedly hit a four-year low, while last month the transactions volume reached a one-year high.

Bitcoin (BTC) transaction fees are at new lows, according to a new report published by crypto and blockchain research firm Diar on Feb. 11.

While BTC transactions struck a one-year high in January, almost reaching the levels registered in 2017, the median transactions value in BTC have reportedly dropped. BTC median fees have reportedly decreased to 2014 levels:

“Median Fees are also at levels not seen since 2015 despite the total monthly Bitcoins moved on-chain standing at higher levels than seen throughout most of 2018.”

Last month, Diar reported that cryptocurrency exchanges closed 2018 with “record transacting volumes,” where the combined trade volume of U.S. dollar (USD) markets on major United States crypto exchange Coinbase reportedly increased by 21 percent in 2018 versus 2017. Over the same period, exchanges Kraken and Bitfinex saw increases of 192 percent and 50 percent respectively.

However, last week Diar released a report stating that since the beginning of the year trading volumes on cryptocurrency exchanges dipped to new lows in January to levels not seen since 2017. The period reportedly turned to be the worst for the world’s leading crypto exchange by adjusted trading volume, Binance, as its BTC/USD market reduced by more than 40 percent in comparison to December 2018.

Also in January, a report by Diar revealed that the on-chain transaction value of Ethereum (ETH) hit an all time high in December 2018, reaching 115 million. Dair stated, “In terms of transaction count on-chain the ‘super computer’ has found stability since October bobbing between 16–17 million monthly transactions.”

Finance Expert Ric Edelman: ‘Eventually We Will See a Bitcoin ETF’

Ric Edelman, founder of financial advisory firm Edelman Financial Engines, said that a Bitcoin ETF is “virtually certain,” while “the only question is when.”

А Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) will eventually come to market according to Ric Edelman, founder of advisory firm Edelman Financial Engines in an interview with CNBC on Feb. 11.

Edelman stated that a Bitcoin ETF is “virtually certain,” while “the only question is when,” adding:

"The [Securities and Exchange Commission] SEC has several legitimate thoughtful concerns that the industry has to overcome but I'm confident they will. Eventually we will see a Bitcoin ETF and it's at that stage that I will be much more comfortable recommending that ordinary investors participate."

In general, ETFs are securities that track a basket of assets proportionately represented in the fund’s shares. A Bitcoin ETF is seen by some a ‘holy grail’ for the cryptocurrency and its adoption.

Edelman said, “Fidelity has made a major announcement in the custody issue. We've got Kingdom Trust and a number of other very serious players on the custody side. I'm confident that in very short order VanEck or Bitwise will satisfy the custody concern to the SEC."

The SEC has previously expressed concern about the lack of a secure chain of custody as well as governance in overseas trading platforms. Edelman further stated that he puts Bitcoin in the same category as oil and gold, which he said are “globally-traded assets beyond the reach of the SEC.”

Established in 2018, Edelman Financial Engines was formed by the merger of advisory firms Edelman Financial Services, LLC and Financial Engines Advisors, L.L.C. Edelman Financial Engines operates as a financial advisory firm, reportedly having $205 billion in assets under management.

In the same interview, Tom Lydon, editor-in-chief of ETFTrends.com, stated that he has already noticed profound interest in at Bitcoin ETF, further saying that "we interview advisors all the time. 74 percent say they've talked to clients about their interests in Bitcoin so they need to step up when this happens because that money is going to go elsewhere." Edelman concluded:

“Technologically, regulation-wise it could happen tomorrow. There is no particular motivation because the ‘powers that are be’ in the fund industry have no incentive to give up their market share.”

In January, the Chicago Board Options Exchange’s, along with investment firm VanEck and financial services company SolidX, re-applied with the SEC for a rule change to list a Bitcoin ETF, which it had previously withdrawn. A CBOE spokesperson told Cointelegraph that the decision to withdraw its request was the result of the United States government shutdown.

Crypto Bear Market Affecting Venture Capital Valuations

According to venture capitalist Jalak Jobanputra, venture capital valuations have been hit hard by depressed cryptocurrency prices.

Venture capital (VC) valuations have been deeply affected by the cryptocurrency bear market, says Jalak Jobanputra, founding partner of Future Perfect Ventures, in an interview with Forbes’ Balancing the Ledger on Feb. 11.

Founded in 2014 in New York, Future Perfect Ventures is a venture capital firm, focusing on early stage investments primarily in technology companies, including blockchain, machine learning, and data analytics.

When asked whether there is a trend of discounted venture evaluations across the digital currency space, Jobanputra said that “given how much the volumes have decreased in the last year, I wouldn’t be surprised if we are seeing valuations come down on the secondary markets for some of these companies.”

Speaking about the company’s decision not to invest in initial coin offerings (ICOs), Jobanputra argued that “they were exposed financially to the downturn in the crypto markets as well as from a technology standpoint. And a lot of my experience investing in the Internet days informed a decision to stay out of the ICO market.”

Jobanputra also said that cryptocurrency companies are pivoting into the venture capital space, although previously most VC funds were reportedly staying away from that markets. She said that it is necessary for firms to find new ways to raise capital in order to survive in the existing environment.

Recently, Bloomberg released a report stating that amid the 2018 market slump, the launch of new crypto venture funds for the first time exceeded that of new hedge funds in the space. 125 new crypto venture funds were reportedly launched in 2018, as compared with 115 new investment-oriented crypto hedge funds.